Sunday, August 23, 2015

Me Strong: Fueling the Engine

Women are the glue that holds families together. If you’re anything like me, you’re the one who makes it happen. You get the kids off to school, you shop for groceries, you cook, you do the banking, arrange the doctor appointments, get kids to practice, schedule the service visits. You coordinate child care and date nights. You supervise chores--laundry, dishes, cleaning schedules. You volunteer and give back to your community. You’ve got your fingers in a million and one pies to keep the family going as it should. 

You are Wonder Woman, because you have to be. You can have it all, or so they tell us. The kids/family, the career, the happy home life, the vital relationships. And you can. Women absolutely can have it all. But there’s a price. And that price is usually YOU and your strength, vitality, and who you really are as an individual. We often let who we are slip away when we become part of the family unit, because we’re trying to please so many people, take care of multiple challenges, get it all done. 

We’re pulled in so many directions that we sometimes forget who we really are underneath all those roles we play--who we’ve been, who we want to be, and, therefore, who we are today. As my nest begins to empty, I’m searching for me under all that family clutter--often good clutter, even some of it great clutter, but still clutter. I’m trying to unearth who I am at my core, so that as my kids move out of the house, I won’t be totally lost. My identity, that has revolved around three boys for eighteen years is shifting, and it’s time to reassess, make sure I’m strong--physically, mentally, and spiritually--in order to handle whatever life throws at me in the next half of my life.

Here are three things I’ve recently found are essential to my assessment and continued development:

Time Alone - To find yourself, to get in touch with who you really are and what you want from life, you need time alone. Take some time away--whatever that means for you. Sequester yourself in your home office, spend an afternoon at the park, get away for the weekend in order to take inventory of where you are emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Time away from the noise helps you hear your inner voice. It gives you a reality check and develops the habit of introspection so that you can challenge yourself to grow and improve your situation in life. Then, when you figure out where you are and where you want to be, you can come up with a plan to help move in that direction. But if you’re not in touch with yourself, you’ll never figure it out.

Practice Me Strong - You need to develop a habit of physical fitness, whatever that means for you. No matter where you are in your life or what stage, if you don’t have a strong body and relatively good health, you won’t be able to accomplish the things you want in life. Period. Our bodies are one of the number one gifts we’ve been given. So take care of you. Be me strong. Whatever that means for you. Find the things you love to do and be active. Move. Push yourself. And when you start working on you … something crazy happens … your sense of inner strength and peace grows exponentially. You begin to feel more powerful. And then you are more powerful.

Remember Who You Were - Take a trip down memory lane. Remember the things you used to love to do during your halcyon days--whatever those were … high school … college … your twenties, when you had very little responsibility and lots of time on your hands to pursue what interested you most. Take time to explore those areas. They are hard-wired into you. In some senses, you were made to do those things. They are part of who you were, and may be part of who you still are. Exploit your past to find your future. Those activities brought you joy once--whether it was a sport, horse back riding, gardening, golf, sewing, being out in nature--whatever it was. You spent time training and pursuing those interests. You probably have some aptitude for them. So see if you still like to do them. If they still bring you joy. These experiences are part of the fabric of who you are. And, no, maybe the activity won’t look exactly like it did when you were eighteen; however, pursuing it does something to your spirit. It fills you. Makes you happy. Reminds you that you are wholly unique--the only one of your kind in the Universe. You are an individual with worth and value and you have something to give back.

If you practice these three things, no matter what life throws at you, you will know you’re strong enough to handle it, because you possess everything inside you for success. You’ve done it before, you can do it again. You’ll fall in love with your life once more, because you realize you are an individual, not just part of a unit. You have hopes, fears, passions, and pursuits that are unique to you alone. You are awesome. You are special.

Own your life. Fall in love with it again. Be happy. And if you do that, you’ll be strong and your engine will be fueled so that you can continue to push that little train up the mountain, wherever it’s going and whoever is on board. Because you can do it. You are glorious. You are strong. You are the powerhouse that keeps it all moving. So take care of you. Fuel your engine. You’ll be happier, more vital, stronger. Your family will be happier because you are happy. And, no matter what happens, you’ll know you’ll be okay.

So talk to me. Tell me how you're doing. Are you feeling strong? Overwhelmed? Powerful? What ways have you found to refuel your engine? I'd love to hear from you, and I'm always eager to add tools to my life toolbox. Let's chat.


  1. Wow! What a great post, and I soooo needed it this week! I especially like the advice "remember who you were," as the older I get, the more I find myself gravitating back to my idealistic 20s, recapturing that sense of adventure and possibility. At the same time, with so many things changing, I frequently feel overwhelmed and inadequate to perform the functions that life is requiring of me. When I feel that way, I try to reach out to someone (even a total stranger) and share a laugh. Laughter is the breeze that blows the clouds away, and then I can find a way to keep going. That usually works for me. And when it doesn't, there's always coffee. And chocolate. And loud music. ;-)

    Thanks for the post! What a great way to start the week! Hugs.

  2. Yay! I'm glad, Misha. And, yes, I think you're right. Tapping into who we were and what we once loved to do before family and responsibility took over, we can once again find that sense of adventure and potential. Nicely capsulized. Laughter is always the best medicine. Good for you. Finding that joy any way you can is of utmost importance. It literally breathes life into us. Love your suggestions of coffee, chocolate, and loud music, too. I find dancing sometimes works, too. Glad I was able to get your week off to a good start!

  3. Mackenzie, this is a great post, as always! I made sure to take of myself when I was working in broadcasting, during grad school, or when I'd travel to help some ailing family members, but I have to admit, I rather forget to take care of me when there isn't a crisis. And of course, taking care during the good times means I'll be stronger for the bad times, but hello, I'll also be in good shape for for the good stuff! This is a thought that's been creeping up on me for the last year or so.

    All in all, your post has come at the perfect time. I'm redoubling my efforts to move more and add more fruit to my diet. I want to be Me Strong, too!

  4. Nichole, yay! Glad it came that the right time. Yes, we often forget that life is a training ground ... and just like the military, etc., you need to train and strengthen during the routine down times so that when a crisis hits, you're in tip-top fighting form. Good luck. I can't wait to hear awesome things come out of your efforts! <3

  5. What a universal post. I don't have children and I'm not married, but living life with an eye toward becoming Me Strong sounds right on target.

    We all have work/life/self "balance" issues - and health specialists always say that better balance comes from strengthening your core. Makes sense to apply these lessons to our universal Me at the center of our beings. Thanks for making the case, Mac!

  6. Keely ~ You're so right. It doesn't matter where you are in life stages, this can certainly apply at any age. I think as women, we often subsume ourselves to others and their wants and desires so that we can lose our identity no matter if we're married, single, with kids, without kids, blended families, etc. Whatever stage we find ourselves, we should look with an eye to be as strong as humanly possible in that moment. (LoL ... and of course that means many different things to many different people depending on the situation.) Thanks for commenting, I appreciate it.