Tonight was one of those nights that felt close to perfect...minus the parts that weren’t so perfect. I’m going to focus on the near-perfect for now cuz I’d like our nights to feel this way more often and I have a quiet hunch that focusing on them will help toward that end. I think the weather shift was forcing some old shit out and opening the way for something new to come in. Dinner was yummy, peaceful and fun. We all seemed to have happy moments in our day to highlight...new treads on the truck, an audition that led to a favorable outcome, fantasies about a limo ride to the Dells paid for by the Brownies!, and an invitation to a gala. Red licorice chased dinner followed by dancing to everything from Bruce Springsteen to one of my all time favs, John Denver. Watching our youngest bust her fancy moves while slow dancing with our firstborn to "Rocky Mountain High" while reminiscing about her birth in a Colorado spring snowstorm and all the ups and downs we have experienced since...I felt my heart flutter as tears rolled down my face taking it all in...allowing myself to feel it all...especially the gratitude part for the triumphs over the tribulations. My heart was full and life felt pretty perfect in that moment. The remainder of eve following had its moments of turbulence with the usual resistance to bed time, testing technology boundaries, and an emotional meltdown when the boundary didn’t melt. I pulled away from my usual engagement and gave room for reflection and contemplation. The outcome was better than expected and left us all seemingly wiser. Now I’m going to sign off from this nearly perfect night and go to bed. It’s significantly later than a bedtime I cannot seem to keep. I will work on perfecting that another night. For now, goodnight!
Sometimes I grow weary of my unwillingness to self discipline. Perusing social media makes me feel depressed and lose site of the blessings in my own life and objectifies others as something to be jealous of vs. seeing them as beings who have lived complex lives and overcome a myriad of challenges and obstacles to be where they are today. I want to stop but don’t know how. I have fallen prey to something beyond my ability to comprehend right now. I’m filled with jealousy and envy and it’s toxic to my very well-being. What is the best remedy? Remove the apps? How else will I communicate what is of value to me? Does it matter that I try to communicate such things anyway? I see others living in beautiful homes, adventuring in the coolest of places, along side of the most interesting companions with the world's smartest and most talented offspring, contributing the most valuable things to the world. It’s nearly impossible to measure up. What would happen if I removed them? Who would know me? Who would care? I love to write but I hate the idea of putting things out there that spark the same internal processes that I find to be so toxic. Why do we keep going with this poisonous habit? For the shred of good it offers...the moments of intermittent connection, the nostalgic ties to the past which I might argue are more harmful than good by how these reminders make my poor heart feel. I frequently find it to be detrimental to my psychological and spiritual well-being yet find myself returning to it for the crumbs it gives me in exchange for my vital life force. Images are powerful. They have the power to communicate so much so quickly. It’s equally as interesting to contemplate all that we choose to eliminate from a picture. Words force our minds to slow down, process, digest, own or release depending on their inherent value to us. What would happen if I stopped posting? Who would miss out? Who would gain? Me, my girls, my spouse? Those I would take the time to call or make the time to see instead? My introverted tendencies have found a way to engage when I might otherwise keep to myself. But does this engagement serve any purpose beyond giving me a false sense of connection? We...I...try to freeze a moment in time as if simply living it is somehow not enough. The joy of a moment is ours...and shared is ours multiplied...but somehow when it gets “posted” for the world at large something of it gets lost, cheapened for all that another might deduce of that slice of life we provided for them to make shit up about. It’s the journey leading up to the moment that we truly hold near and dear and that we see in the images we personally snap and freeze in time. When someone else looks they can only see the exact moment in time from the vantage point we have opted to freeze...and make up the rest according to their own world view and whatever fits with their beliefs and patterns of thinking. It’s really a crazy thing that we have grown to value a two dimensional screen and the things it communicates to us more than we value the present moment in time we are actually living in and experiencing...the beating of our heart, the pulsation of blood and vital life force coursing through our veins, life giving oxygen flowing into and out of our lungs, the simple raw feeling of being in our bodies living the lives we have been gifted to live.
I cannot see myself as separate from the natural world that surrounds me. It is not dependent on me as I am on it. I possess tremendous power to create and cultivate or dismantle and destroy by the choices I make. I fall prey to fatigue and laziness causing me to rationalize my decisions. My children and their own will bear the consequences of these rationalizations. This is a hard reality to face and inspires me to hold myself more accountable to living green and motivating and educating others to do the same.
This moment I am in right now is sweet...sweet because I have set a boundary. Life has tossed me to and fro enough that I have finally had enough of certain things to the point of putting my foot down. It’s an inside outside job. I have spent many a year falling prey to comparisons and finding myself coming up short. It’s generally my own self assessment that determines another to be better than me...or another's experience of life to be somehow better than my own. It has been a painful, abusive, devaluing way of treating myself. In this sweet moment I feel acceptance and self-forgiveness for the pain this habit has caused me...and in doing so feel somewhat freed of its possessive hold on me. Simultaneously I feel done with allowing anyone outside of myself to do the same. I have lost my tolerance for it. I feel this new tender but firm “no” inside that time will serve to strengthen provided I persist in vigilance and firmness in my word. I pray for clarity of sight and assertion of voice. Thank you.
Jesus, you gift each of us with a unique journey. My deepest sorrow and greatest joy result from traveling this journey with you. That is the way of the cross. It is the agony and the ecstasy. I spend many a moment contemplating and trying to be faithful to the course while simultaneously wishing desperately I had been gifted with someone else’s travel plans. My current life is a result of hundreds of choices made while trying to be true to your call. My deepest inner conflict comes from the gnawing feeling that I somehow heard you wrong or went off track and did my own thing. I pray to be at peace with the choices I have made thus far and for a deep inner peace to accompany present and future choices.
Taking the time for me is as essential as breathing. When I don’t, life closes in and results in suffocation. I clammer and claw at whoever and whatever is around me gasping to hold on to a bit of myself. Our girls, my spouse, my job, our home all seem to scream out louder for attention...but the quiet voice within me screams the loudest of all when I don’t pay attention to it’s quieter hum. It screams in the dissatisfaction of all the other voices around me cuz apparently they all take notice. At first listen, they seem to be yelling at me to attend to them...but a closer more careful listen reveals they are truly sounding the call that I have ignored within myself...or simply not prioritized. I hear you. I’m listening now. I’m sorry for giving you a deaf ear.
When I was a child, chores made sense to me only in that things needed to be done so I had to do them just as much as anyone else. The extrinsic reward was an allowance. The intrinsic reward was my inherent love for order and beauty...and things returning to their rightful place. The guarantee of a warm smile and equally warm fuzzies from my mom was the icing on the cake. Since we bought our farmhouse my love for this ‘busywork’ (as my daughters call it) has grown as well as the sheer volume of it. I fondly renamed weeding “dirt therapy’. As I dug my hands in the dirt this evening to pull out the relentless weeds, I contemplated the generations of moms before me who spent countless hours faithfully doing the same task. It dawned on me that they ‘got’ the metaphorical value of these activities. In this moment I understood that weeding and other routine chores is a cleansing ritual or spiritual practice of sorts for the common householder. Cleaning windows cleanses our perspective and holds the potential for a whole new outlook on life. Scrubbing floors and baseboards purifies and solidifies our foundation. Digging in the dirt reminds us to dig deeply within ourselves to extricate the growth of things that do not serve our essential purpose. Little did I know back then how wise my mama was and what she was really up to when she religiously returned to her windows and weeds and trained us to do the same. It feels like a rite of passage and an emergence of wisdom to have unearthed the deeper significance of these common earthly practices. Thank you.
"If you know how it feels then why don’t you do it differently?" Ouch. The truth hurts...especially when spoken by your own child. She wanted time with me. She doesn’t want to have to share. I get it. Boy do I get it! Her younger sister screams louder and persists longer in demanding my attention...so she wins. It’s not fair to her and I know that as well as any. Being the oldest of five I totally understand what having to share feels like. Does anyone ever emerge from childhood feeling like they got enough love? I knew my parents loved me...but knowing you are loved and feeling like you are filled up to overflowing are different things altogether. I want to make it a priority to give both of my girls a balanced and rich experience of time with me. I humbly ask for help with this.
Where do these moments go? As I peruse through old photos, I see image after image of child in arms. Those eternal moments have gone by in a blink. No matter the effort to slow life down, it persists in rushing by at the speed of light. Our oldest is 10 and the second trailing closely behind. I find myself questioning whether I have tried to slow life down too much. Have I kept her...them...from being the best versions of themselves they can possibly be? We all vie for attention and time to make our own matters matter most. The stage of life we are in now is making a house a home and establishing patterns and rituals of living together. I look around and see parents running their kiddos here and there and everywhere. They are pre-pubescent experts at one thing or another...karate, jujitsu, soccer, piano, baseball, gymnastics, math. I wonder if I have done enough...am doing enough for them. Have I missed the boat? I want to motivate and inspire them to action and give them opportunities to excel and succeed at something. Even more, I want them to know the lost art of slowing down and relaxing, a lost art which I have much to learn about myself. This home and space we are creating is first and foremost for that. Work certainly happens here but the pace seems to be more in rhythm with times gone by. If I could surrender one thing right now it would be shame and guilt over not doing enough, being enough, giving my kids enough. I would accept that I am giving what I can and that is enough. Who I am is enough. I surrender this to you now and I thank you for receiving it.
I'm Kelly Isabelle.
Full-time workin' mama & spouse aspiring to live a slowly paced, sustainably minded, creatively expressed, clutter-free life shared with kindred folk.