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On Owning It

Something empowering happened to me this month.

For the first time since birthing a second baby, I looked into my closet and liked what I saw.

Do you know how significant that is?

Has childbearing wrecked your body in 1,001 different ways?  Have you lived out of SIX Sterilite storage tubs at the foot of your bed (Winter, too big.  Winter, too small.  Winter, fits.  Summer, too big.  Summer, too small.  Summer, fits.)?  Have you ever dug through all six bins to no avail?  Have you ever tried on all 12 pairs of jeans in your house and NOT ONE of them fit?  I mean, you get it right?  I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that you do.

I reached into my closet to grab an outfit last week and I didn’t have this dialogue in my head:

“-I could wear this – if that tank top was clean.  
-I need a sweater over this one.  
-It would look okay with my bigger jeans.  
-This will fit great in six weeks, still kind of pregnant-awkward.
-This went out of style 2 years ago.
-Maybe a necklace would help.”

And no, I haven’t lost all the weight yet.

The secret is, it’s not about the weight (not entirely).  The secret, for me, was Pinterest.

(I am trying to drive away as many readers as possible by mentioning Pinterest, weight, and birthing a baby all in the first  200 words of this post.  Are you still reading?  Because I’m about to make a point about social media and inspiration and technology and taking control of your life and stuff.)

There is a lot of Pinterest love out there, and there’s also a lot of Pinterest mockery, condescension, and hate.

It’s the same with every social media outlet.  Frankly, I’m fed up with hearing,

“Facebook is taking away our real-life friends.”

“Facebook causes drama.”

“Facebook is addictive.”

“Twitter is making us narcissistic.”

“Twitter is a time-suck.”

“Pinterest is making us stupid.

Pinterest is making us feel jealous and inferior as mothers and housekeepers.”

I’m fed up with it because it’s all a bunch of finger-pointing, blame-shifting, whiny nonsense.  None of it is true.

Facebook doesn’t cause drama; people cause drama.  Over-sharing causes drama.
Facebook doesn’t isolate you; you isolate you.

Twitter doesn’t suck your time; you waste your time.
Twitter doesn’t make anyone narcissistic; it gives people an outlet for displaying their previously existing narcissism.

I believe that social media (like almost every other thing) is neutral.  It isn’t innately awesome or innately terrible; it is what you make it.

I can say with a clear conscience that Facebook has never given me a single moment of anxiety.  The teenagers I work with don’t believe me because this sounds so otherworldly to them that it blows their little brains – but it’s true.

Likewise, Pinterest has not once made me feel insecure, nor do I have boards overflowing with things I’ll never do/own/bake/care about.  I don’t lose entire evenings to Pinterest because I don’t use it as an activity.  I use it as a reference tool – like the books you’re not allowed to check out of the library.   I don’t pin when I’m bored, I pin when I need an idea (And maybe when I’m procrastinating, HEY! NOBODY’S PERFECT).

It is with social media as it is with all of life: you have to take the good and leave the rest.

Take the enjoyment, leave the addiction.
Take the communication, leave the isolation.
Take the inspiration, leave the jealousy.

When I was a teenager, my mom taught me to read “with my filter on.”  She gave me books, poems, and articles with bad theology, questionable morals, and colorful language.  She’d always attach a note that said something like, “I loved this paragraph,” or “her metaphors are stunning,” or “It’s a very interesting point of view,” and she’d close with, “Read it with your filter on.”

What she meant was, take the good and leave the rest.  Learn what you can, internalize the best, stretch yourself, think critically – and let everything else fall by the wayside.

Aristotle wrote:

(source)

My pastor used to say, “If someone is critical of you and you know that they are 99% wrong, fix the 1%.  Then let it go.”

I believe that we would see an influx of all things wise and common-sensical if we committed to live with our filters on.

_______________________________________

So – when it came to my post-baby body and my post-baby wardrobe I knew I had to own it.  Pinterest helped me to own it.

When I went shopping, for the first time in my life I didn’t ask myself, “Would Kate Middleton wear this?  Would Wendy Nguyen wear this?  Would my stylish cousin Brooke, my stylish friend Mattie wear this?”

I didn’t even ask, “Could I?” or “Will I?”

I asked,

“Does this piece communicate what I want the world to know about my style?  Is it consistent with the image I want to project?  Is it ‘me?’”

Those questions have made all the difference.  My “Style Inspiration” board has become my personal litmus test; if I don’t love it enough to pin it, then I don’t love it enough to buy it.  Life is too busy, my house is too cluttered, and I am too poor to be buying and wearing things that I don’t like.  If I only shop twice a year then darnit, I’m going to like what I get.

I am a Pinterest success story.  Pinterest helped me to define my style, and then to own it – literally.  I used it for inspiration, which I believe is what the creators were dreaming of when they dreamed it up.

So my challenge to you is this:  In whatever you read, whatever you hear, whatever you use – take the good and leave the rest.  Find what inspires YOU, then own it – unapologetically.  

 

(Also, Pinterest made decorating my VBS room one million times easier.  YES! I’m working at a Vacation Bible School! And decorating a room!  And leading CRAFTS for a bunch of kids!  Mommy blog: complete!)

  • Mo

    Amen.

    That inner dialogue still happens to me when I look in my closet and the plastic tubs. I know exactly what you are talking about.

  • Annie

    Love it, Kate!

  • http://staceydaze.blogspot.com/ Stacey

    Love this! Thanks for the reminder to filter. :D

  • Karen

    Such a great blog posting! I shared it on my FB timeline. Especially loved the part about what your pastor used to say in fixing the 1% then let it go! Excellent writing! I enjoy reading your Blog. Thank you and keep it up! :)

  • Jessica

    Oh my gosh. I have the tubs too.

  • Sjdeboer

    I <3 your writing. Can you give me a ballpark of how many years it will be til you have all your posts printed and bound so that SOMEDAY when I'm snowed in, or on 24 hr bed rest, or have debilitating insomnia, I can catch up on your perusings of a wide variety of life experiences. (that was a run-on, so I don't know – question mark, period … ?). I'm a comma lover myself.

  • http://www.fancylittlethings.com/category/rebecca Rebecca Rejoices

    Once again, excellent.  And I agree totally.  I am actually trying to lose weight to be healthier, but it is hard because I love myself just the way I am.  :-)   
    P.S.  Congrats on taking the plunge into crafting.  You are much braver than I am!

  • http://www.adventuresinbabywearing.com/ Stephanie Precourt

    Awesome. I often have said mainly about parenting books and advice: take what you can use and spit out the sticks. So important for other areas, too. 

    Well said. And I was digging in all my clothing bins earlier today, too.Steph

  • bywordofmouth

    As girls, women, moms – we seem to struggle with ‘own it’
    You have totally made it your own – wear it proudly ;)

  • http://twitter.com/ksluiter Kate Sluiter

    I wandered in from someone who facebooked this (see what I did there?), and I have to say I LOVE ALL the ideas in this post.  I don’t even know where to start with what I agree with because it is EVERYTHING.  What social media is (or rather, isn’t),  reading (and living life) with your filter on, pinterest as a tool…ALL OF IT gets a big BOOM!.

    ps. I am about 3 months postpartum with my second and trying SO hard to own my look/style.  Because Lawd knows I have the same issue with tubs  of clothing.  Sigh.

  • http://twitter.com/GalitBreen Galit Breen

    I couldn’t possibly love this more and I HEAR you, completely!

    (That line? “take the good and leave the rest” Is perfection.)

  • http://walkinginthelowlight.blogspot.com/ Jen

    :I believe that social media (like almost every other thing) is neutral.  It isn’t innately awesome or innately terrible; it is what you make it.” I may or may not have “amen-ed” at this point…out loud. A discussion I just had this week, and you said it so well! Thanks for talking about this in an encouraging, grace-filled, and non-legalistic manner!

  • Donna

    This is excellent! I use Pinterest the same way – as a reference tool! Congratulations on another post that will probably go viral! :-)

  • Anonymous

    Excellent! I’ll be sure to come back and re-read this after I have babies! :)

  • Alexis

    Kate,
    Thanks so much for this post. I’ve been having a hard time “owning” a lot of what is going on in my life right now. I appreciate your viewpoint and your idea of taking the good and leaving the rest. I will definitely take this and make myself better.

  • Elizabeth Shiery

    Love this! my daughter is almost 5 months old and I dread getting dressed for work. lol!

  • http://twitter.com/katewantstorun Kate Brannen

    This is a great way to look at Pinterest! Thanks for the insight! (Now I’ll go follow all your pins!)

  • Colleen Duggan

    Kate, I stumbled across your post via another blog and I appreciate the point you are making, especially about social media.  And while I’m entertaining your thought, I’m not entirely accepting it. 

    Perhaps it’s a grace from God you are not tempted to waste time via social media?  Perhaps your tendency to sin is different than others?  Perhaps you are so fully focused on God–again a grace from Him–that you see the potential for social media to be a vapid waste of time? 

    That’s a very good thing and thank God you don’t abuse social media.

     I don’t think we should be victims–which I think is the point of your post regarding social media.  Like, we can’t say “Oh, I ate the ENTIRE chocolate cake because it was just sitting there!  What was I supposed to do!” If we ate the whole cake, we knew what we were doing forkful after forkful. Same kind of logic holds true for facebook or pintrest or whatever…I get it and I agree.

    At the same time, I think it’s important to know ourselves and how we are tempted and social media is a very real temptation for people–maybe in a way you can’t relate to.   And thank God. 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501316378 Christine Trevino

    I loooooove this. So true on the wardrobe side, but on all the other aspects of life as well. I just had a conversation about this the other day. An acquaintance said something that offended me and I was ready to throw out the comment altogether, until I stopped and realized *maybe* there was the tiniest bit of truth to what he said. And so I set out to change it :) . Absolutely love it.

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