My name is Lisa-Jo and I struggle with comparing myself to others.

It feels like such an embarrassing admission – the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to other people.

It feels like something better whispered in the ear of a good friend than admitted out loud. But today I think I need to sit at this desk in the corner of a {not-so-messy-as-usual} playroom and pull you aside and ask you, “How can we be in this together instead of competing at this?”

Because I don’t ever want you to visit here and leave feeling less-than.

Comparison will rob you blind, smash in your self-image, trash your house and tar and feather your kids.

It takes what is beautiful and tears it up into tiny bits like so many shredded pieces of a painting my four-year-old tore up two nights ago.

He loves to paint. He loves the textures, the water, the color, choosing the sheet of paper. He spends time and pours his imagination into all that wet collage of color. But show him what someone else is doing; add a long day and a quick temper into the mix, and he bursts into a fiery, four-year-old iconoclast.

Everything broken now.

And once he’d torn the paper in half he collapsed into a small version of himself and cupped dimpled hands around his short, tender hair and cried like he’d lost his best friend.

Comparison will eat at the heart of everything you love the most.

Love to write? Comparison will whisper it’s pointless when nobody reads your blog anyway.

Love to make art? Comparison will tell you that without a degree, a gallery, a show, an esty shop you’re a fake.

Love to cook? Comparison will tell you that your pots and pans would shame Julia Childs and desecrate her recipes.

Love to grow a business, build a brand, market your mojo? Comparison will tell you that you should have done it differently, done it like her, done it years ago to be any success at all.

Comparison drives up to take that dream we love, that calling we’re following, that friendship we cherish and wrenches it away from us and grinds it up into so much dirt and speckled gravel under irreverent tires.

Victims of comparison drive-bys litter the Internet.

There are virtual warehouses of new ways we can find to covet our neighbor’s house, family and life these days.

Nothing is as terrifying as thinking you don’t matter because you can’t do it like her.

But if we were to look down, look away from what we wish we had. If we would glance back at where we are, we might see in order to have rubbernecked so hard and so far we’ve been standing with high heels ground down on top of the hand painted, one-of-a-kind life art crafted for us.

For you.

For me.

We are each of us uniques.

A fingerprint swirl of utterly and totally incomparable. You are.

I’m writing this because I need to remember. Because when I forget and compare, parts of me wilt and fear takes bites out of my dreams.

I need to remember who I am. Just me.

There’s a Starbucks Frappuccino – the kind you can buy in a bottle at the grocery store – next to me as I type this. A pair of earphone buds because I love watching movies on my laptop late at night. And there’s a collection of left over toys behind me because my daughter plays alongside me as I work. My hair is having an in between kind of day and I’m wearing my favorite blue and black print shirt – the one with longish sleeves that flatter the parts of my arms I’m most self conscious about. My toenails are bright red and chipping.

Zoe is asleep and my mother-in-law is down the hall loving on my laundry room.

Two boys are off at summer camp and there’s a good man who will come home to all of us tonight. I’m working on a presentation for the MOPS Convention that I have still barely started and I’ll be giving it in less than a week. I have a book floating in the back of my head and a dream of bringing thousands of women together again in real life.

There’s also an equal mix of temper tantrums, worry, bills and a new stain on our just-cleaned-carpet. There’s the dog that insists on sitting on me and the dishwasher that comes off the rails. There’s messy days and beautiful days and homesick-for-South Africa days and days that I can barely remember.

This is my art.

This is my life.

This is my fingerprint.

I can never capture all of it on this blog. I can only show you glimpses. Don’t waste even a moment of your own beautiful life comparing it to mine. And I’ll promise to return the favor.

Rejoice.

Let’s choose to rejoice with one another.

Let’s not trample what we’ve been given in order to get to what we wish we’d got.

No girls, let’s dance. Right where we’re at.

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