hello courage

a small piece of art hanging above my desk

a small piece of art hanging above my desk

I’ve spent the better part of an hour letting my last cup of coffee grow cold, sifting through pounds of advice on how to overcome writer’s block, looking for that one perfect and inspiring blog prompt. It finally struck me, though, that my three-month long writing drought  is not due to insufficient inspiration or a lack of living, but more about the courage to write about the truth of my days.

Days filled with average things.

Days seemingly unimpressive or worthy of writing in detail.

Days that pass in predictable succession.

In my heart of hearts, I know there is no shame in living a life void of monumental drama, a life overflowing with family, friends and a future. It doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of frustration or loneliness. It certainly doesn’t mean that every aspect of my story is bound in happiness and success. My children often disappoint. My husband and I sometimes disagree. My friends and parents can be frustrating. My health declines and rises as rapidly as my weight and as sharply as my mental stability. And I am well aware that at times I am the same disappointment, the same frustration and most definitely, the same amount of disagreeable to others at any given time.

I am deeply flawed.

I fail as often as I succeed. Sometimes more.

“I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don’t want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It’s high time that I accept all the great things about me.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Last month I pushed myself to go to a small writing workshop facilitated by Capital City Writers. The guest speaker was author and screenwriter Ted Kluck, focusing on writing creative non-fiction. Writing non-fiction is scary. There’s a level of fear when crafting anything riddled with truth, creative or otherwise. And there is a whole other level of fear that someone will either be offended by our truth or poke holes in the very memories we hold as truth, forever changing the way we see ourselves and the life we have built.

My intent was to slip in unnoticed, blend in with the walls and just absorb everyone else’s energy. I am not a member of this writing group, nor had I met anyone present.

I am quite foolish.

The room was small, speckled with a handful of professional writers currently working on projects. Not only did I not slip in unnoticed, but I sat on the front row, a dear friend in tow as my shield. Ted’s down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is, personality engulfed the room. In a matter of minutes the atmosphere ceased being thin and started filling my head with thick possibility. I sat with pen in hand and a stack of blank paper most of the afternoon. Eventually a trickle of ideas splattered the pages. I questioned everything that came to mind, catching as many words and phrases possible before they could fall to the page, fearful that somehow my thoughts wouldn’t be good enough.

Not even good enough for an audience of one. Me.

And then I went home and avoided writing some more, until I received the phone call yesterday that my domain name was expiring. There was a moment I thought about not renewing. For a moment my eyes glazed over the computer screen as I thought, “perhaps I should just let myself disappear”, questioned if it was worth the few dollars needed to ensure my identity as My Pajama Days. After all, it has been more than three months since I last wrote.

But here I am again. Renewed yet fearful.

 

 

 

 

 

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Finding Joy in My Winter

A few berries still cling to one of our trees

A few berries still cling to one of our trees

Believe it or not, avoiding this blog has been as impossible as avoiding myself.

Not a word has been written for months. I’ve purposely found other things to do than write and yet, this blog has been on my mind, in my heart, every day. It was not my intention to disappear, but the longer the silence, the harder it was to find my voice. The deeper I buried myself in laundry, housekeeping, home school and other people, the easier it was to stop being accountable. Accountable to myself, anyway.

I could easily avoid the scale, the grey hairs popping up, the constant achy joints and lack of sleep. But the minute I thought about writing anything, I had to take a look at myself again, flaws and all. So I chose silence over honesty rather than run the risk of filling up space with ridiculous excuses.

The weight of winter is suffocating sometimes.

Joy is so much easier to find when things are going well, when our relationships are constantly blooming, when the seeds we plant seem to grow all on their own and certainly when we can physically feel the warmth of success. Joy escapes me when shadowed by dark thoughts, unexpected friction and lack of motivation. It becomes much “easier” to tend the gardens of others instead of taking care of my own. At least then, I can lie to myself, pretend I’m too busy to work towards a personal goal, and pat myself on the back for accomplishing something.

Due to large amounts of snow and bitter cold, I have not left my house since Saturday evening. School was supposed to resume this past Monday, January 6th, but our area closed schools for three days straight. For the first few days, my house was filled with extra bodies. Both the girls had friends over to celebrate the snow days. I unpacked suitcases and cleaned while listening to five girls sing karaoke, tore down Christmas decorations while hanging up wet snow pants, and studied lesson plans I already knew from front to back.

But yesterday there were no extra bodies.

Yesterday was just me and my daughters. We made a short school day out of it and finished laundry. After dinner, I found myself staring out a window, getting lost in the white canvas. Everything looked peaceful and relatively undisturbed. I was mesmerized by the nothingness.

For a moment, I felt like a blank slate.

DW was gone for the evening. I called the girls into my room, asked them to grab a book or something and declared it “quiet time”. We snuggled under the covers in our pajamas, the dog squished between blankets and robes. The heat from our bodies quickly bound us together. Sleepy heads  rested on each of my shoulders as breathing sounds slowed to a soft purr. The Tortoise reached for my hand at the same time The Hare leaned over and kissed my cheek.

“I love you,” they each declared.

“We should do this more often,” they each proclaimed.

“I agree,” I answered.

Last night, I was reminded of the joy in my winter.

Mama Kat Button

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Writer’s Workshop: Listen

I should be enjoying the sounds of a good morning: birds chirping, children giggling at the bus stop in front of our house, the faint breathing of my daughter still asleep upstairs, the sighs of my sweet dog watching deer and other wildlife meander through our yard.

But instead, I’m listening to myself whine.

I’m listening to that ever-present, underlying fear of failure and doubt of my abilities. It’s a conversation I have way too often. Rationally, I know it’s all lies. I know I’m a good mother, a creative person and a loyal friend. I know in my head that the choices I make are rooted in love and a desire to make this world a better place for my children and for future generations. But, irrationally, my heart shrinks from the truth. I see short-comings and disappointment in the mirror. I hear complaints and excuses fall from my lips. Impatience and annoyance lurk around every corner of my mind.

Too much silence causes me to nervously doubt talk to myself.

Foolishly, I don’t find comfort in the peacefulness.

The heartbreak of it all though, is knowing so many of us have these same conversations, and yet, we don’t fully support one another. Instead, we judge and point fingers. We compare and pat ourselves on the back, “at least I don’t do that” we say. It is cruel to let others believe they are the only ones struggling to be the people they want to be. It is also only a temporary band-aid, our wounds will never heal until we admit they are still open.

Sometimes, the wounds are self-inflicted.

I do not have it all figured out.

I don’t always believe in myself.

But today I am trying to listen more and talk less.

“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”  ― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Mama Kat Button

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