Fun fact….I share a birthday with Nelson Mandela. When I found this out it was an a-ha moment. I mean, here was a man who stood for something, had PASSION. Why didn’t I feel that way about anything? I mean, I guess I defined myself as passionate, fiery, but didn’t feel true passion about much. And why was that? After landing in Santa Barbara, I hit the lottery…big time. I had the big job, the six figure salary, the car, the condo on the beach, the adorable dog, the long red hair, the size 4 figure, the brand names, the big vacations, the powerhouse friends. So why wasn’t I happy? Why at every turn was I consuming and spending, but still feeling empty and brokenhearted at the end of everyday? What was I missing? How did I get here? Again?
The big job was a lot of pressure and responsibility. You see, I was Director of Surgery at a billion dollar hospital. I had 150 employees, several managers and surgeons that I interacted with daily and was responsible for the safety and well-being of those individuals so that they could provide safe and quality care to patients. It was not enough for me to be damn good at my job (which I was). I had a standard of care that I viewed every patient that entered the OR as my father, someone’s sister, a family member. Laziness, apathy, recklessness, ineptness was unacceptable, even though we are dealing with humans here. As 1 year on the job became 4, I hated waking up everyday. Everyday. Every damn day. I was beginning to resent my employees. I was beginning to become just as apathetic. I was in the midst of burnout. But I didn’t even realize it. I just kept pushing through, kept working out harder to sweat off the misery and booze, which I was hitting harder than ever. Something had to change…again.
I reignited my yoga practice. A dear friend suggested CorePower yoga. In hesitation, I went. And then I was hooked. Something triggered a change from that first class. This was the start of the change I was looking for. I was so tired and exhausted of having the same experience over and over, personally and professionally. I knew that I couldn’t move again or take a different job. I had to completely surrender to this practice and let it transform me so I could carve the path I was meant to travel. Once and for all.
After about a month of attending, I decided to get my 200 hour yoga teaching certification. I didn’t think I would actually teach and after the first day of being surrounded by these super fit, super cute 20 somethings, no way in hell was this the industry I could survive in. But, after much fear of failure and asking myself, “what the hell are you doing Gilligan?”, I kept pushing forward. So here I was, spending my hours at the hospital or at the yoga studio. I was immersed, super busy. And while I felt myself changing and becoming happier, more content, more full, I was exhausted. I mean I loved teaching. I was no longer waking up dreading the day. I was teaching 3 classes a week and still working 50 hours a week at the hospital. I was noticing that my body wasn’t really tolerating the energy of the OR any longer. I felt nauseous and anxious while at work. I felt calm and happy at the studio. I was no longer wanting to drink. Things were changing for me internally.
Christmas eve, 2015. I get an email at midnight from an angry anesthesiologist ranting about the busy schedule, lack of resources, etc, etc. The VP of the hospital, chief of anesthesia and medical director were all on the email. I WAS DONE. I made the decision on that evening to leave the big job and figure out how to pursue my passion of teaching yoga and maybe still do some nursing on the side. The universe had received the message and boy, the path was becoming more clear. Quickly. I gave my notice 2 weeks later. I actually got a job at Santa Barbara City College in their student health services department from an ad I saw on Craigslist randomly. I was given 5 additional classes and asked to become apart of CPY’s teacher training and boot camp programs. I put a pen to paper and figured my finances. I had to take the leap and trust that the net would be there.
Fast forward to today. I am currently studio manager at the yoga studio. I still teach yoga. I still am nursing at SBCC. I actually have time to hike, write this blog, cook for myself and no longer is there a need to workout twice a day. I ride my bike to work. Is everything super perfect? Hell no. I still struggle on a daily basis with silly human shit, self-love and yes, compassion for others. You see, I am still recovering from the burnout that was built over the last 25 years. I am still grieving the death of my father because I never truly grieved his death as I didn’t allow time or space for it.
And do I have passion for something today? Absolutely yes. I am passionate about loving myself so I can love others, serve others. I am passionate about being the best version of myself as possible. I am passionate about having truly meaningful connections with individuals on a daily basis. I am beginning to love my slow treadmill of a life. Sober, connected, full.
Burnout is real. Take time to read the links to the articles below. If you identify with any of the characteristics or symptoms, you may be burned out. Does it mean you up and leave your life? Most likely no. I recognize and am grateful for having the freedom to be able to make the decisions I have. I also have had A LOT of support from friends and family. I wouldn’t have been able to or continue to be in this place without them.
This is my purpose. If you are a caregiver, do not give away your precious gift. I am here to help you discover that there is passion there and the key to awakening and reviving is caring for yourself. The world needs your care and your gifts. We are in this together. Please let me know what questions you have. Please share this with someone you feel may be in need of a little self-care and love. Please share this with your co-workers and develop a support system. All it takes in awareness, some acknowledgment and a place to start unraveling.