In Case of Emergency

I’ve misplaced my laptop’s power cord, it’s sitting at 29% battery and I’m just getting home from back to back softball games, so I’ll just leave you with this.

I see you Mama.

I see you, feeling drained, sitting among the permission slips, the sports gear, the calendars, the summer planning, the camp registrations, the daycare arrangements, the field trip reminders, the sign-ups for field day snacks.

I see you, and I want you to remember that another transition period is upon us.

I urge you to read, or reread, this post and remember that within the seasons of change, we must care for ourselves first and foremost.

However self-care looks for you, in whatever form brings you back to center.

Put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others.

The next few weeks will be a whirlwind.

Nurture yourself through.

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Hello, 35

“Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don’t write the same one seventy-five times and call it a life.” – Rachel Hollis, Girl, Wash Your Face

Today, I turn 35.

It’s a bit stark and unyielding to see that laid out there. 35 feels like a mile marker of sorts. I’m not someone who holds negative energy for aging, minus my ongoing battle with unruly gray hairs, but it feels as though there is something more commemorative about this year than say 32 or 33.

A tip of the hat, though, to my 34th year.

34 was the year I decided I didn’t want to drown any longer; it was the year I decided I needed to get intentional and to put myself first. I set out to find things that set my soul on fire. 34 was the year I really started digging in; I chased development and growth. I challenged myself. I went after things I didn’t know I wanted – this blog for instance. And I walked away from things – commitments, attitudes, and behaviors, that didn’t benefit me in getting to where I was hoping to get to.

I have the opportunity this week to create some space in a beautiful piece of this country to spend some time with myself. I’m traveling solo for the first time ever, and am spending this birthday, also for the first time ever, away from my family. This trip has forced me to step out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, but there is always something to be gained from discomfort. I spent Sunday wandering through airports and driving west on I70 in Colorado with just the thoughts in my head. I have a cozy hotel room with access to walking trails that follow a beautiful mountain creek that are postcard perfect for wandering and reflecting. I’m attending a conference and have had to overcome my fear of introducing myself to and holding conversation with strangers. I’ve had to reinforce positive thoughts and show the confidence that I’m trying to build, none of which comes easily to me just yet.

The timing of this solo travel, the space to connect introspectively, the arrival of this significant year and even the simple fact that this birthday falls on a Tuesday where I get to reach out and connect with you all are not lost on me.

I’m working on working out what I want in my 35th year, which means that I have to decide what small things I am going to commit to in order to build the bigger things upon. I am continuing to work through conscious decisions around who I am and the woman I want to be; how I spend my time and energy in the ways that are the most beneficial regardless of comparison, self-doubt, fear, self-consciousness or perfectionism. I have a long way to go to achieve “regardless”; it’s a daily, if not hourly, practice.

There are goals that I want to achieve this year. Hell, there are things that I want to set up that I want to achieve by my 40th year that need to be started now in order to ensure success. And, I’m getting comfortable with knowing that it’s entirely possible that these things might change, evolve or become irrelevant at 36, 37, or even in the next 6 months. It’s all a part of the process and none of that can be achieved without applying selectivity and curating on a consistent basis.

I embrace 34 as it quietly exits stage left and welcome in 35; I’m anxious and ready to write the most unique chapter yet.

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Holding the Applause

It can be really easy to get addicted to achieving. There is always more to accomplish.

Checked off a box in one area? Great, there’s six more things over here that need doing too.

Typically, when something gets checked off one of my lists (because of course there are multiple) I go back and add more things. Or, when I accomplish a particularly large or scary goal, I get a bit of an adrenaline rush and before I can reflect on my success, I start thinking bigger.

Whether it’s finishing a creative project, washing everyone’s bedding in a weekend, taking another step toward or even launching your own business, our personal accomplishments are typically ours and ours alone. However, rather than acknowledge or celebrate them, we simply turn and say “OK, what’s next?”

We need to hold space for the pause. Time to reflect, acknowledge what we’ve taken on, completed or overcome. We need to be less stingy about giving ourselves a pat on the back.

Recognize your accomplishments. Celebrate them.

There will be days where you’re the only one standing in the audience. There will be other times when you are fortunate enough to have others supporting your efforts along the way.

There’s only one voice cheering that should matter, that should be the loudest, that should last the longest, and that will carry you through on the days where success falls just out of reach.

Your own.

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Failing

Last week kicked my ass in a very emotional and mental way. I stepped back multiple times and felt like I was absolutely and utterly failing at this mother thing. I asked myself over, and over, and over, “What am I doing wrong? What can I be doing better? What am I not doing that I should be?”

Motherhood challenged me last week in ways that I have never been challenged before. I had to learn to communicate and process things in new ways. I had to dig deep, and figure out a way to address the single worst moment in my parenting history. I have a lot to sit and get comfortable with, things that I am right now still wholly uncomfortable with.

I had to learn how to absorb an immense level of disappointment.

I’m sure that this will pale in comparison to things I will experience in the future, but I hope to hell not.

I struggle to put into words what happened. I hesitated to share even with my closest friends because I was afraid of the pain of judgement. Judgement of me, judgement of my daughter, judgement of my family and my inability to parent in such a way that could have prevented this. But, the reality is that I couldn’t; we did all the right things, had all the right conversations, but it still wasn’t enough. I’m compelled to share, to help other mothers navigate through or possibly avoid the same experience.

To summarize what happened, I discovered that my daughter and her friends had created secret social media accounts and were pushing out messages about themselves that were disgraceful, derogatory and shocking; the captions under normal, every photos of my daughter, and those that she wrote about her friends, gut me. (I’ll be sharing a bit more of how this all went down in an upcoming Burlington VT Mom’s Blog post, hoping to help other parents wrap their arms around the challenges we’re all facing with our kids’ use of social media.)

Know that I have no illusions of teenage girls, however, it is one thing to know what they are capable of and entirely another to see it very publicly displayed, and to know that hundreds of other people saw it as well.

I don’t think, even after numerous conversations, that my daughter understands the gravity the posts carried. To her, and those involved, it was all just a big joke. People thought it was funny. That’s all it was, to them. We have some lessons to teach.

I have struggled with my personal emotions for a week. I feel like I let her down somehow. That I didn’t have the right conversations with her, didn’t build up her confidence or self-worth enough. I feel like I failed.

I keep repeating over and over to myself that if you’re not failing, you’re not learning. That failing does not define you, but how you handle it does. My heart is hardly appeased by my mind. However, I know that if I were the recipient of this story, the listener versus the teller, I would say the following to you.

There are things in life that will be beyond our control. We will kick ourselves, make ourselves feel irrationally responsible. We will let the voices of doubt and self-criticism rise from the depths within us, and we will believe their validity.

We are not our children’s mistakes. We are not their poor choices. We have already made ours; our action now is in how we address, how we course-correct, and help them learn through the challenges. Our value is in how we help them grow from mistakes. We cannot fix things; we can only be here to support our children while they work through and experience these things for themselves.

If you’re ever in a situation that makes you question the foundation of which you have built your parenthood, I hope that you remember this.

You are not a failure, and you are enough.

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Spring Cleaning

I wanted to do a quarterly check-in on my progress with my YearCompass goals. That didn’t happen; life gets busy, other things take precedence, I “didn’t have time” – you know how the excuse song goes.

BUT, it’s the first day of my birthday month and so I decided that yesterday, on the last day of April, I would give myself a gut-check on where I am versus where I wanted to be when I sat down in December/January and got intentional about my year ahead (what would this be, a thirdly?) .

I want to make sure that while the hours and days tick by, and when life is filled with the urgency of the moment, I am still taking the time to make space for the future.

Growing my writing was one of the biggest goals that I set for myself, and is probably the greatest success I have had yet this year. I took a chance and applied to be a contributing writer for a blog site; it was scary, it was thrilling, and it has not been without its challenges, but I was accepted and am really enjoying pushing my writing outside of my own personal blog. Coupled with that, I have maintained my posting consistency (another goal) and am enjoying putting worthwhile content out each week.

Travel was something I wanted to be more committed to, thanks to the inspiring travels of one of my dear friends, and I’m actively working on this; I accomplished a trip with my husband, and we’re planning our next family vacation, as well as a few smaller summer travels and experiences.

Oh, and I’m traveling alone for the first time ever at the end of this month, so look forward to that chronicling.

I’ll be honest though; there are a few things that have fallen to the wayside.

Here’s the thing about goals; sometimes they change, and that is OK. When your goals change, it means that you’re actively working on what works best for you and, even more importantly, discarding what doesn’t. Something might feel right, worth pursuing and could be this really great thing, but it turns out to not be all that you wanted it to be. Or, you might get led down a completely different path that you never expected. All of this is OK – if we’re doing our best to cultivate growth in our lives, there are going to be dead ends. Discovering what is not meant for you is part of your development, and gives you space in your life to pursue other, more relevant things. Sometimes we need to step back and gut-check what we’re chasing; just because you’ve chosen to chase something that ends up not being your thing doesn’t mean that you have to chase it anymore.

We don’t need permission to stop or start anything that no longer serves us, ever.

So, there are a few things that I’m leaving be, and a few things that I am going to start refocusing on.

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I was inspired by a podcast that I’m a frequent listener of to create a list of the three things that I want to focus on this month; I have a really great planner which I have been neglecting that I will be using to help get intentionally consistent with the following three themes throughout the month. Considering that we’re eyeballs-deep in two concurrent softball seasons, I’m going to need all the reminders I can get that there are personal accomplishments that I want to attain outside of being pulled in different directions five nights a week.

So, my three things for May are:

  • Be Intentional
    • This goes back to my word for 2018; I need to be intentional in all things. From what I’m listening to, to what I’m doing in my precious moments of spare time; from my relationships, to what I’m reading.
  • Create Quiet Space
    • I enrolled in a mediation program in January that I benefited immensely from. I am going to make a conscious effort this month, even if it’s once a week, to carve out a time to get quiet. I’ve been filling empty space with a lot of noise lately.
  • Connect in Real-Time
    • I’m addicted to my phone. I’m not ashamed to admit this, but I am sad about what I’m giving up outside of its 3×4” screen. Disconnecting was one of my YearCompass points that I haven’t been nearly intentional enough about.

Where are you at with your personal progress, and what three things could you be focusing on this month?