I just finished reading over your comments of the past week or so (yet again, I do it daily), and I'm so incredibly inspired by what you shared with me. I have a totally new understanding of the value of sharing, even in blog-form, and I'm really glad to be on the blogging side of "good" (acceptance, growth, reality, appreciation of what we have here and now) and not "evil" (wanting, feelings of inadequacy, wishing for recognition, desire for perfection in one's home, children, life). I feel very strongly that with my tiny blog, I want to be in the group that encourages each person to find her own path to happiness, not the one that encourages a certain "perfect" way. Even some blogs that, I feel sure, have no intention of instilling feelings of inadequacy in any way often do make me feel inadequate, and I simply can't visit them anymore (and while it's possible that this is more my problem than theirs, I do think there are a few women out there that set a ridiculously high standard). I certainly hope that's never, ever the case when you visit here. I'm all about keeping it real, and I'm actually really, really proud of that.
Your comments were so wonderful, each and every one, and I'm incredibly grateful for them all. There are a few that I want to pass on to you, because lots of you shared a tiny slice of your own life with me in such a giving and articulate way. With my original post on our struggles here in our home one of the things I wanted to address, even tangentially, is the overwhelming urge some of us feel to purchase things we do not need in a desire to make ourselves feel better. I am firmly convinced that, especially among women, this is an epidemic, and that it's something we could stand to be more honest about in this handcrafted/blogging/creative community. Because you know what? I'm here to tell you that you can purchase every single thing your heart "desires," and it won't make the slightest bit of difference to your sense of self-worth (take it from me--I tried).
In that vein, please, please read what Hilary said, about her ideas for helping herself handle the urge to unnecessary acquisition when she finds herself confronted with it. She says that now, she's developing new habits, like these:
"I'm working on a list of affirmations/redirections, as well as a list of my skills and abilities that could bring me the same happiness (or even the same item). These are for reading when I get all wanty. For example: "I want new toys/clothes/educational materials/books for my daughter." That really means, "I want my daughter to feel loved/stimulated." or "I want or like a certain item and I am using my daughter as an excuse to acquire it." Alternatives: Make something special for or with her, reinvent something we already own, reorganize her room, spend time with her reading/playing/making art, go to the library, work in the yard together, or acknowledge that it is my desire and not hers."
Yes! I think this is so brilliant, I really do, and if I had figured it out ten years ago, my life would be very, very different today. This is, I think, very much like a person who turns to food or alcohol or anything else for comfort, and has to stop and re-assess what it is that they really need at that moment. And then take the steps to provide that for herself (and her family) in a healthy way. I love it. I love it so much, and I'm going to put this into practice. Thank you, Hilary!
And then sweet Holly! Holly always cuts through the fluff to tell me what is really going on. She makes me see why our struggles are not only okay, but necessary for us to become the people we really want to be...for ourselves, our families, and our world:
"Having come through some unlikely and horrible things in my life many would find hard to believe or imagine, I understand how these things really can make us better, and stronger, and I like to believe, more capable of compassion, love, joy and the ability to take action when needed to improve what is around us, to stand up to injustice, to recognize when someone is hurting and to reach out, to simply connect wholly with the world."
And my dear Sandra, always insightful and dear, hit the nail on the head regarding perfectionism (the curse of well-meaning women everywhere) and the idea that wherever we are, right now, it's all part of our journey, and that makes it precious:
"[With regards to one's problems], you know there is no outcome, it's all twists and turns on the garden path of life. For a long time I kept searching for the end of that path and thinking that there would be a little slice of perfection under a big old oak tree for me and my family and that we would live happily ever after once I found that perfect little spot (and furnished it just like the pages of a magazine). I've only recently realized that my slice of perfection is right here, now, in front of me. It always has been. It's my precious little family. And the garden path is there for us to walk down together and the perfect part is that it doesn't have an ending, it continues on with twists, turns, bumps and even the occasional big dark storm but together we can weather it and together we can pick the flowers and enjoy the sunny times and discover new things. If I open myself up to it. And that's been the hard part, but I'm learning."
Me, too!...So thank you for your comments of support and love and insight. They are keeping me going, one day at a time.
One last thing, if you can stand it: I remember, back in my over-spending days, wanting, feeling absolutely compelled, to make my life, and that of my children, "look" a certain way. A way that I thought would tell the world that I was an incredible mother and wife, that I was finally a worthwhile person, and that I didn't hate myself. And that was the root of it all. But now, of course, I know that all those things are true and that I don't have to show anyone anything. And I realize now, like Sandra and Hilary and Holly, wise-women all, that a life-well-lived shines through in the people you care about, and the love you give, and that the only perfection to be found on this crazily whirling planet we call home is in the providing of comfort to each other. THAT'S IT.
I'm so grateful. For it all. For my mistakes. And my dear, dear friends. And my sweet family. And my heart, which always and ever strives to love. That's what hearts do best, after all.
That's why we're here.
Whew! Thanks so much for reading. Cheers!