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Monday, June 24, 2013

gratitude, apologies and real friends

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I wrote a lovely, light-hearted post about summer picnics that I’d scheduled for today but somehow it doesn’t feel right to hit the publish button and keep moving.

On Saturday night as I was getting into bed I read THIS blog title and I must’ve groaned out loud because Jim asked me from across the room.

“What’s wrong Les? What happened?”

And then I read him the first few lines written by my blogger friend and he let out a deep sigh and ever since then, I’ve had these words stuck in my head that I’ve needed to get out.

If you’ve been following Pat’s blog you probably already know she’s been going through some tough times because she’s shared bits and pieces of her struggles with her awful neighbors and her pending relocation--and now this.

It’s simply tragic. But instead of focusing on her loss, this post is really about a brief apology she made about a particular post being a “downer.” It was just a few innocuous words and she might not even remember them.

But her words struck me.

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In fact, immediately after I read her word “downer” I wanted to write about this topic. Our fear that if we share our troubles openly we might be viewed as “being negative” or—if we reveal too much real life on our blogs it might turn off our readers. I certainly can’t speak for Pat’s feelings but I can relate to having fleeting moments of insecurity after I’ve hit the publish button.

Most recently about a post entitled, I Am Crazy Person, So What, (although apparently not enough to choose a safer title)

But mostly I wanted to tell Pat not to worry about my reactions to her post. Because truthfully, there are no feelings she could share that would cause me to judge her. No agonizing struggles that would turn me off or sad posts that would make me skirt over her blog.

It’s just not going to happen.

Does that sound strange to you? Because I’m aware that my professional background makes me an oddity at times, it’s colored the lens that I view Life from and it’s given me the ability to casually tell my boys,

“You know, there’s nothing you can ever tell me that will shock me. Seriously, I’ve heard it all.”

And lucky for me, it’s the truth (courtesy of years in the session room). And I would only mention this to them as a reassurance. Because in the end, isn’t this what we all want? To be accepted for who we really are? To feel like we don’t have to hide any fragile, little-piece-of-ourselves? And that we can express our truths without fear of being judged or shamed?

When it comes to friendship this is the kind of person I aspire to be, whether I’m reading your posts or sitting across from you. The person who is not afraid of your feelings, whatever they might be. I think this kind of emotional acceptance is the kindest gift we can offer someone.

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Those glimpses beneath the surface of another person’s life? I consider those a privilege. The deeper stuff.  Those heartbreaking losses. The messy struggles. It all tends to flood me with tender feelings in fact, these are the kind of experiences that help me feel connected to someone, bonded by what others might label as ‘negative emotions,’ and I consider simply our humanness.

This is why I’ve been touched by certain bloggers –like Pat--who have dared to share a piece of their heart on their blog, not realizing the extent that women like me would feel moved by this kind of intimacy and raw truth. I’ve appreciated when Michele opened up about her BRCA2 gene and her subsequent surgeries. When Simone shared her anguish over her daughter’s struggles. When Cathi shared her thoughts about the fragility of life. When Loo wrote about her struggles to find a balance between work and family life and finally decided to leave her career. And when Jessah continues to share her heartbreaking struggle to get pregnant.

These are the kinds of posts that help me know the real person behind the blog. And even though these may be tough topics to read about, they remind us that we are all connected as women, trying to do the best we can.

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The truth is Pat’s concern about being a “downer” for her readers was not simply a blogger’s dilemma. I think it’s common in real life too. Maybe you’ve been hesitant to open up about your sadness or your anxieties, the things that keep you up at night…..

because of what others might think.

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Because there’s a whole lot of pressure out in the world to only show our most perfect selves. Our lovely homes, our high achieving kids, our problem-free relationships. And maybe that’s the point of this rambling post. It’s a post about being real. About knowing your deeper feelings and finding a way to share them with people who truly care because that’s how healing happens. And one more thing. Please don’t ever feel self conscious because you’re going through tough times. Because it’s all part of life. And real friends will understand

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In the meantime, today the world mourns the loss of one amazing fifteen year old because Pat has lost her precious grand-daughter. If you get a moment, please stop by and offer her your condolences.

As for me, today I will not complain about ONE thing. Not one. I will welcome each inconvenience (my internet is down I may not be able to publish this)

and anything that goes wrong today in honor of those like Pat and her family who are truly suffering.

Today I’m aware that time is really a gift and I will be grateful for every single moment.

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…tell me what you think.

xoxo

Leslie

 

I’m linking this inspiration post up with these friends:

 

 

22 comments:

Art and Sand said...

I was not familiar with Pat's blog. What struck me most was her attitude despite all the sadness she and her family are experiencing. I will be thinking about her and her family.

Thank you for speaking out and sharing Pat with me.

anangloinquebec said...

I actually come to your blog to read posts such as this. I think we all blog for different reasons and therefore there are a multitude of flavours out there. Sometimes I feel like dropping in to read the somewhat light and funny blog posts written by various bloggers about renos gone wrong...and right but I equally love to read and connect with those bloggers that have the courage to put themselves out there on an emotional level. Courage may not be the right word but I know that I have put certain posts into "draft" mode in order to ponder them a little longer. I have questioned what people will think. It is a constant part of the nature of blogging when certain readers come and go. You wonder when they come back to certain posts to comment and avoid others. Human nature I guess.
I have visited Pat's blog and left a comment. Her tragedy is unimaginable and one that I hope to never experience But she is living that right now and as a community I hope bloggers come together to express their sorrow for her and her family. We may be a viral community which appears tenuous at times but we are a new reality and one that can create bonds that stick.

simone antoniazzi said...

Love this post Leslie.

I so agree with your point about "emotional acceptance". I have a lot of friends but my closest ones are those will whom I can say whatever I am feeling, I don't have to filter, consciously or subconsciously, I don't have to keep quiet or say the right thing, I can simply say out loud whatever is in my head or my heart.

My blog is largely about the things that I find inspiring or beautiful and I love sharing those...but I also do share the more "real" issues, some of the things that I've been through & can't not share....some family/parents stuff & the issues with my daughter, as you very kindly mentioned.

You have such a great way of expressing yourself and hitting the nail on the head.

If it's important to you, then share it....it's your blog after all. And we should remember that most of us have very similar worries, hopes & dreams....more people understand that we think.

Great post Xx

Catherine Robinson said...

Beautiful post Leslie...you write with such sensitivity and understanding it is an amazing world this world of blogging and I feel privileged to read other bloggers experiences and emotions...there is a bravery to opening your heart on this platform and it's very touching.
Brilliant post!
xx

Home and Lifestyle Design said...

Hmmm.... Not so long ago I felt very alone and in fact I was alone, part of it was my own doing, my shame in having failed in life, but another part was that I have found that people can only take so much grieving from another person before they have a need to pull away.

What is the saying? "Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone."

There is a time to grieve and how long it takes that particular person to grieve is a very individual process and not for others to comment on. However, there did come a time for me when I knew I had to pick myself back up, stop grieving and get back to living. I feel I am back up and have gone out among the living again, but truly finding my place is another process that I am going through, and well, who knows how long this process is, I certainly don't know. So, I guess I am conflicted about how much grief to share with another, but I do think that this is how we get to know the core of another person.

Many years ago my mother lost her adult son. Years later I can remember her telling me that people would avoid her when they came in contact with her because she felt they were afraid she would talk about her loss and they didn't want to hear it and because if my mother could lose her child then they too might have to think about the possibility of them losing a child.

It is enjoyable to share a laugh with another, but there is no fun in sharing pain and grief. However I do think there is a great bonding that occurs when people share tears with each other, but it is harder, and there aren't so many people that are comfortable with the sharing of loss and sadness, it takes a special person to go to this place with another human being.

I enjoy your writing and your sharing of emotions and truth. Please keep sharing.

Thanks, Patty

Leslie Harris said...

Patty . Thank you for sharing a piece of your personal story. I’m sorry for your loss (es?) that caused you so much grief and shame. The older I get the more I’ve come to believe our emotional health in life depends on our ability to deal with our losses. Certainly aging guarantees that we will need to make peace with letting go and saying goodbye as we move along in life, whether it’s to actual people or a way of life or even our connection to our physical beauty.
How sad for your mother. Not only to suffer the loss of a son (your brother?) but to experience the discomfort of others. I do think that losing a child is a terrifying prospect for most parents and I can imagine the reactions.
I’ve found that others who have known emotional loss and sadness are the ones that tend to develop a compassion and a certain tolerance for others in pain. You’re right, it’s never comfortable per se, but it is a part of life and I can’t think of anything worse than going through a painful time and feeling worried about being judged. That’s what I meant about acceptance being the kindest gift we can give. We can’t take away someone’s pain but when we allow them to fully experience it and make sense of it, the irony is that it passes naturally. I’ve found that people with prolonged grief that goes into depression may simply need (professional) help so they can make sense of their stuckness. The answers are always there, right inside us when we take time to look within without self-judgment (shame).
I really appreciated hearing from you and I look forward to supporting your new blog.
Leslie

Di said...

Thank you for sharing and make a point to tell us your feeling. This came at a good time, I've gone through some sad times losing my parents. The joy is there because of my sweet daughters and their families. And thankfully my husband is a cancer survivor. Yes, we do need to let others know to share their sorrow because we are a community of people that care for each other. Thank you for reminding us! Di

Cathi said...

Wonderful post, Leslie! When I started my blog several years ago, I was very close to losing my best friend to lung cancer (in fact she died a month or so after I started blogging regularly.), at the time the blog was a getaway from all the sadness in my life so I only wanted to have happy things on it. But once I started delving into the blog world and reading all sorts of wonderful blogs, I felt the need to share my struggles with everyone and you know what happened - a community of some very wonderful women came into my life because of it. This blog world has enriched my life so much and like you, I am a cup half full gal. No matter how bad life gets, I can find some good in it and I wouldn't have it any other way. As you well know, this year has been an emotional struggle for me with Alex being ill twice, my friend Katie passing away a few months ago - my heart has been very heavy. I am so grateful for all the good things in my life and I appreciate every moment that I have with my loved ones. My heart goes out to Pat, I can't even imagine what she is going thru with losing her grandchild - but I know with lots of love, prayer and friendship - she will get thru this and I will continue my prayers for her and her family. xxoo

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Dearest Leslie,

First of all, I want to thank you for leaving such kind words on my blog; I was out of town for about 3 days and did not have my computer with me, but I just saw you visited my blog. THANK YOU!

This is when reality at it's most poignant hits us, when a loved one or even an acquaintance's life is altered. We really do begin to see what is essential and most important when our vulnerability surfaces.

Coming together to encourage each other is something that makes me believe that we are all doing what we were meant to do: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Peace my dear. Anita

The Divorced Lady's Companion to Living in Italy said...

Gosh what a heartbreaking time for your friend and her family. It's really stopped me in my tracks. I've been feeling a little complain-y today and sorry-for-myself and now I just feel quiet. It's all so fragile, isn't it? And life just beyond our grasp, its sense almost clear to us but not.

I do love your blog and can hear you thinking and listening. Your understanding is immense. I'm not always sure where I am going with my blog, and tend to offload rather than open up. I worry I am too gripe-y, too quick to run away.

But yours is a warm place I love to visit! Xcat

pink*cherub*moon said...

Hi Leslie, I just left my condolences on Pat's Blog. What a horrible tragedy!

I have seen others post about not showing "real" life. Some joke about it, others show it off, while others seem to think that it is not allowed, that if you are not writing about cooking, decorating, sewing, etc, you are "bumming everybody out", that the blog is no longer interesting to the masses or that the author is not sticking with the format they "promised" their readers. I don't get it. While I enjoy reading about and admiring pictures of all of those recreational things, there is life outside of blogging and as friendships form and relationships become more relaxed, people will tend to "trust" their audience and write more personal posts from time to time. I include a variety post subjects in my blog and yes, I have noticed that the ones that pertain to refinishing furniture or junk thrifting get read more, I still enjoy telling silly stories about my grandkids or some crazy bug in my yard or must making up something entertaining to brighten another's day (hence the gingerbread cookie story). If a blog were entitled "My Crappy Life" and was nothing but complaints about everything, I wouldn't follow it. It's just not my thing. But if a blog is about decorating and the author writes about their new pet or a shopping trip or recipe, I'm not going to stop following them. Maybe people need to lighten up, to put it bluntly.
Sorry for the ramble but you asked for feedback LOL! Won't do that again, will ya? ;) Hugs, Leena

Lori said...

Sometimes I read your posts and think that you are speaking directly to me. My blog is about life ~ the happy and pretty along with the down and sad times. I think it is good to find a balance between the two ~ like you said ~ it gives a truer picture of the writer and their lives.

Richella Parham said...

"The good, the bad, and the ugly"--the whole thing is what makes up a whole life. God bless Pat for sharing her sorrows as well as her joys, and God bless you for encouraging all of us to be real!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Hello Leslie,

I have not been able to get this post out of my mind. I think that most often people read blogs for recipes, DIY, entertainment and escape. But at the same time they yearn for a connection, to make friends and to find "something" more...whatever that is. Perhaps escape from their own trials and tribulations or to see how "the other half lives: or just to find some relief from the economy, job loss, rising gas prices, etc.

At the end of the day, someone always has more than you,more money, more education, more stuff, more life experiences, and someone has less of all of the above. In the end none of that matters...love, life and family and friends are the most important things in life. Your memories and moments are all that you and they will have in the end.

I was so sorry to read Pat's blog, what a beautiful young life lost and what beautiful memories Pat has of her smiling beautiful girl to sustain her until they meet again.

Sorry for the ramble but I will close with this, I love a beautiful photo, a wonderful adventure, and a delicious recipe but in no way am I turned off of a blogger that reaches out to talk about life issues. I think it take courage and I think they are reaching out to their community for a little love, reassurance, a pat on the back and even just an "I know what you are going through" comment.

Thank you Leslie for your always thoughtful and insightful posts. You always make me think and I always leave here feeling lighter and better.

Have a great weekend, Elizabeth

Monica said...

Beautiful Leslie.

Carol said...

I'm a new visitor, Leslie, and this was such a tender and moving post. I am amazed every day at the kind-heartedness and genuine care I feel about fellow bloggers. These wonderful people that I will most probably never meet, are my "friends." There is more of a connection with some of these people than with the ones I come into physical contact with. I think it's wonderful how everyone (mostly) are eager share and have you share in return -- the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes, you can almost feel tender arms giving you a hug or a gentle, reassuring pat on your back. It truly is a blessing to be part of all of this. Thank you so much for sharing. I don't know Pat, but she is already in my prayers.

Carol

michele said...

i'm so touched to be mentioned in such a meaningful post. you really do get it. i wrestle with the whole transparency, blogging, and privacy stuff. my blog began as a pre-pinterest simple catalog of lovely inspiration for myself and not a personal journal or even a writing outlet. as it has grown, i see its potential to inspire others in a small way. what i have learned is this wrestling is an issue in my offline life. i would much prefer to reveal joys over sorrow. but life is both. and suffering is honorable. thanks for your beautiful words and understanding.

michele

Gypsy Heart said...

Leslie, I'm so glad you shared this post with me. I did not see it earlier and I can't even tell you how much I appreciate it...and you!

You write beautifully and from the heart. I, too, agree that folks should share their real life along with the fun stuff. I know that I won't hesitate to do this in the future. In real life, I'm one that realizes not everyone is going to like me ~ and vice-versa ~ however, respect is key for all of us. I've had some huge losses in my life ~ divorces, homes, parents and other family members, pets and dear friends. I do think that our life experiences can teach us compassion and empathy for others.

Thank you again! I so appreciate you and I'm very grateful our paths have crossed.

xo
Pat

Carla TePaske said...

Thank you for this amazing post.

Linda Primmer said...

Such a wonderful post. Everyone gets caught up sometimes about blogging about tablescapes, crafts, etc. We all have our down moments. Our friends and family should be supportive when we are feeling down. We have the right to feel the way we do. I certainly know, because I am dealing with two cancers at the moment. I write about what I am experiencing. I certainly don't want to drag my fellow bloggers down. I am sharing my feelings. I don't expect pity. I am doing what I must do. Pat is a lovely woman I love. I designed her blog. She has been there for me. Thanks for sharing a must needed post. xo Linda

Jacqueline said...

I came over from Pat's blog. What a wonderful post. I just had the same experience last night as I read that Kitty's husband from Kitty's Kozy Kitchen had passed away. And here she was out visiting me! I couldn't believe it and gasped out loud too. It helps to share and to feel all of the love and support from everyone and I truly believe in group prayers. I have felt their strength as if I were wrapped in a blanket of love as if it were as tangible as a woven blanket. Thanks and so nice to meet you!

Dayle Allen Shockley @ A Collection of This and That said...

Yes, it's September, but I was directed to this post from Pat's blog, which I just happened to discover because of a comment she left on my recent post. So, forgive the lateness, but I loved this post. I've blogged along similar lines before and I stand by the idea that life isn't perfect and it's okay to show that imperfect part of who we are. It doesn't make us appear weak, only human.

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