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?