What really matters most? Isn’t this the million-dollar question we ask ourselves at various points through our lives? We all know the answers – family, health, happiness, stability, relationships, peace, purpose, time – and you may have some others. The question holds so much weight, is so profound, because while we can easily answer it, so many of us are not living so that these commodities come first. We know we should put them at the forefront of our lives but we either feel we can’t or won’t. Too many of us are consumed by the rat race or achieving ultimate “success”, or are living based on the pressures we put on ourselves, or by those we allow others to pile on us, or by the skewed societal standards we let infiltrate our existence and drive our actions and decisions. How many of you feel burdened by forces and obligations that have misaligned your priorities?
I’ve been guilty of this, certainly over the last few years. When my life drastically changed last August I found myself with so much free time. At first it was wonderful and then I began to get antsy and anxious and began to ruefully absorb the gravity of my situation…of my existence.
You may have noticed it’s been a couple of months since my last blog post. It’s because I’ve been grappling with so many plights pertaining to the “what really matters most” question and the push and pull to live for purpose or prestige; of caving to a 9-to-5 lifestyle or staying the course of struggling, yet electrifying entrepreneurship, and of “just being” versus conquering the world.
“Just being” is not easy for me. I’m a doer, a go-getter, an achiever, a conqueror. However, for many reasons over the last few months I’ve had to learn to surrender. First, I surrendered to the reality that a season I’m usually trailblazing through was happening without me. For those of you who are new to reading my blog I’m referring to wedding season. 2018 would’ve marked 14 years in business, but since I lost my business nearly 8 months ago I’m on the outside looking in instead of being in the thick of it. The new year came and the pace and energy, and connectedness to other people were in stark contrast to what I knew and lived for so many years. I’m going to be totally honest, I succumbed to a depressive state in February and March because of this reality. This in itself was excruciating because my natural demeanor is sunshine and rainbows so it took me more time than I expected to dig myself out of that doom-and-gloom! I was kind of pathetic!
In this time I also felt like I had to get a job. I wasn’t being pressured by my husband or anyone else for that matter, I just felt like I had to go back out into the professional arena and contribute again. I guess I was feeling useless. The problem I encountered was there were virtually no job prospects that even remotely interested me, and the few resumes I did send resulted in nothing. Aside from owning and building a business and serving as the CEO for 13 years, I have a pretty nice resume, but entering the job search scene was much like entering the dating world after being “off the market” for over a decade. So much has changed and I was starting to feel irrelevant and antiquated. I felt…old!
The antiquated feelings lead me to my next revelation, and that is the sobering fact that I’m past mid-life. When you’re moving through life as quick as a lightening bolt it’s easy to not stop and think about these things. However, when all you have is time it’s amazing where your thoughts will take you. This can be both beneficial and a hinderance.
Anyway, here’s my point. The average American lives to be about 79. That puts me nearly five and a half years past the halfway point in my life by this average. I certainly hope I live longer than 79, but even if I do, this is presently a hard pill to swallow. The first half of my life is gone. This is the first time the realization of my mortality has taken center stage. It’s consumed my mind for the past few months and has become the compass for many recent decisions, and I’m certain will be the marker for many future ones.
This existential crossroads in relation to the other factors I mentioned have thwarted a period of deep soul-searching and pause as I work to create a life that is designed so that my cup runneth over; so that I’m truly living for what really matters. What really matters to me has changed many times in my life, as I’m sure it has for you too. Interestingly, the most paramount shift has happened since I lost my company – and it’s absolutely a shift for the better! It’s been a wondrous, sticky, heart and soul thumping voyage the past year, but the last few months have had the most impact on me.
I’ve concluded a few things:
- Owning my time and how I spend it is of the utmost importance. Putting my hours into family, friends, taking care of myself, and supporting causes that matter to me will come first. The ability to own your time and divvy it up as you wish is a powerful thing. I had to learn this. I’m still getting used to this notion. It’s not easy, especially if you’re one to give so much of yourself to others, which I did for countless years!
- I’m an entrepreneur. The end. For now, I’m taking my sweet time working on some new business concepts and I’m still writing my books without the pressure of deadlines. I don’t see myself working for anyone else and I’m not going to get a job just to have one or to relish in the esteem of a title. It will mean nothing when I leave this earth. This decision may never make me rich with money, but it will make we rich with time and experiences, which are far more valuable than any material thing. I’ll drive my 2003 Cadillac Escalade with the cracked windshield and mirror until the wheels fall off if I must.
- This is one I recommend we all do! I’m taking ownership of my health – in every facet. From my diet to my exercise regimen to doctors visits and tests, to finding ways to live more naturally and from the earth, this is an area I’ve made and will keep as a top priority. Many of my future posts will address aging and health. Turning 45 and being middle-age have affected me physically, mentally, and emotionally. So much has changed in my life over the last year and some of those changes are related to getting older. I’ve started to see a naturopathic-holistic practitioner and she’s been a valuable addition to my life and my realigned purpose. I’ve recently battled hormone imbalances and a halt in my metabolism, which have never been problems for me. So many life-altering realities that I know I’m not alone in suffering from! My female readers, you can look forward to posts and conversations on the subjects of health and aging as a woman in the 21st century.
- For the first time EVER I’m taking the summer off. I’m giving myself permission to not be a workhorse. This summer will be spent making memories with my tribe. It will be spent traveling to visit with family and close friends, reading, writing, riding bikes, basking in the sun and the sand, playing with my children and having a love affair with my husband! I’m going to relax and get to know myself more and continue to chip away at creating a meaningful life of real and raw purpose that I’m proud of!
- The second half of my life is going to be spent living by my standards and values instead of others; lived by my expectations, not by anyone else’s; lived fully, not unfulfilled! I’m working to live slowly, simply, wholly, and taking in the beauty of this life and the world around me.
A couple of days ago I went to the hospital because I injured my calf working out at the gym. When the doctor came in he asked me what I did for a living. I said “nothing.” He looked at me perplexed, like I answered the question wrong. With a big smile on my face I answered him again, “right now, I do nothing.” For the first time in my life that answer felt right…and liberating!
As the days get warmer and the sun gets brighter I encourage you to take some time to do nothing!
In the meantime, share with me what matters most to you? What are you doing to put those things first? Have you fully realized your mortality and how has that changed your priorities?
It’s good to be back!
With all the love in my heart! XOXO