Table for Two: Human Magic and a Hot Mess

Serenity, grace and ease.

That’s one of my mantras for how I want to be in my life.

I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t exhibited much of the three these past few weeks.

Try lethargic, sad and stressed. Burned-out, zombie-like, and exhausted. Impatient, dull and over-committed.

Symptom: Blogger’s Block. Cause: Witholding Information.

I’ve written three blog posts that I didn’t have the guts to hit publish on these last few weeks. Partly because I knew that this is the post that really needed to be written. This is the truth, and that is what I make a continued commitment to deliver to you.

I am terrified to admit all of this…so publicly. I am terrified because the last thing I want to do is seem ungrateful for all of the gifts of my life. These professional diamonds I carry of having a great job at Google and a book due out in one rapidly-approaching month (now selling for a mere $9.10!).

I read somewhere that authors should never complain about anything related to their book…because most people would kill to be in their shoes…complaining about those very things.

So I can’t help but feel confused and disappointed in myself that I am not singing in the shower and leaping out of bed with unadulterated joy every morning. What is wrong with me?

Aha Moments

Yesterday, in a coaching session during which I ran through half a box of Kleenex, I understood why. It might be blindingly obvious to all of you, but forgive me — I can be a little slow in the compassion-for-self department.

The tectonic plates of my life are shifting and I am feeling the aftershocks…without wanting to admit it.

I want to be GREAT for you. For me. For my family. For my friends and coworkers. I want to be cheerful, gracious, grateful, and over-the-moon excited. That’s what I see in people’s eyes when I tell them what I am up to.

But what about me?

Me and My Crazy Gremlins

In another moment of clarity I realized that for three years now I have felt like Atlas carrying two globes — one for Google and one for the blog/book (aka Jenny Blake Enterprises — JBE).

I have two weeks left at Google before I take leave (after five intense, awesome years), and four weeks until the book comes out. I can see a finish line ahead and yet it feels like I’ve slammed into a wall. I’ve been putting tremendous pressure on myself to tie everything up in a beautiful bow; a pressure-cooker of chaos from juggling these two large responsibilities and my sanity.

I also realized that for the first time in three years I can put the globes down for a minute and give myself a rest and some credit. And in that realization, it has come to my attention that I might need to put the globes down right now. Because I have not been myself these last few weeks (if not more) and that is no way to kick off a time-of-my-life book tour.

My gremlins (the personal development police) tell me that there are starving children in Africa and that I am not curing cancer. That I have no right to feel tired or stressed. That I should just relax and be present. And yet, it’s funny how massively unproductive those sentiments are. They do not change how I actually feel.

Breaking News: I am human! (I had almost forgotten)

I was supposed to have a book marketing brainstorm call with my genius friend (and virtual work-husbandWillie Jackson last week. We’ve never met in person, but by the tone of my voice within five minutes of our opening chit-chat he asked, “Do we need to talk about Jenny Blake the author, or Jenny Blake the human being?” Cue waterworks.

Not even an hour later my book-trailer-producing friend asked how I was *really* doing over a Chipotle dinner. Once AGAIN, I broke down into hysterical sobs. Mid-restaurant. Hot mess for one?

I hated that my breakdown was so blindingly obvious to everyone around me. There was no hiding from it anymore. Book-trailer-friend looked me square in the eyes and said, “You’re fucking magic, JB. But you’re human magic. Give yourself a break.”

These men — brilliant angels, if you ask me — had a point.

Growing pains…a sign of great things to come

I know without a doubt that I am just experiencing growing pains (a sure sign that greatness lurks), and that I am not going to give up at the eleventh hour.

But I also want you to know that I am human, and you are human, and none of us are immune from pesky things like FEELINGS or BIG CHANGES.

I’m serving myself up a side of compassion this weekend, and I’ll be sending the same to any of you in need. If I’m slow to call back, respond to email, or post something new, you’ll know it’s because I’m practicing the fine art of giving myself a break.

To human magic, and with endless gratitude for your presence,
Jenny

  • Financialsamurai

    Hang in there Jenny! Once the leave of absence hits, I’m sure you will feel much better! Cheers, Sam

  • http://ItStartsWith.Us Nate St. Pierre

    I read this with 27 pounds of compassion for you, Jenny . . . and then I wonder why I can’t spare 2 pounds for myself in a very similar situation. Probably because, as you say, we’re all human.

    Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks and give you a big hug – sounds like you need it. And in the spirit of being totally honest, hot mess and all: I need a hug too.

    Call anytime, see you soon. Thanks for being you.

    Much love, girl.

  • Noel

    You ARE great! And we all know it, so don’t worry. Get offline, get out in nature, buy yourself a ridiculously expensive box of chocolates. You so deserve it.

  • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

    I’m not gonna tell you you’re great, cause I tell you that every time we talk. :)

    Instead I’m going to that you, for admitting out loud that you feel this way because I’ve been feeling it so much lately. Like a huge iron weight pressing on my chest. I’ve spent the past 6 weeks breaking down at completely inopportune times, and feeling like I shouldn’t say anything. Not only because there are so many other things that are ‘actual problems’ or because I’m not appreciative of the great things happening.

    But because for some reason I can’t get myself behind it and excited. I don’t know exactly what it is, but everyone else’s excitement somehow just makes me feel worse about the fact that I’m barely excited myself. I feel a little better this morning knowing that I’m not the only one.

  • http://twitter.com/JeremyOrr Jeremy Orr

    Like you and Nate, I too am in over my head at the moment. We all get this way, JB, and it’s ok. It’s ok to break down and perfectly fine to lean on your friends and quite alright to eat an entire Eiffel Tower replica of bacon (just me?). As you can see my blog is a ghost town, I haven’t posted in months. I have so much to say but can’t bring myself to say it. I am stressed about my final paper (I have never written a paper so long) for my Masters, am trying to plan for a third grade class that has already begun, all of which got ignored because I was trying to prep my case for Y&G. Ugh. Trust me, I can relate. But I’m never too busy for you, JB. If you need me, you know where I’m at.

  • Doniree

    “But I also want you to know that I am human, and you are human, and none of us are immune from pesky things like FEELINGS or BIG CHANGES.”

    Simple as that sounds, I needed that reminder. I’ve been… in and out of my own head a lot lately, kind of coasting. I’m trying to find the balance I need (and this week, allowing for more input than output) was closer, but I still feel just slightly… off course. Thanks for the reminder that that is OK.

    Love you :)

  • http://carynlevyonline.blogspot.com Caryn Levy

    I think as people who strive to be the best and for success we put a ton of pressure on ourselves and sometimes in the end it is us who is causing our own stress. I am captivated by your blog, your new book and your tweets- all without ever meeting you. You really have something special going on. Hang in there, life has a way of working it self out. And you should try to do something for yourself, away from the blog, away from the book. Pick up knitting, yoga, a walk in the woods, go to a dog shelter (if you like animals) or whatever it is that will help you find peace with yourself and clear your mind. You need Jenny Blake time. Smile, because it will all work out.

  • Meredyth

    You are about seven shades of gutsy for writing such an honest and articulate post. I’ve been feeling the same way lately with the random breakdowns and general feeling like I’ve been hit by a bus- stuff going on. You’re absolutely right that times like these usually mean something amazing is about to happen (or already happening!), and it’s important to embrace the breakdowns too. Keep up the honest, purposeful and joyful work that you love, and you can’t go wrong. =)

  • http://www.BeHappyLifeCoach.com Lenora

    Jenny,
    You are making major changes rapidly! Seems perfectly normal to me that your emotions are running. I was just telling someone yesterday, ‘Even though we finally get what we want, there can still be challenges. We erroneously think it will “make” us happy.’
    Enjoy the ride! You go girl!

  • http://www.daveursillo.com/ Dave Ursillo

    Jenny,

    This is a brave and beautiful piece.

    I think that your mindset is in good place, now — you recognize the subtle “something doesnt feel right” cues that your inner spirit is emitting, trying to grab your attention. You picked up the signals. You understand that something is misaligned. And perhaps best of all, you understand that you need to push through in the interim, hit the finish line, and release.

    Release.

    Your amigo,
    Dave

  • http://www.daveursillo.com/ Dave Ursillo

    Jenny,

    This is a brave and beautiful piece.

    I think that your mindset is in good place, now — you recognize the subtle “something doesnt feel right” cues that your inner spirit is emitting, trying to grab your attention. You picked up the signals. You understand that something is misaligned. And perhaps best of all, you understand that you need to push through in the interim, hit the finish line, and release.

    Release.

    Your amigo,
    Dave

  • http://twitter.com/FrugalBeautiful Ruby

    Yes, putting the globes down right now seems like a good idea. You can serve no one, yourself included when you’re walking around as a tired shadow of yourself. You have a great talent and a talent for connecting with people- now is the time to connect with yourself. I know you’re on the path to recharging your batteries- but give yourself permission to do whatever it takes to get revved up again. You’re totally justified in feeling how you feel and tackling your situation how you feel it best- you know yourself and follow your gut on this- whether it’s sleeping in, eating a pint of ice cream, calling a friend or perhaps some retail therapy is in order? Whatever that is, be kind to yourself! :) Your loyal readers are here to support you!

    • http://twitter.com/FrugalBeautiful Ruby

      Oh, and by the way, I’m putting in my pre-order for your book right now. Not only is it a fabulous deal, but I cannot wait to read it. You have crafted the life I admire and I hope I can support you in that!

  • http://twitter.com/bettyjeanbell Betty Jean Bell

    Oh, lady… I just wrote this big, heart felt, “You’re not alone, sista” type comment and my darn computer crashed and I don’t think it sent. I hope it did. But if it didn’t, I just wanted to let you know I’m thinking of you. Call me if you want – I have some stories to share with you.

    xoxo,
    Betty Jean

  • Neil Pasricha

    Hey Jenny,

    Great post. It’s so true about the burnout, I think. Sometimes our expectations exceed our actual abilities — and our heads fly in directions where we don’t consider what we really need. Learning to relax is probably one of the most important things we can learn… I know I’m not there yet myself. But maybe it’s about repositioning what’s important.

    It takes guts to write posts like this… you’re definitely not short on courage!

    Good luck and sending positive energy your way!

    Neil

  • http://twentyorsomething.com Susan Pogorzelski

    It’s a wonder, how we perceive our lives at such times — when either we’re too far removed from the situation or much too close to it. Sometimes, we see our lives through the lense of others — we see how fabulous it all looks, see all the success, the glowing pride, the happiness…We see it from everyone else’s perspective and think it always has to be from that perspective. At other times, we view the situation up close and personal, as it really was…we see all the hard work and decisions and late nights, all of the tears and the emotional struggling, we see all of the uncertainty and self-doubt that always, always plays a part.

    It’s not glossed over, not a sweetened deal that a few lines in a biography can easily sum up. We lived it…we know what all that hard work meant, how those late nights looked, know the mess of emotions that we went through. We know because it’s personal. We know it because we lived it.

    You lived it, Jenny. You spent two, three years pouring your heart and soul into your work — into the book, into your work at Google, into becoming a certified coach, into your yoga training…And so much more. You spent so much time working that, now that you have a moment to catch your breath, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to breathe easy.

    Sometimes, when we’re so caught up in something that means so much to us, as much of a relief it is that it’s finished, it’s also a let-down. What next? We say. What now? What am I supposed to do now that what I’d been working for for so long is accomplished, is done?

    Enjoy it.

    Probably easier said than done…I think there’s always a part of us that is eager to move onto the next big thing, as if the little things don’t matter as much and so you have to hurry, hurry, hurry to get that next project rolling. Except, the little things do matter. And this time off, this time for yourself does matter.

    See, that’s what I love about blogging…The nitty-gritty of it all, the reminder that everyone goes through the same emotions, and the reminder that we’re all human.

    Thanks for that reminder. And thanks for being so honest and open with your readers but, most importantly, for being honest with yourself. Enjoy yourself. Soak in the moments, create memories, and try not to let yourself feel guilty for doing so. You absolutely deserve all the best for yourself.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2L37MUWX7UV5R5BIXWDJG26RVA Nicole N

    Jenny,

    First off, thanks so much for all the resources about every aspect of the “real-world” that you have compiled for all of us lucky readers. You have a gift for sharing important information that really impacts people’s lives. I think you are great at what you do.

    I made two big mistakes in my 20s, one related to finances and one related to relationships. Making these mistakes negatively impacted my emotional and physical health and my performance at work. However, as time passes, I can see why I needed those negative experiences. It is ok to be successful, to have accomplished milestones on you personal and professional bucket lists, and to still feel unhappy (sometimes) or like something is missing. I think that is just what makes us human.

    With love,
    Nicole

  • http://theoffbeatreport.com Lauren

    Good LORD I feel ya. Put into perfect words. Sounds like we need our date, and soon. ;)

  • http://theofficeingenue.com Terri

    We all deserve to have a breakdown once in a while. Just be glad it was in Chipotle and not the Executive offices at Google! 

    • http://www.lifeaftercollege.org jennyblake

      Thanks Terri! Yes — I’m glad it wasn’t in the exec offices too :)

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