Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Secret to a Working Stiff's Happiness and the Potato Chip Rock

My brother, Erik, was out for a visit this month. His last spring break as a student. He graduates from ISU (Illinois State) this June. Since my world is all about me, I was thinking back to my last spring break, which I spent with Erik in Madrid in 2006.

My brown bob. I liked that look.
My life has changed completely since this picture, of course. And being the big sis, I wanted to impart some wisdom to my little bro to prepare him for life as a working stiff. So I waited to unload some major sisterly advice until we were on a long hike--and he was totally dependent on me for both directions and a ride back to the city. A captive audience is the best kind. 

We hiked Mount Woodson, which is about a 900 foot peak out in the Poway/Ramona area of eastern San Diego county. It is about a 40 minute drive east of downtown, but not all the way to the desert. I love the landscape of this part of Southern California. There are rolling hills, mountains, and the most incredible boulders laying around all over the place. So interesting that I almost looked up a geographic explanation for this unique landscape. Almost.

You can approach Mount Woodson from the west (~8 miles round trip from Lake Poway) or the east (~4 miles round trip straight up and down the mountain). We selected an eastern approach since we were walking. 

We started up the mountain, and I started my story. 

When I started working, I was pumped. I landed a job in San Diego working in antitrust law, the area of law that I liked best during school. I was finally getting paid, working on interesting cases, soaking up knowledge like a sponge, and traveling all over the country. This is exactly what I dreamed my life would be like. It was very satisfying and rewarding. 

For awhile. Actually, for quite a long time.

But eventually, the long hours and difficult work lost their allure. Things that were once new and exciting became old, annoying, and irritating. It just happened one day. And when my job became less satisfying, I became very unhappy overnight. I had nothing to focus on and enjoy outside of work.

So I thought about looking for a new job that was less demanding. Or even leaving the law business altogether. As I pondered major career moves, I started exploring new interests because I was no longer willing to spend all my time working or preparing to work. 

I started cooking a lot, and making craft cocktails. This is a pursuit I still enjoy. I even started a cooking blog, which I no longer maintain and actually took offline a few months ago. (I am kind of relieved to not have to take a photograph of every dinner I cook.)  

Meanwhile I was becoming much happier. And I started to enjoy my work again. I saw that my problem was not that I lost interest in the work. But that I needed some separation from it. 

So I started trying on other hobbies. I took sewing lessons. I even bought a sewing machine and sewed a pillow case, a pencil pouch, a couple of tote bags, and a (hideous) dress. I really like the idea of sewing and crafts. But it just didn't stick. Probably because my interests have always laid in sports. I was a kid gymnast. Ran track and cross country. Played volleyball and beach volleyball. Started weight lifting and getting into general fitness training in college. And picked up tennis while I was waiting for my bar results. 

And eventually I started running. That story is for another post...

If Erik wasn't listening to all of this, at least he could zone out looking at the amazing landscape around us. 

So we reached the top of the mountain and the Potato Chip Rock. And then we fought about who got to do the first photo shoot. I neglected to mention that fighting with Erik is probably my oldest hobby. 

Let's see that zoomed in. 

Now for the moral of the story...The lesson I learned is that I can't be totally focused on my work. It is an obvious point for most people. But I had spent my entire life until then studying, taking out loans, and fashioning my life in every way to give myself the best shot at succeeding as lawyer. But I needed some outside stimulation to maintain it. Some things to look forward to on the weekend. To get my mind off of my task list. Things to daydream about on a slow afternoon. 

And for me, that turned out to be running. It's a hobby I've really connected with, love, and hope to pursue a very long time!

"Your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is." --Kara Goucher

two little runners ~Kristen

No comments:

Post a Comment