Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Sweet Surprise

Six or seven years ago, I was thinking of going back to work part-time after being home with the kids. But I was lost. I didn't know where to start. I knew I didn't want to teach English full-time like I had before Jack was born, because I didn't think I could handle the intense workload and also be able to parent Jack and Margaret. Plus, my confidence was shot. I used to be a pretty good teacher, but what if I didn't know how to do anything anymore?

It was easy to forget what I had done in the past and also discount any wisdom and experience that came from almost a decade of volunteering in the community and stumbling my way through parenting.

This was around the time the term "Sweet Spot" started being thrown around a lot. At first I thought it was something racy, which I guess it could be but there is no way I'm googling it, but then I found out it refers to the place on a racquet or a bat that produces the best results. I tried to think about it in terms of what I liked and what I could do fairly well, and scribbled a list called,

"What is my Sweet Spot?"

I found that list again when I was packing for our move this past August. This is what it says:

-Teaching a group
-Organizing (parties, projects, events)
-Writing and speaking
-Problem solving in classes and meetings
-Making people laugh
-Bringing people together

At the time I was disappointed that my list was so short, and that it didn't contain anything like "XYZ computer language" that would impress a boss. Instead of specifics, my list was more like, "Okay, if I'm going to try figure out how to manage home and work, what sorts of things would I enjoy doing and be able to do fairly well?"

It would be another year before I found a part-time job as the manager of a small, Christian bookstore. It didn't check off my entire list, but it turned out to be a lovely, fulfilling job for almost 5 years. Right around that same time, I started blogging, even though I didn't really even know what a blog was.

Looking back on that list today, I see how blogging has fulfilled more items on that list than a paying job did. It nurtured my writing and ignited in me a passion I didn't even know I had. I can see how it has brought people together in friendship and support. True, I thought I'd be the one bringing people together, never that people would be coming together to support my hurting heart after a tragedy, but that is what has happened. Hopefully, I've made you laugh sometimes. I'm pretty sure I've made you cry, even though we all know that was never my intention.

Your support has helped me feel brave enough to keep showing up, to keep writing, and even to try to write a book at a time when I've never been more personally rocked or depleted.

I just want to thank you that. For being community. For caring.

In thinking about the words "Sweet Spot" again today, I realize that you, my friends, have made this place, this blog, into a sweet spot. It's a sweet space to laugh, cry, be real, and give and get support, and that comes from you, not anything inside of me.

I could never have guessed that when I wrote that list so long ago.

Have you thought about what your "sweet spot" may be?




39 comments:

Alexandra said...

Darling Anna, so very special. We love you here.

kimberwidmer.com said...

I would agree. You're definately a sweet spot. I love to hear your heart, and even though it's hard to read when you're aching, I'm glad you feel strong enough to share because I know your words are bringing healing to someone. Thank you for your continued faithfulness to write and blog. I know I am blessed because of it/you!

anymommy said...

You've captured the heart of blogging and community. I feel the same about my blog and even more so about LTYM, which came to me through blogging! So glad you feel our love here.

Karibean said...

I love your list. I recently joined a "purpose group" (organized by the Blue Zones project) and it's been so neat to think about these types of questions. Sometimes, I feel like I have no "gifts" to share that are truly unique and special but you're right-- these small things that make us who we are, are definitely our 'sweet spots'. As always, thanks for sharing.

Cat @ BudgetBlonde said...

You're a wonderful person, a wonderful writer, and a wonderful mom. This is indeed the best job there is! :)

Jen said...

Dearest Anna,

Thank you... Today I wrote in my journal:

I am grateful for Anna, and her blog(her realness!).

Guess we're kinda on the same page today. :)

Love, Jen

JKyle said...

I cherish every word you write. You are a wonderful mother and your have indeed made me laugh and cry for your beautiful boy.
Janet

Noah's Mom said...

I follow a few blogs, but THIS is the sweet spot, Anna. The one that I always enjoy reading, whether it makes me cry, makes me smile, or makes me really laugh out loud (and I have done that at times). And I think it is because you are real, and so kind and lovable. We know that we could all be in your shoes in the blink of an eye, and we want to be here for you and support you. But in return, your sharing is helping others in ways you will never know. Hugs to you 'Sweet Anna'.

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you. And no, I don't know what my sweet spot is. I'm still trying to figure it out.

love,
jbhat

Anonymous said...

That is a wonderful list.

If you ever wanted to return to teaching, I'm sure you'd do it well, again. Since you're writing more, you would understand your students' challenges as writers better.

Some people do have a unique passion, but most of us can be very happy doing any number of things. I also think we're all more creative than we give ourselves credit for.

Kerstin Auer said...

You said it perfectly - the blogging community IS a sweet spot and it's a wonderful thing you're part of it.

Recovering Church Lady said...

I love this sweet spot in the blog world. Your brave vulnerability and humor have made it a safe and poignant place to linger. Thank you Anna, for being who you are here.
Susie

Stimey said...

Sometimes it is a surprise what turns out to be the sweet spot. I'm still looking, I think. You have definitely made me cry and made me laugh in the years I've been reading you and I am so grateful that you are putting out words about your family, your life, your Jack, your writing.

thejugglestruggle said...

So glad you do what you do and are who you are...Thank you.

Gigi said...

Now you've set my mind spinning...what is my sweet spot? It's like when I'm asked what my gift is - no clue.

I'd like to think we are all put on this earth with our special gifts and reasons for being - but for the life of me I can't figure out mine.

But yes, you have created a very special sweet spot here. And I, for one, am honored that you have and that you continue to share here.

Anonymous said...

PS It's sounded lately like you've been worried over your hair--roots, etc. So, I will just say, your hair looks lovely in the picture. (Way to go, Tim!)

Alison said...

I am so very glad that blogging has brought you so much love, friendship and opportunities. All well-deserved. And? You are loved and cherished.

Sybil@PeaceitallTogether said...

I love your list! I wonder about my sweet spot all the time, especially lately. My job used to be so fulfilling and now I am finding that I am gifted in different areas. Not that those original gifts don't matter, but they don't bring me as much joy as the new ones. I love blogging and I'm so glad that I found you in my blogging journey. XO

emily said...

I was reading through your list and thinking "whoa! what great sweet spots to have." It definitely shows in your blog.

A Speckled Trout said...

I am so very glad you found your sweet spot and I found you. You make me want to be a better mom/wife/friend......and ALWAYS a better writer.

Kathy said...

You have such a special way of expressing your process of grieving--though you may not have wished for it, somehow you have given a voice to so many who are struggling through the same things. Thank you for sharing your heart and your family. May God continue to bless your 'sweet spot'.


Joyce said...

I love your writings. You have a wonderful gift! Your blog has become a "sweet spot" for me!

Robert Julian Braxton said...

2009 in the middle of economic downturn my employer of eleven years encouraged me to retire, affording me time for reading as well as my own writing (daily).

Christina said...

Thank you for being here!

Kathy at kissing the frog said...

I always find it amazing how many complex emotions go into blogging. It may sound silly to someone who doesn't blog, but every time we write we are putting themselves out there, exposing raw stuff. We are helping and healing and laughing and spreading love. In a lot of ways it has saved me too. I'm glad to know through this whole crazy "job." xoxo

Anonymous said...

I don't know who you're kidding? That list is very impressive!! Those are some GREAT life qualities. Who cares what a potential boss thinks:)!

I'm not sure that I have a sweet spot. I'm lazy--though an exercise addict. I am not sure how those ended up together. Once I get through my procrastionation--I'm amazingly quick and efficient. I think I am most people's comic relief.

I can relax like nobody else. Maybe that's my sweet spot:). My husband can't sit still for a second.

Thanks for sharing your sweet spot (okay--not that sounds gross). NoVa Mom Jen

Peg said...

I feel truly blessed to part of this little online community. Thanks for your great writing and timely comments to me that always make me feel a bit better. You have definitely found a sweet spot.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Your words have inspired and helped so many....thank you!

SouthMainMuse said...

Organization, teaching a group, speaking. Not my skill set at all. My sister is very much that way and I always envied the organizers. You definitely have that way of writing that draws people in. My sweet spot. Not so sure -- except that I'm a thinker and an observer. I think my writing spills out. One can only think and observe so much before it does. Hope to get to see more of your talents rise.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

what a thoughtful list you made... you definitely have created a sweet spot here, anna.

Hannah said...

I guess I'll say that a sweet spot of mine is how wholeheartedly I want to help everyone I ever come into contact with. Your blog has helped me see that there isn't always a right answer that magically relieves the pain of everyone in every situation. This realization came at such a very crucial time in my life, and I want to thank you for that. I will never pretend that I know how you feel, because I haven't experienced your struggles, but I am thankful for your willingness to share your life with us. I hope you do feel the love that all of us here have for who you are, because you are indeed awesome. :)

Annie said...

I do love visiting your blog. You know how to touch that place where hurt lives and bring it out into the open. Sometimes life is hard but sharing is healing. Thank you.

Shell Flower said...

Though it might seem like a short list, those are the skills that can't be taught in a class. Fancy computer languages might look good on a resume, but lack of social skills won't help anyone. I love your outlook on blogging and how it brings people together for support, too. I'm definitely seeing that right now with the loss of another boy, who's dad happens to be a blogger. It's lovely to see the community come together to support someone in need, whether it be the neighborhood or the blogosphere. Good luck with your book. I'll keep my eye out for it!

Sarah Reinhart said...

I think that is one of the best, succinct lists one could hope for. And I feel the same way about blogging. It's fulfilled many of my needs too. Happy for you that you've found that sweet spot. It can be elusive! xx

Andrea Mowery said...

Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us, Anna. I so enjoy knowing your perspective on life and we are enriched and blessed by it. xoxo

Stumbling Towards Perfect said...

Isn't that awesome that God was showing you on that day, "Yes, my dear child, you have everything you'll need for the journey we're taking. Don't worry; I've got the rest."

As for me, personally, I think you know why I was meant to find your blog. God has worked awesomely on my behalf, too. Sometimes I think Jack and Avery have found each other and they're giggling at us as we hunch over our computers, wiping tears and snot off our faces.

A sweet spot, indeed.

Heidi Cave said...

I am so happy you're here. You make my life sweeter, richer.

Allison Hendrix said...

I was crying by the end of the first paragraph. :-)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Sometimes I think that my blog has been the ONLY significant achievement I've had (INCLUDING my 10 year career in conference planning) - and I barely ever write anymore... Perhaps a sign of priorities that need to change? Thanks for the reminder friend.