It is amazing how changing just one aspect of your life causes a ripple effect on not only the rest of your life, but also on those who surround you. What’s even more impressive is when that aspect was a negative one you changed for the better.
I’ve worked the same job for the last 14 1/2 years. The last five saw a steady decline in a working/home environment combined with increasing pressures, stress, and overall unhappiness. I knew what I had to do (change jobs, stat!) but the economy and the fact the fact I’d been in the same industry for over 18 years made the breakaway even more daunting.
As cliche as it may be, networking and “knowing people” really does work. After months of fruitless searching and a particularly stressful day at work, I vented–via text–to my husband. What did this awesome guy do? He sent out an S.O.S. to his friends and colleagues. <3 The end result: I landed a dream job at a young startup company.
The moment I accepted the offer and tendered my notice, the impact was so startling, the ripple effect was more like a tsunami. The physical impact was the most drastic. In an instant, 98% of my stress was gone. I felt taller, lighter, and just plain happier than I’d been in longer that I could remember. A spark of the “old me” flickered into life. I could now say, with sincerity and belief, “Life is Good.” Everything seemed brighter, colors more defined, and nature even more beautiful.
Two weeks into my new job, I went in for my monthly massage treatment. My therapist just gushed at how quickly my muscles released and was practically giddy. At the end of my session, she told me that this was the first true relaxation massage she’s ever given me–all of the 90+ ones before that day had been therapeutic massages and merely throwing sandbags on the ever-rising tide of stress.
First mentally, then physically, the tsunami carved a path and washed away the mammoth layer of negativity, stress, and despair which was coating and eroding away my life. In its wake, the ripples of change became evident in other areas.
Home life improved, too. Not just mine, but that of my husband’s and two sons’. We laughed more. My boys could see and felt the change in me and made efforts to improve themselves.
At first, I was concerned that my boys would be resentful about the new, longer hours my job kept me away from home. After some heart-to-hearts, they informed me I couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yes, it stunk I wasn’t home when they got home from school and that I couldn’t chaperone a field trip or two anymore. They both told me all that was offset by how happy I was now.
I’d like to say that my transformation showed my kids how important having a job you enjoy going to–even if it means long hours–can be for your physical, mental, and social well-being.
The last place I’ve noticed the waves of change touch is my Creative Self. This part of ME was all but snuffed out, the first casualty in the toxic atmosphere of stress that gradually consumed my life. Sure, I tried to write. But looking/reading back on the pages and stories, they’re all flat. Words on a page that may as well have been symbols belonging to a dead or alien language. What few nuggets of quality writing that existed were all sad and dark. None of which are ME.
I went to a writer’s conference (SCBWI-WI, to be precise) about a month after starting my new job and felt that faint ember of my Spark flicker a little brighter. The weekend of camaraderie nurtured that ember and breathed new life into it. By the time I went on my now-annual NaNo Writing Weekend, that ember had grown into a cute little fire. Coming home from close to 40 hours of intensive immersion of creativity, word wars, and connecting with a childhood friend, that cute fire was now fire-pit-sized and crackling merrily.
Looking back on my writings of the past two months, I can say this: the quality may not yet be 100% back, but I am writing. That’s what is important right now–exercising a part of my brain, my Self, that atrophied from stress and neglect.
A quote from a previous writers’ conference echoes back to me: “Just write! 99% of it may be crap, but at least you are writing.”
So, I’ll wrap up this post with three resolutions:
- I resolve this year to write and to do so in increasing allotments of time.
- I resolve this year to “win” NaNoWriMo.
- I resolve to be WAY more regular with postings to my site. 🙂
And two mantras:
- Change is Good — Especially if it improves the quality of life for you and/or your family!
- Life is Good — In your deepest, darkest moments, remember that. It may not seem that way and quite hard to see in the moment, but Life IS Good.
If we can all remember those mantras and hold them close to our hearts, they will help us make it through the hard times …and maybe shelter our creative sparks.