Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Thursday, December 27, 2012

#2013Countdown: What were your lowest points this year? Why?

This prompt is a doosie. I find myself retracting from it because sharing my low points becomes instantly and intimately personal. But, in the vein of developing this blog and my writing, I'm going to participate.

Easily, the lowest point of 2012 for me was being laid off from my job. I had been with the company over seven years, and I had been in my current position for just over two years. I adored the 'family' I had built there, and I had become so comfortable. I had also worked my way up and built something of my dream working scenario: I had a great, trust relationship with my boss; I was working on projects that excited me and used my skills; I had total flexibility in my schedule and working location (I worked from my couch most days); and I had great benefits, including a whopping seven weeks of vacation time.

I can't say the news was a shock, but it was surprising nonetheless. I thought maybe my position was valuable enough to save me, but no one was safe. That said, the shock of the whole situation was how I handled it. I have never been the most positive person, and I never handled change well AT ALL. Yet, I rolled with this, and, c'mon, this is a huge life change. I accepted it, however. I never placed blame, if anything, I was grateful. It didn't take a lot of effort on my part to see the positive and commit to moving on and growing.

BUT... That's not to say it was easy. Almost three months went by before I started really struggling with negative feelings. I still didn't blame myself or my employer for my situation. I wasn't angry or bitter. I still knew that this would ultimately be a good thing, but I found myself having a hard time seeing the forest while mired in the trees. I did get depressed. Once the weather turned, and I could no longer easily run outside or head to the beach, I withdrew. I stopped seeing a lot of my friends -- I was afraid of spending money on going out. I lost all structure in my days; I stayed up late and night and slept in far later than I had in years. I blankly stared at daytime television. Sure, I was still looking for jobs everyday and sending out resumes, but several rejections had me questioning if I was really cut out for what I was doing. I questioned my professional value. I considered giving up. I became stressed to an unhealthy level about money and my future, and this impacted my relationships. It was definitely a deep low.

At the same time, I was having an increasingly hard time in my romantic relationship, and nothing I did seemed to help. This only contributed to my stress and questioning of worth. I admit I lost sight of who I was at the lowest of the low.

It was hard to 'keep the faith' as they say, and I considered giving up. I saw myself going back to a retail job and living a miserable, lonely existence. (Yes, I have an over-active imagination, for better or for worse.) Thankfully, none of this happened, and things turned around at the perfect time.

Those four months of unemployment were the best and worst time of my 2012. It was never an even keel, and it was definitely a growing experience. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

It's hard to talk about the low times; no one likes to hear about the sadness and the pain. Let's talk about it though: What were your lowest points of 2012 and why? I'll even add my own question: How did you overcome? What did you learn?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

#2013Countdown: What are 12 things you love about year 2012?

I am a bit off-track with my #2013Countdown posts, but I do hope to catch up over the next week to squeeze them all in by the new year.

Again, I'm going to stick with bullets to make this easy and concise. I have to admit I am intimidated about trying to come up with 12 things I loved about this year.

Here goes nothing; 12 things I love(d) about 2012:

  1. Devoting my summer to running. The heat never bothered me; I loved getting out there and pushing myself.
  2. Skiing a New England high eight days last winter, despite the fact that snowfall was so low and conditions were far less than ideal. I braved the ice and spotty coverage, and I think I became a better skier for it.
  3. Putting insecurities aside and hitting the club in Boston. These nights are some of my fondest memories. I especially loved getting dressed up and rocking high heels and short skirts.
  4. Reconnecting with my favorite cover band. They have become some of my closest friends, and I love going to shows and hanging out. I reconnected with the dancer and live music lover in me.
  5. Providence Restaurant Week. I attended both sessions this year and discovered some delightful new restaurants.
  6. Finishing my first half marathon with a very respectable time. 
  7. Beach and boat days. We had such a hot summer, and I took advantage spending as much time in the summer sun as I could. 
  8. Following on #7, the best tan I've probably ever had. Between running, boating, spending afternoons at the beach, laying on the beach after losing my job and cruising the Caribbean, I owned a glowing tan.
  9. Celebrating my birthday my way. It was a great week. Yes, a full week.
  10. Eastern/Southern Caribbean cruise. Any year I cruise, this is one of my favorite things about the year. I love being on the ocean and in warm, tropical places. I needed and loved this trip.
  11. Running the annual sales meeting at my former company. The prep, the challenges, the planning, the relationships developed, the execution... I lived for every moment and loved it.
  12. Disney World with my mom. It was so hot and so exhausting, but we had a great time, and I loved having dedicated mother-daughter time away from home. 
What did you love about your 2012?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

#2013Countdown: How has 2012 been?

I decided to participate in a little end-of-the-year reflection journaling exercise in the hopes of revitalizing this space -- which I'm undecided about what I want to do with.

For now, I'll just jump right into it. How was my 2012? Well, the first and most powerful word that comes to mind to describe my year: growth. This has been a year of growing and discovery for me. I've been thrown in the deep end more times than I can count, and I've been forced to sink or swim. Thankfully, I seem to be pretty good at swimming in water over my head -- to continue the analogy.

I don't want to dig too deep or make this post too long, so let's just bullet some highlights, shall we?

  • I skied on my first black diamond trails at the beginning of this year, conquering my fear and just going for it. It was exhilarating! 
  • I launched my first solo marketing campaigns at work, and they went well. I loved being able to flex my creative muscles a little bit.
  • Also at work, I planned my first customer event and managed our annual sales conference (with help from some gracious colleagues, of course). It was super stressful but super fun and rewarding. I went to Disney World! :)
  • I reignited some lost friendships that have proven invaluable to me this year. They have loved me, supported me, reminded me of how passionate I am, taught me and lifted me up. I'm forever grateful.
  • I was laid off. This was probably the biggest growth experience of the year for me. I had to rebuild my identity, figuring out who I am without my job. I had to create my own structure and keep myself positive. I had to figure out how I was going to survive (physically and emotionally), and I had to plot out my next steps in my career. It wasn't easy, but it was a priceless experience, and I totally view it in a positive light. I learned so much.
  • I re-evaluated all of my relationships. Losing yourself in unemployment will do this. I learned who my real friends are. I learned who is an uplifting presence in my life and who brings me down. This is so important to do often.
  • I ran my first half marathon! Ok, this is a contender for the biggest growth experience of the year. Keeping the positive spin, I was laid off the second week of my training plan, which gave me ample time to devote to training for this beast (and it was a beast). Running kept me sane when I wasn't working full-time. This was easily one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. I can't wait to do it again!
  • I fell in love with myself. Yes, that sounds weird. Sure, it may seem narcissistic. Listen: it is crucial to your happiness. I learned this the hard way. The really hard way. The long, time-consuming (wasting), hard way. I happen to think I'm pretty swell. I know, trust, believe that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and who I am supposed to be at this precise moment in time. I have a pretty firm grasp on who I am, and I know what I need to do. I am proud of that. So, yes, in re-evaluating my relationships, I learned that the most important one is with myself. Call me selfish, I do not care.
  • I got my heart broken. I'm not going to go into details as to how, who or what. That's not important to you. What's important is this is an opportunity to grow. Remember that.
  • I started a new job! After four months of being unemployed, I am back in the workforce, and I couldn't be happier. Being thrust into a new professional setting always encourages growth, and I can't wait to see what this new opportunity brings. I am truly excited, and I think I am going to love what I do now.
Ok, that's it for me. Now it's your turn: How was your 2012? What did you learn this year?