After all kinds of exciting traction…
…speaking gigs, working with lululemon’s leadership staff, launching a membership, gearing up for a 3-year anniversary challenge for The Break Changer (and pitching it in front of hundreds of people at Creative Mornings!), slowly writing a book and receiving great testimonials from clients — I hit a total wall mentally and physically and had to pause it ALL.
Something within me was feeling off for a while, but I thought the brave and strong thing was to push through it.
I thought it was temporary anxiety from all these big things.
I thought it was a little funk.
I thought it was my hormones. (More on that in a second. And yes, I’m going there!)
But week after week, the simplest tasks only continued to get harder. Finally, my body and mind hit a breaking point. My brain had never felt so…blank.
- The girl who helps people take care of themselves had forgotten how to take care of herSELF.
- The girl who helps people draw better boundaries had let ALL the fences fall.
- The girl who starts her signature presentation with her 2010 burnout story had hit that point again.
But, in hindsight…it was nothing to beat myself up about. I was exactly where I needed to be. (More on that in a second, too.)
And thankfully, in the thick of that overwhelming darkness, I actually *did* realize this:
The brave and strong thing was to actually STOP.
It was to take care of ME.
Now that I’ve had time to breathe, reflect (Thank you, therapy!) and truly begin to heal, here’s what ultimately happened:
Struggles with fertility triggered me to feel broken, behind, not enough, inept, incapable, confused and like a big ‘ol fraud.
These feelings trickled into ev.e.ry.thing. When your diagnosis contains the word “diminished,” how can that NOT affect other corners of your daily life?
It affected my work.
It affected my mindset.
It really affected my worth and sent me to a very dark place.
I had all these crazy feelings for a while that I thought I was totally alone in:
I thought that because I’ve been “winging it” with my work and trusting my intuition for so long that I was not good enough, not worthy to help people and going to be “found out.” I was reaching the end of my “act.”
I was believing other people when they said I needed credentials to be trusted by those who didn’t know me. (It reminded me of the time that I actually believed someone when they said, “No one will take you seriously if you self-publish.”)
I thought that because *I* need all the things I help other people with, I was an even bigger fraud.
I thought that because I’m SO multi-passionate/interested in SO many things and not a focused expert in ANY of those things, that I was a flimsy, indecisive flake just dripping with falsities.
I thought that because I love to *dabble* and *learn* and *taste test* and change things up a lot, that I was a tumbleweed unable to be trusted.
But seeds don’t grow from sunshine. They have to sit in the cold, lonely darkness for a while. They have to feel the weight on their shoulders and let the rain seep in. They have to do some digging…and LOTS of waiting. They have to surrender to their creator and let Him take the reins (or shall I say roots?).
So, what ultimately shifted in me was a culmination of many things:
1) letting God in.
Letting him show me ALL the signs that He is always here, He has a plan, He’s never leaving me, it’s ALL going to be OK and that HE made this beautiful, messy path of mine on purpose…even when it’s rocky, windy and dark.
2) realizing just how little grace I gave myself after our move back from Germany.
When we moved back from Dusseldorf in November 2016, I thought I gave myself enough space and time to get my footing. But turns out I needed wayyy more.
I wish I could’ve attended Finding Yourself Again University with a front-row seat in the following classes: Repatriation Blues for Beginners, “Little T” Trauma, Transitions + Depression and Going EASIER on Yourself 101. I wish I would’ve known that this process (For me! It’s different for everyone!) would’ve basically taken the length of time we were gone: almost two years.
Don’t get me wrong. Moving back has been amazing in so, so many ways (family, friends, planting roots/home-owning, golf, sunshine, no language barriers, all the innovation in Denver).
Not fully dealing with the weight of this huge change (and more past things I *thought* I had dealt with) took a long, quiet toll on me and oh, so conveniently unraveled in the spring. That brings me to the next one:
3) finally looking inward and doing the Real Work instead of numbing with work-work.
When things get hard personally, I subconsciously work harder. I take on more than I need to. And if I’m being really honest (which I obvi don’t have a prob with!), I have a tendency to let my work define me. So, it was only fitting to let it gooo for a while.
It was only fitting to seek some help and finally face my grief, my pain and all the things I was unknowingly running from.
You know what else helped? Angry journaling. (Yep! Move over, gratitude journaling…lol…you have some feisty competition.) When you get all your REAL thoughts onto paper, no matter how petty or dark or ungrateful they may be, something great happens over time.
4) getting out of the house and out of my head.
I know that sounds like it contradicts No. 3, but I was spending too MUCH time alone and behind walls (literally and figuratively). I was spending too much time behind screens (too much of my biz stuff turned digital).
5) breaking the rules and doing the thing that *I* needed, even if it seemed odd or like a step back to others.
In early July, I made a personal power move and started working at a GOLF COURSE! It was far from a step back. It was, in fact, a beautiful cha-cha.
It was the epitome of what following your gut looks like, and it’s pretty much all I’ve been posting about on Facebook. Are we friends yet?
6) being more open about what I struggle with — especially regarding topics people DON’T really talk about.
The more I talked to family, friends and even new peeps about things like depression, anxiety and infertility, the more I realized I was not alone. In fact, it has brought me closer to people I never would’ve expected: old friends, unexpected family members and even my coworkers at the ‘ol golf course.
7) ultimately stepping off a fertility path that David and I felt resistance to from the beginning.
We finally listened to ourselves and what *we* want and need — not what the *world* was telling us to do.
8) binge-listening to Magic Lessons podcasts with Elizabeth Gilbert.
Many of these episodes helped me realize that I’m not the only one who struggles with confidence, self-forgiveness, unworthiness and feeling like a fraud. And hearing Liz intuitively coach these callers with creative ideas and challenges reminded me of my own coaching style.
It also ignited something in me: My desire to help people move out of their self-doubt-y stuck-ness and onward with creative endeavors. (And don’t get me started on how I define creative! We are ALL creative!)
9) realizing that creativity, self-care and play are not self-indulgent, a waste of time or unproductive.
They are water.
They are oxygen.
They are sustenance.
10) realizing that creativity, self-care and play (and all the ridiculously simple things WITHIN those things) are NOT silly things to coach someone on.
Sometimes the littlest things ARE the biggest things.
Sometimes the most basic things ARE the most challenging things.
And sometimes we need someone to lean on for MOVEMENT on those things.
11) realizing that there’s nothing wrong with having a multi-passionate path.
There’s nothing wrong with doing some marketing here, some coaching there, a little design there, some golf course work there and then maybe *another* curveball direction in a few months.
I’m embracing ME.
I’m not a flimsy flake.
I’m a mother-effing, curious, bad-ass BUMBLE BEE!
12) realizing that I’m way more fitting for certain roles than I thought I was.
I remember crying about how ridiculous it is that *I* am my own ideal client, and my therapist saying, “I actually can’t imagine a BETTER person to help others who are stuck, hungry for change and searching for more meaning. You know exactly what it all feels like.”
13) realizing that when we’re in the thick of a huge struggle, it never feels like it’s going to end, but you HAVE to hold on.
It doesn’t feel like there’s going to be massive clarity on the other side. It doesn’t feel like we’re going to grow from it. We feel dormant…like that dark, struggling seed we can feel like so often. But without that dormancy, we wouldn’t be able to put out shoots and grow our roots.
14) letting myself actually FEEL my feelings and recognize WHERE they’re coming from.
The other day, there was a Post-it by Dotty’s fishbowl on the kitchen counter. It read, “Dad fed me.”
I always leave David little notes saying “Mama fed me,” but had never seen him write “dad.” Just seeing that one word triggered something in my heart.
As I went to throw away the note and move on with my morning, I caught myself. I stood in the middle of the kitchen with my eyes closed and my hands over my heart. I took a few seconds to FEEL it.
Then, last week, I saw the following three words on a magazine in a checkout line — and boy did they GRIP me.
They brought up so many feelings and gracious reminders of how far I’ve come in this season.
So, I took a picture (because I want them on my wall — and to NEVER forget them).
Then…I sat down with my lunch, hid my phone in my purse and let myself truly reflect on what those words meant for me. I practiced what I preach. I took a break. I soaked it all in for those short yet powerful 15 minutes. I felt the feels.
Remember, dear one:
You. are. capable.
You are not alone.
The world needs you.
It needs what you can create.
It also needs what you can break.
It needs you to be YOU.
If you’re still with me, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this.