My move from Texas to Georgia last May went smoothly. But it was four months or so later, when the company that moved me here went under, that my life seemed to get a bit off kilter. It’s not something I immediately noticed. Mine was a gradual onset of emotional vertigo that seemingly left my life unbalanced and almost unrecognizable.
It was at the one year mark of my arrival to Atlanta that I took an inventory of my life. I had made few friends and had little to show for my time here — except for significant weight gain (Oh my girth!) and a bit of a southern twang, y’all.
For someone who has never shied away from meeting new friends, exploring new places or jumping in head first before checking the depth of the water, it was uncharacteristic of my life thus far.
For almost an entire year, I let the world spin without me. And I lost my balance.
I could blame it on the fact that Atlanta is a tough place to meet people (which is valid), but the deep-fried truth is harder for me to admit to myself: I have not been living up to my potential.
It’s been a year of disequilibrium, to say the least.
It was time to turn some things around and get back to doing activities that make my heart happy, and my waistline skinny (Lord willing), so I signed up for a hiking group.
On my first hike with the group, we headed out to Amicalola Falls — where hikers must ascend about 600 stairs, and a mildly steep quarter-mile incline, to reach the top.
At one point, I was clinging to a tree trunk, trying to catch my breath and regain my balance (quite symbolic of the last blurry year of my life).
“You okay back there?” came the voice from a much older lady up the hill.
“WHO ME?” (“Is she seriously talking to me?” I thought)
“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just adjusting to the 490 percent humidity and exercising outside in Georgia!” GASP!
And for the next five miles, I silently processed that short interaction with an 80-year old stranger who was ready to jump in and give me CPR.
When in the hell did I become the middle-aged, overweight and sweaty girl that makes others feel as though I might keel over and die at any minute? Especially an elderly woman?
There was ZERO external evidence on that mountain of who I know myself to be (fit, strong, healthy). All that onlooker saw was a chubby girl about to roll down a hill on a hot day in Georgia. Good Lawd!
In that tree-hugging moment, I was hard pressed to prove to anyone, especially myself, that this hippy chick was once a professional cheerleader, an avid hiker or an athlete of any kind!
Despite the fact that I could recall a backpacking trek through the Grand Tetons, two 14-ers in Colorado and a handful of trips up Half Dome, with each strenuous step I took that day towards the end of the trail, it was evident my hiking trips of yesteryear were of no benefit now as I fought to pull my heavy legs along the trail, wiping my brow and trying to breathe.
The truth is, to live a demonstrative life, one that proves or demonstrates that who we say we are is in fact who we are, we must take actions every single day to live out the inner beliefs we have about ourselves.
For example, as a writer, I am in the habit of taking pen to paper on a regular basis. While I haven’t posted a blog in many, many months, I’ve scribbled prose and continued to work on what I hope will one day be a book. There is evidence in my life that I am in fact a writer.
But in almost every other facet of my life, this last year of disequilibrium stripped me of all habit and left little evidence of my once disciplined and adventurous life. Where I once exercised daily, made good food choices and sought the face of Jesus, I’ve half-assed it on all counts.
Retrospectively, the move from TX to GA, and then from employed to unemployed, left me vulnerable and exposed and, as a result, sent me into survival mode where I had to choose between flight, fight, freezing or folding.
And I froze — I allowed myself to slip into a holding pattern where I, in turn, lost a chunk of time due to lack of productivity.
But that’s true of all of us. We all slip into phases of our lives where we don’t recognize ourselves, our decisions or our behavior. Right?
Perhaps you find yourself with someone that makes you feel horrible about yourself. You spend more than you earn. You drink alcohol every day. You stuff yourself with fast food. You stopped kissing and hugging your spouse. You go to a job you hate every day. Your life is out of balance.
Turn a blind eye to behavioral patterns and pretty soon you’ve formed a habit and slipped into a life that demonstrates to the world that you’re someone besides who you want or know yourself to be.
The more you’re aware of your choices, the more control you have over your life and its outcome. Small wrong daily choices accumulate until a big crisis occurs — and you find yourself substantially heavier, unproductive and sitting on a couch in Georgia, for example. (Oopsie!)
I’m relearning that what you choose today has an impact on your life forever. Sometimes the sum of small bad choices has even more devastating effects than big bad choices.
You have to be careful about the details of your life.
If you don’t like something in your life, recalibrate your starting point and begin anew.
For me, recalibration began with my first step up a mountain with total strangers and the admission that I have not been living my best life and that I’m not happy with who I’ve let myself become.
The hardest part isn’t making the changes we need, but learning to start anew. Find the choices you need to make to recalibrate, refine and improve your life; it’s too short to waste it living in ways that no longer feed your heart and soul. Or in ways that leave your life out of whack.
And when all else fails and you start to lose your balance, grab a tree trunk or, better yet, lean on Jesus!