In 2017, I learned that we can plan all we want in our attempts to manifest what we think our lives should be, but it's often the serendipitous, spontaneous experiences that bring us to the place we need to be in order to grow, like the seed of a wildflower carried by the wind.
After years of believing that I would never have a family of my own due to endometriosis and ambivalence, my gregarious, funny and fearless little guy entered the world in February, born to two introverted, bookish parents who are still trying to figure out where our bubbly charmer came from. We’d done everything we possibly could to ensure a natural water birth, but after 23 hours of labor, he arrived unruffled by an otherwise harrowing emergency C-section, which somehow set the tone for parenting, my anxieties and neuroticism harshly contrasting the reality of raising such an easy, confident baby.
Here’s how I saw it — I’d be one of those present, put-together moms while expanding Tangram Wellness, writing a book, and working on a doctorate as he napped. I’d strive to be like that gorgeous blonde mom who jogs by my house every morning — she with the perfectly sculpted six-pack, placid wrinkle-free face and Lululemon wunder shorts. I so, so want to be her some days! Now, the reality:
with any significant step forward, there is so much loss. I find that concepts like “balance” and “having it all” as a mother are complete and utter bullshit, that the appearance of perfection means something very different behind closed doors, that holding ourselves up to idealized Instagram standards is yet another form of self-hatred.
So, I chose to scale back Tangram, shuttering it as a full-fledged company and slowly redirecting it back to its essence as one woman, one coach, who simply wants to serve the people she's meant to serve where and when she can. The book, which I’d mapped out to write over six months of baby naps, is looking more like a multi-year project, and the degree that I was aiming to apply for has taken on an entirely new hue, less a necessity and more a high-risk roll of the dice. These days, I’m lucky to get to the gym four times a week. Cardio means a breathless ten-minute stroller run to my favorite coffee shop. And, now that I've been blessed with my son, I've realized that this once proudly child-free woman would probably be happiest with a large family which, at my age, is both an impossibility and a yearning that few of my peers relate to. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has gone as planned.
In 2017, I stopped being a “fixer,” an aspect of my personality that I’d once believed was set in stone. I stopped trying to heal people who have no real interest in feeling good, and I walked away from toxicity cloaked as love, estranging myself from the past after saying a final time in 2016, shortly before I’d conceived, #metoo.
There must be something in the air—so many women, like seeds, found their roots this year and began to flourish fiercely on the outskirts of a desert beset by predators. Their buds are everywhere now, a variegation of colors and textures sprouting from a once unfamiliar land as if they belonged there, because they do. Me too. We cannot breathe in new life without releasing the weight that pulls us under and that often requires a real fight and then, rest. Rest.
For all the shifts and surprises, 2017 has been the best year of my life. And yet, the entire time, I haven’t been the one driving, despite all of my planning. God is a tricky topic to write about these days, but for many of us in recovery — recovery from anything — we eventually have to learn to “let go and let God.” I guess I’ve finally realized, after 8 years of sobriety, what that truly means. Cultivating spiritual fortitude sounds like a worthwhile goal for next year, and every year thereafter.
My wish for all of us in 2018 is that we can enjoy “what is” a bit more instead of focusing on what could be — a tall order in this age of achievement, frustration and hashtags, where our will and desires are king and queen. To make ample space for mystery and surprise — to "trust the timing of your life," as the saying goes — is a strange thing for a behavior change coach to advocate but I think, at this point, it’s a strong way forward. Farewell to grasping.
Ring it in, and bring it on! Happy New Year.