I have been thinking about this little old blog of mine and where it started, and where it is now and where it is going. The funny thing about this profession for me, is that I happened onto it quite accidentally, and certainly unintentionally. I started writing small bits of my then very small family. It progressed to a place where I showcased my art of photography. It has been the vehicle that has driven my photography business to the success I have reached. Now it is a place where I write essays about my family and motherhood and other aspects of my life.
It’s sometimes a bit awkward to live out loud like this – very open and in the public eye. People who have never met me in real life know a lot about the depths of my soul. On the flip side, sometimes the people who do know me in real life struggle because they know me as my outside self – not my more inside self that is shown here on the blog. My real-life friends and mostly my family already have a perception of me that doesn’t include the inside me, really. So it makes sense that sometimes it’s hard for them to follow me here, and also know me out there. There are also people who have only had experience of me with the words that I write on the pages of this blog, and even though I try to show as much of myself as possible – still sometimes people get the illusion that I have it “all together” or that I’m a “perfect mother” or that I am impeccably styled all the time. I am soooo not that type of a person. I am just simply me – all sides of me. The inspirational me and the unconventional me. The big-mouthed me and the stubborn me. The confident me and the humbled me.
As I have been thinking of this blog and specifically my writing, I feel like I have been doing myself a disservice not writing about more things that matter to me. I mean, motherhood matters (most of all, it matters), and that is well accepted through the blogosphere, isn’t it? But what about God, and religion, and purpose, and service, and love, and loss, and all those things that really matter. I have come to a conclusion that anything that we feel passionate about, or that deeply matters to us, tends to be controversial, doesn’t it? And controversy, especially controversy stirred up by me, makes me incredibly nervous. I would much rather live in my bubble of knowing my own heart and never sharing it to avoid having someone be able to hurt me deeply by opposing the things that matter to me. If I talk about religion, I may offend the religious people because the will surely see that I am not nearly as religious and faithful as I “should” be. If I talk about my relationship with God, surely someone will oppose because they likely have their own relationship with God that differs vastly from my own. If I talk about my political stance… well we know where this is going. So to avoid getting myself hurt, I have simply decided that I would only be talking about the light hearted, beautiful stuff here. Not the sometimes complicated, sometimes dark and scary stuff here. That is the stuff I leave for a very safe place I like to call therapy.
Writing for me has been a life line. It has been the air that I need to breathe to survive. Writing is how I process things, how I document things. Writing is a creative outlet, and therapy for me. If I am struggling with something, I’ll think “I need to write about that!”. Once I have it written, I am able to sort my feelings and see things from a different perspective. Writing has healed my heart in so many many ways and I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon this blog and find my calling for writing. And so, the question has been begging my soul, “How will I use my writing in a way that matters.”
And so, it is time for me to get very real. Because I’ve been hiding behind my outside self for a long time wishing the world away. “I’m tired of my family,” I say to Brady, “They expect soooo much of me,”. “I’m tired of the kid’s school!” I complain to Brady, “They require SO MUCH of me.” “I’m tired of church.” I whine to Brady “They just require way too much of me.” But you know what is probably the most exhausting of all? Expecting too much of myself – ie: being “fine”. My family thinks I’m fine, because when they ask how I’m doing, I say “I’m fine.” And when one of the teachers asks if I can come to class on Friday I say, “That’s fine.” And when so many well meaning church members ask if they can do anything for me, I say “thank you! But I’m fine.” I don’t want to ruffle feathers, I don’t want to expect anything from anyone and FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IN PHILADELPHIA I do not want anyone to expect anything from me!! I think I’ve been acting so fine for so long that people are actually reading along and thinking “Gosh, I wish I was as fine as Cass Miller.” And when so many of you leave thoughtful comments on my blog or instagram or email, I am thinking “Gosh, I wish I was as fine as she thinks I am.” And what even is FINE, exactly? Aren’t we all struggling with one thing or another all the time? Don’t we all have our hands full with life’s happenings? Don’t we all go to sleep at night in the best way we can? Counting our blessings and making lists of ways we can do better tomorrow? This stuff should be out on the table, you know? Why do we feel like we have to hide these parts with our outside selves?
So this is where the inside self meets the outside self. It’s really time those two started getting along better, don’t you think? It’s really time they stopped avoiding each other when they have to live in such close proximity (you know, WITHIN ME.) Last week at my lash appointment (I have fake lashes, let’s just get honest right here – and fake boobs too if you must know.) my darling lash lady was surprised to find out I was quite a.. um.. colorful teenager. It’s something I’ve never talked about in my public life. I only talk about those years with a select few real-lifers and mostly just in therapy. “That surprises me!” she said. “Really?” I was so confused.. because when I look in the mirror, I see a girl who was quite a well traveled teen.. if that journey was older boyfriends and parties and past curfews. What was she seeing?? A twenty-something year old lady with a husband in the bishopric, perhaps? And when I told her – when I got real with her, I felt so much better. I felt like AHHH-PHEWWW, we’re all just in this life thing together, you and me. We’re all surviving in the best way we know how.
And so without really meaning to, I have hid my inside self from the world. I have hid the parts of me that struggle with religion and conforming. I have hid the parts of myself that are overwhelmed by housework and homework. I have hid the parts of myself that cannot remember important dates and get birthday gifts together in time. But what is hiding these parts of myself doing for me? Breeding inside and creating shame, probably. If the world of bloggers started sharing more of their person truths, do you think there would be less mama shame and discomfort to come from them? I think so. And so I will be here, keepin’ it real. Some parts of my life I am on top of things – like making gorgeous baby girls and confidently pulling off pink lipstick. Some parts of my life come easier than others, like loooooving my husband and taking pretty pictures. We can’t have it all though, can we. So here I am, just me – naked me, real me, ME me. I hope you’ll show up as YOU and go easy on the bits I’m working on.