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the realness of here

liz lamoreux

Left (Wednesday mid-morning) :: in this moment, this is what motherhood looks like: Tired. Grateful. A bit scared. A lot optimistic. Overwhelmed. Present. Real. Holding on to joy. 

Right (Wednesday late-afternoon) :: here: adele. hot tea. getting ready to chat with my coach. it's good. yep. I got this.

The photos + words above are glimpses into two moments in my world yesterday. I love that they really are an illustration of how things go around here. One moment can be full of so much worry and exhaustion and aloneness and thank goodness she is napping. Another later in the day can be full of big dreams and a certainty that I am going to make them real.

And a lot of the time that certainty of yesterday afternoon seems impossible to find.

And sometimes I feel lonely like I did yesterday morning.

But neither of these photos illustrates exactly how it is around here or how I feel all the time.

They are glimpses into my world. Glimpses into the realness of working from home + being a mom/caregiver throughout the day and trying to figure out how to ask for help and trying to find my way and how the list goes on. They are glimpses into the beauty and the shit. They are just glimpses that tell pieces of the story. For the whole story, well, you would have to move in and I still probably wouldn't tell you everything.

Today, the following words are really just tumbling out of me and even though I feel a bit uncertain about sharing, I am going with it:

In my corner here, I try to just tell stories. Sometimes the stories are full of joy and other times they might be a glimpse into grieving. I might share poem notes, bits about motherhood, and how I am using my new favorite journals. And sometimes I tell these stories through my jewelry, my workshops, and my retreats.

I mostly try to pay attention to my life
so that I feel less crazy
and less alone.

And the tools I usually use to share how I pay attention are my camera and my pen or laptop.

This is just how I do it. There really is no right or wrong way to share your stories online or in other ways.

And in this moment, I have to admit to feeling a bit defensive after noticing a trend of blog posts that seem to invite those of us trying to find the beauty in the present moment or trying to notice the simple things to feel like we are trying to show the world that life is perfect.

This practice of being right here...of noticing the moment and how I feel and choosing to sometimes walk right to the mirror and look myself in the eyes so that I feel less alone...well, this is how I get through.

And something tells me that a lot of other people (perhaps all of us) are doing what they do to get through too.

When Jon and I saw Anne Lamott speak last Friday night, she talked about how people who talk about "being present" and breathing or people who say things like "Let go and let God" sometimes make her feel like taking a fork and stabbing them in the forehead like a baked potato. That moment was so funny. Everyone laughed. She said it with such conviction that I am still laughing about it as I type this. I am with her on the platitudes that people seem to need to say, especially when saying things they think God would tell us, as though they are speaking for God. 

But as I was laughing, I was also very aware of her use of the words "be present."

Then she said, "But it turns out breath was part of the way home." 

And I started crying.

Because this is what it is to me. This is what it is all about. Finding my way home. Letting the breath, letting a power greater than me, letting my own wisdom hold the space for what I most need.

When I take a photo like the iPhone self-portraits above, I find my breath and I find my way back to me just for that second. And for that moment, I let go of so much and just observe what is really happening. When I pair the photo with words like I did in both of these moments above, I can drill right down to what I am feeling, and often, I uncover what I know. And I can't avoid it because I am staring back at me.

Self-portraits are really like a prayer for me.

When I try to find beauty in the midst of the everyday, it isn't about pretending life is perfect. In fact, it is really more about finding the beauty in the mess...in the piles of bills...in the toddlerness of things...in the hard stuff and the good stuff. I don't want to forget that there is love and joy and music that makes me dance each time I hear it and a really good cup of tea waiting for me even in the midst of complete uncertainty.

And each time I share in this corner, it is just a glimpse. It is just me reaching out hoping someone will nod and say, "Me too." It is just me wanting someone to see me and wanting you to know you are not alone. 

(Thanks for reading.)

[Edited to add: After reading laney's comment, I realize that when I talked about Anne Lamott above, I really did pull this section of her talk out of context, and if I were Ms. Lamott, I might would be a bit annoyed with me. And if you are not familiar with her writing, you might assume a lot about her based on what I share above and that would be sad. She is incredible and thoughtful and funny and really seems to just tell the truth. The context above was more about how we can feel resistent to the very thing we need. And that sometimes the way someone says it, turns us away, but then we find our way back to it. I am putting my spin on her words and really this is not what I planned to share about her talk (as I do plan to write more soon).

I have no reason to believe that she wasn't saying that she doesn't believe in the idea of "Let go and let God;" it really is more about the phrasing and the timing of when people choose to use what I call platitudes. Her words were funny in context because I think it is just so true that people try to help and so often say the wrong thing that just doesn't resonate when we are deeply in pain. I so appreciate Carol's comment about her mother-in-law telling her to just pray and how at the time it might have felt dismissive because she wanted a plan of action. Now, though, as she wrote in her comment below, she sees "when things seem overwhelming, really truly the only answer is to 'just pray' or breathe or be in the moment or offer it up to the Universe or whatever you want to call it because there is nothing left."

I hope this helps explain (or even over-explain) why I chose to pull that bit of her talk out for this piece that poured out of me Thursday. If reading it all feels clunky, well, I think that is because all the pieces I am sharing are a bit noisy and messy and unsure of where they fit. But I guess I just wanted to start the conversation instead of sitting silently over here.]

*****

Deeply inspired by Darrah's post about the realness of the first few months of motherhood and Jen's post about "a life in progress" and Erika's post at Shutter Sisters about how "your life is newsworthy."