One thing I have found is that if I am not able to maintain some kind of regular routine in my life, I quickly lose perspective in all areas. I question myself and lose confidence. I question others and wonder about their motives, or I perceive imagined slights. (What did he/she mean by that???) I become overwhelmed by anything even slightly resembling clutter. The pile of mail on the kitchen table makes me feel like I’m very close to being eligible for my debut on “Hoarders.” Worst of all, I see a look of wariness in the eyes of my staff. (Oh, no! She’s on the warpath!) Thankfully, while my family notices my craziness, they don’t seem bothered by it. They usually just roll their eyes and ignore me.
These past two weeks have been brutal. If I were to write out a list of everything that challenged me or went wrong during the past weeks, it would make me look ridiculous. It would make me wonder why or how I can say that I love my career path, that this choice often feels like my calling, or that I am blessed to work at doing something I love so much. While I have learned to have a thick skin and push forward through adversity, at times I can’t help but feel a bit beat up. I keep pushing and pushing. The more adversity I face, the harder I work. I refuse to let those who say “It can’t be done” or “It won’t work” cause me to give up on their community. I know they’re wrong. It’s my job to prove that to them. I love downtowns…each and every one of them. The character and differences in each unique downtown tells a story that crosses through the generations. Protecting and preserving what came before, and enriching what lies ahead, aren’t just words to me. This isn’t just my job, it is who I am and what I love to do.
When I look at the big picture of the past few weeks, I’m impressed by what has been accomplished. Honestly, I am amazed. There has been fantastic public participation, wonderful press coverage, and complete support from all important areas. The momentum is building. Interest is being shown, and inquiries are being made. “Hey! Something is happening here!” That’s a great big picture. Look a little more closely, though. I’m in the picture, too, and that picture isn’t looking so good.
I am extremely happy that a few things which have been in the works for months went better than I had ever hoped. I am very happy about that. What I’m not so happy about is stringing together twelve-hour days, or the board member (also a member of the Good Ol’ Boys’ Club) who has tried repeatedly to cause me problems.
On Thursday night, I got home from work around 8:30 p.m. Because I had been in meetings outside of the office, there were over thirty emails waiting to be read. Due to the excitement and immediacy of current events, I felt that a response to the emails couldn’t wait until morning. I knew that I wouldn’t make into my office until late morning. I knew that I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. in order to make it to a speaking engagement by 7:30. By the way, I HATE eye-opener breakfasts! Who in the world ever thought up such a painful way to start the workday? After taking a few minutes to change into something comfortable and talk to my family, I sat down to respond to emails. I could feel my stress level rising. I was already exhausted, and I just wanted to crawl into bed. By the time I sat down with my computer, T was already sleeping across the room. I guess I shouldn’t blame him for keeping normal hours and leaving his work at the office. Still, I was frustrated. Watching him sleep just made me feel lonely and isolated.
When I woke up the next day in the early morning darkness, I grabbed my phone from my bedside to check emails. This is how I start each day. I begin working before my feet even touch the floor. After checking mail, I opened up Facebook. The first post I saw was from a friend from back home. She had written: “I wish that I had met you sooner, so that I could have loved you longer.” My heart sank and tears filled my eyes. The next post I saw had been written by this same woman on a private Facebook group page. It said: “Mike died peacefully in my arms a few minutes ago.”
I climbed out of bed into the cold darkness. I walked across the room and into the bathroom to start my day. This news should not have come as a shock. We all knew the end was coming. Mike had been taken to a hospice facility the previous day as had been his wishes. He was only 42 years old. He was handsome and strong, incredibly positive, successful, and happy. He loved his wife and their four children. This is her second time becoming a widow. The first time was when she was married to Mike’s best friend who also died of cancer. Mike was her hero and her second chance at love and happiness.
They both knew that they had been blessed to find each other, to be together, to have found love. They changed everything in their lives because of the love they had found. Mike adopted his friend’s children, and they became the center of his life. They went on to have another little girl. They bought a building and opened a successful business in order to spend each moment of the day working together. A year ago, all of that changed when Mike was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. They sold their building and their business. They fought hard to keep Mike here past the four month sentence that had been issued on his life. They traveled and spent time with their kids. They continued to spend each moment appreciating the love they had found together. Now Mike’s wife is alone again. Four children are without their father, three of them for the second time.
My heart aches at this vast waste of goodness, happiness, and love. I look at my own life, and I wonder where I have gone wrong. I am alive, and yet it seems that all I do is complain about what is not right, what is missing, what I wish was different. I may be alive, but I don’t feel very lively.
I fell asleep in the recliner last night. I had been working on a presentation that I will be giving at a dinner tonight. While I sat under the blanket made by my great-grandma, I fell asleep with the laptop still on my lap. I hadn’t been able to concentrate. My phone rang several times while I worked. People were in and out of the room. My attempts at working on the presentation were disjointed, and my thoughts were on other things. The next thing I knew it was morning, and I was still in the chair with my laptop.
Where is the balance in my life? Where or what is the one thing that drives me and satisfies me the most? It seems that I have become a career machine. While I love my job, is this really where I want to pour out my energy and emotions? I give, but does my career really give back to me all that I need to be happy in my life? Of course not. This loss of a friend has shaken me up and made me take a moment to look at my own life. While I have recently made some major changes, I feel like I’m backsliding into the life I had hoped to leave behind. I’m becoming entrenched again in work, more work, and very little of the things that give life definition, meaning, and value.
It’s time to reflect and realign.