The Reinvention is ON • September 2016
My theme song lately has been Katy Perry's "Rise". I have been reading books and stories about people finding the strength inside of themselves to emerge better / more awesome after hitting rock bottom - whatever that was for them. And I have felt the flame of inspiration start to flicker again inside myself. This is the power of stories, and somehow I know that part of my mission in life is to share stories of people who simply refuse to give up, and whose courage, determination and vulnerability inspires others.
I've been going through a time of deep pain & transformation myself this year, and while I can't say that I'm 100% "back" yet, I am actively looking for the learning (I believe pain is there to teach us something) and being honest with myself about what needs to change - and what I need to do to change it.
For the past 15 years or so, my life has been almost entirely focused around work. First, I was busy building an online community for people with diabetes in Canada and hustling to make ends meet any way I could. I was pursuing an inspired vision and so proud of that, but when a couple of sponsors bailed at the 11th hour after I had already invested every cent of available credit I had - I just couldn't do it anymore. The opportunity at Animas came along as nothing short of Divine Intervention - and I have spent the last 10 years working with the greatest team I've ever known, doing work that matters.
I got so much validation through my work and got to impact so many people's lives, but what I realize now is that I let it be all-consuming. I have been a woman obsessed with utilizing my gifts and the opportunity I've been given through my job to make the greatest impact possible - and while that's admirable, the cost has been my own personal life and any sense of life balance. I have been an obsessive high performer for as long as I can remember. I was not OK with saying "no" because work was somehow always my de facto #1 priority, and my identity was entirely wrapped up in that. I still love my work, but what I have come to realize is that I need to LOVE MYSELF MORE.
Looking back, it pains me to say that I didn't really prioritize my friendships, my family, or my own health. I didn't take on any kind of fun classes or activities because I would inevitably end up missing most of them due to excessive work-related travel. I didn't engage much socially because I was simply exhausted from being "on" so much with work - and I am an introvert at heart. I didn't cook. I didn't date. I even bailed on events/tickets I had already bought because I was simply too tired to go and make the effort to engage with strangers - and what on earth would I talk about? All I had was my work.
Over the past few months, I have cried a LOT. And I have abused alcohol, food, and television more than I'd like to admit as coping mechanisms. But is that any kind of life?
I want more for myself than that.
As hard as I've worked to serve others, now is the time for personal reinvention. I just turned 45, and working through the pain and grief of the past few months has caused me to look at finding joy again, and what that really means for me now, newly.
Learning a New Language
As part of my "Sandy 2.0" plan, I'm happy to share that I started taking Spanish lessons, and I'm having more fun than I've had in a long while doing something purely for myself. I'm going to Nicaragua at the end of November as part of a Change Heroes project, and figure that I'll be able to communicate at least remedially in Spanish with the locals, along with charades and whatever else it takes to get a point across!
I picked up the phone and called/texted people I care about. I have so much love and gratitude in my heart for my "inner circle" of friends. They are the ones who I know I can call whether I'm happy or sad, and will be there to listen either way. Ultimately, I need to get myself back to a place of joy again, but knowing that I have people in my corner whose only concern is my well-being (and who don't want/need something from me) is a gift I don't ever want to take for granted.
I want to get to a place where I have a surplus of love/energy to give.
I dusted off the "Slow Cooker". Even with the inevitable bloodshed of me dealing with a grater and chopping with a big knife, I made chicken cacciatore last weekend - and it turned out to be delicious! I'm making schnitzel this afternoon. It's actually kind of fun to go through the endless variety of cookbooks I own to come up with some new things to try from time to time.
Cleaning up & cleaning out
I have done an entire sweep/purge of my apartment to actually create space under the bed, some breathing room in my closet, and have given excess things to goodwill for somebody else to enjoy. In doing this, I realized how many things I had that I had actually forgotten about. It's sad, really. I'm definitely moving into a new cycle of simplicity.
I read an entire book yesterday - Amy Schumer's "The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo". It wasn't work-related. It wasn't even something I had necessarily planned to do on a Saturday except that I couldn't put it down. It's about a woman who knows who she is, owns her triumphs and her mistakes, speaks her mind, and who loves herself first. I think this book came along at just the right time for me.
Listening & Learning
In an attempt to try and get my mind right again, over the last couple of months I figured I would use my commute time to and from work to put "good stuff" into my brain instead of the mindless drivel that is typically found on the radio. I've been listening to Podcasts from Lewis Howes, Brian Johnson, Tom Bilyeu, and Robin Sharma - and by the time I get to work, there are inevitably a few sticky notes I've written with little "nuggets" to serve as reminders for future reference.
Gosh, there is so much great stuff out there - I wish I could tell the rest of the world to turn off the news (which is 95% filled with fear-mongering, drama, and negativity) and to focus instead on something empowering/proactive. There will ALWAYS be bad news & things we can't control happening around the world. But what we CAN control is how we show up every day, the conversations we engage in, and what we choose to focus on.
Gratitude / prayer
I think over the years while I've wanted to be a daily "meditator" - it only ever really happened maybe once a week, or when I was on vacation. But when I recently heard Tony Robbins speak about his gratitude practice and using prayer as an opportunity to speak gratitude to the Divine - things shifted for me. Now, when I sit on my meditation pillow and make time for a conversation with God, I focus on the blessings I want for others and the gratitude I have for everything I've been blessed with, and I am left with tear-stained cheeks and a warmth in my heart that can carry me throughout the day. It may not be a traditional form of "meditation" - but it's a practice that seems to work for me right now.
Truly, I feel embarrassed to admit all the struggle/frustration/sadness I've felt when I've been blessed to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, with the freedom to express myself and be accepted for who I am, to have medical care, a job with the greatest team on Earth, and the opportunity to contemplate what I'd like my life legacy to be - when there are places in the world where survival is a daily thing, and having the opportunity to pursue education is a privilege.
I feel humbled by all the stories I don't know, and the people who find joy in simple things - even while in the midst of unimaginable circumstances. I have a suspicion that this trip to Nicaragua is going to change me, and I don't think I've ever felt more ready for it.
I am still in the thick of trying to figure out this new 2.0 version of me. But what I know now is that I'm reaching for more. I have done so much to serve others and am genuinely happy for the people I've helped and the changes I've seen in the space that I work in, but to be truly in integrity with my own story and an example worth emulating, I still have a lot of work to do.
Thank you, all of you, for your tireless support. I will always be grateful and strive for more in light of your encouragement and love.
Inspiring others to live inspired lives
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