Walking away a winner

Today was a bit of a rarity: M came to the office to (1) see the new office in our moved-in state and while still in it’s bright and shiny newness, and (2) bring me some soup and crackers to try and settle a troubled tummy. The upset stomach started in the middle of the night last night, making me late for the gym this morning and question whether to take a morning off or try and see what happened. However, since I was 99.99% sure whatever was is giving me grief is food consumed related, I went ahead with practice completely confident I was not contagious. Practice went fine – no abs for me today – and for the most part the day has progressed pretty well. Glad I chose to pursue my List of the day, because I was fine while on the gym floor and completely absorbed and felt fine.

The partners here are rabid runners and love, Love, LOVE talking running with M. They love hearing the stories of his ultra days, even though they are all marathoners right now and running on Sunday in the California International Marathon, so it was fun for them to hang out with M for 2 hours and talking running. A few of our newer associates had not met him before, and when one of them innocently asked why he no longer competes, they got to hear the story of how he won the big race and walked away a winner to finally find himself a wife, and a non-running wife at that. We will be at CIM on Sunday, because a bunch of our friends are competing, my son’s training group is competing, and it’s just seems to be what we do every year.

After M left, one of the newer associates was still perplexed as to how he could retire at the top of his game. Being as he is not that far away from the competitive nature of law school and now immersed as a staff attorney, which in and of itself means a lot of long hours, the pyramid to “the top” in his vision is likely exceedingly tall and steep. M’s training life was not all that different; if he wasn’t working he was running in the mountains or resting. There was no time for much of a social life, and I would have dumped his ass for sheer neglect had we met when he was racing. So I understand running was his priority and focus in those years and once he reached the goal he had set for himself, he retired from competition.

But it of course got me thinking about life and how we handle the day-to-day business of living our lives once we triumph over something we have been chasing. What happens next?

With work and career success, I feel like I have plateaued and will hover around here and the next teeny tiny steps will be toward downsizing with an eye toward part-time work or retirement. Not for a good 10 years or more, but eventually. I am not interested in chasing higher profile jobs or being an up-and-comer in a larger firm. I like my little cocoon in the firm now, where nearly everyone addresses me as “boss,” including the 4 partners. As one of the seniors said to a newbie last spring, we all know who really runs the firm. Which makes me smile.

As a parent, my kids are both grown, married, and leading independent and interesting lives. I love being a voice of experience, but honestly, they seem to have sound judgment and making good choices and decisions. For quite a few years now we have felt more like peers than parent-children, and I like that. I do not need to be consulted on their decisions, although I am happy to listen and talk it through with them when the crossroads appear in their lives. I feel fine being told about their activities or if there is some serious health-related issue going on either at the time or beforehand, please. I respect their need for autonomy and space as much as I would respond if they wanted or needed me to be present in a support capacity. In the culture I have worked to foster, this is how family works.

Besides, both my son- and daughter-in-law love that they have such cool parents-in-law.

Other things I’m pursuing? There is no clearly defined peak or end point for the exercise, unless illness or injury sidelines me, at which time healing will be the priority so I can get back on track with exercise. Education is another lifelong pursuit, although not so formally as in college or specific training courses. My reading list is constantly full and being replenished with things I hear about through various sources. I also have a very long list of hobby-like things to try or pick up again, most of which have fall away in favor of daily gym pursuits or the couple of yoga classes per week.

Thinking about this today, I do not see there is anything in my life right now that is so all-consuming that I will win the grand prize and retire from it. But I can understand the confusion of a hard-charging type A who cannot imagine life after success. We type A-/B+ people have learned there is always going to be new challenges to fill the void.

Either that or I am an unambitious slacker. Which I am not. So whatever void is created with each successful albeit vague goal I may have set somehow, there is always something else on my bucket list ready to be started or to be prioritized higher to take its place.

Perhaps it is merely a matter of perception and semantics. In my life, I do not see “winning” as culmination of a pursuit. Instead, I see it as an ongoing, integral part of the life I am leading and a reshuffling of priorities as things reach a conclusion. Otherwise, I suspect I would still be dreaming of my mother of the year award and valiantly attempting to helicopter parent my adult children and micromanage those around me at work. Accompanying such a scenario, negative girl and wildly insecure girl would be out of their boxes, running rampant and burning fields behind us. And really, who needs that?

Happy Friday everyone.

2 thoughts on “Walking away a winner

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