. . . his gentle soft spoken words rang true r than the powerful reality of an enormous career. . .
In 1999 I decided that it was time to transition my life into one of peace and celebration. I had been in a career that spanned twenty-six years as a professional counselor, therapist, trainer-lecturer, employee assistant professional, director, manager, and professional consultant.. Touting an abbreviated resume of twenty-six pages, none of my employment history was small. Rarely did I only work one job at a time. My life had been consumed with a minimum of sixty to seventy hours of work a week. I didn’t have time to think about life beyond the work structured in my appointment book. On vacations I did therapy session dictation, worked on action plans, processed information for upcoming conflict resolution sessions, and most of all was inundated with thoughts of the painful realities of my patients and clients.
My past appointment books now give evidence of a career that included minimally 45,000 - 50,000 individual counseling sessions, and that did not include the group sessions, management responsibilities, lecturing, training and consulting. Reviewing this evidence, it's clear my career had been filled with the consumption of people’s problems. I listened to their stories of tragedy, pain, addiction, conflict, misery, misfortune, victimization, loss and disastrous realities. I had worked with the mentally ill, the criminally insane, the physically handicapped, the addicted, problematic employees and those struggling with traumatic situations and adjustments in life. Never had I ever considered the personal impact of such a career that kept me saturated with in the most painful realities of others. Then this one particular day everything changed for me.
It was like this. A team of attorney’s and myself had been investigating a serious matter that could have enormous consequences for a corporation and a troubled employee. It required us to pillage through 6,000 plus files of information. We worked from sun up to sun down going through files. I stayed in a hotel because the worksite was too far away to drive home at 11:00 p.m. at night. I had not seen my husband in days. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have the time to call him as I was held up in a secluded boardroom with attorneys most of the time. Living on auto-pilot, I was going through one chart at a time. Thinking back, I recall how numb I felt from little sleep and being swamped with so much material and no time to get through it all. I had been emotionally mechanical telling myself, don’t talk, don’t touch, don’t feel . . . just get through all of this. All at once my secretary came in and said that my husband was there and really needed to see me. I was shocked and confused because my husband was suppose to be at his work at a hospital two hours away. He had never interrupted me at work. ‘What’s wrong, oh my dear God, what’s wrong’ I thought. . . Everyone agreed to take a quick break to give me time to go to him. I rushed into my office where he was waiting. "Oh my dear God, what’s wrong" I said. He slowly and gently walked up to me and stood with his face about six inches from mine. "Shhhh, it’s ok" he softly said as he smiled and looked me in the eyes.
"I came to tell you something very, very, important. . . remember Linda, you are so much more than your career." Gently he kissed me on the forehead. He turned and left. I was stunned, but not sure why. I didn’t have time to inquire why he came or anything. I heard one attorney say, "let’s get back to work, we have a lot to get through." Now back in the boardroom going through charts, my mind started to rethinking his visit. His soft sweet nature and his gentle words were now filtering through my thoughts. He was a man of few words, making every word he ever said so much more important than anyone elses. His words still gently and tenderly in my head. This man who loved me so much, had left his work, drove for hours to tell me, "your so much more than your career." All at once it hit me, yes, I got it! I had allowed my career to consume me. I was lost to the chaos of my employment and the conflict of others. Yet, my husband’s visit was not about pain or conflict, it was to remind me that I am so much more than my career.
I finished the day and for the first time I refused to work beyond my scheduled hours. I drove home and spend a wonderful weekend with my family. The next week I completed that task and and two weeks later, I left my career forever. Today I no longer do life, but live it. I am so treasured by a man who lovingly reminded me that I was so much more than a career.
(Now years later, I know up till that moment that I had ‘done’ life and now I truly 'live' it. Life is so much more than the most accomplished and outstanding career.)