I'm hitting the big Five-Oh today, so I figured it was time for a few deeper-than-usual thoughts. I've been staving off the inevitable midlife crisis so far, but I feel like it's high time now. As they say, better late than never, so I told my husband that I need to lease a red Ferrari and hire a 25-year-old boy toy to prop up my fragile ego.
Why should the guys get all the fun and all we get is hot flashes and night sweats?
Though, in all seriousness, I consider myself extremely lucky right now, what with being in a so much better space than only eight or nine months ago.
In August 2013, my well-meaning but deluded bosses in the investment research company I work for promoted me to chief editor, complete with six-figure salary plus bonuses plus annual cut of the company sales, plus a boatload more responsibility and an amount of stress that drove me up the wall.
I'm not the manager type, and I never applied for a manager job. I worked for the company for ten years and always made sure to stay on the sidelines, refusing to get dragged into corporate politics and hierarchies. Until the fateful day when, after numerous raises and praises, the big shots decided that I deserved to rise to the upper echelons of Mount Olympus.
Before too long, I was waking up at 3:00 a.m. wondering if I had forgotten something, whether I would make the deadline that was fast approaching, or if that blunt comment I made to an analyst would come back to bite me in the ass. I was irritable all the time and took it out on Husband #1 and Son #1.
To make matters worse, one week before the promotion a very dear friend had died of aggressive lung cancer - a complete shock to me since we'd lost contact for a few years and I hadn't known she was sick. I learned of her death the day she actually died, when her brother put up a memorial page for her on Facebook and invited me. It was a huge shock for me, and three weeks later I quit smoking.
What I didn't know was that the nicotine apparently had covered up some deeper issues, i.e., chemical imbalances, and when it was gone for good, I felt as if I was going crazy. I would cry at the drop of a hat, I'd have extreme mood swings, joint aches, menopausal symptoms... whatever you can imagine that would make a relatively normal human being feel like the Wicked Witch of the West.
And that was on top of the stress from my new job.
I did get a grip on the chemical imbalance, with the help of my naturopath. And I lasted almost a year as a chief editor before I was ready to throw in the towel. (Did I mention that making shitloads of money only goes so far?)
Finally I quit, or tried to, but my bosses persuaded me to make it first a three-month sabbatical and then a freelance gig, with as many or as few hours as I wanted. As a result, I'm a much poorer but very happy camper now.
Last year in early May, towards the end of my chief editor stint, HB#1 and I went for a weekend trip to Charleston, NC, and visited the Magnolia Plantation. Part of the vast property was a tiny little petting zoo, and I remember genuinely envying the young woman who cared for the animals. I would have happily scooped poop and worked outside all day, surrounded by wild and domestic animals, and no stress whatsoever.
Just last week, at the League of Vermont Writers' annual meeting, I started chatting with the woman who sat next to me, and it turned out that both she and I had recently left high-pressure jobs. She said at times she had wished for a psychotic break, thinking how wonderful it must feel to be admitted to a psych ward and be taken care of for a while... no obligations, no expectations, just peace and rest.
I stared at her slack-jawed because that was exactly what I had thought during the worst of it. I never would have believed that someone else besides me would have had such crazy thoughts. (She's a park ranger today, by the way.)
I guess what it all boils down to is that you need to follow your dreams and do what is comfortable for you. By that, I don't mean to constantly stay in your comfort zone - it's important to challenge yourself every now and then - but that it won't do to compromise your well-being and your principles for the almighty mammon (or for whatever reason).
Manifestation works - and you'll hear more about it in the coming weeks - but what is equally important are the leaps of faith.
All my life, "playing it safe" has rarely worked for me. When I know I want to get out, I need to get out. I can't wait for the next job, the next guy, the next secure platform to land on.
God/Spirit/the Universe abhors stagnation. So keep moving and don't get complacent. I think I'll make that my motto for 2015.
Unapologetically eclectic author. Snarky non-fiction writer and manifestation queen. Sharp-eyed copy editor. VDPP-certified Life, Family, and Marriage Counselor with way too little patience. Lacking the political-correctness gene, but equipped with plenty of bluntness chromosomes instead. You're welcome to ask me a question... though you may not like the answer, har-har.