[40 in 40 Project] What I'm Noticing Already

I mentioned at the end of my last post that I planned to start with the books on craft for this “40 in 40” project, so this week I started reading Lee Gutkind’s book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up in earnest. The first day I read 26 pages. Then I stayed up extra hours that night to read more. By the next morning, I’d hit page 100. The project is officially underway!

Gutkind is, by his own ironic admission, the “godfather” of creative nonfiction, having been given that nickname by a withering critic of the form. He accepts the nomenclature because 1) it was his early use of the phrase creative nonfiction that inspired the National Endowment for the Arts to adopt it as the name of a new fellowship category in 1983 and 2) he founded the literary magazine of the same name.

He calls creative nonfiction the “literature of reality.” (I love that!)

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One of the most helpful gifts of the book thus far is the distinction between “public” and “personal” endeavors within the work of creative nonfiction. Works of creative nonfiction exist along a spectrum, Gutkind says, and the greatest success is usually found in a blend between the two—“a public subject with an intimate and personal spin.”

Personal projects within creative nonfiction are, most obviously, memoirs. They’re the stories that take us inside an author’s own life (they’re personal!) by framing that life through a particular lens, season, or experience.

Public projects, on the other hand, usually surface issues, stories, and questions about the world as we know it. (Think of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, all examples Gutkind references in his book.) These books tell stories, Gutkind says, that “anybody, potentially, owns.” Whoever wants to take the time to think about and research a subject, ultimately getting immersed inside its world in order to render it forth for the public in a generally accessible, beautifully cast, story-driven way, can.

In the first 100 pages of Gutkind’s book, I’ve found myself confronted with two questions that will be given dedicated space in my discernment process through this project:

  1. Do I want to contribute to the “literature of reality” (creative nonfiction), or would I rather create and spin unrealities (otherwise known as fiction)? These aren’t the only two options available to me, of course, but they’re two of the major choices, and I’m finding it a helpful framing to consider whether reality or unreality appeals to me more as a writer.

  2. What big ideas matter to me? And do I love any subject enough to be drawn toward the immersive experience creative nonfiction demands? When Gutkind began spinning out examples of projects on the more public end of the creative nonfiction spectrum, he talked about an author who moved his family from Pennsylvania to Texas for a year so he could live inside the extreme reality of high school football culture. Gutkind himself lived on two wheels for three years so he could write about motorcycle culture after living inside it. He traveled the country another year to profile four umpires for his book about baseball. And for another book, he followed nurses, surgeons, and patients around, keeping a beeper on his person so that when it chirped he could jump into an operating room or on a plane to experience the realities of organ donation. He says works on the public end of the creative nonfiction spectrum invite immersive commitments like these from the writer. Would I be willing to live such a life? Does any subject compel me this much?

These are deep questions I need to and want to and will sit with.

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An Immersive Life

Of course, there’s more than one kind of immersive life. Memoirists immerse themselves inside their own life stories. Novelists, too, get immersed—and invite our immersion—in the worlds they create.

And I see Bookwifery authors, who write in the category of general nonfiction, incarnating this immersive life too. They’re drawn by a particular message and presence and work in this world that is theirs to inhabit, to speak, to teach, and to love. In many ways, they’re drawn to write their books because their lives have already been immersed in a particular reality for quite a long time and they know it’s time to share that immersion with others in a way that brings light and hope.

Then there are the ways life invites immersion from us.

Just today, I was reading a newsletter by the lovely Tonia Peckover that demonstrated this exact truth. I’ve been recently getting to know Tonia, and although I met her on Instagram, she’s in the process of leaving that space so she can give herself more wholly to what she is calling “the long quiet.” She’s just launched a website where she’ll be writing about this quiet life on her blog, and she’s also sending a deeply rich monthly newsletter, my first issue of which I received today.

Tonia’s life is asking a specific kind of immersion from her. In today’s newsletter, she spoke of needing “months, years, decades, of cultivated spaciousness in order to be the woman [she] long[s] to be.” She spoke of “living presently, trying to be human and centered and wise in [her] own time.” She shared about two books she recently read—one a novel about trees (The Overstory by Richard Powers) and the other a creative nonfiction book about trees (The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben)—and went on to say the books led her to walk the property on which she lives in this way:

I’ve been walking the woods each morning after I care for the animals, touching the different trunks, trying to learn their names, their unique attributes. It's a project that could unfold for the rest of my life. . . . When we first moved to Fernwood thirteen years ago, I had the deep sense that we were joining a community. I didn’t understand it then; I thought of community only in terms of human connection. But now I am beginning to understand that it was Fernwood herself that was inviting us in: the land, the creatures, the plants, the winds and weather that pass through, all a living circle of giving and taking, learning and embracing.

Is that not gorgeous?!

Such a treat to read Tonia’s words. You can sign up for her monthly newsletter here.

The Question As I’m Beginning to See It

Here’s what I’m noticing, then, with this “40 in 40” project. It’s asking me to consider what kind of immersive life is mine.

  • Where am I already immersed?

  • What invitations to immersion will compel me in my writing life?

  • How might all of this connect to what my life is ultimately about?

Because I don’t want to give my to life anything less.

And you, dear reader? Are you being immersed somewhere particular now? What does that immersion ask of you? How are you responding?

[40 in 40 Project] Curating the List

To start curating the list for the “40 in 40” project, I turned to a fresh page in my notebook and started dumping onto the page all the books I’d either been meaning to read for a long time or have read before and might want to re-read for this project because of the impact they’ve had on me.

Then I sat back and noticed some interesting trends.

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This Is Not a “TBR” Project

When it came to the books I’d been meaning to read for a long time, I noticed that I’d started to veer into an assumption that this project could help me get caught up on my long-time reading list—all the books everyone had been touting as “must reads” that I’d not gotten a chance to read yet.

I quickly realized this was misdirected motivation. That couldn’t be the reason those books made the list. This wasn’t a project for getting caught up on my “to be read” list. It was a project for figuring out what kind of writer I’m being invited to become in this next decade of my life.

Those books I’ve been meaning to read? They are going to have to wait a bit longer to receive my attention.

Let go of being culturally in the know, I had to tell myself. This project is about you and your discernment.

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Categorize It Up

Here’s another trend I noticed: the books were all over the map. They fell into all kinds of categories.

On that page in my notebook, I listed books that were:

  • adult literary fiction

  • adult commercial fiction

  • children’s and young adult fiction

  • poetry

  • short story

  • family memoir

  • travel memoir

  • spiritual memoir

  • personal essay

  • self-help nonfiction

  • business nonfiction

  • . . . and more

I noticed this and then thought, Well, here’s my heart on the page.

Because the truth is, I care about all of these kinds of books. At some point in time, I’ve tried writing in most of these genres. I wonder which one is home base for me. And that’s the whole point of this project: to figure out which one is home base for me.

So I decided to own the categories. I curated the list with intention, choosing books in each of these sub-genres. I’m going to read them with a mind for finding my home base as a writer.

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Re-Reads for Revelation

In curating the list, I also included many books I’ve read before.

Primarily, I did this with books that profoundly impacted me in some way (a sampling of which is included in the photo above!). I knew I wanted to re-read some impactful books so I could figure out how the author went about creating the experience he or she did.

For instance: How did the author make me love this character so immediately? How did he move me to weeping through just one scene? What mastery with his craft had enabled him to do these things—and did I want to learn how to do that too?

Speaking of Craft

At Bookwifery, I teach the craft of writing and publishing books in the general nonfiction category, my shorthand definition of which is “books that help people.” But I’m clear that a wholly different level and kind of craft is required to write and publish fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and short story.

Many years ago, I took creative writing courses that helped me learn the craft of these other genres, and I experimented with and worked on projects in these genres for several years. But that was a long time ago. It’s been years since I made these genres a point of focus in my writing.

Do I want to return to them? I don’t yet know. I included books on the list within these genres to re-expose myself with intention to them. I also added a category of books devoted to the craft of writing in these genres so I could reintroduce myself to the principles and rules and realities of each. I’m looking forward to this!

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A Final Word on An Obvious Omission

When curating the list, I felt aware I was leaving off titles written by people of color. This was not a subconscious oversight. Rather, it was (I hope) an honoring choice.

This project is meant to help me learn what kind of writer I am being invited to become. I know I will never write from the experience of a person of color, as that is not my experience. I want to read books by people of color in order to learn about and listen to their truths, not to co-opt what they’ve brought to their pages for my own purposes.

I hope that makes sense to those who read this and follow along with the project.

I hope, too, I have not made a glaring mistake in my assumptions or decisions around this. After all, it could be said I chose to include titles by other authors who write of experiences I do not know. Chaim Potok, for example, writes of the Jewish experience. David Sedaris writes as a male essayist. I am not Jewish, nor am I male.

My response is that I chose their books, and others on the list about which similar observations could be made, for specific reasons.

For example, David Sedaris is a master of the personal essay, and I want to learn that form as part of my discernment. (Am I being invited to write personal essays?) Chaim Potok’s character Asher Lev crawled into my heart from page 1, breaking my heart with his vulnerability and sweetness and honesty, and I want to learn how Potok did that. (If I write fiction, how can I write characters that crawl into the hearts of readers too?)

And so on.

This post would not have been complete without an acknowledgment of this omission. Again, I hope the reason I made this decision is understood.

Next up from here, I’ll be diving into the list. I plan to read the books on craft first. More soon!

Explore the full list of titles here.

Need to Reevaluate Your Relationship With Facebook? This Post Might Help.

If you followed along on Instagram at the time it was happening, then you already know I reevaluated my relationship with Facebook recently, but if you’re new here (hello!), I’m sharing the story—as well as the deliberate process I undertook—in this post, in case it proves helpful for you too.

I learned from the DMs and comments I received when sharing my process that many of us are in a place of needing or wanting to reevaluate our relationship with Facebook. (Or any social platform, really; it doesn’t have to be Facebook.) We’re trying to figure out what place we want these platforms to have in our lives. And so I’m sharing my process with you here—what I considered, what I found helpful, the questions I asked myself, and what I noticed and found interesting—in case it serves your own process of decision.

Before we dive in, you may find these two resources helpful as a starting point:

  1. This IGTV video that shares some of my preliminary thoughts about why this is a complex topic and decision, especially when it comes to Facebook

  2. This free PDF worksheet I created to help you work through your own layers of decision

Please know this: I see this as a highly personal decision dependent on factors unique to your life and your intentions. Know that through this post, I’m not prescribing what you should do with your online accounts or presence, nor am I assuming the factors I weigh will be the same factors you do. It is my hope that by making available my own threads of exploration and discovery with this, as well as this worksheet that can help you sift through your deeper truths related to this decision, you’ll find the answers you need for your own beautiful, important life.

So, here we go.

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FIRST NOticingS

The first thing I want to share is that the process of evaluating our relationship with Facebook is way more nuanced than we give it credit for. We tend to experience this decision in two steps:

  1. We notice a problem. This usually comes in the form of thoughts like this: I don’t like this platform. I get agitated every time I’m here. I wish I didn’t have to be here. Do I have to be here? I hardly come on here anymore anyway. But if I leave, X Y or Z might happen. What should I do?

  2. We look for a solution. This usually comes in the form of the many options regularly discussed and presented for this, such as: Hiding all the people we disagree with or barely know. Installing a browser extension to filter our newsfeed based on our preferences. Bookmarking our personal profile so we only visit to post updates we want to share, thus avoiding the newsfeed. Bookmarking our favorite groups so we go directly there, thus bypassing the newsfeed another way. Installing a browser extension that eradicates the newsfeed completely. Unfriending everyone outside a carefully defined set of family and friends. Limiting our visits to certain days and times. Deactivating or deleting our account.

I cycled through these possibilities for months—and not for the first time, either. I’d deactivated my account one time previously, eventually returning so I could provide a Facebook presence for my company, Bookwifery, but I didn’t stay very present after I returned, mainly because I didn’t enjoy being on Facebook.

During this recent evaluation period, I brought more intention to the process than I had the previous time. That’s when I discovered the decision is way more nuanced than the “have a problem; look for a solution” approach we usually apply in these moments—or, at least, it can be more nuanced and it can take us deeper if we let it. (And I decided I really want to let it do that for me. Maybe you do too.)

Going Deeper

So, let’s talk about the deeper level of invitation that’s available here. I think it’s about what we have the opportunity to notice when we pause and pay attention to what’s really going on for us with this.

So often our lack of contentment with Facebook swims around in the back of our mind or on the periphery, mainly coming up when we’re on the platform itself. But our thoughts are quick and fleeting there, leaving us with a vague sense of dissatisfaction afterward, and maybe even fear, but not often getting resolved.

I think these thoughts and questions rarely get resolved because of the quick and fleeting nature of them in the moment but also because of the ways fear can quickly shut them down. Rarely do we grab hold of all that’s running through our mind and body in those moments to actually look at what they’re saying and evaluate it.

But what if we did?

For example, let’s take one of the fleeting thoughts I shared above—the one that said, But if I leave, X Y or Z might happen. From experience, I can say those X, Y, and Z thoughts flashed through my mind in many tiny moments whenever I was on Facebook and felt frustrated by what I saw or experienced. I would think, I wish I could leave Facebook. But if I leave, X Y or Z might happen. And whatever I named as X, Y, or Z in that moment would prompt a jolt of fear that was enough for me to drop that train of thought like a hot potato. I’d put the whole thing down for yet another day, unexamined.

During this time of evaluation, I let myself sit with those jolts of fear instead—even name them out loud—and then examined them. I started with the question, Why am I struggling with the decision to leave Facebook, or at least to change the way I use it? In response, I wrote down:

  • I’m afraid of offending or hurting people.

  • I feel like other people have a right to own and control my decision more than I do, and they would want me to stay. (This was weird to name out loud! But also something I experience as deeply true.)

  • If I stop letting Facebook be the place where people in my life learn what’s going on with me, I’ll have to be responsible for maintaining real relationships instead. (That one hurt to name to myself!)

  • If I leave Facebook, I may not know people had babies, got married or divorced, moved across the country, or got different jobs.

  • I’m afraid that leaving Facebook could negatively impact my work and possible connections in the future.

Wowza! That’s a whole lot of truth and shadow work right there!

See how taking the time to really look at our fears and thoughts can reveal a lot we may not otherwise realize is controlling our decision or indecision? Now that I knew what was actually there, I could go a step further with all of it. I asked myself:

  • Do I want to let my fear of offending people keep me from making a decision that’s right for me?

  • Do I want to keep ceding ownership of my life to what I perceive other people want me to be and do?

  • What kind of person do I want to be in my relationships, really?

  • Do I need to know about every job change, change of relationship status, or move across the country? How important is this information to me?

  • Do I want to let a scarcity mindset rule the decisions I make for my business?

Decisions become easier when we’re looking at the truth and the questions the truth raises for us. That’s what the worksheet is meant to help you do: name your own truth and then assess what it raises for you.

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Time to Claim It

Now that we’re being honest with ourselves, I find it helpful to next determine how we use Facebook. Are we using it for personal reasons, in order to keep up with friends and family? For business purposes, in order to advance the work that’s ours to do in the world right now? For both?

I encourage you to let yourself answer this question before continuing on in your process because every other decision you make will flow from it.

On that note, I can tell you one big reason for my ongoing unhappiness at Facebook was that I’d been trying to use it for both (some personal and some business) without fully committing to either one. That went a long way toward explaining a lot of the fuzziness, angst, and ambivalence I’d been carrying around inside. What, really, was I doing there? What did I want to do there?

If I was going to stay, I needed to decide my reasons for being there and then go all in on those reasons.

And for me, in this season of my life, the only thing that could get my all in response in this context was the work I’m here to do in the world. Contrary to what used to be true for me, these days I’m not on social platforms to share my days in a free-flowing, informal way or to keep up with the free-flowing, informal days of the people I know. I’m there to share a message through the work that’s mine to do, and I’m there to connect with people who resonate with that work. I’m also there to connect with others who are doing beautiful, light-infused things with their lives.

Given all this, it seemed clear that if I was going to stay on Facebook, it would have to be for professional reasons more than personal ones. The question was: What might that look like?

Scorched-Earth Facebook?

When it came to using Facebook with intention, I thought I’d heard every option under the sun for making it work for you. But a couple months ago, I encountered a woman whose approach was totally new to me. She said she went “friendless” on Facebook years ago (which she sometimes referred to as going “scorched earth”) in order to use her account solely for business purposes, and she has never looked back. She zeroed out her friends list completely, shares and interacts only on her professional Facebook page and in groups she belongs to, and absolutely loves being on Facebook as a result.

One reason she loves it now, she says, is because her newsfeed is only posts from the groups she belongs to. (No friends = no newsfeed posts from people Facebook calls your friends.)

Another reason she loves it is because every time she visits Facebook, she knows she’s there for work. This infuses her time spent there with focus and purpose. Facebook is part of her work life, and that’s it. It’s a tool she uses for the work she does.

(The woman who shared this, by the way, is the showbiz coach Bonnie Gillespie. She’s written two posts to share her take on why she did this and how she did it. The more recent overview post is here. The older how-to post is here.)

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Let’s Define Friendship

I sat with Bonnie’s approach for a long time, wondering if I wanted to do it too. It was one thing to stay on Facebook and commit to a professional presence. It was another thing to stay but completely delete my friends list. Considering Bonnie’s approach brought me straight to the door of friendship.

I started to ask myself, What does it mean for Facebook to identify someone as my friend? And what do I mean by friendship?

To address these questions, I made a list of the different categories of people I was connected with on Facebook—people the platform considered my “friends.” Here’s what went on the list:

  • Family members

  • Old friends

  • Current friends

  • Professional colleagues

  • Fringes

  • People I serve now

  • People I used to serve

Family members included my family of origin, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws. (Since my husband isn’t on social media and we don’t have children, this category didn’t include immediate family for me.)

Old friends were people I knew in elementary school, high school, or college, as well as people I knew when I lived in different places, belonged to other churches, or held different jobs.

Current friends were people I was in active relationship with now, either in real life or online.

Professional colleagues were people I’d met as a result of my work as a small business owner, some of whom I considered friends, some acquaintances, and some mentors or sources of inspiration.

Fringes were people I didn’t really know. When they showed up in my feed, I didn’t know who they were. Maybe they friended me because of a mutual friend we shared in common. Maybe they followed my work at Bookwifery but I’d never interacted with them directly. Maybe we belonged to the same Facebook group and they friended me outside the group, even though we’d not interacted much.

People I serve now included current Bookwifery authors, people who were considering birthing a book, and people who were drawn to the idea of the Light House community that’s in development.

People I used to serve mainly included those I met and served through my work at Still Forming.

I found this list so helpful. Now I could see what I would miss if I zeroed out my friends list to follow Bonnie’s example or left Facebook altogether. It invited me to consider: Who were the people I’d miss seeing the most if I did either of those things? And were there other ways I could stay connected to those people that would satisfy me just as much, if not more?

One of the first things I noticed was that many of the folks I enjoyed connecting with most on Facebook were also active on Instagram. If I wanted to stay connected to them, I could, since Instagram is my favorite social channel and I have zero plans to leave it.

Those who weren’t on Instagram, though, whose connection I would miss if I left Facebook or shifted to a purely professional use of it forced me to reckon with this statement: Let’s define friendship. It forced me to ask: What does friendship mean to me? What place do I want friendship to have in my life right now? Who gets to be considered a friend, and in what ways am I willing to show up for my friends in real ways, outside Facebook?

Here again I had to acknowledge that, in some places of my life, I was using Facebook as a passive stand-in for relationship. Was I willing to change that for the people who mattered to me?

(For the record, I decided I was.)

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What did I want from Facebook?

Having decided I was okay losing my “friends” list in favor of a solely professional presence on Facebook, I now had to ask if I actually wanted to stay on Facebook for purely professional reasons. If I did, what would that look like?

Which led to more questions, like: Given that my professional endeavors right now include Bookwifery but also go beyond it, would this mean creating and maintaining separate Facebook pages for each individual project? Slimming it all down to one professional page under my own name? What would be my reason for doing any of these options? And what kinds of things would I want to do in those places?

I figured the “how many Facebook pages” question and the larger “do I want to stay here” question depended on what I’d use my Facebook presence to do if I stayed, so it was time to make another list.

This time I asked, “Why would I want to stay?”

I got really honest with myself and listed reasons that came from pure desire and reasons that came from fear and the “maybe someday” place—in other words, the answers I listed were not created equal, nor were they equal in virtue. But here’s what went on the list:

  • Running ads

  • Sharing links and thoughts

  • Greater reach

  • Sharing others’ work

Running ads. This fell under the category of “maybe someday.” Maybe someday I’ll want to run ads for Bookwifery on Facebook or Instagram. A professional Facebook page is required to do either of those things.

But then I had to ask: How long was I willing to go on saying “maybe someday” (I’d already been saying it for several years) while in the meantime continuing to host a business page I rarely used that, despite my rarely using it, continued to take up psychic energy in my life? I felt less and less willing to let this “maybe someday” thinking play a role in my decision. It wasn’t a strong enough reason, by itself, to keep a professional Facebook page.

Sharing links and thoughts. This fell under the “desire” category because it’s what I’d most loved about using Facebook over the years. In years past, Facebook had always been a great place for me to write and share thoughts that weren’t quite at the level of blog posts but went beyond brief updates and observations. Additionally, I enjoyed finding and passing along articles and other items of interest I found online that I thought others would also enjoy. I noticed my willingness to share the kind of thoughts and observations on Facebook that I did, in addition to those pass-along finds, tended to foster meaningful conversations and connections. People often told me when they met me in person that they loved following my Facebook updates because of the depth and thoughtfulness of things I shared.

But then I had to ask: Was Facebook the only place I could share those things? I’d just made the decision to return to blogging; I could certainly share those deeper thoughts and interesting finds there. Additionally, I host a valuable community for Bookwifery called the Bookwifery Collective and am in the process of creating another beautiful community called the Light House right now. Wouldn’t I much rather share any in-depth reflections and helpful or interesting finds with the people in those communities? I started to realize this didn’t have to happen on Facebook. (This was a hugely helpful realization for me.)

Greater reach. Here’s a place where the fear piped up. The fear said that if I go off Facebook, I’ll lose access to a place where literally billions of people hang out regularly, no small amount of whom are likely to be in my target audience for Bookwifery and the Light House. Additionally, the “share” feature on Facebook is powerful. If you offer valuable content on Facebook, people often share it, which creates greater reach for your work. But if you’re not there to put your ideas and work in front of people, they may not share it, which means your work isn’t as likely to reach as many people.

But then I had to ask: Did I want to let the fear of lesser reach motivate my decision to stay? And was my own Facebook presence really required for people to share something of value they found in what I did? Probably not. (I was greatly helped in my thinking on this by this article by Jason Zook.)

Sharing others’ work. Lastly, when I thought of things I would truly enjoy doing on Facebook if I stayed, sharing others’ work made the list. This goes back to what I shared above about how I enjoy sharing cool or interesting or thoughtful or inspiring things I find on the internet. When I think about my tagline and mission statement for this space, exhibiting light, the same enthusiasm runs through it. If I stayed on Facebook, it could be fun to showcase amazing people and the beautiful, creative things they’re doing in the world.

But then I had to ask, yet again: Was Facebook the only place this could happen? I could do this same kind of showcasing on Instagram. I could also do it on this blog. I could do it inside the Bookwifery Collective and the Light House too. (Not to mention that the Bear the Light podcast is coming to life for this specific purpose!)

After all of this naming of what I’d do if I stayed, I found it interesting to notice that none of my reasons for staying on Facebook had anything to do with cultivating real connection and relationship with people in the spaces I would be hosting on Facebook. I think that’s because I’d not experienced my Facebook page to be a place that easily fostered relationship and depth of connection. This felt easier and more natural to do on Instagram the last couple years.

Could that change if I tried to change it? Maybe. But all the items listed above and how I’d begun to analyze them were tipping me in the direction of leaving Facebook entirely.

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Finally, Time and Focus

The thing that cinched my decision to leave Facebook, as I shared in the IGTV video, was the reality of time and focus. I’ve given a lot of myself to Instagram in the last two years. I’ve built relationships there. I know the kinds of things I like to share. I feel a sense of community. Also, on the more technical side, I’ve learned what my voice sounds like. I know my aesthetic. I’ve figured out how I like to use Instagram Stories. And I’ve learned how this tool fits into my work and my life.

Not to mention that, overall, I just really like it.

Bringing that same level of focus and the same amount of time it has required to a second platform in order for it to thrive too—and for a platform I don’t enjoy that much? I just couldn’t imagine doing that.

This is what led, quickly, to a hard no for me. It was time to say goodbye to Facebook.

And so I did.

I deactivated my personal account and unpublished my business page on Facebook a few weeks ago. So far, besides the few times early on when I had the impulse to check the app (only to remember it was no longer on my phone) when I found myself in a bored moment, I haven’t missed it—not that my impulse to scroll Facebook while in a bored moment constitutes actually missing it!

I’ve given myself permission to change my mind at some point in the future, as I hope you feel the same freedom and permission to do with any decision you make, should your circumstances change and an old decision no longer proves to be the right and best thing for you anymore.

For now, this is what’s right and best for me.

What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! And if you’d like to use the free worksheet to process your own decision related to this, I pray you find it a useful tool.

Moving at the Speed of Human

In my world lately, I'm experiencing the reality of being human in a big way—moving at the speed one human can go.

When the new year dawned, it brought with it many invitations to new creative work and growth, some of them related to my business, Bookwifery, and some of them in addition to it, and in the past several months I’ve made slower progress on those projects and invitations than I’d like. I've had to reckon with the limits of time, energy, capacity, and attention I’ve had available for all these things. 

Because the truth is, there's only so much any one of us can do in a given day, week, and month. 

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And so when I find myself reckoning with those limits, I wonder: Can we give ourselves permission to move at the speed of human? Even more than that, can we forgive ourselves for being merely human? 

A couple months ago, in the span of a few days, I talked with a number of authors in the Bookwifery Collective who were facing real challenges. A root canal, a lost loved one, a health setback, a demanding job, limited resources—these were just a handful of things voiced within a few days’ time. 

This past week brought more of the same. Someone faces the challenges of working full-time while working on a book. Someone else finds herself blessed with more ideas than she can keep up with. Another person finds herself in a season of low energy. Someone else is tending to loved ones who are experiencing severe losses.

It’s common, these kinds of things coming up. Sometimes it’s the normal flow of life; sometimes it’s extraordinary circumstance.

They wonder all the time: Can there be room for working on a book and the realities of life? 

In my view, the answer must be yes—for them and for you, too, in whatever you’re holding.

The pulse and pace of modern life would hasten to tell you otherwise. It would say you must do this, you can't do that, you need to go here—and quickly, or you're going to miss out. It would tell you you're falling behind, you're messing up, you're losing out, you're doing it wrong, and you're going to blow your big chance if you don't dance the tightrope now—and perfectly.

Let yourself move at the speed of human, I say.

What's the cost otherwise—quick-dancing along a tightrope the rest of your days, always performing and trying not to fail or fall? Is that kind of existence really worth it? 

I believe any true invitation in your life makes room for its realities. It accommodates itself to your humanness. It fits into the flex and flow of what you can do. 

True invitations come from the Source who knows you, knows your capacity, and knows what your life includes. The invitation to do this or that new thing stands in accordance with, not in opposition to, those truths.

I celebrate this. It means we get to be who we are, no more and no less. And it means we get to live at the speed of human, because that’s what we actually are.

Everything else can go. Isn't that a relief? 

A Return to Writing

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It’s been two years since I wrote publicly on a blog, and today marks a return to personal writing on a blog so I can get myself writing more regularly again.

Because the truth is, I missed it.

I’ve written a lot in the last several years for my business, Bookwifery: more than 180 course lessons, countless Instagram posts, bimonthly notes to my newsletter list, weekly notes to the Bookwifery Collective authors I serve, and workbooks for the courses I teach.

I’ve exercised my creative muscles in other ways, too, through the podcast I produced last year, video and audio lessons I created for the courses, and live workshops I ran throughout this past year.

For quite a long time, I felt full up, creatively speaking, because of all this, and I was happy about it. Happy and proud.

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But then this year, in January, as I approached my 40th birthday, I got to wondering what kind of year-long project I might like to do to mark this milestone year in my life. I loved the idea of choosing a project to tend all year, something creative that would celebrate the landmark nature of this birthday while keeping me creatively committed in a fun direction.

As I weighed the possibilities for this year-long project, I kept coming back to writing. I knew I wanted it to be a writing project. The challenge was, I couldn’t land on what kind of writing I wanted it to be.

That’s when I realized: I don’t know what kind of writer I am anymore.

It’s been so long since I’ve written for myself, for my own creative interests and the kind of words I want to be putting into the world, that I’ve lost sight of my writerly identity.

When I was in college and after I graduated, I wrote seriously and often. I worked on poetry projects, short stories, and long fiction projects for children and adults. But as I went deeper and deeper into my career as an editor, helping others form and fashion their words and ideas, I started losing touch with my own words and ideas.

Blogging became an outlet eventually.

In 2006, when I moved to Florida from California to marry my husband, Kirk, I started my first blog and used it to practice my writing while writing about my new life in a new place. I loved it for the way it kept me writing and for the way it brought many new friends into my life. Eventually, I started a second blog, and then a third. I just kept writing and writing, at first for personal expression and exploration and then for professional contribution in the area of spiritual formation.

When I went on sabbatical from my ministry work in 2016 for the purposes of deep soul care, I was also in the process of starting my business. Bookwifery took my primary focus from that point forward. While I started the sabbatical with the intention to write my way through it (and did, for a little while), eventually I stopped, unable to put into words all that was happening deep in my spirit while simultaneously tending to my new and quite encompassing business.

My spirit eventually grew in restoration (I’m so, so thankful for this), and that coincided with the flourishing creative season for Bookwifery I outlined above. Which brings us current to today, where I’m ready to start writing again, first by blogging again for the fun of it and second as a means to start exploring the kind of writing I’d like to do in this next decade of my life.

So I’ve started this blog, where I plan to write often about all kinds of things. I’ll write about things I’m thinking about, what’s coming up in prayer, how I’m growing in my formation, what I’m continuing to learn about my work, and who knows what else.

Also! I’ve decided on the topic for my “40 in 40” project, and it’s going to be a project that helps me discern my way into the more formal writing I’d like to do in this next decade of my life. I plan to chronicle that here, too, and have created a dedicated page where I’ll link to all the project-related posts as I write them.

Thanks for being here! I hope you find it refreshing and inspiring to connect in this new space with me.