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A Year of Living in Peace

In December, I shared how my husband refers to 2022 as The Year I Burnt to the Ground.

I shared (here) that I went through a series of challenging events for a few years that left me pretty brokenhearted.

And one day, I woke up and decided that what I was dealing with was my own doing.

I was compromising myself to make others comfortable.

So, I had to look inward and figure out why I invested so much time into so many unhealthy relationships and why I was so willing to allow people to walk all over me.

It was humbling and left me with a lot to unpack and work on.

Ultimately, I walked away from most of my social circle, which included some family.

It was scary and very lonely.

I know I’m the bad guy in a few people’s stories, but I’m willing to accept that to regain my self-respect.

Now, I’m about to sound like the biggest cliche from every self-help book you’ve ever read … ready?

Burning down my old life was absolutely, hands down, the single best decision I ever made.

Because, almost overnight, my life and, more importantly, my family’s lives improved a thousandfold.

For the first time, we’re living with peace as our baseline, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I never knew it was even an option.

photo credit: Maddie Kristel

Because, almost overnight, my life and, more importantly, my family’s lives improved a thousandfold.

For the first time, we’re living with peace as our baseline, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I never knew it was even an option.

If you had told me two years ago that we would be spending our summer at the beach, surrounded by all our favorite people, with friends that feel like family and joyful kids, and that there would be no contention or high drama, I would not have believed you.

Turns out, the floodgates of good open once you eliminate toxic relationships, frienemies, and negative energy and focus instead on gratitude and keeping your side of the street clean.

I felt rewarded for choosing myself and sticking to my moral compass.

Because once I said a firm no to all the nonsense in my previous life, old friendships reappeared, new ones developed, and the good ones we kept deepened.

And with that, I gained so much confidence. Because I knew our old life didn’t feel right, I knew we weren’t being treated well. And I trusted myself, and I was right.

Life right now doesn’t seem real. I find myself so happy I’m terrified. Sometimes, I think, Are you allowed to be this happy without having to pay for it somehow?

But when I have intrusive thoughts, I recenter myself at the moment and stay grateful.

I wrote The Year I Burnt it to the Ground in December as a super personal reflection on some trying times in the hopes that other women might relate.

For me, it was turning 40 and re-evaluating what I wanted and deserved out of life. As I say in the feature, “I woke up one day sick of everyone’s sh*t, including my own.”

Now it’s August, and I’m still in awe of how life has changed for the better.

And listen, life isn’t perfect, and I’m old enough to understand that life ebbs and flows, but right now, it’s GOOD, and it’s drama-free.

So, if you’re going through something right now, if you’re feeling a call to change, if you feel like you deserve more, YOU DO.

The temporary discomfort and pain are worth it because there is so much goodness on the other side if you choose yourself.

We get this one life, and if you are lucky enough to be born in the position to make changes, you have to do it.

And please note, I’ve been working while we’ve been here, but I’m going offline this week before we’re back to 5 am wake-up calls, all the sports pick back up, and we start touring colleges (sobbing).

But we’ll be back to regular content on Tuesday, 8/22. 

Related Posts

 Join Megan Kristel for a comprehensive, 3 hour long, LIVE Virtual Workshop sharing personal style and shopping tips for women over 40 on March 31, 2023.


Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Saturday 19th of August 2023

Sounds like “thewellblessedlife” to me! 💕


Thursday 17th of August 2023

I am amazed at how brave you are. Not only did you make changes, but you are admitting some weakness and mistakes and that is never very easy. Bravo for making the changes necessary and moving on to a better and more healthy for you life. Enjoy your family and each day. You've earned it!


Wednesday 16th of August 2023

Thank you, Megan, for all of the beauty that you bring to the world and for sharing your journey toward peace and self-discovery. I continually learn from you and have done so for years.

Enjoy the rest of the summer at the beach.


Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Love this post and your previous end of the year post. I’m certainly not 40! I just entered my 70s and while life is overall great for me, I’ve recently been struggling with some relationships that while not toxic cause irritation and unnecessary drama. After reading your post, I know what I need to do, just need to move forward and say no. I have learned to trust my intuition or what I think of as my “inner voice”. At my stage in life, the simple pleasures (my grandkids, a good laugh with my husband, my perennial garden, a great cup of coffee, a perfectly ripe plum…) are so rewarding. It will always be a bit of a struggle to control worry and anxiety but I am tying to live in the moment. Thank you for sharing your journey!

Love your blog and I have always hated capris!! I feel validated! Love your fashion advice. I try to be fashionable but wear what looks best on me.

Enjoy the last days of summer!


Tuesday 15th of August 2023

OHHHH yes burning it all to the ground is the best thing we can do for ourselves when we wake up and realize there's a lot of unnecessary stuff in our lives. Mine was 3 years ago on my 45th birthday and the journey since has been the best thing I have ever done for myself. There have been some incredibly hard things to navigate and work through but without the BS of life its so much easier to deal with what's important. keep going! Love your work!

Megan Kristel

Tuesday 15th of August 2023

Love this, and yes, I was just saying to my husband that I feel more prepared for the inevitable challenges and hard times that will happen as we get older because we're not distracted by nonsense. Like we have a clear mind now. xxoo


Monday 14th of August 2023

When I turned 40, my doctor had told me to stay home from work (with a big bottle of Xanax) for the month. I had been teetering on the edge of a breakdown, but I woke up the morning of my birthday and my first thought was, "I'm 40; f*** it!" I got really good at saying no and not tolerating toxicity and bs from people (and tossed that Xanax!). I really think turning 40 produces a sea change that is not talked about often enough. So glad you've found your peace. You (and all of us) deserve it.


Monday 14th of August 2023

I just subscribed to your blog last week and was clearly meant to find *this post*! I want to be at peace, I just don't know where to start.

Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing your journey with us.


Monday 14th of August 2023

Megan I love your emails and all of the tips you share. (And today I experienced the baggy butt capri syndrome so I am a believer,lol). But this post was so beautiful I just had to comment. So often we don't see where the road is going until we are almost off the edge. Our family experienced some hard times with mental health issues in the last 10 years and I just had to put my foot down and start saying no to people. Our very close friends and family are supportive and understanding and those who are not have been left behind. I didn't know what caregiver burnout was until my daughter pointed it out to me. Now I am much more selfish about making time for myself. Thank you for sharing your story. Wishing you every happiness.💕


Monday 14th of August 2023

Megan, this was so wonderful to read!

As a coach, there is nothing I love seeing more than people owning their power and living their best life. Plus, as a 40-something mom who works for herself, I've been there too.

I must've started following you in the pre-awesome life phase, because I have noticed a shift in the non-wardrobe related things you recommend and the approach you take to defining your boundaries. I may not know you IRL, but I'm proud of you nonetheless. Your content will automatically spread what you've created for yourself, so we all get the benefit too.

Colleen B

Monday 14th of August 2023

As they say in an airplane: put *your* oxygen mask on *first*, then you can help others. So glad you are taking care of you. I very much appreciate all your posts. Thank you! Enjoy your vacation! Xoxo

Marlene baldwin

Monday 14th of August 2023

Congratulations and best wishes. Tough decisions but I wish you much dreams free living in the future. Love your websit and wish you the best in the future Marlene


Monday 14th of August 2023

Thank you for your transparency and your affirmation to yourself as well as to the rest of us. Encouraging words to hear!


Monday 14th of August 2023

Good for you! Be proud of all you’ve accomplished. And sharing your journey may impact others in ways you never know. Thank you for your openness and honesty!


Monday 14th of August 2023

Megan, Congratulations and Thank You for sharing your personal story about truthful insights and life changes for the better! Been there, done that. Two years later, my life is also a new story, in a new place, actually an old place as my journey took me back to a home place I dreamed about for a long time. Like you, I finally woke up and realized I could choose happiness - it starts with one step, and then on to the next. Now, I listen to my heart, follow my creative interests, surround myself with what brings me joy and peace - life really can be good! I appreciate what you do so well, and will be watching your style guidance, as many wardrobe boxes from the past life must be unpacked!


Monday 14th of August 2023

This is awesome Meg! Love seeing you so happy + at Peace!! These two articles were awesome! Would you consider making it a series and sharing some more learnings, questions for thought, etc. to guide others through?

SL Van

Monday 14th of August 2023

Just a note, nothing more... I've silently fan-girled my email from Megan since welldressedlife was born. I'm not one to butt in as others generally share the good vibes I'm thinking. Yet, this once I'm compelled to share in my gratitude - a huge thank you - for the strength it requires to bare the humanness behind the gifted entrepreneur. This provides more than just the connection we lack in today's electronic life but also a reminder that the power to be who you need/want/dream IS within human grasp. Motivation is the key. Find it and YOU make it happen. It's not a miracle. It's YOU. A human. Struggles and all...


Monday 14th of August 2023

Thank you for sharing your happy ending!! Enjoy the last bit of summer with your family!


Monday 14th of August 2023

Oh, Megan, your message shot a dart right into my heart! WOW! I can't believe that it's ME allowing the drama!! hahaha.... Thank you, thank you... hearts, Marybeth


Monday 14th of August 2023

Thanks for the link to "the year I burnt it to the ground." Can you tell us/me more about resources for healing trauma and inner child work? Would love to follow this path. So happy for you and your family. And it is so good that you are taking a break to immerse yourself at this time in family. We will be here when you come back.

Megan Kristel

Monday 14th of August 2023

Hey Kim, yes, I can do a more in-depth post, but the first thing I did was to take my healthy serious, so working out, eating well, cut down on alcohol, and added in meditation. As I did that, I noticed my mental health improving, and I took on the bigger stuff. I read a lot of books, but I didn't think any one was great, I just took a little from everything. And I did shadow work with To Be Magnetic, I found that the most helpful. But mostly I inventoried my life, and seriously walked away from any person that made me feel less than. And once I did that I ended up in a really positive cycle.


Monday 14th of August 2023

Megan, so happy for you! Enjoy your last week at the beach. Boundaries and taking care of me are essential for us to live our best life.


Monday 14th of August 2023

Enjoy your last week at the beach! So glad things are going well - it's hard to reassess and acknowledge that things are not working, but so worth it!!!


Monday 14th of August 2023

Enjoy your family time at the beach!