Another Fucking Growth Opportunity

I have been really struggling to find the willingness to engage in my annual ritual of listing my successes.

I’ve had some challenges this year that have been overshadowing my successes. The Lee Hazlewood lyric, “I’ve been down so far, it looks like up to me,” was pretty much my refrain for the past two months.

The nature of this challenge was intense to the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed. I was surprised by how often the word “depressed” came to mind and how all my usual self-care habits flew out the window. I didn’t want to eat healthy meals; it was all I could do to eat anything. I didn’t want to talk; I didn’t want to call friends. I just wanted to hide.

I was lucky — it was only a matter of weeks before I pulled through. It’s a blessing — and a curse — to run a business and have clients and contractors and employees relying on you. I can’t remember the last full-on sick day I took (the curse). But the world kept turning and we had work to do; I could not indulge my desire to hide; I had to keep moving (the blessing).

I made this giant mind map on the whiteboard in my office. The center read, “so fucking depressed.” Spokes radiated out listing the problems I could suddenly see in my business. The year, in retrospect, had been a shit show of stress and disappointments.

I think of myself as an optimist. Someone who *always* sees the possibility in the situation. I think of myself as a generous person. The challenge I faced was that I was a) looking at potentially losing two years of my work (hard to see anything positive in that situation) and b) seeing my generosity in a whole new light. That maybe my generosity has limited my success both personally and professionally. That maybe Aristotle was right that you could be too generous** and that, if in fact he was right, I had been overly generous and had been taken advantage of in a way that made me want to turn my insides out to somehow stop my skin from crawling. (I am a Leo and prone to the dramatic, let’s remember.)

Even once I pulled through and had pieced together a plan to, well, piece my life back together, I did not want to process the year. Everything great I had accomplished last year was overshadowed by this gigantic failure.

I believe that I began this blog post to eventually come around to how great my year was in retrospect. It feels like a jump now, and I don’t know how I was actually able to come around to it. But I did, finally, come to a place where I could see past this glaring failure to all the other good I had accomplished. My child, for instance, eats super stanky bleu cheese without batting an eyelash. I worked out consistently for the entire year — the longest I have ever, ever, in my life, worked out consistently for and I feel freaking great. I prioritized consistent email and content marketing to grow Camp Artsy Geek, one of my long-term dreams. I used my time more wisely and got more done than I’d ever imagined possible. I tried to expand my team and learned a lot of great lessons. I organized my house so that now I can actually put a hook up on the wall without making a big to do out of it. I bought myself clothes that fit and am finally feeling better about myself after making it through childbirth. My marriage is strong and healthy and fun. I realized that I am an alchemist and that transformation of any kind brings me joy.

As I enter into 2019, I look forward to creating routines around transformation. Making more omelets and pancakes (a truly creative experience), cooking without regard for how many dishes will be made, creating more art, writing more. Prioritizing my creative enterprises (Camp!!) above all else because I am truly proud of what I am creating there.

Case in point: in December we created a workbook to help people (like me) come around to seeing their successes. It is what I used the other day when I finally moved past that glaring failure to the long list above. I’m sure it will go through iterations, but what we have is great and I was surprised by how effective it was for me. I won’t be next time; I’m awesome and I know it.

Yes, all in all, it was a great year. We have our health, we live in an amazing area, we eat fabulous food.

* A challenge which, yes, I am being vague about — sorry! Not ready to discuss specifics.
** Something I vividly remember from Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle talks about how you should see some people who you think are too generous and some who are too (what’s the opposite of generous?) – tight-fisted. That’s how you know you’re in the right place. You’re the intermediate option.

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