I've been thinking a lot about honesty lately, and how what we write influences the way others see us.
I've also been thinking a bit about what my "schtick" is. What is a "schtick" anyways? And how does someone who hates dislikes categorization categorize herself?
Thinking and pondering on the six (SIX!) years that I've been writing here, I came up with the following. Don't hold your breath, it's old news.
Cultivating Joy. My longtime tagline. I think that's really what it's about for me; this writing thing. It vibrates through all of my life, really. It's what I want most.
What does cultivating joy mean? Well, it assumes that joy is something to be worked at, but it's not something that you mine from the earth with your own sweat, or something you can pull out of the air. Neither is it something you can buy.
You cultivate it, like a garden, like a rare plant. You weed it. (Do you have weeds that take joy in the failings of others? Pull them OUT! Or weeds of discontent or comparing or discouragement? Yank them as often as you see them.) You form habits that nourish the soil, you build trellises, you tend, you water.
My blog is one of the ways that I cultivate joy. This blog is about finding hope in brokenness, about humor in drudgery, about how people are shiny and beautiful, and life is always asking us to open our eyes to a gorgeous new day. Cultivating joy is hard for me! I feel broken down myself, a lot of the time.
My book, The Eve Tree is about a forest fire. The novel I'm working on right now centers around the main character losing someone, facing the fact that someone he loves has died. I've told my kids what I'm writing about, and when they wake up in the morning and ask me what I'm working on, they say, "Are you writing that sad book?" And I say yes, I'm writing the sad book. But it's not a sad book, in the same way that The Eve Tree is not really a book about fire. The Eve Tree is about redemption, and the new book is about redemption, and all of life, the whole thing, is about redemption.
You can take it down to the smallest details. How to redeem a miserable day? Draw a picture. How to cultivate joy in the drain of family life? Notice how lovely they all are, these small creatures you are in charge of. Laugh (inwardly) at the difficult ones. Sing while you wash the floor. Be thankful for your spouse. Be grateful for your struggles- they are forming you into someone wiser, taller, more beautiful. But am I saying the floor isn't dirty, the day isn't rainy and lonely, the long struggle of my life against anxiety is not more difficult than I can explain?
I hope you know that. I hope you know I'm a terrible housekeeper, that I put things off because they make me panic (procrastination) that I haven't decorated my kids's room, EVER. And that I'm continually, constantly trying to cultivate joy.
Yesterday I had the privilege of reading three lovely posts: honest looks at the nitty gritty of parenting.
I enjoyed them because I enjoy people being honest. And these are people who I particularly admire. Helpful honesty is not the kind that wounds the people around you, that hurts you or others, that enjoys the broken down state many of us are in. Helpful honesty says, I'm there with you.
Amanda wrote a post called Some Days.
Rebeca wrote Dare Not to Compare.
And Kira wrote Not Fair.
This is what life really is like- we are all a little scared, all wondering if we're doing it okay. Especially now that we have the grand internet escapade; so many examples of beautiful homes and creative people. And don't get me wrong, that's what I want in my life, these beautiful people, heartfelt words, inspiring projects. But let's not kid ourselves.
We're all up to our necks in weeds.
God help us. Thankfully he is a better gardener than we ever will be.
Have you read (or written) anything that you found refreshing and honest lately? Tell, tell! I want to hear!
Here's an old one from me. (I don't think I mentioned in that post that the Title is one of Chinua's songs. How did I miss that?)