The Masquerade: why you must remove your mask

why you must remove your maskAs a homeowner, I look forward to trick-or-treating every year. My husband and I carve pumpkins, grab our favorite TV show, and wait with anticipation. While I’m not a fan of Halloween, I do look forward to the doorbell ringing and greeting a cast of characters with handfuls of sweets.

Rain or shine, today we will be the ones on the sidewalk going door to door with Iron Man and Superman leading the way! And while I feel like a kid again and have eagerly packed “goodie bags” for such an occasion, the activity conjures up another mask in question.

This mask is not for kids. And it is not reserved for special occasions. In fact, it seems to be worn throughout most of the year. This mask hides flaws. It misrepresents. It is the paraphernalia of an act, one that has been performed throughout the years. This mask is worn for others. This mask is mine.

Getting me to admit my masquerade has been a long time coming. I felt the effects long before I recognized the cause. Even as these words leave my fingertips, my heart flutters a little with insecurity. But I’m going to be honest with you. Because maybe you’re like me. It all started a couple months ago with Donald Miller’s book, Scary Close (awesome read, by the way). Within the first few pages I knew I had a problem. Like the author, I have been an actor on the stage of life. Performing for others in order to receive the applause of acceptance and affirmation. I rehearse my lines so I can deliver them with ease. I disguised myself and therefore deceived myself.

Maybe you do this too. Perhaps you’re an actor on your own stage, performing for the people in your life in order to get something in return: significance, love, acceptance, forgiveness, recognition, fame, fortune, the list goes on and on. Somewhere along the line we’ve all learned that we aren’t enough. That there is something wrong with us. So we overcompensate. We carefully craft a mask to wear that we know will be pleasing to others. As Miller says, we all have an ace card that, when all else fails, we know we can play with success.

It got me thinking. What is my ace card? And what’s yours? What mask have I worn over the years that has yielded positive results? That has given me the affirmation I always wanted? And then it came to me. While yours may be intelligence, humor, money, or service, mine is Continue reading

Finding Mr. Right: 10 insights from those who are married

Finding Mr. Right 10 insights from those married

A recent shift in American culture has now made it more appealing to be single. In fact, there are now slightly more people staying single than getting married. But for those of you still searching for your soul mate, this post is for you.

While the waiting game can be long and tedious, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what you’re waiting for. I feel many are searching for their soul mate and dreaming of their fairy tale wedding without a real understanding of what marriage entails.

So for all my single friends out there, keep this advice in mind when you’re searching for Mr. Right: Continue reading

A Note to Parents from Friends without Kids

a note to parents from friends without kids

Just in the past few months 21 of our closest friends and family have announced a pregnancy. Twenty-one. It’s like my world went crazy and exploded with little babies.

With each birth announcement, I feel the distance grow a little more between us and our friends around us. Now, most of our conversations revolve around the fascination with their mini-me. We love our friends and their kids. But it’s hard. It’s a different world, one we aren’t currently a part of. As we learn to navigate this new transition stage, there are a 4 things I would really like to tell parents from those of us on “the other side”. Continue reading

The Message in the Mess: what our busy lives are telling us

What our busy lives are telling us

When people ask us how we’re doing the words “busy” and “stressed” tend to surface. Come to think of it, those answers have been on repeat a lot lately. Lately. As in the past four years. As I find myself uttering the same response over and over I have started wondering, Do we really live this way? Has our life really boiled down to busyness, stress, to-do lists, and running from one event to the next? Another thought terrified me. If this is our life now, what will it be like when we have kids? I couldn’t even go there for fear panic would set in. Based on our current lifestyle, I couldn’t even imagine our lives picking up more speed!

But let’s be honest. “Busy and stressed” is just the polite, socially acceptable answer. In reality, what I really mean is “We’re absolutely exhausted running around like crazy people just trying to hold on to our sanity allthewhile wondering how we can get off this roller coaster!” At least, that’s how it feels. But that response might result in a few blank stares, awkward silences, and uncomfortable shuffling of feet.

I remember my parents recounting this exact feeling. Mom and Dad would crash into bed at the end of each day, utterly fatigued, asking each other, “how do we get off this roller coaster of life?” They felt whipped around at every turn and  like they were being dragged along at warp speed.

Though few may admit it, I suspect I am not alone. An article from ABC news stated that middle class Americans are overstressed and overworked, calling it the “sweat under the white collar”. Both men and women now share the roles of breadwinner and homemaker, while more and more children are placed in daycare. Long hours, hectic schedules, events, social outings, volunteering, to-do lists, dinner, laundry, yard work, baseball games, swim practice, and just keeping up with the kids’ schedules is enough to make you feel like you’re drowning. But we press on. We push through. For a while. Until sooner or later we find ourselves coming up for air, on the verge of burnout, wondering how things got so out of control.

The idea of “getting off the ride” may look a little different for each of us. For some this means finding a sense of peace and turning to yoga, quiet time, or time away. For others, it means gaining a sense of structure through lists, whiteboards, schedules, etc. Some believe that if they just create enough balance in their life, things will improve. Still others search for a way to unload their stress through physical activity, entertainment, counseling, or time with friends and family. All of these are great ways to reduce and manage stress in life.

Manage. That’s the key word here. While I am an avid supporter of finding ways to balance life, manage stress, and find some peace, I feel given enough time we will find ourselves back where we started. Like a bandaid over a seeping wound, sometimes these “fix-it” solutions just aren’t enough. Sometimes only major surgery will do.

Perhaps the answer we’re searching for isn’t in figuring out how to get off the ride, but understanding Continue reading