Love, Joleen: Somebody Pass Me a Tissue, Please

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Somebody Pass Me a Tissue, Please

October 2013
I started this post a few days ago and it's been mulling around in my head ever since. I apologize ahead of time for how sporadic and random it might be, but there is a lot on my mind! I've been thinking about authenticity and transparency a lot lately in regards to this blog and social media. What to share and what to keep private? Is there such a thing as "too much sharing" [for me]? For those of you who don't know, my son's birthday is also my blog's birthday and this year I celebrated NINE years of blogging! (See my original post here.) Of course, it started as a way for me to connect with other artists and keep in touch with family. I've learned so much in the last [near] decade. That original blog quickly became personal for me, as I connected to readers around the world, and an outlet for me during a darker time in my life. Recently, we've had family on both sides express their disdain for social media and request that photos of them not be shared online. I totally understand and respect their wishes but I can't help feeling judged in some small way every time this subject is broached (even though I know it has absolutely nothing to do with me). That's just how I feel. Most recently, I have felt that I haven't been authentic or transparent enough in this space. I've questioned my motives on several occasions. What is this blog about? Who is it for? Why would anyone care to read it? Why do I care so much?

I love the giveaways and product reviews. I love the fashion posts on What Ben Wore. I love sharing session and photo shoot sneak peeks. But more than anything, I want Love, Joleen to be a place to share my own personal truth and life.  I want this to be a place where people can come for information and conversation. For camaraderie;  a "I know how you feel!" I'm truly not a "friend collector". I'm looking for real connections. Aren't we all?

Over the years I've suffered off an on from anxiety and depression. The last couple of years things have been infinitely better than in years past but I have noticed that this time of year I tend to get SAD (Seasonal Depression). In hindsight, I do believe I was suffering a little bit from postpartum depression and SAD this time last year. I'm really not sure why I get SAD and I could tell you that I wish I didn't. I have many of the classic symptoms:
  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • sleeping more than usual;
  • craving for sugar, starchy foods, or alcohol;
  • weight gain;
  • irritability;
It frustrates me when I know logically that I have so much to be grateful for. I really don't sit around feeling sorry for myself but in some sluggish way, things are different. It came out of no where this year, as the excitement of Benjamin's birthday came to an end last week. At the same time we are dealing with so many changes on his part. He's finally cut those molars, but they're still coming through. He's had both sleep and breastfeeding issues as well.
But this is exactly why I love social media so much! I have friends and followers who are so helpful and encouraging in this time of change! This morning I posted some concerns I have about Benjamin's nursing right now, and the comments came flooding in. Each comment I received was so helpful and I found myself crying out of gratefulness. Everything you do and every effort you make is influenced by that effort. In other words, "it is what you make it". If you let yourself open up and be a little more authentic with people, I'm shown time and time again, that it's likely other people are experiencing the same, or something similar.

Which brings me to this holiday season. I miss my family most of all. It was "easy" not to miss them so much after our visit this Summer because we were busy with friends and enjoying Fall in this beautiful state. We had Benjamin's birthday to look forward to and plan for. I had also thought we'd be spending Thanksgiving in California, initially, so when it was apparent that it wasn't going to happen, that's when I started missing them the most. People don't usually discuss their financial position, and for good reason, it's noneyabidness, but I will just say that money is tight. Benjamin was a miracle and a blessing, but also a complete surprise and we never anticipated or planned for me not working full time this last year and a half. I have been SO incredibly blessed to be able to establish Joleen Pete Photography here in Atlanta this year, but it's still not completely steady and some months are harder than others. Still, whenever I start to worry or stress, God has blessed me with another job, and for that I'm honestly the most grateful! That being said, the holidays are tight, to say the least, and we've made a lot of decisions to forgo certain traditions of the season strictly based on that alone. It definitely hasn't helped my feelings of SAD, but I'm at least happy that if this is the year for "sacrifice", that at least Benjamin isn't old enough to remember. #firstworldproblems

BUT, something happened just now that has me in tears (in a good way), and it's because of one of you. I don't know who it was, but someone sent Benjamin his own little Christmas tree which has just arrived with an unrecognizable return address and no name. So to whoever sent him this gift, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea what it means to me. It is in this spirit that I am reminded of what this season is about. This holiday season, but also this season in my life, and our life as a family. It's so easy for me to feel sorry for myself (I've thrown a pity party or two in my day) or to stress, but each of these experiences also prove to be learning experiences (cheesy but true) and opportunity for growth.

How's that for the most random blog post ever?
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