2013 built on the loss of 2012. And more was to follow. Pruning the dead leaves of one’s life is a critical component to letting the healthy seeds blossom. Making space for the new is not an option. It’s evolution.
On January 2nd I went to the doctor and after a health scare learned that the numerous test results came back negative. This gave me the boost I needed to make three major decisions:
The stress of the second half of 2012 – really the burden of being with someone who, once kind, loving and trusting, was now emotionally, mentally and physically elsewhere – triggered a food binge that resulted in me weighing more than I ever had in my whole life. It wasn’t just about what the scale told me. It was where I allowed myself to go.
Once I received those negative (good!) test results, I reached my moment of enough. I called and ended that relationship. And then I packed all his things that he kept at my place, put them downstairs in my building’s lobby office and made sure that the day he was scheduled to pick them up I wouldn’t be anywhere near there. I also put on my sweatshirt, work out pants and gym shoes and, barring blizzard weather, even in the coldest winter January days, walked to the YMCA a few blocks from me and worked out, ~ 3 days/week.
I continued to teach at Tri-C and CSU and my Career Coaching biz grew to include even more clients, from more industries and with even more varied experience. Word of mouth grew. People trusted me. Their results proved to be Creative Cadence’s best marketing.
I also noticed a trend with my clients. The quicker and more compliant they were with the work we did together, the quicker and better their results. Those who hesitated or dragged the process out – regardless of whatever professional or personal priorities had to take place instead – well, they didn’t quite experience the delta of the compliant ones. I’m not to judge anyone’s decision. And I’m always, ALWAYS, grateful for every single client that hires me. Call it energy, call it momentum, but the laser-focused approach continues to trump the more relaxed one.
As the first half of 2013 progressed, I noticed all kinds of changes, from within and in the mirror. While I never started any sort of short-lived diet or quit eating any of the many things people tell you not to eat, the commitment to the gym and, perhaps ending that relationship, shifted my entire life regime. As I worked out more, I slept much better through the night. As I slept better, I craved less food. As I craved less food, my body began to adjust to consuming less calories. And, so, by mid-May, I had dropped twenty pounds. I’ve never pulled this off before. And I didn’t have to quit eating anything. People noticed. People complimented. Old clothes began to fit. My breathing was better. My life felt better. I felt better. And rewarded myself with a cool new hairstyle, metaphorically cutting off ~ 6″ – or a year’s worth – of hair and adding a bold pink stripe to the front.
Back in January, I lost yet another class at Tri-C – that I marketed and filled – to a tenure professor who didn’t fill his, and learned about it just two biz days before the semester was supposed to begin. That final straw helped me realize that as much as I loved teaching film studies and as much as I truly enjoyed getting to know my students and their stories and helping them succeed in their craft, this level of disrespect for my time no longer belonged in my 2013. And so, after completing the two classes I did teach that Spring, I graciously resigned from the school.
The summer of 2013 created another pivoting moment. I wasn’t going to be teaching any classes that summer. Part of me panicked – while not a large salary for us contract workers, knowing that each semester you knew you were going to get paid, you knew when and you knew how much, was the perfect beta-balancer to entrepreneurship. I had to truly take a step back and provide myself with the confidence that I could do this. That four and a half years since working for a corporation I can sustain myself with my own business. And sustain myself I did.
That summer, for the first time, my company went international as three different clients from Canada hired me for my services. Additionally, a huge marketing agency from Chicago hired me to do an industry research project. And between all that revenue, plus the ongoing writing for the local publication and steady stream of clients, that summer I felt independent. I felt confident. I felt free.
And, if you’re anything like me, when things get too comfortable, you begin to feel itchy. As I stood my ground during the years of the job loss and then the house loss and then the relationship loss and then began to rediscover who the new me was without all these things, I began to get a little bored. Of course I loved my work. I loved my friends. And I loved my writing. But beyond that? The bigger life in the smaller body felt constricted. I needed change.
So I called my Skokie childhood friend Melanie Klinghoffer, with whom we always joke we share parallel lives, and asked her for help. I even wrote a blog about it: “Who Coaches a Career Coach’s Career?” I needed an unbiased, pragmatic and actionable perspective on how to make key changes all the while preserving my new self. It was also the first time in many years that I genuinely began to rethink that Cleveland was home.