It’s an Imogen Heap day, an unstrung week in a gray-blue tangle of a month. I’m clinging obstinately to summer, but there are long sleeves under my t-shirt and school schedules on the tip of everyone’s mind; it’s time for a switching of gears.

I’m gravitating toward so many directions at once these days, my imagination bigger than my plate, and while it’s thrilling to teeter on the cusp of everything, I still haven’t summoned whatever latent superpower allows other women to gather the whole realm of possibility in their arms and craft an award-winning life out of it. Honestly, I feel stretched too thin as it is, and yet there is so much untraveled road between this kind of day and the kind I want to inhabit.

I draw too many conclusions from the online world, I know this. I subconsciously assign soul-value to the frequency of someone’s blog posts, the timbre of his or her Tweets. I paint others’ lives between the lines of their Instagram feed and conclude that this one is effortlessly happy, that one writes articles at the speed of light, those love their children perfectly. Every book being read or written, every Pinterest-worthy back to school party… they all accumulate into my perception of better than, and it’s my self-worth that takes the hit.

After too many midnights still at work and sluggish mornings prodded along like mules, the better than begins to grow fangs and I start thinking that I’ve somehow disqualified myself from grace. This mysterious joy that Jesus taught, the utterly relaxing, glorious gift of knowing you don’t have to be any more or less than you are—it starts to seem earmarked for those more important, those with more credentials and charisma, probably more money, and certainly a much longer string of accomplishments at the end of each day. My mind turns to frustrated mantras instead—If I did more, I’d deserve more… or First-world concerns don’t count—and I imagine grace enjoying after-dinner drinks with the cool kids while I scrub burnt grease off the dishes.

It’s work ethic and Baptist theology gone horribly wrong.

The girls start school one week from today, and I’m looking at the mornings ahead with undisguised hunger. There is so much I need to do compounded with so much I could do topped with a heaping swirl of so much I want to do, and five quiet, guilt-free hours a day sound almost too good to be true. However, I need to face the fact that I’ve always supplied my own guilt and chosen defeating mantras over life-breathing grace; I’ve let myself twist others’ beauty into better than. A mere schedule change isn’t going to fix what’s broken here.

I’m the one who has to choose grace and protect it from getting crowded out of my headspace by mule-prodding demands, who has to accept that I am not too much or not enough or worse than or any other point of comparison. This… is hard. I can’t even tell you how hard it is. Clinging to poisoned aphorisms can feel so much safer than letting go of insecurities and embracing the imperfect, uniquely valuable person I am. Even writing that sentence makes me want to reach for my lead security blanket and come up with a few more defeatist insults for myself and over-schedule the rest of my day to keep from hoping for more and and and…


It’s definitely time for a switching of gears.


Do you ever do the negative mantra routine? What do you do to get your thoughts and beliefs on the same page?

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  1. i think about you everyday, beautiful friend. i hope that you take a few days as solo-staycations when school starts and just reconnect with yourself and life guilt-free. you NEED this. think of it as a mental health investment. it’s cheaper to prevent than cure!! 😀 love you.

  2. Do I have a negative mantra?! Hahaahahahahahaaaaa! OF COURSE I DO! All the damn time. Like right now, instead of taking out the 30 pounds of work that needs to be done before the morning I am checking your beautiful blog. BECAUSE I WANT TO. And How Dare I do something other than work. I am just slacking again. As always. I could be organized and competent if I only would just DO my job. Right? That is exactly the pit in my stomach right there. Here is reality. I got up at 7:00. I got ready, did kid stuff. Wrote a rubric and perfected it. Labeled folders. Answered email from students. Got kids on the bus (barely). Drove to work. Made copies, wrote lists, called a dean, taught my class, met with a student, ate lunch (WHAT? again, slacking!) Printed emails, made lists, cleaned out the over head cupboard so I could clear more space to work, answered emails, taught my other class, put my syllabus in to be copied, picked up copies for a friend so she will have them for her morning class, checked in with a colleague about a class. Went home. Checked FACEBOOK: Loser. That is 10 or 15 minutes that you will not get back. Forced myself to look at my kids when they were telling me about their second day of school. Answered email. Tried to update D2L (course homepage). Fed children, packed my work, went to soccer. Noticed that I screwed up my gradebook pages (I forgot some numbers) (stupid). Did the attendance for one class. TALKED TO ANOTHER MOM and WATCHED PARTS OF MY SON’S GAME (GEEZ.) Came home. Cut peaches for my kids, talked to my mom (she’s having surgery tomorrow) updated D2L. Answered email. Fixed the gradebook pages. AND NOW I AM WASTING MORE TIME. I think I went to the bathroom a couple of times too. And now? It is 10:40 PM. I still have to correct a bunch of papers label more folders and make sure I know what the hell I am doing tomorrow. Incompetent. I know.

    If you need to feel better about yourself just look at me. Hardly posting. Behind on READING. Ugh. Can’t keep up with anything. You did notice that dishes and laundry and picking up the house did not make it into my day. I guess I could be doing that NOW….

  3. I definitely get stuck in the negative mantra morass as well. 🙁 Last week was a doozy of one, and it took a dear friend calling and saying, “NEXT TIME CALL ME!!!” to yank me out of my sadness and help me get back on track. I forget that I don’t have to go through this life alone, that I’m allowed to call someone and say “I’m so sad/discouraged/exhausted and feel worthless/empty/not good enough” and bask in their good sense and love and care. You are doing an INCREDIBLE job with your Aperiti site and blog. 🙂 I’ve learned that it takes a long, long time to build up a base of supporters for such things. You’re on the right track and doing a fantastic job. 🙂

  4. Oh honey, if our beliefs and thoughts always coincided, it would be a perfect world. Yes indeed. I can’t keep up with anything either. Hamsters: TO WORK! get on that wheel! 😀 You are doing so much, cut yourself some slack, beautiful 🙂

  5. Linked -up next to you @ deeper story…oh yes…the pilling up of never measuring up…this social media world we live in compounds this pressure…but you are so right…Jesus calls us enough…calls us loved…calls us woman of value…not because of what we do and who we are…but because of what He did and who He is…blessings to you~

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