"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." - Lao Tzu
It's been a while. Thanks for the notes, the messages and the emails asking how I am, if I'm OK and when I'd be posting again. I know I left things dangling with the last entry about the night Annie Groves came up to the Beaver. I'll come back to that. First things first.
On September 13, 2015 I turned 59 years young and like most women the thought of that next birthday and the benchmark of turning six decades old triggered a lot of introspective thought. I realized in those thoughts that I wasn't in a good place. This wasn't about me turning 60, it was more about me not feeling right in my own skin. It's difficult to find the appropriate words to articulate it but I'm sure there is someone out there who will say "Yes, I know exactly what she's talking about." I struggled when I was awake. I struggled when I was asleep. I was never at rest. My emotional balance was off its center mark. My body ached. I had trouble concentrating. I was exhausted just walking a flight of stairs. Excess became a part of my daily routine. Too many late nights. Too many late mornings. Too much food. Too many drive thru's. Too much alcohol. Too much coffee. Too much time on a sofa. Too much time with a remote control in my hand. Too much time on the phone. Too much time online. Too much time in traffic. Too much time with an ATM card at my beck and call. Too much time fighting battles on Hamburger Hill followed by those moments of wondering how on earth I ever got to that place.
So I decided that it was time to begin my journey of recovering who I was, what was truly important to me, why I was here and where I wanted to go. One. Step. At. A. Time.
In October of last year I began keeping a notebook. This wasn't one of those Dear Diary things. In it I wrote down all sorts of stuff. Things that most of us took for granted and never give a second thought to. Things like what time I woke up. What time I went to bed. Where I was spending all my nickels and dimes. Every bill and every credit card statement I paid. Every single glass of booze I slurped up. How much TV I watched that day and what it was that I was actually watching. I wrote down how much time I spent in my car, on the phone, online, in the grocery store, in the mall, in my office. I wrote down how much I laughed, how much I cried, how often I felt absolutely nothing at all. Numbness is an all consuming black hole. Nothing was off limits. I wrote it all down. Day after day. Night after night. Moment after moment. How was I going to figure out where I was going until I could figure out where I had been?
So I started to fill those pages every single day. They were written in pen, pencil, crayon, Sharpies and my beloved Uniball pens. I peeled off price stickers, taped in airplane tickets, parking receipts, event stubs, restaurant bills and yes, there was even the occasional candy wrapper flattened in between those pages. I did this every day for six full weeks. It was all there, scribbled in that dollar store notebook.
This was my life. This is what every single day of my life looked like. Who knew there was that many re-runs of The Big Bang on TV. I'll be honest. I didn't like what I saw and I realized that I needed to change my life or my life would swallow me whole. So it began in late October.
Step One. I took all those pages and sifted through them. I realized how wasteful, lazy, greedy, materialistic, complacent and sedentary I had become. I began making lists of the parts of my life that I needed to improve. Post-It notes started to line the walls of my office as I worked to create a matrix of recovery for myself. Self reflection is never an easy task. There was no mirror mirror on the wall moments for me. This was real and really hard. This was necessary.
Step Two. Purge, purge, purge. I was weighted down by the crap of life. I needed to shed this skin. It was time to cut back on the gluttony. All the self-indulgences, the excesses of everyday life, the food, the booze, the late nights, the unnecessary spending. Seriously. How many pairs of shoes can one closet hold? More than anything it was time to get up off my ass. I was beginning to look like Jabba the Hutt's stand in and that is never a good reflection in the mirror.
Step Three. I realized that some things I couldn't do by myself. I was careful though. I didn't splash the walls of my social media with declarations about self-improvement. These were private moments, to be shared with those that mattered and after that, I didn't give a shit. I recognized that telling another person that you need help isn't a sign of being weak, although I will admit, there is nothing that leaves you feeling any more naked in front of the world than saying "Please, I need your help." Today, looking back, I understand now that it was an integral part of where I am at this moment. Without doing that, I wouldn't have made it this far.
Step Four. I picked up the phone. I started calling people I felt I could trust. It was a very small list. Four people to be exact. I told them what I had done and how I felt about all those pages I had written. I told them exactly and forthright why I had called upon them. I asked them to help me. The help came and today the help is still coming.
So here it is, almost 12 months later and two weeks away from my 60th birthday.
What have I learned?
I've learned that you only get back what you put in. There is no magic pill. There is no 30 day transformation. The only person to answer for me, is me. The greatest gift we have in our life is the right to make a choice. Every day is a new day. Yeah, there are curve balls and pot holes all along the way, every single day. What you do with that day is your choice. No day is perfect. Stop wishing for what you can't have and appreciate what you do have and if you have more than you need, then share it with someone who doesn't have what they need. If you want things in your own life to change, only you have the power to act upon that change. Of course, these are things that we pretty much already know about life. What we do with that knowledge however, is a whole other ballgame. Toughest thing I've learned is to take off the mask. It is OK to let people see who I really am and that I am flawed and that in my flaws I find my true self. Today, I'm just super chuffed about being in the game because I got game.
Last night I was sitting on my exercise ball talking with Geoff Potter, my trainer. I asked him "Geoff, ten months ago when you started working with me did you think we'd be here today?" I think my question caught him off guard. He responded "Do you want me to answer that question honestly? No, I didn't. We were approaching Christmas and I thought, no way is she going to get through this part and stay on track but then you did. You just kept keeping on with things and then there seemed to be this turn about point when I recognized that you were all in on this. That made me go all in. This has been just as good for me as it's been for you." Talk about getting a real time validation. Knowing that my path could make someone else's path even better was huge. It was a pivotal discussion for me. Which brought me to this posting today.
I could be flip and say "Yup, girlfriend got her Mojo back" but I won't because then that seems to trivialize everything that I've worked at over the past 12 months. It's bigger than that. For me, to be here today, to write this, I had to step away and recalibrate. That will be an ongoing process but from where I'm standing, for the first time in a long time, the ground underneath my feet feels solid and even.
So, with all of that being said, the most important thing I've discovered about myself is that the very best of me is yet to be realized. That, in of itself, is the very best birthday present I could ever give myself. Happy 60th birthday to me!
To those who've come here and read this, please, leave me a note, post a message, say hello. Tell me your story. Share your journey. Leave me a birthday greeting. Or just tell I'm full of shit because I'm OK with that too. It's your call. Your messages are the Inukshuks on the landscape of this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.
Finally, I want to give thanks, love and respect to some very important people. First and foremost, to my husband Dennis, you are my heart and you've always had my back. To my daughter Megan, you rock kid. Thank you for reminding me that I have done something really right in my life. To my friend Sharon Lamarche, thanks for being a real, true friend when I called you for help. You made me ask myself some really hard questions. Lastly to Geoff Potter, the world's greatest trainer, we are going to hit that 100 lb. chest press my friend. I believe. You believe. #PumpItUp #GreenLifeCleanLife
It's great to be back.