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?

white, space

 

 

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.”

evan-kirby-101570-unsplash

Stuck

I’ve been feeling a bit off lately. Some days have felt like a much heavier dose than just a bit. This hasn’t lasted for just a couple of days, or a week. It’s been at least a month; maybe more.

I blamed it on a number of things; the end of the school year, grief, our move, summer, the moon. So many transitions were happening, and I gave myself allowances, time to let my world stop turning so fast.

I think, however, I gave myself a much wider berth than I needed. I expected the dust to settle exactly where I had left it, but I slid back into older, more well-worn tracks.

I haven’t had much energy. I have found it hard to get motivated. I haven’t been able to settle into a positive mindset. I’ve been overly irritable for no reason.

I haven’t however, done any of the things that sparked so much for me prior to the transitions. I haven’t opened my planner since the end of May; my journal, even before that. I haven’t met with my Accountability Ladies in as many months. I’ve stopped following as closely along with the groups I was finding so much inspiration from, and instead I’ve been doing an inordinate amount of mindless social media scrolling. I’ve blown through far more than my fair share of light, chic-lit beach reads, and haven’t opened a single self-development book. I haven’t been exercising. I’ve been drinking again, and not in the mindful way I had been so conscientious and successful in for so many months.

I haven’t been listening to myself; in some instances I have tuned out completely. I haven’t kept my own personal goals and interests front and center, with everyone else’s. It’s led to some personal confusion, and a lot of noise in my own head.

I got stuck. I landed right back where I was before I began this journey.

Car, Stuck, Old, Broken

It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the every day of life; it’s also easy to get stuck in old ruts when you’ve become unsettled, even when you were doing so well blazing new paths.

You can get caught up in being stuck, and not even realize that you have stopped moving.

The first step to getting unstuck is recognizing that’s where you’re at.

“What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given,
If all you do is stand in one place.”
~ Lord Huron