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Starting

I’m still not ready, but I’m starting.

I have thought about starting this blog for awhile, but I haven’t made it past the start up page.  I’ve been writing, but haven’t felt ready.  I have wanted to share my experiences, my thoughts, my insights on being a woman and a mother.  I became a mother first, and am just discovering myself as a woman outside of that.

I’m still not ready, but I am starting.  Because if I don’t, I will continue to delay until it is never launched.  The blog post that I will share next is timely, and wouldn’t have held as much resonance as it might today.  So, it forced my hand.  And maybe this isn’t the right way to begin, without having read all of the vast internet advice and how-to on starting a blog, without truly understanding how to manage a blog, without really having thought this all through.  But today felt right.  So, here we go.

 

Harnessing

There is a special energy that arrives in September.

The kids are back in school, routine is re-established, and there is a seasonal shift in the air that marks a season of change.

I started to think about tackling several goals I haven’t gotten around to in my Year Compass, but that was making me feel a bit overwhelmed. So, I took a step back and asked myself, “If there was one thing that I could accomplish that would make me feel great about closing out this year, what would that be?”

Of course, more than one thing that came to mind, however, I forced myself to commit to focusing on one in particular. Doing three things half-assed, or even three-quarter-assed, doesn’t allow me to do any of those things at 100%. So, I’m committing to one thing, to ensure that I am not wasting reserves of willpower or spreading that willpower too thin.

I’m harnessing my energy.

I’m harnessing that renewal of energy I have felt since the start of September and focusing it in one area because although the pull to spread out my energy to accomplish multiple goals is strong, I know that it is not sustainable.

There is just over a quarter of 2018 left. What one thing could you look back on in December, and be fulfilled by committing to now?

camera, lens, focus

False Starts

What was the last thing that you did in pursuit of your goals? Did it get you any closer to where or who you want to be?

You can follow blogs, read books, pin motivating quotes, listen to podcasts, register for courses, and react with heart emojis to every post an influencer in any particular field puts out on social media.

By doing these things, we can trick ourselves into thinking we are taking action. At times they can create forward momentum, however if there is no proceeding action, we are left only with false starts.

While finding sources of motivation and inspiration is important, ultimately, it is what you do with the information, knowledge and insight that you gain that is the pivotal piece.

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Things only change with action. Not simply by consumption.

You can consume and wish, or you can go, and do and be.

In Defense of Sharing Our Happy

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Why are we so hesitant to talk about happiness? I’m not referring to how to attain it, as there are plenty of discussions around this; I mean genuinely and openly discussing our own happy.

I post photos on social media pretty regularly. Most of them are smiling, happy, beautiful moments. I’m not trying to paint the “perfect” picture. I assume that you know that my life isn’t all laughter and sunsets, but, on the days where those moments happen, it’s what I choose to focus on and share.

I share some of the things on the perimeter of those photos here. It’s called balance.

I know that when I see your happy, filtered, cropped photos on social that you were capturing a moment. That just on the outside of that frame, just before or just after you captured that image, maybe by minutes, or hours, life isn’t so glossy. In fact, I know it’s straight up messy some days.

But that’s what we tend to focus on outside of the pretty pictures. The mess. The struggle. The who did what to who. Our conversations become a comparison of the challenges.

I’ve been listening to Rachel Hollis’ podcast that she shares with her husband, Dave, Rise Together. It’s such a great breath of fresh air. They’re honest about their life – that it’s messy and challenging – but they also are honest about how they value and prioritize their relationship, as husband and wife.

They share the challenges, however they talk about their relationship in a bright, honest, positive way.

What I’ve noticed since starting to follow them is that they’re a rarity. They share their truth, but they also share their happy.

They look for reasons to be positive, to find the happy, to be grateful for each other. They admit that there are faults between and within each of them. But they choose not to highlight or focus on that.

They celebrate their happy.

Socially, it can be more comfortable to commiserate about failings, about difficulties and challenges, than it is to talk about the shinier side which we should all focus a bit harder on. Not just in our marriages or in our romantic relationships, but in our friendships too.

Finding common ground is too often sought out through expressing grievances.

I love a good vent session; I need support, advice and shared stories of similar circumstances. We just need to be sure it’s not where our primary focus hits on a regular basis.

I think we can even be guilty of burying our happy. We don’t want to feel boastful, or make others feel less than by talking about it. We’re also a bit timid around happiness; by virtue of talking about it, we don’t want it to slip through our fingers, or have to recant our happy when things take an unexpected turn.

Happy moments should be shared. Not as a bar to reach, but a feeling captured in time to remind us to be grateful, a moment to remind us what to focus on. We all need highlight reels, and it’s important that we’re just as good at highlighting our own, and not holding our stories up in comparison to someone else’s.

And, if in the middle of sharing your story, someone in your circle holds issue with any part of it, shouldn’t you question why they have a seat at your table in the first place? I want the people around me to be happy; I want to share in their happiness, always, if not especially when I am going through challenging times.

By sharing your happy, you could be inspiring someone who isn’t even acknowledging that they’re listening.

What we focus on multiplies. By sharing your happy, it will spread.

And we could all use a little more of it.

 

Creating Space

As I have shared before, I am an obsessive list maker. I keep rotating “To Do” lists in the Notes app on my iPhone. I write them in my planner. Sometimes, my weekly goals consist of the things that I just need to get out of the way.

Each week, there are items that carry over, copied and pasted or rewritten again and again, week after week. I can highlight them, write them in different colored ink, draw fancy stars next to them, and yet there they sit, next to an empty check box at the close of the day on Sunday.

Since our move, which was about two months ago now, I’ve had the goal of bringing donation items to Goodwill. Week after week I expend energy around this task; something so small that is taking up space, carrying a weight of disappointment when I get to the end of the week and still haven’t made this happen.

This week, I have left my To Do list completely blank with the exception of this one line. I will only allow myself to write in additions once I have completed this task. I will take care of that Goodwill pile that’s taking up real estate in my home and in my head. Then, I will replace that item with something more valuable.

Creating white space allows room for the bigger, more important things.

Our goals don’t have to be mountains. Sometimes, they are small and seem silly, yet completing them can make us feel productive, allow us to gain positive momentum, and can fuel other, more significant progress. Taking action doesn’t always have to be a grand gesture. It doesn’t always have to be big and scary.

Sometimes the next step, no matter how small or insignificant, is just the next right step. Each step leads to change that we may not notice as we take them one by one, but when we look back, everything has shifted.

We have to make room for the steps; even the smallest steps need space.

How can you create some space in your world? What could you fill that space with, once you created it?

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Currency

I overhead a conversation at our local public pool yesterday between two girls who were, at my best guess (and I’m terrible at age guessing), around eight years old. It went, loosely, something like this:

Girl #1: “Hey, where are your Nutter Butters? I hope there are five left. I told you that you had to give me five of them if you wanted to hang out with me.”

Girl #2, hanging her head and pointing: “Yeah, they’re in my bag, over there.”

Now, I can’t for the life of me understand the social value of Nutter Butters, however, I know that they are not nearly equal to the cost of this poor Nutter Butter holder’s dignity.

Besides raising my blood levels a notch or so, this exchange made me pause and think about how we exchange our own value for the wrong reasons.

How many times have you found yourself lowering your standards, or offering up something that holds value to you – your time, your energy, your efforts – to appease or gain the approval of someone?

How many times have you judged yourself as not measuring up, and conceded your own dignity at someone else’s command?

I haven’t often held the “new girl” status, however with our recent move I’m faced with not only building up my daughters’ confidence against these sorts of social exchanges, but also my own. Each of us will be navigating new relationships in our new town, in our new social circles, and in our new extracurricular activities.

The message, at age eleven, at age fourteen, and even at age thirty-five, is still the same.

Know your worth. Know your value. And don’t give up your Nutter Butters just to have a temporary seat at someone else’s table.

cafeteria, table, seats

A Year of Tuesdays

I didn’t realize this until tonight, but this blog is one year old.

On August 11th, 2017, I hit Publish on my first post, Starting.

I had more excuses, more fear, more insecurities about launching a blog than I can list. I thought I wasn’t ready. I was quite sure I would run out of ideas for content. I certainly needed to understand a bit better the mechanics of maintaining a blog. I knew there were others out there who had been at it longer, who were absolutely doing it better, reaching far more people, having a much deeper impact than I could. I definitely thought people wouldn’t read it. I also thought they would, and that no one would like what I had to say, or feel it was relatable in any way.

You’re reading this today because I disregarded all of that bullshit that I built up in my head. I took the leap, and I have continued to do so for fifty-two weeks.

I have been a blogger for a year. It took me much longer to identify as such than I care to admit. For months, I wasn’t a “real” blogger. I was just someone posting words, online. I gave plenty of credit to others, who were doing the same damn thing, who surely understood they were the true real deal.

It’s been a year of pushing past my inner critic. Every week that I hit that green “Publish” button, I do it with varying amounts of trepidation.

Fear, excuses and insecurities don’t dissipate just because you jump. You just have to be louder.

I am a blogger. I am a writer. My content speaks to people. I haven’t missed a week. Sure, there were Tuesdays where there may not have been substantial content, but I showed up here, every single week no matter what.

I’ve learned more than how to build a blog here. I’ve learned about connection and conversations and vulnerability and so, so much more.

What could you do today, to get you closer to where you want to be?

What could you create, if you simply committed to showing up?

What would happen, if you just decided to start?

woman, walking, arrow, road, direction, starting, start, forward, move

 

My Why

I was asked last week how am I so comfortable sharing the things I do for you all to read. I thought I’d share a bit about why I show up here, week after week.

I have always been able to work my thoughts out and communicate more effectively through writing. There were some innumerable sheets of lined paper that I hurled into my parents’ fireplace when I was a Junior in High School, pages of daily scrawling that filled at least four or five three-inch, three-ring binders spanning years of self-reflection (of course I didn’t think of it like that then, and good lord what I would do to have possession of them now, although it’s probably all for the best that they met such a fate).

When I was in second grade, I can recall the teacher asking what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I remember not hesitating. I wanted to be a writer with every fiber of my being when I was young. I wrote a couple of “novels”, saved somewhere on floppy discs that will never see the light of day (which is, again, probably for the best).

It was right around the culmination of teenage angst that led to the fiery demise of years of daily writings that I stopped doing it altogether.

And then, years went by, and I was suddenly a 30-something-year old wife and mother of three who was feeling a bit lost in and consumed by everything she had become to everyone else.

Shortly after the first few months of trying to figure out who I was outside of being “Mom”, after digging into discovering things that I wanted to do solely for my own personal enjoyment or gain, a spark lit. It wasn’t a lightning strike by any means, but I slowly remembered my love for writing.

And sure, I could have kept plugging away at the personal writing, pouring words onto lined paper, into spiral bound notebooks or documents in Word, never to be read by another.

But that didn’t light any sort of fire for me.

Everything that I have learned or gained since this all began has been the product of insight from others sharing their own stories. Whether it is blog posts, podcasts or books, everything that I was devouring and finding so much inspiration from was content provided by women who weren’t afraid to disclose the messy, unbridled, honest truth of being a woman, of being a mother.

At the heart of my desire to put my thoughts out there is my belief that our stories can help others.

Our experiences are different, varying in so many ways. However, at the same time, the underlying emotions have so much in common. When I first became a mother at the age of twenty, I didn’t have an outlet. I didn’t have a support network of women. I was terrified. I wasn’t prepared to lose my entire identity to motherhood; that’s one of those things that wasn’t in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I wasn’t prepared for the number of ways on a daily basis one could feel like they were failing, or how at each stage you could fail even more infinitely at yet more things. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll it takes, or the emotional labor parenting provokes. Nor was I prepared for the isolation that at times felt crushing. I wasn’t prepared for always feeling less than. I have carried all of these things with me through my fourteen years as a mother.

There are so many things that we can learn from each other’s stories. They can lift us up, carry us through, and help us discover things about ourselves we didn’t take the time or didn’t have the capacity to discover on our own.

Knowing that I could possibly help even one woman with my story leaves me compelled to share. Not because I think my experiences are so worthwhile, that my insight is so knowledgeable and wise, but because I think I can share what those experiences were to me in a very real and honest way, and normalize the feelings rather than shutting them away and ignoring they exist. And I know there are others who, like myself, can benefit from hearing more candid versions of other women’s stories.

If one woman feels less alone or assuaged by hearing a piece of my story, or because of me is empowered to share her own, putting myself out here is worth it.

“Be so completely yourself that everyone else feels completely safe being themselves too.”

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