Writing: A necessity for joy

I wrote a few weeks back about my resolution to seek and fight for joy in my life.

I’m generally consider myself an optimistic person, but I can really be plagued with moments of extreme doubt.  Paralyzed almost.  And if I’m not careful, these moments can stretch longer, and have a much greater effect on everything around me. 

At the start of this year, I really resolved to seek joy, but it turns out resolving to do something doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have the tools to help you get there.  For me, I’d forgotten how much writing it out really helps me process and let go of things.  It helps me give it a place. Put a name to whatever is frustrating me and then move on and do something from there.  I had a couple good friends listen as I rambled, because I just kept failing to make the time to put it down in writing, so that ultimately helped me some.  But really, writing would have been so much quicker.  Not publicly, mind you.  But at least in my personal journal.  Its been collecting dust since October. I don’t know why I always forget this. 

I went to a little round-robin clinic about different health matters lately, and one of the topics was “journaling”. 

I almost didn’t want to go to it.  Actually, I didn’t want to go to it, but it was the last one left.  So I went.  And it turns out it was just what I needed to hear. 

“Journaling shouldn’t be a burden to you, just another thing that you have to do.  It should be something that helps you be.”

That quote was like a key unlocking a deep issue I’ve had with writing.  Journaling looks so different for everyone.  I know others do this, but I find the very idea of making myself write in a journal every day to be suffocating.  Mostly because I hate anyone telling me what to do, including myself, apparently.  But II admit more importantly because I have a fear of failure and journaling is a way to blatantly record all of those messy failures.  I find old journals to be a liability.  They are evidence of an imperfect past, of my human nature and of a perspective continuously evolving that is never complete. A snippet in time that maybe, shouldn’t have been recorded because that wasn’t the end goal. That was just a post-marker. A point I needed to stop and suck air because I was so winded. And that can be hard to look back on and read. 

Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with sadness at the person I was. Which is ironic because some of my writings on subfertility are some of my most treasured possessions.

But its my nature to just get stuck right there.  And not move any further. To dwell on the negative.

And here’s the incredible irony.

By dwelling on the fact that “I’m not there yet”, in letting that negative self-talk stop me from writing down my thoughts, I fail to allow myself to process what I’m going through, therefore stunting any possibility for growth in the future. Because writing it how I process it. I just get stuck in a cycle of not moving anywhere.  This is somewhat what I was trying to touch on when I wrote this

I’m going to try to focus more on the journey, rather than just wanting immediate results. Maybe I’m finally learning that “I’m not there yet” is a straw-man argument because “there” doesn’t really exist.

Anyway, the base of it is that if writing helps you know yourself, you should do it, simply because then it allows you to be yourself.  And we need more people who are passionately themselves so they can make changes in this world.

For me, writing is a necessary step towards joy, and something that I’ve been missing. 

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I just want to clarify, since this is a public blog, that I don’t necessarily mean writing for all the world to see, but writing for myself to process complicated thoughts and emotions. I haven’t even been doing that. I strive to strike the right balance between sharing privately and publicly, because unfortunately, sometimes I think more damage than good can be done when we share immature thoughts on a public forum.

Our (East Coast) garden

On my list of the many, many things I’m trying to get accomplished lately, “build an entire new garden” suddenly got thrown in there.  I blame SmartGardener (after all my praises, yes!) because it really made me realize that I need to get on this already and so I went into a turmoil trying to get it all built. My rush was probably a little premature, because I wonder if Smart Gardener is aware of exactly how much snow has been covering our yard this winter…

Anyways, I took advantage of the last few sunny weekends and weekdays to get things moving.  After much back and forth, we decided to tear up the existing flower bed to build above ground boxes like last year instead of in ground beds like I had planned.  And unlike last year, where I basically had free (husband) labor, this year I acquired the materials and built the boxes myself! Yes, quality suffered as a result and my body was complete jelly last week, but they’re holding soil so, I didn’t do that poorly!

I don’t have a “before” picture of the massive flower bed but it was a 13 ft diameter circle completely full of an ivy ground cover and chalk full of bulbs (that we didn’t realize until we started digging it up).  Of what kind of flower, I have no idea. I sent an email out to our neighborhood with the subject “Free Bulbs” and had a few interested people come by and dig some up.  No one could identify them. Not nearly as many people came by as I was hoping for (4 total) but I was happy at least some bulbs got a new home! If we can’t eat it, we aren’t interested in it. At this point, anyway.

It was seriously back breaking work to dig the beds as the ground was so root clogged and full of bulbs that I was afraid we were going to have no soil left after we got rid of all the roots.  This was partially true. It took a week of work on my part and another full weekend of more help from my husband. Fortunately, our neighbors are doing a home addition and have a large pile of dirt we were able to supplement with.  Unfortunately, even after supplementing with compost, this soil very clayey, so I’m not sure how things will grow. I did my little soil tests and made amendments, but I guess I need to buy another kit to see what its like now.  Sometimes I miss the days of access to a water quality lab. Its killing me to pay for these tests!

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“your soil and your camera focus stink”

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boxes built and soil pathetically dug up (before my husband helped here). congrats, you have 2 12×4 ft garden boxes on a giant mud pit. i was so proud!

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and this happened. taken monday. built just in time! let’s get planting! er…

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Taken today, boxes are filled. And see? Clayey. Debating adding sand. We will also need to get the rest of the bulbs (sprigs of green) around the boxes before we spread mulch.

We also decided to do a third garden bed along the side yard.  I want to plant some tall things here to bring us a little privacy from our neighbors yard.  Corn, sunflowers, maybe some other flowers as well. This one is 12×4 ft and yes, I still need to recycle all the weeds just sitting by the side. These are some really rough “during” photos. You can also see the color difference in the soil.  I really think we are going to need to add some more topsoil to the boxes.

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Side garden bed. And yes, check out our beautiful laundry rack that I failed to fold up before it froze this way…

Just looking at those pictures at our old garden in California last year make me realize how green everything was.  Its so dreary here right now!  I am really looking forward to the spring and summer and more color!

The funk of not creating and the Age of Information Overload

I wonder if anyone else feels this way.  I’ve been in a funk of not creating lately.  At least, that’s one theory I have for feeling so off at the start of the year. Its so easy to consume consume consume on the internet to the point that you feel bloated and saturated with all sorts of random tidbits of useless knowledge. The ease with which I can access all types of information means I can swiftly gorge myself until my eyes hurt I’m sitting at the table with my buttons popped open, feeling fat and lazy and just, completely unproductive.  In my haze, its easy to become a consumer and not a creator.

I don’t want to just consume, I want to create. I want to bring something of my own to the table.

Well, duh. Then just create.

Most of last year I think this is what the internet represented to me.  Instead of relationships and support like I’ve relied on in the past, it became just a place to feel like I’m being sold something. Apparently I have an addictive personality where its easy for me to just keep clicking until I feel completely overwhelmed at all of the information on the internet that I didn’t know I needed to know! To me, this is the Age of Information Overload.

I feel good when I create, either little things like a new dinner one night or trying to knit a new article of clothing.  As much as I love parenting, it seems like one of the hardest parts is that you’re forever creating in half hour increments to keep the little one’s attention and not working on something long term, or at least something that won’t get destroyed by the end of the day. And my internet habits start to mirror that.

Without getting into a full blown discussion on the merits of stay-at-home vs. work outside the home moms (just yet! I’ll save that for later), I have found for me, finding this balance in being able to contribute to a longer-term goal is crucial to my well-being.

So, deciding what I will spend my limited time and energy on creating is one of the things that I’ve been trying to focus on recently.  Its taken effort and intention, but I feel like I’m already seeing progress on figuring it out.

This is probably such a no-brainer to people, but I guess it took time for me to realize that hey, if reading mommy and parenting blogs and signing onto Facebook with everyone’s incessant posts of “read this article” and “click on this link of lists you have to see!” are just not relevant or something I care about, then I should really just stop reading them.

Its easy to just follow the flow and be led where others are intentionally trying to lead you, rather than intentionally lead yourself to goal that you have prayerfully discerned.