We’re (more than) one month into 2023 and everything feels… different. It feels different in a way that feels like a long time coming. Like the path ahead is a lot clearer, albeit still a little scary and ever-evolving.
I’ll be honest, the end of 2022 was hard.
Aside from lots of personal grief that I was navigating, I felt this deep pull to hibernate and take some time away from my business. I was doing my best to practice what I preached: feel the feelings, give myself space, honor my energy.
And it’s not that I was feeling guilty for taking a break. It was that I wanted to have the energy to create and I didn’t. I would have random content ideas or imagine engaging with my community and I felt so physically exhausted that I couldn’t bring any of them to fruition. Some of it I wrote down. Some of it is lost in the depths of my brain, maybe to be excavated down the road.
I’ve finally come to the part of my journey in this season of life where I had a choice to make: continue to keep all the things inside the safe cocoon of my inner circle. Or open up. Share the good, the bad, and the beautifully difficult.
And stories are meant to be shared, right?
Here goes nothing.
Moving into 2023, I had done A LOT of work, particularly on healing my inner children.
And yes, there are children, plural. I can tell when 6-year-old Molly is exhausted and needs a nap.
I can tell when 9-year-old Molly wants to make arts and crafts with her Girl Scout troop.
I can tell when 12-year-old Molly craves camaraderie or movement like she used to enjoy, reminiscent of her days on the basketball court.
I had learned to soothe those parts of me like my own best parent. Showing up with tender, loving kindness. Listening, affirming, and re-affirming. Creating a sense of safety, which wasn’t something I felt growing up.
It’s probably also important to note here that the grief I alluded to earlier was centered around my actual parent.
Since about mid-November, I made the extremely challenging decision to go no-contact with my mother. I’ve spent the last few years developing boundaries, unpacking emotional abuse, and untangling a very codependent web that was no longer serving me as an adult.
I have a lot more to say about this, but for now, I’ll just say that this adjustment was akin to drowning and having to throw myself a half-inflated life preserver. It has come with a lot of letting go and learning about the pieces of me that still need attention.
So if my inner children felt taken care of, what part of me was craving to be seen and held?
Enter: the inner teenager.
When my parents divorced in 2003, I was 15. The time that led up to the divorce and immediately followed left me feeling very resentful.
Many choices in my life were being made, and I had no control over any of them.
I realized that I needed to tend to my 15-year-old self.
To listen to her and hear her out.
To acknowledge the rebellion that was stifled then in favor of always being the “good girl” who helped everyone else and didn’t make waves.
I needed to honor her needs and desires while also being a parent to her.
Keeping promises, especially to myself.
So what does this look like from a practical, day-to-day sense?
My money wound runs DEEP.
It was a contentious subject in my house growing up, especially as a teenager. I internalized a lot of the money stories that were taught to me and it left me with a scarcity mindset that was backed up by real scarcity.
I’ve tried to budget over the years, drafting elaborate spreadsheets and strict timelines to keep myself in line. It never worked.
Restriction never works.
Restriction is what triggers teenage Molly into a tailspin of rebellion.
Part of my new approach is all about shifting perspectives and giving myself choices.
And like most parents do with teenagers, I gave myself an allowance.
This allowance is what covers my groceries, coffee, late night Uber rides, and drinks with friends. I don’t split those things out into separate categories. I auto-pay myself into a separate checking account every other week. That debit card is the only one I use now and when that money is gone, it’s gone. I have to wait for my next allowance.
I started doing this mid-December and it’s the longest I’ve ever stuck to a budget in my life.
The key seems to be that I am giving myself (and my inner teenager) the option to make choices.
I’m trusting that I can buy the right amount of groceries every week. I’m trusting myself to buy my overpriced Starbucks triple venti soy hazelnut latte once or twice a week without blowing all my cash.
I’m trusting that the money will keep coming.
The allowance will be replenished.
I am safe.
I also put all my bills into an Excel sheet and got super real without shame or judgment, just reality and reason.
I have a date set in 2024 for me to be consumer-debt free.
It no longer feels totally outrageous or impossible.
I trust that I can do this for myself.
If you grew up in the nineties or early aughts when pin-straight hair was all the rage, you can probably feel my pain for dealing with unruly frizz and attempting to flat iron your hair within an inch of its life.
For the past few years on my healing journey, I had been doing my best to embrace my curls.
I found an awesome curly hair specialist in DC, got curly cuts, tried different methods and products, yet still somehow managed to spend most of my days with my hair pulled back in a bun, avoiding my curls at all cost.
At the end of 2022, I knew I was ready for something with a bit more spice to it.
And listen, I know it’s the running joke that getting bangs is the true marker of a nervous breakdown, but maybe it’s because these are curly bangs?
Either way, it’s been both tricky and fun trying to figure out how to care for this hair.
There are days I can’t wait for the bangs to grow out, but there are other days when I can’t believe it took me this long to embrace a haircut like this.
Whenever I twist my hair into an updo with curly bangs and tendrils in my face, I think of Brittany Murphy in “Clueless” just rollin’ with the homies.
And teenage Molly feels beautiful.
On January 1, 2023, I set an intention to infuse a bit more creative expression into my daily life.
It had been months since I had picked up a paintbrush or even opened my art journal. I tried to think of ways to both hold myself to a practice but also not shame myself in the process.
I decided to create a tiny art tile every single day of 2023.
Two inch squares to fill up with whatever I want.
Acrylic paint, pencil doodles, collage, watercolor.
And if I miss a day?
My bestie suggested painting all the days I miss in one solid color. I chose a bright cerulean blue.
That way at the end of the year when I lay them all out side by side, I can see where my mood shifted.
I can visually observe my year and the tiny art will reflect all of these tiny pieces of me.
I can’t wait to see all 365 of them laid out on a giant canvas.
My year in art.
I’m single and staying that way for now.
I said goodbye to the dating apps for good in December after about a year on and off of them.
I don’t necessarily think they’re all terrible or that they’re not right for some people.
I just realized they weren’t bringing me anything positive.
I would spend days chatting with someone promising only for them to ghost or drop a crazy bomb on me about their real relationship status. I was losing hope and sleep over people who I was likely never going to mesh with in any real way.
And yes, the validation of being wanted was intoxicating. After my long-term relationship ended back in 2021, I wanted more than anything to just feel wanted again (a long story for another time!)
I remembered how much better my mental health and energy was back in the spring of 2022 when I had put myself in dating-app timeout. I channeled that clarity and finally deleted all mu accounts.
And while it took a few weeks to retrain my brain from scrolling to the now-deleted apps on my phone, I’m really glad I decided to call it quits.
I’m open to meeting people in the wild, but I also know the current season of life has more in store for me than dating.
And that’s okay.
My full-time job for the last 5.5 years has been at a nonprofit performing arts center in DC. I’ve done everything from front-line fundraising to managing the front of house operations there, and with every new responsibility came a lot of new challenges.
In my most recent role, I was working odd hours, covering for staff when they called out sick, agonizing over the schedule, and handling customer complaints during the height of COVID-19 restrictions. I was definitely on the verge, if not totally in the middle of burnout.
In December, an opportunity came up for me to go back to fundraising.
At first, I really didn’t want to do it. I had spent the past three years in my patron services role, building a department from the ground up. I had so much love for the environment I had fostered and the team I built.
But the opportunity for something different and yet still familiar came with a few perks: a more consistent schedule, no direct reports, and my own office. No more front-line customer crises, just lots and lots of grant writing.
I’ve been transitioning into this new position over the past month and I can already feel my stress levels melting.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are still deadlines and red tape.
It just feels manageable.
And it’s leaving me feeling a bit more even-tempered and ready to continue pursuing things outside of my 9-5.
My time as a life coach these past couple of years has been nothing short of transformative.
When I started my business back in the summer of 2020, it was on the heels of a huge awakening. Tapping into the desire to help people on a deeply human level changed my path forever and felt like an incredible homecoming.
Showing up for my clients, growing my community, and holding space has warmed my heart in ways I could never fully express.
And as much as I’ve loved it, I’ve been longing for something more.
I want to understand people.
I want to show up in ways I can’t by just being a coach.
I want to dive deeper.
I want to expand.
And I’m finally giving myself permission to do that in a big way: I’m going back to school!
I know, “way to bury the lead, Molly!”
I’ll be pursuing my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology starting in March of 2023!
It’s a part-time and online program that should take me about three years.
I’m excited and scared.
And I’m ready.
I’m also not going anywhere. I’ll still be coaching and showing up on social media as much as I can. You may see shifts in my content that are more aligned with where I’m at now. With what I’m learning in school. With how teenage Molly is healing.
I hope you’ll stick around for this next chapter.
I’m excited to be living it.