“Making a big life change is pretty scary. But, know what’s even scarier? Regret.”
Grab a snack, coffee or tea. This is going to be a long blog. I wanted to recap and celebrate my official one-year anniversary of not being part of the corporate world.
This past year has meant the world to me. I knew I needed a change and a break but did not realize how much. It scares me to think how I would have grown as a person if I did not stop and change. Overall recap is that the first 3 months were the most difficult. I wanted to tackle everything in the house that was waiting for me all at once. I was overwhelmed dealing with some guilt and hoping I made the right decision. After that I started to settle into my new lifestyle more. I found that having a balance of taking care of the house and making sure I had time to exercise and eat healthy was important. Now I know that if I do not get everything checked off my list that day, it is not the end of the world.
If I were to describe my last year in a single statement I would say it has been “life altering in the best way possible”. I exited off the expressway I was frantically driving and found my own scenic road. The pace I have now is slower and calmer. I take the time to exercise. I take time to relax. I even have slowed down my eating which has been much better on my stomach. Less is more, and I love nothing better than cleaning out closets and donating items. I am enjoying the quiet.
I am thankful for my husband this past year. He made me realize that we got to this point in life together. The opportunity I have now is because of both of us. I did work more years than he did, and I did save so much and stuck to a budget so well. We now have a balance that is working for us. Our marriage has improved, and we have gotten closer as a couple. I am blessed.
My husband and I have a dinner planned to celebrate and he even purchased a thoughtful gift for me to mark the occasion. I asked him why it seemed no one was making that big of a deal about me celebrating my first year of not working for a big corporation. And I have to say that sentence completely instead of just stating my first year of not working. The reason is I cannot think of any time span that I have worked harder as compared to the last 12 months. Both on the house and myself. No one was asking how I felt or what I think about possible next steps. He said that only we know how hard this year has been on me. Only the two of us witnessed the emotional and physical changes. The mental mindset shift from labeling myself as a downtown career woman to a “fill in the blank” – CEO of the house? Stay at home woman? I was not even sure what I was anymore. I now say that I am a blogger who loves boxing and yoga and getting into other ventures which are creative in nature. I take care of everything and spend as much quality time with my husband as possible. I might also throw in that I am becoming a bigger football fan since it is no longer something that just keeps me up late on work nights anymore. My answer depends on who is asking but either way, my eyes light up when I answer with delight and happiness. I have the helm now and I am steering my own boat.
The freedom to choose whatever I want to do next is both exciting and daunting. I am working on two new skills that are very creative in nature and ways that I could be my own boss. Even if they do not work out, I had the opportunity to try and that is important. No failure is possible if I learned something new and enjoyed the process. I have read more books and researched so much this past year it was like being in college again. Recipes, ways to clean better, greener ways to live, essential oils, etc.
We take less vacations and less fancy trips now. Our past year contained one long weekend road trip for our anniversary and it was the most perfect weekend. I could immediately relax into the trip. I was not worried about the work I left behind or what was waiting for me when I got back. I remember trips when I worked downtown would sometimes not be worth it since the emails alone would be way out of hand when you got back. This time, the only baggage I took was our suitcases. We spent real quality time. At one point we visited a botanic garden and we stopped to watch a butterfly and bee fly from one flower to another as if they wanted the same spot and were not happy with each other. We were both there, present in that moment. I would normally take hundreds of pictures on vacations since I wanted to remember all of it. I took only a few pictures this time and feel like my memories are fully saturated.
My friend circle has shifted. At first my former co-workers and I would keep in touch. After a while the emails and texts became fewer and then just stopped. It makes sense since maybe we do not have the same things to chat about anymore. We cannot complain about work to each other. I still have my very best friend from high school who has been my rock no matter what we were doing or where we lived. I have also started to make new friends. I know that will take time and effort to grow, but so far, we have enjoyed meals together, painted on wooden boards, attended a jewelry party and now planning on joining a new gym together. It is a little struggle making new friends as an adult since everyone is so busy. But I do make myself present and enjoy the moments we have together.
I probably do receive criticism when folks know that I have basically taken a step back and trying to start a new way of living for myself. I just ignore it. I never asked for their feedback in the first place. You cannot compare my journey with yours. I will also respect you enough not to judge you as well. In my opinion, we all have one life and one opportunity. We need to do everything in our power to make it the best possible. I realize this is easier for some than others. I know some very good people that have been put into extremely difficult and sad situations. Their strength amazes me because even in their dark moments, they find hope and love. They make the best of their good days and moments. I am not saying we have control over what happens in our lives. I do think we have a big say in our reactions. I know this is getting deeper than I intended for this blog post. I just want to make it clear that not everyone will agree with your life decisions or be 100% supportive. Even though it is difficult to tune out the noise, you must do what makes you happy. In the evening when you are brushing your teeth and thinking about your day, your image is the only one reflecting back at you. If you look in the mirror and can smile and be proud, then you are a success. No matter what.
Where do I go from here? I do not have all the answers and I am getting more comfortable with uncertainty. There is a freedom and curiosity that comes with not knowing the next step. I am continuing my research and enjoying being creative. I am still taking care of the house (cooking, errands, cleaning, etc) but also taking care of myself. I am practicing more self-care to ensure I am healthy (physically, mentally and emotionally). I will continue to enjoy working on my blog. I will spend quality time with loved ones. Most importantly I will enjoy my life and make choices that are right for me.