Reflecting on 2012 and why I don’t want to be superwoman in 2013

Lola Akinmade Akerstrom - Nice, France
This dizziness was different. Different because it didn’t stop even when I was lying down. The gorgeously decorated five-star hotel room with its blend of antique and modern details kept spinning and morphing into one swirl of color.

Piercing my barely-there thoughts were my daughter’s shrill screams. She wasn’t hungry. She didn’t have a dirty diaper. She just knew that mommy wasn’t completely there. Mommy was dehydrated, exhausted, stressed, wasn’t eating properly, was no longer in tune with her body, and hadn’t been saying “No” as much as she needed to.

Except mommy didn’t realize this herself or was in denial. Either way, that spiraling dizziness scared me deeply. That mental loss of control, of not being able to physically snap out of it, is something I never want to experience again if within my power.

I prayed my daughter’s screams remained as strong and piercing. It reminded me that I was still there, alive, and subconsciously present. My fear was that if that screaming got lighter and fainter, then I would have knowingly failed her as a mother.  Fortunately and gratefully, my friend Germaine was traveling with us and nursed me back to health.

Unfortunately, this happened at one of the best conferences I’ve attended in awhile. One which I still haven’t written about and given the due shout-out it deserves, and which I promise to write about within the next few posts.

Going back a couple weeks leading up to Genova, I’d been traveling back to back and working on impossibly tight deadlines in between. This is normally my speed, except I was also dragging my still breastfeeding baby along on trips without realizing how much slower I needed to move and how much more hydrated I needed to keep myself.

So by the time I got to Italy, my body metaphorically slapped me down, yelling “ENOUGH!” in the process. “ENOUGH! You’re not superwoman!”

You see, one of my weaknesses is this constant overbearing need to “produce”. To stay productive. To create. To work. To do something. Because I am my biggest competition, I’m always trying to see how much more I can do. How much more I can produce without keeling over.

This worked when I was single and childless. This doesn’t work when one is married with a newly minted infant. Yes, there are superwomen out there who seem to handle family, marriage, career, and everything with supernatural ease. Who seem to have mastered time management, and on the surface, seem to have all the answers.

Since I’m not privy to what truly goes on behind their own scenes – maybe strained marriages, sleepless nights, unbelievable fatigue, undue pressure to always stay relevant, I have no idea –  I’d rather leave being superhuman to others.

Because even though some friends and acquaintances have used “superwoman” in congratulatory and inspiring terms with regards to the work I do (and I vice versa), that word denotes a certain effortlessness and ease with life that just isn’t 100% true. I’m blessed with a loving and supportive spouse that lets me flourish fully. Yes, there are some core talents that come easier than others, but overall, everything I do and personally achieve is only through grace.

God’s grace.

So 2013 is my year of working way smarter, not harder. There’s no need for me to strive to be superhuman.

Looking ahead

2012 was a year of blessings and significant growth in many areas of my life starting with the birth of my daughter, lots of work as a freelancer, an exciting project with National Geographic Channel, travels, and Thanksgiving with the entire family.

I’m excited to see how 2013 unfolds. We already have a small family getaway planned for January and there are personal projects, freelancing assignments, and exciting travels in the works. After all, I do write about travel and place.

In terms of upcoming blog posts, I’ll be sharing:

–          Those pitching pie-charts I normally put together and how 2012 went as a freelancer as well as highlight upcoming 2013 projects.

–          My chosen “focus” word for 2013

–          Summary from Travel Blogger Elevator (TBE) in Genova, Italy

–          Photo galleries from Nice, Monaco, and Northern Sweden.

More importantly, I’ll be sharing these at my own pace and time without any undue self-imposed pressure.

So, I’ll leave you all with this inspiring quote from Afrobella:

Slow down. Calm down. Look back at your year. Appreciate the journey you’ve made – the peaks and the valleys, the growth and the realizations. Be thankful for who you are, what you have, and the people who love you. Look forward to the upcoming year. Make plans that make sense for you, considering what you know you are capable of. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Rejoice in yourself. And know 2013 is going to be your year for greatness on your own terms.

Happy New Year!

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  • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

    @Kate – Thanks so much! It really was frightening. Sorry we couldn’t link up in DC but I’ll love to see you guys again and will let you know when next I’m in town. Hugs!

  • http://www.katereutersward.com Kate Reuterswärd

    Take care of yourself, Lola! This was a little scary to read. You are such an inspiration to me, and I’m glad that you’re taking note of the warning signs that you need to slow your breakneck pace for a little while. Much love from DC!

  • http://www.lolaakinmade.com Lola

    @Marilyn – One of my highlights of 2012 was finally meeting you and giving you a hug in person! Thanks so much for your kind words and support. Parents who are also freelancers need to know that it’s okay to pause and breathe. I personally don’t want to miss out on my daughter’s life!

    @Amanda – Can’t believe your son is already turning 3. How time flies for real! You’re spot on. Raising a child is a major achievement. I’ve fully realized that trying to juggle that task while “subconsciously” placing it on the same level as juggling freelancing assignments just doesn’t fly. For me, it’s re-prioritizing once more. Making mistakes as I go along, and coming out stronger through each experience.

    @Germaine – Thanks so much for your unbelievably sweet words, for being there, and being a wonderful friend. I’m extremely blessed to have you in my life as well. You’re super talented and may 2013 be your year for taking all those talents to the next stratosphere! See you soon before you jet off to you know where ;)

    @Terri – Wishing you the very best in 2013 as well!

    @Joya – It’s one of my favorite quotes of 2012 too. Afrobella nailed it.

  • http://www.beatravelbee.com Joya

    Such a great quote and I want to remember this for 2013. Happy New Year!

  • http://www.blackchickontour.com Terri

    Thank you for sharing your story. It has reminded me to keep in mind why I started blogging, which was for the fun of it. Personally I’ve never tried to be superwoman, but I have on occasion beat myself up for not being superwoman. Wishing you and your family the best in 2013.

  • Germaine

    Lola, you are daughter, friend, wife, mother and business woman. Your accomplishments run in the triple digits. You are a force to be reckoned with and when you decide to sink your teeth into a project everybody needs to back up and hold on because you ain’t never felt a Perfect Storm like Lola! :o)
    Watching you in action on this trip was a real eye opener for me. It re-lit a fire in me that I always tried to hold down. Why? I couldn’t tell you.
    You had me on this trip for a reason and I am just glad I was there and able to help you both.
    You accomplished your conferences, got RAVE reviews and you never missed a beat. Even when I finally got you to rest in between meetings.
    Now, your body did give you a heck of a smack down that I think the WWF wouldn’t have been able to handle but you listened…eventually.
    As for a Superwoman, I think we all are given that title to different degrees but even we must recognize our Kryptonite. I would say
    Super woman.. instead.
    Lola, it is a blessing, a gift that you do all you do with love and support from spouse, family, daughter(is it 8 countries now) and friends. I am blessed to have you in my life! … Now go rest!!

  • http://notaballerina.com Amanda Kendle

    Good on you, Lola! I’m sure that 2013 will be a lot more pleasurable for you – I had no idea you were doing it tough and must admit I just assumed you really were superwoman! I sometimes struggle with the realisation that raising a child is actually “an achievement” too, and try to get a million other things done as well but most times I try to remember that this is just a phase in our lives where we will get all those other things done a lot slower and that’s just how it is. My little man is turning 3 soon and it has really gone way too fast and I am trying to slow time down every day!

    Wishing you a wonderful, more peaceful 2013 xxx

  • http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/ Marilyn Terrell

    Good for you Lola for deciding to slow down and take a breath. The recent highlights of your life leave ME breathless, so I can see why your body cried “Enough!” Congratulations on getting two photos published in National Geographic Traveler and National Geographic Traveller UK, and the upcoming project with the National Geographic Channel –I can’t wait to see that! Thanks for being brave enough to explain why you’re not going to be superwoman in 2013. That’s a message plenty of parents need to hear. Because before you know it, your baby will be a teenager and you can’t get that time back. No one ever looked back on their life and regretted how much time they spent with their kids. Thanks too for taking the time from your breakneck schedule to pay me a surprise visit. That was priceless:)