A few weeks ago, my family, who historically makes my birthday feel incredibly special, asked me what I wanted this year. I thought about it for a while, then I told them the truth. Though they were shocked and probably a little hurt by my response, I shared with them that what I really, truly wanted more than anything was a week without them. A week to myself. A week to be responsible for no one and nothing.
Now, as the self-proclaimed queen of self-care, I am well aware I already have far more time to myself in my daily routine than most people get in a month. My family is amazing: My husband takes our children for day trips and adventures so I can have a few minutes of quiet at home, and my parents provide so much support I often have to beg my kids to spend time with me instead of always wanting to be with their grandparents. In a way, I’m used to being alone… though, if I’m to be totally transparent, there have been times when I’ve actually had too much time alone. During that time of my life, being by myself was not a good thing. It led to feelings of isolation and overwhelm, all while I was going through panic attacks associated with PTSS.
But when I’d thought about my upcoming birthday and what I really wanted, my mind had flooded with thoughts of the ocean. Growing up minutes away from the beach in SoCal, the ocean has always been my place of peace. I wanted that feeling, and only the lull of the waves outside my hotel room, walking the surf, and letting the cool water wash away my worries and troubles would do. I wanted it to be mine, and I wanted it to be mine alone.
If you have been reading my blogs or following me on social media, you probably already know I have a heart condition. So asking my family to give me the freedom to take only my service dog, Guinness, and leave them behind for a full week was the same as asking my parents and my husband, my main humxn supporters, to deal with feeling anxious about my health while I was away.
It was such a big deal to them that when I asked for what I wanted, we had repeated discussions about all the things that could go wrong. I was told it was not a good idea because of COVID and because of me being by myself. I was begged to compromise by staying at a hotel near our home rather than going out of town. I even received loving threats from my mother, who told me she would gladly come with me and just get another room (or share the same room!).
But none of that fit my vision. All the while, I remained calm and committed to my desire to take this trip the way I envisioned it.
I knew I needed to run away. No one else could see it, though, because it wasn’t about them.
It was about me.
I did not run away from home because I needed space from my companies. I am uniquely blessed that most of my responsibilities as a business owner have been delegated and that I am rarely troubled by my team because they are incredible. I also have an incredible team on the homefront that allows me time to take care of myself; I didn’t run away from my kids, parents, or even my husband (though he might think differently).
I ran away for myself.
I needed space to give myself permission to totally let go, with no lingering thoughts of who was taking care of the kids or the project or whatever. I’ve spent the past many years running five companies, raising newborn babies and young humxns, and feeling constantly under the microscope of loved ones who are rightly concerned for my health.
But when I’m alone, in a wide-open space just for me, there are no distractions, well-intentioned or otherwise. Bigger questions like, “Will I have that heart surgery?” and “Should I sell or license my corporate mental well-being content?” and “What was that book I said I wanted to write?” can all flow freely. I have space to sit and evaluate and process and create a proactive plan. I can break the cycle of just reacting to the opportunities in front of me.
As I lay here poolside and type this, I am on my final day of my trip. I am watching the sunset and listening to the waves crash. I am pondering the power of water. The ocean is mighty, always tossing and turning, yet there is soothing power in the consistent rhythm of its waves. Even when storms increase the waves’ intensity, they never stop their relentless crash into the shore.
No matter what happens, they persist.
Now that I have pulled myself out of the weeds and given myself the space I need, I am confident once again that I, too, will persist. No matter what kinds of crazy the world may throw at me.
With the perspective I’ve gained being oceanside, I can truly appreciate the incredible life and success I have been blessed with. I cannot wait to run back home to my family, my clients, and my team.