Friday, November 3, 2017

Now, Weary Traveler, Rest Your Head

Last March I set out to change my life and to regain the joy I had lost over time. It felt like everything had fallen apart. I had long ago abandoned who I was to try and be the woman I thought I was supposed to be for my husband and children, friends, community. I wouldn't say I wasn't “me,” but I toned down who I was, subdued my enthusiasm for life somewhat. I gave up pursuing a career I loved to stay at home and raise kids, which I wish I could say I didn’t regret, but I do, more and more, as I see how hard it is to get back into the workforce. 

I gave up the first full-time job I had had in 12 years to move to a new, smaller, ultra-conservative city, where everyone knows everyone else and it felt as if I’d never meet anyone. Of course, my husband had the advantage of moving here 7 months before the rest of us to start his new job. Living a bachelor lifestyle free of kids, he had the luxury of exploring on his own and the freedom to make friends with no constraints. 

By January, after the whirlwind of getting settled here subsided, I felt miserable. I’ve never liked lingering in misery or sorrow. But I just couldn’t seem to escape it. And I've written about this before, but it bears repeating that reading this blog post by James Altucher was the light I needed during my dark night of the soul. In fact, I just re-read it and plan to revisit his process again. But not today. Or tomorrow.

Now, I rest.

For months, I’ve been reinventing myself. Rediscovering who I really am. What I love. Thinking about where I want to be and who I want to be. 

I’ve worked hard to make new friends and I’ve found some wonderful, smart, courageous, strong and inspiring women here that I’m connecting with. And I feel blessed.

I’ve deepened relationships with my tribe from Atlanta (with apologies to Anne who hates that term, but likes squad even less, I think). After joining them for three girls’ trips in the last year – a gift I had never given myself – and communicating almost daily now, I feel a unique and truly beautiful bond to these women that I love deeply.

I found an outlet for writing by becoming a contributor to the Chattanooga Moms Blog. I felt nervous and inadequate at first, despite having blogged on my own for years, but four or five months in now and many of my fellow contributors have become part of my Chattanooga squad (ha!) and I feel validated as a writer after having several of my posts in the top 10 most read posts. 

I took on the role of Home & School President at my younger son’s school and helped plan a pretty kick-ass fall festival despite my fears it would be a disaster. And I’ve made some very dear friends in the process who stepped up and helped out when I really needed it!

I’ve tried new things and discovered that I love them, hiking and stand-up paddle boarding among them. I will definitely continue to pursue both activities as much as time and resources allow.

And maybe my favorite thing that I’ve done is to re-engage with yoga. I’ve done yoga since I was in college, but never allowed myself to build a consistent practice. This summer, after it got too hot and humid to enjoy running (a sport I’ve never loved anyway), and after my trial membership at Pure Barre ran out, I decided to take up yoga again. And as I committed to working out daily, I realized I was falling in love, not only with building a yoga practice, but with myself. I’ve never been a big fan of Dawn. I know her faults too well. And I was never comfortable appreciating her strengths. And don’t get me started on my body. I’ve been fat since day 1. Literally. Six weeks premature and I weighed 8 lbs, thanks to my mom’s diabetes.

Over the last several months, as I’ve committed to doing yoga every day that I can, I’ve discovered some cool things about my body and my spirit. Two important things I’ve learned through all the physical activity I’ve engaged in the last few months is how much I love it and that I’m capable of it. That in turn has made me appreciate my body and see its beauty for the first time ever. 

So, what’s my point?  The point is, I’m tired. I’ve been working really hard to build a new life for myself. To maintain a baseline level of joy and to rise above that as often as I can. I’m working toward some specific goals – I want to help other women who are experiencing transitions in life do so with grace and joy and to avoid the pitfalls of self-pity and bitterness I fell into. And I’d like to figure out how to make a living doing that. And I know I’ll get there, but today I need to rest.

A big part of my transition has been finding like-minded people, both in my real world community and in the virtual yoga and spiritual/mindfulness world I’ve been delighted to become a part of. I have found so much support and encouragement there. But twice in the last week, two critical messages have popped up multiple times for me. 

The first is that it really is okay not to be okay. I can be a happy person and a person who doesn’t wallow in misery and still have days when I don’t feel happy. I can allow myself to feel sad that I didn’t get a particular job or that something I need is out of my reach. I can feel that and still know that the feeling is temporary and that I can do the work I need to do to achieve my goal or reach my desire. I needed to hear that and just when I did, one of the inspiring people I follow on Instagram shared this image:

And the other message, similar in spirit, is that it’s okay to hit the pause button and give yourself rest. I don’t want to lose momentum and it’s really hard for me to know that I am not where I want to be. But I am gaining and growing so much from the process and I’m so much further along the path than I was this time last year when my world began to unravel…. I’m stopping to catch my breath and realize I’ve had a pretty amazing and intense year of growth that even included a surprise trip to New Orleans last week for my best friend's elopement. Life doesn’t get much better than that. 

Having both my kids get sick this week along with a rejection for what seemed like a cool writing job definitely slowed my roll. Then, I saw this image from another Instagram inspiration and got the same message the same day in a horoscope reading from Kelly Lunt, a local spiritual and abundant living guru. 

So, I’ve decided to listen. If I truly love myself, I need to be okay loving myself even when it feels like I’m not hitting the mark. Hell…especially then. So, I’m giving myself a few days to rest. I’ll do a Full Moon ritual to release my negativity tonight. I’m going to take bubble baths and read and sleep. I’ve already cried it out and vented to my girlfriends this morning. I’m putting aside some tasks I’m not into and I’m going to lay around and watch Stranger Things with my kiddos. And, in a few days I’ll know it’s time to pick up and get on with it. But for now…rest. 

And maybe you need that, too, Sister. 

If you do, don’t be ashamed or afraid to take it. The work will be there. Give yourself the tender loving care you need to restore the energy that will carry you forward. You've got this. And so do I. 

With much love,