I thought I was achieving the dream and living on purpose. It was not until it all came crashing down all around me that I realized there was a problem with what “living on purpose ” meant for me and us (that being for us professionals).
Hi. My name is Val. And I am the nonconforming professional. I am a lawyer; mother; blogger; lover of life and dogs and family. I have totally changed what it means to be living on purpose in my life. This is my story.
When I became a practicing lawyer at the age of 29 I expected that my world would suddenly be filled with all good things, just as we are all promised will happen when we finally "make it."
Now, don’t get me wrong, I live a very privileged life. I live in a gorgeous home, I have food on my table, and I have a minimal commute to work. I work with awesome (and I mean totally awesome) people. My work is mostly interesting and I am (theoretically) my own boss. I say theoretically because I am continuously tied to my office. I thought I had created all of this by living on purpose.
What has gone wrong for me, however, (and I am well on my journey to fixing it) is that in my pursuit of success, I forgot to keep living on purpose, I became overwhelmed with busy-ness, payments, and obligations.
As my career and "success" progressed, my life has became more and more difficult and complicated. As the obligations piled up, I worked harder and harder to keep up with everything. I did this at the expense of my family, my well-being, and my marriage.
I was not exercising and I was not eating well. I was definitely not taking care of my mind or soul in any way. I was not following my own advice.
Eventually, every evening when I came home from work, I would zone out on Netflix or instantly fall asleep. Sometimes I would sleep over 12 hours per night. Although I have not been a drinker for a number of years, I certainly got swept up in a weekend partying scene.
My relationships with those I love suffered.
It all came crashing down around me in the summer and fall of 2012. I was diagnosed with severe depression. I had adrenal gland burnout. I got fat. I had addiction concerns creeping back into my life. I hated, and I mean really hated, my life.
I lived in constant fear of losing “everything” and in continuous financial stress. Every morning I woke up with my stomach in knots as I checked my business bank account worrying about what it would reveal. Is this what living on purpose was about? I don’t think so.
Then I de-Jonesed my life. I am hoping I can share my struggles and triumphs with others so they can avoid the same path of destruction. Or start fixing it as I have.
Written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional
Return from Living on Purpose
|Career||Newbie lawyer, just called to the bar, associate lawyer in an old boys' firm, have a boyfriend, vegetarian, eat almost no sugar, starting an addiction to alcohol but do not know that, am starting to experience real work stress||experienced lawyer in my own law firm with 4 to 6 lawyers working there, chronic financial stress, chronic stress; although I have quit drinking 4 years ago, I have other challenging problems that have started to surface.||Lawyer, own my law firm still, less stressed about work.||still some work stress, but even better at handling the stress. Practicing law with my heart.|
|Where I Work||an old boy law firm||my law firm||Still at my law firm||my law firm|
|Relationship Status||Boyfriend||My husband is gearing up to leave me and I don't know that yet. When he does, it devastates me. I dropped the ball on my marriage too.||Newly separated and devastated about it and starting to rebuild.||My marriage is back on track...yaay|
|Food Choices||vegetarian, almost no sugar, hypoglycaemic.||not really paying attention at all||Gluten free and loving it|
|Fitness||strong runners’ legs, great cardiovascular shape.||163 pounds, feel sexy, go to BodyPump fitness classes and love it|
|Stress Levels||very high, but excited about it all||through the roof. I am diagnosed with chronic depression, I gain a lot of weight, I am grossly out of shape, I have adrena gland burnout and am desperately unhappy||Although I am sad, very sad about my separation – I meditate twice per day, am in regular therapy, and am very calm (calm for me that is)||although there are stressful periods from time to time, I am way better at handling it, I continue to meditate and continue therapy|
|Health||Hypoglycemic, starting an addiction to alcohol but not aware of that yet||have had other addiction issues creep into my life, I have gained oodles of weight, I feel awful||I am getting healthier everyday and realize there is a connection between my mind, spirit, and body in order to be well||way better. Have slipped a bit in terms of my diet and meditation, but am back on it and feeling good|
|Real Estate||own a home with a boyfriend and friend, the payments are way less than rent||Own a beautiful home and a strata title office. Used the equity in my home to purchase office. Have crushing bill payments every month. Am very overwhelmed and constantly stressed. continually drain me and financially tax me||The same real estate as a year before, but no longer driven to get more – slowly chewing away at my monster debt load||same and continuing to pay down monster debt load|
|Annual Income||About $32,000||A lot if you look at what I bill ($300,000 + per year), but most of it sucked up in business and personal expenses already designated to the point where I am often living on the edge financially – wake up every morning with my stomach in knots, often awake in the middle of night sweating from fear and stress regarding finances||The same as the year before but focusing on paying down my debt load and simplifying my finances||same as the year before and same circumstances, continuing to simplify and pay down|
|Debt||$42,000 in student loans, and consumer debt of $10,000, plus a shared mortgage of about $200,000 (again, despite this debt, my living expenses at this point were very very low)||Student loans are finally paid off, but I have other debt (including real estate and consumer debt over $1.5 million). I had “bad” debt and “good” debt mixed up and it is all “bad” debt.||same||same|
|Kids||1 biological daughter and 2 step-daughters||1 biological daughter and 2 step-daughters|
|Pets||1 cat 1 cat, 2 dogs, a lizard, some fish||1 cat, 2 dogs, a lizard, some fish and not getting more pets||still a zoo|
|Savings||About Nil||About $6,000||About $13,000|
|Hair||Awesome||Still pretty awesome||Still pretty awesome||Still pretty awesome|