Uncover the Art of Your Right-Now Life
While our kids played in the next room, my friend and I stood in her kitchen, sipping coffee and talking about our dreams- in hushed tones peppered with nervous laughter, as if the very topic was somehow taboo.
Maybe even selfish?
“I feel like I’ve lost pieces of myself since having kids…” She spoke quietly, almost to herself, but her words echoed loudly inside my own heart.
I knew exactly what she meant.
I think in an honest moment, many of us would admit we do.
Motherhood, especially in those early years, can be an engulfing experience. It’s a deeply beautiful, life-giving (literally), and fulfilling role that some of us have always dreamt of, but there can be moments when it feels as if motherhood and the minutia of the day might swallow our identity whole. Like we’re constantly needed yet rarely seen.
We’re busy doing those million and one little things that we worry don’t matter, even while knowing, deep in our hearts they do. We teach, we train, we pray, we worry, we kiss, we rock, we soothe, we comfort, we’re filled up and emptied clear out 100 times in a day. We lose sleep and gain access to chambers of our hearts we never knew existed. We’re driven to the edge of our sanity and then pulled back again in one suddenly tender moment.
We ride that rollercoaster of fear and worry, pride and dismay, wonder and bafflement, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We love our life.
We wonder about those pieces of ourselves that seem to have disappeared. Our audacity, our playfulness, our ability to dream. They don’t call. They don’t send flowers. They just slipped unceremoniously out the back door.
Will they ever come back? Read More…
She used to yell it to me through my television screen at least twice a week:
“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Right now, this moment! This is when it counts! When you’re tired and you don’t think you can do it and you want to give up- THIS is when you make change happen!”
It turns out there’s more to learn from Jillian Michaels than how to simply not die during a high intensity cardio session.
Remember when we talked about how sometimes creative work feels impossible? I confessed that I’d gotten to “the hard part” of my project and how I’m learning to sit in that tension instead of struggle against it?
Well I thought “the hard part” was being brave.
Brave enough to step out, brave enough to share that journey with you, and brave enough to be honest about it along the way.
Because all creative work requires bravery.
We know this.
We love to talk about the bravery because it’s noble and grand, but we don’t speak much of the aftermath that almost always follows. The wake of those unsorted and far less noble feelings of confusion, doubt, and disorientation that come after the bravery.
The questions of, “Wait, did I do that right?
Should I be embarrassed right now?
Was that really true and helpful? Did I hit my mark?
Or was it self indulgent and foolish and cringeworthy?
There is a natural ebb and flow to the creative process, but because I am so new to all of it, riding that wave often leaves me feeling a bit seasick.
See, my whole life I operated under the assumption (the lie) that I’m simply not a creative person. I wasn’t even mad about it, really. It was okay. “It just wasn’t my bag, baby.” (Name that movie.)
But in the last couple of years as I’ve woken up to my creative self and begun to pursue my dream of writing, I’ve wrestled long and hard with all the wonky feelings that accompany such a process.
I am DOING THE THING.
I’m bravely entering the creative arena.
I’m boldly claiming my words as my gift, my calling, and my art.
I’m out there leaving my blood, sweat, and tears on the ground.
So why isn’t it getting easier? Wasn’t I supposed to have a thicker skin by now? Why do fear and uncertainty almost always pull me back after a sure step forward? Read More…
Do you ever find yourself longing not for a different life, but a deeper life?
One where you know deep down in your knower exactly what it is you have to offer the world and your life actually reflects that?
Where you’re able to make the work of your hands count in a way that fulfills both your duties and your soul?
Where you find the courage to unapologetically pursue the things that make you come alive right now in the middle of your daily routine?
Where you’re fully awake to the possibility lurking just beyond the borders of your comfort zone?
What if you allowed yourself to believe (just for fun, just for a minute!) that God made your heart to leap with creative delight, to embrace risk and adventure, to jump and swell and stir at the idea of living a bigger story than the one you’ve been living?
What if that didn’t have to look like some big, scary, upheaval of your normal life?
What if it was as small as recognizing and valuing the important work you’re probably already doing?
What if it was as big as believing that you are already called, already qualified, already invited, and fully capable of taking that same mundane, daily, work in front of you and making it into art?
What if it was as freeing as knowing that the “art” you have to offer the world- you know, the art that NO ONE ELSE CAN MAKE, and the art that the world SO DESPERATELY NEEDS, is actually as mind-numbingly, soul-tinglingly (yes I’m sticking with the word tinglingly- and I dare you to say it 5 times fast) simple as doing what you love and what comes naturally to you?
What if exercising your basic human right to Creativity was actually a spiritual practice? A way to honor not just yourself, but others too, and even God?
What if “Creativity” could be anything, anything at all? Like inviting someone over for dinner and making them feel welcome not just in your home, but in your life?
Like crafting a play, a song, a story, or a joke? Like bringing order to chaos within a spreadsheet or a home? Like a keen sense of humor that intuitively knows how and when to make people laugh?
What if hatching brilliance could look just as much like cooking dinner on a Tuesday night or rearranging a living room as when Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the broadway musical Hamilton?
What if art is art because you are you, and it’s all up for individual interpretation and delight?
What if it all matters so much more than you ever knew?
What if today your art looks like a diaper change that turns into a tickle fight, but tomorrow your art looks like 10 minutes spent doodling on a blank piece of paper, and five years from now your art looks like starting a business or painting with watercolor or tap-dancing on your head? (Okay, that last one isn’t a thing, but just roll with me?)
What if you didn’t put your art in a box?
What if you didn’t make it any smaller or bigger than it wanted to be?
What if it was re-defined by showing up to the work in front of you fully as yourself, by appreciating beauty for the sake of beauty, and by allowing yourself to dream and dare and delight in the middle of your right-now life?
What would that look like, even?
P.S. Do you want me to ask your more questions? Because I can. I can totally do that.
A woman in one of my blogging forums reached out to me recently. She sent me a sweet, short message simply saying she enjoyed my blog. I was flattered and surprised and I quickly messaged her back to say thank you.
Later when she shared some of her own work in the forum I became an instant fan of her writing. Laura is funny, she’s gutsy, she’s honest, and she has heart. She is totally my kind of person. We’ve now formed the foundation of a friendship that I’m genuinely excited about, but the reason I’m telling you all of this is because it almost didn’t happen. This was very nearly a story with a different ending.
What I didn’t know when Laura initially reached out to me was that she couldn’t stand me. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but something about me drove her nuts. So she did what most women would not, and she reached out to me. Instead of quietly brewing any negative feelings she decided to squash them instead.
She wrote about the experience and our interaction. She said:
“It wasn’t too long ago that I joined a blogger forum. There was a woman in there, and I just couldn’t stand her. If you had asked I would not have been able to tell you why. But here is what I knew: Read More…
I recently turned 36.
While it’s officially the oldest I’ve ever been, I decided to do something that felt admittedly…childish? No, that’s not it.
No. Thats not it either.
I don’t know.
Let’s just say it felt wonky, but in the good kind of way.
Even though it was freezing cold I went outside to sit on my back porch (because being outdoors helps me think) and I brought my favorite spiral notebook- the one that reads “Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You” in shiny metallic gold lettering across the front.
It’s the notebook that currently holds all my most important words.
My inner monologue.
It’s all there.
But I realized there was something MISSING from the book. Something so important that I can’t believe I’ve never bothered to write down.
As I sat on my porch casting vision for the year ahead and reflecting on the year behind, I realized that 2017 was full of surprises. It was a year full of dreaming bigger and saying Yes to pursuing those dreams. It was an impetus of sorts, and God wasted no time in drawing me directly outside of the comfort zone that I’d carefully created for myself.
Remember on Inside Out when Joy draws a circle for Sadness and tells her that her only job is to STAY INSIDE THE CIRCLE? It was kind of like that except I’d drawn my own circle, labeled it Comfort Zone, and planted myself there like a fool. We could really get deep here and talk about Joy and Sadness and how in reality, comfort zones are the easiest place to become miserable, but we honestly don’t have time for that today.
The point is, all of that changed the moment I began saying YES. Read More…
You did it! You made it through January! Before we say another word, go ahead and give yourself a high-five.
Can we all agree that January is one of the wonkiest months of the year?
Is that just me?
The holidays are over and for some some of us that means we’re still barely processing the feelings and experiences that came with them, the bank account is still smarting, the goals and intentions for the new year have been set but it’s too soon to tell which ones we’re actually being successful at, the weather is cold and gray, and some years it all just leaves me feeling a little weird.
On the bright side, I do love me a fresh start, and January is the basically freshest start of all. It’s Day 1 of 365. Full of promise and possibility.
Whichever way you slice it, one thing is for sure- we made it through.
I’m so proud of us.
Before we roll into February I wanted to write you a letter to fill you in on the highs and lows of our month over here.
Not just the highlight reel, the real reel too.
This is the stuff I share with my closest friends over coffee, but since most of you don’t live within a 30 mile radius of me (which is the exact distance I’ve deemed worthy of traveling for food or drink. *see last post regarding chipotle burritos*) I’ll just leave it here for you to read at your leisure.
These letters are a little longer and more personal in nature. I only write them once a month because I value your time and don’t want to waste it, so I choose to keep the blog more focused on encouragement and entertainment the rest of the time. But hey, maybe some of my regular day-to-day experiences will resonate with you, and maybe that will encourage or entertain you too. Who knows?
So let’s lead with the fun stuff, shall we?
They’re Nigerian Dwarfs so they’ll stay small, only growing to be about the size of our dogs.
“And why is the carpet all wet Todd?
I don’t KNOW Margo!” Read More…
So I’ve made a huge, tiny mistake…
I’m hunkered down in a cute little Airbnb in Oregon for a few days of uninterrupted, intensive writing time. ALONE.
Well, almost alone.
I decided to tag along with Amber for the weekend. Which is not some weird, third-person reference by the way- my best friend’s name is actually also Amber. (I know, how kitschy, right?)
She’s here to begin her yoga certification and I’m here to get some serious writing done. And by serious I mean there will be lots of GIFs involved and hopefully one or two morsels of actual creative writing thrown in. And snack breaks. Because priorities.
So I sit down at the desk this morning full of hope and good intentions, open my laptop, and go to plug it into the wall only to realize I’VE LEFT MY CHARGER AT HOME.
Classic Salhus. 🤦🏼♀️
I did manage to bring my iPad as backup, but failed to remember the keyboard that goes with it.
Can you tell it’s my first writing getaway? (Don’t answer that.)
So I’m sitting here writing to you because, well, for starters I needed a break from book proposal stuff, and for enders, I just love you guys so hard and I needed some of our good ol’ fashioned banter.
Can I make a confession?
Writing to you here is my favorite kind of writing.
Sometimes when I’m having a hard time knowing where to start, what to write about, or just feeling stuck in general, I just sit down and start typing to you. I don’t know why, but I feel safe with you guys, like I don’t have to filter myself or try to hard. I feel laid back and easy with you, like we’re sitting on a couch with a glass of wine just catching up on our things.
So tell me your things, dear friends. Read More…
Usually by the first week of January I’m all amped up and gung-ho about the new year with goals neatly listed in my bullet journal and new habits are either finding their place in my day or dying a thousand deaths faster than you can say “Happy New Year” (side eye to you, 5:30am workout).
This year is a little different. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m moving a little slower- a little easier this January. I have more of what you might call “intentions” than hard goals, I’m still praying about what my word of the year will be, and I’m just not feeling particularly motivated in general… Not yet anyway. Check back with me next week?
Either way, January is here, with all it’s expectations, possibility, and potential whether we’re ready for it or not.
I’m not sure where you’re at with all of that- maybe you’re still taking time to reflect on the last year, maybe you’ve already shaken off the dust of the bizarro year that was 2017 and you’re busy feeling like a new you, or maybe you couldn’t give a flying fart in a whirlwind about all this “resolution” nonsense even if you wanted to, which you don’t.
Wherever you happen to land on that spectrum, I figure we’re all probably just doing our best to recalibrate and find our rhythm after the holidays- I know I am. 🙋🏼To borrow a quote from Stuart on Mad TV, “I’m going at my own pace!”
I tried to find a GIF of that sketch, but apparently it was too deep of a cut, even for Google, so for all you fellow 90’s teens who can appreciate it, here’s a different GIF of Stuart:
Anyway, I decided that instead of trying to come out of the 2018 gate with some deep, thought provoking, world changing piece, it would be more fun to take a quick look back at some of our favorite posts from 2017. So I did some investigating and these were the top 5 most-viewed posts from the blog last year. Some of them are my own personal favorites as well.
Here they are, in case you missed them!
~ Guest Post by Amy Steingard ~
Hey you. I know what you’re thinking today.
Yesterday, you said, “Tomorrow I’m going to start that thing, dream, book, calling, work.”
You know what your thing is. It’s tap dancing right on your heart, and it’s impossible to ignore.
And then this morning hit in a flurry of cereal with spilled milk, lost homework, dirty diapers, and the middle child home with the stomach flu that you know will run through your entire family. You surrender to your circumstances and say a defeated, “Tomorrow.”
I’m with you, sister. There’s a dream in my heart, too, that sometimes feels buried under the clutter and weight of motherhood and life. I feel like I am never going to get there…never going to have the time or the emotional fortitude to make that dream happen. A bad day with my kids can cause me to question EVERYTHING about myself and the work I want to do.
Hi, I’m Amy. I yelled at my kids today and ate chocolate in the bathroom with a screaming toddler 6 inches on the other side of the door, but my passion in life is to be an encourager of women.
I will blame motherhood and lack of time all the live long day. I will blame my kids, my husband, my house, my lack of resources. I make excuses why I can’t do the thing right now, and while all those are valid and persuasive reasons to not pursue my dream, deep down it’s all an underhanded cop-out.
Those things that we claim hold us back, that’s just life, and, frankly, life has wisdom of it’s own. Life and, most specifically, our imperfections are what makes us endlessly fascinating. Kathryn Craft explains this better than I ever can, “[Life] dumps s— on you and stirs you up until your soil is fertile. Accept the challenge and plant some seeds. This is how artists grow.” Read More…