Meet the new Kathy in the February 2004 issue of Canadian Living magazine.
It is hard to believe that the year has gone by and that my "makeover" is complete and that I am now "made over!" While I visibly changed on the outside my inside transformation is still evolving as I get closer to discovering who I really am and what I really want in my personal journey through life.
Initially I was seeking balance as a zealous over-achiever who was over-committed and over-tired. Married for nine years with three kids I found that life was a whirlwind and I had let myself go in terms of increased weight and decline of physical condition and I had lost sight of my priorities. Through the help of a team of six professionals led by a life coach, I learned how to make better food choices, learned different exercise options, and had image, facial and hairstyling consulting. The year was filled with many challenges including facing up to some of my fears and fallacies. Through being overt, candid and a little courageous I had to be able to look myself in the mirror and like what I saw. (At one point I literally thought -- "what have you done to yourself?"). Now that the year is up I realize that I need to re-visit my goals annually and modify them as I go. For this upcoming year I've simplified things and look at my priorities in this order: family, personal time and career.
My family continues to be the most important thing. It isn't just about spending more time together but being with each other in the moment. I want to listen more to what my children are saying -- it sounds simple but I think it will help me to understand them if I truly hear what they are saying and value their "voices."
Tim and I have many things to work through over the next year in terms of our relationship -- we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary with a trip to Jamaica in the spring. We have both grown and changed a lot in the 15 years that we have been together and it is time to re-align ourselves. I have always spent a lot of time with my family but as my kids grow older our relationship will grow and change too -- so it starts this year with a humble attempt at listening, really listening.
Personal time wasn't even on the map before so having it come second is a big step for me. Personal time for me means exercising, being with friends and having time for reading and writing. This is the most precious time and the time I am the mostly likely to sacrifice when things come up. So my plan is to schedule in an hour of "me" time a day and to make it achievable by doing things I want and enjoy, as well as things I need. So I can exercise with a friend, read a good book, write poems and stories, be with my kids, have a bath, garden, watch TV or just plain old veg out in a state of bliss. Especially since I have been diagnosed with Lupus it is important that I am really in touch with myself so that I decrease the chance of a flare up. I need to have reduced stress, plenty of rest, regular exercise and a balanced diet -- really it is beneficial for all of us! For the next year I will focus on giving myself this "daily hour in ode to myself!"
As a very ambitious person putting my career third seems unrealistic because usually it is dukin' it out for first or second on my priority list. But when I put it first or second my family, as well as myself personally, really do suffer. This is the hardest part because I have all of these goals and dreams and feel that if I don't have these goals and dreams that I am not really being true to myself and to who I really am. So to accommodate this I have just decided to be more practical and to not abandon them but to take them on in a more balanced way rather than my usual "simultaneous -- all at once -- whirling dervish" kinda way!
I really enjoy teaching and feel good about making a positive impact on the lives of young English as a Second Language Students through education. However through all of the self-discovery exercises I have acknowledged that what really makes me feel alive and most "myself" is when I am creating or developing resources or materials, as well as teaching or facilitating. Andâ€¦I really, really, really want to write. In fact I have some poems, children's books ideas and an outline of a fictional novel that are all outlined in fragments in a dozen incomplete journals scattered amongst my personal effects. I really feel that this is a part of me that needs to be explored and nurtured more. This is my true creative instinct and nature and I need to be able find a way to include this in my work -- to make who I am and what I am best at -- an integrated part of my career.
I think that I need to continue to teach in order to have some stability but to also give myself an evening or two each week to explore these creative notions and make the opportunities happen. And in keeping with my first priority, to do this for a couple hours after the kids have gone to bed! My projects for this year include -- a women's weekend self-discovery retreat, working with a friend on some children's stories, and perhaps doing some continued writing with Canadian Living magazine. The novel, the poems and a book about "life balance" are ideas that are still simmering and will have to wait till the time is right and available. And of course new ideas and challenges will reveal themselves at various moments along this journey but now more than ever I feel prepared to be able to deal with them effectively and resume a balanced lifestyle.
When I look at the year 2004 that lies ahead -- I look forward to it with anticipation and not trepidation. By setting well thought out priorities and achievable goals I will be continuing to grow in balance rather than the chaos of the year before. These goals will take time and that is one of the most important things I learned was to give myself the time and not to rush things. I am becoming more content with who I am and not thinking that I can do it all -- although some may look at my plan and think that it is overly ambitious -- I realize that I can't settle out and be complacent because that is not who I am.
I really believe that one person can make a difference and that you first have to make the difference to yourself in order to be able to positively impact others. I have an energy and enthusiasm for life and if I don't acknowledge that spark within myselfâ€¦well the fire will simply go out. This past year I found out what I was passionate about, how to take care of myself and find personal balance and then made this plan for me. Everyone needs to discover their own passions and make their dreams happen for themselves. I really believe that apathy gets you nowhere, that YOU are the catalyst of your own destiny.