This post has been a long time in the making, both in theory and in reality. I started it a long time ago (which in hindsight was probably foreshadowing), and have added to it multiple times, but never felt like it was done. Which says so much about the post topic itself, and how hard it is for me to….let go.
I’m super competitive. Like, really really competitive. I’m always polite, always friendly, but what is mostly running through my mind at anything that provides competition is how I’m going to win. And the person I’m most competitive with? Myself.
I don’t know if I’ve always been like this. I think it comes from my dad, who I tend to take after in physical aspects of life. He can’t sit still. He’s always on the move, always going, finding his next project, the next thing he wants to learn. It’s beautiful, really. He’s almost 70 years old, but every day brings the possibility of him trying something new or learning something different. He just started refinishing a boat named Sylvia II, and has thrown his all into making her beautiful again. (You can see more about Miss Sylvia on her Facebook page here!) I love the passion he has for life, and the insatiable appetite for knowledge, and his ability to retain everything he learns. But along with all of that, he’s also very competitive and a control freak, both traits which I have also inherited. I’m sure from the outside, it’s comedic to try and watch the two of us try and do anything, because we both want to be in charge, and we both don’t like to give up control of a situation. But from the inside, it’s maddening, I tell you!
I digress. The point here is that I’m trying to learn to let go a little more. To understand that sometimes the beauty is in the not knowing, the not doing. Sometimes letting other people lead, and see where it takes you.
Usually, when I decide I have an interest in something, I also decide I have to master it. This works great for a little while, until I have so many balls up in the air that I’m trying to juggle and master that I just don’t have enough hours in the day to keep up with the juggling act. Back in a tennis league? Get bumped up to a higher rating level. Started CrossFit? Start signing up for competitions. Eating paleo? Oh sure. Set up a blog, and try to design the whole thing yourself while trying to post recipes and take food photos at the same time. Pole fitness? Oh, why not just sign up to run the studio, on top of your full-time job? And let’s just throw a little instructor training on top of it.
The funny thing is, I don’t see it when I’m in it. I add these things slowly, one by one, until there’s so many that I’m not sure what to focus on.
A year ago, here’s what my schedule looked like: I was in a tennis league, with practice on Monday nights and matches on Wednesday nights. I was in pole fitness classes on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, and attending CrossFit at 6am three to four days a week, with yoga on Wednesday mornings, ya know, just to get a little stretching in. I went to work for 8 hours in between workouts just to kill those hours, because, what else am I going to do? I can’t workout all day long. (Snort. I also go to work to pay the bills. Details.)
But in looking back, I know why I made my schedule like this. On June 4, 2014, our house burned down. Not all the way down, but enough that we couldn’t live in it for 10 months. I was asleep inside, and was woken by the smoke alarm. The stress of the fire was nothing compared to the stress of rebuilding and dealing with insurance and contractors. And the fire itself occurred after I had been at my new job for 3 weeks. Sports were what I used as a coping mechanism. I loved the challenge, the physical grind, that left me tired and finally able to sleep at night.
So, despite my denial (and boy, was I in denial), this wasn’t a sustainable schedule, and something had to give. I decided that I hated rushing to tennis and sitting in traffic to get there, so I didn’t sign up for the next league.
This was great! I had Monday and Wednesday nights at home now, was saving money on gas, wasn’t mad from sitting in traffic, and I might actually get to cook something in order to have a blog post here and there for said paleo blog that I decided to build!
That was short-lived. Within no time, I’d signed up to help run the pole fitness studio. When multiple instructors left at once, I took on the added challenge of instructor training without batting an eye, and without putting my foot down that studio management hours would have to be cut back.
And I tried. Damn, did I try. I spent almost every waking moment trying to work on studio management things at home, making sure I was at instructor training 3 nights a week, coming in on the weekends to cover more time and log more hours.
And then, one night, while working the evening shift at work, some randomness hit me smack on the head, and said, “um, what are you doing? this is ridiculous.”
I was demanding too much of myself, and not giving myself a break. I was being abused and walked on and the more I gave, the more was taken from me. The end result? I had no energy. I was drained. It was more exhausting to me than when I had 17 physical fitness activities every day.
So I walked. I had to. It was really hard to do, but I couldn’t go there any longer, because if I allowed myself to go back, I wouldn’t quit. I would keep on going, convince myself I could keep doing this. I knew that whatever was happening with me was a flash, a moment in time, and if I didn’t listen, it would escape me. So I listened.
I’m so very glad I did. It’s been a couple of months now, and I’m doing better at learning to live in moderation. I currently attend CrossFit 2 or 3 days a week. Some mornings, when I look up the WOD, and I groan, then I just sleep in. And I’m ok with that. I’m not trying to compete anymore. I’m just showing up, doing my workouts a few days a week, and going home. And it’s wonderful.
I’ve played a little tennis, here and there. A couple of matches, but no full-time commitments.
I have a pole at home. I practice on it when I can, or when I feel a song that makes me feel inspired or want to dance.
My wedding planning business is no longer suffering as much as it was, and I’ve booked 6 brides for next year so far, with engagement season right around the corner.
And here’s the thing I’ve come to realize: I’m happy. Happier than I think I was before. Deep down, I’m a homebody. I like sitting on the couch, snuggling my pup, and watching some Gilmore Girls or Pretty Little Liars when the mood strikes me. I love sweatpants. I love cooking dinner. I love reading books.
All the things I didn’t have time for before, I do now. I’m slowing down. Learning to enjoy the world around me, rather than speeding through it so fast I leave everything in my wake spinning. I’m beginning to remember what my life was like before I needed to do ALL THE THINGS. Here are a few lessons I have learned in my journey of “quitting.”
You have to take care of you. Seriously, I know that seems like an obvious statement. But only you know what you need. Make sure you’re getting it. I read a statement the other day that really hit home with me. It said, “Your body is always talking to you. Are you always listening?” So simple, so true, but so often overlooked.
Take time to do ‘nothing.’ Our world is so fast paced, so wired in. Everyone is on a phone, sending a text, working on a computer. I find that if I take a little while to step away, I have such a refreshed view of a situation, and life as a whole. Unplug. Go camping. Look at the stars. Appreciate nature. The phone and texts and emails and video games will all be there when you get back, demanding your attention once again. (We recently spent a weekend at the Good Egg Permaculture Resort, found on airbnb–highly recommend if you need a “reset” on life!)
Don’t be afraid to start again. There’s a great quote that I recite in my head often:
“A path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you.”― Carlos Castaneda
Just because you start something doesn’t mean its the right thing for you. Life is short, and our time here is not guaranteed. Don’t waste your time on things that you are not deeply, madly passionate about. Make sure you’re investing your time in things that you have no regrets about spending your time doing at the end of the day. And never underestimate the power of a simple, “no.” Sometimes, that’s all you need to say to put yourself first.
Live in the moment. Stop worrying about what the next thing on your list is. (If you’re like me, you know you have that list, that you carry around, marking things off to feel accomplished with your days.) Every once in awhile, put the list down. Stop worrying about the next thing that needs to get done. Just stop for a minute, and take it in. Maybe it’s a song you love that suddenly comes on, or a walk in the park with your dog, or whatever. You know what your things are. Those ones you rush through or turn your back on so you can DO MORE. You don’t always need to do more. Sometimes, its ok to just ‘be.’
Here’s to putting yourself first, and knowing when enough is enough. I’m still learning, but I’m so glad I’ve started trying.