Those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram know that in the last few months, I’ve been posting inspirational snapshots of short words to live by every day.
Today’s posted inspiration has a story behind it– a story that’s so serendipitous it’s almost scary, and that’s too good not to share.
It was the Spring of 2008. I was working as a lawyer at a big Wall Street law firm, and I’d fallen in love.
Not with a person (although that did happen later), but with a place.
The summer before, a friend of mine had been in a big transition out of a relationship, and she’d taken up a short residence in a sublet in the West Village of Manhattan that was nothing short of perfect.
It was one of those old garretted apartments at the top of an 19th century brownstone, with a roof of glass and a bedroom that felt like it was up in the sky. It was the apartment I’d always imagined I’d live in when I moved to New York when I imagined my life there as a little girl.
And the night I visited my friend, a rainstorm beat down on that glass ceiling, and it became one of the most magical places on earth.
That building remains among the most extraordinary spaces I’ve ever been in here in New York.
And once I’d been there, it kept calling to me.
So, it’s been a crazy week in these parts. A trip out of town that included unforeseen problems with our hotel, the celebration of the first birthday of our jolly happy son, and a few unusual developments on the business front conspired to make my life quite a bit more complicated than usual.
The result for me was not enough sleep, not enough exercise, and more anxiety than usual for the past seven days.
And though I’m getting back on track, I found myself uncharacteristically avoidant about posting a blog today.
So much so that I thought to myself, “well, I’ve posted a blog and sent a newsletter every single Wednesday for the past 2.5 years. What’s one week off?”
(Yes, even coaches experience resistance like this too.)
Fortunately, I knew immediately that this was so out of character that I called in a pinch hitter. Cue the phone call to my husband: “I’m feeling totally uninspired. I have no idea what to write about. I don’t know what to do. I mean, what if I don’t post a blog just this once? It’s my business, I can do that right?”
What he said back to me kicked me right off the fence and into this post.
He said: “Write about why integrity matters.”
In recent weeks, a theme has emerged among a number of folks in my practice and in my life: the theme of how we sacrifice ourselves for others.
Among my friends, clients, and colleagues, I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time lately unpacking what we’re willing to do to meet the needs of others to the detriment of meeting our own– and the price we pay for doing so.
We’ve all had this experience to some degree. Maybe we fall head over heels for the high of early love, and neglect ourselves and all other relationships completely in the process. Or maybe we set out to care for our parents, our children, and our partners, and in the process fail to care for ourselves.
The place where I’m seeing it the most, however, is in women who are primary breadwinners for their families, who are uniformly making extraordinary sacrifices to meet the needs of others at work and at home.
And the consequences for this can be pretty dire. Your health, your relationships, your well-being and your mental stability can all be compromised when you put your own needs last.
So this week I’m offering a reminder that you may need:
Last week, I was struggling with some really hard stuff.
I’ll be candid: I tend toward “struggle” a lot.
I’m one of those people who was raised with the limiting belief that if life wasn’t a struggle– if I didn’t work my ass off, bleed for success and lay it all on the line– I’d amount to nothing.
Maybe this sounds a little familiar to you? LOL.
Many of you probably recognize struggle as a cultural phenomenon–so much so that the “culture of struggle” now dominates every facet of our daily lives.
I can’t tell you how often I hear clients, friends and colleagues practically competing over who’s struggling more than who– and it only seems to get worse with each passing year.
(Example: I happened to catch a snippet of that 1987 movie, Wall Street, a couple of weeks ago. I literally laughed out loud when Charlie Sheen’s girlfriend complained in one bedroom scene that he was working 60 hour weeks and she never got to see him. 60 hour weeks? That sounds practically luxurious by today’s “culture of struggle” standards.)
And I’m not immune. I’ve been immersed in the “culture of struggle” non-stop for the last few months, and it’s exhausting.
Last week, I was so depleted that I reached out to my fellow coach, Hillary Rubin, to ask for some advice on how to cope.
I got on the phone with Hillary as she was walking her dog for what I thought would just be a friendly chat.
And I started complaining right out of the box about how hard it all was, where it was going wrong, and all my efforts to “figure it out.”
What happened next was something akin to falling down the rabbit hole.
Because in the space of about ten minutes, Hillary asked me the most provocative question I’ve ever been asked in my life. (more…)