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    Life As A Blogger

    12.20.2013 / WORK


    I’m just a little bit caught in the middle
    Life is a maze and love is a riddle
    I don’t know where to go I can’t do it alone I’ve tried
    And I don’t know why

    -Lenka (who I just realized is married to James Gulliver Hancock, and where have I been, Art Community at large?)

    I get so very thinky in the wintertime. The world slows as the snow falls and suddenly, my mind has the time and space to race wildly. My thoughts take on maximalist behaviors – never content with quiet, always creating noise to blanket the silence. They’re not bad thoughts, they’re just… a lot. Swirling in full force, a shaken snow globe of question and reflection and doubt.

    (Do you hear Damien Rice circa 2002 playing in the background? Of course you do.)

    I have been reading and reading and reading this week, which always lends itself to the inner turmoil. If there’s one thing that spikes my idea punch, it’s other people’s idea punch. I’m learning about leadership and community and faith and hope and poverty and consumerism, and they’re all flavoring my world like a really mean mixed drink – the kind that leaves you with a bit of a hangover the next day (week?). All of this to say, hang on. We’re taking a field trip today.

    Stream of consciousness break: How do you give weight and honor to an unintended platform? How do you share a story that isn’t yet written – one that involves other characters – with twists and turns that still await us all?

    As the year winds down and I prepare to take a break from this space, I feel like reflecting on my journey as a “blogger.” It’s been an entirely accidental one – a gift that landed on my doorstep wrapped in a paper box with a puppy inside, begging me to care for it and maybe take it for a walk.

    I’m a private person, and also an introvert. This means that many slivers of my life are kept far away from the keyboard and, instead, voiced to close friends and family members. It’s the way I’ve been wired – to share with intent, to share with few. But here’s what that means:

    I don’t talk about the hard stuff here. I don’t talk about the indecision over website launches or future career moves or negative emails received. I don’t write about disagreements with my husband or crumbling friendships or family tension. It’s not the right place to do so, for me. It doesn’t sit well when I think about the kind of legacy I want to leave – written or not.

    Here’s what that doesn’t mean: My life is perfect.

    Life is hard (mostly because I have a habit of manufacturing problems in my head, but that’s another post entirely). Twenty minutes before this photo was snapped, Bee had a 10-minute tantrum because her apple was sliced lengthwise rather than in quarters. This duvet cover is stained from Bernie’s projectile vomit last night, and this sofa is covered with mounds and mounds of laundry to be folded.

    But why give weight to all of that? It’s not what I’ll remember next week, or next month – or even next year. Instead, I’ll remember the snuggles and the crisp, morning walks and the quiet, the beauty of a life that’s been offered freedom and peace and unconditional love.

    It’s a constant balance, and I hope you know I try to be really sensitive to that. I teeter between the inspirational and the authentic, totter between the real and the hard. I want this place to be purposeful – uplifting and encouraging – without posing as someone who has her ducks in a row, each one primped and polished for Sunday morning church.

    But I’m an optimist, one who can easier find the good than the bad, and that’s a part of myself I want to embrace. The past year of slow blogging has brought so many surprises (thank you for coming along for the ride, btw), most of which is my realization that Design for Mankind is just a small part of my story.

    I am a mother and a wife, a daughter and a sister. A vegetable-chopper, a gift-wrapper, an Amazon-shopper, a countertop-cleaner, a laundry-folder, a yoga class-skipper, a Bible-reader, a piggyback ride-giver, a rapid emailer, an overcomplicator, an iPhone photographer, a birthday-forgetter and a birthday-forgetting-apologizer. I’m more than a blogger, and I know you’re more than a blog reader.

    I’ve always heard that, to be a great blogger, you must brand yourself. You must stand for something specific – something permanent. Something that you’re so very passionate about that it’s woven into the very fibers of your being. But here’s the thing: I’m still being woven. My story is still being written, just as your page is still wet with ink. We grow and change and our course alters beyond our control, and we’re stretched in ways we couldn’t have possibly imagined when we hit Publish on our first Xanga entry back in 2001 (oh wait, was that just me?).

    I’m not a brand. I’m a person. And I’m not a blogger. I’m Erin Loechner, a girl who loves to write just because she loves to write. I’m the first person my friends call when they need a redecorator, or sound advice, or a stylist. (And consequently the last girl they call when they’re having a domestic dilemma in the kitchen, garden or craft room.)

    I’m allergic to cheese, but I keep eating it because I have zero self control. I pick at my cuticles when I’m stressed or on the phone. I’m nearly deaf in my right ear, thanks to a combination of less-than-stellar genes and my competitive swimming past. I worry near-daily that I’m not giving enough weight to this life, that I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing or what I was built to do or what would honor my talents in the greatest of ways. I worry that I’m scarring my daughter when I let her watch Cailou again. I tip too much, recycle too little and drink just the right amount of red wine on the weekends.

    I’m a work in progress, a portrait that was given a lot of brush strokes this year. And although I don’t know what colors will reveal themselves next year, I’m doing my best to share the light amongst the shadows.

    I’m taking a break until 2014 hits, but would love to hear from you: why do you show the slivers you show online? How do you honor the platform you’ve created, long after the ‘you’ that created it has changed and grown? And where do we all go from here?

    • Love this. I’m an extreme extrovert and a stay at home mom so I blog because I have things to say and the internet gives me someone to say them to. It makes me feel connected and not so alone. That being said, I don’t have much agenda as far as crafting an image. I just write what I feel like writing. I’m not trying to make anyone think anything about me. I’m just sharing. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to share the most private or painful parts of my life just so others think I’m being authentic or so that I can use #keepinitreal. I describe it to my friends who struggle with comparison like this: you aren’t going to go to someone’s house and see divorce papers or pictures of their cellulite in their scrapbooks. We save and display the things we want to remember. And when I’ve outgrown the way or things I used to write, I just start doing it a new way. But, that’s easy for me to say since I have about 12 readers. No doubt it must feel like a heavier responsibility when you have a larger platform. Great post!

      • Oooh, these are such good thoughts, Heather – thank you for sharing! I love your philosophy, and man – you’re so right about divorce paper and cellulite scrapbooks. :) Thank you, lady!

    • Oh, Erin, this resonates with me so much. I think that for all of us bloggers, we’re just looking to tell our story, to share whatever part of our lives we can with the world, even if our moms are the only readers we have!

      For me, it’s about letting people know that they aren’t alone, that what they’re feeling is universal, that we all really feel the same things and that it’s okay to talk about them, feel vulnerable about them, and ultimately, live your life in spite of them.

      I so appreciate you being so open and honest here (and always have!) because ultimately, your saying “my life isn’t perfect” gives us all permission to still find the celebration in our own also-imperfect lives.

      Thank you. For all of it. And mostly, for you being you. Happy holiday love to you and the family.

      • Love you, sweet Tiffany. Thank you for the encouragement!

    • This post really resonates with me. I sometimes need to hear someone else say that their life isn’t perfect either, and that they don’t like to write about the things that aren’t really appealing. Thank you.

    • Erin. I feel like you crawled into my head and surreptitiously investigated a little bit, creepy as that sounds. I appreciate your writing and sharing so much.

      It’s such a good reminder that everyone, no matter how good they look on the internet, is just trying their best. Doing all they can with what they have. I really love and appreciate the honesty & authenticity here. Balm for the soul.

      Everyone is so much more than what they seem like online. Everyone’s story is all intertwined with everyone else’s in a big beautiful tangly mess and we’re all just doing the best we can.

    • Thanks for the wonderful post(s), Erin. So many of your ideas resonate with me. I am a fellow overcomplicator—as well as so many others that you mentioned. After you posted about slow blogging I began to shift my blogging focus a bit too. And with the new changes in blogging commerce, I’ve found posting to share with a community is my goal. I think the bits of sparkle and joy each of us notices in life is a blessing. Thanks for keeping it real on your blog. Warmest wishes for the holiday and new year.

      • Thank you, sweet Chris – merry Christmas to you!

    • This is wonderful, Erin. I love how you so consistently share your truth, and in such an eloquent way. It’s what keeps me coming back for more :) as a blogger myself, I too think about that which I leave offline, both consciously and not. I was told recently that I seem “poised” on my blog and I nearly rolled on the floor laughing because poised is never the word I’d use to describe myself. My mind is all over the place sometimes and my dreams have taken me to and fro physically as well. I worry that I’ll never feel settled or sure. But then I look at my own blog, my writing, my snippets of life that I share online and the sweet comments in response to them, and I’m comforted by the goodness there. Bad days shine through sometimes, but I also choose to focus on the brighter stuff. To have them catalogued there is what encourages me to look forward to the unknown to come. Not to mention, it not the moments worth sharing that matter most? I love being able to do so with such kind and insightful readers. Blogging can be such a privilege in that way.

      • Love your thoughts, Danielle – and I love the sliver you share with us. Thank you for that!

    • This is SUCH a great post. I love your healthy perspective…and I totally agree with Heather’s comment too. I do like seeing “honest” posts on blogs sometimes because it’s good to know we’re all alike and no one is perfect. But I also think it’s totally fine not to put your struggles and messes out there for all to see and pick apart–inviting people to your blog space is like inviting them to your home. I’d never have someone come to stay and leave the guest bed unmade, I’d tidy up for them. And I wouldn’t go on a date in my PJs. We dress up sometimes (both ourselves and our blog) not because we’re being fake or unreal, but because we’re putting our best foot forward. I know for me personally, I prefer not to share anything that involves struggles with other people (husband, family, or friends). Sometimes I share my blog-related or career-related struggles, because I like to get advice and I think it’s more relevant to what I normally post–but I don’t like to get into my private life.

      Thanks for the post, Erin! I’ve been “thinky” lately too–something about the end of the year and the start of the new one does that, I think. This is great food for thought and I can’t wait to see the conversation it sparks.

      • Thank you for sharing your own boundaries with blogging, Aileen – I’m the same way. I don’t like to write about stuff involving others for sure – it’s a shared story, after all. :)

      • Amen, sista!

    • Jennifer

      Erin this is why I love your blog: because it IS so authentic. To me we are always aspiring to be better than we are but we seek out those who are on the same journey and meet the same hiccups and bumps in the road as we do. Why does one seek out blogs to begin with? To find community. Common souls and experiences. I’ve mentioned before that I turn to your blog for the “oh thank goodness it’s not just me” experience. Life is meant to be shared but reality is very personal. I think most people understand that bloggers don’t post every day, it’s snapshots of time. Life (your life, readers’ lives) happens in between the posts.

      • Oh this is the TRUTH, Jennifer – THANK YOU! Love this line:
        Life (your life, readers’ lives) happens in between the posts.
        Thank you for sharing this!

    • Erin,
      I really enjoyed reading this. I recently made a HUGE change on my blog (from “lifestyle” to a focus on food and family… and authenticity). I’ve been writing more, posting way less, spending more time offline, working on myself, my photography, writing in a journal again. I get to spend more time with my babies and it feels so much more true to who I am. I am a former extrovert and recovering perfectionist. I’m discovering, as I give myself the space, I am actually rather introverted… yet in spite of that I find I’m actually sharing more on my blog! It’s not at all what I expected but it leads to my larger goals: writing, photography, recipe development. I’m so happy with the changes I’ve made and am making and look forward to sharing in yours.

      Happy Holidays,

      • Ah, I can sooooo relate, Kacie! Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    • J. Collard

      Well done! Thanks for this post! I’m new to the blog, but this makes me want to keep reading. I appreciate the tension between sharing and keeping things private, and as a fellow introvert who is planning to start a blog in the wintertime this year, I’m wrestling with these issues too. Thank you!

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