It was a regular Monday at the office. I was getting my much needed cup of coffee to give me that caffeine burst to get through my hectic day and I ran into one of my co-workers. The conversation was the usual Monday morning banter… how was your weekend? Good. Yours? She proceeded with telling me she finished her month of eating vegan. I smiled, saying brightly “You survived!”
She smiled back at me nodding and then looked at me with that look on her face with the half-smile and said, “But it sounds like you’re not.”
“What?” I asked, staring at her blankly.
She then answered. “It sounds like you’re not surviving life.”
She continued, saying, “You’ve been taking off a lot being sick, your daughter’s been sick a lot….”
I don’t remember how I responded… maybe something along the lines of “Oh thankfully we’re all well now…knock on wood…” (nervous laughter to not jinx it). “My daughter is in daycare so one kid gets sick they all get sick….” And then went back to my desk to do my 9-5 job and wondering how my one-year old daughter was back at daycare and if she was ok and if I had remembered to give her the ear infection antibiotic that morning…
That conversation haunted me, I must say for quite a while. I started thinking… was I not surviving life? Was I failing at life?
Being 34 years old, a working mom and still living my writing dream on the side, there have been many times I felt exhausted, nervous, frustrated, angry, and just about had enough of it all. I have come out and said, “I am failing at being a mom”, or “I can’t do it all!” And battling illnesses and having to be there for family during their own illnesses, while balancing a million things that keep piling up (like laundry and the dishes that never cease), dealing with taking the train and the daily hell-ride commute to and from NYC and rushing (literally running in heels down 33rd street) to catch that essential train to be home in time to pick up the baby from daycare. And still have that so important Mommy/Baby time before she has to go to sleep. And forget writing and marketing. If it’s one hour I have free to myself writing had taken a back seat and was the last thing on my mind. How can you be inspired when you are so utterly exhausted? And it’s just one thing that could cause it all to go toppling over like a Jenga puzzle. I am very fortunate to have a very supportive husband who is my partner in crime and he too is balancing just as much of the parenting and working responsibilities while managing his own side business. We’re both trying to live our dream against unimaginable odds.
So after dealing with my own low points and near multiple nervous breakdowns… I started to think “Hell no… I will not fail at life… I am going to Rock at Life and start taking control of what I want my life to be.”
First, I started to think about the many blessings I have in my life. Even in your lowest moments, you can still find something you are blessed with. I even sang the song from the movie White Christmas, Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep), sung originally by Bing Crosby. That alone made me feel a little better, though I felt bad for anyone having to hear me belt out that tune. (Sorry Mike). LOL
After my little singing session, I started to think what was it about my day that makes me truly happy and how do I fit more time in to do those things? So instead of thinking of a huge major changes that would overwhelm and scare me like Quit my job… I instead focused on more realistic small steps and goals I can make in order to get my life back to where I wanted it to be. My job unfortunately couldn’t go anywhere right now but maybe there was time I could fit in writing throughout my day, such as during a lunch hour or on the train. That would enable me to schedule in my passion and remember why I love writing and why it is my passion and my dream job. I have a story to tell and I needed to stop procrastinating and putting it at the bottom of my list.
I also realized I needed more time with my husband and my daughter. I took the much needed family vacation to Sesame Place to recharge the batteries and build some amazing memories with my daughter and of course Elmo! It was not an expensive trip and only 1 ½ hours away from home and we had the best time! Sure it wasn’t Europe or someplace extravagant but ignore all the people taking lavish vacations with their families and do what you can afford and still have an amazing time. I mean… I still remember some of my favorite vacations as a kid was going to the Catskills with my family and paddle boating with my parents and sisters out on the lake.
And I am planning to take time off to just get my nails done with my mom and take time for me again… something I had forgotten to do since you feel guilty when you’re not putting everyone and the world first. But without your health (mentally and physically) you can’t be the best mom, wife, daughter, friend and person that you can be. As my 98 year old grandfather says, “Without your health, you don’t have anything.”
So after putting it off for months, I started writing again. I slowly started writing book four of my series, The Hypothesis of Giants. And like that seed of imagination growing in my mind, this past Monday in 90 degree heat I took time to plant a garden for the summer. I surprised my husband, my daughter and I even surprised myself. I put the top soil down, the anti-weed mesh, and planted cherry tomatoes, zucchini, basil, parsley, to once again start thinking about all the healthy dishes I can make with these great herbs and vegetables. And all the great memories I will make with my daughter of watering the plants, picking the tomatoes and the strawberries together. These were baby steps, but big steps to getting my life back to what I truly value and to find time for what is most important. Because life is too short to keep putting it off, and living in that darkness is scary and overwhelming and it’s through family and support and believing in yourself that you will once again find the light.
And that co-worker of mine… she really has no clue what it’s like walking in my shoes and, truth be told, I couldn’t possibly know all the things that she is going through either. But one thing I do know is I am not failing at life. I am surviving it and Rocking it and Loving every minute… the good the bad and the in between. Now… let me go check on that garden. =)