When I see or meet someone who is out there killing it, I just have to know more. Katie is a new friend of mine, and after hearing her story of fear and isolation transform to one of happiness and strength, I really wanted her to share her story. At some point in our lives, haven’t we all felt like we are on an island or at least happy enough? Katie made some really bold decisions to fill in some cracks in her life, and she is happier and healthier than ever! Read her story and see if any of those things you’ve got on the back-burner start to tug at your heart. This may be YOUR Year of Yes!
Getting out of my comfort zone began as a very selfish act. You know those personality tests you can take that identify you as either an introvert or an extrovert? No matter how many I take, I always am right in the middle. For those people who know me, it seems laughable. I’m very outgoing- I like people and can talk like it’s my job. But, the thing is, my energy is actually filled with being alone, or spending quiet time with those who I’m closest to; my immediate family.
When I began my journey, I lived a comfortable and happy life. My amazingly supportive husband Dan and I had three healthy, funny kids Declan (4) Cecilia (2) and Sean (1) and a couple of dogs and a cat that brought me great joy. I worked as a part-time teacher doing something I loved. Sure, Dan worked long hours (sometimes more than 12 a day), 6 days a week, but I was home with the kids. To me, this was a gift. Life was good. Still, I was stuck. One day, the need to confess my feelings overwhelmed me. I told my older brother, Joey. There was guilt in even articulating my emotions because I knew how blessed I was. My head was hung in shame- I couldn’t meet his eyes. Joey gave me the greatest gift: empathy and understanding. “Katie, of course, you feel this way. You’re on an island.” It was as if the world switched from black and white to color. That was it! I was isolated (by my own choosing) and comfortable. I wish I took this amazing new information and ran with it. I did not. Sure, I joined a mommy group and tried to chat with more people at school. But there was difficulty connecting with people. I had trouble leaving my little island…. Everything we needed was at our fingertips. Workouts were at home, we played in our backyard, or walked to our beach for fresh air, all the while texting my friends when I wanted to “talk” to someone. My island was comfortable.
Sure, it was lonely, but it was safe, secure and “happy enough.” Looking back, there wasn’t much that could have changed my path, because the facts were that I was “happy enough.” You know the feeling, you were “happy enough” before you met your significant other…and then love opened your heart to the world. You were “happy enough” before the kids came along, and then these little buggers enter your life and your heart breaks with joy. “Happy enough” is just about perfect…until something is missing. My life felt more complete once I found Dan, and even more full after our kids. But something very, very important was lost in my role as a mother; me. Life kept me busy being a caretaker, an entertainer, a chef, and housekeeper, but I was suffocating. Something had to be done just for me where I could be myself, just plain ole’ boring Katie.
A friend was having some pretty great success with a network marketing company and I watched her grow both personally and financially for about 6 months before reaching out to her. She was so much happier, and the money seemed great too. Who doesn’t need a little extra money, right? This was it- the big leap out of my little island. That first step was BIG but I said yes, and was all in. So getting out of my comfort zone began as a very selfish act. In order to make money, to reach people, there had to be posts on social media. I needed to ask people to come to a party and to support me. It doesn’t seem like much, but I tend to hold on to any vulnerability tightly. Sure, I loved the products and knew they would too, but I was hesitant. This was all so new and uncomfortable. But I did it. And it felt good.
Success came quickly. It was easy to share something that you loved and believe in. Plus, helping people set and reach goals filled my bucket. And the side effect of the job was that old friendships were rekindled, and new friends were made. There was a team! There were parties!! It was FUN. It was shocking that THIS was my passion. But, then my friend told me to “expand my network.” I needed to start meeting new people. Gulp. My new comfort zone grew slowly. First, I started making eye contact with the cashiers at Target. I chatted with the Baristas at Starbucks. I asked waitresses how their days were. These silly, simple acts started because I wanted to expand my network. They became habits and opened my life to new friendships. I started chatting with other parents at the library, park, pool, or splash pad. (Just going was an accomplishment!) And then the BIGGEST, SCARIEST thing happened. Late in 2015, an acquaintance asked if I’d be interested in going to one boxing class with her. A boxing class? For someone uncoordinated, not in the best of shape, and afraid of strangers? Just one of those reasons would have stopped me in my tracks a mere three months prior. But I was committed to making the business work and needed to expand my market, so took the leap. Looking back now, it was a series a “yeses” that changed the direction of my life. This particular “yes” was pivotal. So I went. You know what? Boxing was amazing. The rush of hitting a bag, the frustrations of the day evaporating with every burpee, and gasping for breath appealed to the athlete in me. I continued going to the gym for 6 months before the trainer moved to Florida. In that 6 months, my mental and physical toughness and strength grew. It was all because of a single “yes” and leaving my comfort zone. (Customers and new teammates also joined me on my adventure, which was an added bonus.) It hit me, the more I said “yes” the more my world would open up, and the more joy I’d find. I made 2016 my Year of YES (YoY). I vowed to keep my mind and heart open to trying everything and anything.In April, at my local gym, I met a tough, cheerful “rah-rah girl” who taught a hard HIIT class. Spoiler alert: it was Cassie. Shortly after we met and connected, she asked if I’d ever be interested in working out with her- and since it was YoY, I agreed. This was the beginning of a very special friendship but it also catapulted me into my newest adventure- becoming a Group Fitness Instructor. I had toyed with the idea for years. As a teacher and coach who loved fitness, it made sense. But I was terrified to have to lead classes. Cassie patiently listened to my concerns, reassured me and then walked me through the steps to take to become certified. Her quiet confidence, energy, and light were needed. Here was an enigmatic woman with a beautiful baby and a husband (who also worked long hours) not sitting on her own little island. Cassie was out there living, enjoying and sharing her passions with the world. There’s no doubt about it, we were destined to meet.
In my YoY, I earned my Group Fitness Instructor certificate, ran several races including a mud run, adopted 2 cats, joined Bible Study, promoted in my company, starting teaching fitness classes and devoured any scary not- comfortable object that stood in my path. I made more friends in 2016 than in the previous 5 years combined. I kept my kids alive and was present with them, went on dates with my husband, and am healthier, stronger and in better shape than ever. I laughed more, found treasured friendships, renewed old friendships, and am more appreciative of the of the gifts we have. The amount of spiritual, financial, and personal growth that happened in a year and a half astounds me. I found myself again. I’m a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. All because I took a chance on myself by leaving my comfort zone and saying “yes.”
Today I write this as a woman in the middle of an amazing emotional, personal physical and spiritual transformation. My eyes may have rolled a bit when my enroller told me that working in the network marketing business would change my life. But it did. It was exactly the catalyst I needed for change. Change to get off the island of isolation. Change to find my passion. To become part of a team. To grow as a person. To bring an unexpected income to our household finances. To increase our savings. To help people change their lives. To lead. Change to become better at all my many roles. I suppose the moral of my story is to step out of your comfort zone. Say “yes” to new opportunities and adventures. And for goodness sake, whatever you do, remember to embrace the feeling of discomfort, enjoy the adventure, and worry about the small details later.
Follow Katie’s fun family adventures and wellness business at:
Facebook: @Katie Tilton
What do you feel challenged to say yes to this year?