“We all make choices, but in the end, our choices make us.” Ken Levine.
This month we're featuring Sara Bussandri, blogger and mum of three boys, who is on a mission to slow down, simplify her life and become more mindful. She writes about self-care, mindfulness, decluttering and organising over at Mind your Mamma, and you can connect with Sara on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
On making choices
Do you ever have a ‘Sliding Doors’ moment? One of those where you find yourself wondering what would have happened, had you made different choices? Where would you be now? What would your life be like? What if I had never decided to move to London? What if I had chosen to go back to Italy every time I had the chance to? What if…?
It’s true. The choices I’ve made over the years make me who I am today.
But when I look back, I feel that there were times when I didn’t actually make much of a choice. Sometimes choosing to stay on the same path may seem like a choice, but it's probably more like avoiding to make a choice. Shying away from the choice that feels too hard to make at the time, maybe. Or the one that requires you to take a good, honest look at yourself and your life. One that requires change. To me, those feel like the biggest and bravest choices. Certainly, when I look at my life so far, they have been the ones that have made more of a difference.
"Of course, I had to return to work."
When I returned to work after a year off on maternity leave after having my first baby, I didn’t feel I had much of a choice. What would I do? Not work? How would I earn money? "Of course, I had to return to work"; And I had to return full time, too.
Fast forward 3 years, and I was back at work again. With 2 children now. While settling my 11-month baby into the nursery, I clearly remember telling my friends how much I didn’t want to return to work. But what would I do? "Of course, I had to return to work";
And so I did. And it took getting to the point where I was driving into work in tears every morning before I made the choice to leave and find another job. Putting myself through the interview process after over 10 years in the same company was exhausting. But it had become a necessary choice.
Choice made, job changed, and I was ready to start a new chapter in my life. Except that our littlest boy had also decided it was his time to come into the world, and after a short stint at my new company, we happily welcomed our third little one into our family.
Just over a year later, it was that time again. Do I return to work? What else will I do? "Of course, I have to return to work"; This time I chose to work part-time. I’d be in the office for 3 days, doing the nursery and school runs the other 2 days and spending some quality time with the little one at home. Good choice? Maybe. It worked for a bit. Until I started feeling quite unsettled.
Something wasn't right.
I was always in a rush. Always running around. Always chasing my tail. Always frazzled and easily overwhelmed. I didn’t feel like I was giving anything or anyone enough attention.
It was time to take a proper look at the situation. And it took me a while. It was hard. And it was emotional. But a choice had to be made. Something had to give. Handing in my notice was a big choice. A difficult one to make. Definitely a scary one. But a liberating one at the same time. It immediately felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I’d take a break, and things would be different.
But maybe it was only half a choice. Maybe I had only addressed part of the problem. Because I still felt frazzled and overwhelmed. I was still putting myself under a huge amount of pressure. And so a break I had. A break from life, not just from my career. I broke my leg and couldn’t walk for 3 and a half months. For 4 months, I couldn’t do the school run. I couldn’t drive my boys anywhere. I couldn’t really go anywhere. (Turns out the combination of crutches and a 2-year- old isn’t the best for hitting the big great outdoors).
But that's when the real choices came in.
When you realise that your life the way you know it isn’t quite working anymore, that’s when you have to really re-think things a little. Maybe I hadn’t really been making choices. Maybe I had just shied away from making the harder ones. The difficult, scary but brave ones that would have made a difference. Maybe I had made the non-choices. The ones that kept on the path that was already in front of me. The ones that didn't require a lot of questioning and soul-searching. The ones I thought I had to make. But those were the ones that eventually got me to breaking point.
Over the years, I had forgotten to check in with myself. To question the pressure I was putting myself under. Where was it even coming from? Was it really necessary? I had forgotten to really challenge myself and see the choices that I could make. 9 months from breaking my leg, I have made choices. Brave choices. Scary choices. But good choices too.
I’ve made the choice to work hard at slowing my life down.
I’ve made the choice to learn how to give my mind a break from all the busyness. The
constant thinking. The never-ending to-do list.
I’ve made the choice to drastically change my diet and look after my body more.
I’ve made the choice to be with my children. And to be a calmer, more present mum
for them.I’ve made the choice to go on an adventure and start a new career. Push myself out of
my comfort zone.
I’ve made the choice to change.
And it’s scary. It’s work-in- progress, and it's only the start of this new journey.
But it’s a choice. And it feels like a good one.
Because in the end, these choices will make ME.