A Story Between Grief and Now

We'll see what the new year brings.

abstract watercolor illustration, silhouette of a woman standing on top of the clouds
Image created via Midjourney

This story began back in 2015.

I would say that it started the day Nelle died. But really, it started months earlier. I knew something was wrong with my pregnancy. I'm not sure how I knew, but I knew.

Pregnancy loss froze time for me. For more than two years, until my rainbow baby was born. And then I had an infant... who grew into a toddler. Those early years are so hard. The sleepless nights, the tantrums, the total dependency a baby has on her parents.

She was 2.5 years old when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Still a toddler. We thought lockdown would last 90 days, maybe. But it was nearly a year of isolation. I could hardly function. It wasn't just a toddler dependent on me, it was all three of my kids. The entire household was held together by me, trying to keep our lives normal by establishing new routines, adapting to remote learning, and being keenly aware of everyone's mental health.

We did the best we could. We survived.

Then I changed careers. I spent the next 18 months at marketing agencies. The first agency made me hate writing and the second was a terrible fit. I decided to strike out on my own.

That was 14 months ago. At this time last year, I was barely a few months into freelancing full-time. I had no idea what the future would hold, but promised my spouse that I would find a "real job" again if I couldn't earn a reasonable income after 6 months. And here I am today, still loving the work I do.

Yet on this New Year's Day and as I reflected on 2023, I realized that I haven't had a lot of normalcy since 2015. It was grief and then parenting after loss and then a global pandemic and then multiple career pivots. Things were always in flux. I was waiting for the "next thing" and unsure of when it would arrive.

And I realized how different my life is now. During those years, I couldn't really focus on myself. Grief ruled my world. Then children ruled my world. Then external forces (my job changes) ruled my world.

I had no time to focus on the things I wanted to do. Though, if I'm being honest, I don't know that I knew what I wanted. Maybe I had to reach this particular time and place — a confluence of the right circumstances.

I have things I want to do in 2024. I don't like to call them "goals" because it makes them sound too lofty, too unattainable. But I've been quietly gaining momentum in the work I enjoy and would like to see that grow. I have established a consistent habit of writing every day.

Over the past year, I've been part of a workshop hosted by a friend of mine. During our last session in December, we talked about goal setting (of course). She wanted us to write down goals, stretch goals, and a miracle. I had no hesitation about what my miracle would be. I know what I'd love to achieve as a writer.

I'll quietly work on building additional habits. The past 8+ years (wow, eight...) have been so exhausting that it's hard for me to want to push myself. Instead, my lifestyle has changed enough that I have time to work on my own projects.

We'll see what the new year brings.

To My Past Self
I learned not to apologize for my feelings.
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