Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Friday, April 4, 2014

Change Upon Change

I wrapped up that last post with a neat and tidy "Here's what I learned."  I conveniently left out the parts when all I did was kick and scream and whine about all that's happened. I did plenty of that (still do), and thought this more times than I can count:

Whoever said your 50s are the best time of your life, step forward so I can slap you.

Around the first of the year, 2009, something else was happening along with the collapse of my business and modeling careers that was about to change my life. I began feeling very odd. I was exhausted all. the. time. I slept all night but couldn't drag myself out of bed in the morning. I was not feeling "myself." 

I began to notice weight gain even though I was eating my usual healthy diet and trying to maintain my workouts at the gym, which had become uncharacteristically difficult with the lack of energy and sudden onset of exercise-induced nausea. I felt bad and worried about my health, and then all of a sudden I would get a burst of energy and go for a run down the beach, only to return to exhaustion within a few hours. I knew I needed to see a doctor and that was another motivating factor in my decision to leave Miami. 

Within days of my return to Atlanta I was in an integrative medicine practice, complaining that I was now over 130 pounds (what I wouldn't give to weigh that again!) and describing my other symptoms. Blood tests revealed I was in the post-menopausal-hormones-have-tanked stage of life. Natural source, compounded HRT and supplements helped for a time, but ultimately, the side effects and the cost forced me to discontinue them. Workouts became exercises in negative reinforcement, with the lack of energy and the inevitable waves of nausea forcing me to stop.

Just shoot me, my life is over, was my honest thought. I asked a question at some point in trying to deal with this new reality, Oh God, WHY do you hate women?? I didn't ask it, I screamed it while driving alone in my car one day.

I wondered what I had left of myself that was familiar. HORSES. I needed to be around horses, and horse people, so I decided to visit the polo fields once again. I was kindly offered to ride a couple of polo ponies, which I happily accepted. I rode easily after 2 years of being away from my favorite activity, but it wasn't long before an old back injury came back to haunt me. And each time I rode after that, the injury was worse, the muscle spasms in my back debilitating, and taking longer to recover from. After my last bit of blissful time in the saddle, in October of last year, I knew I would probably never ride again, short of a miracle. I have not been free of pain since.

Oh, there's more. When I returned to Atlanta from Miami I took a job at a small pharmaceutical company. I started out with high hopes, but they were quickly dashed when I realized what sort of business person the company owner was. Besides being a micro-manager (read: tyrant), he was rude, arrogant...the list goes on. Worse than all this was the unethical manner in which he made money. My position came with signature authority in matters of quality assurance and regulatory affairs, and while I could give details of the ways in which I was forced to compromise ethics and integrity to save my job, I will let it suffice to say that I found it to be a moral imperative to leave the company after less than 2 years. Interestingly, the government agency that regulates such businesses shut down the company a couple months later. Good thing no one went to jail. I'm not a fan of orange.

In anticipation of my departure I had begun consulting again--moonlighting in my off hours. I was sure that God was providing for me when I had to stand up for what was right. I had technical writing work from one client and traveled to another local client to assist them in their transition after being acquired by another company. And then, even my work fell apart. Hiring people was more cost effective than paying me and with that, my consulting work was done. Countless job applications-few interviews-no offers later, I gave up job seeking. Full-time partnership with Leland in our photography business was where I landed, but as much as I love photography, the job came without a paycheck.

Enter the waiting room. Pick a chair. Bring a book because it's going to be a while.

The recession hit photography business hard, so when I left the paying job for one that didn't pay, you can guess how finances suffered. We hit a very slippery slope that ended in bankruptcy court last June. We prayed, we told God we would do anything He asked, including giving up our business that we loved. Please, show us what You want us to do, we pleaded, but every door to a paycheck we knocked on remained closed.

It can't get any worse. Surely, it's uphill from here. Let me tell you, it can always get worse. We found ourselves in line at community charities for food and financial assistance to keep eating and living indoors.

Why has all this happened? Who am I? Do I have a purpose anymore? These, and many others, are the questions I asked God every day when, one-by-one, all the parts of my life I was sure were going to go in an endless, positive direction; that I believed I had control over, changed uncontrollably. The "Be, Do, Have Anything You Desire" gospel became a lie. Well, of course. There's no gospel in it at all.

The waiting room became my classroom when I decided to stop kicking and screaming. At the end of a very worn rope, exhausted, I turned to God in search of Him; nothing and no one else. In this classroom, my Instructor taught me, and continues to teach me, the truth.

More on the truth revealed in the coming days.

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