As a successful career woman who rose to executive ranks at global for-profit and non-profit companies…
As a published award-winning author, writer, and creative content producer…
As a woman who finally found the perfectly imperfect love of her life (very late in life and without “settling”)…
I might appear as if I live a fabulous life. And in many ways, I do.
That doesn’t mean, however, that my journey’s been free from crazy, and in my case, it’s quite literal. Mental illness took root in my family tree with schizophrenia claiming both my mother and my sister and nearly sending me over the edge as I became their primary caregiver. Caregiving for loved ones who have a mental illness is hard enough. Keeping it secret from the outside world turns a challenging situation into the kind of tragedy we see way too often headlining the news.
Your brand of madness may or may not be related to a mental illness or to being a caregiver. For you, madness could have something to do with your work (a four-letter word), your love life (or lack thereof), your feelings of not being good enough (no matter how much you accomplish), or never being able to afford what you want (no matter how much you scrimp and save), or maybe…just maybe…you don’t even know what’s driving you mad. All you really know is that you’re far away from where you want to be, you’ve lost your joie de vivre, and you’ve given up on dreaming those dreams of what could be.
I get it. Because I’ve lived it. And have risen above it. So grab your goblet, fill it with your favorite Malbec, and take a sip of hope with these four ways to finding your fabulous, no matter the madness that surrounds you:
- LOVE WHAT IS
If you’ve never seen the 1980 comedy Oh, God!, you are missing out on a gem. The late George Burns plays the Almighty and explains this thing we call life: “You ever see a front without a back? A top without a bottom? An up without a down? There can’t be good without bad, life without death, pleasure without pain. That’s the way it is. If I take sad away, happy has to go with it.” So keep that in mind no matter what life is throwing your way. And make a point to LOVE WHAT IS. Yes. Even the stuff that hurts your heart or frustrates you to no end. LOVE IT. Why…? Because while you can’t control the cray-cray, you can control how you react to it. THAT is your CHOICE, and in that is your POWER.
- TAKE A WALK THROUGH MEMORY LANE
As humans, we tend to do a better job of recalling the less-than-happy moments of our past. But I challenge you to revisit what came before and everything that has made you who you are today. The bad and the good. Because when you do, you’ll realize that your fabulous isn’t that far away…you were there before so take some time to look back at old photos or what music or movies were popular a decade ago. Put yourself back to a time when you remember how much you loved bike rides or gardening or bubble baths. Let yourself feel your own moments of joy from the past, then take a baby step and do just one of them. Stay with those moments for even just a few minutes each day, and then increase those minutes daily. Here’s a free little workbook to help you revisit the things that made you feel fabulous and get you back on the path to wherever you really want (and deserve) to be.
- STOP “SHOULDING” ON YOURSELF
Social media is great for a lot of reasons. But it also can be toxic. How much time are you spending scrolling through your Facebook feed? How many times do you see others living their fabulous lives and wonder, “Why them and not me?” Social media can have us entertaining a lot of “shoulda, woulda, couldas” about our lives. What we need to remember is that what we’re seeing isn’t the full picture. It’s people’s “highlight reels” – you know, just like when you see coming attractions for a movie, you’re only being given the best clips. So stop “shoulding” on yourself. Give yourself a social media break. Go for a whole week without it, and I bet you’ll suddenly start feeling your own fabulous.
- LET YOUR INNER KID OUT TO PLAY
This past year has been a tough one for our mental health. The pandemic, politics, personal and professional issues: It’s no wonder so many people are experiencing less-than-fabulous feelings. I think we all can agree that adulting hasn’t been a whole lot of fun. So here’s an idea: Let your inner child out to play. Children are resilient. They can handle whatever’s thrown their way because most if not all of them live in the moment and feel every emotion. So do something every day that makes you feel like a kid. Want to eat chocolate cake for breakfast? Go ahead. Want to take your next ZOOM call wearing only a scarf around your neck, do it! Go ahead and be naughty. It’ll help you get your spark back I’m sure.
Bottom line is that it’s okay not to feel as fabulous as we deserve to. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by our circumstances. What’s not okay, however, is suffering in silence and thinking you’re alone. Mental health matters. You matter. So if you’re struggling, reach out. If you notice someone else who seems a bit discouraged, you reach out. If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all in this together. Your fabulous life is waiting for you. Go get it.
Paolina Milana is a marketing, PR, and media professional with journalistic roots. She’s the author of several books with her latest COMMITTED: A Memoir of Madness in the Family publishingMay 4 in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. An award-winning writer, Paolina uses storytelling techniques in her resilience and empowerment coaching to help people become the heroes of their own stories — reimagining their circumstances, rewriting their next chapters, and stepping into their power.