How to be (your own version of) awesome
I just read this post about “boho perfectionism”, and seriously, you need to read it. (Now!)

It reminded me of the OMHG twitter chat last week where someone asked me (and Jessika) something along the lines of

How do you have time to be so awesome?”

I answered with the truth:

Because I spend most of my time being NOT awesome. I sleep in, read too much, watch 8 hours of the West Wing in a weekend. When I do work, I try very hard to do my BEST work. Not to look awesome, or do what I think you want me to do, but to do the things that  only I can do, the very best I can.
So let's clear the air here, ok? Let me be entirely honest about how this pink-haired, plant-powered empire (ha!) exists.

In order to have and do what I want, I have decided to not have and not do a whole whack of things that “normal” people do.

I only cook dinner once or twice a week (Jay is an amazing cook, so even though I love it, I've turned the kitchen over to him). We rarely eat out (only once this month!) unless we're visiting family. I don't have a “home office”, so if I'm working at home it's at the kitchen table (which is in the only room – the “living room”) or on the couch. My usual “office” is whatever empty chair I can grab at Starbucks (the only coffeeshop in my town) or the library (next to the snoring-loudly homeless guy).

The "office" (kitchen table) had a crazy busy day, with #omhg chat & a copywriting client & writing.

 In other words, I'm not living your fantasy of the awesome business owner. I'm also not living  “boho perfection” in any other aspect of my life, no matter what those vegan dinners look like on Instagram.  

Sure, I do “healthy” stuff – I'm vegan, I'm training for a 5k, I strength train (love this app) and meditate/pray – but you know what? It's not for my health. And it's not because I'm particularly “good”. My veganism (which can be extremely unhealthy – did you know Oreos are vegan? YUM.) is compelled by compassion for animals and my complete disgust with factory farming. My exercise routine is entirely necessitated by my years-long mission to conceive children, without drugs or surgery. (Kate said this so well.) I meditate and pray because, well, I believe that's the best way to listen in to the Creator, to guide my life towards more love + compassion (and less stress + trying-to-control-it-all).

And suddenly, all the dogwoods are blooming. #yayspring #foundwhilerunning

But none of this is a sacrifice. None of this is “good” or “disciplined” or anything. I live this way because I (am trying to) let my values inform my actions. My values are compassion, freedom, and exploration. But yours are going to be different, so your Ideal Life will look different. You have to find YOUR deep-rooted desires and then make decisions for your life based on that.

At the same time, none of this is sad or whiny. I wouldn't change anything – I want to live this way. But sometimes, when I see your beautiful living room, or adorable children, or organized studio, I forget a little.

I'm sharing all this because I want you to know – you can have a super-happy life, one filled with the things that matter to you.

But it might not look awesome from the outside. My mother-in-law is sad we don't live in a nicer place. My mom thinks I work way too hard. My high school friends all own their house, and we're years away from that.

But I alone am responsible for defining what I want, and then creating it. And (most days) I am deliriously happy. I am delighted with my life and the person I'm spending it with (and my dog!) and my business. Because it's mine. Because I get to have pink hair and wear pink shoes and snuggle.

I was in the middle of Cobbler's pose, when this happened. On my feet.

I want you to be happy, to have what you want. And I want you to know that it won't come from lusting after someone else's business or life you see on blogs, twitter or instagram. The first step is to define what you want. And then make sure you're not being distracted by what you see in the comparison-chamber of the internet. And then look around: I bet you already have at least some of it. Your hair is great, your handknit shawl is beautiful, your business is beaming.

Let's agree together to change the nature of how we interact with the jealousy-inducing images. Next time someone (or their life or their business) is looking particularly “awesome”, look back around at your own life, not with comparison, but with gratitude. What are your values? What's your personal style? How's it reflected in your life, right now?

14 Comments on How to be (your own version of) Awesome

  1. Beka Buckley
    April 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm (11 years ago)

    …so very deeply put and beautifully written 🙂 Thank you.

    I would just add that these lusts and jealousies that we have and experience of others when viewed through the ‘ether-lens’ are actually our heart’s whispers being reflected. When seeking to define what we want, those reflected whispers are the truths of what we want. Our mission, therefore, is not to wallow is self-pity for what we do not yet have, but to use these as way-markers for our own path. Yes, we need to remember what good things we already have so as to not be completely despairing, but to be mindful of those whispers for where our path may yet travel. If we are sincere enough in our desires 😉

    …on a personal note, I am so sorry to hear of your difficulties in conceiving. I know all too well with the deep sadness that this can bring, having experienced two miscarriages along my journey into motherhood also. It can be truly heart-breaking and something I am forever sensitive to in the face of the innocence/ignorance of others. Big hugs 🙂

  2. Tara Swiger
    April 30, 2013 at 1:26 pm (11 years ago)

    Thank you so much, Beka!
    And what you said about whispers and way-markers….oooh! I just couldn’t have said it better!

    Thank you again!

  3. pippa @storyofmum
    April 30, 2013 at 3:34 pm (11 years ago)

    This is wonderful Tara. Just today I had a friend tell me I was an incredible woman, how did I do it all… and (inspired by the same #omhg chat!) I reflected back that her impression was just from the 20% she saw, the happy productive good friend/mum/partner public face of me – while the 80% of messy house, chaotic meal-plans, brief fizzing marital rows, crazy working into the night to get stuff done fuelled by chocolate etc. was all the stuff she didn’t see… Having said that, your post reminds me that I am still an incredible woman 😉

  4. Julie Dumas
    May 1, 2013 at 10:27 am (11 years ago)

    Best Truths ever Tara! Being content is the beginning of feeling at Peace, and peace provides energy and incentive to act . . . or just be still.

  5. TheCreativeNotebook
    May 1, 2013 at 11:48 am (11 years ago)

    Very good! Regularly defining what we want, or maybe more to the point, who we need to be/are made to be is so important! So much better than getting caught up in trends. And really, the best trend-makers are doing what they want anyway, not what others think.There really is no substitute for knowing what you want to do/be and then working toward that. The post on boho-perfectionism was great, too – such a good term she coined!

    (This is Elizabeth of Things Bright, but I guess I was signed into my other Twitter account.)

  6. Kelly
    May 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm (11 years ago)

    This was beautiful, thank you! It’s one thing that I’m trying so hard to work on in my own life – remembering that nobody’s life is perfect, and that getting what you want takes hard work. And also to give myself a break when I fall down.

    That’s why this was my favorite part – “I wouldn’t change anything – I want to live this way. But sometimes, when I see your beautiful living room, or adorable children, or organized studio, I forget a little.”

  7. Tara Swiger
    May 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm (11 years ago)

    Yes, Pippa!
    It’s a tricky balance to realize that you get complimented when people do NOT know the full truth…but even though there’s mess and chaos, you’re still rocking it! You still totally deserve the praise and acknowledgement!

  8. Tara Swiger
    May 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm (11 years ago)

    Hi, Elizabeth!
    This: “There really is no substitute for knowing what you want to do/be and then working toward that.” is EXACTLY what it’s about!


  9. Tara Swiger
    May 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm (11 years ago)

    “And also to give myself a break when I fall down.”
    Absolutely! A big, juicy, relaxing break!

  10. Andie @ A.F.C
    May 2, 2013 at 5:07 pm (11 years ago)

    So well said!! I learned a long time ago that the best way to ruin a perfectly wonderful project is to google image search it first.

    On a bad day I remind myself that this really is my dream job, I have a passion and gratitude for my business and my customers and there is nothing in the world I would rather be doing- pinterest and cookie eating aside.

  11. Eden Mabee
    May 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm (11 years ago)

    While it’s good to have goals and a sense of direction, I think that spending too much time of “what you want/don’t have” is not only self-defeating, it’s a sign that you’re probably never going to have what you want…. Either you get caught in the trap of always looking for the next best thing, or you create a self-fulfilling prophecy of “I never get to have anything nice”.

    Either way, you lose.

    All those special extras should be a guideline, a direction to aim, but not the goals in their entirety.,,, then again, that’s just me.

  12. Tara Swiger
    May 3, 2013 at 9:26 am (11 years ago)

    I guess different things work for different people!
    When I encounter people who feel they don’t have what they want, it’s usually because they haven’t really defined what they TRULY want (not just what they think they should want) and planned a path to get there.
    So it’s not about the goal or a direction, it’s about looking clearly at a path that will move you forward.

    The trick is to keep celebrating every single step, so you remember how great the right now is, without just giving up on ever having anything else.

  13. Tara Swiger
    May 3, 2013 at 9:26 am (11 years ago)

    Ha! Google Image Search is dangerous! I only use it admire adorable baby basset hound puppies 🙂

  14. Kelly
    May 3, 2013 at 10:02 am (11 years ago)

    To me, you’re both right. I agree with Tara that you need to think about and define what you want and how to get it. “What we should want” is a big problem for a lot of people, myself included. It took me a while to get off a path I didn’t realize I didn’t want to be on.

    But I think Eden has a point in the sense of, you don’t want to get caught up in the negativity of “I don’t have what I want”, but use it to define your goals.