The Question We All Ask Ourselves
There is a question I’ve been turning over in my mind over the last month or so. I’m willing to bet that it’s one you’ve asked yourself, as well, perhaps in your own language or understanding:
“What do I want to say?”
Simple. Harmless. And rather heavy.
First, it was an inkling. A feeling that something wasn’t sitting right in my life; as if I were looking through the lens of an old prescription. And then it began to swell in my spirit until I could hear the voice clearly in my head asking, encouraging, longing to know -
“What do I want to say?”
I believe strongly in the metaphor of seasons. Life ebbs and flows from one to the next and it’s funny how the excitement of a beginning often wanes over time. We long for summer for it’s warmth and fun, then before we know it we’re ready to cozy up in the fall. But I find beauty and comfort in this thought. There is something to love about every season on earth, as in every season of life. So as one ends, a new one begins. It’s a goodbye and hello all at once.
As the winds have changed and the trees begin to shed their leaves, so I am following suite. I’m a fan of change, generally, and I’m entering a new season of my life with the strategic notion of finding out a meaningful next step. For me, that means really digging into my heart and my faith and discovering what is produced out of the overflow.
I picked up my guitar yesterday for the first time in months. I hummed a few lines and found some pretty melodies, but then the question came again. Where words used to come easy and swift, there were none that I could match with all the things I felt. But it was wonderful - I played. And that’s what mattered.
I’ve decided to make a few moves with the start of November. For one, I’m going to take a week or so off social media, besides any scheduled posts from All the Delights. I’m going to delete all the apps and let my brain have a few deep breaths. I’ll fill that time with writing, reading, getting outside, and letting myself think without distraction. I have a feeling that social media has made my vision cloudy and created noise that I can live without for awhile.
This morning I picked up my guitar again and a few words found their way out. I’m stretching an old muscle and it feels really good. I feel ready to find out not only what I want to say...but what I’m meant to say.
I’ll be elaborating more soon, but for now I want to know - how do you handle change? Do you also feel a need to “readjust” with every new season?
Images by MJC
How one’s heart can simultaneously grow and break, I may never know.
I thought I’d end the year with one of those letters that people send out at Christmas with family updates. I used to make fun of those letters. Now, I’m becoming that which I made fun of, which is basically the gist of life, I’m pretty sure.
This isn’t ATD related, not exactly. Just a simple recap of the year with the Chatburns before we close up 2016 and look forward to aaaall the delights (had to) that 2017 will bring!
Today, that is who you are. Not unknown faces. Not a target demographic. Not long-lost acquaintances. A real, true-blue friend.
Sometimes it feels like just when I have a grasp on an idea, it starts to slip away. Similar to waking from a dream and willing the memory of it to stay with you. This blog has been that for me. I’ve had, at times, visions of becoming a staple for encouragement in your daily life, hiring a staff, designing delightful little items that you’d keep in your kitchen or at your desk. I would drift out of the spotlight and let others share their own thoughts and epiphanies.
And then there are times when I need this space for my own. To write my own stories, share moments of frustrations and enlightenment alike.
I’ve set goals with both sides in mind. I’ve reached some of those goals and others I’ve let drift off, stealing a bit of my own self-confidence as they sneak away. But recently, I’ve found ways to give myself more grace and admit that yesterday’s standard can change if today’s passion wills it so.
That grace has been fueled by a simple thought, making me look at all of my creative ventures up to this point with a new outlook: what if, this whole time, I’ve been on the runway?
There is a lot of chatter on the internet about the Good Old Days of blogging and remembering what life was like before anyone saw the need for superior photography skills or tried to gain followers for (eventual) profit or actually wrote posts on a whim, just for fun.
I'll admit, I've kept a blogging calendar at times. I've studied my analytics and taken great care of what I write and when. No harm in that. I'm proud of ATD's small platform and thankful for a way to express my creativity without any outside influences. And while I do think that the focus of ATD has shifted here and there, it has always happened organically and never too sudden. No harm in that, either. Growth often comes with change.
A few days ago I had a sudden urge to try to hack into my old email address. My very first one, under the screen name princess_leigha_1814, back when concealing your identity was crucial. I've yet to sort out the aggravating puzzle that is my password, but I did find a few traces of my early internet presence: A transcript of a Yahoo chat from 1999 with Hanson, in which they chose to answer my question ("what is your favorite Star Wars character???"), a "Meet the Reader" feature from 2009 on USA Today, and finally, the first blog I ever created (besides Xanga), called brittany, brooklyn.
The first post is dated September 10, 2006.
It happens slowly, and then all at once.
I'm not talking about love, although I have found that statement to be true, I'm talking about something much less appealing: the creative burn-out. When the ideas dry up. When the sheer joy of doing your craft morphs into a burden. When a blank page looks more like a void and less like an opportunity.
I've been battling a creative drought recently and I gotta be honest, I'm tired of beating myself up about it. I'm tired of wondering HOW ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH could I lose inspiration at a time in my life when everything is new and yet to be uncovered. I'm tired of thinking that it's my own fault, if only I had the willpower to DO the work then the inspiration would return to me like an energetic little puppy. And maybe there is some truth in the thought but if there is, why does it make me feel so...bad? Guilt is not a good foundation for inspiration, this I know.
For the last few weeks, I decided to loosen my grip a little bit and just ride the wave. I opened my mind, and my time, to simply wandering. Some days I "wandered" over to Netflix and Gilmore Girls, but other days I'd feel a tingle of excitement over a new project. And so instead of saying, "No, I need to write, not do that other thing," I allowed myself to just say yes and see what happened. I hope you've been okay with that.
In the process, I've found quite a few things that are slowly waking up my creative spirit again. These are simple ideas, really, and perhaps not anything new to you. I've seen several blog posts and articles discussing this idea of a creative slump and how to fix it, but it wasn't so much the content as it was the timing, for me. If you're not in a creative rut, run and look the other way! Keep doing what you're doing! Live in that glorious space and all its magical delights!
But if you are in a slump, I hope this meets you at a time when you most need it. I'm not writing this just to create some more content and stay relevant so that, God-forbid, you forget me and never like another Instagram post. I'm writing it because it's very real to me right now. And if I've learned anything from ATD, it's that the real moments in my life are the ones that speak the loudest in yours.
Here are a few things I've done in the last two weeks to free up my imagination to create again:
If I could just be vulnerable for a moment. There have been a few occasions when Matty has asked me a question so deviously simple: Are you happy?
I’d ache when I heard those words because I knew they hadn’t appeared for no good reason. Somewhere along the line, I must have done something to make him think perhaps I wasn’t happy. And so my quick answer, the one I give without thinking, is safe and firm: Yes, of course I’m happy. *smile!*
This happened recently and while my answer remained the same, I felt a tugging inside as the words escaped. It was the feeling you get when you aren’t quite telling the truth and you fear someone might find out—classic principle’s office guilt. I decided to pay attention this time and show myself a little respect. I wondered if, perhaps, there was a bit of sadness in my heart.
Without getting too personal (more for your benefit, I’m an open book and will tell you all the gory details over coffee if you like), I discovered the root of my sadness after taking the time to acknowledge it. Turns out, transition is a slower process for me than it is Matty. He is highly adaptable and can easily jump into a new situation. Me, I carry the stress, I think about the details, I tinker with a problem or thought and try to find a solution without having all the tools. I know that all my Instagram photos of palm trees have led you to believe that life is rolling along at 100, but the truth is, having no home of my own was really getting to me. Starting over from scratch, be it location, job, budget, friends, even our dreams...it’s a heavy weight to carry and I was trying to do it on my own.
After I came to terms with these things via a genuine freakout, unloading all my thoughts to Matty, and a really good cry, I felt much lighter. Much...happier.
I’ve been thinking about sadness, and my recent experience attempting to hold it at bay. I realized there were a few myths that kept me from admitting that I felt sad and I’ve jotted them down in notes in my phone to remind me that it’s okay, necessary even, that I’m authentic with myself in those moments.
Maybe you can relate:
One of the true marks of a great dad is giving your children the freedom to pursue their dreams no matter what. I know my sisters and I have made my dad proud on that front, but I suppose the downside is when those dreams take you to other cities, other states. When these holidays come up and we're scattered in different places I can't help but wonder why we're apart when we love being together so much. But then I remember that my father never set any limits on us. He never told us we couldn't achieve something and he never discouraged a dream, even if it meant a whole lot of unknowns.
I've been thinking about my dad this morning and two specific memories come to mind today: the first one is from my 16th birthday.
I've decided that I'm tired of being my own creative director this month. It's easy to be hard on yourself when you don't feel inspired: "How dare I NOT be inspired! It is my job to stay inspired! Something must be wrong with me probably something I ate. Definitely didn't get enough sleep last Tuesday..."
I'm working on being a little kinder to myself on the days where I just NEED to watch Unreal and eat a dinner that can be made in ten minutes or less. I've read all the blogs on "how to stay inspired" and "50 blog posts ideas that are sure to be great," and if anything, they've confirmed the fact that ATD isn't a very typical blog. It doesn't fit easily into a category but honestly, I love it that way.
So I'm turning to you for help. I've had a few topics brewing in my head and though I have begun to dive in to a few, I'm still not convinced they are ready for this jelly. Of these 3 topics, what would you find most interesting? Let me know in the comments and I'll post about it next week:
Have you heard about the study that just came out stating that young people are now more likely to live with their parents than their partners? Yep. According to a Pew Research Center report, more 18-to-34-year-olds live with their parents than in any other living arrangement for the first time in modern history.
I found the article particularly interesting because I was one of those young people and, to be quite honest, I never thought it would happen to me.
Growing up, I saw life as a straight path. First, you get through junior high, then take driver’s ed, turn 16, get a car, a part time job, maybe get a boyfriend, graduate, go to college, graduate, get a job, get married, and so on. Things happen in order and I was enjoying this straight path for quite some time: I left Fort Worth for college in Nashville. Check. I got a job and moved to New York. Check. And then, after two years in New York, I realized that I didn’t want to climb a ladder that someone else had built to determine my own success. So I quit.
Now, I’m paraphrasing a lot. Life certainly didn’t felt like a straight path while it was happening. There were the usual ups and downs that a college kid turned working girl faces, and it wasn’t an easy decision to quit the job that I’d dreamed about for 4 years. Plus, when you stop working the paychecks stop coming, and that’s really not a great way to live in New York.
For the first time in my life (all ups and downs aside), I felt like I’d reversed down the path. Instead of getting married or finding a better job, I was moving in with my parents.
I'm in a funk. We've all been there, so you know it's not pretty. I just had the television on for like, 4 episodes of Once Upon a Time while I "worked" on blog stuff and simultaneously made fun of the terrible show that I could not turn off. I also ate yogurt with a piece of cookie dough in it for lunch with a side of lukewarm chicken while I read an article about how super duper weekend detoxes are. #greenjuice
Know what I mean?
"It's much easier to do something that you don't want to do if you remember that it's for the benefit of someone else."
Dear friends, family, moms, grandmas, aunts, old high school pals, acquaintances, and husband (you better be reading this one, buddy):
It feels good to write you again.
If you can't tell, I've been spending the last few weeks making a few changes behind the curtain. My brain has shifted from words to visuals, letting my imagination go outside the box I normally live in, and dreaming up some real long-term goals for All the Delights. Today is the beginning of something brand new and if you'll indulge me a bit, I'd love to tell you all about it.
Hey pals! I am currently sitting in a cafe in Venice, watching a photo shoot happen across the street (definitely some #streetstyle fashion happening - werk, girl), and politely letting the guy next to me know that no, I do not have any rolling papers.
If we're friends on Instagram, you've seen me post photos from Australia, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and even Texas. It may appear that I'm all play and no work, or that I don't have an actual home. (One of those things is kinda true.) You may not know where in the world I've landed and honestly, you may not have given it a second thought. You could have even unfollowed me since I became that girl who posts too many beach photos—fair.
So, let us begin with an update: