“What’s next with your blog?” “Are you writing a book?”
Inquiring minds, those of my friends anyway, want to know. It’s that season, of course, new year, new you, all that.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most having a blog is the thread of conversations with friends who were friends before I ever published a post. Some knew me from tennis but had no idea I liked to cook. Some have known me for years but never knew, for example, how I met Bernard. There are 100 or more things I’ve discussed with friends that never would have come up in conversation if I hadn’t started writing this blog.
But they all do know that I’m an achiever, a hopeless type-A go-getter who may have masqueraded as a laid-back hippie once or twice but never convincingly, not to anyone. It would be only logical that I should have a plan, an ambition, something next in mind. It’s what people like me do with blogs, right?
I started this blog on a whim, a lark (hence the name), with no expectations, no plans. It is not unlike me to start something on a whim. Usually, however, I leave the whim of a hobby behind when I either master it or get bored. Usually one of those two things happens quickly. I am not naturally patient.
Initially this blogging whim was both entertaining and challenging. There were so many things to learn, always something new around the corner.
Then I got competitive. How many followers? How many page visits? Was I up or down? How could I do better?
For a few months I was on a roll. Then, suddenly, I was empty. Maybe, I thought, I’ve used up all of my ideas, all of the images in my head. But I decided to keep posting anyway. If it sucked, it sucked. Honestly, what was there to lose?
Here, I realized, I answer to no one but me. Publish, don’t publish. It would make a difference to no one other than yours truly. I wrote a ridiculous poem about my favorite high school teacher, a tribute to my dear neighbor, an essay about my mother, and many phone-it-in placeholders in between. If I couldn’t always be inspired, at least I could keep up a routine. And somehow I managed to write and publish weekly menus, most paired with stories for 50 out of 52 straight weeks (and still going).
When my sister lived with me in Omaha we woke early most days for an hour of yoga. We took a couple of classes, but having grown up with Lilias (and our mother) in our living room, we had fairly high standards for authenticity. The young teachers racing to the “new” yoga movement in the late 90s fell far short of our expectations, so we stuck with our favorite DVD, the one Erich Schiffmann did with Ali McGraw. Laugh all you want; it’s still my favorite guided home practice, almost 20 years later, though Schiffmann’s recordings and podcasts are also pretty terrific. So is his book, Moving Into Stillness.
We practiced every day, just for ourselves. We enjoyed it some days more than others, but we kept at it anyway. At the end, sometimes we were calm, though true stillness was hard to come by. When I moved away from Omaha I kept thinking I’d get back to that daily routine, but I never could pick it back up.
I am so very not good at stillness. I am quick to stay busy but slow to be gentle with myself. Quick to set a challenge, but slow to celebrate a victory. Quick to push into down dog; slow to melt into savasana.
But here, routinely blogging through the ups, downs and in betweens, I find both patience and purpose for all the parts of me: writer, photographer, cook, thinker, mom, friend, peace-seeker. I sit down with intent, now strangely comfortable with the fact that in blogging there are mile markers but no finish line.
So am I turning the blog into a book? No, not today. I’d say “someday,” but as Anne Lamott would be quick to remind me (and I’m sure she’d be writing directly, specifically to me), there is no someday, only today. Today I am not writing a book.
Today I am practicing, as I have been for the past 20 months. With every post my feet feel more grounded, my heart more open. I feel more completely myself, all the Jennifers speaking in the same voice, present without doing anything. Here I wait quietly for an opening and move when I feel something change. Sometimes, I even feel still.