Some years are more transformative than others, and it is safe to say that 2017 was truly an evolutionary year for me interpersonally. I have posted a great deal about what it feels like to finally arrive at “the place” I have been searching and grasping at for the better part of life. When I look back at the entirety of all of my experiences and all of the twists and turns my life has taken, I can finally see the “reason” everyone told me would emerge when so many bad things were happening that didn’t seem like any part of a greater purpose. It is true – everything happens for a reason – and I cannot emphasize enough how truly humbled and grateful I am to have all of the things I have ever dreamed of in my life. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – none of it is lost on me…I am sucking the marrow out of every last drop.
With that said – this past year turned my entire identity and life as I knew it on it’s head. It thrust more stress and pressure onto me than I ever knew I had the propensity to endure. Because of the tornado that is twin babies and teenagers, and the pressure cooker that is marriage and business startups, I was forced to reckon with a great deal of the bullshit in my life that had held me hostage for too long to admit. This year stripped away a lot of my old behavioral patterns and priorities and really forced me to examine what is the purpose of a life and what matters when “shit get’s real,” so to speak. So without further ado – I would like to share a few of the things I have learned along the way in hopes that it can help someone else along their journey.
Love always wins. This is a crazy thing for me to admit because I have to be honest – stress has an insane way of snubbing out love and leaving a whole lot of frustration and resentment in it’s wake. In August I wrote a post called “We Survived: A Love Story” which was all about how my husband and I were struggling to find the LOVE with one another, as our marriage took a back seat to so much responsibility and commitment. It’s crazy how challenging sharing a life with another human can become when you are on two different pages for a season or a reason. There were many months in 2017 when LOVE, passion, and intimacy was in no way the tie that bound us to one other – in fact some days it felt more like hate was the only fire that was burning between us. But we hung on. And like a flower that dies in winter and blooms again in spring – love wins – and we made it to the other side.
Being with what is took a great deal of letting go of so many things that I had decided prior to my current life were incredibly important to me. I made a lot of decisions about what I wanted for my life prior to that life ever coming to fruition or living inside the reality of what that life really looked like. I wanted to celebrate – I wanted my turn – I wanted people to show up for me. I wanted things to be a certain way, and look a certain way, and feel a certain way…and you know what – those things I said I would fight to the death for were inevitably the goals that were killing the gratitude for the blessing that took those “things” place. I talk a lot about being with what is – and navigating disappointment has always been a tremendous weakness for me in my life. It is really hard to uncover peace in what you have when you feel forced against your will to give so much up (your body, your career, your alone time, your freedom) that you never wanted to let go of. For a better part of 2017 I was waging a war within myself to get back the things I couldn’t have anymore as much as I tried. I kept trying to have it all – and the more balls I threw up into the air to juggle, the more I was dropped everything and found myself frustrated at the state of my entire life. I wanted control and I wanted my way and that certainly makes things so much harder for everyone. I am not really sure how or when I finally got fed up with how miserable I was making myself with all my futile attempts to figure out how to balance it all, but somewhere along the line I finally just gave up. And once I did the most incredible thing emerged – the gratitude and peace I was so mad I could not find came to me. At the end of the day I think the hardest lesson in life is recognize that you can find happiness in any situation if you focus on what you have instead of what you do not. Everything worth having in this life comes at a price – it’s just knowing when to cut your losses and enjoy your wins.
The Art of Not Giving A F*uck is a best selling book for a reason, and while I have never read it, I imagine that it is so popular because we waste so much time, effort, and energy on things that only deplete us and do not fill us. Because my energetic reserves became such a scarce resource in 2017, I was really forced to examine what I have put my energy into and question what I “got out” of the things that I invested in. I would consider myself an “all passionate all the time kind of personality.” I put 100000 percent energy, care, and intention into almost everything I do; and because of this, I often find myself completely spent and resentful that others do not “care” or “give” on the same level that I do. Somewhere along the line though, I realized that instead of trying to change and control others to give back to me the same way I have given to them, it is far more productive and empowering to simply give less away and give more to myself. I used to wear my care on my sleeve like some kind of badge of honor. I used to define myself by how much I would show up for others and give to people that really need help. I’ve always gravitated towards those in crisis and always put the most effort into those with the greatest needs while sacrificing energy to those who have me the mos. What I have recently learned though is that no one really wants help if you are going to turn around and resent them when you are struggling. No one wants a gift only to be told how much it cost you to give it to them.
Boundaries: In psychobabble land this concept is call boundaries – and while I have never ever in my entire life known what those magical unicorn in the sky things they are talking about mean – I am finally beginning to uncover the tranquility they can bring to your life. What boundaries and not “giving a F*ck” means to me is simply this – I will give away the leftover energy I have left to disperse once I have taken care of myself first and foremost, and then the people that depend on me and mean the most to me second.
I will care less about those with needs that are a dark hole that never get filled or people that only take and don’t give back. I will allow myself to feel happiness without feeling guilty or like it is my personal duty to care for all the lost souls in the world or feeling like it’s my life’s mission to be the one who stays and continues to care for those who are broken even at my own demise. I am allowed to chose me without it meaning that I am selfish. I am allowed to choose my family without it meaning that I am careless about the world around me or it meaning that I am not empathetic to the suffering of others. I can feel empathy and worry and care about someone else and still allow myself to turn it off to enjoy the present day today and live in my bubble where love, hope, and happiness reign. I can get paid fairly and properly for the work I produce. I do not have to give myself away because people have it so much worse off than I do or because I want people to like me. I can take on less to minimize the stress that I hold in my heart because I feel things so deeply.
At the end of the day 2017 will be the year that I learned to stop and smell the roses. It will be the year that I learned that at the end of the day your family, your children, and the love you have for them is really what matters in this life. It is the year I was completely unapologetic for what I have been blessed with because of what I endured to arrive here. 2017 was truly my year – the greatest happiness I have ever known and the greatest love I could have ever imagined. While I know and ache for so many who are still in the struggle to get to their “place” I am just so flipping grateful that I have arrived. I’m so abundantly blessed and while it’s taken me 35 years to believe it….I deserved it.