Have you ever received an email from someone you really care about, and you didn’t respond right away? And after a few days, weeks, months, it became even more awkward to respond, because you waited so long? You really wanted to connect, but your delay became a huge boulder in the path of your relationship?
That’s kind of how I feel about this blog right now. I’ve been writing notes and drafts for this site since 2012 (it went live in 2014). For the past decade, all I’ve wanted is to be able to write LTM full-time. Last fall, people I’d never met began to show support for this blog, which is amazing! And also, I got stage fright.
A Brief History of Living the Mess
The last time I worked on LTM regularly (and it’s a bit of a stretch to use that word), I was living in my old home, still in pretty intense solitude. Right as I was getting into a flow, I had to move. Without a home of my own, I spent six months volunteering at a retreat centre, and I began building and launching P.S. I LOVE YOU MORE THAN TUNA, which I call “LTM through a paw-shaped lens.” As TUNA picked up momentum, I knew I’d have to put LTM to the side for a few years. My brain is not good at multitasking.
Last fall, TUNA launched, and I experienced several affirming comments about Living the Mess from people I deeply respect and admire. Along with excitement, I felt scared. Vulnerable.
It’s one thing to be living in solitude and writing insights for a handful of close friends. It’s a whole other ball game to work towards making LTM visible and eventually, a book…or maybe five books. (I have a LOT of notes. More than 350K words of notes, to be precise.)
Then my ego hijacked everything. My old writerly ambition roared back, along with my archnemesis, inner perfectionism. I was going to ace this blogging thing! I read dozens of websites, took webinars on blogging strategies and bought stacks of books on how to create a visible blog, how to make a living blogging, etc. I worked with an editor friend to strategize how to finish one post a week—the bare minimum most experts say is necessary—and I was determined to make this a BIG BLOG.
Guess what happened? I didn’t finish any of the posts. Something inside knew I shouldn’t be writing LTM from that place. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 11 years, it’s to trust my intuition, even if it doesn’t seem to make logical sense.
Finding the Still, Quiet Voice Again
Since 2012–two years before this site even had a name–writing Living the Mess has been a way for me to more deeply connect with the lessons I’ve learned and experienced. As much as I fantasized about being able to make a living from it, I never considered how vulnerable that might make me feel, or the types of criticism and push-back I might receive. (I also have yet to earn a dime from it.) I simply wrote it for myself, with no particular intention or end-goal in mind. I would let life lead, as I did for years. Even with TUNA, I recognized that the book might never make it into bookstores; that wasn’t really up to me. My part was to show up.
Finally, a couple of months ago, I realized that I had to take the same approach for LTM, to accept that I might never make a full-time living from this site; it might never be a book or five. I mean, I would like both of those things to happen, but it’s not fully in my control. In trying to make Living the Mess a BIG BLOG, I’d reverted to a person who could no longer write this material the way it needs to be written. My ego was hijacking my insights. I needed to get back to centre, back to rootedness, back to quiet, and let the still, small voice inside lead the way.
If that still, quiet voice is a whisper, the rest of the world—traffic, noise, news, people, social media and especially my thoughts—are jackhammers that drown out any trace of insight. I need exceptional quiet and focus to write this site in the way I originally intended, and in the way people have told me is valuable: with radical honesty and vulnerability, rooted in my experience, with a service-y bent. While sure, it’s helpful to know certain practical things about blogging, my lived experience and inner guidance have always (always) proven more useful than external advice, even when my instincts appear counterintuitive.
It took two months of staying very quiet, walking as much as possible, meditating and practicing fierce presence before I could hear the whisper again.
And then I felt embarrassed because I hadn’t posted in so long. I needed to get back on the horse, as it were.
That’s what this post is. An acknowledgement that I’ve been absent and a commitment to begin finishing some of the drafts I’ve been working on since 2016 (no joke). Not to mention the three-hundred-odd ideas for posts that I’ve jotted down over the past decade. I’ve also realized that not every post is going to be a deep-dive (or, as a friend said, “Not every post has to be a white paper”). My life circumstances aren’t the same as they were in 2014 or 2017, and some posts will simply be “here’s what helped me find inner peace.”
Some Housekeeping Notes
If you’ve been around since the beginning, THANK YOU! You’ll notice the site is redesigned (all praise to Graphic Design by Emily), and I’ve added a “tip jar” because with every donation, that’s a few more minutes I can spend working on this site. And if what you read resonates, please consider joining my mailing list.
Early on, I used my own photos on each post, and I didn’t think about things like SEO. I’ve (mostly) chosen new photos from talented photographers on Unsplash and Visual Hunt. I’ve also changed some of the headers to be more search-friendly (after all, I’m hoping people will find this site now). Aside from adding subheads here or there, or finishing unfinished posts from seven years ago (oy vey!), I’ve left the content untouched. Each post reflects where I was at the time.
I’m now working on finishing the dozens of other posts I’ve started to write. I can’t promise I’ll post weekly. But I do commit to taking each next step as it comes. And trusting that the path will unfold, because it always has and always does. And I thank you for reading.
image credit: Paul Skorupskas via Unsplash
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so glad to hear from you, Sarah! your words have always touched a chord in me, reminding me to listen to my innermost self – heaven knows that is a hard thing to do in this loud, intrusive world! i have gotten sidetracked myself and am just now finding my way back. best wishes – i will be watching this space for the next post whenever you are ready. Hugs!
Thank you, Dawn. Hugs back atcha!
Keep at it. Your fans are listening.
I have fans?! 🙂 Thank you, Carol.
I love your post. I can really connect and empathize with your feelings. So real. Which isn’t heard too often. I wish I could go on one of your walks with you and quietly soak up the peace. Keep up it the good work. (I was told once- the truth will set you free).
Thanks so much, Sharon.
Thank you so much, Sarah, for re-committing to the LTM blog. I love reading your insights! They help me navigate the storm of modern life.