Thursday, July 14, 2016

Taking Off the Poker Face

Recently my sweet friend Emily told a story on her blog about the moment she let her poker face slip with her two young boys.  In the midst of a calm and relaxing afternoon, one of her sons dropped a spider into her lap.  At eight months pregnant, Emily immediately jumped up from her chair and ran screaming.  In that moment she "destroyed her calm, parenting face."  I'm still giggling at the mental image of my friend running around her yard, baby belly in tow. 

For several weeks now since reading her post, that phrase poker face has been rolling around in my head.  This morning as I was lying in bed I suddenly had a small epiphany.  I've been struggling to write for the past several months because I've been afraid to let my poker face slip.

We all have one.  A poker face, that is.  A blank expression that hides one's true feelings.  Some would even go so far as to call it a resting bitch face ;)

Call it what it is, we all have some version of the poker face and we put it on when we're scared or feeling most vulnerable. 

As little girls, we learned to nail that poker face right about the time we entered junior high -- as cliques of nail polish and lip gloss wearing girls began to form and boys began to notice or not notice us.

For me, my poker face has carried over into adulthood.  It gets plastered on the second I walk into a room full of pretty mommas with diaper bags and coffee tumblers.

Over time, this blog Little Mountain Momma has become the one of the only places that I can authentically shed my poker face and be raw honest about who I am.  Perhaps it's easier for me to sit behind a computer screen and share my heart than it is to stand face to face with another woman and risk judgement or disapproval. 

When I first began writing on this blog, I was beginning to heal from postpartum depression.  We had just moved to Colorado.  I didn't have any friends in our new city. The decision to write and share was like sticking my toes into a pool of cold water for the first time -- I was bravely hoping that the ripples I was creating would somehow lead to a connection with other women who were feeling the same way.

What I found was that those ripples turned into waves. As I began to share that I was hurting -- and just plain scared of this unchartered journey called motherhood, dozens of women began to speak up about their own journeys.  Precious, brave women began to reach out and say, "Me too!" 

The feeling was exhilarating and powerful.  For the first time in  my life I began to discover that I wasn't the only one desiring to be really seen and known! 

One of my favorite authors Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, "Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make everyday.  It's about the choice to show up and be real.  The choice to be honest.  The choice to let our true selves be seen."

It's that part about authenticity being a daily choice that's a real struggle for me. At times over the past five years of writing, it's been tempting to retreat back to the image of perfection and having it all together. 

I find myself sharing so much of myself on my blog and social media platforms that I catch myself drawing back, wondering if I've become too authentic, too honest and raw.  I wonder if at some point I've become an oversharer

It's a balancing act as a writer to maintain a sense of privacy and dignity while also deeply desiring to connect with others authentically. The tough stuff like going through postpartum depression, losing babies to miscarriage and the disappointment of trying to get pregnant month after month.  The seasons where my marriage is struggling and my friendships aren't thriving.

A few months back I published a post while on our family vacation to Florida.  In this post I shared pictures of myself on the beach wearing a dress that was sent to me by the company Pink Blush as a way to promote their new Spring line. 

The real story behind that post was that my husband and I argued all the way to the beach.  We fought and the kids cried in the backseat.  It was hardly my proudest moment as a wife and momma.  I was so focused on honoring my commitment to Pink Blush to model their clothing, that I was willing to sacrifice our time as a family just to get the perfect inauthentic photos.

The truth is, my poker face was plastered on for that Pink Blush photo shoot. I felt like such a fraud in that moment.  I was angry at my husband and I didn't even want to play with my babies at the beach.  And this was a vacation we had been planning for over a year! 

After apologies and amends were made with my family, I made the decision to step back from blogging and social media permanently until I could figure out a way to get back to doing it authentically and without my poker face on. 

If you are a follower of my writing and (or) any of my social media pages, you may have noticed my absence.  Or, maybe you haven't.  In which case, surprise!  I've been missing for a while ;)

Taking a break from writing and sharing on social media has meant a few things for me. 

It has meant that I've actually seen my children.  I've watched their faces while playing and my thoughts haven't revolved around taking their pictures to share with the world.  We've taught and learned to ride a two wheeler, had family dinners, built a garden, gone hiking, taken trips, played in the sprinklers, had picnics.  We've lived for a few months and I haven't felt the need to display our lives for all of our friends and acquaintances and yes, even perfect strangers to see. 

It's been beautiful and refreshing. 

Taking a break has meant making the decision to permanently turn down companies and sponsors.  Free clothes are great.  It's flattering to be contacted by companies who like my writing and want me to advertise for them.  But, that's not why I began writing.  That lifestyle of blogging just isn't authentically me. 

So, I'm back. I think ;)  At least I hope to be. 

I'm practicing taking off the poker face and I plan to slowly get back to writing and sharing my heart.  Just minus the free clothes and sponsored posts.  I find that I'm most alive when I'm making connections with other women through writing when it isn't forced and fake.  Perhaps, my most authentic self is that I'm an oversharer.  And maybe that's okay.  Maybe that's how Jesus uses me best. 
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  1. Yay Brittany! I'm glad you're back and I'll be cheering you on whatever decision you make. I appreciate your honesty and telling the truth about blogging. Thanks for always encouraging me, as well!

    1. Thank you friend! This means so much! Love you!

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  3. I love your blog! You have a wonderful way of writing and I really enjoy reading it. I wish I had the time to write to you more often as I often think of you and I can relate to what you are saying a lot of the time. I too want to simplify my life and concentrate on what is most important. Making meaningful connections is one of those things so I am going to focus on that (starting here)! I also love Brene Brown and I'm currently reading the book you mention, The Gifts of Imperfection. Thanks for sharing your writing with us, and your life! I look forward to staying in touch. Wishing you a happy Sunday, Bridget

    1. Hi Bridget, Thank you so much for your sweet message! And congratulations on your beautiful little man! I have loved looking at your pictures ;) I'm currently reading Rising Strong and am about to start on Daring Greatly. I feel like there's just too much goodness in her books and I'm having trouble not highlighting everything ;)

  4. Totally agree about how great her books are. So full of wisdom. I haven't read Rising Strong, but Daring Greatly has to be one of my favorite books of all time! Enjoy!!