Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've hemmed and hawed about this post because I haven't been sure of how honest I really want to be. I mean, if I were bold and honest and told the whole tale, there would be so many words that your attention would likely be lost. And I really like your attention. If we were having coffee and just talking, there would be so much more to say, and if you want to have coffee and just talk, let me know. I'm happy to share more.
I had planned to have some sort of triumphant comeback post - you know, "I took some time off and beat the blues and now I'm back! Roar!" But it just isn't happening that way yet and I miss you, so this is more of a "I'm still not sure what's next and I'm not functioning at 100% yet, but I'm mostly back" post. There will be some changes, in my life and in my blog. I'm not sure yet what all of them will be, but here's how things have gone this summer and where things seem to be going:

I have been in a long season, during which it seems the things that I hold in my hands are just crumbling* - our church, friendships, my job, my home expansion hopes, and now my sweet little free car. Some of this has gone on for a while, some of it has been more recent. I am kind of a scrappy little thing. When something doesn't go the way I think it should, I tend to fight it. So, I have found myself scuffling with all facets of my life this summer. And at some point, the smart girl in me spoke up and wisely suggested that I should just lay low for a bit.
For a while now, in our late-night, glass-of-wine, let's-get-serious conversations, I have been saying to Chris that something needs to give. Those conversations usually end with a plan to tackle the "something" that seems to be the most pressing problem and beat it into submission. My success rate has been abysmal. In the end, it appears that the "something" needing to give is me. And it doesn't matter how many Personal Programs for Greatness I may devise and chart on paper, it comes down to some bigger change than can be accomplished with schedules and budgets. And that bigger change is the thing I haven't quite grasped yet. But maybe it's good that I don't hold the solution in my hands just yet (see previous paragraph).
I have been in similar spots before - times when I was sure something new needed to happen. That's how I've acquired most of my hobbies, honestly. When plagued with itchy dissatisfaction, I have always soothed myself by conquering something new. And I have been awfully proud of the fact that I have chosen to conquer things that fit neatly into my Nice Mommy paradigm. Nice mommies knit and sew and cook and throw fantastic birthday parties. Nice mommies know how to feed their family gourmet meals on a serious budget with home-grown vegetables. Nice mommies...well, you know. So, the things I take up always multi-task. They fill my need for creativity, but also serve a purpose in the lives of my family and friends. Things that feed others and fulfill me in the process. Don't get me wrong - I think it's a good thing to find ways to give to others and fulfill yourself at the same time.

I just mean that I think it's time for me to try a new sort of "something new" as I'm fumbling around and seeking a change.

This time, I'm going to try a couple of things that are just for me. They don't provide for anyone else - at least, not directly.
I'm going to do some things because I want to do them.
Not because they fit into my Nice Mommy paradigm.
Not because it will save me money if I learn how to make it myself.
Not because it will show other people how much I like them.
But just because.

There are things I secretly wish I was brave enough to do.
Things I've always wished I could conquer, but have been desperately afraid to attempt, because not winning - not being the best - would be so unbearably devastating.

This fall, I'm taking a photography class. I registered for college, which cost me a lot of cool points. I have fought really hard against being so cliche, but I got over my silly self and joined up with all the other moms who go back to school when their kids get a little bigger. I don't really have a desire to earn a degree or anything crazy like that (wink), I just want to explore something new - something I like. I might not be very good. But I need to learn to be okay with that. I also need to learn to be okay with taking classes from a not-quite-prestigious school. I have lots of smart friends with impressive degrees from astounding places. And I won't be one of them. Did you hear that gulping noise? That was me swallowing my pride.

I'm also taking piano lessons. That's a big one for me. It's something I have always loved. It's the one thing I loved so much that I let it go because I was afraid I couldn't be the best, even though I look back and realize that I was very good. And I've decided that I'm ready to let it back into my life. I may never be a concert pianist and I may never conquer that dang Revolutionary Etude (Ah, Chopin! You have long been a source of vexation!), but I want to play again just because I love it. Because I want to. I'm going to do it for me this time. Even if I suck at it.

Which is possible.

There will be changes in my blogging habits, too. I'm going to try a split-personality thing and maintain two very different blogs. I will write a bit more about that soon - when I have the other one ready to go.

I don't want to subject you to too much of my self-analysis and inner dialogue. I'm sure you can read between the lines above and see where I have been and what's been on my mind. It doesn't take much effort to see that many doors in my life have closed at once, so I am cutting open a new one myself. Lest you mistake me for an intrepid soul, hacking my own way through the jungle of life armed only with a pair of knitting needles and my keen intellect, know I am not actually a brave girl. I'm tired of getting smacked every time I take a step along the path I thought I was supposed to follow, so finding a new direction is the only thing left for me to do. It takes all the bravery I can muster to simply be open about things that really matter to me. Nothing is more frightening to me than messing up in front of people and I have found that, as long as I keep to things that don't matter much to me, making mistakes isn't as painful.
So, maybe (but I'm not really sure) the bigger change that needs to happen in me is that I need to be brave.

I hope that all makes sense without making anyone worry! Daily life continues around here - school is about to begin and we are settling our schedule of music lessons and chess and tech club and band concerts and crazy family life. I'm adding lessons and school for myself on top of what we already do.
My house will not be clean.
The dishes will probably not be washed every day.
We might even have to eat at McDonald's sometimes.
I will have to knit less.
I will have to sew less.
I will have to let go of more.

But I think it will be good.

*I want to make it clear that not all of these things are crumbling in a bad way, just that the things as I know them are all up in the air...all changing at once, some for better and some for worse.


Amy said...

I'm so glad you're mostly back. I would *love* to have coffee and just chat sometime. Wish I had a timeframe on when we'll be back.

I have a degree that I'll probably never use from a not prestigious university and I owe *lots* of money for it. Meaning that it doesn't really matter the where as long as you're doing the right thing. I mean, sure it's impressive that so and so studied at Harvard and blah-de-blah. But I used to work at the flea market with my dad and a guy used to come there every weekend that had a music degree from Juilliard. He had a band that traveled to bars and sang old rock n roll songs. He was smart and funny...but I wasn't so impressed with his life's work.

And I didn't realize it wasn't cool to take classes after your kids got older...I've always wanted to take a photography class. I think it's fantastic that you are. And this is so long....we really should have coffee :)

mindy said...

wow, this is such a deep post and i feel that it requires an equally deep comment that i won't be able to deliver. so, i'll just say that i'm happy that you're pursuing some creative outlets that are just for so deserve it. love you, girl...

(and anything that involves you + coffee, i'm always up for)

Kate said...

Your comment to my "Best" post makes much sense now. *hugs* I understand what you're feeling and in a weird way, it's nice to know that you're feeling some of the same stuff I'm feeling.

I know that this is the pot calling the kettle black, but just do your best and do what you like. I'm so jealous of you going back to piano and opening that world back up. I had a dream about auditioning for a concert band and not making the cut because I hadn't practiced enough. Perhaps the cosmos are trying to tell us both something there.

And I am WAY jealous of your photography class. That's on my someday list too.

I know what you mean about your hobbies coinciding with household objectives. Pretty much my goal is always to minimize monetary cost by doing things myself: cooking, cleaning, knitting, sewing, etc. As you're figuring out, you do need personal time.

There are very few things that I do for just me. Oddly enough, fitness activities are one of them. I used to dance Tango. Now going to the gym, Bikram yoga, and cycling are my happy places. Today I took a bike ride all by myself and it felt great. Contrary to what society depicts, you do need some time for just you whose benefit is just for you.

I don't have any good advice for you, but just know that I understand :)

Christy said...

Amy - I suppose it isn't "not cool" to go back to school, it's just that so many people do, so I didn't want to. You know, I like to go against the flow :) And I think I see lots of coffee-and-chats in our future, whenever it may be that you come back.
Mindy - let's do. Coffee. You and me. Soon.
Kate - it's nice to know that other people understand! I figured you'd get it after I read your post. I find it very cool that we are more alike than I would have figured guessed :) Except for that whole exercise thing...I'm just not down with that...

Mary said...

I wish I were close enough for a coffee visit.

This past weekend the sermon was on detours and I think you would have been very encouraged had you been there. I don't like changing paths either, but some of the most exciting things have happened on the detours.

I don't know if this is exactly how you feel, but also this past weekend I had a revelation. I haven't been taking care of myself. Without writing my own post here I realized that somewhere between forgetting myself and loving myself, I have to live with myself. I hope that makes sense.