We cleaned out our front hall closet today and wondered what we were going to do with it. Because why use a closet as a closet when you only have two in the entire house? At first, I thought of a book nook for the girls as they are all the rage and frankly, I think it is a great idea. However, as Dan pointed out, we have plans for more reading spots than we have closets.
Then I thought of a play kitchen. Perfect. The girls have been setting up random kitchens lately and having so much fun. So after thinking about it for a few minutes, I did what any self-respecting, creative woman would do; I googled it because surely there have been others out there who have done it beautifully. I’d have used Pinterest because that seems to be where all the best ideas lurk but my computer is broken and it doesn’t work well on my phone. Anyways. I hadn’t looked long when the absurdity hit me. Who am I kidding? No matter how many lovely ideas I find, I am likely going to stick some crates, baskets, and a little side table on the tacky 70’s linoleum, hang a couple of pictures on the un-cool old wall paper, and let the girls raid my kitchen for supplies. And they will love it.  If I could come up with the idea then surely I can figure out how to create it on my own.

So where am I going with this? Well, I have been chewing on a word for a couple of weeks now. Inspire. It seems to get used a lot in the online social media world. There is Pinterest to inspire creativity (in so many ways); there are blogs to inspire better parenting, eating, living, learning, and so on. If you really love the word there are some brilliant DIY wall décor ideas. And sometimes I spend so much time seeking inspiration that I forget what I was looking for in the first place. I discount my own ability to act (or choose not to act) based on my own thoughts, beliefs, and creativity.

Inspire, by its definition, means to influence, move or guide. It means to spur on, to bring out, or to infuse life (Thank you, Merriam-Webster dictionary). Inspiration brings action. It doesn’t/shouldn’t bring guilt, discouragement or inaction.

Through all the forms of social media* I have found so many great ideas for my home, family, and life from others. I have been encouraged and challenged as a mother, as a wife, and as a woman. In many ways, I would say that I have come to realize more of who I was created to be. I’ve been inspired.

On the other side of the coin, I have collected  “inspiration” and become dissatisfied. I have read about parenting and second-guessed what I know to be best. I have read about balance and felt less for the time that I spend with my children. I’ve turned from the computer to my life feeling that I need to be “more” and frustrated with my lack of ability to be that. I’ve taken some one else’s words, ideas, beliefs, and beauty on as my necessity. And that is stifling. It’s uninspiring. But the thing is I don’t think most have intended to share their stuff that way; it’s me taking it in with my own insecurities and hang-ups.

And so I want to say this plainly. Don’t allow my words in this place to do that to you. If you read my thoughts and feel pressured, looked down upon, guilty or hurt, turn away from them. Throw them out. Perhaps my struggles and insecurities are not what yours are but perhaps the things that I write about bring out yours. I am tempted insert all kinds of disclaimers here of how I don’t think I am all that or that I have any thing more than another and I suppose this is a disclaimer in itself. But the truth is that I know I am not alone in feeling that I need to measure up…to what I’m not sure any of us know exactly.

I had someone recently make a kind comment on my charming life and at first I chuckled and then I sighed. Is that really what is seen? Yes, my life is lovely. I am incredibly blessed. I have been given much and I have much to offer. And my life has just as much, or more, of the disorderly, the messy, the hard, the mundane as I can handle. Yes, there are some things that transfer to screen well and look very charming. But that is not all of what life is.

I think that perhaps I am writing this mostly for the mamas who are also in my particular place in life. We are raising our children and there is so much that we can be and do. We think that we can and should be everything. And life laid out on a screen is so much neater than life in motion. Including mine. As I already said, I have received so much from the lives of others and I very much want to offer what I have to others both on and off screen. I want to inspire. I want to be inspired. But, I don’t want to spend my days thinking that I should do or be something that I am not. I don’t want you to either. I don’t want either of us to spend time and space on lies when our lives can be and are filled with so much good. I want you to be inspired. Truly. If anything I share can do that for you, take them and use them. I will be blessed by that. But please, please don’t be brought down by mine or anyone else life on the screen. There is so much more than that.

Oddly enough, I saw this blog post, http://powerofmoms.com/2012/04/your-children-want-you/, circulating as I was writing this one. I had feelings of, “she said what I was trying to say, and she said it better” and “ why even bother finishing this” welling up. But then I realized that was exactly the point she was making. I don’t need to be someone that I am not. She was specifically talking about being a mom but the thing is that each of us would do well to focus on living well as ourselves. Not compared to someone else. 

* I am talking about social media but I think that this can often also apply in face to face friendships as well…I know that it does for me.