It’s been 2.5 years since I had my twin boys. In the beginning, I was busy. Every waking moment was spent tending to them. Even when they were sleeping, especially in the early days, I was on alert. The best way I can describe the drain of being a new mom is that you feel like a cell phone with your bluetooth on, constantly running and slowly draining your battery. I remember when people would say “it gets easier” and I would silently laugh to myself. I could feel the brain fog of sleepless nights and I would dream of the day when I would be sharp again. When I had energy to focus my time on things other than bottles and schedules. When I could reignite my passions.
After 6 months of maternity leave I went back to work. It felt exhilarating. I was happy to be back. My days were filled with work and managing Matt’s therapy appointments (more on this in future blogs) and when I got home, after putting the kids down, I would watch Reality TV to zone out. I was so tired that I didn’t even want to have to follow a plot or learn new characters. I watched ALL the Bravo Housewives shows. It was so much that my husband even knew the characters. He is still unhappy about that to this day because for him, Reality TV is mind numbing.
He has a thirst for knowledge, reading and watching anything he can get his hands on. One of his favorite things to do is to roll out a map of the history of the world and study the ebbs and flows of empires throughout time. Who does that? While he was feeding his brain, I was starving mine. A few months ago I couldn’t think of any hobbies except working out, eating healthy, and binge watching Reality TV.
I didn’t have hobbies because I was tired and I was overwhelmed. I’m not ashamed of that and neither should anyone who is just trying to survive. Sometimes life is hard and at times you just need to get through that period of time. This is what I call forced growth. It may not be what you wanted to learn or how you wanted to learn it but you are growing nonetheless. I was learning how to be a mom, adapting to a family of 4, physically recovering from medical issues related to the birth of the twins, all while suffering through postpartum depression. When you are going through forced growth, remember that it is still growth.
As time went on, things did get easier and as things got easier, I started to feel my old self clawing back from the depths of wherever I had shoved her. I wanted to feel energized with my own interests and not just my responsibilities of work and the kids. I needed to find my passions again. I needed to feed my brain. It’s now been 6 months since my brain has been feasting and below is what I’ve learned.
START WITH SOMETHING THAT INTERESTS YOU
I know this sounds obvious but I often find that with so many distractions in life it takes effort to focus on your own interests. Whether it be friends, news outlets, social media, you are feeding off information that others are sharing with you. While these topics might make for great conversation, they may not inspire you to continue learning after that initial interest is sparked. When you are trying to reignite your passions, it needs to be something that genuinely interests you. For me, I started with Googling trees. I have always loved trees and one time I even pulled over the car to take in the beauty of a majestic oak tree in my neighborhood. That initial search was my spark of curiosity and before I knew it I was 8 articles deep into types of trees and learning the basics of gardening in TN.
When you aren’t engaged in a topic that is fed to you it can make you feel like you aren’t interested in learning or that you’ve lost that hunger for knowledge. The truth is, you just aren’t interested in that topic. Remember, this is about finding your passions. Take the time to dive deeper into what is interesting to you. When you follow your interests you will be led to your passions.
Everyone has different ways they absorb information. Some like the feel of books and turning the pages, some have gone digital, and others are more hands on and prefer in-person workshops and classes. There isn’t one way to learn and for many it’s a mix of all of the above. I was always trying to read books before bed and after about 5 pages I was asleep. For me, I needed a delivery that fit into my lifestyle and going digital was key.
I started with audio books so that I could “read” while on the go instead of forcing it at the end of the day. While surfing Facebook one day, I saw an ad for MasterClass; Online classes taught by the best of the best in their fields. It was like the universe (or Facebook listening to my conversations) had heard me and sent the perfect suggestion for digital content delivered in an engaging way.
I watched Ron Finley’s MasterClass on gardening and how to plant your own herb garden. He made it look easy and rewarding so of course, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. That weekend I planted my own herb garden and let me tell you, it has brought me so much joy! I can promise you that if I had received a gardening magazine in the mail I would have tossed it along with any hopes of me having an interest in gardening. When you have the right delivery, the message is more willingly received and you find you are more absorbent than you once thought.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE
While you want to start with topics you are interested in I challenge you to regularly step outside your comfort zone. For example, I like baking but we are talking about the basics; cookies, cupcakes, and like everyone recently, banana bread. To get outside my comfort zone, I decided to bake a 3 Layer 6” confetti cake for my friend’s birthday. If I was going to go in, I was going all in. This wasn’t about wanting to become a baker but to exert new energy, ignite my brain in a way I hadn’t in some time, and do something fun for a friend. After hours baking (it really does take up a surprising amount of time) I made a cake. A perfect confetti cake. I learned a lot during the process and it was exciting!
You may not bake a cake but pick something that is outside your normal day to day. Learn how to change a tire or finally learn how to contour your face. If you know someone who is skilled in a particular area, ask them to share their passion with you. Oftentimes we stick to what we know. By stepping outside your comfort zone, even if briefly, we open ourselves up to new information, new passions, and at least for the moment, new adventures.
The quickest way to reignite your passions is to start with things you are interested in, learn how to best digest that information, and push yourself to get outside your comfort zone. I still make time for Reality TV (hello, Selling Sunset!) but now I also make sure to feed my brain. Be careful though, I’ve learned that when you feed your brain, your brain gets hungry. Be prepared if you can’t keep up with all that you want to explore! Have fun and enjoy where your passions take you.