About 2 years ago, I took a gigantic leap of faith and left my comfortable life in San Diego to embark on a brand new trajectory.
Newly married (to Kyle’s youngest brother), I left my home, my 8
year career in personal training, my beloved SoCal memories, family & friends and moved across the country to New Smyrna Beach, FL where I enrolled in nursing school.
Phew - just thinking back to this makes me a little tense. You know what I mean?
In theory, this experience would be full of excitement, joy, growth, adventure, and pure bliss. BUT.....it didn't take long before I found myself questioning and sometimes even regretting this huge decision.
Instead of the expected excitement, joy, and growth, the quick onset of change across all areas of my life left me feeling:
Can you relate?
Moving to a new state knowing only your husband is NOT a walk in the park.
I recognized that we had previously lived a very integrated life: sharing a career, a network of friends, and a great deal of time together. And now in Florida, having enrolled in 2 different full-time school programs, it left only late nights and weekends to spend together.
Loneliness, depression, immense stress, insecurity, insomnia, and fear became the rhythm of my days. It was the only way I was able to initially navigate this unfamiliar new season.
Of course I knew that nursing school was not going to be a walk in the park.
But what I was not prepared for was the shock of having to reshape and relearn how to make myself feel good.
As an added and unexpected bonus, I quickly realized that making friends as a married adult was not as easy as it was in my early twenties. For the first time since I was 16 years old, I was not employed or making an income of my own, and this was extremely uncomfortable for me. Additionally, I had a 1 hour commute to and from my school, leaving me completely exhausted when I got home each night with little energy remaining to tackle the plethora of homework and studying that I was assigned.
Between my classes and clinicals, my schedule was constantly changing, making it nearly impossible to create a routine for myself, let alone practice basic self-care habits such as reading and exercising.
To top it off, I couldn't even see how stressed out I had become.
All I could feel was the emotional burden it had created in my once comfortable life. Even on days where everything seemed to go right, I felt like an impostor in this new life, constantly one misstep away from a mental breakdown.
I cried almost every day, reached out to friends and family members constantly for emotional support, and was frequently questioning my decision to move out here.
I tried praying constantly, listening to hundreds of sermons and lectures, getting involved in my church with any free time I could spare, and participating in Kyle’s coaching to help me find a joyful spirit again.
Still I found that no matter how many of “the right things” I did, nothing seemed to be working.
Fast forward to January 2020.....
My nursing program started to come to a close. The "finish line" was now only a matter of months away and I began to feel different.
While the habits and efforts I had made to change my mindset felt small and ineffective at first, after consistently practicing healthy routines and coaching habits I learned from Kyle and other experts, I could start to see the positive effects!
I had also accrued over a year’s worth of academic accomplishments that I was finally able to appreciate.
As I applied my newly acquired knowledge and skills to real patients in my clinicals, I began to discover a sense of purpose once again.
My professors began prepping us for graduation and we were required to take hundreds, yes, HUNDREDS of exams to demonstrate our competence and skills needed to be successful nurses. And, the best part?! I started to feel like I was finally "winning."
As for so many of us, the pandemic struck the country and I sat back watching this disease shake the lives and security of those around me. Our nursing program was forced to switch to an online curriculum yet successfully managed to keep us on track to graduate at the expected date of May 1.
(Cue the celebration music)
This was an absolute blessing, as many other schools were forced to close for the remainder of the year.
During this time in quarantine, I challenged myself to "find myself" - again.
The new Samantha here in Florida had become a shell of a person who no longer knew how to make herself happy. My marriage had struggled a great deal over the past year and a half making it even difficult to enjoy time with the one person who knew me most.
Ironically, this pandemic became the biggest blessing in disguise in my life. My stress decreased tenfold because COVID-19 gave me the gift of TIME.
I finally had time to:
Get to know my new self
Return to the pages and pages of journals I had written during Kyle’s group coaching program
Focus on implementing healthy routines and tactics
This time around, it bore so much fruit and healthy evidence of success in my days.
I now INTENTIONALLY begin every day by writing in my journal and in case it can be helpful to you, here's how I do it:
First, I list all of my accomplishments from the previous day, no matter how big or small they were. If it made me feel good, it was an accomplishment.
Next, I jot down everything I feel grateful for in that present moment. These two parts are especially important in creating a positive mindset for the upcoming day, reminding me that and attitude of GRATITUDE is medicine for self-pity.
Third, I create my “MOST IMPORTANT THINGS” to-do list. Kyle taught me that tackling the most important or most challenging tasks EARLY in the day greatly increases the likelihood of completing them, ultimately leaving us with a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. The ironic part is that often, these “most important things” are actually tasks that are easy to do, but even EASIER to put off.
Examples include: going to the gym, studying for boards, folding laundry, or calling that one friend you’ve been telling yourself you need to catch up with.
I am proud to say that implementing the above in my life has greatly increased my overall sense of well-being and JOY on a daily basis!
My top 3 takeaways?
1. Stress is inevitable so learn to only hold on to that which serves you
There will be seasons in life where stress will disguise itself as a multitude of different things that feel like they will last forever. In my case, I had a cascade of change and life events that I was not previously equipped to deal with. I moved to Florida equipped only with the identity and experiences that I had acquired in San Diego, but that no longer served me in this new chapter I was beginning.
2. You've got to "Zoom Out"
One tool that Kyle consistently reminded me of during my dark times was to learn how to "zoom out" and remember the bigger picture. Having an outside perspective on my situation, she wanted to help me see that this season, as with ANY season, was only temporary.
3. Keep the big picture front and center
My husband, Mitch and I moved out here to go back to school, ultimately to level up our professional careers so that we can build a good life together. This was only meant to be 3 short years, or as she says, a “blip” in the timeline of our lives.
There were moments where I was so in my head that I could not see past my current semester, let alone my current day. But through Kyle’s mentoring, love, and sincere desire to help me overcome my demons, I have learned that it IS possible to find joy in every season of life. It looks a little different from day to day and from one experience to the next BUT, you just have to look for it!
I am now graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and I recently landed my first job as an ER nurse starting June 22, 2020 - WAHOO!!!
I cannot even describe what this accomplishment feels like and how much more confident, excited, and full of JOY I feel now than I did just months ago. I view myself and my experience in Florida through a completely new lens now that so many of my burdens have been lifted and I can think more clearly about my situation.
I wish I had been better able to see the big picture during my dark days BUT I think God needed me to endure these challenges as part of His plan to grow me mentally and spiritually. My world felt like it had been flipped upside down and thrown into a blender yet as I write this, I realize that this experience was perfectly and divinely arranged to humble me and draw me closer to God.
A few months back, Kyle sent me a quote that I found myself reading every single day to keep me going:
“Sometimes when you're in a dark place you think you've been buried, but actually, you've been planted.”
I challenge anyone reading this who feels as though they are in a dark place to try on a different perspective. Stress and uncertainty can make us think and inevitably feel like we’ve been buried with no sign of light.
Instead, picture yourself as a seed.
Yes, there’s pressure from all around you BUT a seed must only be patient and wait before inevitable growth begins.
Remain hopeful and patient in the dark times and trust that new life and new possibilities are just ahead.
A similar bible verse also gave me a great deal of hope during this difficult season. I even found a sweater with this verse printed on it that I wear whenever I need that extra encouragement!
Jeremiah 29:11 - “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
While we often cannot see past our current circumstances, we must remember that we have a God that can. Even more, He created each of us with a PURPOSE that is NOT meant to harm us, but to give us HOPE and a FUTURE.
GUEST POST FROM SAMANTHA LEDERER
For more than 8 years, Samantha was a health & fitness specialist driven by a passion to help others. Having launched her personal training business in 2013, she went on to partner with 100s of San Diego residents, helping them create healthy habits and achieve their fitness goals. Shortly after getting married in 2018, Samantha & her husband Mitch moved to Florida and go back to school to transition + advance their careers. Samantha JUST graduated nursing school with her BSN in April 2020 and looks forward to beginning her first nursing gig in June. When not at school, she can likely be found cooking, exercising, exploring, or spending quality time with her husband and their two adorable dogs. She loves offering dietary, fitness, or any health-related counseling to those who are interested. She cannot wait to be in a position to help others again, and more importantly, extend the healing ministry of Christ as a registered nurse!