It’s July and at the moment we are all faced with the results of a global pandemic. If ever there was a time to throw away the bucket list away, it would be now. It’s hot. You have to wear a mask. The kids are home from school. It’s noisy. You are out of shape from being home for months without your gym membership. You don’t want to deal with another video conference call of any kind. All you really want is to sit down, do nothing, and see what “the lazy days of summer” are all about. Now is the perfect time to stop – right?
When I was in the throes of corporate life, July was the time to start absolutely nothing. For years, I worked 12+ hour days throughout June, then travelled much of July running logistics for midyear sales kickoff training events. And while the 6-figure salary, bonus and whir of the plane engines were often rewarding, there were absolutely no days off or lazy days of summer for me. Just exhausting, fire-hot-Texas, fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk days and working late into the evening at the office, then bringing dinner to my hotel to save more time for pouring over spreadsheets, and trying to catch my kids before they went to sleep. You don’t get the title of Corporate Warrior for nothing; you earn it, slaying whatever dragon is thrown in your direction. The only thing is – for every one you take down – there is another to take its place. It’s exhausting. Start something new? I don’t think so.
And yet, that is exactly what I did. You see, it was while staying at the Westin Stonebriar Hotel & Golf Club in Frisco, Texas, that I realized I was afraid of doing things alone. I had lived in the shadow of a strong father and family, and then an equally strong (and wonderful) husband, and although I was happy, I was in the shadow. I wouldn’t eat in a restaurant alone. I wouldn’t venture out too far at night for fear of getting lost in a Texas hailstorm, which happened a few times, even when I thought I knew where I was going. (In case you haven’t visited Dallas lately, let me tell you, every highway is wide, the landscape is very flat and the heat turns to violent wind and thunderstorms so often, it will scare you to death!)
The point is, I understood how to work hard and I was praised for it. Senior level management and many of the C-suite knew me. I received “pens” and “pins” and bonuses and headcount and responsibilities, which ultimately meant more work. I was great at my job and I enjoyed it, except I was working myself into the ground. I was afraid to try anything new and I wasn’t even sure why. It was time.
One extremely hot morning in July, I woke up and decided to do start something new. Instead of going to the hotel’s gym in the morning, I went for a run. Now to be clear, I’ve never thought of myself as “the running type”. I’m thick. I jiggle when I move. I sweat – a lot. I’ve got stretch marks, my thighs rub and my run is more of a series of experimental questions: “Can I get to the next fire hydrant without resorting to walking? Can I get to the end of this song without passing out? Can I get back to the hotel without limping?” I’m sure you get my point. To top it off, at that time, if I saw even 1-2 other persons of color, it was a lot. I was often the only one, and for some reason, this made it feel even stranger. This was in the late 90’s and early 2000’s…where was everyone? For all of these reasons, coupled with my other ever-present fears, the first few times I woke up and went out for my walk/run experiment, I felt shame, embarrassment, and failure, coupled with a little dose of childlike, “I wish I were invisible”. But I kept going.
One “start” let to another. Morning after morning, no matter how late I had worked the night before, no matter how warm it was at 6am, I went. And little-by-little, I tried other things. I took myself to dinner with a book of Nikki Giovanni poems and quietly read them aloud to myself, in between courses.
I laid alone in the jacuzzi late at night when the gym was closed and allowed the jets to drown out everything and wash away some of the body shame I carried. I found the address of childhood friends then living in Deep Ellum and figured out how to get to their house and surprised them with dinner.
I researched essential oils for anxiety, stress, overwhelm, fear, and lack of creativity of every kind, went to natural shops, and created a lab in my hotel room, mixing blends for my staff, spraying them “undercover” in the cubicles of people who were harassing my team when I wasn’t there to be a stand for them. (Don’t Judge Me!)
I started moving early morning meeting times so I could take a bath before work and bring a more relaxed self to the office. A few times, I even stayed over an extra night so I could recover and treat myself with a Saturday walk/run, fruit smoothie, and massage before traveling, and thereby bring a more relaxed self to my family.
I started something – just one thing – and that one change grew me exponentially. Eventually, I left corporate life, started coaching and writing for coaches, and never looked back. I learned the most important lesson ever: If you wait to start something until the timing is perfect, and you feel just right, with no fear or reservations, you may never do it.
Is this particular time in your life more challenging than you can ever imagine. Maybe. But you will never have as much time as you do at this very moment. What do you need to start right now for which your future self will give abundant thanks?
Chatone Morrison is the Princess of Positivity® . Content Strategist & Confidence Coach. Gifted Writer Creating Print & Video Content that Raises Confidence, Positivity, & Energy in Corporate Women and Business Owners. Self-Talk Shifter. Motivation Elevator. Catalyst.
Specializing in content creation, confidence coaching, consulting and strategy for women-owned small businesses, Chatone is the owner of Chatone Morrison Consulting. As a highly creative, high energy, heart-led, coach, consultant, mentor, leader, speaker and author, Chatone is absolutely passionate about helping her clients to script their unique stories, know their niche and find their voice, and systematize their message. Chatone believes that you can release negativity so positivity can reign in your brain and in your business. To work with Chatone, go to bit.ly/contentkickstartcall or visit chatonemorrison.com