Stop, Shut-up, Count to 90, and Breathe!
Mother Nature has a perverse and yet wildly effective way of getting me to get back on course.
She simply shuts down my airways.
It happened back in my early ’30s when my right lung collapsed. I had just taken-on a new high-pressure gig at Citibank, I had a 2-year old at home, and a bunch of other work/life woes and stresses. Spending a couple of days in the ICU is not on my top list of relaxation jaunts, but it was definitely humbling and forced me to re-evaluate many things in my life.
So, when I went to the local clinic yesterday and discovered that the rattling in my chest was not loose change but rather restricted airflow (caused by bronchitis, which I had been sort of denying I had — because really — who the hell has time for that?), I had a strange kind of deja vu.
In addition to meds and my little new friend (the Ventolin HFA), I decided to mentally, professionally, and spiritually self-medicate with a list of 20 things I’ve learned over my first 90 days in a new place (Minneapolis). Not only are listicles wildly popular with my blog readers, perhaps you can take a thing or two away from the lessons I’m learning here.
On starting a new life in a new state (literally)…
- Moving to a new place can be really hard. Do not be afraid to talk to strangers and let friends introduce you to random people you know.
- Join organizations. They won’t all be great, but some will.
- Explore. I try to eat at least one new restaurant or drive to one new neighborhood every week.
- The “MN Nice” thing is real. Even Minnesotans admit to it. Most of the people here grew up here. And they don’t make outsiders feel particularly wanted or welcome. There ARE exceptions. I’m hanging in and just being me.
- Loneliness and boredom can be overcome with hobbies.
- People outside of NY move WAY slower. It’s true. You can try to speed them up, but it’s not really going to work. Deal with it.
- There are way more varieties of frozen pizza than I could have ever imagined. It’s a “thing” here.
Now moving on to work & life-related stuff…
- It’s never over until it’s over (as evidenced by the Oscars and Super Bowl).
- Saying “no” is not only empowering…it’s necessary. People will try to guilt or bully you into doing things that aren’t right for you in the long run. Stay strong.
- I don’t always have to have the last word in an argument or discussion. If I know I’m right, I can just keep that to myself. If I’m wrong, I can own it.
- People sometimes steal business ideas. Imitation doesn’t always equal flattery. Sometimes it just equals thievery. Sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes it’s accidental. But it’s wrong. Unless you have lots of money for lawyers, let it go.
- Get enough sleep and exercise.
- If I focus on those things I’m really good at and enjoy doing I’ll be happier and calmer. One doesn’t always have that luxury every day, but it’s the only way to live and work.
- I’ve finally grown into a decent public speaker and trainer. It only took me seven years but I don’t get a wave of nausea and palpitations when I “mike-up.” I need to do more speaking. Stay tuned (and/or invite me to speak somewhere!) Here’s where I’ll be this week.
- Women definitely get wiser and more fun as we age. I’ve met some incredible 60+ women since I got to MN. We know a lot of old shit and many of us can learn new shit too. In fact, I know more about most forms of digital media than most 20-somethings I meet. That doesn’t make me better…just 3x as wise. We need to take the time to mentor — and listen to each other. Lots of young women come to me for career and life advice. I feel like I’m able to give a little something back.
- Speaking of which, those of us who have faced business roller coaster rides know how to get out of dark places. Which leads me to 16…
- Everyone just needs to stop talking and e-mailing and texting so much and start listening more (including myself at times).
- Face-to-face interaction is still awesome. As was having a chinchilla on my head.
- I can live without a lot of possessions. I travel VERY light these days (literally and metaphorically).
- Don’t ever push yourself to the point of physical exhaustion and lung disease. Even if it gives you inspiration to ruminate on the 20 things you learned in the last 90 days, it’s so not worth it!
So, I’m starting the next quarter of 2017 with a renewed sense of purpose — mental AND pulmonary clarity. You need oxygen in your brain to come up with new ideas and to be kind to others. Thanks for following me on the journey.
Now let’s all remember to breathe…
P.S. The “iron lung” (or tank respirator — pictured above) really was a treatment for respiratory disease and polio. Sure glad I got sick in 2017 and not 1927!