Introducing yourself to a new group of people is hard. I found that out this week. Beyond the personal demographics like
- married to husband Michael for 14 years,
- work-from-home mom to three kids – two boys and a girl, and
- lives in Grimes as a speaker, author, and podcaster,
…how do you summarize your life and who you are in such a way that really captures the “you” of your “you-ness”? Ugh.
So, I took my usual approach when I can’t figure out what to do: I asked my people.
Sometimes others can see you more clearly than you can see yourself. They are more honest, insightful, and, surprisingly, kinder. My people summarized me in three words: Intentional, Imperfect, Includer. (Who knew my people have a knack for alliteration!)
That’s the word my best friend used to describe me. I knew what she meant. For goodness sake, even our Christmas gift opening night between our two families became “a whole thing” when I suggested each family member share what they love about the Gift Opener before he/she could open the gift. Yes, it took two hours. Yes, we had two 7-year-olds who deserved a medal on top of their Christmas presents for enduring the exercise. And yes, each person’s heart was full, having received a much more meaningful gift than what was inside a wrapped box.
I try to live my life with meaning and purpose and pour that same kind of intentionality into my relationships, writing, and spoken words.
I learned this from my dad who always had a lesson to teach us, even in the simplest of moments. The good news is that since fun is also a high priority for me, most times intentionality in my life looks a lot like good, clean fun.
This description came from my kids. I’ve heard this one before, too. In several different settings over the course of the past three years, my kids have used this word when talking about me. (I’d be offended if it wasn’t so true!) I am imperfect. An imperfect mom and wife and friend and employee. There was a day when my imperfections caused me embarrassment. I did my best to eliminate them, or certainly, to keep them hidden from others. Boy, was that exhausting!
I’ve since come to learn that my imperfections are actually doors.
Doors to grace and forgiveness. Doors for lessons with my kids about giving ourselves (and others) a break. Doors to authentic friendships as the walls of having-it-all-together come tumbling down and other women see me not only acknowledging, but laughing at my weaknesses. It’s amazing how much freedom others feel when you invite them into your messy house! Embracing my imperfections allows me to spend more time loving others and less time stressing over things that don’t matter.
I know what it feels like to be on the outside of the group. I know what it feels like to not quite fit in, and I also know what it feels like to be purposely excluded for no good reason. It sucks. And those experiences influence my approach toward others every day. I have a choice. I can choose to also exclude. (I tried that before and found that it sucks, too.) Or, I can choose to include. Include others in my conversations, my gatherings, my ideas, my family. Include them in my heartache and my joy. Include them in my disappointments and failures as well as my triumphs and successes.
I’ve found that including others doesn’t just make them feel good. It makes me feel good, too.
It reminds me that I’m not alone when facing tough circumstances. Or when I reach the pinnacle of achievement, that I didn’t do it on my own. For me, including is about community, and learning, and being known. It’s about belonging and finding your people.
So, yeah. That’s me. I’m an intentional, imperfect includer. As a writer for Des Moines Moms Blog, I’ll continue to be this. I’m going to think deeply about you. I’m going to share my flaws, encouraging you to laugh along with me and perhaps even to share your own. And I’m going to invite you into a community of moms where you’ll find camaraderie, ideas, and support. After all, we belong to each other. Thanks for welcoming me.