We repainted our bedroom yesterday; a task we have been talking about for nearly as long as we have been married (one week short of 12 years). Social isolation has given us the time to do a ton of house projects, and I am grateful. The verdict is still out on the bedroom for me, despite the fact that I picked the color, but I am glad we did something in there.
Aside: When Quinn was young, he was obsessed with Space Jam and watched it over and over for about three years. Dr Marry tells this funny story of one of the first nights he was babysitting. They were building LEGOs and the movie ended. Dr Marry thought, “Thank f*@k for that.” But his gratitude dissolved as he watched Quinn stand up, hit rewind on the VCR and start it all over again.
That is exactly how Dr Marry watches movies and listens to music today. After all these months, I can’t really take one more round of “Downtown” by Petula Clark on Pandora or “Hymn” by Midge Ure. So yesterday, since I started in the bedroom first, I controlled the media. And I put on the podcast Armchair Expert by Dax Shepard. I don’t love him as a host, exactly, although I’m always surprised at how much smarter he is than I think he’s going to be, but he always has great guests on.
We’re taping and painting and on comes Glennon Doyle, whose work I know of but haven’t read because she has committed a fatal error in my book: her Instagram posts are always WAY. TOO. LONG.
And that makes me crazy. Rein it in, Glennon. Not every post needs to be four scrolls long!
Just recently, my mom asked me if I had heard of her or read anything by her because she had just gotten something of hers from the library and had really loved it. For the record, my mother also loves Anne Lamott, another writer who makes me absolutely crazy. She’s so messy. And she takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to say what she’s saying.
Both of these woman, and a number of other self-help types, remind me of our compost bin—I know there is incredible soil at the bottom, but I’d have to dig through so many layers of scraps in varying degrees of decay to get to it that it’s easier to just keep dumping new scraps on top and leave the excellent nutrient-rich soil for a later day.
But Glennon comes on, and my hands are paint-filled, so I can’t skip past her interview.
At first, I found her vocal pitch and cadence somewhat annoying—many women’s voices make me cringe because I have put so much work into mine and it’s been so screwed up for nearly six years now. Another check against her.
But then I got used to it and began to really listen.
And dammit if I didn’t realize something while she talked: the length of her Instagram posts is not the problem. I don’t like her Instagram posts because I see myself in her “decaying scraps.”
And I eventually say to Dr Marry, “This is painfully true for me.”
He says, “What is?”
And I respond, “All of it.”
To his credit, he just keeps painting. One of Dr Marry’s best things for me is that he knows when to start a conversation and when to let one go.
Her new book Untamed is all about uncovering who you are meant to be as a woman, not who you are told to be, expected to be, forced to be. It asks the simple question: Who were you before the world told you who to be?
After this interview, I wash my hands and move over to Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast, and guess who the second episode’s guests is?
Yup, it’s round two with Glennon and Untamed. Basically, I have gotten up, hit rewind and started the conversation all over again.
It’s the same basic questions, the same complex answers. I hear the same story of the inspiration for the book being a cheetah who has been conditioned (some might say broken) to believe that her highest calling, her most beautiful life, is to chase a pink bunny tied to the back of a jeep at a zoo for the entertainment of visitors.
And I’m listening to it all as if hearing it for the first time, and I’m as engaged this time around as I was the first time. And I woke up this morning thinking about the book and the conversations and went online to learn more, which is pretty much a third continuous viewing of the same content.
And I realize that some of my dislike is simple envy that Glennon Doyle bares her soul and millions pay attention; I bare mine and dozens (on a good day) respond. Her decaying scraps have led her to writing and speaking opportunities that are exactly where I want to be, and that’s hard to reconcile. It’s hard not to view success like a pizza (this is a riff from Brené Brown on empathy): there are only 8 slices, so you better get yours and hold on because there’s a limit.
There’s no maximum amount on success. There’s plenty of room in the compost bin of life for more decaying scraps to get added, to break down and to lend themselves to the making of nutrient-rich soil.
So I’m not Glennon Doyle…yet. Actually, I’ll never be Glennon Doyle. I am and always will be Dayna Del Val, and I am showing up, day after day, sometimes on repeat but always striving to see and feel and learn something new. And I don’t know how I feel about the new color in our bedroom, but I’m sure glad we did something.