October 26, 2014

That Girl


We all internalize so much, and especially in today’s highlight reel culture. I’m sure it’s been going on since forever (“Keeping up with the Jones’”), but it’s so much EASIER to see all the great stuff that friends and family present.

Just like family photos, you want to present the best to the world – you don’t proudly show off those shots where hair is messed up, someone is blinking, or there’s a completely weird face in the frame.

I’ve struggled with this comparison-thing for a looooong time. Just ask my Mom. (Hi Mom!) Even in high school, we had long talks about how it wasn’t fair to compare myself to the Whitneys, Kellys, , Allisons, and Beckys. We all have unique contributions and gifts to share. But it’s so dang HARD for me to let that go.

As I’ve gotten older, it’s still there. And social media can be a great tool – easy communication with those loved ones from a distance. Networking. Sharing knowledge. But since we’re all trying to put our best foot forward, it’s so easy to get sucked into the spiral.

I had a couple of small revelations recently. I get sucked into the spiral, so I’m sitting behind this screen thinking “I’m a terrible wife – I never spend quality time with my husband.” “I’m a terrible mother, I’m not enriching James’ days with toddler-appropriate activities.”  “I’m a terrible house manager – we’re barely keeping up with NORMAL paperwork.”  “I’m a terrible daughter/sister/niece/family member, I never take the time to reach out to the ones I love.” “I’m a terrible custodian of my body – I’m eating bowls of cereal and sitting on the couch instead of working out.” “I’m a terrible photographer – my technique/gear/time management sucks.” There’s a lot more, but that’s a small sampling.

And of course, it’s like spinning plates. Or juggling. Some days – things go well. Some days, it’s only one or two things. Some days, it’s all the things.

But I was kind of shocked to hear that I’m that girl (sometimes).

A friend told me: “Your hair looks beautiful, but then it always does!”
I asked a group for ideas on how to manage the home office/bills/paperwork, and heard, “Jeez, what you already have is way better than what I have now!”
A coworker mentioned they already heard about me from another colleague: “She was so impressed with your knowledge and skills! You’re kind of a celebrity in our class now.”

Um, what?

So, what you’re telling me is… in the midst of all my head spinning self doubt and tormented frustration and shame… I’m actually doing some of the things?

Even though I can’t see it, others can?

Every once in awhile, I’m an example for others?

That’s ridiculous. And ridiculously amazing.

And totally a reminder to myself of two things:
1. I clearly need to be better about speaking up when I see something amazing. We don’t hear these things enough.
2. Other people are seeing me… and even seeing the things I had no idea were there.

I remember this quote I read in early high school. Highly impressionable days: Always remember to be happy because you never know who's falling in love with your smile. Kind of silly… but I think it’s more the idea that I carried with me. Others can so easily see your brilliance… I’ve always been my own biggest critic.

Grace, grace, grace. For myself and for others.


I think this is going to take me a long time… but I think that’s okay.



October 4, 2014

Surviving

I keep holding back and dodging because I think, “Gosh, when things are better I’ll write”, or “When I have prettier pictures I’ll write” or “When I have it figured out I’ll write.” And I never do.

When I come to peace with this, the next battle is time. My Lord, where does the TIME GO? I do my best not to look in my past with regret, but flashes come into my mind about ALL OF THE TIME that I had “back then”.  I was awash in free time, in dawdling, in lollygagging. Or at least in the potential to do so. What was I thinking?? Clearly I should have been bottling that free time, or something. Instead my happy little self was loading up on afternoon naps and lounging and goodness knows what else.

But I’m not bitter. Really. Just kind of kicking myself that I haven’t done a better job of being present. For me, that’s journaling and I keep keep keep finding ways to not DO it. This small thing helps me feel connected – to myself and the world around me. Somehow it keeps me rooted, but also lets me expand. When I don’t, I feel… untethered. And that’s okay, I’m still here. Life still happens. But that’s it, Life is happening TO me. I’m not a participant here, I’m a survivor.

And again – that’s okay. There are seasons where all you can do is make it alive from one minute-hour-day to the next. You have to shrink down your perspective and make it manageable, because contemplating next week-month-year is too huge and heavy and scary. But this survival place isn’t meant to stay in. It’s draining. I think I’ve been stuck here for awhile, and I don’t need to be anymore.

So I’ve started a 30-day photography challenge. Something small, to help me spark into some creative energy. Pretty sure the whole challenge will be done with my iPhone because managing to get the photos from my big camera onto the computer, etc. is proving to be a challenge with James around. But that’s just it! It’s stuff LIKE THAT that I need to work within. Meeting myself WHERE I AM. Which just means giving up a lifetime of perfectionist tendencies, but you know – small steps.

It just reminds me of some things I’m learning as I’m growing up. (I’m 30 this year, you know.) On The Office finale, Andy says, "I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them".  Insta-bawling on my end… because good GRIEF, The Office. So. Dang. True.

ALL of this is the “good old days”. It sure doesn’t feel like it. But every step along the way, we’re making memories. And as the time and experience layers over these days, they’ll become part of the fabric of the lives that we’re living. Even the small, silly stuff – or perhaps mostly the small silly stuff. So my great goal is to live with more intention. With more presence. Acknowledging the hard parts, and the scary parts and the uncomfortable parts and BEING THERE, along with the fun, happy parts. Sitting on the sidelines sucks. Being buffeted around sucks.

Coming up with the energy and dedication seems impossible. Isn’t it just easier to collapse on the couch, watch mindless TV and then fall into bed? Sure. But it’s scary to realize how much has slipped through my fingers.


Small pieces. One step at a time. This is my goal right now – and ever-so-slowly (read: I’m actually caught in quicksand and might go under before it happens) I’m seeing the progress/results. And heck – maybe that’s another reason why I love journaling so much – it helps me look back and see the growth/change.



 
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