Monday, February 14, 2011

To compare or not to compare?

I was extremely pregnant with my first baby, sitting on the couch with my hubby watching Biggest Loser: Couples in April of 2006. One of the couples that made it to the end went home for a few months before the finale and ran a stinkin' triathlon! Amazing, right? I love that show; so inspiring. Anyway, there's something about being large with child that makes you want to do things you've never done. Maybe it's all of those hormones, the fact that you haven't seen your feet for several months, or the large amounts of ice cream and cereal one consumes (okay, maybe that's just me) and the fact that everything jiggles. Whatever it was, I turned to my husband and said, "If they can do it, we can do it." Now I knew my husband could do it, but I hadn't consistently exercised in...well...ever. Long story short, I ran my first triathlon a little over a year after my babe was born. It was one of the more exhilarating and empowering experiences of my life and has kept me signing up for various races ever since. Thank you, couple from Hawai'i for the inspiration!

This past Saturday I went for a run because I have to get my booty in gear for the races I am doing this summer. I really keep signing up to scare myself into shape, and it totally works for me. But, I wasn't feeling it that morning. I did NOT want to run. I live at the bottom of a hill in a neighborhood on a ridge, so my run starts out with some awful hills, which is pretty discouraging when you already wish you were in your warm house, in your pj's, with your little family instead of purposely putting your body and lungs through pain. I got to the top of the third hill and onto the main road when I saw another runner across the street. He looked so confident and happy to be running. I noticed my slumped shoulders and drooping head and immediately felt my posture change as I tried to copy his form so that I could enjoy the rest of my run. And it totally worked! That change in posture and the happy runner made a world of difference. Thanks, dude with the dog for making my run a happy one!

There are good comparisons. It is so good to look at people around you and try to implement great things they do in your life. I know that most everyone does this already, so that's not exactly what I am preaching here. It's when we run too far with those comparisons and allow ourselves to become discouraged that things go south. I struggle with this.

I have a very dear friend who inspires me to be better and to do more every time I talk to her (which isn't often enough.) She is honest, sincere, funny, beautiful, smart, home schools her kids, exercises nearly every day, whips up cookies for neighbors, throws cool parties, blogs, has an extremely busy husband, just got a new puppy, and makes every person she talks to feel super important and loved. I always come away from talking to her thinking of 5-10 things I want to change or do better in my life. But I am coming up on Kindergarten for my oldest and I am not going to home school. I think she would hate that I've felt some guilt about that, but I have. "Am I less of a mother because I'm not homeschooling my children?" I've asked myself that question more than a few times. But the answer is NO! (Right? The answer is no? :) )

Sure, try out something in your life that you've seen someone else be successful with if you feel so inclined. Look for ways to be better in your career, in your marriage, in your friendships, as a neighbor, wife, mother (father too...first comment from a dude on the last post!) Just be sure that when you are looking around the figurative room, seeing the amazing qualities in those around you, that your eyes lock with that incredible person in the mirror. Give her props for what she does well too. And don't feel bad that you can't whip up a fabulous built-in cabinet for your home like another super talented lady you know. You can put some painted clothespins on ribbon to display your kid's art work! Hooray for you!

In short, don't let the comparisons go to the dark side and remember that you so totally rock and have a lot to offer by way of inspiration as well for those around you. THEY are looking at YOU for ways to improve themselves. Believe it, because it is true. There is not a single person I know who doesn't have at least one quality I admire. Please don't be discouraged by the talents or abilities you lack, be inspired! Don't let the fact that you are the world's slowest swimmer and are one of the last to get out of the water keep you from doing a triathlon or four. To keep comparisons good, you have to be good to yourself.

LOVED the comments from this weekend's forum. You should go back and read them if you haven't already. Elizabeth's final paragraph is right in line with this post. Oh, and Marty Overfelt is the first dude I was referring to. Thanks, Marty! I really enjoyed your thoughts.


  1. I agree with you totally here. If you see something someone else does or has that you think is great, don't be jealous...just be inspired. I feel this way about listening to General Conference talks too. Some people feel guilty for not doing all the things the General Authorities talk about, but I feel inspired to do just a bit more. That's how I think it's supposed to be. And I think we each have wonderful talents or perspectives or ideas, that when we share those with our friends, we hope to learn from each other.

    I'm loving your blog. And I love reading the comments from your wise readers. Thank you!

  2. I have come to the conclusion that the homeschool vs. public school question is an issue that is never going to be resolved in my life. Every year in the spring I wrestle with the same problem. I finally realized that the reason I couldn't come up with the answer is because I was looking for the ONE right answer. There MUST be a right answer, I thought. Turns out, there's not. There's only a "right" answer for each person individually. And that even varies from year to year. That's why I think this is an especially dangerous comparison to make with other moms. (Awesome blog, by the way. This is my first comment so...sending kudos to you). It makes me sad to hear people making that comparison. Either they are better or not good enough because they are doing home/charter/public school. You name it. It's such an individual choice.

    In general I think I do okay at not comparing myself negatively with other moms. Except for one thing: keeping my house clean. It frustrates me to no end that I can't keep my house clean. Of course this is a topic for a post in and of itsself. But I wanted to share something an older, wiser mom with 8 kids told me this weekend. When we were talking about it, she said that one of her biggest regrets is caring too much about the housecleaning. I never really thought about it that way but I instantly saw how true it was. Here's hoping I can remember that from the day to day.

  3. This is my first time to your blog. LOVE IT! Look forward to reading more posts. Way to go on the running!!! My goal is to run my first 1/2 marathon in August. I'm sure reading your blog will inspire me even more. Enjoy your day ;-)

  4. Ok, so I have to comment because my husband and I just had a conversation regarding this very thing. I invited some very good friends of mine over for dinner Thursday night. The husband and I have been friends since my junior year of high school and I can not think of a more true friend then him. His wife is amazing as well. She is sweet and endearing and I know they would never judge anything about me. HOWEVER... I sit here and the cleaning, organizing, wondering what I can do better so that my little house can compare to their beautiful home. I find myself comparing everything about my life to theirs. All the husband asks is, will you please not compare our house to theirs when they come. So sad that even my husband knows of my insecurities when it comes to this. How it must make him feel to know that he works so hard for our home and I feel like its not enough. I wish so badly that I could quit comparing and just be grateful for the person that the Lord has blessed me to be and for the beautiful home my husband works so hard to provide.

  5. oh dana, this is something i struggle with all the time. i am constantly comparing myself to other moms (how clean their house is, private or public school, how fast they run, and on and on). it is something i am working on all the time, because it can drive me crazy very quickly. and, why is it so hard to think that someone might look at ME and be jealous of something?! i never think of it the other way around. anyways, i am slowly learning to be more confident and realize that each decision i make for myself, or my child, or our family, is right for US. :)

  6. Well, since the friend you described is exactly how I think of you...amazing multi-tasker, fun, drop-dead gorgeous, sacrificing mother and always uplifting to those she's around, I can vouch that you are in a league all of your own. You make an indelible impression on those you're around and I can feel your wonderful spirit in your endearing and honest blog posts and Facebook funnies. Wish we saw each other more in real life but you light up my digital world and I love you lots. =)

  7. Hey, were you talking about me? ;)
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. You are awesome!