The Before Picture

I was walking by a store window yesterday on an errand with my daughter and had a shocking reflection looking back at me. I look tired. I look squishy and out of shape. I actually look exhausted and overwhelmed. It never ceases to amaze me how your outside can show the marks on your inside. I can still see a small glimmer of the person I want to be – a portal into sunshine. But I am nowhere close to that today.

I am an optimist.  I usually see the glass as half full – this has gotten me up and out of some pretty tough life situations. I have also learned if you have fallen down in life and need to get yourself up it really helps to look for any sunny side of the situation you can find.  

Lately I am having a harder time seeing the sunshine. This has been a really tough year on all fronts. Things with my ex moved into to some conflict for the first time since we split and we are no longer in the friendly amicable place we were – add legal fees, support costs, tense conversations, and stress on everyone. My career is something I have always been extremely proud of and have loved for over a decade. I finally made it to a level I have been working towards for years – and it’s gotten me to question a lot of things. Is this much stress healthy? Is the time away from my home worth it? Is this how I really want to spend my life? Does this even remotely make me happy? How long can I sustain this? Am I doing this just for financial reasons?

Now throw in debt and weight gain. This has not been a banner year.

I also realized I am really dwelling in all this misery. I work 14 hour days plus some early mornings on the weekend and have the kids every weekend – plus I travel several times each month. It’s hard to see anything through the stress and exhaustion except for stress and exhaustion.

I decided a few weeks ago I need out of this cycle. I need to start making changes. What would actually make me happy? You know that feeling when something gets you really excited? The bubble of butterflies in your belly? That. How do I build an entire life of that.

First, I know I need to start stacking up some small wins. I love being strong and in shape. It does usually end up meaning my clothes fit better, I am leaner and feel more confident but it’s definitely not about the scale for me. It’s about feeling like I am capable. Feeling like I can handle myself. Feeling like I can take a flight or two of stairs without hyperventilating. This one seemed easy – start a new fitness regime I enjoy and cut down on sugar. Enter CrossFit. Not easy. Almost died. Kind of obsessed. This one deserves its own post so I’ll leave it here. It’s been 4 sessions and I can see this was a good decision. Focus here? Show up. Don’t die. If possible don’t vomit.

Second, the stuff that’s a little trickier to address. What brings a fire to my belly? What makes me want to get up in the morning? It’s been a beautiful summer so far here and one afternoon after spending 12 hours straight at a computer I stepped outside into the sunshine. I took a deep breath and looked around. I had forgotten it was summer. I live in a region with intense winter so we wait for this for 8 months a year. And I forgot. How can I be letting so much pass me by? There HAS to be more to my life than this.

I have been doing some soul searching and have realized a few things. I am not living anything close to my best life. I have a life that looks pretty decent on paper but is leaving me feeling sad, alone, unfulfilled and like I am spending time on all the wrong things.

I also realize I have been going in the wrong direction financially and I refuse to continue this. I need to make a decent income for my family – and I want things in life for the three of us. Travel, summer homes, ski trips, beach trips – and of course the necessities like bills paid, education funds, retirement funds, mortgages paid off, emergency money, and my lifelong goal of eff you money. Eff you money is the padding you need to say ‘eff you. I’m out’ when you are in a situation like I am now. When you can just walk away and with some small sacrifices maintain the life you want to live.

How do I go from debt to eff you money? Well, I know now it’s not just numbers on a balance sheet. It’s shifting your life so each and every day has more value to you than the dollars you earn. You wake up somewhere you love and step into the activities you love that make up your income. Build a life you love. Do things you are passionate about. The money will follow.

Here are a few other parts of this I know to be true:

  • You have to work your passion. You need to find a way to make your work about something that lights you on fire.
  • Have faith the money will come. Focus on what brings your passion to life and the money will come.
  • Don’t accept anything less than what you truly want.
  • Stop buying into your own excuses. You are stopping you. You are the one getting in your way.
  • Live below your means. This opens up a world of choices.

There was one quick lesson I learned taking on something new that was really tough. When I took on a new challenge recently I started listening to what came out of my mouth. Excuses I have come to accept – and front and centre was the Single Mom excuse. Yes, my life is really busy and yes, I have stresses that may be more challenging than the other people I see around me. But guess what?

My life is my life. No matter how it stacks up to anyone else’s life my life is built with the challenges I need to work with. Being a Single Mom cannot be an excuse. It needs to be an empowerment.

Now I need to figure out what my after picture looks like in real life. I know the after picture I want to see. I am fit. I am healthy. I am wealthy. I am standing with my kids somewhere new we’ve travelled to together. We’re on a beach in our bathing suits in the sunshine without a care in the world.

And when we walk away from that picture there is a beautiful home to get back to with a lively dinner on the table & the people we love to share it with. There were no frown lines on my face because I am not worried about money or getting an email back to my boss.

Onto the fun part. I am going to build this. I need to start assembling the pieces.

Step one – side hustle. It’s time to start building my own business around my passions. Helping Single Moms, beautiful homes, cooking, living a life within your means, getting into shape, becoming 100% self reliant, travelling with your kids, dogs, self-care. These are just a few of the things that make me want to hop out of bed in the morning.

Stay tuned – this is going to be an exciting ride.

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