In my natural state. 🙂
Confession: I think way too much about what I should include on this blog and what I shouldn’t. It isn’t all bad. A blog has to have a specific voice and purpose to be useful. Mixed with the author’s personality, the blogs I follow have something in particular that give information. Much of the time nothing seems worth sharing on my blog. It’s like that weirdness that occurs when you say a word over and over and over to yourself and then the word begins to sound strange, like nonsensical jibberish. (I know I’m not the only one out there who does this. No, really, I’m not. Neither are you.) Blogging is a difficult thing for me because I am always drawn back to it, but it often eludes me. There is a delicate balance between a blog being a constant conversation with oneself, sharing the most mundane things possible, or never posting at all because it all seems so trivial and self-important. It’s hard not to be an exhibitionist in our digital age.
So how do I find the balance? The only way I know how is to declare that I live a very ordinary life and to embrace it as such.
An ordinary and average life often seems unimportant to share, but it is what I know and experience.
I’m not unique in having joys and trials; we all have had them. I don’t believe that my life is much more joyful or painful than yours and so I just have to share it and essentially say, “Look at me! Look at me!” I have hobbies and interests, but I’m not accomplished in a way that makes me an expert on any one thing to hand over to those around me. Most of the time, I am just trying to wrap my mind around what happens in each day. I feel like every year in my life, especially the last decade, has been a crazy whirlwind.
In the last year alone I:
* Interviewed for a position I never thought I would get, just to keep myself adept at interviewing (my nemesis!), landed the job, and turned it down
*Went from homeschooling full-time to sending my children to private school
*Took up substitute teaching in a classical Christian school and falling in love with my passion again
* Started my own furniture painting design business called Dixie Dutch Design
*Completely re-hauled our budget and financial life with my husband
*Graduated (um, finally!) from graduate school but opted out of walking in the commencement
*Started running and training for long distance races
*Got my health back on track after a scary 2011
*Took a positive pregnancy test and then experienced miscarriage
*Looked at a house with my husband as we consider what the future holds
*Buried a grandparent
*Made myself sit in my chair and write more often
*Started another part time job (alongside teaching and painting) this summer in retail clothing
*Applied for position at the university
*Took up reading again like it’s my coffee
This is just naming a few surface details. I’ve made mistakes, (some big, some small). I’ve had heartache and crazy blessing along the way. Much of the time, the things that I desperately want don’t end up falling together. Sometimes they do. There are moments when I am completely blown away and surprised at things I’m given and I needed but didn’t know I needed until they showed up in my lap. I’m hoping that I’m learning more quickly now than I used to.
The challenge is how in the world can I be fully a wife, fully a mother, and fully passionate about my work? Are they all mutually exclusive? In short, how do I stop living compartmentalized but integrated in all these things? I’ve been learning that lesson for the last 11 years and I’m still learning it! When I started out in this thing called adulthood I was optimistic, bright-eyed, and had a basic philosophy of life that everything always works itself out in the end. Maybe a lot of it was the fact that I was head-over heels in love with my husband (then boyfriend) and love makes everything hazy :). Even though I am first-born, I must have been a late bloomer. I was always the anti-type A personality. I was go-with-the-flow, flexible, adaptable, a non-worrier, and confident. It’s why I was married at the tender age of 20, pregnant a year later right before my senior year of undergrad, and just kept trudging along without much thought except that life works itself out. Along the way, I’ve been dragged down not just by circumstances but my own perspective. I’ve made mistakes, gone through disillusionment and disappointment, had my dreams turned completely upside down and set backward, only to see them reemerge in ways I never would have imagined, for good or bad. In short, I started out at the base of the mountain with a lot of overconfidence, brushing off life as easy and enjoyable the whole climb up. I wanted to quit a quarter of the way through, hated myself for wanting to quit and give up so early in, and slowly started to learn how to keep moving upward even though it was painful, difficult, and circumstances unpredictable.
I’m still climbing that mountain, but I’m a different person than when I started at the base. I started out holding everything in life very loosely in my hands, taking it all for granted. In time, I began hoarding what I had, trying to control it and keep it close as dreams started slipping through my fingers. I’m learning how to live with open hands again, but I pray I do so with wisdom.
The ordinary is quite amazing, scary, and breathlessly good, if we are willing to stare it full in the face.
I like poignant and strong word pictures and phrases (I am a reader/writer/thinker after all), but I bristle at dramatics, over-sentimentality, and over simplified philosophies. A philosophy of life (like, life will always work itself out) doesn’t do me much good when I’m constantly looking to invent or build a life that is not what I own. I recently read a quote from an amazing woman that hit me full force:
Whatever was God’s providence for me, it was His to lay out and mine to obey. No longer did I have to invent myself. ~ Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Unlikely Convert
No longer did I have to invent myself. That phrase struck me so deeply this week, that I’ve been thinking about it for days. I scribbled it on scrap paper and stuffed it between the frame and glass of the mirror that sits in our kitchen. I wrote it across my Moleskin notebook so I won’t forget it. A freedom from the pressure to build a masterpiece that outshines the one next to us. I often live life with my private faith compartmentalized in one corner and my public persona in another, with my daily realities and roles of wife, mother, and self somewhere in between. Do you do this? Along the way, I’ve put this enormous pressure on myself to be an adventurer, to forge this untraveled path of my own. In short, to invent myself, as Rosaria states so eloquently. It promises to be exciting and unknown and I always receive the message that if I am not a free spirit wanderer, (or an eloquent writer of profound words) I’ve settled for “less than” in this life. That if I’m not living the fast-paced, well-traveled life, then I’m not really “living”. (Thank you Pinterest for solidifying this with all your simplified quotes on the meaning of life with the ocean as a backdrop.)
What if the adventure is right here, in the quiet recesses of my own heart, mind, and soul?
I’m not talking about the often over-stated idea of “just” counting your blessings, finding contentment, and being thankful for what you have. All of those things are true, but we often say them so much, in such a flippant, off-handed way. Or we count those blessings just to cope….to make ourselves feel better about the bad without ever really getting to close to it….like plugging our ears and closing our eyes and saying, “I’m not listening!” to what is around us, even if we are suppose to look at it and hear it and learn from it. I’m just too used to those phrases glossing over what is going on at a deeper level, and those ideas have slowly lost their meaning for me. Again, like saying a word over and over until it sounds nonsensical. I’m talking about sitting and facing yourself fully, looking deeply into the soul, looking deeply into the soul of others, trudging through big, enormous questions of life, and pushing past the fear of what answers are to be found.
Often, the would-be adventurer is a wanderer, running away from their own solitude out of fear. Don’t let that fear rule.
So I write on this blog, not because I am an eloquent writer (I mash up my phrases and edit too quickly all the time. I use “but” and “and” as sentence starters often, which is breaking the golden rules of writing, and I am always in internal turmoil over this fact. I am a hopeless “rusher”. I’ve edited this post four times and I’m just ready to click publish, for crying out loud.) I write because the soul is a combination of intellect and emotion, and this life is made up of reality and truth, and I like to find it in the ordinary corners of days and weeks and months and years. So I promise to wrestle with the questions and share what I learn, and how I fall, and how I get up, and why I can even get up.
Thank you for letting me think and live out loud. Thank you for listening.