I’m 31 today. Oh what a difference one year makes. I am in a far better place than I was one year ago in every possible way. This is the first time I can celebrate my birthday and know that I finally did everything in my power to live the life I want to live.

Last year at this time we were packing to move the next day. We had an 11-month-old baby who didn’t like to sleep. At all. While I no longer had postpartum depression, I still didn’t feel like parenting came naturally to me. I felt off. I felt anxious. I still didn’t feel like I was myself. I was working full-time for a large company downtown Minneapolis and commuting an extra hour or so each day on top of that. I felt like my dreams would never be fulfilled, but also knew I needed to just keep at what I was doing for my family, or so I thought.

In June of 2012, I finally took the leap of faith that I had been contemplating since 2009. But friends, I was scared.  We made the changes necessary in our budget (you know, in case I failed miserably) and then I just did it and things started happening. Doors open when you put yourself out there. They do. I promise.

While I wouldn’t recommend everyone just leave their jobs (I had some circumstances that made this decision significantly easier), I do recommend that everyone take a chance on that big idea or passion. One tiny step is the beginning.

Because of the changes I’ve made and because of the wisdom I gained, this year…

I am a better wife.
My family comes first. My time with my husband is precious and we are working hard to make sure we get good time together. We are also both very focused on making sure we take the time we need to refresh as parents and partners. It’s that important.

I am a better mama.
I’ve accepted so many things that come with parenting. Things I was still struggling with last year are no longer struggles, not because they don’t exist, but because I’ve really grown into this beautiful joy-filled role with my sweet sweet boy.

I am a better friend.
I no longer feel the need to be friends with everyone. I have a pretty solid circle of friends and I am a good friend to those people. They are good friends to me too. We all accept each other and each other’s flaws for the most part. I make time for my friends when I can. One year ago I couldn’t justify taking time to be with friends when I felt so stretched with full-time work, a long commute, packing and moving, and dealing with a little sweet boy who woke up several times every night. Now it’s a priority and it’s easier. And relationships that have been painful, while certainly not abandoned, are no longer my priority. That’s ok.

I am a better professional.
I am doing exactly what I want to do. I am even learning to say “no” to the things that don’t fit my mission. I am more focused and more sure of myself, my writing, my photography, my blog and event planning. I am putting together my professional mission and vision statement because I finally feel like it’s very defined and I want to be sure I remember that when I accept or decline future opportunities.

I am happier.
I feel settled in my new home. I enjoy just staying home most of the time and don’t feel restless like I did last year. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on all kinds of fabulous things because there is all kinds of fabulous happening right here in my home. Peaceful naps. Fun meals. Hilarious conversations with an almost 2-year-old. Playtime joy. Oh, and dance parties anyone?

I am a better me.
The relationship we all have with ourselves is so important. It has become a significant focus for me. I used to be very critical of myself. Who am I kidding? I still am. I sometimes leave a party and question everything I said, wondering if it came across wrong or if I offended someone or if they were going to judge me. I always assumed people were frustrated with me or thought I sucked. I don’t know why, I just did. I’ve learned that while I’d love to be everything for everyone, I just can’t be. You can’t either. It’s ok to fail sometimes. It’s ok to totally mess something up. It’s ok to accidentally say something that might not have been perfect, but it’s also ok to apologize if you did.

This print from Emily Ley perfectly captures my number one goal for 2013 with myself. We are too hard on ourselves. We have high, often unrealistic, expectations of ourselves. Be nice to you! There, I said it.

We celebrated my birthday over the weekend and it was lovely. I’m staffing a photo shoot for a client today, lunch with my husband and squeezing in a bit of pampering and dinner with my boys. A simple but lovely day for sure.

Cheers to another year!

Cupcake by Nadia’s Cupcakes, Maple Grove
Cupcake topper-washi tape wrapped on a Spritz for Target flag topper.

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