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Blurring the lines between what we do and who we are


My lovely family plus a couple of friends

My daughter was a young student of dance, voice & drama. She would be anxiously awaiting my arrival home from work so I could take her to her dance class. I had a mini-van, which the salesperson who sold it to me exclaimed it would seat seven passengers but had thirteen cup holders, best of all it had an automatic door opener. With just a push of a button the door would electronically open and at that time in my busy work life never needing to get out of my car to load a passenger seemed like a good idea.

On many evenings after a 45 minute commute home from work, I wouldn’t even put the car into park, hitting the electronic door button and yelling towards the door of my home, “get in, we are going to be late”. Still in my suit and pumps and having skipped lunch and now dinner, she could feel my tension. Trying to switch from director/manager to loving mother was more challenging then the deadlines I faced at the daily newspaper I worked for. Now, racing to dance class, the next thing on my list, and weaving in and out of traffic to make the class on time, didn’t provide for the Mother /daughter relationship moment I thought I was providing.

Any ambitious parent who works outside of the home, may not realize that the lines sometimes blur between who we are and what we do for a living. The price I paid for blurring the lines took its toll on my family, relationships, my health and my mind.

As a major offender of blurring the lines I defined myself as a Marketing, Promotions and Sales Director, the one who won contests, exceeded company objectives, earned career advancements and raised children. I was the epitome of the saying "all work and no play". I convinced my self I was sacrificing now by working hard and earning money so my children could have and do things their peers were able to have and do.  However in order to keep up the abundant work schedule and quality relationships with friends, family and children there would have needed to be two of me.

The two of me would have included the mother who was warm, caring and had time for long conversations, listening, quality time, self care and play and the one who could problem solve, create budgets, hire train and treat  customers as if they were your close family. Alas there was only one of me. The one who managed her home and family the same as she ran her career. On the clock, on the agenda, on task, on deadline, no excuses, no time for casual conversations with friends, of course no personal calls at work and the list goes on.

Mornings were a regimen of hurry and eat your breakfast, I can’t be late, chew faster, your taking your time and you need to hurry, grab your backpack I’ll be waiting in the car, what do you mean you need your report card signed we are already in the car, why didn’t you give that to me last night?

Evenings were similar, do your homework, lets go, lay your clothes out for school, eat your dinner you have to study for that test yet tonight and practice your dance steps. I have laundry and weeding and a presentation to finish for tomorrow, I can’t take you to your friends house after school.

Weekends were full of the things that didn’t get done during the week, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry and meal planning for the coming week. Work didn’t stop and work didn’t begin, it was work, work work 7 days a week.

Is any of this sounding familiar yet? We live in a world where we set the bar high, never schedule down time for the simple the uncomplicated the quiet. Then we send our children to school having experienced this pace their whole lives and expect them to sit in a chair for 6 or more hours a day and pay attention (that’s another blog for another time)

Beam me up Scotty

Once while driving home from work, I sat at a traffic light. At some point before the light turned green, while waiting, I had disappeared. When I came back to my conscious mind I found myself driving on a road and unbelievable as it may seem, couldn’t figure out where I was. It took a few minutes to realize that I had driven west of where I was headed and it scared me.

I would have had to make a left hand turn without consciously doing so. I called my husband and daughter to let them know I would be home shortly. I told them what happned, I laughed, sort of and said I apparently had gotten “beamed up Scotty”. The price paid for blurring the lines is the conscious mind disappears sometimes and very robot like ,we do respond and react to the circumstances of our life much of the time in dream state.

When corporate restructuring came to visit my company, a crossroad appeared before me. I had devoted my life to this organization for over 20 years. As you have read, I had a great work ethic, working sixty plus hours each week which made it difficult to have the energy for anything more than my job.  My new job under the restructuring plan would force me to travel out of state weekly. My daughter then 14, would be left on her own much of the day. There would be many arrangements to be made including new responsibilities placed on her step-dad such as leaving work early to get her to her dance classes and other school activities, homework and social time with her friends.

The Dream

During the corporate restructuring and having this prey on my mind like a presidential debate, hashing the pro’s of this and the con’s of that. In the midst of all the mind chatter, one evening I had a dream.

I had a dream I was leaving work for home. As I walked the block or so to the parking lot, I noticed one of my co-workers walking on the opposite side of the street. (This woman, my co-worker Andi, in my non dream state was a part time worker. She had always posed a threat to my position in that she had similar experience as me, and in her part time hours, it was my perception that she wanted my job.)

She was walking a Great Dane in my dream, having difficulty holding onto the dog on the leash. She lost control of the leash with the gigantic dog and he crossed to my side of the street. I quickened my pace to get to my car and almost reaching the door of my vehicle the dog jumped on my back, paws on my shoulders. I tried to shake the dog free of me and wasn’t able to get the dog off my back so I could get in my car and go home. After several attempts I was able to shake the dog off, and when I turned around to see where the dog had gone, I saw him standing in the parking lot. On his back was my 14 year old daughter. She was wearing a white cotton gown, her long hair spilling over the dog as she was slumped over this Great Dane, as a rider on a horse.

The dog turned and ran with my daughter on his back. There was a sense of danger for my daughter and suddenly I wasn’t chasing the dog, but rescuing my daughter. He ran towards the building of my work. I chased the dog, running as fast as I could, but in my dream I never caught the dog or my daughter…and I woke up.

I’ve never had a dream that upon awakening, I knew exactly what the dream meant. I knew with certainty the dog was my job. I knew that if I chased the dog, I would lose my daughter. Perhaps the loss wouldn’t be in the physical sense, but a loss that I could never get back, a loss of opportunity to build the kind of relationship based on love, attention, time and play not material things.

My decision was made that day. I resigned from my position.  For a few years after that it took some time to get my health back. Little did I realize the toll it had taken on me physically. My body decided that it didn’t understand rest, so when I finally slowed down, illness came to visit me. (another blog entirely)  We learned to live with less material things for a while. I always knew I made the right choice. My older children who were out of the house by them, told me that they liked me better now then then. I seemed happier, more peaceful and as a result we were able to build a better relationship.

Sometimes we blur the lines between what we do and who we are as people. We assume we must run our lives, much like we run our careers, business. Is it possible to work and be who we are? The answer is yes. Becoming aware has a lot to do with the ability to separate between earning a living and living to earn.

The outcome

My 14 year old is now twenty years old, tomorrow July 3rd. I am so proud of her. She enters her Junior year of college at Columbia College Chicago. At age 16 she became involved in learning about the environment. At age 17 as a result of an essay, earned a trip to George Washington University, all expenses paid with thousands of others, mostly college age students selected to learn about environmental issues, how to speak to congress and put together teams to present ideas on saving endangered rain forests. Her degree field is in Performance Art Management. Her goal is to produce environmentally friendly festivals and events and to give back to the earth.

My son is a talented illustrator and animator, finishing his degree at College of Creative Studies. He is the owner of Detroit Roots, a full service design company. My oldest daughter is married and the mother of my two precious grandchildren and works in the medical field.

After recovering from my illness. I found a path that allowed me to share lessons learned. I became a trained Life Coach, working as a solo-preneur and loving every minute of life. Freedom Life Coaching Company is the name of my business, where I help people to live to their fullest potential, live to maintain balance, creativity and strong relationships both personally and professionally.Your comments are always welcome and encouraged. I would love to hear your thoughts. If you would like to contact me or communicate privately you may do so by visiting the contact page at

Have a blessed life, its always within your reach!

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