It’s always “that next thing.”
After the marathon.
Well, after my husband’s birthday.
Oh, wait. After our family vacation.
And then, after BlogHer.
It’s always the next thing, one more thing, one event or to-do on my list or place to be or thing to accomplish…
…that keeps me alive.
All of these things also add anxiety, which kind of adds to the rub of existing at all. But the “one more thing” is what rolls me out of bed in the morning.
“I can’t quit life today, I have a training run.”
“I can’t quit living today, I need to take the boys to the store for new running shoes and backpacks.”
“I can’t give up today, I have a deadline. And God knows I don’t miss a flipping deadline.”
On and on and on, I keep going. I keep waking up. I keep looking at my busy schedule. I keep making breakfasts and lunches and dinners and snacks and messes. I keep working. I keep breaking up fights between brothers or telling them to work it out on their own or wondering if they’ll ever, ever be the friends I want them to be—if I’ll be alive to witness them being the friends I want them to be. One more run, one more race, one more distance. One more conference, one more article written and published, one more byline.
Today, my best friend’s daughter asked me, “Have you written a book?”
“Uh,” I stumbled. “Kind of. I haven’t published it though.”
“Why not?” She looked up at me from behind her impossibly blue eyes, sincerity instead of sarcasm oozing from her soul. The other three kids at the table chimed in with their own ‘why nots’ and ‘how comes’ and ‘yeahs.’ I looked at my friend and shrugged. One more thing.
I have a lot of things left to do in this life, with my life. I know that. Sometimes… sometimes… I get lost in the suck of it all, get lost in the anxiety that makes my brain foggy with doubt and self-loathing. My mind tricks me into thinking that there’s no reason, no point in my sticking around or wading through the muck of it. It’s that “one more thing” that keeps me going, keeps me grounded, keeps me here.
I just scheduled a visit with my daughter and her mother.
It’s our first “girls’ weekend,” and I’m simultaneously excited for it and dreading it. The boys will be away that weekend, so I won’t need to explain where I’m going with a small suitcase on a Friday afternoon. I won’t have to deal with the disappointed looks in their eyes when they learn I’m seeing their sister without them; it’s all they’ve asked for this summer. It’s not in the cards for this summer for so many reasons, none of which fall under my control. I’ll tell them later, after we all return home, and I’ll deal with that fall out as best I can. Together, the lot of us, grieving the relationship we all wish we could have but reality keeps at bay.
This visit is my current “one more thing.”
After that, who knows. But if you’ve ever wondered why I keep myself so busy, why I have so many things on my plate and so many balls in the air and so much stuff to do, this is why.
Because I want to wake up tomorrow. I want to live this life that I’ve been given.
Last year at BlogHer ’13, I ended up with a total of four pictures of myself with my friends. And five of myself with my husband. While pictures with my husband are always welcome, I felt pretty peeved with myself that I didn’t take more photos with people who mean a lot to me. And with total strangers, because conference!
And so I brought myself Selfie game to the Selfiebration at BlogHer ’14. Let’s take a look.
We start out traveling where we got caught in the air above San Francisco because Air Force One hadn’t cleared the airport. #thanksobama It was a tiring, long day of travel, but then we went to dinner with our besties, woke up early to hit the gym, and then I started working.
The Selfiebration at the Expo was awesome and I maybe pledged to “write the damn book” by the age of 35 at The Timeline Project booth. But here’s the thing: the book changed and I know it did, so I have to start all over. Womp womp. Anyway, the new picture is now hanging over my desk where I will ignore it until I am 34.75 years old.
I don’t have to tell you how amazing VOTY was. Oh wait, I already did.
One important selfie, or uhm, groupie, needed placement of its own. It belongs chronologically on the night of Voices and Photos of the Year. As I sat back stage, blubbering because my Burgh Baby wasn’t there and it just didn’t freaking feel right because we did all of this together for so stinkin’ long, I remembered that she was with us. She won a PHOTY. So those of us that love her so posed with her photo. And then I maybe cried a little bit more.
The end of the conference came much too quickly, but the closing party was EPIC. And a HALF! Times 87!
Content wise, the keynotes were just absolutely amazing. If you haven’t seen the Kerry Washington selfie yet, you need to go look. I enjoyed every single 10×10 presentation by our long-time community members. I felt inspired to do things and write things and go places and be more and so on. The killer for me was the opening video. Go watch it.
Yeah. That happened. And yeah, I cried.
My deeply personal moment came during The Future of Personal Blogging Mini-Con. I attended as I write a personal blog and am deeply invested in what the future holds for me, for the people like me, for our genre, for our online lives. I listened with great interest, held a few side conversations at my table, accidentally made my table snort laugh, and really enjoyed the topic at hand. But I had a question to ask. So I asked it.
“How do you know when you’re done personal blogging? And what do you do when you get to that point?”
The room was kind of quiet. It’s a big question, an important one. Some of the technicalities were discussed, like what to do with your online spaces and the like. But then Elan Morgan, otherwise known as Schmutzie, answered me with this important line:
“When your community is no longer feeding you, maybe it’s time.”
And I maybe blinked a few tears.
I’ve been searching for confirmation that I did the right thing in yanking down Chronicles, my now defunct adoption blog, last year in the hasty way that I did. I didn’t seek advice. I didn’t ask questions. I didn’t even fully think it through enough to realize that pulling it down, the hosting and all, would mean a blog I was hosting for someone else on the domain would be negatively affected. I just pulled that sucker down. Gone.
And after hearing Elan’s comment, it was the right choice.
I do still write about adoption here, as it makes sense in our daily life. But the adoption community was no longer feeding me. They were strangling me, suffocating me, pigeon-holing me. I
was am so much more than they wanted me to be, than they allowed me to be. And in doing so, they were also negatively affecting my other writing, both at work and here in this space that I do cherish and love so much.
I have, over the past year, moved a couple of favorite posts into the chronologically placed archives of this space. But that community stopped feeding me. And maybe I stopped needing being fed by them. So thank you, Elan, from the bottom of my heart.
I stepped outside of my normal shell a little bit this year, taking pictures with people, talking to people I don’t normally talk to (meaning anyone outside of my immediate safety zone). I stood on a stage and poured my heart out. I worked hard. I danced. I laughed. I snorted. I ate amazing crepes and missed my grandmother so much my heart ached; but she was there with me—I felt her. I had conversations in hotel hallways. I made new friends. I left San Jose with the knowledge that I am a different person than the one who discovered BlogHer in 2006.
And that I’m pretty darn okay with who I am in 2014.
Thank you, BlogHer, for a great experience.