I spoke early on about my writing being selfish. It’s for me. I post my thoughts for all to see because of the process. The process helps me find the right words to describe what I’m feeling. Figuring out HOW to say it and explain it in a way so others will understand is challenging. But, that’s how I make sense of my thoughts. It’s incredibly healing. I wrestle with and polish to find the right words to name it and fine-tune phrases, sentences, and paragraphs to ensure the words on the page reflect my soul. It has been an awesome experience. Comments, emails, texts, and conversations with dear friends about my writing have been life-giving. I am forever grateful for those interactions and they continue to help me learn and love and live into my blessings and through my burdens. Thank you!
It’s hard to believe I’ve only been writing this blog for two months. I’ve journaled for most of my life, but blogging is different. It’s more intentional. It’s more focused. It’s been transforming. Each post is a prayer – – I feel like I’m writing to God. Historically, my journaling has solely occurred during my struggles, during times of angst. Even though this blog originated as an outlet for those kinds of reflections, I also seek to reflect on the great joys in my life and name what they mean to me. I want to look back and remember what meant the most to me along my journey. I smile when I think of the many answered prayers I will discover when I comb back through my writings with hindsight as my guide.
Over thirty people follow my blog, half of whom are strangers. My intention is not to build a huge following. But, I am humbled that people who I don’t even know would not only read my posts, but sign up to be notified each and every time I write. A friend who encouraged me to start writing in the first place said that I had things to share that others could relate to; that I had beautiful insights that people would respond to and be blessed by. I don’t know about that. It’s hard for me to believe that little old me could make that kind of impact, but here I am, writing my life and others are paying attention. That’s amazing to me.
I think my writing makes some people uncomfortable. I hear nothing. But, for the majority, I have experienced new opportunities for openness and deeper discussion with dear people in my life. Friends mirror my honesty and openness as they share their hearts with me. They tell me that I stated something in a way they could completely relate to, that I shared an insight they totally connected with. My writing is a reflection of all of them. It includes quotes shared, comments made, and nuggets from conversations I’ve latched onto. I’ve had friends tell me what a good writer I am. I’ve never considered myself a writer. I’m just writing the way my soul seeks to be heard. My words are fully human, raw, and 100% me. It’s awesome how God continues to mold and shape and show me His gifts within myself.
I love my Evernote app. I use Evernote to organize my thoughts. I’ll be doing something mundane, like drying my hair in the morning or brushing my teeth before bed, when a word or thought or conversation pops into my head. Evernote helps me organize those ideas into related notes. I have over 100 of these notes, most with a one-word working title, a few initial thoughts, and maybe a quote or song or link or photo that speaks to me. Those topics that weigh heavy on my heart or that bring me great joy in the moment are the notes I polish and post. My times of greatest reflection and insight occur early in the morning or later in the evening. It is not uncommon for my deepest thoughts and most profound reflections to come forth before 6am or after 10pm. I believe my mind is more centered and I’m less distracted by the busyness of daily events during these times of quiet. I’m more relaxed and able to discern the messages inside of me.
I’ve quoted Frederick Buechner in previous posts. I start my day with him each morning. This year, I’m reading his book, Listening to Your Life, a book of daily devotions. Buechner’s writing is beyond profound to me and I am in awe of the way he elegantly states the simplicity of life. His words ring true for me….that by sharing our hearts out loud, we unveil our humanness and seek to help each other through this journey called life.
Write about what truly matters to you – not just things to catch the eye of the world but things to touch the quick of the world the way they have touched you to the quick, which is why you are writing about them. Write not just with wit and eloquence and style and relevance but with passion. Then the things that your books make happen will be things worth happening – things that make the people who read them a little more passionate themselves for their pains, by which I mean a little more alive, a little wiser, a little more beautiful, a little more open and understanding, in a short a little more human. ~ Frederick Buechner
For the life to which I was accustomed held me more than the life for which I really yearned.” – St. Augustine
A friend and I made a toast early in the new year. We toasted to unmitigated risk taking in 2013. This was a practice I carried over from 2012 when I had decided to become a bolder, braver version of myself. Risk. Moving out of my comfort zone; moving out of the routine; not continuing with the same old same old. I did and it was liberating. My risk taking hasn’t involved jumping out of an airplane or taking a hot-air balloon ride (although, these are two events that I must cross off my bucket list someday). Oh, but there was that mud run. A dirt-filled 5K + this girly girl = definite risk. No, my risk taking centers mostly on trusting others. Sharing who I truly am. The real me, without reservation.
Within the past year, I put my heart out there by telling a friend that I have deeper feelings for him than friendship. This was a huge risk because our friendship would forever change. It could fracture; it could blossom. It would certainly be different than before. It was a risk I wanted to take. I didn’t want things to remain the ‘same old same old.’ I wanted to tell him. I trusted him with who I am. I risked and things didn’t go my way. I have no regrets. God will always work my choices and circumstances for His glory. This experience, along with testing the waters of online dating, were two risks that helped me open up more to the opposite sex. I found online dating to be more reflection than risk. It always seemed so scary to me, when in actuality, with the light shining on it, became an outlet of self discovery. I would have missed this tremendous period of growth had I not risked.
Did I feel like I was in a bit of a rut and needed some excitement in my life? Did that prompt my sudden interest in risk taking? Perhaps. But, I’m not taking risks willy-nilly. I glean insight and direction from the Holy Spirit and move out of my comfort zone with faith-filled confidence. I run in the direction in which God leads. I am a different person today than I was a year ago. I have blossomed in confidence by allowing others in. It’s almost like I’ve uncovered another layer of myself. It’s a form of surrendering.
Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” – John 5:8
I believe that I’ve been my own inspiration for taking more risks. Taking a risk means making a change. Do I stay in the shade, or step out into the sunshine? Do I live in the sameness, or do I want to be set free? God doesn’t want me to stagnate. God is always on the move and He wants to take me with him. It’s necessary to move out of the familiar to grow and stretch and learn. I think I have always welcomed change and growth in school and work, but not in the areas of love and friendship. In those areas, I’ve always been cautious and timid, especially when it comes to sharing my personal life with others. I have a close circle of friends who know me….really know me. They know that I’m not this happy-100%-of-the-time-everything-is-perfect-in-her-life woman whom so many people believe me to be. I’m flawed; I’m broken; and I am humbled. But, I started opening up to more people several years ago and found that I learn so much from others when I share with them. The bond that forms from this shared trust is sacred. Taking risks by opening myself up to others has reaped beautiful blessings of deeper connections with others and within myself.
This blog is a risk. Yes, I hide behind some anonymity, and aside from a few close friends and family members, no one knows that it’s me. But, I am unapologetically myself in these entries. What I’ve gained from reflecting on joys, naming my struggles, and sharing in conversations with those who connect with my words, is the very reward of taking risks. I love the visual of a spotlight pointing down over top of my head. The light illuminates me and a small radius around me, but a step in any direction means stepping into darkness. Taking a risk is a faith-filled step into the darkness; into the unknown. The result is uncertain. It’s not always rosy. But I’ve learned that even if I take a risk and things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, it was better to have risked and lost than to not have risked at all. The gain has been immeasurable. The gain is me really living.