How My Mom Inspires Me

I wanted to execute a special brunch for my mom for Mother’s Day, but she had to work Sunday. For the previous two years, my cousins and I had done a themed Mother’s Day Brunch for our moms together, but I wanted to do something specifically for my mom and I. Because she had to work, we ended up having Mexican food (her favorite) for dinner Friday night instead. I got her a card, bought her some of her favorite dark chocolate covered almonds and that was that.

Everybody loves my mom. Growing up, my friends always loved her, the guys I dated loved her, and she’s always been the favorite aunt. Her coworkers love her, her students love her, strangers love her… she’s a pretty awesome human being. She’s a powerhouse at her job. She’s smart, loving, caring, strong, good with her money… she’s a planner, she’s creative, she’s funny, and she often has no filter. My mom is my best friend.

As a person who has never had a lot of friends, I’ve come to depend on my mom for a lot of things, and she has become the person who understands me the most. Struggling with anxiety the past year, she has shown me what it looks and feels like when someone acknowledges a struggle I’m having, even when they don’t understand it, and makes adjustments for themselves so as not to make me feel worse. I haven’t fully opened up to her about all the things I’ve struggled with over the years, but she knows me better than anyone else and she makes me feel seen.

My mother has a special way of connecting with people. Whether it’s people she’s leading, people she’s teaching, or people she’s taking care of, my mom has this unique ability to make people feel understood. She calms chaotic situations with seemingly little effort, and is able to resolve conflict between people simply by being there. I’ve certainly seen her get upset, but I can’t remember ever hearing her yell at someone. She is the glue that keeps our extended family together… she’s the glue that keeps our nuclear family together… and sometimes she does it at the risk of her own wellbeing.

When my grandmother died several years ago, my mom internalized so much of the stress from funeral planning, packing up my grandparents’ house, and wrangling her feuding siblings that she developed Bell’s Palsy. That was a stressful situation in itself, especially not knowing when it would go away, but she did eventually recover. She was also reminded that she needs to take care of herself in order to keep doing the things she wants to do for everyone else, and I’ve seen her implement practices to keep her stress low and take care of herself ever since.

And I don’t want to applaud her strength without making room for her vulnerability. The thing about a lot of moms is that they feel the need to be strong even when they don’t feel like it. The kids can fall apart, the man can fall apart, but she has to keep herself and everyone else together. I think there are plenty of moms who don’t feel like there is space for them to be vulnerable and take time to heal. I don’t just admire my mother’s strength, I admire her ability to walk away when things are no longer good for her, say “no” to things she doesn’t want to be part of, and refuse people who try to overstep her boundaries.

My mom is my safe space, and I lover her for that. Even more, I admire my mom for the woman she is outside of her husband and children, and I am constantly inspired by her.

Writing Journal: What If I Never Have a Project Published?

I was thinking last week about one of many projects I’m working on. There have been several times that I go back over something I’ve written and love the “sound” of my writing voice. But then the wheels get to turning and I wonder if anyone else loves my writing voice.

Let’s be honest, I don’t get much traction on either of these blogs, and sometimes I wonder why I keep doing it. But the answer is simple—I do it because I like it. I like putting certain thoughts out into the universe and having something to physically look at to see how my ideas and opinions have changed (or not) over time.

Also, if even one person reads something on one of my blogs and feels a little less alone out there, then that’s enough for me to keep going a bit longer.

But I’m not really talking about my blogs here. I’m talking about this tiny book of essays I’ve got waiting for someone to read it, and this little book of short stories I’m working on, and whatever future novel I decide to dig my heels into writing. What if none of those get published? What if no one wants to read them?

There’s something to be said about self-publishing. I mean, if you want your work out there at any cost it is a viable option. But isn’t the dream to have some big publishing house think you’re awesome and want to pay you for your work and promote it?

That’s my dream. One of many, at any rate.

But what if it doesn’t happen? Am I content with self-publishing? I mean, sure, if my work gets enough attention it could be picked up by a publisher later, but we’re talking about never here. We’re talking about self-publishing and selling 50 books to my parents, a couple family members, a friend or two, and some of my mom’s work friends who would buy a copy just because they love my mother.

What happens then? Do I stop writing? Do I bring myself right back to this empty little blog corner? Do I write something else and try to make it better? What if I can’t write any better?

I know it sounds like I’m being self-deprecating, but I’m really just wondering what my capacity for failure and resilience is.

I know I ask more questions than I give answers, but that’s what life is. Some questions can only be answered through experience.

Happy writing!


Writing Journal: Revealing Too Much

I was reading through some of my essays last week and I had to pause and ask myself if I was saying too much. The essays are based on the way I remember certain events in my life, and some of them deal greatly with other members of my family.

One essay in particular deals with my feelings about being “gifted” a sweatsuit one Christmas when my other cousins got pretty dresses. I touch on how that affected me in general, but also how it made me think of the aunt who gave that gift (still using gift lightly here). Reading over it, I thought of what my aunt or my mom would think about that particular piece, and if it would cause any sort of tension.

See, I have a habit of seriously considering other people’s feelings, sometimes at the expense of my own desires. It goes against the live your truth narrative, but it’s one of my spectacular personality traits (read that sarcastically). So what do I do? And is there really such a thing as revealing too much when the story is about me and how I experience the world?

I guess the first thing to note is that just because I wrote it doesn’t mean someone is going to publish it. But what if I decide to self-publish? Should I allow the individuals who have leading roles in particular essays to read them before I finalize the work? Do I have a responsibility to consider the feelings of others when discussing my personal experiences just because they were involved?

I’m tossing these questions “out there” in hopes that I’ll get the answers I need—be it from you, God, the Universe, or my internal narrator.

What do you think is too much when it comes to writing stories that involve people in your personal life? How do you handle the complexity of it all?

Let me know.

Happy writing!