By Guest Blogger Julie Fritz

With a new year upon us, it seems an appropriate time for self-reflection. A time to think about what we would like to do differently and how to focus our growth and change for the year to come. Personally, I am on a journey of self-discovery. I mean, I just turned 40, so that is typical, right? My gift to myself for my 40th birthday was to dig deep and look at the baggage I have been carrying for years. In essence, I wanted to lighten the load. We all have a baggage cart we carry around. Some bags we put there ourselves, and some were set there by others. The truth is, I was tired of carrying other people’s bags, and I needed a lighter cart. Why I chose this journey amid a worldwide pandemic, I have no idea! But I’m in it now, so I have to keep moving.

Many of the bags I was carrying were undefined, feelings of worthlessness, or not being enough that I had been able to blame others for most of my life. Some of these bags were heavy, others a bit lighter. But, one by one, I started to sort them out. As I come across each one, I have been taking the time to look inside, see where it comes from and deal with it. I’ve decided bags that don’t belong to me have to go, and the ones that I put there can stay till I sort out their contents and eventually discard them. 

This is not a simple process. I have been lucky to be able to have hard conversations with myself and people from my past who understood my need to heal. Those conversations have given me a chance to see that many of the bags that I thought were placed on my cart by others, I had put there myself. And that is a very freeing realization. Because once you know a bag is yours, you get to decide what to do with it. 

It also has been a bit complicated at times. You never know what you might find when you open a bag, and it can be overwhelming. At one point I felt as if I had opened up a Pandora’s box of my 19-year-old emotions and I didn’t know how to close it again. Luckily, I was able to feel them, sort them, and heal. It took time and some space, but I figured them out. 

I was a person before I became a mom. A flawed person and who has lived through a variety of experiences that made me who I am. Just because I have children doesn’t mean any of those parts of myself went away. And, sometimes, directly and indirectly, they affect who I am as a mom. 

I want the best for my children, don’t we all. I want them to have healthy relationships with themselves and with others. To have the confidence to achieve their dreams and to know they can do anything. But part of the way they will learn to do those things is by seeing me as an example. That is one of the reasons I am doing this work. Not just for me, but for them. 

This is hard work, and every day is a new experience. The best part of this journey so far is learning that I am creating a better future by letting go of the past. Not just for myself, but for my family. With each bag that I can remove from my cart, I am a more whole person. I can be a better mom, a more present wife, and can enjoy the life experiences that I get to share with the people I love just a little more. It makes all the hard work worth it and reminds me each day that I am worth it too. 

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