My news vacation

disney birdsI recently went on vacation. My first real ‘away from home, the dog and my laptop, sleeping in a hotel, eating out every day’ vacation in 4 years. To build on the relief of having no schedule, no must dos, laundry or dying veg in the fridge, I decided to also take a vacation from the news.

Nothing. No newsletters, no social media posts, no hitting refresh on CNN, BBC, The Guardian or even the tv. In fact, I didn’t watch tv for 7 days.

The bliss of no Trump for 168 hours. I highly recommend it to anyone feeling ragged, angry, frustrated, furious or just terrified. Its like sitting in a warm bath of innocence while fairies sing songs and fat suddenly melts off your thighs for no reason. I actually felt lighter. I heard birds again. I learned to hike without a annoying ping of texts or emails. I actually did.one.thing.at.a.time. It was like 1994 all over again.

Of course I returned to find out that we’re heading steadily towards some kind of nightmare scenario with the only leader with worse hair than ours, Houston had a Katrina (but the First Lady looked fabulous because fashion matters when dealing with immeasurable loss), and Dreamers will now be deported (or not be able to stay as citizens). Landing back in reality felt more like a car crash than even I expected and my shoulders are once more up by my ears. This shit ain’t going away.

You can argue that having the luxury to ignore the news is a sign of my privilege that millions can’t afford to do. That turning off the news and social media is sticking your head in the sand and if everyone did it… blah blah blah.

But no one can be angry and frustrated and fighting all the damn time. And I found new time in my day by not hitting refresh, liking posts, adding snarky comments or reading sites, that gave me the chance to actually breathe. I returned to the news with more energy, and a clearer idea of what is important to read vs. the piling on vs digging a deeper hole. How my time is better spent doing, instead of posting. Finding ways to create and contribute instead of wallowing in despair.

I’m back in the real world now. The fairies may have left and the weight has returned, but for now, I can still hear the birds. And I’m hanging onto that for as along as I can.

 

 

 

 

On the road again

santa-cruz-skateboardsEver the wandering non-Jew, I’m celebrating the season by once again packing up and moving to a new zip-code. I personally think its a GREAT way of avoiding dusting or ever cleaning the oven, but frankly this time its motivated by a need to find my tribe. Some friends. A life outside of work, and tech and Teslas.

My current locale has much in common with a Ferrari. Everyone agrees that its beautiful, but its bloody expensive, ridiculously ostentatious and its not exactly the ‘go to’ to for a single chica with tats and financial challenges. I look like everyone else’s dog walker.

So I’m heading over the mountain to the promised land. Aka Santa Cruz. The land of the Banana Slug. Where I can walk to the beach, ride my bike to the bar and my dog can watch for whales, seals and seagulls all damn day long.

Populated by students, dropouts, hippy throwbacks, surf addicts, completely normal people and mountain biking fanatics, its also a place where I’ve experienced a lot of positive things. Christmas on the beach. Girlie friendship. The psychotic reaction of my dog to a dolphin. Insane downhill. The ability to breathe out. Strangers telling me how to cure mange while exploring rock pools- (no mange here but now I have the cure!).

Suffice to say, its my kind of weirdos.

I know the common denominator in my moves is me, and I’d be the first to admit if I was trying to escape something, but actually this is more of a ‘find’. Finding the trees, air, beauty and silence of Colorado.. but next to the ocean and peppered with friendly folks with a 70s vibe. Finding my tribe of peeps who don’t judge, who disappear on a surf day and who let you turn right without laying on the horn. Who knows.. maybe I’ll find a dude who gets me, some friends to hang with and the secret of eternal life for my dog.

But first I just need to deal with the reality of sand in everything.

Riding at my own pace

women mtb groupComing back from shoulder surgery has been hard. Really hard. (apologies to friends, family and random strangers for going on about it all.the.damn.time). I’ve had to deal with a lot of pain, frustration and ridiculous contortions getting out of a sports bra.

But mainly, I’ve had to deal with my head.

Having to fight my inner achiever at every turn.

Of course I can ride my motorcycle. Carry my bike rack. Downward dog. Lift a kettle bell. Tackle a rock garden. Carry the groceries.

Why am I shrieking? Oh that’s just how I do this now.

Not only have I been fighting the obvious challenges of lifting, carrying and moving but on a more basic level, just being stationary has done a number on me. Apparently sitting on your butt for 3 months nursing a bottle of Vicodin isn’t great for your fitness level. Or your mood. Or what used to be your waistline.

FYI I now call it my ‘straightline’.

This was really brought home to me this weekend when I rejoined my cycling chicks for our awesome monthly ride/eat/win stuff/yak (Girls Rock Santa Cruz.. check it out if you possess a vagina and a set of wheels).

Even the drive to the ride gets me excited. Its my chance to connect with non work people, talk in detail about riding minutia and have a laugh.  As I headed off with my usual “Intermediate +” group I was zinging with caffeine and ready to rock.

Except I wasn’t. If you ever watch the Tour De France and there’s a guy who’s dropped off the back and is just way way way back from the peleton (and you sort of feel bad for him but wonder why he’s even riding if he can’t hang)?.  That was me.

Panting like an out of shape pug, thighs screaming louder than my shoulder pain, red faced and apologizing to the sweep girl behind me, I was torn between worrying whether I was having a pulmonary embolism and the humiliation of being so out of shape. As we rode on, the sweep girl started floating the idea of me ‘dropping back’ to the “Beginners+” group who were a few minutes behind.

My ego immediately stood firm “hell no.. I got this.. just give me a few… weeks” while my legs started gumming up with lactic acid and the sweat poured between my boobs. I’m NOT a beginner. I’ve been riding since I was 7.

I wrestled with my superiority for another few switchbacks, falling further and further behind, until my shoulder bitch-slapped me into reality. I’m not fit. I’m still in pain. And riding at this pace would not only ruin me, but remove all the fun for the rest of the group as they waited patiently for the hot, red, slow chick with the massive ego.

I considered that maybe I need to ride at the pace my body was telling me. Slower. Less aggressively, at a pace where I wasn’t going to asphyxiate. After all, the joy of group riding is in the shared experience of a warm autumn ride in one of the most beautiful forests I know. And struggling to catch a group who are happily chatting and rock hopping around for the next 3 hours would be hell. The ride didn’t need to be about pushing. It could and would be more enjoyable if I rode where my body was comfortable.

So I dropped. I sat down and took 5. The Beginners + group started riding up, gritting their teeth and panting.. just like me. After a  warm welcome I hopped back on and resumed the climb. At a pace I could handle. Heck I was able to chit chat. Laugh. My legs stopped screaming. And as I sat mid pack, surrounded by women having a blast and all dealing with their own challenges (how to jump a log, take a berm, ride off that cold), I realized that they weren’t slower. They were just all riding at their own pace. Within their limits.  Enjoying the ride.

Riding at your own pace. Radical huh? In life, in sport, in work and in play. You can appreciate the scenery, make new friends and have more fun.

Who could argue with that?

An ode to yoga

yogaAfter 11 years of downward dogging, my doctor measured me on Tuesday and pronounced me 3/4 inch taller than my last physical. Now any exercise that stops my ass from sliding further down my legs AND  apparently makes me taller is my kind of exercise…even if it has taken 11 years.

So in response, here is my ‘Ode to Yoga’. The only exercise where crotch sweat is ok and lying down with your eyes closed is considered an important part of it.

 

Dearest Yoga I bow to thee

You make me bend fantastically

swan diving over gracefully

While farting so discretely

 

Wobbling with delicacy

1 leg outstretched, bent at the knee

with arms spread wide so joyfully

Falling slowly sideways, yes that’s me.

 

Warrior pose number 3

Clearly an impossibility

Camel just makes me want to pee

Eagle pose, I disagree

 

Oh how I would love to be

A LuLumon devotee

But in leggings and a cropped t

I resemble a manatee

 

11 years on and I fail to see

how yoga made me 5ft 3

but downward dog, plank and tree

calmed my mind and set me free

 

If hippy chants improve my chi

and help me think more clearly

Add abs and buns of steel then oui

Yoga I remain, your devotee.

 

The post chaos chasm..

Bridget-Jones-s-Diary_400One of the reasons I’ve been absent from my blog for the past few months has been a looming work commitment which pretty much eats my personal time for about 3 months. The last month of which its a 24/7 type thing and I live, eat, sleep and horribly dream about all the things that could go wrong. I’ve found myself quite regularly at my whiteboard with marker in hand at 3am wondering whether I resized a Powerpoint template to 16:9 and whether my 4:3 guys are actually getting a projector that works with 4:3.

Hence my blog was one of the first casualties. My love life a pretty close second.

But as of Sunday my event finished and the crazy time is over for another year.   I can return to waking up at 6am (not 3, 4, 5 and 5.30am), having evening activities that start at 5.30pm and an email inbox that doesn’t run into four digits of unopened mail.

I’m exhausted, I’m beyond tired and as of Sunday around 10am… I’m free!!!! I should be dancing in the streets! Celebrating wildly!

Except I’m not.

Something about having an all-consuming project come to an end, having it go well and having no one to high-five, no one to hug and tell you how awesome it was… SUCKS.  And in the absence of huge amounts of work, all I see is the absence of anyone who gives a shit.

Now as a well-adjusted female with years of therapy under my belt I know I can high-five myself, and I should be able to congratulate myself on doing a great job. But to be honest.. I feel ridiculous being self-congratulatory, especially when I can see all the tiny things which I missed. The mistakes I made. The less-than perfect stuff. Plus telling yourself how awesome you are… its just …tooo…. American. I’m not there yet.

I’m not a masochist, but without any external validation, I find it hard not to dwell on how it could have been perfect.. if only A, B or C had worked. Without someone to slap me across the face and tell me to just ‘chill the fuck out’ I’m picking away at what should be an obvious win.  Without someone telling me to just ‘leave it’, I’m reprocessing how X could have been improved by Y, how ‘this’ sort of detracted from ‘that’. Without someone to tell me to stop working on something that is done, that I can’t change.. well I’m lost. I’m spinning and I actually don’t want to stop. Because when I stop.. all I notice is a big aching chasm of want.

I want, embarrassingly and sincerely, someone special in my life. Its nothing new, but its been pretty low priority over the last year. I’ve been busy with a full life and ‘the goods’ have been too odd to even try. I enjoy my life; I ride, I can now ‘not drown’, I have amazing friends and people who care about me scattered all over the place. But as I opened my apartment door after a week of brutal effort, it sucked to come home to a house that needed cleaning, an empty fridge and nobody to even make me a cup of tea, never mind say ‘good job’. Cue the Bridget Jones theme track ‘All By Myself’.

(tiny violins, I know)

I’m not ignorant that I’m self-absorbed, that I’m whining and that you can’t have it all. I’m prickly and challenging, and I judge you on your dog care way too much, but there are times in life when you want someone in your life. You need someone to lean on. And Sunday, I got socked in the face with it. The post chaos chasm. The desire for someone to just sit down with me and ‘be’. Who I could lean against, be told to stop obsessing and maybe, maybe.. really care that I did good?

So what now?

Well I know myself pretty well so in about 2 weeks I’m sure this chasm will seem like a pothole, I’ll be back to my normal high-octane summer self and the thought of trying to meet someone will seem laughably ridiculous.

But for today….this week.. I’m just going to wallow in the want, eat some ice-cream and watch myself some Bridget Jones. After all, we all need a benchmark for our self absorption and neediness…and mine just happens to share my love of booze, friends and out of tune singing.

 

 

 

There’s ‘news’ and then there’s News

cotton-candy2Every morning I follow pretty much the same routine. I wake up, make myself a cup of tea, turn on my laptop and catch up on the ‘news’.

“Jennifer Aniston is still postponing her wedding but claiming everything is wonderful. Miley is twerking while prepping for her inevitable mental collapse/OD. Lilo is rehabbed but hanging out with a rather nasty married junkie and oh.my.god. look at little Nori (North).. soooo cute.”

1,200 people gassed in Syria.

“Robert Patterson is stepping out with someone new. Bradley Cooper is lying in a park reading Lolita to some model. Wow, Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas split!    Check out Jessica Simpson and her kids in US Weekly. Oh Kardashians please go away”

US to bomb Syria in response to gassing of 1,200 citizens

Next up, Facebook.

“Oh fun, my sister ran 3 miles today. And my buddy turns 40-something – got to remember to post something on this wall. Oh look, Jeannie is looking forward to that show tonight and cool, Pete finally got out of hospital after his surgery. Must remember to post that video of Jon Stewarts monologue from last night.. so funny.”

Russia bans homosexuality support or expression.

Time for some Huffpo.
“50 years since MLK speech. I wonder what Obama will say tonight? Cool.. there’s a new iPhone coming out in a few weeks. 10 Best Small Towns to live in America – oh look, Colorado has one. Gay rumors around Cory Booker? Who cares?”

At which point my ‘news’ catch up for the day is done. 30 -45 minutes of reading and I’ve pretty much soaked up about 100 ‘news’ headlines pertaining to famous people being photographed in cute or not cute outfits, people having babies, cute animal videos and a scandal or two.  Maybe later I’ll catch up on my favorite blogs, check in on Jezebel and update my own blog.

Meanwhile actual news is going on. Little of which has registered in my world.

(In fact, the only reason I knew about Russia and the whole homosexuality ban was because there was a photo of a famous actress (Tilda Swinton) holding a rainbow flag in front of the Kremlin.  A photo which made me wonder ‘why is she supporting Prop 8 in Russia?’ before I clicked elsewhere…yes, I am cringing).

And I know I’m not alone. We’re all guilty. After all, who has the time, energy and emotional wherewithall to learn about other people suffering in other places? To care that Russians are now banned from admitting or supporting homosexuality. Doesn’t impact me. Plus, have you seen the size of my AMEX bill? Do you know how much work I have to get done today? And don’t get me started on the Bachelor.  You see, all my worrying is tied up for now. I’m kind of too busy to worry about Russia, or Syria, or starving people or womens rights or… or….anything that actually matters.

Except I’m not too busy… to check out Jennifer Aniston’s newest purse, or see what ridiculous thing Gwyneth just said. I just prefer that ‘news’ (the light fluffy cotton candy that most of us register),  to actual news. You know, the stuff which impacts the world and the people who live in it.

News…Its such a downer.

I’m not sure where this acceptance of world ignorance started. I used to walk a mile or two every day to pick up a newspaper when I was in school. I religiously devoured the Independent and the Guardian every day and spurned my Dad’s daily read as tabloid trash.  I read the newspaper cover to cover – politics, world news, editorials, business news.. the only thing I allowed myself to skip was Sports. News was vital – it made me feel connected to the world and I enjoyed trying to figure it out – how would the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland ever be resolved? Would Israel and Palestine ever reach agreement? Could North Korea build a nuclear bomb? Were those crazy Americans really going to impeach their president over a blow job? And campaign finance reform? Bring it on!

Stories about celebrities -babies, clothes, idiotic surveys, videos of kittens or puppies- were like dessert or chocolate after the entree (the actual News). A treat. A throwaway nothing to remove the bitter taste of the reality that was ‘stuff going on in the world’. We knew that celebrity marriages and ‘oops’ moments weren’t News.. they were just a bit of sugar to help the rest go down.

Today, with the proliferation of media options, no-one is forcing us to eat our greens any more and we get to eat dessert for every meal.. every day. Why bother reading about stuff which doesn’t impact us, is far away and really.. just kind of depressing? After all.. reading about it doesn’t change anything, and what change could we affect anyway? Its much more fun to escape reality and wind down the day with some Kardashian crap, right?

Except… except… ignorance isn’t acceptable. And while you might not be able to change something over in another country (or even within your own), don’t you want to at least know about it? How can anything change if you’re not even aware that something is going on? And while I’m one of the worst offenders (my browsing history reads like a 13 yr old teenage girls magazine).. I can’t help but feel that maybe I’m overdosing on sugar these days. That I need some greens. If nothing else, if the world is about to end.. I sure want to know how it came about and who’s firing the missile. And if Texas decides to close the last 5 abortion clinics, I know as sure as hell, its not popping up on US Weekly.  And if someone decides to spy on everything I do and say, my extensive knowledge of Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez sure isn’t going to be very helpful in figuring out my rights as a citizen.

So today I’m going to stop treating Jennifer Aniston’s non pregnancy as news and start actually reading the ‘News’. Its not as sweet and mindless as what I’ve become used to but I can’t excuse my ignorance of the world around me any more. I don’t want to wake up one day and find myself wondering if ‘Chicken of the Sea’ is really chicken. And to be honest, I can’t laugh at the stupidity of those Kardashians if I don’t know any better myself.

Announcing my retirement from the kitchen

I love food. But you wouldn’t guess it from my waist line or my fridge. Why?

I’ve given up cooking. 

I know, its embarrassing. I devour Top Chef, I collect recipes and I love nothing more than a long late dinner with multiple courses. I can spend a good 15 minutes staring at a fish counter and I grow my own veggies. I used to love nothing more than to cook an extravagant meal and watch others enjoy it.  But lately, its a different story.  Cooking for just me?…forget about it.

Feeding myself is tedious. I’ve cooked for myself every day since my early teens and at 41, I think I’m just a little burned out on thinking ‘what’s for dinner?’ and getting excited. I know my mother suffers from the same malaise but I doubt its lasted 20 years… my father would be a lot thinner for sure.

When I was a kid, I regularly used to rush home from school to bake and ice a cake. I’ll never forget my mothers horror at my chocolate Easter roulade which featured 12 eggs and a pound of chocolate and I loved to try out new recipes every week. I made ragu’s and lasagnes, curries and ‘experimental’ vegetarian, all of which my family gamely plodded through, my dad always taking seconds (bless), even the nut roast and mushroom stroganoff.

In college I continued my vegetarian explorations (note, banana yoghurt does not substitute for plain in a curry), and took advantage of easy access to local Indian and Pakistani ingredients. I played around with galangal, asafetida and all manner of pulses, stinking up our group house and feeding everyone on $1.45. Yes, we were malodorous, but we were never hungry and I was rarely bored of cooking.

By the time I hit my first job I was working 60-70 hours a week and I found my food explorations were stunted by a lack of time, money and interest. Living in London gave me access to every type of food, but I found myself dividing my week into dinners of cereal, edamame and tuna fish. Anything which was edible within 10 minutes of me entering my studio apartment, and 5 minutes before crashing out cold, was the only criteria for dinner.

Which was the start of the end. I’d cook something on the weekend and eat it for the next 3 days. Followed by cereal the next night and take out on Friday. Saturday eat out, Sunday cook. Repeat. For the next 10 years.

Did I get sick of the same stuff? Yes, but not enough to bother cracking a cookbook. Why not? Three reasons – hunger, ingredients and washing up.

By the time I am thinking about food, I’m hungry. Which isn’t the time to start cooking, since the sight of anything reading ‘marinade for 45 minutes – 2 hours’ is an instant ‘no no’. This rules out baking, broiling or god forbid, slow cooking.

And then there’s ingredients. I used to shop for fantasy meals but after throwing away cartons of cream and reams of asparagus, I’ve downgraded by grocery list to just the essentials. Which means my fridge largely contains condiments and onions, champagne and beer. You know, the essentials.Which somewhat limits your ability to make a meal.. drink a meal yes… eat… not so much?

And then there’s washing up. My apartment doesn’t contain a dishwasher so its just me as chief clearer upper. And I don’t know the last time you prepared a 2 or 3 course meal without a dishwasher, but that’s a lot of clean up. And yes, I’m not ashamed to say I’ve eaten dessert off my entree plate before now.. hey, I loath washing up.

So currently my favorite go to (other than cereal, salad or tuna) is chickpeas, tomatoes and pesto. In a single pot. Eaten with a fork on a plate. Followed by Greek yogurt. Then nuts and a festival of Gummi animals (50% of my diet is Gummi sharks). And tea, lots of English Breakfast tea.

Why not buy prepacked food? Sure it would be easier and I’d probably eat a wider variety of food, but growing up with a scratch mentality, even a pre-made pie crust makes me shudder. Its full of so much yucky stuff and as a celiac, most of it will send me the hospital anyway. So its down to me, my imagination and an onion most days.

I know one day my inspiration to cook will return. I did cook 3 courses for my ex every day for 5 years so I know I have it in me (hey, I was doing my best Betty Draper). Just for now.. and maybe the next few months, you’ll find in the standing in my kitchen with an onion and a beer. I think dinner is edamame and Gummi worms tonight.

Self comforting

 After a work week where I wasn’t sure who I wanted to kill most – my boss, myself or my co-workers, the ability to shake off that bad ‘ju ju’ is critical to my long term sanity (any my coworkers health).

To stay sane, I do a lot of yoga, walk miles with my dog and the occasional glass of wine or vodka tonic doesn’t go amiss. But the one thing I don’t really ever talk about is my ‘comforting’ routine. (See, even writing that makes my skin pucker and my face contort). Comforting seems such a babyish word, indulgent, soft.. all the things I’m not. And, according to my therapist, everyone does it – whether you’re 4 or 41. However like masturbation, few are sitting around a bar talking about it. Because its weird and uncomfortable. Its an indication of vulnerability – I need – and even if you’re partnered up, everyone still does this for themselves. Its the things you do that you know, always, always, makes you feel better. Everyone self comforts – it just looks different for everyone. 

Now I’m not talking about going out and getting wasted, (not really comforting,  more obliterating yourself), or making out (seeking comfort through others), but if you’re not sure how you self comfort, the place to start for many is taking off  or putting on a specific article of clothing. 

Clothes: As babies we were swaddled to be comforted, but over the age of about 4 and under the age of 80, being tightly wrapped in a blanket probably isn’t most people’s idea of ‘comforting’. Instead we tend to take off things or put on things to make ourselves feel more ‘me’. No man will ever understand the joy of removing your bra at the end of the day, ok, maybe guys feel  joy, but its a totally different type of joy. Taking off your tights and putting on some big ass Smartwools. Peeling off that thong and going commando for the evening or just taking off pants that fit just a little to snugly.
Dudes don’t seem to constrained by their clothes,  so maybe its putting on that old ratty t shirt, those 1980s grey sweatpants or just untucking that shirt. My ex used to walk around the house in his boxers and no socks, even when it was snowing outside. Whatever ever makes you feel more comfortable and signals that now is a time just for you. And if you chose to swaddle yourself, just make sure you can reach the remote.

Food: Like a child, appetite plays a large role in satiation. That slightly empty hole in your chest/ stomach that aches at the end of the day?.. well it needs filling even its is not actual hunger. Now there is a very very limited section of the population sucking on a teet at the end of the day (please don’t email me, I do not need to know), so we tend to turn to food or drink that comforts us. Makes us feel good. Better.
Growing up, my source of comfort was toast slathered in butter (these days its Nutella). One of my friends goes out and buys herself a cream puff, another sips Bourbon out of a mug.. but everyone has a ‘I deserve this’ food or drink that we use to feel comforted when things get too much. Again, its the thing you do that feels like a treat – eating dinner isn’t self comforting.. that’s just nutrition. The food or drink you consume to self comfort isn’t about hunger at all. But like a good meal, it makes you feel relaxed, indulged. After all, no one started a war after eating a cream puff.

Activity: You’re physically comfortable and somewhat sated, and now you need to disengage your brain from whatever horror befell you. Like a kid, the need to comfort usually stems from a ‘something’. Back then a raised voice or pain somewhere needed soothing, today it might be an argument, a tough day at work or even that driver who blocked your exit on the way home. Whatever the source, you’re feeling agitated, maybe anger, definitely ire. And unless you want to spend the evening dwelling, you need to redirect your thoughts. TV is most people’s first call, though the internet is a close second. My dirty secret is The Daily mail online, a trite and laughable British newspaper that focuses on celebrity gossip and high drama stories from the US (‘6 yr boy kept in a George Foreman press for 17 years!’). The writing is terrible, the stories ridiculous but its a beautiful source of comfort. My next port of call is usually an old Doris Day or Cary Grant movie. Its pure indulgence and feels slightly naughty to wasting my time on such sugarcoated fantasy. But wow, is it comforting. The guy always gets the girl, the girls are always spunky and the clothes are beyond fabulous. And for an hour or so, curled up in my PJs, with my dog, my Nutella and my tea, I can forget wanting to put a fork in my eyeball for a few more days.

Whats your self comforting ritual?

My patchwork life


I’ve always been a workaholic. As a studious Capricorn, I’m never happier than buried in work, getting stuff done. I was the kid who did their homework the evening I got it, wrote stories and painted murals for something to do, and read voraciously to keep my brain from exploding. Lazy summers drove me nuts (and on some seriously long bike rides), and no kid was ever more excited when school started up again than me. I only really felt comfortable if I had structure and purpose. 
My life was a patchwork of hobbies, school, friends and family, with all of the edges straight and clearly defined. I obsessively planned, wrote lists and organized to wring the maximum out of each day. My sister spent endless hours spent lazing, chatting, playing with her hair and makeup – all completely confounding to me. I never really understood how someone could be so ‘drifty’ through life. Life was about doing stuff. And lots of it.
For someone who reveled in organizing and doing, consulting was an obvious career for me and my first job was a passionate love affair. I was obsessed with my clients, my company, my work and I was quite happy to drive myself into the office every weekend for an unbilled 8 or 10 hours. Eating, drinking, socializing, working out… everything else happened after I left the office at 9pm and that was just fine. My mother bemoaned by lack of ‘life’ and my obsession with work but I couldn’t think what else I’d be doing if I wasn’t working. Settling down? Having babies? Have we met?
Then as 30 loomed, I looked around and noticed the singularity within my life might not be as healthy as I thought.  I didn’t know a single person who lived in Denver, I lived in a carry-on bag and I had dry cleaning in several states. I was proud of my ability to pack 4 outfits and workout gear into a 14 inch square, always get the aisle seat and wring the most work out of a 3 hour flight to Chicago.  Hey, we all have skills. When I flew 100,000 miles in a single year I was excited rather than depressed, even if most of those flights had involved trips to a snowy Detroit, freezing Minneapolis and drizzly Manchester.
While I was happy, my patchwork life had shrunk to a single patch – work. My friends, my social life, my being all revolved around my job. The only people I dated were coworkers. I worked every single day of the week, and I’d forced friends to delay my 30th birthday celebrations while I finished a work-plan on New Years Eve. As we wished each other Happy New Year, I caught up on the engagements, babies, houses and travels that my friends had been busy with throughout the year. Cue my first panic attack as I realized that in 10 years I might still be sitting in exactly the same place, doing exactly the same thing if nothing changed. And while I was happy in my work, a PowerPoint deck can’t pick you up from the doctors or cheer you up when the cat dies. I’d never been busier… but my life had never felt smaller. The next time I looked up from my email, everyone had moved on.
Then in 2000 I got laid off. I didn’t even have that single patch any more.  
  
If there’s a lesson in the cruelty of my layoff – 8 yrs of 100 hr weeks over in a single day – I’m not sure what it was. It felt like being left by a lover… I was confused, hurt, angry and lost. What was I without my work?  Who was I? And what was the last 8 years for? Why didn’t it love me like I loved it?
Living in a foreign country with a rapidly expiring visa, 2 weeks pay, few local friends and no clue what to do, I did what I do best. I planned, I organized, I created structure and I ‘management consulted’ my life into some semblance of sanity.  
When I jumped back into other companies and other love affairs with work, I never quite gave away my heart and soul again. My quilt of a life will never shrink quite so small again and I work at keeping it varied and rich. Adding new patches- finding new passions, new friends, more balance – its hard when you’ve spent your life so focused on one thing. But I guess that first heartbreak scars you forever and so I keep looking for patches to add. 
Maybe this summer I’ll take some swimming classes and finally learn to enjoy laps, or return to tennis and improve my net game. Maybe I’ll find some good guy friends or finally encourage one of my boomerangs to land. Take that trip to Costa Rica. Ride my motorcycle down to Santa Fe. 
Or maybe actually learn to sit still and enjoy doing nothing.

Okay, lets not go too crazy.