What one writes about things unshareable

I can’t write about anything truly meaningful to me, of late.

No, I don’t have writer’s block.

There was a blog I used to regularly read, now defunct, but at one point, the writer said, “You know, I could be a lot funnier on here if no one I knew read this blog.”  I’m not often shooting for comic effect, but I have often remembered her words and completely understand her sentiment.

Given my druthers, I’d be completely an open book.  I’m probably much too transparent, and don’t often see the potential fallout from unwisely revealing the secrets of my heart.  However, so much of my life is tied into others’, and I need — for their sake — to be careful what I tell of their interaction with me.

That causes a mighty internal dilemma.

I had a wonderful 2.5 hour lunch with my dear friend Kathy yesterday.  Among many other topics of conversation, we spoke about writing.  She mentioned that she enjoys when I write about the struggle, the unfinished bits of life.  I enjoy that, too:  writing about the things that are pending, unresolved.  I can’t find it in myself to write about the (non-existent) shiny, perfect, tidily-wrapped events in my life.  I also don’t find any satisfaction in reading about The Pristine Life in others’ blogs, which means I don’t enjoy about 95% of the other “mom blogs” out there, because most women seem to post only the best pictures (in word and photo) of their lives.  I’m not like that.  I don’t envy the perfect lives of others;  if they truly exist, more power to them!  Or, more sparkles and smiles to them…

Does that sound bitter?

Truly, from the bottom of my heart, I’m not bitter.  I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.

I do enjoy when something resolves wonderfully that was hard-won, and I’m likely to write about that, as well.

But most often, it’s the path to resolution that I find most intriguing.  I’m much more compelled to write about that.

I consider:  If a blog-reader saw me in real life, would she say, “Wow.  She’s so much prettier in her pictures.”  That’s why you’ll never see a Glamour Shot pic of me on here, make-up perfect, perfectly coiffed hair gently blowing in the breeze, some gorgeous and well-accessorized outfit on my frame…

I consider:  If a blog-reader sat down to dinner with our family, would they be aghast that we have trouble keeping Audrey head-up and feet-down, and keeping Grant from trying to treat everyone simply as ears for an apparent stand-up monologue?  That’s why I don’t blog about only The Good Parts of Mothering.

I like to keep it real.  Really, truly real.

But on the other hand, I do dearly want to be an encouragement, not a downer.  I want to impart true hope, and long for my words to be pulsing with true life.

It can be a tough balance, at times.

Still, it’s one for which I strive, and that makes it all the more difficult for me to write, when the things that are deep in my heart, about which I crave to write, are unshareable.  They’re just not mine to divulge, because they concern the lives of others, too, and blogging about it would dishonor them.

I semi-recently tried to write about a struggle involving another person, and thought I was vague enough to protect everyone involved.  I wasn’t.  It backfired, big time.  There was an explosion of hurt feelings, and oh! that was a difficult, bitter pill to swallow.

I am so often exhorting my six-year-old whirlwind, Audrey, “Be careful!  Be gentle!” but a huge part of me sympathizes with her exuberant bungling of pretty much everything, because I am that little girl, too.

Ah!  This post has not entirely gone in the direction in which I intended.  I was going to write about Jack the bulldog from Little House on the Prairie.

Next time, perhaps.


Thought I’d post a non-Glamour Shot. Taken today. Barefoot, jeans, and a baseball tee. No make-up. Glasses. Coffee in hand. Current novel on the untidy counter behind me. The only thing not completely realistic is that I showered this morning, which doesn’t happen every day, so I might be a little cleaner than usual. 🙂

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on May 15, 2012, in Blogging, Character Development, Christian Living, Friendships, Introspective Musings, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Karen, You make me feel normal. Not to excuse any of my struggles. Just that we all have them. Everyone of us. So thank you for sharing the journey & being real about it. It is exactly why I love you so much. It gives me permission to be real w/ you.

  2. Karen, I love you! You are encouraging.

  3. What a fearless step in to waters rarely stirred with anything but angst. I have tried to categorize my desire for transparency and honesty but the only available title that comes close is realist but that appears to hold too many negative undertones.

    I exhuberantly embrace life. The joyful, fulfilling moments are flown like a kite for the world to ooh and aah at with me. The heavier, uncertain or just downright ugly times fly as well, just much more like an albatross. But the thing about the albatross is though its reputation is related something being a burden and it is considered a less than lovely bird, it is one of the longest living birds and is strong in the face of adversity. Its life is filled with community, loyalty and a love of dance!

    The joy of community and fellowship is in the sharing of the bouquets and the beefs. But I do agree. It is a rare person that can be found to accept the ‘lesser’ moments with the same interest and care as the ‘greater’ ones and come away unoffended and perhaps enlightened.

    • Love that. Especially the second paragraph, about the albatross.

      And, YES. I totally agree about community and fellowship. I’d die without my fellowship from my IRL community. Seriously, I would die. That’s one of the reasons I find true community’s dearth so tragic! We live in such an itinerant society, and (as many have observed and studied) for all our technological interconnectedness, we’re more solitary than ever. We’re not a nation, Americans, of those who are in it for the long haul, of faithful people who willingly till the soil NOW for a harvest LATER. We want immediate gratification, and that harms us on every single level.

      • As a Canadian, our nation is falling prey to the same things. Community is now defined by how many ‘friends’ follow you and how often your cell phone beeps to let you know ‘you’ve got mail’! It is a sad thing to sit in a restaurant and watch young couples sitting across from one another, each lost in their virtual world and so badly missing the real one and all of its glory!

        As for the long haul, it is not possible to explain the joy of a thing hard earned, or especially of a thing done for purposes you may never get to see or enjoy, to a people so bent on the instant and its vain gratification. I love this quote:

        “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” ~Nelson Henderson

        And yet, for all of the failings going on around us (and in us) we are only able to share these thoughts thanks to the same technology I’m ranting about and I too seek after that instant gratification as well. We all need the enjoyable moments that spark the day as well as the work that bids hello to the future.

        I suppose the true key is balance. The scales have been leaning too heavily on the side of ‘now’ to the detriment of ‘future’. Yet even though our life lens is a bit foggy and our vision obscured, those who recognize this truth simply need to weave it back in to our own small circles, and hope.

  4. haha, you should read my blog then. i feel like debbie downer on my blog most days! hmsd.blogspot.com

  5. Ayayay! Please, don’t stop blogging. About real life. I too weary of the perfect christian homeschool mom who does it all well. Gimme a break. Blogging is not a good forum for everything, but for you it has been a great way to blog about the story of suffering through your daughter’s allergy for YEARS, looking for a solution, and then a picture of her looking really good recently. That blesses me, that our struggles are not automatically better because we trust God but that He is in the story of our lives and is weaving a beautiful tale. Relationships are very messy indeed. Carry on my friend!

    • Thank you for your encouragement, Lisa! No plans to stop blogging. But, you likely have noticed a slowdown. In the last five months or so, I’ve blogged the least ever, in my 6.5 years of blogging…

      “our struggles are not automatically better because we trust God but that He is in the story of our lives and is weaving a beautiful tale” I love that.

      Having lunch with my friend was quite the muse for me! She gave me lots of ideas of ways to go about blogging about that (your quote), staying honest and real, but also continuing to honor other people. I’ve given that a lot of thought, now: What do you say, when you can’t say what you’d prefer, but you don’t/can’t say NOTHING?? She helped me come up with a lot of Plan Bs. I’m not really good at Plan B. I’ve a stubborn idealist streak, and need help getting over that obstacle, from time to time!!

  6. In my fifty plus years, I’ve developed a few (last count 17!) Life Rules. Number One is “It’s always messy up close.” For years I believed the Christmas card letters that extolled the miracles of other people’s offspring. They aren’t lies-they just aren’t the total truth.

    I love that you embrace and share (with honesty) the up close, imperfection of your life.

    All our lives are imperfect. Some of us put too ambitious a spin on the telling of our tales. And others bend over backwards to report each humbling detail and mourn the tiniest misspoken or misunderstood comment. I suspect you number among the latter.

    Regardless, it’s clear your heart is open, tender and loving – all good things. Blog on.

    • I like that, Carol: “They aren’t lies — they just aren’t the total truth.”

      I came to a similar conclusion, maybe 7-8 years ago… I used to frequent a homeschooling forum, which, in many ways, was very helpful to me, especially as homeschooling was fairly new to me, then, and I didn’t know anyone else IRL who homeschooled. But, before long, I had concocted a completely unrealistic standard of what I should be, based on the “best case scenario” of themselves that everyone presented. PLUS, my WonderWoman was a composite. It was pieced together from the bits that everyone else did well. There might indeed be a woman who does EVERYTHING well, but I came to the conclusion that I was trying to live up to an unrealistic standard. One woman sews brilliantly, one woman makes a killing from her handmade jewelry, one woman’s house is spotless, one woman has a lush garden, one woman has kids who adore each other and never fight, one woman has a perfectly toned body, one woman has a husband who is *perfect*, one woman takes field trips to China to explore ancient history via the Silk Road, one woman celebrates Hawaiian culture by roasting an actual pig in a pit in her back yard, one woman’s son just got a perfect score on the SAT. Et al. But, put all of those together, and try to live up to ALL of it, one might as well just throw in the towel. And, that’s what I did. I got off of those forums, told that unrealistic WonderWoman goodbye, and started blogging. 😀

  7. lazyhippiemama

    I would have “superliked” if they had a button for it. I know exactly how you feel!

  8. I love this Karen. Can I have a sip of that coffee? 😉 You are a huge part of my inspiration for writing. Simply you, simply me with upside down kiddos-my Davie, standing monologues-my Judah and messy houses-my family of 7. We all relate! I am “guilty” 😉 of posting a nice picture of me that my cousin took but I share a lot of the “mud” too. You are right, it is a struggle to write real and yet not be a downer. I like your brand of life and I hope to be like you and start conversations when blogging, not just “tell” of the wonderful things I’ve discovered only when they’re all sorted out a pretty. 🙂

    • I thought of you, Jessie, when I was writing, about your Muddy Mama posts!!

      • Some of it is truly unshareable though, like ongoing potty problems and the messes associated! Who want’s to hear about that when all I can do is scream. I did once but it was a big fat “huh?” that I received from readers. That’s when God sends someone who has been there. Yay for that!

        Did I just share the unshareable? lol My dear mama was/is the queen of tmi (she’d admit it if you asked) and I’ve always got that in the back of my head censoring me. Some day I’ll be free from it and just write! But IDK, maybe a little discretion is good.

  9. This is a VERY inspiring post. Thank you so much for sharing. I identify a lot with your thoughts and feelings and the struggle to be real. I am less real now that my 10 year old and in laws read my blog. It makes it tough to be honest. I can say that here on your blog because I know that they won’t find me here. I am happy they read my blog but it makes it tricky to pour my heart and soul into my blog. Which is fine too in a way. But it definitely makes it all less real. On the other hand I just posted a video of my 10 year old making sushi that was super real and unedited. Life is crazy though. Full of ups and downs and sadly it’s more private now that everyone is growing up. The good news is everyone is better. So I just keep cooking and give thanks for our wellness (knock on wood) and the wonderful people I have in my life through the gluten free life I have found.

  10. Yes, yes! Be real! I, too, dislike reading those picture perfect blogs, with moms who do great crafty stuff with their kids and brilliant, educational field trips. They may mean to be encouraging but it didn’t feel encouraging to me. It made me feel lousy. Lazy. Slothful. So I stopped reading them and I even stipped blogging for a while. I certainly did not want anyone to feel that I have got it all down. On most days, I would be so happy if I even finished half of what was planned.

    And with the eczema monster, it is hard to plan any outing out, much less an educational one. So be real and thank you for being real!

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