The celebration of the new year brought questions of improvement and worth of every action to my mind. How is it that I can be so “busy” and yet so absolutely unfulfilled? Why am I so unhappy even though I labor on?My frantic brain searched its files for signs of peace and satisfaction to no avail. It must be here somewhere…I had it once…
The constant analyzer, I started looking at every part of my operational life–home, work, recreation, community, what emotional state did I come in 2017 with and what is adding to it or taking away from it? I am smarter than this! Why do I feel so unsettled, so frustrated, so chaotic, so MISERABLE?
A friend said to me “you had peace once, you just misplaced it.” I did. I did have it once. I left it somewhere on the road between Joy and Fear, before Grief, Frustration, Loneliness and Determination. Somewhere around Reevaluating and Change. I’m on my way to Self Worth and Significance but had to take a few detours. I guess I thought Peace would always be my get away driver.
Up early one morning, approximately 3am, I poured my coffee and contemplated the peace I had lost. Where could I have left it? Is there any left after all this time? Does peace have a half life as long as pain, grief, or uncertainty? What do I need to get it growing again? Can I get it growing again? Why do the things I love most no longer bring me absolute joy?
All of a sudden, an image of a balance sheet popped in my head…a lopsided balance sheet like the one the local non-profit I manage has. Debt…HUGE debt. Ugh! Seriously?
“Damn! Can’t I EVER get away from work,” I thought. Then it struck me…MY balance sheet. I came into it with a small investment of joy fueled by hopeful ambition that I could help people who needed a leg up to be their best. This was an asset by definition. It was something I could invest in the effort.The odds were not in my favor but I fear nothing other than insignificance.
Other assets began to appear…Courage, energy, fearlessness, integrity, experience, relationships…then the assets began to dwindle.
Liabilities appeared in number. Doubt, lack of personal support, spousal expectation (this is provincial Virginia after all. Wives are expected to be home in the evening to cook and clean and do laundry and manage the business of the family by filing, mailing and banking, caring for the animals and being the image of a consummate southern lady in public and a loving and attentive mate in private…curled hair, make-up and all. It doesn’t matter that I have 13 employees, 5 board members, 300 plus customers, monthly, quarterly, and weekly reports, I have to be an attentive wife), employer expectation, employee expectation, customer expectation, community expectation, donor expectation, partner expectation, national’s expectation, reporting requirements, marketing requirements… The liabilities quickly outweighed the assets.
No wonder if feel like the life has been sucked out of me!! I have nothing left to give! AARGH! I’m a believer that there is a solution to everything, even if its not the pleasant one. Sipping coffee and looking out at the starlight I tried to open my mind to options.
The solutions I had to work for. What constitutes a reinvestment in my emotional health? Where do I even start?
Number 1–SAYING “NO!!!” If it doesn’t fall into “priority,” get the hell out! This is getting easier. I’ve resigned or finished terms without renewing from four different groups and have one or two more to shed. Say no to anything that gives you the sense of fight or flight. Emotional trauma is real, even in a family, organization, or workplace that is defined as “healthy.”
Number 2–stand up for your self. This one is HARD! When all you have is your integrity, you want to do what’s right all the time, even if it takes up ALL the time you have. It’s exhausting and draining. Raised by a Marine and now working with a Marine at the helm of our board of directors, I understand “take that hill.” That means no matter the expense; no excuses. No whining, no complaining… honor, courage, commitment…We minimize the losses and keep moving forward. This will make standing up for myself no easy task. I have to be tougher than the challenger, even if the challenger is on my team.
There is no good time to take some time off. Boy do I know that. Every Executive Director knows that. When I am short tempered and my heart is racing and I feel broken and bruised in every conversation, its time to get the hell out of Dodge and let the wounds
heal. Broken hearts and broken minds are not efficient or effective!
My health and happiness is now my first mission–to guard my peace and health so I can serve my God, family, and community. Guess what folks, that means Lynne is going to sign off now and then and go to the barn, the cabin, the beach, with or without her husband, without a cell phone or computer, and without regret. Judge me if you want, but I’ll be better for it.
Number 3–connects to number 2–take time to heal. Allow no liability in your healing space. This can include work, people (including spouses), obligations, or vices (alcohol, drugs, etc…) True healing takes time and determination.
Be committed to being healthy; being able to reinvest your strongest assets into your personal mission. Don’t let ANYONE into your healing time that disrespects you or implies that you are weak. They only open old wounds.
Scars are stronger than flesh. I’ll be more powerful for the experience, but rest is the key to resilience and learning.
You know what, I have a plan. So long misery! Walk with me on this journey to resilient leadership.