I sat in an immaculate hall of baubeled, eager bloggers pimping business cards and SEO tips at conference last month as an alien creature. Jeans, flannel, blistered fingers, burned palms, unattended hair. A seeming “nobody” in this menagerie of women spreading glitter and glean. Panelists taught what made a blog “popular” or “successful” through steps and systems, how to reel in the best sponsorhip deals, follow trends, and network while still “telling your story” through authentic narrative. I was drawing sandcastles in my notebook when it hit me. I was bored. Out of my mind. Not above any of it, just completely disinterested. 48 hours earlier I sat in the walk-in freezer at work, smelling of curry and deli meat, with a dear friend who is losing her mother. My two lives felt so starkly contrasted and conflicting. As a way to compartmentalize it all I decided that I wasn’t a blogger. The title felt like an epithet in my stomach with all the peacocking about, the fake humility, the who’s whoing. It wasn’t not real, it just wasn’t real for me. The lanyard around my neck read “blog like a boss,” which made me think that on some level I was a total and complete crasher of this party; a lady with a blog, who is not a boss, and tries to take her online life as seriously as she does her laundry detergent: all-natural, highly concentrated, and effective for a diversity of loads. I reveled in my outsider status, treating the conference as a gift and privelege to observe a beautiful and interesting club I will never really (nor need to) fit into. Here’s what I walked away with and want you to know: don’t subscribe to any dogma or outlook that has set out guidelines for you on how to get it right (life, relationships, your blog, etc). It just don’t work like that sista. Do away with the presets for happiness, success, beauty, etc. that influence your decisions, punctuate your thoughts, and shape the way you experience your life or the world. Be nutty. Be different. Don’t fit in. Be an Erin Brockovich.
I returned home in late January and put “it” all on the shelf. I was stimulated, concerned, excited, and without a real clue as to what it all meant or how I needed to move forward. Not just with the blog, but, oh, you know, just my entire life. Although I’d like to say the distance I put between me and this space was based on intuition, deliberate mindfulness practice, or some sort of Chris McAndless ”let’s blow this popsicle stand” mentaility, it was more a product of real life demanding that I dedicate all of my emotional and physical resources to being a touching, tasting, hugging, cheerleading, apologizing, crying on the kitchen floor with a cookie and IPA sort of human. The kind of friend/daughter/partner that really was in the weeds asking tough questions, listening hard, and falling flat on her ass trying to comprehend what it is people seek and understand about love, loss, and their place in this world. I guess it was convenenient how time and the omniscient universe swept me away from the blog and the stirrings of the conference and into the crevices of my soul. There I found new truths and difficult realities that challenge everything I thought I knew about myself and others. The further away being “busy” and exhausted took me from Happyolks though, the more afraid I was to come back. How do I come back to an entity that forms so much of my identity, my passion, my deep and incessant desire to teach and learn that somehow now also terrifies me in it’s wonderful-ness? Honestly it’s the potential. In some way Happyolks represents the island where all the best parts of who I am and where I’m going live, and, right now, I’m treading water off the coast of that island looking at it and making sense of how I want to return and rearrange the furniture. Furniture… on an island. Yeah. Let’s go with it.
I was talking to my Dad on the phone the other day, trying to sort through so much of what has been flowing in and out of my life, so much of what I’m still just sitting in, waiting on, not ready to breech with you all here yet, and I told him that I felt like there was just too much. Too much of everything. Too much to say, but no real way to put it all together. No bows. No pretty message yet. Then I realized, with Dad’s help, that this unfinished business, this non-pretty writing and thinking is kinda what I’m after in the first place. Living a life interesting and challenging enough to write about, no matter how regularly or coherently that sort of life can be expressed. More bow-less, real life. Something that the majority of people can sink their teeth into. Not the promotion of some pinterestified version of living where we’re all regularly enjoying farm-to-table dinners in the middle of an open field in upstate New York with the sort of friends who look like they stepped out of an Anthropologie catalog. No. Not that life. Quite frankly I am suspicious of any person or entity that sells this hyper-kinfolked idea of honest living or community or happiness. It’s pretty, sure, but does it make you feel whole, does it light a fire in your belly, does it make you feel less alone? Doubtful. We are so much more than that. It glosses and reduces our realities to the easy, flowy, wind in your hair parts. That’s important, needed, but I want the big picture for you and for me. The tethered bits of the big picture and how, in that big picture, there are stretches when we don’t have time to shave our legs or take out the trash in the bathroom and, more than a trendy new speakeasy-style bar downtown, we rather enjoy a quiet night at home in our college sweatpants with carry-out Saag Paneer because the week nearly knocked us off our feet.
Shaun left for Chile this afternoon. I leave in 11 days and we will meet again to hike the 52-mile Torres Del Paine Circuit (see training photo above). Did you hear that giant sigh I just let out? It’s bringing me back closer to the island, I can already feel it teaching me how to swim forward again. We went out to dinner last night and considered squeezing in a shoot for ricotta scones and blood orange curd between one last trip to REI and the bank this morning before his flight. It has been the conversation of the past six weeks. Can we post? No. Not enough time. Too much. Best not rush it. Have faith. The build-up and the lack of emotional and physical resources to commit to you and this space is 150 percent reflective of the imbalance that is nearing treacherous levels in all aspects of my life these days. And that, my friends, is real. For so many of us. It is the tethered bits. It is the big picture. We lose our balance. We get lost. We laugh and we cry and we try and we do, eventually, figure it out. I’m here to tell you that it won’t be until the end of March that you hear from me again. When I return, I promise you this: it will be good. In the meantime, go live out and cherish the tethered and worn out bits of your life. You’re my hero for them and you don’t even know it.