Well, hello there. How are you? Let me just dust the chairs around here, open the windows and let some fresh air in. It’s been awhile since this little corner of the internet has seen any activity.
I did what I said I would do and I took a little summer vacation … and it was wonderful. I feel as if every August I reflect back on the summer that was and feel either immense relief that it was over, regret over missed opportunities, or both. This year I feel neither. Instead I am content. It was a good summer. It was the perfect mix of adventurous and relaxed. And for the first time I can remember, it felt as if I was truly intentional about enjoying the season of life I’m in right now.
In the process I learned that savoring where I am right now, both in the season of the year and the season of parenting older kids, involves a whole lot of letting go.
I let go of the notion that every day needs planned to the nth degree.
I let go of the idea that activities and outings are the only way to measure the amount of fun we’re having or how good of a mother I am.
I let go of my usual standards of cleanliness and perfection. (See photographic evidence below of dead flowers and a NERF modification station taking up residence on the dining room table for several weeks.) Having the kids pitch in and help, which was one of my few goals this summer, means not standing over them and explaining why one should vacuum in this precise pattern or load the silverware in the dishwasher this particular way. (Husbands, of course, are excluded from this delightful aspect of my personality.) Sometimes good enough is preferable over perfect. Actually, good enough is always preferred over perfect, something I will spend the rest of my days trying to put into practice.
This little internet sabbatical also allowed me to let go of the need to produce work for the sake of looking productive. Walking way from creating in this space gave me room to reflect. It’s forced me to truly think about what I love versus what I love the idea of.
I love the idea of being a writer. I love the idea of sitting at my computer every day, steaming mug of coffee on my desk, surrounded in silence and pouring life-changing thoughts and ideas from my soul onto the screen.
I still love the act of writing, but I don’t love everything that goes with it anymore. And by “it,” I mean the idea of blogging as work intended to provide income. I don’t love the time it takes away from my other responsibilities and relationships. And I’m starting to think I’ve safely hidden myself behind the screen in an effort to avoid pursuing what I’m meant to do with my life.
This summer I loved feeling balanced, connected and in the moment. With myself, my friends and my family I had the summer I always loved the idea of and the summer I actually experienced together. I have to wonder if leaving the daily grind of blogging had something to do with it. And I’m contemplating that what I love the idea of and what I’m actually good at may be two very different things.
Reflecting in this way has been incredibly scary for me. Looking back at where I thought I was headed and where I find myself now, I feel untethered. What am I meant to do? I’m anxious, dreading the question of what I’ve been up to. Even a simple call during the day from Mike makes me break into a bit of a sweat.
“What are you up to?” he’ll casually ask.
Folding t-shirts. And fending off a mid-life crisis and my anxiety by reorganizing the LEGOs. What are you up to?
I also feel a bit ridiculous and ashamed. I am quite aware of my good fortune to have both the time and the choice to wonder what I should do when I grow up. And so I put on my very best phone voice when anyone asks what’s next, and say something chipper about exploring my options, enjoying the journey, blah blah blah. I mean, really. Who am I to complain or feel lost when there are terribly awful things happening all around us?
But what if all this caution in choosing our words, this care that we take take to put things in perspective when we think of or speak of our pain, is keeping us from feeling what we were designed to feel?
We are designed to feel shitty sometimes. And we are allowed to feel bad, sad, anxious and mad about both the Big Stuff and the Little Stuff. I know that in the grand scheme of things, my ambivalence about whether to stop blogging and my worries about finding work that’s right for me is small potatoes. But these burdens are my small potatoes, and to dismiss them doesn’t solve the deeper work I need to do to find a purpose and path. Also, small potatoes makes excellent home fries, and who doesn’t love fries?
I think this need to wrap up our uncomfortable feelings and loose ends in a tidy box, whether it’s for a story shared with everyone or the story we only tell ourselves is keeping many of us from living an authentic life. When we hustle to make everything look pretty again, it often turns out a mess.
So if you don’t mind, I’m going to stew in the corner with my basket of doubts and small potatoes. There is no lesson or witty ending just yet. I’m not going away, but I think you will notice a different feel in this space. I’m still writing, and some of that writing will still find a home here. I’m just not sure how much or how often.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Have you been through a career change or life transition that had you feeling lost as well? What helped you through it? What would you do differently if you could make those choices over again?