It would be easy to blame my weight gain, declining health and general state of unhappiness on the stresses associated with a successful career in the fast-paced high-tech industry. When they pay you ridiculous sums of money it is reasonable, I think, for them to expect more than a 9 to 5 commitment in return.
So I gave everything I had to that career. Often at the expense of things that should have been far more important to me. Like my family. And my health. And my friends.
I accumulated a lot of stuff, including another home, in another country. Each new car was nicer than the last. And the trips, ever more decadent. Like a weekend getaway to Rome, Italy (from Toronto, Canada). [Who does that, other than a Kardashian?]
But I lost things too. My previously good health ended up requiring daily medication to control potentially deadly high blood pressure. My formerly great skin (thanks to good Eastern European genes) suddenly looked older than its years. My body, while never skinny, had expanded to a size I’d never experienced, and one which felt foreign to me. My fun-loving spirit and carefree laughter disappeared, replaced by anger. So much anger.
And I missed far too many special moments than I care to think back on. These lost moments in my children’s lives break my heart the most…
No one forced me to.
These were decisions I made.
And I am now ready to take ownership of those choices.
It’s funny, you know, that when I was in the midst of it all, I would spend crazy amounts on lotions and creams to try to mask the dark circles that seemed to have taken permanent residence under my eyes, or to address skin that had seemingly overnight turned sallow and looked, well, old.
Little did I know that simply sleeping for 7-8 hours per night, combined with drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day would give me results that a $150 jar of face cream never did.
And I don’t think I ever could have dreamed that spending 6.5 hours hiking up the second highest peak in Southern California would give me more joy (and relaxation and peace) than a luxurious week-long stay at a 5-star Caribbean resort.
Coming to terms with the fact that I am solely responsible for my own happiness has been a long…long process.
Big houses, fancy cars and nice stuff doesn’t make me happy. In fact, the more I find happiness and fulfillment inside of myself, the less of this stuff I want. What I want at this stage in my life is to simplify.
I want a lifestyle that gives me the freedom to have more experiences – and I’m okay that this means having less stuff. I’ll gladly trade stuff for experiences.
It is the simple things that mean the most to me right now.
- Climbing a mountain
- Learning to become a runner
- Making real (and good!) food for myself and the people I love
- Talking…like really talking to the people I love
- Getting rid of stuff. The more stuff I give away or sell, the lighter I feel. Literally and figuratively.
- Spending quality time with the people I love.
I had both my babies with me this past weekend. The combination of my daughter’s 24th birthday on Sunday, plus a family wedding on Saturday, brought my son home from university for the weekend.
I used to shy away from taking a lot of pictures in the past, because – frankly – I didn’t like the way I looked. I realize now that how you feel on the inside reflects so clearly and honestly on the outside.
How I feel now is happy.
Apparently I look that way too.
I’ve decided to be happy because it’s good for my health.
It’s that simple.