As we begin the third year of the Unexpected Ever Afters blog, we are excited to share another mini-series, this time on the topic of our blog journey. We hope you enjoy our reflections!
Several years ago, Jessica and I started discussing the possibility of creating a blog together. I was equal parts nervous about sharing my writing and excited about the opportunity to connect through my reflections. I enjoy opportunities to connect through emotions, thoughts, and life processing, and I wanted to share this connection with others. As I wrote in my very first blog post, I love hearing and saying, “You too? I thought it was just me!” when talking with others about life’s many unexpected experiences. Authentic connection through vulnerability offers the possibility of empowering comfort.
As we mark the second blogiversary of The Unexpected Ever Afters blog, it has been fun to reflect on posts from the past two years. It’s interesting to look back on what I found compelling enough to write about, how my perspectives have shifted slightly from some of my posts, and how much of a cathartic journey the process of writing has been. I was able to enjoy some time and space during our brief blog break to refocus on some of the reasons why I write, and my favorite aspects of the writing journey.
Although my motivation for writing stems from a number of reasons, it has always started with me writing for myself. Writing is one of the ways that I process emotions, experiences, beliefs, and life in general. I often journal as a way to remember various thoughts or reflections, and to record my life and perspectives. Writing is a rejuvenating experience for me. Granted, adding in the blogging aspect of writing has at times made the writing process stressful, especially when the words are just not coming to mind and the deadline for posting is fast-approaching. However, I still find it very therapeutic, the rhythm of expressing thoughts and ideas with written sentences. There’s satisfaction in the process of searching for the best word or phrase to express a thought or emotion. The journey of writing requires me to slow down and really contemplate in order to adequately tackle a topic, creating many opportunities for self-discovery. Sometimes I will start writing, convinced I have a direction in mind and as I write, realize I’m taking a detour through a completely different route and destination than I initially anticipated. This meandering writing journey of processing perspectives and experiences is reflective of life itself and the many detours and unexpected routes that are a perpetual part of life.
Another motivation for writing, especially in the format of this blog, is my hope that someone out in the world will stumble across one of our posts and feel comforted knowing that they are not alone in whatever emotion or thought was shared. Although, I may never know if this goal is achieved, as not every reader engages with the author of blog posts, the dream that our reflections and vulnerability might resonate with and offer a warmth of connection to someone, somewhere, was a fundamental motivator for both Jessica and me when we first started this blog.
Co-authoring this blog with Jessica and sharing the creative experience has added a unique aspect to the writing process, and it has unexpectedly turned into one of my favorite parts of this blogging experience. Jessica and I share a mutual editing process to help polish our posts. At first, this was just to ensure quality content. However, it turned into the push and encouragement I needed to feel confident to publish my pieces. It’s amazing to me how she catches parts of my posts that need to be refined or reworded. Even the pieces I’m convinced are practically perfect just the way they are, in her thorough, thoughtful editing, she offers numerous suggestions to improve my writing. I have found this to be a good analogy for life: there are some days where I believe I have it all together and am cruising along in a “practically perfect in every way” manner. And, then something will happen to bring me back to reality, to remind me that I’m not an island, that others see, hear, and experience life differently than I do. I love that I can learn innumerous things from those around me, and that if I listen for the feedback, I can continue to stretch and grow as a person in ways I haven’t yet comprehended. Beyond this analogy, there are so many examples of analogy for my own personal life that I have uncovered through the journey of writing, and those “ah-ha” moments of growth have to be one of my favorite aspects of writing and sharing the blogging experience with another co-author.
Whether it is navigating through writing as a tool to process my experiences and perspectives, sharing my writing with others as a way to connect, or opening myself up to feedback to improve my writing, I have found one of the highlights of writing to be GRACE. For me, this blog venture has been an exercise in growing in the practice of extending grace to myself. I have always aimed for perfection and clarity in the work that I tackle. Writing in this format has reminded me that writing is something that can always be improved upon, no matter how many hours are spent on a post. Adding to that, there is also the reality that sharing personal experiences and perspectives is vulnerable and at times awkwardly risky. I have been working to accept that I might sometime in the future simply change my mind on a topic that I posted. Learning to extend grace to myself and my writing, both as a challenge to my desire for perpetual near-perfection and also as an acknowledgement to the reality that I might look back with embarrassment over something I shared, has been an opportunity for much personal growth. Throughout this blog writing journey, I have learned over and over the importance of allowing myself to accept grace and this practice has carried over into extending grace to myself in other aspects of life as well.
As we prepare to embark on our third year of The Unexpected Ever Afters blog, the past few weeks have provided a chance to reflect on the stories and sentiments we’ve shared in our posts and the encouragement and support we’ve received from some of our biggest fans. I am very grateful for all the opportunities to write, to share my stories, to learn from others, and to experience unexpected personal growth. I am thankful for the two years of this writing venture and am excited to continue this journey!
Wendi, her husband, and their two kids live in Minnesota and are currently perfecting their best “ya sure you betcha” accents. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters and enjoys sipping extra hot coffee, sharing a love of reading with her kids, and exploring bike trails.
photo credit: personal photo