Monday, August 30, 2010

Here's My Word, with Apologies to Ms. Clarkson

It's like finding the right swimsuit.  It's never the first one you try on.  After a dozen or so, it seems like a swimsuit chooses you.  It fits in the bust and across the backside.  Doesn't ride up too high or plunge down too low.  And then you breathe a sigh of relief.

Finding a word that describes you is a process.  Sometimes painful, sometimes unpredictable.

I wanted others' words to fit me. I know women who are
These are definitely not me.  They were the string bikinis on the model:  attention grabbers that just don't work for me.

I plowed through words, occasionally stopping to try one on, checking the fit.  Loud and organized only fit sometimes, while bossy, prideful, selfish, and opinionated fit all too well yet don't define me completely (I hope).

Tucker gave a talk in Church last Mother's Day, and the word he used to describe me was passionate.  I liked that.  I liked that my son sees that I love what I do and try to do it well.  But that was his word for me, not mine.

A very close friend once thought I was mean, kinda scary and aloof.  Not very positive, these words.  And not completely accurate, either (even she would agree, I think).

Would I ever get to the section where my swimsuit--my word--would find me?

I tried on a few more, and these were fitting a little better:

But I still didn't feel like I'd found the one.

And then, it hit me.  The perfect word.  Both positive and negative.  One that shows who I am and doesn't pretend to be more.
What's my word?  It's

I've never been one who needed a friend to accompany me to the bathroom or Costco.  Even though I strive to be accepted and loved, I've never hedged my opinion.  I don't mince words, and either love me or hate me, that's fine.  I want you to love me, but I can stand on my own, thank you very much. People interpret this as unfeeling, I'm sure.  But I'm not unfeeling, because the barbs hurt.  I just don't let them hurt for long.

I need time during the day when it's quiet and just me so I can regroup. I love to go to breakfast or the library or shopping or the bookstore alone, just to be with myself.  Brad doesn't get that completely.  Neither do I, frankly.

I think I can do it on my own, even when I can't.  I resist assistance from others when I could truly use it--my family, my husband, my God.  It's especially difficult when I know I need to trust my Heavenly Father, but I just can't give up the control. This will be my eternal struggle--surrendering my independence to those whose help will make me better and make me happy.

Not the suit I took from the rack, thinking I'd like the best.  But it's the one that fits--fortes, flaws, and everything in between.

So what did you come up with? I can't wait to hear what you've been pondering the last few days. Leave a link below so I can read! Or, if you don't have a blog, leave a comment with your thoughts and why that word works for you.


  1. I love this. I love how it's written, the metephor, the many different words you "tried on", etc. I like your word choice as well, it does fit.

    i wish I could say I'd been thinking about it and had one. But I've been all caught up in Oliver, sick kids and writing a bio page.

    Just know, I love you and this blog and your Independent self.

  2. We are so much alike . Independent (which I have always been)sounded like a lonely word..until I read this post. I love the description...independent here excudes confidence and self the best way!
    I'm thinking! Trying words on over here!

  3. I like the word independent. Now you've got me thinking what in the world my word is...

  4. Beautifully written. I've been thinking about a word, and funny, independent was one I thought of too. Entering this crazy world of 4 kids in school (it will come for you!), and I'm realizing how much I'm enjoying just being on my own. Yes, I do the recharge in the bookstore, or a quick browse through a store, or a cup of coffee on my own. I'm not one to hang with all the mommies at the door of the school...and I'm good with it.
    And the swimsuit analogy...wonderful.
    And the truth of swimsuit's brutal.
    Have a great day!

  5. I like your word. It suits you well. I have striven throughout my whole life to find a sense of self but allowed others to define me. I am currently on a mid life journey to define myself. I hope I am able to find my own unique word someday.

    Wonderful post!

  6. This was fun to read and learn more about those who know you describe you, and how you see yourself.
    I "tried on" your word "independent" and while it kinda fit, the word that mostly fits is the one I used to describe myself last week here, "passionate"...everything that words implies fits me like a glove.
    Thanks Jen!

  7. I think this is such a great journey to take, to really think about not how others-even those we love-define us, rather how do we define ourselves? Are we happy with who we are? Thanks for the kick in the pants to think some more.

    Loved your post, and so glad you shared the challenge! I even joined-gasp! I know it's been forever since I wrote a post, but I did!

  8. Great post, Jen, and the analogy is both creative and apt. You are such a good writer! And it was fun to find out even more about you.

    This has been a fun exercise for me. Thanks for thinking of it...


  9. I haven't had a chance to write mine yet, but it's restless. Someone once described me that way and it fits. It's not very positive, but in a way it helps me to move forward and not become complacent.

    I love your description of yourself. I see me in that. I could use your word to describe me, too (to a fault), but I don't think it sums me up exactly.

    I'm sure you know what I mean. :)

  10. This is SO well-written!

    I'm going to have to give some thought as to what my word might be. Perhaps, indecisive?

  11. Great post Jen! I love how it is written. Independent is word that has been used to describe me for a very long time. I sincerely doubt that will ever change. Your description fits me perfectly. Actually, it was rather strange because it was as if you were writing about me.

    Have a beautiful day!

    ~ Tracy

  12. Swimsuit words- I love your metaphors that make me see in my little head, just what you mean- you're quite the wordsmith in your own right. And Ms. Clarkson doesn't own the word quite like you do, so I'm sure she won't mind sharing.

  13. I really liked this challenge. It made me really think, but not uncomfortably... whew :) Thanks for encouraging my brain to work!

    PS We shared a nice dinner with your son on Thurs. You sure have raised a nice one!

  14. I love yours. I can relate to it all to well. Now I didn't participate today, but I will be tomorrow! So please come and visit. I will link up in the morning.

  15. THAT'S MY WORD TOO!!! I haven't gotten around to blogging it and probably won't now, because you are so good about the way you word things. Mine would basically say: The word that describes me is independent. End of blog...

  16. wasn't able to capture the right word as i thought about this upcoming post, but i love yours. mostly cause the ways you outline that it fits you, we both share in common.
    as in, i thought, do i have a long lost sister i've never known? and her name's jen?!?

  17. LOVE this post!! I'm so glad you're my independent friend! :) I've been called "hermit crab", "loner", lots of words like those....l think I prefer independent. Love you!

  18. Fun.
    Optimistic. (I'm singing from Monty Python here..."Always look on the bright side of life....")

    Take your pick.

    And have I dropped off your blogroll?


  19. I love me an independent woman! I've aspired to become that myself, but I still love company when I do things. I've been inspired by everyone's words, so if I take a little from this one, and a little from that one, and a little from you, I will HOPEFULLY become my best self. Thanks for an interesting bit of homework.

  20. Very cool! What a great idea Jen:) I love your word and how you are so honest with it!

  21. Good for you. I on the other hand cannot decide on just one. In fact my words are so all over the place I just put the idea away. I was getting frustrated with my lack of one wordedness. A great post! It got me thinking.

  22. Hi Jen - I love this assignment but I'm struggling! Hey, it took me 4 months just to fill in the 'about me' space, so it's no surprise ;-) I'll get there, I promise!

    btw, I stumbled across your gorgeous boots in the tracy porter catalog, but didn't you mention you had found them for less? I'd love to know where if you wouldn't mind sharing ...

  23. I LOVED this post, and loved how you compared it to a swimsuit-so true! I'm not sure what word would best describe me, I guess I'll have to think about it. Thanks for the post!