Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Scheduled Life of the Spinsta

That’s right, I’m so busy I have to abbreviate words in my blog headline just so I can squeeze in the time to write said (super delayed) blog post.

In what seems like a tsunami of good fortune, I have been riding waves of self-actualization from the first seconds of 2010. The year began with a promotion where I saw my title change to include the word “Senior” for the first time ever. Then came the kick-off of a new advanced cycling program that I’m creating and coaching at Gold’s Gym—18 weeks of original workouts built for 90- and 120-minute classes designed to bring new athletes into the world of endurance training.

Somewhere in the middle of my full-time job as an advertising executive and my part-time job as a fitness instructor, I found time to be a freelance health and fitness writer with a weekly column and video series on triathlon.

Topping that all off, is the beginning of my fifth week of Ironman training—spilling into my life like an all-terrain gravy that seeps into every corner of your plate.

It’s a good thing I’m a “like it when my foods touch” kind of girl.

Believe it or not, I still have some free time and I’ve been using it to become the kind of girlfriend I’ve always wanted to be. Focusing on the future instead of the past, taking my boyfriend with me to spend time with my closest friends, and making new recipes that require me to find and use kitchen utensils that are more familiar with the back corner of my cupboard than they are with actual ingredients (measuring cups, mashers, prep bowls). Wine tastings. Family time. Foreign films. Scrabble. Naps. It’s all here in my scheduled life.

Despite my being super scheduled, I have been happier than ever this year. My anger has been limited to short bouts of road rage, and I’ve been feeling like my alter ego, “Betty Bitter Pants,” has left the building. I’m finally able to watch a wedding show on television without swearing aloud (though I’ll still change the channel after a couple of minutes—because how much can be said about cake toppers?).

I can even tolerate a little bit of PDA now that I’m realizing there’s more to life than finding love.
The thing about a broken engagement—you find love, you have love, and then you lose love.

Then there comes a point when you realize that you survived that. That love isn't what you needed at all. What you needed, was to know that you could live without it. That life is still full and wonderful even if you are single.

Before I was engaged, I felt like my life was incomplete without that kind of commitment. How could I truly be a successful woman if I were going into my thirties unwed, with no prospects? It was like moving into a great house that had no kitchen.

Think of the housewarming party.

The guests mingle with joy in the grand foyer; sip cocktails as they peruse each room, their shoes click-clacking upon polished hardwood floors as they compliment the view of a great lawn through crystal clear windows. But then they leave, whispering to one another…

“Everything is wonderful, but she has no kitchen. How does she eat? How can one have a home without a kitchen?”

“The poor thing. All of that house, and no kitchen.”

“Maybe she’ll get a hot pot and make some Ramen noodles. At least it’s a hot meal…”

I ask myself how my 2010 would be different if I had been married by the age of 30 as I had hoped. When I was engaged, I was starting to feel pretty settled, as the struggle from my twenties had subsided and I no longer engaged in the drama of needing to find a man.

What happened when I broke my engagement, is that I ended up engaging in the drama of trying to find myself.

I became very busy.

I looked for ways to grow my responsibilities at work and turn my role into something more than it ever was in the past—this resulted in my being promoted to a position that didn’t even exist two years ago in the agency where I work. And a column in the local paper that has never ran before. And a brand new program at the gym that was never offered before.

Filling empty spaces with something new brought a sense of satisfaction to me, as I started to feel my own empty spaces fill with purpose. It was a sink or swim feeling in many ways. I knew I was stuck inside of a dark tunnel that in theory should have a light at the end of it, but I had to rely on my own inner-torch to illuminate the path forward.

I could have sat in the darkness with my face buried in my knees, but I've learned that anger and complaining rarely illuminate.

People complain about being scheduled. They want time to do things that make them happy—time for themselves. People talk about making time to pursue hobbies, travel, or tackle big projects that never seem to get off the ground.
When you’re single, people assume you have all the time in the world. Without kids and a marriage to manage, everything is easier and more flexible. People don't understand how single people can possibly complain about needing more time. When you’re single, the world is your oyster!

I believe the world can be anyone’s oyster, if you want it bad enough.

Lately I’ve seen many people put into a position that has caused them to struggle financially, professionally or emotionally. Whether it’s a break-up, a lay-off, or the sudden unexpected loss of something or someone important in life. I’ve seen some game changers in the past two years.

It’s critically important to manage your time wisely during these situations—as there is no easier way to waste the time in your life, than to sit in the dark tunnel and complain about how terrible things are.

Take it from me. If there were a formula like the one smokers use to determine how many minutes of your life are gone with each cigarette, I’d be missing a chunk of time that was spent wasted on complaining and being angry. A similar calculation for me could have been one day off your life every time you date a guy that treats you like crap; one week off for every time you go back to one of those guys; and a day off for every time you’ve been laid off, fired, or otherwise unappreciated in a career environment. By this logic, I’ve probably lost a month—one of the ones with 31 days in it!

To the outside world, my life may seem bleak, maniacal and nutty. I’m always busy, and when I’m not busy I’m either sleeping, hung-over, or getting ready to be busy again. People always ask me, “How do you find the time to do everything?”

Lately it has occurred to me that maybe I need to loosen things up a bit and find more time to do the things I like. Then I realized that the reason why my calendar is always full, is because I’m already doing that.
I make time for the things I like, and I book it.

Calendars aren’t just to keep track of meetings, appointments and reminders. Make a date with yourself to do something YOU want to do.

And if someone asks if you’re available that day, tell them you’re busy.

(Note to self, for added enjoyment of this post, listen to Lady Gaga’s song, “Telephone” and every time you read the word “busy” up above, pause and sing aloud: “I’m kinda busy. Kah-kinda busy.” The song is stuck in my head and it seems fitting at the moment).

*Image from Corbis