So what to write, Mr. Blank Page. Let me tell you another story.
...this time much older, skinnier, arguably less of a weenie, goes on work trip. Let’s preface this work trip by telling you that girl was burning the candle at both ends – wearing herself extremely thin – and denying, or justifying, as she would prefer to say, the fact that she was doing it. Girl was tired, exhausted is more like it, and questioning a lot of what her life was about. As someone told her recently, she was early to the existential crisis party – arguably the first time she was early to anything, ANYWHERE (she is Cuban, after all, there is a certain badge of pride that accompanies this notion. Plus, at least she’s consistent, right?!). So there she was, early to this party she didn’t necessarily want to be even invited to – she preferred the notion that she would somehow stumble into ignorance-is-bliss at some point in her life, regardless of the fact that she was still waiting for it 34 years in – and a bit conflicted about what it all meant, what her life all means, and what answers she was supposed to come up with in order to make the most of this existential crisis thing that was happening. Unbeknownst to her, on the flip side, her body is sending her not only this mental message, but these not-so-subtle physical messages that she was over-worked, over-tired, and over-stressing herself.
So, girl embarks on this work trip only half-committed and hoping that it will at least give her the opportunity to get some much-needed rest once the all-day marathon sessions are done. Girl arrives in the city (The Big Apple! nonetheless), only to find herself even more exhausted, lacking any motivation for exercise, something that routinely motivates girl to Go! Get ‘em! And discovers herself ridden bed bug/flea bites 24 hours in. Not wanting to create a fuss, she politely asks hotel to switch rooms and they launder her clothing to ensure she feels as safe and comfortable as possible. This is especially good since girl cannot manage to rile herself up from her bed beginning with the second she enters said room. So, if the bed is The Place To Be, you best ensure that it is at the very least free of bed bugs and fleas.
Standards are high.
After a couple of painful, itchy days, she is starting to worry. Her stomach is a wreck, much more so than usual, but she has attributed this to “The Traveling” which easily could do a number on her, and the exhaustion is chalked up, quite appropriately, to not drinking her routine two POTS of Cuban coffee in the morning. That is, after all, how she manages to establish her baseline energy level of “HYPERACTIVE”.
So girl starts to worry. She tries, albeit it not that well, to rest. She is in The Big Apple! after all, so who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that, even if it means pushing through what is arguably the most exhausted she’s felt in quite a long time?!? So girl manages to crawl into bed as late as 10:15 pm on a Saturday in NYC, and explains to herself that is was the walking she did. She is just tired from walking.
Fast forward three days, multiple dizzy spells, wicked headaches, pain she is now jokingly chalking up to kidney failure, and one sick day later, and she decides the doctor’s office is probably a good idea, given that the kidney failure could be possibly serious. Obviously.
She enters her physician’s office, bloated and with awful stomach pain, with a smirk on her face, after changing into a loose dress, which is the only item of clothing she can stand after being in constricting work clothes all day. She jokes with said MD that her flea bites are sending her into kidney failure, and that the Benadryl, calamine lotion, and ibuprofen have yet to help too much, other than possibly launching in the direction of an ulcer. Physician, unfazed by her unparalleled wit and medical prowess, looks at her and says, “I don’t think those are bites at all. I think they’re shingles.”
Whoa. I’m sorry.
Did you just say herpes?
Jaw, meet floor. I hope you get along; I hear said floor is fantastic when you need support. Comes in quite short of a pillar of strength, but definitely will prevent the bottom from coming out.
Now, given that the girl’s baby daddy (see also: ex-husband) is a medical professional in the skin-oriented field, she is familiar with said “shingles”, but to the extent that it is incurable and recurring. Given that she is also surrounded by older family members whose pastimes include worrying, nagging, and talking about ailments,” she is also quite acquainted with the fact that shingles is not commonly associated with individuals of the younger demographic, not mentally, actually physically. Given that said young lady’s digestive system and dental records might as well belong to a tenured AARP member, it is not lost on her that she would manage to develop an affliction associated with those in a much more advanced state of stress and worry. That her body, no matter, would not only chastise her for ignoring and pushing through the oh-so-obvious signs of stress, but physically slap her in the face with the sticker shock of: “Hey! Slow down there, woman! I CAN’T KEEP UP!!”
Welcome to the last three weeks.
I joked, oh have I joked, about needing a pause button, about wanting a vacation, about step back and really, truly, examining what make my life worth living, and how to structure my life so that THAT feeling, those things, ideas, people, take precedence. I have endlessly and tirelessly discussed with numerous women - accomplished, bright, amazing women - this very same idea. We have waxed poetic about what to do about that. Some, the ones that I consider mentors of sorts, have done something about it. They have taken back the reigns.
It is my turn.
I NEED TO LEAP.
I am scared shitless.
Let’s let that statement marinate for ONE second, then run into the face of it screaming, why don’t we? Because I am not only tired, but I am more tired of being bound by fear. By hesitation. By what-ifs. I understand the value of security, the importance of a plan, the desire – the NEED – for security.
When did any of these things a leader make? When did any of these inspire others to do anything but retreat to the unbreakable patterns and path well-trodden from whence they came?
Lord know it has happened to me at least a handful of iterations at this point.
There has been a lot packed into these 34 years.
It’s time to let it out. In all shapes and sizes. So many of you have expressed feeling the same way, on various blogs, social media outlets, to family, friends, in journals. Don’t worry – the biggest message to take from all of it is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. WE ARE NOT ALONE. Embrace that we are not only imperfect, but that the imperfection is our beauty, our lives, our passion – fulfilled or not. Those nooks and crannies are not only what make English muffins delicious, but make us, break us, crack us, and mend us together – BIND us together in this phenomenal human experience.
This is me – proudly flying my freak flag – embracing my uniqueness and weirdness and individuality. Learning – notice I say learning because, well, I’m human, after all – to own and celebrate my idiosyncrasies and be comfortable in the knowledge that those are endearing to the right people. And I am proudly trying to take it only one day at a time.
I challenge and encourage you to do the same.
I hope to help you in this journey. I know you have already helped me.
Much love (and no bed bugs).