My first “ah-ha moment” (thanks Oprah for the term) was when Misty my life coach, asked in her very first module of CEO of ME, a course I was taking, “What is your perfect day?” You can not create the life you want that leads to your perfect day if you do not have a map to get there. What is the destination, in detail? Whoa. I will tell you my answer to that one, next. Second was when my young client and friend came to my eco jewelry Open House and when it was over I gave her a tour of my new home and we visited. She said to me “this is the life I want; you are living my dream. How did you do this so young? I want this. What do I do?” Again she touched on something in me, like Misty’s Ideal Day exercise.
When I did my ideal day exercise, it was an instantaneous response from my heart. My “perfect day” is when I am outside with my cats in their fenced enclosure for a walk. My husband and I have a cold drink while we talk about his day at work, and the boys. Yes, I just referred to my 4 cats as children. They are my fur babies and nothing makes me happier than cats. I have been changed for the better each time I accepted a rescue into my heart and home, even when “I couldn’t” have a pet as we travel a lot …but “it’s okay he is a wild stray” (Spartan), I didn’t know how to deal with cat introductions (Shepherd), we where moving and this newest one was nearly dead and needed a lot of health care and came with a $1,800 vet bill (Soren). They all ended up perfect additions to our family.
Adding an unplanned cat changed our routine drastically, but my rescues are the best cats there are. So happy and loving. I feel they “picked me,” showing up on my doorstep. The only carefully planned cat we got was a kitten from the local rescue group KAH in lieu of Christmas gifts to each other last year. We felt Soren needed a friend as our first two where bonded tight and Soren was not accepting them. We stressed over it but decided to try. It was perfect! They where pals in 5 days. You may think they are ‘just cats’ but my boys live like children in our house, spoiled with playtime and a routine we try to keep. My point is they are ‘work’ just like kids. I can imagine “parents” eye rolling reading this, but they have not seen our house and the cats’ lifestyle. They are my boys… just mine won’t get anyone pregnant!
Now back to my ideal day. Obviously it includes cats! In the summer, outside, with a glass of chilled white wine, my husband, and our boys. Enjoying the pasture views in my backyard, no neighbours, just cows. The grey blue one is my favorite. I look forward to when they calve. A calf nursing a cow is the most peaceful thing. I love when the farmer puts out silage and the sweet smell of grass drifts in the air. Farm girl alert. I may be a princess but I grew up on a ranch, my dad had (has) purebred cattle. You can expect cow and cat stories from me, sorry. I can’t help myself.
Anyways, this backyard was my sanctuary last summer. We need to landscape it and pimp it out: things for cats to climb, hide under and play on. That is a task for this summer. Last summer we planted grass and put up the 300 feet of cat fence (I am serious, there is a special fence cats can not climb- to the tune of $3000) so the cats can go from their catios (enclosures on the windows) down tunnels to get outside and be safe. Our house revolves around the cats. They give us unconditional love and pure joy every day. It is a great trade. My perfect day is outside, enjoying my life. The life I worked so hard to build. The life I have now. Oh my goodness I have my ideal life. Full stop. Then why am I working so hard? I have what I worked for! Why aren’t I living the ideal life I had in my head for a decade? It is here. Now.
Notice there was no Facebook in my ideal day. There was no hustling. Just loving and enjoying what I have, what I worked a decade to earn. But here is the thing; I am a Type-A person. Very driven. Very successful. Very hardworking. It comes naturally to me; I don’t know how to be any other way. I don’t know how to rest. I don’t know how to relax. I like to talk. I like to teach. I love to learn more than anything else in the world. I love to read and University was the greatest years of my life- I went at 30 years of age; I am sure that had something to do with it! I like to help people. I like to share what I learn. I am always talking about whatever I learnt recently. Knowledge is power. That is the secret.
Knowledge has the power to get you everything you ever want, if your willing to do the work for it. It can not stay in your heart, your mind or your dream… it must be in your hands and feet, hustle. That will get you a life you designed, if you work hard and keep your eye on the prize. I took my eyes off my goal (stay at home cat mom and awesome wife) and put it into my work. Deeply into my work. I have 26 girls on my team and we sell upwards of $8,000 of eco-jewelry a month. I love my job because I make my own hours. However, being a work-a-holic that is a bad thing that I can work when and where and how much I want. Because that is now, and everywhere and non-stop. No balance. Oh Lord, thank goodness you probably do not know I practiced yoga for a decade and am even a certified yoga teacher! I can TELL you what to do better than I can do it myself. I learn and learn and teach and work, and it makes me feel alive… except that it is literally killing me.
I almost died in December 2014 and I seem to already have forgotten it. I swore I would change. I poured myself into helping others the best I could which was through Full Circle initiatives. It is wonderful that I desired to help others above all else… except I forgot about myself. Even with a team with lessons and encouragement for self care, I still did not take care of me. My poor body. I wanted it to perform like it used to. I forced it to do what I “needed.” I went to bed every night in agony from not respecting my limits.
I remember the day I was explaining to someone that I had been sick for over a year and that is why my house is not unpacked. Except ‘sick’ was not the right word. Okay, ill. Nope. Also not the right word. I thought how do you explain DPU, Advanced Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Then it hit me. Well, I got the handicap parking logo. I got the disability letter from my doctor to apply for my wheelchair. I am disabled. Insert curse words here, I could not say the word. I just sat there, silent, thinking I am disabled. I am literally and legally disabled. Except in my mind I am not.
Now what? Well Easter I broke out again and I laid there in bed thinking *&%#! Everything! I promise I will take care of myself …please just do not make me have to suffer a Delayed Pressure Urticaria outbreak again. The inflammation and welts where so bad a doctor asked if he could have photos to use in his class at Queens, there where no photos of patients with DPU as bad as me. It is 48 hours of absolute agony. My husband can not work full time or go away anymore because he takes care of me. When I have an episode it can turn life threatening fast so he watches me and is my nurse, bring me water and meds and cool compresses. He watches me like a hawk to see if we have to go to ER and does everything he can to keep me out of the hospital. Their hard beds only make it worse. I eat steroids. It is the only thing that helps. I am allergic to the treatment that suppresses the urticaria so I am on a cocktail of drugs to mimic it. Summers make it worse, the heat brings it out.
Well I didn’t mention I have Heat Urticaria and Vibration Urticaria (lawn mover= nope!) above, but I do. The heat starts as a ‘rash’ from hell and it is a pre warning to the welts coming. This week I have felt itchy and burning in spots all over my body and last night I finally couldn’t fight it anymore and a quarter sized welt formed on my calf, burning. It is the first small welt since Easter when I promised self care. I have to change, now, if I want to keep living.
Why is it so hard to stop and enjoy the life I built? I see myself, like my mother, working sunrise to sunset, never taking a break to enjoy life. I scold her, tell her to relax, then mimic her in my own house. When no one is watching, I work. When my body can not work I switch to my mind. I designed three Facebook pages, a private group, and a book club all in the last <2 years. I have taken marketing classes, paid for multiple online courses and gone through so many workbooks and modules I have lost count. I enjoyed it, being successful. I tell my husband life is not long enough to learn everything I want to learn.
I know it is time to slow down, so how can I do that? Read more. Go outside and unplug more, do not bring that electronic device with me to the back yard. Less coffee? A bed time routine. Schedule time to talk with my husband, really listen. Date night. Playtime for the cats with 100% focus on them, not multitasking in any way. Real engagement, eye contact. Suck up that joy! Cut back on work to maybe just writing. Setting hours on how much I work per day. Planning what I will do in advance and only doing that and then stopping. NOT opening my email and letting that dictate my day. No rabbit holes. Stop. Change. You know what to do, Celeste. Why are you asking others?
What if my body is protecting me by giving all these warning signs to stop? (It is.)
What if I am suppose to be enjoying the life I built for myself? (I earned it, I should.)
What if working myself to death is not honorable? (If anything it just leaves my husband a widower.)
How could leaving my husband early and my boys be anything but a tragedy?
I need to rethink everything. I need to create change from the inside, be happy with stillness. Be able to relax without feeling I have wasted the day being unproductive. Have some balance in my life. I have been talking about balance for so long, no one believes me anymore, because I don’t change. But now I have to. I feel responsible to everyone online, to keep up what I am producing. I just can’t anymore. I say that but I keep doing it. I really need to pull back. I need to know it is okay to. I need to know you will all be okay and not miss me, you can go at it alone and you won’t forget me. Maybe that is my fear? That I will die and be forgotten.
I have made small steps in the right directions, perhaps I should celebrate them. I am off my iPhone completely, I use it only for taking and posting photos now as it is the only way I know how. Why am I afraid to fully do what I need to do? I used to be so strict, I followed plans to the last detail. (That is how I earned success so young. Discipline.) Now I have a life of freedom and I have just let go: doing whatever I want whenever I want… and surprisingly that included a LOT of work. Self imposed work.
I used to have the perfect house, clean and designed to my eclectic taste from our travels. My glorious ‘clutter’ full of memories and meaning. Now I have boxes everywhere and July is 2 years in this new house. It was a designer show home. Brand new. It deserves better. I want to live in beauty again but because I can not unpack it, because I can not do the work required, I immerse myself in self imposed work to be busy doing something. I need to find the peace in stillness. I need to allow life to not be and not look perfect and to be fully okay with that.
I shall start by going now. I will go outside and hang out with my cat Spartan. It is warm and he is in all his glory enjoying the outside, knowing he is safe. It is 3pm, too early to call it a day. But I will. Ciao.