Still here. Always looking for . . .

(I’ll begin with a sort-of trigger warning: This post is kinda long. And there are no photos. It feels like a bunch of loose threads. Because it is a bunch of loose threads. But if you hang with me until the end, I think I will tie them all together for you.) (At least, I hope so.)

Thread 1

In early November, I was feeling some pretty intense Blog Burnout. (It happens.) I mean, I’ve been blogging for almost 15 years now (how can that even be??? but it’s true), and although I generally love it – and I certainly love all of you – lately, things have started feeling a bit stale. I feel like I’ve run out of things to say. Or fresh ways to say them. Or something. I’ve not been feeling terribly inspired, and I figure if I’m not inspired, maybe reading this is not inspiring. (Yep. That’s burnout.)

So I‘ve been thinking about taking the whole month of December . . . off . . . from blogging. I thought a long break might be a good way for me to . . . rest. To fill my cup. Refuel my tank. Find fresh inspiration. (Basically . . . give myself some space.)

Thread 2

Meanwhile, at the same time, I had begun noticing advent-themed “opportunities” and “do-a-longs” popping up in my inbox and my Instagram feed. Knit-a-longs (which often involve purchasing “advent mini kits” and signing up for “exclusive” advent-a-long patterns). Art-project-a-longs (same gist). Read-a-longs and challenges to read-a-million-books-before-the-year-ends! (Seriously, there is a War and Peace December read-a-long if you’re up for it.)

I always struggle with these challenge-y “do-a-longs”. They sound a little bit fun, and even (perhaps) do-able at the beginning of month (. . . all I need to do is . . . read 75 pages/knit 1 repeat of the pattern/create 1 painting. . .  a day . . .  and I can do that!). BUT, once the month starts chugging along, “do-a-longs” only add to the holiday overwhelm. Why ADD things to do in an already busy month? Why ask people to BUY more things in a month already filled with shopping? Why encourage people to begin the new year feeling like they didn’t measure up to their commitments from the old year? (Because how many people actually complete these “do-a-longs?” Not many, I’d guess. But I bet there’s plenty of guilt out there . . .  about not “doing-a-longenough. Y’know?)

Thread 3

Meanwhile, at the same time, I was having all kinds of nostalgic feelings bubbling around in my head (and my heart) about  . . . Decembers long past. Remembering the magic and wonder of those days leading up to Christmas when I was a kid. Somehow, the darkness of the days and the bleakness of the weather didn’t even phase me as a child! All of my childhood December memories . . . are simple feelings of excitement and anticipation and joy and wonder. 

As kids, my sister and I poured over the JCPenny toy catalog for hours. We kept careful track of all the Christmas specials that were scheduled to show on TV so we wouldn’t miss them. We carefully wrote letters to Santa Claus. We made paper chains and tree ornaments and sat under the Christmas tree just for the sheer magic of it. And . . . we had a paper advent calendar taped to our refrigerator every year to help us count down the days til Christmas. 

Those advent calendars were such a big deal for us! My sister and I took turns opening the little windows – one of us opened the odd-numbered windows, and the other of us opened the even-numbered windows. And, oh how we loved opening those little windows! Although “advent” (a time of waiting) is very much a Christian concept, our little paper advent calendars were mostly secular (filled with pictures of Santa and goodies and toys), with a little religion thrown in for good measure (the 24th was always a little créche scene). 

It was so simple. No pressure.
Just . . . Open a window. And find the day’s delight!

Thread 4

Meanwhile, at the same time, well . . .  I’m always out here, y’know . . . looking for hope in a world that seems ever more fragile and fraught. Aware of all the good things in my own life AND also keenly aware of all the suffering in the world. Trying to reconcile that. Holding space for suffering. Holding space for my own joy. And trying not to feel bad or guilty or overwhelmed about any of it.

It’s a lot.
And I think it’s . . . a lot. . .  for many of you, too.


So, anyway. These four threads were running wild in my head in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving:
The blog burnout.
The promotional barrage of “do-a-longs.”
The nostalgia of my childhood advent calendars.
The looking-for-hope and figuring out how to balance my personal joys with all the suffering in the world. 

And then, just before Thanksgiving  . . . an idea (a kinda overwhelming and scary idea, truth be told) started taking root.  

What if . . . I could find a way to bring a little light, and maybe some hope . . .  to all of us this December? I mean, it’s so dark out. And winter is just beginning to show its teeth. We’re busy and loaded with stress and expectations and, well . . .  “do-a-longs.” And, of course, there’s always the world-on-fire “vibe” in the background.

What we need is an  . . . Advent Calendar of Comfort & Joy!
I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to opening a window every morning . . . to find the day’s delight? 

I think . . . it would.

So beginning tomorrow, December 1, and continuing through December 24, you’ll find just that right here on my blog: an Advent Calendar of Comfort & Joy. There will be nothing for you to “do.” Nothing to “a-long.” Nothing to buy. Nothing to respond to. It’s just meant to be a little pause in your day for some comfort and some joy, some wonder and delight.*

And maybe we’ll even find some hope along the way.

So. I hope you’ll join me tomorrow . . . ready to open the first window!

(And the irony here hasn’t escaped me. I mean, when I started writing this post, I explained that I was considering a month-long blogging break. And here by the end of the post, I’m explaining that I’ll be blogging every day for 24 days straight. Yeah. That’s right. But I’m newly inspired, and that counts for a lot, y’know? Sometimes doing something completely different . . . is as good as a rest. Even if it makes me a little nervous.)

“If you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth, and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
— David Bowie


*Despite the word “advent” in the title, this will be a completely secular, seasonally-focused . . . thing. (No surprise crèche at the end, y’know?)