Jen writes

February 11, 2014

On Being Worthy

I don’t have time to be writing this. I have deadlines to meet, PTO work to get done. But the words I should be working on are being pushed aside, because there are words I need to get down, out of the way. There are things I need to work through, and this is the only way I know how.

Last night I watched half of a TEDx talk by Brené Brown. Half. Because that is my life right now. Too busy to find 17 consecutive minutes to sit and watch a video. Even if it is exactly perfect. Exactly what I need to be watching. The right message. The right everything.

Last night I also read half of a post by Katrina Kenison, whom I adore. But, again, a full post. Who has time? But as I was scrolling down to get to the bottom of the post to maybe comment (it was a giveaway post; and the giveaway a book – irresistible) I scrolled too far too fast, skipping the comments and seeing the name of this blog there, on hers, with so many other blogs that seem to me more established, more important, more worthy.

Worthy. The word actually crossed my mind. That word. Maybe because of that half of a video by Brené Brown, who was speaking about worthiness. About how we can so easily get in our own ways (or at least that’s what I took from the first half of the video).

Years ago, long before my blogging journey, before parenthood, at the very beginning of my current well-established partnership with Sweetie, practically in another life, my path crossed with Katrina’s. And I was so timid. So hesitant. I didn’t feel worthy. I see it now. I was intimidated. There she was, living across the street from the family I was babysitting for frequently. She had her own house, her own children, and she had a job that seemed mythical to me. A job with words, with printed words, a job reading and editing, the end result—I saw—her name on books. I couldn’t imagine ever getting to that place. And I got in my own way by not just saying hello. She was practically always smiling. What was I so afraid of? On many occasions the boys I was babysitting for were playing with her boys. It would have been so easy for me to walk up and introduce myself formally.

I am a very different person now. My kids have made me braver. It’s a necessity, when you have to speak up for your children. You have to step out of your own way. You have to put aside wondering what people are thinking of you. You have to do your best, try to be respectful and understanding of the person you’re talking to. You have to hope they will do the same for you. You have to go easy.

I feel worthy in a lot of ways now. My children are a gift. Three gifts. To have become a mother was all I really knew I wanted for so very long. And to have a family that is so full of energy is something that I don’t take for granted. I don’t write a lot about the intricacies anymore. But I think all the time about these smiling children, the older helping the younger get cereal in the morning just one tiny instance that makes my heart tickle with recognition that I have done right. That Sweetie and I have endured and thrived and have so much more work to do.

But the blog is neglected. A blog is a lot of work. For it to be all that I want it to be, anyway. And I don’t have the time. And the passion for it comes in fits and starts. But I want it to be worthy. I want it to be good. I want to be here and be engaged.

As I scrolled through comments on Katrina’s post I saw so many familiar faces and names already there. Bloggers whom I met through this one. Through our Five for Ten so many years ago, and over and over again since then. It’s a community that is still there, even if I feel removed or—honestly—not quite pulling my own weight. I can’t give blogging my whole self anymore. And I have to get out of my own way and stop apologizing for that. There aren’t a lot of comments. I don’t even look at page views anymore. But it’s still one of the places I feel I belong and that I can get out my words on this busy morning when I REALLY don’t have time to be pouring out word after word. There’s something about Just Write (122!) that has brought me here today to ponder my own worthiness and to tell you to go find that Brené Brown video and read that Katrina Kenison post about Kelly Corrigan’s latest book or Just Write your own thoughts. There is so much REAL on the Internet. So very much. It’s worth it to just take a little time.


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Jen writes

January 28, 2014

Window fortune

The window today yields a slightly different view from the last time words came from the scenery outside. There is snow on the ground, but not enough to cover the rough grass. The roads are clear, and cars drive by swiftly, so few slowing at all as they approach the crosswalk. It’s a Tuesday, a Just Write day, but today I’m pointing you to a piece that I wrote a few weeks ago. It seems longer somehow. January almost gone, the New Year effect worn off almost completely. But as I reread the words I wrote for Project: Underblog in those first few days of 2014, the past, present, and future is still here, in this place, looking back at me through the window.


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Jen writes

January 23, 2014

It’s powerful because it’s possible

These five words came from my fingertips, typed quickly over my keyboard and onto the screen. I hit “return” before really thinking. So many of my online social media connections are done in just this way. A quick response to something that really hit home. No overthinking. Just a genuine word or two meant to convey a kind of understanding and solidarity. Like a smile at school dropoff or a nod to your neighbor. Online we all must do a little more to be seen, to make the connections that are the equivalent of eye contact, talk of the weather.

“It’s powerful because it’s possible” was my response to Galit Breen’s beautiful post about, essentially, taking things one thing at a time. Or, as Anne Lamott is known for saying, inch by inch. Galit writes of the mind of a woken mama who is surrounded in sleep by her family and yet who cannot turn off her brain and find sleep herself. Sound familiar? This is so frequently my 3 a.m. place. Something wakens me, and honestly it’s rarely a child anymore. But then my mind is started and it’s so very difficult to turn it off. I listen for a while to my Sweetie’s breaths, and from there my mind goes to places that it shouldn’t be, not at this time. Not now, I think. Relax, I try. Breathe, just breathe, I say to myself. And the mind spins and goes and touches upon all of the work and the projects and the activities and schedule changes. The editing and the leotard needed for tomorrow’s ballet class. The birthday party email invitation that I forgot to tell my son about. The writing that I want to do and that I can’t find time for. If only I wasn’t awake here, now, at ohmygodnowit’sfourinthemorning, I would have more energy for more writing, more exercise. I would have more time in the daylight if I were not so consumed with this monkey brain the nighttime.

It’s powerful because it’s possible.

One thing at a time.

Inch by inch.

We can set our goals. And we can work toward them in measurable ways. We can write a blog post and not be self-critical because it is not a chapter of a novel. We can walk to get lunch instead of driving. We can apologize for the forgotten leotard and invitation and do better next time. We can be honest with ourselves and with our families—with our children, perhaps most important—that we are not here to do it all. We are here to live as happily and as fully as we can. All of us. We are here to make connections and to be real in all of our interactions. We are here to learn. We are here to give ourselves over to all that is difficult and all that is joyful.

As I write this there are countless things I could be doing. And it’s hard to write “could” and not “should.” In the prioritizing of my daily life, writing for me—whether a list or a blog post or an outline or character sketch or book proposal or a chapter of that novel—comes last right now. That’s another post, of course, but inch by inch I’m trying to replace some of the “shoulds” with “coulds.” The undeniable truth that I know in my heart and soul and that many other people in my daily life don’t fully understand is that I am happier, calmer, more able to do the things on that endless list when I have written. I know this and I try to answer to that pull in ways that are meaningful. Uninterrupted time is so rare, but sometimes a sentence or two scribbled on the back of an index card is enough to have a calming effect. To get me to better sleep, even. Sometimes clearing one thing from my brain by writing it down results in my shoulders physically relaxing.

I thank Galit for reminding me of this. For being there to connect with. For sharing her own busybrain. For reminding me again of Lamott’s one-sentence-at-a-time encouragement. Being a writer and connecting to other writers through our online nods and handshakes is powerful. It’s surprising still. That I so easily make a quick comment on a Facebook post and it turns into days of mulling and then more than 700 words of my own. A bit of relief. And a feeling of contentment, if just for a short while.

It’s powerful because it’s possible.


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