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The Unexpected Mentors I Found When I Was At the Cliffs of Insanity

This last year of COVID, Derecho, and the unfolding fallout, left me sinking further into survival mode and a healthy dose of compartmentalization.

Nothing spoke louder than my inner child falling into mindset patterns of absolutes. All the nevers, always and everythings of the unfairness of the year were in full focus as I treaded the waters of 2020 (Sigh, and 2021).

I did something that I generally avoid like the plague (Is it too soon to use this phrase!?!) I asked for help.

I suffer from the individualist and somewhat feminist inner voice of “I can do all things and I won’t ask for help.” But a couple of months into COVID, I met a precipice of hopelessness. As I looked at the sheer drop, I knew there was only one direction, and it certainly wasn’t forward off that cliff’s edge!

The Unexpected Mentors I Found When I Was At the Cliffs of InsanityI stepped back and laid myself gently at the feet and whim of the friends and people in my life. I was honest and shared that I was overwhelmed and needed support. We had hard and ugly conversations about the pieces of my life that were broken in this new focused light.

In this embrace of my perfectly broken life, something beautiful happened.

Friends and strangers gently lifted me. And soon “everything is falling apart” shifted to “everything is figure-out-able” and moved into “everything is working out.” In these new, more positive absolutes, I found unexpected mentors that helped me see the limitless choices before me.

Unexpected Mentor #1: My Financial Planner

My financial well-being felt hopeless and frightening when shutdowns began. All of my teaching and speaking opportunities abruptly disappeared with no plans to reschedule. Luckily, I have an amazing financial planner who helped me with my retirement. When I shared with her, through gritted teeth and shame, that everything I had worked for over the last 4 years no longer could no longer support me financially, she didn’t blink twice.

With a verbal snapshot of my finances, she showed me where I needed to change money habits, where I could pull extra financial support from my accounts. She painted a picture of the numerous opportunities for controlling my finances. Though she is about 10 years my junior, she is an unexpected mentor to me. She provided me opportunities to learn more confidence in my financial life and stop being afraid to talk about money.

Unexpected Mentor #2: My Children’s Tutor

You know what a single mom who is an entrepreneur working 50+ hours a week DOESN’T want to read in an email from her children’s school? “Shutdowns,” “quarantine,” and “school is canceled.” I am one of the people you want to bring on the island with you to survive. When there is an emergency, I run to the action! A BIG “however”… You can only thrive so long in that fight-or-flight and adrenaline-driven portion of your brain! I’m pretty sure one month into homeschooling while working full time, what was left of my adrenals sputtered to a stop.

Luckily, my daughters have an amazing summer tutor. While I didn’t have the funds to hire a full-time tutor, she reminded me how intuitive and simple homeschooling can be. While I was worried about the technical connectivity and my kids falling behind, she showed me the power I had as their mom. I could provide organic learning opportunities through cooking, games, reading, and exploring the world around us. When family fun time is full of hands-on activities and inspiration you have nothing but choices! I still message her for resources and ideas, and she is a wonderfully calming force and mentor during these times.

Unexpected Mentor #3: My Children

As any mom will tell you, parenting consciously is a beautiful dance of experience. It’s humbling and clarifying. You teach your children, they teach you. And while you parent your child, your inner child learns how to love and be loved safely. Going through the uncertainty of the last year has really defined resilience as it relates to my children and our relationship. Watching my children learn how to communicate and establish their boundaries, even across video chat, has inspired me. I’m learning to better communicate my boundaries and I show them their boundaries are valid by my respect of them. But what I’ve gotten most from the unexpected mentoring by my children, is how I demand more respect for myself when I validate and uphold the boundaries they establish with other people.

Who has helped you grow and find the light of this last year?

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