Yesterday, as I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, I did what any person in her right mind would do. I turned off the car and pulled out my phone to see if anyone had emailed me (or liked my Instagram photos, or commented on my Facebook posts, or favorited my tweets) in the 6 minutes it took to drive there.
Right there in my inbox, I saw a shiny new email. And right there in the parking lot, I started crying. (Did I mention how little sleep I’ve been getting lately with the bad dreams, wakeful kids, and racing mind?)
You see, I didn’t even have to open the email to feel the weight of it on my soul. The subject line said it all—this was an ask. Not a small one either. This person wanted me to take on a big volunteer role at my kids’ school in the fall.
I should have felt empowered. After all, the day before I had sat feet away from Arianna Huffington as she told the BlogHer ’14 audience that we have got to take care of ourselves. That “No.” is a complete sentence. That we need to be doing less and sleeping more in order to be more focused and successful. I wrote down and starred these words of hers that resonated with me, “We need to change the delusion that we need to burn out to succeed.” (Though, as my buddy, Guy Kawasaki, who was interviewing her insightfully joked, she had already reached the height of success—and burned out doing so—so it was easy for her to say.)
I sat (many, many more) feet away from my girlfriend, Kerry Washington, as she, too, talked about making choices and creating personal time and space in her life. It seemed to be a theme of the conference really. Probably because thousands of women (and some men, too) were there to be inspired, realize their passions, and discover the formula to personal and blogging success—all while hoping to improve themselves, rather than lose themselves along the way.
I nodded, I tweeted, I promised myself that this wouldn’t be just another conference pep talk that I held on to long enough to write a post. That I would change. I would say no. I would get more sleep. I would focus on what’s truly important to me, to my goals. Yes, I would be an entirely different—better—person/mother/blogger when I went home from BlogHer.
But there was that email—hanging over me and bringing me back to reality. Back to me. And it turns out, that in my life, “No.” may be a complete sentence, but that’s not where the story ends. There are people—people I love—on the other side of every “No.” These yes’s and no’s, they need to be well thought out.
I wandered through the grocery store aisles at war with myself in my head. There was the logical side of me that kept saying, “Someone else can do it this time. You’re not to the only person in the world. It will still get done.” True. Absolutely true. The big-hearted side of me kept saying, “But this would be a great way to support your son and his class…goodness knows his teacher will be busy doing far more important things that you wouldn’t dream of doing yourself. It’s not that big a job, really.” True. Absolutely true. Sigh.
Every now and then, my internal battle was rudely interrupted. Other shoppers, it seemed, didn’t know I was basking in the depths of self-doubt and didn’t want to be distracted. No, they cheerfully greeted friends they hadn’t seen in awhile, enjoyed a bit of small talk alongside cereal-box frogs and rabbits:
“Ohmygosh, hi! How are you?”
“You know how it is…crazy!”
“Look at how big she is! How is that possible?”
“I know! They grow up too fast, don’t they? I mean, she’s starting kindergarten soon. Can you believe summer is almost over already?!”
As I heard these strangers’ words—strangers who looked and sounded a lot like me—they were all too familiar. I thought about how many times I’d had the exact same conversations recently. Like, somehow, being overly crazed and losing track of my little ones’ childhoods was a given rather than a choice.
That’s when I realized, I have some hard choices to make. Choices about where and how I’ll spend my time. Choices about what goals are important in my life right this very minute. Because the truth of the matter is, there’s a whole lot of “crazy” creeping in to my life lately.
And while there are a lot of things I want to be—as a mom, as a writer, as a person—crazy surely isn’t one of them.
Were you at BlogHer ’14? Which speaker’s words got you thinking about your next step?
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