Tough Love: The Best Gift I’m Giving Myself This Holiday Season

**Note: Although I wrote this on Christmas Eve 2018, it was not published for close to another week. I discuss why during the article and hope you take heart.**

My friend, I’ve been (somewhat) honest on the Positive Productivity podcast, and I’ve done my best to be honest here on the blog, but today… Today I’m finally going to be completely honest.

Nothing will change unless I face and express the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and requires tough love. But, I know that if I’m experiencing what I am, then there may be others experiencing the same. So, it’s time to stop sugar-coating the burnt edges of this cookie called life. I’ve already admitted I burn most the meals I cook, so it’s about time I place the whole batch of burnt cookies out for the public to see.

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m sitting here frustrated as heck. With the realizations that follow, however, I’m also full of hope for the days and years ahead.

Why am I frustrated?

Tomorrow’s Christmas, and my family and I won’t be celebrating in the way a lot of other families will be. Yes, we’ll be acknowledging Christ’s birth, and to be honest, I think that’s what the holiday should be about. Forget the orgy of greed that seems to have taken over this time of year. 

Santa’s not visiting our house tomorrow because his trip has been delayed.

Thankfully, the littles are too young to read calendars, and don’t know that Jesus’ birthday and Santa’s visit are supposed to be the same day. 

The reason Santa’s not visiting is NOT because we decided to reclaim the Christian roots of the holiday. It’s because Santa didn’t have money for presents, and we needed to prioritize our other household expenses.

I’m embarrassed by the fact that Santa’s not coming. Not because I appreciate the greed and frivolous spending, but because it represents another 12-month string of less-than-optimal business decisions and a lack of self-care and respect.

Santa’s not coming because I left other people’s’ pride, ego and priorities take precedence over my own.

In full transparency, below I’m sharing a few of the mistakes I made along with how I’m going to change our circumstances in the year(s) ahead…

Slave to Email, Text and Skype

2018 was just another year in a long string of jumping at incoming clients’ requests. It didn’t matter what I was working on for my personal or professional life. Pop-up notifications instantly distracted me and there were MANY times I went off-track for hours IF I ever returned.

Last night — a Sunday night, mind you — I received a call at 10:30pm from a client (in the same time zone as me). Staring at the phone in disbelief as it rang, I promptly turned off the ringer so it wouldn’t wake my sleeping kids.

I didn’t take the call.

Listening to the voicemail a few minutes later, it was evident that, yes, they really did expect me to answer. There wasn’t an emergency, but apparently 10:30pm calls on Sunday night were considered appropriate.

Effective immediately, I am putting my foot down on MY time. Nights, weekends and holidays belong to me, as does any time that’s not pre-scheduled for a call. And as for urgent requests via email, text or Skype? I will decide what I respond to and when.

Farewell 3:30am text messages from panicking clients. (Yes, I have received them — recently). And farewell to those clients as well if you can’t learn to respect my time and sanity. 

Making My Client’s Problems My Problems

I’m damn good at what I do, and I know it — as do the clients I work with. I know that I have allowed other people’s problems to take advantage of my time and resources, leaving me depleted, stressed, and hurting (financially, physically and emotionally).

My bank of knowledge and expertise became a charity without my permission. I’ve given people more than they paid for — if they paid — because I didn’t want to see them struggle. In the end, however, my family and I were the ones who wound up in a tight spot. While I could have been working with clients who paid for my time, I gave WAAAAY too much away.

My clients are not charities, and I need to stop treating them as such. My time and energy are not to be donated.

They are to be paid for.

Note: This was self-inflicted, and is stopping NOW. Nobody asked me to donate my time, and I paid for that time in multiple ways.

Self-Care Sabotage

Why has my entrepreneurial journey has become synonymous with ignoring my body’s distress calls? 2018 alone found me in the hospital FOUR times.

I’ve become so accustomed to pushing, that I have become immune to my own body’s pleas for help. On numerous occasions, it wasn’t until my body literally screamed at me and pounded from the inside that I thought, “Oh. I better take care of this.

Are you curious about the hospital visits? They were caused by a ridiculously under-active thyroid (which was causing heart attack symptoms), a bad kidney infection, ear infections that led to a swollen face, and just this week, strep throat and bronchitis. 

I’m telling you, the Universe and myself that I no longer permit my self-care to come second. Whether it be physical, mental or spiritual health, my self-care takes precedence over all else in my life. Period.

Mum’s The Word

For 39 years and 9+ months, I have, for the most part, been the silent bystander in my life. I allowed others to say what they felt, but because I didn’t want to (further) disturb the peace, I remained quiet.

I know there are reasons for this, some of which stem back to my childhood. In the interest of not embarrassing others, however, I will not say any more about that.

But… I am NOT going to remain silent any longer.

I find it rather ironic that there’s a saying which goes, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The problem is, if nobody knows momma isn’t happy, how is anything supposed to change?

I’m the mom of my kids, and I also birthed my business. But today (December 30, 2018), I also give myself a new birth. I consider this to be my third rebirth. The first was my actual birthday, and the second being the day I left my ex-husband.

Today is the day that I commit to the world to share my truth. I need to be honest about my feelings and my truth with myself, my family, my community and the world.

When I don’t like something, I’m going to say something and/or shut it down. When I love something, I’m going to let the world know. If I need to make a change, I’m going to make it, and when I need a break, I’m going to take it.

I’m not going to be afraid about being selfish and letting others know I need time for myself, because there’s no way I’m going to wind up in this same place again next year.

I guess this last one sums up Tough Love. It’s time to be honest with myself. What’s working and what’s not needs to be constantly evaluated, however if I’m not allowing myself time for reflection, I may as well not be doing anything.

I want to ask YOU, now that you’ve made it to the end (thank you!), how do you need to be honest with yourself? What tough love do you think you’ll have if/when you take time to honestly reflect on what’s working and what’s not in your life? Share below!