The media is full of women archetypes and stereotypes. While some women esteem to reflect a certain image, others avoid the same image all together. Either way, we have been filled with messages about what "success" and "failure" look like as a woman at any age and in any role depending on our values and beliefs. Teenagers, twenty-somethings, wives and moms at all life stages may have very different life priorities and values but most share the constant barrage of expectations placed on us by either society or ourselves.
I can personally attest to the expectations and pitfalls I have encountered along my own journey in womanhood. The constant lie that "I'm not enough" or maybe even "just a little too much" have paced through my mind one too many times.
I've had ENOUGH.
Today, I choose to believe I AM ENOUGH...not in the world's eyes...never have been, never will be...but in God's eyes. I am, after all, the woman He created me to be. Aways a work in progress, no doubt, but unlike all of the archetypes and stereotypes this world tries to fashion for women to fit into, I am uniquely crafted, uniquely broken, and uniquely restored. We all are.
This is the birthday insight I have gained today.
I was blessed with the gift of time alone with my Creator this morning to celebrate 31 years of life. What started off as a normal morning of routine to-dos and daily goals turned into a spontaneous trip to the Ocean Beach Pier Cafe where I was greeted by a quaint dining room slightly swaying with the ocean's rhythm.
As I ordered my two scrambled eggs sprinkled with cheese (delivered on a piece of wax paper, mind you) I sensed an indescribable novelty as I sat in "my pocket of peace" embraced by the rolling swells of ocean surrounding me. In the distance, I watched as the waves traveled from directly under the pier I was sitting on toward Sunset Cliffs where they crashed with sudden resolve before returning back to the ocean.
When the early morning clouds began to break, I moved to an outdoor table to take in the view with more clarity (compared to looking through the cafe window glazed with a fresh layer of ocean mist). I sat in awe as I watched wave after wave respect the Creator's boundary once it hit the shoreline. God used this scene to remind me of His omnipotence and my reliance on Him.
He not only cares enough to hold the ocean back but also cares enough to "sit" with us and spur us forward in his abundant love and grace. This is the ENOUGH I choose to live in, embracing His limitless love instead of grasping for the world's limited attempts to define us.
Proverbs 31, describes a woman who is clothed with strength and dignity and speaks with wisdom. I suppose if there is any woman I want to emulate in my 31st year, it is her. Otherwise, I choose to let go of the other archetypes and stereotypes that try to define what "enough" looks like, because these versions of "enough" all have limits while God's "enough" is limitless and tapping into the limitless is a creative habit worth pursuing!
My heart swelled with joy as I witnessed my 2 year old son bounce uninhibited to the mariachi band playing at the 60th wedding anniversary celebration we recently attended. His white helium balloon bounced along with him juxtaposed against the backdrop of a wise crowd full of years and experience. While he brought the average age down, he lifted many spirits up with his constant giggling face drowned out by the loud trumpet behind him.
His exuberant dance moves were the opitomy of carefree, a reminder to his often care-filled mama, that sometimes, you just need to let go and dance. It doesn't matter if anyone is watching or not watching. What matters is showing up with all the gusto you have to offer.
As I caught my gaze wondering from my dancing son to survey the room, I was touched to see the couple we had all gathered to celebrate dancing together equally uninhibited. There we were, my 2 year old son with his bouncing balloon, Charlie and Annie representing 60 years dancing hand in hand, and this inspired mama - all enjoying the moment together. All experiencing the gift of now.
Oh to be like a child, filled with constant wonder and curiosity combined with the wisdom of the ages. This is what my almost 31 year old spirit longs for - release from all of the unnecessary cares and judgements ingrained in my mind, mindful simplicity, and a consistent creative habit of embracing the here and now. I wonder if the other 60th wedding anniversary attendees would support this creative habit. If only I had time to sit with each of them to soak in their decades of knowledge and advice. How I would have loved to hear their perspective on childlike faith in their late 80's and 90's.
As my son turns 2 today, I hope my husband and I can give him the same gift Charlie and Annie gave me at their 60th wedding anniversary - to dance freely and joyfully amidst life's many unexpected twists and turns and to exude both wonder and wisdom. In the meantime, I'll give him his new Strider bike knowing his real birthday gift is his mom's dedication to instilling in him the creative habit of living in the here and now as she strives to do the same!
While sitting in church this morning, I realized my true appreciation for the yellow Play-Doh stashed in my purse. This moldable fun has helped my son endure doctor's appointments, lunch dates, plane rides and pretty much any activity requiring a toddler to sit for more than two minutes.
What could have been an hour rummage through my purse (and let's be honest, the woman's purse next to me) turned into a calm and peaceful service. In fact, I can even tell you what the sermon was about which is proof yellow Play-Doh can do wonders for focus!
Focus, I am learning, is a precious and elusive gift for moms with young ones. When our attention is not being summoned by our child/children, our own minds serve as a constant reminder of all we want or need to do. Yet, just as I begin to let my mind get sidetracked, an eager fist reaches over and hands me some yellow dough with a simple request to roll a "Ba.""
And snap I am back...living in the moment as I roll that yellow ball and hand it over to my little sidekick. Suddenly it hits me, that yellow Play-Doh is just as important for me as it is for him because it forces me to live creatively in the moment and focus on the work at hand, a creative habit I am constantly trying to foster amidst the myriad of distractions vying for my limited energy and attention.
To my fellow creative mamas, may you find your "Yellow Play-Doh" this week and live creatively in the moment. When tempted to give in to the pressures of the day, simply take a deep breath and focus
on the work at hand. If your lucky, you may just create your next masterpiece or at the very least, a well rounded "Ba" and hopefully, a well rounded "Ma" in the process!
Why is it children intuitively understand how to enjoy the moment while adults spend a good portion of their lives chasing moments only to find they were too busy to enjoy. My theory...children know how to pause and release.
Take an empty toilet paper roll for example. If this seemingly trivial item strikes a toddler's fancy, they won't think twice about pausing to investigate. They will freely release their inhibitions to explore the many possibilities for this new found treasure.
On the contrary, most of their adult counterparts won't think twice before tossing this "treasure" in the trash. There are, afterall, people to see and places to be. What adult has time to pause and release for trivial play these days while living in such a ubiquitous digital age where we are so connected? Or are we so disconnected? Either way, many adults have forgotten the art of "pause and release" because they are too busy with the "go and hold."
We go, go, go and hold tightly to our plans wanting to make the most of each day, yet can miss the best of each day if if we don't embrace the "pause and release" like our children.
I took this photo of my husband and son this weekend while functioning in go, go, go mode. We drove to La Jolla Cove for a walk and I wanted to get home in time to give my son a bath so I rushed.
Who rushes in La Jolla Cove? It's only one of the most beautiful and scenic walks in our country! It should be savored! Well, I hate to admit, I was guilty of not savoring until my son reminded me to pause and release.
While trying to get him to cooperate and get in the stroller so we could go home, he kept arching his back in pure defiance. My husband decided to play a game of toss to distract him. As I watched them play, I couldn't help but pause to enjoy and release my plans in exchange for this photo which I will cherish for years to come!
As you move forward in your day, I hope you will embrace a moment to pause and release. I plan to adopt "pause and release" as a new creative habit starting with writing this post which required a "pause" from my normal morning routine and a "release" from my original plan to curl my hair. Someone is definitley wearing a bun to work today...but it was so worth carving out this time to reflect and, I hope, encourage you!
Imagine standing alone amidst the ancient marble walls of a church that has been standing alone on a florentine hill for over 1000 years. Now imagine visiting this church many times before with constant tourist chatter and photo flashes in the background. Surely one cannot find complete solitude in such a publicly known space...or so I thought.
I get goosebumps even now as I reflect on the moment God carved out time and space to meet alone with me in San Miniato church while studying abroad in Florence, Italy 8 years ago.
I was on my daily run and decided to challenge myself by running up the stairs leading to the San Miniato church entrance. I could feel the weight of gravity pushing down on me as I pushed forward towards "The gates of heaven" as inscribed on the front of the church. Little did I know, I would actually get a taste of heaven that day.
I knew something was different the moment I felt the heavy, oversized church door close behind me. The cold, dark marble interior was surprisingly inviting. Silence was my partner as I quietly progressed toward the back of the church before climbing another set of stairs towards a clerestory window beaming a sharp ray of light through the darkness.
As I reached the light, I stood reverently basking in its warmth, yet unsure of how to fully embrace the moment. Suddenly, without hesitation, I was brought to my knees. I kneeled in awe as the light penetrated my spirit and left me in a state of complete peace. I met my Creator that day and I will never forget the peace I experienced in my solitude.
I was reminded of this miraculous experience when my son rummaged through my drawer and pulled out a plastic bag with a San Miniato church pamphlet and candle inside as shown above. At first I thought nothing of it and took the bag from him to put it somewhere high, somewhere unreachable.
Tonight while cleaning up, I found that unreachable bag and it reminded me of the day God reached out to me, an unreachable person at times, and literally shed light in my darkness. This memory filled me with hope knowing God carves precious time to be with us if we carve out precious time to be with him.
I hope you are able to carve out your own San Miniato moment this week. The world needs your light.
Currently, there is a bottle of raspberry vinaigrette and pair of half chewed up shoes accompanying me at my kitchen table. They are part of a smattering of odd end items that have somehow made their way to a space I've made multiple efforts to keep organized.
I'll just move to another room so I can focus, I naively think to myself. Within seconds, it becomes clear I need to learn how to focus amidst clutter. As I survey my options, I realize I'm not the only one who feels out of place. The bathroom trash can is on top of the entertainment center, the blow up pool with rainbow balls is the new centerpiece on the coffee table, and there are Trader Joe's bags strewn across the kitchen floor.
And it hits me...I trail in the wake of a toddler.
While I tried to pick up after each of my son's many "explorations" this morning, motherhood is teaching me the art of losing control.
Take the raspberry vinaigrette for example. After reaching the 20 minute threshold of "toddler grocery shopping patience", I decided to take my chances and keep shopping for a few more items. Somewhere between the frozen peas and peanut butter crackers, I could sense my son's patience beginning to wane
I pushed on...after all, I still needed the raspberry vinaigrette...or so it seemed.
Within seconds of entering the dressing aisle my son had practically maneuvered his way out of his seat and into the back of the cart to get the much anticipated peanut butter crackers.
Long story short, I left the store with an open box of crackers stashed in my purse (paid for) and a kiddo with peanut butter melted across his face. At least we prevented a public melt down for both of us.
As for the chewed up shoes, well, that is the result of having two 90 pound dogs who think every new toy, book, and pair of kid shoes is free game. Fortunately, they only chewed the Velcro and left the rest intact which would explain the yarn and needle also atop my kitchen table.
Full disclosure, I am an organized person learning how to navigate the messes of life with grace. Grace for the process and also grace for myself.
Creative Habitat is one of my saving graces as it provides an outlet to share my creative gift of writing and, hopefully, inspire other busy moms to carve out a little grace space in their own day.
Whatever your creative gift may be, may you learn how to focus amidst clutter and embrace the art of losing control! This post, after all, is a result of carving out creative space, clutter and all.
Life stretches and pulls us in many directions. Whether we are facing struggles or joys, life is always inviting us to enjoy the ride.
Certain moments in life lighten the heart and bring joy to even the weariest of souls. No matter what struggles may be clouding the horizon, one can't help but smile when a blanket turns into the best ride in town and squeals of joy echo throughout the house. These moments stretch the imagination to think about the world from a new perspective.
This weary soul is here to confess the first 17 months of motherhood and 7 years of marriage to a busy medical student/resident has stretched me in ways I didn't realize I could be stretched.
Just when I think I am stretched to the limit and ready to spring back into place, I feel the tug of life pulling in all directions again. A little time passes and I realize there is no "springing back" only growing forward.
So here I find myself, embracing my new form, trying to reconcile what once was and what now is.
I confess I am a woman stretched thin, but that just means I can cover more ground...similiar to this blanket my son is riding with glee.
Sometimes, we all just need a little bit of glee to stretch our creative muscles and develop our creative habits.
My child was napping soundly approximately 30 minutes ago.
He is now in my backseat speaking some dialect of baby gibberish I wish I understood because it sounds VERY dramatic. While I love his baby gibberish, let's rewind to said: nap...
This elusive nap was supposed to bridge us from point A, our home, to point B, a quaint La Jolla beach house my family rented for the weekend. This nap was supposed to allow us some uninteruppted time to reconnect and talk as adults before this nap was over...
As with many well thought out plans, this nap did not comply.
So I find myself waiting in a parking lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean...waiting.
Waiting for that nap to kick in.
Waiting for the frustration to melt away.
Waiting for energy to improvise.
And then I look up to find the vast ocean waiting for me.
Waiting for me to stop and simply observe.
Waiting for me to take in the peaceful serenity it freely offers.
Waiting for me to simply let go and be.
As I prepare to drive back to the beach house (with a, now, sleeping baby in the back) my heart feels fuller than when I left. The weight of frustration has been replaced by this blessed wait for rest...not only for my son, but for my spirit.
Resting in the waiting is a creative habit I hope to cultivate. It has certainly been freeing this afternoon.
Whatever you may be waiting for, may you too find rest as you wait.
Savor now. Now is your time. Now is when your creative gifts can influence those around you. Here is a truly inspirational story about a woman who learned how to savor the moment amidst true adversity and used her creative gift of writing to encourage others to SAVOR.
Let's carry her message forward by savoring the gift of now.
Dancing is therapy for my soul! I was reminded of this very helpful coping skill while facing the pile of dishes I have been ignoring for the past two days. Dishes and laundry are the bain of my existence...and yet a reality of life. It seems as soon as one load is put away it is time to reload. Round and round the cycle goes.
In an effort to come up with a creative solution to this weekly dilemma, I decided to go round and round myself. While dancing in the kitchen, I can feel my aggravation turn to motivation.
Put a few dishes away...pirouette.
Scrubb a few plates...chaine turn.
Dry a few sippy cups...grand adagio!
And voila, the dishes are conquered for the night and my soul is replenished. Two birds with one stone...or should I say two loads with one pirouette. Whichever idiom you prefer, I have decided I certainly prefer dance with my dishes and plan to adopt this creative habit so I can turn loads of work into loads of fun.
Wishing you creative solutions to conquer whatever load you may be carrying.