In late December a word started swimming through my brain. In the past, there have been Decembers here and there that I’ve chosen a word on which I planned to focus for the upcoming year. After weeks of this word making itself known in my consciousness, I decided it needed to be my word for 2023.
We are coming into a time of our lives in which there will be great change, but also, some of the really hard stuff is coming to an end. We’ve spent the past nearly 16 years raising children with humans who are very different from us. I’ve said it before – raising kids with one other human who has their own experiences/morals/thoughts on parenting is hard enough. Add in two additional humans, making four parents total, forget about it. Saying it’s “hard” is almost offensive in its simplicity. But when your kids turn 18, first one and then the other, the amount of things we have to work on together decreases significantly.
In addition, one of the things that has been particularly challenging for me is work. For the past couple of years the sheer volume of work, coupled with days on end of back-to-back meetings, has made it next to impossible to avoid burnout. Side note, I’ve decided that if the military ever wants to get creative with their torture tactics, put people in back-to-back meetings every day on top of a robust workload. It actually hurts the brain. But in December, a reorg promised more focused work, less meetings, and the potential to actually do my job.
All signs were pointing to EASY.
We rolled into January with our house on the market, having just celebrated a lovely Christmas and New Years, and I was feeling the EASY wash over me. I was ready.
Okay – obviously – putting our house on the market did not mean I’d be sitting by a pool eating bonbons. It required keeping the house spotless 24/7. It required me to race out of the house, with a dog, in the middle of workdays, and find a dog-friendly place to work when showings were requested. Sometimes with very short notice. But we’d decided that selling, instead of building new on our existing lot, was going to be the easy way forward.
We had two great offers that seemed to fall into our laps easily.
They just as easily both fell through.
We rolled into February and rescued a second dog. To be clear – we have never been a two-dog family. We also have zero experience with challenging dogs. But when we were asked, the alternative didn’t feel acceptable, so the decision felt easy.
Then came March. Two dogs – one acting out because he never wanted a sister, the other acting out because she’d been re-homed twice in the two weeks before she got to us, we’d dropped the price of our house, and we were considering putting new flooring down and repainting the whole house to make it more marketable, and we still hadn’t found a new house to buy that we considered “the one.”
I started to realize that none of this felt easy. In fact, it all felt stupidly hard.
April showers were actually many many many inches of snow, followed by medical issues, a decision to pull the house off the market to build instead, and the prospect of several work trips over the summer leaving my husband and girls with the two dogs and all that entails.
Where, exactly, is the easy I was fully expecting? I mean for real – it has felt like Opposite Day every single freaking day.
It wasn’t that I’d hoped to take the easy route this year. I wasn’t thinking that I’d stop doing hard things. But I really wanted this year to be the one in which we made decisions and proceeded with things that felt easy. No more putting ourselves through the ringer unless doing so felt right and easy. Along the lines of “if it isn’t a hell yes, it’s a no.” But so far, 2023 has not been a year of black and white situations. It’s been impossibly grey. Nearly every decision has been a tricky one with serious repercussions.
And here we are. Q1 = over. May = more than halfway over. We are staring down summer. How did we get here?!
A couple weekends ago I went on a Girls’ Weekend with girlfriends. On Saturday we found a perfect restaurant, and a perfect table, with a perfect breeze, with a perfect waiter. And, as you do with your girlfriends, we spent the afternoon (hours!) drinking and laughing. I do not do this often. The extent of my drinking is typically 1-2 glasses of wine if we go out to dinner. And that is it. Thus, I don’t have tons of experiences anymore in which I have zero idea how we got to certain topics or what all was said. What I remember is someone asking what I would do if I could do anything and without missing a beat I said I’d write books, go on book tours, and do TED Talks.
I mean – obvi.
So here’s the thing. I’m starting to think that things haven’t been easy yet this year because I’m not doing or focusing on the right things. Because, as I said so clearly after several glasses of wine, I want to be writing and speaking. I’m so close to having all of the things I’ve ever wanted – I have the most amazing life partner, our girls have turned into exceptional young women, I have a ridiculously supportive family, crazy successful women as friends, we live in a neighborhood we love that is close to a dog park that is truly my happy place, but there is one thing I haven’t seemed to figure out in my 47 years. Everyone around me has this idea of me that is very different from how I see myself. None of them have any doubt I can do the crazy a-s things I have as dreams. They all assume it will happen. My entire life people have told me I’m a powerhouse, a star, a force (their words – not mine). Why don’t I believe any of these people? They’re not stupid, they’re not the kind of people who just say things to make me feel good – I’ve surrounded myself with people who will quickly tell me when I’m being ridiculous. I don’t *think* they’re making sh-t up to pacify me.
Sooo…what if I just start believing them? Wouldn’t that be easier than whatever nonsense I’ve been telling myself over the years? In my career, I’ve often held back professionally with the idea that I’m not an expert at this or that, but I *am* an expert at the part of my job that matters most. So why am I stopping myself from doing what I can do? Whether in my current career or in my dream career.
I’m finally in a place where my brain isn’t fried at the end of every work day. Our girls are grown to the extent that evenings are no longer filled with their activities and their care. I’m no longer cleaning my house daily for showings. I have time and capacity to write and do the things of which my actual dreams are made. Maybe if I start taking steps to do so, this year will start to feel easy. Like it’s supposed to.