"Don't Take the Joy Out of it, Honey."
Updated: Sep 25, 2019
“WE EITHER MAKE OURSELVES MISERABLE, OR WE MAKE OURSELVES STRONG. THE AMOUNT OF WORK IS THE SAME.” – Carlos Castaneda
“This too shall pass.”
The words always rush at me, soft, whispered, but intentional. The situation that makes them a necessity is always different, but the message and the voice are always the same. The message is clear: Keep going - hang in there - whatever you do, don’t give up. This is temporary. You can beat this.
The voice: my mother’s.
Those four words, always spoken in her voice (the one voice that my brain associates with comfort, nurture, and love more than perhaps any other), always come to me when I need them.
My mom has a few signature phrases, which she lovingly delivered, time and time again, to my siblings and me. And I know this isn’t HER saying - she didn’t make it up, but, in my head, it’s always her voice. There was always something in the way she said it that allowed me to believe, to KNOW, she was right. And it was her grandmother, my sweet Mamaw, that repeated it to her throughout her life.
As life moved along for me, these words found me in some vastly different scenarios. In early high school, when I’d have a total panic attack over having made a B (I’ve always had real issues with expectations, real or fancied...that’s another story for another time), to being 17 and utterly heartbroken upon having just discovered that my high school boyfriend had been having his proverbial cake and eating it too for the past two years. He had been cheating on me with basically every girl in his class.
He didn’t use the cake analogy, though. His was much more demeaning and hurtful. A mutual guy friend of ours told me he had likened it to having a Ferrari that you love. It’s your favorite car and you never want to get rid of it, so you always keep it there in the garage, but every once in a while, you wanna’ take a corvette for a test drive. The boy I had spent the past several years “loving,” had likened me to a luxury vehicle. Cooooool.
Of course, we were young. I don’t still talk to him, but he’s a good guy at the core. I still believe that. We both lived and learned and grew from that experience, and I harbor zero resentment toward him now. He was a kid. I was a kid, even more so. And, now, I’m married to my heart’s perfect match, a man who would never degrade me, or take me for granted, all while boasting about it to his friends. So, I guess, I’m even grateful to that hormone-driven high school boy. But it hurt then. Like a bag of bricks had been set upon my chest, it hurt.
I remember my mom holding me, as I lay with my head in her lap and wept. “This too shall pass, Katie-Girl.” She had been close to the boy, and I’m sure she wanted to spit fire in his direction, but she reined in the anger, rubbed my head, held me, and whispered the words that would become the most reassuring phrase my life would know.
I remember another time, years and years later, high school very much a thing of memories, and I was pregnant with my first child, a boy...my Jude. In my last blog, I went into pretty great detail about the state I was in for most of my first pregnancy. You can find that here: https://www.goddesste.com/post/you-can-lose-your-balance
It was bleak, to say the very least. I remember sitting in that dark, damp den. I had just been journaling. I was depressed beyond any sadness I had ever known, struggling to connect with the tiny baby growing inside of me, living with my abuser, and sick as a dog with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (think morning sickness times 100). These were my darkest hours. I had been journaling about my mother, her whispered reminder circling in my head, and, as I longed for her embrace, I prayed that her words were going to be true. I needed them to be – I needed them to be true on a deeper level than I ever had before.
There had been a movie playing in the background - I couldn’t tell you which one. I couldn’t care enough to focus in on a movie, or anything. All I could do was write. At some point in the movie (I think it may have been when the credits started rolling, but I could easily be wrong), another serendipitous message that reminded me of my loving mom came rushing at me in the form of song (my Higher Power has a way of using music to speak to me).
This song... man, my mother LOVES this song - she has always told us that it was her song for us, her three children. It turns out that the woman who wrote the song, Lee Ann Womack, felt the same way. The song was “I Hope You Dance.” As a mother today, I can agree that there isn’t a better song to relay what a mother feels for her children.
“I hope you dance.” It’s all she wanted for me. And I most certainly wasn’t dancing. I hadn’t even made it to the dance party – I had gotten lost somewhere along the way. I wasn’t even close enough to hear the music. I was so very far away.
All I could do was sob and hope, the latter growing increasingly more difficult with each passing second.
It’s been a long time since those dark days, and for that, I’m so grateful. Still, those words find me when I need them. Life gets better, but it’s never a rainbow ride, and that’s okay. If it were, we’d never grow - we’d never get desperate enough to change and CREATE change. We’d miss out on quite a lot of beauty, inner-growth, and revelatory self-knowledge.
These words have been on heavy circulation in my head lately. We’ve made it no secret that the business is in a growing pains phase. We knew this would happen. We knew, if only because life has shown us in some pretty tough ways, that you gotta’ put in some serious, laser-focused work before you hit the sweet spot. We’re okay with that. We’re not afraid of hard work – we welcome it, even.
And the struggles we face today with Goddessté are minuscule compared to some of the fire through which we’ve walked in our pasts.
Still, adulting is hard. Starting a business from the ground up, literally from scratch, is hard. Figuring out all the legal stuff, all the paperwork, the technicalities...it’s hard. It’s overwhelming. It’s often confusing. It’s just hard. And we, like I’m sure a lot of rookies do, made the mistake of thinking that THAT (the technical stuff, the building and starting part) would be the hard part. We were wrong...like, dead wrong. Like, so wrong that it’s laughable.
What’s hard is: finding the time to network, because your business depends on the relationships you have AND are creating (by the way, I happen to LOOOOVE this part of the gig, so don’t take it the wrong way). It’s continuing to create and post content day after day, consistently, when it feels as though no one is engaging or even noticing. It’s hard giving yourself the daily, sometimes hourly, pep-talk, that the work you’re doing DOES matter and that it IS touching people. What’s hard is: taking course after course, watching video after video, listening to podcast after podcast, and reading and then reading some more, because there’s ALWAYS more for us to learn. There’s always more for us to do.
And the features - we do two a week. It’s a lot. It takes a lot. And we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this part of it. We take pride in what we are doing. We love meeting the new people and hearing their amazing stories. We love celebrating them and getting to show the world how inspiring they are! But, behind the scenes, the reality is that we are doing most of this while juggling other jobs, demanding jobs. J has a full-time job (that requires her to be in the car most of the day) AND a part-time job.
I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have four SMALL kids. My OLDEST is six. My boys are six and three, and then my (identical) twin girls just turned two at the end of August. They’re super active, and of course, into EVERYTHING. Taking my eyes off of them, especially the younger three, for even a few seconds is a gamble. Anything can happen. And it does. So, a lot of the work I do is with headphones in, a kid on one hip, changing a diaper with the other, juggling homework for Jude, potty-training Atticus - you get the picture. And that’s not including housework, which is exactly like you’d imagine it would be with three toddlers and a six-year-old.
I try to get up before everyone else so that I have time to myself to work, before I have to wake Jude up to start getting him ready for school. Then, I have a bit of time between taking him to school and the twins waking up (Atticus usually goes back and forth between watching TV and chilling in my lap, learning the ropes). After that, after the twins are up, it’s game on. And I mean GAME ON. I work mostly from my phone. We run an e-commerce business, which is nice because I can work from literally anywhere that I have a decent signal, but it means I spend a lot more time staring at my phone than I’d like to admit.
Enter “mom guilt.” Ohhhhh, mom guilt. The constant nagging voice in my head that tells me I’m failing, that I’m not doing good enough. I’m not feeding them healthy/nutritious enough food. I’m not spending enough quality time with them. We aren’t getting outside enough. I’m losing my cool too much. I’m letting them see the stress get to me too much. I let them, God forbid, see that I’m human.
And when I do mess up, when I lose my cool, I use it. I’m proud of that. I let my kids see what it looks like to mess up, and then go and do what is necessary to make it right. I go to them, and we talk about it. I get honest. I tell them that I shouldn’t have shouted, for instance (this is the worst for me – I HATE it when I shout at them). I tell them why I was wrong, and then I apologize. I hug them and tell them how deeply I love them. They see me mess up. It can’t be helped. But it CAN be addressed instead of swept under the rug. It CAN be used as a teaching moment. They get to see me fall, but then they get to see how I go about getting back up – there’s inexplicable power in that.
My children are so loving, patient, and kind. They’re everything good that I value and strive to be. They’re also my biggest fans, and they never judge me quite as harshly as my mom-guilt voice does. They always forgive me. Once again in my life, I’m thankful for grace. And unconditional love. Man, am I thankful for unconditional love.
And it may sound a little like I’m complaining, but I’m not. I LOVE my life. I LOVE getting to spend every day at home with the groupies. I LOVE my marriage and this family my husband and I are leading. I LOVE this business that I’m building with my best friend. I LOVE our message that is unique to us. I LOVE the features. I LOVE the writing. I LOVE the beautiful, overwhelming response we’ve gotten since we started blogging. And I LOVE that my kids hear about, and see, it all. Jude is so aware that his mom and his Aunt Jessica have built this really cool thing for women called Goddessté. And he’s getting to see, firsthand, that being a woman is pretty rad, but that we are absolutely busting our butts. I think it’s registering with him, and I know that when he becomes a man, he will respect women as his equals, as he should.
This morning, as I sat at my kitchen table doing my work, my mom’s familiar words echoing in my head, worried over all the work I had to do, the sales that AREN’T “rolling in” (they’re more like “slowly trickling in”), the frantic fear I’ve been literally covered in over one of my twins, Lennon, dealing with some troubling, truly strange recurrent vomiting.... the world was on my shoulders, and it was heavy, y’all.
I want so badly for my kids to see me build this business. I want my girls to see that a woman can do the home-life AND the entrepreneur, boss babe life - that a woman can absolutely chase her dreams and have it all, the whole shebang: love, happiness, purpose, a feeling of fulfillment. The thing is, I’m already teaching my children that. They see me get up every day and go back at it, full force, with all that I have. And I KNOW they see me happy and LOVING life with them at my side. I don’t do it perfectly, but I give it all I’ve got. I do it like I do everything else, with heart and grit. Perhaps more importantly, I do it with conviction and a whole lotta’ love (cue Led Zeppelin).
But back to my kitchen table this morning: my head in my hands, an extra strong coffee sitting in front of me, tears decorating my cheeks like emotional face paint...
“This too shall pass, Katie-Girl.”
Keep going - hang in there - whatever you do, don’t give up. This is temporary. You can beat this. The voice: my mother’s.
And I’m reminded of a day, not too long ago, when I stumbled upon an absolutely beautiful revelation in a way so humbling and meaningful that it obviously stuck with me. The really beautiful thing about parenting, for me, is when I get to become the student, in certain ways, anyway. THIS is one of my favorite parts of parenting, y’all. The story goes as follows:
I have to preface with saying that I see SO much of myself in Jude. Those crazy, unrealistic expectations with which I’ve always struggled that I mentioned earlier - he has a touch of the same issue. He was at the kitchen table one day, sitting in the same spot where I sat this morning as I recalled this story. He’s our little artist. He was drawing one of his favorite characters, Bendy. Every few minutes, I’d hear him moan, groan, or make some sort of tormented noise. If I’m being honest, I was kind of letting the moans blend into the background with all the other noises - it’s a noisy house ‘round here. Then, I heard the words “I can’t,” and the mama bear within tuned way, way in.
I went over and asked him what was going on. He explained that he was trying to draw Bendy’s hand, and he just couldn’t get it exactly how he wanted it. He gets his perfectionism from me, too - it all ties in with the aforementioned expectations. This expectations-fueled perfectionism is something that caused me a great deal of grief and pain throughout my life. It can be numbingly debilitating. When I recognize it in Jude, I try to call it for what it is, and then we try to get ahead of it, together. Here, I saw a chance for a pretty cool lesson, so I started a conversation.
I told him that, when you have a passion for something, when you have a gift, you never give up. You never tell yourself that you “can’t.” I told him to try to see the mess-ups as way to learn and grow – that each time he drew Bendy’s hand in a way that wasn’t what he wanted, he’d get closer and closer to getting it just right. We got to talk about how hard it can be to NOT just walk away. We got to talk about what it looks like to commit, to really dig your heels in, so that you can get something done that you really want to get done. I told him all the usual things, like he can do anything that he sets his beautiful mind to, because he CAN.
Then, I realized something even more important. He was letting it make him truly miserable. He was taking the joy, the thing that he NEEDED in order to be able to keep going, right out of it. I said, “Don’t take the joy out of it, Honey.” Then, I explained that the reason we do the things we love is because they feed a part of our soul that desperately needs to be fed.
Then, the magic happened. It hit me that that’s what I do so, so often. How often do we all, as adults, do this? And, when we do it, we do it on a much larger scale. We live our lives just taking the joy out of things that used to FEED OUR SOULS. We may not realize we are doing it, and maybe sometimes we just play a part - we sit idly by and let the joy just spill out of every single possible crevice. I think we do this because we forget, sometimes, who we are and what we’re supposed to do.
This morning, that day and its lovely revelation wherein the parent became the student, came flooding back to me. I was sitting here, literally wallowing in my stress and fear. I was taking the joy out of this beautiful thing that we’ve created. I was thinking of all that I HAD to do, instead of remembering how freaking COOL it is that I GET to do this. And I KNOW Goddessté has a beautiful future - I know it in my soul, in my core.
And as for my most important job/purpose, motherhood, I’m guilty of doing the same thing there. I have four amazing, happy, LOVING children, who just want to hang out and play with me (for now). I’m making a commitment today to remember what a blessing that is. I’m going to remember to soak up the laughter, to let their joy transmit through to my heart and pierce my soul.
I challenge each of you to do the same. Search for the cracks in your life where you’ve been allowing the joy to spill out, or stop yourself when you’re in the middle of taking the joy out of something you once loved, or could love. Stop. Realize what you’re doing. Realize it’s okay - we all do it. And then figure out how you’re gonna’ put that joy back IN there, right where it belongs.
I believe in signs. I believe in messages. My Higher Power has literally slapped me in the face with eye-opening messages too many times in my life for me not to believe in them. And I’m talking the kind of message that clear the fog in your head and light up a path that has your name printed on it in bold letters – so clear that there may as well be the stereotypical, big, bright, blinking arrow, outlined in flashing lights, accompanied with a “This is THE path, THE answer” sign posted up next to it. Yeah, I believe in signs…
Back when we first started Goddessté, I got J and myself matching bracelets. They’re simple on the outside - just little silver cuff bracelets with the ever-trendy little arrows on either end, pointing in toward the wrist. On the inside, it’s a little.... less plain. Engraved, is the phrase, “Keep F’ing Going,” only the middle word isn’t censored as it appears here (I’m trying not to offend, here, although this word doesn’t bother me, obviously). I never take this bracelet off. To my knowledge, neither does she.
This little bracelet never gets in my way - I often forget that it’s there, which kind of defeats the point. Lately, however, it has been catching on ANY and EVERYTHING with which it comes in contact. I suppose, it’s once again, my Higher Power coming in with yet another message.
This too shall pass, Katie-Girl. Keep going - hang in there - whatever you do, don’t give up. This is temporary. You can beat this. Keep. F’ing. Going.
Message received, loud and clear. And I will. After all, it’s the only way I know.
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