At the end of June this year, my blog turned 5 years old. It happened with little fan fair, and honestly, if Word Press hadn’t sent me a cheerful notification, I might have missed it all together. I didn’t write a post about it, just like I didn’t write a post about so many other things in the past many months. If you’re one of the wonderful people who follow my blog, you may have presumed I’m not blogging anymore… that my blog is dead. It feels that way to me, many days lately! When I first started blogging, and this blog was a newbie, it was very different. I blogged all of the time! I had a goal of three posts per week, and I rarely missed a post. Lately, my goals are blurred, and I post so seldom, that when I do, a lot of people who once read my work, don’t even notice I’ve done anything.
I can’t blame readers for drifting away. The Internet is an infinitely exciting place, but an equally fickle space as well. If you’re going to draw and keep readers, you have to keep putting material out there. If you can’t find the words to say something, someone else will find and use those words, in your place. You must keep the proverbial balls in the air, or folks move on to the hula hoop artist, or the singer, or the countless other talented acts that vie for attention! Let me say this clearly: if writing things in my head counted for anything, or if the 39 drafts in my draft folder were ready, I’d have a year’s worth of work, and I wouldn’t feel like I’ve lost my mojo, entirely. If thoughts and ideas wrote themselves, I wouldn’t be stuck. But blog posts don’t write themselves, and I am stuck. Stuck like lint on velvet.
It’s not just the writing; it’s everything I love most about the blogosphere, that has me stuck right now. There are bloggers who I have followed for a long time–– people I’ve come to know, and care about, through both their writing and the personal connections we’ve forged. I have felt good about the fact that even when my own writing is going slowly, I’ve kept up with theirs. I’ve read other blog posts; I’ve commented, and stayed connected, even when my own writing limped. Lately, even that has suffered. My inbox, for blogs I follow, is at just over 1,000 right now. Those posts are sitting there, waiting for me to go through, and read what I can, delete what I can’t, and clean up the glut. The problem being: I don’t see any of it as glut; I love these writers, and what they write. I don’t just hit Like and move on. I read these posts! I feel a real commitment to honoring the words they’ve put down. And yet, there are the 1,000+ notifications, blinking each time I open my mail. I’ve never been this far behind!
That very full inbox is a daily reminder that I’m not on my game. It’s a constant nudge, telling me that I need to do something… I need to move forward. Trust me: I don’t need nudges or reminders; I’m perpetually aware of my stuckness. I think about it pretty much every day, several times a day. It sings me to sleep and greets me at the coffee machine. It does not respond to “Go the fuck away!”
I’m not even sure how I got here–– to this awkward state of perpetual procrastination and indecision. It snuck up on me as most sticky things do: little by little, until the problem seems too big to tackle. There are valid excuses to fill a page: First and foremost, my daughter moved to Israel (after four years of going back and forth), fell in love, got pregnant and had my gorgeous grandson. She got married. These are big things for a mother to watch from afar. I have spent more than 25% of the past year traveling back and forth between the Pacific Northwest, where I live, and Israel, where these three people I love live. Admittedly, at my age, all that travel, all that childcare and helping out, all those adjustments, have taken a toll. I’m really tired. All the time.
On top of that big preoccupation, my life has been in major transition. In the past year I’ve had my two nephews, my sister, and my two youngest children, all move back or into my home–– sometimes all at the same time, for varying lengths of time, up to a year. I’ve been busy putting out fires and trying to find some balance, amidst the chaos. I’ve been grieving some hard things, and figuring out how to keep my head up. I’ve been busy working at Hospice, a place that I adore and feel very connected to. I’m good at it, and I love the connections I make, but it isn’t always easy work to do. I’ve been busy adjusting, as all of those people just as suddenly left my house, and I found myself with the proverbial Empty Nest… for three blurred weeks. It was good, really good. While I had worried that I would feel unanchored, or lost, I liked the solitude and freedom. That realization is the current light at the end of my full house tunnel… as my newly 1-year old grandson, my daughter and my college age son, have been with me most of the summer, following a wedding. This will pass, and I now know that while I will miss them when they leave, I can look forward to slower days, quieter nights, and less on my plate.
And yet, as a woman who has spent 26+ years raising children, helping people I love, and being incredibly preoccupied, it is equal parts thrilling and daunting to know that in two days, my life will be my own… for the first time in nearly thirty years. I will not be able to blame distraction and procrastination on others. In this past year, I’ve taken a good, hard look at boundaries, limit setting, and letting go–– three things I was never terribly good at, and realized that I like them. I won’t go so far as to say they’re easy for me, but I’m in a new space with these things, and I know this new period in my life will look very different from where I’ve been.
Finally, writing has gotten in my way. In 2015 I was named a BlogHer Voices of the Year. I’ve also written a lot for Huffington Post over the past year, and was named on their Top Ten Bloggers to Watch list. Both are wonderful things, but the second has really played into my writer’s block; because, while it’s been very rewarding in my ways, it’s also taken me away from my own blog and the connections I worked so hard to build. People tend to make a lot of assumptions about writing for HuffPo. Sure, it feels good to have my work read by a wider audience; I can’t deny that part. Admittedly, there have been moments when it’s gone to my own head. There were a few posts that did very well (thousands of readers-well), and it’s really hard not to think that you can just do that over and over. It’s hard not to get caught up in trying to one-up yourself, when my writing was never about that.
With the rewards there have also been tough lessons. People who read my blog, read it because they like my writing and support me. It’s a wonderful thing to put things out there, in a way that resonates deeply within myself, and feel supported by others. There’s a relationship there that means a lot to me. When you write for a source as big as HuffPo, however, there are plenty of people who are just waiting to tear you down or find fault. There have been some incredibly wonderful responses (if you check out my piece on Hospice, for example, you can skip my writing and simply read the comments; there are stories in those comments that renew my faith in humanity and connectedness), but there have been some truly heinous ones as well. If you read my piece on a massacre in Israel, my first piece for HuffPo, you may find some of those comments as horrifying as I did. Anti-Semitism doesn’t begin to cover some of the truly hateful things that were thrown my way, and one person sent me a private message telling me that they wished my daughter would be killed, so I would understand how Palestinian mothers feel. Let me say here: that I don’t believe the piece I wrote warrants anything near that level of vitriol.
So, in the process of seeing my work reach by a much wider audience, I also lost my sense of connectedness, to the readership that I had worked so hard to cultivate over the previous four years. In trying to find good writing to submit to HuffPo, I didn’t spent the same energy feeding my own blog, and the me that thrives in that sacred space. Posts have become further and further spread out. My energy is zapped, from keeping up with a personal life that has had some truly hard challenges over the past couple of years, and trying to write in a meaningful way, when the bar has changed.
My blog turned five years old several weeks ago, and I didn’t give it its due. I didn’t honor that accomplishment and pause to acknowledge that I’ve worked hard to get here. I didn’t pause to celebrate the relationships that have been forged from this place where I write, and connect. I’ve made connections that have meaning in my life, and in feeling stuck, I’ve allowed those to drift. I’ve missed writing for the love of writing. I’ve missed the people that have supported my writing, and the relationships we’ve shared. I’ve been stuck, but I need to change that. I need to put my writing front and center again, and commit to it. I need to write. And so, I will… I hope I will find the magic and rhythm again, and I hope some of you will jump back on board!
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