Four years into blogging (as of tomorrow!), I have a confession to make: sometimes I forget what I’m doing here. For a while I thought this was a photography blog. My posts revolved around my pictures, which I was spending lots of time trying to improve. Then, it was business. I looked for ways to monetize, testing ad spaces and selling statistics. It’s been design-focused, while we’ve changed the layout and header more times than I care to count. It’s also been about food and about compiling more original recipes, since everyone says that’s how to stand out.
But while I was home in Chicago, spending an evening with Jacqui, a friend whose perspective on blogging has always been authentic and grounded and right, we got talking about blogs and about writing, and it hit me: somehow, in the last few months and years of changing styles and formats and direction, I’ve forgotten the heart of this place.
Because no matter why you start out blogging—to practice your art, to build community, to tell your stories—it’s not long before you start to feel pulled towards another goal: to be noticed. All bloggers want to be noticed; all writers want to be read. There’s nothing wrong with that. And you look around and there are bloggers getting endorsements and bloggers quitting their day jobs and bloggers with fan clubs the size of celebrities’, and you think, does what I’m doing matter at all? It’s basic human nature to want someone to care about you, to want to be known; and listen, as any blogger would tell you: keeping up a website takes work and time, but for most of us, instead of getting a paycheck at the end of our work days, we get the satisfaction of knowing other people who like what we do, too.
But see, here’s the thing. Read more…
Last month, when my brother was in town, we spent a night with friends at Arrington Vineyards, located about 25 minutes south of Nashville. During the summer, Arrington is probably my favorite place to have a picnic—free music on weekends, a setting of rolling hills, vineyard views and space farther out in the country. It’s the kind of thing that makes you think about picnicking and why it’s so enjoyable—which is exactly why I loved reading a recent post from Tea & Cookies. In it, she says this:
The thing about picnics I think is this: they are less of a meal and more of a celebration. There may be food involved, but the point is not simply to eat—you could do that at your desk, standing over the kitchen sink, in your car. This is not about feeding. The point about a picnic is to enjoy.
Picnics slow things down, they make you step back and notice. The way the light filters through the trees. The sound of the water as is splashes over the locks. The feeling of grass on bare feet. Picnics feed all our senses.
With that in mind, here are some photos of things I stepped back to notice at Arrington, as well as some thought-provoking quotes from a book I just finished, “Writing Down the Bones,” in which Natalie Goldberg talks about what it means to be “‘writing down the bones,’ the essential, awake speech of [our] minds.”
While we’re in Chicago, we spend a night driving around my hometown, past the Riverwalk and up side streets, through neighborhoods and by a big barn, looking for a white wall that we can take self-timer pictures against. I keep saying to Tim, thank you for doing this! for putting up with my crazy! for letting me pursue this idea of a blog header with our picture in it! and he looks at me, and he’s like, What? I want to do this, too!
And a few hours later, here is what we have:
My friend Kendra tells me how my writing is so much more me since I’ve met Tim and how that’s indicative of the kind of marriage in which I’m loved well and so, free to be more of who I am. I tell her that’s a lovely thought and one I hope is true and that Tim’s a good gift, I see it more every day, in the way he gives me his time and his ear and, one night in Naperville, Illinois, hours of self-timed photos.