It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year since I wrote in this space - and what an absolute whirlwind of a year it has been. In the past year, we've lived through and survived a pandemic (feeling my optimism in the past-tense reference there?), moved to a new home in the countryside four hours away, went back to work full-time after three years, our children started attending school for the first time (a lovely Waldorf school that's everything we've hoped for) and...oh...yes...we're having another baby! Truth be told, I am just starting to catch my breath and feel like myself again.
Although there were a lot of tears, struggles, crisis-inducing situations, and a whole lot of soul-searching over the past year, I think my family and I are in a stronger place than we've ever been. It is a truism that "hardship builds character" or that we often find ourselves again after going through some of the darkest moments of our lives. As heartbreaking and challenging as they are to live through, they are gifts and opportunities to grow and be stronger. Those are the moments that you realize who is genuinely there for you, what truly matters, what you can and can't live without, and where your boundaries are and need to be. And sometimes it takes almost losing yourself and what you love, to realize how deeply your love runs and how you will commit every ounce of your being -- for the rest of your life to making it better. The ironic part is, in order to be better and stronger, you have to let yourself be honest and vulnerable with yourself and with those you love. It’s the only way real trust and intimate bonds can be built on a deep spiritual and emotional level that will carry and sustain us through even the gravest of hardships.
“Sometimes when you're in a dark place, you think you've been buried, but you've actually been planted.”
But life can't be looked at just in terms of loss and gain, but also what's evolved. I've realized that there were also threads that needed to be untied - though not cut - so that they may evolve into something healthier. I'm staying purposely vague there. You see, people are so wondrously complex and nuanced, with all their unique histories, strengths, follies and unspoken inner thoughts and lives. I've realized the key is not to lean too much into an identity based mainly on what people - even those closest in your life -- think of you. Whether it's positive or negative. And to not be defined by your triumphs nor setbacks.
I've really learned to advocate for myself (including against my own inner critic) and for my boundaries. I don’t know how I’ve managed without for so long. I’ve learned to recognize and examine my weaknesses and trauma triggers and to be honest and gentle with myself. All of this has helped me slowly - but surely - believe in and be confident in who I am and what I have to offer. It has helped strengthen my voice and conscience, gives an anchor to my sometimes tempestuous type 4 moods, and gives me the emotional space to treat others with compassion. It’s a funny thing to be reading these kinds of inspirational “self-help” platitudes my entire adult life, and then to finally internalize and implement them. And it’s a trickier balance still to be confident without falling into self-righteousness and rigidity. I’d been writing about “wellness” in this space and throughout my job this year. And while on the outside I was doing a lot of things that go with living that lifestyle — internally was a whole other story. You can convey one thing to the outside world, but unless you’re truly aligned on the inside, you’ll still feel empty or like a fraud. At the core, I still have deep insecurities but I’m working on no longer having them define or control me.
It has been a difficult road to get to the relatively peaceful place I am today, and continuum of personal development and evolution. I’ve come so far, and have so far to go. As I sit here, 8 months pregnant with my 4th baby, my promise to myself, my baby, and my family is to keep growing and being better. And that’s all any of us can do, bit by bit. We write our stories as we live our lives.
I will continue to share my thoughts and stories on this blog, and all the things I’m passionate about: living well, living meaningfully, and hope perhaps I may inspire others to do the same.
To my close friends who supported me through the hard times (you know who you are) and support me still - thank you from the bottom of my heart 💚