During the six-hour drive, we discussed everything from relationships to shoes to country music to my current job woes to Chrissy's photography dreams to buckets of chili to that amazing beef jerky place on the side of the road. In short, it was a good road trip.
We were headed to the Elevate Conference, a small (yet amazing!) blog gathering in Huntington Beach. After a joyous reunion with our Utah pals, Elise and Nichelle, we spent a day at Disneyland, followed by a day at Elevate.
And Elevate made me think: why was I blogging?
I'd been doing it for a few years, with varying levels of diligence, and in every style from "this is a journal of the last month of my life that only my family members will enjoy" to "kind of actually blogging some of my real thoughts, etc." to "planning meetups with Camille and using it for social purposes."
At Elevate in 2013, we talked a lot about vulnerability.
About being more honest. About being openly flawed. About being willing to put into words what other people are afraid to say, or didn't know how to say, but can relate to in a big way.
I pondered that the whole way home. And then I sat down and wrote this post. It was maybe my first really HONEST one, where I was worried about what people might think. The response was incredible -- suddenly people I didn't know were sharing my post on Facebook, and perfect strangers were emailing me directly to say thank you, or just to chat. (And of course there were the haters, as there always are with the honest posts -- that's the lame side of the vulnerability stick, but, shrug, whatevs.)
And that was just the beginning.
Before I knew it, I was laying my heart out all over my blog. And the responses and emails just kept coming. It's like I could finally see what it was that I really wanted out of my blog -- I wanted to put things into words that other people were afraid to say, or didn't know how to articulate. I wanted to be brave enough to say honest things, even if they were unpopular or uncomfortable. I've got words, and a platform to put them on, and that feels like a gift that I wanted to use positively and intentionally. I started discovering that the best way to do that was to check my inhibitions at the door and get REAL.
If you look over on the left sidebar of my blog, you'll see a list of Featured Posts.
Those posts mean the most to me, because they are the most honest and real ones. It's like a tidy little lineup of pieces of my heart right over there. (I always think, though I don't usually say it, that if a boy ever really wanted to know me or date me, that left sidebar is where he should start. I usually wait to see if they figure it out themselves ;)
It didn't hurt my new vulnerability kick that my life somewhat imploded just a couple weeks after Elevate last year. In some ways, heading back to Elevate this weekend feels like some kind of marker or milestone, because it was one of the last "stable" weekends of my life last year. From there came a series of life-drama, job-quitting, condo-leaving, parents'-house-living, soul-wrestling, northern-California-moving, job-finding, more-job-losing, many-months-of-unemployment-ing, scraping-by-on-savings-and-freelancing, praying-praying-praying, adventuring, new-life-finding, heart-breaking, heart-swelling, eye-opening......STUFF. My world just kind of split open for awhile there, and is just finally starting to settle into some kind of shape again. (And a really really good, worth-all-of-it shape -- I can tell.)
And I blogged so much of it.
I finally got brave enough to publicly talk about leaving my job, and getting on a plane to northern California with no real plan in mind, and then moving there a month later with only kind-of-a-real-plan in mind, and how humbling and soul-wracking all of it was. And every email or comment that said "thank you, I needed that" was like fuel that kept lighting the fire. My experiences and words meant something to someone, and the taste was addictive.
Elevate Conference last year was like a spark that lit something inside me, at a time when the universe seemed to know I really needed a spark to be ready for all that was coming my way.
And so, I'm heading south again to see my blog people, and to re-stoke that fire! Because while I'd like to say that maybe my life is settling down and the next year of my life might not be as eventful or full of risk and vulnerability as the last year.......the point is, you never know. But whatever it is that's in store for me, I've got all these thrumming words in my head and heart and hands, and all kinds of experiences ready to spill them out of me and into the blogosphere.
It's that particularly delicious kind of feeling.