After reading your comments on Monday’s post, In Celebration of Slow, I realize with great relief how many of us are rowing gently down the same stream. We sit side by side, shoulders touching now and then, gaze set in the same direction, and we row one slow stroke at a time. We must refuse to feel ashamed of our pace. The goal of our life isn’t always to rush ahead to someplace different. Sometimes we simply need to learn to settle in where we already are.
During that post on celebrating slow, I shared with you how I started a series in January that I never completely finished. It happens a lot here, actually. It isn’t always because I take a long time to process or need more space to gather my thoughts. Sometimes it’s because once I get started on something and begin to dig in to it, I realize I want to change course.
Last year I planned to start a series inspired by Oprah’s What I Know For Sure column in her magazine. But when I sat down to write an introduction to that series, it turned out I didn’t know much. Not for sure, anyway. Woops.
So I changed it from What I Know For Sure to Artists & Influencers, turning the focus from what I knew to what other people were teaching me. We did that series once a week for a month.
Each week I chose a specific area of life and the artists and influencers who were teaching me in those areas: writing, church, love, and home. I enjoyed writing that series, specifically because it focused on what I was learning from others rather than what I knew for sure myself.
I had intentions of continuing the Artists & Influencers series and maybe I still will. I could easily write about the people who are teaching me about marriage, community, hope, and art. But once I finished that in early February of last year, I wasn’t motivated to continue at that time.
If you are a writer, on a blog or otherwise, and if you have the freedom to make these kinds of choices, please forthelove don’t continue something just because you said you would. I’m not talking about committments you’ve made to other bloggers, publishers, or editors. But in our own spaces where we have the final say, it’s important (at least for me) to write not only what your reader wants to read but also what you want to write about. If I continually have one without the other, the result is frustration for everyone.
Once Artists & Influencers ran its course for me, I set it aside with freedom, knowing I could pick it up again if I wanted to. Then at the end of February, I was still thinking about the What I Know For Sure concept but decided to try not to take myself so seriously. Instead of coming up with what I thought I knew for sure, I shared a simple list of things I learned that month: 10 things I Learned in February. This was the first thing on my list on that post:
1. Mae Whitman (Amber from Parenthood) played Bernice in Hope Floats. She also played George Clooney’s daughter in One Fine Day. She was ALSO the little girl selling brown bird cookies who wanted to go to space camp on Friends. You’re welcome.
The other nine things I learned that month had varying degrees of impact in my life but were equally simple. It was light-hearted and breezy, two words that don’t always describe me or my space here online.
I liked it so much I did it again at the end of March, April, and May. Finally someone suggested I make it a link-up so the whole community could share what you were learning as well. What a great idea! (I’m slow, remember?) In June I invited the Chatting at the Sky community to join me in sharing what you learned and 150 of you did. As I read through your posts, I decided this linkup is one of my favorites simply because it is so much fun.
If you have ever started something you didn’t finish or started something and totally changed it, take heart.
We can’t always plan out exactly what we want to do and then execute it exactly how we want to execute it. We start with a scrap of an idea, sit with it, stare out the window for awhile, write around it, beside it, beneath it, and finally choose a direction. Sometimes what we find is just what we expected. Other times it takes two or three (or forty) different paths before we realize where we’re actually going.
It doesn’t mean we’ve failed, it just means we have further to go.
Tomorrow marks one year since my first Things I Learned post. This will be your first chance to link up since December, as last month I wrote 10 Things I Learned in January: Uganda Edition and didn’t have the presence of mind to make it a link up because time zones and midnight posting and Coke without ice. I’m back in my own time zone now with ice and everything so I’m happy to host a place for us to come together and celebrate what we’ve learned this month. I hope you’ll join us tomorrow!