So here's something awesome:
Tomorrow marks 10 years since I first opened a laptop and began writing Chookooloonks.
When I wrote that very first post, sitting up in bed one night banging out my thoughts on my keyboard, I had absolutely no idea how much having a practice of sharing my words and images would change my life. I actually started Chookooloonks purely as a way to keep our family involved in our adoption journey (the only reason I didn't password-protect the site was because I didn't want to add a level of complexity for those family members who weren't Internet-savvy). I really never thought that anyone other than immediate family and close friends would ever read it -- the World Wide Web, after all, is a very big place; who would possibly be interested in reading the daily mundane happenings of our little family?
I can't believe how wrong I was. And you can't believe how so very grateful I am.
As a matter of interest, here's how life over the past 10 years, as recorded on Chookooloonks, breaks down by the numbers:
• Number of times I became a mom: 1
• Number of times we moved house: 2
• Number of jobs I've held: 4
• Number of pets I've had: 1
• Number of times I've grown my hair all the way out: 2
• Number of times I've started growing out my hair and given up in exasperation, cutting it all the way off: 60 quadrillion
• Number of cameras I've accumulated: 4
• Number of posts I've written: 1500 (realistic though rough estimate)
• Number of photographs I've taken: tens of thousands (give or take 50)
• Number of photographs I've shared on Chookooloonks: 3000 (another rough estimate)
• Number of computers I've worn out: 3 (one was admittedly because of an ill-placed glass of apple juice)
• Number of books I've written: 1
• Number of talks I've given: dozens
• Number of times a year I've briefly considered returning to practice law: 1-1/2
• Number of countries I've visited (both with family and on my own): 13
• Number of people I've met in real life because of blogging: hundreds (give or take a dozen)
• Number of people I've met who were already famous when I met them: 7
• Number of friends I made through blogging who have since become undeniably famous, by any measure: 2
• Number of friends I've made because of blogging: countless
To say, therefore, that Chookooloonks changed my life would be the understatement of the ... well ... decade.
And so today, in lieu of doing my regular This Was A Good Week post, I wanted to thank you: you who have been consistently, unfailingly kind to me. In the 10 years that I've been blogging at this site, while I've certainly had criticism, I have never once received a mean-spirited comment (well, okay, I did have one, but it was on a post that went viral, and written by someone who clearly had never read Chookooloonks before, and probably hasn't since. I figure that was just a drive-by trolling, and so it doesn't count). For those of you who know social media, you know that being able to say that I haven't received any mean comments (save for that drive-by) is uncanny -- and it's a testament to you beautiful people who visit me every day here, sharing your stories, making me laugh, and even supporting each other in the comments. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you over the past 10 years, for receiving them in the spirit they are intended, and for sharing a bit of your own spirit in return. I am continually grateful.
Thanks for being a part of our daily lives.
One more thing: because I believe every ten year anniversary is cause for a celebration, it's time for ...
the first decennial Chookooloonks anniversary giveaway!
I've been thinking for some time about what I wanted to give away on my site to mark this anniversary, and to be honest, I struggled a bit. I knew that I wanted it to be reflective of what I stand for and the things I hope Chookooloonks communicates ...
... but I couldn't think of one single thing that captures all of those things.
So I decided to give away a package of a bunch of things instead: items that I use myself in my day-to-day life.
To that end, wherever in the world you are, leave a comment below, and I'll pick one commenter to win all of the following:
• A Stash Rambler journal. Stash makes beautiful leather goods (I've written about them here), and their journals are gorgeous. Cheryl, the owner, and her husband have become friends of ours, and I love supporting her work: besides, nothing like a journal called "Rambler" to inspire some beautiful travel journaling, right?
• Staedler Triplus colour markers. Because you're going to need these to add some beauty to your journal.
• A Fuji Instax 210 Instant Photo camera & two packs of film. Remember the old-school Polaroid cameras? This is the updated, 21st century equivalent, and a fun way to add photographs to your journal on the run (without having to wait for a time when you can get near a printer). I have the mini one of these cameras (shown, white, above; yours will be larger, and black), and my journals have tons of photos I've taken with them. May this bring you just as much fun.
• A set of 10 postcards, each with one of my favourite photographs I've taken over the years. They're 4x6, so you can frame them, or use them to send sweet messages to beautiful people in your life.
• A signed copy of The Beauty of Different. Signed to you, or whomever you'd like.
• And finally, because you're going to need something to hold all this stuff and my friend Maile is awesome, she's giving away an Epiphanie camera bag of your choice to help celebrate. This is the best camera bag you (or the lucky woman you give it to, if you so choose) will ever own, bar none.
Great, right? So again, leave a comment below (one comment per person, please). I'm actually headed out of town for the next few days, so I'll announce the winner by updating this post on Wednesday, February 26th when I get back.
And again, thank you, friends. Your kindness has meant the world to me.
update, monday, february 26:
Wow -- so many lovely comments! According to Random.org, the winner of all that goodness above is Briel Krystek, who said "Beautiful! Happy 10 years! Here's to 10 more. :)" Congrats, Briel! Keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me requesting all yoru snail-mail deets.
And thank you everyone, for your absolutely lovely, warm thoughts and sentiments. Here's hoping that we can all celebrate the beauty of the world together for another 10 years!