Find your purpose

Recently, my daughter and I went to a church service with friends and the topic was Personal Brand Identity. It was an interesting topic to think about. We watched a powerful video about Tim Shaw, a former Tennessee Titans player, who talked about the fact that growing up his brand identity in high school and college and for much of his professional career was that of a great football player. When his body began shutting down and he was diagnosed with ALS, his brand identity changed from a football player to a person with this ALS disease. It took this significant event in his life for him to realize that he had let other people’s perceptions of him become his identity. He came to the realization that he was who he had always been, Tim Shaw, best friend to God.

This story really struck me and I could completely resonate with his words. When my ex-husband and I first separated, I struggled with telling people what was going on in my life because of how it would look to others. Growing up in an Indian household and in the Indian culture, I knew that you keep family things to yourself and what you present to others is a great reflection on not only you, but your parents and how they raised you.  Even once we decided to divorce, it was difficult to talk about what was happening with certain people because of the fear I had about how they would perceive me. Over time, I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of and that if these people were my real friends, they would still love me and support me because I was me, not just half of a couple. Some friends did fall away and distance themselves. This was one of the things I had feared and it made me feel sad and disappointed and question what was wrong with me. I didn’t understand it at first – I was the same person, wasn’t I? I had to learn that it was ok because they couldn’t be the kind of friend and supporter I needed; I had to make sure that I was surrounding myself with people who were positive and supportive and encouraging.

I was married for almost 18 years and my identity during that period was that of a wife and later, a mother. When the divorce happened, I lost my identity as a wife and that was extremely difficult. It was time to start over and rediscover what I liked again and who I really was as a person. I remember my friend telling me that when she got divorced, she went to the grocery store and was almost paralyzed because she didn’t even know what to buy anymore because she didn’t remember what she liked. She got so used to buying groceries that her husband liked and now she was confronted with the realization that it was just about her and what she wanted. That feeling can be extremely scary and overwhelming at first, but eventually it gets easier and can even become freeing.

For me, a huge milestone in this journey of rediscovery was my Zumba class. I had always loved to dance growing up so this was a perfect fit. At first, I was hesitant to walk into a class by myself where I didn’t know anyone (this was completely out of my comfort zone). The instructor was so welcoming and even though it felt like everyone else knew the routines so well and I had no idea what I was doing, I came back. The more I came back, the easier it got and eventually, I actually knew some of the routines. It took some time, but Zumba allowed me to rediscover my love of dance and without even realizing it, my self-confidence and self-esteem grew to the point where I went from dancing in the back of the class to closer to the front. I even lead dances in my class now and was recently certified to become a Zumba instructor, something I never thought I would do. Most importantly, I gained a whole new support system of wonderful and encouraging friends who I can count on for laughs, inspiration, good food and good times.

I have also found solace in reconnecting with old friends who knew me in high school or college before I got married. There’s an odd feeling of comfort and nostalgia that I can’t describe when I am in the presence of these old friends. I’ve made it a point over the past few years to call up an old friend and catch up or find a way to visit old friends when we’re traveling. It has done great things for my soul.

Each person has to find their own milestones and triggers in their journey, but it’s important to take the time to find out who you really are on the inside – your brand identity, or your purpose in life; God made each of us with a purpose in mind and it’s our job to find out what that purpose is. I’m still working on finding my purpose, but for now, maybe it’s being a desi single working mom who’s doing the best she can to make her girls proud and show them that they can do anything and helping friends who are struggling along the way.

 

My Word(s) of the Year – 2020

pexels-photo-3401900.jpeg

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Another year has come to an end …. Although it’s been a challenging one and I struggled a lot, I find myself feeling peaceful. I’ve been trying to think through what my word for 2020 should be; what am I going to focus on; what do I need to change or work on about myself?

The first word that kept coming to me was “Surrender,” but I had a hard time accepting that one. The word surrender sounds so passive to me, even though I know that for a Type A person like me, surrender means doing some work. Plus, I feel like I started to work on surrendering this year with all the situations that took control out of my hands.

Although I worked on surrendering, I have not come anywhere close to mastering it – far from it, actually. So, I decided to keep surrender for 2020. For me, surrendering means to let go of my need for control all the time and enjoy life as it comes, even in the unexpected times.

Another word that keeps coming up is “Trust”. I need to learn who to trust and not to trust, but I also need to trust myself and my intuition more. I was really hurt this year when I trusted the wrong person; when it ended, I was mad at him, but I was also mad at myself for not trusting my gut because I didn’t want to be lonely anymore. That taught me a huge lesson and I’ve learned that being alone isn’t as bad as being with someone you can’t trust.

So, instead of forcing myself to just choose one word, I’ve decided to go with both. I have to learn to trust the process and the journey I’m on, which will require me to surrender and enjoy life as it comes.

I hope that all of you have been able to take a little time to reflect back on 2019 and decide what you want 2020 to look like. I hope 2020 is all that you hope for!

A Journey of Healing

healing

Have you ever associated a negative memory with a location or person or situation? And, have you come across that same location, person or situation years later with a different outlook? In the last few months, this has happened to me a few times.

In September, I took my daughter and her friend to visit the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They are both high school juniors and we have recently started visiting college campuses. As we walked into the arena where the open house event was being held, I had a vivid flashback. I was a high school senior and I was there visiting the college with my parents. As I sat through the opening speech, I had tears in my eyes – partially because I couldn’t believe I was taking my daughter on her first college visit, but also because it made me remember being in that same arena for my high school graduation and starting college there only two months after my dad passed away suddenly. The college selection journey is bittersweet – it will be sad, but I always love the time with my daughter and watching her come into her own and being able to guide her through the process.

If you read my last blog, you know we were living out of our house for almost a month this past October. While we were out of our house, we stayed with friends, in hotels and for a while, stayed at my ex-husband’s apartment. I don’t love to ask for help from anyone and especially my ex-husband, but when he made the offer of his apartment, I had to give up what I wanted and do what was best for the kids.

You may have also read that during the kids’ Fall Break, I took them to Philadelphia for a few days. My youngest had never been there and I thought it would be a fun place for us to explore. While we were there, we met up with some former coworkers for dinner one night and then with some family friends another night. I didn’t realize it when I planned the trip, but I had visited Philadelphia one week after my ex-husband moved out of our house six years ago and I had visited with the same two groups of people. It was good to realize how much I’ve changed and grown since that visit.

In November, I drove my daughter to another college visit in Indiana. We left early in the morning, visited the college, had lunch and drove back the same day. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, you know that I was seeing/talking to someone who decided to ghost me after a year, and within months, he was engaged and married to someone else. As we drove to and from Indiana, we had to pass the city where this guy lived. It was interesting because as we drove past the exit on our way back home that Saturday afternoon/evening, it felt symbolic – like I was leaving that guy and that situation in my past.

All these scenarios happened in the course of a few months, which seems coincidental to me. Why would all these things happen all together? Why was I given the opportunity to relive so many difficult moments from my past?

This year has been tremendously difficult and uncomfortable for me in many ways, but I believe that everything happens for a reason. I’m starting to believe that I was being taken on a journey of healing. I had to go through the negative things to learn some lessons. I had to relive some painful moments from my past so I could see that I survived and learned from all of it. Healing can look like anger, sadness, discomfort, not knowing what to do, reliving moments, loneliness, seeking comfort, and so much more. I’ve learned that it’s important to allow yourself to feel all the feelings rather than ignore them because they’ll keep coming back until you do. It’s not easy and it can take years, but healing has to happen before you can truly move forward.

Learning to embrace

embrace

I’ve spent the last six months having a lot of feelings ….. disappointment, anger, discomfort, unsure why things happen, failure, unsure what’s next, and the list goes on. I’ve spent time trying to figure out the lessons I should be learning, I’ve listened to podcasts, read self-help books, talked to friends, talked to a counselor. When I went to the counselor and told her all the things I had been doing and learning and different thoughts that had emerged, she looked at me quizzically and asked, “Laxmi, what are you trying to rush? You are listing things off like a checklist.” This completely stopped me in my tracks. She was right.

If you know me at all, you know that I am a list maker, a doer, an executor. I realized that when I go through tough times, I figure out what I need to do to push through and move past it. I always thought that meant I was dealing with things, but in reality, I was just pushing past them. Over the past few months, I have had the strong feeling that I was supposed to just sit in what was happening around me. That I didn’t need to make any big moves or changes, but just sit in my feelings of discomfort and deal with them. This is not an easy thing for me, but I am trying. For me, it still means listening to podcasts, reading self-help books, talking to friends, etc but it also means to spend time alone doing some self-reflecting and trying to figure out what life is trying to tell me.

These last six months have taught me that I have no control over what happens in life, but I can learn to take life as it comes and deal with situations as they arise. As I’ve dug into my feelings the last few months, I’ve had a number of epiphanies. I’ve always considered myself to be a fearful person, a worrier. But why? This must have started somewhere in the past. As I look back, I have always tried to be in control – of situations, of life, of my emotions, especially in front of other people. As I’ve reflected over this, I discovered that this need for control is linked to fear – fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt, fear of rejection, fear of looking bad or disappointing others, fears of not being good enough…. and the list goes on and on.  Fear causes worry and anxiety when I can’t control something. This was a start, but there had to be more. Where did this fear and worry come from?

Then it hit me one day driving to work while listening to Kelly Clarkson’s song “Piece by Piece.”  The song talks about a father leaving his family. Although this specific situation hadn’t happened to me, the talk of abandonment struck a nerve with me. I think it started when my dad died suddenly. One day he was playing in a tennis tournament and a couple days later, he was in the hospital having a heart attack and double bypass surgery. The person who gave me safety and security left me all of a sudden and I couldn’t do anything about it. This aggravated my need for control. When I can’t control things, it makes me worry and feel anxious. The more I worry and fear something, the more I cling to the things that make me feel safe and secure and when that goes away, I don’t know what to do. It’s a vicious cycle that I need to break.

These revelations have taken me back to my word of the year – Embrace. I’m learning that it’s important for me to learn how to have faith and embrace what comes my way rather than trying to have control over every aspect of my life.  I have to embrace not only the good things, but also the struggles. The struggles aren’t fun, but they teach me lessons and are helping me to grow into the person I’m meant to be. All of this introspection has made me extremely uncomfortable, but it’s leading me to embrace something new …. hope. I’ve realized that all the fear and worry that I’ve lived with in the past has kept me from feeling wonder and hope.

As I approach my birthday, I finally feel like I’m figuring some things out and I am feeling more hopeful than I have in a long time. All in all, I would say that “embrace” was definitely the right word of the year for me and I look forward to thinking through what my word should be for 2020.

 

Coming full circle….

ferriswheelJust last weekend, I took my daughters on a quick trip to Philadelphia for our Fall Break. My youngest had never been there and although I had been many times for work, I hadn’t really explored too much.

I am generally a big planner, but I had been so busy and hadn’t really planned too much … except for booking our Air BNB. The night before we were leaving, the girls and I chatted about a few options and I at least went ahead and bought City passes for us to use. I hadn’t really thought about it when I bought the airline tickets or planned on making the trip, but it finally dawned on me as we were talking that this trip was sort of like coming full circle for me.

Six years ago, in mid-September was the last time I was in Philly; I had flown up by myself for my friend’s bridal shower. My friend and I had grown up together when we were little and I was thrilled to celebrate her upcoming wedding. While I was in town, I made plans to meet up with some former coworkers for brunch in addition to the bridal festivities. So many fun things to look forward to. But there was a hitch …. this fun-filled weekend was scheduled to happen the week after my husband moved out of the house that we built and raised our girls in. We had decided to separate about a month before that, in August, and he had just found an apartment to move into. It was the first weekend that I would be without my girls and be on my own. Maybe that was a smart move – to be out of town in a new place that first weekend.

I hadn’t even told any of the friends that I was visiting what was happening in my life. It felt like too much to just put in a text or email. I had to do it in person. And maybe saying those words would make it more real for me. I remember telling my friend when she came to pick me up as we drove to her apartment. It was strange to be telling her about the end of my marriage as she was just getting ready to embark on married life. I tried my best to put it all out of my head as we celebrated the rest of the day and night. The next morning, I went to brunch with my former coworkers and had to let them in on the news. It was a weird start to the brunch, but I felt like I just needed to get it out in the open so we could all move on and just have fun. Luckily, I survived my first weekend on my own and had fun events and amazing people to keep me distracted. I hadn’t even thought about that trip again, until the night before Fall Break.

Fast forward to last weekend …. the girls and I stayed in downtown Philadelphia, saw some historic sights, had cheesesteaks, went to a candy exhibit, an art museum and walked around sightseeing. We even had dinner with the same former coworkers and their families one night and the same family friend that I celebrated the last time I visited. Now, those were some full circle moments – having the opportunity to sit around the table with the same people and their families, but with a much better outlook on life this time. My life may not be exactly what I thought it would look like, but it is full ….. full of kindness, caring, love and laughter.

Want another full circle moment? For the last few weeks, we’ve been dealing with something that has forced us out of our home. We’ve stayed at hotels, with friends and for the five days before our trip to Philly, we ended up staying at my ex-husband’s apartment. He was gracious enough to offer us his place while he stayed with his girlfriend. I wasn’t sure how this would go and I wasn’t completely comfortable with it at first and I definitely had a breakdown over the thought of it. Deep down inside, I knew my girls would be at home there and they knew their way around, so I had to get through my reservations and discomfort and just go along with it. As nervous as I was, it turned out to be ok. We had a place to ourselves where we could hang out anytime and not feel like we were in the way. I had never stepped foot into his apartment before this and now we were practically living there for five days. And, it was all in the name of doing the right thing for our kids.

All of these full circle moments have shown me how far I’ve come in six years. The last time I was in Philly, I was alone and I had no idea what my future was going to hold and how I would get through it and now, I was able to spend a few days in a great city with my girls and good friends and just live and enjoy life.

Six years ago, all I could think about was how the life I had built was falling apart and ending. I had no idea that a new chapter was beginning …. a chapter that would include lots of ups and downs, of course, but also new friends and adventures, experiences that would shape me into a stronger, happier and more independent woman. The fact that I can now look at the challenges that happen in life and try to decipher a lesson out of them, rather than just be angry and miserable, makes me happy. It means that I’m growing and evolving, and that is a good thing.

The month of July …. the month of change

seaport during daytime

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.com

Do you ever look at the “On This Day” feature of Facebook? It can be fun looking at memories from past years, but some days can remind us of things we don’t want to remember. During the past few weeks, I’ve realized that July has been a significant month in my life for the past few years.

Five years ago today, I started a new journey in my life – my divorce became final and I was about to be a single mom. I remember sitting alone in the courtroom waiting for my case to be called. My ex-husband didn’t have to attend and I chose not to ask anyone to come with me. Maybe I was being a martyr by going by myself, but I wasn’t at a place where I felt comfortable asking anyone to come with me to something that felt so private and personal. I remember texting a friend who was also going through a divorce and telling him where I was. He graciously reminded me that this divorce would not define me as a person, which was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.

Since the divorce in 2014, the month of July has brought many new experiences …..

In 2015, the girls and I traveled on our own. That may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was. We always traveled as a family, so taking the girls to another city or state on my own or with friends was a new adventure.

In 2016, July brought my first time teaching a Zumba dance. I got certified to teach earlier that year but hadn’t officially taught my first dance until July. That was seriously stepping out of my comfort zone, but I had the support and encouragement of my Zumba family.

On this very day in 2017, I did something I never expected or planned …. I started this blog. To be vulnerable and write about my story was a big step after growing up thinking that I should keep anything negative to myself. Now, I was choosing to share my story and hopefully help others in the process.

In 2018, I was asked to speak as part of a panel about my experience as a single mom. As much as I don’t like public speaking, this was another opportunity to tell my story and hope that someone learned something from it.

This July, I took my oldest daughter to Cancun to celebrate her 16th birthday with friends, I co-taught my first two Zumba classes and participated in a dance video. I even agreed to some changes in my job.

I can’t wait to see what next July brings!

If you read my post from January, I decided to choose a word that would guide my life this year. The word I chose was “Embrace” and if I think about how I’ve been doing so far, I feel like I have lived up to my word. There were opportunities that have presented themselves along with some tough challenges so far this year, but I have done my best to embrace each of them …. Taking in and enjoying the opportunities and analyzing the challenges to determine how I can learn from them.

One of the things I have embraced lately is gratitude. A friend of mine introduced me to a book called “The Magic,” which is all about practicing intentional gratitude each day. At the end of May, I started writing down ten things that I am grateful for each morning. It’s amazing how this practice changes how you think. It makes you seek out positivity in each little thing, even if you’re dealing with something negative or challenging.

As I reflect over the last five years of this desi girl’s journey as a single working mom, there are a lot of things to be grateful for:

  • I’m grateful for my daughters – they keep me going every single day, even on those days when I feel like I can’t do it. I hope that when they look at me, they see a mom who loves them fiercely, who works hard for them and who they can look up to.
  • I’m grateful for family and friends – those who I have reconnected with, those who are new through this journey and those who have always been there. To the family and close friends who were with me throughout the marriage and divorce journey, I am grateful to you for sticking around; I know that it can be awkward and uncomfortable during this type of transition, but I am beyond grateful to those who are still in my life.
  • I am grateful that I have opened myself up to new people and new experiences because I am discovering a whole new me.
  • The divorce and the aftermath include many challenging times, but I am even grateful for those times (ok, maybe not while they were happening). Those times have made me stronger, braver and more resilient.
  • And I’m grateful for all of you who read these posts and hopefully take something away from them; thank you for your time, your support and encouragement. You have no idea how much it means to me.

Love can hurt, but it also heals

If you read my last post – The ups and downs of this single mom’s weekend– you read about the “relationship” I was in that ended abruptly. I won’t lie, I was pretty upset and had a hard time for a couple weeks trying to understand how someone could treat another person that way with complete disregard. If that weren’t enough, a few weeks after that, I found out that the two of them got engaged. More emotions again.

But through all this, I’ve learned that I have grown. When I had problems in the past with my ex-husband, I kept everything to myself, I didn’t take care of myself and I tried to work through everything on my own. This time around, I made sure to surround myself with positive and supportive people. I have made the time to do dinners or happy hour or lunch with amazing people in my life who know me, who support me and who lift me up and encourage me.

I also had a couple of really cool opportunities during this time. I am a part of a women’s networking group at work and during one of our leadership meetings, we visited Thistle Farms. If you haven’t heard of Thistle Farms, they are a great organization that gives women who survived trafficking, prostitution and addiction a place to live, a meaningful job and a support system. We visited on a Wednesday morning when they hold their weekly circle time. Anyone is invited to participate, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Everyone goes around the room and introduces themselves and the women who are part of the program take this time to tell pieces of their story and why they are grateful for Thistle Farms. I can’t even explain to you what a moving time this was and to sit in the circle with these women was so inspiring. You could feel the love in the room that day and I walked away with a new perspective – love heals (it’s one of Thistle Farms’ mottos).
A couple of weeks after the Thistle Farms visit, my company got a group together to walk in the Pride parade in our city. We probably had 100 people from our company wearing matching shirts and waiting for the rain to pass so we could start the parade. This was the first year my daughters could attend and leading up to parade day, I sat my youngest daughter down to talk about what we would be doing and why. I told her that the Pride parade was all about love and showing love for others. As we walked down the main street downtown, I took some time to really look around and see all the people who were standing on the building rooftops and lining the streets. There were people of all ages, races, ethnicity and genders – all coming together in the name of love. The experience was amazing, and I can’t wait for us to do it again next year!

These two experiences could not have come at a better time and I knew that I was meant to be in both of those places to help me heal my heart.

But love isn’t just about loving and being loved by others, it’s also about loving yourself. During this time, I have been doing my best to workout to keep me healthy, eat right and listen to my body. If my body tells me I should take a two-hour nap on a Saturday afternoon, then I listen. The work, the chores and the errands will still be there. I even made an appointment to visit my counselor to talk things out. I have realized that if I don’t take care of myself during this difficult time, then I won’t be able to function properly …. and I need that to get myself into a better place.

As hard as the last month or two have been, it’s also been a time of growth for me. Love can be a great thing, but it can also hurt. But, if you are open to the possibilities and allow it, love can also heal you. The love and support of my family and friends, participating in these great opportunities to show love for others and taking care of myself are all ways to help heal a broken heart and spirit. It made me see that love is everywhere around me; maybe I was just focused on looking in the wrong place.

The ups and downs of this single mom’s weekend

After months of busy work, school and activity schedules, I was looking forward to a long holiday weekend to relax and enjoy some down time. We had a few things planned and my ex-husband and I were getting close to finalizing a car for our 16-year-old daughter, but I figured I would still have some time to rest and relax. On Saturday, we spent the morning signing papers for the car and figuring out logistics on how to surprise our daughter. The afternoon was spent picking up the car, surprising her with it and driving around to visit her friends. Who knew the emotions that giving your child a car would evoke? Although she’s been driving for months, giving her a car means having to let go a little more and not being able to protect her because she’ll be out there on her own when she’s on the road. It’s overwhelming to think about the fact that you’ve taken care of and driven this child around for 16 years and all of a sudden, they want to be out there by themselves and with their friends while you sit at home and wonder if everything is ok and track them on your Life 360 app. High school and driving are like tests of letting go for the parents, before the kids head off to the real world.

If that weren’t emotional enough, I was faced with more interesting information. I’ve been talking and to and hanging out with a guy for the past year; he lives over an hour away and is in the Army and was deployed a couple of months ago. We’ve never claimed to be in a “relationship” due to our schedules and distance, but we pretty much text/talk every day and it felt like we were. I won’t get into all the details, but let’s just say that I found out this weekend, through social media, that things were not what they seemed; another woman changed her status to say that she was in a relationship with him on the day after he stopped texting me. While I was worrying about his safety, he was busy playing me; I found out that he was back home from deployment and saw a picture of the two of them together. My emotions have been all over the place this weekend along with many tears, trying to figure out what in the world happened, going back and looking at old texts, questioning things and coming up with plausible theories. Maybe it’s my fault … I get truly invested in the people that I care about and can be over the top. Sure, that sounds great, but it can also be a tremendous weakness, especially when it causes you to get hurt often. And when it causes you to overlook red flags along the way because you just want to be in a relationship again.

The situation transported me back to when my ex-husband and I were discussing separating and all the feelings and emotions. Obviously, this situation is not even close to that, but I just remember constantly wondering what I did wrong or how I could have changed things, instead of realizing that it’s about him and not me and that it’s his loss or that I deserve better than this. Thank goodness for good friends who will remind you of that. I was constantly trying to keep things together on the outside for my girls while I was falling apart on the inside. When you have kids, you can’t just crawl in my bed and wallow; you just have to keep things going. On one hand, that might be a good thing because of the distractions. But, at the same time, the feelings of betrayal, loss and disillusionment are real and need to be addressed.

Ironically, the same day I found out this information, the girls and I attended my friend’s wedding. I was not feeling great about going, but I was excited to celebrate my friend. She and her fiancé both have gone through a lot in life and were each getting married for a second time. To sum it up, the wedding was just perfect – intimate, beautiful and heartfelt. As I watched them take their vows and listened to the speeches, it brought tears to my eyes; I was sad for what I was dealing with, but it also made me feel hopeful. These two had been through a lot and those experiences brought them to this point, where they were able to join their two families into one. I felt so grateful to be included in this amazing celebration of love and it gave me some hope that good things are coming.

If you remember one of my earlier posts, this year I tried something new and chose a word of the year – embrace (click here to read that post). I told myself at the beginning of the year that I was going to embrace life this year, the good and the bad. I’m trying to embrace all the changes in life as I parent a high schooler and a rising 4th grader, which is not always easy. I also embraced opening myself up to someone new and letting my guard down.

But now I wonder, what lessons am I supposed to learn from this latest challenging experience? I still don’t have the answer to that and maybe it will be a while before I figure that out. The fact that I invest in the people that I care about can be a positive and a negative. What I don’t want to happen is for these experiences to change me in a negative way. I hope I don’t become a pessimist about love and life and become cold, bitter and extremely guarded …. I worry about that. Right now, I don’t know how much more my heart can take, but at the same time, I really don’t believe that I’m meant to be alone forever. So, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along, taking care of my girls, working on myself, doing the things I love and just keep embracing life as it comes. What other choice is there?

My Word of the Year – 2019

For the past few years, I have tried to write down goals for the year – some personal, some professional, even goals for travel. And generally, I get to most of them, but I don’t really check in on those goals that I’ve written down on a regular basis. This year, I’m trying something new. I keep reading and hearing about people who, instead of making resolutions, come up with a word that will help guide them through the year. When I heard this, I really liked the idea of it. But, what one word could encompass all the things I was feeling?

After a few weeks, I’ve finally come up with my word for 2019 ….. Embrace.

What does that mean?

  • To me, it means that in the upcoming year, I am going to embrace the things that come my way – good or bad. Even if it’s something bad, I can embrace the lesson that comes along with it.
  • I also want to embrace experiences, whether that’s dinner out with my girlfriends or watching my kids play their sports.
  • I want to embrace relationships – old ones and new ones and celebrate what makes each of those people unique and special to me.
  • I need to embrace self-care and not feel guilty about it.
  • It’s also about embracing emotions, good or bad. Sometimes, I have a bad or emotional day and I must remind myself that it’s ok and to allow myself to feel those emotions when they come.
  • It also means trying to let go of controlling every situation and letting things happen and accepting them. This one will probably be the most challenging one for me, but I’ll try.
  • And accepting my life as it is today by being grateful instead of focusing on what I don’t have.

I’m a Type A, structured, planner so just sitting back and embracing things isn’t going to be easy for me. I like to be in control of situations and my emotions, so this will definitely be stepping out of my comfort zone, but that’s what growing is all about, right?

Self-Care …. What’s that?

As I mentioned in my last post, “Feeling accomplished and lonely” I recently finished up planning a big leadership conference at work. Even before that meeting, work had been pretty busy and if you add in tennis and soccer practices, matches and games and driving kids to parties and social events, you can see that the life of this single mom can get pretty busy.

In the past week, I have heard a couple of different times how important self-care is for parents, and moms specifically. I know this is true in my head, but I don’t always do a good job of it. Many times when I get overwhelmed, exercise or eating right can be the first thing to go to the wayside. I look back to the beginning of 2018 and I was doing so well ….. I was working out 6 days a week, meal prepping on Sunday nights for dinners and lunches each week, was drinking water consistently and feeling pretty good about things. Then, April hit and life got busy and slowly things started slipping. When September rolled around, and life was overwhelming, all of it stopped and I was just trying to survive from day to day.

The day my conference ended, I went home and took a nap. I had two days to myself without the kids and I wasn’t sure what to do. I went to dinner with a friend the first night, but I really spent a lot of time by myself for the rest of the weekend …. and it was wonderful. The kids came back on Sunday evening and we all had Thanksgiving week off together. We spent a lot of time together at home, but got out each day to shop or volunteer, shop, etc. This was exactly what I’d been missing and what I needed at the time …. downtime, quality time with the kids, not having to be on a schedule. It reminded me how much I needed to find time to do nothing.

Back when my ex-husband and I were first starting to have some issues, I went to counseling for a brief time. I remember the counselor giving me homework – “Do something for yourself for 10 minutes every single day,” she said. What in the world? “I don’t have time for that,” I thought. That seemed like such a difficult task. She gave me some examples – get a cup of coffee by yourself, go for a walk, call a friend. The ideas seemed easy and harmless, but how would I fit that into my already busy schedule? I promised to do the homework and I was amazed by how this small change made such a huge difference.

Once I started incorporating self-care, like exercise or some alone time into my schedule it changed my outlook. I could then feel when I was stressed and needed an exercise class or a walk or a talk with a friend. But once I let that self-care slip from my schedule, it has become so difficult to work it back in again. I’m in that process right now. Going from go, go, go all the time to a sudden downshift in responsibilities and projects can be great, but for a person like me, it can also cause anxiety. I almost can’t handle the quiet and calm because I’m used to being in overdrive all the time. It took that week off at Thanksgiving to calm my anxiety. Now, I’m trying to embrace the quiet at the end of the year and use the time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished this year and what I would like to do next year and just take time to enjoy the present.

I’ve been reminded that taking time for yourself makes you a better parent, so one of my goals for 2019 is to start incorporating some self-care back into my schedule. Let’s just hope I can keep it up ….

 

Feeling accomplished and lonely…

The last couple of months at work has been absolutely crazy. My boss left and took another role out of state, leaving his position open. Job postings and interviews happened, leading to a new boss and a coworker taking a new job in another department. Needless to say, our department was short-staffed and going through a major transformation all while our company’s annual leadership conference was coming up. For the past two or three years, my former boss took the lead on planning the conference and I was the right-hand person, handling details and facilitating the actual meeting to ensure everything ran smoothly. This year, when my boss announced his move out-of-state, I was given the opportunity to lead the team planning this year’s meeting. As you can imagine, work became extremely busy. My days were full of meetings with barely enough time to grab food, then I would go home and do mom duty – feeding the kids, going to activities – and then after the kids were down for the night, I would get back online to work for a few hours.

During the week of the meeting, I was running on pure adrenaline and caffeine – waking up at 4:30/5 am, getting to work by 6/6:30 am, facilitate meetings until 5 pm, then either head to an evening event or go home to work and then do the same thing the next day.

Thursday afternoon was the official end of the conference. As excited as I was about the completion of the conference, all I could do on the drive home and the drive into work the next day was burst into tears. I’m sure part of the reason was the pure exhaustion I felt and the emotional letdown after all the adrenaline and excitement of the week. But, part of it was feeling sad about not having anyone to share my accomplishment with.

Like I mentioned in my blog post, “Waiting for my turn”, it gets exhausting to sit back and wait for the right person to come along. Being a single mom can be extremely lonely. It feels crazy to say I’m lonely when I’m constantly surrounded by people at work and at home, but it’s just not the same. I’m trying my best to have faith that life will turn out how it’s supposed to and that the right person will appear in the right time. I’m not the most patient person and there are certain times/events that trigger the loneliness, so when that happens, I need to learn to lean on my friends and family for the support and encouragement I need.

Although I want that special someone to love, support and encourage me, I was reminded that I have supporters and encouragers in my friends and my daughters. My daughters surprise me all the time with their thoughtfulness and support. My youngest daughter made me a sweet card before the conference to say good luck (see below) and my oldest sent me a couple of texts on the first day to check in and make sure things were going ok. After the conference, my oldest daughter gave me a wonderful note that she had written (see below). As you can see, even though I may not have that special man in my life yet, I do have the most amazing girls who have the best hearts and I can’t help but feel grateful.

Some days it’s easier said than done, but I just have to keep moving forward, stay true to myself and have faith. I might just need a reminder when I’m having a rough day.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: