Did I lose my identity again?

Did I lose my identity again?

This past spring I fell into a depression. I had been trucking along and a couple small events completely derailed me. I won’t get into too much detail about those specific events, but it gave me a glimpse into the future, a road I was heading down. This was a huge wakeup call which has lead to some positive changes in my life.

First, I want to mention, and remind myself that personal growth is a lifelong journey. I will never be done. Actually, I feel like that is what a lot of my thirties have been about.

Growing.

This depression was hinged on the fact that I suddenly felt like my whole identity was tied up in my job, or more specifically, the industry I’m in and social media. My self worth was much too tied up in the noise that can surround telling my story through Nesting Story and it had to stop.

blogger

I slowed down, switched my focus to my family, work that was on my plate and babied myself for a few weeks.

Just as I began to pull myself out of the fog at the beginning of summer, our whole house got sick. So I rode it out. But I promised myself that I would slow down enough to enjoy summer, enjoy my family and create content for Nesting Story that I was really passionate about.

Yesterday I was one of four women who recorded a podcast together. Myself, along with three close friends in the industry discussed friendship. This almost two-hour raw and honest conversation forced me to not only self-reflect, but receive feedback from my dear friends. This feedback was surprisingly positive.

Isn’t it sad that I was surprised that they thought I was a good friend?

Since yesterday it has dawned on me, I, once again, despite promising myself I would never do this again, had lost my identity.

Nesting Story was born from a place of loneliness, isolation and a promise to myself that I would never lose my identity again. Something which I did during my first three weeks of motherhood.

creating a blog

I worked hard to not lose my identity when my twins were born, and I kept it in tact. But in the past couple years as Nesting Story has grown, I feel like I have lost my way.

Back when I switched Nesting Story over to a personal blog, and I sat at my small desk in the corner of my living room, poured my heart out in the evening to the handful of readers that I had, and buzz words like monetization, strategy, engagement, etc… never entered my mind.

corner desk

I just told my story.

A lot has changed since those days. My kids are older and my last two are beginning school. My little corner desk has turned into a large office space. Nesting Story has gained a lot of media attention. I have a team of three amazing women (and moms who I couldn’t live without) who work behind the scenes at Nesting Story. And Nesting Story has become a full-time career, providing an additional household income, taking a lot of weight off of Mike’s shoulders.

But through this amazing growth in my business, I lost who I was. Yes, I had   weekly date night with Mike, and I was secure as my identity as a wife and partner. Yes, I was constantly pouring love, time and attention into my kids, which made me know who I was as a mother.

But who was I? What was I doing for me? What did I like?

Everything else was tied up into my workaholic tendencies and I needed to go on a journey of self discovery. This realization isn’t new. The writing has been on the wall for a while… just check out the theme of my blog posts during the last year.

I am happy to announce that since writing those blog posts about finding joy, slowing down, self care and happiness, I have made some changes. Here are a few:

  • I’ve begun working out… for me, not a trip or an event. Just to feel good.
  • I’ve made sure our family is vacationing more, because I’ve realized I really like travelling with my crew.
  • I love playing Marco Polo. I know, this is an odd one. But for years when we’d go swimming at my parents’ house I’d just sit and watch our kids swim. But this summer you can find me with goggles and flippers on, swimming all around the pool. It’s so fun!
  • I love running with our dog Oliver. But, I don’t like long distance running. Two kilometres, three times a week is my sweet spot.
  • I love my friends. I have reprioritized my closest friendships and have been investing in those relationships more.

vacation with twins

You get the idea. I am finding me and it is wonderful.

When it comes to work and Nesting Story, I’m still here. In fact I am hoping this new zest for life will trickle into the content I create. I am being more selective about how much time I learning and strategizing and will be sinking more time into creating. I will be delegating more to my team so I can focus on storytelling.

But here’s the big one…

I am going to write like no one’s reading.

That might sound weird, but when I went from getting feedback from a few hundred people on one platform, to tens of thousands on multiple platforms, it messed with my head and made me hold back.

Actually I think the image of me playing Marco Polo is a perfect metaphor for what I want my life to feel like. I don’t care who’s watching, despite the fact that my kids think I look like an sickly Ninja Turtle with their googles on.

So here’s to a new chapter. An imperfect, authentic chapter full of self discovery about who I am at this stage in my life.

Joanna Venditti - Nesting Story

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I won’t let winter swallow me

What is the temperature where you live? Here, just outside of Toronto its the kind of cold that the air hurts your face. I barely venture outside, and even driving somewhere makes me groan. But I am refusing to let winter take me down with it.

Last week I wrote a post about how I was actually enjoying Christmas break. In fact the next day when I re-read it I annoyed myself. Because the next day I unravelled. Actually I unravelled the day after that too. I hit my wall, because doing multiple activities a day with my family left zero time for my introverted side to go into a quiet place and recharge. I was burnt out, peopled out and just done.

I didn’t cry though, which is a big improvement. I more just started stressing audibly about messes in our home and saying loudly, “I need school to start.”

Actually, random fact… I learned last week from my lovely husband that apparently I talk to myself… all the time. According to him I narrate my day. A habit I am assuming I picked up over the past couple years of working from home with kids in school and daycare.

So when Mike would yell, “pardon?” every five minutes from the other room and I had to yell back, “I wasn’t talking to you!” It didn’t help my fraying nerves.

Last year the winter won. I always start fighting seasonal depression each fall, but between having a bad case of strep throat in January of 2017 and immersing myself in the red hot political world of news, I fell into a black hole of despair. It took me a couple months and some big changes to pull myself out, but I finally did.

So by the end of the day on Saturday I had a choice to make. Was I going to let the winter swallow me like it did last year? No I wouldn’t allow it.

So what I am I doing about it? I am taking control. On Sunday I put my foot down and slowed down. I sent my family out of the house and enjoyed three hours of silence. I am still standing up for what works for me.

But the two biggest things of all…

I am hanging onto a routine while life is routine-less. That means setting my alarm for 6:45pm and doing our typical routine to get our twins to daycare, despite our big kids still being off for the holidays. And I am hanging onto my typical grocery shopping and meal planning routines.

I am being careful about what I watch and consume. Whether it’s a disturbing movie, the news, or even too much crappy food. I know that it is tempting to let it all in when you are mostly homebound, but I have finally learned that all of those things have a big impact on my mental state.

How do you feel this time of year? Is there a certain time of year that triggers you? Do you have any tips on how to beat the winter blues?

Here is a look back at some of our family’s summer routine  videos that I created for Baby Center. Maybe we can all take a little motivation from these routines.




Why I do what I do and the mistake I made when I became a mom

making cookies

For me, before becoming a mother, I thought motherhood was my end game. In fact for the first few years after becoming a mom, I gave up my identity thinking that is what a great mother does.

Instead that made me miserable, resentful and dull.

I realized that being a great mom meant finding my own path and still having my own identity, so that I am happy and joy-filled, which spills over to my kids and husband who I love fiercely.

Years later I made myself a promise as I lay on our couch, growing two babies inside of me, feeling my identity slip away once again…

twin pregnancy

I would live life fearlessly and share my journey with others.

My hope is that my family can connect with moms who are trying to find themselves again, who wonder if it’s okay if she takes her own path. Moms who are finding their journey very different and a little more terrifying than they anticipated. Parents who are lonely and just want to feel a little more normal. Moms who are lying on their sofas, growing life inside them, not knowing what is about to come.

I am so excited that I am now sharing my journey on Baby Center’s YouTube channel as well. Check out our first video and don’t forget to subscribe to Baby Center and hit the notification button so that you don’t miss a video!

A Day In The Life 6 (Video) – How I Learned The Hard Way That Self Care Is So Important

four kids

On this particular day I am shocked when I not only write a to-do list, but the day goes as planned and I am actually able to tackle everything on my list.

The three girls play so well, but I notice Holden is feeling a little left out, so I brainstorm ways I can include Holden.

While taking care of myself, (which was on my to-do list), I talk about how I learned the hard way that self care is so important, especially after I became a mother.

Welcome to our day…

Don’t forget to subscribe to Nesting Story on YouTube so that you don’t miss a video!

The Emotional Rollercoaster That Accompanies A Multiples Pregnancy And How To Survive It

B & W 2Finding out I was pregnant with twins was almost exhilarating. Hearing the words, “we see two sacs, you are having twins” was an out of body moment for me. A smile immediately planted itself on my face for the next three days. I was giddy that after two kids, then a year of infertility, including two early miscarriages, we were expecting twins! Then we started telling people…Edit 2Although I received a lot of excited congratulatory hugs, it was very different than when we announced my previous pregnancies. There was an element of shock. People had to take a couple of days to let it sink in. I also heard a lot of “I’m glad it’s you and not me” or “I’m so sorry”. Those comments left me baffled.

The news spread like fire before my first trimester was over. Well meaning people were requesting to be my friend on Facebook and suddenly showing an interest in me. People were curious.

As the weeks went by the excitement settled.  I was feeling very sick and extremely exhausted.  It was like an alien life-form was sucking out all of my resources.  Because I started to get intense Braxton Hicks contractions around the 18 week mark, I wasn’t able to do much.  I became really isolated and started to feel depressed.  I still had two older children to care for and although I was getting some help from family members, it was a daunting task.

I would sob to my husband, Mike.  I didn’t know how I was going to make it.  By late in my second trimester I was already enormous.  My hips were in so much pain all of the time.  As I lay there day after day, I would wish I could turn back time and not have gotten pregnant.  It sounds horrible but that is how terrible I felt.IMG_0507Although many of my friends were pregnant (with singletons), I felt an extreme loneliness.  I would look around at my beaming girlfriends with their average sized bumps still able to live a fairly normal life.  I felt like I was frozen in time.  Everyone was living around me.  I was a prisoner in my own body only to venture out to multiple doctors appointments each week.

Every time I would have an ultrasound or non-stress-test done, I felt like my body was this science experiment and I was the bystander.

By the time the end drew near I was starting to feel hopeful again.  By this point I had spent A LOT of time just being with my girls.  Feeling their kicks and fists poking my tummy.  Everyday felt like a massive accomplishment and by the time d-day arrived and was way more excited than nervous.

How To Mentally Cope With A Multiples Pregnancy

When you are carrying multiples there is this expectation from people around you that you are going to going in labor early. Some women do, but I kept going past everyone’s expectations. It kind of messes with your head when you are around the 30 week mark and people act as if you are going to deliver any day.

Keep your eye on the prize. Focus on what you are doing. Have someone else go through the development of your babies with you out loud so you can remember how far you have gotten.  I would call my mom and we would discuss how far the babies have developed and the milestones I had passed.

Make smaller goals. Start with 24 weeks, then 27, 30, 33 and so on. Although it seems so far away, the day will come and it will be magical.

Have a friend join you at your appointments. I only started doing this near the very end of my pregnancy because I wasn’t able to drive anymore. Have someone there to keep you company and laugh with you makes the experience much more enjoyable and a little less scary.

Join an online multiples group. This is also something I didn’t do until the end of my pregnancy and I wish I had done it so much earlier. Find a Facebook group of moms to be who are expecting around the same time as you. Chances are these ladies will be your life line.

Get cheerleaders. Make it clear to your family, friends and spouse that what you need are cheerleaders telling you “you’ve got this”. I don’t think people realize how frustrating (and unoriginal) it is to hear “you’re going to have your hands full.”

Hang in there.  Because the prize is so sweet and you will always look back at your multiples pregnancy as one of the most incredible accomplishments of your life!

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