Hello Again: The Art of Getting my Words Unstuck

I’ve always believed that new beginnings are more powerful when they are grounded in vulnerability rather than sheer resolve. So I’ll start my return to the internet with a confession: I’ve been stuck.

The self-protecting part of me would like to pretend I’ve been gone a long while from here because I’ve been off creating amazing things, discovering more of the world, and just haven’t had time for life on the internet. While some of this is accurate, the bigger truth is that I’ve been quiet because I’ve been stuck in that horrible place of letting the culture of ‘who I should be’ silence who I am.

I didn’t leave you on purpose. Six months ago, I accidentally crashed Wandering for Good when I was building the website for The Honeymoon Hack (a travel hacking tool for couples which is, in fact, an amazing thing I did create while I was absent). And I crashed it in style–losing years of words that I’d collected while wandering around the world.

Had I been sensible I’d have straightaway paid a developer to fix the mess I’d created, but sense is not the strong-suit of a DIY girl with serious resolve (and minimal coding skills). After a small success in recovering some of my work, my inner-bohemian rose up and got me wondering if it all didn’t happen for a reason. I was completely unsure, so I responded by doing what internet hustlers do–I pretended it was on purpose. I threw up an under construction page promising that my site was coming back soon–and better than ever before.

Lesson: Two lies never make a truth.

That “coming back soon” page stayed up a really long time. Only behind it, I wasn’t working on making my site better, and I certainly wasn’t in any hurry. I kept ‘rebuild website’ on my very long to do list– but at the heart I was paralyzed in not knowing how I wanted to re-invent my online brand, grow my audience, and all of the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah the digital-business world tells us we have to do to be successful.

Weeks turned into months, and the longer I went not having a website, the less pressure I felt to be an internet rockstar. Part of this separation was liberating, yet there was one thing that I missed. I missed the words. And I missed this place I’d carved out to gather with you over these stories and lessons.

I wanted those words back, but every time I’d come here to write them, I’d get stuck again. I’d take my eyes off my own paper looking for inspiration of how to create that new and improved page I promised to house them on, and then I’d spiral into overwhelm. My words were lost. I wasn’t only stuck, I was silenced by comparison.

Then  I ran into someone else’s words, and they moved me:

“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” – Tom Stoppard

I finally realized, my words don’t have to look pretty to change a life. To nudge the world. I was stuck on something that didn’t matter while all the while I was holding captive something that did.

And so here are my words. Delivered to you today on the most un-improved and un-inspiring wordpress template that exists. Maybe it will get prettier over time, but that isn’t a promise. If you want to see pretty pictures of my color-coated life you can look at my carefully curated presence on Instagram.

For now, my promise here is to show up here regularly to bring you words. Messy words, joyful words, words colored in black and white.

But most importantly words bathed in a prayer that by reading them together that we shall all nudge the world a little.

 

A Love Affair with Music

If you’ve actually met me in real life you know I suck at music and it’s obvious. I know nothing about popular tunes. I have no clue who is who at the Grammy’s, and if I sat next to the most famous singer in the universe on a plane I probably would have no idea (unless it was Bono).

But I have a secret. Though my life screams #MusicFail from the outside, I have a secret love affair with songs.

You already know that I’m a nerd about reflecting and evaluating the past as a way to move forward. What you don’t know (until now) is that this whole process in my head comes with its very own accompanying score.

Like every good movie, every life should have a kick ass soundtrack. I’ve been busy compiling mine, and I hope you’re working on yours too.

There is always a song playing in my head. It doesn’t matter if the song is old, or popular, comes from a genre I hate or has a bad tune. If the words resonate with my moment, they are playing in the background (usually on repeat). 

I love words (cue: You and I Both / Jason Mraz) and I grew up in the era when giving someone a mixed tape was the ultimate expression of endearment (cue: St. Elmos Fire – the feature song on my favorite college mixed tape entitled “around the world at z speed”). 

Music has a way to take you back. You can close your eyes and listen to the words of song that you loved ten years ago and return in an instant to the time, space and emotions of that moment. It’s kind of powerful.

I’ve never read the book “Love is a Mix Tape”, but its author Rob Sheffield said a few smart things.

“Every mix tape tells a story. Put them together, and they add up to the story of life.” 

Since we’re in 2013, I’ll allow you to substitute the word playlist for mix tape (as long as you promise to recognize that sitting by the multi-deck tape recorder crafting a mix tape was a much greater labor or love than rocking out a new playlist on iTunes and uploading it to the cloud).

I make a lot of playlists.  In January I make a playlist for my year ahead based on whatever theme word I’ve chosen for my year. On my birthday I compile all the songs that remind me of the year of my life that has just passed. Every big trip, life transition, and long race I train for gets its own soundtrack. I even have a special playlist for surviving rainy season in Cambodia.

“There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one,” Sheffield says, and I couldn’t agree more.

As I was enjoying a run in the freezing cold rain in DC yesterday I found myself singing along to a mash up of two random tunes I recently discovered: “Stand in the Rain” and “This is not where I Belong” (Superchick / Building 429). I’m clueless if these bands are old or new or awesome or lame, but they are singing the stories of my current transition. And I love that the stories they are singing to me are so much better than the soundtrack that was playing when I ran these same streets years ago.

I love music. It doesn’t just accompany our story, it tells it in its own special way.

Life deserves a playlist. What tune are you humming today?