12 Months of Self-Care - April Was a Zen Filled Birthday Month

I’ve been known to be called a “unicorn” by those who “know me-know me”!

I’ve been known to be called a “unicorn” by those who “know me-know me”!

Last month, I turned another year old. Let’s just say I am one year closer to the “half century mark”, although looking at me you would never guess that!

This was a “different” kinda birthday for me. It “felt” different. Maybe that was because I typically have my birthday all planned out weeks, if not months, in advance. Maybe it was because I am usually somewhere warm and tropical that includes a beach, a swim-up pool bar and lots of tropical drinks!

But this year, I was barely able to think clearly for five whole minutes much less plan my birthday. For the past several months, thinking or planning beyond that same day was damn near impossible!

Why, you ask??? One word (and it’s a nasty four-letter one at that)…WORK.

As a director of marketing for a defense contractor that’s part of a global company providing communications solutions, the past several months has been a whirlwind! I’ve been project managing several huge projects simultaneously that were pretty much all due at the SAME TIME. And, that due date was last week! They were all to culminate at our big industry trade show. Yup, this Queen of Marketing…this Marketing Diva… DID IT!

With the help of great vendors/partners, I re-branded the entire company, launched a new corporate website, and planned a huge launch party for the new brand in which over 200 people attended. All of this while planning for our participation in the trade show. Each of these projects had countless of tasks, “to do’s” and deadlines. Each of these projects involved or affected multiple people and sometimes the entire company.

Recently, I have clocked over 100 hours (vs. the standard 80) in a two-week pay period. From the time I get to work, I’ve been stuck in my chair/office with my door closed, on conference call after call, barely eating or drinking my normal 64+ ounces of water in order to “focus” and stay on top of everything. I’d work round the clock often putting in a full day at the office, then coming home resting for an hour and booting up the laptop again until almost midnight.

Work has been all consuming! The stress to my mind, body and spirit has been at all-time highs. The toll it’s all taken on me has also been a little too scary for my own comfort. So, when my friends and coworkers were asking me what I was doing for my birthday (expecting some elaborate, well-thought out plan) they were shocked that I had absolutely nothing planned out.

Well…I am the “Spunky Diva” after all!

Well…I am the “Spunky Diva” after all!

So what did I end up doing on my birthday?

Well, not only did it fall on a Monday, but it was also the Monday after Easter. But, I did manage to take the day off…well kind of. I ended up working from 7 a.m. until around noon. Afterwards, I had no plans for the rest of the day. It felt so weird and awkward. It was the first time that there wasn’t anyone lined up to take me on a special birthday date. And, that was OK!

I ended up meeting a fellow sister-of-the-leaf at the cigar lounge around the corner from me. She’d made me a giant rum cake all for me. Thank you Mama Sandy!! I smoked a couple cigars with her and then I went to the other cigar lounge near me. I stayed there until they closed at 10 p.m. Then…I went home.

The day before (Easter Sunday) I had an amazing, expensive brunch at the Four Seasons in Baltimore with one of my sorority sisters. The following Sunday I had a phenomenal day with a dear friend in the Georgetown/DC area as we went on one of our day trip adventures. Strangers as well as members of my cigar family gifted me birthday cigars.

I truly saw and felt the genuine love from those around me who took time out to celebrate me. I experienced the “community” I’ve built around me…from coworkers to sorority sisters and strangers that are now no longer strangers. I am proud of my “tribe” and will protect it at all costs!

Where’s the “Self-Care” you ask?

The self-care is in recognizing that I just needed to BE STILL. I just needed to REST. I just needed PEACE. Maybe I just needed to BE ALONE and enjoy ME TIME. I need to “turn off” my work brain and just CALM the noisy chaos going on in my head with all that I’ve had going on at work.

I did end up celebrating my birthday with close friends one by one. I had some pretty amazing meals and spent some great quality time having fun. I also enjoyed some good, long naps over my birthday weekend.

What’s the Self-Care lesson?

Even when you are drowning in STRESS, recognize and honor what you really need in that moment. Yeah, I’m a “workaholic” and I’m guilty of saying I “work hard, play hard”…but self-care is essential at all times! A couple times I felt the anxiety/panic attack coming or my blood pressure creeping up. Nothing (and no one) is ever worth my health OR my peace (of mind). I realized that I had let work disrupt both. I have to take care of myself better!

Not every birthday has to be “epic” so long as I live to see another birthday. I am truly thankful and blessed. Don’t get me wrong though… there will be something epic planned for my 50th in a couple years!