When I started this blog, I was a woman on a mission. My mission was to help people be as happy as they could be in whatever situation they were in.
One of my main principles is that of “owning your life.” What I mean by this is you need to take your life where it is — regardless of how you got to this place — and decide where you are going with it.
It’s life-altering to realize that you are not stuck with what you currently have. While you don’t have control over all the factors in your life, you are still capable of moving closer to what you want.
My mission hasn’t changed. I still want to help people. What has changed is my situation.
Put me on a soapbox and I will wax eloquent for hours about the importance of self-care. You need to take care of yourself or you won’t be able to help others. Yet, in my day-to-day life, off the soapbox, I’ve been stretching myself paper-thin.
My obligations are many, and I take them very seriously.
I have an obligation to you; the people who read what I have to offer. I have an obligation to my husband who works all week and still manages to be a hero at home.
I have an obligation to my mother who no longer drives, has had three joint replacements, and has some other medical issues.
I have an obligation to maintaining relationships with my friends; to keeping current with the news; to bringing order to the chaos in my home; to taming the jungle in my yard.
Coming in at last place — barely making the list — is my obligation to control my anxiety to keep it from blowing up everything else.
Sadly, there has been a glaring omission. I have been doing very little for the sheer joy of doing it. Nearly all of my time was scheduled with things I felt some degree of obligation to do.
When I did take breaks to scroll social media or Pinterest, I did so with a sense of guilt. I felt I was wasting time being lazy.
The day after date night was exhausting as I didn’t allow myself to sleep later. I had a schedule to keep, you know.
Recent efforts at a monthly day-trip with my husband have been mostly successful. Unfortunately, I have felt bad about leaving my responsibilities behind, and then frantic to catch up afterward.
Between the day I launched this blog and today, though, I did have an enormous personal victory:
This spring I first heard of the opportunity to volunteer my time to work for MuggleNet. (For anyone who doesn’t know, MuggleNet is an amazing fan site for all things related to Harry Potter and the universe J.K. Rowling built around him.)
I didn’t apply. I told myself that I had been out of the hardcore fan scene far too long. I told myself I was unqualified. I even told myself that I was too old. I mean, a 49-year-old fangirl? Really?
Historically I have talked myself out of trying for anything I wasn’t certain I could get. It’s really quite easy to believe you haven’t failed if you haven’t tried. And yet, Harry Potter’s brilliant author herself spells out the flaw in this reasoning.
You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.J.K. Rowling
At the end of May, inspired by these words and by a podcast of Lori Harder’s with Amelia Travis, I decided I would lose nothing at all by applying anyway. (The link to the podcast is at the end of this post.) Much to my excitement, a staff member contacted me with a couple of questions at the very beginning of June, and after that — crickets.
Now, it had been publicly announced that they would not be able to notify every applicant who wasn’t accepted. And, truly, I didn’t meet all of their criteria. One of the qualities they were looking for was organization, and if you know ANYTHING about me, it’s probably that I am challenged in that regard.
I was not surprised that I hadn’t heard anything else. I was proud of myself, though. Really, incredibly proud, actually. By the very act of applying, I had grown.
Some of you may know the surprise ending of this story. On July 31 (a very special day as it is the birthday of Harry Potter, and of J.K. Rowling), I got an email telling me I had been chosen for a three-month internship with MuggleNet. I officially began my time there on the 12th of August. To say I was busting my buttons would be an understatement.
I am not going to lie; I’ve been dealing with a steep learning curve on this. Most of the struggles I have had have stemmed directly from my perfectionism, my need to crush all my feelings of inadequacy (ahem, perfectionism), and an insane amount of difficulty getting the hang of Skype.
In addition to everything I had mentioned above, I was now spending time on my MuggleNet work. As with any new job, the work takes longer when you are just learning. I was also excited to be part of a new community with my colleagues. Getting to know them and sharing who I am with them nibbled away at my time, as well.
As much as this position means to me, it still requires me to find time in what was already an incredibly tight schedule.
This past Thursday afternoon, I was exhausted. By three o’clock in the afternoon, I felt as though I could go to bed and sleep until morning. I managed to stay up another three hours before I headed to my bedroom, planning to be asleep before my head even hit the pillow.
Instead, I disintegrated. I started to tell my husband that I was exhausted and what came out instead was hysterical tears that lasted about an hour. I cried until I fell asleep. I hadn’t even been aware I was cracking before I broke completely.
The next day, though I thought the long cry and the long sleep had fixed me, I was in bed again by four p.m., exhausted and feeling destroyed. As much as I rebelled against it, it was clear that something had to go.
If it is as blindingly obvious to you as I think it would be, you have come to the conclusion that I must walk away from MuggleNet. That’s because you don’t know everything I know.
Earlier this month, I came across a notebook in which I had listed a list of hopes for my life. This list was created in February of 2016. Some were big and some were small. Some had come to pass and others became obsolete. There was one, though that was super important to me. It had been a dream of mine for far longer than three and a half years.
With MuggleNet, this dream has finally been realized. I have never before worked with a group of people where everyone — from the very top levels of leadership down to the newest interns– share passion, humor, encouragement, and inspiration. I found my dream job in an unpaid, three-month trial run with a fan site.
Since falling apart on Thursday, I came perilously close to walking away from all of this. It seemed clear to me that the only thing I could reasonable let loose was something I considered fun.
For longer than I can conveniently remember, I have believed that I was a bad and selfish person if I chose my own happiness and that choice led to anyone else being less happy than they might otherwise be.
In a way that can only make sense within one’s own mind, I didn’t believe this to be true of anyone else. It’s like I said at the very beginning of this post. You have to take care of yourself if you want to be able to take care of others.
In a radical test of this hypothesis, I’m choosing something I know makes me happy. I’m continuing at MuggleNet as long as I have value there.
And so, my friends, I am taking a sabbatical from writing this blog. Don’t worry. No bridges have been burned in the making of this decision. I’ll be back. You will see me around on social media, and I hope to put more time into my kindness group on Facebook.
In the meantime, take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Be as happy as you can be. It’s easy to lose sight of this, but the people who love you are almost always happier when you are happier.
Brightest blessings, Sunny
If you want inspiration to go for something despite your doubts, check out this episode of Earn Your Happy with Lori Harder. If you’re looking for the magic that the Harry Potter universe is still bringing people, 22 years after it was first published, drop in on MuggleNet. We’re happy to share.