On August 8th, I began having a sore, scratchy throat and I was just tired. By August 13th, I had a positive Covid-19 test and a bunch of other symptoms. I had been training well. The day before my Covid test, I did 2 workouts, but didn’t feel right at all during them. I had to take breaks to catch my breath and at one point, my whole body went cold. By the night of my positive test result, I was isolating, my body wrecked with aches and pains and my head hurting so bad I cried.
It was everything I’d been trying so hard to avoid.
I’d worn a mask every time I’d gone outside. I’d only gone out to get groceries and to take my husband to his cancer appointments. In retrospect, it’s most likely that I contracted Covid at one of those appointments. There were 2 Covid positive patients in the lab the morning I sat there, waiting for him. By some miracle, he didn’t get covid and the entire rest of the family tested negative. So, I isolated in our spare room, sleeping on a couch and surrounded by workout equipment, but with barely enough energy to brush my teeth.
I was so afraid that others in my family would be sick or that my illness would push off my husband’s cancer surgery, but happily none of those things happened. Everyone else tested negative and my husband’s surgery is still scheduled for next week. So, I was left with time to recover alone…and think.
Even as I recovered, I kept getting calls and texts from work, pleas for me to look at just this one thing, do just this one thing. I did end up logging in while sick to upgrade some equipment. I was exhausted and nearly cried when I had to stay online longer…due to some other changes being done, they weren’t sure if alarms were related to my change or those. I just wanted to rest…so badly.
For me, this was a lightbulb moment.
For years, I’ve moved between one networking job and another, hoping each time that the next one would provide a better work/life balance. Each time, I’ve found myself yet again sacrificing sleep, my health, time with family and friends. Now I had an illness that has killed some and even then…work still had its demands. I looked around myself and realized that while I have enjoyed my career…it’s well past time to begin coming up with a plan for a change. It’s time for me to think about what’s next and be more intentional with my life.
I’ve done this in my health and fitness, but I’ve allowed the urgency of work’s priorities to override my wants and needs in other parts of my life. It’s been very rare that I’ve gotten a real vacation. I take days off in ones and twos, never really getting a full break. I’ve missed family milestones. Weddings, funerals…I’ve missed most of each. I’ve fallen out of touch with friends and missed connecting with family.
I have lived in a life in survival mode, always afraid of losing my job and always overworking just in case.
And it’s time it all stopped. It’s time I started working towards a life that has a more healthy balance, where my mind and body can rest and where I can be more fulfilled spiritually and socially. It’s time I started working towards a second act in which work no longer devours my time and energy.
Because no one is promised more time and the clock is always ticking. Work can always replace me and every year there are younger, hungry engineers eager to step into my shoes, but no one can replace me to my friends and family if work works me into an early grave.