Have you ever sat down and just had some reflection on the year. This has been something I have wanted to do, but I could not find the time or head space to do so. Then the most interesting thing happened. We lost power at our house AND my children are sleeping. The house is quiet and I have nothing but time, with little distractions.
Here goes nothing.
2018 broke me. It really did. It pushed me to limits I had no idea were even possible. Adding my third daughter to our family really threw me through a loop. Trying to balance two small children under the age of three was hard. MUCH harder than I had ever expected. Add on top of that an amazing opportunity within my career. I was being promoted at the start of the New Year. After working for this organization for more than eleven years, I had the honor of sitting at the Senior Leadership table as a Vice President. Amazing. How lucky was I? When you look at it, I had so much to be grateful for, and believe me I was.
But it still broke me.
My life got flipped upside down. I had lost control. This was hard for me because even though I do not like to admit it, I am a total control freak. If that’s not bad enough, then add on the additional layer of a true perfectionist, and you have yourself the perfect storm for a total breakdown.
How in the world was I to stay afloat, when I constantly felt like I was drowning?
To be honest, the other mamas around me looked like they had it all together. They had mastered this thing called motherhood, and I felt like I couldn’t do ANYTHING right.
I cried a lot.
The end of the year came and I knew if I was going to survive through 2019, something had to change. Actually, a lot had to change. I had to create some boundaries. I had to lower my expectations. I had to let some things go. I had to be kind to myself and have some freaking grace.
So I started to do the work. I started with small, more manageable changes. Little did I know that though they were small, they had some mighty impacts on my life.
I started getting up an hour early every single morning. I used that hour to myself and sometimes the only hour that I had to myself the entire day. This time was allotted as my time to learn. I started reading personal development books. I started taking notes in them. I started writing in notebooks and digging into how I was feeling. I started capturing moments that I felt triggered, and began freeform writing until I had written out all of the insecurities that came along with that trigger. I started answering the questions that were sitting on my heart.
I was really enjoying this time. I wanted to learn more, and quickly, but I only had so much “free time”. I soon realized I had a thirty minute commute one way to work. I started downloading podcasts that touched on things I was struggling with. At first, a lot of them were around being a mama to two littles close in age. How to find a rhythm to take care of them both. How to maintain the increase in laundry and other tasks around the house, while trying to answer every demand of my family. I needed to learn how other mamas were doing this.
I would say that the first part of 2019, my focus really was on the growth around my parenting. I was trying to get my rhythm back. I wanted to not just survive day to day, but enjoy it, as the kids are only little once. I didn’t want to turn to wine every time I felt flustered. I didn’t want to mask how I was feeling with alcohol. I wanted to acknowledge and own that I was feeling 100% insecure in this role, but I wanted to do better.
It started to click. We started to get in a routine. It was working, but it took some time.
About the same time I started my journey on my health. I had entered into a competition with my husband and brother-in-law to complete biking 2,019 miles for 2019. I had never done anything like this before, but I thought if they could do it, so could I. Somehow I would squeeze it into our already busy lives. Somehow I would make this, and myself a priority. So I did the math. I figured it out. If I did 45 miles a week, I would be able to hit this goal. It took dedication and a promise to myself that I was not going to break.
I started to not only see physical changes to my body, but also mentally a lot of growth. If I came home from work stressed, anxious and tired, I would jump on the bike because the miles had to get done. By accident it became a stress reliever for me. I found that if I jumped on the bike and listened to some great music, it gave me space to reflect on whatever it was that was going on. I soon realized the benefits not only to my physical health, but also to my mental health. Having an outlet felt so good. It felt freeing. No one could take it away from me. I would get up early to ride before work. Or wait until the kids were asleep, and lunches had been packed and I’d get on the bike, just to clear my head.
It wasn’t enough though. Something was still happening inside me. My anxiety was still pretty high.
Another wonderful characteristic about myself is that I am a recovering people pleaser. When I think people are upset with me, it becomes debilitating for me to focus on anything else. I don’t want any waves. I don’t want people to be “mad at me”. It’s been something I’ve struggled with my ENTIRE life.
So here I am trying to physically and mentally be stronger, but I was still being triggered by similar actions. I realized I needed to continue to peel back the layers and see what was going on in the center of my being.
It was about May when I realized I needed a social media cleanse. I cared WAY too much about what people thought, but not only that, I compared myself to everyone on the internet. Total strangers, friends, family, coworkers, you name it, I compared myself to them. It was not good. It was not healthy. So I took a thirty day social media break. It was actually an eye opening opportunity to say the least. I captured my reflection of this time on another post you can find by clicking here. I highly recommend everyone considering a break at some point.
When the thirty days was almost done, my husband asked me what I had missed the most about social media. I had to really think about it. I did like sharing pictures of my family, but the thing I had missed most of all was the opportunity to share with others what I had been learning over the last five months. I was reading all the books, listening to all the podcasts, having all the conversations and I KNEW I wasn’t the only one struggling with the things I was struggling with. I liked to share my lessons learned and connect with other women who were experiencing similar things too.
That’s when my husband suggested I looked into writing a blog. He felt that I had a story to tell, and an audience that might listen. If they didn’t, at least it was an outlet to get my words out through.
So I began writing.
As I sit here and think about it, every single lesson I have learned on this journey I have already written about for the blog. That was just it. That was the whole point. I had these things about my life that I was struggling with in the moment. So I would take my computer and write it out. I would do the work. I would research about it. I would learn the lessons from it. Then I would share what I had experienced with the world through my blog. It has been a reminder that am not alone in a lot of these struggles. Sometimes when you are in the midst of a hard season, you don’t remember that someone, somewhere is struggling with the same thing you are.
As I sit here today, I am sixteen days shy of the New Year. Just today I wrapped up my final ten miles that made me meet my goal of 2,019 miles for 2019. I also had three new mama friends over to make ornaments and cookies while our children played. I connected with these mamas on real life and all of our imperfections. I felt so open, vulnerable and supported by all three of them as we sat together. Had this been the start of the year, I would have been so stressed out cleaning and preparing my house. I would never have shared the things I had struggled with, or been open to receive where they were in their current seasons. It was a beautiful day, and one I needed to confirm the growth I had made for the year.
As you can see, 2018 might have broken me, but 2019 made me the strongest person I have ever been in my entire life. I have climbed mountains this last year. I have learned to believe in myself. I have learned the meaning of grace, and to have patience with myself. I have learned to let things go, and that even the hard things come with lessons. I have learned that life happens for you, not to you, and this has fundamentally changed my outlook on life. Most of all, I have learned to love myself, imperfections and all. This was probably the biggest challenge of them all as I had no idea what self love was prior to this year.
I did not “survive” 2019, I conquered it. Watch out 2020, I am coming for you.
Continue your journey to be the best version of YOU, unapologetically.