The biggest reason I quit my job was to save myself.
I once wrote in my journal that it was like living in a Plexiglass box. You know how Plexiglass gets yellowed with time, gets scratches, goes cloudy? My Plexiglass box was letting me see life, but I wasn’t really feeling it and it was getting scratched and cloudy. I never felt extreme highs or lows. I just worked to get through another day. This was adulthood, right? It’s what adults seemed to be like on TV. Tired, achy, worn down, making it work. But what if it didn’t have to be that way?
I quit, and I realized it doesn’t have to be that way. I also realized it’s a long process to get out of that Plexiglass box. I had this unrealistic goal where life would be more vibrant just with fewer jobs. I could throw all myself into this blog and what it could be, and the creativity would color my life. The passion would bring back the highs and the lows.
It’s been a bit over two months since I quit my job to blog full-time. I’m used to not being at the office, and the emails from colleagues asking questions have slowed down to a trickle. The holidays were so busy it really kept my mind off things… and also kept my life off schedule. The blog was not my focus. After the holidays I’d get my act together. After the holidays I’ll go gung-ho.
But during the past two months I saw that there was more I had to do besides blog to get out of that Plexiglass box. It wasn’t just about the day job. It was that I had spent a decade overextending myself in every possible way. Two jobs, no exercise, inconsistent diet, not enough sleep, not enough time to recharge, spending too much, scheduling too much, taking too much for granted. Quitting my job gave me the time to see the damage I had done, and qutting my job is giving me the time to make repairs.
I’ve had writer’s block for the majority of these past two months. I’ve blamed the new schedule, my standing desk, working from home, the cold, the holidays, the new responsibilities of being a business owner. But I wonder if this writer’s block is a way to keep me focused on repair.
I haven’t wanted to write about the changes I’m making in my life. I know many of you don’t come here to hear the navel gazing musings of a middle aged white lady. We’ve got enough of that in this world. But this is a blog not just about fashion, but leading a stylish life. I regularly preach about donning the oxygen mask – taking care of yourself so you can care for others. I’ve been struggling to breathe for a while, ignoring it so I could work work work work work. So I could do it all. Essentially so I could be a martyr. I wrote so I could ignore what was going on with me. I could dish out advice but I wasn’t taking it. Not very stylish.
The most stylish thing is to be content in your own skin. To care for yourself, to believe in yourself, and to help others in the best way you can. You can’t do this when you’re running on fumes. You can’t hide it under a designer dress or fix it with a new pair of shoes. So I’m going to continue my Life After Quitting series, sharing what I am doing to repair myself so that I can be whole and pursue this dream.
Repair the Body
Health isn’t about size. I had come to terms with my size, embraced my body. I pampered it with beauty products and salon visits and dressed it in fabulous clothes. However, I wasn’t doing anything to keep it strong. I’d balance kale with a Kit Kat, water with wine, and had far too many meals on the road. I wasn’t exercising regularly, I had never consistently exercised ever in my life. I got winded walking the stairs in my home and could pull a muscle just stretching. I felt older than my years. I tried diets, going to the gym on my own, walking, exercise videos, even a cardio class and none of it was enjoyable, none of it stuck. I was watching Vikings with Karl and thought how I’d love to be a strong warrior. It was something that always appealed to me but something I never did nor thought I could do. So I reached out to Elite Technique in Beltsville, Maryland, just a few miles my home. I informed them that I had never been active, I was almost 43, I didn’t care about weightloss, I just wanted to be strong. I signed up for five 30-minute sessions a week. The first week was horrible. The second week wasn’t as horrible but not fun. The third week was the week between Christmas and New Year’s and the gym was closed. I found during that week I WANTED to stay on a meal plan, I WANTED to be active. I still would rather stay in bed than go to the gym, but I remind myself it’s only 30 minutes, tell myself once I go I can come home and go back to bed. But I never do, because I feel so good after my session.
This is a completely foreign experience for me. Sure, I’ve done some Jillian Michaels with my dusty 5 lb. weights and I’ve been on plenty of elliptical machines. But lifting weights isn’t something I’ve done since high school when I chose Weight Training over classic PE so I didn’t run the risk of playing Dodgeball or any other team or contact sport. With a personal trainer, I am held accountable, but I also feel secure knowing I am progressing in a safe manner. This has taught me you’re never too old, and it’s never too late.
Repair the Soul
Quitting my Job made me see how selfish I had been. I was working so much I left most of the house and parenting to Karl. Many days when I worked from home, I’d sit on the couch for a good 12-16 hours working for the day job, and then the blog. I only moved to use the bathroom. Karl would refill my water bottle, bring me meals, drop off any boxes that came in the mail, did the laundry, took care of Emerson, took care of everything. I was oblivious to how awful this was until I quit my job. I wasn’t a decent wife or mother, and it seemed every time I spent time with my mom I was snapping at her.
One of the benefits from my day job was a health spending account (HSA). Unlike an FSA, an HSA lets you carry over money from year to year. I depleted my account with my arm surgeries, but had built back up around $1,500. By leaving the company, I now had to pay a monthly service fee for the account. However, I wasn’t able to withdraw the money without being taxed around 50%. I saw this as Life telling me it was time to start seeing a therapist again. After reading unsponsored reviews, I decided to try Talkspace. One month with Talkspace is cheaper than one session with an in-person therapist. I was able to choose a therapist (I Googled the crap out of the different therapists offered and the one I chose is extremely qualified and well-rated as an in-person therapist), and we have an ongoing conversation via text within the secure talkspace app (you unlock it with your fingerprint). We’re working on being more mindful, giving, and creating a schedule not just for the blog but for all aspects of life to find balance.
Repair the Wardrobe
One of the things that has been the weirdest/hardest since quitting my job has been my closet. All these blazers, trousers, and ponte dresses that have nowhere to go. And now with working out, my body has changed shape and go-tos that used to flatter no longer do. I’ve been ignoring it thus far, and living in more casual clothes for the week and fun maxi dresses for the weekend but it needs to be handled. I can’t be a style blogger with a useless closet. So to force myself to tackle it, I am attending Cleanse Your Closet with Rachel and Company + The RealReal on January 24th at BUREAU. Rachel and Company is a successful and established professional organizing business here in the DMV but has been featured in Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, House Beautiful, and more. Since 2007, they’ve helped over 1,500 homes and specialize in home organization, closet design, and home moves.
This event will be an intimate workshop where Rachel Rosenthal (the Rachel of Rachel and Company) provides her tried-and-true organizing tips with an emphasis on clearing out your closet and containing your designer duds. I think this is such a brilliant way to start a new year. Attendees can also bring some of their clothes and accessories to consign as The RealReal will be on hand to sort through and take items with them. If this sounds appealing to you, there’s still tickets (use this link to register). I’d love to see you, we can support one another with repairing our wardrobes!
Repair my Sleep Schedule
Working out has really helped me get tired and fall asleep more easily, but I still have a messed up sleep schedule. I’m working to make my bed a restful place, and working on going to bed no later than 10pm. I wrote about ways I have been improving my sleep but I’ve done other things too. Exercising and reducing dairy from my diet has almost completely stopped my snoring and I find I wake feeling more rested. I’m reading from a book before bed, at least five pages (I often fall asleep before finishing a chapter). I’m also keeping my phone not just off, but far away from the bed and put my journal next to the bed so I can jot ideas there instead of emailing them to myself. Not even a week after I quit, people started telling me how great my skin looked. The only change was sleep. To think of how much I spent on beauty products when I could have accomplished more with rest!
Along with sleep, I’ve giving myself the time to decompress and be alone. When I was working, and still now I find I have very little time when I am alone. Really, the only time is when I am in the car. I used to use that time to listen to podcasts to help my business, but now I am usually listening to nothing or classical music. Sunday, after spending the day at the American Girl Doll Store and Café, I felt overstimulated. I let Karl know and asked if he could cover things while I went to hide out in the bedroom for a bit. I didn’t sleep, but for two hours I just lay there. I looked out the window, I looked at the ceiling, I let my mind wander, I finished one chapter of a book. It felt so decadent, but it was so healthy and gave me the strength to get through the evening and a busy Monday.
Repair the Finances
I made a very good living at my day job, and a very good living off this blog. We’ve enjoyed this money, and its convenience. Take out sushi when we didn’t feel like cooking, a last-minute weekend trip, silly things we don’t need from Target and Amazon, and plenty of clothes and makeup for me when I wanted to cover up the fact that I felt tired, fat, or frustrated. We aren’t struggling financially, we’ve made smart decisions during our marriage and I didn’t quit without knowing the financial ramifications and how we would fare. However, it has reduced our spending and forced us to reassess what is important. It makes me see how many times I have tried to repair with purchases. If it wasn’t clothes, it was makeup. If it wasn’t makeup, it was home décor. If it wasn’t home décor it was concerts, or books. This is a forced but good lesson to learn, and I think at a perfect time as Emerson is at an age where we discuss money, value, saving, and prioritizing.
It’s a lot to do all at once, but for the first time in my life I have the time to do it. I cannot WAIT to do all I dream to do with Wardrobe Oxygen, but I know it will be even better if I am in a better state. So stay tuned to hear how all of this goes and my future goals (and I promise there will still be plenty of fashion content!).