What Matters Most

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Something about turning 40 forced me to re-evaluate my life. Suddenly, and without warning, I felt a seismic shift in how I perceive the most important things in my life. I was ready to start purging the negative and was truly open to self-reflection. Life began to matter in a different way.

Quality Not Quantity

I have a lot of acquaintances but very few friendships. On purpose. Once upon a time (namely high school), this would have been a social nightmare where I’d be destined to eat lunch by myself in the corner of the cafeteria.

If only I could have told my younger self then what I know now. I would have told her, “keep your circle small.”

You may have one hundred contacts in your phone. But how many answer when you call? The ones who do belong in your circle. They are your tribe! Although it took me years to find one, my village is tight. We put in equal effort, dry each other’s tears, and laugh until our sides hurt. As we evolve, what we value in friendship will change. Some friendships will stand the test of time, and some will wither and eventually disappear.

It’s ok to let those go.

See, it’s not about how many people I know, how many friends I have, or the number of followers on social media. It’s about what those friendships bring to my life. The girlfriends who “get me” answer every time I call and show up for me even when I feel unlovable. Friendship is a gift that we both give and receive. Show up for your tribe, too.

I’ll take a few strong friendships over a dozen lousy ones any day!

It’s About Me…Sometimes

As a wife and mother, I tend to put myself last. I take care of others before I take care of myself. As moms, there’s a certain sense of guilt associated with doing something for ourselves, by ourselves. I have never understood why we view self-care as selfish.

Not too long ago, I decided to leave a job that was comfortable for my family life but not what I wanted to be doing with my life. Although I did not recognize it at the time, being unhappy in my career negatively impacted my family life. It changed who I was as a wife and mother (not in a good way). Something had to give! It was the scariest thing I had done in years, if ever. I was afraid of making the wrong decision that would adversely affect my family and leave me more miserable than I already was.

But after years of putting others’ needs ahead of my own, I decided it was time to do something for me. I was in pursuit of happiness…my happiness!

Fortunately, I am now blessed to be in a career that brings me incredible joy and satisfaction. So, make the hard decisions and never look back! Do it for you. Do it for the people you love. You won’t regret it!

Even though it was about me, my family life also improved. I became a better mom and a better wife. When I do better for myself, I am doing better for my loved ones. A positive change in one area can easily lead to positive changes in another.

Self-care is the greatest gift to give yourself. Recognizing you are worthy of being happy and healthy is an important step in mom-life and life overall. It’s not just about others. It’s about us, too!

Is It Worth It?

Full disclaimer: I love reality TV. I love Real Housewives of…well, anywhere. The Bachelorette, Southern Charm, Bravo TV anything… you see where I’m going with this. I love other people’s drama. However, I do not like personal drama of my own.

Toxic relationships? No thanks.

Friendships gone bad? Definitely not.

Some of my stress came from things I couldn’t control. I had to start looking at what I could control and ask myself, “is it worth it?“. This newfound perspective allowed me to see the unnecessary drama creeping into my life. I realized it wasn’t worth it. Not worth the stress, anxiety, worry, or the heavy feeling it left inside me. Even when we can’t control something, we can control the way we react to it.

Control the things you can. Let go of what you can’t. Easily the best motto for life.

As moms, we want to fix everything. We apply the Band-Aid, repair the broken toy, and try to pave this amazing, smooth road for our children. But the road of life is bumpy with twists and turns, detours, and sharp corners. I had to readjust my sails and navigate unchartered waters. I had to step back and let my children learn some things for themselves. And, in the process, I learned a few things, too. I learned it’s a beautiful thing to let go of what doesn’t make you happy or bring value to your life. It was a powerful lesson.

Too bad it took me four decades on this earth to learn, but better late than never!

Here’s What I Know:

How I treat others…matters.

How I allow others to treat me…matters.

Taking care of myself…matters.

My happiness…matters.

Chasing my dreams…matters.

Listening to my gut…matters

Following my instincts…matters

Making choices that are good for me…matters

Living without regret…matters

One thing doesn’t matter more than another.

It all matters.

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Born in Alabama (Roll Tide!), Heather moved to the Pensacola area at the young age of 7 and has called this area home ever since. After narrowly surviving distance learning while telecommuting, she is now concentrating fully on her career as a community coordinator for a local court-based program. Heather received a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of West Florida and has over 15 years experience working in child welfare, the school system, and as a crime victim advocate. Married for 14 years, she and her husband are the proud and busy parents of two beautiful girls, whose interests in volleyball and sailing keep the family calendar packed. Heather fancies herself to be an organizer of chaos, leader of household misfits, and below-average gardener. When she isn’t avoiding the elliptical, cheering on a tournament or regatta, or searching for a new recipe, she enjoys traveling, sailing, camping, and finding new ways to make a positive impact on her community. Recognizing she is a constant work in progress, Heather loves connecting with others, self-reflection, and strengthening her village, all while trying to breathe in the simple pleasures of life.

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