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Last week as I sorted out school supplies, washed uniforms, labeled folders and wrapped my head around double lunch preparations, I stopped myself in the middle of doing so simply to take in the moment. Both kids were running around laughing. As the sound of laughter filled the house, I was suddenly jolted back to when they were babies.

I still remember vividly the day I sent everyone off to the CMA awards while I stayed back to manage a 1 year old and a newborn. As I was feeding the baby, my son fell and cut his lip. I looked back and forth – one on the floor bleeding, the other on my boob feeding. I quickly assessed the situation and got up and yelled, “blood trumps hunger” over and over again, even though there was nobody around who could help. And just like that, I managed to maneuver through a situation I had never been in before.

The years provided many of those moments. And while those days certainly weren’t easy, I wouldn’t change them for the world. There was a lot of struggle, but there was also a lot of growth.

People tell you once you have children, “it goes by fast, so be sure to enjoy every moment.”

My youngest starting school seems to be one of those emotional milestones that left me feeling a bit nostalgic, realizing just how quickly time truly does pass us by.

I was talking with a friend of mine as I was struggling through some of those emotions. As I dropped both the children off and came home to an empty house, I realized it was the first time since arriving to Australia that I am getting a chance to simply breathe a little.

To say it has been a crazy ride in the last 10 months would be an understatement.

But change doesn’t come without struggle. Life doesn’t come without struggle.

We all struggle.

And sometimes that struggle is being willing to admit that. But because of our own perceptions or for fear of being judged, we don’t allow ourselves to go there.

Well, I am going there. I am struggling. And I was very honest about that struggle throughout the duration of the conversation with my girlfriend, wishing it was face to face and with a glass of wine in hand. But instead of getting caught up in the logistics of living across the globe from one another, we lean in and simply make it work.

And that is one of the greatest lessons I have learned in my own life about opening myself up during times of struggles – when you allow the people who love you and care for you in, you give them the opportunity to love you through that struggle. To do life together – no matter what the circumstances – in our case, distance.

But vulnerability is easier for some more so than others. When some of us hurt, we close ourselves off from the world, from those who love us. While others learn to lean on the people who care.

I read a quote recently from Brene’ Brown, “vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” I sat with it for a moment as it resonated with me, particularly because there was a time when I thought I had to hold everything close to the vest. But when I learned to let go of that and allowed others in, my entire life and my entire perspective changed.

It certainly didn’t eliminate the struggles, but I no longer felt alone in them. I knew that my tribe had my back through thick and thin.

Months ago, when we made our way to Australia, the thrill of anticipation and a new adventure was at the forefront of everything. Now, the thrills have been replaced by the reality that I left everything that once made up my life. Including those people.

But when you find yourself with nothing that resembles your previous life, you have two choices. To crumble into darkness or accept the challenge and rise to the occasion. The same can be said about any struggle in life.

The reality is that there will always be peaks and valleys. Moments of bliss where you feel on top of the world, followed by a devastating plummet into the pits. How you choose to handle those moments will define your character and pave the way for your life.

What I realized, sitting in a quiet home for the first time in 7 years, is that the much-needed silence brought on my first official “oh shit” moment since packing everything up and heading across the globe.

For the first time in 41 years, I am trying to figure out where I fit. Every single thing about my life changed this year. Everything.

So now what? Do I cry about it? Sure, on occasion. Do I wallow and become a victim? Hell no! I embrace every single opportunity to learn about myself, to meet new people, to create a new life – after all, wasn’t that the point?

Am I going to stumble? Yes. Is there going to be struggle? Absolutely!

But just because you have those moments, doesn’t mean you made a mistake. Every decision leads you to exactly where you are supposed to be.

The moment you accept the struggles, you open yourself up to a new life – be it halfway across the world or exactly where you’ve been for years – you change the framework and realize struggle is an opportunity for growth.

So many of us are going through life, simply doing the best we can. Everyone has something they struggle with that they bring into their relationships, their careers, their everyday interactions. But, we don’t need to allow those struggles to consume us and take over. And it certainly doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

Struggle has helped me learn to focus on the important things. It has taught me to stop looking toward what the future may look like and focus on the day to day. It has taught me to embrace the small moments, to celebrate the little things and to find laughter along the way.

For fuck’s sake, laugh a little!! It’s good for the soul.

This week, let’s all challenge ourselves to embrace our own struggles and talk to someone about them – a friend, a family member, a colleague. Allow yourself to be open, to be vulnerable, to laugh. Let them hear you. Let them understand you. You never know when you might be the one standing on top of the world and someone else will look to you for strength to help pull them out of their valley.

Cheers to a new week and not letting the moments of life pass you by!

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