A couple years ago, I found myself in a peculiar place. Despite having everything a woman could ask for (a handsome and supportive husband, two sweet boys, a beautiful home, myriad friends, good health, and financial security), I was depressed. Every day I would wake up and just go through the motion of living as if someone had switched me to automatic pilot. I was someone’s mom and someone’s wife and I had things to do and no time to think about anything else. I was so far gone that I didn’t even realize I was depressed. My mother had to point it out to me. When she did, I denied it; but I knew she was right. Finally, after years of moping and coping, I decided was tired of who I was or, rather, who I wasn’t. I started wondering what had happened to me. Where had I gone? And, I decided something had to give.

After several long conversations with my spouse, we agreed that I needed to make myself a priority again because (let’s face it) my attitude was making everyone else miserable. I needed some outlets. I was plugged in all the time to what was going on with everyone else and there was nowhere for me to plug in something for myself; I was drained. So, we installed three new outlets in my life: 1) exercise, 2) time with friends, and 3) travel by myself. And it’s because of these things that I decided to start Moms Into Adventure.

Many women seem to lose themselves when they become wives and mothers. The indoctrination begins when we’re young girls: you find the handsome prince, you get married, you have a family, and you will be fulfilled. But, as wonderful as marriage and family can be, they can take a lot out of you too if you aren’t mindful of your needs. If you don’t take time to recharge yourself, what can you provide to others without grudge, annoyance, or negativity? When I made time in my life for exercise, my attitude about myself began to change. With each bike ride or long walk, I became more fit. I started to look better and in turn I started to feel better about myself. The better I felt about myself physically, the more capable I felt. In 2009, I did my first metric century road bike tour, I walked 50 miles for MS with my dear friend Celeste, and I took my first solo trip since getting married. Those three things made me feel strong and independent again. I remembered who I was on the inside.

It wasn’t easy to make these changes. It took time and practice. I had to throw off excuses. I had to be creative to fit everything into our already busy schedule. I had to find a sense of humor some days when plans fell apart and I had to adapt. To motivate myself to exercise, I signed up for events that I would need to train for. My family had to make some adjustments too, my husband most of all. He began spending more one-on-one time with the boys without me. The three of them started having more father-son adventures. But as a result I was a lot less grouchy when I was around them, and our family time was much more pleasant. It’s a process, not a destination. I work at it every single day.

Two years ago I made a conscious choice that changed me forever. I wanted to feel alive and not just to be alive. Ask yourself if it is really enough merely to exist within the framework of the life you currently have? Take the time to listen to the answer in your heart and reflect on it. If you realize that you need more from life, you have to make it happen. No fairy godmother is going to appear and give you the you that you would like to be. You have to envision her, create her, mold her, and nurture her. Remember this: “She didn’t try to change the world. She changed herself, and the world rose up to meet her.”

What are you going to do for yourself this year? Make a decision and follow it through. Bring a friend along with you. Have an adventure. You only live once.