It’s been a minute since I’ve posted here. Today is the first day in a while that I have no meetings (none in-person and none on screen). So I’m sitting at my desk writing in my pajamas. It’s been a very busy summer and as it winds down (there’s actually a pleasant chill in the summer breeze this morning) I’m taking a moment to exhale and reflect.
I started down this road back in March. I had just turned 50 and began my journey with the Alice Houston Women’s Leadership Program at the Leadership Louisville Center. So here I am nearly six months later. We completed our women’s leadership program in July and I find we are still making plans to see each other. The women I met in this group have left a mark on me and I’m not willing to let that go anytime soon. So many of them are reevaluating their careers and deciding if they want to move up the ladder in their current work environment, using the skills they learned, or if they’ve determined the future doesn’t look so shiny for them there, and it’s time to move on.
I’m at somewhat of a different place than many of the women in the group. I own my own company, so I’m not looking for a “promotion.” What I have focused on is working smarter, not harder. Working with clients with larger budgets and larger teams allows our team to focus on what we do well, and not try to be everything to everyone. We’ve always known our skills, and we’re sticking with them.
My changes from the experience gave me pause, personally, not professionally. Being connected to this many women inspired me to also apply for a trip meant for moms to Israel this October. So I’m currently combing the Vuori website to find the perfect travel ensembles.
And… it brought me back to my roots of how to not just juggle life, but how to continuously reprioritize its events. My first career out of college was in Chicago at a large trade association management company at which I planned conventions, trade shows and meetings. The company was organized such that I worked on multiple accounts in different industries at any one time – from medical societies to computer administrators to niche business groups. What I liked about that job the most was that there was never time to get bored. There was constantly something coming up for any one of my accounts, and because I had a different team of people for each account, it was a lot of inter-company networking, and a lot to keep straight.
I’ve carried that type of work into today… it’s how our team juggles the personas and voices we manage for our clients online. We handle a variety of voices in a multitude of industries and sometimes one may have an upcoming event and that one takes precedence over the others. Each client gets their turn at being out front in our minds and they continuously move around in that prioritization day-by-day.
And now, that type of mentality is literally hitting home. At 50, I find myself using that skill of constant reprioritizing in my personal life. It’s not easy to be in this sandwich generation, but the reality is that it’s what we all actually hope for. I have four grandparents for my children who are on earth with us. I did not have that experience. I never had more than three as one was gone before I was born, and two left me when I was 12. My kids are so lucky.
But with that luck comes life.
Yesterday, there were three main text streams taking up my day (not to mention the one-off side conversations and the sales texts). The dinging on the phone was constant. At some point I just had to put it on Do Not Disturb for my own sanity. Managing clients, our internal team, issues with parents and anything that can pop up with my kids uses a lot of brain power. A lot. Popping in out of conversations like “did we confirm that with the client?” “what did the doctor say?” and “have we heard any further news?” is a skill that has grown from my everyday experience I learned way back in 1995 when managing conventions and juggling teams. I’ve got a daughter in college and a son in high school and being a parent in 2023 means anytime they text midday could be concerning (thinking of those UNC parents earlier this week). And let’s not forget I’m a wife and a friend as well, and those relationships are always up top.
The thing is…. at 50, and in this sandwich that is my life, the issues are bigger, the crises are more urgent and the problems are personal. What I’ve learned these past 25+ years in the work world is how to compartmentalize, how to “put things in a drawer until later,” and how to know which issue needs my attention most right now. Those sending the texts may not like that their issue isn’t first in my priority list, but it is impossible to make two things the most important at any given second. I have to know in my head which one gets the most brain power – and it changes moment to moment. I have to decide which issue I just know about and which one I dive into with questions and a deeper understanding. My brain simply cannot process all the details on all the issues at once.
The other thing I’ve learned, and this is perhaps because I’m married to a doctor, is not to let my hair light on fire every time there is an issue – medical or otherwise. It’s important we take this step by step and test by test and not worry about the “what ifs” too early. As my friend Mara says, “no need to worry about something twice.” I try to focus on what can be controlled and what can’t be controlled. I learned a long time ago that being anxious about something I cannot make happen or not happen is just not really worth my time.
So as I head into the second half of this first year of this decade, I plan to continue to be mindful in the moment, to take each crisis in stride and to breathe deep. Above all, I will prioritize sleep, exercise and therapy.
If you’re in this position in life, I hope this helps.