I attended a program and during break times, as well as at home, I researched and learned new things. I wanted to learn about the brain and also learn more about my son’s medication and its side effects. I discovered that I enjoyed learning and researching. I checked out books from the library about the brain and I made notes like I did when I went to school. I also found that sharing my story about my son helped other parents and I was able to connect with more people in my community.
I had my first public speaking engagement when my son was the Ambassador of Epilepsy Durham Region. I started to host fundraisers and I enjoyed the whole event planning and coordinating. I then had an opportunity to go to the USA to train to become certified for a program that no one in Canada was doing. I started to realize that I needed to be well, and that I needed to take care of myself so I could take care of my kids. As cliché as this will sound it’s just like when you’re in the plane and they tell you to put your mask on first before you help your child. I needed to be well for my family, but more importantly I realized I needed to be well for myself.
I watched a clip of Steve Harvey and he talked about taking a leap of faith and jump https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSSMsTaJiZ0. I needed to jump because if I didn’t change something, I was going to end up crawling through life. I didn’t return to my city job. I instead took that huge leap of faith and jumped. I gave up my pension and my benefits and started my own business. Was that scary -yes. Was it a huge financial risk, yes. But was I happy, yes. Did I now have a purpose, yes!
My story and the person I am today is because of what I went through. I lost myself, but I gained so much more than who I was before this journey. I had found and recognized who I truly was and who I wanted to become. I also realized that all of my life I followed people. I was never a leader; I was never my own person.
So, how did I finally find my purpose? I took all my sadness and the bad things that happened to me and looked at them as lessons I needed to learn about myself. As crazy as that may seem, I needed to live every moment, good and bad, to make me who I am today. In the past I dwelt on every little bad thing; instead today, I take a step back and look at what this trial is trying to teach me. Now remember this didn’t happen overnight and I struggled to learn about all these tips I am going to tell you. Today, I still have to challenge myself to follow my true path, but as the days go by, the easier it gets.
Thing you need to start now:
- Delete all the people on your Instagram account that don’t bring you joy or purpose. I deleted all the celebrities, and added inspirational people, business people, people who spoke to who I was and where I wanted to be.
- Journal: I wrote down things I was grateful for, even if it was only one or two things. This is where you need to think about more things besides, “I am grateful for my kids”. You need to think about small things. Like I am grateful that I found a parking spot, or I am grateful that I had that moment to read today.
- Self care: Now we always hear about self care, take time for yourself, yada yada. But it’s true and it helps. Now you’re probably thinking, “Where can I find the time?” I thought the same thing and then I read a piece of advice from a book called, “Girl Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis. She says to start your day about you. If you get up and everything is about your kids, you can feel yourself getting frustrated and then subconsciously start to get angry or loose your patience quickly because there wasn’t any time for you. So, now I get up at a little earlier and I do what I want to do for me. I write in my journal or I read a book, or meditate, whenever it is that you need to do for yourself.
- ASK FOR HELP: Having a supportive partner and family is important, but I had to let go of the
“I can do it all thoughts”. I had to let go of always being in control and started allowing people to help me. Part of being a parent with a child who has special needs, is you always have to “be on the ball”, whether it was for medication or appointments, and I felt like I couldn’t rely on anyone to do it as well as me. So, I had to let that go, and let family and my partner help me. This will give you more time to yourself.
- Care about how you look: I stopped caring about my appearance and didn’t do my hair. I wore sweatpants constantly and always had my hair in a ponytail. I thought, “Who cares about how I look?” What I didn’t realize was how much of an impact it can make on how I feel when I would do my hair, wear nice clothes and put on makeup. I used to think what was the point to get all dressed up just to meet up with my friends. After all, they don’t care how I look, so why would I take time to do that? I should just save that effort for another time when it’s more important – it’s too much work. Think about how you feel when you get dressed up – you perk up and your confidence and self esteem increase. This can change your emotions and your state of mind.
- Nature: All my life when I was a kid I was always by the ocean and I have so many happy memories from being at the ocean. Water for me is soothing and calming. I could sit by water for hours, but I never had the time to take that five minute car ride to the lake, or at least I thought I didn’t have the time. As I started to feel better, I began to see nature and the beauty of it. I know you’re thinking that I’m nuts, but try it, take five minutes out of your day and go outside, smell the fresh air, look at the sky, go by the water, go for that hike, whatever it is you enjoy. There would be many days after work that I would sit by the water before picking up the kids from daycare.
- Vision Board: Now as silly as some of you may think this is, it’s a fun exercise and very helpful. I got together with some friends who I knew would be open to this and who would also benefit from this exercise as well. The purpose of the board is to move you forward in life. Sometimes we get stuck in the same cycle and its hard to get out. Things that you are going to put on your vision board are pictures, quotes, or words that inspire and motivate you. You want to think of all areas of your life, ie: personal growth, health, relationship, career, finances, hobbies, etc. Once you’re done, you’re going to put it up in a place where you will see it everyday when you wake up and before you go to bed.
- And last but not least -GO OUT: Get together with friends or have date night with your partner. Make it a priority to schedule these times in your calendar. Maybe it’s date night once a month with your significant other, or coffee with friends every two weeks. Please, don’t wear your sweatpants, take time to get yourself ready, fix your hair, do your makeup, and wear that new shirt – feel good!
All these things I have said are things that have helped me. I knew all this for a long time, and I had heard it before, but I would brush off those ideas because I didn’t feel like it would help. But the truth of the matter is I wasn’t ready to hear it; I wasn’t ready to allow myself those things. I needed to let go of my anger and sadness about my life and about my son. I needed to embrace life again. Life wasn’t what I expected, life was just different and different was okay.
Motherhood is part of you but doesn’t have to take all of you. Don’t feel guilty for spending time for you. Take the time to discover who you are, what you like, what makes you happy. Life may not be what you expected or what you dreamed, but it is your story and you are writing your own chapters. You choose where this story goes. Don’t put your life in the hands of others. Create your own happiness.