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

Edits of the Heart

Yesterday I sat here for the first time in a long time and tapped out words. I wrote a little about the last year of life and put pieces of my heart in black ink on the page. And then, as I often do, I left what I wrote looking back at me in draft form—finger hovering over “Publish” but never actually pushing the button. I wasn’t sure, so I waited and in the end I scrapped it and decided not to share those words after all.

It’s a new day, crisp with fall wrapping around us in colorful leaves, chili simmering on the stove top, and hot cups of coffee. Today I find myself here again…tapping out words. Today I’m thinking about the unspoken words of yesterday and the ways we edit hearts and thoughts before exposure to an audience. Isn’t it funny how we are? How we perhaps share vulnerable bits and pieces of our hearts and lives with others but never actually tell quite the whole story. I have spoken much truth here, I’ve never lied in this space, but I edit and backspace and sanitize those truths until I’m comfortable with them and comfortable sharing them with others.

Yesterday Roman attacked the computer because he is 1 year old and is always attacking everything. My words, my unedited words, were up on the screen and I thought he might have posted them in all his toddler shenanigans. My heart skipped a beat thinking of my thoughts and words being made public before I went back over them to pick and choose and carefully rearrange what I was trying to say. Today it just seems silly to be so afraid of my own unedited heart being laid bare but still the fear is there.

I think the over-analyzing and uncertainty is exactly what’s kept me away from this space for so long. This has been a hard season of life and one I don’t know how to share.

Do you know how it feels when you get into water too deep? I can feel the ocean floor with my tippy toes, sand moving beneath my feet but not holding me steady. I can feel the waves lapping my chin and nose, leaving just enough room to breath before I lose my footing and drown.

I’m afraid of the ocean because that’s how it feels to me when I stand in its hungry waves—like I’ll lose my footing and go under. So I don’t go in, I walk along the edge and get my feet wet, just avoiding the ocean’s grasp. But during this season of life, I fell in—sand shifting beneath my unsteady feet, waves pulling me under. I fought to hold my head above water and just not sink—not swim, just not sink.

But…but…there are so many people in my life right now who have it so much harder. So it hasn’t felt right to say anything about my own life when it’s still smooth sailing compared to the next person. And yet, it hasn’t felt right either to skip along and make things sound better than they are. So I’ve simply fallen silent instead—saying nothing over saying some half-truth or washed out version of reality.

But my heart is hungry for words. Words are always a pulsing, beating part of my soul and I can’t seem to organize my thoughts without them. When I am quiet in public, I am loud in writing my thoughts down privately. There is never silence, never an end to the words that help me think, and be, and make sense of it all. I think the public silence has been good for me; a necessary season when everything else in my life has been so loud.

Today, I’m tap, tap, tapping out my thoughts and I like the way the keys feel beneath my fingers—the way the black words look popping up against the blank white. I miss writing and communicating and I hope I find my way back now that life has begun to quiet down for a time. We will see.

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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.

 

The Baby Wrote a Blog Post

So you know how I’m building a baby, right? Right. So Baby thinks it should be a contributor to my blog and I’m all like,

“I don’t know kid. Can you even talk yet?”

And baby’s like,

“Oh yaaaa I can talk…I’m made from your genes so EVERYBODY knows I can taaalk.”

And I’m like,

“Fine, whatever, I’ll give you a trial run.”

So let me introduce you to The Baby:

  • Baby thinks it’s hilarious that no one knows whether he/she is a boy or girl. I told him/her we’ll know soon so stop laughing but baby thinks he/she will just curl up in a tight little ball and face the wrong way so we can’t find out. We shall see kid, we shall see.
  • Baby loves cheeseburgers and fries. Or at least I want cheeseburgers and fries every day for every meal and I’m blaming the baby for that. Also, I don’t actually eat cheeseburgers and fries every day for every meal…I just want to.
  • Baby absolutely will not let momma sleep through the night unless she walks a couple of miles right before bed. Momma is worried about whether or not this pattern will continue after sassy-pants baby is born? 8[
  • Baby knows all the lyrics to Mumford & Sons because momma plays them all day at work. Start them early; start them right.
  • Baby has daddy’s sense of humor…like we need two of them around her… ;]
  • Baby doesn’t mind coffee; he/she told me so.
  • Baby makes mommy look like a ridicules klutz and laughs about it because everyone thinks it’s her fault not baby’s….Daddy’s sense of humor, remember?
  • Baby does not like it when that sassy orange cat that lives with mommy and daddy decides to walk on mommy’s belly. Baby doesn’t like being poked by cat paws and thinks a lot about pulling the orange cat’s tail but mommy says it’s not allowed.
  • Other than writing, baby likes to eat, sleep, and grow. His/her schedule is quite full right now but he/she is always looking for new projects and adventures.

So there you go, that’s the baby I’m building. Further posts from said baby are pending momma’s review.

Also, here’s what I look like so far with this sassy baby in tow:

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Instant Gratification

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My dad sometimes {affectionately, I think} calls me a space cadet…because I am flighty, as flighty as a butterfly. My mind is a busy place and I can never seem to focus on one thing for very long.

One time I got sick in college and the doctor put me on a prescription for a couple of days. I remember sitting in class when I was taking that medicine and it felt like everything was moving very slowly, like my mind was so quiet and still. I could concentrate on every word the teacher was saying without getting distracted by a million other thoughts. I wanted to take those drugs all the time and always have a quiet mind like that. Isn’t that awful, wishing for drugs to quiet my mind? But it’s true.

I really drive myself crazy with all this flightiness because I never get anything substantial done. I see a pattern in myself: I get an idea about something I want to do or be good at. I buy the supplies to do that thing. I try that thing for about a week. I get busy or distracted or decide it’s too hard and move on to something else.

I do this with cameras and photography. I do it with words and blogging. I do it with art and creativity and things I want to make with my hands. Over and over and over again.

One thing I really want to be good at is photography. I have always loved cameras and taking pictures and I get completely lost in beautiful images. I was looking at a blog the other day that has gorgeous photography and I kept thinking, “I want to take pictures like that. I want to capture life and the world the way she does.” But the problem is I don’t want to take the time and develop the discipline necessary for the kind of beauty and art she creates. I just want to pick up my camera, point it at something, and bam—my pictures look like hers.

There’s this other photography blog I love too, the one that really got me interested in DSLR cameras, and people are always asking the girl how she gets such beautiful images. Over and over and over again she tells people there’s no trick or shortcut to the images she produces; it’s just a matter of time and work and of learning about photography and how to best use the instrument in your hands. She tells people to read and practice and to take tons and tons of pictures until they start to get a feel for the camera and what does and doesn’t work.

That’s it. Practice. Patience. Hard word. No tricks. No fancy equipment. No apps or instant anything. Just enough love for and dedication to a craft to really master whatever it is you want to do.

This, of course, requires a little stick-to-it-ness and a little less flightiness. This requires patience and discipline and mastery over the monster we call instant gratification.

And that right there is a big part of my problem: Instant Gratification. It’s not that I don’t already enjoy photography enough to practice and learn and slowly develop my skill. It’s not that I don’t already love words enough to carefully string them together and slowly create a body of work I’m proud of.

The problem is I look at images and read words that are so far beyond my skill right now and I let it frustrate and discourage me because I want to be that good RIGHT NOW. I want to take pictures like that right now, this instant, not after patiently learning and practicing.

I don’t want to wait for anything. I want what I want and I want it right this instant.

But you know what I think? I think we lose out when we get what we want right when we want it. Because in spite of the time and work it takes, there is something very fulfilling and inspiring about the actual learning process and not just the end result. There is something about picking up my camera and taking 57 shots of the exact same thing, changing the settings, trying again…and then finally capturing the image I see in my head. There’s this little triumph, this little moment when everything comes together and I know I’ve learned something and I’ve advanced just a little bit towards my goal. That feeling of learning and growing is almost better than acquiring whatever it was I wanted in the first place.

We live in a world of instant everything. We are told all the time that we can have what we want when we want it. And unfortunately, I think I’ve started believing and living as if all the ads that try to sell me everything right now are actually gospel truth. And in the process I’m losing the pleasure of simply learning and growing and advancing at a steady, healthy pace.

I don’t need everything right now. I don’t need to be the best at wielding a camera or writing words. I just need to be growing, learning, practicing, changing…and taking the time to actually enjoy the experience and feel the moments of triumph instead of always running, running, running towards the next best thing.

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