Identity in Motherhood:

I often see mothers talk about losing themselves in motherhood. They say that motherhood has become their entire identity and they no longer have a self outside of it. It’s a big thing, and easy to understand seeing how motherhood is so consuming. I mean that in a good way, but it can have it’s moments were overwhelming doesn’t begin to cover it. Our children are the best things that have happened to us, we cherish them, adore them, but they are a lot of work.

A big thing is finding time for oneself, which depending on your support system may or may not be possible, a lot of mothers find themselves dropping hobbies like crazy simply because they don’t have the time. They feel like they’ve lost a part of themselves. I can understand this, I haven’t written on a novel in eight months (that’s how old my son is). I think a key thing to remember is that those things are still a part of us even if we are not active in our creating or playing or doing. Just because we don’t have the time doesn’t mean we don’t have the love or the passion.

Of course the goal is to find time, but sometimes that it easier said than done. Trying to fit hobbies into calm moments can be hard when you also need to do eight loads of laundry, vacuum the house, and file taxes… oh they woke up early? Well you had 15 minutes.

Creating a support system or paying for a sitter is the best way to find time for yourself but mom’s have found other solutions like waking up earlier than their children or instead of tuning into the TV after they go to sleep working on the things that used to make you you.

I say used to, not because they still don’t but because we’re more now. We’re mothers an it’s okay if it takes over. When our children hit middle school we’ll be wondering why they don’t need us as much. If a few of my hobbies get reanimated then, that’s okay. I’m going to do everything I can to fit my important ones into my life now and worry about the fringe ones later.

Balancing our Feeds: We’re not meant to take in world changing information all the time

A few years ago I got rid of all political news from my feeds. I still have a lot of it blocked, because it did good things for my mental health, but I let some of it back in because I wanted to be aware of what has happening in the world. I think this was a good call. I like having some knowledge without being knocked out by it. And you do get knocked out by it.

I don’t think it’s healthy to read all the tragedies of the world 24/7. That sounds like common sense, but sometimes I worry that it’s not. Sometimes I worry that people have built being hyper aware into their personalities. And if not their personalities, into their routines.

This is one of the reasons I think it’s important to follow accounts that post art, that post family updates, cleaning tips, garden inspiration, fashion goals, and all those types of things. And when I say follow those types of accounts, I mean mostly follow those types of accounts and people. Follow way more of those accounts than news accounts. Surround yourself with the good and let in a trickle of the bad.

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An amateur in many hobbies instead of an expert in one:

I’m good at my hobbies, in some cases I’m great at them, but I’ve always felt like my long held hobbies are somehow less than they are. I know why I feel that way, it’s because from a young age we are told to pour everything we have into something we love.

Those who are good at basketball in school are taught to eat, sleep, and breathe basketball when they aren’t studying. It’s gotten to a point that doctors say the increase in school aged children getting sports injuries has sky rocketed, because a child that used to swim in the summer and play football in the fall now plays football year round, so instead of switching where the wear and tear on your body is occurring it’s the same 24/7.

I know why, sports scholarships are a big deal. Children who are good at a skill can do great things with it if it’s their main focus for most their lives. Children with musical abilities that are nurtured can far surpass someone who picked it up in college or as an adult.

But the side effect of this highly focused approach to hobbies is that people like me who have a selection of favorite hobbies, feels like they’re failing at all of them because they are not only pouring all their time and energy into “the one”.

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Practicing your habits and creating pathways.

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I’ve been working the last three weeks on minimizing my screen time. I’m not doing great at it if I’m being honest, I’m still on social media a lot. I work online and I spend a chunk of my down time online. I like feeling informed and I work in marketing, of course I like consuming media!

But in this process, though I haven’t gotten rid of a ton of screen time, I have been spending more time on my hobbies. I’ve been seeing the horse more for longer stretches of time. I might get online afterwards, but the extra farm time counts for something when it comes to my goals and it counts as a lot when it comes to my mental health.

Even slight improvements turn into bigger strides. I’ve read a number of books on forming habits, and I can’t remember which one it came from, but a book introduced me to a new way of thinking about habits. You have to practice them like you do your skills. Even small steps are setting up links in your brain, creating pathways so next time you take another step you can build out even more. Practicing your habits. It’s not that novel of a concept, but as someone who always thought about habits as complete reforms it gave me an insight to how I could realistically improve.

Small steps, always moving forward. I can do that.

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Enjoy things you’re bad at.

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I’m one of those people who get frustrated when they don’t immediately become good at which ever hobby they pick up. I guess I didn’t used to be this way, because all the hobbies that I have now I was pretty bad at towards the start. But lets be real- at seven or nine I probably thought I was pretty good at things even when I was doing quite terrible at them.

I’ve struggled to pick up hobbies as an adult because of this though. I don’t like the idea of failure, even though it isn’t technically failure to be bad while you’re learning. It just feels that way. I get stuck in ruts because of it.

It’s different at work, because it’s required, but on my own free time I don’t want to deal with being bad at things. It’s been this way for a long time. But as I was singing in the shower the other day I remembered how awful of a singer I was, and I laughed, because I sing around people all the time. It doesn’t matter to me then that I’m always off tune and should never try to hit the high notes. I just do it, because it makes me happy. Music makes me happy and singing when the music stops makes me happy.

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Expanding horizons: On Friendships built on Differences

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Have you ever met someone that you have nothing in common with and it bloom into a friendship? It’s an interesting situation, and I mean that in the best way, these people can help you grow and widen your horizons, but they can also just be interesting people to discuss things with.

I think we’ve lost a lot of the art of being friends with different people. We like to surround ourselves with replications of ourselves. We like to know what kind of advice we’re going to get. We like to do our hobbies with other people who like our hobbies. Even if we don’t mean them to be, our friends tend to be very similar to each other. But they don’t need to be, we can have friends from all walks of life with all sorts of different hobbies and ideals. We might not get the joy of hearing our opinions spoken back to us, but we can learn about different ideas and we can fall in love with different activities, or types of music, or books.

We grow when we’re introduced to new and exciting things, but we also are mammals completely dependent on having support systems and being loved. We can find that love in company with all sorts of people.

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Create beyond your skill set

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Someone recently came to me for help on an quick design project. I realized while I was helping them with it how much I loved it. I loved that someone had this great big idea that I never would have thought of and instead of dismissing it because they didn’t have the skill set to make it they got help so that it could be created.

Our ideas often overshot our skill set, and that is an amazing thing for multiple reasons, it gives us room to grow and it gives us room to collaborate.

My friend came to me with a collaboration and together we were able to make it a thing. She had no interest in the process just the finished product, which is fine, because the finished product was amazing and important. Sometimes that’s about as much skin as we want in the game, we just want to see the idea realized. I had as much fun making it as she did creating it and in the end we could both be proud of something, but there is also something to say about creating something yourself that you don’t have the skills for yet.

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The decade of change and what’s still the same:

 

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Photo by Sarah Warden Photography

I’ve written and rewritten this blog post a few times. How do you summarize a decade? Especially one that started when you were fifteen and ended when you were twenty five. Those years are massively transformative. It seems like everything possible has been fit into the last ten years, from learning to drive to buying a house and getting married.┬áThe past decade has taken me from a child to a woman. It’s seen hard times and joyous times. It’s been remarkable in every sense of the word.

Maybe it’s strange for us as humans to take time and break it down into chunks like we do. It seems so logical to celebrate the new year, to be able to hit refresh, and to re-calibrate. But too look back over longer periods of time and try to make them a season of our lives just doesn’t work as well. So much happens in ten years time. So much changes. We are in every sense of the word, different.

So I’m going to do something a little different. I’m gong to focus on the parts of me that have stayed the same, because I feel like that says more about me than anything else. The people around me have changed. My place in the world has changed. My daily activites have changed. But there are also quite a few things that have stayed the same.

  • I still want to have a family. When I was 15 I wanted to grow up and get married and have kids, now that I’m older and married I still want to have kids and I was right when I thought that marriage would be one of the most influential things in my life. To marry is to gain a life partner and I’ve managed to find that in the last ten years, and though it didn’t happen at all like I planned, I started down the road that I only dreamed of at 15.
  • I still have a lot of the same morals, though God and society has slowly been fine tuning them. I’ve grown a lot and I’ve become better in a lot of ways, but my want to be better has not ceased. I have not drifted from my moral compass even as it has matured and changed. This is actually something I’m pretty proud of, because though I’ve made mistakes like every other person I’ve stayed true to myself through most of it. I haven’t faltered in major life altering way.
  • My hobbies have endured. I have gained some new ones over the last ten years, but I have also more thoroughly explored the ones I’ve had since I was young. This is amazing because not only does it mean that I’ve been able to approve, but those hobbies I started with when I was fifteen have led me into learning programs that help me in my job. They have helped me through some hard times when I had little else to do and lean on. And, as someone who has creative hobbies, they have helped me express myself and process my emotions. And there have been a lot of emotions to work through in the last ten years.

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