Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Put the bat down

I've got to be honest here. (Though, I'm always honest in my writing.) I've been in a funk lately. A deep one. And it's been rough.

I drank a dangerous cocktail of lack of sleep, over-working, underperforming, unrealistic expectations, and summer without structure. Throw in a complete downstairs remodel, a wedding, and writer's block, and you've got a hot mess.

This is, literally, a "hot mess" which I found in the bottom of my purse the other day.
It was an accurate, and still delicious, representation of how I was feeling.
And, notice the frayed cuticles. Manicure failure to top it all off.

My oldest brother, Bob, came to visit for my son's wedding this past weekend and we got to talking. It's a tradition in our family to have long, deep discussions. When I was a teen, my father would pull us each aside for one of these long talks where he would delve into our innermost psyche. My four brothers and I lovingly dubbed it, "death by lecture," and often asked if a simple spanking was an option. It never was.

Now that we are parents ourselves, we inflict the same painful talks onto our children. We appreciate it now. They don't yet.

These talks aren't saved for our children only. I love having deep conversations with those I love, those I meet, and, well, pretty much anyone. Forget small talk. Meaningful conversations of self-discovery and learning are among my favorite things.

So, naturally, when my brother came to visit we dove into a shared death by lecture, which quickly turned into a counseling session for me. As I opened up, or rather, unloaded, my thoughts and feelings, he listened patiently and intently. (He's so good that way.)

Finally, he looked at me and said, "I've got one question for you. Why are you so mean to my sister?"

I was like, "What?"

I'm the only sister he's got, so it only took me a second to realize he was talking about me.

I realized then what I'd been doing. Rather than focusing on all the things I've done right, and the positive things about myself, I had take my perceived weaknesses and failures and used them like a bat. . . and I was the piƱata.

I shouldn't have been short with my kids. Bam!

I should read my scriptures more. Smack!

I haven't written much lately, and struggle to feel inspired to do so. Kapow!

I emotionally eat. Thud!

I haven't exercised since June. Wham!

I haven't done laundry in two weeks. Thwap!

And so on and on and on.

I'd beaten myself up pretty badly.

As I cried to my brother, (yes, he made me cry. That jerk.) I realized that I had one thing to do:


Really. I should have seen what I was doing. I should have know better. I mean, I wrote about
it in my first book. Still, I did it. I picked up the bat and swung it like I was at a ten-year-old's birthday party.

And why?

Because I'm human. And I'm a woman.

Two very fine things to be, but also, in some ways, very difficult things to be.

We women can be so hard on ourselves, even mean to ourselves. We are so good and kind and patient with others, but we often don't give ourselves the luxury of compassion.

We wield that bat of shortcomings and unfinished tasks, weaknesses and faults, sins and poor choices, and even typical human conditions, and let it land on our hearts and minds until we are tired and worn.

We tell ourselves we aren't strong enough, good enough; that we aren't good mothers, that we can't do it all an therefore have failed it all.  We berate ourselves for not forgiving more easily, think more clearly, and cook more regularly. We recognize our human frailty and condemn it, as though it's a failure to be merely mortal.

Well, my friends. If you're feeling this way at all, I've got one thing to say to you:


Do it. Right now. Put it down.

Be gentle with yourself. You are stronger than you realize. You do more than you give yourself credit for. You are better than you know.

You are not a failure. You have purpose. God knows you, and will speak to you in a language you will understand.

You are not expected to be perfect. Ever. God didn't make us to be perfect in this life, or else why would we need a Savior? Being imperfect is not a sin. It's human. And it's ok.

You don't have to do every. Single. Thing. And be everything to everyone. That's not my job. That's not your job.

You're the mother God wants for you kids. You're the friend your friends are blessed to have.

You have value. You are loved.

You are awesome.

WE are awesome!

Let's be kind to ourselves. And not only that, let's find joy in who we are. Let's  focus on the positive things we do and the gifts God has given us.

Now that we aren't holding our bats anymore, let's use our hands to fold as we pray, hug a loved one, or even pat ourselves on the back.

I'm feeling so much better today. I feel more like me. . . like the me God sees.

And I hope you do too.

Let's save the bats for the game, shall we?

Faye Dancer, All-American Girls Professional Ball League, 1945

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