I miss writing.
Not just “journaling” like I’ve done as of late (I did this and now I want to do this next), but using my words to dance about a subject, exploring an emotion or three, splaying the contents of my noggin’ on the page for analysis, and coming to the other side of the exercise with some deeper understanding of what it is to be this particular human.
As you can see, I’m rusty at it (hi2u one run on sentence paragraphs), but I’m going to give it a go.
In 2018, at some point, there lit a fire inside of me. It hungered. It wanted to be more, better, faster, stronger, more powerful, more capable, more everything. I’ve always been competitive, but something about that year just took things to the next level. I found opportunities to practice confidence and courage in all facets of life over the coming years. Driven was an understatement. I didn’t just want to play. I wanted to WIN, even if there wasn’t really a win condition.
I wouldn’t change that time of fire for anything in the world. I have made vertical leaps and bounds career-wise. I went gone from “someday it would be cool to place at races” to “this race sucked, I only got fourth”. I’ve packed so much useful knowledge in my brain the last few years, personally and professionally, and I fully believe I’ve become a better human. I’ve added a ton of hobbies to my overflowing arsenal of interesting ways to spend my free time that make me happy, some that really intimidated me before (painting, guitar). I became a human that was good at more things, which is something I truly enjoy.
However, this had a side effect I wasn’t too fond of. Before 2018, I would have self-described as a very calm, relaxed person. Yeah, sure, I’ve always been type A all the way, but I knew how to shut it off. For some reason, the switch just broke that year, and my brain just. wouldn’t. stop. I went from sleeping like a baby to often waking up in the middle of the night working through problems, hatching plots and schemes, and otherwise ruminating on my noodles.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not laying awake just worrying about things, and I absolutely LOVE working through problems. It’s, like, what I do. Sometimes I’ve come up with ingenious solutions to what’s troubling me (I tend to put together VERY successful 2am notes and pitches). However, sometimes it just wastes hours I should be sleeping instead exploring every facet of a problem that ends up either being stupid simple or just going away. Either way, it’s not helpful to not be able to switch it off and relax when I want.
For some reason, this two-week vacation and then Covid experience has been enough time at lower mental taxation and then capacity – I think I’ve found the off switch again.
When I was away, the business continued to operate, and actually operated just fine without me. I’ve now given away the last extra hat I was wearing (user acquisition) to someone experienced and capable at it. I have the team and support structure in place where I could in theory go do something else for a while and the world would keep spinning. That’s a huge relief.
And it’s just in time. I’m on the precipice, should all the dominos fall as I predict, of taking the next leap career-wise, and the first that I won’t really immediately be thinking “what’s next” and working toward that. Maybe that’s part of the hunger quieting – it’s professionally satiated for a while. I will always be striving to be better, but once you hit a rung on the ladder you’re happy with, maybe it’s okay to hang out there and just enjoy the view for a moment.
Really focusing on work for the last 3 years has been incredibly gratifying, but it also created some chaos elsewhere in life. From the day we were sent home on March 13th, 2020, until January 2022, I gained about 25 lbs. I abandoned my writing projects first because “the muse left me” and then because I was so sick of typing all day in the new WFH scenario, I couldn’t imagine writing to be relaxing. My command of words has suffered greatly. I can’t really make them be gooder like I used to. For a long time, until I could put races back on the schedule, just didn’t do anything sporty, choosing to spend the time working instead. Beyond just the weight gain, I went from being ready to complete an Ironman to just barely limping through races since then, and tripping over a back then a heel injury, the latter of which I’m still trying figure out.
So, maybe the fire just went out because it finally expended all the fuel. I kinda feel it. I can’t even imagine the headspace to dig into the floor of my pain cave anymore and go HURT like I used to on the race course. I keep putting off things like speedwork, and FTP tests, and anything that isn’t just completing some miles or time, and I think I’ve expended all that mental energy elsewhere, and I don’t have an infinite well of “give a shit”. It’s a little disconcerting to feel content, simply because I just… haven’t much in the last few years, and maybe it’s just some level of mental exhaustion driving me there. However, even if it’s some false BS hiding underneath the emotion, I’ll take content. I need the break from being megamaniacial me for a minute.
Another possibility – I’m finally back on the downswing here. And we’ve established that I am a vain human who, for better or for worse, needs to be reasonably happy with her appearance to be the best version of herself.
Like, a really nice downswing, see? We’re at the point where my body looks and feels a little different and that’s nice, just in time to be living in about 6 different rotating swimsuits that fit a little bit better than they did when I went on vacation a month ago.
All of this progress is made in the kitchen, or more accurately, staying the hell out of the kitchen more often. Most days I’m eating about 1300 calories and that’s plenty. Besides ordering pizza one day when we were sick, I haven’t eaten any takeout until this weekend (and I was reasonably responsible with it). I’ve been drinking less alcohol. I’ve been getting full nights of sleep, averaging over 8 hours/night. Being sick broke some bad habits and I’m reaping the benefits now.
I made good on some of my activity goals last week, and not on others. I’m okay with this.
I did something every day last week, though it was not always 30 minutes. I did not resume strength training until today. I almost grabbed the weights after my bike on Monday last week and decided against it, giving myself a little bit of time to recover after the workout. In that short time some unknown evil force tweaked my shoulder (getting old sucks!) and it hurt for days. Ah well, I shall resume this week, doing a little something every day.
I’m still in the phase where the doctor doesn’t recommend intense exercise. The last day of that ends on Sunday, which also is Lake Pflugerville Triathlon, for which I am slightly more ready than I expected if yesterday’s workout can be believed. I can definitely swim for 15 minutes. I’ll take a lovely, relaxed tour of country roads for 14 miles on the bike. Then, I’ll finish up the morning with however long it takes to amble around the lake in some combination of walking and running. I fully expect a personal worst and will be happy just to play triathlon and see some friends.
And that will be it for a while. I’ll spend 30 minutes moving my body each day, picking up and putting down heavy things at least three times per week, and keeping the calories in check. Hopefully it can continue to be just that simple. I don’t really need the fire and the flames alight for my goals this year, just calm patience and persistence, and perhaps yet again I know this subconsciously, and I’m becoming the human I need to be to achieve what I want to achieve.