Fuel Your Fire

It’s no secret that the pandemic has turned people’s lives upside down around the world, but I wanted to share how it inadvertently helped me reconnect to what I love to do.

Pre-pandemic, fall of 2019: I was living in upstate New York with none of my family nearby, and recently out of a bad relationship. I had a crazy schedule in a chaotic work environment where I was constantly running around like a chicken without a head. I had no time for anything else. You know how it is, we make excuses; telling ourselves life just gets in the way. The problem was I wasn’t actually living life, I was simply going through the motions. I kept promising myself that I would make time to do what I love, but things never seemed to go according to plan. I promised myself over and over, but those promises were always so easily broken. I envied my father, mother, brother, cousins, and anyone else posting or sending hunting and fishing pictures. Then I’d spend more time and energy ridiculing myself for not making the time. The cycle was vicious and downright depressing. In 2019 I hunted a total of 4 times, and that in itself just ate at me to no end. If I’m being honest, it still kinda does. This wasn’t the “me” I was familiar with.

Fast forward to March 2020. I was cut down to part time, and now working remotely. I decided to move back to Western Mass, for what I assumed would be a temporary period of time. I wanted to be with my family amidst everything that was happening in the world. There was just so much uncertainty. It was terrifying.

As the end of April rolled around and I had settled into a “new normal” I was determined to get out and hunt for turkeys. I was working from home, I had the time, and hell I was doing it. Opening day we hunted in the snow & sleet, a first for me during turkey season. As I sat there freezing my butt off I had I guess what you would call an epiphany. I realized that nothing mattered more than reconnecting with myself and, more importantly, with what I love to do. These sports have been a part of my life since I was born, and I wasn’t about to have them be turned into things I “used to do”. I became determined to make my “me time” a priority, even if at this point I didn’t know how. I looked deeper, at every aspect of my life. There were too many things in my life that simply didn’t make me happy, and I was the only one who could change it.

I turkey hunted, unsuccessfully, for 3 weeks straight. The fact that I was unsuccessful was completely irrelevant. Sitting in the woods, starting every morning with nothing in front of me but darkness, I started to see a glimmer of myself again. The me I was proud of when I looked into the mirror slowly stepped out from the shadows. Had it not been for the pandemic forcing me back to my roots, I would have continued on in my routine: unhappy, unfulfilled, and frustrated. Constantly breaking the promises I kept making to myself. It just wasn’t enough. As I started acting on the decision to make time for myself, everything started to fall back into place.

Don’t be fooled, this was no easy process. I never could have imagined how difficult it would be and I am still far from the finish line. I’m not even sure that there is a finish line, because I find myself constantly wanting to try new things, striving to learn more, and always evolving in an ever changing world. The hardest part for me getting this ball rolling was admitting to myself that I had lost my way, because that has never been who I am. For a long time, it was easier just to avoid this realization altogether and keep going around, stuck in my rut. But what good was being in that rut doing me? I was stressed, depressed, and flat out unhappy.

I started doing more of everything I love, and less of anything I didn’t. Fishing, hunting,reading, writing, shooting, making dinner with my family; anything that fueled my fire. Once that fire was rekindled, I made a vow to myself. I will never let this fire come close to burning out ever again. I will never look at myself in the mirror and question the woman staring back at me. I started forcing myself to slow down, take a breath, and make myself a priority. Taking the time to really appreciate everything in my life with a new perspective.

I am amazed at the effect that this has all had on my life in just one short year. All the confidence I thought I had lost has come rushing back. I decided to stay in Western Mass. I took the time to find a workplace where I am appreciated, respected, and valued as an employee and now I love my job, and my boss. I love being back amongst my family, as much as they drive me crazy from time to time. I love how easy it is to keep my fire burning by simply doing what I am passionate about. Once I reached this place with myself, my relationships with those around me became deeper and more meaningful. My life became much more vibrant.

Do whatever it is that fuels your fire. Don’t wait for something as drastic as a pandemic to realize you’re in a rut and that you need to make time for yourself. Do what makes you happy, and do it now. Read that sentence again.

Do what makes you happy, and do it NOW.

Life is too short to keep making excuses. Shine bright and be confident. Don’t wait until all you have are broken promises to yourself. Start today. Trust me, it’s worth any growing pains you’ll experience to rekindle your fire. You’ll build it so big, so quickly, that nothing will ever be able to put it out.

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