The last decade has been a decade of change. I started the decade as a working mother of 4 young boys. I was working in a profession that made me somewhat happy, but was beginning to loose its luster for me, and wearing me down physically and emotionally. My husband was hitting his stride as an artist, fulfilling many of the dreams he had for himself, and I was so stoked for him, but oddly jealous at the same time. I had begun to learn how to manage my weight, but not in a healthy way at all. It was all about perfection for me back then. I wanted to feel like I was in control of everything, and in order to maintain that control, I had to keep a perfectly clean house, work full time, be the best at my church service, run at least 5 (miserable) miles a day, and never let anyone see the real me. Behind closed doors I was far from perfect. I was a mess. But it was a huge improvement for me from the previous decade, so it felt sort of ok. I remember someone telling me that I was a perfectist in a conversation one day, and I was so offended. I did not see myself as a perfectionist at all. After all, if I were a perfectionist I would have a perfect body, and a perfect life, and I never felt like I had either one of those.
A lot of life happened in the years between 2009 and 2013, and one thing I learned was that I could not actually control most of it. There were hard things that came along, and there was nothing I could do about that. I began to feel like I was just reacting to my life, not in control of it. Then, at age 43, I found out I was pregnant! Pregnant. I could not believe it. I was devestated at first ( I feel terrible admitting that, but it is the truth). I felt like I had finally reached a place where I was making progress with my body image, I had just run my first marathon, I was doing great things at work, and I was in control of my life, and my children lives (oh how naive I was back then). Well... that was all about to change. Being pregnant at 43 was a little harder than I remembered it being in my 20's and 30's, I could no longer do many of the things that I thought were making me happy. I felt like I couldn't spend time with the friends I had because I couldn't keep up the same pace of life that I had before. I had to dial everything back. Slow down. Regroup. It was hard. After my little guy was born I had a pretty horrible recovery, and ended up back in the hospital. I had to rely on others for help, I had to relinquish some control in my life. But oh how I loved that little baby! He helped me remember how lucky I was to be a mother, and how much I loved the little details of life. I slowed down long enough to realize that I had been sleep walking through my life in a hurried and frantic blur. Once I realized that, I really couldn't go back. I spent a lot of time with my own thoughts, and it actually felt really good to get acquainted with myself again.
When my son was 2 years old I left my career in medicine and decided to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do next. Then, a couple of really hard things happened that changed me quite a bit. One of my very best friends passed away suddenly, and my heart ached for her family and for the loss I felt as well. Then my oldest son graduated from High School and immediately left for 2 years of church service in the Philippines. Both events bent me, shaped me, and nearly broke me. Luckily I had a community of friends and family that inspired me with the way they overcame hard things, took care of each other through difficult times. I realized that life is short, children grow up and leave, and the things that I had been spending my time worrying about were really quite trivial. My world shifted. I wanted to be present, and I wanted to focus on gratitude instead of feeling upset about the things that weren't perfect. I started a series of things that completely changed my focus, and in turn...my whole world. When I changed, it affected my family, and they changed too. We spent much more time getting outside, and doing the things we loved to do. I started a business. I started skiing again. I started fly fishing again. I started running for the way it made me feel, not the way it might eventually make me look. I hiked, journaled, tried watercolor painting, discovered yoga, and just generally opened my heart and mind up to a world that had been there all along, but I had not been able to see.
I am still learning to let go of a lot of my need to be in control, and my fear of failure, but I am at least aware of it now, and that somehow makes it easier to deal with. I think fear is often the thing that drives many of our decisions in life. Fear keeps us in places of comfort, and helps us feel in control. It makes us judge others who do things we deem reckless. Fear hobbles us from trying new things, and from reaching for the dreams we have quit letting ourselves dream. I have decided that this year I am choosing the word FEARLESS as my focus. Not in the way it is spoken and spelled, but in the way it works for me...FEAR-LESS. I am going to fear a little less this year. I am going to be realistic about what that means for me. I may not be totally FEARLESS by this time next year, but I will fear LESS. Some of my fears might be seemingly silly to other people. For example, I have never been afraid to do things like paragliding ,or bungie jumping... but ask me to wear leggings in public with out a sweatshirt tied around my waist? Ummm...no chance! But they are my fears, and they are real to me, so I am going to conquer the little ones AND the big ones. One fear at a time. Everyday I am going to do something that scares me just a little (starting today, when I hit publish on this post). Who knows, I may even try to redeem myself on a certain rope swing in Montana that scuffed up my knees and my pride a couple of years back ( a story for another day). As for the venturing out in public in leggings without that sweatshirt around my waist? Well, you may to need to slow your roll a little bit there...let's not get carried away...it's only January.
So here is to 2020...the year of less fear. May it be filled with laughter instead of tears, courage over comfort, and most of all, hope instead of worry. That is my wish for anyone still reading this lengthy post as well. Less fear for you, much more hope and happiness.
So...What will your word be this year?