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Wed. Aug 1, 2012 by Mary    Life with J&M

Airing the Dirty Laundry

A little while back, we got this email from Deb...


I just had to write quickly because, I'm having such a strong reaction (a good reaction!) To your blog post this morning! Seriously. It's been the running theme of all my conversations with other photographers this week. That we just feel this pressure. This pressure to be perfect. All.the.time. Because all that we see around us is perfection. The perfect weddings, the perfect meeting space, the perfect outfits, websites, twitter feeds, instagrams… you name it. And then we feel that we need to keep up, to compete with that perfection. When in reality, that perfection is really only PERCEPTION. Recently, when I was over your house for the workshop, I went into your laundry room to iron my dress. And there it was. The laundry pile. And I think I could have collapsed on the floor right there.

Collapsed from relief.

It was as if an allelujah chorus entered that laundry room and that pile glowed in all its laundry glory. Because to me that laundry pile represented life. Real life. And the fact that maybe you, who I perceived to be perfect all the time, isn't. And that I don't have to be perfect all the time either. That it's OK to live a REAL life. That we can be successful and "perfect" where it counts, but that it shouldn't stop us from living. Your laundry pile told me that it's OK if I stay in my workout clothes without a trace of makeup on and my frizzy ponytail until 6pm. That if I decided to go outside and walk the dog instead of sitting at my desk for five hours trying to write a blog post, the world wouldn't end. That, no, in fact I don't have to be a super hero. You probably think I'm crazy, going on about a laundry pile. But your post today was that epiphany moment that I had in your laundry room. And as I ironed away my dress, I felt such a burden lifted from my shoulders.

Thank you for being an example of someone who can live life and dream big. And if the laundry piles up while you're out being super heroes, well, so be it.


As I was reading Deb's email, I found myself nodding along. I knew exactly what she meant. What it is to constantly be on the outside looking in at people's perfect tweets, perfect instagrams, perfect outfits. And how utterly exhausting that can be. I heard myself "mmmmmmmm hmmmmm" out loud like I was in a Baptist church, at all the honesty she was preaching (for what it's worth, I grew up in a Baptist Church and not once, not one single time, did anyone in our congregation ever once "mmmmmm hmmmm" out loud at anything that was ever sad. And I guess I've always felt a little jipped because of that. So if anyone out there knows of one of these churches where the people "mmmm hmmm" and gospel choirs spontaneously break into song, please let me know. And I will attend immediately. Because that would be amazing. :). But I digress.

See, I felt myself nodding along....knew exactly what she was talking about....was two seconds away from an AMEN. When I realized that the perceived perfection she had been talking about was...mine. That in her mind, she had been on one side looking in and I was on the other-completely perfect- side where no hair is ever out of place. And it floored me. Because nothing NOTHING could be further from the truth.

As I kept reading, I found myself laughing out loud at the description of our laundry room. Because you know what? It IS a disaster. A complete & total disaster that we keep hidden away, like our dirty little secret, on our second floor. And it stresses me out. Constantly. Because it makes me feel like a bad wife. It makes me feel like a bad grown up. That we're just barely holding everything together by their threads. And let's just be honest, it makes finding that one sequined shirt you're looking for out of the mire of laundry piles a total stress fest, until you find yourself throwing baskets of clothes in the air like a crazy woman. It isn't pretty.

But you know what? It's real life. Because the thing is, Deb got it right. Sometimes going out and chasing really BIG dreams does mean that your laundry is going to pile up. And so be it. Sometimes life gets messy when you're trying to make things happen. Let it. Chasing dreams is not a glamorous endeavor. Trust me, anyone who tells you that it is, is only telling you one very small part of the story. The truth is, for every ONE day of glamorous you get for dreaming big dreams, there are about 180 leading up to it. I mean, it's not an exact statistic. I haven't done the research. But it's close.

The truth is, we have laundry in our laundry room. The truth is, there's something really moldy growing in our refrigerator right now. The truth is, we finished writing The Guide while we were driving in the car on the way to our next Lighting Intensive. We hit send from the very feeble WiFi we were able to pick up at the sketchiest gas station ever in Somewhere, South Carolina. And after the weeks of work, stress and effort that went into it, what I really wanted was to celebrate with some champagne. But I had to settle for a mint oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen because that's all that was around. It was most definitely not glamorous. But in that moment... it was ours.

My point is, life gets messy. And chasing dreams means that you're probably going to have to get your hands dirty. Chase them anyway. Fight like Hell. Hold on tight.

And worry about the laundry another day.

Go get it.


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