Life is Like a Patchwork Quilt: Putting the Pieces Back Together After a Big Life Change

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Over the course of my nearly 20-year career in the cosmetics industry, I amassed a huge collection of branded merchandise – from t-shirts to tote bags, office supplies to fashion accessories, and a seemingly endless supply of creams, cleansers, and lipsticks (not complaining!). Figuring out what to do with all this flair after I quit my job to stay home with the kids forced me to reflect on my choice to leave the only company I’d ever worked for. It left me feeling beyond overwhelmed and a bit uncertain. These tangible scraps were all that remained of my career and represented projects completed, events hustled, friendships made, and achievements earned. 

Thankfully, my friend, Lilian Vrabely, was there to help me sort through rubble. She understood how difficult it was for me to part from these items and suggested I let her take some home so she could create a memento for me. I obliged, focusing more on clearing the clutter than on what one-of-a-kind item she might create, and I pondered about the journey I had embarked on. 

It took me nearly two years of mulling the pros and cons to finally pull the trigger and leave my corporate career. While the pros seemed obvious, more arts & crafts/less Zoom, quitting felt like I was taking all those years of experience and all those accomplishments and washing them down the drain.  It also left me with so many questions. Who am I now? Will staying at home leave me more fulfilled? Will my kids grow tired of my now ample presence? When will I return to work and what will I do? At the time, I didn’t fully understand why the choice to leave my job was so difficult, but it’s clear to me now. My career had defined my identity and sense of purpose.

I spent nearly two decades with this company, and for the most part, I loved it. The early days of my young adulthood were straight out of a movie. I was a Midwestern girl navigating the harsh reality of NYC as an intern, hustling my way up the corporate ladder while building my street-smarts and business savvy. My co-workers were like family, and I really loved the brand and the products I was representing (many of which I still use).  But at some point, I realized the company had changed, my role had changed, and frankly I had changed. After all, in just the last seven years of my employment, I had met and married my husband, gave birth to three kids, moved across the country, and bought a house. I also lost my Dad. I guess you could say my career was overdue for a correction. 

Eventually I quieted the noise in my head and took the leap.  I officially had a new title: Stay-At-Home Mom!  My goals were to focus on my family, build greater connections in our local community, and finally tackle some home renovations that kept getting pushed off.  I also hoped to rediscover my spark and zest for life!  I’ve spent the last two years soaking up this precious time with my rapidly growing kids (who are now 5, 5, and 7). I am so grateful that I can be part of their lives for the micro-moments that I was missing while at work – whether it be at preschool pick up when they seem to be chattiest or working on flash cards at home. That’s not to say being a Stay-At-Home mom is all rainbows and unicorns. I still feel overwhelmed, but by different things now – usually all the housework and the constant bickering between my children. Regular exercise has become a good friend and has done all kinds of wonderful things for my stress level and psyche. And while I still don’t have all the answers to my many uncertainties, I can definitely say I’ve made progress in knowing who I am and what I bring to the table.  I know now that I’m not a natural cook, housekeeper or home-organizer, but I am a great communicator. I love teaching & helping others. I love discovering new things and challenging myself. I’ve learned I get bored easily and need variety in my life.  I’ve also realized that I don’t want to hustle for anyone but myself anymore. These are valuable lessons that I only discovered when I pressed pause on the corporate track I was on. 

For the holidays this past year, Lilian gifted me with the memento she had been working on – it was an intricate patchwork quilt created from the branded t-shirts I accumulated over my career.  And while nearly two years had passed since I quit, it seems that was the perfect amount of time for me to reflect and recognize how meaningful this one-of-a-kind gift truly was. In this time, I reexamined what brings me joy and rediscovered the things that make me unique. I’m now at a point where I can see how the individual achievements and skills obtained in my old career can translate into something new. The quilt reminds me that I am more than a bunch of old scraps and that I can come together and do something great again. Sometimes life gets messy and uncertain before it starts to make sense, and that’s exactly what happened to me. Now I recognize, without doubt, that I’m right where I belong – snuggled up with my kids on the couch making new memories under my wonderful patchwork quilt.

Thank you, Lilian Vrabely, for thoughtfully crafting this quilt for me.  I will cherish it forever. 

Have you ever had a hard time making a big life change?  Comment below!  

Xoxo

Natalie

If you would like to hear more from Natalie, read her blog at fitnessfoodiestl.com and follow her @fitnessfoodiestl

 

 

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