HOLY COW 2018 IS ALMOST OVER! Doesn’t it feel like you blinked and it was all of a sudden December?! If you’ve been following the blog since it’s inception, then you might remember my post from last year about saying Yes to 2017. I briefly talked about how I don’t like New Years Resolutions because personally, I feel like it just sets us up for failure. Instead, a few years ago I started choosing a mantra or words that I wanted to manifest for the next year. Last year I opened the floor to suggestions for what people think I should focus on in 2018 and, while I got some great suggestions, the winner goes to my beautiful friend Madi who suggested the perfect one.
2018 was the year of Grace.
If you know me personally then you know graceful is never a word I would use to describe myself; I am in the double digits when it comes to concussions, I trip over my own two feet daily and I don’t own any white clothes for an obvious reason. However, this year wasn’t about being graceful but instead about being gracious. Grace is something a lot of us think about all the time, I am grateful for things daily, but sadly, I’ve been pretty terrible about giving it to myself. Despite my ADD, I consider myself a Type A perfectionist in a lot of ways. Sadly, this usually means that I’m the actual worst at consistently giving myself grace which brings the unintended consequence of internalizing what I perceive as a failure. This year I still had plenty of moments where I told myself I suck but, thanks to my amazing support network, those down times were shortlived and my best friends reminded me what to focus on instead.
SOCIAL MEDIA vs. REAL LIFE:
Nowadays it feels like social media presence is considered to be the best representation of what a person has to offer. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and everything else (except maybe LinkedIn haha) are overflowing with masses of edited photos. You see everyone from celebrities to the blogger pretending to be “just like you” altering their bodies and faces to fit what they think the world sees as beautiful. I used to tell myself that it wasn’t my fault that I felt crappy after scrolling through Instagram, looking at these influencers with their amazing bodies and flawless skin. The truth is, it is my fault because I’m allowing content into my life that does nothing to benefit me! One of the first things I did this year was to turn off notifications for every social media app on my phone. My type A brain can’t stand any type of badge app icon or notification pop-up; this solution keeps me from checking my phone every 10 minutes, or whenever it goes off. I also decided to delete “friends” off of my facebook that I don’t care about/don’t remember/or seem to bring constant negative energy to all they do. I know it may seem harsh but I can’t even describe the weight that I felt lifted after every deletion; being able to scroll through my feed and smile instead of inspecting for flaws has been so good for my mental health. Social media can cause so much unnecessary sadness and anxiety; even if I can rationalize with myself about how I know what I’m looking at is a projection, in those moments it feels oh so real. It’s so much easier to focus on why we’re not smarter, faster, prettier, or better instead of practicing grace, so this year I deleted things that no longer served me.
NEW JOB = NEW PRIORITIES:
If you follow me on Instagram then you know back in July I got an amazing opportunity to work for Amazon. It was an answered prayer for a lot of reasons, primarily the fact that my other job was tanking my depression! There are a ton of rumors about what working for Amazon is like, that managers are slave drivers who never let up. However, I have plenty of friends who work for Amazon in various departments and they told me that it really depends on each team and manager for how they treat their colleagues. I honestly went into this job knowing that I would be perfectly happy working 50+ hours a week for something I enjoyed or cared about. Aside from my day job, I fulfilled orders for my Etsy shop, reformatted content for my blog, watched films and wrote critiques, so I was already doing 4 different “jobs” a week; I was happy to be finally working for a company where a strong work ethic is valued. What I wasn’t expecting was for my ADD to take over and forget all things other than work. I knew it was going to take some ramp-up time but within my first few months I took over the workload for all of Amazon Studios’ content and had clocked in over 100 overtime hours at Amazon. My boss is amazing, he approved of me working overtime each week but was always cautioning me about burning out (in a completely serious, not ironic way). Too bad that everything had to be perfect, the idea of presenting failure to external customers just wasn’t an option for me. It took me burning the candle at both ends, losing goodness knows how much sleep, having my boss tell me to go home repeatedly, skipping over films to critique, rescheduling dates, and feeling like I was losing myself to finally realize there has to be some kind of balance. I always admired the work ethic my parents instilled in me, but I never saw the other side of the coin. It’s been almost 6 months at Amazon now, and I’m limiting my weekly overtime, they’ve lined me up for a promotion in the next 3 months, I’ve trained 2 team members to support me, I was interviewed for a Geekwire article, and I have an amazing boyfriend who understands that I want to succeed so he’s kind enough to set aside time for just us without making me feel guilty. Balance will happen, it’s a constant work in progress but I’m getting there & I’m thankful for the grace I afford to myself.
I’m just gonna come right out and say it, “I’m terrible with money!” Unfortunately, I didn’t have the greatest examples growing up, it was never anything school prepared me for, and I made some dumb decisions in college that are still following me to this day. Thankfully, I have amazing friends who are great with budgets and don’t mind explaining things to me like I’m a 4-year-old. My friend Grace is amazing and thanks to her, this year I began budgeting using Smartsheet; she managed to explain budgeting and debt in a way that finally made sense and I’m not kidding when I say that I cried with relief realizing that I didn’t have to live with these financial burdens forever. Prioritizing my financial freedom meant making some sacrifices this year for the greater good, accepting the fact that I couldn’t treat myself to another international trip was the hardest pill to swallow. Despite the sacrifices, the last year has had so many gains – I took care of some of my accounts that were placed in collections, kept up with monthly bill payments, put away a percentage of my paycheck into savings, and made headway on residual credit card debt. I definitely made mistakes along the way- repeatedly pulling money from my savings account, accidentally double paying bills, buying things I really didn’t have the money for, but no matter what I still recovered. She always helps me refocus my goals whenever things get blurry, we adjust my budget accordingly when unexpected things happen, and not once did she make me feel like an idiot for messing up or not understanding something. Every time I made a financial mistake I forced myself to acknowledge it, maybe try to figure out why I let it happen, and to give myself grace that I’m not perfect, it might occur again, but I’ve got to work hard to keep that from happening.
Some of my closest friends know that a few years ago I went through a terrible break-up with the man I thought I was going to marry. When it comes to emotional vulnerability, I’m similar to my father in that when I’m done I’m done, I cut the emotional cord and usually throw myself into a new project to keep my mind busy. So following the breakup, I went through a 2-3 week “mourning period” and then promptly started my Etsy shop. After all, Beyonce said it best, “the best revenge is your paper”! A few months later I started seeing someone but within a month I could tell that we both wanted different things and my last relationship showed me how tired I was of always being the one to compromise so I quickly ended things. I occasionally went on dates over the course of the next year but ultimately realized I had very little desire to date and really wanted to focus on myself. Cut to 2018 and about halfway through the year I make the announcement to my friends that I think I’m ready to start dating again. Lucky for me, Seattle was rated the worst city to date in! Normally I take those things with a grain of salt but The Great Love Debate polled over 90,000 people and they were most certainly correct, accurately describing Seattle as “leaving a gloomy puddle of aggravated women, socially-awkward men, and rainwater”. My friends set me up on all the finest dating apps iTunes could offer but my word does it gets overwhelming very quickly. Thankfully it wasn’t long before I met my current boyfriend Eoin, we’ve been going steady since the end of June but there has been A LOT of grace to give. Since I thought I had cut the cord, I wasn’t prepared for all the emotional baggage of my ex to show up with Eoin. Things as simple as meeting my friends became a huge deal because I saw it as us officially melding our lives together (seriously, I had a panic attack and meltdown in the car afterward). I hated what I had let my ex do to me but through every trial, Eoin has shown me nothing but grace, patience, and understanding. He reassures me that my feelings are valid, he encourages me to pursue my passions, he truly listens to me when I’m freaking out about something and always asks what he can do to help, and shockingly no matter how ridiculous my answer is, he does it! He has taught me the importance of emotional grace and that not everything is over when we think it is. Yes, I was badly burned, I knew there would be damage but I thought my wounds had healed. Even when I pull them open on my own, he makes sure that I’m the one that puts myself back together. The grace Eoin has given me and that I’ve been able to give myself has been the best emotional Neosporin I could have asked for haha.
After my last breakup, I realized how unhealthy my eating habits had become…again. When someone hears “unhealthy eating habits,” they don’t think eating disorder, instead, they think junk food every night, obese, diabetes etc. My unhealthy habits manifest in conveniently forgetting when to eat, upping my medication dosage because it suppresses my appetite, running no matter the pain, and taking the supplements my ex told me were good for me. I’ve dealt with body dysmorphia my entire life, my weight has always been unstable and I’ve constantly shied away from social situations that require showing my figure (I was seriously that girl who constantly wore t-shirts in the pool). Accepting the break up was one thing but truthfully, the harder moments have been watching and accepting how my body has changed these last 2 years. I’ve gained at least 30 pounds, gone up 4-6 pant sizes, and every week I feel like I find a new dimple somewhere on my body. My disorder does nothing but remind me every day that if I could just fix my body, everything else would fall into place. For the longest time, I was letting my size determine my worth. However, this past year my body carried me to its greatest feat yet – across the finish line of my first half marathon! Back in January, I let my friend Jenna talk me into running my first half, and when I said yes it was purely for the act of completing it and NOT for the potential of weight loss. We spent 6 months training and on June 10th, 2018 I crossed the finish line (both physically and emotionally) and couldn’t stop crying. Between my asthma, the 10+ years I was stupid enough to smoke, and countless injuries, I never thought I could do it. However, this body I hated, this body I couldn’t stand to look at, this body I spent decades criticizing, carried me 13.1 miles even when I didn’t believe in it. This was the year I accepted my physical “flaws” and embraced the body I’m in now. I don’t count calories, I make healthy and unhealthy food choices, I started physical therapy and building muscles I didn’t even know I had. Taking a page out of my beautiful sorority little’s playbook, I try to tell myself “Listen up, you beautiful badass Goddess! We don’t have time for that negativity! Come back. Don’t be sad. You are gorgeous inside and out, your body is worthy of love and adoration, and you are doing great. I love you.” – Rachel Spencer. I’m not saying I still don’t have bad days, sometimes I eat a slice of pizza and feel disgusted with myself, there are moments when I debate going back on “supplements”, occasionally when I put my pants on I just sit down and cry for a bit, but you know what – I get back up, button my pants and continue through to my day. This is the hardest part of this post to write but this body is the only one I’ve got so I’m not going to spend my life hating it.
Grace is not just for the religious. Instead, it is how you feel when your world seems to be unraveling and you gift yourself with the unexpected gesture of kindness. THAT is grace. In these situations, grace comes when you least expect it or deserve it; in those moments it has the power to soften and change you. Healing is not linear so don’t hold yourself to the standard of someone else’s timeline.
Allow yourself to make mistakes – just learn from them.
Let yourself feel bad – just actively work on feeling better again.
Accept when you fall down – just get back up.
Grace is enough & so are you.