I remember vividly the day I decided to start blogging. We were riding home from the North Carolina State Fair and it was numbingly cold. We’d been married about two years, and had just moved into our little home by the roadside.
I was working full-time as a proposal manager and he was crawling under houses fixing leaky pipes and installing water heaters. We were both employed, but stifled creatively.
He started beekeeping on the side, which was a really sweet idea. But once your queen flies away from the hive, the whole thing is pretty much shot, so after two failed attempts at keeping her happy at home, we let her go and apologized to everyone we’d promised honey.
For my outlet, I decided to blog. At the time, the movement was still in its infancy and I could count on one hand the number of blogger mamas I knew who were really making a name for themselves. Side note: I still read them all.
My first post went something along the lines of “So, I’m Courtney. This is my little life in a little house in a little town. Let’s follow along together on some of my adventures!” I had a Master’s in writing but was really unsure how to start this thing.
I quickly learned the ropes. I researched the best blogging platform solutions and I figured out which types of image resolutions looked the best on a screen. I learned just enough HTML to get by and figured out how to turn a picture of my cottage into a blog badge (remember those?).
Turns out, for a normal girl living a normal life, I had tons to say! I wrote about my dog’s antics, my romance with my husband, and my hopes for the future. And slowly, people started listening. They also started commenting. They left encouragement, and praise for my prose, and the kindest condolences when my grandpa passed away.
It was more than I’d imagined, and I was so grateful. I also felt really obligated. To post. Every day. To manage the expectations. To keep them interested.
So I tried to do it. I woke up very early before work and tried to pound the keyboard for 30 minutes or so and make something remotely interesting come out. But you know how it goes when you catch up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while? You gab furiously for about two hours and spill everything about what you’ve been up to, but at some point, the conversation plateaus.
You reach a point where you’ve said all there is to say and the other person is finished with the conversation too. That’s how I felt about blogging. I wanted to be there, I just didn’t have anything to add. It wasn’t unlike my senior year of cheerleading, where everything suddenly became uber-competitive and tumbling was a highlight and girls like me who could barely do a back-handspring suddenly had no school spirit, even though we’d been on a squad since grade school.
So one morning, I just did it. I quit. I set my alarm clock for half an hour later, got up and ate breakfast, and headed off to work without glancing at my laptop. Of course, I got to work and immediately started scanning my phone and checking my social channels to see if anyone had commented and missed me. They hadn’t.
And day after day, it got easier, and I felt freer. I still blog intermittently, when something really significant happens to me or inspiration just strikes. It isn’t a chore anymore, but a choice, and that shift in itself is exhilarating.
My daughter came to me the other night and said she wanted to play soccer. I wasn’t surprised. I’d watched her at our neighbor’s chicken stew the weekend before and saw her kick hard and straight. Of course, every mom looks at her child and thinks “Did I birth the next Picasso?” every time she sees a finger painting, so only time will tell how deep this talent lies.
I’m going to enroll her for the next season. I’ll buy the cleats and the overpriced t-shirt and I’ll sit on a cold soccer field with my cup of coffee in hand. I might even go out and buy that “Soccer Mom” hat I saw in the local bakery the other day.
But if she comes up to me and tells me it isn’t fun anymore? I’ll make sure she fulfills any outstanding obligations to her team. Then, I’ll let her stop.
There’s a lesson to be learned in sticking with something, and seeing something through to completion. I get that. I’ll teach that.
But I’ll also teach her to search for the joy, and to run after it when she finds it. I’ll teach her that sometimes our feelings change and what once made us happy might not anymore and that’s OK. Studies show we’re more stressed out now than we’ve ever been. Three years old is too early to start that cycle.
I read this really great quote by poet David Whyte once that read, in part, “Anyone or anything that does not bring you alive is too small for you.”
Sweet girl. You’ve got so much to see, and so much to learn.
Chase after the big stuff.