This month, I turned 35. I’ve been reflecting on this year of my life the past week and realizing that so much has happened in the last year.
I wrote a post last year on 3 Important Things I Learned When I Was 33 and I found that post recently and read through it and was inspired to write another post about what I learned when I was 34.
1. I Am Stronger Than I Realized
“You’re not athletic.” I told myself this lie for years. I let it dictate my decisions. I let it stifle me from even trying dozens of things.
This year, I committed to stop letting the voices in my head and the lies I’ve believed about myself limit the choices that I make and be the labels that I wear.
So, I stopped saying, “I’m not athletic” and, at my husband’s crazy encouragement, I started a weight-lifting program.
I told myself I would stick with it for 6 weeks. I was sure I would hate it.
And I did… for the first 3 weeks. I dreaded it. I made up excuses to try to get out of it. I got overwhelmed at trying to learn how to do the exercises.
Some days, I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out. Some days I cried during the workout. Most days, I got frustrated because it was so stinkin’ hard.
But for some reason — probably because I am about as stubborn as they come — I didn’t give up.
I kept showing up. I kept giving it my all — even when it felt like my all was pretty pathetic.
Little bit by little bit, I started actually liking it. I got a little stronger. I pushed myself a little harder. The exercises and proper form got a little easier. And I began to see muscles in places on my body that I’d never seen them before.
It’s now been almost eight months since I began this program and I have fallen madly in love with weight-lifting. For real.
Y’all. I’m here to tell you that I AM athletic and I am a whole lot stronger than I ever knew I was.
I’m also living proof that there’s so much freedom when you stop letting the voices in your head and the lies you believe about yourself limit the choices that you make and be the labels that you wear.
You are stronger than you think. You are braver than you know.
This year, I also challenged myself outside my comfort zone by recording myself on live video on Periscope and Facebook Live, traveling to two new countries by myself, snow-boarding, hand-lettering, and indoor rock-climbing.
Here’s what I’m learning: I’m not going to love everything new I attempt, but challenging myself to get brave and just jump out and try — even when it scares me or I think I won’t like it or be good at it — has stretched me as a person and shown me that I’m stronger than I think I am.
Best of all, I’ve discovered a few things I absolutely love that I never thought I would and would have never known that I would fall in love with them had I not tried them and stuck with them for a few weeks (i.e. weight-lifting and live video).
I’ve missed out on a lot in life by sitting on the sidelines in the safe zone. I don’t want to camp out there anymore! There’s a world of excitement and thrill and color just waiting to be discovered… Right outside my comfort zone!
2. Life Has More Meaning When I’m Not Addicted to Productivity
Last year around this time, I hit business burnout in a bad, bad way. I was beyond tired.
I had lost my joy, my enthusiasm for running a business, and my inspiration for blogging.
In fact, for the first time in 10 years of running a business, I began seriously considering quitting. This idea was so appealing to me that we started a series of in-depth talks with a large company interested in buying MoneySavingMom.com.
I was so ready to walk away from it all. But instead, I decided to do something radical: I declared a Year Of Rest, and I said no to just about everything.
It wasn’t easy. Trust me. It was agonizing. It felt like I was walking away from everything I had worked so hard to build and I worried that I was making a huge mistake.
But I knew I couldn’t keep living like I had been living. It was sucking the life out of me and leaving me drained dry.
I’ve spent the last 10 months untethering myself from being chained to a worth based on productivity, prying my hands off of my tight grip on trying to control so many things in my life, and stepping way back from my usual highly-driven, task-oriented focus.
I’ve shut out a lot of noise (unsubscribing from business email newsletters, unsubscribing from business podcasts and blogs, and cutting way back on the number of how-to and must-do types of books I usually read).
I’ve walked away from great opportunities. I’ve stopped trying to be on the cutting edge of running an online business. I’ve embraced smaller numbers, smaller opportunities, and a smaller team. I’ve walked away from a lot of things that I once held onto very tightly.
Saying no over and over and over again has given me space to figure out what’s really important to me, what really excites me, and what I really love. It’s freed me up to have clarity and focus and inspiration and energy like never before.
I’ve slept more. I’ve laughed more. I’ve developed a few new deep friendships. I’ve tried new things (and I’ve surprised myself by loving some of them!) I’ve stopped obsessing so much over things I can’t change.
I’ve started wearing the color purple again. I’ve tried new foods, new styles, new drinks, and new experiences. I’ve gained a few pounds and not freaked out about it.
I’ve started volunteering at church in the children’s ministry. I’ve joined a women’s Discipleship Group at our church.
I’ve even given myself freedom to spend money on things “just because” — like discounted flowers and water balloons. I’ve become a lot more spontaneous. I’ve let myself sleep in without setting an alarm.
I loved deeper. I’ve trusted more wholeheartedly.
I’ve asked myself hard questions about the future. I’ve considered the why behind what I’m doing. I’ve let other people see the under-belly of who I really am without pretending. I’ve welcomed people into my messy.
When I chose “Rest” as my word this year, I had no idea just how much it would impact and transform my life!
3. You Have to Feel the Pain to Heal the Pain
That said, here comes the real and raw stuff (because a beautiful journey also includes some pain and messiness, doesn’t it??)…
I’ve talked about the Year of Rest multiple times on the blog and on social media. So many people have commented with things like, “I’m sure that’s been amazing!” Or, “Are you feeling all rested and refreshed?” Or, “It must be so incredible.”
The truth is: It has been wonderful — but not at all in the way I was expecting. I was expecting a year of rest to be filled with more sleep, more time with my family, more fun, more reading, more time for things I love. And it has been that… and that’s been wonderful.
But what has completely caught me off guard is that it’s also been a year of ugly crying. I’m not a crier, usually. I can be the only one in a group to experience something deeply touching without ever shedding a tear. I’m known to be stoic and non-emotional.
That’s all changed this year, however. I’ve probably cried more tears than I have in all the past 20 years put together.
As I’ve been weaning myself off my addiction to “hustle” and intentionally sought quietness and stillness in my life, I’ve struggled to figure out who I am without all of the noise, the accolades, and the accomplishing.
I’ve realized that the busyness was a bandage I tried to slap on. Instead of addressing deep wounds and aches and longings in my soul; I tried to medicate with productivity.
It felt good in the moment. It numbed the pain. It filled the empty spaces. And as long as I kept up the out-of-breath living, I didn’t have to confront the reality or deal with the broken parts of me I’d rather hide.
I realized that instead of dealing with the pain and hurt and hard situations of life over the past number of years, I’d stuffed them down deep, pretended they didn’t exist, and heaped on more busyness to distract myself.
As I’ve asked myself, “What does my soul need?” I’ve realized that self-care in this season has been me allowing myself to cry. Allowing myself space to really feel. To acknowledge the pain. To open up with safe friends in safe spaces about how much my heart feels broken by situations in my past.
Self-care has meant letting other people see the under-belly of who I really am. It’s meant welcoming people into the authentic messiness and rawness and not apologizing.
It’s been ugly and real… and oh so healing for me! Allowing myself the space and permission to feel, the permission to acknowledge the pain, and welcoming people in to see that I’m a broken, hot mess some days, has made me so much stronger, happier, and healthier than I’ve been in, well, probably ever.
Would You Do Me a Birthday Favor?
If you’re usually a quiet reader here, I’d LOVE it if you “de-lurked” and left a comment on this post introducing yourself. Hearing from my readers is one of my favorite things, so if you have a moment, I’d love to hear a little about you — where you’re from, how long you’ve been reading here, and anything else about you/your family that you’d like to share. Thanks SO much!
Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!