Personal Reflections from 2017: Twelve Months and 12 Lessons Learned.


 This week has marked the beginning of a new year. 2018 is upon us and 2017 has forever left us. Sort of. It’s not like any year is completely done and over. We take with us all the happenings, good or bad, into the current new year.

There’s always so much talk about how we want to make the incoming year better, brighter, bolder, bigger; How we want to make it our best year ever! That’s some serious pressure right there. All while poor 2017 gets the shrug and middle finger as we walk hurriedly away. But you know, every year is wrought with both good and bad, highs and lows – it’s all in our perspective on what we choose to take from it.

As I started to reflect back on my 2017 I felt a well of emotion come up. I realized I’m actually sad to see it go. Not that anything is really different from yesterday to today, but the ending of it, just like the beginning of this new year, felt like that – an ending. I decided that before I get caught up in planning all my goals, hopes, and plans for the new year I ought to pay homage to what this past year brought me through some reflection and gratitude.  As I started recounting the months I became more and more in awe of how much change, growth, and wonder has been packed into these past twelve. In fact each month seemed to carry with it something significant and worth exploring. So here goes…

January: Accepting Mommy Imperfection (the beginning)

This first month of the year started out with the bang of announcing my pregnancy with baby #3. As I shared this exciting news I more silently was experiencing the fear and panic of “how the hell am I going to do this?” Searching for and finding support from fellow moms in the “large family” clan gave me solace in knowing I was not alone in feeling crazy, scared, and insane most days. I realized if I was going to do this with any real enjoyment I was going to have to be real in accepting that it wasn’t going to be perfect or even appear that way. Life was about to get messy(er).

February: Forgiveness

Month number two carried with it the sadness of my grandfather dying. I didn’t know him well, which was the saddest part of all. The light cast through this gave me the awareness that it was time to reconnect with my own father. Time to forgive and time to forge a new connection beginning with forgiveness that was hard fought for nearly 10 years. I’m grateful for the ability to do this and for the growth in this relationship that took place over the next 10 months forward.

March: Starting Again

Following a reconnection with my dad via phone in February, March was highlighted by his first visit back. I decided to approach this new beginning with openness, limited expectation, and honesty. These are areas I have to continually hold myself to as I can easily fall back into the pit of hiding, disappointment, and bitterness. The change from a parent/child  to adult/adult relationship is an awkward one at best. I’m working on it.

April: Happy Mind Happy Home is Born

There is so much to be said for this month and what this blog has done for me. To put it succinctly, I never anticipated how much vulnerability, fear, relief, acceptance, and pride I’d gain from publicly exploring my daily struggles. I have found a sense of peace and acceptance with who I am through this honesty which at the start seemed so terrifying. I am beyond grateful for this unexpected journey and what it has brought me in such a short amount of time.

May: Divorce and Dating

I forgot to mention that my mom and my step dad of 20 years divorced in January. Yes, that also happened. And here into April my mom began dating… this was weird. And hard. And messy. I had never experienced my mom dating. I had no idea who this new man, whomever he came to be, was supposed to be to me? Was he going to be like a new step dad? That didn’t seem right. I’m an adult no longer in need of this, so that didn’t fit. And what about the family I had known for most of my life? This ending was hard to process. Comprehending the way forward was very very strange. From this I learned, whether an adult or a child, divorce sucks. But, life does go on.

June: Trust and Marriage

From what I recall June was a pretty quiet month. Not such a bad thing. What I can say for June is gratitude for my husband. It is the month for husbands that are fathers, after all.  I have mad appreciation for my husband and his commitment to growth for himself, our marriage, and our children. He never misses an opportunity to challenge me, which admittedly might piss me off in the moment, but somehow allows me to trust him even more. I would say this very notion – trust – has grown for me this past year. I don’t think I even realized I wasn’t trusting him fully – something I imagine he brought to my attention as well – but as I opened up more and stepped forward into this trust, I can say our relationship has deepened, arguments have lessened, and my love for him has certainly grown. I’ll take that.

July: Growing Older

My birthday month! I turned 35 this year. I’ve heard it said that as you approach 40 you begin to worry less about what others think of you. Well, whether I recall this saying correctly or not, I can say I’m finding it true for me. I am sure it is a mixture of many things that took place this year, but all things combined I do feel more comfortable in my own skin than I can recall feeling since the age of approximately 8 years old. I am less preoccupied with what other people think of me, which honestly was a strange feeling until I got used to it. Feeling this confidence felt foreign. I had to intentionally stay with this feeling instead of reverting back to the familiar. This is still a new thing for me, a growing thing. Writing truths like this certainly help, I must say. I don’t know if I would be feeling this newness without choosing to show myself to the outside world. It has been and continues to be a risk well worth taking.

August: Babies, Kindergarten, and More

August, oh August. What’s not to be said for August. Had baby #3, celebrated my oldest child’s 5th birthday, sent oldest child to kindergarten, and found out my sister was pregnant with her first baby. A lot packed into a few short weeks. This month started the tailspin that would become my life for the remainder of this year (and into the present new year). Life has been forever changed by increasing our household number to 5, learning how to be a parent of en elementary age student, and all while not letting my middle child fall through the cracks. Who are we kidding, she’d never allow that to happen. To say it’s been busy is an understatement and I’m still learning how to catch up.

September: School Days

September was marked by the ill fated awareness that elementary school is about a lot more than lunch boxes, backpacks, recess, and early dismal on random Fridays. It is about my kid growing up and facing the harsh reality of peer influence and peer rejection. Figuring out how to not freak out has been a test in itself. What I’ve learned is that just because I’m concerned doesn’t mean there’s something to be concerned about. Me being worried doesn’t imply something is wrong. Mostly I’ve learned that I need to monitor my own fears and trust that my children are not as fragile as I may think they are. Keeping my own anxiety in check in not a situation fully resolved, let’s be honest, but at least I’ve got some awareness. I’m sure this topic will need further exploring…

October: Busy Gets Busier

October marked the month of returning to work following baby #3. My busy life just turned it up a notch, or three. I’d say I’m still not used to the new normal of rushing from place to place but I have found that the more I attempt to resist it, the more tension I experience: from myself and everyone else. I have learned from this new busy that I need to make time when there is no time. I do not work well under constant go, go, go. Maybe for a few days or a week I can go with it, but soon after I crash hard. I don’t have the time to crash anymore so I figured I needed to try something else. I’ve had to cut out somethings, enjoyable things sometimes, just so I can have the energy and focus to keep going. Saying no to things I want to do has been tough, but I have found solace in something a friend of mine said, “This is just a season.” This season, for me,  means being busy doing a lot of mom things. I feel comforted knowing there will be other seasons to come and hopefully they’ll include more sleep!

November: A Thanksgiving to Remember

With November comes Thanksgiving and our party of 5 successfully traveling 4 hours by car to visit family. What I learned from this is I can manage this clan of mine under tight quarters and in confined spaces. It was an adventure for sure having all of us in one hotel room. Especially when my oldest had a coughing fit that turned into a mini panic attack at 2:00 in the morning. Good thing we’re well versed in sleepless nights. What I take from this episode is that I am capable of getting us from point A to point B in one piece. Some days.

December: I’ll Bring the Chips.

Now this brings me to December. Another busy month, as it is for most, taught me that in this current “season” of my life I can handle very little extra without the threat of a meltdown hanging over me. I realized that the many things I want to do may not be things I can do (gracefully at least). I realized it is better to simplify and enjoy my life than it is to reach beyond my limits in effort to impress. From this I realized no one really cares if you bring the store bought hummus or the homemade. All they really care about is that you showed up. And if they do care, well, who gives a shit. Remember, this whole year has been about being real and accepting imperfection. If we’re being real, it’s all pretty messy even on the good days. You just have to roll with it.

So there’s my year in a nutshell. If you made it this far into the post, congratulations! It was a long one. I’m excited to see what lessons 2018 bring but I’m still enjoying and processing all these from 2017. Let us not always be in a hurry to rush too far forward.

I wish you all the best in this new year. My hope is you reflect back on the year last and feel gratitude for the challenges as well as the pleasures. It is all good.

12 Things 12 Years of Marriage Has Taught Me

Hubs and I are escaping reality for a few days to celebrate our Anniversary this weekend. In thinking about all I need to do before disconnecting and dumping the kiddos with Mimi I have been thinking a lot about what I’ve learned about marriage thus far. Sure, I specialize in relationships and couples therapy, I have read lots of books, been to many conferences and work with relationships every day.

But what have I  learned about marriage and myself in the past 12 years?

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Dear Dads

Dads,

You are so important, so needed, so powerful in our lives. In this day and age many women want to say “I don’t need a man” well, maybe you don’t need one but do you want one? The roles of men and dads in our lives are sometimes overpowered by feminism. Don’t get me wrong here I am a feminist at heart but I also find space to see and honor the role of men in our lives.

dad Continue reading

Silence is NOT Golden!!!!

Silence is not golden…I repeat….Silence is not golden!!!

Well Said!

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got came from an old friend of mine. It came during a difficult time in my marriage, and was in response to the question: Do I continue in a relationship where my needs are not being met and my words fall on deaf ears time & time again?  It proved helpful and has guided me in relationships ever since.

“In any relationship (professional or personal), you must tell the other person what you need, want, expect, and deserve. If they rise to meet those expectations and make an effort to give you what you need, then you’ll have your answer. 

So..I did just that.

It saved my marriage.

In my work with couples and families, people often say to me…”I bet nothing surprises you anymore”. Actually, what surprises me most about humans is how little they communicate.

I’m talking NO COMMUNICATION…At all…Nothing…Zero…Nada!

Listen up people….life is messy. Relationships are messy. Humans are a lot of things, but they are NOT MIND READERS!  You may be waiting for the right words or the right time to have a difficult conversation. Guess what? There is no right time, and you may never have the right words  Stop waiting and start talking.

Do not expect others to give you what you need, want and/or expect, if you are not willing to tell them what that is!  If they make an effort to give you what you need/want and expect, they are keepers. If they don’t, won’t or can’t, at least you can walk away knowing you did everything within your power to salvage the …(marriage, friendship, business partnership), etc…You get the idea…now get to talking.

Speaking Up: What Are We So Afraid Of?

Speaking up… In my post last week on authenticity I referenced the notion of speaking up as one component to authentic freedom. Of all the 5 points I listed, speaking up seemed to bring on the most feedback. I heard things like, “I really need to work on speaking up”, “I don’t speak up enough”, and “thank you for giving me permission to speak up for myself”.

This got me thinking: What is it about speaking up – bringing voice to our feelings and thoughts – that causes so much anxiety and apprehension? I realized this is worth exploring…

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Top 5 Things My Hubby Does That Annoy the Sh!t out of me

Top 5 things my hubby does that annoy the shit out of me:

1. He does not listen

I have to say most things at least twice. I often ask if he even heard my comment because of his lack of acknowledgement. And when he did listen to me he usually tries to give me advice or tell me how to fix something.

2. He does not clean up after himself

I do the dishes 99.5% of the time. His clothes hit the floor right outside the clothes hamper. He does not clean the sink after he shaves and I am the only one who carries his shoes upstairs when they are piling up next to his recliner. Continue reading