5.19.2010

me and soulemama

This post is intended to be a follow up to a post I wrote a while back over on my family blog. I thought I was fairly safe, seeing as no one reads over there, but I have received a few comments over time, and even more personal emails, on the whole topic of feeling inferior and generally outclassed by other crafty bloggers out there. I have posted a few times on the topic since here, but I thought I would sort of update where I am at with my emotionally wrought, completely one-way relationship with Soulemama.

It was a year and a half ago that I publicly announced my complete and utter inferiority in pretty much everything in comparison to Soulemama. Housekeeping, being pregnant, child rearing, knitting, I figure she had me beat on pretty much every level. She was perfect* and I was an oozing abscess on the face of the handmade planet. I was, to paraphrase a recent comment by Anon, in a hater mode, though most of the hate was directed towards myself. It wasn’t pretty. But then, being honest hardly ever is.

To regain some perspective I promised myself a hiatus from Soulemama’s blog and other forms of media which I used to beat myself up with. It took me a whole year to actually make that break with the blog. The final cut was mostly forced by completely turning my life upside down, dumping out all the junk, and then moving as far away as one man, two kids, and two cats would allow me. Then I did it again in the opposite direction.

Weirdly enough, it was a good move. Maybe the postpartum funkiness lifted or maybe spending a couple evenings a week hitting bitches is truly cathartic, or maybe I just got a life, but I’m feeling a little more clear-headed and in touch with what is really important. I am learning to trust myself and block out interference from unhelpful comparisons. I am learning to keep my eyes on my own life and stop casing sideways glances over to others. Turns out my life is pretty good too.

Today I braced myself with sweet tea and cookies for an onslaught of inferiority and, first time since last August, clicked over to Soulemama. I saw what initially drew me to her work: how her photos and words combine to create poems of devotion to her children, the creativity in action, the sheer accomplishment in so many areas, from arts like writing, needlecraft, and photography to being an astute businessperson and marketer.

Sigh.

So I got a few more cookies and looked some more.

Then I noticed a couple of new things. Not new to Soulemama, of course, poor her just going about life as I try to work out my psychological issues with her blog like Rorschach inkblot test, but something I never noticed before. First off, she is hardcore. Creativity and gratitude are not something she tries to find time for, like most of us, but she seems, at least as a disembodied writer, to exemplify those ideals and live them as best as she can. Instead of trying to have it all, she’s arranged her entire life to have, and practice, just what is most important to her. This, to the rest of us, means we are viewing a professional at work. Do not try this at home, folks!

Second thing I noticed is that I am not Soulemama. I know how stupid that sounds, I can barely even believe I just typed it, but it is so elementary that I think I missed it. I am not her. I do not have her body, her children, her resources, her heartaches, her likes and dislikes, her parents and all the tiny little experiences that shape us, give us characters, flaws, and our sense of ourselves. Yes, she is talented, has some great kids and husband, and, yes, seems perpetually blissed out on life. But, if given the chance by some supernatural act would I trade my life for hers, to be able to live as she does, with what she has, even all the bliss she has?

Of course not! Never, ever would I trade even an iota of what I have, good and bad, for someone else’s life. Because what I have is so precious: my babies, my own serious skills, my own hardcored-ness, or whatever you want to call it. So, why the heck I am sitting here feeling bad about myself, just because Soulemama happens to have her stuff together?

One of my favourite people in the world responds to almost every situation with the phrase, ‘It is what it is. No more, no less.’ I have heard her say it so many times that it has nearly driven me bonkers, but still the perspective has slowly seeped down into my psyche.

It is what it is. No more, no less.

My feelings of envy are still there. I am sure that I will never be able to stop comparing myself to others. It is rooted to my very core of being. But I can put it all into its place and carry on with what is happening right here, now. For this, I am establishing my own aspirations, based upon my actual life, not Soulemamas.

And then, here is the important bit, I am also setting expectations for myself. Expectations are different than aspirations. I aspire to receive a million dollar check in the mail. I expect a bill from the power company. I aspire to be the most incredible mama in the world. I expect to fill their most basic needs for food and care, read a couple of books and maybe take a walk every day. I aspire for much, I expect as little as I can manage. Somewhere in between is the sweet spot.

No more, no less.

* I’m fairly certain Amanda Soule gets tired of being referred to as ‘perfect’. Besides actually a silly notion, because if she was so, she would of have long ago disappeared in a puff of impossibility, but actually calling someone ‘perfect’ dehumanizes them. Without humanity, people are free to idealize, criticise, deconstruct, and otherwise write whatever their own tortured minds and hearts have decided to feel about you without ever letting you in on the deal. Sorry about that.

78 comments:

  1. wow... thank you, I needed that xx

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  3. Thank you! Perfect timing I needed this post.

    www.justsoparenting.blogspot.com

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  4. You know what - I could basically have written that about your blog! Except I have no time for a blog of my own 'cos I'm always busy with the kids & my tiny house. My sewing pile grows & grows while I wonder why I never seem to even have the time for a cup of coffee since number 2 arrived 7 months ago & ponder how the hell anyone manages to have more than 2 kids & still have time to sleep/pee.
    Anyhow, I love your blog. Keep writing. xx

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  5. Another thank you. But the timing was spot on. I was holding myself in comparison with so many of these blogs of picture perfect lives, endless resources and fabulous creativity. I'm not ready to stop looking yet, but maybe just wait until Friday when the daddy is home and I have a little free time?
    I am what I am, no more, no less.
    Thanks, keep writing and we support you!

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  6. Well, if it makes you feel better, I click through to your blog from my feed more than I do to hers. To be totally honest, while I really enjoyed her blog at first and I love her books, nowadays I find her blog fairly boring and repetitive.

    And the funny thing about blogs is that the writer only shows you what they want you to see. What is written is only part of the story. I might blog about going to Earth Day, but I don't blog about the take-out food I ordered last night that came in 13 styrofoam containers! LOL Amanda might blog about her day at the beach sitting on her hand quilted blanket but leave out that they had McDonalds for dinner on the way home (I'm just making that up as a possible example.)

    And I prefer to see the "real" side of people on their blogs. Like yours.

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  7. I had no idea she had a blog but I have her book. What I think is hillarious, in a what-the-hell-karma? kinda way, is that I read your blog and feel the way you do about her, about you. (did that make any iota of sense?).

    But as I always try to remember "the grass is always greener"

    With love, Crystal

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  8. I love reading this blog! I've loved reading about your adventures of downsizing and moving across the country, twice. It's something I wish I were brave enough to try. I like seeing how you make something new out of something old, putting your own spin in it in the process. I like knowing that I'm not the only one struggling to find time to do everything that I want/need to do! Someone on another blog wrote something along the lines of "My life is more interesting on my blog." Generally, what you see on someone's blog is the best of their life, distilled into a neat and tidy package. Life is messy though! Keep posting, I like reading about the messiness!

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  9. As usual, I love your posts because they are so real!
    I have been comparing myself to her too and it drives me nuts. As I battle to try and do crafty things with my 5 year old (who I've said before would probably get on great with Smootch), she resists and would rather watch tv or play with the neighbours next door.

    I need to remember that when I spend time with my kids, it's more important to do what they want (going for walk - miss 20 months) or playing make believe (miss 5 yrs). It's more important to do that than to try and make them do things that I've been led to believe are important (baking, doing creative things - what I really would like them to do).

    Now I better go and lie down for a while instead of spending too much time on the computer, as I have a cold and feel like cr@p. (We had icecream for dinner last night as I felt too bad to cook anything).

    Thanks again for keeping it real - I think you are more of an inspiration than you realise :)

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  10. Amen. I lose interest in the "perfect" blogs quickly. The real ones (including your's) are much more intersting.

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  11. Oh gosh, I can relate to this. Sometimes when I read through my blogs, I can't help but seethe with envy some days. A lot of the women I admire don't work, have supportive husbands and even house cleaners. I have none of these, but I can't do anything to change that. I'd love to immerse myself in a creative life, but it somebody needs to do the laundry, cook, help pay the bills....By the way, I think you're fabulous and I love reading your blog. Really, and no offense meant to anyone, Soulemama's got nothing on you!

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  12. I have to constantly remind myself not to be envious of the perfect crafters behind the perfect craft blogs out there. Then I remind myself that there's probably a whole bunch of stuff they don't say!

    Like the way I didn't blog when our car got stolen on the morning of Mother's day, and the way I totally forgot to mention that the last project I made should have taken 1 hour from start to finish, but it took me a month to get it done :P (I am in no way a perfect crafty blogger, lol)

    What's really funny is that I remember feeling jealous one day when you had posted a picture of you sewing with little Birdie Boy on your lap and I was so jealous that you got to sew when your little one was awake. Then you followed up with the reality that he colours in your sewing patterns and lays all over everything when you cut it out so I felt better, lol.

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  13. Oh gosh, I understand. By the time I discovered the amazing moms on blogs my kids were practically grown and I felt I'd done everything wrong. I always think, "if only I'd had this when my kids were young." But the truth is, I probably would have done it just the way I did it. As your friend says, "it is what it is..." I can't change the past but I have learned to enjoy these blogs for what they are and there is always some little something to walk away with. I enjoy your blog a lot and I, like others here, kind of put your blog in the same category as Soulemama. In fact, I thought I was going to come read that you guys were doing something together. lol Just assumed you were buds. :)

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  14. Chantal: I firmly believe that people with more than 2 kids actually don't have time to pee and undergo some strange biological metamorphosis in order to survive.

    I have 2 kids, a 16 1/2yo and a 16 1/2 month old and I honestly don't know how people with just TWO kids close in age have time for anything!

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  15. I feel the same way when I read some other blogs. I am a new follower and I am going to like it here. Great job :-)

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  16. I feel you! I spend a lot of time looking at blogs of other mamas and gazing at their picture perfect lives, and I wonder why I can't be that way. Why can't my children be shiny happy all the time? Why don't I have the perfect open-ended toys, the handcrafted everything, the time to cook healthy meals every day? I get so angry at myself for not being the mom I had always envisioned I would be. I thought I'd never yell, I thought I'd wear them in a sling everywhere, I thought I'd do child-led weaning, I thought they'd never have a plastic toy, I thought I'd be able to cook everyday. I knew it'd be hard, but I never knew it would be this hard. I just have to come to terms with the fact that I'm doing the best I can, and that I can't be the way I thought I would be because circumstances don't allow for it.

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  17. Anyone willing to learn roller derby has bigger cajones than me by far. While I think it would be the perfect sport for my... erm, anger issues, there's no way I'm draggin my fat butt (literally) out to face it.

    Props to you hun. I've always loved your blog and in complete honesty there are some blogs that will not be named that I don't choose to read or even subscribe to because they don't seem human enough. We all have our struggles and some days the thought of sewing or cleaning has no appeal, but what is that I hear calling me? A recipe to make mead? Or a concert that I'm probably too old for? Or watching my husband toil away on a 150 degree attic while I just refill his water glass?

    It happens. We have to do what we need to do, not what we think others think we should do.

    Some days I have literally cried over the state of my life compared to others. Yesterday, as I was rounding out hour number one of just SORTING the 25 loads of laundry I have to do, I couldn't help but think that I'm probably the only one ever that was this lame to her family. I cried. Not bawled mind you, but definitely a tear. And then I told myself to shutup, deal with it, and that I was sure other mamas end up in that mess too.

    It's very hard to stomach blogs at face value. Sure, I'll post a few pictures of my kids being adorable on my freshly mown lawn. But what you don't see is they just came out of a stomach flu, the house has been gutted because everything was puked on, and there's dog poop in the grass. And that I decided to take pictures because I was hiding from house work and have no plans for making dinner.

    So, you just hush. You rock. I subscribe to you, and not others, for a reason. Just keep those elbows up. ;)

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  18. Thankyou so much for this
    post. I so needed to read this right now. It so good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with the same feelings and issues.

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  19. To be honest I dont know what all the fuss is about Im not a fan of her blog and I thought her book was very average. Your post is real and life with kids who make mess and draw on walls and poop every second is real and blogs are what you want people to see. I like what I see here. Thanks for a great post.

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  20. Sweet Sweet Woman! I have been reading your blog because you remind me so much of what I tried to do when I was a young mother. The beauty in your words and your children's faces give me so much joy. I truly would hate it if you stopped being the absolutely wonderful person that you are. Keep raising those artistic little individualists and cut yourself some slack, dammit.

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  21. Amen! I rote something recently on expectations vs aspirations. http://porkchopandme.blogspot.com/2010/03/expectations-shifted.html

    Makes you feel so much better when you just look at things from a different perspective.

    Leonie
    x

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  22. I love you. Ahhhh, I feel so at peace knowing I am not alone in the world with my Soule envy. I think you might be my new best friend. I'd write more, but my husband is out of town, I'm sick, one kid is in my bed, another wants to nurse and I'm not sure where I put the third one.... Have a great night!

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  23. Timely post, and well said. I love yor blog, i think it's awesome.

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  24. i agree with what everyone else wrote. i'd rather read a real blog, with all the messses and disasters that strike most of us on some days than someone who only writes about the good things. (i am not critising anyone's blog here). these are just my feelings. even in real life some mums 'always lead perfect lives', they would never tell when they had a problem or their kids misbehaved. or they couldn't cope with something. it really makes them less human. sometimes i feel that in society (especially mum-society) you have to represent something, never admit any defeats, never have a bad experience. i am a little bit fed up with mums that tell me how great their kids are all the time. my twins had colic for the first three months of their lives, which meant non-stop crying, one had reflux, which meant no drinking, puking....i soon discovered that i could not keep up with all the perfect mums out there and gave up on that aspiration. now i am the mum i am, no more no less:-)
    i enjoy picture perfect days but i don't despair when a day is not picture perfect but rather a total disaster.
    just my two cents worth.
    barbara

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  25. One of the reasons I continue to read your blog and enjoy it so much is that you write about how much you struggle at times. I think, like every one else who's commented here, I appreciate the honesty and reality of what you write about. So much of what you write about, struggling to balance parenting two small kids with all the other stuff that has to get done, that rings very true for me and I feel better reading your blog and knowing I'm not the only one going through it. Your honesty is part of what makes your blog special. Thank you for it!

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  26. I actually blogged about this last week too, as I finally ditched all my 'perfect life' blogs. SouleMama was one of them. Yours however, remains-it can be so eerily similar to my thoughts sometimes (and you're homeschooling too, yay!)Keep up the good work :)

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  27. Thanks for being transparent. It takes a lot of courage to write like that.

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  28. Your last paragraph comes rather close to perfect, in its context.

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  29. I'm just chipping in here to agree with previous posters, both about the "perfect blog" envy, and to say that I enjoy your blog for the honest way you write about your life. I really admire how much freedom and independence you foster in your children, especially in the creative realm. I still struggle with letting control of the design/creative process with my 3 children, and the oldest one is 11! He started scrapbooking 2 years ago, and I had to walk away many times when he chose colours I wouldn't have used etc. I read your blog for inspiration, and love to see what smooch and birdy are up to (By the way I think your children are some of the most awesome new people in the world!)
    By the way, I prefer your writing style over dozens of blogs I read, so don't fret sister, you have your stuff together more than you know!

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  30. last post was me, but with wrong link (that's an old one).
    By the way, when you have time, I'd love a copy of the Willow Wayfarer pants PDF now that they're in your shop.
    Thanks

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  31. When I first found your blog I was stunned by your "perfectness". I think we all get that from time to time.

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  32. I came to "know you" on Craftser as Vegbee. :) You inspired me way more than perfection ever could. A human imperfect mama that's what I'm longing for. Thanks

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  33. I think everyone puts themselves in someone else's world from how they see if and can feel deflated. I've looked at my friends who have organized houses and think, how do they keep their houses so clean...I clean everyday (okay almost) and my house always looks like a tornado went through.

    Then I realized two very important things.
    1) I'm a stay-at-home mom and there is literally someone in my house 24 hours a day. The entire family doesn't wake up in the morning and leave for 10-12 hours.
    2) My house is lived in, it's our sanctuary for our creativity and our life. It's not a museum to be admired for perfection in the case that someone *may* stop by.

    Blogs can be a wonderful source of inspiration and in general, fun reading. They can also make a person feel deflated because they compare themselves to some very talented and creative people who seem to live very perfect lives. Then we start to feel guilty because it's 2 pm, everyone is still in their pajamas, and lunch consisted of a bowl of cereal which was the same thing that was for breakfast...

    Then I read this blog post -
    http://www.vanessachristenson.com/2010/02/f-is-for-fiber.html
    and literally laughed so had I had to go to the bathroom and pee. Then I remembered that bloggers only have to share what they choose to share. They don't have to share that they totally ruined $40 worth of fabric on a project that didn't work out, they can share the cute stories of their children and show pictures of how beautifully they are dressed. They don't have to share the 16 1/2 minute temper tantrum the 17 month old had in the back of the church because you didn't have time to find their dress shoes or their favorite hair bow that matches the dress they are wearing.

    Hang in their...I'm sure even the "perfect" bloggers children have temper tantrums in Wal-Mart! :)

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  34. i read you and soulemama and though she's like some kind of drug, it is true that she only posts stuff that make her life seem perfect (and she's becoming a bit repetitive as one of your readers already commented). BUT! i enjoy your blog because the spirit i sense here reminds me so much of my mother, of the way she raised me and my sister. it reminds me of real stuff :) it's more realistic. it's like: soulemama is a romantic comedy, and you are drama. good stuff, real stuff, stuff you can learn from!
    :)

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  35. I discovered her blog after buying her first book. After viewing her blog only one time, I was hit with huge feelings of inferiority. I was stunned that this woman was able to do SO much and SO well and was must so amazing! Compared to her, I was a complete and utter failure. I also stopped reading her blog, but finished reading her book (which I liked). Later I came back and saw more of what was really going on. Yes, she is a professional and this blog is part of how they earn a living. Yes, the best is portrayed with a couple of ordinary moments that we can relate to to deter from the otherwise "perfect" portrayal of a perfect life. She has got to be a slave to the camera and to the blog and constantly thinking what to blog next. But this is her job. A cool and pretty job where projecting imagery and the ideals that go with those images make many of us mamas feel envious to some degree. and I suppose to make us want it and buy her books, from her store, from her sponsors, and imitate her life in her blogs. (These are just my random observations according to me and could be totally off mark.)

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  36. It's funny actually. I am so in love with your blog and so ravenous for more posts that I just recently started following Soulemama hoping that she would be something of the same sort - I think I even found the lik somewhere on your site. But no, alas, no one does it quite like you, and since then I don't think I have clicked on her link once. Just doesn't seem so exciting as your very inspiring and thought provoking posts. I always love your choice of pictures and I've gotten to know your kids from the pictures so that they seem like the kids of some dear relative. Why compare? To tell you the truth, I was shocked to find out that you didn't consider your own blog to be absolutely incomparably amazing but felt inferior to anyone.

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  37. I love your blog for its reality and creativity and your wonderful kiddos, even though at some times you seem like the perfect mama compared to me. And the Soulemama-type soul mama blogs have been permanently deleted in my world, while yours is one of three mama blogs I still have on my favorites.

    Holly

    ps. I thought I'd let you know my monkeyboy and I love you dearly for the tofudgesicles recipe you sent us several years back LOL.

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  38. I love your blog because it's not the better than Martha, perfect homemaker, ueber-mama type of bog. Keep doing what you're doing! I really enjoy what you write!

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  39. I read Soulemama's blog as well as yours, and appreciate you both as Moms and creative people. I take away something different from both your sites. Two different Mamas with some things in common. Not better or worse. Just different.
    Thanks for being you.

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  40. Love your blog Veg and your writing - and now my two are grown up, your two and all your adventures put me back in touch with the life I once had (wish I'd had access to roller-derby). Soulemama, bless her socks, is another story, I go there for aesthetic enjoyment and fantasies of what my blog will offer when it eventually launches - HA!

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  41. A friend loaned me her book, she thought I'd like it. well well well...that night I cried to my husband: she published the prayer we say, the art projects we do, and had a blog and kids and took pictures --I could've done that, right. He looked me in the eye and said, sure, but you were too busy having fun with the kids. He is a smart guy.

    And besides we have our own, completely unique, project now www.booksforwallsproject.org --we'd love to see you there :)

    And thank you, it felt really good to share(vent) that!

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  42. i dont know this soule woman and probably might visit her blog out of sheer curosity, but what i have read of your blog, I LIKE because you are NORMAL, just like me and the woman next door. we do the best we can with the best we have for those we love best.
    i sometimes too feel that others are better than me, but when i give myself time to think it through, i am only seeing what they WANT me to see.
    so girl have faith in yourself - if you've done all these things on your blog and am sure countless others then you ARE A SPECIAL PERSON.
    God bless you
    becky
    bpbajona@maltanet.net

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  43. hi been there....dont like it...nothing caught me eye!!! and am not saying that just to make you feel better....
    the stuff on your blog is what real mummys do, not fancy stuff but the everyday things we all need to know how to do. and you are so good to share this talent with all of us who visit your blog.
    thanks again
    becky
    bpbajona@maltanet.net

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  44. I love your blog. You are real. You are honest. You are doing your absolute best at everything you do. That is honourable. You let people see beyond the photo perfect veil that so many bloggers wear.
    Your's was the first blog I visited a couple years ago when I started sewing, and I have been following ever since. Stay real Charity! :)

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  45. Amanda is a dear friend of mine. A warm, honest, beautiful, supportive, and totally real person. She is, in fact, one of the few women I feel comfortable having in my home when there is chaos all around and things are far from perfect. It's true, she gets a whole lot more done in a day than I do. I don't envy or resent it. She has brought great joy to my life as I'm sure I have to hers. We're just real. Living it the way it fits best.

    Best to you all.
    jean

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  46. I so like how you've captured that back-and-forth feeling about idealizing and envying someone, Amanda Soule, in this case. Finding that balance and finding inspiration from another without diminishing yourself seems to be tricky stuff. The blog world so pushes these buttons for me, too. Thanks for putting some of the dance into words.

    I recently found your blog (can't remember through which web twists and turns) and have been enjoying it. I love your generosity and creativity! Thanks!

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  47. I know it's been written before, but you are my SouleMama. I checked out her blog because of this post, and for what it's worth, I'd rather continue wishing I was more like you. If nothing else, you make cooler clothes for your kids. ;)

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  48. wow. loved this post. something every female blogger should read because we all feel that way (I think). Thank you for sharing!

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  49. One of the reasons I love your blog is because you don't just post the perfect stuff. You inspire me to sew because I can see that I'm not the only one who is cutting out a pattern with a toddler laying in the middle of it and sewing in five minute bursts when the kids are briefly distracted. Just when I feel like giving up on sewing or creating you give me a glimpse of just how difficult it was for you to finish sewing those pants or that dress and I leave here thinking if she can do it then so can I! Thanks for being who you are and letting us come along for the ride:)

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  50. I know Amanda and I have to say that what she puts on her blog is how she lives her life. Of course there are messy parts to her life, she is human, but she really does love parenthood and life. And I actually prefer to see the inspiring and uplifting parts…my life is messy, I want to visit a place that focuses on the positive.
    And one thing that is beautiful about Amanda is that she would NEVER write a negative post about another person. She would never put someone down to make herself feel better. She is a beautiful human being and I know she works hard to keep the negative out.

    Peace.
    Brandie

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  51. Thanks all for your comments! Lots to think about, thank you!

    Andrea, could you send me an email pls, so I can send you your pattern?

    Jean and Brandie, Amanda is lucky to have good friends like you :)

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  52. I follow your blog and have done so for a few years. Your creativity, your passion for what you do and your love for your children inspires me. I think as human beings we do have a tendency to compare ourselves to others - but God made each of us unique, talented, precious and wonderful. It is up to us if we wish to share what we have with other through our blogs. You share so generously - mess, tears, laughter - as my late father-in-law would say "Warts and all". For that and for inspiring me to do more with my two children, thank you.

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  53. Vegbee, your post was so good. The back and forth of how you feel was/is so real. Thank you for your honesty. Even believing the best of Soulemama, you are you and she is she. I fell in love with your blog because of you and Smooch on Craftster. Please keep writing!

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  54. thumbs up ! on your blog vegbee.. i really lov this blog...i keep attracted to come every week and read whats going on here.. , so be sure of something she might have a nice fancy blog.. well decorated as well..
    but you have something else she does not have ...your blog transmits peace.. love..and more..

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  55. I subscribe to both of your blogs, but I've never even heard of this soulemama. I checked her out through your link and thought Meh. I like yours. (-;

    I quit McQueenMama, or whatever, for the same reasons. I'm just not that kinda gal. (-:

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  56. I've seen others mention this already, but it really is just so true. There are likely many people out there who, at least on occasion, compare themselves to you like you do to Soulemama. We will always compare ourselves to others sometimes, we just have to try to keep it under control and realize that we are the best mamas our children could have, and that if we were all like Soulemama, she'd be a total bore, along with the rest of us!

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  57. OMG, I totally have to take a break from her blog from time to time! I am always comparing myself to other people and I think in part it is good in the sense that it drives you to do better in your own life, but it is important to be happy with what you are too. Thanks for this great post!!

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  58. I did not read the above 57 comments, so perhaps someone has already said this: YOU are many people's "Soulemama"...YOU are an ideal that many people strive for. And judging by the photos of Smootch and Birdie, they wouldn't trade their mommy for all the knitting in the world.

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  59. I've read both blogs and many others. I find it interesting that even in "blog world," the same schoolyard angst plays out. Someone points out the flaws of the "chosen" or "popular" one and a chorus of "oh, we like you better!" arises. Individuals put what they want the world to see on their blog -- it's like reality tv, not real.
    Joy

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  60. Can I tell you something weird, funny, a little out of body (well I am gonna anyway!)? The first post I ever read on your blog was your post about giving up reading Soulemama. I was drawn in by your raw honesty and understanding of self. And because I so often make the same comparisons in the blogging/crafty world. So thank you so much for sharing your journey and your human-ness. I LOVE seeing pictures of people's messines and reading stories of their flaws and struggles. Makes a mama who constantly forgets snacks, can't for the life of her remember that the tooth fairy is supposed to visit, and hates to clean but loves her family and life remember she is a natural force of parenting/crafting nature as well.
    peace

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  61. i just wanted to say, i've been there, thought those things, had to take a break from her blog, and then felt like a stupid idiot for comparing my life to a window into her own life. for me, it was the sense of blissful perfection that made me look at my life and wonder why i didn't have that. But after some soul-searching (ha! soul/soule) i can now enjoy 100% the beauty she shares. It now uplifts instead of drags down, and that's all because of how I view it. I read this post smiling, glad to know I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!! :)
    oh, and your blog = awesome. just so you know.

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  62. I feel i could have written this about you instead of reading it from you!! You are an amazing person, and i look up to you and admire your passion and creativity! Heck, i'd have written that same thing if i ever remembered to update my own personal blog... :)

    you are who you are for your life and your family, I think you are perfect the way you are! :) (a bit of cheesy-ness for you :-) )

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  63. Not that I'm keeping score, but I think you've had more hit's than amanda this time!:)

    I love that you make me laugh, keep keeping it real.

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  64. I could have written this post a few months ago about Amanda's blog and others online. Envy, inferiority... what awful things to feel!

    I finally realized that my life is pretty cool. I get to do all sorts of amazing things that other people don't get to do. Now I try not to see blogs like Amanda's as competition. I
    nstead I try to look at what I like about what she is doing and I try to incorporate elements of that into my own day.

    Over time these things I admire in others have become part of my life too.

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  65. I also read Soulemama's blog and have a love/hate relationship with it... It is the ultimate "life through rose coloured glasses" blog... but anyone with half a brain can see that her life is not as it would appear on the blog... it simply isn't possible... No one can do all the things she talks about doing... at least not very well anyway... there aren't enough hours in the day... or enough hands! something has to give! i personally think her kids run wild all day while she sits at the computer and does her craft!! or there is a secret nanny that no-one knows about... the blog is very carefully edited...and is simply a marketing tool... it is not real life... it is snippets of what might be a real life... but certainly not the full picture... and if you keep that in perspective it helps... although i still yell at her blog every now and again!

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  66. I am late to the party on this post, but I wanted to say: I LOVE your blog! And I will see your feelings of inferiority & raise them to being afraid to even start a blog b/c there is no way it could be as great as yours & others. Thanks for the reminder of what is really important!

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  67. OMG! I must be normal! I was just looking at all these great mommy blogs and totally felt that way about one that I was reading. All I could think was "This witch has my life!". I spent several hours reading her entire blog(my perfect life). Then I went on to read the mommy blogs she linked to--mommies who had lost a child. It put me back in my place real fast. I have not lost a child in that sense, although I miscarried my first pregnancy before we knew we were pregnant. How can I be sad that my life was full of ups and downs, mainly financial because I chose my children over a job? My husband and I have survived 18 years so far! I am so happy that I chose to stay home with my kids even if they didnt have the best of everything. I tell them dirty dishes are a blessing. If I lost one today, I know that I wouldn't be sad that I missed their childhood because I didnt. I was there.

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  68. The point at which I wept and laughed simultaneously was when Soulemama admitted to giving the children boxed cereal for breakfast when her husband was terribly ill. My kids go to school, we have furniture from Ikea, they eat boxed cereal and none of their clothes are homemade and yet I adore Soulemama's aesthetic and secretly aspire to run my home her way. I have no doubt that she is very, very lovely and a great mom but your insight (that she blogs and creates professionally) was incredibly liberating and put a finger on precisely why I've decided to delete Soulemama's blog from my bookmarks. Maybe I can go back when I'm feeling a bit stronger.

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  69. Ahhh, thank you, I feel much better knowing I'm not the only one! I, too, need a break from SouleMama.

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  70. Man, I think about this stuff a lot. Glad to read here.

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  71. man i was glad to find this post.

    i went through a heavy soulemama phase a few years back but just could not keep up. and now shes having another kid! her blog is still in my reader, but i dont read most posts. i look at the title and if it seems as if it may be about something crafty that i could use as inspiration, i'll surely pop over, otherwise im not interested. not only am i not soulemama and never will be, but i just cant relate to her anymore. i dont want to live on a farm and i dont want five children. her life choices are certainly not my life choices. this doesnt make either one of us "wrong" or "bad"-just different, and it takes all types to make the world go 'round.

    i commend her for living her life as she wishes, and i will do the same, and that will mean not reading her blog regularly.

    thank you for this post. frankly, im glad someone had the balls to talk about it.

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  72. great post, well put.

    I don't read any Mama-blogs anymore. To be honest, they all make me feel inadequate and sometimes violent. It's why I gave up going to the coffee-mornings and the perfect-mum-and-baby-groups too.

    Thanks for providing some relief from that.

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  73. I love this post, and I love the comments too. I don't have a blog, but if I did all the photos would be of month-old laundry, dirty dishes, and failed craft projects. I would write about how I lost my temper even when I was trying hard not too and how I haven't wiped the sticky stuff off my kid's hands since...yesterday.

    Kuddos to all the real imperfect mamas.

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  74. I'm going to add your blog to mine based soule-ly on this post of yours and all the comments. i need me some reality! I'm tired of soule-mama's neat packages, too ....

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  75. Okay, my comments will probably be like one of the above. Love the honesty in this post. I just happened to do a goggle search on Soulemama and saw ur link. Read your post and I feel that there’s humanity in the blogosphere. Sometimes reading the perfect words and looking at those perfect pictures of other bloggers are very demoralising. Like you, I can’t help but subconsciously measure myself up to them and feel so lousy after every read. Maybe it’s time to unfollow those blogs and follow those who dare to share the honesty of life. =)

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  76. ok, so you posted this like a million years ago. but if feelings persist, let me just remind (and i've been through this, too) that soulemama and all other mamas are JUST mamas, and all those that blog, or share stories, or scrapbook, or document any memories at all, are doing so, thankfully, with a fine lens, so to speak. that is to say that all things actually posted/retold/cropped/etc. by successful bloggers, story tellers, croppers, etc., are finely-tuned, and whittled down to the best-of-the-best. you think soulemama (or any other human, real-life, mama) has nothing but peace and smiles and sharing and laughter and good times to share? totally not. and that's not the point. it's her (and our) interpretation of same. you know? can't beat self up over it. just craft as you will and do the things that are of importance to you and yours. i bet now that time has passed, and you've been a-craftin, that you can honestly look back at your blog/other and say, wow, i'm doing it! keep it up!!!! you're just as awesome as any other mama. we all are :)

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  77. The writing in Soulemama's blog is exactly like the photographs... very heavily cropped close-ups.

    I live in Maine and Amanda Soule is something of a cult figure up here. I can not tell you how many new moms have cried to me about what they read in Soulemama, and my answer is always the same "she lies by omission." It is not what she chooses to write but the volumes that she does not that leaves women feeling like failures. And she knows this. But keeping women feeling like they are falling short is how she makes her money.

    If any blog out there is making you feel like a failure instead of inspiring you to keep trying your best STOP READING IT!

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  78. I think your post was amazing and insightful, especially the part about Amanda Blake Soule (ABS) being a professional. I had to abandon her blog for years because of the inferiority complex it was causing me. She (from what I see on her blog) is everything I could want to be in a mother: loving, grateful, creative, devoted, inspired, full-time hardcore homesteader and homemaker, sewer, knitter, crafter, cook, radical unschooler, absolutely nothing plastic in the entire house, everything is wooden/wool/iron/vintage, locally & sustainably made, and her husband is home with her full time and they do not need any outside help or even occasional assistance from extended family, as far as we know.

    But I do have a friend who is similar to her, and my friend's big secret is that her husband has a trust fund that allows them to both stay home with the kids and have an amazing gorgeous home, a lovely homestead, divine clothes and trips and exquisite toys and crafts and... and... and... and ... So I do wonder if there is a trust fund involved in ABS's life. It would explain the ability to buy seemingly limitless amazing things: an ever-expanding homestead, expensive cameras for each child, dozens and dozens of animals, all the tools and supplies needed to build everything around their homestead, expensive fabrics, high-end markers and crafts, vintage everything, hand-made everything, and absolutely every item around the landscape, the farm, the house/home, timelessly picture perfect.

    Honestly, I'm sure she is an amazing, beautiful person. Everyone, everywhere online who has met her seems to consistently say that about her, that she is authentic and honest. And she must be, since every time I come across a blog post somewhere that doesn't praise her up/down & sideways, there are always 2 or 3 ladies that jump in to her defense as a "good/personal/super-close friend". It's like their scouring the net for blog posts that are critical, which is kinda creepy. But that's her friends, not her. But her friends do that for her (probably not even at her bequest), which is equally impressive.

    I don't understand how she is able to afford everything, with neither of them working. Yeah, yeah, her blog makes money. But her life was bigger than life even before her blog exploded into a phenomenon and she authored three books. I'm sure we'll never know how she does it. If she has a trust fund, or her own mom or MIL stop by to help now and then, or even a housekeeper. We'll never know how she does it. Because she DOES do it, even if it's cropped and only-positive. I just don't understand it, is all.

    Thanks for keeping it real.

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