Halloween is kind of a big deal around here. Errrr… that’s an understatement. Halloween is actually THE. BIGGEST. DEAL. around here. Roman and I start getting amped up about the end of July. This year the kids’ costumes were purchased in August. In October, once the Halloween decorations start going up all over town, we make a special effort to pass the best-decorated houses at least once a day. We start watching “The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and Curious George’s “Boofest” at the very first signs of autumn.
For me, Halloween isn’t just a holiday, it’s a way of life, a celebration of everything that is fun and magical about childhood. So many of my own best childhood memories were built around Halloween. The smell of pumpkin seeds roasting in the oven, the excitement of carving a jack-o-lantern, the thrill of bobbing for apples, spooky Halloween songs & stories, the joy of trick-or-treating from door-to-door on cool October days. I am so grateful to spend the rest of my life celebrating the magic with my sweet babies.
This Halloween was as beautiful an autumn day, as one could hope for. The sun was shining and the air was crisp. Orange, red, yellow and brown leaves were painted on the trees and swirling through the air. Pumpkins were glowing on front porches and the whole community gathered at their front doors to greet babies, children, and teens with treats & smiling faces.
As has often been the case this year, I didn’t get to take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked. Still, I am so grateful that I decided to drag along my big camera and at least capture these precious moments that I’m sharing here today.
I hope that you had a most special Halloween celebration this year, friends. I’ve just now, two weeks later, begun to reluctantly take our Halloween decor down around the house. Onto Thanksgiving and Christmas! But don’t worry Halloween, we’ll see you again next year for even bigger and better celebrations. ♥
Hey, friends. It’s quarter after nine on a Tuesday morning. I’m sitting at my desk with a cup of hot tea & honey, sick — really sick — for the third time this year. I used to get sick once a year, if that. Now I have toddlers and it’s a whole new ball game. Those sweet little hands that touch everything and those little mouths that always seem to find the dirtiest places. Anyway, being sick always makes me a bit more introspective. And yesterday, I came to a decision that’s been worming around in my brain for awhile now: I’m giving up scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and blogs for six months.
I adore social media, I really do. I love it so much that it’s fair to say that I am addicted. Since that’s the case, it’s difficult to explain this decision. The best way I can explain it is to say that social media has taken root in my life in places where it shouldn’t be.
I don’t plan on closing my accounts, and in fact, I still plan to share & post across social media. I’ll be posting here on my blog, too. What I am giving up, is looking at other people’s content. It’s not going to be easy. There are so many feeds and blogs that I absolutely adore. I feel in some ways that I am turning away from friendships that mean so much to me. There are so many people who touch, inspire, and support me through these mediums. At the same time, however, in the past years I’ve also noticed an ugliness growing inside of me when it comes to the world of social media. There are three elements to this ugliness.
The first ugliness is comparison. I simply find myself looking into other people’s, particularly women’s, lives and feeling inadequate. I know that I am not alone. I know that insecurity runs rampant on social media because what is social media anyway, but a sharing of highlights. People sharing their most beautiful moments. What happens next is only natural, the onlooker sees these beautiful moments, compares them to her ugliest moments, and is left feeling like a failure through and through. It’s a ridiculous scenario, truth-be-told, but such is the dilemma of the modern age. Whether it’s real or not, I simply need a break from it.
I want to admire the beauty that exists every day in my own life. I want to make things beautiful because I think that they are beautiful, because they speak to my soul and please my eyes; not because I saw it in someone’s feed and felt envious. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy.
The second ugliness is the diversion of my attention. Have you heard of that awful word, FOMO? It’s an acronym for “fear of missing out.” The google dictionary defines it as, “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
In my case, FOMO is really real. If I don’t look at social media for an entire day I feel a genuine anxiety rising up in my chest. I wonder what I am missing. When I finally get an opportunity to scroll, I am scrolling feverishly and heaven forbid I should be interrupted. It’s as though I am having a catch up with a long lost friend. I have so much emotionally invested in it and it’s ridiculous.
As I mentioned above, and as I too often lose sight of, social media is a highlight reel. People are not there sharing their truest deepest feelings, heartaches, joys, and truths. Well, in some cases, they may be — but if they are your true friend these are things that they should be sitting and telling you face-to-face over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. It shouldn’t be the end of the world because you didn’t see it on Facebook.
I want to stop investing so much of my attention toward social media for awhile. I would rather focus on being the best mother that I can be, on creating artistically, on my real life friendships, and on living in the real world. I hope to nurture my online friendships in some way, too. I am going to take stock of who I am missing as I move through this process and perhaps seek out “real life” mailing addresses. Paper mail, what a novel idea. I won’t dare to presume that anyone will miss me (especially since I’ll still be posting — I know it’s a bit one-sided and perhaps selfish) but please feel free to request my mailing address if you feel so moved. If penpal-ing isn’t a lost art, I don’t know what is!
The final ugliness is negativity. Over the past two years, I have found myself at times, getting genuinely furious or heartbroken far too many times over something that I have read on Facebook. All of our constitutions are different. We’re all made up of different things and we process information in different ways. Something that I have known about myself for a long time is that I am extremely sensitive. I am like a sponge. I soak up whatever is around me and it shoots directly into the very fibers of my being. I am not weak, but I am simply absorbent. There is nothing that I can do to change it, it is who I am.
In many ways my absorbancy is a gift, it allows me to care and relate deeply to others. It allows me compassion and empathy on a grand scale. I can feel love and joy for friends and family as if it were my very own. But, as with most things, there is a dark side. While social media can be a place to share great beauty it is also a place where people share anger, sadness, filth, hatred, bigotry, violence, and more. Many times, it’s too much for me to handle.
I have done my very best to speak out against wrongs and injustice. I will never give up on that cause. Yet, I won’t keep subjecting myself to it, day in and day out, at this point in my life. As a mother with two young children to care for, my energy and emotions are stretched very thin. I feel that I owe it to myself and to my babies to not expend my precious energy on the horrors of social media at this point in my life.
There is too much beauty in this world, and even too much sadness in my immediate circle, that I don’t need to be pouring myself out into the atrocities around the world every single day. If you think that I am burying my head in the sand, I am not. I have no desire to become numb or ignorant. However, I do know that there are people around me (friends, family, neighbors) who are sick, sad, hungry, and so on. Let it be my aim to make a difference, a true difference, rather than sitting behind a screen, feeling helpless, while my blood pressure rises to infinitum.
There is a season for all things. This is the season that I am in. I am a bit nervous about this change, but I am excited about it, too. I am sure that I will write more about this “social” experiment as time goes on.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I am doing. Have you ever thought of taking a break? Do you find that the good of social media outweighs the bad? I’ve been on the fence about it for so long. I suppose that is why I am taking this “six month” break and still remaining somewhat active, rather than deleting my accounts entirely. I am testing the waters.
“Fill your children with good thoughts before they go to bed. Ask them about their favorite part of the day, praise them for a good deed, pray with them, and tell them they’re the best gift God ever gave you. They’ll fall asleep feeling ten feet tall.” –David Young, from “A Little Guide to a Big Life”
“Be gentle with your children. They’re doing the best that they can.”
“If we want our children to stay hungry for knowledge, remain interested in questioning, enjoy the wonder of discovery, then we must leave them some clutter-free hours for friendship, the great out-of-doors, the rich world of imagination and the satisfaction of the skilled use of art supplies, music, dance, wood and clay.” –Elaine Cooper
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” –Peggy O’Mara
let it go
let it leave
let it happen
in this world
was promised or
belonged to you
all you own is yourself — rupi kaur
We all struggle with something. Certainly there isn’t a soul among us who has it all figured out.
For me, the thing that I’ve struggled with the most in recent years, and over the course of my life, is the illusion of control. I say the illusion of control, rather than simply saying control, because there really is no such a thing as control.
As my wise therapist once pointed out– You were never really controlling things, Dena. You were simply manipulating situations frantically and convincing yourself that you had power. You never really did. No one does.
There are only choices and consequences. A brutal truth, but a powerful one nonetheless. Choices and consequences. Recently, I’ve been making more of a valiant effort to let go and let God. Instead of trying to “control” situations and people, I am instead focusing on my choices — which is the only real thing that I can control. I am trying to make healthy, loving choices. If I can accomplish that, it’s all that matters. From there, whatever happens next is in God’s hands.
Perhaps this is a simple and obvious conclusion, but for me it’s been deeply helpful. What a weight off of my shoulders to stop squeezing the life out of everything with a white-knuckle grip and to simply let go.
I once heard it said that we can not know ourselves until we reach our thirties; that all of the years before then, we are simply becoming and getting to know. Then, in our thirties we come into who we are completely, for the first time we see ourselves in an unadulterated light. For the first time, the opinions of others and all of the shadows that the world casts against our true selves are put out of our vision and we can see ourselves clearly. These aren’t the exact words that I heard, I’m putting my own spin on it — interpreting some piece of wisdom that was shared with me long ago and spitting it out through my own lens.
I imagine that this process is different for each person. When it comes to experience and growth, there are few things in life that apply across the board. But for me, I believe this to be true. And it wasn’t in my thirtieth year, or my thirty-first year, that I began to see myself clearly — it has only been just recently. Now in my thirty-second year I am finally coming into focus. It is a scary and painful and beautiful and liberating process. One day, you just become aware. You can see into the deepest parts of yourself and you have a choice, you keep looking and you learn who you are, or you look away.
I have chosen to keep looking. Although, sometimes what I see is so difficult, so raw, so painful, that I want to look away. But I will not. We are all made up of thousands of tiny pieces and for every good, beautiful piece, there is a dark, ugly piece. But this is the way of life, this is the way of the world. It is true for all of the things that exist. Something as simple as a stone, once picked up by human hands, can be used in so many ways. Think about all of the uses for a single stone. Think about how it can be used for good, for bad, or for nothing at all. So it is with each human spirit, each one infinitely complex and containing infinite possibility.
The more that I look inside, the more that I realize how complex I am, how deep. I am learning that the world will push us to be shallow instead of deep. In this society, everyone is busy (or at least they think they are busy) and also most people are extremely self-consumed and obsessed with things that are not truly important. (Such as physical appearance, unnecessary personal possessions, career status, social status, and so on.) Due to these obsessions, there is very little time to speak about truly important things like personal growth, the depth of the human spirit, real love, caring for the earth, and so on. All of these things are actually important, as opposed to the false realities that most people worship and spend their days obsessing about. Of all of the things that I’ve mentioned, today I am talking specifically about the depth of the human spirit. To come back around to my point, because most people are not focused on that, they will never help you to cultivate and explore the depth of your own spirit. Therefore, you will have to do it yourself or seek out the rare individuals who will walk with you on that path.
I have just started out on this path for myself. As I embark, I see just how many pieces of myself there are: mother, daughter, friend, magician, adventurer, goddess, warrior, believer, creator, lover, and the list goes on. Now that I see all of these pieces, I find it so important that I nurture all of the pieces of myself and not just the few pieces that perhaps society would have me focus on: mother, daughter, friend, believer.
When we look inside and discover these many pieces, the next step is to embrace them and to do that we must rectify each piece among the others. It is a complicated but critical process. I find that it is especially difficult for mothers and daughters, because we are so consumed with our children, and later in life, our parents. However, if we truly wish to be our best selves and to experience all of the spiritual growth and greatness that we are capable of, we must set out to rectify and honor all of our pieces — not just the ones that society tells us to value.
* * *
These are deep and heavy thoughts. I hope that you will welcome them here, friends. This space has always been my creative outlet to share pieces of my heart and life. It will continue to serve as just that.
If you are interested in this topic I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you rectify the various pieces of yourself with one another? Do you find it is difficult to rectify being a mother/daughter with being an adventurer? Are there some pieces of yourself that you feel you have not honored because you’ve caved into society’s expectations? I would love to know. Tell me that I’m not alone. ♥