There's been a lull. A dissonance, of sorts. It's bound to happen, I suppose, when you've experienced everything Nate and I have been through. Loss and life and people, like dominos. We push up against them, fighting to right it all. My brain scans memories like so many slides in a stuttering show, attempting to pinpoint the exact moment when I lost myself. Working mom guilt is nothing new or unusual – I'm sure many of you experience the same. My story and my family's story are unique in their own ways, but not that different from others. We share space. It causes friction. That's the human condition.

Ziplining in Southern California (La Jolla Zip Zoom in Pauma)

I can tell you the moment I felt myself start to re-emerge, though. I was on a zip line, completely alone, suspended over so much terrifying space as if looking down at the vast expanse of my responsibilities. The wind was tugging at my hair, bitter cold against my knuckles (I forgot gloves, of course) and a singular thought entered my mind.

What if I could feel this alive every day?

Through a four-part series with Abbott, we’re sharing stories about how we live fully. People have their own unique ideas about what living a full life looks and feels like, but we all want to live the best life we can. Abbott is on a mission to find out what that means to people across the globe. Here’s the story of how I live fully by seeking solitude and adventure on my own terms.

Ziplining in Southern California (La Jolla Zip Zoom in Pauma)

My personality is introverted. It feels strange to admit that, since my business depends largely on interaction with others. I run meetings, speak at conferences, care for my children, tell other moms and dads how to care for their children, film myself rambling for YouTube videos and then manage comments streaming into my inbox. Some people thrive on feedback. For a person like me, this is all energy exerted. Fellow introverts call it “draining.” I think of it more as “de-charging.”

The point is, somewhere along the lines I forgot how to “re-charge.”

Set the right standards... quote

I tip-toed back into self-care slowly, literally sneaking in moments to myself as if they were contraband. Nate would call to check on me at work events, laughing as I sheepishly answered. “Let me guess, you ditched the expo and you're sitting in the hotel room's jetted tub?” It's still unclear who I was afraid of letting down. I am my own boss. If I pay to attend an event, it should logically be my prerogative to go or not go or hire a dang circus clown to scope things out in my place. Years of grooming, however, told me that this wasn't the ladylike thing to do. The voices of others crowded my head, telling me it wasn't professional, it wasn't “nice” to think of myself. I should be helping others whenever humanly possible.

Right?

I eked a little further out of that mentality when I traveled to Costa Rica by myself. Again, I was driven by a dutiful responsibility to tend to work and see colleagues. Once I got there, though, the conference was surprisingly unstructured. There was free time. Me time. Moments spent staring at starfish as they glistened in the sun. A sense of guilt still nagged, but I had time to process it and realize that it wasn't right.

I shouldn't feel bad about making myself feel good.

Ziplining in Southern California (La Jolla Zip Zoom in Pauma)

So when Southern California's longest zip line opened up less than an hour away from my home, I grabbed my credit card and booked one of the first spots. Nate, big guy that he is, was over the weight limit so he couldn't go. A friend could have joined me, but I frankly didn't want company. Moments of thrilling solitude were beckoning. The rest of the zip liners looked at me a little odd – I was the only one by myself – but I didn't care. All of those voices that normally roar in my ears – every other person's want and need and obligation – was replaced with a conquering sense of peace. A sense of self.

The activity itself isn't what filled me with such joy. I know now that it was always there, just buried. Shackles of guilt were lifted and I embraced the concept of respecting my sense of self. Without that weighty pain, my own vibrancy could come to the surface. My head was filled with elation at the discovery that it wasn't anything external that fed my soul.

Inside, I was alive all along.

We’re proud to partner with Abbott to share our story about living fully, and we want to know how you do, as well. Take the quiz on the LIFE. TO THE FULLEST. website to reflect on how you choose to live your best life, and let us know! Share your own stories, videos and photos using the #fullosophy hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Do you make time to enjoy your own company?