The last five years for me have been defined by new beginnings. The mid-life experience of an empty nest has been only one of a few for me in my personal and professional life. Ongoing transition and change has not only unhinged me during the peaks and valleys of recent years, but has also offered great opportunities to shift and grow, in spite of my fighting it all along the way.
The last time I posted, I had chosen to pursue a leadership opportunity in my workplace of the previous ten years. My responsibilities multiplied and my personal sense of responsibility intensified. The daily anxiety I experienced in my new role dominated the stories I told myself about what other people thought of me, how they were motivated to perform. I continually failed to see others as simply acting out their own daily story. I took it all personally and absorbed all blame for our lack of enterprise or growth.
When COVID-19 impacted the lives of our family, our community, nation and world, the anxiety I felt in my body surpassed anything I had ever known. I look back now and I’m so grateful I had sought learning opportunities over the years to practice yoga, meditation, manage self through psychotherapy and coaching, art making. While I had never consistently stuck with any one self-care practice, and had long relied on the leadership of others to cue and prompt me to take care of myself, the collective impact of those practices gave me with choices to make when the vibrations and tremors of worry seemed to much to bear.
My partner and I took part in the “great resignation” in 2020 when our tolerance of workplace politics and toxicity, had equally lapsed into resentment, frustration and burnout. A completely new learning opportunity presented itself for each of us and I have spend the last 18 months experiencing continual novice anxiety. We are now living in Ohio, after relocating to Michigan for 12 months prior. Two home sales and two home purchases later, we are unpacked, unfurled and settled? Lots more settling to be done, for sure.
While these new experiences have been no less challenging than what we left behind, they have for me, offered a greater sense that I am bolstered, supported and surrounded by fellow strivers in a new virtual environment. I am beginning to feel some integration, a sense of agency–these seeds I have been sowing have some hope and sunlight ahead for them. I do hope to practice more opportunities for inspiration, writing, art-making; practices I have parked in the boxes which have moved along with our new households. James Clear writes about tying habits to experiences that are enjoyable as well as making them easy enough to come back to regularly in practice. I’m thinking about making a point to visit here daily (ever ambivalent) and perhaps the sense of accountability will emerge again.