Meant for Making.

A mind meant for making things never finds peace for long. The ache always comes back. But that’s nothing to worry about. The worry is that one day it will go for good. – “The Left-Handed Fate”, Kate Milford

2019 was a creatively quiet year for me. I started the year still mourning my Dad’s death, finding myself depressed and quiet. Happy and funny times and things made me sadder, because I was painfully aware of the happy and funny that I wasn’t actually feeling. I middled the year being with Chris’ Uncle as he passed away. From July on, I found myself withdrawn from art and from sharing. I stepped back from almost all creating and I dove deeply into finding satisfaction and consolation in my decade-ago former self – in numbers and accounting, spreadsheets and analysis. I shrunk away from who I am now – the person who has been creating through words and pictures, taking joy in nature and beauty, and connecting with other people through those creations.

Death is both easier and harder than I thought it would be. It is easier because life moves on and therefore so must you. It is harder because death doesn’t move on – it sits heavily on your stomach, and your heart, and your soul.

On the outside, I don’t appear as affected by death. I’m a quiet, introverted mourner. I don’t want to talk to hardly anyone face to face about the inner workings of my grief. Instead, it stays quietly in my heart and it eats at my desire to do and see and relate and create.

But, although retreating into numbers and spreadsheets has been temporarily soothing, it didn’t feed my soul, and I found myself longing to create.

Despite not creating, I didn’t quit recording. I’m a recordkeeper at heart and I can’t just lay that down. In July, after being inspired by Chris’ Grandmother’s diaries, of which I pored over her ten years of daily entries with fascination and adoration, I started my own daily journal. Grandma’s life between the years of 1937 and 1946 were infinitely more interesting than mine – but more about her diaries in another post. However, as I began writing, and then periodically thumbing back through my diary, I realized how great my life is, and how much I have to be thankful for. Although it seems less writable than when the kids were young, we still have adventures, random happenings, and ridiculously crazy occurrences.

I wanted to write online again, but after being away for so long, I wondered why exactly I was still doing it. It’s been months since I’ve seen anyone share someone else’s blog post. Are bloggers even a thing anymore? Is there a such thing as a blog anymore? Am I still carving into stone tablets when everyone else has moved on to telepathy? I mean seriously – where DID all the writers go? Where do they create and share? And where did all the readers go? The biggest part of sharing online for me was always the connecting – the feeling of someone else’s heart saying “me too!!” and knowing I wasn’t alone in my weird, quirky way of looking at the world.

But then I finally got the first of my blog books in – three out of the twelve years of posts. I’ve been working with my website manager for a year and a half to get my blog in a state to which it could be printed, so we all were pretty excited. I watched my children as they gleefully flipped through the books, laughing at stories they’d forgotten or never knew, looking at pictures of themselves at earlier ages, and reading back their own toddler quotes to me with hilarity.

blog books first reading s

It was beautiful. It was fulfilling to know that I had recorded our life in a way that they could access it, see it, read it, and know it. Since then, Noah has become obsessed with me reading the blog stories to him, and he’s so impatient to know them all that he has started reading them himself, then after laughing heartily and/or being amazed at WHAT AN ABSOLUTE HANDLE he was as a toddler, he’ll go find Ali and read her the story. “Ali. Wait till you hear this one about the time I pooped in the bathtub. Oh! And my potty training was awful!! And do you remember the time I stepped on the grasshopper and made Loulie cry??”

I’m enjoying them also – I’ve forgotten half the things I’ve written over the past 12 years. All of that life would have been lost had it not been for this blog – and for the readers that motivated me to share it. I was, and am, immensely grateful for all of your interaction, all of your words of affirmation and encouragement, all of your Christmas cards, all of your reaching out hands of friendship. I have a folder in my email account titled “Encouraging Blog Emails” where I have filed many of your emails and comments over the years, and occasionally when I’m feeling down or discouraged, I will go back and read them to remind myself of why I do this and the connections I’ve made because of it.

And so, as I start 2020, my main goal this year is to truly create again. I don’t know how often, but it must happen. It might be short snippets of life, or posts that read more like diary entries than well-crafted essays. I want to get back to writing, even if that writing isn’t perfectly polished. I need to create. For my soul, for my family’s history, and for healing.

191208 Village of Jance IMG_4595-H s“Wonder is great and important. And wonder at the visible – at what can be seen and shared, that requires no nationality or belief to experience – that is a special kind of phenomenon…A moment like this can be shared between strangers, as we share it now. It crosses all lines, makes them converge; turns enemies into wide-eyed children in the face of the miraculous. And for a moment, the battlefield stills. – “The Left-Handed Fate”, Kate Milford

Note about the quotes: I also read a lot over the past year, and my favorite author to dive deep with was Kate Milford. She has a series of books with different settings, genres, and time periods that all interact with one another beautifully and intricately. She has a LOT of ideas – sometimes overwhelmingly so, and it was a bit mind-blowing to try to keep up with the threads between the seemingly unrelated books, but I thrived on the challenge. I highly recommend all of her books, but I suggest you start with Greenglass House and go from there. In fact, if it’s cold or raining or snowy where you are, I find it to be the most cozy book I have ever read – it was meant to be read while curled into a quilt, in front of a fire, and/or with a hot beverage.

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Comments

  1. I will happily continue to read what you write! I miss my long daily list of blogs to catch up on. My mind does not work well with Twitter. I get semi-regular blog post from The Bloggess, Amalah and Wait But Why, and it lights up my day when one pops up in my feed. When yours pop up, it’s a lovely little gift! I’ve also seen many authors seeming to go back to newsletters.

    I hope you keep doing this as long as it makes you happy, and I know I will continue to enjoy reading about your crazy adventures!

  2. I miss your blogs! I miss reading my RSS of blogs and carefully picked news articles (seriously, where are my USA Today fluff pieces about kangaroos having a tic tac toe competition in Ireland??). I do understand how rough death is and how it messes with your perception of other things. In whatever way and frequency you blog/journal, I do look forward to reading it.

  3. I love you, your family and your writing.

  4. Barbara Cain says:

    I love the stories. Whether they are wonderful fiction or real life adventures written by my favorite bloggers, it doesn’t matter. I find I can’t waste my time on a boring story anymore. I check out books on the Libby app and return them if they don’t grab me by the first chapter.

    I am a writer and a memory keeper, though not perfect nor consistent, the moments I do write in detail or scrapbook in pictures are preserved for my grandchildren. I love that you do the same. I feel that it’s a way to celebrate the family who brought me here.

    I want to be touched emotionally. Make me laugh or make me cry. Just make me feel something down deep in my soul. Thank you for doing that so often, Rachel.

  5. Stephanie Bacon says:

    I can’t even explain how happy this makes me, and how much your writing cheers me.. We have different reasons for our grief and pain from 2019, but this is the best news, and will certainly aid in the healing process :) AND, know that I don’t always comment, but I absolutely read everything, and many times discuss and share with friends/family/coworkers – so your reach is much broader than you can imagine! Thank you for sharing your life!

  6. Kate Jaco says:

    It’s so sweet to hear your kids’ reactions to reading your words. I’m sure the content is drastically different than Chris’s grandmother’s diary, but treasured just as highly.

    I’ve wondered where bloggers went too. I guess social media for a quicker but more often check in. I’m glad you’re still around though. You helped me so much in those early, rough days of being a mom. And so much since then.

  7. Tammy Kelley says:

    I am so happy you are writing again, I love reading your blog. I think Instagram and Twitter has caused the decline of blogs-people want things in snippets instead of stories.

    I’ll happily continue to read whatever you write. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  8. I love reading your blog as well. It makes me sad that blogs have fallen off so drastically. I basically follow your blog and one other blogger, and the others just stopped writing. So, thank you for continuing your blog, no matter how sporadic the posting may be. It makes me happy :)

  9. Social Media is great for a snippet but sometimes a girl needs to settle down for a good story. I got to listen to tapes from my great grandmother and found them fascinating. And the best part was the fact that she thought her life was boring – a woman born in Iceland and brought to America only to be separated from her family to become a nanny for others in a world so unlike anything she ever knew. One day your grandchildren will find your “mundane” stories fascinating.
    I found my social media was being overrun with Negativity and drama. I hated it and started cutting people out and adding more nature pages so that I could have something to smile at. Your photos always bring a smile to my face. I need more people like you posting in a way that laughs off the crazy side of motherhood and inspires positivity.

  10. Christen Sparks says:

    Excited to see what all you create this year!

  11. I’ve read every pay since the days when you were blogging about Mom Jeans and I’m glad to hear that you aren’t done yet

  12. I’ve been reading your blog for over 10 years now. Totally get why you had to take a step back, and I’m glad it was healing for you! I love blogs and I’m sad that so many have closed. I think people have moved to Instagram or email newsletters. I’m happy you are coming back!

  13. We are still out here, waiting to read what you carve into those stone tablets.

  14. Kathie Robinson says:

    I really enjoy your blog and have for years. As long as you post, I will read it. I look forward to amazing creations in 2020.

  15. You turned your blog into books!?? That is so incredibly awesome! I struggle to find (well honestly, make) the time to blog myself, but I do enjoy reading back through them occasionally. I’ll definitely still read your blog – even if you’re the only blogger who’s still at it :)

  16. Great news! I’ve also wondered where all the bloggers have gone. The girls on Instagram call themselves bloggers but it’s definitely not the same. I’ve missed your blog posts!

  17. Karen Johnson says:

    Ahhhh, Rachel….keep writing. Even if no one else ever reads your blogs again, you have discovered a great secret: you are writing for yourself and for your posterity. ….and now and then there are those of us who will peek in on your life and laugh hysterically or weep quietly with you.
    I have been reading your posts since the days of “Mom jeans” when I was an “old mom/new grandma” transitioning to wearing jeans when previously the only acceptable homeschooling mom outfit was a denim skirt and tennis shoes!!! My daughters and I united in hilarity over those posts & pictures! In so many of your memories of your own homeschool days, I have very much identified with your mother. :)
    Thank you for sharing….and I am sorry I have never replied to encourage you before.

  18. I love your blog! I’ve been reading it for years, though generally not commenting. I miss the days of tons of blogs, but am so glad yours continues, albeit less frequently. How great that your kids can now look at the stories of themselves and see a family history!

  19. Stephanie says:

    I’ve missed reading your stories! I’ve been here since Noah was tiny and will continue to be for whatever you decide to write.

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