I’m breathing OK these days. But a month ago I felt a lot like my life was a bus that had left without me. I was tired, stretched, uncomfortable in my skin. Scared of my voice and my blog because it’s scary to write what people will likely disagree with at some point. I felt like I carried all these rulers stuck uncomfortably in my back pocket for checking if I was measuring up.

I’m not sure what I was supposed to be measuring up to exactly. How to write, how to raise my kids, how to prepare supper, how to remember to unload the dishwasher. I just know that most days I wasn’t. Or more truthfully, most days I simply felt like I wasn’t. The Internet can be a very loud and shouty place about what everyone else is doing successfully.

It feels like such an embarrassing admission – the rabbit hole of comparing yourself to other people. But it can suck you in and suck the life out of you. But eventually I come out the other end and take deep breaths and remember that Jesus moved into the neighborhood and isn’t going to leave me to sort through all my garbage alone.

I wrote this last year. And this year I went looking for it again. To remember. That comparison is always a trap and I want us to escape it together. So 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 again, “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. That your stories are lame and who cares what happened to a girl growing up once upon a time in South Africa any way?

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 wrench it away from us and grind 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 our rock star baby sitter is down the hall loving on my laundry room.

Two boys are off at school and there’s a good man who will come home to all of us tonight. I’m working on a presentation for the Jumping Tandem conference that I have still barely started and I’ll be giving in less than a month. 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 hamster that annoys me with his constant whirring on the wheel 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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