September 29, 2015

Where in the world is Christine the blogger?

For several months I've wondered this myself. On some level, the answer is that I was simply enjoying my summer with my new husband, but that's not the end of the story. What happened to the girl who loved to write? The one who found joy in sharing common experiences with other runners? That girl has been a bit lost. And it wasn't just Christine the blogger who was lost. The cook, the baker, the friend, the runner...all of these people were somehow lost for the past 3 months or so. They disappeared, slowly at first but then rapidly, under the weight of an unmanageable workplace stress. And so tomorrow, I will put on a business suit for the last time (at least for the foreseeable future) and turn over the last of my responsibilities as I prepare to leave the consulting world for a few months in favor of an extended personal leave of absence. 

This stress wreaked havoc on my life. You know those New York Times articles that tell you cautionary tales of workplace stress and the impacts on your health? It's all true. The crappy things that happen to you when your body simply cannot process the stress hormones any more? It's real. Sleeplessness. Irritability. Pounding headaches for days. Unexplained muscle aches and tension. Appetite changes. Etc. Etc. Etc. 


It sucked. I never knew you could feel this way without actually being sick with the flu or some other miserable ailment. For 2 months I suffered. I don't use that word lightly. It's exactly how I felt as I was operating on basically no sleep each night and living on caffeine. I was barely making it through the work day; and all the while my mind was racing as I put out fires at work, tried to quell the anxiety of 100 team members as our contract slowly ticked down to its final days without word of renewal, and managed new client challenges each day. Sure it is/was just a job but somewhere I couldn't shake the feeling that I was responsible for all of these people's jobs...and general well-being. I felt anxious and worried most days. No matter how long I worked or how many emails I responded to while I brushed my teeth before bed, it was never enough. Some mornings I would sit on the edge of my bed after getting out of the shower and sob, wondering when I would feel rested and normal again. After a period of time, I simply couldn't do it anymore. I had to pull the ripcord and get out before I lost more of myself. 


Fun with Mom at the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach
Half Marathon expo...also the weekend that I decided
I needed out! 
That probably sounds a bit heavy because it has felt that way. To leave my consulting firm after 8 years (at least for the time being) was a really tough decision. I take deep pride and ownership in my work. I care about my employees, perhaps sometimes too much. I never turned down a mentorship request or an opportunity to council an employee or to brainstorm ideas to solve a tough client challenge. I lived for those discussions...but suddenly it became too much in addition to my own full time client support. I couldn't keep up with the demands on my time. I tried to set boundaries with my personal time but soon enough, a new crisis would surface and early evening phone calls would become hours with my laptop after hours. I started going into work earlier to "get ahead" for the day. Finally I found myself walking into work at 6AM to buy more time in the workday. Crazy? Maybe. Desperate? You betcha. 

I made this decision with the same pride, ownership, and candor that I have carried with me throughout my career. It is unequivocally the right thing for me. There are about a billion reasons that I know this but most of all, I never wavered once I made it and the real "me" is slowly resurfacing. The veil of frustration and fatigue is gone. I feel excitement with the opportunities that each new day bring...a chance to try a new recipe, the opportunity to check off another training run en route to my fall marathon, the dinner table conversations that I eagerly look forward to with my husband...those joys along with a million others are back. I have energy to run (and run well) again. I am more emotionally available as a wife, daughter, and friend. I feel good again. Christine, the blogger, the baker, the devoted friend, the dedicated runner, and many other parts of me are back. 


My hope in sharing a part of my personal life is that others will reflect more on the demands of the workplace and specifically, the corporate world. Not necessarily as women or men, mothers or fathers, early career or late career, but as people. As someone deeply passionate about topics like work-life balance, workplace wellness, and gender equity in the workplace, I believe this is critically important. Some elements of life transcend workplace labels; well-being is one of those things.

On a lighter note, I look forward to reconnecting with my fellow runners. Marine Corps Marathon is less than 4 weeks away so this new outlook couldn't come at a better time! Have a great day!
{Christine}

52 comments:

  1. I'm glad you were able to make the tough decision. The relief and peace you feel now are just evidence that you did the right thing!

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    1. Thanks, Amy. Many, many tears were shed en route to that decision but it was right for me.

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  2. I am so happy for you. I'm sure this was a difficult decision, but when you begin to lose yourself to your work and stress I think that it's a pretty good indicator that it's time for a change!

    I saw a quote recently and it really made me stop and think…"Stop the glorification of busy." Really, WHY do we do this to ourselves? So proud of you - can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

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    1. I loved that article! I read a bunch of pieces on the cultural phenomenon of being busy and it's really fascinating to me. Thank you for your support through this ordeal - you are the best!! xo

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  3. I cannot imagine how difficult of a decision this was for you, Christine, but it sounds like you've made the right decision for you and Adam right now. Here's to rediscovering the real Christine, and being able to get in some much needed R&R.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kathryn! Many, many tears were shed en route to this choice. I'm happy and relieved to have some head space again.

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  4. Hi We Run Disney, I am a long time reader but this is my first time commenting. I absolutely love your blog. I just wanted to let you know, that I went through a similar situation a little less than a year ago (I also got married during this rough work period). I had been unhappy at that job for a little over a year, and one of the things that got me through every morning was being able to read this blog. I can't express how the honesty and uplifting nature of your posts helped ease some of my anxieties and got me through some pretty exhausting days. I can really identify this post, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to comment. Good Luck at Marine Corps! Looking forward to reading about it. -Rachel

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    1. Hi Rachel, Thanks so much for sharing. I have to admit that I felt painfully alone at times as I navigated this ordeal. I realized that many people don't talk about corporate burnout...probably since the advent of social media where private lives and thoughts become public so often. I'm so sad that you went through a tough time and am extremely flattered that our blog was a bit of joy in your life.

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  5. Christine I'm so happy for you! You've been missed! :) Not long after I got married, I had to make a similar decision and it was quite honestly one of the best decisions I've ever made! So many new doors of opportunity were opened to me and I'm now in a "happy" place. I know the same will happen to you, too!!

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    1. I have to admit, the more I've told people about this, the more I've realized that others have dealt with similar scenarios. Thank you for your kind words, Karen! I'm excited to see where this takes me, even if it's not entirely clear right now! :)

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  6. The practice of the Sabbatical is almost as old as working itself and taking one is an excellent idea! I have been exactly where you are and it took a change in jobs, a wonderful counselor, a lot of running and a lot of praying but I've finally learned some things about me that mean that (hopefully please Dear God) I won't ever go there again! May you find your balance and may this time bless your socks off!!

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    1. Thank you, Jen. I always appreciate your wisdom and compassionate approach to life.

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  7. We will have to chat Christine.. I made a huge leap too, that I haven't shared with the world.. I'm super happy for you.. It feels great to be yourself again.. The world is your oyster!!

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! Yes, feel free to send me an email or FB message...or carrier pigeon. :) Making big changes can feel so incredibly scary. Sending you a hug as you navigate your season of change.

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  8. You made the right call- as you always do. Enjoy the rest, recharge the batteries, and good luck on the next stage of your life!

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  9. It sounds like you've made the right decision for you, and I wish you the best in this next chapter of life! Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! The blank slate is pretty exciting

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  10. I'll be cheering you on for MCM Christine! Sending you hugs...and proud of you for doing what is right for you~

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    1. Aw thanks so much! I'm getting really excited for MCM!

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  11. It sounds like you made the right decision-so proud you took the huge step and hopefully you will feel better soon!

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    1. Thanks Juliana! I'm glad to be back to my happy place.

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  12. So many hugs - I love this part especially: My hope in sharing a part of my personal life is that others will reflect more on the demands of the workplace and specifically, the corporate world. Not necessarily as women or men, mothers or fathers, early career or late career, but as people.

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    1. I have to admit that I geek out on all thing gender equity in the workplace and I've read so many articles on women in their 30s burning out so that sentiment was probably showing through a bit. :)

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  13. Thanks for sharing with us! I'm happy for you getting back to being happy! :)

    I look forward to reading your MCM posts!

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    1. Thanks Jaime! I've missed "chatting" with all of you and among other things, am glad to have the head space to blog again.

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  14. Thank you for writing this, Christine. <3

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    1. Thanks Meridith. Hopefully it will be helpful for someone else experiencing something similar.

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  15. Such a tough decision, but it sounds like you did what was best for you.

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    1. I think so, Abby! And I'm happy to be back to the blogging world to "chat" more with you. :)

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  16. Oh Christine you have been missed! It is so hard to have a work/life balance. Sometimes it's not worth all the stress it causes! We hope you enjoy this time off and enjoy life again!

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    1. Thank you, sweet friends. I'm glad to be back and feeling peace again.

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  17. Glad you were able to realize what you needed to do for YOU. I remember feeling this exact same way when I was in the Air Force. Migraines, stomach problems, neck problems. I was on a myriad of medications and they were ALL stress related. As soon as I separated all of those physical ailments went away. Stress is a very powerful thing and I'm glad you can re-center and re-focus!! Hope to see you in a few weeks! Hugs!

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    1. It's incredible what stress does to your body. When I stopped and thought about it all, I was like "no, I can't do this anymore." Thank goodness for supportive a husband, family and friends that helped me get to the point of walking away for a break.

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  18. I understand how you are feeling. It sounds like it was a tough decision, but a much needed one. Enjoy this wonderful and hopefully I get to meet you at MCM!

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    1. Yes I would love to meet you at MCM! I'm working on a list of people to see :)

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  19. I've missed you girl! Glad you are back! And glad you are at peace with such a tough decision!

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    1. Aw thanks, Mindy! I have missed all my running and blogging friends. Glad to be back!

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  20. I was thinking about you lately. We'd chatted a little bit about work related things and I wondered how you were doing. I'm glad to hear you made what was definitely the right decision for you. Excited for you to have this time. And we ARE meeting at MCM - just hang around after you finish and I'll come in about 30 min later :)

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    1. Thank you, Courtney. I wish I had reached out to you (and others) because I think I would have found that I wasn't the only one who had experienced something like this. Most days, I was so stuck in my own head/reality that I didn't have the emotional bandwidth to open up to others. Sad but true. Glad to have some head space now and am SO excited to see you at MCM!!! :)

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  21. Aw, I am glad you are doing what you need to do for you! Suffering sucks, and it does take a toll on a person! I kinda understand what you are/were feeling, although mine was from something else, but it does physically and most mentally hurt and drain you. Good job to put yourself first! Enjoy your time, I will be living vicariously through you! (been meaning to text a hello, but it's been so busy, hope to talk to you soon!)

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    1. Thank you my sweet friend! Let's catch up soon :)

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  22. Aw, I am glad you are doing what you need to do for you! Suffering sucks, and it does take a toll on a person! I kinda understand what you are/were feeling, although mine was from something else, but it does physically and most mentally hurt and drain you. Good job to put yourself first! Enjoy your time, I will be living vicariously through you! (been meaning to text a hello, but it's been so busy, hope to talk to you soon!)

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  23. This sounds like it must have been a tough decision, but probably a very wise one! It's so hard to leave jobs, but the stress is so bad for us. Congratulations and I wish you all the best!!

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    1. Thanks, girl! Yes, it was really hard to own up to all the crap I had been dealing with and say "enough." I'm so glad I did though! Life is so much calmer and more peaceful now!

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  24. Christine - while I an a long time reader, I don't often comment, but I wanted to connect here as I have been going through the same thing. Working ridiculous hours, being consumed by the job and losing myself in the process. Earlier this year I quit my job and took some time off to travel. Best decision I ever made. That level of stress is not worth it and does impact your health. I'm about to start a new job and I'm hoping with the lessons I've learned, I can still be me and give maybe not a 110% but a 100% and do a good job. I wish you the best!!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Emily. I am hoping to take advantage and do a little travel during my break. It's incredible what a job can do to you...I was telling someone the other day that I had always judged women who became consumed by a job. And then I looked in the mirror one day and realized I was that person. Ugh! Not because I wasn't who I thought I was but because I was so miserable. Enough was enough! I'm glad that you found joy, peace, and some relief in your break. xo

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  25. I don't blame you a bit, you need to take time for yourself and building a new life with the new man in your life!
    Leaving a job like that is hard, but sounds like you made the absolute best choice for you, and that is the most important part!

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    1. Thanks, Kristy! Even though it took me a while to be "ok" with this decision, I'm so grateful that I got out. Life is so much better now!

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  26. Congrats on putting yourself first! It's such a hard thing to do, and scary, but I'm so glad you're feeling yourself again! I know a few folks who've recently made the same decision and not a one has regretted it. I was there myself a few years ago. Hitting the reset button was a life changer and live saver! Enjoy your new lease on life!

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  27. congratulations to you! As someone who did just this I couldn't be happier. I had a great job and career - but it taxed me to no end. It's hard to put that into words when this happens because everyone expects you to always be "on". I hope i get to see you during your time at MCM! Good luck and hugs all around!

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