A few weeks before the year ended, I joined a group of women in a week-long journaling challenge. The focus was to reflect on the year before making goals and plans for the next year. I’ll admit I didn’t take as much time as I should have journaling (I’m really not a fan of journaling or handwriting anything) but I did spend some time in reflection on last year.
Last year broke itself into three distinct stages for me. I started off busy, with a period of survival that melted into a rough summer. I didn’t even have time to relax and find my new normal when the kids went off to school because I whisked away to Wyoming for a retreat that literally changed my life. After that reset, I was able to start the move into what I am feeling now.
It Starts with Reflection
In January of 2019, my husband and I bought a house. Our first house. Ever. Those outside of the military community might think we are crazy, but up until this year, we had no idea where we would want to live when the Army was done. We had no idea what we were doing but with a great realtor and lender, we secured a good rate and closed on our house. Then we moved. Again.
This was our third move in two years. Arizona to Florida to Georgia and then, quite literally, around the corner. It was the first time since college that we were responsible for the move. I packed my kitchen and transported half a dozen boxes at a time in my minivan and then reloaded the boxes the next day.
It was a hard move because we didn’t have the break from life a move generally brings us. We moved in on a Monday, the kids rode their new bus to school on a Tuesday and we had basketball games that week. There was no breathing room. I was working from my desk using my phone’s hotspot as the internet was installed.
This period of survival lasted until the kids got out of school in May. It was always something, it seemed, that took over my days and weeks until the month was gone. We jumped from Easter into a business trip for my husband and then we were approaching the end of school. Before I knew it, it was summer. And I was not ready.
The Summer Season
Summer is fun and overwhelming and terrifying all at once. But this summer was going to be different. We had plans to visit family, plans to hang out with friends and Gregory was old enough to enjoy the pool. We had something scheduled most weeks between Vacation Bible School, individual camps, and trips. And I cut back on work to spend more time with my kids.
But I wasn’t really ready. I was anxious over work picking back up in August. I was spending too much time worrying about things and wasting time I could have spent with my kids. I stressed over activities and how hot it was. And I spent a lot of afternoons fighting a toddler over naps.
I felt isolated and alone, struggling through this lonely stage of parenting where I had a rising middle schooler and a toddler. I didn’t want to play at the park, but I also couldn’t leave them home alone. It was a struggle and I spent a lot of time counting down until school started.
The Most Important Season
After school started and I returned from my retreat, I fell into a pattern. I focused on those things that made me happy. I was in the gym 4 to 5 times a week getting stronger every day. I was setting goals to spend time on my hobbies and reading. And most importantly, I rearranged my time to be the most productive I could be.
I was well on my way to making some huge changes when I attended makeHER in Charleston in early October. This retreat showed me that I was able to take some time away from the hustle and focus on the future. That I was a strong, independent, professional woman and needed to treat myself like that. I left Charleston with a hype squad of supportive, amazing women and a llama that reminds me to say, “Nope.”
October was the perfect month of restructuring life. I started eating better on a consistent basis. I was able to prove to myself that I improved in the gym with the 2020 CrossFit Open. I read books, reduced my screen time, and stuck to my self-imposed office hours. It was wonderful.
November and December proved to be a little more challenging to stick to those new habits, but since I had a baseline to work off of, I was able to stick to it. If I truly needed to put in some extra hours, I could do that without sliding into the constant cycle of working.
As I finished up the year with a 4-night Disney cruise with my family, I realized just how lucky I was to have them pushing me to the next level. How I went from survival to the dark side of summer to this place where I am now. And It convicted me to continue in this growth, this good place where I am now. Not to let it slip by and start over again in the new year. Reflecting on my last year will make my next year that much better.