My Accidental Blogging Break

At the beginning of 2016, I told myself I’d post a new blog post every week. Looking at my 2016 posting calendar, that’s absolutely laughable now. First I missed a week here and there, but I vowed to cut myself some slack–every ten days or so still kinda counted, right? Plus, I bought a condo, making my spring and early summer very busy.

typewriter

Photo Credit: Florian Klauer

Then fall hit, and “busy” took on a new meaning. Over the course of ten days, I went on three separate trips and slept in six different states. Throw in a couple more trips, a load of other work and life busyness, and I felt like I could barely breathe for it all. For some people it would be completely normal, but for me, it was much, much more than I’m used to. As I’ve come to understand myself better, I know I need space, room for simply breathing and calmly experiencing my life, instead of a frenetic pace. I’ve become more comfortable with saying no to give myself the space I need, and generally my current phase of life allows me a nice balance, but this fall it felt like I completely lost it. Even a calendar full of wonderful, fun things can get wearisome at some point.

All the while, I had this simmering guilt in the back of my head over not writing new blogs posts. I was still writing in other places and I was still thinking of ideas to write about, but when I thought about actually writing a new post in the snatches of spare time I had, it stressed me out so much that I ignored it. I thought back to my post in April, “When Your Goals Are Stupid,” and realized I needed to take my own advice: When our goals become a source of stress instead of a source of motivation, it’s time to reevaluate.

So I let it go. This blog wasn’t going anywhere, and I needed space much more than I needed to continue spewing words onto these pages. As much as I enjoy writing here, it was humbling to realize my decision to pause for a while likely had no effect on anyone else’s life. It’s a delicate balance, to hold that reality while also believing it’s not pointless to write because, occasionally, my words do bump into someone else’s life in what I hope are helpful, good ways–and also, I simply like writing here, which has a value of its own. Life has calmed down a teensy bit now, and it is nice to share here again. But objectively speaking, the world does not need this little blog.

 
I have no intention of shutting down this space. The beauty of this accidental break from blogging, though, is how it helped me put this back into perspective. Writing and sharing those words is something I think I’ll always enjoy, but it too can go through different seasons, and that is okay. I’m hopeful I’ll begin writing here more regularly again, but if not, I’ve remembered the world spins madly on all the same.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Has an accidental break from something you enjoy ever taught you anything?

Happy 4th Birthday!

Four years ago today, I started blogging here.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Shyn Darkly, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Shyn Darkly, Creative Commons

Those first few posts aren’t exactly masterpieces, and at times I’ve been tempted to take them down. But I’ve realized they’re part of a story, the story I’m telling with my life and with all of the words collected here over the past few years. Those posts, and all the other “subpar” ones I’ve published and will publish, are part of something bigger. I’ve catalogued much of my journey of graduating, my continuing joys and frustrations of singleness, the ups and downs of faith, and so much more. Blogging often feels as much for me as it does for anyone else, which I suppose is kind of a good thing.

There have been, and will continue to be, times when I consider quitting. Objectively speaking, there’s really no “outcome” of these words I continue to throw into cyberspace. In my better moments, though, I’m reminded that sometimes the value is in the doing. Which is why I’m still here, typing, deleting, typing again, publishing. Four years down, who knows how many to come.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

When the Words Get Stuck

Listen up, now. Lean in close and let me tell you what I’ve been feeling for some time now, been trying to fight and attempting to understand: I don’t feel like blogging.

I don’t even feel like writing.

Writers, those real writers who turn words into dollar signs will likely be the first to tell you that you don’t always write because you feel like it. You write because you have to, to pay the bills or simply because to not write would be to betray a part of who you are.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Wonderlane, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Flickr User Wonderlane, Creative Commons

There are times I’ve felt like that too.

But lately each word feels like it has to be dragged out of me. They’re stuck inside, and the work of getting them out seems too much.

It’s not that I don’t have things I want to say–I’ve thought of tons of ideas for posts. But the actual plinking out of letters to form words to form sentences to paragraphs has not been happening.

“Butt in chair,” says Anne Lamott. That’s the key to writing–keep your butt in the chair and write just keep writing.

I like the sentiment, but the reality is much more difficult than it sounds. Yes, it’s butt in chair, but it’s also fingers on keyboard, heart spilling out onto the page, hope that some of it, any of it, is worthy of sharing.

And sometimes the words just get stuck, and it’s easier to leave them where they are than dig them out.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What do you do when you don’t feel like writing?

Choosing to Believe These Words Have Value

I’ve heard several people my age say they don’t have a blog because they don’t know what they would say; they feel like they don’t have anything to write about, nothing to contribute, no words to offer.

At times it makes me question what I do here. Perhaps it is narcissistic of me to be writing these things, the girl who lives in the same city she grew up in, went to college in, and now works in. It feels that way sometimes.

But I’ve heard it said so many times that every story has value, and the moments I believe that’s true for mine as well are the reason these words are here.

I haven’t travelled the world, I haven’t raised seven kids, I haven’t been the CEO of a company. And that’s okay. Those stories are not mine to tell, not right now, possibly not ever. I hope the people who have lived those stories are telling them, so that I and others can learn from them and experience things we may not on our own.

But others telling their stories does not invalidate me telling mine.

One story does not have more value than another.

One LIFE does not have more value than another.

They are different, and different stories serve different purposes for different people at different times.

It doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes, when there is a large gap in time between these posts, it’s because the doubt is eating me away a little bit and I don’t believe my words have enough value, and I am not courageous enough to click Publish for a moment or an hour or a day.

So I’m telling you right now I don’t have this all figured out.

Maybe it is narcissistic of me to be posting these musings when my stories are not grandiose or heartbreaking or awe-inspiring.

But I’m choosing to believe otherwise.

Maybe I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing by sharing these words, in a way that is smaller than some and bigger than others, but is uniquely mine. And maybe I don’t have to believe that my story has value because of amazing plot turns, but that it has value simply because it is.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How have you learned that your story has value?

Blogging is Like Wearing Pajamas

Sometimes writing, and blogging in particular, is scary. As honored as I was to share my story at Prodigal, it was intimidating to see the retweets and the shares slowly spreading my story further and further. Of all I’ve shared here over the past two and a half years or so, that was perhaps some of the most personal. And there it was, travelling out into the world before the eyes of many people I personally know, and many more I don’t.

Many bloggers share stories more personal than mine, of their loves, their losses, their frustrations and their joys. Others are nearly all business, keeping the personal info to a bare minimum as they post their recipes or tips on how to get more Twitter followers.

So I’ve come to the realization that blogging is kind of like wearing pajamas. On the Internet.

Suitjamas

Pajamas are something that only people you tend to know well see you in–family, close friends, roommates, maybe classmates on a “Wear Your PJs to School” day in high school or college. Other than that though, pajamas are kind of a personal thing. So is writing.

Some people don’t wear much when they sleep, just like some bloggers hold nothing back. If it happens in their life, you will read it on their blog. Other bloggers are like Barney Stinson from the show How I Met Your Mother, who takes great pride in his suitjamas. It’s all about business, the how-tos, with very little personal feelings divulged.

And then there are all the people who fall somewhere in between, wearing baggy pajama pants or old gym shorts and ratty t-shirts, maybe footy pajamas or a nightgown that could be worn to the store as a dress. These are the bloggers, and I classify myself among them, who share a lot, but not all. It’s not lying or being insincere, but knowing what they or are not comfortable with sharing with the world.

Like pajamas, none of these approaches to blogging are bad; it’s simply a matter of personal preference. So far, I don’t regret what I’ve shared in this space. That’s what makes blogging so difficult though–it’s not a one-time decision, but a continual process. I don’t decide which pajamas to wear for the rest of my life, but for each night.  So each time I type, I’m faced with the decision of what goes into the post and what doesn’t. Suitjamas? Old gym shorts? Or something else?

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. If you blog, what’s your approach? How do you decide how much to share?

Telling Stories To An Empty Room

Happy Birthday, my little blog! Two years ago I started posting here, largely out of a realization that Facebook Notes were never going to catch on the way that I had hoped and looking for somewhere to share my words.

And here I am, still writing on here but sometimes wondering what the point is. I declared myself a writer last fall, but I certainly don’t always feel that way, especially now that I have a job that takes up 40 hours of my week, and as I still try to figure it all out, it takes up seemingly many more hours of mental energy. When I get home, I usually want to remove my brain, set it on a shelf, go to bed, and put it back in the next morning–not use it some more to write words I often doubt the value of.

Where does the value of writing really come from anyway? Is it the reading? If so, I might be in trouble.

Sometimes it feels as though I’m telling stories to an empty room.

In her book Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist writes of a conversation she had with a middle schooler.

“I write, too.” She said it like it was a confession or a secret. She leaned toward me and opened a notebook and showed me page after page after page of precise cursive. “Do you have any advice for me?” she asked.
“Thank you, and keep going,” I said. “Thank you for writing, because I love to read, and I’m so thankful to writers like you, for writing things for me to read. And keep going, even when people make you feel like it’s not important. It might be the most important thing you do. Keep going.” –Cold Tangerines, p. 229

 

I love those words, the encouragement they gave to that girl and to me. But it’s hard to believe sometimes.

WordPress has a nifty, horrible, convenient, torturous function called “Site Stats.” I discovered it within the first few days of creating this blog, but I sort of wish I never had, or that I could disable it. (Though truthfully, the sick part of me that feels the need to check it compulsively would balk at that) It can be disheartening to see how many people haven’t read a post I feel passionate about, that I have invested time and energy in and, perhaps courageously so, clicked the “Publish” button. Really though, I wonder if there’s a number of readers I would ever deem “enough,” or if more readers would only result in me desiring…more readers.

There’s another side of writing though–the writer. And that is where I remind myself there is always value. Admittedly some of these posts are less polished than others, a little haphazardly thrown together, perhaps less worthy of being on display. There are others though, ones I have molded carefully, painstakingly, combing over time after time for words that don’t belong and tweaking so they convey exactly what and how I need them to.

And those posts–those are why I write.

There is a piece of me in those posts that won’t, can’t, find expression elsewhere, and to keep it to myself feels almost selfish, as though I might be clutching a precious gift to myself.

So I hit “Publish.” I let those words out, even when it feels like they are floating into an empty room, because to do otherwise would be a misuse of what I have been entrusted with.

And so for every time you join me here, to sit and listen and give these stories an audience, I thank you. Let’s hang out a few more years.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Does writing ever feel pointless for you? How do you get past it?

Top Posts of 2012

Oh 2012. It’s been an interesting year, one that’s included a lot more writing and blog posts than I may have planned at the beginning of the year. So if you’re reading this, and if you’ve read anything else this year, thank you for taking the time to read these words. Truly.

In September, I had the privilege of having my piece Facebook Envy published on Relevant Magazine. It was unexpected (I found out about it as I scrolled through my Facebook news feed, and when I saw the title was instantly dismayed that someone had written about the exact same thing I did–until I clicked on it and realized it was mine) and thrilling.

So today, I offer my top 7 posts of 2012. Why 7? Because 10 seems like a lot, but I’m too attached to some posts to do 5. In no particular order, my top 7:

 

“Single,” Not “Incomplete”: “Why is there often a subtle implication that we are incomplete until we can answer the question, ‘How did you meet your spouse?'”

Me and Maslow: Thoughts of a Recent College Graduate: “Though in general I consider myself a fairly happy, well-adjusted, confident individual, I’m just not solid enough in my place in level 3 to concentrate too much on levels 4 and 5.”

My Student Loans Are Teaching Me About Jesus: “Jesus will not be paying off my loans, but he has paid off something much greater than money.”

Dear Me: “Even when things suck, God is at work. You might not always see it, but I’ve seen things you won’t know when you’re in the thick of a mess.”

I Listen to Mumford and Sons (And This is Why): “I listen to Mumford and Sons because they sing what my soul cannot.”

Shoving Strangers at Starbucks: “I wanted to shove her off her stool. Because my current reality is vastly different from hers.”

Deleting Home: “‘Home’ is not a number in my cell phone; I know that.”

 

And a few I just happen to quite like…

My One Direction Confession: “Listening to One Direction doesn’t cancel out the 4 years I spent getting a degree in Bible and Theology, something I take seriously and intend to continue to study, even if only ever outside the classroom, for the rest of my life.”

Inadequate: “But if I have learned anything from Bible stories, my own story, and the stories of those around me, it is that God uses broken people. People who feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and like there is no possible way they could ever do what God has asked them to.”

Unchanging: “I think it’s one of the parts of Christianity that appeals to me–these are not new teachings, created by someone in my lifetime or not much before it.”

Okay With Cliché: “And I’m not sorry for being a little sad. I’m not sorry for being a little cliché, in that I will probably eat chocolate, maybe watch a chick flick, and yes, possibly cry a bit.”

 

Again, thanks for reading.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. What were some of your favorite posts you’ve read around the Internet this year?

Post 31

The end of October has arrived, and so has the end of The 31 Amazing Days Challenge. Not that I intend on ceasing to try to “live a life that doesn’t suck,” but I won’t be posting every single day anymore.

A blog a day for a month: harder than it initially sounded, yet I was surprised by how much easier it became with time. It became a habit, one that I had to plan ahead for and make slight adjustments to my day as necessary. There were days when I absolutely didn’t want to do it, didn’t think I could do it because I had nothing to say and simply wanted to go to sleep, but I wrote anyway. Sometimes the posts written in that state turned out much better than I expected…and sometimes they stunk.

Has my life dramatically change since I undertook this little challenge? No. Most of the time, I didn’t intentionally do something specific in order to write about it later, but my attentiveness to the little things in the everyday increased. Maybe that was the point all along.

 

Some highlights from this past month of blogging…

“Single,” Not “Incomplete”

Disclaimer: I’m a Mess

I Need Church

Weddings and Melancholy

My Student Loans Are Teaching Me About Jesus

Hi, I’m a Writer

I Hate My Smartphone

I Listen to Mumford and Sons (And This is Why)

Expectations Vs. Reality

It will be a bit strange to not post tomorrow…but freeing at the same time. My brain needs a little bit of space from blogging for a few days.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

The Writer’s Enemy

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. -Sylvia Plath

The end of October is quickly approaching, which means my mission to post every day is nearly over. Throughout this month of writing, I’ve experienced the reality of Sylvia Plath’s words.

“Everything in life is writable about…”

My daily routine has not changed much this month, but my attentiveness to it certainly has. Knowing I’m going to be writing later in the day has forced me to be observant and think, “Could I write about this?” Usually, I come up with something I could say about it. That’s part of why this quote from Sylvia appeals to me so much–many writers I enjoy reading have lived overseas, gone on road trips, been married and/or divorced, lived for more years than I have, lived in huts, adopted children, etc., but that doesn’t somehow make my own life experiences not worth writing about. Mine are just different.

Which brings me to the second part I identify with so much…

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” YUP. When I don’t feel like writing, feel like I have nothing to say, and am certain there is no point in writing anyway, I can usually trace it back to self-doubt. Much of my self-doubt tends to be rooted in comparison to those writers who have so much more life experience than me. I’m fortunate that I haven’t yet had anyone tell me, “You shouldn’t be writing because you haven’t done enough,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if that occurs. It’s perhaps the biggest block I face when writing.

My life doesn’t seem to have nearly enough angst, adventure, or upheaval to be interesting enough to write about.

But it doesn’t need to.

 

“Everything in life is writable about…”

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

 

p.s. Wes Molebash wrote a great piece that appeared on Prodigal Magazine entitled, “Your Life is Boring, But You Can Still Write Good Stories.”

The Post I Shouldn’t Write

This post is an honest cop out.

It shouldn’t even be here.

I had a post in mind for today…but I’m not going to be able to make it work like it needs to, not in my current frazzled, weary state of mind.

Instead, I’ll refer you to two other posts of mine–because if I were to write for real tonight, it would end up sounding like a mash-up of the two anyway. Normally, I’d just not post anything, but my slight stubborn side refuses to let this day pass without posting. I signed on for writing through 31 Amazing Days, and I will not back down now. So here we are.

It’s not as though my day was horrible–it wasn’t. My brain just feels too full, muddled, and weighted to be able to make words do what I’d like them to. I think it’s a mark of a good writer to be able to write outside of your emotions, and many bloggers can…I admire them, even envy them that. Because today, I can’t. So instead…

 

A post from August, entitled “Identity Trial” (click the title to read the full post).

Graduating from college and attempting to enter “the big kid world” has brought about significant changes in many aspects of my life (some of which I mentioned here). I’ve lost my familiar rhythms of life, the frustrations and joys of schoolwork, and perhaps one I’m struggling with the most, the label of “college student.” So although for most of my life I had a fairly strong sense of who I am, right now my identity is…a bit in flux. Not quite an identity crisis.

An identity trial, if you will.

At my core I still know who I am; my belief in God is firmly intact, and I have a sense that I would like to do something with my life that is bigger than me, but not FOR me. I still know my likes and dislikes, things I am good at and not good at, things that make me laugh and those that make me cringe.

But that might be about where my list ends. For the time being, I am learning who I am outside of the classroom walls I spent so much time in. I am learning that though I am not enrolled at a particular school, I can still be a student—just in different ways. I am learning that I still have much to learn about just about everything.

And from just about a month ago, “Inadequate” (click to read the full post).

A few months ago my pastor asked me to consider being a part of my church’s leadership team. I was hesitant; for many reasons, but perhaps the main one being I felt like I wasn’t capable of it. My pastor told me I would be the youngest person on the team, which didn’t come as much of a surprise–most people in similar positions in the church I grew up in were in their thirties or older. As a fairly recent church plant, we do things a bit differently, but still…I felt much too young, far too inexperienced, and woefully inadequate for such a task…

Maybe that’s the way all our stories go. “I wasn’t equipped; God equipped me.” Even though it may not feel that way at the time we begin, or in the middle, or maybe even at the end.

But if I have learned anything from Bible stories, my own story, and the stories of those around me, it is that God uses broken people. People who feel inadequate, overwhelmed, and like there is no possible way they could ever do what God has asked them to.

 

Til next time…

~Brianna!~