It’s a Process

lunaAnother pomegranate martini lingered in front of me; its sweet red nectar glistening in the glow of lowered lights and laughter. Two of my girlfriends flanked the table and I was absorbed by their presence.

I’m realizing that everyone suffers from some level of loneliness or discontentment. The stay-at-home mom, the working mom, the mom with grown kids, the working woman with no kids, married or not married…we are all the same. We fill the emptiness with food and drinks, shopping, random busyness, excessive exercise or dieting, unfinished projects, sometimes absorbed in self-doubt and gossip. We sabotage our relationships by assuming our significant other innately knows our sadness, this unexplained emptiness, and we carry secret grudges that spill out in bursts of unexpected emotions.

We are surprised by our seemingly sudden lack of emotional endurance and struggle to get through each mundane task.

The first week of school I overheard a group of moms half-joking about their increased anxiety and chaos of trying to maneuver successfully through school schedules, carpool lines, after school activities, dinner, and homework while still keeping the household together and their husbands happy.

“It’s all a process,” one mom said to the other, “eventually it works itself out.”

But maybe it doesn’t ever really “work itself out”.  Perhaps what really needs to happen is that we work it out with ourselves, change our perspective and expectations of what life is supposed to look like in this moment.

There have been different moments in life when I felt content and filled with purpose. Some moments lasting weeks, months and years. Some simply just that, a moment. And then there have been all the “in-between”, the days where the world felt like it was suffocating me and abandoning me all at the same time.

So there I was, having dinner and drinks with a couple of friends last night. We were doing what we’ve done a thousand times before, venting about life and love. There was a fair amount of wallowing in self-pity too, swallowing up the conversation in “If only” and “I need” statements. But as I replayed the conversations in my head this morning, when I really listened to myself, it struck me that these feelings of discontentment are just strands of all the things about myself I don’t really like but could change with a little effort. My loneliness is also me digging in my heels, desperately trying to stand still as my children and my life  have marched forward.

It truly is always a process and a constant state of change. Life doesn’t just work itself out – we have to work harder at finding our own happiness, seeing our own worth and moving towards it every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Five Minute Friday: Brave

5-minute-friday-1My idea of brave has not only changed over the years, but has morphed into something different even today. It’s become more of an understanding, than a definition. Maybe even an epiphany. Brave is not the same for everyone. I picture it being a lot like thresholds of pain tolerance, actually. A place in our life where joy and fear intersect, causing us to make a choice to either move forward or move backward.

I also understand that sometimes, brave is just making a decision to do something, rather than do nothing. In Sarah Bareilles’ new single, Brave, she poses a simple question.

“How big is your brave? “

Brave is being present, it’s listening with my heart and not just my mind. Brave is being a parent to my children and not their friend. It is getting out of bed some mornings, and turning off the light some nights. It’s holding my tongue when spoken to unkindly and it’s asking for forgiveness when I know I’ve hurt another. Brave is admitting I made a mistake. Brave is pushing my body  out of its comfort zone, it is crossing the finish line of my first 5k, 10k and half marathon. It is accepting that not every day is going to be happy. It is admitting when I have had too many sad days in a row and it is telling my children that it is okay to cry. Brave is getting divorced, getting married and having children at all. It is moving away from my family, learning to make new friends, and letting go of those that steal my joy. Brave is giving myself permission to find my own journey of faith, love unconditionally, and teach my children to accept others without judgement. It is making decisions about my children’s educational, mental and physical well-being even when others disagree. Brave is letting my kids fail. It is also pushing them to succeed. Brave is letting go, being silly and completely transparent with my closest friends.

Brave is writing this blog.

My brave feels huge. My brave belongs to me, and my brave will not be diminished by anyone else’s definition of bravery.

Five Minute Friday: Cherish

Me and the Tortoise when I was 25 and she was just a baby.
Me and the Tortoise:  I was 25 then.

I don’t know why we hang on to things like hair. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way long hair looks on a lot of people. In fact, I’ve been wearing my hair various lengths of “long” for the last eleven years. But it takes work. It takes a certain level of commitment that I just don’t want to give currently. In fact, I think I felt a little trapped by the notion that only long can be sexy and feminine.

Last week I was forced to take some length off after a Pinterest mishap. It was probably the best thing that could have happened to my self-esteem because it reminded me of what is really important right now. My focus in this season of my life is my family, stepping outside my comfort zone to strengthen my body and finding time to be more creative. When I think about my life, what I am most proud of are not past hairstyles, fashion, or cars I’ve owned. I am proud of my children. I am proud of my relationships and I am proud of my desire to constantly create something new.

This year I want to make a conscious effort to cherish the now and be more present. I want to continue to teach my daughters how to be who they want to be, and not what they think the media or society wants them to be. I want them to feel free to choose their passions.

Me last night
Me last night

Yesterday, I made a more symbolic gesture of how I am feeling in this moment. I got a drastic haircut and went back to my natural hair color. Not only did my head feel lighter, but so did my heart. And the most amazing thing was the flood of beautiful memories from seeing my reflection in the mirror this morning. This woman looking back at me is the same one that graduated from high school, started college, held her child for the very first time and met her adult best friend.

I like this woman.

 

(This post was inspired by the prompt, cherished.)

5-minute-friday-1