The Apple Slice

Here’s what I want to tell you today. I want to tell you that, if my words are causing vibrations that are running opposite to the truths you hold – sound waves striking dissonance or resistance or choppiness in the good and worthy balance you’ve been working toward, close this browser.

There is a difference between being actively challenged and being passively influenced.

The first is to arrive with a softened heart and an open mind, but with searching eyes and tuned-in ears, both promising to look, to see, to listen, to hear. What am I reading? Why am I reading this? What does it mean for me? Is this a truth I am going to believe? Is this is a perspective I am seeking to adopt?

The second is quite the opposite.

The first happens, for me, when I am quiet, and contemplative, and the toddler is napping and the dishwasher is humming and I would really, truly like to read something that makes my soul stir.

The second happens, for me, in another manner entirely. It’s hopping on my phone to Google a recipe in the grocery store and I find myself habitually opening Instagram – oh, I’m sorry, I’m totally in your way, let me move over here by the oranges – and gracious, that stir fry photo she just posted looks way better than the sauteed kale I’d planned for, and yes, I have snap peas at home, maybe I should pick up some water chestnuts and sesame oil?

Except that, most times, it’s not about stir fry at all.

I’m in the bathroom now, and the toddler is loudly splashing, and the dogs are barking and the day has been long and hard and kind of heavy. And your sunlit corner loft, the one by the fiddle leaf fig tree and the sheer curtains, book on lap, bustling city below? That looks pretty nice right now. I want that instead. I want to trade the truth I’ve arrived at – that this life of messy all-in suburban motherhood is precisely what I want – for a single slice of your life that looks appealing when my eyes are glazed over and my heart is tired.

We know we’re not supposed to grocery shop when hungry. We know the result – a cart full of empty choices that make us salivate but will not nourish. And yet, we do this every day, right here. We blink at the screen, our thumbs scrolling down, down, down. Another sunset. Another macaroon. Another fiddle leaf fig tree.

We are starving, our hunger insatiable. And we mindlessly, accidentally, subconsciously fill our grocery carts – these beautiful minds – with empty choices that make us salivate but will not nourish.

I’m in the bedroom now, and the toddler is asleep and Ken is out of town and the day has been long and hard and kind of heavy. And your date night, the one with the candles and the poetry and the guitar solo he sang for you? That looks pretty nice right now. I want that instead. I want to trade the truth I’ve arrived at – that love means service and comfort and taking out the trash – for a single slice of your life that looks appealing when my eyes are glazed over and my heart is tired.

I’m sorry, I’m totally in your way, let me move over here by the oranges.

I’m in the kitchen now, and the toddler has thrown a tantrum, and the day has been long and hard and kind of heavy. And your smiling family portrait, the one in the orange grove where you’re wearing the chambray dress? That looks pretty nice right now. I want that instead. I want to trade the truth I’ve arrived at – that my family is precisely the gift I need and that our struggles are uniquely suited for us – for a single slice of your life that looks appealing when my eyes are glazed over and my heart is tired.

I am Eve, trading gardens for apples.
I am Erin, trading here for there.

Now for then.

When for if.

And so, here is what I want to tell you. If reading the book of my life takes you away from the path you believe you are intended for, and the truth that you have arrived at, then please, put me back on the shelf.

Next to the apple.

There might be a season where messages of slowing, or minimizing, or lessening, might be encouraging for you. And yet, perhaps this is your season of more. Perhaps this is your season of tasting and seeing and knowing it is good.

If so, I’ll be here, and you be there.

I’ll wave to you.

We have both been given gardens.

Our own Edens, worlds apart but sharing the sun.

  • In this moment, I feel as though your words are all I need, because they are my nourishment – sat here, the sun shining on the left side of my face, with my laptop on my, ahem, lap, with a yearning to breathe and move and do anything ANYTHING but write this darn essay I can’t bring myself to write (for fear, once I do, it’ll be terrible, and I’ll just have to start all over again, so why try?) your words fill me with a zest for something more. They spur me on. Your life – and the thoughts you share on it – although so different to my own, instils in me happy thoughts full of could-be’s and maybe’s and who knows; all good things. They whisper a promise of a future with more. So, I will keep visiting. I will keep hoping, with you ‘by my side’, Erin, because you bring me so much light. You make me feel excited about life and all it could hold <3

  • Oh my gosh, yes. I didn’t even realize that is what I have been doing, filling my grocery cart with things I think I want from others’ pretty pictures, other slices. If I knew what their whole apple looked like, maybe I wouldn’t. Thank you, this is helpful.

  • This is such a great piece, but it also makes me wonder how you feel about being in the blogging business, where so much of the focus is on creating “perfect” vignettes of a life that may not actually resemble the one you’re living. It’s done under the auspices of inspiring, which is completely laudable and worthwhile. But I’m so guilty of scrolling through blogs I love (like yours) and thinking, wow, if I could only XYZ, I could have that life. And it does take its toll. You have to mindfully step back and remind yourself, this shot was styled by several people; those people are in different circumstances; I made different decisions; this is likely not a true reflection of the person on that side of the lens. But that’s what social media is, this striving to prove a perceived identity in our head. And you’re just such a mindful person, I wonder how you reconcile your job/passion with these thoughts? Could any blog exist if the shots weren’t stylized? If you shared the messy parts of the day, too? I feel like blogs have connected us in amazing ways, but we’ve also become this culture of women who compare incessantly in a way that wasn’t possible before, and it often makes us sad as a result.

    • Hi Jenna:

      First of all, I’m so appreciative of the way you phrased this constructive thought! Thank you for taking the time to explain this tension, because I can so, so, so relate. It’s tricky, for me to reconcile, for precisely the reasons you discussed. It is a balance I try to seek daily, in my own life and in this space.

      I think, for me, I’m learning as I go. I’m a rose-colored glasses girl, for the most part, and find so much beauty in the small things: white sheets, clean spaces, a kindling fire. And I want to be sure those are seen as joys, not standards. It’s as if I’m a child on the beach combing for treasures, and the treasures, of course, are the things we run to our parents and friends to share, leaving the sand and debris and dirt behind. And that’s why I wrote this post – not to spotlight the sand and debris and dirt, but to be sure we all know that everyone has to sift to find the treasure (and everyone’s treasure will look quite different!).

      I do think blogs can exist without styled shots (one of my favorite examples of this balance is my e-friend Alison: ), but I also find immense creativity in creating uplifting photos. It’s a tough line, and one I’m going to continue to think about, thanks to you! :)

  • I was once sarcastically challenged by an anonymous commenter on my blog to “tell me what your life is really like”, which was a jab at the stories I chose to tell (or not) on my blog. It was the first time someone actually hated on me, and I wondered what I had done to offend him/her to get such a remark. But then, our messages on our blogs are our hearts on a platter. We write and tell our stories from the best intentions, and sometimes, we may rub others the wrong way without meaning to. It’s the beauty of freedom of speech, freedom of artistry, too. Not everyone thinks the Mona Lisa is a showstopper. And not everyone will love our stories of our “nows” and “getting theres” and “being here’s,”and it’s ok. Keep writing for YOU, Erin, because you are also writing for people like me, and I thank YOU for that.

  • Thank you for this permission. Something I need with another snow day where my focus shouldn’t be on a 2×4 screen. Being here has become such a struggle. Grateful for those like you to be so very aware and encourage us all to do the same.

  • Erin, you have such a way of shining light on the cracks in our lives that truly illuminates, rather than washing them out or feeling harsh. Soft reminders. I love that about you and about this space. You remind me to love where I am, even though I’m looking toward my future with hopeful eyes. Here is good, too. Thank you for that ❤️

    • Brittany, thank you! Thank you for your encouragement! “Here is good, too.” I love that. :)

  • This is very quickly becoming my favorite blog! You are a beautiful writer. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. I cannot tell you how refreshing the honesty is!

  • Last night, after many tears during a conversation with hubby about my spending habits and too strong desires to fill myself wth possessions in the midst of the all-in mom-life, I had to unfollow so many instagram accounts. It was cleansing- I know that’s what the Lord is asking of me. This post was wonderful timing. Thanks for encouraging gently!

    • Oh, sweet Stephanie, I hear you. I’ve been in that place before, and I’ve had to take similar actions to remove voices and influences from my life. It’s a good and worthy battle, and I’m so thrilled to hear you and your husband were brave enough to talk it through. :)

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  • This is so beautifully written and spoke directly to my heart this morning. Needed some perspective as I’m adjusting to a new normal with a newborn and toddler. Thank you :)

  • This smells of wisdom. I catch myself all the time coming up with some “new” idea or thing I want to buy, but upon examination I realize I just saw it on someone else or in someone else’s feed. There is such a difference between inspiration and imitation, and yet they look so much alike!

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  • Contentment is harder when we allow so many voices to interrupt our lives. Thank you for your wise words.

  • Spot on! “We are starving, our hunger insatiable. And we mindlessly, accidentally, subconsciously fill our grocery carts – these beautiful minds – with empty choices that make us salivate but will not nourish.”

  • Bravo!
    You challenge me to be kinder, in the nicest and most positive way. Thank you.

  • Love this & totally get it! Thank you SO much for sharing your heart!

  • Beautiful! Contentment is the best gift I have ever given myself. I may not have the perfect life but it’s mine and I am grateful every day.

  • You influence me in the best ways. Your words grasp and reassure me when others easily bombard my heart’s desires. Smart phones have made it all too easy to transport away from one’s true purpose. Those perfectly square, stylized images can mar the soul if you hold them too closely. I appreciate your current vibe. It reminds me of…

    To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens | Ecclesiastes 3:1

    Your blog is one of the few I read any longer and I just want to thank you for your honesty, art, and true beauty.

    • I LOVE this, Katy!:
      Those perfectly square, stylized images can mar the soul if you hold them too closely.

      Thank you for sharing. :)

  • i adore your creative writing. adore it. you challenge me to rethink things & just think them out in the first place. so glad i found you. oh & your eyes are beautiful.
    please write a book? or perhaps you have…i’m a newbie here ;)

    • Oh Paige, thank you! No book yet, but I’m working on it, I think. ;)
      And goodness, thank you for the compliment!

  • Thanks. Well said. Wished I hadn’t read it while cookies are burning in the kitchen. :) and when I wasn’t scrolling through instagram, realtor sites, blogs, etc….dreaming…
    I will purposely come back to this tonight though when all is quiet – including my mind, and read it again to really truly appreciate your good words.

  • I struggle with this constantly. Feeling incredibly blessed with exactly what I have, and yet looking elsewhere and wanting something else; something different. And truly, I have never been happier – I have a beautiful, healthy eighteen month old, a solid marriage and a loving husband, a career with promise and opportunity. But there are days when I miss the luxury of time that was all my own, and traveling, and a not so distant past when I was a different kind of happy. Then in darker moments, I find myself envying lives similar in tone to my own, but ones with better lighting, or the picturesque home instead of a rented apartment, or stay at home mom verses working mom, and worse still, seek validation from others to reassure me that what I know is perfect in its own way is actually good enough. I know that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, but sometimes the other yard just looks better. Thank you so much for sharing your story and reminding me that the only place I need to be looking for fulfillment is inward.

    • Oh goodness, I can so relate to your words:
      “Then in darker moments, I find myself envying lives similar in tone to my own, but ones with better lighting, or the picturesque home instead of a rented apartment, or stay at home mom verses working mom, and worse still, seek validation from others to reassure me that what I know is perfect in its own way is actually good enough.” –> Love this.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment – I hear ya, sister!

  • I love this post. It is so easy to look at other people’s lives (especially through a filtered social media lens) and tell ourselves we want that more…when there is someone else thinking the same thing about our lives.

    Thanks for this. Hope you have an amazing weekend.


  • “Except that, most times, it’s not about stir fry at all.” Yes. Yes. Yes.

    Love that you articulated what so many of us feel so gorgeously. Keep it up, girl. You were born to do this work. (no pressure. *wink*)

  • This was a breathtaking piece! It reads like an excerpt from a reflective novel. This is exactly what I needed. Your prose has given me new promise for the day. Thank you!

    Charlotte Crow

  • I’m thinking it’s okay to dream every once in a while, and indulge in thoughts of What-if, as long as I remember the glory and beauty of exactly what I have, too. No need to trade; I can borrow someone else’s moment for a moment when I need it.

    Big hugs, Erin!

  • This is beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful. And oh so true. And I wish that everyone would see that but some of {us} live with our eyes glazed over all day, every day. Wanting more, wanting something different. But that’s no way to live. And, little by little, everyone begins to realize this. Hopefull sooner, rather than later.

    Thanks for this <3

  • Oh my goodness. This. Yes. I will remember your beautiful piece in those moments when my mind tries to convince me that my currently-simple-and-perfect-for-me-right-now life is not, in fact, rich + full + wonderful. This usually happens in darker moments, particularly when I am avoiding darker feelings, so perhaps the fact that the wisdom now comes in words will help.

  • Beautifully written. Resonates with me deeply both as a blogger and a compulsive Instagram checker and Internet reader.

  • So beautifully and perfectly expressed. I am constantly longing for the apple slices of others – for their calm, their beauty, their clean and tidy houses and lives. Thank you — it helps to know that I am not alone with these temptations.

  • woah- most beautiful words i’ve read in a long time. something we don’t talk about, but it’s the reality of the “world” we are living in. i have teenage girls and i have to remind them and me that we are living the life we see in the pictures. we are living life in the sunshine. we have seen mountains and beaches. we wear cute shoes and eat pretty food. all this here… yes.

  • Erin – this is glorious – filled with truth and heart and a gentle nudge to allow us all to stay on the ‘right path for us’. I’m grateful I stopped by today. xoxo

  • Beautiful, uncomfortable, but still beautiful truths. Thank you so much for these words. Yes, this is also me. And I always try to choose my truth and love them for they are mine. Hard though esp if the instagram pics are too pretty teehee

  • I LOVE this. This is beautiful! Wonderful perspective, definitely thought provoking.

  • Love the way you describe this! Trading truths, and apples for gardens. I agree completely. Amazingly well written of course too! I have become more and more aware lately when I do this when I could be taking in the moments with my kids. It will help to consider the concept of trading in my truths for a slice. Glad you shared! And fun to see you!!

  • beautifully written and expressed. I am 56 years old and find this truth is a lifelong struggle. Every season of life has its beauty but also the tugging that I am missing out. The call to another world, the lie that this isn’t enough… Set the apple aside and be attentive to the moments of today. Thank you Erin!

  • I loved your soul stirring post…..truly beautiful how you evoke such images with your words!

  • What an insightful and unique way of pinpointing the exact feelings so much of us process each day. Thank you for sharing your words.

  • I have never read your blog before (found the link on Hey Natalie Jean) and I absolutely LOVE this essay. Beautiful.

  • !!! and XOXO

    (I could go on and on, but that sums up my reaction to this gorgeous, wise, post. I love you, and am so thankful for you!)

  • Beautifully written! I read it twice, will save it for future read too! Insightful and so true! !

  • You are an amazing poet. There is so much truth in what you have written. I have not actually ever read your blog in full. I’ve skimmed it a bit because I have been interested in minimizing my wardrobe. But, now I realize that instead of scrolling through hundreds of pictures on various blogs that I cannot even muster the brain power to read can be so fruitless when I could be appreciating this life I lead now and actively participate in it. Thank you for this. Be well.

  • Your life does not take me away from my path instead I think, at times, it helps keep me on my path.

    I’ve put many books of lives back on the shelf but yours I think I’ll keep on my bedside table next to the flowers. :)

  • Erin. This I my first time reading your blog. This was just what I needed to hear today.

  • First time visitor here Erin; your words were spot on for me, tears brimmed. Thanks for the poetic reminder that green eyes or not where I am is perfect for me & where everyone else is is perfect for them too. To each their own seasons.

  • This could not be any more perfect. Beautiful & inspiring. Convicting & lovely. Thank you for posting.

  • This was beautiful and honest. Convicting and lovely. Like looking into a mirror for the thoughts that run through my mind daily. I’m going to run through my garden with joy today, even if it is because my toddler found crayons, or scissors, or something else that is destructive or dangerous. Thank you.

  • I may read this every day for the rest of my life. This is the daily struggle we all face, comparison. It will kill us if we let it. A beautiful reminder to put it back on the shelf.

  • This was just as refreshing and crisp as that apple looks. Here I am with a tired heart, when the day has been long and hard. A sick seven year old sleeps in her bed across the hall, along with her five year old sister. I can hear them sigh and breath. My husband is downstairs with our twin toddlers listening to soft music, and I’m getting to renew my energy a bit doing some blog reading.

    This post was a beautiful reminder that we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Thank you for writing it. This is my first time on your blog. I’ll be back.

    • we are exactly where we are supposed to be – yes! and thank you for your kind encouragement, bibi. :)

  • Thank u so much for that truth and truth it is. I am caught up In all that you mention but I surf also for wonderful encouraging arm around the shoulder words like yours. You’re new to me. My daughter liked you so I read your post. Thanks you for perspective and truth in love to ponder. Hope to see you again. It was worth the quick peruse before bed :). I shall remember what you said.

  • I think this such a lovely piece. A friend and I have been discussing how we are starving for connection and community. Our social media habits, including surface level conversations and comparing our insides to other people’s outsides, really contribute to our starvation. Thank you for sharing this lovely perspective!

  • This voices so well the stage of my life that I am in right now. It helps revalidate my decision to close my facebook.

    It is so easy to admire the gardens of others while our own goes to weed. We should not apologize for taking the time to turn inward and work on our own patch of Eden.

  • oh my.
    This was so absolutely beautiful.

    It’s a concept that a lot of people feel but never put their finger on and you honestly put it into words. Actually, you made it come to life and it was so beautiful. I am genuinely blown away.

    Thank you so much.
    I just found your blog and I am book marking it forever!

  • absolutely. Empty calories. So how do we fill up first? Make sure we head into our day nourished rather than hungry?

    • I like to start by centering my day with the truths I believe (for me, many of these come from the Bible!). If I can keep coming back to these truths, it’s more difficult to be swept away into envy-inducing territory. :)

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  • dear erin … i just popped over from trina @ lalalovely … you are a wonderful writer … it seems everyone is searching … reading … pinning … peeking into the worlds of others … i continue the quest to pare down, but your words are true … life keeps happening … and it is not all pretty … but it is those slivers of simple moments of wonder … to appreciate and lock into our memory … it all goes by far too quickly … thanks for your beautiful words

  • Yes. Thank you. This is so helpful as I move forward in my own life and writings to create a meaningful presence – something that nourishes.

  • I love this so very much – I spend far too much time mindlessly consuming, and since becoming a mom 7 months ago I’m finding a lot of the things I’m looking at have been detrimental. I either start dwelling on how I want some other kind of life, or I get sad that I don’t have the time I used to to craft and wonder how these other people manage jobs and children AND to have time for themselves. Or there’s the picture-perfect photos, obviously staged, and my brain knows that and yet I still find myself wishing I had that kind of effortless life.

    • You’re not alone, sweet Marie – keep on being the mama you know how to be – sometimes it’s great to put the blinders on, you know? :)

  • What beautiful writing! What a beautiful way to encourage balance in our lives :)

  • Thank you for writing this. So elegantly written. So non-confrontational. So encouraging and centering.

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