Self Reflections


All photos via my instagram account (@enlovewithlife)

Maternity leave has been such a gift. I call it that because not everyone is able to afford to take maternity leave. Personally, my employer did not provide any type of short term disability or paid leave for my time off, so Husband and I worked hard to save up the equivalent of three months salary in advance so I could enjoy this time off without stress. So to me, it really has been a gift that we gave ourselves and our baby that I cherish every day.

It has also been a gift because it has really been a time of reflection for me. Honestly, I have never had this much time off before. From as far back as I can remember I have always been working away, nose to the grindstone, trying to prepare for the future. In high school I was in all advance classes and working reserve college credits so I could "get into a good school". And then in college it was all about learning my craft and building my resume so I could "get the good job". And then after I got my job it was about working as hard as I could to "get the promotion". All of which would eventually lead to a happy life. Now I'm not saying that plan didn't work out. I am happy with where all my hard work has gotten me. But what I will point out is that even on summer vacations I spent my time working to save for school or get job experience, so having three months off with the only focus being enjoying life and time with my family has been absolutely amazing. I have finally caught up on my sleep (ironic, I know), started organizing my house, spent days doing nothing but watching netflix and snuggling my baby and puppy, and really just savored every moment.

What I have discovered about myself during this time has been invaluable. I am a much different person now than I was a year ago. And even more so than I was two years ago. I think my journey to discovering my authentic self started when I signed up for Stella & Dot. And before you think this is a post that is going to talk about why everyone should join my team (which you all should by the way - it's awesome), this isn't about recruiting. I bring up Stella & Dot because it was the first time I did something just for me, regardless of what I thought I needed to be doing for my day job. See before this, all of my 'extra activities' were things tied to my day job. Volunteering for professional societies, attending networking events, reading research papers, etc. Signing up for Stella & Dot was the first thing I did just for me, and quite honestly because I needed to find something to spend time on that wasn't in any way tied to my day job. It was also my first time working with a group of primarily women. As someone in the STEM field, my day job and college education (heck, even a lot of my high school classes) were primarily full of men. And while I don't mind working with them, I didn't want to allow myself to stand out too much. It may seem silly, but I was scared to wear leopard print, or lipstick, or high heels, or admit that I don't know much about football, because it would highlight that I am different from them. And there seems to be this weird thing where people assume if you enjoy fashion and being girly then that means you can't be good at math and science. Finding an outlet where I am surrounded by strong women encouraged me to start being myself. My true self. And that person enjoys wearing hot pink lipstick and jewelry and leopard.

It also allowed me to really identify things that I do enjoy, and things that I don't. I am not going to start listing out the things I discovered were causing stress in my life, because I don't want to dwell on that kind of stuff. But I did discover that aside from fashion, I like lazy days with nothing to do but snuggle my family. I like organizing my house and decluttering. I really really enjoy my instagram account. I have so much fun taking pictures. Its such a creative outlet for me. And I love my blog. I love creating a space of the internet  that is just mine. And I love cute stationary. I mean, it's not practical - I don't need monogramed thank you cards, but I love them. And I love custom notebooks. And planners. And I love going to the bakery. Not super healthy, but I don't really care.

It's also allowed me to reevaluate the way I view myself. At one point I was so focused on my size. Lets be honest ladies. I think we all have been there. I shouldn't eat this donut because I need to be a size zero instead of a two. But really, why does that matter? Now I am not saying you shouldn't be healthy. I am working out. I am eating fruits and veggies. But I also eat donuts. And if after I drop my baby weight I end up at a four or a six, well then okay. I just want to know that I am working out, have a strong body, am healthy, and am enjoying life. Because that's all I need to do. My body is here so I can hug my baby, go for walks on the beach with my husband and family, and enjoy life. And I am pretty sure I don't need to be a size zero to do that. Right now I am just focused on getting in shape so I can be at whatever my post baby size is so I can buy some clothes. Nothing fits. And I have a new job to go to (more on that later).

I've also had a lot of time to think about what I want the next thirty years of my life to look like. I want to have a good job (or jobs in this case, because I have my day job and my Stella & Dot). I want to have time to spend with my family. And I want it to be good time. I don't want to be stressed out and unable to enjoy life. I want to really, really be happy in the moments we spend - not worried that I am behind on something else I should be doing. I want to sleep in on the weekends. I want to watch movies. And I want to wear pink lipstick when I want to.

People always say having a baby is life changing. I just assumed they meant because now you have this precious life to care for and that it meant your time would be spent differently now. Where you might have gone to the club before (although I never really went to the club, but just stick with me here...), now you would be home with bath time for your little one. But I think what having baby has meant to me and why it has been life changing is it has really allowed me to reevaluate what I thought was important before, and reprioritize. I have a new vision of life. A new idea of what I want it to look like, what I am willing to sacrifice, what I am not, and how I plan to create the life I want for me and my growing family.

And now if you'll excuse me, my sweet baby needs more snuggles and kisses. I need to soak up all the lovings I can get before I go back to my day job. Seriously though, I think she gets about 100 kisses a day...

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