THE JUGGLER AND ME
I was once a high-speed juggler, spinning the plates of work, family, friendship, community involvement, and exercise. I was masterful at keeping multiple spinning plates in the air, seemingly effortlessly. It was just what I did. For me, there wasn’t another way. I thought I had gotten to the place where I really had it all. In fact, it all had me; the part of me that really mattered.
I didn’t stop, and certainly not long enough to question if my life was working or not. The question didn’t even occur to me. Until one day things began to shift.
First, I felt a tug inside, a longing. I felt dissatisfaction with my work. It felt as if for the first time lady luck wasn’t stepping in to rescue me with an incredible opportunity, as she often had before.
I was sitting in my home office one day when the phone rang. It was an internal recruiter from a global search organization, offering me the opportunity to consider a great new position. Things went well. I sailed through several rounds of interviews and was flown to Toronto for meet the team.
The night before the final interview, I didn’t sleep a wink. I was exhausted, but adrenaline carried me through all the meetings. I was offered a position with excellent compensation. It was the next logical step in my career.
Everyone was excited. Everyone but me.
On the flight back home I had doubts, and more questions. While celebrating at dinner with my husband, my stomach was churning.
A few days later, the Executive Vice President (who would have been my boss) phoned and asked me for a decision. I blurted out “if you need a decision today, my decision is no.”
There I sat alone in my office wondering what on earth had I just done. I was in mid-life, and had just turned down a terrific professional opportunity. Was I crazy? I had been helping people just like me design career moves, yet now I had no idea what I was going to do. I was terrified.
At the same time, my personal world was swirling in stress. My teenage sons were rambunctious and challenging. I felt frustration, overwhelm and shame. I had turned down a good job and was unsure of what was next. My children were taking more time and energy than usual. I began to feel physically ill. I dragged into bed each night exhausted, frightened and hopeless, just barely hanging on.
I was supposed to be the anchor of the family, holding everything and everyone together; organizing, coordinating, supporting and loving, but my everyday reality was simply draining me. I had so much to handle, and felt incapable of stepping up.
I sought help and finally listened to my instincts. It took a long time to return to wellness. While healing my body, I began doing extensive work around my energy, thoughts, and emotions. I began professional coach training, and was launched with rapid-fire momentum in a new direction. The circumstances around me were still chaotic, yet I began to hold my own ground and look at my circumstances differently.
I engaged in intensive work to explore this new territory. Over time, I began pointing my internal compass towards a new ‘north’, one which oriented me fully with intense focus and clarity as never before. Everything in my life began falling into a different place; one that was positive, hopeful, and empowering.
I stepped into my new career with passion, intensity, focus, and commitment. I never imagined I could find something so fulfilling at this stage of my life. I knew I had found the next place for my work and most of all, for my life.
As I practiced and developed, interactions with my external world shifted powerfully. Everything began to transform.
What I am now, what I do now, and how I do it, bears little resemblance to that earlier time. I am still a juggler, as most of us are. What is different is that I now pay attention to “who” I am being and “how” I engage. The plates still spin, but I do not turn with them.