Why am I here? Relationships and storytelling

 

I went to a blogging conference this past weekend. My first, actually. I put down some thoughts about the overall takeaways from that gathering in a post over at Mississippi Women Bloggers.
Just a few of the fabulous ladies I spent the weekend with at #AWBU. Oh, and my purse, front and center on that gorgeous coffee table at IO Metro Furniture.

I had never met a single one of these folks in real life prior to this trip, so there was lots of “getting to know you.” One question that naturally came up about every 46 seconds on average was:

“So what is your blog about?”
Lots of folks answered that question by describing their blogs as “lifestyle blogs.” I think most folks know what that means. While some are referring to a particular kind of lifestyle (urban, farming, college life, ex-pat even) it’s often meant as quite a broad term, with topics ranging from fashion to cooking to decor.
And before you get the wrong impression, don’t think I mean to cast any negative light on the lifestyle bloggers. Certainly not. I cruise the lifestyle blogs ALL.THE.TIME. They help me out with all kinds of things.
The best lifestyle bloggers, for example, can point you to The Perfect Nude Heel – 40 Choices under $50 (I love nude heels – a little obsessed, actually) one minute and make sure the absolute best recipe for sausage rotel dip ever is right at your fingertips the next. (Seriously, I haven’t cooked a recipe out of a physical cookbook in I don’t know when. But my phone inevitably ends up dusted in flour or dotted with sauce spatters on a regular basis.)
At some point during the weekend, a fellow blogger who was asking me about my blog inquired if it was a “lifestyle blog.”
No. It’s not. 
It’s just not where my talents are, honestly. I promise you if I tried to pull together a fashion post, it would be the hottest mess ever. (“Buy everything in black. It will all match. Have boots and jeans on hand for the weekend. Throw in some mint green skinnies for pizazz. The end.”)

Road rash. No fitness blogging for me.

And you can forget about me blogging about fitness. I have no business going there. My 10 year-old daughter challenged me to a race, from our house to the corner, about two houses down, recently while we were out for an evening walk. I blame the new pavement, the faltering light of dusk, and my shoes for what happened next. Right in front of the neighbor’s house (who happened to be out on her porch), I wiped out. Busted it. It was one of those things you feel happening in slow motion but there isn’t a single thing you can do to stop it. And not only did I fall, but because we were on a slight downhill incline, I fell and slid. Worst.roadrash.ever. (It gets better. I realized at this point that my children’s principal, who lives nearby and was also out walking, witnessed the whole thing. Concerned, he came running. Such a kind person. All I could think was, “I don’t care how much this hurts, my pride is not going to let me let their principal pick me up off of this pavement.” So I hopped up, grimaced, tried not to limp inside, and screamed my head off as soon as I was in the house with the door shut.)

So it isn’t in my wheelhouse. More importantly, it would not feel authentic, so chances are, no one would want to read it.
So what IS my blog about?
If I learned anything from Jackie Wolvern this weekend, it’s that being able to articulate that succinctly and clearly is incredibly important.
So I did a few things. First, I went back, and read over almost all of my posts. Some of them I haven’t read in a while. And I saw the common threads appear and put names to them.
1. The relationship. 
My relationship with my kids, with my husband, with my creator.
With friends and with people who are not my friends.
With people I come in contact with at work, which is largely the public. (That’s a relationship too. If you think it’s not, I have two words for you: customer service. It can and does make or break a business. All customer service is? A relationship.)
Relationships between others of whom I am privileged to be a close observer.
Second, I went back and looked at the reasons I picked my blog title. And there it was again. Relationships.
Incidentally, there is perhaps nothing more indicative of my relationship with my children than literal crumbs under our table. While I am a highly productive person, I’m not that mom that’s great (or even good, and probably not even average) at keeping a perfect, spotless house, but even if I sweep them up, they’re back the next day as soon as breakfast is over. Such is life.
2. Storytelling. 
I’m not good at “cutting to the chase” as my husband puts it. For me, the details of what happened moment by moment leading up to something have significance. About a quarter of the way through, and about ten minutes into, my recounting of an incident at work, hubs has been known to gently tell me, ” Give me the 30-second version.”
I don’t have a 30-second version. What I have is a story.
Take this post, for example. I could have conceivably have said only the following:
“I hate the news these days. I’m worried about my friend. Sometimes this stuff makes me cry. But I trust God to be there.”
Hubs would probably like it if I would talk like that, and really, it doesn’t sound that terrible.
But that’s not my voice.
My voice wants to be able to look back in a few years and remember exactly how a hard time made me feel. How it made me afraid for my children’s future, so I won’t take it for granted. How the weight of it crashed in on me, and how my little boy’s sweet voice brought me back.
I want, I need, to remember the story, and based on which of my posts invoke the strongest reactions, I’m not alone in that.
So that’s what you can expect from me here. Storytelling and relationships. I hope you’ll stick around – this is a lot more fun in community.

Jenny Mac

After contemplating all of this, I realized I need to republish a post I had taken down at one point because I was afraid it was making some people uncomfortable. In fact, I’m certain it was. I’m over it. Because it was also a post that people responded to with a collective “Me, too.” Pain brings people together. There is comfort in that. 

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