“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.” I learned this week that I am an honoree in the Impact category of Blogher’s Voices of the Year. I received this honor for the essay I wrote for the Washington Post on talking to my then four-year old about police. I’ve mentioned this great news everywhere else on my social media accounts, but I know so many who read this blog only read this blog to know what’s happening with me so I thought it write it here, too. Happy Friday. Love, Jessica ❤︎.
Archive for the ‘inspiration & selfhood’ Category
To the woman (or man) trying to make everyone else happy:
This is not your job. It’s not your job to make everyone happy. It’s not your job to live a life that everyone will connect with, understand, or get. It’s not your job to worry so much about how everyone else feels that you forget about how you feel.
In every relationship, there must be some give and take. You should give but also take. Have you taken anything lately? You should consider your happiness, too. You should do what feels right for you, too. Say “no” if saying “no” is what you need to do.
It’s not your job to make everyone happy. You can’t make everyone happy. You can’t be everything for everyone all the time. Or even half the time. So don’t try. Just be yourself. Speak your mind because what you have on your mind is worthwhile. Be yourself because everyone else is taken and because no one can be you better.
Make yourself happy. This is your job.
Forget yesterday. It has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow. You haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes, and your heart to a truly precious gift; today.
I have been meaning to write here more often about how I writing more often. But I have not found the time to say these words. Or I have found the time, but so often I’ve been filling my time with ‘something’ else.
I’ve been filling it with new books.
Anna Quindlen is currently my cup of tea, so I’ve been drinking her slowly every afternoon while my children sleep.
I’ve been filling it with writing essays.
Essays are my new best friend, so we’ve been sharing deep secrets in any moments in between.
I’ve been filling it with exercising.
Barre workouts are my life line, so I do them often to remind my body to feel alive.
Then there’s this blog. This two-year old blog.
‘Where does it fit into all this?’ sometimes I wonder. If my life is a closet, this blog is currently on the floor.
The hangers are all occupied with other fabrics. ‘Is it time to throw you out?” I ask when I’ve picked it up from the floor and studied it more closely to see it’s worth to my today.
But then I’ll think of the history, of all the places it’s been worn, of all the potential for what it could be if only I got rid of something else, made room somewhere else, paired it with something else. Something new and bright, that would give it new life in my today.
Alas, I always keep it. I pick it off the floor. Remove any lint that may have gathered and wear it like it’s the first time I’ve worn it before. ‘It looks good on you’ some will say in seeing me. And ‘you really should wear that more often!’ I agree and in doing so I remember why I still hold on. I hold on because every time I wear it, it looks so good on me. It feels so good on me.
So when I’m done with using it, I delicately fold it into a square. There’s no room on a hanger, but there is on the shelf. I place it on a shelf and smile about keeping it for so long.
You know the saying, “If it’s important to you, you will find the time”? It’s true.
If something is important to you, you will make time to do it.
I want to do a lot of things.
I want to write more on this blog and elsewhere. I want to exercise everyday, eat healthy everyday, be present in my relationships every day. I want to read everyday and do interesting things to my hair everyday.
But I don’t do these things everyday. I do try to do some of these things everyday, but other things are often put off until another day.
When December 25th came and went, I wanted to write about my dad’s death. It’s been six years now. I wanted to write about how grief comes and goes in often tumultuous waves and how you never really get over feeling like crying when you think about how continual this process will be. But I didn’t write that. I wrote something else. I did something else. I bought a cup of hot tea at Starbucks and cried a few tears in my coat sleeve and did something else.
I felt better when I did something else.
On January 1, I wanted to do a fun craft with my toddlers, something about New Years around the world. But I didn’t do that. Instead I went to a restaurant with my husband. I ordered ice cream and talked about that craft I didn’t make and all the other things that happened and didn’t happen this past year and how this life goes by so fast. “I never feel like I have enough time!” I said then and so often this past year.
But I get all the things done anyway.
Yesterday, I celebrated a birthday. I usually write something about that on this blog and I take a picture of myself to document where I was and what I looked like that day. But I didn’t do that. Instead, I called friends, ate cake with my children and watched the snow fall. I did other things, too.
I did what felt right to my soul.
My grandmother is 96 years old. I went to see her last weekend. “Hi, grandma,” I said to wake her up. She was falling asleep in her wheel chair, so I said “Hi” to wake her up. She said “Hi” and we talked about all the same things we always talk about. She has Alzheimer and dementia so she forgets things often and remembers things from a long time ago as if they happened yesterday. She doesn’t always know that I have three daughters. She usually thinks I have boys. I don’t know why but I think this happens because she’s remembering her own life. She had two boys. They have both died, but she remembers that someone had them and only sometimes does she remember that that someone is her. “How are your boys?” she says often. “I don’t have any boys, grandma. Just girls.” “There was someone I remember how had boys…. ” she’ll say then. I just can’t think of their name right now.”
She never remembers their name.
I wanted to write a week ago about my how I hardly ever introduce myself as a writer. That part usually just comes out when I’ve gotten into talking about my days. “When do you find the time?” is usually what comes next and answering this is also interesting because I don’t ever really have the time. But I do write. I write when I’m watching TV and the children are napping and it’s the afternoon time and I have something to write. I write when I’m eating and not reading when I’m a passenger in the car to some destination that feels familiar. I write when I wake and before I sleep and in between making dinner and drinking tea. I write at playdates and the library and on notepads on park benches.
I write whenever I can.
I think that quote should say, there isn’t always time to always do what we know to be important. But there is always time. So long as we are alive, we can use our time to live our lives however we want. On my birthday, I thought a lot about my time and how I use my time and I realize how thankful I am to just have the time to use. I am thankful that I can do my important things and can remember them when they happen. I am thankful to have the time to write and talk and cry. I am thankful I have the time to be present in my relationships and if I forget, I am thankful I can remember to do it next time.
I am thankful for all the “next times” I used in my lifetime, all the “next times” I’ve used to do all my important things.
How are you using your time today?
Over breakfast this morning, my older daughter had a pink spoon. A pink spoon with raised shapes on the handle. That pink spoon wasn’t all that special. But this morning it became “all that special” because her littler sister didn’t have the same one. “My spoon is pink,” said my oldest out loud, looking at the spoon and mostly at her sister who was more interested in her cereal. “And it has hearts,” she said looking more at her sister now. Her sister was, however, still more interested in her cereal and the lone morsel that had fallen on her lap. “Ooops!” she said when it fell. “Yours is blue,” continued my oldest daughter. “And it has spikes like a dinosaur.”
There weren’t spikes on her spoon. They were more like raised polka dots. But my older daughter had to tell her this so that her sister wouldn’t want her own spoon and would instead want the spoon she had. And it worked. Finally. “Mommy, she said my spoon has spikes,” said middle sister. “But it doesn’t have spikes, right?” I said. Those are polka dots, right?” “No,” said my older daughter. “They look like a spike tail. See,” she said. Her sister was crying by then so to settle the score, I told her something I find myself telling them often.
”Worry about yourself. If you like your spoon, then, well, that’s great. Celebrate that. You don’t need to say how great something you have is every single time. You don’t need to compare something you think is wonderful to something someone else has. Just love it as it is and let that be enough.”
The older you get the more you align self to the thinking that “who cares?” Because really, who cares? Just celebrate what you’ve got. Marvel in what you think makes it amazing and that is enough. It’s enough to think your spoon with shapes rather than spikes, I mean, polka dots is the best thing in the world. And it’s okay if no one else agrees. And it’s okay to love that spoon, marriage, bra size, life even when it’s not what everyone has got.
2014 has gone by so fast and so slow for me. In a year, I’ve learned how to write with a calligraphers pen and paint pretty things with watercolor paint. I did a TV interview this year and wrote for The Washington Post and spoke in front of an audience about my daughter’s hair, about my hair. I’ve learned what it’s like to use mostly dull cut your own hair into a bob. Sobering. I’ve learned what it’s like to see a therapist and how to and how not to respond to lingering political debates about hard things like race and gender. I’ve learned to be quiet and when to speak and how paint tall walls without smearing paint on the ceiling. It’s called “cutting in” if you didn’t know. I learned to wear eyeliner and say I’m sorry and say “no” rather than “yes” when I really need to say “no.” Oh, and I learned to use a dishwasher and almost do a headstand and more promptly respond to text messages.
I learned a lot this year but mostly I learned to be myself. I didn’t become anyone else just the version of myself that was lost along the way to me trying to become everyone else.
Last year my word was “courage.” And it was a grand plan of mine to document this journey online. I didn’t really know what courage was when I made that my word. I didn’t know that while courage can be big and loud, it most usually travels in packages that are small and quiet.
The hard part of courage for me was the small and quiet part and figuring out what to do with that. Courage was a series of acts I did that resembled my everyday life. Courage was all the small things I did this past year, normal and ordinary things–my pink spoons. Courage was all I did this year and it was deciding that it is okay, worthwhile even, to love my spoons without sharing or comparing them to the spoons of anyone else.
I don’t know my word for 2015, but I do know I have to keep being myself because really there’s no other way to be.
Do you have a word or any resolutions for 2015? What are they and how did you come up with them?