About focus, resolutions, parental burn-out, citytrips and tea

With a slight sense of disbelief I notice that it’s already December again. That says something about my perception of time or maybe even my age. Time flies when you’re having fun? Maybe. Time flies, period. I’m really happy with what 2018 brought me, I’m supergrateful for our team, I’m incredibly grateful that I get to work with people who leave here happier than they came in, every day. I’m supergrateful for my family. But it hasn’t been easy.   

Nothing at the start of this year could have made me suspect that my family and love would be challenged in 2018. Suddenly it all fell apart. The love we had, which we took for granted, was fundamentally questioned. Maybe we were both overly optimistic because our kids were bigger now and we could ‘finally’ make room again for ourselves, our hobbies, our development, going out with friends,… Professionally we were both going rock-solid. And we made sacrifices, that – strangely enough – we didn’t see. We took courses, were invited to commissions, thinking tanks, inspirational panels, business clubs. Inevitably it highjacked part of our available time. It was interesting and it definitely made our ego happy.

But slowly I started losing grip on how the kids were doing, what they were doing. I did ask all the right questions though, about how their day was, how the test went, how the paper was received. They had no idea what we were doing, they didn’t even count on us being there anymore. Over the past few years I culminated a parental burn-out. I didn’t even know it existed. Science says a burn-out is work-related. That’s not true. A busy household, the pushing and pulling mothers (and fathers) do to keep a family going, the feeling of loneliness when everyone’s going their own way, slowly made my soul die. We lived, without realizing it, in a diaspora. And we let it happen.

Love is never for granted. “You can’t catch up”, one of our friends once told us. “You can’t fix missed attention on a daily basis with a citytrip“. Our professional lives, interesting as they are, ask a lot of sacrifices. We run off without a kiss or hug, because otherwise we are hopelessly stuck in traffic or might miss the train. We cross each other in the hallway while one leaves for an activity and the other is just coming home, maybe later than expected cause that’s how it often goes in meetings. We curse and yell when the wifi fails in the evening because a presentation needs to be out right now, or a disaster might happen. But the hug or kiss that wasn’t given, wasn’t given and wasn’t received.

2018 has taught us that attention is binary and that it’s that undivided attention that feeds the foundation. It’s a matter of unconditional focus. We’ll make it, my husband and I, and our family. I regained trust. There will be a need to let go of some things. We’re already doing that now. We didn’t even need much to make tough decisions. Because without a strong foundation nothing works and all the other things, that make our ego happy, just become meaningless.

Soon the blogs and articles will arrive about how you can make 2019 into ‘your year’, how you can realise ‘the’ breakthrough in obviously a fitter and even more toned body. I would like to invite you to keep the essence in mind. What can’t break? What’s the foundation that the rest of your life stands upon? And what does it need to keep standing? You build all the rest around that. Your work is not a seperate part of your life, it’s an integral part of it. But it can’t eat away at your happiness or your foundation. A job that you practice for 60% of your time, can’t take away 600% of your energy and mental bandwidth. The Dalai Lama once said that it’s surprising we first mess up our health because we want to make money and we subsequently spend a lot of money to become healthy again. It can be more balanced than that. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Such an integration demands clarity and choices. We give those to our clients every day. And 2018 gave me a shocking yet wonderful opportunity to see this clearly.

And what with the tea in the title? As a tea sommelier-in-training I make sure that there is tea for me and my husband every morning and night. Carefully chosen by me, with my limited knowledge and skill but with lots of love. Making tea is making a home.

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