Anne Lamott released a new book recently and because of that, she’s doing tons of press. I love that because I love her–as you know if you’ve been reading this blog for more than a month. I like that I get to hear her on all of the podcasts. Sure, a lot of times you just end up hearing the same things over and over again. But that’s okay because sometimes we need to hear the same things over and over again. Things like the concept of shitty first drafts, the idea of taking everything bird by bird, reminding yourself that stepping on a scale is just like asking Dick Cheney to evaluate your moral worth. It’s important to remember that M&M’s and Goldfish crackers are a type of communion if the time is right.
But the last time I heard an interview, she said something that struck me so hard. I’m paraphrasing, here, because I heard it while I was driving and even if I could have pulled over to write it down, I couldn’t have seen what I was writing on account of all the spontaneous happy/ terrified tears. She said, in essence, if you’re not writing what you’re afraid to write, you’re not really serving yourself or anyone else.
And I knew exactly what she was talking about because clearly she had crawled into my brain and seen the areas that we don’t touch at all. I think she was up there and found a corner full of dusty old things and said, “Oh, no. This will have to come out.” And then she ripped the dust cover off and let the light in and now there’s a whole bunch of unavoidable stuff inside of me that have stories that need to be told.
Last week I took a course in Instagram stories–learning how to better serve your community through the video feature on Instagram. You guys, I thought this was going to be like: post at these times of day, use hashtags, ask questions, build your audience numbers.
No, it turned into a full-on soul search about who I am and what I do and why do I do it? And rather than focusing on building numbers it was about serving my existing audience–which is all I REALLY WANT TO DO! So, if you saw my Instagram story about it, you know. But if you didn’t, and I assume that most of you didn’t, let me give you a run down of the things that I discovered.
So, I started really blogging in January of 2016 because storytelling and connection is my passion. I want to be able to tell my story, sure, but I want to tell the stories of everyone around me, too. I live in the middle of Kansas–a state that doesn’t get that much coverage unless things are going wrong (ie: tornadoes, The Westboro Baptist Church is on the move, Sam Brownback…) but there’s a lot going really, really right here, too. I live in a community surrounded by the best people who are out in the world making shit happen. And maybe they’re doing it in a big way, like being elected to the house of representatives but also maybe they’re doing it in a small way, like educating their children in a way that fits their personalities. I love my community so much. I love my people.
I want my blog to mimic real life and for me that means talking about really basic everyday things like, “read anything good lately?” or “we went on vacation recently”. But another part of everyday life is getting down to the soul stuff. Like, “do you believe in God anymore?” and “what even is intersectionality?” There’s room in us to care about the pain being felt in Syria and the pain being felt two blocks down and also care about things like, “dinner needs to be on the table in 20 minutes and all I have is a big bag of carrots.”
I do what I’m doing because I think we’re stronger together. I think there’s a learning curve in everything and I want all of us to have a space for that. When you’re learning you’re often getting some stuff wrong. I’m often getting stuff wrong. But I’m willing to get stuff wrong with you guys in order to give you permission to fail a little bit, too. Failing is important. Struggle is not the sign of failure, it’s the sign of life.
This is why community is important. I want us to have a community-vibe and a space for figuring things out. I feel like that’s building really well over on Instagram but we’ve got some discussion often happening on Facebook, too. Make sure to like my page and also double check to see that you’re notified when I post something so that you can get in on the conversations. You’ve all been so wonderful and patient and gracious with me through this past year and this growing season. I want you to always feel welcome to reach out to me. Send an email (libby (at) xoxolib (dot) com) or a direct message or a comment and let me know what you’re up to, lately. What’s been on your mind?
In the next few days I’m going to be sharing one of those posts about things I’m afraid to talk about because you guys give me the courage to say scary things sometimes. Thanks for being awesome.