Writing my 100th post on Naked Girl’s 11 month anniversary last Friday sparked a few days of contemplation. Looking back at where I was in my life when I published my first post and what my life looks like today, it truly amazes me. Just 30 days shy of a year, I have become stronger, more capable, and a happier person. Not because life magically became easier for me, but because I have worked hard to get where I am today. Re-reading some of the posts I wrote in the early months and comparing what I was feeling at that moment to where I am now, it is a testament to the positive changes I have been able to bring about in me.
“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” ~Leonardo da Vinci
Last May I wrote about being overwhelmed with owning my home. The list of home repair projects was growing and I didn’t feel I would ever overcome the feeling that I was incapable of handling the maintenance of the house. Just in the last month I have tackled a painting project, replaced all the doorknobs on a floor of the house, repaired grout, re-caulked the shower, and replaced toilet seats. Each week I work on at least one project in my home. As a result, the long list is getting shorter. But more important than the shrinking to do list, I feel so proud of my accomplishments; that feeling is what I love the most.
The first post on Naked Girl in a Dress gave some insight into the end of my marriage, how it affected me, and the challenges I faced with someone I was dating at the time I started my blog. That relationship ended horribly, but what I learned from it was that I found myself in that situation because I did not have a clearly-defined understanding of what I wanted in a relationship. Otherwise we would not have continued to date for as long as we did. In February I shared a list of qualities I was looking for in a man. Last fall I created the list and it has helped me with evaluating whether to continue dating someone or not. It is something I wish I had before I started dating post-separation, but of course, that experience was a lesson that I needed to learn. Just recently, at the end of an 8 week relationship, I learned this list should be written in pencil. Each experience helps hone what I want and don’t want in my life. My list needed to be slightly altered, having a better understanding of what I want in my life and what I find unacceptable.
In August I shared a fear of socializing single for the first 1 1/2 years of separation. I repeatedly turned down invitations, but I overcame that fear last summer. And I have continued to feel more comfortable with time. Making even more progress, last weekend I hosted a big dinner party with friends and their children. And I felt comfortable as hostess. I actually enjoyed myself and was relaxed all evening.
I have even seen progress in me in the last 6 months. In September I shared how worried I was about starting photography school. I didn’t think I would be able to balance all the responsibilities I already had in my life with the demanding schedule of attending classes, homework, studying, and more. There have been many times in the last 6 months that I have questioned my sanity. I have stayed up all night working on a class project and also spent late night hours to catch up for work. But 5 months away from graduating, I know it was a wise decision. I have grown tremendously as a photographer, but also it instilled more of a team mentality in our home. The kids help me on mornings I am rushing to finish a project by preparing their own breakfast or packing a lunch. Princess Daisy and Monkey also take more initiative helping around the house. We are working together, all 3 of us, to support each other. The kids are growing from this experience too.
I still find myself learning and growing, with a lot of challenges as a single mom yet to overcome. But as I look back over the last 11 months, I feel even more confident that life will continue to improve and that I will be even happier than I am right now.
Because I am taking responsibility for shaping the life I want and I am a little closer to being that Naked Girl in a Dress.