I wrote the other day.

Pen to paper, scritch-scratch across the page. I started out slow, my brain waves bumping into thoughts bumping into fears bumping into logic bumping into maybes. And then the pen started to fly, soar across the blank sky of the page.

It’s been awhile. Here. There. Anywhere, really. Life seems to have filled up in all kinds of ways.

The boys seems to have their own social schedules; they’re world travelers this summer. In their time away, I’ve worked and worked and worked at my day job and my afternoon/evening job. My husband and I have managed to go swimming, geocache, shop, lounge around and drink whiskey, grill yummy foods, sleep in, stay up late, binge watch Weeds, walk the dog, look at the moon through the telescope, solve the world’s problems, and even socialize with other couples.

I don’t really know why I haven’t found time or energy to write. I know that in order to write more we’re just supposed to write more, not talk or read about writing more. But I’ve felt empty.

In a good way. Not in that soul-sucking, I can’t manage to live anymore kind of empty.

Is there a form of empty-full? Or full-empty? Or like, I don’t know. Content?

But what’s funny is this: What seeped out of my pen sounded a little like anger. My therapist would find it very interesting. I’m not comfortable with expressing anger. If I’m angry, I often cry—which only makes me angrier. My therapist found it hilarious that I express anger best in the car. Road rage for the win. Otherwise, anger feels unsafe, something I can’t trust to feel or face.

Anger seems to swirl all about lately. The political sphere is nothing but a giant, fear-mongering angry villain—as if they combined all of the Disney, Dreamworks, and Stephen King bad guys into two political parties, but also removed all semblance of intelligent thought. And yes, I see hate and stupidity on both sides, with parties and supporters alike. I see seething anger on both sides. There’s passion and working in passionate ways to get your person elected and then there’s just a mess of anger and hate and fear and nothing this country currently needs.

This country does not currently need more anger, more hate, more fear. They all beget each other and we end up with too many dead in our streets. Too many meaning any more than none.

But maybe all this anger swirling around in our world, seeping out through the tip of my pen, is somehow teaching me to acknowledge the feeling and let it pass. Anger doesn’t need to consume, to weigh me down, a cement block tied to my tiny foot. Anger can move me forward, inspire me to lift the pen, lift my voice, do things I didn’t think possible. Maybe it’s finally okay for me to feel things that aren’t 100% comfortable; maybe I’m safe enough to go there now.

Maybe that whole content feeling paved a safer path for the rest of my feelings.



“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

-Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You Are Supposed to Be an Embrace Who You Are

I wrote about this book a long time ago, likely on Chronicles. For awhile, I felt strongly that I could let go of my “tendency” toward perfectionism and relax into a version of me that was less stressed, less anxious, and somehow more me. Then I said, “Forget that,” and went about my business of working myself to the bone to be the most perfect version of whatever it was I was trying at the moment.

The perfect mom.
The perfect wife.
The perfect birth mother.
The perfect friend.
The perfect writer.
The perfect editor.
The perfect blogger.
The perfect employee.
The perfect photographer.
The perfect daughter.
The perfect lover.
The perfect Christian.
The perfect listener, giver, doer.


And that’s how I ended back on meds, still overwhelmed with everything and everyone and wondering why I didn’t just let go of the perfectionism in the first place while simultaneously wondering if I could even let go of perfectionism, if it wasn’t just a part of me as much as my eye color. Or, I didn’t wonder that until my therapist asked me, “What would life look like if you weren’t a perfectionist?”

I laughed.

Because that’s what I do when things are uncomfortable: I laugh.

She sent me off on a homework assignment, to photograph what life would like if I wasn’t striving so hard to be perfect. I did my homework, and then appointments got postponed because people are humans, even therapists. I’ve been left thinking about some of these images: what they mean, why I took them, what I see of myself in these images, and how I could potentially look at these images with different eyes.

And so…


Without my obsessive need to make sure that everything is perfect, that I am perfect, everything ends up broken. The shards of what could have been beautiful crumble beneath my feet. Instead of whole pieces of something, anything, I am left with remnants of what could have been. Messy. Incomplete. Wasted potential.

I see everything that could have been, should have been, would have been if I had only gotten my act together and been who I needed to be when I needed to be that person. I see the past, present, and future in slivers under my feet.


Instead of seeing a beautiful mix of colors, of shapes and sizes and pieces of a life, of leaps of faith. At the edge of the tiny pieces, the larger chunks, the bits of evidence that something was worth trying for, my feet stop. Wait. Wiggle forward. Stepping into the mashed up mess of everything that wasn’t quite, everything that couldn’t be means accepting that there will be more brokenness, more messy, incomplete, shards of what could have been.

But at least—at least—it’s a step. Forward.