What We Don’t See

Stairway | Moving Peaces

Sometimes I hesitate to share the victories without sharing the trials. When I write I try to be transparent and make it clear that I don’t have it all together, but I know it still stays vague. Because frankly, it’s not very fun to tell about the challenges and at times, it’s not appropriate to share, be it to protect people or because the timing is just not right. Sharing and showing just the moments of glory–the vacation plans, the promotion news, the family photos, the epic adventure, the finished product–whatever it is, doesn’t tell the whole story. It instead leaves the rest of us to believe that it happened, just like that.

In those moments, I struggle with jealousy. I couldn’t care less if you had a bigger home or a fancier tech gadget. But when I see someone get an amazing opportunity or live an incredible-seeming life, it can sometimes get ugly on the inside for me. Suddenly my mind is off and running that so-and-so had everything handed to them on a silver platter or had the right connections or just naturally awesome hair. I don’t know or care how they managed to pull it off, but why not me?! And then I stamp my foot and pout for awhile.

I see the glory and the end result. I see the attention and the appreciation. I see the success and imagine the dollar signs. I see the art and the opportunity. 

You know what I don’t see? What it took to get there.

I didn’t see the effort they made and all of hard work they poured into it. I didn’t see their fights for what mattered and accompanying sacrifices. I didn’t see the scrimping and saving. I didn’t see the insecurities and doubt. I didn’t see the practice or failures. I didn’t see the years of struggle or nightly prayers.

I didn’t see the journey, all I saw was the reward. 

Then I got jealous or made quick assumptions or gave up on my own goals. I can’t keep doing that. We just can’t do that. Why? Because nobody wins that way.

You want to know how it happened? Ask them. Put in the work and the effort and the years that it takes. Think big breaks never come your way? That’s probably true, but they don’t really happen for anyone who isn’t trying. Sometimes people stumble in to things, but rarely because they were sitting around waiting for it.

I can’t promise that you will get the same end result or that your effort guarantees what you want. But there are ways to lessen the sting or escape the distractions. If I focus on working towards my goals and you focus on yours, we have less to be jealous of and less assumptions to make. Finding friends and support with whom to share our hardships and our dreams strengthens everyone. Gaining an understanding that you are not alone in the struggle brings perspective. Instead of playing the comparison games, we can together walk through the challenges and celebrate each other’s victories.

If Only We Were Robots

Off in the Clouds by Steven Hrissis | Moving Peaces

Time would be measured by productivity if we were all robots. We could plow through all of the tasks and chores we have to do with no need to stop and eat or sleep. Distractions and hypothetical rabbit holes would have no place in the world. As robots, we could focus on whatever we were programmed to do.

Just think–if we were robots we could do all the things we now try and fail. There would be no such thing as a bad hair day or a bad boss. Nothing would stop us from achieving our goals, because we wouldn’t have the physical, mental, or emotional obstacles standing in our way. Doubt and fear couldn’t creep in and feelings of inadequacy wouldn’t win. There would be no putting your foot in your mouth or guilt from whatever mistake you made.

Some days, I just want to be a robot. To do everything just so and always know what to do. To work right on through my day, always checking off my to-do list. I want to never make mistakes and go after the things I was meant to do.

While this imaginary robot life might do everything right, it’s void of what makes life the wonderful thing that it is. Those moments where we struggle? That’s where the story comes in. The bad days, bad hair, and bad jobs give us something to relate about and support one another. The need to eat and sleep in turn give us reason to taste and an opportunity to dream. Distractions and thoughtful rabbit holes can lead to creativity, which brings beauty, art, and meaning into the world.

Lately I’ve poured myself into writing–writing for clients, writing for various publications, writing just for me. By the end of it, I’ve spent all of my energy writing down my thoughts and ideas with nothing left over. I look around and see a messy house, a list of to-dos long overdue, and every way that I have failed at something or with someone. I look back on my day and wonder where all the time went and why I can’t seem to get everything in order. So here I am, in the middle of the night, wishing I could be a robot. Thinking, if only I could press on through the night and skip sleep then maybe I could accomplish everything and stop disappointing people, myself included.

But we aren’t robots. 

And when it comes down to it, I don’t really want to be a robot. I want this life as a human…even with the pain and mistakes, because I know it also brings beauty and joy. We get to feel and experience life, hold each other’s hands, and find laughter and grace. That beats productivity any day. 

 

 

Too Much is Too Much

Sunflower Field | Moving Peaces

This a full season–a packed time of so many good things, but in the end it’s making me feel exhausted and overwhelmed. To start, I’ve been out of town for four of the last five weekends. Not to mention, there’s been major happenings at work for both of us, a quick birthday party for him, and a number of out-of-town guests who have stayed with us. The next few weeks only bring more travel, more out-of-town guests, and more big projects and events. 

With so many good things happening, it’s hard to admit that I can’t wait for it to all be over. Somehow everything just got scheduled all at once, making September, October, and part of November exhausting before they even started. Some days it feels like too much but then I think, I should be able to take on just a little bit more! This is all good stuff, why should I need a break? We live in a culture that says more is good and if you’re adding more good things then it must be really good. After reading Shauna Niequist’s post on the Storyline blog, I was reminded today that too much is still too much, regardless of if it is good or bad.

Last week I said “no” to something I wanted to say “yes” to and said, “let me get back to you” on something I almost said “yes” to…but then literally ran out of time to simply send a text saying, “Yes, I’ll do it.” I didn’t blog once last week, and thankfully, didn’t feel any remorse about it even though I had plenty to say. I’d rather say yes to all the things and all the people,  but I’m realizing that not all good things are worth taking on, no matter how much I want to do them. 

The reality is, I could continue to have a busier life. I have a spare hour here or there that hasn’t yet been claimed or scheduled away. I could technically do more and hustle the heck out of my week. Somehow, other people seem to do it. Half of my motivation sometimes comes from looking around at the people who manage to pull it off…all with three or four kids and amazing looking instagram photos to boot.

So why do I keep failing? If they can do it, why am I having such a hard time keeping it all together with my no kids and fuzzy instagram photos? What’s my excuse for always being slightly behind and never quite enough? Why do I have these goals and dreams, but so little energy that it seems they are impossible to achieve?

I don’t have the answers to those questions…but I can feel with everything in me that this needs to be a season of soaking up as much rest as possible. We’re still not out of the woods with all the things we have committed to or the trips we are booked to take, but in the moments in between, rest is what we need.

Therefore, I’m giving myself permission to slow down. To let go of my own expectations and extend grace when rest is more important than the to-do list. This doesn’t mean abandoning my goals or backing out of all of my commitments, but instead discerning what is truly important right now. What needs to be addressed today and what will still be there tomorrow or next month. Where I should ask for help and when I need to say no. This is not shutting myself out from the world, but rather seeking the right balance and telling the truth about where I am right now.

My next few weeks and months will continue to be full, but with the extra little bits of time in between I will do everything I can to hold onto whatever rest that it offers.   

Can’t Do It All

Thoughts on a Mountain | Moving Peaces

There are days (or weeks) like today that I don’t want to write. Or rather, I’d love to write but can’t figure out what to say. There are plenty of thoughts swirling around my head, recent failures I could admit to/learn from and random activities occurring, but it doesn’t seem like enough. Or maybe I don’t feel like enough. 

It always starts out good. I run around for a few days, tackle the to-do list, write something I’m proud of, have great conversations with people and feel almost accomplished with life. Then I crash. 

I want to be the person who can do it all. I want to have all the right things to say or write about, but I also want to be present where I’m at. I want to work hard but know how and when to rest. I want to push the limits but not get hurt. I want to have strong relationships with people but don’t want to be a people pleaser.

That nonstop, good-at-life thing doesn’t seem sustainable somehow, which feels like I must be doing something wrong. Failing is not fun. I’d love to tell you that I am able to always dust my shoulders off and keep shooting for the stars but that wouldn’t be true. Instead, I cry (literally) and kick myself (figuratively) as I try and fail (or fail to try) all over again.

This isn’t a pity party. There’s so much good in my life and in a matter of hours or days I’ll be right back to ticking off my never-ending to-do list. No, this is just the reality. I can’t be all the things to all the people or do all the things on all the lists. I have expectations of myself that can’t always be met and the only way to re-align them is to change the measurement stick and show some vulnerabilities.

Redefine Success and Face Reality

Redefine Success and Face Reality

Journaling | Moving Peaces

When you say you are a writer, people have certain expectations.

They want you to say something special. It’s as if there is some fancy dictionary only writers know about to effortlessly add sophisticated words into sentences. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a novel or your grocery list–plain words are never enough. Clever words and fantastic analogies are expected of writers, regardless of the subject matter.

It all sounds dreamy…I must sit around in coffee shops and have a special soundtrack for my thinking and writing. Maybe an old typewriter is involved or a fountain pen adorns my desk. In my free time perhaps I sit around on comfy sofas reading the latest piece of worthwhile literature while wearing trendy glasses and cardigans.

But the reality is, I sit on the couch and type whatever first comes to mind and then I edit it for hours or even days. The room is usually dark and sometimes quiet. Half the time I forget that I wear glasses or am too lazy to go find them, so I sit and stare at the screen with the slightest bit of strain behind my eyes. I don’t own a typewriter or a fountain pen, but scribble in my notebook with a pencil like a middle schooler. I don’t use extraordinary words or require my readers to have an extensive vocabulary to understand me. I believe the best writing is the simplest.

There is a certain glamour to life in our heads. Whether movies or ignorant comments established such a scene, we sometimes feel the need to meet the standards of what “life as a…[fill in the blank]” looks like. That expectation then decides what success looks like. It’s in that exact moment that we back down and feel inadequate. Because our reality does not look like the expectation, we start to feel overwhelmed and incapable. Then guess what? We give up. We walk away. We say it’s too hard or that it’s never going to happen.

Real success happens when we redefine our expectations and then meet or exceed them. Instead of subscribing to conventional ideas, construct your own measurement for success. Create attainable goals and describe what that looks like daily–starting now.

You will never be able to live up to the hype or expectation of someone else. That doesn’t have to sound hopeless though. You have the freedom to look at your life and say, “This is what I want it to look like, and that is what I am working towards.”

You might still feel overwhelmed or like you are chasing a pipe dream. You might even try and fail. Don’t give in to the lies, distractions or comparisons; just focus on what you can do and press forward. If you really want to pursue that redefined success mark, do so wholeheartedly.  Not only are your dreams more achievable, but you then get to celebrate and claim the small victories along the way.

 

This Little Thing Called Encouragement

Looking Up | Moving Peaces

Do you know just how far a bit of encouragement can go?

I’ve been heavily surrounded by artists, musicians, designers and writers for the better part of the last decade. So many of them are constantly going up against the grind as they better their craft and pursue their passions. Some try to make it pay the bills while others dedicate countless hours burning the midnight oil. Success in a world like this is fleeting and even sometimes impossible to fulfill. So few get their names in lights, but so many pour their hearts out.

Over time, sadly, many give up. They don’t realize the impact. It’s not just about making money in this sort of community, it’s about making something that matters.

But how will they know it matters unless we tell them?

Seriously. If you know someone who makes or does amazing things, they need to know. So, say so. It might be just enough to keep them going.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not interested in the world of “everyone gets a medal” or enabling a life of negligence to responsibilities.

No, empty praise is sometimes worse than no praise at all. Further, a loss of accountability for rock stars, local celebrities or “talented people” is downright heartbreaking. Just because someone is good at their craft, does not mean we should over-glorify that aspect of their life while ignoring real issues.

But real encouragement, the kind that sees through the struggle and the hardship and promises support, is invaluable. Sharing the impact you’ve experienced or felt means more than you know. It’s worth more than a paycheck and carries more weight than any metric.

This goes beyond art. It’s your colleague or your mom or even your friend who just had a baby. You see their struggle but also their strengths. If you benefit from their wisdom and their quiet leadership, say so.

Sometimes it feels silly to send that message or make the bold statement telling someone how their work, their art or their service has impacted you. Perhaps they’ll blush or shrug it off, but what you don’t see is the rest of their day–the surprised phone call they make to a friend or family member saying how flattered they were or the encouragement they turn around and give to their influencer or neighbor.

It pays in dividends that you’ll never see or know, but it’s what we all need.

The Scramble

Coffee Shop Scramble | Moving Peaces

There are times in life where it feels like we are in a nonstop scramble or hustle. We want something or think we want something, so we aim high and charge full force into it. It feels like we’re pursuing something meaningful, and maybe we are. The effort and work feels good, like it matters. People start recognizing what is either hard work or exhaustion, as if it’s all the same.

In all that hustle we can forget what it is we are actually aiming for. When I essentially announced that I wanted to blog and really go all in, I scrambled. I spent hours looking for advice and following online groups for blogging. I tried to post things I’d never written about before and applied for different affiliate networks (read: ads). I participated in link-ups, added more photos in posts and thought about a logo. I went to networking events and cringed when I only had post-it notes with my name written on it instead of business cards like the “real bloggers” I was surrounded by. I followed my stats and tried to align my posts with the ones that seemed to get the highest reach. I started thinking how I could get more sponsorships and what kind of investments I needed to make for this blog to seem more legit.

In all that, I spent a lot of time not writing. I was striving to become a blogger instead of a writer. That is totally awesome…for somebody else. There are so many bloggers out there that are just blowing up. They have tons of followers, make the best cakes, dress like celebrities and know how to decorate a nursery room like nobody’s business. If that’s you, you keep doing your thing. I admire your work and wish you all the best, truly. But I realized it’s not really what I want or who I am. I want to be a writer, and I want the way I write to connect with people who are going after their hopes and dreams. I want to write transparently and truthfully, but in a manner that encourages and inspires. For me, my blog is just the avenue that allows me to do that. If one day that avenue happens to be in a different form, like in an article or book, then so be it. But currently, I’m not going after a book deal either. Right now, I’m after creating content that challenges, connecting with people and being the best writer I can be.

All of those other things are good and worthwhile, and I’ll admit I’ve learned so many things about blogging during that scramble. But I also have had to step back and say, what is it that I want out of this? Do I want sponsors? Do I want fame? Do I want a creative outlet? Do I want to build a portfolio of work or advance professionally? Do I want to pursue particular topics? What is it?

Many of these questions are relevant within several creative endeavors. Maybe the wording is slightly different or the medium is in another area, but the root of the question is still applicable. What do you want out of this? 

You could potentially pursue, or even achieve, many of those things. It’s not bad to make money with your creativity or gain recognition for your work. It’s really nice actually. But if your primary motive is fame or fortune, then the work might take a different form than if you hope to simply have a creative outlet or a fun hobby. Neither is right or wrong, just a different approach for a different primary focus. It’s not all or nothing, but you do need to know what is of primary and secondary importance to you. 

I can’t answer all those questions for you (look at me, I’m wrestling through this myself), but I do suggest you ask yourself and try to find the answers. Whatever it is you are scrambling towards, are you headed in the right direction? Do you know what your focus is? What is it you want from it?