A friend recommended a book a while ago, “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome” (Libby Weaver). She loved it, she said it changed her life. I asked her what Rushing Woman’s Syndrome was. Her response was “you!”. So I bought the book and sat down to read it.
Rushing Woman’s Syndrome describes the biochemical and emotional effects of always being in a hurry and the health consequences that urgency elicits. It doesn’t seem to matter if a woman has two things to do in her day or two hundred, she is in a pressing rush to do it all. She is often wound up like a top, running herself ragged in a daily battle to keep up. There is always so much to do, and she very rarely feels like she wins, is in control and gets on top of things….
The book had a test. Score 1-4, you are not a Rushing Woman. Score 5-7, you are on your way. Score 7 or above, hello Rushing Woman. I scored 24 … and decided I didn’t have time to read the book!
But then, in a split second, our lives changed (again). I thought I had solved my Rushing Woman’s Syndrome. I wrote “[t]here is nothing like having someone who makes up such a huge part of your life die suddenly to remind you to stop and smell the roses“.
We lost my mother in law at 59. She had been talking about retiring for years, and had finally handed in her notice. She was going to travel more, spend more time with her grandchildren. But she never got to enjoy it. She had spent a lovely day visiting loved ones, going out for lunch, catching up with family and friends. On the way home she wasn’t feeling well, but insisted on driving. She had stopped at a stop sign and collapsed, slumped over the steering wheel. Her brother did CPR. The ambulance was there within four minutes. Everything that could be done, was. But even if she had of been in a hospital when she collapsed it is unlikely she would have survived. So here we were, left without our rock. Questioning the meaning of life.
Ten years earlier i’d lost my father to cancer. I was 23, my sister 21, and my brothers 14 and 9. Ten years later, I was spinning, again.
So we sat down and wrote some goals, the way we wanted to live our lives.
I used to run around in the morning trying to get everybody out the door by 7.30am, now I think, who cares if we are a couple of minutes late? I used to care about our investments, about our retirement plan, now i’d happily sell them and take the family away on holiday for a few months. I used to care about getting to conferences and seminars and training courses and client meetings … and now I don’t. I used to have career goals. Now I just want to look after my husband and children and our home together.
There has to be more meaning to life than working to pay the mortgage, to drive a nice car, and to make someone else rich. What that “more” is I don’t know. I guess it will be part of our journey to find it. But I have a feeling it starts with our children.
My goals to find more meaning in our lives:
- Work less! I do not want a promotion. I will be happy with my job and my achievements to date.
- Spend more time with my children. Make that time QUALITY time. Spend more time playing hairdressers and bouncing on the trampoline and making cakes and reading stories.
- Have more “dates” with my husband. Task: find a new babysitter.
- Get our family fit and healthy. Task: complete one of New Zealand’s Great Walks next summer.
So five years later – how have we done? Well, we failed miserably on some (I am still a workaholic!). But I am glad to say we are still here, fit and healthy, and we are still married!! I can tell you, getting your husband through the sudden death of his mother is f*cking hard on a marriage. Maybe more on that later. What we have achieved, and what I am most proud of, is we have LIVED! We get outside, we stay fit as a family, we travel, we explore!
And do I still have Rushing Woman’s Syndrome? Absolutely. But honestly, who wouldn’t? I’m an Accountant, a working mother of two, a wife, and a volunteer. I have learnt that sometimes labels are condescending, and sometimes we need to give ourselves a break from the guilt.