Want to Stay Subscribed to Analyfe? Please Read!

If you see this page, you’re in the right place!

Just under two years ago, I decided it might be fun to try blogging. Try…

It turns out, I actually enjoy writing and connecting with people. It amazes me how a simple idea and a few baby steps beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone propelled me into an entirely different world. A world built on the exploration of ideas, brilliant sparks of inspiration, aimless wanderings, overwhelming excitement, and that impossibly complex task of figuring this life out. When I stand back to consider the ground tread between Point A and Point B, I have to admit: I’m impressed.

I began blogging as a personal challenge, something to push me and amuse me. After several months I began gaining readership–and not not just followers, but incredible people and thought-provoking discussions. Am I providing something worthwhile here? I’m not sure, but perhaps my sincere attempts are shining through.

I feel as if I’m at a cusp–standing in the middle a tightrope, where moving forward and turning around are equally terrifying. I’ve spent the past few months pacing back and forth between self-hosting this blog and walking away from it. After sorting out the technical back-end, I finally have my self-hosted blog up and, as far as I can tell, functional. Hooray!

If I had to consolidate my blog into a single statement, I would say:

My life is a blank canvas. I see ideas and people and nature and am in awe of the beauty and the potential; through my peripheral, I can see how these different colors could fit into my unique picture. But everything is so amazing that I can’t seem to commit to anything.

That’s a difficult place to be caught, and it’s even more difficult to openly share that experience. However, with wavering uncertainty comes endless possibilities. As much as I feel inclined to cower away or just do something easy–to do what everyone else is doing–I don’t think I can. The next step in my “Just Do Something” plan was to bite the bullet and set up self-hosting, so here I am.

Starting November 1, I’ll be exclusively posting at my very own blog, Analyfe.com (Until then, I will continue to post only here, so people don’t get double notifications.) There’s a link on the new blog’s sidebar where the old subscription link used to be; if you’d like to stay subscribed–and I truly hope that you do want to stay subscribed–please head over and subscribe to analyfe emails or update your rss feed to http://analyfe.com/feed. As always, I can also be found on Twitter and on Facebook.

If you’d like to continue receiving posts from the new analyfe in your WordPress news feed, here’s what to do:

Hover over that “W” in the top left corner, scroll down to “Reader” and click.

Within your “Reader,” click on “Edit List”

Beneath Edit Following, type http://analyfe.com, click “Follow”

You have successfully subscribed to analyfe.com!

 Head over to http://www.analyfe.com/ and let me know what you think and what I could do to improve the site!

I hope to see you soon!

-Erin

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Taking a Break From Blogging

The only thing harder than giving up is trying to explain to those who support you why you feel the need to let go of that which makes you so seemingly happy.

I began blogging twenty months ago today. That marked the first time I had ever written anything outside of school. Blogging has been one of the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of my life. It has taught me persistence and patience; it’s significantly bolstered my writing skills and it has helped me to continually expand my mind and perspective; it’s allowed me to connect with others and exchange ideas and ideologies with all kinds of people. It has been an absolutely incredible experience.

But I can’t do it anymore.

I readily opened up the doors and windows of my life and invited everyone who passed by to come in for a tour, or stay for awhile longer. I love learning about people and applying their personal perspectives to my own way of thinking. My hope was that as I opened up more and more (which I certainly have over time), others would see a reflection of themselves in me, and perhaps realize something they had been missing, or offer their own insight or guidance on a particular topic. I have seen that, and find it to be both beautiful and mind-blowing.

However, I’ve reached a point where I don’t feel comfortable sharing my story anymore. My readership has doubled over the course of the past month. That should excite me, but instead I’m cowering behind a bush, cautiously tossing out bread crumbs and hand grenades. I’m not sure how I feel about so many people freely exploring my thoughts, or about my willingness to lay everything out on display.

I tend to figure out situations logically and set aside emotional involvement until I feel comfortable with my critical understanding. Jumping from idea to idea without tending to some of the strong associated feelings leads to backlog, and eventually overwhelm. When you have a huge stack of fear, doubt, failure, and rejection piling up the corner of the room, eventually you’re going to notice and have to take care of it, if it doesn’t cascade down and bury your alive first. That’s where I am right now. Buried alive. My adequately stocked bunker of optimism and hope has been temporarily blocked off.

I feel like when Skype doesn’t work… eager anticipation, followed by crushing disappointment.

You didn’t come here for the subjective perspective of a cynical twenty-something who can’t get her shit together. And I fear that’s exactly what this is becoming – a series of bitter rants, heavy diluted with poetic prose and silver linings. I can’t be anything but honest. Reality is weighing heavily on me, and it’s painful to continually detail all the areas of my life in which I’m falling short. Yes, I read a lot, take interesting classes, write prolifically, travel a bit, learn all that I can, and introspect like it’s nobody’s business. But it’s hard to relish life’s little pleasures when you’re barely making enough to pay the bills, let alone save up for graduate school, foreign travel, and other special dreams. Life drags on a bit when everyone seems disappointed in you, especially when you are your own biggest critic. It’s difficult when you put a full effort into everything that you do for an extended period of time and work to maintain a positive attitude, only to end up in a worse place than you began. 

When I refer to the little community we’ve built here, I call you my imaginary friends. I never had an imaginary friend as a child, but I adore the concept of an invisible companion standing at one’s side to support them and cheer them on, regardless of current circumstances. That’s exactly what I’ve felt here over the past two years, and I could not be more grateful for the kindness each of you has shown, both to me and to one another.

About a week ago, I spent a nice chunk of change on self-hosting, hoping it would give me a new project and something to be excited about. The plan backfired. My desire to completely dissociate from blogging, all of my aimless projects, and everything else in my life multiplied by ten-fold. So, I won’t be blogging anymore.

I do have 184 drafts in varying degrees of completion that I would still like to share (as well as a dozen new ideas a day), and I did invest in self-hosting, so I’m hoping that I’ll choose to come back in due time. That may be a week, a month, or a year. I honestly don’t know.

The hardest part of walking away is that I feel obligated to show up here; I feel as if giving up is equivalent to abandoning a child. I can’t help but wonder if I’m providing something here that may actually be benefiting someone, and if this cessation could be somehow detrimental. According to chaos theory, the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil could set off a tornado in Texas. That idea has fascinated and terrified me for fifteen years. There is no way of knowing the consequence of any action until you’ve taken it.

Recently, I had someone form an analysis of me based on my astrological sign. Though I don’t buy into horoscopes, one particular statement stuck with me. As a Sagittarius, you are 49% genius and 51% insecure. I don’t consider myself a genius by any means, but I do feel that fear and insecurity outweigh my potential for success by the smallest of margins.

One of the highlights of Uncertainty was that being overwhelmed by fear is a signal that you are on the verge of something big, but you must keep moving forward. So, I suppose the next step for me is taking some small risks, in hopes of tipping that scale in my favor. But I’m not ready for that step yet. Instead, I want to sulk until I can’t stand myself anymore, and then burn and rise up from the ashes.

People I’ve already talked to keep asking what the plan is now. I don’t have an answer. I’ve always been a huge over-achiever, and at any given time I’m pursuing several novel ideas and projects. I’ve never given myself permission to quit. Until now. 

Quit blogging. Quit applying to graduate school. Quit applying for jobs. Quit editing my novel. Quit outlining my second, third, and fourth. Quit trying to devise business plans. Quit writing a manifesto. Quit talking to people who aren’t enhancing my life. Quit reading books that leave my head in the clouds. Quit caring so much – too much – about other people. The options are limitless.

I’m giving myself permission to trash everything that I’m currently working on, everything that I care about, and start over. No pressure. No expectations. Just a clean slate or, in my case, an oversized poster board, colorful Sharpies, and a box full of childish stickers.

I wish I had a courageous and righteous reason for quitting, some magnificent plan for something better, but I don’t. This is just my submission to something bigger and stronger than me.

I want to thank you all so much for being here and joining me on this brief, yet wonderful, journey. I appreciate it more than you could ever know. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and I look forward to one day reading of all of your successes.

Aimless driving, dead ends, construction, and impending storms.

In the case that you do, in fact, want to read the subjective perspective of a cynical twenty-something who can’t get her shit together, I may be open to discussion.

Inspiration, Potential, and a New Friend

My parents always told me not to talk to strangers. I think every level-headed parent teaches their child to be careful. Yet, for me, this instilled a sense of fear rather than caution. I hardly talked to anyone when I was younger, and this continued well into early adulthood.

However, over the past few years my desire and ability to talk to strangers has increased exponentially. My philosophy has changed a bit; caution is important, yet interpersonal interactions are one of the best ways to learn something new, to gain a new perspective. Talking to someone new is challenging for me and most conversations involve a lot of awkward silence, but they are often worth the effort if I simply take that first step.

I’ve continually refered to my blogging circle as my friends, my motivation, my inspiration. I feel as if we’re all part of this elite group who simply know that each person is a vessel of potential; we’re part of this special group who incessantly pursue their dreams, who love learning new things and acquiring wisdom. I think it would be an absolutely phenomenal experience if I could sit down in a room with all of you, with each of you individually and talk about life, dreams, and wisdom.

The other day, that dream came true for me, on a smaller scale. For the first time, I met one of my blogging buddies in person. Chris is an incredible person with an inspirational passion; Chris is a guy who is turning his dreams into a reality. Over the course of the next year, he’ll be traveling all over the Americas – visiting 35 countries, capturing 35 portraits, and sharing 35 stories. I highly suggest following his journey at Dream to Reality! When he said he’d be in town and suggested we meet, I couldn’t say no.

We went back and forth referencing our favorite TED talks and blog posts by Chris Guillebeau and Tina Su, sharing our experiences and philosophies on life, talking about our dreams and lessons we’ve learned. We covered spirituality, politics, the educational system, relationships, society, and every other topic you aren’t supposed to talk about. I felt as if I were having a conversation with an alternate version of myself. We climbed Camelback Mountain and as we watched the sun set and the moon rise, we discussed the effect of social comparisons, our hesitations, and our dreams. It was nothing short of incredible.

A few days later, I read that twenty-three year-old Nate Damm just completed his walk across America. This serves as yet another awe-inspiring example of the fruits of  perseverance and the rewards for following your heart. How can anyone read these types of stories and not feel driven to action?

I tend to keep to myself, but hearing about experiences has inspired me to 1) make an effort to meet more like-minded people in real life because they do exist and 2) fearlessly pursue my own dreams and passions. It will take faith, courage, and tenacity; it will involve defying conventions and facing resistance; yet seeing just one or two other people passionately chase after their dreams is all the inspiration I need.

Rather than standing back and looking on in awe as others achieve their dreams, I need to join them. Each of us is extraordinary; each of us has so much potential. As children we’re told that the sky is the limit and anything is possible; as adults, I think we need to be reminded that we can do anything we put our minds to, that life is our canvas and our legacy.

Zero and a half

Remember as a child how is was entirely necessary to insert “and a half” into any age between 4 and 10? Those 1, 5, or 11 months that constitute a half really made all the difference.

Today is the six-month anniversary of my blog. Today, that “and a half” is pretty significant.

I started blogging after reading a book – The Art of Non-Conformity – in which the author suggests an Alternate Graduate Experience for those who are not convinced about the benefits of graduate school as opposed to self-learning or uncertain about life in general. I started blogging because some guy in a book told me I should. Blogging was my “step in the right direction” when graduate school applications began to feel like the wrong direction. I didn’t expect much, so I feel pretty accomplished when I think about how far my brainchild has come in the past few months.

  • 174 posts
  • 55,000+ page views
  • Over 1,600+ comments
  • 138 subscribers
  • My post The Pet Effect was “Freshly Pressed” and featured on the WordPress homepage
  • I received the “Versatile Blogger Award”
  • The author of a book I reviewed (The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost) linked back to my review on her website
  • I have made many new “blogging buddies”
  • When I Google myself, I now show up on the first page – for both Analyfe and my real name

Those statistics and achievements don’t mean much to me. Okay, I’ll admit it’s exciting considering my blog was a personal endeavor and I wasn’t expecting anyone to notice. Even more importantly, my six months of blogging have nurtured my love of writing, helped me to explore and organize my thoughts, and connected me to a community of like-minded and supportive individuals. Blogging has taught me about myself, validated my ideas, and spurred new insight. Writing daily has opened my eyes to the world around me and forced me to grasp and dissect fleeting thoughts.

Thank you to all my readers for helping me get this far!

So, what is it like to get “freshly pressed”?

I schedule each of my posts to be published just after midnight. I like waking up knowing that I’ve already accomplished something great for the day.

Last Thursday, just like any other day, I tossed around post ideas and pondered what to write about. However, after a long day – three classes and a 100-mile drive to Phoenix – I was exhausted and didn’t feel like writing. “But,” I told myself, “you committed to the Post-a-Day Challenge. Write something, even if it’s simple, and then you can go to bed.” I wanted to write something, but what?

Then it struck me. I knew what I had to write about.

Upon arriving home, the first thing I do is call out the animals’ names – Beau! Sebbi! Owen! – and smile brightly as they enthusiastically race to greet me. On Thursday, I went to my parents house to pet-sit for the weekend. My family has always had pets and they have always been special friends to me, so why not write about them? I would compose a simple little post about each of their histories, silly quirks, and why I love them so dearly.

Apparently my simple little post struck a chord with many people, as I realized Friday morning when I opened up my flooded inbox. Yep, I had definitely accomplished something great that day! On the two-month anniversary of my first post, I had been “freshly pressed”!

My initially reaction was shock – not that my dog’s face was on the WordPress homepage, but rather that such a simple and seemingly unprofound post, entitled The pet effect, would make the cut. But not long after, I began to understand. Pet ownership and a love of animals are nearly universal. Everyone has something to say. I was moved by how much love people have for their four-legged friends. I enjoyed the stories of rescued animals, obscure tricks and traits, and I sympathized with people who had lost their beloved friends.

So, what is it like to be Freshly Pressed? In one word: Overwhelming.

Thousands of new views, hundreds of comments and likes, and dozens of new subscribers. Yes, it’s exciting, very exciting! I love writing and want others to hear what I have to say – I feel so humbled to have been given such an opportunity. However, it’s a lot to deal with; it is extremely overwhelming.

Am I obligated to respond to every comment? Should I take my full name off my site (just in case)? For how much longer will the “mark as read” button in my email be my best friend? Does this mean that I’m good enough to pursue a career in writing? Are my “blogging buddies” happy for me or jealous or my good fortune? A million questions raced through my mind as I struggled to empty my inbox and approve people’s comments.

Having been “freshly pressed” is exciting, but I’m happy things are starting to slow down again. I hope each of you has the chance to experience it at some point – WordPress is filled with so much talent and each of you deserves to be recognized for your efforts! (I plan on browsing and subscribing to some of your sites, as time allows.)

To all my new readers, thank you for reading and following me; I hope you will enjoy and appreciate what I have to say. And an even bigger thanks goes out to those who have supported me since I began my WordPress journey! I couldn’t have done it without you.