Archives For identity

A professional photographer recently came to my work and took head shots of some of us.

Rewind nearly 15 years ago and you’ll see a vastly different work photo that a younger me posed for when I was bright and shiny and straight out of college.

The difference in those two pictures is striking.

1999 Heidi

I’m fresh and fluffy as a 20-some year old. Apparently, color photography had not been invented yet in the late 90s.

2013 Heidi

Note to self: I don’t care how early the photo session is scheduled…Do your hair. This mugshot proves it’s possible to look old and like a small boy simultaneously.

My life has changed dramatically as I evolved from a newly married full-time worker with more free time than I knew what to do with into a full-time professional who co-manages the schedules of three incredibly active children, who freelance writes on the side, blogs for fun, and battles with guilt that I’m not fully meeting anyone’s expectations.

The me of 1999 had time to do my hair, wore a nicely tailored suit (likely the only one I owned), and donned a genuinely relaxed smile. Don’t get me wrong…I still looked ridiculous, but the final product took hours upon hours of prep work.

The me of 2013 looks like I’ve given up on sleep, my hair, and my femininity in general. I take every chance I get to talk about my glory years of playing softball back in college. Boy do I look the part in this snapshot.

And don’t misinterpret that last statement as a slam on female athletes. It’s meant to be funny. My former teammates are laughing their butts off right now shaking their heads in agreement because they know I could probably snag a coaching job right now based on that mugshot alone.

The me “then” yearned to make her mark in corporate America. She thought she’d travel to far-away places with her husband. She hung out with her friends and stayed in shape without thinking about it. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to be when she grew up.

The me “now” is focused on cranking out her daily work with no egotistical expectations involved. She chooses sleep over vanity, considers staying at the Holiday Inn a vacation, and apologizes to friends for never having time to hang out. She still has no idea what she wants to be when she grows up.

I fully recognize this is just a busy time in our lives as a family. This beautifully written post reminds me to cherish these years as they will be gone far too soon.

The me “now,” although different than the type of person I thought I would be when I was young and naive, is fabulously frazzled — slicked back pony tail and all.

Some events from my life that have made me stop and reflect recently:

  • My daughter has a dress that she knows is my favorite. I told her I would never give it away. We talked about how someday, if she’s lucky, she might have a daughter who can wear that same dress.
  • My middle child, who has struggled throughout the summer at hitting a baseball, smacked a line drive into right center field to help his team secure a come-from-behind victory. He got to feel what it’s like to rise up to a challenge.
  • A night out with my oldest. I love that he’s turning into a young man who’s interested in sharing his opinions with me…even if they’re the polar opposite of mine.
  • I got to read a handwritten thank you card from one of my son’s teammates to my husband, thanking him for being an awesome coach.
perfect little dress

The perfect little dress.

Created by Heidi Woodard

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So…about that new job. It’s going pretty great actually. I know you’ve all been losing sleep over not knowing whether or not I like it.

I still don’t know everything I need to know (tomorrow will be the start of my fourth week), but I’m not lost like I feared I would be after leaving a place where I knew my role like the back of my hand.

It’s Sunday evening and I’m not feeling any how-many-hours-do-I-have-left-to-my-weekend anxiety. I no longer dread Monday mornings. Strike that…I don’t dread returning to work on Mondays. I always dread mornings, no matter what the day.

Most importantly, I am starting to embrace my professional identity. I am now in a position where my success will be measured by how much better I make other people’s lives. It recently dawned on me that it is a role completely synonymous to what it means to be a mom.

Maybe that’s why I am excited for each new day? Or maybe I’m still simply in the honeymoon phase? Or maaaaybe…I don’t need to try and rationalize why I feel the way I do? I keep telling myself to simply live in the moment and soak up new opportunities as they arise.

I believe I have identified the x-factor when it comes to determining job satisfaction: To be happy with what you do for a living, you must share a personal desire with those who surround you.

Some people want to be known for having the greatest material wealth or influence, so they surround themselves with others who seek out similar status. Some people want to change the world so that it is better for future generations, so they forgo immediate gratification to pursue something bigger than themselves. Some are happy simply existing, knowing they have a support system in place who can remind them of their greatest strengths when they’ve forgotten. Some people want to laugh everyday and see the good in others, so they embrace similar thinkers and doers in the hopes of finding solutions instead of harping on problems.

After all, the world is a beautiful place and we only have but one life to live. It’s not easy to stay positive, but I’m going to embrace this period for as long as possible.

Even Monday mornings are worth celebrating my friends.

I have wanted to write this post for awhile now. I started tossing around ideas awhile back about how to properly articulate what I think about life and the direction it takes us sometimes.

When a child begins to grow and discover their own personal potential, their innate strengths need not be defined. People can naturally see and appreciate them. They come easily and the child feels a sense of happiness anytime they are given the chance to share them with others.

Strengths are as unique to the child as the color of their hair or the tone of their voice. They help form their identity –  their own little island.

As we grow, the sea of possibilities surrounding our own personal islands is endless.

One’s course may start off smoothly, but rougher waters are inevitable. I firmly believe the farther you drift from your own personal identity or island, the more treacherous travel you will likely face and the greater risk you run of feeling lost.

We grab onto life preservers (power, possessions, influence, relationships) to make us feel invincible or to simply stay the course. We set ourselves up to believe we are only measured by how hard we crash into waves and by how great of a distance we travel.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the journey that we forget to look back at our own island. We realize that while life preservers may help move us forward, they don’t guarantee happiness.

My island is not crowded. It is not noisy nor stressful. On it are housed three or four things that come naturally to me and make me feel happy. I refuse to lose sight of them no matter where life takes me.

Have you thought lately about what makes up your island?