Tag Archive | failure

So…this is Christmas

In an effort to return to writing, and to break my writer’s block, I am going to work on  a series of posts that may be atypical.  At the end, perhaps you will have gotten a glimpse into some of the deepest parts of my heart, and perhaps they will allow me to again return to sharing it with you.

For many weeks, I have been doing my normal holiday thing, which means I have been feeling decidedly NOT normal.  I don’t feel excited about the holidays.  I don’t necessarily feel pressured by them either, at least not in terms of the effort it takes to pull them off.  It isn’t the extra activity or shopping or planning that get me down.  What affects me is the pressure to feel festive, joyful, excited, “Christmas-y”.

When people learn that I have not been bitten by the Christmas spirit, there are regular check-ins.  “How are you feeling?”  “Has the spirit found you yet?”  “Are you feeling better?” “But your name is JOY!”  If you are one of those people who are checking in, don’t worry…I know that your questions come from your concern and love for me and your desire to help. I know that, so please don’t feel bad when I tell you that those questions make me feel worse.  I have been reminded about how blessed I am (as if my problem was that I didn’t realize that I live a life of abundance), I have been instructed to go feed a homeless person or buy a gift for a needy child or DO something for someone.  Surely those things will make me realize that I have nothing to be un-festive about.  And again, I know that those suggestions come from a good place and that the people who suggest them genuinely want to help.  They too, should not feel bad when I tell you how much worse they make me feel.  Because now, not only do I feel uncommonly Scrooge-y, but I feel like I must be ungrateful too.    The truth is that although I have been known to grump out an occasional “Bah-humbug”, my problem is not that I feel ungrateful or unblessed or any uninspired by the birth of my Christ.  It is really just the opposite in fact, which only complicates the mess that I have created in my head as I try to sort this all out.

I also know that I am not alone, and that although there are many of us who feel this way at the holidays, the world doesn’t quite know what to do with someone who doesn’t love Christmas.

Every year, I feel inadequate and frustrated and alone.  I feel guilty that my melancholy might steal some of the happiness that my girls feel at the holidays, because I have raised them to pay attention and to notice when someone is hurting.  I feel bad that my family is subdued in their celebration out of some kind of watchful deference to the pain they feel for me.

Eventually, I succumb to the ritual decorating and Christmas music listening…and I have to admit that my beautiful tree full of ornaments, each one with a special memory or sentiment attached, the white lights, the handcrafted tree skirt, my childhood stocking, and the steady arrival of all the gifts I ordered online (I may succumb to shopping but I will NOT go to the mall!!) start to peck away at me, and I become more content.  My decorated tree becomes one of my favorite sights and that is good.

But how do I process the rest?  What about the painful memories of childhood hurts and adulthood rejections that inevitably return at Christmas?  How do I convince myself that I won’t allow the past memories to rob me of my present memory-making?  What can I DO with the sadness and the loneliness that the sadness creates? How can I make sense of all of this so I can move past it without feeling inauthentic?  How do I enjoy the holiday without feeling that by doing so, I have not somehow committed some kind of whitewashing of the pain?

To be continued.

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5/25/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters (and me) — Talk less, listen more.

I am having a love/hate relationship with my blog right now.  So far, my blog has been about me sharing little nuggets, pieces of advice that I think are good life lessons for you girls.  But at the same time, I feel like this little blog is an example of me doing all the talking, and your voice isn’t being heard.

I feel a little like a phony, because I don’t’ always follow my own perfectly brilliant advice.  I feel a little sanctimonious for being inspired with such incredible insight (it IS incredible, right??), and worst of all, insecure.  When I post a blog, I watch the site stats obsessively to see how many people are “listening” to what I have to say and how many new followers I have.  The talking has become the thing, and it is making me feel unsettled, because I don’t necessarily like the me that I see through that lens. These feelings  also make me think that this blog is becoming more about me than you, and I don’t like that.

I actually started contemplating putting something completely controversial out there (politics, gay marriage) to stir things up, but I’m afraid I will be criticized, so I hold back saying some of the things that are stirring in me.  Despite my advice to you to conquer your fears, I am letting mine hold me back.  Fear is what makes me write a blog instead of the book that I have always said I wanted to write.

So even though this is me again…doing the talking, I have to tell you (again) that I don’t always get it right.  In fact, I get it wrong most of the time, and this advice comes to you from the knowledge I gained from that mistake, and from knowing there is a better way.  I’m scared to fall down.  I’m worried that I don’t lead by example.  And I’m terrified that you will look back on these years and tell people that you didn’t feel heard.

So today’s advice is for me, so that I will remember that I don’t have all the answers and I need to listen more.  I’m not perfect and that is ok.  Maybe it is even ok that I write a blog for you when I need the advice as much as you do.   I will keep writing because each post and each response plants another little seed of courage and maybe someday it will be enough for me to get serious with my dreams.  I will write because I think it will be interesting for us all to look back on this in 10 years and see how our perspectives have changed.  I will write because people seem to respond, and even though that response may make me a little too full of myself, it has also been a way to connect with people that I would never have connected with (Shout out Ellie!)  And when my ego gets too big, I can always count on you to give me a “You don’t understand.” Or even better, to tell me that you didn’t know I had a blog (sigh). That’ll teach me. 🙂

5/22/12 Today’s Advice to My Beautiful Daughters – Fall down a lot.

I’m not suggesting that you become more clutzy, God knows we don’t need any help with that.

My friend, Stephanie has a little girl named Katie.  She reminds me so much of you when you are little, that I absolutely adore her.  I could just watch her all day.  When her mom asked her why she has so many bruises on her legs, she replied, “I fall down a lot.”  Hearing that story got me to thinking.

I know this little girl is FULL of life.  She runs around and dances and wrestles with her brother.  Her exuberance for life just makes me happy.  She falls down a lot.  Perhaps she is a little clutzy, but I think she falls down a lot because she is always DOING stuff.  You can’t fall down if you are sitting still.  You can’t fall down when life is passing you by.  You fall down a lot when you are LIVING.

Falling down a lot is about being willing to try and fail and get up again.  It is about going after what you want, living life to the fullest and not worrying about whether it will all work out perfectly.  Being willing to fall down a lot means you are going after things exuberantly and that you know that in order to succeed, you first have to try, and be willing to risk failure.  When failure comes, falling down a lot means that you get up again and again and again.  It is the “a lot” that makes it so cool, because it means that the first time you fell down, you tried again.

I hope that you fall down gently, but I also hope you fall down a lot.