Hi lady friends!
Today's Journal Prompt has you reflecting on the idea of Seasons. You can either approach this literally (like, it's summer in Philadelphia) or figuratively (thinking about "life seasons," or another meaning "seasons" has for you).
Here are a few suggestions to deepen your reflection practice after you respond to the prompt questions:
- If you've written on a computer, copy your text and plug it into a Word Cloud generator like Wordle, to see which words are most frequently repeated. If you wrote in a journal, read through what you wrote and circle any words or phrases you see repeated through your writing.
- In reading through these frequent phrases, see what meaning they hold for you.
- (For example, mine from the writing below are "time," "days," "life," "meant" "work," which leads me to reflect on how this new season will be about my shifting my attitudes and feelings about time, and work's place in my life.)
- Take these key words and phrases, and create 2-3 resolutions for this next season you're entering, with these key concepts at their centers.
If you'd like to read my own reflections, you can find them down the page past the questions. And please drop a note in the comments to share your own reflections too!
Justine, Girls Gone Happy Founder
What has this season taught you about your needs?
How will these lessons inform what you do in the next season?
One of the most powerful lessons I learned by becoming a mother is the idea of seasons. I used to think everything had to happen, all at once, at the same time. That this is what "having it all" meant, and that jettisoning parts of your life when something big happened was just weakness. Not trying hard enough. Not being creative or planning well. This is what I believed in my 20's and it was an effective coping mechanism for me when I lost both parents by the age of 23. It allowed me to continue building a life while also coping with insane grief and wandering through life feeling alone and frightened. It allowed me to start two new jobs, meet my husband, move to a new city, and start a business, all while dizzy with the vertigo of sudden loss and unwanted independence. It gave me extraordinary drive and stamina - but it stemmed from a place of frantic fear, feeling like a ticking clock more than a person.
But this didn't apply when I became a mom. Throughout my pregnancy I worked my ass off to "be the same me, just pregnant." Whatever that means. I worked more while pregnant than maybe ever in my life. I went back to running my business Pedalogical when Rosie was 10 days old. And after a year and a half of this, I realized that this was not going to work - for any of us. I suddenly had this idea of seasons in life - and that this season, for me, was about being with my very tiny child, and raising her up, and hopefully having more children. This is a small window. A short season. An intense one full of flurries - but not a forever place. Some things needed to be centered, and other things needed to be let go - and that was a brave choice, not an easy way out.
After working tirelessly to build my company, I was finally getting some recognition, some awards, hired my first full time employee. I had arrived where I had been dreaming of for so long. And at the same time, I felt dead inside a lot of the time - unsure of the quality of work I was doing, hollow and distracted when I was with my daughter, threadbare and anxious most of the time, trying to keep everything from falling through the cracks.
I decided to close my business and focus on starting a new company called Girls Gone Happy - that was a year ago. Then, on the very last day of my old company's final contract, which was meant to be the start of my new chapter, my mother in law got sick. Everything came to a screeching halt when we got that call. After the shock wore off, we knew that we needed to put into action what we always said was the most important thing to us - being there for the people we love. So I rented out our home to strangers, packed two suitcases, and my husband, toddler, dogs and I moved in with my in-laws for three months to take care of her. I was grateful that our careful planning to sunset our old businesses and start new ones had, ironically, created the space and time for us to be able to take this unexpected hiatus and be full time care. But I was also deeply saddened. It felt every time I was starting to gain traction, I got knocked off course. Like every time I centered my own dreams and happiness, someone I loved got sick, and my entire being had to pretzel around being there for them, taking care of them, centering them. I had spent 15 years under the dark cloud of terminal illness, and that cloud had just parted, only to reform above me, familiar and awful.
But now I am able to take a step back. I realize that this season of life was really about being there for my family, and at the same time learning how to take care of myself while doing so. I had never really learned this. The idea of simultenaeity - that everything could be done at once - was previously fueled by coffee and manic existential angst and burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. This season was here to teach me how to do the things that mattered at the same time, but at a sustainable pace.
This looked like more effective compartmentalizing. Staying at home with my daughter during this stormy period and putting work to the side and into evenings, to give her a sense of consistency during a weird time. Sending my daughter to school once it was good for her, and in turn good for the whole family. Being alone more to recharge my batteries. This looked like standing up for my own needs, and speaking up when things were hurting me; trusting my gut when it came to parenting my child, and no longer outsourcing my questions to other people out of insecurity; saying no to things I would've accepted out of guilt before; saying yes to things I would've said no to before out of fear. It meant that some days were work days, and some days were family days. That some days I would need to stay up late, but that other days I would force myself into bed by 10:00pm. It meant that I would accept help and be honest when I wasn't feeling good. It meant I would check myself when my expectations were crazy and I expected to be at the finish line with a project I had just barely started.
I'm still not good at self-care, even though it's something I've helped teach and work with others around for ten years. But I do believe we teach that which we most need to learn. What I am getting better at is noticing when my bad habits rear up, and checking them. And growing some patience, as well as the ability to edit better.