Hello Again

IMG_9385.jpg

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.

Had to escape #coltscamp for a bit. It was blazin' hot. This helped.

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.

IMG_9309.jpg

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.

Title this one "Mom, the amount of leg you're showing makes us uncomfortable."

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?

Panama City Beach

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?

Share

The Short List: May

Pacific Park Ferris Wheel Santa Monica

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Summer break is here! Are the kids out of school where you live yet? While we’re all ready to be done with early mornings and homework, I kind of wish we’d go into June and not go back until after Labor Day. You just never know about Indiana weather in late May and early June. Just the other week we needed our winter coats and had a freeze warning!

Speaking of summer break, I’ve been doing some thinking. I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years now, and I’ve never taken a true vacation. I may skip a week or two of posting when things get crazy, but I’ve generally tried to make sure I’ve had at least one or two posts up every week … for a decade! Summer is always tricky for me, as I’m not great at writing ahead and so I always feel pulled between blogging, real life, and parenting.

Unlike other years, I’ve noticed a new feeling when it comes to this blog, though. Instead of feeling like I want to write here, I’m feeling like I have an obligation to do so. I think, more than anything, I’m tired of the hustle. The hustle is everything but the writing. It’s the staging of photos to make everything pretty for Pinterest. It’s trying to come up with witty bylines for Facebook and Twitter, and the self-promotion. It’s worrying about page views and likes and shares. I don’t want to hustle anymore, and I’m not exactly sure what that means for me, for my writing, for this blog.

And so I’m going to do what my heart wants and what my head has been so scared to do in the past: I’m going to take my own summer break. I’m going to finish up my California trip write-up as well as a round-up of the books I read this spring, and then I’m going to step away for a bit. I really and truly don’t believe it will spell the end, but I’m hoping it will give me time to think about what’s important in my life right now and spark that creative flame again. I don’t have many summers left with my kids. To spend another one hustling while their childhoods march away just as rapidly doesn’t feel right this year.

I promise I won’t leave you hanging, though, wondering if and when I’ll ever return. In the meantime, you can always find me on Instagram. I’d love to connect with you there as well, if we aren’t connected already. And if you’re dreading your own hustle, whatever that might mean for you, I encourage you to take a step back as well. The things that mean the most to you will still be there when (or if) you decided to rejoin the race.

In lieu of the normal short list, I thought I’d share a few things that spoke to me as I thought about what I wanted this summer to look like and how I could be more intentional about enjoying this season.

This episode of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, Happier, is part of what sparked me to really think about summer break. I’m always so hopeful it will be different from the other seasons, and then I’m disappointed when it’s over and it feels like I didn’t enjoy it to its fullest. Here’s to having some experiences that make summer feel truly different from the rest of the year.

This article about how making time for books made the author feel less busy really resonated with me. As technology creeps into every aspect of our lives, I find that taking the time to shut the “chatter” out and read a book is extremely calming and restful.

I just finished Julie Lythcott-Haims’ “How to Raise an Adult.” In this article she talks about skills every 18-year-old should master before leaving for college (something she also discusses in the book in more detail). We’ll be working on these skills this summer!

I was craving a gin and tonic a couple of weeks ago, and accidentally bought club soda instead of tonic water. I made a gin rickey, and inadvertently discovered my official drink of summer (although the dark and stormy will always be near and dear to my summer heart).

I hope you have a wonderful summer! In the words of one of my favorites, Garrison Keillor: “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”

Share

The Short List: April

Poolside reading

I can’t think of the last time in my life (at least since having kids) that I have packed and unpacked a suitcase so many times. This spring has been a season of travel. Last month I had my quick trip to New York City. (Update: I was able to watch my Life Reimagined video that I shot while in NYC. I can’t share it quite yet, but I’m so happy with how it turned out!) This month I was able to get away for a few days to Florida with Mike. His trip was pretty much all business, while mine was pretty much all lounging. I’m eternally grateful for my family and neighbors who make it possible for us to sneak away together. I’m also eternally grateful for piña coladas.

In just a few days we’re headed west! Yes, our big trip to California is right around the corner. You may remember it was our Christmas gift to the kids. We’re all super excited. We’ll spend four days in Los Angeles, a day at Disneyland, and 3 days in San Diego. If you want to follow along, be sure to find me on Instagram. And maybe Snapchat? I just joined, but have absolutely NO clue what I’m doing. That, my friends, is what having a teenage daughter is for. I’m angie.six in that foreign land!

While we’re navigating the west coast, here are a few things I found while still firmly planted in the midwest:

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links.

Listening:

I’m still way behind on the podcast craze, but there are a few that I’ve been absolutely loving. One is Modern Love. Each week, a celebrity reads an essay from the New York Times column by the same name. The topics of the essays are so varied and interesting, and never fail to captivate me. I especially loved “My First Lesson in Motherhood,” read by Connie Britton. As a reader, I also adore the new podcast from Anne Bogel, What Should I Read Next. I think I love listening to people talk about books almost as much as I enjoy reading them! I’m on a quest to find a podcast that the kids and I would enjoy together. Any suggestions?

Reading:

Thanks to a recommendation from What Should I Read Next, Eli and I are reading The Crossover by Kwame Alexander together. Reading something written in verse is new for us, but the topic (basketball) and the writing have us hooked. I’m also tearing through a fantastic book on parenting teenage girls. Chock full of useful and panic-reducing information, Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour is a book I’m going to be shoving into other parents’ hands on a regular basis. On the fiction front I started The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings . You might remember her as the author of The Descendents, which was made into a movie starring George Clooney. On the audiobook side of things I’m listening to How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran. Imagine Bridget Jones and Cameron Jones melded into one teenage girl growing up in the gritty suburbs of London. It’s a fun (but definitely not safe for work or small ears) listen so far.

Loving:

I’ve been admiring maxi dresses from afar for the last couple of summers. They seem so cute on other (taller) women, but all wrong when I try them on. Every maxi dress I’ve tried on has been too long, or too tight in the wrong places, or so loose it looks like a potato sack. And don’t even get me started on the bra issues!

gap column maxi dress

I finally found the perfect maxi dress at the Gap that is big-busted, short girl perfection. It comes in petite sizing, so I don’t have to hem it, it’s clingy in a sexy way (as opposed to sausage-casing clingy), and I can wear a normal bra with it. I’ll be wearing it all summer long, dressed up and dressed down.

Surfing:

Have trouble deciding what to read? How about reading a book based on your Myers-Brigg personality type? (I’m an ISFJ-T, so I added A Little Life to my TBR list.)

Our 19th wedding anniversary is just around the corner, so these tweets that only married people will understand made me chuckle.

As a person who never excelled at math, this article fascinated me. It also changed the way I talk about math to my kids.

What’s on your short list of favorite things right now?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Share