Right after my mother passed, I decided to fix my life. I’d just graduated from college with a theatre degree and no sense of direction. I’d just spent six months as my mother’s primary caretaker, and I wasn’t needed for that anymore. I ran a small business, teaching performing arts classes after school. I made okay money for someone still living with the parents but watching my mother’s decline rocked my world. I HAD to get out of that house.
I found an apartment I could afford and asked an entertainment industry professional to mentor me. She offered me a job as her assistant. I took it.
The pace of my life changed in an instant. I went from running a business part-time to running someone’s life and business 24 hours a day every day. 12-hour shifts were pretty standard. My boss and her clients contacted me on my cell any time they needed me. One day, I was aimlessly meandering through life, the next day, I was sprinting at breakneck speed.
My car broke down right before I moved, so I took public transportation to and from work. I caught the first bus to work and caught the last bus home at night. If I missed the last bus because work ran late, my boyfriend gave me a ride home.
The schedule was insane, but I was working. I was around people that knew what they were doing. I learned about how the business worked. I took acting classes where I worked, so I had a creative outlet. I was operating on four hours of sleep every night, but I was doing what I had to do to succeed. Life is too precious to waste it “kind of” do what you love. I was ALL-IN. I was RUNNING toward my goals with reckless abandon, even if I didn’t know what they were just yet.
I ran like that for two years and quit that job. It was a smart move. My body was telling me that I needed to slow down, and I was getting married, so it was time. My life slowed down a smidge, but I always found another way to run at top speed in the direction of success. It felt right. As long as I was running, I was getting it DONE. Until … I got pregnant.
Pregnancy was both miraculous and annoying.
I HATED that pregnancy slowed me down.
I was angry at my body for needing naps.
I was angry at the doctors for requiring me to spend so much time in medical buildings.
I was frustrated with my agents for not submitting me for film and television roles. True story: I deliberately covered my baby bump on auditions. At five months pregnant, I was offered a great theatre role in a show that would run during my third trimester. When I was offered the job, I told casting about the pregnancy, and they decided against hiring me. Da*n baby! I needed credits.
I was mad at my husband for not at least taking turns carrying our child! Seriously, I couldn’t understand why I had to carry the little person the entire gestation period. No breaks. Just heavy … for almost a year.
More than anyone, I was angry at this little person for breaking my stride. I was no longer running. In that season of my life, my body just couldn’t keep up with my mind. I felt internally humiliated. But instead of admitting defeat, I simply altered my pace.
Maybe I couldn’t run, but I could power walk! I auditioned, started new relationships, shopped for a new agent, trained, took notes for scripts I would write postpartum. I had a plan.
I’ve done some version of that for years. Running or power-walking to some unknown magical land of success. Never quite present. Kind of making progress. Anxious. Always moving. Never quite happy.
Last year changed all of that. In 2019, I got sick and had to do a full stop. For almost a month, I was in bed. I couldn’t run. For the first time, I had to just … be. It was both terrifying and wonderful at the same time. I heard God’s voice and felt my own soul for the first time in years. I sat in bed and just listened.
This is what I heard:
My soul was deeply wounded and exhausted. After my mom passed, I needed a moment to heal: go to therapy, get quiet, connect with friends, be creative. I thought I was running toward success, but I was actually running from myself. “Busy” was my excuse for self-neglect when I desperately needed care.
Over the past year, I’ve been slowly rebuilding. I spend a good amount of time nourishing my spirit. My exercise routine right now is pretty boring. I walk. I do yoga once a month. Sometimes I rollerblade when I’m feeling particularly fun. But most mornings, I take a long, boring walk. On these walks, I am practicing what I learned from my full stop: connecting to God’s voice, clarifying my desires, and making peace with my body. The walks are teaching me to listen, really listen to what’s happening within and in the world around me.
I wish I could say I’m ready to run again or at least jog a little. I’m not. I’m still slowly making progress. But life isn’t about moving at a rapid pace, it’s about knowing where you are going and savoring the journey. I can honestly say that this time I’ve learned my lesson. My soul is well. I am whole. I have a clearer sense of direction. I have goals that really resonate with who I am today, and I’m not measuring my success by anyone else’s standards.
So, for now, I’m walking. When I’m strong enough to jog, I might. It doesn’t matter how fast I get there. What matters is that I am healthy and aware enough to enjoy it when I do.