By Jackie White
This month’s Life Story comes to us from a world away. Alicja Ciesielska is a native of Poland, but Alicja, her husband and 3 children are currently residing in Wisconsin.
Alicja is from a big city in Poland where she attended university and obtained a master’s degree in psychology specializing in the business aspect of psychology. She also holds certification in finance and accounting. Her dreams were always to live the big city life being an independent career woman. Her dreams took a bit of a detour when she met the man who would be her husband. Like many women her desire to have a family became very strong and she found herself torn between choosing to have a baby and walking away from the fast paced career life. She tried to figure out how she might “have it all”, however, she soon realized that “having it all” really is a myth. Alicja explains “having it all” really is a state of mind, not referring to literally “having it all”. It wasn’t long before she realized her true priority was to choose motherhood and family life over a career.
Alicja’s first baby was born in January 2009. She made the choice to stay home with her son for 2 years. She soon realized that although this little one was all that she ever wanted, that being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t for her. She began to feel that she needed something more.
She enrolled in school to obtain a certification in finance and accounting in the fall of 2009. Alicja was very strategic in choosing to return back to school. She knew that in the city she lived she could most likely get a job in the finance field. She had accepted that at this time in her life she would not be able to pursue her dream job. The job of her dreams would have required a move to another city or country and would have been long hours, which aren’t conducive to raising a family. As it turned out, her decision to pursue finance paid off, and she found a job that she liked right about the time her son turned 2 and was enrolled in preschool.
About two years later, Alicja’s husband was invited to Wisconsin to work on a post doctorate in biochemistry for the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The invitation was exciting and offered Alicja a new challenge in life. They packed up the family, and a new life began in the United States.
Alicja did not waste time when she arrived in the US. She got her family acclimated, including helping her son, now four years old, learn English. Once she was able, she applied for a job to be a Recreational Leader at the University Apartments Community Center. She was pregnant with baby number two, and the job turned out to be a perfect fit for her at that time because she organized local trips to help other new families to the area learn about the city. The job allowed her to take her son along, if needed, as well.
Just as Alicja was getting comfortable in her new place in life, she found out she was pregnant with her third child. When baby number three arrived in October 2016, Alicja was still working part-time in a different role within the community center. Her new job allowed her the flexibility to care for her children and help other residents in the community. She found a good balance that suited her need to be out of the home, yet still prioritize care of her children.
Alicja’s balance in life didn’t last for long. In 2017, her current visa that allowed her to work in the US expired. She had no choice but to be a stay at home mother. Feelings of unfulfillment, ungratefulness, guilt and sadness weighed heavily on her mind. She was grateful for her children, her husband and even the ability to be able to stay home with her children, but at the same time, she felt lost.
Alicja credits her husband for being a super support system for her during this tough time. He did not want her to feel unhappy, and he did his best to help her pull out of this low point in her life. Alicja felt overwhelmed and exhausted. She would wake up unhappy repeatedly day after day and, after a couple of months, she decided enough was enough. She realized she was the example for her daughter, who would soon be old enough to see that mommy wasn’t acting right. She had to do something, but she wasn’t sure what that was.
Alicja found she was numbing her pain by mindlessly scrolling through social media. Fortunately though, she began helping herself quite by accident. She came across personal development blogs and began to read. The information was positive, hard hitting yet succinct enough to get the point across quickly. That was important for a busy mom. She began to consume more and more of the positive content and began to feel better. She realized her situation of being an overwhelmed mom was, unfortunately, not unique. In a way she was glad to know she was not alone in feeling the way she did. That helped her tremendously. Over time she began to wonder if what she had learned could be a lesson for other moms feeling the same way.
Alicja began her own blog, which speaks to exhausted and lost mamas. Her goal was to literally get these mamas off the bathroom floor and get them to begin living again. Alicja’s approach is compassionate, yet straightforward. She believes that these mamas need to open their eyes to the information that is available to help them pull themselves up. She is strong for these mamas and helps them realize they can do it! She encourages and shares ideas and support.
Alicja’s website and blog is called JustRedefined. The meaning of JustRedefined is that moms might just need to redefine how they fit into the mothering role. It’s not the same for every mom, and it’s not meant to be. She has been working with mamas for more than two years now and has some key learnings to share with the mama’s out there:
You are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed
Don’t go through it alone - ask for help!
Self care is not selfish. You must take care of you too.
Get to know yourself again.
Identify priorities, values and roles in life.
When you know your priorities, values and roles you can begin to be intentional about your decisions.
Those decisions can help you make your life yours again.
As Alicja has discovered, mamas can use help with their mindsets. To address this need, Alicja has just launched her new venture called MommyMindsetCoach where she is providing coaching to mothers in need of finding themselves again.
Alicja feels she has found her passion in life. She has lived the ups and downs of mothering and can see very clearly now that there are lots of moms who may need some help regaining control of their lives again. Helping these women has become her purpose in life. Her life has come full circle from the years of walking away from what she thought her dream was to walking right into a dream she didn’t even know she had.
Alicja has a lot going on. Not only is she being mom to her three children and wife to her husband, she also has so many great things she is offering to mamas in need. You can find her on JustRedefined.com, MommyMindsetCoach.com, Facebook, Instagram and if that’s not enough, she is hosting a Moms for Moms Online Summit taking place from 3/23/2020 to 3/27/2020.
Thank you to Alicja for all that she does to help the mamas in need! We love her passion and purpose because by helping moms, it helps her kids and her family too. Helping others always has a ripple effect and that means it really benefits us all in the end. How cool is that?
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.