Chapter Two: It’s Just a Blog

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this space over the last few months–what it is, why I’m here, do I continue, etc.

When I look back to what this blog was about in the beginning (intended to be a nature journal, essentially), I realize a lot has changed since those very first days of sharing my words and pictures.

There have been times when I had lots of readers and visitors and felt quite connected to people through blogging. And there have been times with hardly any visits, reads, or interactions. A lot of this has come down to me and my own investment in this space, I know.

After quite a long absence when my son was born, I’ve had trouble knowing how and when to pick back up over here—how to connect what this space was and now is into a coherent whole.

And as is often the case when I’m pondering and without answers, I pull in and keep quiet until I’m ready and know what I want to say. Thus the intermittent months of silence on all my social media.

I vacillate between being someone who startles people with my honesty about hard things on one hand and being deeply introverted and private on the other. I realize this sometimes leaves people not knowing where they stand with me—and leaves me not knowing what and how to share in a space like this.

So you want to know what my conclusion is after all these deep thoughts and said ponderings?

It’s just a blog. You should probably chill out.

I tend to over-think things sometimes and this blog is probably one of those cases—I’ve just been taking the whole thing way too seriously. It’s hard, because words matter to me. My words matter to me. And putting your heart and life on the page with written words can scare the fire out of you.

But…

Again, it’s just a blog. These are just blog posts and pretty pictures from one little person in one little corner of the world.

So I’ve decided to calm down and stop worrying. And instead, I’m just going to write and share pictures to my heart’s content without all the anxiety that comes with over-thinking and over-valuing every last word that comes out of my mouth.

That being said, you can expect to see me around here a lot more—like my goal is 3x a week a lot more. You may not like that, I know. You may get sick and tired of reading my words and seeing my face. And if you do, though I’d hate to see you leave, I understand if you decide to go. Kari Ann ain’t for everyone, that’s for dang sure…and that’s okay.

I’ve decided to view this space as a record and an online journal. It’s a place to hash out and write down what I’m thinking about and learning. It’s a place to rant a little and be silly. A place to share what I love and the pictures I’m taking along the way.

I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride.

And in closing, I realize many of the readers I had before are now gone and there are lots of new faces around here as well, so on Friday I’m going to re-introduce myself a little bit. This makes me feel profoundly silly, just so you know. It’s like taking selfies…not my thing looking at my own face close up. But I thought it might be helpful as we kick off with a bit of a fresh start.

And if you come back Friday and see nothing, it’s because I chickened out. So there’s that.

Until then, thanks for reading along ❤

—Kari

Writing When You’re Tired

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I keep telling myself I’m going to write more when I’m not so tired. I’ll get back to blogging regularly any day now, like probably tomorrow-ish.

But I just keep waking up tired. I thought you were supposed to wake up rested? Nope–tired. And then I get tired-er and then I get “I’m not doing anything else but watching Netflix and glaring at people” from about 7pm until bed. So that’s fun.

I’ve been waiting for that energy boost I remember getting when I was expecting my son. That glorious part of pregnancy where you stop feeling miserable and hateful all the time and instead want to clean and decorate all the things. Nope. I just want a nap. And coffee. I want coffee while I nap.

I blame by two-year old son. I blame my husband. I blame you. It’s everyone’s fault I’m so tired. You should be nicer. I could write more if you were nicer to me.

You see the quality material I pull out of my mind palace when fatigued? Amazing stuff, I know.

I’m just excited if I remember why I came upstairs or if I get to sleep through the night without my son waking up to tell–no, scream–that he needs more juice or that there’s a microscopic piece of dirt on one of his favorite toys that he somehow noticed in a dark room while sleeping.

But I’ll be fine. I’m sure I’ll be rested tomorrow. I’ll probably write a book or something…tomorrow-ish.

Definitely any day now for sure.

I Write Because I Want To

60a9ef4dc03ad22e48b521cd2481b779The rain is beating down outside; after months of dry weather I’m mesmerized by the sound—rap a tap tap, rap a tap tap. My son will be awake soon so I hurry with a cup of coffee to the computer to tap out words before my quiet, creative window closes for another day.

After my son was born, I stopped writing for a long time. I felt writing, for me, was a waste of time. I told myself I was too busy, had more pressing things to do, couldn’t spend time on a silly hobby that was going nowhere when I should be focused on more important work.

“Hardly anyone reads your words.” “You’re never going to be a writer,” I told myself. “You’re a blogger nothing more; stop wasting time playing around.” “If you’re not going to ‘make it’ as a writer then you shouldn’t be wasting your precious time fooling with words.”

I lost the magic and the joy in writing and stomped out any words that tried springing up in my heart; so the words stopped bothering me—for a while, anyway.

I made the mistake of thinking I was writing for other people, not realizing that really, all along, I had been writing for myself. I thought if other people weren’t reading my words, they’d have no meaning, never considering how much they meant to me alone. “If I’m not going to make it as a writer, I’m not going to write at all I said”— and the words tattooed all over my heart and soul had a good laugh, knowing, I was made to write and write I must.

Before I could read, I requested a journal for my birthday (a Princess Jasmine journal with a lock, mind you). Since I didn’t know how to spell and write the words myself, I would dictate to my mother what to write for me. Even before I could do the most basic tasks of reading and writing, I had words already pulsing and beating in my heart that I felt, as a little girl, must be recorded.

So perhaps I’m not a real writer, simply a mere blogger instead. Perhaps I’ll never “make it” or be able to tell people confidently, “I’m a writer.” Maybe this is it, this quiet little space in a dusty corner of the internet is the only place my words will live out their lives.

I’m ok with that.

I’m ok, because I understand now that I’m not writing to be known as “a writer” or “to make it” or for other people at all. I write because I like the way the keys feel beneath my fingers as I stroke out words. I like the way black words pop out behind that tyrant of a cursor ever blinking on my screen, seeming always to ask, “What’s next? What’s next?” I like the way my heart races when I’m writing and the way my fingers tremble over the publish button.

I love the cadence of words tumbling one after the other into life and meaning. Even if no one else reads my words, I read back over them a million times myself like a mother who can’t stop looking and marveling at her newborn baby.

Am I a writer then? Beats me. But I’ll keep on writing, simply, because I want to.

Image Credit: jasmine-marie.tumblr.com

Have You Tried?

tumblr_mjep9bMyqa1qgtfe8o1_500This question, “have you tried?” keeps pulsing through my mind. The other day I was admiring someone’s work and the impressive place they’re at in life. I wondered how they got where they are and how so much has been accomplished with all the other daily obstacles of work and caring for a young family. How does one person achieve so much while another struggles to do so little in comparison?

That’s when my nagging question came to mind: Have you tried?

The truth is I don’t always try very hard. I spend more time looking at pretty pictures and imagining the life I want than I do actually building that life into a reality. It’s like the problem everyone complains about with Pinterest where you spend hours looking through and pinning pretty pictures of elaborate meals and projects you will probably never actually taste or finish. This is not to say Pinterest or dreaming is bad. But dreams can become weights around our neck if we never do the work to see any of them achieved.

So I have to ask myself honestly, have I tried? Am I just dreaming or am I doing the planning and work that goes into making my dreams a reality? Maybe instead of sitting around envying the lives of others, I should be busier working and building a good life of my own.

I believe in a lot of ways we live the lives we create. We can’t control everything of course, but there is a lot of power in our hands to plan and work and make something of ourselves and our surroundings.

So the question I should really be asking myself is not, how did that person do so much, but rather, what can I do?

Have I even tried?

When Writing Isn’t Fun Anymore

I was watching a documentary yesterday about the modeling industry and one of the women being interviewed said something that I’m still thinking about. She said when you go through life being known for one particular thing {beauty, intelligence, a particular talent) then it can be quite devastating when you try to pursue a career in that area and find yourself faltering.

She was referring to people who are told all their lives how beautiful they are and how they should be a model. So the person begins to believe they are beautiful and attempts to build a life and career based on that belief only to be met with rejection by the modeling industry. Now everything this person believed about themselves is taken away and they’re left questioning who they really are and what they’re really good at.

This really resonates with me when I think about it in relation to writing and creativity. I’ve been told all my life that words are my thing, my gift. So I started writing and believing I would be successful with sharing words and stories. Sometimes I am; most of the time I’m not. I’m always surprised by how much it bothers me when my writing falls flat and fails to reach people in the way I hoped. I take it to heart because I believe writing is a part of who I am and I’m putting a part of myself and my heart out there every time I bleed words onto the page. It feels personal when I put my heart on the line with writing and people hand it right back to me. It makes me question who I am and what {if anything} I’m really good at if this isn’t it.

I’m not saying any of this so you will feel sorry for me and leave comments telling me not to worry because you think I’m really great. Actually, please don’t do that. My intention is not to feel sorry for myself or to garner pity. I just think it’s an interesting thing to think through.
This has me thinking about how I see myself and how much I allow other people to speak into and influence who I think I am and what I think I’m good at. It also has me thinking about how much I let my expectation and the expectations of others influence the joy I take in writing and creativity.

“Where I create, there I am true.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

I used to enjoy writing and creating more before people were watching. Originally words and creativity were just things I pursued because they brought me peace and pleasure, not because I felt the weight of proving anything by their merit. Blogging has changed this in some ways.
Blogging gives me a public platform to share my words and pictures and allows me to connect with others—and I love that.
But blogging also means I notice and take to heart every time my words or pictures fail to connect with others and I end up second-guessing myself instead of just enjoying the creative process for its own sake. I lose the joy of creating when I let the stats, the likes, and the comments define whether my words have value or not.

“It is both a blessing and

And a curse

To feel everything

So very deeply.”

In the end, I’m not going to stop blogging just because it can be a little deflating sometimes. I probably need to be deflated sometimes :] What I need to work on is how much I let my writing and creativity define who I am and what I’m worth. I can’t build my whole life around the expectation that I’ll excel at this one thing and then lose the pleasure of creating just because I sometimes fail to connect with people in the way I was hoping.

There is so much more to creating that just succeeding. And perhaps the worst failure of all would be to succeed without having enjoyed the creative process itself.

 

Waiting for Perfection

I often catch myself putting life on hold while I sit and wait for the perfect moment to begin. I waste lots of little snippets of time because, by themselves, they don’t feel substantial enough to get anything done. I say I’m too tired. I say I’m too busy. I’ll get so much done later…when I have time.

But time doesn’t come later. All the time we have is the time we have right now. So I’m learning to begin in the small moments in between the hustle and bustle of life. I read, even if there’s only time for a page or two. I write, even if I only get a few words down.

There is no perfect time to begin. And I’m starting to think life might not ever really slow down either. So I’m beginning in the middle, working with the time I have, and getting more done in all those small moments than I ever will while waiting for perfection.

The Hard Work of Creating

Creativity is hard work. It’s one thing to be inspired; it’s another thing entirely to be productive. I find myself lately full of ideas backed by zero action. What’s holding me back?

  • Laziness and procrastination
  • Fear of failing or being misunderstood
  • Getting bogged down by distractions
  • Making excuses about not having enough time or not having enough to say
  • Waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to start instead of just starting where I am

It’s nice to sit around thinking pretty thoughts but it’s also very nearly useless if I never actually birth those thoughts into some form of creative reality.

Sometimes the most important thing I can do is…start. I can stop thinking about what I want and start creating it. I can stop wishing things were different and change them. I can type the first word. I can take the first step. I can begin where I am with what I have.

Creativity is a hard and a beautiful thing; but it’s worth the beauty and it’s worth the work.

So let’s get started.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo

Be Like the Bird

Sometimes I’m afraid to embrace change. Even if I’m not happy with the way things are, I’m afraid a change might leave me even more unhappy so I just leave things alone instead. But change and discomfort is often the road to growth and renewal. Sometimes we have to release our iron grasp on what we have to open our hands up, empty and ready, to something different and new.

I look back at my life, at the times when I let go of one thing and took hold of another, and I see how those times of risk and change helped me grow and move forward. And I think too that even if something hadn’t worked out the way I hoped, I still would likely have regretted not taking the chance more than I would have regretted the potential failure.

Right now I find myself in a holding pattern, afraid to move, afraid to try, afraid to speak—and it isn’t like me to be so paralyzed by fear. Why am I so afraid to move forward, to change, to speak? I don’t know.

I find this blog stands before me a frightful blank canvas and I’m so cautious to put up words, to speak my heart and open my soul in this space as I once did. I’m trying to face the fear, to say the words, to put myself out here once again.

I’ve hidden behind pictures and fluff but I thank you for your patience as I find my way back to the words, to the heart and soul of this space.

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” Victor Hugo

Beginnings.

Today I wondered what the first thing was I had written about on this blog so I went back and looked. My first post was on May 10, 2011; I put three posts up that day to kick the blog off. It’s funny looking back now and remembering how and why this blog started.

I’m always jotting down my thoughts and trying to capture what I was thinking and feeling in a particular time and place. I wanted to share those thoughts and moments of inspiration with others–and that right there is how this little blog got started.

In May 2011, I remember sitting at a desk by the window watching the cottony fluff of pollen float down from a tree in my back yard; it looked like it was snowing in the middle of spring. For some reason that day watching the cotton fluff float around outside moved me to start this space and start sharing the words and pictures that make up my little world. At the beginning I intended only to write about nature and the outdoors–that is why I named this space Outside Air–because the outside air was exactly what I wanted to talk about.

On that first day I posted three entries I had originally taken down in my journal when I was at the ocean and Walden Pond. These were my first words and pictures:

Hampton, New Hampshire

The dark, water-laden clouds billow above taunting with stray drops of rain. The wind is strong, violent, driving and throwing the sea. The temperature is perfect; the beach is our own. The sky and the sea are the same threatening shade of blue-gray, tossing and reflecting off each other as they make the tempestuous transition into spring.

Hampton Beach, April 2011

Westerly, Rhode Island

The ocean rumbles, crashes, swirls, and spins. The waves lap, roll, build until they smash against the shore. This is a place of constant motion, constant churning sound—and yet it is quiet, peaceful. The ocean with its billowing waves sings a lullaby of rest. It breathes it briny breath and kisses my face with saltwater kisses. A tiny bird hops and frolics on the beach in the shadow of the violent crushing waves. A ladybug works on her tan. The water rolls in undulating, ever-changing shades of green then brown before morphing against the sand into perfectly white sea foam.  The ocean is timeless and yet never the same.

Misquamicut Beach, July 2009

Concord, Massachusetts

Walden Pond

Even the birds are quiet in this quiet place; they sing below their breath, in a whisper, as if showing respect for the beauty of quiet. The wind rustles through the woods, across the water making the trees sigh and yawn with the motion—that is all, the rest is silence. The wind is cold but the trees flirt, taunting the warm air to come—blushing crimson in buds ready to bloom.

Walden Pond

Those three posts on the same day were my only entries in May and I didn’t write again until the end of July.

You see, on June 1st 2011, a tornado came through our town and over our house. We had moved out of a downtown apartment in a not-so-safe city just a year before and were looking forward to our first summer in our home in this small town. We had a backyard for the first time and it was wooded with lots of big trees and a little stream running through it.

I loved our yard. Every morning when I came down to the kitchen I would look out the kitchen window at the yard and the trees and honestly thank God for allowing us to live here. I soaked up the morning light reaching through the woods across our lawn and I was really, very happy. That morning Darren and I went for a walk around the neighborhood before leaving for work. By the time we came home from work that night everything we loved about this place was gone.

Nearly every tree in our backyard was taken down and the brush and debris buried the little stream in the woods. Our entire road was badly hit with many of the houses having to be taken down and a huge area of woods completely gone. Everything looked different without the trees and woods. Instead of enjoying our first summer here we ended up using it to clean up our backyard and put everything back together around here. Even after cleaning it up it has never looked the same.

I was frustrated and disappointed and for a while nothing about the outside air inspired me anymore. I had no thoughts on nature and the outdoors that I wanted to share here. I kept waiting for the inspiration to come back but after a while I just gave up and decided to write about other things instead. I started writing about my thoughts on life in general and opened up about my faith and family. These weren’t the things I intended to share here but that’s the direction life took me that summer.

And so here we are now. Two years later and I think in some ways this space has come full circle. I’m back to sharing my words and pictures of the beautiful outdoors and still continue to share about life in general. I never imagined this space would turn into what it has but I’m thankful for each of you who come along with me on this journey and allow me to share my little world with you here. I am so very thankful for the ways you both challenge and encourage me along the way with each post. Some of you have been here from the beginning and some of us our new friends…I’m thankful for each one of you.

This space has been good for me. Here I have been able to articulate and share my thoughts and feelings and find out what others think of the same things. I have made friends all over the world and grown closer to people who have been a part of my life for years. I have grown as a writer and learned a lot about photography too. So thank you for coming along with me each step of the way. I hope I can continue to share with you for a long time to come.

Here are my latest pictures of the lovely, inspiring outside air ;]

DSC_0820{Lilacs in the front yard of our new house}

DSC_0836{Stopping to smell the flowers on a walk yesterday}

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DSC_0729{Our first garden}

Thank you for reading along with me, friends :]

Why Do You Read the Blogs You Do?

What is it about a particular blog that draws you in and makes you want to read more? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately: Why do I read some blogs and skip over others?

For me it comes down to whether or not I’m interested in and inspired by the person behind the blog.

My favorite blog is by a girl named Aura and I can’t get enough of her writing and photography—but why? She’s just a person telling stories and sharing snap shots of her life so why do I care what this stranger does with her days?

I care because I’m fascinated and inspired by her. I’m inspired by all the beauty she creates in her life and fascinated by the way she lives. Watching her life through the stories and pictures shared on her blog inspire me to go out and do more with myself—and I like that.

Another one of my favorite bloggers/artists is Katie Daisy. Katie is my favorite artist because what she creates fascinates and inspires me—just like Aura’s words and photos do. I love the way Katie combines colors and textures into whimsical little paintings and her work makes me want to transform everything around me into something dripping with color and beauty.

I also read blogs that resonate with me and the way I live.

Blogs about nature and the outdoors, photography and art, faith and family—these are just a few of the things that speak deeply to me and draw me into the writing of others with similar interest.

Both Aura and Katie are Midwest girls who grew up in the prairies of Oklahoma and Illinois. The words they write and the art they create resound deeply with my love for the prairies. I feel connected to these artists in a way because we each share a deep love of this one common thing—the flatlands, the woods, the birds and trees…the places and things that speak to us about where we are from and who we have become.

Both of these artists inspire me to create more beauty in my life. They inspire me to live better, write better, and create from a place deep inside my soul that is genuine and true.

There are very few bloggers who reach me in this way but whenever I come across someone who does, I can’t get enough of their words and stories. I want to dive into their world and understand everything that makes them who they are. I want to go away from their words and pictures and create something just as beautiful and inspiring with my own words and stories.

What draws you into a blog? What determines who your favorite writers and artists are?