Housekeeping notes from a sabbatical
I’m just going to go ahead and assume we’d be mutually bored to tears by the explanations and equivocations I could give you for why it’s been 4 months since I last laid finger to keyboard and jump right into it. I won’t even use an Adele gif. I’m just, here.
Okay, maybe a basic summary. I’ll keep it shortish.
About 8 months ago I sat with my spiritual director and dissected an equal parts frightening and exhilarating prospect that I’d felt certain God was calling me to, the idea of my “not working” any more. At least for a season.
We could make it work, financially, but just barely, we thought. It would be a big stretch, but it was a stretch Dave was willing to make, and for that fact I am profoundly grateful every single day. (NB: As it turns out, my income stream wasn’t what was keeping us afloat financially, and things have been…fine. Nothing terrible happened when I stopped bringing in my little side hustle of a paycheck. In fact, against all odds and any reasonable economic predictions, this year has basically ended up being a financial wash, perhaps even edging us slightly closer to black than red, which makes no sense at all and which I’ll probably write about at some point. But I digress.)
I’d recently renewed contract writing gigs with a couple of the wonderful organizations I’ve been privileged to work with over the years, but in so doing I’d inadvertently triggered nuclear levels of stress and panic.
I no longer loved the work I was doing. I barely even liked it.
Writing became, even here in my own home space, on the blog, a drudgery. Sometimes looking at my laptop would set off actual physical sensations of panic. And so all at once, it seemed, but really it was gradual – so gradual! – over the course of the past few years, the thing I’d done for so many years with almost no effort at all, words flowing out of me like water from a faucet, well, it became hard. Like really, really hard. It felt like rubbing sandpaper on raw skin to share myself the way I’d become accustomed to doing.
I don’t know whether to chalk it up to social media burnout or a conversion of heart or just reaching peak introvert saturation, but I felt as if I’d become suddenly and violently allergic to self disclosure. Which, hello, is the currency the internet trades in.
So…I’m not sure what happens next, exactly. But I can tell you that for the first time since probably last winter, so nearly a full year ago, I actually “felt” like writing today. And here I am.
I deleted most of my social media almost 18 months ago; Instagram was by far hardest to let go. I only just officially “deactivated” it last week, after going almost 7 months without logging in and then suddenly falling face first back into a daily habit for most of October. I so wish I were a moderator in some things, but alas, abstainers are us, and so I nearly always end up having to pluck it out or cut it off, whatever “it” might be.
But now let’s talk about the peace.
The truth is, this past year has been one of the best of my adult life. Not because of anything particularly amazing happening, but really because of how very ordinary it has been.
It has been incredible to be “just” a mom. How I loathe that expression…and not for the reasons I’d previously assumed.
I feel no shame or loss of self in doing “only” motherhood, so that’s not the thing that rankles. It’s that one needs to make the disclaimer at all.
I don’t feel like this year, this experience of pulling back, has shrunken my universe.
If anything it has expanded it, wildly, doing more to purge my inherent, intractable selfishness than anything I’d yet undertaken. I think about myself so much less than when I was subconsciously scripting the Jenny Uebbing show from my day to day existence, making mental notes of details to share and insights to flesh out and funny anecdotes to retell.
And of course there’s nothing inherently wrong with drawing from one’s life experience to create art – let’s not call it “content” and trigger anyone’s gag reflex – it is the human experience, after all.
But the sharing in real time and the constant streaming access creating an almost total lack of any mental or physical time or space to actually digest and assimilate anything that I might be gleaning from my own brief existence on this planet? That part wasn’t good.
It eventually became difficult to recognize the “insights” I was delivering, mainly via social media, as my own original thoughts or ideas. I felt like I was living performatively on some level, like I was just continually producing content for other people to benefit from or laugh at or nod their heads in recognition over (all noble goals! Don’t get me wrong.) but that I wasn’t like, feeling my own feelings or fully experiencing my own life.
Anyway, maybe that’s reaching, but it’s sure what things were starting to feel like. So, yes, the combination of an intractable aversion to social media plus a massive dose of writers block combined to render me almost mute for the better part of 2021.
I can’t make any promises now that I’m back as to what it will look like, but I can say the smallest urge to sit down and let the words flow has resurfaced, and so I will honor that impulse when it seems fitting and good to do so. I do love to write, after all. It’s all the other baggage that accompanies writing in the digital world that became too unwieldy.
And in that vein, I’ve decided to blog without comments for now. Not because I don’t love and value every single set of eyeballs that land in this space, but because of the extra time and space moderation, that necessary evil, takes up when I do have them enabled.
So, what can you look forward to reading here in the near future? Well, for sure I’m going to show you our kitchen renovation that took longer than we expected ($$$) and you know I’m going to share my combined 2020/2021 reading lists because I didn’t, ah, quite get around to it last year. And then, you know, the regular musings on marriage and motherhood that you probably come here for in the first place.
It’s good to be back.
And okay, here’s a kitchen/dining room sneak peek. My main objectives for this project were: a dining room big enough to seat 12 comfortably and a sink that a baby could do backstroke in: