When I first started writing Chookooloonks over 10 years ago, my reasons were twofold: (1), Marcus and I were in the process of adopting Alex, and I wanted our far-flung families to feel like a part of the process, and (2), I knew I was about to get into something that I knew nothing about: motherhood. Back then, blogs were a rarity, so I had no illusions about developing an audience or building a business around my words, or even connecting with other new moms: I just knew that often the best way that I had to work through any challenges I was facing was to write. So Chookooloonks became my sketchpad for parenting, in a way. A place where I could think out loud. The fact that I ended up making some of my best friends via Chookooloonks, or that, blessedly, readers came from all over the world (and then actually kept coming back), or even that the site eventually developed into a way of making my living, was truly just a happy surprise -- one that I'm grateful for every day.
Over the next 10 years, Chookooloonks has undergone many evolutions, often mirroring the changes in my career. I focused on my photography. I left law. I became an author. And as my worklife changed, so did Chookooloonks -- it many ways, it became the way I marketed my work. It became my "brand." And while I've loved looking at Chookooloonks that way, during my time off last month, I realized that I was missing writing about what was on my mind, rather than responding to what I thought was on everyone else's.
I've been missing my sketchpad.
See, over the past decade, a lot has changed in my personal life, as well: I'm no longer a brand-new mom, and while I wouldn't go so far as to say that I've got this parenting thing down by any stretch, I'm far more confident in my ability to figure things out than I was 10 years ago. But I've also gone from my mid-30s to my mid-to-late 40s, and more than any other time in my adult life, I feel like I'm entering a new stage: a time when things are going great, but I also feel like I'm ready for new challenges, new adventures. A time of flourishing. A time when I can truly thrive.
During my month-long sabbatical in October, I decided to look around and see what sort of blogs and other personal writings there were out there by people who are similarly situated, and feeling the same way I'm feeling. Sadly, I found very few. Save for the incredibly beautiful blog This is 50, by gifted photographer Kristin Perers, there's not a whole lot out there that represents what I'm experiencing -- that this isn't a time of disappearing, but more one fueled by the feeling captured by the indomitable Maya Angelou, who said that her mission in life isn't merely to survive, but "to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style."
That's what I'm talking about.
So, inspired by my friend Erin Loechner (who advised me to "write the kind of content that I wish I saw elsewhere on the web"), going forward, I'd like to turn Chookooloonks into a bit of that sketchpad again, as I explore what the word "thrive" means to me. Much of the content will be the same, I expect -- after all, I remain firmly convinced that the essence of thriving includes looking for the light, and seeking beauty and expressing gratitude for the good in my life -- but I'm also going to return to using Chookooloonks as a place to capture my thoughts as I explore this newfound mission. I expect that the writing, at times, might be a bit more personal -- and possibly more sporadic (although still frequent, I assure you). I, for sure, plan on sharing the stories of people who I think are inspirational in the way that they live their lives. And I'm hoping, if you come along for the ride, you'll be inspired by the new things that I share here, as well. Because this feels like the right place for me to be.
In this vein, last month I decided I wanted a little keepsake to have on me at all times to keep me on task. I happened upon the little leaf pendant that you see above, which I thought was the perfect little symbol for the word "thrive" -- so I bought it, and have been wearing it ever since it arrived.* (The fact that it resembles the Chookooloonks logo is a happy bonus.) I'm thinking of it as a little talisman, to keep me on the "thrive" straight-and-narrow.
I'm so looking forward to this new chapter, and I hope you'll come along with me. Here's to thriving, friends.
* I bought the little pendant on Etsy. It doesn't look like it's available anymore, but here's the shop, in case you're interested.
Song: Sunshine by Flight Facilities, featuring Reggie Watts