SoulCycle, a Puppy Named Rizzo and a Bar Called Batey’s: How I Recognized #I’mNotDone
About 18 months ago, a friend (a svelte friend who hated to exercise) told me about this new workout she had discovered that she absolutely loved. She described it as a “spiritual” experience. Since my knees had long since talked me out of running and being out of shape was depressing, I decided to give it a go and went to my first SoulCycle class.
And then promptly decided my friend was crazy. I couldn’t figure out how to get the shoes in the pedals, I didn’t know what turn it up meant, I was the oldest person in the room – by far and I was exhausted and dripping wet with sweat. Spiritual? Maybe she meant spirit-ed?
But I went again, and then again and kept going back to the 5:45 a.m. class as many mornings as I could. And after a while instead of feeling intimidated, I felt great. Better yet, that spiritual part was actually taking hold and as a result, I felt incredibly empowered.
I am someone who has always felt empowered to be all that I wanted to be. But after a pretty damn successful and intense 36-year career in advertising and PR, for the first time I didn’t feel empowered. In fact, I felt like I had been sidelined and marginalized, and it didn’t feel very good.
If there is an antonym for the word empowered that is what I was feeling. And I didn't like it. I even (for the first time) started to feel something new. Old perhaps?
I really struggled with what to do about that feeling but fortunately during every SoulCycle classes I heard something that helped me get closer to figuring it out. I literally have a notes section on my phone labeled “Lessons from SoulCycle.” When I got on that bike I was often oldest in the room, but I never felt it. Not ever. The instructors make everyone feel like they belong right there. The only limit at SoulCycle has nothing to do with age – you just have to be 48” tall so your feet can reach the pedals – then it is up to you to take it from there.
And I did. It was while in that class that I made the decision to leave my high-powered, high- paying job without the safety net of another one! SoulCycle taught me to not let anyone “dim my light” that if “something doesn’t feel right on your ride – make a change” and to open my mind and my heart” to whatever is in store for me! Thank you SoulCycle instructors – see I was listening!
Along Came a Puppy Named Rizzo
A little bit about me. Perhaps one of the reasons I have always felt empowered to be successful is because I have always worked hard to make sure I was. My husband’s nickname for me is Dyno. So not surprisingly, my plan was to attack this “What’s Next” chapter of my professional life with the same urgency and zeal I had used when getting it started. As I always have, I sought advice from a few of my trusted mentors and the advice was invaluable. But some of it, I thought, surely was advice for someone else – not me. “Take your time deciding what to do next, don’t rush into anything, take some time for yourself,” they said. It made sense in theory it just didn’t make sense for me – I was going to hit it hard! Time to think? What was that?
Enter Rizzo Rose Rocks.
More about me. I love dogs - especially Golden Retrievers, and until the fall of 2016 we were a two-golden household – Wrigley and Rose. When we lost Wrigley, Rose seemed a bit lost, (but in retrospect, maybe it was me who was feeling a bit lost) so I really, really wanted a golden puppy for Christmas and, crazy or not, we brought Rizzo home on the 27th of December.
Well…it turns out my husband really, really did not want the puppy and my son left for studying abroad 30 days post Rizzo (aka no help from him). It also turns out Rizzo has a bit of the devil in him so I knew it was in my best interest (and Rizzo’s) for me to be the primary puppy parent.
It is in that responsibility that the true gift of Rizzo comes to play. Taking care of a puppy takes all you’ve got. It was literally impossible for me to do much of anything but take care of him for the first 6 weeks. Energetic puppies need a lot of exercise so, in spite of the frigid weather and 14” of snow, I bundled up and took him for long walks. Often. Watching him discover snow and the pure joy of running freely was literally a tonic for me. When he would blessedly fall asleep I didn’t want to stray too far in case he woke up (remember housebreaking?), so I sat on the couch. Literally, I just sat on the couch. That might not sound like a big deal, but I don’t think I can remember a time when I ever just sat on a couch. Ever.
And when you are walking a lot and sitting on a couch you can’t help but think. So ironically, in the end, in spite of myself, I followed the incredibly smart advice I’d been given to slow down and reflect on what was next for me.
What a gift that was. And that gift was in fact what I had asked for, an adorable golden retriever puppy – I just didn’t know why until I got him.
A Bar Called Batey’
I discovered this amazingly beautiful little bohemian part of the Mexican Riviera about 18 years ago called Tulum and it has been calling me back ever since. It is breathtakingly beautiful with a stretch of white sandy beach that appears to go all the way to Belize. The Mayan’s who discovered this paradise hundreds of years ago are still there – determined to protect what is special about it. There are 5-star hotels and hostels situated right up against each other and fine dining and taco stands are equals in Tulum.
But for my husband and I, our favorite thing is not the beach – it is the little Puebla of Tulum – the town where the locals still live and spill out into the streets each night with their families enjoying the street food and music. The smile of a Mayan child will melt your heart.
No trip to Tulum Puebla is complete for us without a stop at our favorite place - Batey’s, a mojito bar (the sugar cane is hand cranked by a local from a 60s vintage VW bug) with live music performances all day long. But more importantly, it is the soul of Tulum and where locals and visitors alike gather. The first time I was there I declared it (perhaps unkindly) the land of misfit toys, but after taking the time to meet and talk with the people there I have realized that if they are misfits, it is by choice. Each of them has landed in Tulum for a reason and those reasons are as varied as the people there who come from every continent. But what they share is a mutual belief in the power of following one’s purpose and doing what makes you happy!
So, after our 4th or 5th night at Batey’s – I decided it was time to more specifically answer that question for myself. That question that SoulCycle had given me the courage to ask, and that question that Rizzo had forced me to slow down and ponder.
What is my purpose professionally? What makes me happy?
And no…my purpose is not living on the beach in Tulum – as delightful as that sounds. And the main question for me now is this: What is next for me?
I am not entirely sure. And that is entirely okay.
Someone may want to hire me. I have always made every place I work for better. If a job is next for me, as long as it is a company focused on growth that values the experience of someone like me, then I know I can be both an essential and consequential part of that company’s future. That would make me happy.
Perhaps it will be multiple “someone’s” who want to hire me, and consulting will be my calling. I have shed my biases about consulting being solely the big management consultancies and realized that after 37 years of professional and life experiences, I have figured a helluva a lot of things out and can help others do the same. I have learned how to solve problems, find and create opportunities and lead people - as a former client so graciously said of me – “you are a followship leader -- you lead in a way that is strong and loud enough to be heard, and you are liked and trusted enough to be followed.” I’ll take that kind of leadership definition all.day.long. Doing more of that would make me happy too.
And finally, all I know for sure about what’s next for me is that #I’mNotDone…Not even close. No one should ever – ever – let someone else make them feel sidelined or undervalued. And that happens to a lot of people – regardless of gender or race -- in their 50’s and 60’s. Baby Boomers now represent 50% of the population and are living longer and staying healthier than any previous generation. Even setting aside how ageism makes people feel, why are so many businesses too slow, or so blind to the considerable upside of figuring out how to take advantage of this large segment of employees? Personally, I think there is a better way. In fact, I know there is a better way.
So…in addition to focusing on my own next act, I also want to focus on helping business change. I am planning on writing and talking about the larger issue of ageism. Sadly, ageism seems to be one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination. I think it is time for #metoo, #timesup to evolve to include #I'mNotDone. Helping businesses see the issues more clearly – now that would make me REALLY happy.
So – thanks to SoulCycle I felt empowered to make the right decision for my future. Thanks to a golden retriever puppy named Rizzo, I was forced to slow down and be alone with my own thoughts. Thanks to Tulum, Batey’s and the land of the misfit toys, I was reminded to think about my purpose.
Now the rest is up to me.
Old Town Soul Cycle, Rizzo, exercise tights from a street vendor in Tulum And ME. #I’mNotDone.