Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When I was first advised to just relax this summer, I used the thought of writing a blog to calm my racing heart and to steady my sweaty palms. I'll still be productive, I reassured myself. I'll write every day. And I have. I've published a post before 7 am each and every day for the last 80 days. As I promised myself I would, I've poured myself into this project with a stream of unfailingly honest posts. 

On My Bedside Table

But I astonished myself by ignoring one of the #1 pieces of advice from the majority of successful bloggers: pick a niche and stick to it. Increased readership is supposedly a result of consistent and original content with a relatively narrow scope.

What does this mean? Don't write about fashion and design one day, and food and fitness the next. Basically...don't write about a tour around Acadia National Park and then about a trip to Target. Don't write about cheesecake and then about neon running clothes. Don't write about a farmer's market and then about ab exercises. Don't write about what's for dinner and then about orchidsDon't write about dorm decor and then about chocolate chip cookie dough brownies. Don't write about flaming hot flounder and then about job envy

Look at the title of this blog. It was my everyday reminder that it was okay good to swap some rigidity in favor of frivolity. This blog was never about or, or, or; it was always about and, and, and. Although I often felt like my blog wasn't enough (not "foodie" enough to be a food blog, not healthy enough to be a lifestyle blog, not exercise-oriented enough to be a fitness blog, not fashion-forward enough to be a style blog, not creative enough to be a design blog, etc.), I've recently realized, with some pride, that my posts couldn't have portrayed me (the good, the bad, and the ugly) any more accurately.

The Good:
Identity Theft?
In Good Company
A Pep Talk
Shelving My Inner Pessimist
The Silver Square

The Bad:
Early Morning Confessions
The Art of Relaxation
It's Complicated
Bringing Up the Rear
A Solitary Sport

The Ugly:
Walking the Line
Resistance Training
Control and I
A Recipe for Disaster
Thickheaded? Sure

The blog has challenged me to be introspective, at a time when I didn't much like what was rattling around in between my ears. It has pushed me to tear up my to-do lists, try new foods at new places, enjoy my rest days, break free from my routine, question that pesky inner voice, and turn on the oven. It has let me dream (remember all those wish lists?) and it has acted as a breeding ground for new interests (writing, cooking, racing, scrapbooking, gardening, dining out, taking photos, etc.). It has catalogued and made easily accessible a summer's worth of memories. It has let me see myself in a way that the mirror never has.

But it hasn't let me relax. Not in the way that The Zac Brown Band croons about (only-worry-in-the-world-is-the-tide-gonna-reach-my-chair). It hasn't given me that uncomplicated and carefree type of living that I've only ever experienced careening down a mountain on a hand-me-down pair of skis and gently rocking on an ancient wooden swing by the bay.

Carefree Living on a Cape Cod Swing

I wasn't been able to shake the self-induced pressure of staying 5 or 6 blogs ahead, in anticipation of a last-minute weekend away or in case of a persistent case of writer's block. Oddly enough, neither of these things ever came to fruition...but lately the blog (which has admittedly brought me so much pleasure) has done more than tiptoe over into the "assignment" folder.

Although I still have so many posts I'd like to share (with an embedded Pilates video, a homemade pasta tutorial, an explanation as to why "water's fine, thanks", a review of circuit-style training, a recipe for roasted red pepper and cilantro pesto, a recap of the Bradbury Breaker, a reaction to my first time trying wild Alaskan salmon, etc.), I know the ultimate challenge will be to surprise myself again by stopping the blog a month earlier than I had planned.

Wild Alaskan Salmon, Courtesy of Brother #2

Can I cope with feeling rudderless? Can I stop saying the word "lazy" without a side of superior sneer? Can I leave my laptop behind for two weeks of sand, sun, sailing, s'mores, shopping, and seafood on the shore? I want to try. 

With that being said, I don't think that this will be the last time I hit "publish". I feel kind of like someone returned a library book that I'd only gotten halfway through. I'm disappointed, sure, but I'm also buoyed by the certainty that I'll end up stumbling across it and checking it out again someday. After all, I never did get around to treating "A Dash of Drivel" to the technological facelift/reorganization it so desperately needs...and I never did get to show off my improved photography skills (now that Brother #2 has taught me a thing or two about shutter speed, depth of focus, aperture priority, exposure compensation, and the rule of thirds).

Thanks for reading seems grossly inadequate, especially to those of you that have been around since day 1. Whether you were a silent supporter or an active commenter, an occasional reader or an avid follower, I'd show up on your doorstep with these in hand if I could:

Umami Girl's Classic Blondies (See Recipe/More Photos Here)

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