Last Summer, I had a life-changing epiphany. Many people may learn this lesson at a much younger age than I have, but let's face it, I can be a slow learner. I finally learned at the ripe age of 36, that strength comes from weakness and vulnerability.
Gratefully so, I was raised to be a strong and independent woman. I was raised to be tenacious and "soldier on" through tough times. However, somewhere along the way, I interpreted vulnerabilities as weaknesses.
For the past 12 years, I have been the best wife and mother I could possibly be. All my strength and motivation in life stemmed from these roles. I wanted to be the healthiest, strongest woman I could be for my family. While living in Arizona, I was perfectly content focusing my energy on my physical health through workouts and a healthy diet. With 300 days of warm sunshine, anything was possible, right?
German Winters have presented me with a unique challenge. I do not "Winter" well. As wonderful as life here has been for our family- learning a new language, Daniel's wonderful job, the family travel, not to mention all the amazing aspects the German culture has to offer, my body and mind require a bit more vitamin D. The environment ages me. The absence of daylight hours being so far North, the cold seeping into my bones, as well as constant rain seem to sucker punch me right in the gut each and every year. So last Summer, I decided to get proactive and devise a strategy for Winter.
Step 1: Supplement a cocktail of vitamins to help me power through the dreary months.
Step 2: Exercise, exercise, exercise. We bought a rowing machine so I would have no excuses.
Step 3: Institute explicit expectations for the kinder in this household: chores, homework, etc
Step 4: Maintain an active mind. Return to school and finish the Bachelors degree started 18 years ago.
Now I do not know if any one of these steps helped more than the others, or if it was the creative concoction of each and every element of the plan, but I weathered this year's Winter quite well, and now have a souvenir Bachelor's degree.
I have not blogged in quite some time, as I have been balancing my home life, freelancing, and full-time school for the past 10 months. But now that I have completed my last classes, I am ready to do a little backtracking and fill in all the gaps.
Seasonal depression has brought me to my knees in the past. I am now to the point where I know when the air turns cool, the leaves begin to change, and I hear the faint clinking of the first fall beer fest mugs, I should already be in a defensive stance, fists raised, ready for a possible knock-down, drag-out fight. I can honestly say from my previous encounters with this opponent, she fights dirty!
Out of my weakness and vulnerability has come strength. It has taken this challenge for me to realize I am writing my life's story. I have some weigh in on what happens and what comes next. As fulfilling as life as a stay at home mother and wife has been, I wanted to use this opportunity of weakness to gain a new confidence and strength. I have always told myself when my life is over, I want to look back and be able to say with zero hesitation- I never wasted an opportunity.
So far, throughout my life, there is only one opportunity I can remember that I was offered and I turned down. In boot camp after the swim test, I was offered an opportunity to take a test and see if I would be eligible for diving training. A teeny tiny voice in the back of my head said, "You are a strong swimmer, Megan! Stronger than most of the people out there taking the test. Do it!" The only reason I did not try, was because another louder voice was telling me I was not good enough. I lacked confidence. I was afraid to fail. So instead of jumping in the water, I politely declined. Now, many years later, I ask myself if I would have passed that test. So what if I had failed? At least I would have tried. I was afraid to show weakness.
Even though I define my current primary job as caregiver of 4 fantastic children, this does not mean I should not be setting and working towards goals. This does not mean I should not be trying new things or learning new skills. Some of us find it so easy to get caught up in the everyday motions of life that we forget to live: set goals, learn new skills or try new things. I seemed to forget that my days do not need to be completely defined by making dinners, doing laundry, and helping with homework. Those things are wonderful and I am grateful I can do these things for my family. Call me selfish, but I wanted something just for me.
In a nutshell, I always regretted never finishing my Bachelor's degree. I am proud to say I finished what I started. I still regret not taking that dive test. Maybe I should go back and "give that a go," too! It is never too late to finish what you start or to pick up where you left off. I have learned to find strength in my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. I fear failure just a little bit less than I did before. I realize I have influence over my Winters and what the Spring may bring.