Saturday, August 10

the "about me"

I've avoided a blog for forever. I don't know why exactly. Maybe because like reclining in front of a fire with nothing to do but nurse a glass of red wine, the time it takes to write one feels like a luxury that, most days, like many of us, I don't seem to have. Blogging takes energy too. Energy that, with a five and two year old, feels, most days, like a friend I used to know. Or maybe I’ve been scared. Afraid to admit that maybe, when it comes down to it, I have very little to say.

But I'm testing my toes in the water and so far I'm finding it isn't as cold and big and overwhelming as I've feared. Except for the set-up of a blog. Specifically the section where, in the profile beneath my photo, I'm supposed to write something "about me."

I don't know about you, but describing myself in several sentences has never been easy for me to do. I could list a couple of interests - writing, piano, my husband (in no certain order). And how I spend my time - right now, keeping up with our two little bee bops, feeding them, laughing with them and clawing around to create the space to write, play the piano and get close to my best friend. But even if my list was long and I had a host of activities to describe me, would that really encompass who I am?

The question of "Who is Shelley?" has gnawed at me a lot lately. Because not only am I a fairly new mama, but I still feel fairly newly married and recently left a decade-long career in TV. Change has headlined my story lately. And in that change, like in most change I imagine, I'm having to remind myself of who I am. Or perhaps more accurately, find myself and re-define myself again and again.

Because before, I could tell you that I'm a broadcast journalist, that I anchor the morning news and produce and anchor a noon show too. Not that my job totally defined me, but over time I got familiar with the role and felt as at home in it as I do in my favorite pair of jeans. But in this new role - of partner, of parent, of writer - I feel like I'm five years old again, on the Delta River and learning to ski for the very first time. It's exhilarating, but shaky. In part, because it's foreign. I'm trying to find my sea legs and straining to see how the changes this season is spelling are changing, and not changing, the core and extremities of me.

And what I'm finding is that I need people. Which is about as painless for me as was getting my wisdom teeth pulled. Because admittedly, I'm an arms-lengther. It may not seem so on the surface - I give hugs, I open up, I thrive on deep and candid conversations.

But I found recently that like keeping your distance from that kid in the check-out line with red cheeks, a runny nose and a cough that sounds like it's coming from an 80-year old man, I've operated for a while now on only letting people come so close. I've built some barriers over time and the walls, formed by hurt and unforgiveness and self-protection, have done a fairly good job at not only keeping people out - out of certain secret and sensitive places. But out of the pieces of my journey where, perhaps in this season especially, the people on my journey are needed most.

Because when I'm lost in this newness and feeling around, sometimes furiously, for some sense of my familiar self, I need those who know me to tell me who they see. The person that, over time, they've witnessed, they've walked with, they've been mad at and buoyed up by. The person they're watching me move into. And like Mrs. Dutcher, my third grade teacher, to a younger, continuously-math-challenged me, I need them to sometimes-painstakingly-slowly and more-than-they'd-probably-like-repeatedly help me understand how those seemingly separate selves are being woven together. How who I was and who I'm changing into are forming the fabric of who I am today.

And though at times I fight against it, their perspective, I'm discovering, is profound. It's paramount in my defining and re-defining who I am. In my being okay with who I am. No, more than okay. In my embracing, even celebrating the me the changes are ushering in.

I used to think that who we are could be summed up fairly easily. That to the question of "Who is Shelley?" or "Who is (your name)" the answer of "I am a child of God" would and should suffice - period, that's all, the end. In fact, I've felt guilty at times when, like the air inside a balloon, that answer didn't seem to fully fill my identity.

But I think we're more complex, composed of a myriad of interests and characteristics and passions and roles and gifts and decisions and truths. They all make up our make-up, and many are in flux. Like when a baby is born, a career is changed or a friendship buds or ends. Or like when school winds down, a parent dies or even the times we're tried, helped or in awe in some fresh way. Something of our insides, a piece of who we are, gets tweaked. Sometimes slightly, sometimes powerfully. But we, I'm finding, are in flow. Caught up in a sometimes stretching but beautiful shaping and sharpening of the soul.

So from time to time, with help along the way, I'm learning to ask myself "Who is Shelley now?" Take an honest look at the habits, hurts and grudges that need to go. Work on that, on dismantling that wall one sometimes seemingly-immovable brick at a time. But work on embracing who I am, whatever the season, as well. Celebrate it, use it. Then ask the question over and over again. Because in this piece of God's great story, I've found that change is inherently, and purposefully, part of our path.

So thanks to the people on mine - for your perspective, for your patience, for your presence. More and more, may I be changing into someone who offers the same. And at some point, in a rare and sparkling moment of courage and clarity, maybe I'll attempt the "about me."