At the end of 2011, I decided that 2012 would be the “year of doing things that scared me”. I didn’t know what exactly that would entail – only that I had a feeling that my life needed shaking up. I needed to challenge myself; to give myself an opportunity to grow as a person, woman and mother so that I could continue to set a good example for my daughters. And I wanted to feel differently about my life. Every day felt like Groundhog Day – the same things over and over again – and I was tired of it. Tired of feeling like I was wasting my days. So I announced my intentions and ran head first in to 2012! Here’s how it went:
1. Within the first week, I started a blog (that would be the one you are reading right now). I had no clue what I was doing but I knew that if I was good enough to write for someone else, I was good enough to have my own. By the end of the year, “Me, Myself and Jen” would migrate from Blogger to WP and I would have my own, freshly-designed and full of whimsy blog to call my own. On my own site. Pretty incredible given where it started! Thank you @RHDailyDose for allowing me to see what I was capable of.
2. I embraced Twitter full-throttle and really began to connect with people who I never would have otherwise known. I’ve been blessed with some amazing opportunities and real-life friendships all because of it. Samantha, thanks again for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (I still owe you a Whipsicle!). Jennifer, Pam, Connie, and Jill – you are all forces of nature and I am in awe of you.
3. I attended my FIRST conference – The Women’s Dream Conference – hosted by the amazing Andrea Metcalf. I spent an entire day surrounded by strong, empowered women sharing their stories and experiences, lifting each other up, and wanting nothing more than to help us find the best version of ourselves. I’ve gotten to know Andrea, and I am grateful beyond words for her support and belief in me.
4. I admitted that I didn’t have all the answers when it came to my youngest daughter’s anxiety issues and asked for help. One of the most difficult things as a parent is accepting that you don’t have the tools to fix your child when they are hurting. My little one is in that place, and needs more help that I can give her. We are just at the beginning of our journey, but I am confident that as long as I am willing to lay my ego aside and listen to those I seek out to help us, she and I can conquer anything that comes at us.
5. I was a featured guest on an episode of “The Ordinary and The ExtraOrdinary” on the Not So Soccer Mom Radio Network, talking about healthy eating and fitness goals. The discussion was part of a group challenge that host, Kim Pirrella, put together to work the Self Magazine Drop10 Diet. While I’m not sure if any of our group lost the weight that we wanted to when the challenge started, it was wonderful that we supported and encouraged each other daily to stay motivated and focus on being healthy. I’m honored that Kim asked me (and grateful that the segment was taped!)
6. I learned a TON about the business of blogging, working with brands, and steps that I could take to be a better writer, blogger, and business women. Along the way, I attended two more great conferences (Brands & Bloggers Summit, Bloggy Boot Camp) and met more fantastic women than I could ever list in just one paragraph. Thank you all for sharing your wisdom, experience, failures and successes with me. I loved it all! Special mention to Melisa, Jennifer, and Michelle for helping me every time I got stuck or had a technical question about my blog or writing. You are invaluable to me and I am honored to call you friends.
7. I became a more active member of the Naperville Moms Network, an organization that I joined late in 2011. After being terrified of the women (to the point I wrote an entire post about it), I now feel like one of the gals! Cathy, Jeannie, Johanna, Jennifer, Christine, CJ, Trudy, Tracey, Beth, Lucy and Dana Marie a gigantic THANK YOU for all of the laughs we’ve had this year!
8. After spending two years as a part-time college student, studying the travel and tourism industry, I made the decision in the fall to switch my focus to Marketing and Social Media. While my department chairperson was a little surprised, she embraced my love of social media 100% and encouraged me to follow my dreams. She even hired me to do some blogging work for her! Which leads me to . .
9. Social media isn’t just my hobby – it’s my JOB now! I started MM&J Consulting to help individuals and small businesses enhance their brand through social media. If you had asked me when this year began if I would end it as a small business owner, I’d have told you that you were out of your mind. But I realized that I can’t sit around and wait for opportunities – I need to create my own!
These are just a few of the highlights in a pretty amazing year. There were day-to-day things that scared me that I attempted to tackle head-on instead of procrastinating and hoping they would go away. What I have accepted is this: I am the Captain of my life, no one is going to take the wheel from me, nor is the ship going to steer itself. It’s up to ME to decide the course I want to travel. I feel so good about 2012 that I decided to do it again – make 2013 another year that I do things that scare me. I already have a few things in the works – submitting a piece for the incredible “Listen to Your Mother” show, and agreeing to teach a class of travel students about social media – that should keep me on my toes!
Have a safe, healthy and wonderful 2013 everyone! And tell me – what are YOU going to do that scares you?