finding JOY

After bathing the kids, I began picking out their alphabet and numbers from the lukewarm water.  The last three letters were J O Y.  In that order.  I think someone is trying to tell me something.

I can’t seem to find clarity or purpose these days.  With the exception of those two weeks of summer weather, it has been a grim, cool spring here.  We’ve had a fire burning every day and had a thick blanket of snow covering the peonies and lilies earlier this week.

I go to bed feeling empty and guilty.  I wake up feeling as though too many hours stretch out before me and the time Mike comes home.

As I said before, my life isn’t lacking.  It’s all in my head.  I know what work needs to be done and where I want to be, but I can’t seem to find the gumption.  I busy myself with the tasks of cleaning and tidying with the promise of doing the important self work later.

 

I bake cookies and pies when I should be exercising.

I look at pretty things when I should be creating pretty things.

I scrub toilets and sweep floors when I should be dancing and singing with the kids.

I sleep shallow sleep when I should be awake and sipping the silence.

I make lists when I should just start.

I read blogs when I should be writing my own blog.

I watch tv when I should be finding comfort in my own life.

I look at Facebook and wish I could quit it.

 

They say only boring people are bored, but man, I can’t seem to shake this feeling.  I think when I felt this restlessness before, I would just grab the stroller and numb it with buying fifty cent clothing at the Salvation Army or busy myself with finding the best shampoo or hand soap at the health food store.  Now I am left alone with it and I am faced with finding better coping mechanisms.  Which isn’t a bad thing, but it is a bit of a painful process.

I am fighting the urge to apologize for being anything other than upbeat and crafty in this space.  I don’t write in my journal anymore so this is where it all lands.  This isn’t to be dramatic or woeful.  It is just me working through and rolling with it.  Writing always take me to the answers and the truth is, all the wisdom of the ages rests within each of us.  The hardest part is to listen and then do something with it.

I know who I want to be, but it means breaking some old habits and that is never comfortable, but always worth it.

 

go gently + be wonderful

e.

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32 Comments

  1. Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:35 am by Amberlea | Permalink

    How is it that your words always resonate so deeply with me. I’ve been feeling this way too. My life most certainly does not lack, but there is this questioning, this boredom, this feeling like I’m on a trajectory and don’t know how I got here, if it’s where I want to be, and I don’t know how to -like you said- find the gumption to change/shift. Oh man, if only we could be neighbours…

    I have been meditating, and it’s so uncomfortable to just sit with my breathe… but I keep pushing on, and I think it is helping to open up a spaciousness, but I’m afraid to look into the space and see what it is that I need to change/face/do/be…

    • Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:46 am by erin | Permalink

      Ok…something is hatching in my brain…a snail mail exchange involving your top 5 (10?, 15?) ONLINE friends you feel a connection with yet have never met in the real world…A way to keep the most important intriguing connections alive while letting the rest go…another snail mail revolution…I will be working on the details. Let me know if you have ideas…
      You’re wonderful!
      e.

  2. Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:35 am by Stephanie K. | Permalink

    Erin,
    I wrote a post trying to express this very thing today. I couldn’t express the ennui I am experiencing…feeling physically BLAH but lacking the energy and motivation to exercise, feeling completely uninspired in spite of (or maybe because of) pinterest and other blogs. While I am aware in a cerebral way of the many blessings in my life, I feel detached somehow. I am starting to wonder how much internet use has to do with it all, because I don’t remember ever feeling this way bfb (before facebook). I didn’t have to “seek out” authentic joy, or didn’t even think about it…it was just there.
    Thanks for saying what I couldn’t. I think I know how you’re feeling, and it’s a hard feeling. I wake up feeling guilty, too…guilty that I’m not leaping from my bed with joy at the privilege of staying home with my kids another day. Makes me wonder if there will be a diagnosis someday for women of our generation…so much at our disposal, and yet so much…ennui is the only way I can express it. Blessings on your day. Your pie looks wonderful; wish we could share it and a pot of tea while our kids played together!

    • Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:46 am by erin | Permalink

      Ok…something is hatching in my brain…a snail mail exchange involving your top 5 (10?, 15?) ONLINE friends you feel a connection with yet have never met in the real world…A way to keep the most important intriguing connections alive while letting the rest go…another snail mail revolution…I will be working on the details. Let me know if you have ideas…
      much love
      e.

      • Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:47 am by chelsea | Permalink

        YES YES YES. i joined a snail mail program and it’s been such a wonderful disruption to the normal facebook/email/blog reading. so now we send eachother letters or cards and i’ve looked her up online, she’s got a blog and an etsy shop, but i’m trying not to look at to let this exist in a written space instead…it’s amazing how different a person seems when you don’t have their whole life glaring at you from a computer screen. which tells me that yes, this absolutely needs to happen.

  3. Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:50 am by Stephanie K. | Permalink

    Hmmm…hilarious that we had the simultaneous thought and shared in different places on the internet. I do have thoughts. Will think on it and get back to you.

  4. Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm by Heather h | Permalink

    Again and again you express it so succinctly. When so very much time and energy is devoted to the care of others, when the silence does come, it is downright overwhelming. Who am I? (Or rather, I know who I am and how can I just BE that?) How/when can I create (without guilt) to keep the self sustained? ( I googled motherhood + creativity looking for answers one day…)
    Please keep writing these posts…obviously you are speaking truths…

    • Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm by erin | Permalink

      I think we’re all looking for the answers in other blogs and social media, but it is becoming apparent that it is the root of our problems…
      It all has me thinking about solutions.
      warmly,
      e.

  5. Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm by Misty Pratt | Permalink

    This is hilarious, because I always read your blog and think “what if I just lived like this more often?” I think part of the ennui is just BEING with ourselves, as imperfectly perfect as we are. The first comment spoke about meditation, and I know in the past, this has been such a huge help for me. The simple act of sitting and breathing has changed more in my life than any cognitive-behavioural trips/tricks I’ve tried for changing my “bad” habits

    • Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm by erin | Permalink

      my goodness, we’re all kindred aren’t we?!
      warmly,
      e.

  6. Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm by Laura Jeanne | Permalink

    Erin, I say this a lot when I comment on your posts, but I totally understand how you feel.

    My life is rich with blessings, and somehow I feel disconnected with it, like I am not enjoying the right things. I stay home with my kids too and I am so fortunate to be able to do this, but instead of all the fun things I want to do with them I end up – I am being brutally honest – spending too much time on the computer. Every day. I even stopped blogging, and I deleted my Facebook account long ago, but I still have a problem. Pinterest is my newest addiction…I spend a lot of time looking at other people’s pretty homes and never any time making things for my own!

    Then when I get off this stupid machine I have to rush around cleaning the worst of the mess, instead of taking the kids to the park or sewing, because I wasted so much time.

    And I think that is why I often feel bored, too. I really need to live life more fully instead of reading about life on the computer. I blogged about this very idea many times, and yet I can’t seem to get it truly into my brain.

    On that note, I am turning the computer off and going to help my 7 year old paint a rock to look like a ladybug. :)

    • Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:27 pm by erin | Permalink

      I am always a little shocked by how many women are feeling the same way…
      Thank you for being so honest :)
      warmly,
      e.

    • Posted April 27, 2012 at 10:39 am by Marnie | Permalink

      Thank you Laura Jeanne and Erin for articulating my thoughts exactly! This was the real push I needed and I have just now unsubscribed from what seems like a hundred blogs which only seem to crowd my brain of things I should be doing or want to do or the life I want to have. When all I have to do is get off the computer and enjoy my two precious children, husband and home. This is one of only a few blogs I will continue to read as Erin you inspire me :) xx

  7. Posted April 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm by MJ | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing your struggle. I have been experiencing ennui, frustration, inner vacillation as well. I think the cold, wet weather, the Internet, and this cold I’m fighting have a lot to do with it. But I also think we all are just burdened with too many choices and perspectives. The burden of having to take responsibility for our own choices and stand our ground even when our convictions are besieged by constant contrariness and those closest to us are ambivalent or downright hostile. All I see is a long hard financial road ahead of me as I press to be debt free, and uncertainty about how my marriage will unfold.

  8. Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm by Sherrie | Permalink

    An intangible hug and imaginary cup of tea is on its way (with the real goods!) and should arrive in three or so business days.

    You have such a wonderfully clear way of expressing how you’re thinking and feeling. I wish we could go work in my garden together and chat it over. I think it would clear my muddled brain!

    Take care.

  9. Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm by kalise | Permalink

    Hi! I rarely (read: never) comment on blog posts but I felt compelled to on yours. I feel the same way! I don’t know if it’s this transition season called spring, if it’s the incredible work of raising small children or if it’s the constant inundation of media with people doing it “better” than I am but my goodness! I feel exhausted before I begin. The glimmer of hope is the brief glimpses of the sun we get here in the Pacific NW and the knowing that summer in all her glory is near. It’s all very cyclical, very soon a burst of energy will spring forth and bring on a spate of productivity. Good luck to you!

  10. Posted April 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm by mel | Permalink

    yep… what they all said… and more! You are a beauty erin.. and it shines through – even on the gray days you may be seeing from your perspective. xoxoxo
    Mel ;o)

  11. Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm by sarah | Permalink

    What I like about public blogging is that there’s often a heightened accountability towards self-honesty, or perhaps simply clarity, when we write for a readership. I noticed that, by the end of your post, you were stating what it is you need to do to break out of this torpor. Good luck with breaking those habits!

    As for drawing joy out of the dirty water … happy sigh :-) Seems like that is the heart of life to me :-)

  12. Posted April 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm by cindy baldwin | Permalink

    Personally (and I don’t think I’m alone in this!) I think the best blogs are the ones that are well-rounded—showing all the sides of the issue. All of us have more to our lives than crafts and pretty things. I say, keep being honest!

  13. Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:08 pm by Marla | Permalink

    Erin, your honesty is so refreshing. You are writing about many feelings that I experience, too. It is so easy to get down on myself when I think I’m not good enough…I’m not baking enough from scratch, or crafting enough, or decorating enough. It is too easy to compare oneself to others. Thank you for your honesty. It helps me immensely.

  14. Posted April 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm by Nicole N | Permalink

    Erin, your honesty and openness is an amazing gift and I can’t tell you enough that that is what keeps me coming back to this special space of yours. Like you and many of your readers have expressed, I too am suffering from this empty, guilt ridden, lack of motivation to kick myself up out of this rut feeling as well. I love being a Stay at Home Mom, yet some days I feel so lost, like I am a stranger to myself. I look at blogs for answers and insights and instead find myself feeling worse. How is it that we can know so well intellectually how to heal ourselves yet when it comes to putting such thoughts into action its like trying to move a mountain. I know I feel better when I exercise, meditate, live instead of look at living, yet I always fall back into the same old habits.
    Thanks again for sharing, there is comfort in knowing other Mom’s are feeling the same way.

  15. Posted April 26, 2012 at 6:16 pm by Beth | Permalink

    This is honestly the only blog that I ever feel moved to comment on, because you so often seem to express just what I am feeling or have felt-it’s almost quite bizarre (and good). Particularly odd to scroll down and see how many of the comments are saying just that-definitely struck a chord here!

    I wonder how much of it is seasonal-spring is such a time of shifts and growth and perhaps that can knock us off kilter and into a bit of a blah….

  16. Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:11 pm by Ana | Permalink

    There are too many “shoulds” … all though I know the feeling(s) all too well. I try and fight my “shoulds” by telling myself that I’ll just accept that I need/want/am going to stay in bed all day/watch tv all day/do x instead of y/etc. Accepting what I’m actually doing and giving myself permission to do it relieves a bit of the tension over feeling like I “should” be doing better/more productive/more whatever/etc things. Women are too hard on themselves. I’m sure the warm weather will help once it finally gets here. I’m going a little crazy myself.

  17. Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:59 am by Bridget Barnard | Permalink

    Hello from little New Zealand on a Friday night. I’ve just put baby #3 to sleep and are sitting waiting for the jug to boil so I can have my tea and browse a moment. I just wanted to say ‘I hear you’ and while I often ponder the strange beast that is blogging and online communities, its helpful to know you’re not alone in these thoughts (for me here and maybe you there too). I keep wondering when I’ll ‘arrive’ at the magic moment, where I neither waiting for the ‘this ‘ to happen or looking back nostalgically at ‘then’. Ah the ongoing discipline of being present in the moment – needs alot of grace! Hey – I appreciate your reflection on this – thanks :) (and the jug has boiled – time for that cuppa).

  18. Posted April 27, 2012 at 7:38 am by christine m | Permalink

    Bless you for the honesty.

  19. Posted April 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm by Bonnie | Permalink

    Well, everything I meant to say was said by Laura Jeanne! Wow! I too am in a slump, and I’ve tried this week to get up super early to just have some quiet time before parenting/life begins. I wish it was helping. Unfortunately, baking is something that makes me feel happy – except when I eat all the treats and wonder why I do that to myself. Then I feel worse. Ugh.
    What I find interesting is that this feeling (which is heavier for sure this year) seems to come every spring. The “winter blues” pass me by. I’m okay with hunkering down and laying low during the dark and gloomy months. But Spring, with all it’s promise of gardening, outdoor exercise, adventuring, etc…just makes me feel overwhelmed and exhausted. And too big for a bathing suit.
    Maybe my body and mind just take longer to get the “spring” back in my step (awful pun, yes.)
    Thanks for sharing so honestly. I’m so glad I’ve found your blog.

  20. Posted April 28, 2012 at 9:18 am by Stephanie | Permalink

    Once again very beautifully written. Your ability to put into words what so often I feel is comforting. It means I am less alone.

  21. Posted April 28, 2012 at 10:26 am by Emily | Permalink

    Have never commented on your blog before, but must now to send you love and understanding. My days are often like this…I am struggling to start my own blog as I feel like I am always going into other people’s “houses”, and never invite any into mine. Instead, I just keep reading blogs, pinning, cleaning house…whatever. I hope that you find some J O Y today in more than letters, and am grateful for your sharing, whatever it is you have to share.

  22. Posted April 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm by Mandy | Permalink

    Maybe you need to have that 3rd baby after all :)

  23. Posted April 30, 2012 at 7:45 am by chelsea | Permalink

    god, i know. i hear you on every single one of these things. lately i’ve felt that all we’ve done is yelled at grace, demanded that she stop whatever she’s doing, only to get even more angry that she’s not stopping, and that’s the only “quality” time we’ve spent together.

    i’m not bored, but time away from the internet (oh facebook) makes me realize how much time i actually spend on it rather than doing things, and i realize that say, when i’m upset with my daughter and i need to disengage, i go engage here instead and that’s not appropriate. she doesn’t get the point. she needs to see me DOING things with my time (even though sometimes internet-time can be productive and wonderful).

    facebook is a big one for me.

    and so are the small moments, like j-o-y or watching my daughter try and imitate a design i drew. i guess i’m not finding those points of connection between anything and it’s hard to feel grounded, then. i don’t have answers. just digital hugs.

  24. Posted May 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm by Nikole | Permalink

    thank you so much for your words, for your honesty and transparency. this post resonates so deeply with me. i have written a similar (though not so lovely!) one for my own journal but have never hit “publish.” I have really been struggling with what kind of online presence I want to maintain. It seems like the world is rushing in this direction and there is so much pressure to maintain a thousand intimate relationships, and I just end up feeling more and more disconnected with it all, and a failure too. I do find that the less time I spend online looking at other people’s lives, the more connected I feel to my own life force and creativity.

    Your words also remind me of my ongoing struggle with depression, which has been at times crippling since my sweet girl was born. It is hard to be at home with kids all day. And while your homestead life is romantic and sweet, and certainly fulfilling in many ways, I can see how it would be terribly isolating. Sending you strength and courage as you learn those new coping mechanisms and face those difficult and empty moments (which we all have!)

    thank you for being you. thank you for being brave and honest.

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