Let’s be real!
While my meetings with some of the most iconic brands in the world and travels around the globe may seem glamorous and as if I am living my dream – they come at a cost.
I am grateful for these opportunities every single day and wake up each morning feeling blessed to be working at a company and in an industry that allows me to be fulfilled and truly enjoy what I earn my bread and butter with. However, that requires operating like a duck: calm at the surface but paddling furiously to stay afloat.
The past 5 weeks have been a sprint requiring the endurance of a marathon. I was meeting with 4-6 companies every week, preparing for a last minute keynote which required traveling to Napa on a Sunday and straight to the airport for a 17 hour flight on Monday in addition to getting ready for a trip to Argentina where I was supposed to meet with seven (!) companies’ leadership teams and deliver another keynote – all in a span of three days.
I pride myself for rarely every working on weekends but the past five weeks I was working every single weekday and weekend day just to keep up with the demands of work and my own expectations of myself. I am not complaining about the work at all. I love this role more than any I have ever had in my working life. But our minds and bodies will only take so much abuse before they start signaling to slow down.
About a month ago, the first signs started appearing with spastic pains in the neck, shoulder and lower back, which I ignored at first labeling them as a recurring chronic pain but eventually it led me to visit a chiropractor on a weekly basis.
The second signals were uneasy, interrupted sleep, waking up at 4 in the morning – and mind you I am the kind of person who normally sleeps like a baby for 8-9 hours!
The final jolt hit me squarely in the face when I was about to step onto the stage to present a keynote to 400+ people in Buenos Aires on Wednesday evening. I was shivering despite a town’s worth of lights on me and my throat was scratchy making every word coming out of my mouth painful. By night I was wrapped in two thick blankets with the heater in the room set to 26 degrees Celsius. My fever finally broke. On Thursday morning I woke up sweating and with a needle-studded throat. I had three 90 minute meetings that day and three more of the same length the following day. Clients were driving from all over Buenos Aires to meet so there was no possible way to call in sick.
Showers are to fever as sunlight is to vampires. After getting ready I made my way to the office only to profusely start sweating 30 minutes into the first meeting. Somehow I made it through it with the help of my colleague who had warned the clients about my condition in advance. Argentinians love to talk so before I could bail out for a break it was time to start the next meeting right away. An hour into that my colleague got a text message saying the third meeting was going to have to be canceled due to an emergency at the clients’. Sometimes the universe listens to you.
The next day the fever persisted and I made the call to cancel the last of the three meetings for that day. After talking my way through the first two I was just checking email when I read a little note from the CEO of the agency that had created the slides for my keynotes two days ago. We had met in person at the YouTube event and she suggested I try out something different while I am in Buenos Aires. So she went out of her way and introduced me to Damian Huala, a Tibetan Sound Therapist! Since he only speaks Spanish and my Spanish is limited to five phrases she set up an appointment for me at his studio for a Tibetan Sound Massage on Saturday morning. It’s not like I was going to climb any mountains with my current condition so I said “yes” in a heartbeat!
What is a Tibetan Sound Massage you ask? It’s also called Tibetan Singing Bowls Massage and is based on principles from Ky Nyu, an ancient medical system. At the beginning of the treatment, three singing bowls (big brass bowls) are struck individually and are allowed to ring until the sound completely dissipates. To finish the treatment the singing bowls are placed on your back and legs and are struck in turn. It is thought that the vibrational energy from the bowls travels into your cells to promote healing from within. Now for some of you this may sound like esoteric mumbo jumbo but this is every bit deeply rooted in science. Damian told me (entirely through Google Translate ;)) that the sound waves put you in a theta stage of sleep (stage 1 and 2 of sleep) where you are neither fully asleep nor fully awake. The vibrations of the sound through your body then help get rid of stress and toxins.
A pain-free me
Damian, the sound master
I walked out of Damian’s treatment like a completely new person. All the world’s weight I was carrying on my shoulders (almost figuratively) was lifted and for the first time in over a month I had full range of movement in my neck.
Hopefully, one day I can invite Damian to come practice his art in California. Until then, I have to listen more intently to what my body is telling me! As Papa Jain always says: “Jaan hai to Jahaan hai!”