Bear with me, this is going to be a tough one for me to write. You know the whole, being transparent with my readers thing, well I am going to be completely transparent at the risk of sounding selfish, pathetic, and downright insane… so here is goes.
The last 3 1/2 years have been, what I like to call, my era of “tragic blessings.” Some events just plain tragic, others heart wrenching, but blessings in disguise.
The tragic part of this era all started in December 2014 when my little brother died suddenly. Before this, honestly, I couldn’t say I have ever really had a huge adulthood trial or tribulation. I was blessed with a child, generally happy, totally high maintenance and materialistic, and focused completely on my son, marriage, career, and social life. Honestly, I was really living the dream. I was my own boss, purchased my little dream house, was able to afford nice cars for my husband and I, spent lavishly on vacations, had 5 stores in my brand portfolio, and was continuously splurging on house updates, my child, fashion, spa trips, social dinners, happy hours with friends, and more. To most of the world, I looked like a surfaced snob. I can assure you, the depth has always been there but rarely is seen unless tragedy knocks at my door. I guess I can be a little misleading like that.
In the last three years, my brother has passed away, I have lost 2 grandparents, I married and am now in the process of divorce, and I have been left with a whopping mountain of insecurity and fear. Sounds like a winner right guys? Not quite what you had expected, I know.
During this time, extraordinarily insane ideas had frequently crossed my mind. For instance, I contemplated just disappearing. I am not usually a runner (literally and figuratively). I ALWAYS choose to fight, but for the first time in my life, I felt defeated. What if I just didn’t come home? I could change my name, jump a plane to Italy with a few small bags, live in a hostel until I could find work and then go back to school to get degrees under my new identity. The only problem was taking my boys from their family here. You didn’t think I would ever leave my two little loves did you? I also am not vindictive and honestly want my ex-husband to have a great and healthy relationship with the boys. I also do not break the law and kidnapping with a stolen identity (I guess that is what I would have had to do) is down right crazy. Anyone out there let the idea simmer a little too long in their mind? I am open to the confession because I genuinely believe that I am not the only one. I guess the cat is out of the bag. I am a total extremest but never to the detriment of my morals so I guess that makes it a little better?
After strategizing every possibility to exit the situation I just came to the conclusion that, like always, I am going to have to fight. The easy way does not exist. I must take back control and fall in love with life again. It won’t be the same love that I had before the tragedies because as a result, I am not the same girl, but this love will be a greater more mighty adoration for life as the realism has saturated my soul and the deepest depth has concaved into a whole new level.
So here it is. The 5 ways that I have fallen back in love with my life. I deem them incredible because I really thought that my love for life perished with all of the tragic circumstances. Yet incredibly, love prevails!
Cut the fat and focus on downsizing. I pulled my personal and work monthly budgets and began striking off the excess. XM radio? Nope, I can bluetooth my phone. I hardly watch HBO, it is much cheaper to just pay for it when I rent, which is never, than to pay for it monthly. Line by line I began to downsize my excessive monthly spending. After reevaluating my budgets, I began to think more about my work hours versus payout trade off. I was working about 80 hours a week to make the same amount of money that I made with one store working more like 30 hours a week. I decided to close a few locations, only book larger bridal parties on my off days to ensure a bigger payout, and take my weekly blog posts from 3 posts per week to 2. It makes no sense to keep a store open if I am not seeing a check from it. For the longest time I couldn’t figure out how The Ivory Closet was such a wild success but The Attic was lacking. I realized that I had stretched myself so thin that The Attic was always the second thought and it’s needs were continuously thrown on the back burner. It was going to take a bigger time commitment for me to make The Attic a success and honestly, I had missed so much already with my boys that giving more of myself to work was just not an option any longer which lead my thinking in a new direction. I shouldn’t be sacrificing an off Saturday with my kiddos for a couple hundred bucks. If the wedding party brings triple that, then I will book. Lord knows the money is needed now that I am driving this ship alone, but missing an afternoon with my littles calls for a paycheck that could put a dent in our monthly budget and a couple hundred just won’t do it. Likewise, weekend photoshoots take several hours but are neccessary for the amount of posting I was doing. Honestly, does anyone really read all 3 of my posts weekly? If you do, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, but I feel that focusing more on quality over quantity when it comes to the blog is better for my readers, business partners, and my sanity!
LESSON: Life isn’t about having everything tangibly but instead about having every moment. I want to fill my library with stories of love and laughter, not fables of hopeless stress.
I have been beating myself up left and right about my marriage. I was told that I worked too much, but I didn’t have the luxury of staying at home. Our bills had to get paid and it just wouldn’t happen without me putting in the time. I know now that I spent a lot of time working on things that were not worth the time requirement, but honestly, I just had these dreams that I knew would set my family on a level where we didn’t need to worry about budgeting. In the meantime, the thing I was working so hard to secure, crumbled completely to the ground. The divorce definitely was not all my fault but I couldn’t help but wonder, how things may have been if I just found a day job and hung my dreams out to dry. I have a Masters. I could get a job that pays enough for my husband to stay home but I kept hammering at the nail to build an empire that just wasn’t flourishing at the rate that I had expected. Was I selfish for chasing my dream? Did I neglect the needs of my family? Could I have done better? I knew that divorce was the right thing, but the mania that inhabited my brain had me obsessing over everything that I could have done better or worse, everything that may had been wrong with me. I began to be concerned with every conversation that I was having. “Did I just sound like a snob?” “Does she think that I am crazy?” “Do people think I am a bad mom?” “Do I look gross?” “Does she even really want to be my friend?” I just knew something was wrong with me and that was why the theme of abandonment in my life keeps reoccurring. I was wearing myself out with worry until one day, I had had enough. I looked into the mirror and said to myself “Who gives a shit?” Why do I care what everyone is thinking about me? Yes, I am not perfect but neither is anyone else. The reason all my relationships haven’t worked out thus far, is because they aren’t supposed to, not because there is something wrong with me. I starred at that worried, fearful girl looking back at me in the eyes and wondered, who is this woman? She’s not the confident, determined woman that I am accustom to. Not the woman that used to love life…love herself. I was so disgusted. From that day on, I decided to forgive myself, focus on growth and to only look forward.
LESSON: Always be on your side. The world is going to give you a beating so Lord knows you don’t need to join in. Go easy on yourself. Love yourself.
Focused on Faith
When I focus on faith I can definitely see more positive outcomes which motivates me to submerge myself into teachings and the church, however it is a very hard thing to do when you are at your lowest. I just felt like I couldn’t look church in the eyes after my brother died. Not because of guilt, but because of pure devastation and embarrassment. For almost 8 months, I could not go a full Sunday in church with out crying. What was worse, was that I was the wife sitting in the back alone without a loving hand or a warm shoulder. When it came time for divorce, my desperation for love sent me running back into the arms of the church. Faith restored my hope to love life again. I continue to show my gratitude to the Lord by supporting his church and learning more about his teachings.
LESSON: God will light the way so have faith and allow him to guide you.
Stop to Enjoy the Smallest Moments
Sometimes I will drive past a field on the interstate and the sun will be positioned just right where you can see the rays striping the ground. I always want to pull over, walk to the middle of the field, and lay down. Sounds weird right? I haven’t actually done it yet but my new motto on embracing more moments has me tempted. Until I can get my serene moment under the sun, I will enjoy the moments that are presented to me on the daily. When I am super stressed in the evenings with getting the kids bathed and fed, the house picked up, and finishing work, it is easy to ignore the little hands reaching up to me wanting a cuddle. My focus is directed to getting everything ready for my family to sleep tight and start the following day off right. Now that I am parenting solo, it is super important to share moments on the daily with my boys. My new rule is to stop work when I pick up my boys and enjoy the evening that lies ahead. The small moments are what matters most and bring true joy to my life.
LESSON: Even if it is only taking the time to savor a new treat, experience each moment to the fullest. Life is often so busy that we don’t take the time to enjoy it.
Make time for Me
I used to take baths, give myself facials, do my nails, or read a book in the evenings. I can’t tell you the last time I had taken an hour to pamper and enjoy myself. About two weeks ago I gave it a try and I must say, I can’t figure out why I ever stopped. Taking just one hour a night to do something that I enjoy has really helped to mend my soul. While I have gladly dedicated my life to my boys, I am still worth it. Being super busy has caused me to loose myself over the years.
LESSON: Make time for yourself. You can’t love life if you let go of the things that you loved to do when you were young. I used to sew, paint, craft, read, and pamper. Spending an hour before bed doing one of these things has really reminded me that life as a parent doesn’t have to be completely selfless.
I would love to hear about some of the ways that you stay in tuned in to the enjoyments of life. Please leave your suggestions in the comments!