her vs me

Why do I do this to myself? This is one of the more prickly things I do to myself.

I am pitting her against me (in my head of course) and telling myself all the reasons why I am the loser. Why she is better, prettier, more together, more successful…..you get the idea.

Then there is the subsequent battle about why she is really terrible after all. Because I might just feel a tinge better about the fact that I am losing this battle in my brain if the truth turns out to be that she is terrible.

Then I tell myself all the reasons why her happiness and success in life came so easily. Anyone could do what she has done if they had as much money as her. If they had as much beauty as she does. If they had as much influence as she has been given.

And it all swirls together up there and becomes a disgusting mess. And I kind of want to throw up all over myself.

At about that moment, a light dawns in. I don’t know where it came from. I’m just thankful.

Wait. Stop. Think.

Do you really want her life so badly? So what if she has 20 million gazillion readers who email and facebook and tweet all of her great writing to all of their 100 million gazillion friends.

If you had her life, you wouldn’t have yours.

So instead of thinking about how valuable her life is, I start to think about the value in mine. My kids. My husband. My friends. My writing. My journey.

And I realize I really like my life. Comparing myself to someone else is maybe not the best thing for me. Because I have not been given her life. I have been given mine.

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calling

I can hear him calling me from the other room. There are other things crying out to me as well like the laundry and the dusting and the chocolate cookies in the fridge. But today I seem to know that Harley’s call is the one I need to answer.

I open up his silver frame and feel the gratitude all over again. Harley was a gift to me. He used to belong to my friend’s twin sister. And then a few weeks after I confessed to my sweet friend that I want to write a book, she told me she had something for me.

We walked out to her car. I imagined the fun scarf or accessory she – the hip young single girl – was handing down to her fashion-challenged mom-friend with no time to shop. I knew it would be something with a flair that I would love.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that she would hand me a laptop. She made all sorts of qualifiers about how it was so old and she didn’t know what programs were on it and on and on. I stood there with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

When I got it home, I discovered my friend’s twin had named her laptop and he seemed a beloved old friend of hers. I carried on the tradition and welcomed Harley into our family. Even my four year old will call him by name when he asks me, “What is Harley showing you, Mom?”

So now Harley is my beloved friend. And today he called to me as only he can. Tugging on my heart, I could hear him a mile away. He knows I have much stirring inside me and he can help me in a releasing and peace-making sort of way.

Harley was a gift of faith, a tangible “I believe in you” from my friend. But he has been so much more. He has been my safe place.

To create.

To let go.

To try.

Not just for the sake of a product but for the sake of me.

Because as a writer I have found that writing has become a part of me and a part of my life. Not just to produce for a blog post or to plunk away at a book that seems such an elusive endeavor at times.

Harley shows me that writing is where I find myself, where I work things out, where I let things go. And I know that because I can hear his call from way across the house, as though he were whispering from right inside my heart.  

Who is calling you today?

beauty in the attempt

I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to write what I want to write. I am tired and empty and spent from all of the relational and emotional work I have been doing and I want so badly to pour out what is inside of me onto this screen, but it’s not working today.

I think I have something important to say. A reminder that we all struggle, a declaration to the world, but more importantly to me, that none of us is as alone as we think.

But the words are not coming out right. My passion and vision and desperation are all tripping over each other and I think, “I can’t do it.”  “Why am I trying?” “What difference can one person make?”

But then I collide head first into my conviction.

And my conviction tells me if I want the world to be a more authentic place, then I need to be authentic. If I want the world to be an understanding place, then I need to offer myself understanding. If I want the world to be safe – to value process over performance or perfection – then I must first become safe for myself and give myself freedom to be in process and not perform for others (or myself), requiring perfection at every turn.

“So try,” I tell myself.

Because I am a writer. Writing has become more than a hobby or something I do on the side. Writing is a part of my life. Writing does not define who I am but I cannot be me without it. No matter if anyone reads it or not, I am a writer.  (http://youareawriter.com)

And the kind of writing I offer the world is honest and it comes out of the very things I am struggling with right now. I could write all about how I think everyone else should be better human beings, how the world needs to change and be a better place than it is.

But I don’t.

I write about my own honest and arduous transformational journey in letting love in. Which I believe changes a person from the inside out. However, I also believe allowing myself to receive love that I don’t think I deserve or have somehow earned is much, MUCH harder than it sounds.

So today’s struggle is letting myself be a writer even when I am not perfect at writing. When the words do not flow the way I want them to. When I walk away with still so much trapped inside of me that I wanted to get out.

But I tried. And sometimes that’s all I’ve got.

invaluable

In his most earnest voice he asked, “Can I buy some-sing with my money I saved up from itunes?” My breath was caught on the beauty of his innocence. He had no idea what he was saying. With his handful of coins, some of which were mearly tokens leftover from a bowling alley birthday party a few months back, I immediately saw myself in the believing eyes of my three-year-old.

Yesterday, after I got home from the conference Phil announced we would be going to the Lego store. With three boys, that store is always a hit. Zachary ran off to his room and came back with those coins, his eyes dancing with excitement.

That is probably about what I looked like to the agents I met with at this writing conference. My writing was not nearly good enough to get me what I wanted from their store.

My son being three, I did not explain to him how little was in his hands. It is not the appropriate time for him to learn this lesson. What was important was that he brought what he had and believed he was contributing.

But I am no longer three and it was time from me to learn some of the harsh realities of the world of writing and where I might stand in it. And then I am left with a choice: do I take my tokens home and cry or to do I go back and work to get more in hope that next time I will have what it takes? Maybe a little of both.

Truthfully I am left with many more questions than that, but I will save those for another day. To sum up the conference, it was painfully invaluable in more ways than I could count. I am so very glad I went.

And thanks to my son, the sting has lifted a bit. I can see the beauty in coming with my handful of coins, even if it was not nearly enough.

trying to breathe

My girlfriend and her mom came over this morning. We engaged in the beautiful ritual of figuring out what to wear. They were there to help me with my wardrobe for the writers conference.

We got it all figured out and then I got Zachary down for his nap and then I had a moment to breathe. And think. And freak out. Just a little.

So in the quiet I started talking to God.

Okay Lord, please calm me down. Remind me that I am valuable because you love me, not because of what I may or may not achieve as a writer.

And Lord? Phil was so so so graciously supportive of this conference and we paid a lot of money for me to go. And we don’t have a lot of money right now. I feel like if I don’t come back with an agent interested in me that we wasted that money. That I was a bad investment. And we can’t afford bad investments right now.

Then I got a text from a friend.

She said she was praying for me and then she said words I needed to hear. Be yourself. Breathe. Somehow those words brought me back to the ground; out of the tornado of pressure and nerves I created. I realized I did what I often do. I made the conference an either/or experience.

Either I would be a success or I would be a total failure.

But life is so much more of a both/and experience. There will probably be some successes and some failures along the way of me working my way into the writing world. This conference included.

Take tonight for example. I succeeded in being one of the friendliest, easiest people to meet at the social gathering tonight. (I know, so shocking for those of you who know me – insert sarcasm.) There were quite a few other writers I succeeded in helping feel more at ease. Meeting people is petrifying for some people. I am not one of them.

At the end, I gave my card to one of the agents I will have a one-on-one appointment with tomorrow. To be honest, he is my top pick. But when I gave him my card, he looked at me a little funny. Uh-oh. Did I just faux paux?

And then, as I read over the writing I sent in for review at tomorrow’s appointments (that I hope to have these people love and want more of) I already see some ways that I could have made it more appealing. Suck.

But because of my friend’s text, I am remembering that life is more of the both/and. And Phil loves me and thinks I am worth the investment of this conference even if I come back without an agent who loves me. And I can be myself. And I can breathe. And I am loved by God.

fight or flight

I read a post recently about birds and how they fall out of the nest to learn to fly. I learned that geese are different. They have to fight to fly, even when they have all the right feathers.

The writer was making the point that much of getting where we want and need to be in life is more of a fight than something we fall into. I’ve been thinking about that ever since.

You see I have a writer’s conference coming up this weekend. It is my first one and I am dying. Signing up for it felt like a leap of faith. Falling off a cliff to say, “Here I come writing world! Catch me!”

However, since then it has felt like a lot of work. Work that I have been completely energized by. For a person who never saw herself in a “career”, the fact that I am so jazzed and ambitious about this is a bit……foreign. But in a good way.

So I have been hammering out a book proposal, writing posts on the blog, ordering business cards (which I think are so beautiful I could about die), printing the pages I sent in for advanced reading appointments so I can make notes on them, figuring out what to wear, and my latest project is to practice in front of the mirror those few sentences I have to introduce myself and my writing and my book. Preparation. I don’t want to miss any opportunity because I didn’t do my best to prepare myself.

And all of this I have been doing while being a wife and a mom of three and making sure our home doesn’t completely fall apart in the meantime. It feels a bit like a fight.

Then last week I started to feel a tickle in my throat. After the first few days I figured it was something minor and would clear. But by today I am wondering if I have a sinus infection. I am prone to sinus infections. I went to the doctor today. No antibiotics yet, but if I get worse, they are only a phone call away.

This morning my oldest son woke up nauseous. So far no vomit. I am trying very hard not to envision what this weekend would look like if the stomach flu went screaming through my family.

So while signing up for the writer’s conference felt like a leap of faith, like jumping out of a tree, preparing and making it there is feeling much more like a fight, like a goose learning to fly. I think that’s a lot like life. There are leaps of faith and there are fights when learning to fly.

What are you fighting for and what leaps of faith are you taking? Certainly I am not the only one….