I would like to think that I am a good Mom. Doing it on my own has been a challenge I never bargained for. This article is a great wake up call for those of us (yes, I am including myself) who think that creating happy and content children constitutes good parenting. Chances are, if you are like me, you will see yourself in this article and maybe even feel a little guilt. But like this popular blogger says, you gotta cut yourself a break sometimes.
As the old saying goes, if you want to make a change, you should start with the person in the mirror. Right? Or “be the change you wish to see in the world”, or “you must make a change to see a change”. All great mantras for good living. But how do you go about making a change, if you don’t know who you are in the first place? I know, that’s pretty deep.
Finding Out Who You Are
It is one of the interview questions I have always hated, “what would your friends say is your best asset? Greatest weakness?” etc. “What would your former supervisors say about your organizational skills?” Of course in an interview you are supposed to sell yourself, so your response is always somewhere along the lines of, “the would say I am fantastic,” even though what you really want to say is, “I don’t know, ask them!” Short of asking all of the people in your life to profile you, you really don’t always know what others think of you in any real sense. If you have low self-esteem you may think that they don’t like you anyway, and if you are narcissistic, you will believe that everyone on the planet adores you, even though we know that isn’t possible. (Because, let’s face it, most of the people on the planet have no idea who you are.)
What is Your Personality?
Luckily there are better ways to find out exactly who we are and what makes us tick. One tool that many corporations use is the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator. This assessment was designed to indicate a person’s psychological preferences in reference to how they make decisions and how they see the world around them. The tool asks a variety of questions and asks the respondent to answer on a 1 to 5 scale from definitely that’s me to definitely not me…and then gives you an intuitive summary of what your preferences are based on your answers. I took one of these personality profiles when I was a student studying medical assisting. The Insights Discovery program breaks your personality into colors. You can lead with one or a combination of colors. For instance, I lead with yellow, then green and blue are tied and red is my weakest color. To find out more about what the colors mean, you can check them out here. Basically mine break down this way: Yellow is the color of energy and signifies someone who is social, enthusiastic and expressive. So the social person who wants to do things together. Green signifies the caring, nurturing, bleeding heart type who responds to caring. Blue signifies the cautious, precise, questioner who wants to do things right the first time. And finally, red signifies the demanding, purposeful and competitive personality who wants things to be brief and efficient (see, told you that wasn’t me). The profile that came along with the color analysis was staggering…I was going through my divorce at the time and things were revealed to me in that report that I had never known about myself before. Important things that I could learn from.
How Do I Know Who I Am?
While both the Myers-Briggs Indicator and Insights are available for a fee, I found a very useful free version at My-Personality-Test.com. It is set up much like the Myers-Briggs indicator in that you are given a letter indicator of your personality type at the end. You can take the assessment in about 10-15 minutes and if you answer the questions honestly, and not how you think you should answer them. You will get a handy little guide to understanding who you are. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My own My-Personality-Test revealed that I am Extraverted (which I don’t agree with), Intuitive, Feeling and Judging. The report told me that I have an entrepreneurial nature (really?!? lol) and that I have strong work habits, form close relationships easily, and I am highly empathetic. All true! I also learned that the ENFJ personality type is extremely rare and make up only 2% of the population, and that other’s who share my type are/were Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela! That is pretty good company! I invite you to take the My Personality Test and come back and let us know in the comments who you are, and if the results confirmed what you previously believed, or if they surprised you. Once you know who you are, you can move towards identifying things about you that you would like to change.
But that’s a subject for next time! See you soon!
Am I Blog-Worthy?
When I was thinking about starting a blog, I had a lot of self doubt. Why would anyone want to read what I write? Why would anyone be interested in hearing about me? What have I done that is “blog-worthy”? Back in January I started a Facebook page called “My Best Self”–recently changed to “Finding Your Best Self”. I wanted a meeting place for myself and my friends on Facebook that would be all positive. A place that we could support each other’s health goals, cheer each other up, and to share my inspirational aspirations and get feedback. It was on this page that one of my friends, Lisa H., someone I have seen only a couple of times over the past 10 years, but who has remained a friend thanks to social media posted:
“Tracey you are amazing, beautiful and have always been a go-getter for as long as I have known you. You accomplish things most people won’t even try yet you do it even if it seems impossible at times. I may not be a part of your every day life but even all the way over here in Elk River I know that you are a first class Mother and friend. I wish you could see just how much awesome sauce you really have inside you because I know I see it. You have been through so many things in your short life and here you are still keeping your head above water and nothing is going to stop you. Your drive alone makes you someone most people want to be around. Then add in your beautiful smiling face, bubbly personality and BOOM you have the perfect recipe for the BEST friend anyone could ask for. We all have flaws and we all make mistakes but its those who don’t let anything stand in their way of happiness that succeed in life. You my friend will go to FAR places in this world. Don’t ever doubt the greatness you hold inside.”
As Women We Are BAD Receiving Compliments
Of course I teared up. What a beautiful thing to say! Now my first reaction, because I am a female, was to discount what she had just said, and to diminish it. But I paused for a moment… Lisa used to do childcare for my children, she knew me and my family very well. She helped me out a couple of times later on, during my divorce. She knew me before and after (not many people have). Her observations were educated, and, I am not arrogant enough to say they were accurate…so, I will say that they have a ring of truth.
Respect My Authority!
So here is why I feel like I am someone who has a right to share on the subject of overcoming obstacles in life, not to mention running a business from home, parenting (especially parenting alone, self-help, motivation, etc.)
I was shy kid who was bullied in high school but still took some risks as even then I knew only risk takers could get ahead. I played sports despite not being naturally athletic, or my parents being “important enough” in my town that I would ever really be played. I was on the fringe, not a jock, not a nerd, not a burnout…just me, and I had some really great friends! So I survived those dastardly years. I had a crush on the cutest boy in school and a year after we graduated high school we started dating and then got married. We shared 15 tumultuous years as I followed him to the Navy and back again, had two beautiful children, and made a life. He supported me leaving corporate American and staying home with our first child while I ran my already successful business with Home Interiors and Gifts. Soon after that I launched Little Ruby Designs and he helped in my business while he pursued his own career. Well, he helped for awhile. After a few years he grew tired of caring for the children on Saturdays so that I could work, and in a fit of rage and flying candle accessories, he declared that he was done. I struggled with a back injury at the time, and without the heavy lifting help, I was done too…so I tearfully shut down my website and said goodbye to a dream. I also ran a daycare and loved being with those little people all day long. My doctor advised a career change, so I did that too… I said good-bye to my babies I had raised and sent them off to other caregivers. It was a dark time, all of my dreams seemed to be in dust, and I was terribly depressed. I spent a brief time in a job as a private investigator only to be “fired” according to them but in reality the company was in trouble and they closed my office even before the judge ruled that I was not let go for cause in unemployment court.
Depression Is Not Just In Your Head
I was so miserable during this time. It is hard to even think about now, it seems like it was another lifetime entirely. I stayed in my pajamas all day. I spent hours of the day in bed. I had two small children and they were always supervised and safe but I would pop in a movie and go hide in my room more often than I care to admit. I thought about how much better off they would be without me. They were dark dark days. I would always try to put on a happy face and have dinner ready for my husband when he got home. We still had date nights and laughed together and shared everything. He was my best friend and the center of my world. But he knew how depressed I was and how much time I spent in bed. And he did not like it. I started selling Avon with a great group of ladies and those events got me out of the house. I was very successful with Avon and rapidly built a strong team. I started to get my groove back a teensy bit. But I still had to work so I got a job managing a convenience store. I worked 60-70 hours a week, early mornings and late nights. My husband had to take charge with the kids most days and on off days I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I would spend as much time with the kids as I could, soaking up every moment I could be with them. It was a huge shock to my system to be away so much after being home with them for the better part of 8 years. And that separation from the only two things that kept me anchored to the earth for so long was not helping my depression in the least.
The Beginning of the End
And then something changed at home. My husband stopped getting angry at me for napping. He wasn’t always home when I called from work to check in with him and the kids. And he stopped really talking to me at all. Friends started asking me about his relationship with our daycare lady. They thought something might be up. I told them they were crazy. We were a rock solid couple. Look at all that we had been through. We loved each other! But I was wrong. After a night out with friends where I caught them together in an embrace, we decided to work it out, but things got worse instead of better. My husband, who never raised his voice to me (except for the day he quit my business) was yelling at me and the children almost constantly. He came up with a long list of reasons why he hated me and he started pushing me to move out of the house. I was never leaving without my children. I consulted an attorney who told me I would lose a custody battle with the job that I had, and that I should take my kids and go before things got violent. So I did exactly as he said. I quit my job, took my kids and left the home that I had made for my family, with the few possessions he would allow us to take. I was jobless, essentially homeless, and my marriage was over.
Starting a New Life
My parents rented a house for us or I would have had to find us a nice refrigerator box. I will tell you, it was not good times, but I made a deal with myself. I would allow myself 30 days to wallow. I could stay in bed (while the kids were at school) and feel terribly sorry for myself as much as I wanted for 30 days. And then… I had to be done with it. I enrolled in school, I tried to make the shitty house we lived in a home, I got us a big goofy puppy, and every moment that my kids were home I was centered on them. When they were gone, as I still sometimes do, I focused on taking care of myself…taking long hot baths, reading a juicy novel, and yes, taking big long naps. I have never gotten used to being in my home without my children. I hate it as much 7 years later as I did the first weekend. At the end of my 30 day grieving period, the 30th day in fact, I went on a date. It was kind of a disaster but it was a major fear that I overcame that night. From that moment forth, I refused to look back. My (now) ex-husband decided to build a life with our daycare provider. While they are still together and seem to be happy, we are not amicable in any way and I regret how my hurt and anger contributed to that status. I have sole custody of our children after over two years of fighting and court and custody evaluation and attorney fees. He sees them every other weekend and whenever else he wants to …I have never wanted to take anything from my children, least of all a relationship with their father. And here is the thing I realized almost immediately when my 30 day grieving period was over… I have never been happier. While I definitely miss being a family and sharing all of those moments with another adult, it turns out I was much more unhappy with my marriage than I ever could have admitted. While he was my best friend, and I loved him unconditionally, it turns out that when the blinders came off that he wasn’t a good husband. The best lesson that I learned is that I am 100% responsible for the way I feel and how I react to those feelings. Do I still have some dark days? Sure! But these days I can always find the light in a situation. And I believe that I have the power to create a life that I love. I hope that you believe that you can too and I would really like to help you do it!
Thanks for sticking with this until the end…I would have liked to make a long story short but… Thank you for coming along with me for my journey. If you have questions for me, or if you have your own obstacles to share, you can post them in the comments below, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time…
When I started my Little Ruby Designs business 16 years ago, I was not in a position to start a company and attempt to work from home. I actually had another business at the time (and a brand new baby) and I wanted to quit a thriving enterprise to start a new one. I had $300 to invest. It was a bad idea by all intents and purposes. But I just decided to get started. And it worked out…at least for a while. I will talk more about that later on.
Once Begun is Almost Done
Fast forward to present day. I started a new full-time job in November piloting a medical assistant program for a new start-up career college. During the lull between being hired and starting my classes, I had a ton of time on my hands to explore the internet, do some personal research, and think about what I want from the future. I decided that now was the time to achieve my goal of an advanced degree. So I researched and enrolled in a master’s degree program. Choosing my passion…education. My classes are fun and introspective, and I have thought of a thousand creative ways to use what I am learning to achieve my goals. Other things happened during that time when I had too much time on my hands too, or immediately after as recruiting and classes got underway. I realized that I get frustrated with students who cannot be honest with themselves (or me for that matter) in terms of attending class and finishing assignments. I realized that I am a little fried. And I remembered something else…something incredibly important. Something…magical. I remembered that I really want to be my own boss. Working full-time (I have a part time job too) and being in school full-time and being a single Mom of two kids is plenty of work. Too much, perhaps, at least according to some. But, I want to blog, I want to build my Little Ruby Designs business, I want to help others find their purpose, chase their dreams and find success in their own lives, however they define it. I want, eventually to have control over my schedule, to live on acreage with horses, goats, a pig, and maybe some chickens. I don’t want to commute from my country oasis to a job I don’t love. I have too many irons in the fire and now is not the time for such fanciful musings. I could wait until the time is right. Or I could just get started.
So here we are. Let’s get this thing started!
Thank you for coming with me on my journey!
I want to know what your aspirations are too! What would you attempt if you knew that you could not fail?? The sky is the limit…dream big!
I am about to embark on a journey of self-transformation, and I would like to invite you along for the ride. Maybe you have your own changes to make in your life, maybe you are a self-help guru who thirsts for new knowledge, or maybe you have already made this journey and just want to watch me toil with mine! Wherever you are in your life, thank you for taking the time to interact with and impact mine.
Here’s who I am. I am a forty-something Mom of two amazing kids. They are 13 and 16 years old. While they are terrific human beings, the teen years offer some struggles, and I am raising them mostly on my own for the last 8
years. After getting my college degree and never really finding my career niche in social work, I became a medical assistant, which I love, and over the last three years have moved into a mentorship role as an educator in the field. I love what I do…in theory. I work full time at a career college and I have to admit, for the first time in my life, I really am not happy with my work. I dread getting out of bed in the morning to go to work. I also work a part-time job that I really enjoy and I run a home-business for the past 16 years that is truly a labor of love. There have been ups and downs but overall this is where my passion lies. But I am stuck. Medical assisting doesn’t pay enough for a single Mom to run a household. I struggle to get hours at my part-time job and my home-business, although it offered a great income pre-recession…and allowed me to be home when I was married and my kids were small…well, it just isn’t where it needs to be, nor am I currently able to invest the amount of time that it truly deserves or that it needs to be successful. So frustrating! But on the flipside, I love my relationships with my children, I have great friends that I cherish, I still have both my parents (and an older brother) whom I adore and support me in everything I do, I have two adorable quirky rescue dogs who make me smile every day, and a bunny who is the best antidepressant ever discovered. I am pursuing my master’s degree in education, and really enjoying my courses and that process. So it’s not all bad. In fact, I would say that it is more than 70% good. But I would like that good percentage to be higher. I dream of being self-employed and being able to invest myself into doing what I love. I dream of helping people the way I have helped my students find who they want to be, but without the heartache and the stress and the bureaucracy that teaching in the private college industry seems to be fraught with.
Something has to give. But what will that be? I have NO idea…and yet I have some pretty strong desires and visions about what my life should look like. That’s why I am starting this journey. And that is why I decided to do it publicly. I am happy to share what I learn along the way with you. If you are a Mom who dreams of staying home with your kids and having a successful business, if you feel that you are in a job rut, or if you just feel like you are not living the best life that you can be right now I hope that you will take this journey with me. Through my posts I hope to share inspiration, purpose, maybe some business advice, and just real talk about what it is like to be a woman and to struggle as a mother, in your romantic relationships, and finding your way in the world.
Thanks for coming along! Let’s talk again soon!