It happened last year. My youngest boys went off to Kindergarten and after 10 years of discovering who I am as a mom, I looked in the mirror and wondered, "Who am I?" I remember telling a friend, "How do I figure out who I am now? Should I try knitting? Take golf lessons? Just keep trying new hobbies?" I was no longer caring for kids every minute of every day and balancing all the other things. And I had no clue who I was anymore.
When I became a wife and later a mom, I don't think I made a conscious decision to discover my values in those new roles, but I suddenly felt this loss of identity when my sweet boys climbed on the bus that day. I felt the need to actively do some soul searching to discover who I was again. It was an opportunity to find things important to me. They weren't hobbies I was searching for, I needed to really just find myself again.
I was super excited to receive a copy of The Power of Principled Inclusion, by Michael G. Sawaya, to help me on this journey of self-discovery. I loved reading this book as it guided me through this journey. Each chapter ends with a workbook that really challenges you to dig in and do the work instead of just thinking about it. Let me tell you some of my favorite topics:
Michael describes inclusion in the book as blending two paths: an inward and outward path. The inward path of personal and spiritual growth needs to first be discovered before you can relate to the outer world and discover your outward path. Finding your inward path and values requires really looking at your own individual uniqueness and how you are comfortable expressing it. As I've become older and I have taken on the responsibility of being a parent, I know that sometimes it becomes very easy for me to put myself last. To take care of everyone before me. Sitting down to work through my unique qualities forced me to look inward instead of constantly looking outward. It forced me to pause.
Controlling Personal Destiny:
Last year, I had a "breakup" with a close friend. There were a lot of emotions because this friend was someone who was very close and someone I interacted with daily. With the loss of this friendship, I felt a void not only of the day-long daily conversations, but I really had to figure out who I was without this person in my life. How the remaining friendships would continue now in a different way. It was a struggle for me, and The Power of Principled Inclusion prompted me to really sit down and work through how I would like to handle this situation in the future. It allowed me to remove the emotion from this situation and look at it objectively. To realize that challenge also means growing and changing. Because I was grieving that friendship, I wasn't allowing myself to embrace new relationships.
How many times a day do you stop to savor your life? While you're folding clothes? I know, maybe while you're cooking dinner. No? Me either! The first path to finding self-awareness requires you to find calm. I can tell you that in my daily life, finding calm is so hard. I have three loud boys who are now home with me all day. I'm trying to balance work, school, housework, family obligations, and more. Calm is not on the schedule. The Power of Principled Inclusion challenged me to find ways to savor my life. To make a list, and then add it to part of my day. Every day. Now each morning, I find some quiet time alone and take stock in my life and look for new ways to savor.
If you have read any of my Publisher Notes this year, you'll know that gratitude is something that I try to embrace. It doesn't always come naturally to me, sometimes I have to remind myself (and sometimes my friend reminds me) to stop and be grateful before I get caught up in any stress. Michael writes that "Happiness depends on understanding, appreciating, and finding gratitude for our experiences." My experiences often get caught up in the drama of the day. The tantrums, the anxiety, the arguments -- they are in control. When I focused on the gratitude of each experience (even if it wasn't a fun experience -- there is always something to learn), my days started to be more enjoyable.
Turmoil is taboo, huh? No one really posts on social media about how their relationships are struggling. How they are questioning their faith. We don't share that maybe we're thinking of a career change. By embracing the turmoil and adversity, we will have a chance to really know and accept the internal imbalance and move towards a more inclusive being. The Power of Principled Inclusion challenged me to confront turmoil in my life. To find compassion for myself in the turmoil.
I loved the opportunity this book gave me to turn inward, identify my principles and values, and in turn find personal inclusion, as well as outward inclusion in the world. I am looking forward to sticking to this journey and finding out more about myself and having it help to guide me in being more effective in all my roles.
I was provided compensation and a copy of The Principled Inclusion in order to facilitate the review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and have not been influenced upon.