A Look Back at 2021

I thought I was going to open this document to prompts, possibly some fill-in the blanks, but all it says at the top is: Blog: A Look Back at This Year with SAP”. Well, I’m SAP. So here we go. 

It was a year. Some high-highs. Some low-lows. Personally and professionally. Is that ok to say? I always wonder what crosses the line between helpful and authentic and over-sharing or attention-seeking. I follow a few women on Instagram who I was originally attracted to because of their “real”ness in balancing work/mom (especially single mom) life but now it feels like a performance. I’ll steer away from that territory, but I don’t see the point in looking back and coloring the picture in a way that makes it rosier that how things played out in real time. What I know now, however, is that everything IS rosier after the fact, in that reflecting casts a meaning on the situation that you can’t see while you’re going through it. Lessons are learned, progress is made… no matter how difficult the lesson or small the progress. 

Where to start? I’m traveling right now. I took my boys to Dallas after Christmas. It was the first “vacation” we have gone on since 2019. (For anyone unaware, and I won’t go into detail, that was the year I was pushed to a breaking point and realized my marriage had to end.) The boys and I have spent months on the ranch over the last two years (thank you, Covid) but this was our first official trip as a family of four. It was heaven. I’m now at the ranch as we head back north to Kansas City and luckily, I packed my planner, so that’s where I’ll start. 

Here’s what I did this year.

hmm… according to my planner… I did everything. 

Here’s an actual day from January 2021 (details omitted).

5:30am: Morning Routine

6:30am-8am: Kids/Breakfast/School Dropoff

9am: Workout

9:50am: Coffee (Friend)

10:30am: Call (Potential Partnership)

11:30am: KCGA (I have no idea what this is so leaving it “detailed”)

12pm-12:45pm: Meeting (Potential Developer)

1pm: Meet (Potential Retail Partner)

2pm: Call (Controller and Accountant)

2:30pm-3:45pm: Strategy Work

4pm: Meet (Potential Investor)

5pm: Cocktails (Friends)

6pm: Dinner (Crockpot) 

7:30pm: Bath/Bed

8:30pm: Unwind/Prep next Day

Umm… am I insane? (Note, this doesn’t include the 20 item To-Do list – kids’ dentist appointments, research pilates, create operations manuals – that accompanies the actual schedule.)

I love everything in that day. But there is zero reason it all should have co-existed in the same day. My brain is usually done with high level thinking by 2pm. But I have my strategy work after that? I’m literally laughing at myself. But also so proud… because it shows how far I’ve come. 

I went from trying to do it all… at once, apparently… to somehow having made actual progress by letting things flow and unfold as they were supposed to.

Here’s a look at what flowed while I was busy packing my days. 

I started the year in heartbreak. L-O-L at myself when I think back on who it was over. Now he’s back… As Tinx says – they always come back, ladies… and yeah, you can leave again, byyyye. But at the time, I was extremely down in the dumps. My ex had my boys, so I spent the days leading up to New Years and a few days after in a massive self-work session. I started journaling (and am ending the year with 8 notebooks complete), I made a vision board, I worked on my business. 

I moved. I settled my little family of four into the perfect little house. The space feels fitting and gratuitous all at once. We can walk to school. We walk to the village for groceries and out to dinner. We’re close to parks, and friends, and it’s truly a little piece of heaven. 

I fell in lust (again). Thank you, Bumble. And I started going to Dallas. When I was in Dallas, I sensed a new energy around afloat. I had conversations with passionate founders, with friends, with people I used to work with, with stores… and I couldn’t stop thinking about how this felt like such a good place to grow the business. The guy left, but a large piece of my heart stayed in Texas.

I pivoted afloat. It was hard, it was painful, and it was occasionally messy and embarrassing. I knew in my heart and my soul, from the first time three of us sat around a table and said “what if we added in local businesses so users can send gifts to each other” that THAT was afloat. And we wouldn’t have gotten there without starting how we started, when we started. It’s actually less of a pivot than a continuous evolution of our mission, and truly does bring back the authenticity of why I started afloat in the first place… but it was still hard. I had never done anything like this before. I would have to raise more money. I would have to build a new product. I would have to have build a team because I couldn’t do it all. I would have to shift my momentum and perception.

But it brought me to my favorite part of 2021. The people. I’m a people person, by nature, and this year, I think I fit in more people than some do in a lifetime. I talked to users. I talked to our stores. I talked to friends, family, strangers, investors… I learned something every time I opened my ears. I learned how much we could do for people. I became obsessed and alive with the possibilities in front of us. And I knew “us” needed to grow. I found a team. Or they found me. I’m still not sure how it happened, all I know is that we sat around a table one night this fall and everyone began reflecting on how afloat found them, at the right time in their life, and what it meant to them. I cried the whole way home, in disbelief that we have the opportunity to work together and bring something so powerful and amazing into the world. And we continue to grow. The passion, talent, and power that this group of women has is unbelievable. 

What else did I do… I supported friends, I celebrated them. I learned how to live and single-mom on my own (post-Covid/living with parents while my house was under construction). I paid my taxes for the first time. I did Pilates for a few months. I decided Pilates is not for me. I signed my kids up for activities that make them light up (basketball, horseback riding). I cooked a bomb Thanksgiving dinner. I had my energy cleansed and worked on my subconscious programming (BIG TIME). I got Botox. 

So with those big buckets of experiences, that had the high-highs and the low-lows…

Here’s what I learned.

This is literally a note to self, and I hope it can help someone else too. 

  1. It’s the people that matter. Period. Hard stop. 
  2. Always keep going. It will be hard.
  3. Trust yourself. This was a big personal challenge for me.
  4. Release things, habits, and people that don’t serve you NOW. 
  5. Stop trying to make everything make sense in the moment and breathe. 

Now. No one asked for this next piece. And maybe my team will omit it in edits.

But here’s what I want to work toward in 2022.

1) Protecting my time, my space, and my energy like never before. 

2) Letting go of expectations. I want to be able to freely choose what is right for me, my family, and my business, without worrying what other people think. I have wasted a lot of time in decision paralysis, usually driven by how I thought my decision would be perceived. No more! (She declares boldly, with a pit in her stomach… ha!)

3) Breathing. Soaking in every second, appreciating it, and letting it go or letting it expand. 

I’ll break all of these into OKR’s and then smaller, daily attainable boxes to check. But those are my conceptual goals.

In 2021, I kept myself social, my body active, and my kids happy and healthy. (Save for one two week family quarantine stint this fall.) Honestly, I’m so proud of myself, what I went through, what I learned, what I’m bringing forward, and can say confidently that this was my best year yet. I wanted so much.  I fought so hard. I learned to appreciate, accept, and cultivate my life and experiences in a completely new way. The person I was starting 2021 has transformed. This end-of-year me has challenges, but they’re new. They’re the next phase. I can’t wait to dive in.

Oh? And afloat? We’re just getting started. I feel so empowered and grateful to bring something to life, with my unstoppable team, that reinforces the value and importance of relationships, and makes it easier for people to celebrate and support their people. The real stuff, the good stuff, what really matters. Here we go.