15 Mar Life Lately: Where I have been
It’s been a while.
I find myself writing and rewriting these words because it’s been so long that I have forgotten where I left off or where to begin, so I am just going to jump in.
Life has been crazy lately. From immense lows to incredible and unexpected highs, I find myself breathless, trying to process everything that has happened and while I feel overwhelmed by the thought, I am just so grateful for everything. EVERYTHING.
Let me start by saying that we’re all doing pretty well, besides both boys having the flu, we’re good!
Axl has just turned 5-years old which feels like a pretty big deal to me. He is no longer my little toddler, but rather a big-hearted, kind and caring little boy with such an incredible sense of humor, imagination and awareness. In the last year, he has faced so many changes and obstacles, some that even I, myself, haven’t had to face before. It has been rocky trying to navigate grief, especially with a child that seems to feel the world. There were days and even weeks where he seemed okay, but unexpectedly, he would be reminded of the loss we’ve all faced and you could almost see the grief creeping in and crushing his heart. He also started school in September which was brand new, exciting and scary all at the same time. Having changed schools 10-times in 12-years, I know how hard it can be to start half-way through the year; friendships have been made, everyone is familiar with the routine and sometimes, you feel silly asking questions that everyone seems to already know the answers to. But he handled it like a champ, and we were blessed with one of the very best teachers who helped him adjust while also guiding us in ways to help him. The new year was a bit of a shock because it meant saying goodbye to his comfort and moving to a new class. I won’t lie, I even struggled with the change. I loved our time with Teacher L and was scared that we wouldn’t find another teacher who would make the effort to love and understand Axl, but our nerves were calmed and we have a new teacher who has helped Axl become an independent and confident little boy.
Eli has also done quite a bit of growing up and is no longer a baby but rather, “chaos on legs.” He is such a determined little soul who constantly has to copy whatever his brother is doing. He is always up to mischief, is very aware of what he is doing and loves creating mayhem, but at the same time is very particular in how things must be done like if he messes juice, he will immediately run and fetch a towel and clean it up, or if I ask Axl to open the door for the dogs and he starts giving me lip, Eli gets up without any prompt, lets out this little groan and does it himself. I quite enjoy his tiny yet explosive personality and find it hilarious how he will even challenge his dad.
Axl looks so much like his dad, but is becoming more and more like me while Eli is looking more like me, but has his dad’s rebellious streak. I love it. I love how opposite my boys are; Axl barely touches his food, and when he does, it has to be one of three food options. Eli, on the other hand, has 2 breakfasts, a lunch and 3 dinners, and doesn’t care what’s on the menu. Axl takes time to warm up to people, Eli hugs the shop keeper when we say goodbye. Axl likes peanuts, Eli likes raisins. Axl hates shoes, Eli parades around in them 24/7 and loves trying on mine and his dad’s. It’s amazing to see just how different they are, but one thing they can agree on is that pizza and ice-cream is a food group.
My darling husband has been doing great too. There’s not a day that passes that I don’t thank God for giving me a husband who balances me out so well, anchors me and reminds me what’s important. Since losing my job, I don’t work with D as much but he is still at home and we’re still in each other’s faces all the time. Thankfully, his jokes aren’t totally bad, and we enjoy each other’s company. You know how some people argue over who loves the kids more? In this house, D loves our kids more, not because I don’t love-love my kids, but because there’s no argument about it. The man has a full sulk fest while Axl is at school, he is always worrying about nothing and has more patience than I think is humanly possible. I am always left in awe of D, especially as a parent. He is just so hands-on and ready to help, teach and be there for the boys.
As for me, well…
For a long time, I was left feeling hopeless. Losing my job ripped me of any confidence, mainly because I found worth in my work but also because it came so unexpectedly. A few weeks before, I had a very serious conversation with my boss, where I explained that I was about to take on a new car, new house and would be putting Axl into a private school, so I wanted to make sure that my job was secure. The fact that I needed to have that conversation should have been my first sign that things weren’t okay but I was naive and went on anyway and not even a month later, I was handed my notice. It sucked and while I know it was nothing personal, I was hurt and let down.
If there ever was such a thing as a quarter-life crisis, I think I may have had one in these last few months, or maybe it was just me feeling burnt out. For so long, I was always busy – too busy – that when I lost my job, a few clients, and my love for blogging… I was just sort of lost. I spent a lot of time trying new things; sudoku, crosswords, watching soccer, baking, gardening, journaling, podcasts, and reading to fill all this new free time that I had on my hands. At first, I felt silly because I felt like I should be doing something more productive, but once I gave in, I really started to enjoy it and it’s been fun discovering new interests outside my kids, work and blogging.
Of course, I applied for jobs. Lots of them, in fact.
Each rejection just gave me more reason to question my worth, and while in hindsight I realize that I actually needed the time to work on myself, it was really tough to get over the fact that despite 6-years experience, great referrals, a promising portfolio and happy clients, I just wasn’t finding anything new to make up for the loss of income. Of course, with that, came the stress of not being able to afford all the new things I had just signed up for.
In the beginning of the year, I didn’t set goals or resolutions, I prayed and I prayed a lot. I wrote down my prayers and it’s been incredible being able to go back and tick off each one as and when God answers those prayers. I prayed that I’d start living more intentionally, that I’d stop glorifying being busy, and that I’d make time for God and let him use me, I prayed that I’d stop finding my worth in everyone’s opinions of me or in my work, but rather remember to find my worth in God. I prayed that I’d find peace, new friendships and opportunities when the time was right. I also prayed for the small and maybe even silly things like finally getting my tattoo (which I did, after winning a voucher!), starting a new business (I hope to do this soon!), and getting my British passport (our plan to eventually move to the UK is more real today than it has ever been, and I am confident that it will happen.)
I have slowly picked up the pieces, found new clients who don’t need to be convinced that I am worth my fee, manage my time so that I am still with my kids in the evenings while D works, I have created routines for everyone, and allow myself more free time to do the things that I enjoy. I also let go of feeling obligated to be online and constantly post on social media. For so long, I was always connected, always mindlessly scrolling, always wondering what to post next. It’s been refreshing to take a step back and remind myself that the world won’t combust if I don’t stick to a blogging schedule, curate my feed or always post just for the sake of it.
In the last week, everything has done a complete 180. Just when I thought we were at the end of our season of a good stream of work, I have had more work come in than I can actually manage right now. In the last few months, I have challenged myself to build websites and have even launched 3 client’s websites, while still focusing primarily on my SEO clients. D has some amazing things happening on his side too. The kids are both happy. We spend more quality time together as a family and overall, I am just so grateful for all the good that fills our lives. We also seem to have quite a bit of travel on the horizon, with a trip to Cape Town planned for next weekend, a week-long trip to Jo’burg next month, followed by a family holiday in Port Alfred the following weekend.
Yes, on the side, I still worry – I don’t think that ever goes away. The car still isn’t sorted out and we’re waiting for feedback from the ombudsman, but considering the dealership is going out of business, I am not hopeful. Finances always stress me out, but slowly that’s getting better and I know that God always provides. Truthfully, there were days when we were on a diet of just potatoes because that’s what we could afford, but it’s gotten better.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love the way Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”
This has been proven true over and over again in my life. It proves true when I sat back in my matric Afrikaans class, watching Steve Job’s say that very quote to the class of 2005, not realizing the impact it would have on my life or that it would later be the reason I wanted the Steve Jobs biography, which a boy would go onto buy for me after our first date, giving us a good enough reason for a second date… he’d end up being the boy I’d marry. It proves true when I bunked school because of my anxiety was so bad so I ended up working at the Top Billing auditions, where I said hi to a girl across the room and she’d go home and tell her brother she’s found her future sister-in-law, and who next month, I will MC her wedding with her brother and nephews by my side. And it proves true today. If I didn’t just go through the year I have, I’d never know just how blessed I am. If I had gone to Chile, my son wouldn’t have gone to an incredible school, and we’d probably have chalked up his difficulties processing speech to the foreign language and would have missed the part that he has auditory dyslexia, we’d also not have been here for our family when they’d need us the most – oh, and I’d have been in Chile without a job.. LOL! That would have been FUN… not! But I’d also never be pushed to the point of broken that I’d turn to God to carry me. I’d never know just how much I was missing while being stuck to my computer 18-hours/day. I’d never have discovered new interests, worked on my relationship with my dad in the UK, challenge myself to learn new things, be inspired to start new businesses or stumble upon the incredible opportunities I currently face. So, no matter the challenges you have today, know that someday, you will look back and you’ll be able to connect the dots.