Back when I was in my late 20s, I declared to Matt that my 30s would be my so-called “Power Decade”. I was only half-joking because I could see the writing on the wall: my life was taking off. I was pregnant with our first child at age 29, had a happy marriage, and was a few years into a satisfying career. Matt agreed with this assessment and it’s been a running joke for years now, when things have been going well: “After all, it is your Power Decade…”
This decade of child-raising, family-relocating, and private practice development is passing me by very quickly. A certain amount of speed – in my thoughts as well as actions – has been required to make it all happen and happen well. And, as we all know, time flies when you’re, well, flying.
Flying. So many of us do it. We fly through the days and the weeks because it’s the only way to do all that we’ve decided has to be done and before too long it’s our new “normal”. But in order to do anything extra (like a volunteer stint at the preschool or a work report) we are flying higher – and if we aren’t careful, then that starts to feel normal to us and it’s how we operate. It’s what we expect of ourselves and what others come to expect of us. We don’t think much of it until we have an opportunity to take a break, such as a vacation or a holiday off from work, when we discover that as soon as we’ve slowed down we have actually crashed to the ground, ceasing all activity and we find it challenging to get started again due to our need for rest. Usually, if we’ve been flying too high, that time off is when we get sick, and that’s a bummer but we tell ourselves, “Wow, it’s such a good thing I didn’t get sick last week – I would have missed so much work! At least it happened when I have time to relax and recover,” as if it’s some sort of coincidence that we get sick when we slow down and let our racing bodies catch up with us.
As I enter the last couple years of this Power Decade, my internal focus has begun to shift. My 40s are still a couple years away, but I already feel the changes in my perspective. I am mindful of making the choice to slow down, even as others are flying high around me, swirling and swooping and expecting me to be right there in the sky with them. But everything is okay on the ground now: the kids are getting older, Lyle will go to school next year, my practice is stable and busy, and new and different work opportunities are on the horizon for me. There are challenges, some of them considerable, but I can manage them. I don’t need to fly, or at least not so high.
And it feels good. I don’t get everything done as rapidly as before – reports go out more slowly, work calls and emails are returned a day or two after I receive them rather than immediately – and the world has not come to a standstill. I say “no” to things constantly – and no one has died or even been maimed because of it.
I don’t know that I could’ve raised very small children and relocated my family and restarted my practice here in Chicago without flying pretty high for a while. I don’t regret powering through this Power Decade. But my spirit is lifted every time I take another step toward creating a different life, one that includes more time to breathe and new opportunities to take care of myself as well as I take care of others.
Because my next decade? It’s going to be a whole different ride – and I intend to be ready for it.