As 2016 has come to an end, I have been reflecting on what the past year has been for me. A year of incredible personal and professional growth. I didn’t expect or even think so much would happen this year! Yet here I am, happy and incredibly thankful. But let me back up a bit and explain where I was and how far I have come.
I grew up in a very small town of (150ish) people. I learned very early on that the best course for acceptance was fitting in and to be just like everyone else. A wallflower was what I became. I never spoke my mind in school. Teasing was all to present if I at all was noticed. So I wasn’t. I had to fit in because that’s where I felt safe. Blending in gave me camouflage and it saved me from the negativity that would most certainly come my way for whatever reason.
Fast forward several years of wallflowerdom and here I was with a beautiful family of 4 kiddos and I needed a change. It began on January 1, 2014 when I underwent a Mommy Makeover. My self confidence, personal identity and self esteem were all but non existant. I had spent so much time “fitting in” that I wasn’t sure who I was other than “a mama and a wife”. I wasn’t sure what things I enjoyed or loved. A hobby? What’s that? So I started with the physical. 4 kids and I had so much extra skin I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror. That was the beginning of the turning point. I spent the next few months recovering (under my husband’s incredible care) and began to gain a confidence that had been missing. I exercised and worked on changing my lifestyle to continue the amazing feeling of self confidence that I was gaining from the surgery. (My doc was awesome and put me back together, a reconstructive genius) I continued to work more on developing my design style and on different spaces in our house.
It was the following year in 2015 that a good friend asked me to contribute to her blog, for the home decor section, she thought I was the perfect person to write it. It was meant to be. I had been contemplating starting my own blog for a couple of years on home decor and design but was too afraid to go for it. Why would anyone listen to me or value my thoughts? Who am I to give advice or think people would care what I have to say? I don’t know the first thing about writing a blog! Until she asked me to write for her, I thought, now is my chance to see if I’ve got something to offer. So I jumped in and started to write. I contributed for a year and got an idea for a design website after some family started asking for my help in designing their spaces.
Here is the link to all my posts I wrote for her blog
Now here I was in January 2016. I’m not one for resolutions but I felt like it was time to really challenge myself. I was going to push outside of my comfort zone. Prior to this I was hesitant to commit to anything I wasn’t 100% confident I already knew how to do or exactly what was involved. I decided that the year of 2016 was going to be a year of personal challenge, and what was to come was to come. I started by exploring the website I hoped to develop into a design business, one where I could help other people to live in beautiful and comfortable spaces in their own homes. It was slow going but I got it up and running in November, a HUGE personal accomplishment. I had to believe in myself and my ability to provide a service for other people, I had to have the confidence to know that it was something I could and should do and that there was no pressure to make a million dollars, just the feat of developing and launching a website was already a winning touchdown. (although I have tons of goals and dreams for this business, I’m super excited about it!) I also decided to launch my own blog around the same time (with some amazing advice and support from my gal pal and hubby) and here I am!
Some other things I learned along the way, the biggest of which is you don’t have to fit in the little box that you feel like you need to be in. For so long I believed I had to fit in this sterotypical ideal of what a mom was; conservative look, conservative attitude, mom jeans and a minivan. I had the minivan along with everything else, but it just wasn’t me. 2016 and my challenge to myself, to push outside of what was comfortable, allowed me to give myself permission to BE MYSELF. I had been wanting to dye my hair a fun color like pink for many years but was way to afraid to try it, what would people think? What perception would people have of me? This last fall I did it, and I had been itching to do it all year (a couple family weddings had me hold off until then) and I LOVE it, my husband LOVES it and my kids dig it. (other than my oldest who was the lone holdout, he’s now onboard, I’m winning him over!) I had wanted to pierce my nose since I was 17 but I waited, then I was married and had a baby. Mom’s don’t have nose piercings, I definitely can’t do it now, and the years passed. Not this year, I went and did it and I love it, who cares what people think mom’s should look like or be like! My husband said of my pink hair and nose piercing “it’s you, it fits you so well”. In fact he’s encouraging me to go for a pretty deep green/teal color next, we’ll see!
We were fortunate to be blessed with a Newfoundland puppy this last spring and while I wasn’t planning on water training (remember, anything I’m not confident in, I usually shy away from) this year I thought, why not?! And dove right in, we had a great summer with a puppy who loves the water and an incredible feeling of accomplishment watching him do what came naturally. But with encouragement and training we are working toward a water test hopefully next summer. Next up is therapy work, we need to pass certification but I have confidence we will do it. (Doesn’t mean I won’t be incredibly nervous but I’m going to do it anyway) Anything that’s scary is 10x the reward in the end. I have also gained a large circle of new friends via this beautiful Newfie boy (who is now a week away from 1 year old) and I look forward to many get togethers and meeting all of these incredible people.
I even learned to like beer! I’ve always hated it, developed a taste for wine but nothing else really. My hubby is a huge microbrew lover and has begun to really get into making his own recipes at home. I am a taste tester (bad one at that, since I don’t know anything about beer, but I’m here!) and have begun to develop an affinity for it. I can’t tell you how over the moon my hubby is about that one. It just goes to show you if you give yourself the freedom to really discover what it is you like, who knows where that will take you!
The overall takeaway message to this whole long boring post is, have the confidence to be yourself, whoever that is, whatever that looks like. Try new things, things that scare you and excite you. Get your hair dyed pink or purple or whatever color you’ve always wanted to try, wear that bikini despite what you think might be the “ideal size” for one. Get the nose piercing or tattoo, take the trip to Vietnam and start that business or work on that book you always wanted to write. The idea here is LIVE YOUR LIFE and LIVE IT FOR YOU! I have my amazing family of 4 beautiful and amazing children and a husband that I couldn’t be more grateful for. He supports me and encourages me and holds me up when I’m weak and feeling unsure. I live my life for myself and for them. I want my kids to grow up knowing it’s ok to be who they are, and no one or anything can tell them differently. My daughter recently told me she felt like she didn’t fit in in school (a program for homeschoolers that’s once a week). You know what I told her, “oh honey, I know you feel like you want to fit in and it’s ok to feel that way, but let me tell you from experience, fitting in is overrated.” I continued to tell her to be herself and it doesn’t matter if it’s the same as everyone else or not, because she’s beautiful and smart and creative and kind and compassionate and funny. Other people’s opinions don’t matter and it took me 34 years to figure it out. She said after we had this conversation “mom, I’m so glad I talked to you, I feel so much better now.” That’s the best thing in the world, knowing that the lessons I’m learning and continue to learn (despite taking 34 years to do it) are going to be invaluable in teaching my kids to live their best life.
So I guess it’s not just 2016 that led me to where I’m at now, but it was the final run for the game winning points. This last year I was the happiest I have ever been and I look forward to what the future holds. I’m no longer the wallflower I was for so many years but am now the field of wildflowers that happily grows, wild and free. 2017 has some big shoes to fill. Let’s hope I’ve got the feet to fill them, (and I do, I wear a women’s whopping size 11).
Give yourself permission to be yourself!