This started out as a simple post about energy and morphed into a lot of other things that impact that for me. Rather than trying to come up with a flashy, descriptive title that covers everything, it is just a kitchen sink post of thoughts from various events of the day.
So having lunch today with my associates and the topic of energy came up. I get it. They are all younger and fitter and hipper and generally cooler than I am, and it is as it should be. They are also more fatigued and haggard looking at times, which is also to be expected to some degree. Hard-working, workaholic young lawyers, hungry to make names for themselves, putting in the hours, living on less sleep, crap food, and the single and dating (or trying to date) lifestyle. Whereas I am not an attorney, have considerably more experience managing my workaholism, and I have nothing to prove to anyone in this firm or outside it regarding my professionalism, expertise, or work ethic. My lifestyle is also a lot tamer, and I prioritize exercise, adequate sleep, and healthier eating over getting out and socializing with my peers, etc. Between my own business and what I do for the firm, I bill at least as many hours as they do every month and possibly work slightly more overall. None of us are digging ditches or pounding nails to make a buck, either, so the physical demands of our occupations is comparable.
When it comes to lifestyles, mine is not better or theirs worse; priorities and choices are simply different.
But apparently I seem to have consistently more energy than they do, per opinions around the table. And since I am the oldest person in the firm, it does seem a bit unusual. Not really, though, and for the reasons delineated above.
Stress makes a difference as well. Stress for me is pretty minimal anymore, and I like this unstressed version of me so much I am actively trying to reduce any stressors even further. The exercise helps more than I would have ever thought, but so does feeling in control of my own job and ability to make a living wage. Sleep, glorious sleep, is a great equalizer that should not be underestimated. Since going to bed earlier to allow me to get up and get to the gym early, I have found a new sense of balance. I might want to stay up later and read or write or chat with my friends, but I make sure I shut down and am in bed by a decent hour. Certain nights of the week I can cheat a bit, because the alarm is set for later than 3:45, but most of the time I go to bed on time and wake feeling refreshed.
And happy, so happy. Since M is the same M as a year ago and our marriage remains healthy and happy, I chalk the increase happy factor to the lifestyle changes. Feeling satisfied, feeling challenged and successful with managing and overwhelming those challenges goes a long, long way to elevating my happy factor. Because it makes sense that when I am not stressed, tired, or worried, I am a lot happier, more energetic person. And maybe that’s the vibe my associates get from me – that my overall aura is more relaxed and peaceful, the energy more positive. They are very quick to reassure me that I am always pleasant, helpful, and easy to work with, but the productivity and efficiency of things happening within the office is ratcheting up. I am not sure about that, but perhaps they are right and I was a lazier slug at points prior to now. Maybe someday I will look back on this period and feel as if I were moving in slow motion now versus this mythical future point.
I have no concrete, precise answers – apparently this is my new fallback position when it comes to complicated questions. I do know I’d recommend the protein shake concoction for them in the afternoons, versus slamming more coffee or energy drinks. My protein shakes are the new favorite food and food group so my bias may be influencing my promotion of them.
My current level of energy and motivation to exercise? I like the way it makes me feel, and ultimately I like the challenges of learning and conquering. I think once past the terrible, dreadful, painful aspects of actually going and doing it simply became part of the daily routine. Burnout happens – I see it, I hear about it, and I understand it – but right now mind is locked on in a trance-like haze that causes anxiety and panic when I do not exercise. The images mind presents – weighing in a 300 lbs., not fitting into The Dress for G and K’s wedding in just over 2 months, the insulin needles and bottles of medications – trust me mind knows how to push those buttons, pull those levers that get me off my ass and back into the gym and working on a List.
What boosts our energy and motivates are going to be unique to us as individuals. But I suspect I am not unique in what kept me out of the gym and rooted to the couch for so long, and I hope I am not unique in my level of regret for the years I was sedentary. It was what it was, my choices and my headspace were different, and feeling regretful or angry about lost time is truly pointless. I cannot get those years back for a do-over, so I learned to let it go, accept it for what it was, and leaving it where it lay. Keeping my eye on the prize right in front of me is far better and healthier for me.
Speaking of the past, friend J related to me a funny tale from an old friend of his I have met a few times. Seems friend J was skyping with this pal and going on and on about my progress in the gym, etc. I guess his pal asked how he could have never been romantically involved with me since it’s obvious he is still crazy about me after all these years. Friend J simply said he has never been attracted to me like that, and I was a better friend to him than I ever would have been a girlfriend. After they hung up, I guess friend J got worried that this tale would find its way back to me from somewhere in our wide net of mutual friends and acquaintances, so he hastened to email me about it in advance lest my feelings be hurt by his frank assessment of his lack of attraction and my ability to be a decent girlfriend.
It has been at least a few days since I have laughed so hard. I mean, I had just started dating M when I met friend J, so it’s not like I ever sized him up or thought about him as romantic boy-toy material (despite what he likes to think every woman in the whole entire world dreams of when they cross paths with him). But for him to think my feelings might possibly be a teensy bit bruised by his frank admission all these years later? Too funny. I am still chuckling writing this post.
But this is what I mean about past being past and trying to recover prior events for a do-over. Believe me, despite the many times other friends express disbelief that friend J and I have always been just that – friends – I do not spend any part of any days wondering what might have been and if I missed my chance with him (OMG – ROFLMAO).
There are a few past events I wish I could revisit, all related to a desire for just another couple of minutes with beloved family members and close friends who died too soon, another opportunity to tell them again how much I love them and will miss them long into the future. Not taking better care of my health, or dating the younger brother I never wanted and am now stuck with for the rest of my life do not even come close to my occasional wishful thoughts for opportunities to change past events.
I believe my lack of excessive concern or worry about events and things I cannot change or impact or influence has done a lot for freeing more of my energy and ability to wring as much as I can from the moments I do have right here, right now. I cannot change my sedentary past, but I can build a more active, healthy future. Negative girl is locked away, and if mind has its way and stays as strongly convicted as it presently is, body will continue to get up off the couch, to move with purpose, and to get shit done.
And that is more than enough to keep me fueling my energy reserves in positive, healthy ways. Speaking of which, time for that protein shake before Friday night’s yoga class. Mind is still lobbying hard for a gym workout; body may rebel after an hour of yoga in 105 degree temperatures. Energy will be the deciding factor.