July. A brand new month.
The plan was to come here today and announce the next topic for my HERE Year. In case you’re new to this site, I have, along with Lindsey Mead, undertaken a yearlong exploration of Presence, which asks through a different topical lens each month: How can we be more present in our lives? How can we get better at being HERE? April was Home. May was Parenthood. And this past month, June, was Marriage. To say that I’ve learned a lot in the past three months is a vast understatement; I’ve been floored by the education that comes, quite simply, with asking, with telling stories and collecting them. This project has been exhilarating and inspiring and I can’t wait to continue it. And I will.
July and August will be quiet in these parts. In my heart of hearts, I think summertime should be spent largely away from screens and buttons and curated selves. I will be the first to admit that I’m not awesome at unplugging, that I’ve developed a keen, if troubling, reliance on blogging and brethren social media, but I’m forcing myself to take a small step back, to breathe, to recall who it is I am when I’m not going a mile a minute and obsessed with capturing every moment with words and images.
I’m letting myself slow down.
So much of this, maybe most of this, is about permission, right? We must give ourselves permission to do the things we want to do and the things we need to do. No one else will. No one will tell us it’s okay to become a writer after an expensive law school education. No one will tell us it’s okay to strip alcohol from our lives even though we don’t need to. No one will tell us it’s okay to have dreams and follow them, to take risks we know are right.
It is up to us to take the time to figure out what our bodies and minds and lives require, to tend thoughtfully to those bodies and minds and lives. That’s what this is about for me. Following instinct. Prizing humanity over technology. Permitting myself to pause. Knowing that I will benefit as a person and as a mother and wife and writer for taking this time.
Mark Twain said it far better than I ever could: "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause." He also said: That impressive silence, that eloquent silence, that geometrically progressive silence which often achieves a desired effect where no combination of words howsoever felicitous could accomplish it.
Yes. Yes. You see, I’ve been swimming in words. Words here on the blog, words in the novel I’m writing, words in the social media ether. And I love words – they are, and will always be, my clay and my way – but enough is enough and I must allow myself this rightly timed pause. It’s not about being weak. About running out of steam. These things might be happening too (and they are), but there is in fact power in pausing, in recognizing when it is time to stop, to sink into a little white space.
White space. It is good. It is needed. No reader or editor wants to see a page crammed with too many words, with endless, relentless prose. No, there must be punctuation. Stopping points. Breaks for minds and eyes. Pauses. An apt metaphor for me at the moment because last night, at a little after 10pm, I submitted the completed manuscript of the novel I've been working on (for years) to my amazing freelance editor Christine Pride. It’s more than 95,000 words and I love the story and my characters so much. I have been working so unbelievably hard, guys, waking up many mornings at the cruel hour of 4:30am to chip away at it. And now it is in good hands and I will hopefully hand it over to my brilliant literary agent Brettne Bloom before the end of the month. There's more work to be done, I’m well aware of this, but I am absolutely getting there and this feels nothing short of tremendous.
I woke up this morning, not at 4:30am, and it just hit me that I need to be here in my life right now. These summer months must be spent with my sweet and growing girls and with my good man and with a somewhat quieter, less cluttered mind. I mean, what better way to explore the concept of HERE than by actually being here, right? I trust that each of you will understand, and respect, my reasons for pausing and that, maybe just maybe, they will resonate with you and make you think, or rethink, the shuffle of your own summer days.
Maybe you are a bit stretched and spent, swaddled in gratitude and inspiration and exhaustion too, interested in communing with a world that is not comprised of pixels. Maybe your instinct is to slow down a step, to claim a little more white space on this page of your life. Maybe you need a little reminder that behind the screens and the shares, the bitty blazes of dopamine we all seek and create, there are real people, human beings with heads and hearts and eyes and smiles and limits. I am one of those people. And I’m going to do what I want to do, what I need to do, what I deserve to do and just press pause and say, with profound humility and happiness, that I’ll see you in September.
For now though, now, I will very much be here. Not here on this blog, but right here in my life. This life I’ve worked so hard to build, this life I love so deeply.