I’ve been journaling for almost as long as I remember. By 7 or 8, I flirted with it, going weeks of writing each day in a pink diary complete with lock and key before gradually dying out, only to resume a month or two later with a written promise to “be better about it.” I’m not sure why I felt like writing in a diary was something I had to do. As one can expect much of the writing was silly inconsequential ramblings, but as I got closer to my teen years and started having more and more trouble at home and adjusting to my emotions, the pages were increasingly covered in the large angry scrawl of a child so obviously drowning in life. I still have most of these journals — books with flimsy locks or spiral bound and wrapped tight with elastic, lined and unlined, notebooks with pre-marked dates and inspirational quotes — all packed and carried in moves from Iowa to Texas, from dorm rooms and apartments to our first houses in New York and now to Nantucket.
As a junior in high school, freshly moved to state far from my dad and friends, I started blogging for the first time, increasingly turning from paper and pen to keyboard and monitor, from private to public. Back when internet access meant dial-up modems and AOL accounts, I started playing around with my first website, a free Homestead drag’n’drop site, and my first blog, on Xanga. The Homestead site is long gone, but for some reason a few days ago I thought of the blog, and I managed to track it down. I had, smartly, made most of the posts private at some point in college, but I managed to figure out how to reset my password and then spent nearly four hours reading through posts I wrote from 2002-2006.
As early as elementary school, I found solace in writing. By high school, when I struggled incredibly with depression, anxiety, and major life changes, far away from my friends, I found writing publicly as a way to feel less alone and frustrated and angry. As do many teens, it’s clear from my early blog posts that I was trying to paint a specific image of myself, but I was very honest too — perhaps maybe too honest. Midway through my freshman year of college, it all blew up in my face when I blogged about the hurt and frustration of a failed relationship and it had repercussions on my friendships. After that, I made a dramatic shift in how I wrote online. I disabled comments on my blog and, instead of writing about myself and my life, I mostly used it as a vehicle for sharing the poems and prose I wrote, much of which was autobiographical in nature but more cryptic, at least. Shortly after I got in engaged, I stopped blogging completely; although I don’t remember why it was not important anymore, I’d guess busy-ness and joining Facebook had something to do with abandoning Xanga. It also helped that the closer I got to my wedding, to finally being done with school and to being able to really live on my own as an adult, the happier and healthier I became. I was less and less dependent upon my online community for validation and support.
When I finally started blogging again, three years later, my blog was purely functional. We were expecting Nora, and I wanted an easy way to share our news without having to call all four sets of parents, three sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends every couple of days. We lived across the country from most of our family members, who wanted to see my growing belly, and a blog was the answer. It wasn’t the sort of blog you would follow if you didn’t know us. All I (and rarely, Chris) did was share the mechanics of what was going on and a lot of (poorly taken) pictures. But it got the job done.
Around the time Nora turned six months old and I turned 25, I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with working full-time and losing time with my sweet little girl. I realized that I wanted to start blogging for me again, and Au Coeur was born.
Yes, this blog is still a great way to share our news and photos with our families, but more than that, it is meant to be a meditation on finding joy in, what I call, the not-quite-there. We all have visions of how we want our life to go and the kind of person we want to be, but it is usually a process to make those visions a reality; the “not-quite-there” is that process. This blog is for me, but also for others — I hope that my journey and my writing might somehow be able to help other people who are also still working on getting to where they want to be in life — and, increasingly, this blog is for her.
I write here, because I want Nora to know how very much she is loved and celebrated. I want her to know what she was like when she was little and what our days were like. But I also want her to someday be able to read this and to know me. I want her to know that I enjoy old-fashioned mom stuff, but that I have a nerdy side too and that I enjoy building websites just as much as I enjoy taking her to playgroups. I want her to know that everything I do is for her and is about her, even if that thing is taking myself to yoga every Sunday morning for two hours so that I can refocus and start the week as a calmer parent. I want her to know that I am the kind of person who thinks, examines, questions and rarely takes things at face value. I want her to know I have dreams and hopes. Mostly, I want her to know that I’m human. That I’m not perfect but I am always trying, and that I am doing my very best to ensure she grows up much more emotionally healthy than I did.
I don’t have ads on this blog and it’s not part of any network. I don’t make money off of it, and for now I don’t intend to. It’s enough to savor the process of writing, photographing, and sharing, and to know that I am leaving a gift for Nora. I greatly enjoy the variety of perspectives and community that come along with writing online and blogging in particular, and I do make a point of telling people about my blog, leaving links whenever I comment or post elsewhere. I appreciate my readers and their comments very much.
I am still receiving a comment every now and then on my post about personhood. Most of the feedback I received was from people who were hurt or upset by the discussion, which was never my intent. I thought long and hard about this post before I wrote it, and I spent many hours not only crafting the original piece, but also considering and responding to the comments. From a very early age, I have engaged in philosophical thinking and debate, from asking a teacher in fourth grade to explain why division is to questioning, as a sixth grader, immaculate conception and most of Christianity. I don’t take much on faith. I chose philosophy as a major in college because it is in my nature to question and examine life. Many of the posts on my first blog centered on issues of identity and defining or understanding self, even if at only a high school level. I knew that my beliefs surrounding personhood would be controversial, but I chose to write about them anyway because this is who I am. I think about issues such as these, I want Nora to know that, and I think that discussing and critically examining my own beliefs makes me a better person.
That said, I want to say something very specific here: I don’t expect that everyone (or anyone) will agree with me on every single thought, feeling, or belief that I have. You don’t have to agree with me on any or all issues to read this blog. Whether it’s something big like my support for gay rights, the fact that I’ve had an abortion, or that I don’t identify as a Christian, or whether it is something small like choosing cloth diapers, generally not buying produce from outside the US, or not going along with the Santa craziness at Christmas, there is always going to be something I do or think that is wrong to other people. That’s okay.
I read and love quite a few blogs written by Mormon women; I’m not Mormon and I disagree with them on many of their beliefs, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying their sewing or viewpoint on parenting or photography, or whatever — it doesn’t even stop me from enjoying their craft posts about putting the Christ back into Christmas. You don’t have to agree with someone on all things to find value in them or their blog.
I knew writing about Warren and my support for her definition of personhood would not sit right with everyone, but that’s okay. I have heard from one or two people that they were flabbergasted by my post to the point of not wanting to follow me or support me in my other endeavors. If that one particular piece makes it impossible for you to continue to read my blog, that’s okay, too. We all have our bottom-line issues; if this is yours, so be it. Please also understand, though, that I can’t change who I am or how I think to suit every person in the world, nor should I if were possible, and I’m not intending to change my style of blogging or level of honesty about my beliefs out of fear of offending.