At the beginning of the year I envisioned myself tiptoeing towards my potential, maybe even dancing in small circles, two-steps-forward, one-step-backward style. That's what I had been doing for a while, years even, and I was ready for more. I wanted to leap and jump towards my potential. I wanted to run full speed ahead to find the best version of myself.
If you look at social media, the general consensus was that 2016 was a bummer of a year, but for me, it will always be remembered as one of my most formative years, in the best way. Nearly every morning I woke up and made a mental list of the things I wanted to let go of of that day. My biggest struggles seemed to circle around impatience, self-criticism, and forgiveness.
I am 100% confident that I was a better version of myself by December of 2016. Noticeably, even. And the pride and confidence that came from working as hard as I could to grow and learn and just BE BETTER felt amazing. Seeing results felt even better.
I have to admit though, I don't know that there were any 'leaps' forward in 2016. Instead, my growth seemed to come in small steps, consistently going forward. Or rather, mostly consistent. My pace of progression was something I could be proud of though, and so baby steps was acceptable to me (it was better than tiptoeing, at least).
Then 2017 hit. And unbeknownst to me, I was in for quite a leap of growth. Possibly my biggest jump yet. And I don't fully understand why this was so huge for me; but truly, I will never be the same.
I cursed my 'let it go' mantra many times during my pregnancy...trying to let go of how I wanted pregnancy to be might have been my biggest test of patience and strength to date. My goal was to smile though the pain, to keep my chin up as I hobbled from my handicapped parking spot to the motorized wheel-chair at the font of each store, and to refuse to bring my family down with a bad attitude about how miserable I was.
And I have to say, I experienced the power of gratitude during this time. My goodness, I'm not sure there are many things more powerful than gratitude. This pregnancy may have been my hardest one yet, physically. But mentally, it was my best. Choosing to smile with the hand I was dealt, instead of complain about the hand I wanted was a major obstacle for me. And I wasn't perfect, but I tried my best and saw results.
(And I have to say, isn't that something we all experience over and over again....being dealt a different hand than we expected or wanted. For real, it's a tough one for me. But I'm practicing.)
So. With the start of 2017 came the end of my pregnancy. And I was more than ready to hold my baby girl in my arms instead of in my broken hips. I got to the hospital 100% convinced that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. And then Belle was breach. Which we didn't know until the last second. And it was too late to really try anything to flip her. And I have to say, being raced to the O.R. with nurses buzzing around, and doctors calling for 'emergency teams' to come is definitely not the hand I was hoping for. Without re-writing all the details of Belle's birth story, I'll just say that we were scared for her life, and also mine.
And I wonder if, without a year of practice under my belt, would I have been able to find patience and gratitude and perspective in the moment of chaos? At the risk of sounding braggy, I can't deny that I found strength that I didn't know I was capable of. I found the patience that I had been working for. And I found perspective that truly calmed all the fear and doubt and anxiety that filled my body.
And Belle's birth turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I can't honestly say that I loved every second of the hand I was dealt, but at the risk of sounding braggy again, I don't think I could have handled it any better.
And I came away from that experience knowing that I was closer to who I was meant to be. That Heavenly Father prepared me for this pitch. And practicing for a year might have turned the fast-ball into a slow-lob mid-throw.
And in the most humble tone I can muster, I was/am really really really proud of myself. I knocked it out of the park. And I will never be the same.
I feel like I've been working to become who I'm meant to be, and Belle's birth gave me a glimpse of what that girl looks like. And now that I've seen a little more of her, I'm more determined than ever to become her. Because she's really really cool. And happy. And strong. And patient. And grateful. And loving. And selfless. And she lives her life whole-hearted. And I will happily work for every tiny step (or big leap) towards becoming that girl.
One of my fears after having a somewhat life-changing experience, was that it might fade out and become a fond memory. And that my growth would fade as well. 10-steps-forward, 10-steps-back style. Thankfully, that hasn't happened. And I feel consistent growth still happening. One of the biggest things that has facilitated that continual growth is this: I made a list of all the things I wanted to BE, instead of a list of all the things I wanted to DO.
I'm a really big list person. And there are so many many things I want to do in this life (including but not limited to: traveling the globe, giving my children unforgettable life-experiences, reading a million books, living in a beautiful home, getting my masters degree, and changing the world). And while I love my list of what I want to do, I saw instantly that my list of who I wanted to BE was 100 times more heart-felt and vulnerable and impactful and emotional for me. My soul has clung to that list. And I've felt my heart pulling towards it every single day.
-When I'm on my phone and Rae asks me to color with her for the 3rd time that morning, I remember that scrolling insta literally doesn't bring me a single bit closer to being anything on my list.
-When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I remember that I want to BE confident and happy and self-accepting, and I try to talk nicely to myself.
-When Johnny destroys another toy, I want to remember that I want to BE patient and loving. And that
somethings everything is more important than broken toys.
-When Garrett has yet another church meeting, I hope to remember that I want to be service-oriented, and selfless, and generous, and positive. I try to remember that at the tippy top of my priorities list, second only to my family, is helping people. And I remember that I WANT to serve as much as I can.
-When so-and-so does this-or-that, and I just want to tell the world, "How dare she?!" I TRY remember that I want to be forgiving and loving and encouraging and empathetic and understanding. Because I need people to be all of those things to me when I do stupid things.
My list goes on and on, from adventurous to intentional to dependable to informed. And grateful. Always, always grateful. And I've found it to be so much more encouraging than my 'to do' list, which tends to leave me defeated and wanting.
I know this life is hard, but it is also the most beautiful. And if we are willing to put forth the WORK in all things, then the rewards are oh so sweet.
I feel very confident that one of our greatest purposes on this earth is to become the very best versions of ourselves. And that takes work. Never.Ending.Work. All day long, year after year.
And truly, it doesn't matter where we start. So don't let anyone or anything make you feel defeated or not good enough to start. BECAUSE it really only matters THAT WE START.
I'm very very very veeeeeerrrrry early on in this process, but I already love every ounce of change and growth I see in myself.
So here's to the rest of 2017, and continuing to kick some serious booty. And also, not giving one single crap what anyone thinks, because when you know for a fact that you're doing your very very best, you shouldn't feel anything but proud and completely in love with yourself.