2018 was an amazing year. I feel a lot of joy and a sense of closure when I look back at this year. The year wasn’t without it’s challenges, but I can see a lot of growth from those difficult seasons and that has me really excited for what 2019 will bring!
My theme for 2018 was contentment. Here’s what I wrote on my blog in January of this year:
In 2018, I don’t want to ride or die on the circumstances of life. I don’t want to be so easily bothered by the day to day struggles of being a mom. I want to remember that all of life is a changing of seasons, and today is not forever. The good or the bad.
If you read the rest of that blog post, I shared some steps for pursuing contentment, and a whole separate post on flexible minimalism for families. For a list of other books, podcasts, tv shows, and music I enjoyed in 2018, click here!
Now, 5 lessons I learned in 2018:
1 Knowing who you are is the biggest part of accepting who you are
As a self acceptance advocate and blogger, I really put a lot of time and energy into self understanding and exploration. Tuning into my intuition really helped me become more familiar with my true self, my likes and dislikes, and helped me to tune out the voices who try and define me from the outside. But this year I really struggled with accepting the parts of me that I flat out don’t like. This is when I learned about the shadow side and how to accept the darkest parts of yourself. (Acceptance is not the same as giving up on change.)
It’s one thing to step into your bodacious self when it feels great and people embrace you; it’s another thing to face the darkest or most unknown parts of who you are and how you became who you are, and to say “I still love me.” Facing anxiety this year, anger in motherhood, and parts of my story that hold a lot of pain was HARD. But I did the work and looked at those parts and said, “this is a part of who I am, or a part of what has shaped me, and I can face this and still accept myself.” Therapy and learning about the shadow side of my personality also helped me integrate parts of my story and self that I had pushed away for a long time.
Facing the parts of yourself you’d rather change or reject is a key part to self acceptance, and becoming familiar with all aspects of who you are or who you believe yourself to be is the way to fully accepting yourself.
2 Good intentions aren’t enough
In 2018 I dove deep into the Enneagram. I learned more about my personality this year then I think ever before. I faced some really uncomfortable things in my marriage, including realizing that my “good intentions” to fix or correct my partner aren’t so “good”. Selfishness can be so sneaky, and my pride was mixed up in a lot of things I thought were purely motivated. If you haven’t taken the Enneagram yet, 2019 is the year to learn about your basic fear and your basic desire – the root of who you are as a human and what motivates you.
As a 2, I had to come to terms with the fact that I wanted to feel helpful and loving, more then I actually wanted to be helpful and loving. When push came to shove, I didn’t want to do the work to face my selfishness, I just wanted to appear selfless and helpful. A good intention (being helpful) wasn’t good enough; I needed to really dig into those good intentions and ask some very difficult questions. Again, therapy was key in this and also a book by Bob Goff, called Everybody Always.
3 The plan isn’t the point
Do you ever feel like you need to make a plan and create all kinds of change in your life? You can almost get overwhelmed by this intense desire to be creative or do something positive, that you end up doing or accomplishing nothing. When I started to realize that a lot of my good intentions for wanting more purpose and more vision in my life were rooted in selfishness, I felt really disillusioned. Reading Bob Goff’s book was like having a good cry after a really hard day. It was like having your father sit you down and say, “I know you’re doing your best. And I’m so proud of you. But you’re missing some important things. I want to give you some advice though, because I love you.” I don’t know if another book has given me so much practical life change other then Brene Brown’s books, which is saying a lot. One of the ways Bob Goff changed how I view my purpose in life was by challenging how often we get caught up on needing a plan when really we just need to do something.
“I’ve met a lot of people who say they’re waiting for God to give them a “plan” for their lives. They talk about this “plan” like it’s a treasure map God has folded up in His back pocket. Only pirates have those. People who want a reason to delay often wait for plans. People who are becoming love don’t.” -Bob Goff, Everybody Always
This year I started taking my dream to be a writer and a coach a lot more seriously. I realized I didn’t need to wait for the title “writer” or “coach” to come from someone else, a publisher or a certificate – I could embody those things for myself, NOW. I wanted those titles and validation to feel important and to feel valued. But if all I truly want to do is help women embody their truest selves, I can do that now, and I don’t need anything other then my own voice. So I let go of the plan, and I just started. The desire to see others own their own stories was the inspiration behind 10 Days of Self Acceptance, which became the Becoming Bodaciously Me weekly series. Hearing other women’s stories and making space for women to share them is something I am incredibly proud of, and I’m so thankful to the women who are stepping out and sharing. I’m so glad I stopped prioritizing the plan over the vision and just did something.
4 It’s not my job to make anyone’s journey look like mine
I experienced some relational heartache in 2018. I felt really alone at times, and misunderstood. When people criticized my online presence or the things I’m passionate about, it felt devastating. I spent a lot of time trying to separate who I know that I am from who people might think that I am. I stepped back from things that didn’t feel authentic anymore, and let my Yes be a true Yes (by letting my No be a clear No. I stopped trying to explain myself to people who were committed to misunderstanding me. I put up clearer boundaries, and showed up for myself in the most loving way by doing so.
And at the same time, I was able to let other people be where they are. By learning about shadow work this year I realized that a lot of us are projecting our fear and pain onto other people without realizing it. Once I faced my own shadow, someone else’s criticism of me (or even perceived criticism of me) had a lot less sting. I stopped feeling like I needed to be all things to all people, to be everyone’s favorite person, and I let my friendships breathe little. When I’m not committed to proving myself to other people, I let them off the hook of proving themselves to me. And by the end of the year, I felt a lot less alone. I saw people show up for me, I felt more at peace with myself and my friendships, and I show up for my friends in a more face value way.
It matters less to me now if people are interested in the exact same things as me, then if they are interested in ME. We can be different but invested in each other if we honor who the other person is and where they are at, without trying to make their journey look just like ours. And if someone doesn’t understand or value who you are right now, that doesn’t mean they are meant to be out of your life forever. We are all on a journey and people are meant to be in your lives at different times for a reason.Even if someone is meant to be out of your life forever, there is a lot of freedom in accepting that their journey is their own and it’s different from yours. And that’s OK.
This is my journey; not anyone else’s. And if you and I are on different parts of the journey, we are not enemies – we are just travelers, passing each other on the way. I can love you, wish you well, and hold space for you while staying on my own path.
5 The work is never done
In the beginning of 2018 I experienced postpartum anxiety, and I’m ending 2018 with another very difficult season of anxiety (caused by PMDD). It almost feels like I’m back to where I started, except I know that I’ve done so much work this year and grown so much. I’m ok with being just where I am. I’ve found a lot of peace in realizing that life is so very cyclical; things come back around over and over, for our entire lives. We never truly graduate from the most basic lessons we are trying to learn.
It’s all cyclical; life is a circle. What we didn’t learn this year we will have another chance to learn next year, and on and on it goes. Maybe that seems bleak, but the more I settle into myself the more I am at peace with never arriving and always learning. The work is never done. So why not come home to yourself, truly embrace yourself, while you do the work? Be your most bodacious self, while you learn what that really is; we can find peace and a level of healing in knowing that there will always be more healing to be had, I think.
This year was fun of amazing milestones; we celebrated our baby boy’s 1st birthday, I was published by one of my favorite bloggers, and I challenged beliefs about myself I have held my entire life. It was a year of IMMENSE growth, some pain, and a lot of freedom. And while my “goals” and successes this year aren’t all exactly measurable, I feel proud of myself for living this last year as my most bodacious self yet. I hope you are setting intentions and goals to step even further into who you are in 2019 ❤️
Here’s to more authenticity, more love, and more bodaciousness in 2019!
Much love to you, you bodacious beauty – Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, and Happy New Year!