Who I Am, Who I Was, & Who I Will Be

Friday, March 21, 2008

I don't know if it's the extra sleep I got last night, or the shift in the seasons, or the endorphins from working out today, but my mind is a BLUR of thoughts and memories and wishes and epiphanies and ideas today. I want to try to sort them out here.
(feel free to just enjoy the pictures and move on... I get a bit wordy here.)

I like the person I am today. I really do. I am optimistic, educated, and healthy. I enjoy friends, laughing, and creativity. I have an amazing family, both here in the Attic and surrounding me in my extended circle. I love being inspired, learning new things, and being good at what I love.
having said that, I feel that for the past few years, I have been drifting, ever-so-slightly, to a different part of the ocean than I intended to go. I feel much the same, and probably haven't changed ALL that much, but I have lost a bit of the passionate richness of direction I used to feel quite a bit.
Now, this ISN'T a crisis. I am not unhappy with this realization. But it has been good to ponder it, because I am realizing that there are pieces of me that have begun to atrophy and that I want to try to strengthen.

Specifically, here are a few of those pieces of who I was that I want to recapture:

{emily, circa 2000}
1. I miss being spiritually in-tune. I used to feel deep stirrings of the Spirit more regularly than I do now. I miss feeling choked up at a scripture, feeling connected to a speaker in church... Feeling overpoweringly compelled to get on my knees and pray. This feeling isn't lost forever. I know that. All it would take is a little more effort on my part. More sincere asking.

2. I miss reading inspiring and powerful books. I read this quote yesterday on SouleMama's blog:

"Listen! The air is alive with flight. Robins descend and descend and descend. Wasps scrape away wood to build new hives. The wind stirs new leaves and transparent light shines through the green energy. Sap flows fast. Hearts pound. Colors explode in yellows, pinks, purples and reds. Petals open wide to all you bring. Everyone participates in the pollination. Honeybees welcome each pea blossom and every day there is a new birth to celebrate. Feel the pulsing life in every tree, in every heart. Release the stirring energy. Sing your own songs to wake up the birds."

-- Nikki McClure, from the beautiful Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered it, was moved by it, and realized that I used to find these kinds of beautiful words all the time in the books I was reading. I used to read with a pen in hand so I could underline all the really cool, inspiring quotes I came across. It's been awhile since I've made time for books like this. Easier to read dime store novels. US Magazine. Play games on my new cell phone. Sad.

3. I miss music. I miss singing. REALLY singing, with a beautiful choir or in a performance opportunity. I miss the harmonies, the precision, the being enveloped in exquisite sound. I miss my banjo. Shocked? Yep-- another facet of me that has dwindled far more than I ever thought it would. It breaks my heart. And singing to my son has given me new opportunity and brought back some of the joy. I'd like a little more of it back, though. (I still dream of singing in a bluegrass band before I die)...

4. I miss really SEEING the natural would around me. Really comprehending the changes in seasons... really noticing the details. It's easy to lose this when I make my life more harried and frenzied than it needs to be.

5. I miss writing. I miss the frequency of journaling I used to do. I miss my "morning pages"-- 2 pages of freeflow mind-dribbling every morning. Got my mind awake and going. Easier now to just sleep a bit longer.

{some of my past journals...}

So much of this is simply the loss of creative effort. And what has contributed to the loss of creative effort in the first place? Time, maturity, real-life jobs, making ends meet, focusing on other people instead of just myself-- so many excuses. But I think I can boil it down to two things. Two very wonderful things: Marriage and money. (I know, I know...But stay with me.)

I love being married more than anything else in this world. For most of my twenties I yearned for an eternal best friend and partner-in-crime. I worked hard to be the kind of person that could thrive in a marriage and give something back to it. I feel that Joe and I are succeeding so well in our life together. So why point fingers at it? Well, haven't you ever experienced a satisfaction so strong that it cures all your wants? Sometimes I think that in finding my happily ever after, I lost the hunger for other things. I worry about my complacency. In being so happy, maybe I'm TOO content. I'm not wishing my marriage away, I'm just realizing that perhaps when I am content, it takes MORE work to pursue inspiration and passion.

Which brings me to money. While we are in no way rich, I have experienced a level of financial security in my recent life that I have never had before. My teaching brings in a steady, comfortable salary. Joe and I worked hard to get our cars and credit cards paid off. And our living situation is pretty sweet. Needless to say, we don't have much to argue about in terms of bills and financial woes. You'd think that this would make creativity and inspiration easier-- having enough money to be able to buy art supplies, take a day off of work, go on a vacation, buy a new book. But funny enough, I think there is more to be gained in the feeling of WANT than in the feeling of HAVING ENOUGH. I think that when I was forced to work around money issues creatively, it fueled my other creative endeavors. I think that money dulls the senses.

As I spend this afternoon looking back and reflecting on all of this, I try not to lose myself too deeply in wistful nostalgia. I try not to yearn for a different time. Because the past is always colored a bit more rosy than it actually was, and my life today is far deeper and richer in ways that matter more. I would never trade my place here to be back in that 23-year-old Emily. So instead of wishing and yearning, I want to reflect...then plan.

I know who I used to be. I have a pretty good idea of who I am right now. So if I help those two parts of me work together, I can work on who I want to be in the future. I don't think it is EVER too late to find old joys and bring them back. And I have ALWAYS believed that it is not too late to learn something new. If it takes the symphony violinist twenty years to perfect his art, why can't we begin something today and be a master in twenty years? There's still time.

So I am going to focus on bringing inspiration back into my daily efforts. I am going to try to let go of the world a bit... and try to get deeper. For myself, yes... But in the long run, won't it also benefit Noah? And the other children we want? Isn't it important to be authentic in order to be the best mom/wife/friend/human being I can be?

I think so. And I hope I can find a bit of my former self in order to make my current self better. And Future Self will be proud of us.

{Grandma Moses: She began painting at age 74... a self-taught Master. You're never too old. This is a nice image of someone I wouldn't mind becoming someday.}
(if you read all of this, thanks for sticking with me.)


  1. Emily - that was beautiful. Simply put, your reflection on the past and present really speaks to me. The transitions we go through are great opportunity for refinement of that which is important to us. Keep it up!

  2. Wow. This post really hit home with me and got the cogs turning. Truly inspirational. Hope is not lost, you took the first step in identifying those things you DON'T want to you just have to stick to it! Your post really moved me, and I just wanted to tell you -- I am printing it off so that I can reclaim some daily inspiration. Thank you!

  3. Since I had my baby, I have found myself occasionally mourning the loss of my creative outlets that i used to find so much joy in. No matter how much I love being a mom, I think I will always miss them. I keep hoping that as my son grows, I will have more time to indulge in hobbies again, and maybe even introduce my children to the things I once loved. . . Let's hope that we have, at the very least, passed along the ability to find passions, even if they aren't ours. And let's hope that when we find ourselves on the other side of young motherhood, that we are still passionate ourselves.

  4. Hey Em,
    I "stuck with you to the end" (and, as I hope you know, always will), and could identify with every word, every feeling.... All I can offer -from my experience - is that the new and continued exploration is part of the "Journey"; and oddly enough, while that is part of what makes me feel "lost" to my old self, it is also what helps connect me more deeply to the new -present and future - me(s).

    It's a chaalenge to feel the connection to the "new", emerging self and "superimpose" the "old self" to feel more complete in who you are becoming VS. feeling overwhelmed and melencholy about the "self" you feel you have lost (at least that has been the case for me)...When I look hard (and slow down..."taking the time to smell the roses") I can often see that the "she" of my past is not as "lost" to me as I think...she has just evolved....

    Love the "circa 2000 pix of you".

    Lastly, funny you should bring up your banjo and include the picture. Zachary & I were just talking about you and your banjo a couple of weeks ago.

    Hope you are enjoying your vacation.

    Love you,


  5. hey- check out my blog for my comment

  6. You are wonderful and fabulous and I admire and look up to you so much :)

  7. I just love reading your blogs. No matter what you write about or how long it is, I become intrigued. Once I begin reading it is like I can't stop. Love the pictures. As always. Loved the reflection. It was inspiring. Hope you're having a good spring break!

  8. Thanks for sharing your journey. Love you-


  9. loved this post emily...loved reading your thoughts.

  10. Beautifully put Emily (as usual)! I, too, have thought some of these very thoughts. I often think, "I can start learning to play the piano now, then by the time I'm in my 60s, I'll have been playing for 30 years!" That's pretty awesome! There is still so much more life to live. Thank you for the inspirational post.

  11. Anonymous6:44 AM

    PS - maybe this entry is the just the bur you need to put under the saddle and inspire some "divine discontent"...

    Or not. Either way, have a beautiful day (is it warm yet?)

    Love you -


  12. I feel like I have a novel of a comment to leave, but it's still evolving and I think it will soon be a post on my blog. This feeling of loss is so prominent in my life right now. I love the positive comments that you got about our former selves evolving and growing into a new self. I needed to read these today. I read on Erin Tuttle's blog in her introduction that she says she used to be quite a girl but now she just speaks in a lot of three letter words all day long. I totally relate. I cleaned up poop off the walls for the first time yesterday. Not the last time I'm sure. Everyday I seem to long for the girl of the past that was "quite a girl" but it's reached a degree of longing that I know needs to be seriously remedied. I have been seeking a lot of spiritual help with this the past few days. I know part of my discontent is due to my lack of spiritual persistence. I've become too complacent too. Being a mother is hard, (the hardest thing I've ever done too) and I need the Lord's help for this challenge.

  13. Well said!
    I do have a thought
    - well, it takes a brave soul to do it - but I think the perfect cure for complacency is a simple prayer containing a heartfelt request to Please show me my weaknesses so that I can overcome them and turn them to strengths. Sometimes our sense of "all is well" is really only a result of clouded vision. And when that vision clears, we see ourselves and our situation better. Suddenly, we feel quite discontent - and eager to improve.

  14. Oh- and the picture with the VW bug - love it. I think anyone who once had a bug feels an unrelenting sense of loss. j/k. kind of...

  15. I can really relate to this.

    Great post.


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