"Life isn't about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself."

                                                                                        George Bernard Shaw

 

 

The Beginning

When I was a little girl, my dad taught me how to dream big + set goals.  He would sit with me regularly and listen to me talk about the things that mattered most to me.  We'd set a few goals together, create a deadline, and an excitable reward once I'd reach my goal.  Sometimes my reward would be a pack of Tic Tacs, other times, a canoe ride on a nearby creek.  I loved the idea of setting out to be my best and the process to become my best.

At the age of 19 (and far away from home), I began college.  Instead of taking a regular job to cover my expenses I signed on to start a multi-level marketing business.  The sky was the limit with income, dream trips, and everything a young, entrepreneurially-minded girl could want.  Feeling constant pressure to grow my business, stick to unbelievable goals (while going to college) and not let down the "team", I started down the path of anxiety, stress, worry, fear, and perfectionism.     

I reached a point that my stress level was destroying my physical + emotional health.  My TMJ problem had multiplied tenfold, I was having anxiety attacks regularly, my thyroid issue was now being diagnosed as Grave's Disease, my menstrual cramping became debilitating, and would begin 7 different medications--as a 22 year old.  

Feeling intensely overwhelmed with life, I moved back home to the east coast, walking away from everything I had put into my business, from college efforts, and what I believed was my whole world. 

I remember my first night arriving in my parents' home.  I sat alone in the living room with the whole household asleep, starring at the wall for hours.  I had never felt so dark, depressed, and hopeless.  Everything I had built up and achieved, everything I had accomplished was for nothing.  Why had I become broken from years of goals and pushing myself? What had happened? Wasn't there supposed to be health, happiness, and success on the other side of goals + hard work?? How could I be so young and at such a low in my life?

 

From Broken to Whole

As painful as it began that miserable winter back home, my life would slowly begin to change.  I was given a few guidelines from a holistic doctor before I left my college town: avoid white sugar + flour, limit carbohydrates (because my body had difficulty digesting them), and get off all 7 medications.  So I began eating real nutrient-dense foods that my mother prepared for me: eggs for breakfast, protein + vegetables for dinner.  I began to physically repair my body through several jaw surgeries, physical therapy and my chiropractor weekly, getting outside for jogs + walks while experimenting with lifting weights in my parent's basement. My broken spirit slowly began to heal from learning to love myself without attaching accomplishments and successes to it.  I could see that the "all or nothing" approach was killing me.  I had just walked away from everything I thought was important and yet, everything was ok.  And, I began to trust God's trust in me and love for this imperfect--but willing--person. 

A year later back at college, I signed up for a life-changing stress management course that would teach me that I can be in control of my emotions, happiness, and stress.  I learned to let go more, of both the things I could control and couldn't control, and how to know the difference.  I began talking to myself with encouragement instead of disappointment + guilt. 

Many years and experiences later, I am married, a mother of five (one more on the way!), an entrepreneur, dreamer, and creator of myself.  I still have to have personal pep talks with myself, tell myself to "let go" of many things that aren't the way I'd prefer them to be, and just BE.   But I've also learned that I CAN dream big, set big goals, work hard, fail, succeed, and all the while, do it with excitement, hope, my health, and happiness--no matter the outcome.  That's life.

Life is so much more exciting when you aim high but it requires a lot more love for yourself in the process.  

I'm very happy to share this space with all of those that have suffered from real perfectionism, real anxiety + debilitating stress/worry/fear, health issues and those of you that are ready to live to your fullest potential without the excuses.

I hope you'll take my personal invitation to LIVE BOLDLY and discover much more to yourself + your life.

 

Nicole Shiffler