Stream of Consciousness
After an almost 4 month hiatus I'm happy to say I'm back to writing!!
Over the last few months I struggled to settle on a certain topic I wanted to write about. When it comes to my writing I am definitely a perfectionist and I feel like I need to deliver a top-quality piece with a clear beginning, middle and end each and every time. My mind, emotions and experiences were all over the place and I couldn't settle down enough to string together what I considered a cohesive and coherent post. But then I realized life is not always so succinct and easy to tie up in a nice little package and that in and of itself is what makes it so beautiful. Back in the beginning of June I was on the cusp of experiencing so much beauty, so much opportunity, and so much "newness". As I've moved through so much in the past few months I finally decided to take the leap and just write: attempting to cover all that I've been feeling and all that has been happening. Here goes nothing – my stream of consciousness post! I'm smirking as I'm typing because there's no way I can adequately capture all of my feelings and do them justice with mere words.
The end of May marked a distinct ending for a chapter in our lives and an exciting, brand new beginning to the next chapter. Mike GRADUATED in May and was offered his dream job as a pediatric echo tech at Children's National which he began the 2nd week in June. As you all know, Mike went back to school in 2015 and beginning in 2017 he was a full-time student and unable to work. This goal defined him, and subsequently us, for years upon years. Although there was massive growth and learning throughout these years there was also significant stress, heartache, frustration, traumas and periods of resentment. Mike had his huge health scare with his mini stroke and ASD's and I battled horrific atrial fibrillation and watched my mental health plummet and hit rock bottom. I was shrouded in darkness, paralyzed with anxiety, and hanging on by a thread. Throughout it all, Mike poured his heart and soul into school and sonography and it all paid off. He constantly said "One step at a time, one day at a time, I am closer to my goal and happiness". It became our mantra.
Ironically adjusting to life post Mike's graduation was difficult at first. We were so used to all that came with him being a full-time student and me being a full-time provider it was almost as if we had to relearn our roles in our little world. Suddenly we had freedom. Financial freedom. Social freedom. But also fear. Would it all pay off? Did we do ok emotionally and financially these past few years? Was this next phase of our lives going to be everything we hoped for and more? Was Mike going to still love this field? The answer a few months in is a resounding YES.
As Mike and I have been moving through this next stage of our lives there are a few main areas on which we have been focusing that I want to share with you.
The first is the importance of getting away, disconnecting, exploring all the world has to offer and seeing or trying something new. As one of my favorite bloggers, Jordan Younger, just recently wrote: "my favorite thing about vacation is that it gets you out of your head and back into your heart – the truest essence of who you are away from the daily routines, work and life.” Mike I took two weeks off and traveled to Hawaii and Arizona to celebrate his graduation. While we were there we unplugged. We spent the time unwinding, enjoying each other, celebrating, and exploring. We got out of our comfort zone and tried surfing for the first time. It was the trip of a lifetime and it was amazing. You don't need to take an extended vacation to do this. Plan a more local weekend getaway, have a staycation, or just go phone free for the weekend. Spend time with loved ones. Get out of your head and back into your heart.
Another huge area we have been focusing on is our finances. We met with our financial advisor and had an extensive planning meeting. We set goals and mapped out how to reach them. Since the beginning of July we have paid off significant debt and also saved a substantial amount. We are actively moving towards the debt free lifestyle and have been particularly inspired by Dave Ramsey. Check him out on social media or google him to see a list of his books and join us on the #debtfreejourney ! I promise you it's insanely liberating and extremely rewarding!
Finally, we've been focusing on nourishing our bodies and our spirits. 3+ years ago Mike and I started our weight loss journey. We made significant improvements, saw the pounds drop, and both got much healthier. This spring, however, old habits started to creep back in. We felt ourselves creeping closer to becoming unhealthy again and found ourselves very discouraged. In August we committed to shifting that mindset once and for all. We focused on gratitude and strength. We committed to eating clean and working out (3-4 times a week for me, 5-6 times a week for Mike). We both consulted with health professionals. I began physical therapy (something I'd never been able to stick with before) to tackle my injured shoulder. I incorporated weight training and upped my cardio. 9 days ago I JOGGED for 2 consecutive minutes! With my heart condition this was MONUMENTAL and so empowering. I feel the healthiest and strongest I've felt. The gym has kept me on track mentally and given me self-confidence I didn't know I could possess.
This past summer I found myself smiling in my car on my drive to work. I was excited to do things. I felt light and carefree and positive and optimistic. I guess you sometimes don't realize how dark things have become until you are back in the light. Reflecting back, I couldn't be prouder of all the work I put into my mental health. There were months where I was seeing my counselor every other week. Did I want to be doing this? Absolutely not. But much like any other illness, I had to take accountability for what was going on in my life and address the severe demons I was battling. I had to do this with my marriage as well. Mike and I have always been a good team and destined to be together but that's certainly not to say that it has all been rainbows and butterflies. I couldn't be prouder of the work Mike and I put into our marriage. I can say with 1000% certainty that as we are merely a month away from our 6 year anniversary, we couldn't be happier and we are the strongest we have ever been. I'm so excited for what's to come in our future.
At the end of the day I suppose my message is simple. Keep. On. Going. The darkest storms produce the most beautiful rainbows. You are never alone and are powerful beyond measure. Don't ever forget it.