I have been back from our trip to Greece for over a month and I will be really honest, my outlook on my life and business has changed a lot since then! At the beginning of March, my husband and I moved to Charlotte in order for him to do a surgery fellowship. On the outside, the move looks fun and exciting...and don't get me wrong, it has been both, but under the surface of the fun, it's been hard. At first, I debated whether or not to talk about the hard stuff, but I am reminded that sharing the hard stuff can be really valuable!
For starters, we moved from a 2,500 square foot house into a less than 1,000 square foot apartment. In order to make that possible, we had to get rid of almost 2/3's of the things we owned. Before our move, I meticulously went through everything we had and sorted piles to sell and donate. Everything from furniture, clothes, to old papers (literally had copies of bills we paid in 2012?! WHY?) All of our still now fits in 968 square feet and a porch, with no extra storage units or garage to hold stuff. If we couldn't bring it, we didn't keep it! While I'm not really sentimental when it comes to material things, the purge of material possessions made me want to purge other areas of my life.
The move also meant that we got a new start. A new start is something I'm sure a lot of people would love to have, but for me it's been really hard and it reminded me of something important: TRANSITION ISN'T SUPPOSED TO BE EASY and it's important to stop and grieve those transitions and grieve what we thought would be.
For me, I chose to take the time to grieve (the entire month of April)...and before you think I mean sit and cry, that's not what I mean. Grief isn't always about sadness or depression, but about taking the time to understand your feelings and response to what happened in your life. I needed to take time to figure out who I was at this stage in my life and who I no longer was. I am calling it my Quarter-Life+2 years crisis. I need a catchier name, but this one makes sense. My 27-year-old crisis. For the first time in my entire life, I was not working full-time, in school, or doing any type of contract work. I was just me, working for myself and figure out what the next step was. And that scared the hell out of me.
I like plans. I like direction. I like goals and I like measurable outcomes of success. As much as I wish I didn't, I totally base a lot of my value on how well I do things. I am addicted to achieving (as are many of you reading this I'm sure). While none of that is necessarily bad, it has meant in the past that I worked insane hours and didn't live a life of intention. The people I loved got the worst of me and that's not okay. I tried to hide for a long time. Behind all the perfect and shiny was someone who only felt important when she was in charge or leading people or doing something of value that other people could say, "look how great she is!"
When we got back from Greece, I decided to put all the new projects in my business on hold so that I could grieve. For me in the past, grief and anxiety have pushed me to dive into work. To numb myself in busy and to never really deal with how I felt. Do you ever do that...like you hide your feelings and anxiety under piles of papers or clients?
Grief can different for everyone, but for me, I decided I would give myself the month of April to "just be". I didn't really talk about this as it was something that kind of happened and I wasn't sure how to explain it. I am still working on the day to day things, but that is usually 2-4 hours a day. I worked on several existing projects, but decided not to talk on anything new. It also meant that things got put on hold. It meant that my workbook that is fully completed but needs to be designed, stopped all together and that my weekly newsletters and emails and lot of Instagramming slowed down and sometimes stopped too.
Instead of finding my value in work, I wanted to dig deep and figure out what I truly wanted to do next. Maybe I should have explained this to people who thought I just went off the grid, but I didn't feel like I owed anyone an explanation, which is another big deal for me. I'm naturally a people pleaser who wants to make others happy, but this time, I didn't. I wanted to figure out what truly made me happy.
Here is a helpful few things I've done over the past month that can be implemented for any of you who find yourself in a place of transition or "not okay". It's okay to not be okay.
1. Grieve the Loss. I am still grieving the loss of what I thought was going to happen in my life and it can be isolating and lonely somedays... And even lonelier if you work for yourselves. It's okay to slow down and grieve, instead of jumping into something new!
1. Get rid of the noise and numbing. Often it's hard to know how you feel (and uncomfortable) if you're constantly drowning yourself in noise. Noise can look like TV, Netflix, always being around people and numbing can look like the same...or drinking a glass of wine everyday to take the edge off. I have tried to limit the numbing in my life and have instead focused on activities I enjoy, though I will say somedays I spent a lot of time watching Netflix...and that's okay too!
2. Only do what fills you up! Right now I am filling my days with what I enjoy and saying "Yes" only to things that I enjoy. If someone asked me to do something and I feel lonely or bored, my initial response is to say yes. I've stopped myself and taken a step back to see if those things are things I really do want to do...and if it's not a "HELL YES", it's a no.
3. Come up with a morning routine. Whether it's big or little. Somedays over the last month, my routine was just this simple: wake up without an alarm, make the bed, have coffee, spend time reading, etc. Having a small routine can help you feel like you're not just spending all day in one place. I struggled being in our small apartment at first, so an important thing for me to do in the morning was get out and walk with the dogs!
4. Stop telling everyone you're fine. The two biggest words that hurt relationships are "I'm fine." We are taught to be strong and we are taught to be "tough", but nobody talks to us about how to be un-fine. We miss out on lots of deeper connections by trying to be fine, so find someone who you can be un-fine with. "Fine" keeps us from really connecting with people on a deeper level. I am so thankful for my dear friends who have supported me this past month...sometimes it looked like getting coffee with a new friend and sometimes it looked like crashing a friend's house and having the hard conversations, while crying in their kitchen.
5. Trust your Intuition. I have said to several friends that this is my month of listening to my intuition. If you aren't sure what that means or don't know if you're listening to your own, I am going to talk more about that soon!
6. Do stuff that brings your joy. As part of my Quarter LIfe+2 Year Crisis, I took time to think about things I enjoy and things I don't. Before you say "duh!" to that, please tell me how many things you do on a daily basis that you don't enjoy, but feel obligated to...exactly! Some of my list included: starting to read for pleasure again, sitting outside on our porch, going for walks, wine night with girlfriends, doing yoga and mediating everyday, working out, and painting flowers. Without the expectation
7. Find your people. Especially during a move it can be hard to keep up with old friends all the while trying to make new ones. I usually get anxious meeting new people, but I have intentionally taken the time to go out to coffee, lunch, or drink to meet new people. While they may not all be my new best friends, getting out and meeting people is always so important! It may feel awkward at first, but we are meant for community and meant for relationships with other people. We started going to a new church and small group and while it always feels a little weird at first, I am already so thankful for these new relationships!
When you stop feeling obligations to do or be something, you can simply be yourself. And when you have nothing left to be but yourself, it's a beautiful thing. While you may not be able to take an entire month off of your schedule to do this, you can take little steps to find joy in your own life each day! I'll be sharing more about this in the next few weeks!
P.S. Check out lots of the pretty new blooms paintings I've been painting this month in the shop! Use the code "THANKSMOM" for 20% off your order this week!