I’m Still a Writer.

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It seems like every post I write here starts off with “It’s been a while since I’ve written here.”

Not an apology, just an observation. We all know that the world of blogging has morphed and shifted and I know I’ve definitely changed along with it. It’s been harder and harder to find the motivation to write with three small kids and a business to run.

But there’s also this feeling of over-crowdedness. Blogs used to be a small, one person show – your neighborhood grocer so to speak, but now these giant Walmarts of the internet have popped up sucking everyones’ content and making the small blogger feel EVEN MORE insignificant. Of course, there are still those small operations that do quite well, but it’s not really about sticking with any one person anymore and watching a life journey unfold. It’s more about trying to write something that goes viral, and if we’re judging our success by how many “viral” posts we have, and with so much content being shoved down our throats 24/7, its hard to feel motivated. There always seems to be somebody saying what you want to say, only better.

The last several days have been rough on us. All our kids are sick and we’ve been cooped up in the house waiting it out. We’re all starting to go a little crazy. I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep. I was up at 4am this morning giving Welina (sounds like Veh-lee-nah) a steam bath because she has croup and was coughing badly. I was hoping the steam would soothe her poor little lungs as I sat with her on the toilet and watched the first 15 minutes of Apple’s keynote like the closet geek I am.

I woke up a couple hours later and immediately reached for my phone to tell Facebook in a long and drawn out post how beat up I was feeling, and how I need a break and yet I’m grateful for my kids and modern medicine and blah blah blah.

And it dawned on me.

I’m still a writer! I just write everything on Facebook – long, thought provoking posts, snarky commentary about my day and everything in between.

This was an exciting revelation. I’m still a writer.

But I do want to be a blogger. I do. It’s more curated, more intentional, with less crap in between the good posts, and definitely, DEFINITELY less cat videos and political mud-slinging.

So I’m going to try something new that will maybe help me be a better blogger: Any long posts that I start writing on Facebook will be published to the blog instead. I suppose it doesn’t matter where I write, as long as I write, and it’s immensely comforting to know that I still have content, I still have things to say, but there’s something special about looking a blog in its’ entirety and being able to see your body of work.

We’ll see how this goes. This could also just be my flavor of the week (or with my Facebook induced short attention span, the morning.)

Bloggers: Do you have a hard time blogging? What makes it difficult for you? What shifts have you made to try to keep it worthwhile?

Draw Upon Your Innate Power to Persevere

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I’m currently watching my six month old daughter on the floor, pushing her top half up with her hands, hoisting her bottom up over her knees and trying over and over again to get her hands and legs coordinated enough to give her some forward motion. Sometimes she manages to do a little bit of a seal crawl where she scoots forward and falls on her chest. Other times her arms push her backward and she ends up losing ground. The only thing that remains constant is that so far, she hasn’t given up. She hasn’t even become discouraged. She just tries again, over, and over and over, and like every able-bodied human before her, she will learn to crawl, and then walk, and she’ll forget all about the struggle that I’m witnessing right now.

Often times I encourage her, sitting 2 feet away with my arms outstretched, saying “Come to Mommy!,” cheering her on, telling her she can do it. She smiles, revealing two tiny white peaks poking out of her gums, sticks her tongue out, saturating her chin with drool, and rocks back and forth like a revving engine.

It doesn’t bother me that she goes absolutely nowhere, because I know, in time, she’ll come, and then eventually she’ll follow me everywhere like Mary’s little lamb. It’s the reality of virtually every able-bodied human.

In my observations I’ve noticed several qualities that allow her to work toward and accomplish her goals. Here are eight:

  1. Optimism – Doubt is simply not in my daughter’s vocabulary (well, nothing is at her age, but you get the idea.) When I watch her, there is no indication that she doesn’t think she can do whatever it is she’s trying to do. She fully believes that the best will happen. If we truly live like we believe the best will happen, chances are, it will.
  2. Patience – It doesn’t matter how many times she face plants, she always gets up and tries again. She never complains about not being able to do something immediately. Yes, there are moments of frustration, but she never gives up. We need to be comfortable with not knowing how to do something. It’s ok to be a beginner and cut ourselves some slack. We should be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re learning something new.
  3. Focus – My daughter has no desire to jump or write or ride a bike, though she’s seen all these things demonstrated. She’s focused on just one thing: crawling. Because she’s so laser focused, she will achieve her goal in no time, and be on to the next step. She doesn’t try to skip ahead or do too many things at once, and as a result she makes steady forward progress.
  4. Fearlessness – Of course she’ll cry out if she feels afraid or threatened, but when it comes to sitting up, crawling, or pulling herself up to stand, she does not let fear of failure hold her back. If she did, she would still be an immobile blob (a cute immobile blob, but an immobile blob nevertheless) There would be no growth.
  5. Dependence – It’s true that most parents want to raise their children to be able to take care of themselves, but this can backfire when we start to believe that we’re somehow weak or defective if we can’t do everything on our own. My daughter knows she can’t do everything herself and isn’t afraid to ask (or scream) for help when she needs it. It’s ok to need help and it’s ok to ask for it. No one does it alone, and those who achieve success in whatever they strive for often have a support system behind them.
  6. Pride in accomplishment – It doesn’t matter if she scoots herself 1 inch or 100 inches. She’s proud of what she does and enjoys her accomplishments even though her main objective is not yet realized. “Not good enough” is another phrase that’s not in her vocabulary. Likewise, we should celebrate a win no matter how small because it stands for progress. It keeps us motivated to keep reaching for our big goals.
  7. Sense of Boundary – My daughter knows her limits. She pushes herself, but she’s quick to pull back and rest when she’s had enough, and she feels absolutely no shame in doing so. Somehow we’ve been fed a lie that slowing down and self-care are signs of weakness when it’s really a sign of maturity that we know and care about ourselves enough to say “Enough.”
  8. A never-ending desire to progress – I know that once she starts crawling, she’ll want to stand. Once she stands, she’ll want to walk. Once she walks she’ll want to run,, and jump, and climb and swim. Work is something we need to do to stay happy. What that looks like for each of us is vastly different, but there should always be something more for which to strive. That doesn’t mean the same thing as being constantly busy. Some of our greatest work happens when we slow down and create space and quiet.

We all have things we want to accomplish. Maybe we want to pursue higher education, get married, buy a house, sell a house, find a new job, start a business, travel the world, pay off our debt, get rid of stuff we no longer want or need…

Whatever you’re hoping for right now, your dream won’t be realized with this article. Nothing you read will be a magic bullet, but maybe it would do us some good to tap into who we were when we were just getting started on this planet, before we made huge mistakes, before people told us we couldn’t, before we suffered loss. We were all babies once. We all believed in ourselves enough to push up off the floor, deny that gravity that threatened to keep us down and MOVE. We kept moving until it was second nature to walk, run and jump. We did it, and we can do it again, with kindness and compassion for ourselves, joy in our accomplishments, laser focus, an understanding of our limits, and undying optimism.

On Resisting the Urge to Change Things and Learning to Appreciate What Is

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One of the weaknesses that I’ve recently noticed I’ve developed is that when I’m at home, or with my family, I often see the need to change things somehow. If it’s our home, I feel the need to purge stuff, or organize something, or clean something. Sometimes I just look around and sigh, because IT. NEVER. ENDS. I think my feelings are understandble. With 5 year old, 2 year old and infant, messes come with the territory.

Sometimes I feel the need to change my family members. Sometimes I can’t stand how messy my daughter’s hair is, and I absolutely need to brush it before I do anything else. Sometimes I stress about all the mistakes she makes as she’s learning to write. She in Kindergarten for crying out loud. I mostly leave my two year old alone, because well, she’s two, but she does throw the most stereotypical two-year-old tantrums, and I try to think of ways to keep her calm.

And then there’s Keola, who’s an amazing husband and father in so many ways, and yet I often find myself running a list of things I wish I could change about him – most of which are things that we just don’t see eye to eye on, and that’s ok. Sometimes I think my life would be easier if we always had the same opinion about everything (or at least that my opinion was the only one that mattered) but I doubt that’s ever made for a good marriage.

While I’m mostly this way with my family, I have noticed myself being increasingly critical of all sorts of things throughout my day. Why did they build they wall there? I can’t see the oncoming traffic. Why is that sign so small? Why is it taking so long to see the doctor?

Shouldn’t my common sense be everyone’s common sense? After all, don’t we call it “common” because everyone agrees on it?

But then I thought about things that I generally don’t try to change, like nature. I don’t go around coloring white flowers purple, moving birds’ nests from the tree to the ground, trying to change the course of the wind. I simply let those things be, and appreciate them for what they are.

When I was younger, I accepted just about everything this way, and rarely thought anything should be different. I easily saw the good in people and was slow to criticize. I didn’t complain about the high school and college I attended and the way they were run. I didn’t complain (too much) about the student jobs I had. I really didn’t have much of anything negative to say about my professors or my friends or roommates. In fact, I often wondered why my friends were so critical of some of these things/people.

I guess adulthood has made me “wiser?” Now I can see a million ways to improve on everyone and everything, but the truth of the matter is that being critical sucks away at my happiness, and takes away my ability to see the positive qualities in any given moment (and there are positive qualities to just about everything.) That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t engage and worthy causes and try to make the world a better place, but when the majority of what we notice are things that are wrong with the the world, society, my spouse, kids, house, HAIR, etc., we waste a lot of time, energy, effort and headspace on things that should for the most part, just be allowed to be.

This blog of course, can potentially talk a lot about change. I still want an orderly home, a healthier diet, a better hold on our finances, etc., but at the same time it’s also about being grateful, appreciating each moment  and cultivating happiness. I think it’s possible to do that without feeling the need to change things or think about what it’s lacking. Sometimes what needs to change the most is not what we’re looking at, but the way we see it.