Growing up, I always thought life was supposed to be such a way. I mean, I had it all figured out. I would work my 8 to 5, come home to my kids, cook dinner, spend time with my family, and go to bed at 10 pm. Somewhere in between our responsibilities, my husband and I would have connected intimately. Whether it was physical or emotional, all of my needs would have been met. I thought that was going to be my life. I watched my parents live it, and it only made sense that I would too.
Somewhere in the last 36 years, things changed. I spent most of my professional life as an Executive Assistant in the corporate world supporting C-Suite Execs. Then 4 years ago, I took the risk of leaving a predictable life to the scary unknown world of self-enterprising. I took everything I saved up, withdrew from my 401K ( I know, crazy stupid right?) and decided to open an event planning business with my then-boyfriend-now- husband. It was a mix of 40% crazy, 30% passion and 30% inspiration. I guess it takes all 3 to really make that jump. Who does that? Leave a stable position with countless opportunities to make a living in an industry they barely knew? Me. That’s who.
My partner and I didn’t agree on a lot of things. Starting a business with your significant other takes immense patience and respect. But that’s a different post that I will touch on later ( yes, fortunately we are still married lol) =)
I worked days and nights. I decided to pick up the pennies before picking up the dollars. To me, the hours worked would eventually turn into the hours paid. I am a firm believer in the saying “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” As the business gained more attention, and I was increasing my following, life became harder. Of course it did.
The days would bleed into the nights, and the frequency of the school office calling demanding to know when I was picking up my kids was increasing. I was forgetting my schedules and my kids took the hit. I was a mama, a friend, a wedding planner, a mentor, a chef, a wife, an English- speaking daughter to a Vietnamese mother who suffered depression. Just name a title, and I was likely fulfilling it. I was pulled in so many directions with my mind and body diced into a million tiny pieces- none of which mastered their role.
From the moment I woke up, eyes squinting from the dryness, I was already firing off emails and responding to texts. I couldn’t shut down the noise inside my brain. It wasn’t until one cold and rainy night in January of 2017, I was laying down on the couch, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. Every breath I tried to draw, my lungs restricted its capacity. I couldn’t feel my limbs. My heart palpitated, and I could feel the organs inside me freeze up. My whole body eventually went numb and I was terrified. “Is this what you feel before you die?” I shuddered. After the ambulance came, we found out I experienced a full-blown anxiety attack. “What the fuck!” I thought. “If that was an anxiety attack, there is no way I can go on pushing like this!”
Going to the doctor was a total slap in the face. I am no superwoman. I am human. And like any other living thing on this earth, we eventually die. But the number of years we are granted to live this life really depends on the quality of care we give ourselves. What we consume, we become. What we eat, we are.
I was raised in a Buddhist household and I’ve always understood that meditation was a technique heavily practiced by spiritual leaders. Quite frankly, I didn’t care for it growing up. But once I started to do the research, I discovered the benefits were towering. From stress and anxiety relief to lengthening your attention, I decided to adapt this technique in life.
Meditation focuses on breathing and finding a space where you control the present state of the mind. And it’s within that space, that I was able to consciously feel grateful for all that I had. It was in that state, when I was able to manifest the energy needed to achieve my personal and professional goals.
I started to meditate before I go to bed. It helped me transition into sleep peacefully. The next thing I did was identify hours of which my brain worked the best- which was in the early morning hours. I realized that waking up at 4:30 am gave me several hours of peace. I can work out, spend some time focusing on gratitude, and by the time the kids woke up, I would have shot out several emails, contracts and planning work. It gave me the sense of accomplishment I needed to feel good. By 8 am the kids would have had their breakfast and dropped off at school. By 8:30am I would be back on track with work.
I cut up the day into pieces where I would allow myself 3 hours for email responses, 30 mins of lunch, 1 hour of mommy work ( making dental appointments etc) and the rest are spread into real work that produces instant results. Most of my important meetings that require decisions and actions happen by 1 pm, so if there were follow up issues, I would have time to tackle it before anyone closes up shop. I am still very guilty of taking late night meetings, but I am wholeheartedly working my way out of this.
Grocery lists and laundry are tackled on Sundays and I cook things that are created in the Instant Pot. My family gets somewhat healthy meals and I don’t feel like I failed them. I am not cooking these extravagant meals like I used to do daily, but I choose meals that can be prepped and cooked within an hour and a half. I’m also learning to let go of the perception of being the perfect wife and mother. I wanted a Z-Gallery showroom home, but what we have is 1/3 done, clothes stacked up, and the décor is hardly worth looking at. But I’m finally accepting that it’s all baby steps. The more pressure I had in fulfilling these roles, the easier it was for me to crumble when I fell short of my own expectations. This too, is something I am constantly working on.
Some days still bleed to 11 pm. and I still find myself on many impromptu calls. Not every day is perfect but taking care of my body with exercise, meditation, and finding the schedule that works has done wonders for me. I find my threshold for bullshit is much higher and I have more control on my emotional state. Stay tuned for the next few posts as I take a deeper dive into my how I cut my day into reasonable and productive chunks.
Remember, the only person that is responsible for your happiness… is you =) See you soon loves.