The Highs and Lows of 2017

At the end of 2016, I was on the brink of tearing out my hair—I was just that over it. Now that it’s almost the end of 2017, I am ready to ring in the new year with a giant glass of champagne and kiss the past twelve months of my life goodbye!

A lot of people are somewhat shocked when I express these sentiments. “Wow, Kelly, that’s pretty negative,” they say. “Especially after everything you’ve experienced this past year…the publication of your new book, your kids graduating high school and college, all the amazing personal strides you’ve made. Aren’t you grateful?”

My answer? Of course I’m grateful! And—this is me getting real. While my life has been an incredible blessing and I’m deeply proud of all the milestones I’ve hit, there have been many moments when everything about it has sucked ass. And where I’ve felt gratitude, I’ve also felt an enormous amount of heartache.

Yes, I published my first book and got to launch it in New York City amongst friends, family, and a beautiful community of Women For One Truthtellers. At the same time, two of my valued team members quit their jobs right in the middle of my book launch. Despite the incredible success of the book, I felt the stability of my business crumbling beneath me like a foundation built on sand. Because the work I do has always been a team effort, I found myself scrambling for solutions during a time when I was supposed to be celebrating. And of course, life goes on, so the celebrations happened. Despite the fact that some of my own family members had chosen not to speak to me because of the book I’d written, where I’d strived to be as transparent, real, and true to myself and my story as I could be.

Add to all this the fact that my core mother wound was activated when longstanding relationships with some of my closest women friends began to fracture. It was ironic; my entire book was about trusting your gut and the universe—and yet, life was throwing so many obstacles in my way that appeared to be telling me I couldn’t trust anyone or anything.

I’m well aware of what it feels like to be in victim mode, so throughout the laughter and tears, I always reminded myself of one thing: Along with greatness, you almost always get the shit and the muck. And you can’t scale the peaks without navigating the valleys. Part of life’s paradox is learning to balance the bullshit with the blessings.

Lots of people I meet find it hard to accept this, because they’re under the mistaken assumption that my life is “perfect” (even though I’d be the first to burst your bubble and tell you that PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST!). But I’ve always believed that our propensity for joy is equal to our propensity for sorrow—and often, the happiest, most successful people I know haven’t discovered some magic pill that lets them maintain that state at every single moment. In fact, these same happy, successful people have some pretty heart-wrenching stories to share about their personal lives. But because so many of us are conditioned to maintain appearances at all costs, most of those stories never make it to the light of day. To me, this is a disservice to all of us because it perpetuates the myth that either you’ve “made it” and never have a bad day anymore because you’re full of love and light and a positive attitude—or you’re susceptible to all manner of bad luck because you don’t have your shit together and haven’t learned the lessons that the universe is trying to show you.

I call bullshit on that false dichotomy. As messy and complex beings, we have brilliantly messy and complex lives. A good day isn’t a reward, and a bad day isn’t a punishment. Sometimes, it just is what it is.

Life is messy…and beautiful…and scary…and frustrating…and downright lonely at times. And self-care is the key to dealing with all of it. To me, powerful self-care is grounded in a balanced perspective. When we are absolutely real about who we are and what we are feeling, and when we are willing to be with and navigate the mess, we discover that we have the kind of resilience that allows us to move forward when we feel knocked down by life.

At the end of the day, I believe that we have to give ourselves the space to feel our feelings and dive into the messiness of our lives. It’s easiest to do this when we’re surrounded by the right people. Whether you cry on the shoulder of a supportive friend or partner or just wallow for a while (side note: ever notice that the word “wallow” also contains the word “allow”?), you simply cannot put on your big girl panties and face the world until you have acknowledged the places where it just really sucks to be you in the moment! In fact, in order to move forward, through good and bad times, through light and darkness, we have to honor that both of these elements exist in our own lives. I, for one, have discovered that surrendering to the experience of feeling lost and untethered, especially alongside great joy and powerful breakthroughs, can lead us back to ourselves, and to a greater sense of clarity about what we need and where we want to go next.

Cheers to 2017!

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of global community, Women for One, a speaker, coach, facilitator, and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. With more than 25 years of experience as a nonprofit and small-business consultant, Kelly empowers generations of women around the world to build the relationships, community, and confidence they need to achieve their wildest dreams. She finds daily inspiration in spending time with her husband and children in her home outside of Seattle.

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