I know it is a little early for the school graduation season, but it is not lost on me that while I am preparing for my own personal milestone, my oldest two children, the twins, are finalizing their choice of colleges and preparing for high school graduation and actually turning into official adults in just a few weeks!
I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I was kind of buried under the grief over the end of my marriage, and then was diagnosed with breast cancer and the treatments became a bit consuming for a while, and also a pandemic happened. I know it’s not funny at all when we take a moment to reflect on the friends and family that we have lost and the people that have suffered in so many different ways over this last year. But I do just want to share that last year, when they closed the schools and the whole world stopped and I couldn’t even cling to a little bit of normal and make sandwiches and walk my kids to the bus stop, I was calling people and saying “I told you so.” Prior to 2020, when I was stuck, standing at the edge of the abyss, terrified of jumping, many friends said to just do it, it’s not like the world would stop because I ended my marriage. And then, on the very day they were supposed to serve the papers, they closed the entire state including the courts. We were quarantined together without even a work day apart to have a break from the pain and heartbreak and fear. That was a long 6 months. Then things finally started to shift for me.
If you have ever lost yourself in a relationship or been stuck in a pattern, then maybe you will understand how you can lose sight of your purpose and forget that you have value. I had someone that I let get very close to me, and I pinned all of my hopes and dreams on them, so when they told me that the world would be better off without me, I believed them. When all of the things that I tried to do like helping people and trying to make the world a better place were twisted into meaning that I was judgmental and unloving, it broke me. So many things have happened in this past year, and I keep remembering every day that I am so grateful for the friends that helped pull me out of that despair so that I can be here for all of this.
And while I was not really keeping up with writing blog posts, I have still been able to help so many people in lots of different ways over the past year, while going through my own struggles both in my body and in my home. So, this post is a little long, since I’m catching back up, but hang in there.
I started a new job last fall, and I have called that season “The Great Remembering.” I studied a lot of interesting things in school like infectious disease epidemiology, and my favorite class was called “Plagues, Politics and People.” I worked in the Bio-Safety Level 3 lab for a while, but I was so strongly called to motherhood, and I worried about working with deadly viruses and going home to my babies. I chose to focus on my family. As I kept surviving endless rejection as a mom trying to get back into the workforce with an interesting and complicated resume, I needed to keep reminding myself that I not only love my kids, but I love how many other skills I learned over the years by finding ways to work flexibly and efficiently so that I could balance making some money while being there for my kids when they needed me. As an entrepreneurial mom, I learned so much about delegating, prioritizing and the hard lessons like not taking things personally, and setting boundaries and realistic expectations.
Then in 2020, during a pandemic, while many moms were leaving the workforce, I was swimming in the opposite direction. As the divorce lawyers negotiated my future, I was applying to lots of jobs (is anyone else here scared of being uninsured or scared of losing their house?), looking for anything with salary and benefits that I felt I would need now as a single mom. And of course, the job that I ended up being offered, didn’t come with either of those, but it gifted me so much more. I am now the COVID Coordinator for a local school district. I feel like I was called to serve in a bigger way as I help them navigate these unprecedented times. I am using all of my background and experience, not only in epidemiology, but I also get to use what I learned in my work as a doula and a certified family trauma professional. I not only manage the details like spreadsheets and flowcharts and phone calls, I manage people’s fears and frustrations. It has been a much-needed confidence boost to be able to actually use what looks on my resume to be a seemingly random set of skills to actually help people, and I get to practice not taking it personally when I’m yelled at which would have made me simply melt into a puddle a decade ago, and I’ve even made friends.
Working for yourself does allow a lot of flexibility and autonomy, but I missed having coworkers and a community of people to just say “good morning” to. In my prayers and meditations, I had been calling in “Belonging.” Now that meant going back to packing a sandwich and commuting for the first time in 15 years, and going into a school during a pandemic after having just completed cancer treatments! Stepping into a brand-new position where nobody knows me and everyone is staying distanced and masked meant that I wasn’t very welcomed at first because since nobody wanted a pandemic, my being here just reminded them of missing the comfort of a predictable school-year and the illusion that you can make plans. Over time, they grew to understand that I am here to help, and that I work very hard to take care of them all.
In the beginning, I had one beautiful ray of sunshine, an older woman that would stop by to chat every day and would even pop by to smile (with her eyes) in my window when I was burying my head in a spreadsheet. For the first few months, I made plans for when the virus would reach our little town. I had flowcharts describing all the roles and responsibilities in our detailed action plan. I never could have known that my beautiful new friend would be our first case, and that she would never come back to school. After a long couple of weeks on the ventilator, they finally had to let her go.
For so many years, every time I found a place or a group that I loved, it would close its doors, shut down, or disband. Since the pattern was pointed out to me by someone I loved, I was convinced that I was cursed and that anywhere I went would be doomed by my presence. This reinforced my belief that the world would be better without me. I became fearful of making new friends or joining things. I finally had someone explain that since I am naturally an empathic healer, it is actually part of my purpose to be there to support people through difficult times of transition. I got chills when she said that, because I had literally written those words on my website and in my tagline, but had never made that connection. So, being at this school during this very hard time, finding a beautiful soul to love and then lose, was not any less sad, but I was able to feel like I was called to be here for a reason.
Even with this new perspective, the challenges and the heartbreaks don’t really go away. It is so hard to be a human on planet earth most days. My dear friend at Living Now Yoga has gifted me with the phrase “how human of me” and helped me to practice implementing it into my repertoire. I needed that so many times this year! Taking on a huge responsibility at home as well as at work, has meant that things sometimes fall through the cracks. During the pandemic she gifted us with her twice weekly meditations to help us come back to center and to breathe and to practice calming our nervous system. I needed that, since my world seemed to have stopped, but it’s still not time for me to get off. (Do you remember a time before memes when we traded stickers and wrote notes in class, and had cool sayings like: “Stop the World, I want to get off”?) For a recovering perfectionist (which is a trauma response to patterns of emotional abuse) this has been a balm for my soul.
So anyway, finally getting to my point, it is graduation season! I am almost ready after many years to step up the next level. That is the scary part. Stepping off the edge into the abyss. Crossing over into a totally unknown new world. My kids are stepping into adulthood, which they have practiced by getting jobs and driving cars, and now they will go live away from home. Oh, my mama heart just made me cry again. Okay, keep it together.
These moments are also called commencements because we need to begin again. It is time to make a new start. But you also need to have learned so much to get to this part. We’ll mark the moment with a crossing over ceremony and give you a certificate to make sure you notice this Rite of Passage. The doula in me loves all this talk of passages and transitions!
In one of my online groups of confident women, this model for Stepping out of your Comfort Zone was just shared.
- You can use it to identify where you are in your own journey.
- Maybe you are not in graduation season.
- Maybe you are a freshman again.
- Maybe in one aspect of your life you’re pretty experienced, and that feels good right now, giving you the energy to try something bold in another area.
You can use this model separately for your personal life, business life, relationships etc. or just as an overall sense of how you feel right now.
I feel today like I finally graduated from that Learning Zone that I’ve been patiently working through for the last 5 years. Before that, I had lived in the Fear Zone for twenty years, thinking that I could never live without him by my side, as I sat on the sidelines of my own marriage. I kept trying to fix things, fix myself, make that Happily Ever After feel real. I felt like an imposter, because how could I authentically teach about empowerment when I myself was afraid to really look at the abuse in my own relationship?
I thought he was my world. When I finally let go, I realized that there was a much bigger world out there for me.
If you look back on my posts from the last few years, you will see that before I was ready to jump, I needed to physically practice feeling safe enough so that my body and soul could trust. I zip-lined and threw myself down a mountain and even walked the plank so that I could really feel it in my bones that I would be okay if I surrendered. I finally jumped. I got a lawyer. I told my husband to move out. It was not that I thought that I could live without him, because I couldn’t even picture that yet, but I just thought I could use a little break from the constant emotional and physical torture. Actually, I realized it was literally killing me, and I chose to live. Then, just 5 days later I got the call that there was something on my mammogram.
The note said: “I am concerned about the chance of malignancy.”
My old-self would have felt like a failure in that moment. What kind of healer lets herself get cancer? But in that moment, I felt my new-self rise up and step into the knowing that cancer was part of this journey for a reason. Luckily, I had done so much therapy to overcome my shame of living in this body. This past year I had so many medical procedures, and I had to just surrender to the physical pain and emotional torture. But I am okay. That feels huge.
13 months after I intuitively knew I had cancer, I finally went for my mammogram so that I could stop being afraid of it and start fighting it. 13 months after I asked my husband to move out, he finally just didn’t come home one night, and now being single is becoming my new reality.
People were telling me to just get over it, but I had to get through it first!
All this becoming and belonging is a beautiful blossoming. I kept hiding, so afraid to let the rosebud open to the sun, so afraid to come out of my cocoon, not knowing if I was ready to spread my wings and let them solidify in the sunshine. Now I was ready. I had done the work and let it unfold in my own timing. I had people try to push me, both lovingly and not so nicely, and neither of those worked. You cannot pull the bud open or help a butterfly out of a cocoon.
Going through the transition is a necessary part of an empowering transformation.-Mb
I now appreciate that you cannot jump or be pushed out of your Comfort Zone straight into the Growth Zone. You need to dare to face your fears so that you can dip your toe into the learning phase for a while until it feels safe enough to fully step out of your comfort zone. Then you need to learn so many things before you are ready to finish practicing and step into finally doing and being. And if you allow yourself to move gently through the phases, encouraged by good friends who want you to feel the joy, not by “doing things right” (which I begrudgingly admit is not really a thing,) but the joy of finally relaxing into being your full self.
And look at that growth zone! Now you are here, living your dreams, knowing your purpose and conquering your objectives. But there is a sneaky little comment in there about setting new goals! So here you are, now enjoying this growth zone, basking in the sunshine, spreading your wings, relaxing those petals, and now this is becoming your new comfort zone.
You have graduated. Congratulations! Let’s celebrate. Let’s reflect on how far you have come.
And then let’s turn our faces to the sun, let the shadows fall behind us, and prepare to commence our journey.
Each time we go around the spiral, and do this again, we learn that we can face even bigger fears, and maybe we tune into that knowing as we navigate through the Fear Zone more quickly and gather our new tools and conquer those higher objectives so that we can then dream even bigger, realize an even larger purpose, and be more fully our authentic selves.
Are you ready to dip your toe into the Learning Zone and need some ideas of Things to Try?
- Have you read Magdalena Moments? Do you want to join a reading group that will do one step each week and gather online for a reflection and meditation and hold space for you as you grow? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about groups that are forming.
Are you feeling physical or emotional pain or the frustration of feeling stuck? Are your fears holding you back from being your full self?
- Book a private session over the phone and we can do a deep dive into your story and see where the energetic blocks are and, if you are ready, remove those so you can move on.
Are you ready to make an Action Plan and set new goals for your life or business?
- Book a Healthy Family or Healthy Business consultation call to talk about what package will best support you on your journey towards being your best self.
Do you want to brag about your most recent graduation and have us cheer for you?
- Post a comment below and share your story with us, or send me an email at email@example.com or private message on Facebook so we can catch up on your news.
Blessings on Your journey, Michelle
Just FYI: None of my links are affiliates, I just share them in case you are interested in following my train of thought a little further or so that you get my reference.