Like many of you, my 2020 was filled with ups and downs, struggles and blessings, gains and losses. I have been reflecting on how those gains and losses contributed to me being where I am this very moment.
I’m grateful for the good space I’m occupying right now and hope that I can, in some small way, help encourage you to strive for better balance wherever you are amid your own gains and losses.
Along with dozens of close personal friends and thousands of others in the workforce, I suffered a professional loss last summer. I lost a job that I was comfortable in, working with people I adored. It was a loss that I had to take a little time to grieve.
But because of that loss, I gained more than I could have ever imagined. I lost a long-time work family but learned right away that the true friendships I’d made through my job could and would continue regardless of our sources of employment. In place of the one supportive professional community that I lost, I have since gained three new ones.
At Community Partnership of Southeast Missouri (CPSEMO), I’ve gained new friends and colleagues that are real-life superheroes. They are housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, giving hope to the hopeless. They amaze me, and I’m honored and humbled to be their Grant Writer and be involved with their life-changing work.
Through the Grant Professional Association (GPA), particularly the consultant cohort I’m connected with, I’ve met some of the most inspiring professionals I’ve ever encountered. Not only are they doing good work, but they are doing it in inspirational and exceptional ways. I want to be just like them when I grow up.
I’ve also had the joy and privilege of building relationships with my recurring freelance clients. Some are old friends and coworkers; others were strangers until recently. It excites me to work with all of them and have my hand in different types of industries.
In my new work world, I’ve gained more than just people. I’ve gained purpose. Professional growth. I’ve gained the opportunity to use my passion for the written word not only to earn a living but to help create change in my community. I’ve learned new skills, tried unexpected things, and experienced unimaginable satisfaction.
I’m thankful for the professional loss because I wouldn’t have been in a position to gain so much without it.
I lost my sister to the ravages of COVID last year. I grieved my own family’s loss as I grieved along with several dear friends who also buried loved ones due to the coronavirus. For a while, I lost my ability to find joy.
Like most of you, I lost precious time with family and friends, lost opportunities to travel and make new memories, and lost the freedom to come and go at will. The personal losses were heartbreaking and often overwhelming. In the darkest days of 2020, when I felt such a keen sense of loss, I also found many good things for which to be grateful.
I found a new appreciation for the rock-solid man I married almost 38 years ago. Losing one close family member helped me gain a new determination to keep all my loved ones close, and we all found creative new ways to protect our relationships.
I gained the time and the opportunity to be outside more than ever. Biking, gardening, swimming – the past 14 months have been filled with far more time outdoors than I’ve had in a couple of decades, and it was good for me to remember all the reasons having the sun on my face is good for my body and soul.
With much more open time in my schedule, I started volunteering again. I’m embarrassed to say it had been years since I’d given of myself, beyond writing a check, to causes I believe in and to people that need a helping hand up. The joy I found elusive during the times of intense grief started to return as more and more of my time and focus centered around helping others.
The deep personal losses of 2020 left a hole in my heart. But even amid heavy grief and sorrow, my eyes were opened in a new way to see all the things and people in my life for whom I am so profoundly grateful. I’m thankful that there are lessons about life, love, joy, and balance in the difficult seasons.
During the past several months, I’ve recognized how much the personal and professional gains and losses of 2020 have given my life a new and better balance and a richness I didn’t realize I had been missing. There was still one area, however, that was grossly out of balance – my physical health.
After a slow but steady weight gain from March 2020-January 2021, my husband and I decided enough was enough. We set about to find a plan that would help us lose weight and begin the road to better long-term health and wellness. We had some false starts, but in April, we were introduced to the plan that has rocked our world, changed our lives, and given us new hope.
I’ve lost over 25 pounds so far, and he’s lost nearly 40. We’ve not felt this motivated and equipped to take care of ourselves in a long time. We found a program that fits perfectly into our lives (I won’t take space here to share my exuberance over this plan, but I am happy to provide more details if you want to message me.)
I’ve lost more than just pounds. I’ve lost three prescription drugs, two clothing sizes, and my double chin. I’ve shed the stress that comes with agonizing over a million food decisions a day and beating myself up when I chose poorly. I’ve gotten rid of self-judgment and guilt. I’ve stopped fretting over how I got in such an unhealthy physical state and dropped regrets about the past.
And beautifully, miraculously, I’ve found more than I’ve lost. I’ve found my neck (it had been missing for a while). I’ve found renewed comfort and confidence, more restful sleep, increased energy, and hopefulness for the future that fills my heart with joy.
I’ve gained a new circle of community that provides an astounding level of support for this journey to optimal health. Through this ongoing transformation filled with gains and losses, I’m living life in a better balance than I’ve been in a really long time.
So let me encourage you to look at your life. It’s going to be filled with gains and losses of all kinds. Personal, physical, professional, emotional, spiritual, financial. Look for the opportunities to learn, grow, expand, and change during the highs and the lows.
Seek balance in as many areas of your life as you can find it. Be willing to let go of old things that are keeping you off balance, and be ready to embrace new things that can restore balance if you’ll allow them to. Gains and losses can and should be the stepping stones of a life in balance.