There’s nothing more polarizing than a blank slate. A crisp new sheet of paper waiting for words. An unmarked canvas begging for brushstrokes. A beautiful tablescape fit for a feast. There are those who see the clean, vacant space and are eager to fill the void. They write beautiful poetry, paint breathtaking scenery, cook delicious meals. Even if they struggle at first, their creativity inevitably takes control, and they create.
Then, there are people like me. I’ve always been terrified of the new, the unknown, especially when it comes to creating something from nothing. In school, I loved assignments with parameters. A 14 line sonnet with an ABAB repeating rhyme scheme? Done, usually in about 10 minutes. Follow this recipe exactly? Cool, got it. But give me free range on anything, and I freeze. I procrastinate, I “hem and haw,” as my mom would say, and I overanalyze every. single. decision.
To be quite honest, it’s been a bit crippling, especially as I’ve tried to tap into my creativity more often recently. As a “Type A Creative,” I want to be able to let loose and dance in the rain, but dammit, let me put on my rain boots and trench coat (with a hood so my hair doesn’t get wet!) first.
2017 was a year of in-betweens for me:
If you’ve followed me for a while, you probably know that my husband ran for state representative in 2016. He lost that election, but after we took a deep breath and regrouped, he decided he wanted to run for Congress in 2018. I completely supported him in that decision. For us, 2017 has been a year of reorganizing our thoughts, strategizing, and building a Congressional campaign (which you can check out here if you feel so inclined!).
2017 was also the year that I finally went back to graduate school to finish my masters degree. I completed the coursework during one of the toughest times of my life (I got married and divorced, oh and moved about four times over the course of a year and a half, all while juggling a full-time job with my coursework), and I really wanted to quit my teaching job at the time. This past year, I came back around to finishing my thesis, and I’m also revisiting the idea of other career paths.
After starting this blog in late 2016, I admittedly lost a bit of steam in 2017, thanks to my in-betweens. I haven’t been the healthiest this year. I’ve been stuck in a cycle of illness, inability to get into a workout and diet routine after illness, and illness again. I’ve gained about 10 pounds and just don’t feel “myself.” Clothes haven’t been fitting me the way I’m used to, and I’m stuck between trying to get back on track health-wise and loving my body just the way it is. It’s been a bit tough to love something that doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.
I’m also at a weird in-between style-wise, partially thanks to those extra pounds, and partially thanks to the fact that I’m 32, not quite ready for kids yet (patience, Mom), but also not quite young enough to get away with a lot of the styles I used to wear. I’ve always been a bit quirky with my style, and I’m struggling a bit to fit that quirkiness into the “adult” phase of my life. I love so many different styles that I feel sort of like a style chameleon. I also love looking polished and professional, but sometimes I just wanna wear a unicorn t-shirt, okay? It’s a work in progress.
The other day, I was explaining all of this in-betweenness to my mom before I realized it was the source of my frustrations. I was especially frustrated with my personal style. I told her I was sick of my teaching clothes and felt like I was dressing as though I was five different people: A fashion blogger, a high school teacher, a politician’s wife, a professional trying to make her way in the world, and a woman who doesn’t feel quite herself. As always, my mom was wise with her response:
“Of course you’re frustrated. You’re all of those things, and none of them really go together, do they? You’re being pulled in so many different directions right now. You’re just in an in-between phase of your life.”
It’s always nice for someone else to hit the nail right smack on the head. It saves a visit to the therapist’s office, too.
What I’m starting to realize, though, is that the in-betweens cultivate growth. I’ve learned so much in the last year. The most important thing I’ve learned is that when given a blank slate, I can totally fill it:
- I’ve taken the role of social media director, as well as campaign strategist and director on my husband’s Congressional campaign.
- I came up with a social media education program for the high school athletes where I teach and used it to write my thesis (46 pages long! I’m still kind of proud of that).
- I’m taking steps to figure out what’s going on with my health and figure out a diet that’s going to work for me.
- I’ve spent some time updating my resume, juuuust in case the perfect opportunity comes along.
- I’m re-strategizing my approach to this blog. If you want to give me your feedback and let me know what you want to see in the future, you can take the survey here.
- I co-styled (and modeled in) my first creative shoot where I wasn’t just using my own clothes, props, etc. The images from that shoot are peppering this post.
Speaking of that shoot, I absolutely need to give credit where credit is due:
Flowers: The Farmer’s Daughter
Dresses: Luna Boutique
Photography: Cerise Photography
Styling: Terri of Cerise Photography and me
As 2018 begins, my only resolution is to vow to be more intentional about moving out of the in-betweens and embracing the “blank slates” with confidence.
Cheers to a new year!