How to find courage, strength and happiness in 24 simple ways.
Hi. I’m Aimee. I’m almost 30.
I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a writer. I am a dreamer.
Twenty-four months ago I would not have introduced myself in this way. Twenty-four months ago I wrote this. I was scared. I felt like a failure. I was lost. Twenty-four months ago I chose to quit my full-time job. Well, at the time I felt like I was a quitter. I felt weak. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to suck it up. So I started this blog to pick myself up. I started this blog to put myself back together. Twenty-four months later, I now see that leaving my full-time job had given me the opportunity to fight to become a stronger woman. I am braver. I am accomplishing goals that were once long-forgotten. I am proud of myself. Damn, I’m proud of myself.
Twenty-four months. In twenty-four months I went from working about 50 hours a week to working about 9 hours a week. My oldest child is months away from starting kindergarten, my daughter will be turning four in one month, and I am 22 weeks pregnant with our third child. In twenty-four months my husband changed jobs and completed four more semesters of grad school. We sold our first home and purchased and moved into our second –maybe forever—home. In twenty-four months I went from no blog to publishing 62 posts and having 3 (and soon one more!) posts published by other websites. I have met some amazing local bloggers, and I recently joined a writing group. In twenty-four months I went from feeling lost to feeling more alive than ever.
Leaving my full-time job was the craziest thing I have ever done, and it has brought me back to life. These past 24 months I have been slowly putting myself back together. I have been learning more about who I am and what I want and who I want to be when I grow up. I am learning. And I will spend the rest of my life learning.
Before sitting down to write this, I took a couple of weeks to reflect on everything that has happened these past two years. I could share with you how my life has changed since becoming a stay-at-home mother. I could share with you how I survive a typical day at home with my spirited 5-year-old son and my strong-willed 3-year-old daughter while my husband is at work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (is he home yet?!?!?!). I could share with you how I have been trying to make more time for my writing goals and making new friends. Yes, much has happened in my life these past two years, and many things have changed for the better for my little family. But I am more than a stay-at-home mother. I am more than a part-time receptionist at a hair salon. I am more than a wife. I am more than a blogger. I am growing. Well, literally, my belly is growing to make room for this sweet little girl who is growing inside of me. But I am growing. I am learning to take care of myself. I am learning to take pride in what I do as a caregiver, an employee, a partner, a friend and a writer. I am learning to make my goals higher priorities in my life. I am learning to put myself first, too. These past 24 months I have given so much of my love and attention and care to my family and others around me, but I have also been learning to do this for myself as well. While much has changed around me, I have changed the most.
After taking some time to reflect on the past 24 months and the two-year anniversary of this blog, I decided to share with you what I have learned about myself and becoming a braver and happier person since quitting my full-time job and starting this new adventure. I still have much to learn and there is always room to grow, but these 24 lessons have given me back my strength and happiness and my ability to dream:
- It’s okay to process things emotionally before logically. Sometimes you need to sort through your emotions before you can make a logical decision. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to let yourself be angry. But when you’re done, piece yourself together and allow yourself the time you need to think.
- Change is good, even if it scares the hell out of you. Something has to light that firecracker under your behind every now and then.
- It’s also okay to stay right where you are. You may be right where you need to be for the moment.
- Letting go does not mean that you are no longer in control. Letting go means that you are willing to open yourself up. You are willing to invite others and the universe to teach you something or show you something new.
- When you are kind to yourself, you feel happier. When you are kind to others, more people feel happier. Choose to be kind. Our world needs more kindness.
- Take chances. You never know what opportunities may come when you do. Even if you make a fool out of yourself, you will gain something new from these experiences.
- Make new friends with people who share similar interests and goals. They will inspire and motivate you.
- Reach out to old friends you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. They will inspire and motivate you, too.
- Do something that is out of your comfort zone. And after you do this, do something else that is out of your comfort zone. You will surprise yourself by what you can do in these situations.
- Understand that you are more important than you realize. Others will surprise you with their desire to encourage and support you.
- It’s okay to need other people. You are not alone, and you should not and cannot always be as independent as you would like to be. Allow others to help you. You are part of a community, so help to build others up, and let them build you up when you are down.
- Be patient. Be patient with yourself and others. Allow yourself time and space to grow, and allow others to grow on their own as well. Take your time. Take up space.
- Allow yourself to breathe. Goals and priorities are important, but so is living. Enjoy stillness. Enjoy lazy days. Enjoy silence. Enjoy the little moments. Breathe. Enjoy this gift of life. Breathe. It’s good for the soul.
- When taking care of small children, lower your expectations. Your children will not be as obedient and well-mannered as you may have envisioned them to be prior to becoming a parent. Lower your expectations. This will surely lower your blood pressure, and your body and mind will thank you.
- There will always be something you can learn from your children. Open your eyes and let them show you how they experience the world around them. Let them lead you. Let them make up silly rules to their games. Let them play. Let them play a lot. And play with your children. Play often.
- Embrace creativity. Let yourself brainstorm and daydream and free associate. You will learn more about yourself and others around you. You will open your mind to new ideas. You may see something you never noticed before.
- Go on walks. Go on walks with your partner, with your children, with a friend and by yourself. Walks are peaceful. Walks will calm your mind. Walks will stir your heart. Walks will move your soul.
- Be a dreamer. Live life with hope. Live life with goals, even if these goals seem silly. See all that is magical in your world. Dream up fairy tales and happy endings. You never know what may happen in the end.
- Wake up. Wake up early before everyone else in your house. Wake up late. Wake up so late that your children have to tickle you out of bed. Wake up. Wake up each day and see that it is good –see that you have been given a new gift. Wake up and go on your adventure.
- Let go and press the reset button. Don’t let your stubbornness paralyze you. Even if you are as stubborn as they come, learn to let go and press reset. You will do yourself and others a favor.
- Quit planning everything. Yes, plans make everything seem right and orderly in the world, but plans are not always necessary. Get wet, get sandy and get muddy. Immerse yourself in the experience.
- Love your family, and never stop reminding them how much you love and appreciate them. Make it a priority to attend family gatherings, to keep traditions, and to create new family adventures. Your family is your first community.
- Love yourself. Care for yourself just as much as you care for others. See that you are good, and believe that you will do great things. Give yourself a break when you fail, and take pride in your accomplishments. Smile and remind yourself daily that you are here for a reason.
- Be yourself. Never stop searching your heart and soul for happiness and peace. Don’t worry about what others think of you. Be yourself and own it. Be yourself and you will find your purpose. Be yourself and you will find your community. Be yourself and you will find the strength you need to become all that you can be. Be yourself –that is all you need, and the rest will fall into place. Be yourself, and you will never cease to discover what this world has to offer.
I have learned how to breathe. I have learned how to open my eyes. I have learned how to grasp the world with my finger. And like my two children who seize each day with passion in their hearts and limited concepts of barriers, I can’t wait to see our baby girl do the same when she is born. I can’t wait to feel her hand grasp my finger, and I will show her the world is hers to hold.