Fight or flight? Flight

June 18, 2014

Yesterday a guy I’ve done some search work with called to thank me for referring a nice chunk of business to him. We hadn’t spoken in about 6 months so it turned into a catch-up session, semi-overdone on his part based on sheer gratitude. You can always hear that mix of hysteria/appreciation when you’re on the receiving end, not that it makes the sentiment any less sincere, and I felt bad for not letting him know how much I think of him sooner.

In the course of conversation I gently broke the news – because I will still take a project here and there with people I like and he’s one of them – that I’m not working right now. The silence on the end of the line was deafening. Here he’d just finished telling me how great it was to sit outside on his rooftop deck, in Harlem on Sunday, for the first nice weather of the year, how he wished he could figure out a way to live in Southern California based on mild temps and year-round biking alone, and how he realized he just had to come to grips with the fact he’d built his business in NYC and now there was no way out.

I don’t think he knew what to say.

I didn’t know what more to say either.

He launched into a heartfelt speech turned quasi diatribe about how good I am at what I do, how much I’ve achieved, “Really Carrie, think about it. You’re a Canadian who came here without any prior business contacts and look what you’ve built?!”, and how lucky I am to live where I live. What more could I want? While trying to assure me this phase will pass, the undertones of his message clearly screamed: HAVE YOU LOST IT?

Maybe I have.

But maybe I also fanned a flame that’s burning in him. Hadn’t he just told me he wished he could make a change? Hadn’t he just wistfully admitted he could quit now and have enough to survive on for the rest of his life if he curtailed his lifestyle? That’s not me, but even more reason to throw it all to the wind! But then when contemplation got a little too real, I think, but admittedly could be wrong, he reverted back to this is what we’ve worked so hard for! We’d be fools to give it all up!

Before the questions could settle in, because they began to bubble up, I grabbed my stuff and went to the beach.

I stopped questioning my decision for just a little while.

It felt good.

afterlightIn the ten years I was self-employed I don’t think I took more than maybe 5 mornings off to sit at the beach for a couple hours. The feelings of guilt and fear were immense, stifling my ability to get to the heart of genuine enjoyment. Yesterday when I sat down in the sand I breathed the air in deep. I let wet dogs bump into me at top dog speeds. I thought of every person sitting indoors at a desk wishing they were outside.

Maybe I am in a phase but I’m glad I got the nuts to take it, even if it took a stroke to get me here. How envious I am of the people out there who haven’t needed a health issue to take a leap of faith! I’m tired of doing the same old thing and even though it makes me nervous to say it out loud, it’s true. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.

~Coincidentally, the second thing I was going to tell you was instrumental in helping me out of the hole last year: GET OUTSIDE. Let that vitamin D sink in. Clear your head. Remember what’s important to you and act on it. Rinse and repeat.~

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  • Reply lynda Dsouza July 19, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Carrie,
    I was following your blog for a while and then found you had shut it down. Then visited again yesterday and was so pleased to see you restarted it. Always loved your style. Its great to hear you are doing what you want to do. For 18 years I worked in corporate and gave them my soul, until 3 years ago when I had enough. Quit and started my own clothing store online and am studying realist art. I am so fulfilled right now. Great to have you back Carrie !! Good luck with everything…………….big hugs. Lynda

    • Reply This Free Bird July 23, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Lynda, you totally made my day. I’ve been struggling with feelings of inadequacy because I don’t have ‘big, important’ work anymore. Some days I feel kind of useless, even though I know I’m not. Reading your comment/hearing your story has given me some fuel! I think I’ll email you and connect. Thank you for commenting and not giving up on me/this place. It’s so good to see you here.

  • Reply missgiven July 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    You did the right thing.
    We are waiting right now to hear if we can do something similar and I have met 3 other couples recently also wanting to make changes like this. You are an inspiration. Truly you are!

    • Reply This Free Bird July 23, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      I think the key (at least for me) has been in simplifying and scaling down. I hope you guys can do it!

  • Reply She Wore It Well June 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Love it Carrie! The 10 months I had away from work last year were life changing! There’ll always be work to come back to, enjoy it

    • Reply This Free Bird July 23, 2014 at 6:51 pm

      Thanks Milijana! It’s definitely given me a change in perspective.

  • Reply Erika June 24, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Yes Carrie! I’m so with you. I quit my career about three years ago and people thought I was insane! But the freedom and stress relief I felt was immensely better than the paycheck.

    And I’m with you….vitamin d helps everytime!

    • Reply This Free Bird June 25, 2014 at 6:16 am

      Erika, it makes me so happy to see you here and I love knowing you’ve gone before me down this path. I’m struggling a little, trying to find my footing and combatting feelings of fear and anxiety. My job is a large part of who I am and while that makes me very proud because I’ve worked hard, it also makes me sad because suddenly I’m feeling a little lost. Looking forward to turning the bend. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Erika ~Tiptoe Butterfly~ June 19, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    funny how i read this today – yesterday i had another oncologist appt – they always get me rattled with anxiety and throw me off my game for awhile … so last night as i was sipping on a glass of wine i told myself {out load} i’m going to change my life ~ i came up with a bunch of things i wanna do and i held back on doing ~ i know some things may not happen (like taking a year off work and travel the world) ~ but i made up my mind to start living for ME; yes i will always be a caretaker but it doesn’t have to run my life {as it has for quite some time now} … i also told myself that i can’t let my weight gain control my life as well; sh*t happens; i got sick i had to take medication; yea i have like 60+ lbs to lose and i’m overweight and i’m miserable about it; but it’s time to take control back and get back to being ‘Erika’ … oh yea another thing was to search within myself to see what i REALLY wanna be ‘when i grow up’ as in how i wanna make money …. it was a very intense glass of wine and conversation in my mind last night – ha

    • Reply This Free Bird June 25, 2014 at 6:13 am

      Erika, I’m so happy to hear this! You are an incredibly giving person and deserve some time off to recharge. I wish we lived closer together and could share that intense glass of wine 🙂

  • Reply Jen Panetta June 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Back in the late 90s I worked for a dot-com that went out of business and I was unemployed for 4 months…aside from the whole no-work-no-money situation, I was never EVER bored. It was terrific! Now that I’m home basically full time with my son, I love every minute. Work is a means to an end, and while I get satisfaction from doing my best work, you can apply that to any area of life, so when I left the work force, I didn’t miss a darned thing about it. We can do our best work in any variety of ways, including taking care of ourselves, the ones we love, our homes, etc. Even things as simple as gardening, crafting, exercising or making a good dinner. Excellence is found in how you approach anything, no limits! I am so glad you are taking this time for yourself, it is such a blessing! And I’m with you – the outdoors is where it’s at!! No bad weather, just dress right and you are set to enjoy every day outside! People who sit around indoors, I just don’t get it. It makes me claustrophobic and depressed. Enjoy every minute Carrie, this is soooooo awesome!!!!

    • Reply This Free Bird June 18, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Jen, I completely agree (yet again!) with everything you’re saying. Admittedly, there were many (most) years when I fervently loved my job. But in the 6 or 8 months prior to the stroke and in the period afterward I noticed a distinct difference in my interest level. The job hasn’t changed, I have. I’m just at a point where I’m tired of 14 hour days every.single.day, and then having to think about the work, the people, the progress, the next move, the juggling in the ‘non-work’ hours – rendering them not even my own.

      Who knows? Maybe a brief sabbatical will recharge me. Maybe I’ll find a new calling. I’m just trying to not feel useless in downtime by doing all the things you said above with intention. I never want to look back and say, gee I wish I would’ve… Because it was on the verge of happening.

  • Reply Elena June 18, 2014 at 4:51 am

    Amen sista! You. Inspire. Me. <3

    • Reply This Free Bird June 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you, Elena! Just trying not to do the expected thing for once 🙂

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