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May 6, 2010

Today I celebrate my 1 year anniversary here at That’s Good HR and with that comes a moment of pause and reflection.  One year ago, I was very fortunate to be able to take a much needed break in my career to take a very hard look at what I wanted to be when I grew up.  This "pause" allowed me to take my time in deciding what my next step would be and the result was an opportunity to have the very best of all worlds.  My role here at TGHR has allowed me to to maintain sanity in life by staying close to home and having enough flexibility in my schedule to manage life in general.  I have also been able to work almost 100% within my strengths, something that very few people actually get to do.  I told my boss that the last year has really flown so I must be having fun.  How could you not, being a 20 year veteran in the Indianapolis Staffing industry, after all?

Below is a copy of an essay I wrote and submitted to NPR’s This I Believe segment over a year ago when I took that break.  I felt it was a perfect post to coincide with my anniversary here and Mother’s Day coming up this weekend. 

This, I Believe.

I believe in the power of the “pause”. I did not actually slow down when I first had this revelation…instead it hit me in the face and forced me to recognize it’s power. The result…I am now a true believer in taking the time in your life to “pause” now and then to enjoy it. For the past twenty years, I have been running with the pack of working mothers, over-achieving in our careers in pursuit of something higher, something bigger, something that pulled us further and further away from the ability to pause.

One day I came to the harsh realization that I was exhausted, both mentally and physically, but even more concerning was that I was spiritually starved, as I could not even answer the question “what was I working so hard for?” I had lost my “means to an end” and I was also in the process of losing my own identity with the changes happening in my professional life. This was a compromise I could no longer make so I made the most difficult, yet most obvious, decision since my career began. I walked away. I decided to pause.

This was over a month ago and the return on this investment is hard to quantify. I pause now on a regular basis and I am so very fortunate to have a supportive spouse which has allowed what seems like a luxury for me…the gift of time to get myself back on track. The best pauses are those with my boys. My 6 year old crawling into my bed in the morning to relax and talk about whatever comes to mind is something I cannot remember doing before. His phonetically written notes and stories that used to frustrate me as I had to slow down long enough to read them are now treasures that I look forward to. His need to draw every picture of an animal exactly and perfectly (the feet are always a challenge), can take an hour and that is fine with me. My ten year old just needs to know I am here for him. He can take the bus home for awhile, he can sleep a little later in the mornings and I am not leaving town on a regular basis…I am here and this is all he needs.

My husband would not willingly admit to the fact that this pause has had a positive impact on our lives together as a family. I am no longer under the stress that sent me to bed at 9pm so as to escape the reality of the world. We are no longer spending large sums on before school care, after school care and babysitters. He has his sanity back for awhile in the mornings – no more getting the boys up at 6am every day and rushing them out the door with him at 7am for drop off. No more rush here, rush there, when are we going to have some TIME. He leaves on the weekends without the guilt to do his thing in the woods. I am fine being home with the boys for a few days, as I do not have to get every single thing done to be ready to go again on Monday morning. I cook more. We are closer, we pause more. I smile.

I have decided that I would have made a very good 1950’s housewife. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I actually LIKE being domestic these days. I like keeping my house clean, I like having the laundry done and I have always loved to cook. Now I spend hours with my headphones on, listening to pod casts of The Splendid Table and Bon Appetit. This is another luxurious pause in my life that I have come to treasure. I actually have time to stop and learn more about the things that I am most interested in. I love wine and I have learned more about wine in the last month than I have in 40 years. Pause.

I know that I cannot realistically “pause” forever…as the other reality is that I do need to get back to work at some point for my own good and for our financial well being. I am really counting on an epiphany. I turn 42 tomorrow. The feast of the epiphany. We will see if I have any great revelations in my pause.