How the hardest time of my life prepared me for this Very Hard Year
What a year! Closing off our 13 months in a pandemic that none of us thought would go this long. We are tired, stressed and many feel like they’re falling apart. I work mostly with moms, but lots of dads and child-free folks, whether you’re working or not, have kids or not most of us are really feeling the pressure.
But guess what? We are just like muscles! We get stronger under stress! Just like our muscles get stronger with regular stress (ie exercise) so do we. So although it all just feels like a lot right now – believe me when I tell you that we will be stronger on the other side, better equipped to deal with what life throws at us. We will all be more resilient when this is over!
I am quite resilient. Why? Because I have been through hard things and now I am strong. Let me tell you about the hardest time in my life (things are going to get personal here).
When I was 25 I fell in love and got married, came home from my honeymoon pregnant (and only 26 – still a baby myself) from the outside looking in, it all looked perfect. Then thing really took a turn for the worst and the next thing I knew I was single with a 2/4 year old and very little income. I got a full-time job making almost no money since I had almost no grown-up job experience. My baby was 2 and I had nursed her to sleep for every nap and now she was the first kid dropped off at daycare every day, and one of the last picked up at night. My little 4-year-old was dropped into before and after school care and I had 2 drop-offs and 2 pickups every day, a big commute to work, my parents were in BC, and thank goodness for a few wonderful friends who helped me in those first few very hard years because it was really really hard. No one saw me cry, I smiled at the world and in front of my kids. But when I was by myself in my car I would cry, sometimes I felt the pressure was so much that I thought I would crumble and crack.
As a mom, I’ve always felt like an umbrella over my children’s heads. It is my job to shield them from the world and keep them safe, warm, loved, and nurtured. Being their umbrella gave me strength, gave me so much purpose and every reason to not give up and crawl into bed and cry. They needed me to work so that I could pay rent, and for me to smile and be happy, so that’s what I did. I worked hard and smiled while the nonprofit center I was working at closed and laid us all off. I started my own business, worked my butt off, and smiled while I went bankrupt.
Now, this was a lot to hold up, and thank goodness I had always had great self-care practices because that is the key to managing the hard times (and the easy times, it needs to be a constant). I took out as much stress as I could in the gym, and my favourite hot yoga studio, sweat is therapy! This is why when I come across clients that feel overwhelmed in their life I try so hard to get them exercising – it really helps with all things. Happy chemicals flow through your body, you feel strong and powerful and your brain will get a little break from thinking about the things that suck. Seriously – go get sweaty and tell me if you don’t feel better.
The result of those incredibly hard years? When the pandemic hit – I went into survival mode. I am resilient which means I am strong under pressure. 2 things mattered to me: #1 I knew my wonderful clients who were committed to me needed me more than ever, I had to find a way of keeping them fit so they didn’t lose their minds while the schools/daycares were closed and they tried to work from home. #2 I’ve gone through enough and I don’t plan on going through a significant loss again – my business (the way I feed my kids) needs to survive. So I reinvented how I delivered programs, we made classes shorter and more accessible to super busy overwhelmed moms and put together an amazing program that I am told over and over “has saved my mental health this year” and my clients are doing really well even though this is SO hard.
The moral of the story? After going through such hard things I am stronger than ever. This left me more equipped to deal with the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong – I am tired and stressed too – I have a business in one of the hardest-hit industries, my boyfriend also works for himself, we both work 7 days a week and we have 4 kids at home. But my survival instincts are strong, my ability to pivot and reinvent under pressure and my confidence that we will get through and be stronger on the other side are real.
My message to you is this: I know you’re exhausted and it seems like it will never end. Take care of yourself (if it seems impossible to make time to – get in touch – I will help you figure it out). Know that you are strong enough. Know that when this is over you will be stronger than ever before. Big hugs xoxo. I can’t wait to hug you all when this is over!!!!