Lately I'm overwhelmed by just how much I quietly compare within the confines of my own mind. I scroll through Instagram, through Pinterest, and think Wouldn't that be nice? Even before I get a chance to think, Wow, how pretty...how serene...how relaxing, I jump in with the gimme-gimmes.
Growing up, my mother was constantly saying Don't compare. Don't compare your shoes. Don't compare your hair. Don't compare your family. Don't compare your clothing. Don't compare your looks.
Sorry mom and everyone else: I've never been good at it. I'd like to think I have been an OK sister and daughter. A decent friend. And eventually, a considerate girl friend, classmate, coworker, you name it. I have found the time to speak my mind, or bite my tongue. To work hard with my head down, flexible to jump in when needed. To offer a kind word in comfort, a much-needed hug. But I've always been a compare-er. Sometimes silently, sometimes - as D can attest - not so silently.
Why is it so easy for her? Must be nice. All she has to do is blink and look perfect. I wish I had that life. Why do I have to stand next to her? Why do I always look tired? Why can't I keep my house clean like she can?!
I know it's wrong and that makes it worse. I dive in with negativity and then beat myself up for my automatic reaction. But that's beside the point - sort of.
The house was never ideal.
I found it in a rush, a moment of panicked flight, and would have signed the lease before I even got to see it. It was a house - clean enough - and I could afford it (sort of). I moved in in May of 2009 and have lived there ever since. I spent the first night alone in the house, scrubbing down the filthy cabinets and floors. I was so nervous that first night that I drank a few glasses of wine (read: the bottle) and passed out clutching Marlee with Sex and the City blaring from my TV on the floor.
Again, not ideal.
But engagements, wedding planning, the first few days of marriage, the frightening "What were we thinking?!" hours of a new doggie addition, the first days of new jobs, the long and hard days going to and from a job we hated, very tight financial times, better times, sad times, and hysterical late night dance party times - all have been housed in our little pale blue townhouse on Lancaster Square.
So why do I resent it so much? Why do I look at the small kitchen and pinpoint every flaw: the floors are old and scratched, the cabinets are dull and dingy, the appliances are older than I am, there isn't enough natural light, the faux-wood counters are starting to chip, it's drafty. Why don't I look at that house that I've built myself in - that I've built a family in - and feel a twinge of love in my heart?
Because I compare.
I see the back yard - void of sunlight - and kick clumps of mud and mulch with disdain. I crush the plastic bottle between my fingers as I pick up pieces of trash that have fallen out of recycling bins and trash cans and litter the space. Why can't you be a sprawling green lawn that is perfectly mowed and overflowing with dense vegetation and flowers for which I have the perfect green thumb to maintain?
I stare at my knees - jutting out like soft, round sand dunes - as I slump in a too-small tub. I stare at the chipped walls, inhale the musty smell and try to clear my mind - embrace stillness. I light a candle.
But all I can think of is a jacuzzi tub overlooking a lush, scenic green valley. The sparkle of candles dancing all around the edge as the jets pulse into my skin. The way that life would feel on my skin.
If you know me at all - or if you've ever read this blog before - you probably know I'm "one of those self-improvement kick" people. I can't really speak to whether or not any of the things I try ever actually work, but hey, at least I'm trying, right?
Well here goes another. Due to some indefinite circumstances, we won't be moving away from Lancaster Square for a while as we had hoped. We started a house search a few months ago, but that's been put on hold for a while.
Cue the title of this post - Operation: Love this House. Now, if I compare, I must act - instead of wallowing, I must get to work to improve myself and my situation.
I'm going to do it, dammit. I'm going to shut my comparing mind up and get to work. I'm going to do everything in my power - mind, body, and soul - to love this little 800-square-foot house with a blue door. This house that never did anything to hurt anybody, except just being a little shabby and regular. I don't know what I've been waiting for.
“Home is home, though it be homely.” -English Proverb
Already this year I've been consumed by the notion that "we can do hard things," and in order to live a life of meaning and purpose, we must strive to dare greatly - in the big things and the little things, too. So, in the words of Kelle Hampton, I'm going to rock this out and see where it takes me.
Wish me luck.