With both my writing and photography I strive to remind each of us that we can take up our full space.  We are not meant to fit in the mold of perfection, but rather to thrive in the space that is big enough for our imperfections and strengths.

And She Said Enough

I am a mess.

If you have met me in real life, or seen the inside of my van, you know this.  I drop food on my clothes, and lose my keys all the time.  Even when I talk, I jumble and  mumble or simply say the complete wrong thing.  Math eludes me, paperwork stresses me out and I am not organized.  I regularly forget to shave one  of my legs, I have chin hairs and my stomach is round.

I have high functioning anxiety.  That translates to being flaky, stand offish, and just plain awkward.  While I probably come across and shy and aloof, I am most likely planning my escape route in case the stomach ache and racing heart is the flu instead of nerves.

My marriage is not perfect and while I love being a mother, I make mistakes there too.

My faith is a mix of old and new, and if you ask me about it I will probably stumble over my words or only have the courage to tell you half the story.

I am telling you this because what I am going to say next doesn't come from me having it all together.

Rather I am telling you this because I think we all desperately need to know.

 

You are enough.

 

I am not sure where it starts or how it comes to be.

Young girls sucking in tummies and  children erasing hand written notes until they are perfect. We wipe tears away and laugh at insults to hide our hurt.  No weaknesses are seen around us, so we keep up the facade.

Hide the mess.

We discount our abilities, with self-deprecation we scorn our outward appearance.

Perfection becomes an elusive goal that we strive towards relentlessly.  There is a long list of unspoken rules that we are trying to adhere to.

Success, happiness and perfection are advertised in pretty packages and sold as achievable.  Yet these unspoken rules tell us we do not deserve the good life until we punish ourselves into submission.

Follow the rules.  Try harder.  Don't be needy or desperate.  Don't be full of yourself.  Don't actually think you can do this.  Don't think that your lumpy, bumpy body deserves to be loved.  Don't fail.  And try harder.

It exhausts me.

How long am I supposed to hate who I am?  When have I punished my body enough to deserve to be beautiful?  At what point have I earned the right to leave my mess alone?

When can I throw up the white flag and cry "Mercy!"

 

I think of the moment I held my Oma's hand.   I kissed her cheek and whispered "I love you".  Her eyes settled on mine and in that thick moment we said everything we ever needed to say.

I love you.

Thank you.

You are beautiful.

The mess I see is beautiful too.

Do not be afraid to live.

Do not be afraid of love.

You are enough.

 

Her eyes held a love so deep and pure.  The same love that was in me as  I looked at my small girls nursing in my arms, the love I gave freely to Sarah while whispering, "I love you baby girl" one last time.

 

My soul is laid bare, I cry "Mercy."

The white flag rises and I submit to the mess in my life.

How quickly we forget what real love can do.

How deeply we forget that we get to love ourselves too.

Presence: Motherhood

These photographs were part of a documentary photographer project to highlight the lives of mothers.  

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