Saturday, September 15, 2012

Living the Length and Width

Today, I was inspired by Ali Edwards' post for the Big Idea Festival over at Big Picture Classes. Here's the quote she shared by Diane Ackerman:
I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
This resonates with me from the angle of fully appreciating the stage of life I am in now. Rather than trying to simply get through it, or longing for some hazy better day in the future, I want to live the full width of my life right now. The highs, the lows, the sort of boring, everyday in-betweens.

My life is full of everyday-ness. It's so easy to impatiently look ahead, to anxiously anticipate the next "big event" - visiting family, going to the museum, MOPs meetings, etc. So I just "live the length" of the days in-between, trying to hurry them along, and miss out on all the precious "little" moments each day - the width of my life.

Like this moment, when Cai decided to blow bubbles out the door since I wouldn't let him outside to play (it was muddy from recent rain). Avyn loves bubbles, and soon joined him, exclaiming over each round of bubbles. I stopped writing to capture this sweet moment, so rare now - usually they'd rather fight and argue!

Something else Ali said really hit home for me, too.
When I'm sad or angry I'm letting myself feel it fully and when I feel on cloud nine I'm letting myself experience that amazing joy and really basking in it. And I'm taking care of myself along the way. - Ali Edwards
How often do we skip taking pictures or recording memories of the sad times, the frustrating days, the times when you want to wring your kid's neck? Personally, I'd rather gloss over those moments in my life, get through them and never look back. But I think that's cheating myself out of a legitimate, inescapable part of life - and maybe cheating myself out of a lesson God wants me to learn.

I created this layout for another Big Idea Festival challenge this week (Cathy Zielske's "Get Real" challenge). It documents a not-very-fun memory, but it's real. It's what happened, like it or not.

As a mom, I think I have the hardest time with that last sentence - "taking care of myself along the way." It's too easy to let that slide, to feel guilty about doing something fun that's just for me. Or even doing something necessary that's just for me! At the end of the way, I'm often too tired to think straight, let alone focus on delving into my Bible study or soaking up a good book.

This is an area I've been wrestling with for a while. I've discovered (well, admitted) that I'm prone to allowing crushing guilt to take over my life. But the old saying is so true: "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" When I take the time to care for myself, I care for my children better. They love having a happy, relaxed mama! I'm not talking about regular manicures, hour-long bubble baths every day, long weekend excursions with girlfriends, or just frivolous time-wasting. I'm talking about intentional, specific, purposeful taking care of myself. Feeding my soul, taking care of my body and mental health. It's important.

And that's all the soul-searching I can manage for today! Are you participating in the Big Idea Festival right now? I'm finding so much inspiration, and hope to share some more with you soon.


  1. Hi Michelle, I followed your link from the BIF at BPC. Lovely post about real life. I remember seeing your layout in the gallery but at the time I didn't stop to read the journaling. Today I did, and I'm glad, because it gave me an idea (and the courage) to scrap a very similar incident that my husband & I had a number of years ago. Thanks for inspiring me. :) Love your blog design.

  2. Thank you Heather!! I'm so glad you were inspired to scrap your story, that's the highest praise I could receive!

  3. Replies
    1. I Love your creativity and what you write is amazing you are truly zing at what you do!