Tag Archives: Writing

Life Happens – Where I’ve Been for the Past Year or So

I know I kind of fell off the face of the earth for the past, umm year, is it? It’s been a while since I posted anything of any substance, anywhere, longer since I posted anything about my family. I still have drafts I wrote last Summer that I have every intention of publishing…someday. In all honesty, life has been a bit of a struggle for me, the past few months, the past year.

I read something about stress-levels post multiples and how post-partum depression hits later than with singletons. I don’t know if 6 years later is feasible or not. Maybe it is. At just the time they say it hits (2-3 years of age), we had Peter, which didn’t give me the chance to breath…life marched on. There was no time to feel “depressed”.

There’s still no time, but it’s there. The tired, the not caring, the overwhelmed. 

And this is where I always freeze up when it comes to sharing, because no one knows how or wants to admit that they don’t really like themselves or their life sometimes. At least I don’t. And there’s another part that if you are liking who you are becoming or what you are doing, there’s a problem with that too.

I love my husband. I love my kids. I love our home. Sometimes it’s all too much though, too much noise, too much stuff, too many personalities, too many to-dos. And all the too much means there’s not enough of other things…quiet, clean, brain power, focus, clarity.

My mind gets swept along the raging river, bashing into rocks and being sucked under the waves. Sometimes, I’m able to keep my head up, manage to keep afloat amidst the debris, and other times I’m sucked into one of those underwater crevices of a rock and the panic sets in.

They tell me that this is normal, that it’s just “motherhood”. Then why do I feel so alone, despite opening up to others, that no one really is drowning in this as much as I am. I don’t honestly think I’m failing at this, I think I’m doing a pretty darn OK job at mothering these 5, but why does it feel like I’m the only mom that wants to walk away from it, from them?

Last summer my book club read “The Awakening”, and most of the responses of the other moms was how could she leave her children, that she was so selfish for all she was doing…and all I could think was how I “got” what she felt. She would do anything for her children, except kill her “self”.

I’m sure there are many Christian moms that would read this, clutching their pearls, at the very thought of not dying to self, of not living solely for their children. I’m sorry, I can’t, and I don’t honestly think that God wants me to become a shell of a woman for the sake of my children. I don’t for one minute believe that I am supposed to entirely relinquish my interests, identity, or any part of me for my role as a mother.

That said, it’s finding my self, finding the time to remember who I was before any of this, that feels impossible. The part that makes it so impossible is that I’ve always lived for someone else and what they expected of me, so it’s not just FINDING my self, but actually LEARNING who I am, and in that there is a struggle.

When you start figuring out who you are, what your interests are, who you want to be, you have a tendency to piss off people, to disappoint people. You become no longer willing to just make every one else happy, to be a doormat. Suddenly, there’s a whole other part of you. Your interests and opinions and feelings don’t line up with what people expect you to do and be. And that can be a very hard place to be.

It’s very often pointed out that the marriage/husband should be the focus of a family, because after the children are long gone, that will still exist…and it’s true. Your children are your’s for a season, your husband will be your’s until death do you part (baring anything else). But here’s the thing, YOU will be you until forever.

What happens when a spouse dies? You’ve lived your entire life for that person only to not know how to function when they’re gone. I don’t want to do that either. I don’t want to curl up in a ball and not be able to live if something were to happen to my husband, and I know he wouldn’t want that for me, just as I wouldn’t want that for him, no matter how old we were.

Now that I’ve taken this whole big thing to explain what my mental state has been for the past year. I have been in a constant struggle between taking care of my children and husband and taking care of myself. I don’t have an answer on how to manage it. I don’t have a solution.

Sometimes I feel like me. Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed (I d0 anyways). I’m not sure that there is a way to find a balance between the two, because as soon as I feel like me, I’m hear that I’m failing my family. It’s lovely really *note sarcasm*.

I think the hardest part of my writing and being active on social media, is that I don’t want to be open with certain people in my life. I honestly don’t want to share my struggles with nosy relatives, the neighbors who are just going to gossip, but I don’t know how to cut those ties without insulting someone. So I shut myself up instead. At the time it seems easier.

That said, I am seriously considering going private again as a blogger, because I know I need this space. There are a lot of things that I want to mull over and share and process here, and hopefully in the near future I will be sharing more about things that are going on in my life.

Do it Scared: Choosing to Not Live Life in Fear

This past summer I claimed the saying, “Do it scared!” because I realized I have allowed myself to NOT do many things, because I was scared. Scared of what people would say or think, scared of whether I would succeed or fail.

It is infinitely easier to live in the dream of “someday” than it is to step out and do the thing you fear.

I turned 35 this past summer. I’ve realized something over the last few years…that I’ve lived most of my life in fear, or should I say I’ve existed in fear, because not doing things you want to do because you’re afraid isn’t living. The biggest thing I did was I finally got a tattoo.

For the past 20 years I’ve talked about it, but I finally did it. Believe me, all that day, waiting for my appointment, I kept telling myself this was the stupidest thing to do and more than once I picked up my phone to cancel the appointment, but I didn’t. I did it scared.

I did it knowing that I may regret it or that people may look down on me for it, but I did it. I didn’t let all my fears of “if” and “maybe” keep me from doing something.

You see, the thing about our fears are that they’re usually unfounded. Of course, there are those fears that are healthy fears, that keep us safe, but by and large they’re non-existent.

Fears are things we’ve put in place to keep ourselves in our comfort zone.  It’s an excuse we use to give ourselves permission to not even try.

This fall, I brandished my perfectionism as an excuse to not do something. I realized it was actually my fear of failing, of not meeting expectations (mine and other’s). It’s ridiculous! I had a vision in my head of what I wanted my Halloween costume to look like, but I was scared of messing it up.

I’ve never considered myself much of a perfectionist. Yes, I like things to be just-so, but for the most part I can let things slide, but I’ve realized something, my perfectionism manifests itself in fear. I let me fear of things not being just-so, keep me from even trying.  After 6 weeks of procrastinating I did it scared.  I made the first cut, stitched the first seam, and it came out awesome!

Fear is not from God. We are not meant to live in a constant state of fear. We are meant to live in the knowledge that we are marked as Christ’s own, that we are to live our lives to His glory, and if we are living in fear, we’re not doing that.

When I was younger I would always tell myself, “I can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives me strength”, and it always helped me to move forward in spite of fear. Did I always use it the way the verse was meant to be used, no probably not, but it certainly helped me to act even when I was afraid.

Do not let fear keep you from living your life to it’s fullest. You will mess up. You will be disappointed at how things turn out.  But those mess ups and disappointments will be nothing compared to the regret you will feel when you have lived your life and, at the end, think of all the “I should haves…” that you never did.

Live the life God has given you. Trust in Him and who He created you to be, the life He planned for you to live. Don’t let fear keep you from being who you are. Don’t let what other people might think or say keep you from living your one and only life. Be BRAVE (my word for 2018).

***And FYI getting my tattoo was awesome, and yes I will be getting another ;-)

To teach is to touch a life forever.

I found out this morning that one of my professors from college passed away last Friday. Most of the time, and for most professors, this would have just been sad news, but not for this professor. Mr. Hennessy was no ordinary college writing professor, not to me or any number of other students.

I went to SUNY Oneonta originally for Broadcast Journalism, which morphed and changed many times over 4 years, but twice I was fortunate to have Mr. Hennessy as a teacher, Composition 100 and Composition 200 (the red folder with my essays and notes still sits right above my desk).

His was my favorite class, he was my favorite teacher. 

I’ve often said that I didn’t learn how to write properly until I was in college, until I was in his class. He took so much time to go over drafts with us, to work out kinks, explain how things could be better, and question you and what you were trying to say and why. His door was always open, and he was only a phone call away.

There was so much to love about him. He was witty and had quite the sense of humor. But the best part was that he was also of Irish lineage.

I remember how excited he was when I asked him to write my letter of recommendation to study at University College Cork in Ireland. Of course, they had to be sealed, so I never did know what that letter said. But I do know how thrilled he was that I was going to get to visit our beloved Ireland.

There was one times, as a freshman, that I ended up having to take my 8 year old sister with me to class. He was more than welcoming to have her there. Ten minutes into the lecture he stopped everything, because something that had never happened in class had happened, was happening…there was a student who was actually paying attention, my sister.

I’m so glad that I saw him in Hannaford this past summer, that I was able to tell him about the past 14 years and how much he meant to me.

The part that has stuck with me over the past 14 years, since I last had Mr. Hennessy, was that he was the first person (besides my mother) to really believe in me and tell me I was a writer. He was the person who brought me alongside him, showing me how to wield my words in the best way: “Jessica, I can see your name in the by-line someday”.

Other than this little place online, it hasn’t happened yet, but someday and you can bet Denis Hennessy’s name will be in the acknowledgments. Thank you Mr. Hennessy, for being such a wonderful teacher, a friend, and an upstanding Irishman.

 

 

Overcoming Creative’s Block

This blogging thing hasn’t been coming easy to me the past few months. I think I feel so far removed from my creativity that I feel as though overcoming creative block is impossible.  I’ve allowed myself to get to the place of “Why am I even trying?!”  Which is absolutely ridiculous, but it’s the truth. I see so few people reading and sharing blogs, see so many who are writing and creating beautiful spaces, that my space seems rather more an eye-sore, than a heart-salve.Overcoming creative block

I tell myself it doesn’t matter if I don’t have perfectly curated graphics and pinnable images. That it isn’t necessary if the words resonant with at least one person. The problem is that I desperately WANT to create that visual beauty in whatever way it is birthed. I take pictures and look at them and wait and ruminate (did you know that you should wait before sharing a picture on INSTA-gram? That it’s better to really be intentional about the photo and what you say?) and then convince myself no one wants to see this, that it’s not as good as I want it to be, so why bother. Of course, this has also bled over into my quilting as well.

Can you tell that sometimes most times I am my own worst enemy and critic?

But who isn’t?! We all are. I’d love to tell you that I figured out the fail proof way of being free in one’s creativity without feeling like a failure or that it’s good, but not nearly good enough. Or that good enough is good ENOUGH. I don’t. I don’t know how. I do know that it takes a bit less moaning and groaning and bit a more just doing it. Just putting fingers to the keys, blades to the fabric, and needles to the thread: Letting the words and fabric fall where they may.

Sometimes the hardest part of starting is getting started.

That’s where I feel I am.

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (READ IT if you consider yourself a creative of any sort). Unfortunately, I had a library copy that I couldn’t mark up, because there was so much delicious goodness in that book (seriously, just google quotes from the book)! So much that just spoke to my struggling creative soul, and ALL OF IT telling me to just get over it, over myself, and just do a little bit, just START! That if I don’t even do that, then I’m doing myself and the world a disservice by not delving into my God-given creativity.

The bottom line: I need to get over what I expect my writing should look like; I need to get over feeling as though, if I can’t do “perfection” then I shouldn’t try; I need to get over this hurdle and just write. That’s what I need to do. I need to convince myself that I am a writer, even if I don’t have any “published” works. That I don’t need to have a certain pen and paper or laptop (even though I function much better when I’m not distracted by things that are seriously bugging me). That I can just string words together and let them exist for now, maybe to be edited…maybe not.

I know I’m not the only one struggling with this, because if I was Big Magic wouldn’t be as popular a book as it is, and there wouldn’t be a plethora of writing groups on facebook: Obviously, a lot of people struggle with their creativity. Who’s with me?! Who’s struggling to creating, whether it be with words, paints, fabrics or something else. I know I’m not alone.

Be Still and Know….

Originally published March 2013 at LifeintheWhiteHouse.com as part of 5 Minute Friday.

Rest….

 Ahh…rest….sweet Friday night. The last day of the week without Matthew home with me. The last day in which it is all me for hours on end, day after day {minus the few hours in the evening that he and the kids are all awake at the same time…or Oma stops in for a visit}.
Tomorrow won’t be much different than today, but there is rest in knowing that I don’t have to go-it-alone another day. Because, isn’t that the hardest thing? Going it alone day after day.
 Be still

But we don’t have to.

We never have to. All we have to do is ask, ask Him who is the provider of all rest, true rest, to do this life with us.

 But, how often we don’t. Ask that is.
It feels like weakness to say we can’t live this life, do this life on our own. That we need someone, something to help us get through not only the days, but some times the minutes even seconds. To provide us with those fresh breaths of rest. Rest not only for our bodies and minds, but for our very souls.
But it isn’t weakness.
We weren’t meant to do this life alone. We were meant to do this life WITH God, with others at our sides. We are meant to take rest, as often as we need it, in Him, in His word. I know for myself, I don’t take the rest that is offered so freely to me. But, oh, how I need it.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10