Blogging in the pandemic saved my life

Career Slay Mama turns TWO this Mother's Day weekend and I am reflecting on what CSM has been to me over the past two years!

It is hard to imagine that we are going on year THREE of the pandemic. A lot has changed in the past two years and we can expect that more changes are going to be forthcoming. I have shared before that before the pandemic, I had my own personal "lockdown". Following a concussion which led me to be off work for a year (2019). I had to leave a job I loved mid-project and off on medical leave which I thought was going to be for a month but that ended up for a year.

That year was the reset I didn't know I needed. Although I went into it kicking and screaming, it was the first time I took time off in 10 years - literally. When I was 30, I went into a PhD program, met my husband or shall I say re-connected with him just before turning 31, we got married a couple of weeks after I turned 32; became a mother at 33; put my PhD on hold at 34; got pregnant with twins at 35; decided it was now or never finishing my PhD before the twins arrived; submitted my thesis 5 days before the twins were born; became a twin mom and mom of 3 under 3 at 36; made the biggest move of our lives with hubby with no jobs and 3 kids during my mat leave; got a contract at 37; had a permanent job at 38; got two key promotions at 38; and got into the accident less than a month after turning 39 with 2.5 year old twins and a 4 year old; As you an see - this was a BUSY 10 years and I hadn't had the time to stop and reflect.

During that time though, I got so resentful and angry about my role as a mother. While I was able to get off work, I was still a full-time mom and still had to care for my littles who were at an age where caregiving is very intense. Moms of toddlers - I see you! The intensity of watching them like a hawk and making sure they don't injure themselves while also allowing them to discover the new world that is opening up for them is a tough balance to navigate when you're whole let alone when you are managing concussion and back pain symptoms.

I began my gradual return to work in December 2019 and at this point, little did we know what 2020 held in front of us. By March 2020, I was pretty much back to full time hours. One thing though was a snag - I was able to handle the work well BUT the commuting, the fighting to put 2 kids into the car, the traffic and anticipation of the end of day melt down, the expectations to perform at work like you don't have kids and perform at home like you don't have a job was too much. And although I had wanted to so badly to go back to work, I was failing miserably.

I remember that day when we went to work physically for the last time. It was March 15, 2022. Quebec had already announced that schools would be closed and Ontario spring break was looming. We joked with colleagues, about maybe seeing each other at work on Monday. We went to church and some people were aware of the imminent shut down while others hadn't fully internalized what was about to happen.

Then the pandemic happened.

Those early days of trying to keep 3 littles entertained while also joining MS Teams calls. Managers trying to navigate leading a team remotely for the first time.

During my concussion recovery period, my physiotherapist asked me what I liked to and what my hobbys were. I couldn't answer that question because I hadn't had a hobby in 10 years. I had lost myself into school and marriage and motherhood and I didn't even know what made me happy. I started to reflect on how lost I felt. I deeply missed the person who I was before kids, before marriage. Dont get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my kids and they are a great blessing to me. And of course my life partner my dear hubs. That being said, I was DRAINED

I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. I was BURNT out. And for me as a black woman, leaning into my weakness was not something that I did neither was it permitted, neither by me nor by society. I was so used to just taking it on and taking it on and taking it on - it felt strange to say I couldn't take any more on. I thought meeting everyone's needs before my own was noble so I helped everyone except myself and it was killing me softly internally. As I began to dig deep and ask myself questions: who is Brenda? What does Brenda like? What makes Brenda happy? I realized that I had put myself last for far too long and that I needed to put on my oxygen mask FIRST.

Around this time, I decided to revisit the idea of doing a blog. I did muse to myself on how privileged I was to start a blog during a pandemic. But this blog saved my life. I had blogged about my masters to PhD journey and dropped that when life got busy. I had always given career advice to friends and family and folks in my circle would send people my way. I reflected on the name: I wanted something edgy and catchy and I wanted it to cover the 3 things that were most important to me: FAITH, CAREER & MOTHERHOOD.

This was the creative outlet I didn't know I needed.

Sharing my thoughts weekly became a catharsis, a healing process. Elevating what I was sharing and having photoshoots for the blog felt so selfish and I battled with a lot of mom guilt but I did it anyway because it felt good.

I met so many like-minded bloggers on Instagram and Facebook - they were the creative community I didn't know I needed. I decided to elevate the blog into a business. I am very risk averse and so this whole journey has been so challenging to navigate: BUT I have done it anyways. This was hard because I am not from an entrepreneurial background and I didn't like feeling salesy. One of the greatest lessons I learned from blogging is to START ANYWAY and to FAIL FORWARD. I have also learned that you can only go so far by mimicking and copying others with similar platforms: at some point, you have to dive into it yourself and find your unique voice and what value you bring to your audience from a place of authenticity, honesty, empathy and love.

During this past two years, I have poured into me sometimes neglecting family. My husband has been my number one supporter and he's picked up alot of additional responsibilities at home to allow me to do do what I needed: because that is what I needed in this season!

Two years on, I have a renewed focus for Career Slay Mama. While I was mostly focussed on pouring into you through me, I am ready to grow this into a community where we encourage one another and help each other to be the BEST version of ourselves, for ourselves first and foremost and then for our families. Sometimes this will look like solitude, sometimes it will look like a bubblebath, sometimes it will look like putting those we care about first. I am going to share more of my lifestyle as a career mom juggling work, family, selfceare and community with hopes of encouraging you that it is possible but also that we sometimes fail and that's ok. I am in a very different season of parenthood compared to where I was at when the pandemic started. The twins are six and I have an almost 9 year old. It is a lot less demanding physical (although alot more demanding emotionally). This is allowing me a new and different flexibility that I didn't have a little over two years ago.

I am also going to be teasing out the some elements from the blog. I am SOOOO EXCITED about this. I am coming back to the parts of blogging that I initially loved and also focus on building a business with a long term vision.

I want you to come along with me on this journey so we can grow together. If you haven't subscribed yet please join the Career Slay Mama tribe and let us grow and SLAY together.

Happy Mother's Day and happy two years to CSM 🎂!

How about you? What have you learned through the pandemic and what has helped you remain resilient?