SoML: Maybe

The past year was been… rough. All over, but particularly at work. I started traveling at the beginning of March 2018 and didn’t stop until March 15, 2019. To say I was burnt out was an understatement. I had traveled at least part of nearly every week. I was gone so much in September 2018 that I asked Aaron to keep Delta for the entire month. By the time it was over, I was bone weary. I wanted my own house. My own bed. My normal life.

The Burn Out

It took me until late spring to even realize I was burned out. Everything felt off. Wrong. Hard. We started a new project and I was treated as the de facto lead since I was the only team member who’d been through something similar before. When I started work on these projects previously, it was set up as a “figure it out as you go” process and I’d done the best I could. Yet now when I told my team things weren’t defined, I was treated as being rude or stubborn or unhelpful. I wasn’t saying we couldn’t find a way to define them – I was saying there wasn’t a predetermined answer. But I couldn’t seem to communicate that. My frustration went up, as did theirs. The friction started to wear me thin.

Maybe I’m a dreamer
Maybe I’m misunderstood
Maybe you’re not seeing the side of me you should

I spent the summer trying to breathe some life into my singed edges. Because we had a project in full swing, I couldn’t take a real vacation. I started looking at the 10-day forecast and picking out the most likely “beach day” to request off. I had incredibly good luck and enjoyed a dozen or so gorgeous summer days by the ocean. I was even lucky enough to share some of them with a BJJ teammate and his family. But the feeling of overwhelm at work persisted.

I decided to take a real break – the entire week of Labor Day. It took me until Thursday of that week to wake up at a normal time. I was so rundown, every previous morning I’d slept until 10 or later. When I walked into my massage therapist’s office, she commented I looked so different – so much more relaxed than normal. I told her it was my 6th day off and I’d just started to feel rested.

The very first day back, the very first email of any consequence, my blood pressure spiked. My heartbeat was pounding in my ears and my body was overheating. My reaction was strong because this wasn’t a new experience. It was a pattern.

Maybe I’m crazy
(Maybe I’m crazy)
Maybe I’m the only one
(Maybe I’m the only one)
Maybe I’m just out of touch
Maybe I’ve just had enough

Now that I wasn’t simply trying to keep from drowning, I started to take stock. To really look at where I was and what I was doing. I’d been in my position for over 3 years. I’d taken on nearly all the roles available within my team. There wasn’t a promotion available or a different position within my company that I would want. I realized that while I’d been drowning, I’d been stagnating as well. Simply trying to keep afloat instead of moving forward.

One day in early October, I saw a meme: “There are 3 months left in this decade. Read that again.” I know, anyone with a computer or phone and a few minutes can make a meme. But it struck me.

A whole decade was about to come to a close. At the beginning of the decade, I’d been on the start of this new path – just a kernel of my current career starting to form. I’d started my post-college job life just sort of falling into something I knew I could do. I floundered, I wasn’t really sure where I belonged, where I could really put my strengths to use. I started to look at my field but I didn’t seem to have the experience to get in the door. At one point in 2013, after a traumatic job loss from a position I had only taken to “have a job” and didn’t enjoy, I spent 7 months unemployed. I had decided I would only take a job in my new field.

At the close of the decade, I was firmly established in the career that I had chosen. Deliberately and stubbornly. The success of “getting there” had happened. But now it was time to grow. And to go.

Maybe it’s time to change
And leave it all behind
I’ve never been one to walk alone
I’ve always been scared to try
So why does it feel so wrong
To reach for something more
To wanna live a better life
What am I waiting for?
‘Cause nothing stays the same
Maybe it’s time to change

The Plan

So I made a plan. Out by the end of the year – the decade – whether I had a new job or not. It scared me but I knew it was right. I spent October and November working with a career coach and starting to submit applications. In early December, I took the vacation I’d planned over the summer, a week long getaway to Costa Rica for a surf camp. I knew the day I returned, I would put in my notice. That would put my end date on December 27th, just a few days shy of the end of the year.

My vacation came and went. I told nearly every person I met about my plan when I got home. Not only because I was excited, but because I needed to give myself no way to back out. No way to let fear get the better of me and let me stall out or become apathetic. There could be no “maybe” about it.

Monday came, I sent my official resignation email, copying Human Resources, as my career coach advised. The reply came a few hours later, a confusing single line stating “Thank you, Julia!” Thank me for… leaving? OK.

Maybe it’s hopeless
(Maybe it’s hopeless)
Maybe I should just give up
(Maybe I should just give up)

I’ve heard a lot of people say that when you’re making the right changes in your life, you attract the right things. This is not how it happened for me. Everything went to shit.

After I sent the email, I discovered that the deadline for the last major piece of work I had to do had been moved up a week. Testing and writing that I had planned to do during the nice quiet week of Christmas had to be completed the prior Friday (or over the weekend) for use on Monday. And while some people reading might say “You were already leaving, fuck ’em” not finishing the work would have put a coworker – one who I’d worked with well and had been a good sounding board – up a serious creek with no paddle. It needed to be done.

On my way home from work, stopping by the house for just a quick minute before I went to Jiu Jitsu for the first time in a week and a half, I got a flat tire. Right at the time when the nearby shop was closing. I was able to get my car into the driveway. It was cold. It was dark. The last time I’d changed a tire had been a bright summer day and it wasn’t on this car. In addition to missing my BJJ training, which I was in desperate need of, I was supposed to pick up Delta from my ex. My vacation meant an extra half week without her and I had been looking forward to seeing her.

What if I can’t trust myself?
What if I just need some help?

So I did what every strong, independent woman would do… I broke down into hysterical tears. Then I called my best friend. Even the act of calling her started helping get my head on straight. So I called my ex, told him what had happened, asked if he could bring Delta to me … and “Oh, by the way, can you put on my donut? Because if one more thing goes wrong tonight, I’m going to lose it.”

Know when to sit, stand, or walk away…

It’s been over a month since I left my job. The job hunt is going slower than I’d intended. Jiu Jitsu training is going slower than I’d intended. My writing has been somewhat non-existent outside of this post. But I’m asking for help from the right people and trusting that I made the right decision. It’s no longer “maybe” – it’s discovering what “may be.”

BJJ: There is No ‘Sorry’ in Jiu Jitsu

OK, so technically there can be sorry in Jiu Jitsu. Just not nearly as often as it gets said. Did you inflict major damage? Say sorry. Did you have a moment and act like a complete dick? Say sorry. But minor bumps and innocent mistakes? STFU and keep training.

And there’s a reason I modified a line from a League of Their Own – women are usually** the worst offenders. Even in life in general, we say sorry too often. We’ll say sorry for things that need no apology. Sorry when someone else bumps into us. Sorry because we needed to ask a question. Add in a male dominated sport and you get ridiculous situations like a 140# female apologizing to a 220# military enlisted blue belt male for an accidental elbow to the head. And we’re talking about a hit that wasn’t even hard enough to make him pause. Or saying sorry to our partner because we didn’t remember all the steps to a move we were just shown.

I was the partner for one woman in the gym on her first night on the big mats. We were doing fan sweep and you could tell she really enjoyed the power and physicality. But she could not stop apologizing. She was, from my perspective, apologizing both for the roughness AND for the fact she was enjoying it. She’d block my arm, bump me with her hips, and as soon as I hit the mat, she’d sheepishly say “Sorry” and laugh self-consciously. Women aren’t supposed to like fighting, aren’t supposed to like being rough with one another. I encouraged her to just rip it – stop apologizing and have fun. She couldn’t stop herself from saying sorry entirely, but she said it less often and enjoyed herself more.

In contrast, I had a chance to train with a woman from another gym (funny enough, the woman from my first match in my one and only tournament) and she didn’t say sorry once. It was so different, it was striking. So much so that I reached out to her to ask her how that came to be. She couldn’t explain it, she said lucked out that she never got into the habit. She said sometimes she’d excuse herself in advance if something was going to be particularly uncomfortable, let them know she’d try her best not to maim them or pull hair. I wish I knew how she’s managed to avoid the habit that so many of us are stuck in, so I could spread more of that around.

So ladies, to paraphrase a dog training friend, let’s stop mousing around out there and get to work! It’s a complex sport that takes a lifetime to master, don’t apologize for not executing it correctly when you’re learning. It’s a combat sport, don’t apologize because you aren’t being gentle – that’s the point. To quote the aforementioned blue belt “It’s a fighting sport. If you do it right, it’ll hurt.”

In the words of singer and fellow jiujiteria, Demi Lovato…

Sorry, not sorry.

** I said usually, boys, I know we don’t “own” being overly apologetic. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.

Review: Le Tote Dress for Success

Nearly 2 years ago (wow) I started subscribing to the clothing rental service, Le Tote. I wrote my initial review a few totes in and I was still iffy on the service. The results were mixed but I’d had some fun and even stepped out of my comfort zone to try a dress. Or maybe I should say I stepped into my comfort zone.

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SoML: Song Meanings Unplugged

One night on the way home from dancing, I was talking with Kaetlyn about how we relate to music. Or rather how I relate to music. Kaetlyn loves dancing and has eclectic taste, but she doesn’t make the connections to songs that I do.

Connecting Through Music

I connect to music but I also connect through music. Songs can bring me to a moment or remind me of a person. “Me and Bobby McGee” makes me think of Jen, one of my best friends from childhood. “Smooth” by Santana w/Rob Thomas makes me think of my mom rocking out in the Plymouth Voyager any old time, but “6 Underground” by Sneaker Pimps reminds me of a specific stretch of tree-lined highway we traveled between college visits. Continue reading SoML: Song Meanings Unplugged

BJJ: I Have the Touch

No one get excited, I am not saying I’ve got some sort of magic touch in BJJ. I’m not even good at BJJ, much less magical.

What’s on my mind lately is “positive touch” and how BJJ provides that contact we social creatures crave so much. And how much that’s helped me personally in the last year or so. I found myself telling my “touch-starved” story twice recently and it dawned on me just how much BJJ had helped me.

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Finding That Special Someone – A Roommate

So, disclaimer – I hadn’t had a roommate since literally half my lifetime ago. Even down to the time of year. Fall ’99, I had my one and only roommate experience. We spent one semester driving each other nuts until she moved to one of the apartments available to lower classmen.

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Font over diary text - Better Sorry Than Safe

SoML: Better Sorry Than Safe

“Better safe than sorry” – it might be good advice for packing or obeying traffic laws, but Lzzy Hale would argue it should not be applied to romantic relationships. And I agree. Safe isn’t bad. Safe is comfortable. There is nothing wrong with comfortable … unless that comfort is kept out of fear and you’re struggling to keep your own fire stoked.

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The Academy Women's Team

BJJ: Embrace the Opponent (Empower Women Tournament)

At the end of January, I heard that Team Lawton was hosting the Empower Women Tournament on March 25th – women only, submission only, white and blue belts only. The format was round robin with 3 weight divisions. Each weight division would break out into separate white and blue belt brackets if entries allowed.

I should have known I was in trouble right away. Any other time people had talked about tournaments, I’d nope’d on out of the conversation immediately. No thanks, all set, hell no.

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Gritty in Pink

BJJ: Gritty in Pink

We’ve all heard of the law of intended consequences. You do something to get result A, result B comes along for the ride. I spent a few weeks doing “focused freewriting” and suddenly noticed that my Sudoku skills had made a major leap forward. I might not have made the connection except that the writing guide I was using mentioned that surprising gains in other areas was a common phenomenon. Recently I’ve realized that my training in BJJ has had a rather interesting, if incongruous, unintended consequence: I’ve started to explore being girly.

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SoML: Addicted (BJJ Edition)

Recently I’ve talked to a few people at the gym and how often I train has come up. I don’t know if it’s my history of rowing crew in college (one day off a week, two days a week w/lifting in addition to practice) or just general obliviousness that it never occurred to me until now that I train A LOT.

Continue reading SoML: Addicted (BJJ Edition)