On impermanence

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Got up for yoga class, early early. Almost skipped. Didn’t. And it turned out to be a special class for one my favourite instructors — her last here in Waterloo. I’ve been going to this studio long enough to remember being in one of her first classes, and have seen her grow in confidence over the years, and it felt like a lucky break to be there to say goodbye.

She wanted to reflect on impermanence. She asked us to focus on something we needed to change, or some change we were struggling to accept, and as we knelt on our mats these words popped into my head: Goodbye, Obscure CanLit Mama.

Wow. I can hardly bear to type them out. But I think I might be on to something. It might be time to say goodbye. I’m not clear what it is I’m saying goodbye to. Is it blogging, wholesale? Is it to the persona? Am I recognizing that this blog has become, in some ways, a heaviness, an obligation rather than a joyful expression?

As I reflect on what this blog has been for me over the nearly five years it’s existed, I am so grateful. It’s been a place to test out ideas, to meet other “Obscure CanLit Mamas,” to record my children’s quickly passing stages and my own attempts to manage and frame my role as their mother. It’s been a public journal, in many ways. It’s allowed me to claim my writing self. I learned how to take photos because of this blog. I’ve connected with old friends, and new. I’ve felt, at times, too opaque, at others, too raw. I’ve written about books that I’ve loved. It’s also been a forum for publicity for The Juliet Stories.

And I guess I don’t really know what this blog is for anymore. I still love the writing of the posts. But I’ve been having panic attacks when I press “publish.” I’m worrying far too much about offending readers, about tone, about perception, about being liked (or worse, not liked). The spirit of the enterprise feels off-kilter somehow. I’m worried, also, that blogging may jeopardize future employment opportunities. (Kevin thinks that’s a ridiculous fear, but I wonder: would you trust your midwife if she had a blog?)

I am still an Obscure CanLit Mama. But I’m not quite the same Obscure CanLit Mama who pressed “publish” on that first post all those years ago. I have more confidence in my writing. That may be it, pure and simple. I can think of myself as a writer now without feeling like an imposter.

I am a writer.

It is my instinct to continue to write, to blog, to post, to tell, to record, to celebrate, to reach out with words. But what am I offering, and what am I asking for in return? I’m not at all clear, anymore. I should be. It’s time to take a break, for now.

Thank you for sharing my practice with me. I’m quite sure, I am, that this isn’t goodbye.

What I really really want
Experiments in the key of Carrie

30 Comments

  1. carrie, that yoga class was really special this morning…thanks for writing about the theme on which we focused. i only practised with our instructor for two months, but am so glad i had a chance to get to know her. glad you were there this morning, too.
    on blogging: i gave up blogging in january after three years. it must have been the right decision because i have not missed it. best wishes to you as you decide where/how/what direction to go, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. i do enjoy reading!

    Reply
    • It’s interesting to me that you don’t miss it, Cathy. I already miss it, and it’s only been two days!

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  2. Carrie – I stumbled on your blog many months ago and am now a daily reader… I identify with so much of what you say; just as another working mother I guess (well a mat leave and trying to get back into the workforce mother really). Your posts are thought-provoking and motivating, and I have to say, they are a pick-me-up when I feel down.
    Anyway, I never comment on blogs; but I feel like I have to say goodbye, thanks for sharing, and hope you return to update us, or in whatever forum/capacity you choose. I’ll miss you!!

    Reply
    • Thank you for commenting. It does my heart good to hear that my posts have picked you up when you’ve felt down. I’m quite sure I will be back with updates, and that I will find a way to keep sharing my reflections.

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  3. Carrie – I concur with the previous post. I have enjoyed your blog so much, being in a similar stage of juggling kids, work, sports and life. I have been encouraged by your messages, supported by your challenges, intrigued by your observations and amazed at how you capture the most important parts of life – the everyday. It is sad to say goodbye, although I understand the need to move on. I too hope one day you will reconnect and update us on your adventures.

    Reply
    • I appreciate hearing your thoughts. Thank you. I have the feeling updates will be coming, as I’m finding it hard not to express myself through my blog. I just need to find a way to make it fit with the rest of my life.

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  4. I saw you read at the Vancouver Writer’s festival and then tracked down your blog shortly after. I really appreciate the candidness of all your posts. I can also see how much work and thought you put into this blog.

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    • Hi Stephanie, Thanks for reaching out. I loved my time in Vancouver — a whirlwind of an adventure that remains clear in my mind. Yes, the blog has become a lot more work than it was originally, and although I want to keep it going, I’m not sure that I can manage it — and do everything else that I want to do. I hope to figure it out.

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  5. Carrie, thanks for your blog. I am an English prof and I stumbled onto your blog just a month ago now. I check it when drinking coffee in the morning and always hope there is a new little tidbit to inspire me about work/life balance, about the difficulties and joys of writing as a vocation, about life in Ontario, where I also live. I’ve appreciated your last few posts. They remind me of that great Cormac McCarthy quote. “The world is quite ruthless in selecting between the dream and the reality, even where we will not. Between the wish and the thing the world lies waiting”
    Thanks so much for your blog posts. I will happily wait to read whatever you write next, online or in book form. Take good care!

    Reply
    • I really really really loved the image of my blog being read over coffee in the morning. Thank you for giving me that.

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  6. What?! Nooooooo! I can’t believe it!

    I understand, but will miss your posts! If it weren’t for your blog, I don’t know if I would have gotten to know you like I do now!

    I feel sad! I guess I will just have to talk to you in person, rather than catch up through your blog. In person is better. Much better!

    You will certainly be missed!

    Reply
    • I know. I know! I’m not convinced this is goodbye to the blog, honestly. I just don’t know. It’s become a lot more work than seems sustainable, and I’m trying to brainstorm alternatives and ways to keep it going, in one form or another.

      In person IS better! But next year you’ll be away, and I’m sure I’ll be looking to your blog to keep up with your adventures, and it will be sad not to be sharing, too.

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  7. Your blog has been a daily pleasure of mine that I will sorely miss. Reading your blog inspired me to finally start writing my own. Your words will be missed.

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    • Hi Tiffany, How wonderful that you were inspired to start your own blog! I do hope to continue, somehow or other, and will definitely be back from time to time with updates. And of course I hope to publish more books in the future — more words to read.

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  8. Thank you for the eloquent posts and the terrific links, which have taken me to places I would never have found myself. I will miss it all.
    A quote from Douglas Adams is stuck in my head today; I’m not sure of the quote and I’m not even sure it’s him. I could Google it I suppose but even that would not convince me. That’s the difference between so-called information on the Internet and what you have written. I can trust what you have written.
    Anyway the quote was something: like flying consists of learning to throw yourself onto the ground and missing. That’s what a blog should do: teach us to throw ourselves onto the ground more often.

    Reply
    • Hi Chris, Thank you for your trust. I feel honoured and also, just a little bit, unworthy — although I’ve definitely thrown myself on the ground many times over in my attempts to fly. Thank you for reading.

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  9. Dear Carrie,

    I agree with Tricia, with the Nooo! but it is okay. And what ever you decide will be okay. I will miss your posts and the “trueness’ of your blog. I will just have to re-read the old posts.
    Life is really busy! You should try to keep up the things you like to do when you only have a little spare time.
    Thank you for the past 5 years. Libby

    Reply
    • Hi Libby, I re-read old posts too! Sometimes I’m surprised by all the things I used to know … and seem to have forgotten … and am happy to be reminded of again. I’m still reflecting on how to continue this blog in one way or another, as there is much about it that I still love.

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  10. I want to thank you for your blog, which I stumbled upon a little while ago. I also made the decision to stop a long standing blog last month (although then started a much more focused blog in its place) as it became a place where each post was a need for others to buoy me up. Stopping it made my life so much lighter.

    Good luck with your writing.

    Reply
    • Hi Meghan Rose, Yes, that rings true for me too — “each post was a need for others to buoy me up.” I’m concerned that I’m spending too much time worrying about how I’m being perceived, and the vanity inherent in that is unhealthy. I would love to keep blogging, but only if I can do it in a way that feels positive, and true.

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  11. As the others, I will miss getting to know you and reading you. I stumbled upon your blog after reading The Juliet Stories and have enjoyed every post, a light in my day. I too have 4 children, 2 boys and two girls ranging in ages from 18 to 24. Your blog has helped me to remember some of the simple things that make life so precious and at times fail to remember when work and bringing up a family takes up all your energy – you helped me recapture the lost moments of a busy but loving household. I have truly admired your remarkable choices, your honesty in your daily writing and the essence of what you write about. Your comments have made me reflect on important issues. I too shall miss you but I understand the need to grow and change. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, for your wisdom. I wish you all the best and look forward to reading you again soon.
    Julie from Ottawa

    Reply
    • Hi Julie, One of the most precious things about the blog has been the way it’s captured our family’s changes over the past few years. The stages and phases just seem to fly by, and the blog has been like a scrapbook, in a way. I’m not sure how to replace that, and it’s something I’m thinking about. (I wonder how different a private scrapbook would be from one made to be seen by others online; would it be different? I’m not sure.) Thanks for reading.

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  12. I will miss you and am so thankful that I was able to meet you through your blog. I hope we can meet again in person again and I wish you the best in all you chose to do. xoxo

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    • Thank you, Marita. I’ll miss you too. I hope to find a way to stay connected. Who knows? Maybe I just need a little break from the blog and I’ll find my way back again …

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  13. I’ll miss the blog Carrie — but I’m waiting with bated breath for the next book.

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  14. I will miss catching up via the blog but look forward to other avenues of keeping in touch…..it has been wonderful and thank you xoxo

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    • Still debating, and haven’t closed the door on the blog yet … but do need a little break in order to reflect and refresh. xo

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  15. You know, you should just consider being a slacker blogger: write posts on whims, at totally unpredictable moments, with huge (or sometimes not) gaps in between posts. When you feel like it. Not when you feel you SHOULD do it. It’ll be, as your kids say “SO random”. And that will be cool.

    Reply
    • Marnie, I like that idea, a lot. You’re on to something. Why the pressure to produce so many posts, so regularly? Hm. Never even thought of that option.

      Reply

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