This Mary Engelbreit quote always comes up a lot around this time of year. A time that generally holds a mixture of looking back in reflection and dreaming of all of the possibilities the future holds. Despite telling us not to look back, it represents, for many, a cathartic sentiment of releasing the past. A way to be stronger and freer going into the future. And this year, the end of a decade is giving me even more of a need to embrace Mary’s words.

About a week or so ago, the posts began circling on social media reminding us that this year is different. That it’s not just the end of another year, but also the end of a decade. I don’t know if it’s because I’m now in my 30’s or because this was the decade of the most significant change in my life, but I’d never really thought about reflecting on an entire decade until I saw these posts pointing it out over and over again.

This decade was the biggest of my life for one reason: motherhood

Early on in the decade, I became a mother when my daughter, Penny, was born. I had just broken into my field of choice, teaching, in a local school board. Before I really had any time to gain some traction, postpartum anxiety kicked in and changed my life trajectory. Life had another detour for me when Penny was 18 months old. She went into the autism diagnosis system and diagnosed, after two assessments, at 4 years old.

But the most significant curve that motherhood threw at me was after my second child, Max was born when I suffered from a life-altering ’bout of postpartum depression. This experience would put me on the path to founding Fempire Builders and building the amazing community we’ve been bringing together since May of 2016. Every moment of motherhood, while not always easy, brought me closer to who I am: the woman writing this today.

Looking back on purpose

Mary Engelbreit’s literal words say not to look back. However, I believe that what she meant was to look back for growth instead of to dwell. Unfortunately, many of us spend time on the latter without doing the former. And I was no different. It wasn’t until 2018 that I realized that my unhappiness was a result of a disconnect I had been feeling since I became a mother in 2011. Not until this year that I decided to dive in and do something about it.

About that disconnect

You read that right. I spent seven years feeling disconnected. My subconscious, not knowing any better, was accepting everything it was being told, as it will, by my conscious mind. Unfortunately, the message was the reason for my disconnect.

Looking back, I can see that my conscious mind was so busy trying to pretend that nothing had changed after motherhood and failing miserably. No matter how hard I tried to merge ‘pre-motherhood Samantha’ with this new reality, it just wouldn’t come together. Instead, I was getting tears, guilt, constant self-doubt and a TON of berating myself, and that was doing nothing for my subconscious mind. This year, I realized the problem. ‘Pre-motherhood Samantha’ was gone; no matter how hard I tried to pretend she wasn’t.

I could say the same about ‘pre-entrepreneur Samantha’ and ‘pre-homeschooling Samantha.’ Why? Because each time our lives change significantly, our subconscious’ first thought is to try to keep us where we are. The comforts of what it knows will always be its default choice over the fear it feels for the unknown. All the while, our conscious mind is trying to correct the feeling of discomfort that we’re feeling by merging who we were with who we are now. A futile task indeed.

My Mary Engelbreit moment

Looking back at the personal development I have done this year, I’ve learned that the act of trying to merge my old self with my new self after every change in my life, does more harm than good. I know and accept that Samantha’s of the past are gone. I know that each left me with everything they had learned, and I am able to move past my discomfort and into a new phase. A phase of ease and belonging. A time of getting to know who I am now; not who I was. It’s a very exciting time of creating a more meaningful life and deeper relationships than I had been able to create in years.

With this written, I can now close the book on the 2010s with true closure, move on with clarity and confidence and focus on where I am going like never before.

Samantha is a sales strategist and business mentor helping busy Fempire Builders like herself get on track in their business, identify and map out opportunities to boost their sales and work with them to implement the systems and processes within their businesses that they need to truly level up and grow.

Around the time her second child was born, her eldest child was diagnosed with autism. It was then that Samantha had to learn how to keep her priorities aligned within her family, and it became clear that returning to the corporate world was not the right fit for her.

While trying to answer the “now what?” question, Samantha created www.fempirebuilders.com, a supportive community for female entrepreneurs across Canada to gain access to the tools + skillsets they need to create the profitable business of their dreams surrounded by like-minded women cheering them on! Since May 2016, Fempire Builders members have shared their knowledge and lessons to mentor, support and empower each other to reach new heights both personally and professionally.