‘Twas A Bittersweet—More Sweet than Bitter, Bitter Than Sweet—Year

For me, 2011 was the year of truly living SingleInMy30s. At age 33, it was in fact the first time in my 30s I was not involved in some exclusive—usually long-term—relationship for the vast majority of the year. The V-Man and I finally ended our second attempt at being together a couple months into the year…and from then on, I was free.

I can’t say that it was an easy year. My body slowly stopped allowing me to beat it into submission, to work it day and night with little to no rest. Soon my dream job became a nightmare job for my immune system, and I was left facing four months of chemotherapy.

I was forced to go on medical leave from my job, and when I wasn’t back on my feet fast enough, I had to leave it outright. To be honest, I think that hurt more than saying goodbye to V-Man, though those losses are somehow linked. Still, saying goodbye to that old dream, that exciting chapter of my life has led to an awesome new career path and wonderful opportunities I would never have expected.

Most importantly, it re-taught me something I thought I already had down cold—how to listen to my body. Now I truly do understand it’s not worth Hurtling Against the Brick Wall—again. My mantra for 2011? Find your balance.

From the dating perspective, I enjoyed dating a variety of men, broadening my horizons a bit more than ever before. There was the Ballroom Dancer, the Christian Rocker, the Cop, the Karaoke Crooner, to name but a few Up Next On the Stage… I didn’t regret every single one, though there were a couple of opportunities for a bruised ego–most famously, the experience captured in The Appeal of the Exotic Woman. Yet I didn’t allow myself to get too involved in the hunt. Timing was certainly off in 2011.

With all the time I had for myself this last year, there was plenty of time for self-reflection. I dealt with the love I’d left behind in 2010 and finally learned how to say goodbye, with A Letter to a Love Lost & A Lesson Learned and several other entries. I gave the bird to societal expectations of where I should be as a woman of a certain age, Tossing Out the Ticking Time Clock, and embracing my own unique path.

I also focused on my self, recognizing my own faults and weaknesses, and embracing my new strengths, while acknowledging the me-ness that I sometimes allow to get buried behind bitterness/reticence/resignation or tucked under the plastered on happy face for show. With a little help from surprise, surprise Shania Twain, I was reminded about Finding Your Voice Again.

And then finally, sweet romance did sneak up on me when and where I least expected it. We fell hard and fast. Since it is my love life, it couldn’t stay smooth sailing for too long. So I wound up the year with the realization that I wasn’t actually in a relationship. It looked like one, smelled like one and tasted like one, but apparently it wasn’t one. And after that was established, it acted even more like one…conveniently for the holiday vacation anyway.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me in 2012, except that I’m not looking to bring drama from 2011 into this year. I am a survivor of last year. I more than survived, I thrived and feel more alive than I have in a really long time, and I plan to only go up from here. Nothing and no one is allowed to take me down.

Hurtling Up Against the Brick Wall

Don’t tell him I said this, but it turns out that the V-Man was right: there really is that brick wall I’ve been barreling toward after jumping head, shoulders, knees and toes into my new job. I feel it with my head, and I feel it with my shoulders, my wrists, my knees and my spirit.

There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm, especially when you are doing something about which you are so passionate. But when your body starts giving you warning signs that it is gradually falling apart—rather when it’s screaming at you to slow down, you really should heed the lingering cold/sinus infections, the splitting kneecap and hip pain, and eventually take stock when both your wrists feel like they are broken.

by Lise Bourbeau

Really, now. It’s been 11 years this month since I first enrolled in the school of The Cost of Not Listening to Your Body. You would think I would have graduated with flying colors by now. You would think I would have written over three dozen honors’ theses on the subject, given multiple lectures and published endless books on it. Instead, I’ve written multiple poems and songs about it, devoted entire blogs to it, seen it destroy relationships and jobs because of my stubbornness and watch it lead to even more troublesome health issues.

But enough of that—it’s a long story, an interesting story, but not one for today. The point is that you’d think I would have listened to the burned out workaholic who found project after project to fill every waking hour with when I knew from my own experience the importance of balance.

Instead I found myself working on New Year’s Eve, later beating myself up for going out to dinner and movie that night instead of working on a regional story that no one would be reading until the morning anyway. Instead of allowing myself a well-deserved holiday yesterday or even a day off weekend day the day before, yesterday, I wrote three stories and wound up with more stories than I usually have in my publication on any given day.

AudWar from Flickr

Is it any surprise that I literally couldn’t drag myself out of bed this morning to write my second article of the day? Normally I would have already had that story in the can so I wouldn’t have anything to worry about, but I couldn’t muster the energy to do it last night. I, wait for it, actually was so burned out, I sat and watched an entire movie without a laptop in my hands. And I didn’t feel one bit guilty about it…until the last credits ran, and I realized I needed to put something up there the next morning.

Both my wrists felt broken all day today. The stories I was expecting to come in from others weren’t coming, yet I didn’t have it in me to push it. My second story wasn’t finished until almost 2 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. I didn’t chastise myself over it.

Because if there’s one thing I have learned, if I don’t listen now, when I really am at this brick wall, I really won’t be able to do anything at all for days and weeks, possibly months at a time. My job does not afford me that luxury at all. I am my job. Without me, this lovely machine grinds to a noisy, crunchy and terrifying halt. I don’t just disappoint everyone in town who has come to depend on me to be their source of news, my friends, my family, my co-workers, my bosses, the people who are looking at me and saying, “wow, look at the readership she’s pulling in.”

The real person I’ll be disappointing, the one who most matters, quite honestly, will be myself. Not because I tried something and failed doing my best at it. But because I pushed myself too hard, knowing better, and caused my own self-destruction.


Balance. Part of that journey is to have started a column to incorporate in my publication, doing a series on my experiences with different wellness and integrative medicine modalities, from yoga to Reiki, tai chi to acupuncture, reflexology to Pilates and who knows what else. I have found an amazing videographer who is up for the task of accompanying me on this journey, and I’m extremely excited about it—once I pencil in the time for it. An evening yoga class on a Sunday night is supposed to be our first foray into the series, as long as the weather holds out.

I’m optimistic. I’m also happy that V-Man has been so obstinate about pulling me out of the cyber-world.  “Shut it down,” has been his constant refrain. Even if we have to go to the mall for the umpteenth time, or to another restaurant, he is ready and willing to get me distracted. He, of course, has found other ways to take my mind off things as well, which are quite delicious too…I’m wondering where he is suddenly getting all this energy. I think my creative outfits might have helped a bit in this effort.


At any rate, my wrists really do need a rest, and I need some sleep. Yet I miss my blog family, and you deserve an update.

Yes, become a career woman. Raw! Be all those wonderful and amazing things you’ve always dreamed for yourself. But by God, don’t kill yourself in the process, okay?

Find your balance, find your groove. The Egyptian pyramids of perfection weren’t built in a day—they really weren’t. And that took teams and teams of people to do it. I am working on building my team and trying to be patient. Meanwhile, it’s time to find my pockets of rest while I can.