Here’s The Thing About Doing The Thing You Want To Do

Today I feel like a leaky sugar bowl, like sweetness is coming out from between my jagged cracks and edges and softening them. I feel like a tired calendar that is ready to drop from the wall and rest.

 Photo by  Joy Real  on  Unsplash

Photo by Joy Real on Unsplash

I’m on day three of my November poem-a-day challenge, and I am happy to say that I’ve written three terrible poems.

There are good bits in each one. One poem, about a terrible pearl, ends with the a reflection on nothing being left over except the work of living. Yesterday’s poem was about bivouacking, a new word I discovered. And today’s poem is about a sugar bowl that fell to the ground and shattered.

What I’m realizing is that things are more quickly coming to mind, things I never would have thought about had I not created this challenge for myself. Frankly, I wouldn’t be able to think this quickly if I hadn’t done the past month or so of daily writing on my blog.

And even though I’ve sent some pretty disappointing words onto the internet, I know I have so many more to go through. Like, probably years worth of awful writing before I get to the good stuff.

Which brings me to the point of today’s concise blog post:

In order to do the thing that you’ve wanted to do for so long, you have to do the thing.

And you have to be terrible at it, and you have to keep doing it anyways.

You have to look yourself in the eyes and say, yes, I am hungover and angry and drawing every blank in the world, but I must do this thing or else I cannot do this thing. And here’s the truth from someone who has been doing her thing every day for only 42 days: it’s awful. Some days it’s physically painful and you’ll sit at your desk and yell about how you don’t want to.

Those are the days that you just do whatever it takes to say you did it: even if the blog post is more whining, even if the poem is so abstract that a balloon wouldn’t bump into it.

I’m so, so sorry to tell you this. But if you aren’t doing the thing, then you aren’t doing the thing.

It’s something I’ve been told and every fiber of my being lashes out in defense and anger, but from where I stand right now it really is the truth.

There are so many days ahead of me that I will probably not do the thing. And there are deadbeat days ahead of me, but at least now I know that I am truly capable of handling the work, even at its worst.

Bad example: if you want to be a singer. Are you singing? It doesn’t have to be daily, but it helps if it is. Sing in the car, in the shower, in your designated singing room. Sing even if you’re hungover, and sing especially if you’re drunk. If you’re not singing even when you’re drunk, then you are somebody who wants to be a singer—you are not a singer. I am sorry.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a writer. I am not a good writer, but I write every day. I have been a writer for 45 days, but before then I was an aspiring writer. Before that, pretty much everything I wrote was emails, so I was an emailer.

Here’s the bottom line: if there’s something you want to do, do it. Sneak out of your day for a few minutes here and there and do the thing. Let yourself be devastatingly, embarrassingly bad at it, practice it, nurture it. And then get better.

A Wedding Poem About Knives

Today I feel like dusty cinnamon whose top has popped off in a breakfast frenzy. I can smell everything, see everything, read letters of languages I’ve never noticed. I’m permeating outside of myself and finding space in cobwebby corners of the world.

 Photo by  Ivan Jevtic  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ivan Jevtic on Unsplash

As I was cleaning the kitchen, I spent a few cents of gratitude for our knives - nothing special, more form than perfect function - but they serve us daily. I even made a mental note to tell any of my future marriageable friends to ask for a good set of knives on their gift registry.

And just like that, I squelched some detergent into the dishwasher, whipped it closed and let it get around to ultimate scrubbing as I pounded out a poem on the nearest laptop. Inspiration is just like that. It’s the pesky neighbor that knocks on your door and won’t go away because she knows you’re in there and she needs you to help her take a giant vat of soup to the cab. You can answer the call, or you can hide for fifteen minutes until someone else has risen to the occasion.

Now, the poem has a little form and also functions properly as far as words on a page go, so I’m pleased. It’s a bit of a downer, but I’m excited about it being one of only two poems I’ve written in the past five years.

I feel like sharing this one. Not because I think it’s particularly excellent, but because I’m happy I wrote it, instead of writing out a blog post about what I think real-world couples should register for: 15 Must-Haves On Your Wedding Registry That Guarantee A Happy Life Together!

So here’s what I did instead of that, all its unedited, unrefined glory:

The Good Set

First, you’ll want a good set of knives.
Pick your vows, edit but don’t add.
Don’t promise too much, unless death
is imminent (which it is). Part
your lips just a little for the kiss, for the kids.
Keep it PG. Coo at the flowergirl,
watch the turbulent ring bearer
“bearers will be bears will be boys”

Spill out of your dress and into a box
that you’ve neatly checked.
Clamp your hands over your modest belly
and say your somedays and your soons.
Boom into bridehood in a brave and beautiful
sadness. Always remember to sharpen
your knives and don’t let them sit
(as you do) in long soapy baths.

Bubble yourself in iridescent lace curtains
and fine, carefully-counted cotton sheets.
Until the day it all comes, piercing
up through your thigh and into
the cavern between your rib bones,
and it’s not the supper onions begging for tears,
but your years of dulling. Don’t burst.
At least you got a good set of knives.

Obviously, it shouldn't need to be said that not all poems are based in autobiographical truths. This poem is about a person I have constructed in my head, and for whom I feel devastated. (Oooh, whom?! Whom does fancy Emily think she is?!)

Tonight has been an interesting lesson in noticing: there’s poetry everywhere, seeping through the cracks in the cupboards, leaking out from under the sink, in that forbidden space between your oven and your countertops, if you just root around a bit for it. Same goes for anything you’re looking for - there are flavors, colors, smells, and shapes everywhere that can inspire your next project.

Pay attention, and inspiration will begin to rise out of the earth like a dinky weed. Pay more attention, and it’ll be a fucking tree.

So here I am, just paying attention. Not hoping to be told the answers, but just noticing the patterns of questions that float up and down on the breeze, like the warm up scales of a  musician.

Pardon me as I sink into the desire to wear scarves and drink black coffee in grungy coffee shops, wearing fake glasses and staring out of the window at imagined rain. Humans are weird, right? We write one poem one time and become friggin' Emily Dickinson. (With regards to Emily, thank you for your work.) We take a leisurely walk on one wooded trail and suddenly we’re shopping for a Camelback for our trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. Is it just me?

How would you write a story or a poem around the line “you’ll want a good set of knives”? I challenge you to write your own poem about knives, if you’re up for it. Or, make an effort while you’re cleaning your (dirty, dirty) home to open yourself to receiving inspiration from weird places.

Either way, stay sharp.

PoWriMo: My Personal Writing Challenge For November

Today I feel like a statue with a sweet smile carved upon my face. I feel strong yet impermanent, graceful yet adolescent. Ease has arrived in my life like a toasted breeze rustling the autumn leaves, and I am shaken.

 Photo by  Alisa Anton  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

I’ve decided what my next step is: I’m sidelining the novel idea, and instead I am going to write a poem every day in the month of November. Call it NaPoWriMo, if you will, although there’s nothing national about it. So just PoWriMo?

I wanted to take a few moments tonight to write out my “plan” (they’re more like guidelines anyway) so we all know what to expect on this blog in the coming month. It’s important that I include myself because too-high expectations fling me into the burnout zone faster than a hand can honk a car horn in Los Angeles.

Gathering poems that inspire me

First, I’ll be gathering poems that have been important or memorable to me in my writing journey. Poems like When Death Comes and Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, Contre Qui, Rose and Archaic Torso of Apollo by Rilke, One Art by Elizabeth Bishop, The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, Late Wife (a collection of poems—this one is great) by Claudia Emerson, Parsley by Rita Dove.

Over the next couple of weeks and throughout the month of November, I’ll be working on reading as much as I can! Poems, short stories, novels. I want to finish This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and then maybe scour the shelves at the library for any poetry collections that look interesting. I want to have as many poems in my toolbelt as possible, so that if you come to me with a burning need for a good poem, I’ll have one at the ready.

The daily goal

I’ll still try to keep writing for an hour each day, but I’ll also set a low bar for completion since this one will be more mentally taxing than freewriting. My daily poems need to be a minimum of 10 lines, but other than that I won’t set any requirements for rhyme structure, meter, or form.

I’d like to try my hand at a few different forms when the mood strikes, like a sonnet, a villanelle, a ghazal (forgot about that one!), and even a series of limericks.

I won't spend any time going back and editing during the month once I have "completed" a poem for the day. I'll save that for the end of the month, so that I can just focus on shaking all those rattling crappy words out of my earholes.

What will become of my daily posts?

I’m not going to force a daily goal of publishing to the blog. I’m a little anxious to say that because I’ve really enjoyed my rhythm of hitting “publish” every day. Plus, that little hit of dopamine doesn’t hurt.

But at the end of the day, my writing isn’t going anywhere. I may share a few tidbits of poetry on here (or any must-read poems!). Heck, I might even post every draft to this blog if I'm feeling extra brave. But at the end of the month, I want to have 30 poems total so that I can ditch 20 of them, edit 10 of them, and end up with one poem that I can be proud of. It may go better, it may go worse.

When I was in college, my habit was to get an assignment, write a poem, workshop it and then halfway edit it. As the years went on, I rarely wrote extra pieces outside of class, and so my skills haven’t advanced at a rate I could write home about. This is my attempt at regaining my footing and accelerating my writing skills once again.

Until November starts, I’ll still be blogging every day, so you can look forward to my late-night ramblings for at least another week. In the meantime, if you have any tips for how I should proceed with this challenge, let me know!

Apologies To Robert Frost: The Two Roads Ahead

Today I feel like a tired bubble, floating on an autumn wind in the golden California sunlight. I feel iridescent and indecently chill. I feel like it’s all been worth it.

 Photo by  Erol Ahmed  on  Unsplash

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

This writing challenge has not had a destination, but these past few weeks have still felt like progress, straining out all the half-assed cliches that have been coagulating in my mind over the years so that I can maybe find something new to say.

There hasn’t been a goal other than the daily milestone of hitting “publish” on the blog, and I’m not used to working that way at all. I have been writing each day so that I can go to sleep, live another day and write about it again the next night. It's in direct opposition of my achievement-oriented self, and it's refreshing.

I didn’t set an end goal for myself, and now that I’ve gathered some momentum, I want to try and use it to my advantage. I have two ideas.


National Novel Writing Month is in November, and as I was canoodling with the doodles in my journal, I found myself writing something that scared the bejeezus out of me: I want to write a novel. And I started to feel drawn to this structured challenge.

In the past 32 days, I have written somewhere in the neighborhood of 35,000 words. NaNoWriMo’s goal is to write a rough first draft of a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. So, it’s not too far-fetched. Here’s the only issue: I don’t know anything about writing novels. Like, I have only written three short stories in my life and I remember not being a fan of the experience.

Fun words? I got you. Dialogue and character development? So difficult. Story structure and proper pacing? Ugh, what?

I’m being a bit dramatic here, but I do feel conflicted about the whole idea. I mean, we’ve got about a week left of October and I’m over here thinking that I only might have an idea for where to start.

My idea for a short story that I just decided could be a novel

I’ve had a few ideas for short stories over the years (including a scary story that I still actually would love to tell), but one stood out to me as having the potential to be a full novel.

I’m going to try to explain it here, but no guarantees it’ll make sense. It seems like a little bit of a tired tale, but hey—there's nothin' new under the sun, amirite?

In a dystopian future, the world’s governments unite and build an artificial island out in the middle of the ocean. Every human is set up on a points system where they can receive and lose points based on their legal compliance, their social responsibility, and just their general interactions with the world. If they lose all their points without doing anything good to gain them back, they go in for review. They get therapy and whatnot, then get one more chance to be a good person. If they get to zero points again, they’re shipped off to this island to live out the rest of their days.

The island isn’t fully terrible: you have to work menial jobs, but you do get fed a few square meals a day and get a roof over your head. You do have to deal with all the other “detractors” from society though, and it’s not pleasant.

The story focuses on two characters, Sophie and Mike, and their experiences going to the island. Sophie, a young woman, was sent seemingly by mistake—she received no warnings or no second chances, and had always been an upstanding citizen. Mike, a middle-aged man, is proud that he’s finally going. He’s worked hard to lose his points without resorting to flat-out crime his whole life: he purposefully doesn’t contribute, is rude, lazy, selfish and a huge freeloader. He doesn’t know why it’s taken this long.

Sophie despises Mike, but he’s the only one who will listen to her talking about how big of a mistake this has all been, so he becomes one of her only friends. Mike is waiting for his wife of 30 years to come join him, since they were actively trying to get to the island so they can forget about paying bills and being responsible humans. She’s nowhere to be found, and the islanders have no way of communicating with the outside world.

The story follows Sophie as she tries to find out why she’s on the island, and Mike tags along to uncover the mystery of why his wife still hasn’t joined him.

And that’s it! It's a step into the science fiction realm, which is a realm I’ve been interested in for the past few years. I think I may still have some reading and work to do around what it takes to build a plausible world, and how to bring characters to life without pumping them full of clichés.

I’ve been talking this up in my head for a few days, and up until just about an hour ago, I thought that was what I was going to do next with my writing habit.

But then I remembered my wheelhouse

I know there’s something to be said about going out of your comfort zone, but going from writing haphazard blog posts to writing a novel with no plan or knowledge on how to do so could very well be a prescription for failure. I mean, I’ve proven that I can write every day for 30 days, but writing about the same thing with a goal of actual completion?

It could be done, but I’m still so fresh into my writing habit that I don’t think it’s a great idea to scale Everest after just hiking Runyon Canyon every day for a month.

So tonight, as I was talking it through, I remembered the tiny detail of my life where I got a degree in Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry. P O E T R Y.

More like poe-try not to overthink this.

So my second choice for my next challenge is to try and write a poem every day for 30 days. No huge emphasis on edits, I’ll pick out some styles and some poems to maybe mirror, and get the ol’ iambic pentameter rhythm flowing through my fingers again.

This challenge would force me to read poetry regularly, and wouldn’t have the same critical goal as NaNoWriMo. Plus, there’s a chance that I could still pop a blog post up now and again (because I’d probably steer clear of sharing my daily poems—unless that’s something you’d be in to).

I haven’t come to a conclusion yet, but I am thinking that a poetry challenge would be a more comfortable place for me to start, at least at this moment, since I’m still a tender little newbie to the daily writing practice. The poetry option is hanging out in the outfield of my comfort zone, and the novel option is hanging out at the bar a few blocks outside of my comfort zone getting a nice buzz on.

Either way, I'll be here to tell you about it when I make a decision. Here to talk your internet ear off all evening.

Cheers to Sunday nights and next steps!

Must I Write? A Reflection On Thirty Days Of Writing

Today I feel like a dented, crackling hardboiled egg. I feel a fire right behind my eyes, but a cool calm over every other inch of my body.

 Photo by  Jeremy Thomas  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

I was at the yoga studio for almost four hours today—two and a half of those were actually practicing in the hot room. Sixty minutes of a breath-intensive active class, and ninety minutes of half dreaming in a toasty restorative soundbath.

If you would have told me I’d be doing this two years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. Fridays were for getting toasted in a much less healthy way. So much has changed in the past couple of years—and so much has changed in the past thirty days.

As I nurse a throbbing headache alongside a single beer, I think I’ll share a few of the greatest takeaways from the past thirty days of a daily yoga and writing practice.

I have the time.

I learned this during my first thirty day challenge in April—I have more time in my day than I believed I did. My schedule opened up and welcomed a yoga routine, and I hardly noticed the “loss” of ten hours or so each week. I was shocked at how I was still able to get work done and be a productive member of my household.

Maybe it had to do with the fact that I was dedicating more time to my healthy self instead of staring at my phone on the toilet.

So when I wanted to add a daily writing practice in on top of the yoga, I hoped that it would abide by the same principle. It totally did. I still ran errands, bathed myself, worked, and fed myself for the thirty days I committed to writing. I had some late nights, but I got it done.

Nothing is that big of a deal.

I also started to let go of some of the little things that had previously wound me up. I’m almost always stressing about the state of my apartment, and during the past thirty days, I realized it’s not that important. I still would prefer it to be clean, but my moments of panic about the chaos of our space have subsided.

I’ve chilled out about money, too. We’re still in quite the pickle, but I’ve felt myself soften about getting out of debt right now. I’m judging myself a lot more on whether or not I achieved my personal, non-monetary objectives nowadays rather than how much money I’ve been able to bring in.

I must write.

For the past several years, I’ve reflected on Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters To A Young Poet passage where he describes what to do if you feel compelled to write:

This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose...

What most terrified me about that quote is that he went on to explain that if you don’t feel like you must write, that it’s time to wrap up those aspirations and tuck them away. It stung like a moment from my first semester in college: I told a friend in my dorm that I played the saxophone, but admittedly hadn’t played in over six months. He told me this: then you’re not a musician anymore.

I was so angry. But it was only fair: you become by doing. And I’m excited that this is the first step back into the writerly waters.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that I've expressed the sentiment "I have to write" every day for four weeks.

I need to read more.

I realized that all of my intake has been digital lately, and most of it has been social media. My “leisure” time includes heavy doses of scrolling forever through Instagram and laughing at the occasional meme. Yeesh.

I have several library books on my nightstand that have been needing love, so I’ll start there. Even when I manage to squeeze a few pages of reading in here and there I notice a difference in my vocabulary and my general curiosity about the world. I want to be intentional about whose voices I’m hearing, and make sure that it’s not just the same old white dudes all the time (although my current read is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side Of Paradise and I’m loving the arrogant characters).

I can fail, and I can love myself.

There was one evening this month where I didn’t write at all, because of a late evening, a couple glasses of wine, and a moderately devastating anxiety attack about being too far behind in life. You know, basically a typical 2015 Friday night.

But somehow, I didn’t lose it the next day. I got right back on the saddle again the next day with my writing habit. What really made the difference was that I gave myself a boatload of grace and didn’t force myself to make up the lost hour. I came at it from a place of love rather than self-punishment, and it made me wonder why I haven’t been doing that all along.

I can do more.

This goes along with me realizing that I have the time for these things, but it’s really set me up to do more ambitious things or things that scare me even more. I could give up drinking alcohol, set a morning routine, or finally create a cleaning habit that would knock your socks off, all because I’ve been able to prove to myself that these types of habits are possible.

I have an idea for what to plan for November, but so far it’s only showed up in my gel pen doodlings in my unorganized 5-subject notebook. I need to let it settle into my bones (and my notebook) for another day or two before I commit to anything.

DIY Thirty Day Challenge

If you’re hoping to create a new habit or want to try a thirty day challenge of your own, I have a few thoughts on what will help make it a success.

  1. Seek accountability or camaraderie. If you can’t find a friend who’s working on a daily habit, find someone who will be happy to hear that you completed another day.

  2. Find a tiny daily reward. For me, it was putting my sticker up on the thirty day tracker at my yoga studio. It’s such a small thing, but man I love stickers. It gives it all a very official structure in which my brain thrives like an unwelcome weed.

  3. Don’t set a goal other than completion, at least for your first one if you’re trying to do something you’ve never done. If I were to have said that by the end of my first thirty day yoga challenge I would be able to do a perfect handstand, I don’t know if I would have been as motivated. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

  4. Make your new habit a “must”. For the past thirty days, I’ve moaned and groaned about having to write. Keyword: having. All my bitching ever did was push it later into the night. Remind yourself that you’ll probably hate it some days (or many days), but that having done it will be better than not.

  5. Make physical space for it. If you want to write, create a writing desk or area. If you want to craft, be sure your craft desk is stocked with what you’ll need. I’ve been trying to light a candle next to me each time I write to remind myself that this should be an enjoyable experience.

Sending you all the love and strength you’ll need to get started!

In case you want to revisit my 30 days of writing, here are all my posts!

What Do You Not Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Today I feel like a steady train chugging deeply across a quiet, unfamiliar plain. I feel like I could reach out in nearly any direction and grab a handful of support. I feel gratitude for the radiant planets of people that have arrived in my orbit.

 Photo by  Gemma Evans  on  Unsplash

Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

Over the weekend, I worked on a post about my dream setup for our current living room. I started the post with great enthusiasm, feeling like finding and sharing my ideas for my space would invigorate and excite me.

Turns out, I discovered something better. I didn’t like writing that post!

For so long, I’ve expected my life as a writer to evolve into a home + style blogger. Since I’ve seen that as the straightforward way to monetize blogging, I’ve just kind of thought that’s the way I’ve needed to go.

But gathering my ideas about updating my apartment was tiresome and stressful. I felt uninspired and found myself just pulling links from quick searches as “this will do” placeholders. I still want to update our apartment and make it a more beautiful and welcoming space, but I don’t think I want to write about it.

I also have imagined myself as a style blogger, but I’ve never felt the initiative to take outfit photos, or otherwise curating my closet other than adding the occasional strange and wonderful sequin monstrosity.

I love consuming ideas and seeing photos of others’ beautiful homes and clothes, but I’m less compelled to share my own space or wardrobe because it doesn’t feel authentic to me. So why does this feel like such a big deal?

Finding out what you don’t want to do is a productive step forward.

We equate progress with a goal or a destination, but it’s important to remember that crossing a destination off the list means that we have one fewer not-quite-right place to travel to. It’s like seeing a restaurant with a one star review from hundreds of reviewers. You can still totally go, but there might be a restaurant down the road that has a better chance of being your new favorite.

It’s also not like that at all, because this has nothing to do with what other people think.

For me, I also can rule out food and recipes (because who has time for that), and same for DIY. I’d rather sling odd words into rhythmic sentences than try to come up with a visually interesting project day in and day out. Plus, my DIY is almost always spur-of-the-moment and I don’t like having to wait around for good lighting for photography.

So what does a blogger do if a blogger does not write about home, DIY, style, recipes or family?

I’m interested in self-exploration and helping others, but I’m always so hesitant about speaking from a place of authority when it comes to self-help because 1) I have no formal training 2) I have only read a little in that realm and 3) I’m actually a mess and I don’t want to add being responsible for the well-being of others to my plate. But I’m happy to chat about it as not an authority.

Ugh, I’m doing the biggest eyeroll over here as I am writing myself through this question. I think the answer is pretty simple. I need to do one of two things:

  1. Not be a blogger

  2. Redefine what I believe a blogger is and what a blogger looks like

A blogger is defined as a person who regularly writes material for a blog.

It’s not as complicated as how many followers someone has, or how frequently they post, or how many of their own photos they take. It’s a matter of having a blog, and posting on it. You can totally even just have a secret one or a free one—the internet overlords are not very strict about that definition.

Pardon me as I’m a bit reflective today. I put up my sticker for day 26 at the yoga studio to mark my progress in the thirty day challenge, and I’m feeling rather introspective about what this means for day 26 of my recently acquired writing habit. I’m not sure what form it will take after I conclude the challenge—I haven’t yet decided whether or not I’ll keep posting online, or if I’ll sweep my word scraps into an offline heap of a short story or novel.

Or if I’ll take it all the way off the table and start noodling around in an ultra-secret, no-boys-allowed journal.

But at least I know I don’t want to write about rugs?

It’s also not just that I found it a little dull, I also find it difficult to write about all the stuff I want to get because there is so many more important things going on. Admittedly, it took until I got to the pillows section for me to realize how absurd it was and remember how privileged I am. There is extreme poverty, racial injustice, gender inequality—this pitiful list doesn’t even begin to touch upon the severity and horror that is an everyday reality for so many people.

Thinking about all the human and environmental issues surrounding us can make me feel so small, and I think that writing about rugs just makes me another tiny voice clearing its throat in a world full of noise. Maybe there’s someone who can make the world a better place writing about that kind of stuff, but I don’t think it’s me.

So if you’re hoping to hear a plan, here is what I have so far:

Read and listen to a curated list of books and podcasts (hello, personal syllabus), and be sure to seek out my fellow female artists and artists of color so I can develop a better understanding of our world. Read poetry and the familiarize myself with the historical context and biographical information surrounding my favorite pieces.

Listen, every day. Listen to everyone. Ask questions. Listen more.

And finally, write every day. Write everything. Ask questions. Write more. Write until I can find a few sentences that can help soften the world. Because if I’m honest, that’s what I’ve wanted to do all along.

I want my words to soften the world.

Because if the world is a little softer, we have more space and energy to embrace our neighbors and to love those who are strangers to us.

Why Does Blogging Keep Calling Me Back?

Today I feel like a brick wall that keeps faceplanting on concrete. I miss the hum of the sun, but the early night air is bringing a rest I have needed for many months. And yet, I'm a sleepy teen who needs to mobilize—it's time for school.

I’ve been redesigning my website this week, and ever since I changed it to a new template, I haven’t been able to get it back to where I want it. There’s just nothing that feels intuitive, so expect a lot more changes until it’s exactly how I want it.

The trouble is that I’m still not quite sure WTF this website is supposed to be. A portfolio? A blog? A “personal website” (wtf is that)? A lifestyle platform? An embarrassing stain on the internet?

I’ve had a long and unimpressive relationship with blogging and internets. My greatest “success” came with my previous blog, Minimal Millennial, where I wrote about being a super duper young minimalist. It was cool, until I realized that I had started weaponizing minimalism against myself.

I think it was well-intentioned to begin with—what modern, middle-class, privileged first-world person doesn’t need to ditch a few things? But eventually, I took things away and refused to add things under a guise of minimalism, but it was actually a sad self loathing. I believed I didn’t deserve to wear bright colors, to have more beauty products, to purchase home goods that truly made me shine in my space.

So I quit being a minimalist, and the only blog I ever committed to for more than a few posts came to an end. It’s still there, hanging out in space, and I’ll get the occasional notification about it. I’m debating whether or not to set up a redirect (you know, because I totally know how to do that) so that visitors will come to Ennaree, but man this blog is so much different.

I knew I couldn’t continue Minimal Millennial, but I stepped away from it feeling like I was walking away from part of myself. Why?

Blogging has been a part of my identity for almost a decade.

I started my first blog when I was 18 and got my own laptop. I remember learning about coding and photography and design from my older brother and man I thought he was the coolest ever. He was making websites and designing logos and it was badass. We sat at Higher Grounds café in Fort Wayne, Indiana and bonded by staring at our respective laptop screens, chatting intermittently.

I’m pretty sure my first blog was Ennaree as well, only over on blogger. I learned about hex codes for colors, how to upload a header image, the whole nine yards. I didn’t have a cohesive idea for that blog either—maybe I could be an internet poet? Or talk about coffee?

So I suppose this means I’ve had a blog in some capacity, no matter how embarassing or underutilized, for almost a decade. The elusive secret sauce was always missing—a niche and a consistent posting schedule.

My biggest question for myself all these years has been this: why do I keep coming back to a blog?

No matter how often or how rarely I posted, blogging always brings up emotions and questions about my identity. I always return to it.

But for so long, I’ve done that thing where I take something I genuinely enjoy doing and make it into a deep and rich fountain of self punishment. I might post one day and feel like the most bloggery blogger that ever was (Ms. Blogface McGee), and then the next day comes and goes without a moment to share a post and suddenly I’m No Blogface McFailure.

It’s a constant battle, and the simple thought of my months-vacant blog has been known to throw a perfectly good day into a spiral of doom that only a good night’s sleep can fix. I have intertwined blogging so closely with my identity, that when I perceive any of my work (or non-work) in this space as a failure, I feel like I’ve personally let the world down.

There’s a glimmer of truth in that sadness, though. I do think that my mind knows that I’m not pushing myself to do the work that I’m meant to do. I figuratively kick and scream before landing in front of my laptop each day, but I know that I’m much more centered and in touch with my world when I’m writing more.

While I don’t know if the blog life is my ultimate destination, I do know that I’m heading in the right direction and that a blog is the most attainable outlet for my writing at this moment in my life.

Peace and Friday vibes to you my sweethearts.

I Don't Know What To Write, So Here's My Recipe For A Perfect Normal Day

Today I feel like an arrow that was pulled back, aimed, but fell off balance at the last moment and flipped and stuck down onto a muddy earth. Every word I speak is the gutteral, threatening squeak that a fully inflated balloon makes when a terrible person rubs it in their hands.

 Photo by  Alexandra Gorn  on  Unsplash

Extended title:

What to write about when you don’t feel like writing and it’s after midnight and all you ever wanted to do was go to bed but you promised yourself that you’d write every day for thirty days and you already skipped a day so you have to really try hard to prove to yourself that you can handle it.

As I sit here, picking at the acne on my face, I can say for certain that I do not want to be writing this evening. I’m exactly at the halfway point - day fifteen - and I’ve skipped just one day of writing so far. And I think I only have enough grace in my grace bank to cover that single day.

So today I'm going to run down the perfect day for me, right here and now, because I've been living a little bit outside of the present lately. This isn't the first time I've done this, and I highly recommend you try it too - write out a realistic perfect day. Make it a work day, too, because those are the most difficult to tackle.

Here’s what I wish my day could look like:

Wake at 7AM and eat kickass oatmeal. Drink some water and black tea with breakfast because it doesn’t bulldoze my stomach like coffee does - that comes later. Read a dozen pages of the book that’s been on my nightstand for weeks with the bookmark forming a permanent attachment to page 7.

Pop outside for a brisk walk around the block and imagine waving at all the old people that are milling about because they wanted a bright and early start. Smell the coffee coming from the neighbor’s windows and hurry home to poop because my body knows that coffee = poop. Then make a pot of coffee and set up my writing desk.

Write for an hour and listen to the music my brain is craving (lately it’s been Prince and Rufus Wainwright). Make the writing bad, like God-awful - you know, like this piece here. And probably publish it, but let myself off the hook if it just is too embarrassing.

Scrub my face and smoosh on some makeup, and convince myself that the foundation is totally the right shade. Try to also convince myself that I look real pretty today. Drink a glass of water and take supplements that an actual doctor recommended for me specifically, instead of just taking ones I feel like sound nice that day. Pack a thoughtfully-planned lunch.

Drive to work and actually be early - if not, I’ll settle for on time. Kick butt and take names, and remember to drink a couple glasses of water.

Leave just a few minutes before five because traffic gets worse once five hits, and I want to make it to the 5:45 PM yoga class. It will be the best day if I don’t look at my phone from the moment I get in the car to the moment I step out of a quick hot shower after 60 not-quick minutes of hot yoga.

That would put me at about 2 ½ hours of not looking at any screens and my mind needs that more than anything these days.

Restore my humanity with a big glass of water and a dinner that has side dishes, like actual vegetables. Eat this glorious food at the dining room table, and rest my feet on a freshly vacuumed rug and enjoy the open space of the table without laptops or phones or charging wires snaking between plates. I would be able to look my husband in the eyes as he told me about his day, truly undistracted for a moment.

I would put my dishes in the dishwasher and arrive into the evening like a sighing ship gliding into port after a long journey.

Log on to a laptop for an hour and make sure my other work is caught up and gets the littlest lick of love. Publish what I wrote in the morning, because who even cares if it’s perfect. That’s not the point right now.

Clap every laptop closed, so that the apartment is filled with their applause for completing another day. Make sure my phone alarm is set for 7AM and then edge myself into an early bedtime with an inspired nightly skincare routine (I’m open to suggestions, beauty queens - someone just tell me what to do and also buy all the products for me). And probably some ladylike ritual of moisturizing, because I hear that’s all the rage these days.

Tuck all the ugly stuff on the bedroom floor back into its proper place, then tuck myself into bed. Maybe read, maybe talk to my husband while he’s trying to read. Or maybe the drool that comes out of my mouth the second my head hits the pillow just reminds me to get straight down to the sleeping business.

Try to think of something happy, excavate some peace from somewhere under my skin and let it warm me as I drift off.

There’s so much about this day that’s possible, but a few glaring problems come to mind: a single fifteen-minute-snooze would set off the whole day and shatter that bedtime peace fossil into dust. A bad day or a good day could alter the formula - I might want to work more, work less, write more, write less.

My question is this: is a daily routine or rhythm more like baking or cooking?

If it’s like baking, it’s a science and the measurements always need to be just right. If it’s like cooking (if it’s anything like my cooking), it’s all based on what looks and tastes and smells good in the moment.

What do you think - does a carefully & lovingly baked day work better for you, or do you prefer the vibrant & volatile cooked day?