Forgive any grammatical errors please! I’m currently traveling and my WiFi is very spotty, at best. This had to be typed up and posted as quickly as possible!
You Feel Me?!
For those of you whose brains are constantly bombarded with random thoughts, ideas, and never-ending lists throughout the day (and night), I feel you. I’m one of those people, more often now than ever. It’s not easy. Somehow, just when it feels like my head is going to explode, some miraculous moment of peace arrives. Just in time.
This usually occurs when I’m just down-right exhausted, mentally and physically. I’ll casually sit down on my sofa to catch up on some reading and BAM!, all of a sudden, my body won’t move. It says, “You’re done for now.” I surrender and either completely zone out on Netflix or fall asleep within two nanoseconds.
There have been various “chapters” in my life when exhaustion has hit for a variety of reasons. There’s the young mom, infant/toddler stage of life. That period had me pulling my hair out over menial things that became much more complicated and challenging than they should have been! Taking a simple shower became super stressful while babies were crying and toddlers had their noses pressed to the shower door. “Mommy, I need to go potty!” Those days were tiresome (and memorable).❤️
Then, there’s the adolescent phase. When you have three boys, each involved in various activities, your vehicle becomes your home-away-from-home. Scheduling everything and everyone can certainly take a toll. There were times when I prayed especially hard that my vehicle wouldn’t inadvertently break down because I’d still be donning my very uncoordinated pajama conglomeration or wouldn’t even have shoes on! That’s a different level of tiredness. “I just want to stay home for ONE night, please…Let me use my new bubble bath!”
And then, they start driving. What a difference that makes! Things began to shift and I began to have more time to just chill out a bit and start to rope the sanity back in and, hopefully, recuperate from the previous sixteen years. It’s been said that as kids get older, different, more complex problems arise. So true.
How Did This Happen?
Recently, my travels took me to a convention where I was asked to speak on using social media as a way to promote a brand or lifestyle. That was a somewhat unexpected request. I’ve been learning over the past couple of years about using social media and I find it fascinating. It’s not a topic I’ve mastered though if that’s even possible. Preparing this talk took me through my whole journey over the past three years and brought up all kinds of emotions, while trying to pinpoint how in the world I wound up HERE, as some kind of social media expert, of all things! That was never on my radar. That should be proof that it’s never too late to learn a new skill.
There was no blog last week (I’m not sure how the world kept turning…). Honestly, my brain was so full, I couldn’t decide on a freakin’ single topic. So, I simply threw my hands in the air and said: “screw it!” No blog this week. There are always about ten things I feel compelled to pour out. My friends make fun of me because there’s usually a notebook next to me, where I write down my ideas. I HAVE to do this to stay clearheaded. Otherwise, it seriously feels like “too many tabs open!” My notebook(s) serves as a giant file cabinet. I haven’t always needed this tool but with the growth of flyGIRL and the plethora of things that are going on personally, it’s been a life-saver.
For today’s online journal, I wanted to get real about myself and the truth about flyGIRL. These are the ugly details you won’t see on Instagram.
Bucket List Humor
There is often some opposition to “bucket lists.” I’m a huge fan of them (I’m a huge fan of lists in general, actually). I may be a tad overboard, but, who’s to say?!? They mostly serve as a dumping ground where I can get things out of my head, which in turn allows room for new stuff, which in turn just perpetuates the crazy never-ending cycle of lists, lists, and more lists. It makes for a very interesting fluorescent color scheme all over my house. It’s a good thing Post-It Notes don’t come in neutral colors or there would be a serious lack of color on my desk, on my vanity, on my bedside table, etc., etc. You get the point.
The cool thing about buckets lists is that they’re not carved in stone, at least, not these days (I am totally picturing some ancient Roman moms dragging their chiseled lists around cobblestone streets right now). Thank God I was born after paper production was stumbled upon.
The cool thing is that every person is in charge of their own bucket list. It can change (and no one would know but you). It should evolve. My bucket list from 1999 saved my life and changed me in ways I could’ve never predicted, twenty years later. Here’s how and why.
THE Bucket List
Several years ago, my family was living a nightmare, of sorts. I’d always been a stay-at-home mom. We had three boys, each with their own unique, lovable personality. It’s not easy being a mom. As moms, maybe even more so for stay-at-home moms, we measure our success on how well our kids are doing. That was my sole job. My whole purpose was to raise healthy, happy, upstanding young men. That’s how my success could be measured. It seemed apparent to me, at that time, that I was failing miserably. It’s hard to tell this part of my family’s life without crying. If you’ve ever had a child that has struggled in some way or many ways, you know how painful it is. The level of stress, sadness, and frustration in our home was overwhelming.
One of our boys was struggling and had been for some time. I’d home-schooled him, switched his schools…tried many things. He was diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. He hated himself and his life. He became involved in all kinds of self-destructive behavior and did many hurtful things to our family. It was the worst period of our lives. We had done and were doing everything in our power to help him. It felt completely hopeless. We could not control this child or the situation. This period was full of sleepless nights, worry, fights, tears, EVERYTHING. Constantly.
One morning, after the kids had gone to school, I began a desperate search for a bucket list that was created years earlier. I had to see for myself that there were things I’d accomplished, that there had been some kind of progress or success in my life, that I wasn’t a complete failure. My somewhat photographic memory remembered exactly what this sheet of paper looked like.
Rewind. Shortly after the arrival of our first-born son, my husband and I sat at our home computer. We shared our dreams, typed them up in a Word document, and printed it out. Back then, home computers and monitors were massive! Things weren’t wirelessly connected. There were all kinds of cords going every which way connecting all of the components. We had dial-up internet and the computer would often freeze up. Restarting it took half a day, it seemed (I could’ve done a load of laundry while waiting on this thing to reboot…).
The night before this particular morning had been another sleepless night. While sitting on the floor in my pajamas, I poured through stacks of scrapbooks and photo albums all spread out around me, tears were streaming down my face, my chest felt like it could explode. I felt completely panic-stricken, while frantically searching through the pages, that the list might have gotten lost in one of our moves. Then, there it was. It looked exactly as remembered. The paper was in my hand and there was some relief while reading down the list, as awareness hit that some of these things had actually been accomplished. Some of the items didn’t even matter to me anymore. With each line, the tension melted away. My shoulders began to relax.
There was this one item that seemed to jump off the page, “Earn my private pilot’s license.” At that moment, it was obvious that the timing was perfect for me to fulfill that dream of mine. We could afford it. There was more time for me now that our kids were older and more independent. As I wiped the tears off my face, the realization hit that I needed it more than ever. I needed to have some kind of control over something in my life. Everything else seemed to be a wreck. I’d lost myself and it was time to do something about it. And so I did. The next week, flight training began and many positive things came from it.
This is why I preach about buckets lists! It’s from my own experience and the ripple effect it had. There was a hint of hope that took root that morning. Desires of mine were reignited. Because of this, flyGIRL was created. All of this “stuff” had to be used to help and encourage others. I don’t want anyone to feel discouraged, isolated, or lost. Being a support for others became the main goal of mine.
This part of my story can be told with gratefulness because my son is doing much better. I don’t know if it would have turned out that way if I hadn’t shifted my focus and taken my life back.
Be Selfish In Order To Be Selfless
When we’re on commercial airliners and they instruct you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others, it makes sense to me now. You can’t help others unless you help yourself first. I was depleted. I needed my own sense of purpose and fulfillment in order to feel complete and content. There are parts of my personality that needed to come out. There were unhealthy patterns that needed to change.
After witnessing the positive benefits, it has become obvious that I’m right where I need to be. The timing was absolute perfection. Sometimes, the right path is revealed in the most unusual, unforeseen, and difficult circumstances. It’s been exciting to see where this aviation journey has led me. There have been many new interests slowly revealed to me, as well. I’ve met a whole new Natalie that I’d never met before. There are no limits allowed for myself and I won’t allow others to put any on themselves either!
I can’t control people, their feelings, situations, or the circumstances around me, any more than we could control our son. That’s a powerful realization. I can control my efforts and contribution. What I want others to know that my bucket list taught me:
1) Anything is possible (just be willing to be potentially uncomfortable, maybe even embarrassing yourself sometimes).
2) Don’t limit yourself.
3) Don’t give up on dreams. Ever.
4) Hard work pays off.
*Make sure you add lots of humor
I’ll forever preach the power of the bucket list. They can be a great resource for learning about yourself and your many capabilities. They can help you refocus. They may open up avenues and allow new things (that are way cooler than you could imagine). They can also keep you from killing your family, which is good because you can’t work on that bucket list in prison….
I feel compelled to say a big thank you to Shawn Kelley. He’s been a great dad and this has been a real struggle for both of us. We are currently going through a divorce but I will forever count him as one of my best friends. I’m thankful for all he’s done for me and our boys. I hope he reaches every goal on his bucket list.
Have you written your bucket list??