When Life Demands a Pause

We live our lives in a great hurry. We run from this activity to the next, from this meeting to the next one, and we look back on a completed year with a smug, satisfied smile for all the things we accomplished. Yet, what was truly accomplished? Were important things getting done, or were you just busy? The way we spend our time, and the goals we set for ourselves become our legacy. It is my hope for 2018 and beyond that I am more focused on wisely using my time.

IMG_2061I became scattered and lost when we moved from Dallas to Seattle three years ago. My husband went to his job every day, the kids went to their school, and I didn’t know where to go except home. I was mildly depressed, and I perfected the art of time wasting. My days were a blur of household chores, text threads with friends back home and lots and lots of social media scrolling, liking and commenting. I can reflect on that time as a terrible funk, a semi-dark time in my life, or I can also choose to look at it as a giant lesson in embracing changes and slowing down.

 

IMG_0222Slowing down was an inevitable result of the move. Starting over in Seattle means I have fewer social engagements and clients. These days you can find me writing, reading blogs, taking photos, planning what I will write and so on (all solitary activities). This slower pace has meant I can pick the kids up from school, take them on afternoon adventures and spend more time with them in general. I had a lot of support in Dallas, and my image consulting business was beginning to take off. As a result, I saw my children a lot less than I see them now. So, this forced pause was good for us. What a blessing it has been to enjoy them during these sweet, young years. My business can always get a re-boot. I can’t get time back with my kids.

The “slowing down” part was easier for me than the “embracing changes” part of this lesson. I do not like change. I do not enjoy the thrill of a new challenge. I freeze, fearful of the unknown, desperate to go back to what I know, my comfort zone. Moving to Seattle, a city that is quite culturally different from The South where I had lived for 42 years, was about as big of a change as I have ever faced. I had to put myself out there, making many efforts to build a social and a professional network from nothing. Three years later, I am relatively well-connected in the Seattle fashion industry, and I have lovely, supportive friends. I am proud of that accomplishment. I love that I have these new connections. I would not know them if I had not been forced into a dis-comfort zone.

The Bottom Line: Life always has a few tricks up its sleeve. I am sure it has blindsided you on many occasions just as it has me. When life tells you to stop or slow down, do it. Have faith that there is a greater purpose for it than at first meets the eye. Try not to be angry or resentful about it, though these feelings are normal and you have every right to feel them. Just don’t stay at the pity party for more than one drink. (My thanks to Stacy for that great illustration.)

IMG_8167You will arrive at the right places at the right time. All the things that are meant for you will be yours. You don’t have to sprint. No one will take them from you. Learn and grow in the “pause” moments. Happy New Year!

Looking Back and Moving Forward

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Sometimes you have to look back in order to move forward. I have been doing a lot of looking back in the almost three years we have been in Seattle. At first, my looking back was because I was lonely and homesick, which I still feel at times. Now, with year-end upon us, I am looking back to better understand why I am where I am and to determine what I should do next.

There is a lot about life that does not make sense. We have seen a lot of chaos, heartbreak and disaster this year, more than I recall in my lifetime: hurricanes, wildfires, wars, bombings and the threat of nuclear attack are daily topics of conversation, real occurrences in our lives or in the lives of those we hold dear.

We imagine our life will go a certain way, and it rarely, if ever, plays out the way we pictured it. Why? Because that is life. Life cannot be pinned down, and it cannot be predicted. In the end, life is a compilation of one unexpected moment after another. You can fight against it, or you can work with it. Over and over life is teaching me this.

I am a reformed people-pleaser and a reformed planner. As for the former, I still like people to like me, and I work a bit too diligently at it at times. However, I do accept that some people will like me and others will not, and there is nothing I can do to change their minds. As for the latter, I feel the pendulum has swung too far the other direction. Much to the dismay of my data-driven, super plan-y husband, I plan and prepare for almost nothing. I let the day take me where it will. I do not make New Year’s resolutions, I do not make a to-do list for the day or the week, and I do not write down personal goals or goals for my business. Now, I am the last-minute girl who is always 5-10 minutes late to her engagement, under-prepared and slightly frazzled. There must be a happy medium, don’t you think?

I was telling a trusted colleague about this swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, and she observed that I needed to give myself permission to let my hair down. A great deal has occurred in my life, in the last seven years especially, that were far beyond my control: giving birth to twins at 32 weeks, my mom’s diagnosis of a non-curable blood cancer (she has been in remission for five years), and our move to Seattle, Washington from Dallas, Texas, where I had spent 21 years building my social and professional life. So, yes, I needed to stop planning for a while, and just be in the moment.

future and pastBut I don’t like the feeling of not being prepared, so, for the first time in a long time, I am going to make a list of 2018 personal goals, as well as a list of goals for my business. I have always feared writing goals because I felt I was setting myself up for failure. On the contrary, written goals are guideposts designed to help me succeed. I may not meet them all, but at least I know the direction I am heading. One thing my younger brother said a few years ago that stays with me, “An anxious mind is an unfocused mind.” If I want less anxiety in 2018, I have to create focus for myself. While I still want to flex and bend as life throws me curve balls, I need tangible goals to keep me moving forward and to keep me grounded.

I have shared a lot of my heart with you this year: a day of heartbreak, a big change for my daughter and my insight regarding social media. You have been very kind to read these posts and to offer wisdom and encouragement. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

I will leave you with a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which gives me comfort: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.”

Black and white photo of me by Christina Childress.