My Journey to Vitality
To write this blog, I had to be authentic and dig deep to a place where things fell apart so that I could share with you how living the protective factors and starting a journey to vitality are helping me put them back together.
Prior to 2013, my life wasn't perfect, but I was in a place where I felt loved and secure. On January 13, 2013, I had to make a choice that no parent wants to make. I gave up the life of my unborn child because I was in a bad place, in a failing marriage with three children depending on me. It was the choice I felt I needed to take, but every day I regret that decision made from pain. A few months later, on September 10, 2013, I lost my mother, and this changed me forever. I was broken and afraid and I felt abandoned. There was no one who I loved more than my mother, and no one could replace the best friend I ever had. She wasn't perfect, but she was perfect for me.
For two to three years following that, I lived a life of survival. I was not living my best, and I was very close to the worst part of my life. In 2015, I took a leap of faith (a mustard seed in size), and I began working on embracing the protective factors. They gave me words to how I could have survived so long in such a dark place. I realized that they are what has kept me going for so long: Resilience and relationships.
I lived the protective factors, building my social connections, learning to be more involved and being attentive to others' emotional states. I began a life of sharing where I went wrong as a parent while, as a professional Strengthening Families coordinator in Philadelphia, planning and facilitating conversations that heal. If you had seen me, you wouldn't have seen this me. I was wearing a superwoman cape and a mask, but under that cape and behind that mask I was full of pain. Through Parent Cafés, I learned that my marriage was broken, and I needed to deal with that. Sharing with others in a safe space gave me the courage to get to the heart of my pain, to look myself in the face to address the giant that was killing me.
Gradually I started to look inside. I knew I needed to deal with me. I was hurt by my mother’s death and I was in a marriage that further added to my pain. I found myself complaining and unhappy all the time. I received a promotion that, in any other point in my life, would have made me elated, but the darkness was deep, and I needed a way out. I felt alone as I faced grief and I could no longer let it be the dominant feeling in my life. I finally accepted the stages of grief.
This is when I learned about the domains of Journey to Vitality. Each one was relevant to the place I found myself at that point. Take Physical Vitality: although I was a part of "I Love Kickboxing," I had shingles at the age of 37. Spiritual Vitality: Although I was attending church most Sundays, my relationship with God was suffering. Mental / Emotional Vitality: I was finally at a place where I knew that I needed to heal from the pain of my mother’s death. Social Vitality: I needed to reconnect to my family and friends in DC, where I was raised. Financial Vitality: I received a new job but my responsibilities at work increased and I needed to pay for someone to watch my children after their afterschool program. Environmental Vitality: I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with growing children who needed more space. I hated coming home at night because I no longer wanted to live there. I wasn't being fair to me. I put everyone and everything before me, to the point that I didn't exist past the position I held, as parent or as an employee. It was time for me to get back to me, to get back to life, to vitality.
On a train earlier this year, I spent the entire ride complaining about how I wasn't happy, and I needed help and I was tired. My friend Kim looked me in my face and said: just move home. The more I thought about it, the more I knew it needed to happen and the day came when it did. My dad was there, my friends were there, I felt the love I needed to come back to life. It was not only my environment, but my vitality needed a reboot! I moved to a home and in my favorite room, the words on my wall read: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” Those words spoke to my journey – my life fell apart so my journey could fall together.
I started my Journey to Vitality -- focused on moving to Maryland. Moving home forever changed my life. I now look forward to my days working and sharing my Journey to Vitality for others to grow. I see this work changing the way we look at life and creating opportunities for others to expand their own journeys. Whether it's through their work family participating in BSF's Workplace Wellness Program or them addressing places where they want to grow by creating their own journey on www.journeytovitality.org or going to a Vitality Café.
Now, I look forward to waking up in the morning and hearing the geese talk, or the water flow from the fountain behind my home. I look forward to becoming the best me through this journey that has changed my life in so many ways already. I look forward to a life of endless possibilities and opportunities. I look forward to my children seeing my change and feeling the love that my mother had always given me. I look forward to making my mother proud. Even though she is no longer here with me, I’m sure she watches over me. I look forward to my Journey to Vitality and to assisting you with starting yours!