some books, a rant, and a list of things I love

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So here’s what you get with me: some peanut butter powerballs, pretty felt boards, and then, wham!

a rant’n rave.

I apologize in advance. Feel free to pass over this post. I probably should write this in my journal and not my blog, but whatever. It’s my blog, I suppose. So welcome to my pity party. Maybe tomorrow I’ll write about something happy and artful.

Sometimes I feel like I’m just pretending in this world. I’m faking it at parenting (what do I know?!) and faking it at life (again, what do I know?! a whole lot of nothing). I don’t know who I am or what I’m supposed to be doing. I spend time at friends’ homes and marvel at their kitchens. They’re adults! With real food processors and knives that they know how to sharpen!

Silly, right?

But I feel like a kid on the outside looking in. I feel like everyone else is more intelligent and more with it. They have purpose. They know how things work. And me? I read books and cut out felt pieces and know what kind of job I don’t want.

I’ve been reading books. Lots of them. And I love books. I can get lost in them. But even with all the lovely life-changing book recommendations you all gave me, I’m just thinking, can people really change? I’m thirty one. Maybe I just missed the life-changing boat by a few years. Sometimes I think I’m a big optimist, but I’m not feeling like one right now. I’m feeling like a perpetual malcontent. And where’s that going to get me?

What do I need? More books? Therapy? Faith? Poetry? Financial security? A job? Chocolate? A train trip? A glass of wine? A slap on the side of the face? All of the above? Maybe none of the above? Maybe just a different mindset?

Okay, so here are the books I’ve been reading in the past couple of months: Finding Your Own North Star, Soul Coaching, Gift from the Sea, The Temple of My Familiar, The Power of Now, Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, Earthways, and The Best of American Travel Writing. And I have another stack waiting to be read.

My problem with self-help type books is that I’m not consistent about doing the exercises. I do some, but then either read through most of the book without doing them (thinking I’ll go back and do them later) or stop reading at an exercise I need to do and then just never pick up the book again. Guilt trip! So anyway, I haven’t finished reading all the above books. And I haven’t gotten everything out of them that I could.

I loved Gift from the Sea and The Temple of My Familiar (which I’m still reading – it’s long!), but my favorite of the lot so far is The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It’s about a couple of misfits — an autodidact concierge and a super intelligent 12 year old. So fun and so good! I was sad to finish it.

Anyway, the book (probably one of the protagonists) listed three things worth living for: LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, and the BEAUTY OF ART. It’s a good list but too distilled for me. So I wrote my own list headed up by the above, but also including some things that make me happy.

My list of things worth living for:

  • Coffee and scones (my favorite is their coconut and dried cherry scone) at the West End Bakery with my family
  • Snuggling with Maia as she wakes up from her nap
  • Books! Browsing in bookstores and libraries with plenty of time and no agenda
  • And more books — reading book lists and reviews on Amazon
  • Fresh baked bread, toasted, with butter and honey
  • Flowers — in a vase or in a garden. I love flowers! Freesias are my favorite.
  • Poring over seed catalogs and planning a vegetable garden when it’s still cold outside. The garden is still perfect then and full of potential and not nearly as much work.
  • A ridge hike on a clear day — feeling on top of the world, like I can fly!
  • Really good chocolate truffles. Or a chocolate caramel combo. Or just chocolate. I know a lot of people are into dark chocolate and it’s supposed to be a lot healthier for you but I’m a milk chocolate kind of person. I like creamy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.
  • A bento box lunch of teriyaki salmon and tempura from a good Japanese place, and especially the perfect miso soup that precedes it
  • Daydreaming about hopping a train with a suitcase full of books, chocolate, notebooks, and rollerball pens
  • A bottle of wine and conversation shared with a good friend
  • Everything I haven’t learned but would like to
  • Cherry pie
  • My favorite authors: Banana Yoshimoto and Barbara Kingsolver
  • New art supplies! oil pastels, paints, papers, crayons, colored pencils…
  • A stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled with ramblings, ideas, lists
  • The pine-y smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree when it’s newly strung with lights
  • Other winter joys: candlelight, hot tea, bowls of tangerines,  hot showers, paperwhites
  • Colors. And the gift of sight. Of all the senses it’s the most precious to me.
  • Rereading favorite books from childhood: The Secret Garden, Jane Eyre, A Story Like the Wind
  • And probably lots more… At least this post didn’t turn out to be all negative.

So what’s on your list?



 
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Comments

  1. says

    I can so relate to this post..the “faking” it, the searching, and the ranting. I also find myself going through stages where I feel myself comparing to others (and to my own expectations/goals) and searching for that elusive sense of inner calm/peace. Just like you I stock up on self-help books and/or parenting books depending on the current “issue”. And I reassure myself in the library aisles with the fact that there are so many self-help books which must mean I am not alone in my quest. You are not alone. I think we all struggle and these times of struggle are a sign of growth or upcoming change (even if it may not feel like that is happening in the midst of the angst). And I think your rant turned gratitude list is a good thing. I have to get my kids to school but I will spend today making my own little list of “things worth living for”…thanks for the honesty and the push to do a little self reflection.

  2. Kim says

    I just wanted to suggest maybe finding some more/other friends. Ones who don’t have their acts together. :P You sound perfectlly normal to me! Maybe that’s why I like you, me, I mean you.

  3. says

    Oh goodness! I totally know what you mean! I’m 30yo with 2 kids and I still live in a freaking apt! (but at least I studied what I love)
    Do the people with sharp knives give their kids half the experiences you give Maia? That’s the thing that’s going to make a difference in her life. She might not remember every single detail, but the bond you’re building with her through the high quality of life, beauty, and experience is something your family will cherish and enjoy for her whole life.
    (sorry, I’m writing on my mom’s wordpress act, so that’s not her talking, it’s me Jeannette, http://ab612.partialflow.com)

  4. says

    I love your list, especially re-reading childhood favorites. I would add visiting art museums, baking cookies, window shopping in cool downtowns, going to the library on a rainy day, and get togethers with family and friends!

  5. says

    You know… I was and still am feeling as you are… I’m reading “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert and it’s been helpful :) Not in a obvious way but it says a lot of stuff that make sense. Don’t look at others that way… We see what we want to see and what they allow us to see… We’re all messy people… “Fake” people… We’re all trying to figure out what to do… Some os us look more secure and some don’t… So don’t feel bad or insecure or whatever. Just accept yourself as you are, love yourself, have honest conversations about what you want and here you want to go in life… The answers are all inside us… It’s up to us to settle down and find a way fo hear ourselves… I hope that made sense to you :)
    Ah ohh gosh… I’m loving waaaay to mony things to keep writing this comment…
    Cheer that creative mind up :)

  6. mjm says

    to put it in perspective….some people think of you and think “She’s got it all…she owns a home! with a yard! and a car! and is constantly enriching her kid’s life with all these wholesome activities! she makes her own clothes! and her kid’s clothes! and bakes pies from scratch! and grows her own tomatoes! and makes handmade gifts! and handmade stationery!”
    so you can see how it goes both ways…and possibly is just human nature to believe that everyone else is Doin It Right and that Ur Doin It Wrong.
    and 31 had better not be too old or we’re all screwed. I like to remember that my folks…whom you know…were each in their mid 40s before they figured out what they wanted to do with their lives! Ya got time.

  7. says

    Of course you realize people read your blog and think YOU are the one with it all together, right?
    I say, it’s all good. You’re good. We’ll be lucky if we figure it all out when we’re dead, so we might as well have some fun mistakes now. Screw the “shoulds” do they really help us? Maybe if they give us something to shoot for, but not if they make us feel bad about themselves.
    I did a small list of happies here. I like doing happy lists. They help.
    http://warriorgirl.blogspot.com/2008/09/flying-girl-enters-sun-or-mandala.html

  8. says

    : (
    Sorry to hear you’re down!
    Once when I was all gloomy a friend told me, “Maybe you’re not reading enough,” and gave me a list of great books. A couple years later I felt gloomy again and the exact same friend said, “Maybe you’re reading TOO MUCH.” Sometimes books, especially of the self-help variety, make us think a little too much! Maybe you need a small reading break.
    Oh, and just for the record, I’m 36 and don’t own a matching plate-bowl-cup set, or a blender, or a toaster oven, or a good coat, or galoshes. My cutlery is all mix-and-match and I had to beef up the spoon section by visiting the thrift store recently. 95% of our furniture was given to us by people who visited and then decided maybe we needed something of theirs more than they did! It’s all relative. We are filthy rich by other standards. I say, set your own standards!
    But also, know that I think most people get this way from time to time, so don’t feel like you’re alone!

  9. says

    I have to comment and say I love your blog. I think when we have little ones our reality isn’t “magazine cover homes” but our reality is snuggling with little people as they stir from a nap – think about it: which reality will last longer? – I spend days hunkering after my “magazine cover home” and I spend moments snuggling. But it is the snuggling that fills my heart and makes me soar! I love your list and will definitely be thinking of my own!!!

  10. says

    Having it all together? Funny, I was thinking the same thing about YOU!
    Everybody’s faking it. Some just do a better job at it than others.
    I love your list…I’d add “blogging while all the kids nap at the same time”. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s sweet.

  11. Julie says

    rowena is right, people read your blog and think you are the one with it all together. i promise you those friends you visit with the perfect kitchens and the sharp knives have areas of their lives that they feel are sub-par.
    we can’t compare ourselves to others – most likely those “others” are comparing themselves to others too (maybe even us). celebrate our strengths! making your happy list is a great idea. maybe make a list of things you feel you are good at too.
    i think most people who read this blog on a regular basis are awed at the wonderful, creative experiences you give your daughter. being an amazing mom is nothing to sneeze at!

  12. says

    There are sharp knives in my kitchen but only because my husband is a Chef! ( I had to learn to use them.) I read your post today and felt relief. Creative minds tend to strive for perfection and thus over think things. I also believe that the changing of seasons triggers these feelings. A gratitude list always helps to center my rogue thoughts.

  13. says

    …hmmm, the most interesting people I know don’t know what they want to be when they grow up…and they’re in their 60s. You’ve got time, try not to guilt trip youself too much.
    …just so you know I’ve tagged you on my son’s blog as a source of inspiration.

  14. Allison says

    I feel this way too, like I’m not an adult and how can I possibly be caring for this kid?? How can I possibly be turning 30 in a couple of months? I’ve realized though that connecting more intimately with people helps me break down the wall of “I’m not measuring up.”
    The other thing that’s helped — I was really in a place where I didn’t know who I was at all a couple months ago — was this book: Style Statement by Carrie McCarthy and Danielle LaPorte. It’s not really just about style as in fashion (although it covers that too), but it really helped me figure out who I am. They have a good/helpful website too: http://carrieanddanielle.com/ – I’m not shilling for them but I really felt like this book helped me get out of stuck place that felt a lot like what you’re describing.

  15. says

    You sound like the perfect stay at home mom to me! I bet no where on your list of jobs you don’t want is “mother.”
    Tap into that creative spirit and your love of reading and raise and brilliant, beautiful, courageous, thinking adult..and you’ll have fulfilled a large portion of your role here on earth!
    And don’t worry about the faking it part..I’m going to be 36 in one month and most days I can’t get myself to believe I’m out of my twenties. We’re all “faking” it to some degree!

  16. says

    definitely more books! I have this feeling too…and well…get more books and oh..
    first get a bigger house with more shelves and then more books…and oh include a comfortable chair or bed. ^_^

  17. Sue says

    I find that I compare myself to others all the time. I always end up feeling like I need to be doing more or that there’s something missing. I guess I may look like I have it all together from the outside but I constantly feel like I am not as good. The one thing I do know is that I’m a great mom, and that is what holds me together. I do spend too much time reading blogs, but I try my hardest to read lots to my kids and just enjoy being with them. It sounds like you are a great mom- keep up the good work. p.s. I love your list!

  18. says

    Ladies, ladies, ladies…it’s all making sense to me now…you know how our mothers (at least MY mother’s generation, which may be a whole or at least a half a generation ahead of yours), tended to be married with kids in their early twenties. But our generation, we have a much more protracted adolescence, so that many of us still struggle with adolescent developmental milestones well into our twenties (identity-seeking, etc), then we focus on establishing careers, etc. THEN getting married and having babies and THEN re-thinking the whole “who am I? who is this person I have become? who am I yet to become? and how do I get there? What about my old self? etc, etc, etc.
    REMEMBER, take heart that “the 30′s are the new 20′s and the 40′s are the new 30′s”. Take it from an old 42 year old (which, I can still say, I CAN”T believe I’m actually in my 40′s!!!!!!!!!!!), that you have the gift of time on your side. AND, when you turn 40, you just may feel like you have arrived…rather than it being a dreaded milestone, I was blown away by the fact that I actually found myself feeling more sure of who I was, and happy to be where I was in life, and I would say this has been mostly a unanimous realization among my peers. ANd yet I also recall, that we were all fairly traumatized by turning 30. Believe me when I tell you THE 40′s CAN BE YOUR BEST DECADE YET. You finally do feel grown up, but not OLD, and with more of a sense of that elusive “Who am I?” and the confidence to be her without worrying what anyone else thinks. Also, once your kids get a bit older and more independent, you have more time to focus on your own needs again, and that can be very refreshing! (and nothing to feel guilty about, because a happier you, is a better you for your family)
    I hope all this rambling made a little bit of sense and didn’t trivialize anyone’s feelings. BTW, I’ve never been into self-help books, but can learn a lot from a good memoir or novel that sometimes puts things in perspective.
    A few items on my list would be:
    Going to yoga class
    Meeting a friend for lunch or dinner, sans kids or husbands
    A dinner date with my husband or a backyard date with my husband (by our backyard fire pit) with the kids sound asleep in their beds
    Roasting marshmallows WITH the kids by our backyard “campfire”
    A week at the beach with my family
    Hugs and kisses from my growing boys
    The gleeful participation of the tots in my art classes (and their hugs too)
    Ok, and bear with me on this last one….Watching Dancing with the Stars!!

  19. Maureen says

    Hi… I’m not the best writer so hopefully somehow I can convey appropriately what I’m thinking. I’m guessing you look at how great you are with art and how creative you are in general as a “so, what, no big deal” kind of a thing and may think to yourself “that’s not important” or something along those lines. I’d venture to put out there that you should embrace those things that you are great at and find yourself and what you want to do within those and really truly believe what a great asset that is. You probably take it for granted because it comes so easy to you. Coming from someone so not creative, I am VERY impressed with your talents. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer (and use it), matching dishes, can do numbers really well but do I have any creative cells – no. So, I focus on folks like you and think wow, they are so much together on this parenting thing and I would so love to be talented at something like they are. There may be a natural tendency to notice more the things we can’t do because we take the things we can do (and do well) as expected and assume that everyone does those things (well) in addition to the things you are admiring they do that you don’t.
    Hang in there – just know that I’m guessing there are a lot of people like myself that really admire you. Yes, I know I only see the blog side of your life but those are the parts that are rather impressive. You can’t take those away even if the part you are not blogging about isn’t. As for reading, I’d say just get a couple good trashy romance novels and escape in those for a few weeks.

  20. Barbara says

    What would you tell Maia if she came to you complaining that all her friends seemed much more put together, much more in the know, than she is? Good, now tell yourself the same thing. We are all so much harder on ourselves than we are with others. This is what life is; the trick is to let yourself wallow for a minute or two (you’re human, after all), then give yourself a good shake and go do something for others. Feel down about your life? Go serve dinner at a soup kitchen! Get involved in a political campaign! Raise money for the local library! Set up a diaper bank in your community! Call a friend and take her kid(s) for an afternoon!

  21. says

    Thanks for the post — I’ve been feeling much the same way the last few months! I just moved from a southern CA megalopolis to a small town (in my mind) in Oregon and in the process went from a working mom to a SAHM. I feel like I’m going through a total identity crisis! To give you just a small window into my world, I’m 36 and have been married for 13 years but just got my first food processor and mixer since moving here! I’ve been thinking about posting this on my own blog (which has been on hiatus since the move), so thanks for the kick in the pants to deal with this!
    By the way, you are one of those mom bloggers whose posts I’ve bookmarked so many of but have yet to try any of the things you write about… One day I’ll actually get my hairclips in my still-nonexistent Etsy shop and try some art with my almost 3 year old!

  22. says

    Once when I felt like this a while ago (not that I don’t continue to feel like this) I talked to my dad (who’s a shrink) and he said that everyone feels like they’re faking it, and you never grow out of it– you just get better at convincing other people. I take constant comfort in this.
    You know what I did when I was feeling the 30 yr old mother blues? I took advice form your blog, started an art group, and made a parcel of new friends!
    We all feel like this– I really think it’s what ties together our generation!

  23. says

    I can so relate to that feeling of being a kid in a grown-up’s world in other people’s houses. In fact, I sometimes think that way when I read your blog. It’s a relative thing. We can’t really convince you, but hopefully all the voices here will have some sway and let you know that you are not a fake but an inspiration. And that you don’t have to be perfect to be inspiring.
    Oh, and in regards to the 31-years-old and too late to figure out what you want to do in life–I absolutely beleive that it is never too late to be what you might have been. My husband and I at ages 40 and 42 are in the middle of career changes. Career changes that have meant an huge change in our lifestyle, as well as geographical change. You don’t have to have it all figured out at 31.
    Be well. We’re all in support of you.
    BTW, love your list.

  24. emily says

    Wow, I feel like I could have written your post. This was the very essence of my lament to my sister, thousands of miles away, on the phone just yesterday. I too, wonder, what I am doing…really doing, what is my greater purpose (and how does cookie baking and obsessing over my messy garden have to do with it, anyway!) But I have to say, I draw so much inspiration from your blog, and your passion for artful living. Your artistic passion speaks to my own inner world, just as your self-doubting does (oh, how I wish it didn’t!). It seems as I read your post and all the many comments, that we all share an experience of this sort. It is impossible to be everything all at once, I have realized for myself, as a mother of three. But not impossible to live life to it’s fullest in each moment. I appreciate your cheerful list of gratitude, what a good excercise for seeing the sunny side of life. And I am also very excited to read your book list, which has several titles that I am not familliar with. I love books, too! A few things on my list – listening to the rain as I sit on the porch balmy night, fresh mango with a squeeze of lemon, FB chocolate lounge’s truffle with sea salt sprinkled on it (YUM!), walking in the neighborhood and hearing someone practice their violin, smelling the intoxicating sweetness of honeysuckle, eating raspberries fresh from the bush, whispering my decree of love to my children as they sleep, sinking into a lava-hot bath with lavender oil by warm candlelight, finding a perfect treasure at the thrift store (today it was a pair of old marionettes), digging in the dirt and watching something beautiful manifest, getting a move right in my bellydancing class, hearing my kids sing to themselves!

  25. Chandra says

    I think you’ve written one of those blog posts that resonates with alot of people ;-) I’ve been thinking about this alot lately…that there are really no normal people, no perfectly together people, no people without pain or angst or mental imbalance (perhaps for some it’s more of a daily thing and for others it rears up only occasionally…) The people we view as having it all together are sure as s** having their own mini-breakdowns…they might be better as disguising or hiding it, but honestly… Our physical bodies, our skin, can cover a whole world of who we really are.
    I’m 36 and I’m generally happy but I’m not done yet and who I want to be “when I grow up,” keeps changing, surprisingly, even when I am moving along feeling like I’ve finally got it figured out. We moved to India last year with our 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter and I was both thrilled and shaking with fright…who the hell could imagine that we are responsible enough to parent in another country??!! What were they thinking?! Feeling like a kid looking in on an adult world, isn’t such a bad thing in my opinion. Think about Maia and how her perspective is so fresh, undone, ever evolving because she is open to the world, as children are. And she doesn’t judge it, or try and mold it, or wonder where it fits in with her future…
    Who cares if your knives get sharpened…? You are so clearly present to Maia, sharing yourself and your talents with your daughter and your community, blogging away about it all (and I, for one, kind of appreciate the rant, it makes you more human and less super-art-mommy :-) )
    Love your blog…it’s a daily read.
    Chandra
    http://www.wherearethefischers.blogspot.com

  26. says

    May I suggest that you are reading the wrong book if you want to answer these questions. If you really want to know who you are and what your purpose is then only answer that I would possibly have for you is to go to the Creator to find out. I fully believe that our hearts will not rest until we can finally rest with our Maker. I believe that we were all created by God to worship Him and give Him glory. Life really isn’t all about us and our happiness as much as we would like to think it is.
    I would beg of you to pick up a Bible. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Really read and give it a chance. If at that point you can’t by it then ok, but don’t dismiss it before you read it and truly seek out the truth.
    Now as for having it all together…I DON’T! There are so many days I fall short and I struggle with life, but I have peace, joy, and security because I can rest in my Lord. There isn’t anything that I have to do I just seek Him, Believe Him, and attempt to obey what He teaches. I obey not because I have to or because I can earn His love or my salvation, but because knowing Him produces love for Him and love births a desire for obedience.
    I usually would not make this comment and I almost did not, but I truly do believe that I know the One that can provide some of these answers. I have been in your place, I have struggled and felt restless and it is only through Jesus Christ that I have ever experienced any rest. I just think that it would be wrong of me to claim to know the One who can provide answers and say nothing. I hope I am not making too many presumptions as I write this, it is honestly coming out of my love for the Lord. I would love to continue this conversation with you further if you are at all interested. Please feel free to contact me.
    I truly do enjoy your blog and all of the fun creative things you do with your daughter. I would love to be better at providing these types of activities for my kids and you help to encourage me to do so. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  27. says

    I think you can change. But it happens slowly. When you read about someone’s life change in a book, it seems so easy (relatively) and quick. My friend introduced me to the movie The Secret about 3 years ago. I know alot of critics hated it and thought it overly simplistic. What I took from the movie is that we must look at life in a positive light. Especially important is that we are surrounded by so many negative people and “dream killers” (those naysayers); so you need to surround yourself with the people who support your dream and the life you want to live. When I heard about these ideas, I thought, yeah they make sense. However my emotional side thought it was hokey.
    It’s been a slow process getting to the point where I am. I still have a long way to go. When you make life changes, you just have to start with one little thing; conquer that, and then move on to the next. If you falter, don’t beat yourself up. Shrug it off and keep working on it.
    Sorry it’s so long. I totally empathize with you; I’ve often felt the same way. Figure out what you want (that’s the hard part), and just take those little steps. I think having a positive is one of those things that you can fake it until you believe it.

  28. Nessie says

    Just be. Be in the moment, be with your children, your family, yourself. Be grounded, and consider the following.
    Things change around us and we cannot help but to change with them. Change is a constant and we can choose how we deal with it. Who we are is determined by our choices, choices hopefully guided by our own set of morals and vision for the future. Too often we try to define ourselves by what we do, where we live, what we own, what we know, who our parents are, by many things that have nothing to do with what our hearts look like.
    How do you define success? A kitchen drawer full of knives you can expertly use? The ability to share the joy of parenting and exploration by the side of a child in manner that inspires others? A daughter who understands the meaning of love and can be moved by a smear of paint or the way the sun reveals the beauty of a leaf AND can communicate those things visually or verbally?
    Have a vision for your life. Each small decision you make should fall in line with that vision. And there is nothing that says our vision can’t change! Who you are is not a project that will be done someday. Each of us is a process that is always in motion; changing and growing. We are who we are, but none of us are static objects. Sometimes we might choose a vision that is not really our own. We try to meet someone else’s expectations or ideas about success, and then we are faking it.

  29. Lavina says

    Sister,
    We all feel like you do. Seriously! Your “together” friends either a) do not have small children or b) are better at faking adulthood than you! Go grab your baby girl, smooch on your hubby and know this too shall pass. Chin up.

  30. says

    Reaching out to old friends and hearing about their lives. I find self help books only make me feel inferior and have greater doubt about my abilities. From reading your blog, you’ve got so much cool stuff going on and you are helping other parents be BETTER at what they do. Few people can make the same claim. I don’t think you need any self help books. I think you’ve got it all figured out as it is.

  31. says

    I’m sure for some of us reading this blog, we’ve marveled at YOU, and wished we could be half as creative and engaged. Everyone is on the “outside”, and the honest ones admit it. Okay, I have a food processor, but my knives have no tips because I insist on using them to pry frozen food apart, I do not own one piece of furniture that wasn’t handed down unless it was from IKEA and cost less than $40, my son is still wearing pajamas because he protested clothes this morning, my kids get their teeth brushed ONCE a day (so far they haven’t fallen out), I have stacks upon stacks of books that were supposed to change my life but I seem to be to lazy or uninspired to do the work. The blogs that are inspiring are the ones that make you feel as if you’re part of an imperfect community, not the ones who proclaim their supermomdom. I know my answer won’t come from a book (though I appreciate the knowledge as a whole), it won’t come from the big change I’m always anticipating, and it certainly won’t come from Jesus. To be honest, I don’t know where it will come from. Still figuring that part out.

  32. Paige says

    I agree with so many previous commenters – it’s always easy to see the amazing in other people, but not so easy to see it in ourselves. We all think YOU are amazing!
    I just moved to a very small, wealthy town in the northeast, joined the town’s mom’s group, and got put into a playgroup. This Monday was our first meeting, and it was held at a beautiful, huge, recently renovated, amazing, CLEAN home. Next week it will be at my (rented) townhouse – small, not so beautiful, never renovated but needs it, will be cleaned the night before but is not clean now. I was really feeling anxious about it, but reading your post, I realized that while these other women (in my playgroup) and I may not have a lot in common, what we do have in common is the love we have for our children and the desire to make them happy. And that’s pretty amazing! So thanks for the post (and thanks for your Etsy shop)!

  33. Amy says

    Blog-land is a tough place to be when you are feeling unsure of yourself–it’s easy to get caught up in the perfect-seeming homes, wardrobes, and lives on display. You yourself have reminded us (I think?) that many “lifestyle” blogs are just corners–well-edited, nicely photographed corners–of people’s lives. I won’t repeat all the great advice you’ve gotten in these comments here except to agree with an early poster who said “get some other less-together friends.” More accurately, get some friends who have it “together” in a wider variety of ways. That’s very helpful for me. In particular, most of my close friends have much nicer, cleaner, saner homes than mine. But one dear friend has a house that’s a bit more like mine, and she seems perfectly adult, and it always cheers me to spend some time in her home.
    xox amy

  34. threegirlpileup says

    I have been struggling myself lately with feeling unable to get it together!
    Your entry inspired me to think of the things that make life worth living.
    Some of them are:
    laughter
    the exuberant, unconditional love of my children
    friendship and love
    the beautiful natural world
    delicious food
    making things with my hands
    Thanks for that.
    I will echo what some have said above–the more I can be present and find peace with what is, the more content I am.
    It’s a bumpy journey, life, but so worth it!

  35. jill says

    Jean, go look at that sweet face of yours in the mirror and take a deep breath.
    When you find your mind start to wander to those comparative thoughts, try to be present…like focusing on some sense (smell, hearing, etc) and know that the thoughts and uncomfortable feelings will pass.
    You are a beautiful mom and are inspiring to so many. Thank you for your honesty and humanness. Love your list too. I made an illustrated little book of my favorite things to remind myself when I was feeling so discontent. Fresh bulletin boards make me feel good too…new inspiration…
    I find that sometimes it is helpful to go back to music, pictures, etc. to kind of remind myself of myself before I became a mother.
    go find the poem “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver, it’s very comforting

  36. says

    I find that when I am feeling down or start comparing myself to others or when life just feels too complicated the best thing to do is to do some kind of simple service for someone else. I think it always helps me more than it does the recipient.

  37. says

    Everyone pretty much said what I was going to say, but I just wanted to send you a virtual hug. I am in my late 30′s, and I feel that the past several years have been full of transformation for me. It has been heart-wrenching at times, but I am finally beginning to get some glimmers of who I am meant to be. I am beginning to become comfortable in m own skin. I have not “arrived” yet, but even through the worst of the soul-searching, I have to admit I am grateful for the journey and the path I have travelled.
    Keep writing, keep searching. I agree with one of the previous posters who said that deepening your faith is the ultimate answer. Don’t be afraid to tackle those thorny questions that arise. I believe that if you keep yourself open to the struggle, you will eventually come to some sort of an understanding you can live with. In the short time I have been following your blog, I can see that you are an amazing woman. I hope you will find comfort in the support of everyone here.

  38. Monique says

    I think we have all had days (or weeks) like this. It’s tough work being a mom and “mommy-guilt” is always right there with us. In truth, we have these feelings because our expectations of how we should be as a mom/wife are absolutely impossible. For me, as a Christian, it gives me tremendous peace to know that God made me Julianna and Annelise’s mommy for a reason, and while I am imperfect, He is perfect and by His grace He makes up for my shortcomings. I agree with Christa’s comment, only by finding our identity in who Christ says that we are, do we find ourselves complete. No matter how hard I try, being the best mom, being the best wife, it will never satisfy. Whether its a glimpse of my sweet babies toothless grin or bright sunflowers in the backyard, I have to remind myself that if this (his creation) is so marvelous, what must the creator be like!
    As a word of encouragement to you, it is evident that your pour out your time and energy to give your little girl your best – and that’s all you can ever do. With the insight you provide in your blog, my 4-year old and I have begun a new tradition of doing art together everyday that we can. It has helped me connect with her in a way I hadn’t before. It puts us at the same level for a few precious moments where we can just create. It has been a joy to learn from you. I hope you don’t mind, but I have shared your link with my friends at my blog at http://www.thingstreasured.wordpress.com
    Thank you for being so authentic and sharing your gifts with all of us.
    Monique

  39. says

    Well, here’s the thing. I am 31 too. I have a grown up cuisinart and blender and beautiful knives that I actually sharpen (yeah – I got good wedding presents). I try to keep my house clean, I have a master’s degree, my own business (although I’m a SAHM now), and I make a point to wear makeup, do my hair and look cute everyday (not sure how successful I am with that one). I spend every minute of every day with my girl and we play, listen to music, go for walks, pick blackberries, play in the grass, nurse and eat together. BUT – I absolutely covet everything I see here and feel a bit inferior in comparison. I WIIIIISH I knew how to garden and could carve my baby’s name in her own pumpkin, I wish I had a fraction of the imagination you have when it comes to wonderful artful ways to expand your daughter’s heart and mind, I am ashamed that I don’t make time to read books like you do, I am embarrased and annoyed at how I struggle to make homemade meals (why can’t I find the time when I don’t work outside the home???) even though I am a good cook. You have inspired me to also be sitting and cutting out felt pieces and going store to store trying to find the damn chalkboard paint so I can excitedly duplicate the wonderful felt board and blackboard you made. Your feelings about your life are valid and important but please understand that those of us with pretty knives and food processors aren’t all we’re cracked up to be. We’re wishing we were more like you. So keep on keepin’ on sister – you have one lucky little girl.

  40. says

    some times too many self help books do this.. I love self help books too.. I am curently reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and I recommend it.. but then I think of all the people that are a little off tilt who devour too much of this stuff and I dont want to be like them
    I think you are an amazing person.. and who cares what your job is??? I will be facing this exact problem in one or two years when my youngest goes off to kindergarden… what do I do with my life?? I am almost 30… I better choose something… anyway if you are an artist who teaches young children or a felt board maker well hey.. you got it made
    because you know what.. those other people who seemingly have it together are probably so jealous of your life.. look at her she is so relaxed doing what she loves etc etc..

  41. says

    I haven’t a self-help book in my library, only because I kow I don’t have the discipline (or self knowledge, whatever you wish to call it) to follow a single one of them.
    Listen to yourself. Make time to listen. Be still. Be content.
    (mantra to myself, thought I would share!)

  42. says

    Sharp knives just cut deeper, not good for small hands or tender hearts. This was an amazingly courageous post so don’t beat yourself up about it. We’re all struggling in our own ways. My short list:
    Unicorns and mermaids
    Faeries too
    A good phone conversation
    Rain
    Hot chocolate at the bookstore

  43. says

    At some point in Her busy life this woman who lives in this messy house by the sea in Wales is going to write a book called How to Wean Yourself off Self Help Books ( the last book you will ever need to read on the subject). In the meantime we would suggest that you read a really good novel. Drink hot chocolate with chili and vanilla and cinnamon. Knit. Play with colours. Stand by a tree and try to catch a falling leaf as every one that you catch carries with it a wish. Stand in a dark place at night and look at the sky and glory in your own small insignificance in the world. Grow whiskers. Here She is struggling to get back to teh drawing board as while She has been working there have been dragons living in the house and they have made a big big mess.
    We send you the love and the kind thoughts of cats and we will make Her go read a Mary Oliver poem or two also.
    Oh, and subscribe to Pass on a Poem. You will like it. A moment of peace in busy lives.

  44. says

    I think so many of us can relate to your post. My suggestion is to pray and ask God for what his will is for you and then you will truly find your true purpose. It is only in him that we can feel satisfied. I’ve been there and have felt many of the things that you have written. Listening to the Christian artist- Sarah Groves was helpful. She is so honest with her singing. I would also suggest Natalie Grant- very encouraging. Lots of luck as you take a break from blogging. I’m glad to have come across your blog today.
    Here are just a few lines to one of my favorite songs:
    “Don’t white-wash the truth about yourself, cause nobody’s got it all together. You want to be like everyone else, but nobody’s got it all together!!) By admitting this, we can be an encouragement to others. The friends with the perfect kitchens aren’t perfect- we all have issues- some bigger than others at different stages in our lives.
    Blessings,
    Jen
    @ God’s Shining Stars
    and
    Creative and Curious Kids!

  45. says

    You know those people with the knife sharpeners are faking it, too. The only difference between them and you is money (maybe), or debt (more likely). Not important things. In fact, things to maybe avoid.
    Could I suggest swearing off the self-help books? I think you’re perfect just the way you are. A bit guilt-ridden, but otherwise just fine. ; )
    P.S. – Hi from your imperfect Triangle friends!

  46. Christine says

    fall
    rain
    scarves
    putting the kids in ponchos and exploring the city in the rain
    slipper socks
    bedtime (the part when we’re actually in bed, reading)
    my walk home from work
    mountains
    hiking with my kids and taking 3-4 times longer than what our hiking book for kids says it will take
    color tag
    NOT having it all together
    winging it
    making my husband laugh
    dancing in the living room to 70s funk
    eucalyptus honey
    back scratches
    a clean house
    swimming for hours in the sea
    muscle burn
    the cool sensation of cold water trickling down your throat and into your gut when you’re hot and exhausted
    driving through the car wash
    Tom Robins novels
    coloring
    my gray hairs
    my red hairs
    the fact that my eyes have completely changed color at the ripe old age of 35
    aaaaahh! I can’t stop…

  47. says

    “Everything I havent learned but would like to” … Oh yes! I can especially relate to this one, and to me it doesn’t paint you as a perpetual malcontent, but as a creative person who values and enjoys and is curious about life – despite the perfectionist tendencies that sometimes spoil her experience of it. Oh, wait – that’s me. :)
    I’m 38, and my little girl is 2. I smack myself up daily about my shortcomings as a mum, in addition to all the things I used to smack myself up about before I had her. As a devourer of self-help and instructional books, recently I’ve found it kinder to myself to get immersed in books which I can enjoy purely for their visual content: books about colour, about sumptuous fabrics, or good food, or full of photography of beautiful places. Books that feed my soul instead of fuelling my self-criticism, and give my restless overthinking brain a bit of a holiday. This is offered as personal experience, not as advice to you that you may not want – and I hope it doesn’t come across as trivializing what you are feeling.
    I have always viewed your blog with awe at the inventiveness and enthusiasm of your creative adventures with Maia.
    Off now to compile my own list of lovely things.

  48. rosie says

    i neither have sharp knives nor art projects for my kids! i’m home with almost 3 year old twins, i’m 31 and i also feel like i’m faking it. all the time. i bookmark so many of your projects, plan to do them and never do. you’re not alone.

  49. Renee says

    I started reading this post after a search for “feeling too responsible as a parent.” When I read about feeling like a child looking in, I thought, “That is me sometimes.” I was really on board with your outlook. But when I read your age, along with the question “Can people really change,” I had to laugh. That is SOOOOOOOOOOO young. I just turned 40 and I’ve changed more in the past year (with the help of yoga, meditation, and journaling) than I did in the first 39. People can really change when they are ready to, and not a minute before. And I’m not sure what turns on that switch to “ready,” but you’ll know when it comes. The hard part is hanging in there, but have faith. In the meantime, here’s a lovely piece on transitions and transformations to read: http://www.theblessedbee.com/transformation.html. Best wishes to all readers.

  50. says

    Hi,
    I am a relatively new reader to your blog but have really liked it so far. This post especially resonates with me… I emphatically believe you are not too old to “change/grow.” I am older than you and I am changing all the time. Sometimes it feels imperceptible, and I get discouraged, but I take heart in my heart. :-) I try to use my intuitive heart as my compass.
    For me, becoming a mother precipitated a major change in my life outlook — I suddenly felt dedicated to finding and living the connections between peace, community, and parenting. It has been a very difficult time of growth for me but also very fruitful and nourishing.
    Based on some of the books you mentioned, you might be interested in Buddhism for Mothers or Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children, both by Sarah Napthali. I have a whole list of books that have inspired me on my blog here.
    Many blessings to you,
    Stacy

  51. says

    I know I’m just one more voice saying the same thing, but when I ran across your blog for the first time today my first thought was . . . another amazing blogger, crafter, and mom whom I will never measure up to, and how does she do it? Love the Mary Oliver poem, as well as all of your wonderful ideas. This is just the kind of blog I have been looking for.

  52. says

    I just stumbled onto your blog and loved reading this post because it’s always a treat to find people who dare to be real. I turn 40 in a couple of months and I’m certainly no grown up. :) I think most of us feel that we’re faking that whole responsible adult thing (although I fake it badly! nobody is fooled!).
    Sounds like you need some more friends who are silly, messy, scatterbrained, colorful, etc. I’d also cut out the books for a while. They can get us stuck inside our own heads if we overindulge, as wonderful as they may be. :)
    Never beat yourself up for not measuring up to the sleepwalkers in life.
    Also, I have always found that the quickest way out of a personal crisis is volunteering in some way. It feeds you in a way nothing else can. Just be sure it’s in a meaningful way (perhaps offering an art workshop at a battered women’s shelter for the kids and/or moms). I always start to feel a little lost and alone when it has been too long since I’ve done something meaningful for others. Sounds trite or preachy but it really does way more for me than them. :)

  53. Teresa Nelson says

    I really appreciated this post. It was honest and gutsy. My husand thinks that other people have it all together and we are the only ones that struggle. I am constantly having to remind him of my friend’s favorite saying: “You can’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.” It’s really true.
    Also, I’m glad you enjoyed Gift of the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. That was my suggestion — so glad you liked it!

  54. says

    It is funny, how we often hesitate to write the underbelly of our lives and yet it is in conveying those moments of dig-deep-matter-of-fact-real-and-dirty-angst, that we are most likely to truly touch someone. It is that authenticity that reaches beyond the blood barrier of separate bodies hurling through space and reaches the heart of the other. Thank you. I understand and am right there with you sister. I have checked in on your blog for a year and this time I felt like writing to say thank you!!!
    Angelina

  55. Andrea Kidssweet says

    I hope this doesn’t sound patronizing but I felt like I didn’t really have it together in my early thirties and I feel like I still don’t have it together in my early forties. Life is a journey. Enjoy reading, enjoy delicious treats, enjoy your children when they let you.
    Even when you feel certain things are secure life throws you a curve. One thing I thought I had gotten right was turning our house into a real home and creating a wonderful relationship with my mom (who lives 20 minutes away) for me and my kids and family. Alas, my husband’s job is moving to Boston from NY. We are now moving on. On the upside he will still be employed.
    The move is creating chaos, excitement, sadness and opportunity. This is life.