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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Keeping it real

I used to keep written journals for years. Ever since I started Creative Ink (six months ago!), I’ve put many (though certainly not all) of my deepest thoughts here instead. Some people say it takes courage to write about the things I do, but I don’t see it that way. This is my safe place to explore what’s on my mind. Like the quote from Joan Didion says at the top of this page, I write to find out what I’m thinking and even about my fears. Ultimately, I write because I have something to say and sometimes that something is just for me.

While paging through some old journals recently I couldn’t help but notice that my pace of life was as hectic in 1997 (with only two children) as it is now. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I know myself well enough to know that I thrive off of activity. But as I get older, I’m also hoping that I can channel my efforts on the things that truly matter most.

Maybe that’s why I’m getting so much out of reading the spirituality books for reviews. The bits and pieces of wisdom I’m finding are helping me to figure out who I am, where I am and where I hope to be in the future.

This year has been amazing for many reasons. Certainly I’m glad to be doing the work I enjoy, but I’m also glad to have had the time and the outlet to learn more about myself. As silly as that sounds, I think I was a stranger (and enemy) to myself for most of my adult life. I constantly fight the feeling of having wasted time. I know I haven’t wasted time, but I'm just searching for an authentic life, even as I’m unsure exactly what that means.

I suppose I want to feel that what I do matters, that my voice is heard and that I don’t simply vanish into sea of strung-out moms desperately clinging to scraps of their individuality. I want to find a way to keep it all real—life, love, parenting, writing, joy, fulfillment. Life is a big question mark, a riddle that will never be answered. But that’s okay, because the joy—and real personal growth—is found in the journey.

The remarkable byproduct of all this self-awareness is that I really feel it’s making me a better person, particularly as a mom. There is so much of me—and my energy—in my boys that at times I am overcome by the joy they bring me. If I know anything for sure, it’s that I’m setting a model (hopefully a good one) for my sons on what is a modern woman. It’s so important to me, more important than anything else that they grow up to be loving, compassionate, supportive, giving men with strong characters.

When my neighbor and I groused the other night about playing traffic cop in the mornings and evenings, directing everyone to school, sports, homework, showers, etc., always mindful that we’re 10 minutes behind schedule, she said to me we have to take comfort in knowing that we are raising fine young men who will really understand how important it is that a woman fulfill her many sides. She is so right. And when I was feeling badly about wanting to take advantage of a professional opportunity, she was the one to tell me that it’s important that our boys understand that moms can take their careers seriously, explore opportunities and still be good moms. Some day the boys will look back and value what their moms did both for them (the boys) and for themselves. Thanks for that, Patty Banks.

“Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.” — William Shakespeare

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