Several months ago, I changed the name of my WordPress blog site from “Enlightened Social Worker” to “My Enlightened Life”. The address is still the same, but the name is different. I selected the original name mainly because I wanted to establish myself with some credibility and be recognized as a licensed social worker. However, although I’m still the hard-working professional I’ve always been, I am no longer licensed as a social worker. I remember being so proud of the work I accomplished to get licensed back in 2012. I waited almost a year after my graduation and completed all the steps, including studying, taking multiple practice exams, taking a couple of other exams, and ending with the final step – a 4-hour comprehensive social work licensing exam. I didn’t care if I passed by the skin of my teeth….as long as I passed. As it turned out, I had a decent score.
In Texas to be considered a social worker, you must be licensed. Alas, I will always be a social worker at heart, plus I earned a graduate degree in social work. I just cannot legally say I am a social worker. I am no longer licensed because I couldn’t keep up with the required continuing education credits due to my demanding job, raising my children with my husband, and my families’ health issues, including my own. It was difficult to manage it all and something had to give.
I never thought I wouldn’t maintain my license, but life happens and I don’t need it for the work I currently do as an administrator with the state of Texas. I also don’t need it for my blog. I just thought readers would be more receptive to content from a credible source. Moving forward, I deem myself credible by virtue of my ample life experience filled with ups and downs and my professional life which is also filled with ups and downs.
I did most recently inquire to the board that oversees social work licensing on what I need to do to get my license back. I’m working on some activities to get my life in alignment with my goals. I may decide to pursue my license again so that I can keep my career options more open.
I’ve also been wanting to make a pivot on my blog for quite some time. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog 7 years ago, especially when it took me a year to commit myself to start. Most often the hardest thing to do is start. I exhibited some courage when I started this blog. Over the years, the frequency of my posts have ebbed and flowed depending on what’s been going on my life.
Though this blog continues to be about self-care, I’ve evolved over time to share more of my favorite self-care activities such as cooking, smoothie challenges, exercising, gardening, and maintaining my health. This evolution is why I changed the name of my blog to “My Enlightened Life” because my blog content extends beyond social work. It’s about navigating life in my authentic way and me striving to be mentally lighter, more self-compassionate, more present, more joyful, and more self-accepting.
I suspect other people are striving for the same things, so if that’s you, stick around. If you’ve been sticking around, I’m forever grateful.
God has put an assignment on my life and it is time I let go of the guilt for choices I make to honor my assignment. My assignment is this: CARING FOR MY FAMILY. That’s it. Several years ago, I attended a church service where a pastor first introduced me to the idea of God giving us assignments. Assignments can be people or causes or whatever God has called you to do. You can also have more than one assignment though I’m not sure if it would be feasible to manage multiple assignments simultaneously. I’ve known since I had children, my family is my main assignment. I love this beautiful family of mine, who God entrusted me with, and I am going to do whatever I can to make them feel loved, nurtured, and cared and provided for.
When my husband, Bryan, had brain surgery due to hydrocephalus in 2016, we thought we had passed the worst of it, not knowing he would decompensate the following year, which entailed even more hospitalizations and treatment. I knew with my background in mental health and working directly with clients and helping them navigate through life (including medical appointments), it prepared me to attend to Bryan. It is difficult for the average person to navigate the medical care system, let alone experienced professionals. Even with my training and experience, I would get frustrated with the process of it all. Bryan is doing so much better and I have been grateful to be his advocate, case manager, and caretaker. I feel sorry for those who do not have this level of support.
My son, Caleb, started struggling in middle school due to difficulty focusing. I made sure I attended all the school meetings regarding his learning and attempted to implement protocols at home to keep him organized. I typed “attempted” because they didn’t always work, especially if Caleb didn’t keep up with them. Bryan was the homework parent, and I was the organizer, scheduler, and shopper. In addition to emotional support, it was also important to me that my children had healthy, homecooked meals because I wanted to provide them with this type of nurturing. Therefore, I made sure I purchased healthy food options and I spent my weekends cooking.
For years, I have mentally tortured myself for spending most of my weekends prepping meals, cooking, attending to my family and home, playing with my children (when they were little), and doing some self-care activities instead of catching up on my never-ending work to-do list. I cannot pinpoint when, but I came to the realization I was deliberately choosing to focus on caring for my family, my assignment, rather than doing work activities. And this realization occurred over a period of time. Why would I feel guilty about that? It would have made more sense for me to be give myself some grace for all I was doing. However, internal and external forces made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough.
Since teleworking for over 2 years now due to the pandemic, I continued to bear this guilt. The lines between work and home are even more blurred working from home. I would spend my weekends attending to my assignment, all the while with the anxiety of “work” looming in my head. It was like background noise I could not turn off. Then Sunday night would inevitably arrive, and I realized I did not have time for work. But interestingly, that is when I would let it go and proclaim, “tomorrow is a new day”. Why can’t I start my weekend consciously saying I am devoting my weekend to my family (aka my assignment) and myself and be satisfied with that?
Earlier in the summer, a pastor at my current church preached about people being so stressed today and how we need to go back to some basic principles such as recognizing Sunday as being a day of rest. I knew that message was for me. I felt convicted as I listened. He did say to work hard Monday through Saturday. I left church promising to adopt this in my life. In honesty, I have slipped a few Sundays by doing some work, but the same degree as in the past. And for clarification, the commitment I made was not to do work for my place of employment on Sunday and to do most of my weekend cleaning and tiding up on Friday and Saturday. I don’t necessarily view cooking as work.
Another aspect where I find myself feeling guilty is when it comes to maintaining friendships. My life is plenty full, even with my children growing up. I have prioritized caring for my assignment. There are some people I stay connected with, but I realize there are many people of whom I do not due to the extra effort it takes. Aside from attending to my assignment, I value my peace, so I set boundaries which usually means less people around me. Plus, I am an introvert at heart so I am energized in small groups such as the size of my household (4) and in solitude. I will also add that long term friendships ebb and flow because we all have our assignments and things going on in our lives.
If you struggle with any of this, I hope you take what you need from my post, but mainly allow yourself some grace. The main thing I am doing is changing my mindset. I have already been practicing this. Rather than focus on what I don’t accomplish, I focus on the conscious choices I’ve made to attend to my assignment, what I did accomplish as a result of my choices, and then I give myself a mental high five for following the commitment to my assignment. That’s it.
For example, I started Saturday morning with attending a Zumba fitness class which was super fun and checked the self-care box. Afterwards, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items for the household and it was nice to get there early. Then at home, I prepared a delicious lunch of leftovers. I then cleaned my bathroom and was pleased that a new product I tried removed the soap scum and hard water marks. I changed my bed sheets, did some laundry, dusted two ceiling fans. swept the floor in the main areas, wrote two work ideas down on my dry erase board in my office, watered, pruned, sprayed my indoor and outdoor plants, washed my hair, and polished my nails. I started this post before midnight on Saturday, which is another score for me. It was a very productive day for sure. Great job, Lucrece!
What is there to feel guilty about? If anything, I need to process more deeply what about my work environment causes me to feel guilty when I’m unable to work on my off days. What is it about me that requires me to believe I SHOULD be able to do it all when in reality, it is not feasible. And I’m working on removing the word “should” from my vocabulary because it’s like setting limits on yourself. Prioritizing my family (and my self-care) when I’m not scheduled to work is what I need to be attending to on my off hands. For limited time work projects that require a little extra work on my off days, I’m willing to accommodate, but not like I used to. This is coming from a recovering workaholic.
The light lessons for this post are: 1) deliberately change how I view the situation by acknowledging the choices I am making; 2) committing myself to those choices; and 2) praising myself with positive self-talk. If I go even further, I could maintain a journal or phone log of choices/accomplishments I’ve made for the day. I did try this for a few weeks and didn’t keep up with it. I just might pick it up again.
If you struggle with work guilt, mom guilt, friend guilt or just general guilt, I’d love to hear how you handle this. Drop a comment if you feel so inclined. Until next time.
Here’s some inspiration: dancing, weight lifting, walking and stretching, 6 days a week, 3-4 hours per week, and 10,000+ steps per day. Today, I clocked in 67 minutes of Zumba fitness and 11,458 steps (so far). It was just a few weeks after my surgery in January that I got back into exercise. I started earlier than recommended (for the average person) and took it slow for a couple weeks by just making sure I was walking around the house and getting steps in. Eventually, I graduated to Youtube videos and my personal arsenal of DVDs (circa early 2000s).
Exercise has been my anti-anxiety, anti-depression, and anti-stress medication for many years. I have a new reason to maintain my healthy habit: to ensure a healthy mid-life. I keep hearing the voice of a doctor who specializes in women’s health say “the greatest predictor of health in old age is health at middle age”. I’ve done my research on menopause and recovering from a hysterectomy. I’m determined to live a healthy, non-sedentary life.
Since the pandemic, I’ve broadened my horizon on exercise thanks to Youtube. I have my favorite exercise enthusiasts I follow such as the ladies with KuKuwa Fitness. I blogged about my introduction to these brown beauties and some other Youtubers in my post Shaking things up in 2020.
If you read my 6-month update post on my hysterectomy recovery (you can read about it here), then you’ll know I’ve gained some weight since my surgery. I know my body is adjusting to being in a post menopausal state. I’ve been focusing on amping up my nutrition and incorporating more weight training (at least 4 days a week). I tell myself to keep moving forward and use other measures to determine progress. For example, I’ve noticed the exercise is paying off because my resting heart rate has decreased which hasn’t happened in years. That has increased my cardio fitness score per my Fitbit app. About a month ago, I started attending Zumba Fitness classes in person again, at least 1 day a week, and it’s been so much fun! I’ve also been sleeping more soundly at night.
Since February, I’ve been addicted to routines created by Josephine Sophia and her platform called GROWWITHJO. She has so many videos on her channel to choose from. I love the variety and have found myself working muscles in ways I haven’t done before because of her routines.
In my fitness circle, I used to hear the phrase “never miss a Monday” in regards to working out, but I personally never a miss a Sunday because Sunday is the start to my week. Exercising on Sunday sets the tone for my week and I’m patting myself on the back for getting it in.
I hope this post has inspired you to start moving, shake up your routine, increase your efforts, or just keep moving forward. Do what will keep you coming back for more. Feel free to let me know what your favorite exercise is.
I couldn’t end July without acknowledging how much I think about my mom (or mummy as I called her) during this month. Five years ago she passed away on July 8th and her homegoing was on July 14th. I had just made a visit to Chicago, IL in June 2017 (from Austin, Texas) and she looked happy that all of her children were together. Then, less than a month later, she passed away. I’ve been wanting to blog all month, but have not been motivated to do it. My basic internet search on the stages of grief outlines the stages as: 1) denial, numbness, and shock; 2) bargaining; 3) depression; 4) anger; and 5) acceptance. Every person grieves in his/her own way and I can say I haven’t experienced all of these phases. The place where I think I am is acceptance though acceptance doesn’t mean I don’t miss my mom or that on occasion, I’m overcome with emotion from missing her.
I wish she were here to experience all of the milestones in her legacy’s lives. Since she’s been gone, she missed my son’s graduation from high school, my nephew and nieces’ graduations from college, seeing my husband, Bryan, on the other side of his illness which was a struggle for many years, visiting us in our new home, and seeing us all get together for Thanksgiving 2021. Most recently she missed her grandson (my nephew) moving to another state (Colorado), her granddaughter (my niece directing a movie for her master’s thesis at UCLA), and she will miss the birth of her first great grandbaby in September.
Lately, I’ve been noticing that I look more and more like my mummy, Solange, affectionately named “SoSo” by my stepfather who passed away a few years before her. I’ve always looked like SoSo, but I really see it now in not just appearance, but mannerisms. I see her in certain facial expressions I make and in my body composition, especially after having a hysterectomy earlier this year. SoSo also had a hysterectomy when I was 16. In fact, her difficult recovery is why I chose the most least invasive approach with my doctor.
SoSo taught me so much good such as believing in God, having values, caring for my family and household, cooking, standing up for myself, keeping my word, having a good work ethic, and seeking medical care to stay on top of my health, to name a few. The drive to constantly be better and do better is what I got from her. In truth, the hypercritical aspects of how I view myself I also got from her. I’m slowly detaching from those things. The beauty of the mind is that you can choose what you focus on. My relationship with SoSo was not perfect as I noted in a previous blog post Reflections on Life Without My Best Friend on Mother’s Day.
Am I becoming SoSo? I don’t think so. We believed in different things and navigated life differently. However, we are the same on things that matter like love and family. I’m going to make sure all the beautiful things about her continue to live in me and through my children. I know the many bad experiences she lived through also made her the person who she was. I’m just grateful that through her pain, she instilled in me some good. That good will live on.
Here’s a light lesson if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one like a parent (or anyone): Think about how you can keep them close by holding onto all of the good they shared with you and how they would want you to live (assuming it’s positive). And think about how you can share that good with others and then do so. I feel obligated to be the best person I can be because I know SoSo would want that.