No matter what stage of life we’re in, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our world, fixated on issues all around us, and feel impossible to break out of this stressed-out cycle.
I turned 50 last week, which means I’m a member of the “sandwich” generation:
- My kids are teens and pretty independent (one in college and the other a newly licensed driver). But that doesn’t mean they don’t need me or (thank goodness) want me to help out on big decisions and challenges in their day-to-day life;
- My parents are (also thank goodness) aging but not old. But there are things they need me from as well;
- My husband has a high-level job and often needs my input to debrief at the end of the day;
- I run a company and, though small, it has its share of daily needs and (once-in-a-while) crises.
So my brain is often pulled in different directions throughout the days and, let’s not forget, I’ve got my own “stuff” going on as well. It’s…a lot.
Last week I had the privilege of joining the first cohort of the Alice Houston Women’s Leadership Program with the Leadership Louisville Center. We had our opening retreat at West Baden Springs Hotel across the river in Indiana. I don’t go on a lot of business trips because of my localized and virtual work situation. My husband travels often so it’s always been important that one of us is home for our children, and, by default, that’s always been me. So to leave for even a one-night, two-day event, causes a bit of anxiety for me, even though our kids can drive and fend for themselves to eat and there is not much my husband needed to do for them (my daughter was home from college on Spring Break). But still, to leave can be challenging for me. For many of the women in the group, they have much younger children, and if they are also the default parent, I’m sure the “here’s how to survive while I’m gone” lists were longer and more detailed than mine.
But here’s what was so great about it.. and I’m not even talking about the content we learned and worked through as a group regarding our personality traits and leadership styles, or the fun we had with karaoke and a dance party all to ourselves. What I found to be one of the biggest benefits of this getaway was the brain break.
I left the lists and told everyone what needed to be done while I was gone. And I truly checked out and focused on where I was and what we were doing. I didn’t do a ton of checking in (it was less than 48 hours… surely they could deal without me… and they did). I was really off the grid and present. I met 41 other amazing women who live in my hometown and have similar goals to mine. And I didn’t let anything happening in my brain get in the way of that.
Here’s the thing. Whether you work or don’t work, whether you’re the default parent or not, the amount of “things” we each hold in our brains and on our to do lists has gotten overwhelming. And once in a while, it’s good to let it go.
I can’t wait for our next event, though it won’t be out of town and overnight. I think we’d all like to request a one-year anniversary trip next year.by