I have good news and I have bad news
People usually want to hear the bad news first. The bad news: after five years of blogging at NFPworks, I have decided I very much need to step away from the NFP apostolate and blogosphere. While my NFP work may not stop completely, I have decided that the original flair and creativity for promoting NFP and fertility online and on a freelance/ diocesan base has grown not a little tired and uninspired. The good news: I will be focusing on personal and family apostolate (and whatever else comes my way) by working to become a better writer and designer. After working on that for a while, who knows?
Away We Go (away I go)
As an introduction, watch the following trailer for the fabulous film, “Away We Go”(starring the incomparable Maya Rudolph and John Krazinski). Have you seen it?
I love this movie deeply. The main characters are beautiful people with a compelling journey. They are having a child, and need to find a home for that child in what has been an up until present a comfortably unstable life in love. In the film they travel to various places that they have personal connections to. It’s a sort of settle-down dating game, a meet ‘n greet with the people and souls of cities they know and want to like. Which one will they love, though, and where will they finally lay their heads?
This film is not a replica of my life by any means, but the characters are siblings for my husband and I. John and I saw this movie in the Sundance Theater in Madison , and we both felt from the start of the film that in watching this film somehow our souls had been seen. When we decided to come back to Madison, this film was cemented as an icon for our nomadic lives. We decided to settle back in Madison, to truly settle, and to have our baby. No, we don’t have a biological child, but we have the spiritual and metaphorical child that is art and my artistic mission.
It has been a long struggle–two years or more–but I finally realized in order to have this baby, to become fully the writer and artist I am called to be, I need to leave the blog behind. The wheat has to fall to the ground in order to bear fruit.
You may love me
I have received a number of emails (that number is probably around a dozen, maybe eighteen) over the years of blogging, a handful of which were sincerely and deeply complimentary to me. This resurfaced when I wrote my “Creative NFP Advocate Bores Self…” post, and are starting to again now that word is out that I’m shutting the blog down. I am truly grateful for your support, and love of what I do. Your emails and personal encouragement has kept me going when I thought there was no use. With each tiny resurrection of a blog post (and they’ve been very tiny), you’ve commented and written some lovely things to me. What I’m afraid of is that I am not truly proud of much of what I have done in recent years, and that is very important. This is not self-effacing or praise-baiting, but simply the truth. I can do better, write better and flourish as an artist, but haven’t done so. I’ve been caught between being myself and trying to do what other people are doing. I’ve been unfaithful to myself as an artist. I think this sums up my creative journey of the last two years. (I’m the first guy.)
The reasons are complicated and varied. I’ve had a series of very tough jobs that burned me, and burned my soul quite a bit (even very recently). We’ve struggled financially for a number of years, which saps ones strength when you live in constant anxiety over bills and creditors. (Things in that area are thankfully on a better track now.) I am tired of apostolate, include NFP and blogging apostolate. The bottom line is that I feel that I need to grow in a different direction because 1) I am called to and 2) If I don’t, I will resent NFP apostolate and never come back.
But you probably don’t know me
Several colleagues and friends have expressed dismay that I am hanging up my NFP blogging hat. Some have hinted that I might be under spiritual attack, and possibly should press on through this “attack”. For those who’ve simply posited this as just one possibility, that’s a legit concern, and I thank you. For those who suspect surely that I’m under “attack”, I posit that you do not know me well. For those who truly know me, this is understandable and very liberating news. You are not surprised at all. You are a little sad, maybe, but you get it. Because you know my history, my gifts, my call.
I know that promoting authentic family planning and new feminism is a core part of what I love and will always do, but I am also meant to be an artist. In the middle of my short tenure at the Diocese of Madison as NFP Coordinator, I had a very clear epiphany that I was made to be an artist. I was made to write, to create, to design. This was intensely joyous to acknowledge, but very terrifying. Awesome. NOW WHAT? In prayer and in my life, it became more and more certain, intense and burning in my heart. I was so convinced of this that I actually quit my job less than a year in. (Hopefully we can laugh about it now, but it was very stupid then.) A week after I put my notice in, I had a prudent realization that I didn’t have a plan, a direction, or specific goals for this call. Why would I give up a job I loved for something that was still so nebulous in my mind? My very compassionate boss accepted my un-resignation (thank God), and I went on to have my most productive and fruitful professional year. This very instance has kept me from quitting the blog, because, what if something great is on the horizon? But I have done a lot of thinking, praying, discussing with my spiritual director (one of the most important parts of this decision), and….
It. Is. Time.
I feel very at peace about the decision to go, but as I have noted, I will not be entirely gone from the blogosphere. First, my blog will be gone, but the archives will reside at the Living the Sacrament Blog, where I may guest blog from time to time. My domain will be forwarded then transferred to Living the Sacrament, in case you’re wondering if I’m selling the domains with the #1 Google Rank for “NFP blog”. I will continue to comment on faith, culture and art whatnot at www.beautywillsave.wordpress.com (the blog for my husband’s and my defunct arts group, Ruah, where I still occasionally write).
As I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook, my plans are to put a sort of strategic artistic plan into action. Four years ago I went to see the Second City Mainstage Show, “America: All Better” with my dear friend Kim, and remember having the thoughts, “I want to do this. I could do this. I WANT TO DO THIS.” I think I dismissed it as a romantic notion in my classic and perpetual self-defeatist posture. I probably thought that I was too old for it at some point. However, recently I attended Second City’s Chicago Open House and took a writing class. Besides learning a lot in a short amount of time, I felt completely at home and, frankly, in love. My husband made me enroll in Comedy Writing 1 (not in a misogynistic way, but in a you-are-happy-doing-this-don’t-talk-yourself-out-of-this-way), and I feel more like myself than I have in a long time. From here: more comedy writing, and maybe some improv classes. Additionally, where I have time and money, I’ll be working on my graphic design and other media skills. I currently work part time at a coffee shop and do freelance social media marketing.
How did I come to want to be a comedy writer? The beginning of coming to know myself more profoundly started with friendships in the convent. I was a postulant and novice with the Servants of the Lord in 2003-4. Eating three times a day, working and praying with a small group of people will drive you nuts, but it will also make you laugh more than you thought you ever could. Incidentally, insanity and hilarity are both paths to self -knowledge. I honestly can’t remember ever having laughed so much. The Servidoras were my first comedy troupe. You know who you are, those of you who can access this blog entry I thank Lindsay for bullying me a little but loving me more and sharing her enthusiasm, joy, stories and family with us. I thank Kim for her wisdom and encouragement to courageously follow God’s will while also seeking authenticity. I’m most grateful to Kim for connecting me to so many other great people, and especially for bringing me to my first Second City Show. Lovely ladies of back-then Bowie, you mean a lot to me, and I pray for you.
I am also deeply grateful for my friendships with Eric G, Stratford (and his lovely family, who I also consider my friends), and Charlotte. You are all rich sources of inspiration for me. I’m grateful for your guidance and friendship. Emily and Audrey, you have stood by me throughout this journey, which has be a stabilizing gift of love.
Thank you to my NFP friends, old and new, who’ve been great supporters: Maureen, my FertilityCare practitioner (this was all her idea), Andy and his wife Chris, Sarah S, Kristin, Leah, Deanna, Emily T, Katie, Kayla, Kat and so many more.
All of this wouldn’t have been at all possible without my dad, Mike, and my mother Renee, God rest her soul. My father has been a rock in the last couple of years, and he and my wonderful stepmom Donna have been nothing but supportive. Lastly, I wouldn’t be where I am without my husband. You’re my pole star. Thank you for helping me to live my yes, and….
See you around.