A story I shared with the lovely souls on my newsletter list:
I'm over here in my studio in the in-between space before Ellie gets home from school, and I'm thinking about you. And I want to talk about something.
I want to talk about how we struggle to stay open even as we long for more love in our lives. How we push others away yet we long to feel seen. How we want to protect ourselves from hurt even though being human means we will get hurt.
I want to talk about how we close ourselves off from what we long for in such subtle ways.
We close our hearts when we don't accept a compliment, when we put ourselves down, when we get upset with our loved ones about the little things even when we know we could let them go.
We have signs and quotes in our homes that talk about enjoying the simple moments and choosing dancing over doing the dishes, but we pile on the self-loathing when we scroll through Instagram and see perfect kitchens and flawless self-portraits.
We each have our own ways of making the choice not to open toward this life we're longing for, and I've been noticing how these choices happen in the most routine moments.
The other day, I had an experience of healing around, and I want to tell you about it. Earlier this week, I shared this photo on Instagram.
And I paired the photo with these words: On Sunday evening, when I was taking a photo of our dinner table before letting everyone dive in (as one does), Jon said that I looked beautiful and I should take a selfie right this minute. I scoffed (as one does when married for a long time): My sunglasses are on my head. We're about to eat dinner. I don't want to be the blogger taking a selfie while her family waits to eat. But then I stopped and just flipped the camera around and took it. And today when I found it on my camera roll, I had this moment of getting how he sees me. Going to let that sink in as I make my way through this day.
Because here's the truth: Yes, I practice the mirror meditation and have come to a really positive space with how I think about my own beauty. I feel comfortable sharing self-portraits, and I certainly don't aim for flawless, perfection when I do. And yet, it is very hard for me to believe my husband when he tells me I'm beautiful. Especially in an everyday moment. I usually say something sarcastic or roll my eyes or use the "it's because I put on mascara" excuse.
But this time he said it right in front of our daughter who was taking in every word. And when I started to reply sarcastically, I looked at her watching me and stopped and took a breath and chose to listen.
It was such a simple, everyday kind of moment; one that none of us would have really remembered no matter how I responded. But one that deeply impacts all of us.
Dismissing someone's love is not how I want to move through my world over here, especially when this someone is my husband. And I don't want my daughter to witness this dismissal.
I can choose to make another choice.
I can choose to keep my heart open.
This truth is why I have these words hanging in my studio.
I wrote these words and then made a little print so I could hang them up, so I will read them again and again to remember that keeping my heart open to all of it is a huge piece of my life's work.
This really is The And Space - we keep our hearts open to the joy and heartache, the beauty and the mess, the truth and all that we cannot control. All of it.
Even though this can feel huge, I have good news for both of us dear heart: This work of keeping our hearts open is actually done in the simplest of moments. At the kitchen table when someone else says, "You are beautiful." And you choose to believe them.
This work is done:
When you smile at the new mom at school who looks as unsure as her child.
When you say, "Yes" to getting out of the house to connect with others.
When you look yourself in the eye in the bathroom mirror and whisper "You've got this."
When you stop talking on the phone when going through the checkout line.
When you see the dishes in the sink and choose the dance party anyway.
When you don't hold back the tears when with those you trust.
When you gently say, "Could you listen to me instead of fix?" when a friend dives into her fixer role.
When you wake up 10 minutes earlier to give yourself the gift of quiet before everyone else gets up.
When you wear the red lipstick because it brings you joy.
When you order takeout because the day really was that long and hard and no one is grading your ability to make dinner every single night.
This work of keeping our hearts open is done when we choose love and kindness and bravery in simple, real, moments that make up our daily lives.
So here's a little homework for you: Look for your own simple moments where you can choose to keep your heart open (even when the old stories might be pulling you to do something else). And then, if you want to, come back to this email and press reply and tell me about them. Or tell me about one of these moments that happened recently to you. I'd really love to hear your stories.
And remember honey, you are a light is this world. We are all blessed because you are here.
Yes. Yes. Yes.