Notes on the journey of motherhood

The Art of Wearing Track Pants

One of our family traditions after a particularly busy or tired period, we have a ‘track pant day’. The idea of the track pant day is we dress down, clear the schedule and just get comfortable. This week we had a whole ‘track pant week’ as I’ve had my back taped with a disc injury. After my weird post deletion mid week, I’m beginning to wonder if I might be making a career of track pant wearing: a ‘track pant life’.

After I wrote about my new beginning, and finally having the time and space to write and draw, I truly felt like I had been reborn. I felt that I was no longer the same person I was as a teen. Unencumbered by the baggage of my past, I could now become whoever I wanted to be. Happy days, yes?

I then struggled to write a follow up post. How could I top the last post? Will I always need to maintain this level of ‘wow’ with my blog? Can’t I just stay in my blog track pants and smooch about, naval gazing and occasionally being witty?

And then I started to feel overwhelmingly down about the whole experience, ready to take my bat and ball and go home. The thought of deleting the whole blog crossed my mind. I even thought about having another baby (like I don’t already have one of those …!) I felt an overwhelming desire to stay in my track pants forever, safety nestled in my comfort zone. And that’s when I realized that I was not in fact a new person at all, but the same person – slightly older – who hates a challenge.

The post that followed did what I’ve always done in difficult situations: avoided the issue completely. And then, as though the initial avoidance was not enough, I deleted the post altogether.

But my clever readers saw straight through it. Marion wins the prize for most perceptive comment: “Sometimes, it’s the posts we struggle with that are telling us the most.”

And it’s because you are so clever, my bloggy friends, that I’ve written this post. Not dealing with this seems like lying: not only to you, but to myself.

Warning: I might sound mental, but I’m really very OK. And I’m throwing the word count out the window folks, so make yourselves comfortable (think tea and at least 2 biscuits).

~

Having your creative history packed up in the junk room for a decade, it’s easy to forget the reason it was put in the junk room in the first place. Surprise, surprise, when I unpacked and sorted through it, after the initial joy of having rediscovered my passion for creating, I was immediately flooded with all of those same feelings again.

The truth is, it’s not the time or the space that I need to make my dreams come true (although they help!), what I really need is a truckload of faith in myself. I realized this moments after I deleted my post. I found myself snapping at the boys and crying. ‘What’s going on?’ I kept asking myself. ‘What is the problem here? Why I am acting like this? I’ve worked hard to write this blog, and now I want to delete it and erase the friendships I’ve been forming with readers. Huh?’

And then a very familiar feeling of de ja vu. Oprah would say this was my ‘Aha moment’.

I realized there was a big wall ahead of me, shaped by my own hands with solid, heavy bricks of self-doubt. I have faced this wall many times in life, but not for years. When faced with the wall, I slump, I over-think the problem (how to get past the wall?), pace back and forth and then I give up. If I do try to climb it or go around it, I usually do it with the assumption that I can’t do it, and then lo and behold, I can’t do it. You see, I’m a self-saboteur.

This post deleting incident is the latest in a long line of moments where I have failed to get out of my track pants and suit up: failed to take myself seriously, acted too casually, or talked myself out of trying.

I give you: the D+ on my year 12 English exam.

In year 12, I had straight A+s in English up until my exam. The night before my exam I had a huge fight with my dad, then walked the 5km or so to my friend’s house where I ended up staying over. She lived across the road from the school, so the next morning I got myself off to the exam fine and then proceeded to inwardly self-combust. “What is the point of this exam? I can try my hardest and still not get an A+. Would that make it perfect if I did get an A+ … but I’m not perfect. I don’t believe in perfect.”

These thoughts thrashed about in my head for what seemed like hours, and I grew increasingly numb. I knew the book inside out (Remembering Babylon, by David Malouf): I loved it, and had poured over it for months, taking notes, underlining … almost trashing it with sheer enthusiasm. I had written several practice essays in preparation: the exam should have been straightforward. But now, in the high school gym, all I could manage were a few crappy paragraphs. I then left the exam, only to burst into tears when I saw my English teacher in the car park. I couldn’t explain what happened: it wasn’t a panic attack. It was like my brain was tuned into a completely different frequency to where it should have been, and I felt powerless to change the dial.

As a ‘grown up’ I would consider myself a self-driven person, I function really well day-to-day with the family. Once I have a routine, I follow each step as though life were a giant algebra problem, and I find great pleasure in mostly ‘getting it right’. If I get things wrong, it’s because I missed a step or didn’t get the order right. Frustrating, but not devastating. But when I’m alone I spend more time picking myself apart than getting anything done.

So the prospect of having one day to myself is both liberating and stifling. It means a whole day trying to tune out of Radio Doubt. Counterproductive, to say the least.

I’ve debated whether or not to share this post with the world (the world being my loyal but very small group of readers). It’s quite embarrassing to admit that you wreck things to hurt yourself.  Yes, I do it with a healthy sense of humour, but it doesn’t make it OK. I have to face it if I want to get past it. And I do want to get past it.

I’m not writing this to have a pity party. There is still a huge deficit of belief in myself, and no one should feel obligated to try to fill this hole. In reality, it’s a hole I’ve created myself through years and years of negative thinking. And it’s my job to somehow try to patch it.

I need to find that motherly voice within myself that will pick apart everything I do with an eye to making it better. But this voice needs to be nurturing and tender in order for me to listen to it. The voice needs to talk me out of the track pants and into something more becoming.

This is something I need to do if I want to change. I believe that you become what you whisper to the world. If I don’t whisper anything, I will get left behind, in my track pants.

[Image credit]

Things are getting a little intense around here. The next post will be mostly pictures, I swear. Say ‘hi’ so I know I’m not talking to myself.

27 Responses to “The Art of Wearing Track Pants”

  1. Kim

    Hello,
    I read your now deleted post with a great deal of empathy. The hardest thing about pursuing some creative activity is overcoming self-doubt, and this seems to be made especially difficult when you’re a mother and have so many other responsibilities. I’ve recently started having a morning too myself to write and I cannot tell you how much of a difference it has made to my mental wellbeing. It was supposed to be a whole day but my youngest didn’t take to daycare, so my dad looks after him for a few hours. At the moment that is actually enough for me! It’s quite intense but means I just get on with writing and don’t waste time. I still find myself justifying it to people and refering to it as an indulgence, something I’m sure I wouldn’t do if I was making money! What I’ve realized is that if you don’t take yourself and your art seriously, how can you expect anyone else too? You deserve to have some time to yourself to do what you love. Good luck! Xk

    Reply
    • the rhythm method

      This is exactly my situation. I had a morning last week where my mum had the boys, and a few hours at the library with no WIFI was fantastic.
      Wishing you luck too, so lovely to know I’m not alone! x

      Reply
  2. Online Blogger

    Excellent post thanks for sharing. I really enjoy reading your blog very much. Great layout you have going. Keep it up!

    Reply
  3. Lucy

    I wish I could give you a hug.

    All this…. this stuff that you are writing about… the reason it is hard is becasue it is at your core. Self sabotage. And I hate to say it, but you will keep coming up against it time and time again unless you deal with it. Sorry.

    I can relate too well. I still have huge periods of “unless its perfect why bother” which is my cover up for “I think I may fail and I cannot bear the idea of not being “good enough” so I just will avoid….”

    All I can tell you is that if you push through, the joy and liberation is worth it.

    xx

    Reply
    • the rhythm method

      I feel so much better for having posted this. Now it’s out there, I’m going to have to deal with it, aren’t I? No more comfort zone now. Thanks Lucy x

      Reply
  4. Steffani Packard

    I am the same way! I finally have a huge craft room to myself to make jewelry and sew and at times it seems that I’m more stressed about it now!

    I finally opened an Etsy shop last month and was extremely excited about it, after wanting to open one for over a year. And now that I opened it and put a few items up, I’ve done NOTHING for it. I haven’t tried to ‘advertise it’, I haven’t added a single thing to it, and I feel like I don’t care about it. I know I do though! I just feel so overwhelmed by it, like you do with your blog, and I just want to give up. It’s quite an annoying feeling.

    Hopefully we both can get over our obstacles!

    Reply
  5. traceyb65

    i know it only too well … wave to the freelance graphic designer WITHOUT a website. why? because every time i think ‘i can do this’ i look at what i have done and think, this is crap. the fact that i have supplemented the family income for 10 years working as a designer, and the number of clients i receive as referrals SHOULD tell me different, but still no website.

    i only found you AFTER your post that you deleted, so i can only guess at what was in it. i would love to read it sometime, maybe when you have a brave moment and can recognise the value of what you wrote to other people … but keep going, please. stretch that little square of comfort to include a few new tricks.

    now, about my website … xt

    Reply
    • the rhythm method

      Tracey! What are you doing?
      I’m sure you’re amazing, consider it your duty to rid the world of stupid, ugly websites! It’s a big job, but you sound like the lady to do it. ;)

      Reply
  6. InkPaperPen

    First of all, I am so glad you have not deleted your blog. I would have been really disappointed to see you go! REALLY disappointed

    Secondly, I relate sooooo much to this post. This is the second week in a row that I did not want to post. But I am forcing myself. I am trying to take the steps that I haven;t in the past. Like Lucy said above, the same thing will keep coming up to bite you until it is dealt with. The fact that you posted this is a step towards dealing with it.

    Thirdly, I spent most of this morning looking for my track pants as I felt the need for a track pant day – I couldn’t find them. So, I’m choosing to believe that the universe wants me to get on with things today and not to retreat to my track pant world. And none of us here want you to retreat to that track pant world either!

    Gill xo

    Reply
  7. Green Mama

    Karen, write with no great purpose other than a love of writing and the rest will bugger off. Feel free to quote me on that one, especially the ‘bugger off’ part. Very eloquent…

    Reply
  8. MultipleMum

    I own an inner sabateur too. It is the reason that I am still trying to get on top of my weight issues. Negative self-talk is so destructive; like picking the top off a scab. Try looking forward, instead of backwards and see if you can’t find yourself some new expectations. I reckon you will rock at this creative stuff and you just need to give yourself the go ahead to try. Always here. But I think you know that x

    Reply
  9. Jodie

    Only just read this Karen. A bit behind this week. Personally I liked the post you deleted. We all have the track pants moments and some are longer lasting than others. Just keep the positive little person in your head chirping away and tell the negative one to bugger off. Go with what feels right. Take risks. Jump of the deep end. You only get one shot at life. I have days where I wonder what the point of my blog is and think about chucking it all in, but then I remember how good it makes ME feel. Hope that whisper of yours grows louder. x

    Reply
  10. marion

    Ohhhhh! YES! What an honest and wonderful post.

    My big lesson of the year has been about the idea of change and the way we change. I think we see who we want to be, how we want to live and identify ourselves as that. The problem is, we don’t just magically become that, we need to go through a whole phase of struggle and uncomfortableness and letting go of old ways. Its pretty ugly, and in that phase I think track pants are an absolute must.

    But then, one day, we just are the change. We can’t imagine being any other way.

    As for perfection, I have that stupid notion too. If we all gave up on the idea that we needed to do it right and just did it, imagine what we can do.

    Great post!

    Reply
  11. Khush

    Hi,

    I really liked reading your post!
    its very similar to what I feel, though the stuff you go through is way different than a 18 yr old like me.
    But i often feel like a trapped pigeon when am in a mess!
    I also share the similar art of getting out of the problems and solving it and make things better!
    Thats way better than giving up totally :)

    Thanks for dropping a comment by my post in http://www.myendlessthinkingprocess.blogspot.com
    I am amazed to know a smart woman like you would have ever been like my little brother! haha!

    Great post! Keep writting and takecare. :)

    Reply
  12. Michele

    I’m a bit behind on my reading, and I am so glad to know that you decided against deleting your blog. I would be lost without your witty posts! You are such an excellent writer, but you are right – you must find the confidence within yourself. And I know that you will! I went out of my comfort zone tonight and went on a photowalk with strangers. It was as awkward and uncomfortable as I thought, and about halfway through I thought “why am I doing this? I will never be a good enough photographer to go pro!” But I stayed, got a few good images, and just used it as a learning experience. On the fence about going back though! ;) I have faith in you! I know you will find it within yourself, too!

    Reply
  13. life in a pink fibro

    You know that I think your writing is fabulous. I picked it from your first post and it just gets better and better. Have faith in yourself. We do.

    PS: I fail to see how a tracksuit aficionado can question my fashion credentials based on a slanket… but you are, of course, correct. :-)

    Reply
  14. Mwa (Lost in Translation)

    I’m saying hi. And also that this post is too recognisable to me. I’m having a track pant year. Or years. Thank you for this. I’ll be following you. And good luck with the children’s book!

    Reply
  15. Catherine

    I don’t think there is a creative person out there who doesn’t doubt themselves so know that you’re on the right path! It is only if it stops you that it’s a problem.

    And maybe it was too much all at once- could you break it down into something smaller? If I look at the totality of a project I’m paralyzed so I try to do one little bit.

    That’s my 2 cents which may not be worth even that because I wear sweat pants EVERY day!

    Reply
  16. A Farmer's Wife

    At some point I think we all have to take a “just do it” approach. (That many Nike marketing execs can’t be wrong).

    When I am scared or trying to talk myself out of a big step I think “What’s the worst that can happen?”

    You are a wonderful writer. Get out of your trackie pants and try something else on for size. What’s the worst that can happen?

    Reply
  17. Jillian

    Gidday

    Just reading this post now. I spent 4 years in trackie pants as a very daggy science student. Then I sheepishly applied to do Medicine and nearly pulled out at the last moment. One thing I have come to realise you end up being the result of your inner self talk. I have always had a big problem with anxiety. In the end like FW says the best approach was/is “just do it”.

    There are days that you have major wobblys. Something my old boss said., Imagine being in your old nursing home bed and looking back at what could have been. Doing something safe and never failing or giving something that is your very passion a go.

    Your writing is so readable.

    jill x

    Reply
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