The last 10 years have been ones filled with transition and change for me. I moved to a new city and ended up changing my career path after a year of temporary job-hopping. Then I became a wife, soon after a mother. I have had to adjust at each new level. Different surroundings. Different people. A different way of living. So much joy and some heartache. Losing and reclaiming.
Friday nights went from hanging out in the city with my husband with not much of a care in the world to balancing being a wife and breastfeeding mother. The first night home from the hospital, I vividly remember sitting on the sofa crying uncontrollably- not knowing if I was producing enough breastmilk for my newborn. My body was still healing from giving birth and my mind was trying to handle this new normal- and all the first time mom pressures. I missed my family who were many miles away, and longed for the comfort of their presence and the ease of being “Tiffy”. At the same time, I loved bonding with my sweet baby and being a mother. We made priceless memories, enjoying our new family of three. It was an exciting, new adventure for us. It also felt like a struggle to keep the focus on the beautiful things. Marriage is an adjustment. Babies change everything. Motherhood redefines everything. And “the outside world” loves to add their opinions. The journey is overflowing with emotions and reality checks. I appreciated, even more, the times when I received a certain level of care, compassion, and gentleness from my tribe.
I feel that I was so caught up in adjusting to the world around me, to the needs of others that I not only lost my voice at times, I lost myself. No longer did I feel that my happiness was a priority. There were people trying to tell me who I was and who I should be. They couldn’t even see the beauty in allowing me to be me. This disrupted my peace. I was exhausted. Grateful for my blessings still, yet exhausted. And at some point, a fire inside flickers. You realize that this can’t be life. There has to be more. More fun. More joy. More calm. More me!
2018 was a year of personal growth and reflection. A pivotal moment happened when a friend invited me to an event for my birthday: “‘Look In vs Lookin’- a day of meditation, movement and dance”. I was excited for many reasons. But had no clue that this safe space filled with such light and transparency would open my heart to shift my perspective in a much-needed direction. I knew that when I started the year by reading Oprah’s “The Wisdom of Sundays”, change was inevitable. Then, after sitting, sharing, stretching/moving and listening in this amazing circle of sisterhood at “Look In vs Lookin”, I was firm in the fact that nothing would be the same. I had tapped into myself again. My strength and vulnerability were given an opportunity to be celebrated simultaneously and my heart felt free. I was Tiffany again. I now understand the importance of being intentional with my time. My space. My energy. My wants and needs. With who I am. I truly understand that I must define myself for myself and embrace every season of growth. I understand that it is essential to look in the mirror and see myself, if I don’t… I could get lost in the opinion of others. Life can happen to you and around you if you allow it.
Once I cleared the clutter out of my life and my thoughts, I was able to gain clarity. I was able to see that fear was stifling my growth. I finally answered the question. “What is it that you are afraid of?” It took a few years to circle back to it. Nevertheless, I eventually acknowledged things that I was afraid of. We go through life with so many fears. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of shifting perceptions. Fear of not being liked. Fear of the result of voicing your wants. Fear of saying “no.” Fear of the unknown. Fear of letting go.
If I wanted to live free, I had to let go of some things that were holding me back:
I had to let go of some harmful misconceptions. I learned that I could reject bad behavior directed my way and still be a nice person. I mistakenly thought that if I handled cruel words meant to torment me with a silent smile of avoidance that it kept me in my light. In my head, “Take the high road. Problem solved.” At times…yes, that is the way to go. And other times require facing toxic situations and people head on to drive out the darkness. Sadly, they may never see you as someone worthy of respect until you accept nothing less and stand firmly in your truth. Some people will never like you. Guess what: I would rather be respected than liked any day.
I had to let go of dimming my magic to keep others comfortable. It’s ok to have quiet moments, to be easy going. However, at times choosing to go with the flow instead of showing up in your full, colorful personality, opens up opportunity for people to place you in a box. So when your wild shows up, they think you have changed. It’s uncomfortable for them and often times not welcomed. Trying to adjust to new environments can be difficult. I get it. Oftentimes, it’s less complicated to fall in line but compromising who you are, serves no one, especially not yourself. It’s ok to say, “no.” It’s ok to not feel like it. It’s ok to choose yourself sometimes. It’s actually necessary.
I had to let go of allowing fear to rule so many decisions in my life. I am a woman of faith. I believe that God has the final say in every situation. As many understand, motherhood shakes up so much of your life. Your heart literally begins walking outside of your body the moment you feel this big, all-consuming love in your arms. Things that once came second nature now feel like life or death choices. Everything has deeper meaning. This year, I decided to face my fear of traveling without my daughter. I took a girls trip. I said “no” to Mommy guilt and “yes” to living free. I reconnected to so much of myself that had been hiding. I laughed. I enjoyed myself fully. I needed to be surrounded by the good, loving energy from my girls for an entire weekend! Accepted and valued for being exactly who I am.
Ultimately, the thing is- we have to make room for ourselves. Letting go is essential to living the life you deserve. It opens up possibility. It reminds us of our purpose. And we have the Serenity Prayer as a guide along the way, what truth it brings! It is so empowering when we have the wisdom to know what we can and cannot change. It’s freeing actually. It shows us who we are. My daughter has motivated me to be everything that God has placed me here to be. I pray she follows my lead in that. I am still that writer girl with big dreams. Now, my dreams feel even closer. I hope you continue to check me out each month. Let’s face our fears, peel back the layers and grow together.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet, mother, wife, activist and Ohio native, based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others.
She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter, and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibility of choosing “more”. You can follow Tiffany on Instagram @lovenotesandsunshine