The Joy Tab.

The Joy Tab.

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

You:
How Are You, Really?

Me:
Last Saturday I hit a breaking point. Or whatever you want to call those moments these days where it just all feels like too much and not enough simultaneously. A vortex of feeling. A black hole of numbness. No tears though. Vortexes suck up tears and numbness doesn’t cry.

I confided to Jeremy that I felt as if the only times I’m truly happy lately are when I’m 1- singing, 2- running, or 3- all doing something together as a family unit (walking, drinking coffee on the couch, watching a movie). All the other times felt…anesthetized. This, I said, made me so sad. Not the feelings themselves (or lack thereof), but the ratios.

And he said: well that makes sense. You’ve spent almost an entire year just focused on how you can help everyone else. It makes sense that the things that fill you up are when you’re totally and completely self-focused.

Oh.

It’s true. Since March 2020, I’ve been switched onto Helper Mode. Personally and professionally. This is not a complaint. Rather, a recognition. My work is completely focused on helping other people through their tough stuff. Always has been. My personal motto (or one of them, along with such phrases as “don’t not give a fuck, just give selective fucks”) is one passed down to me by my high school theater teacher; that whenever you walk into a room the first thing you do is ask “what can I do to help?” Heck, it’s even in my astrological chart and Human Design and enneagram and all that stuff. Being of service is in me on a cellular level. And as entrepreneur Gloria Atamno says, it’s not always an easy task to separate the change you wish to make and what we carry the responsibility for – especially for those who feel like it’s their life’s assignment and calling to make that change.

All this focus on others honestly wouldn’t be as much of an issue if I was doing more than the bare minimum to keep mySELF afloat – which is exactly what I’ve been doing. I’m usually someone whose energetic balance is worked into her daily life. It’s not just happenstance – I’ve spent almost two decades carefully crafting my days when and where I can to make sure I get solo time amidst the cacophony that is life. I thought ‘d figured out my formula.

But without commutes, social plans, small talk with the barista at the coffee shop, random trips to the drugstore (because I’m sure I need something, I’ll think of it later), and the predictable everydayness that was life before March, I’ve been way off balance for far too long. My scales (Libra here!) have been askew for almost a year.

~

A healthy human, in relationship with herself OR with others, is meant to have balance when it comes to what and who gets our attention. We’re not MEANT to be 100% self-focused or 100% other-focused constantly – we need to be both.

And yet the last year has held many of us in one lane or the other:

Maybe you’ve been SELF-focused: doing things to keep yourself decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Self not because you’re arrogant or believe others don’t deserve these things too, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are your own. If you don’t take care of yourself, there’s no way you can take care of others. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well, you also end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Or maybe you’re like me and you’ve been OTHER-focused: doing things to keep others decent, hopeful, and well – tipping the scales toward the Other not because you believe you’re undeserving of these things yourself, but because you feel the most primary and urgent needs are out there in the community and world. We create the world we want to live in. A beautiful sentiment besides the fact that, while feeling decent, hopeful, and well about others, you also end up feeling burnt out and disconnected from yourself.

I do NOT want to tip the scales so far in one direction that I lose sight of the other, nor do I want to dim or blur my focus on others just to give myself some TLC. Again, keeping my Others-focus sharp is important to my DNA. I just need to sharpen my focus on myself in the meantime.

So what’s helping me (or at least what I HOPE will help me this month, I’m still working on this) is keeping a JOY TAB.

A list of 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that bring ME joy. A list of suggestions and Common Joy-Bringers at the top, then space for me to fill in the blanks.


Maybe you’re the opposite, though. You feel like you’ve spent so much time and energy isolated and trying to keep yourself satisfied/decent/hopeful/well that you rarely do anything that truly connects you to others in a way that feels meaningful to you that helps you focus on others AS you continue to focus on yourself.

For that I’d suggest the same convention, but with a twist. A CONNECTION (or COMMUNITY or SERVICE TAB (pick the word that feels right to you). 10 blank boxes and fill-in-the-blank spaces, to-do list style, to check off per week with things that serve someone else or connect you with others.

I picked 10 per week because I like the idea of more than one thing a day. I personally need a lot more Self-oriented joy in my life. Also, I didn’t assign a specific number per DAY because I slip. Some days I don’t do anything that brings me joy that’s all my own — but days are long, so if I skip a day, I can surely find something to do to double up on another day. This ALSO makes me feel less guilty for spending “time on myself” when the guilt bug starts to bite (again – for you the feeling might be different).

~

To be honest with you, I stopped asking people “How Are You” long ago. Because I noticed that the default answer is usually “fine.” Even when people aren’t. We’re so pre-programmed to hear THAT question and give THAT answer that when people actually want to know how we are, we end up dismissing a chance for real connection, real emotion, and just real REALness beyond the perfunctory response. “Fine,” to me, is an answer you give when you give when you don’t want to talk about something. Or when you’ve had so many people in your past try to fix you that you just don’t want to get into it. Or, more commonly, an answer you give as a courtesy to someone else you figure is just asking you How You Are because it’s the polite thing to do. Nice, not kind.

And that, to me, is a shame. That we’re so used to equating the question “How Are You” with something either negative or obligatory that we just give the easiest answer that’ll stop the conversation soonest.

So, yeah, I’m not fine. And no, you don’t need to try and fix it. Because since I’m able to identify why exactly it is that I’m not fine — because I know your heart, and I trust that when you asked me How Are You, Really you actually wanted to dive into the deep end with me — I feel confident in being able to move through it. I’ve been here before, I’ll be here again. What’s going to make this time different?


WANT YOUR SELF:
What are some things that bring you JOY? What are some things that make you feel more CONNECTED TO others?
Can you make these suggestions for your future-self to take advantage of, for those times you’re looking to balance your scales?

Introducing THE WANT COMMUNITY: A Membership To Make Shift Happen

Introducing THE WANT COMMUNITY: A Membership To Make Shift Happen

Community Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

Big announcement…

WE HAVE A FREAKIN’ OFFICIAL COMMUNITY!!!!!!!!

(Please excuse the all-caps shout. This has been so very long in the making, and I reserve the right to shout with glee from the internet-rooftops.)

THE WANT COMMUNITY is exactly what I envisioned for WANT when I dreamed it up back in 2007: it’s a place to shift your self talk, build a positive mindset, and make a lasting impact by being the you you know you’re meant to be.

WHAT IS THE WANT COMMUNITY?

We’re a members-only club by women, for women that gives you empowerment, encouragement, resources + support to shift your self-talk – not just from negative to positive, but from reactive to proactive.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THE WANT COMMUNITY?

Well, I believe that you deserve to be the You you know you’re meant to be…and you deserve to be surrounded by the kind of support + encouragement that makes you believe it’s possible to THRIVE being that person. TWC is where you go to build positive habits, self-confidence, and self-worth for the long run – and where you connect with fellow community members to put all that confidence to good use out in the world.

WHAT WILL I GET BY JOINING THE WANT COMMUNITY?

⚡️ WANT Your Self Today deliveries: Bite-sized pep-talks, prompts, and pieces of inspiration “From Your Self” (😊) in your inbox M-F

⚡️ Weekly WANT Challenges + Prompts: community prompts in the private clubhouse to make shift happen in both your world and the world

⚡️ Monthly Virtual Meetups: including Q+A sessions, mini-workshops, panels, workouts, guest speakers, community happy hours, office hours, and more

⚡️ WANT Your Self Quarterly: A digital mini ‘zine delivered to your internet door 4xs a year containing community updates, member spotlights, notable TWC Wins, and more

⚡️ Our Private Community Board: This is my favorite part. Connect, cheer on, and bond with other TWC members. Download the app (WE’RE ON AN APP, and it’s not owned by Facebook! 🤯) to stay connected wherever you go!

…and more.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO JOIN THE WANT COMMUNITY?

Because “doable” looks different for everyone, we’ve got 3 pricing options to choose from, starting at $4.99/month. All plans are identical, and you can change at any time

Interested? Click below:

 

I cannot WAIT to get to know you better in The WANT Community — and, maybe even moreso, I cannot wait for you to meet EACH OTHER. You’re gonna love each other.

LET’S MAKE SHIFT HAPPEN.

Meet you in TWC!

I Am A Political Person.

I Am A Political Person.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I found something I wrote back in February 2016 the other day that began “I’m not a political person, but…”

Oof. Cringe-worthy.

I AM a political person. Always have been. We ALL are.

But I knew why I said that.

~

Never mind that everything after “but…” negated that statement. Claiming I “wasn’t a political person” was me basically opting out of any sort of conversation.

I was afraid of not having all the answers. I was afraid of being called out, or called in (oh the irony). I was afraid of social media backlash. And I was afraid of not being seen as understanding or empathetic.

Cringe.

The change started to happen sometime around summer 2016 (moving to NYC definitely played a part in this) and was really cemented on election night. I’d spent the day so giddily optimistic, walking around (in my white blazer and “H” shirt) with my friend Negin (in her Frida Kahlo as Rosie The Riveter shirt) marveling at the historic day we got to experience together. It felt like the celebration we’d waited our whole lives for.

Around 2am that following morning I began to realize how naive and empty my optimism had been. It was the realization that only “being political” when it felt convenient or safe to do so served literally no one – not even myself. That by not “being political” when it actually counted, I was in direct conflict with everything I SAID I believed and everything I SAID I was working toward. That “being political” only when I was surrounded by others who were “being political” wasn’t anything more than a feel-good moment for me myself & I.

I look back on that version of myself and I’m embarrassed. But I write all this to say that while it might be easy to look back on how you “once were” and overindulge your embarrassment:

 

THERE IS NO TIME TO GET CAUGHT UP IN EMBARRASSMENT.

 

I call my 2016 self in and hold her accountable for all she’s learned. I know she knows when and where she didn’t do enough and where she fucked up. And I know she knows that integrity isn’t just about morals and values – it’s about constantly assessing whether your intentions and impact are in alignment.

She knows that intent is not much if the impact doesn’t align. She knows that “but I meant this to be…” isn’t a valid argument.‬ ‪She knows that if you want something to have a certain effect and it doesn’t, and you’re not willing to change the action to get the intended impact, then it wasn’t ever really about the intention at all.‬

 

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A post shared by Katie Horwitch•Shift Self-Talk (@katiehorwitch) on

I now know I’ll never have all the answers – there’s no way I can – and that in no way means I am exempt from speaking up and speaking out where my voice is useful. I now know we’re ALL political whether we “enjoy” talking about politics or not (bc politics isn’t a hobby, it’s a system that affects us all). I now know getting called IN/OUT is an opportunity to learn, grow, and change. I now know empathy needs a backbone and doesn’t excuse one damn thing or give anyone a free pass to be dangerous and destructive.

To be political is a freedom worth fighting for.

I am a political person. I no longer shy away from that.

We all are.

And no matter what happens from here on out: we are not done.

I am a political person. I no longer shy away from that. We all are. And no matter what happens from here on out: we are not done. Click To Tweet
Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I’ve always loved transitions – especially the ones that happen in September. I’d turn another year older, my favorite TV shows would start back up (no more Summer reruns!), and school would finally, finally be in session again.

New grade!

New teachers!

New books!

New projects!

HOMEWORK!!!!


No? Just me? Wouldn’t be surprised.

Unlike most kids, I always looked forward to the first day of school. Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe it was just my Type A- personality pumped for the structure. But there was something about backpack shopping, picking out my outfits, and pouring over the introductory paperwork all the students at my schools were sent pre- Day One that made my heart so very happy.

The impending challenges of a new grade – or in some cases, a new school altogether – never really entered my head. Back To School season was the BEST season of the year.

 

Back To The Grind

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long it’s been since you held a No. 2 pencil in your hand: for most former-kids, September will forever be synonymous with “Back To School.” The seasonal shift from Summer to Pre-Autumn to full-on-FALL signals that something new’s afoot – new friends, new challenges, new tests, and new teachers. We prepare for a new start, hope for positive change, and cross our fingers that we’ll be able to handle what life dishes out in the coming months.

Without Summer vacations and required reading, though, it can be hard as an adult to draw the line between where Summer ends and Fall begins. Because although we’d love to have an endless summer…and although the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 22nd…we can all feel a shift happen the moment Labor Day weekend comes to a close. It’s “back to the grind” – even though most of us have been grinding all year long.

And of course, 2020 has been a whole transition and grind of its own. Thank god for the seasons, that know no pandemics or furloughs. Thank goodness for the trees below my apartment window, that layer on the leaves right on cue and shed their layers as we pile on ours. Seasons and Google Cal. My 2020  touchstones. They remind me not only of the actual date but remind me that time goes on…even if I’ve lost all sense of time, days, weeks, and months (the amount of times I’ve woken up not knowing what day it was has been sitcom-worthy, except without any laugh tracks or plot twists tied up in 30 minutes or less).

And so it can just seem like more of the same – like we lost track of time, and the Summer months so associated with taking a breather completely passed us by. Couple this with a built-in programming from childhood to register this time of year as transitional, and it’s easy to feel a little bummed out once September hits.

At this point in 2020, you might be ready to Rip-Van-Winkle it and nap your way into the future. Or at least 2021. But even though there’s been so many struggles, so much sadness, and so many Groundhogs Day-esque weeks and months, I urge you – please do not opt out of the challenge right before the change arrives.

 

The New January

While January usually gets all the attention when it comes to resolutions, I’d like to argue that September holds just as much promise as the 01/01 mark.

Pre-Autumn and Fall is the perfect time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. It’s a time to bring back that childlike enthusiasm, relentless joy, and maybe even those first-day jitters you had as a kid (because all worthwhile and exciting changes in life bring up first-day jitters, really). And Fall 2020 just might just be the turning point you’ve been waiting for and working toward.

But you’ll never know if you don’t show up.

At this point in the year, you might be feeling defeated. I get it. Another new start and transition is exactly what I DON’T need right now. Has ‘normalcy’ ever felt like such a valuable commodity? Normal seasonal shifts feels like it would be such a luxury to experience. It’s tough to get excited for Fall or take advantage of the Dog Days Of Summer when you’re still mourning the loss of Spring.

This should feel easier, you might think. This should feel natural. If anything should feel normal, it should be the seasonal shift. A transition I’ve done so many times before.

Except not.

At all.

Starting anything - a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season - is hard. The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next.

 

It’s Not About Easy, It’s About Right

Starting anything – a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season – is hard. It is really really hard. In 2020 or otherwise. No matter how exciting it reads or how major it feels or how much promise it holds or how many time you’ve ever started fresh. Hardness and newness will always be the best of friends.

The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next. 

Because it doesn’t get easier, it just morphs along the way. And when you keep going, and keep committing yourself to being proactive and not reactive, you learn to let go of what you feel should be. You start to work intimately with what already is toward what can be.

Maybe you learn to like the tough of it – and even if you don’t like it, maybe you even learn to love it with that type of unconditional love that’s more about appreciation than approval – and you let go of what doesn’t serve you and you stick with the rest (which is hard to do, too). Or maybe it all morphs altogether, and you end up starting down a whole new tough path you never even intended on going down.

And the starting doesn’t stop and the hardness doesn’t stop, but you learn you can take it, you can handle it, and the toughest stuff is ultimately what becomes the fabric of who you are and why you’re here.

And then you maybe realize that all this time, it was never about easy or hard at all. It was just about what’s right. For you.

 

Your Own Personal Season

This month – and this Fall in general – I encourage you to look at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s right for you. Evaluate what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, or what you’ve accomplished in 2020 so far, and how you want to feel by the time the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021. So much of what we learn, how we grow, what we accomplish, and how we want to feel depends on the decisions we make, not the places we go (or don’t) or things we buy (or don’t) or titles we hold (or don’t).

It’s called “Fall” for a reason: just like the leaves fall away from their branches so the tree can begin its process of renewal, nature encourages us to let our old energy-suckers fall off our backs to make way for this new season of growth.

We’ve got four whole months. A THIRD of the year left. You have so much time. It’s all about what you do with it.

There will be challenges in the coming months, of course, and the newness of Fall and Winter will bring all kinds of highs and lows we could never have predicted. But if we shift our perspective to refocus our minds, refresh our hearts, and renew our commitments, there’s no telling what kind of miracles the rest of this year has in store.

New people.

New books.

New projects.

New homework.

Pick out your outfit and grab your backpack.

Class is in session.

Don’t ditch this one.

Subscribe to The (Good) Word + join the WANT movement:

 

You Must Imagine.

You Must Imagine.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

A story.

Last year on our trip to Italy, we visited the ruins of Pompeii. As our tour guide gestured toward the empty rooms and half-demolished ovens and sprawling town squares, she invited us into the ancient world by using one phrase over and over: “You must imagine…”

“You must imagine, here is where the baker would ground the grains for his daily goods”

“You must imagine, this street was once was a bustling throughway from the docks to the town”

“You must imagine, it was a clear day…”

We walked through the town, imagining the kitchens and living rooms and baths. The celebrations. The rituals.

And the devastation.

The suffering.

The feelings of being scared and alone.

The imagination hurt. The imagination was necessary.

Since that day in Pompeii, I‘ve done my best to catch myself when I say “I cannot imagine” and rid it from my conversations. I used to think it was a phrase of compassion – but it’s the exact opposite. Because to not imagine is my privilege showing. I CAN imagine, because I MUST imagine. There is no other way.

I’ve begun to realize the prevalence of “I cannot imagine” as not just a socially-acceptable response to a traumatic event, but as a way to perform empathy. But what I’ve also started to realize is that responding “I cannot imagine” is just that: a performance of empathy. An artistic interpretation. Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, doesn’t matter. Stating “I cannot imagine” creates a barrier between us and the truth. 

You cannot selectively empathize. You cannot “not imagine.” Because altering your empathy and only allowing yourself to imagine the best of times isn’t really empathy at all. It’s ignorance.


Imagine #AhmaudArbery and #BreonnaTaylor and #GeorgeFloyd and #NinaPop and #TonyMcDade. Imagine #ChristianCooper. Imagine how many cases like theirs occur that don’t ever get attention because there are no videos circulating on social media. Imagine all the cases that have occurred that never got attention because they happened when social media wasn’t a thing. Imagine #SandraBland and #MikeBrown and #AltonSterling and #TrayvonMartin and their families. Imagine what it means to fear for your safety every single day. Imagine outliving your child, or grandchild, and imagine them becoming a hashtag. Imagine. Do not shut off or opt out or create the imagination barrier.

To create lasting change – and to be actively anti-racist – we MUST put ourselves in each others’ shoes. We must feel broken apart by pain and suffering and injustice,and then GET UP and do the real work to unbreak our collective heart and reimagine our collective coexistence.

As Rachel Cargle says, “I don’t want your love and light if it doesn’t come with solidarity and action.” The solidarity is important. The action is crucial. And it all starts with the willingness to imagine.

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

We must imagine so our eyes are wide open.

We must imagine so we don’t forget.

And then, we must turn our imagination into action.

 

The following lists are action steps: books to buy, places to donate, people to follow on social media, education tools to dive into – all of which I’ve also done myself. They’ll all, btw, lead you to more action steps, books to buy, places to donate, people to follow, tools to use to learn and unlearn, and more. I encourage you to keep going.

To be clear, I’m not the authority on anti-racism work or even *an* authority – there are many, many others out there who have been doing this work for years. I am this journey of learning and unlearning, too. So if I can be the middle-woman to introduce you to some of those voices, great. Be sure to follow them, buy their books, join their courses, donate, and support the work they do…

And then share their work with your communities. Have conversations on the phone and on FaceTime and at your dinner tables. It’s 2020, and sometimes it can feel like social media allyship is enough. But real change happens in the real world. Posts are very important, YES, but what happens outside of Instagram or Facebook is just as important if not (read: definitely) more important. A post or hashtag without action behind it is what’s called “performative allyship” (Google the phrase if you’d like to learn more). If you’re feeling lost and don’t know what to do, Mireille Harper has a great list of steps toward non-optical allyship that is so very useful.

On WANT, we talk a lot about diving in, digging deep, and “making shift happen.”

This is the time, more than ever, to dive in, dig deep and make shift happen on a real, lasting level.

 



THINGS TO DO (that I’ve personally done as well)

Join Rachel Cargle’s The Great Unlearn
Buy these books:
Me And White Supremacy by Layla Saad (and then do the exercises – as she says, “it’s a book you DO”)
Antagonists Advocates and Allies by Catrice M. Jackson
Dive into Leesa Renee Hall’s work (and Patreon!). You’re an HSP and feeling completely overwhelmed? She’s created work just for HSPs!
Donate to your local bail fund (Google “bail fund [your city or state]”) and/or The Bail Project
Support George Floyd’s family
Support Ahmaud Arbery’s family
Donate to Campaign Zero as they work to end police brutality
Donate to Unicorn Riot as they expose root causes of social and environmental issues
Donate to Black Visions Collective as they create transformative, long-term change
Read and put into action the steps outlined in Mireille Harper’s guide to non-optical allyship


RESOURCES + EDUCATION: PEOPLE + ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA

@ckyourprivilege
@nowhitesaviors
@reclamationventures
@mireillecharper
@austinchanning

@rachel.cargle
@laylafsaad
@diveinwell
@decolonizing_fitness
@decolonizingtherapy
@chaninicholas
@blackgirlinom
@blklivesmatter
@ibramxk
@iamrachelricketts
@austinchanning
@dr.kholi
@cleowade
@mspackyetti
@theconsciouskid
@nicoleacardoza
@wellreadblackgirl
@goodancestorpodcast
@sincerely.lettie
@glowmaven
@maryamajayi
@naacp
@colorofchange

*A note about social media: there are actual people behind these accounts that are putting forth massive emotional, mental, and physical energy to educate and fight for change. Treat them as such. They are more than just “resources.” Follow, learn, unlearn, pay them for their education and energy, and amplify their voices by sharing.

One more time for the people in the back:

We must imagine what hurts in order to imagine what’s necessary to create lasting change.

cover image by @emilyonlife

What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood

What She’s Taught Me: A Thank-You Note On Motherhood

Community Love Motivation + Inspiration

DEAR MOMS,

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Maybe it’s been forced or routine.

But this is a different kind of thank you.

An honest thank you, to all mothers, biological AND emotional, a thank you for everything you teach to those around you on a daily basis…whether you realize it or not.

 

me + my mom on my wedding day, 2017


TO ALL MOMS OUT THERE:

Everyone speaks of the sacrifices of motherhood, but in my eyes I have only seen freedom. Well, a different kind of freedom. Maybe not the freedom to jet off for a spontaneous weekend or sleep in ’til however long you’d like on the weekends, but an awareness and a courageousness that comes with being a mom – and that represents an incredibly unique type of freedom. Freedom of the heart to love as hard as it pleases, freedom of the spirit to dive into the kinds of big decisions that most only dip their toes into. It’s a kind of freedom that’s not often talked about amidst the hardships and challenges and struggles of motherhood, but it is a freedom that sets an example for the rest of us, a crash course in how to own your own unique brand of leadership. It’s a freedom to allow yourself to start with a fresh slate, to scrap everything you thought you knew, over and over again.

From the time you “get the news” all the way past when your grandchild is born, being a mother means being able to start over with renewed confidence and focus time and again. Most people stay in their bubble of comfort for far longer than it serves them, afraid to begin anew or open themselves up to life’s many shifts. While I’m not saying you’re never afraid (you’re only human!), you feel the fear and do it anyway. Thank you for constantly moving forward. Thank you for showing the rest of us what a different kind of freedom looks like.

 

 

TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO ARE MOMS:

Thank you for showing me what motherhood looks like from all angles. From you, I’ve learned that one style does not fit all, that there is really no “technique” that is fool-proof and no way that’s the right way. In observing you approach motherhood from your own angle, I’ve learned something way beyond what it means to be a mother – something bigger. I’ve learned what it means to attack life without being a carbon copy, about how to navigate life on your own terms.

I look upon you with awe as you make decisions for your family and yourself with such confidence, with such assuredness, because there are more important things that must be done than let uncertainty rule your day. I can sometimes sense a slight fear of not knowing what’s right, and when I’m lucky, you let me behind the curtain and share your uncertainties with us. Please know I will always, always listen. You consistently show me that the only “right” choices are those you make from your heart. Thank you for letting me in on your journey.

While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom… Click To Tweet


TO MY OWN MOM:

The thank-yous could pile up if I let them. Thank you for encouraging my creativity, thank you for being an open book, thank you for driving me around and reading to me from four books every night. But if I could thank you for one thing only, I would thank you for teaching me how to be a leader, both personally and professionally. You realize that relationships, just like anything else worthwhile, are work – and you put the care and effort in every single time. In your friendships, you’re happy going out on the town yet equally happy to sit on the couch with a glass of wine and storytelling. You’re one of those women that was born to be a mother, born to be a shoulder for everyone you love to lean on. And yet you never forget to take care of yourself. You’re not a pushover in the least, you’re not a people-pleaser. And yet you somehow know how to take care of everyone at once, including yourself. You know that you cannot love anyone else unless you love yourself first. Yes, there are times you complain about the lines around your eyes or the rogue grays at your roots, but every step you take is that of a woman who at her core absolutely loves who she is. You’re a presence – even when you’re not trying to be. Thank you for teaching me how to walk with that kind of confidence.


I’ve also learned about myself, my uniqueness, and in trying to emulate you in so many ways I’ve learned who it is I really am. I am silly, sometimes in the same way you are, sometimes in a way that’s completely my own. While you are the life of the party, I’m the person who sticks with one or two conversations all night. I laugh like you, I think, at the same things and with the same reckless abandon. I cry when I laugh, every time, which I know I inherited from you too (thank you for laughing so much). I’ve learned that although we joke and claim otherwise, you don’t know everything, and that you’re just as often wrong as you are right.

Because of that I’ve learned it’s okay not to have all the answers.

I’ve learned that there are lessons I am yet to learn, ones you’ve known for your whole life – and similarly, there are lessons I’ve got under my belt that you’re still figuring out. I don’t fault you for it, I love you more for it. I’m more like you, mom, than I’d sometimes like to admit – and less like you, mom, than you’d sometimes like to admit. It’s that fine balance of similarities and differences that is at the core of our relationship.

TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO WILL CHOOSE NOT TO (OR CANNOT) HAVE CHILDREN AND STILL MOTHER:

I cannot say this any better than my mentor-from-afar Glennon Doyle:

“The old definition of mother: a woman who gives birth to a child, adopts a child or marries into a family – doesn’t ring true enough. I have stopped thinking of MOTHER as a fixed identity- something you are or you are not and more of an energy all of us have inside of us – that we are either unleashing or not.

Because don’t we all know mothers who have given birth to babies but never unleashed nurturing energy even for a moment? And don’t we know men and women and non-binary folks who have never given birth and who spend every single day unleashing creative nurturing energy that gives birth to beautiful new things and nurtures existing things? It strikes me that an out of proportion number of women who are mothering the world in HUMUNGOUS ways (Liz [Gilbert] and Oprah come to mind right away) are women who chose not to raise children on their own. Because they had wider mothering to do: they knew they were born to use their mothering energy less like a laser and more like a floodlight.

In Sue Monk Kidd’s breathtaking new book: The Book of Longings she suggests that maybe the question is not whether not you are a mother but WHAT WILL I MOTHER INTO THIS WORLD?

Watch her whole Morning Meeting on mothering here:

 

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We all have something to love, whether it be a child or pet or even a vase filled with flowers picked by hand at the Farmer’s Market.

While not all of us will have children in this lifetime, we will always have the women who came before us and walk alongside us who help model what it is to MOTHER: who teach us how to lead, how to love, how to embrace the freedom you feel when you make a decision and stick with it.

And one day, we can get to be that person for someone else, too. Maybe we are right now.


Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who possess and demonstrate motherhood on a daily basis – in your family and beyond. The kind of motherhood that knows no  the one that protects and loves in a way that’s uniquely your own, and teaches us all to do the same.

 


all wedding photos by krista ashley.


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a version of this originally appeared on the chalkboard mag.