I started blogging in 2001.
There are a lot of stories within the almost-fifteen years I've been online. I went through college, I broke up with a boyfriend, I started dating my husband. I graduated, taught middle school, got married and voted for Bush. I got a job at a high school. I stayed there for almost ten years.
I got my graduate degree. I went to Africa. I wrote a book. I met my therapist. I moved to Austin, began the adoption process, and quit my job.
I started a business and wrote two more novels.
I am — and I am not — the same Elora who stepped foot in this particular space five years ago.
There's something curious that happens when you allow fear to become your editor. Your entire being becomes heavy with untold stories. You filter dialogue and take care with opinion. Eventually, you just stop speaking all together.
This is me beginning to speak.
This is me taking back the mic and starting over.
I started deleting posts a year ago. I started from the beginning and if any post didn't ring true to who I wanted to coach or who I wanted to be, I copied and pasted it into Evernote and deleted it from the site.
I wanted to be cohesive. I wanted my brand to be manageable and recognizable. I wanted so many things, but got none of it.
In her book When the Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd says, "God didn't prioritize the parts of me. God created my emotions, my instincts, my senses, and my body as well as my spirit and my mind — and pronounced them all good."
Here is the truth of it: I used to write about faith, and then I didn't anymore. A lot of it centers on my own beliefs shifting, the doubts taking the place of once firmly held ideals. How do you accurately describe what it's like to learn how to live within the questions? Some of it though smells a lot like me hiding under the guise of discernment. The core of this facade?
The internet can be a beautiful place filled with authenticity and vulnerability. Some of my best relationships have been formed within the virtual walls of various blogs and communities and social media channels.
But the internet can also be a thinly-veiled Monster. I know this because I've been part of it. The spontaneous lynch mobs forming among Facebook threads and Twitter feeds, the private messaging and private groups filled with gossip and slander, the dissecting and deconstructing of words to fit your own meticulously contrived opinion — anyone can fall into it.
And anyone can fall prey to it.
I tried to write about myself for a little bit. I brought back the personal narrative and wrote about risk and what it felt like to go soft. But last year something happened. It was all mostly internal, but my focus shifted. I got tired. My inner circle got too large and I lost perspective. The fear took root and I decided to just stop telling stories. According to a few around me, my emotions were getting in the way, and so I shut them off.
That's when I focused on the sale.
I'm not proud of it. I think the entire time I fell into this rhythm, I knew I was flailing. I was a fish out of water. I knew I looked as desperate as I felt. But I didn't know how to stop. It's a vicious cycle when we try to grow numb to the stories happening around us and to us and instead we focus on getting. Usually, this means we're forced to live someone else's story — taking and mimicking their narrative and pretending the ill-fitting plot fits us perfectly. It's the most uncomfortable thing in the world to live as a character in someone else's story.
It's equally as vicious and violent when you break yourself free. You know that saying about being the average of the five people you hang out with most? It's true. And if who you are aligning yourself with continually questions who you are and what you stand for, you better believe you'll begin to question yourself.
You'll question your purpose, your story, your decisions, and your intuition. The very thing you built out of love and tears and hope becomes a mirage in their shadow.
I broke free. I broke free and it hurt like hell. But somewhere within these past few months, the slow steady beat of my heart has returned. This is what happens when you allow yourself to let go of everything that doesn't align with your own internal rhythm — the one that speaks of purpose and strength and calling.
I'm remembering the rhythm.
I've archived the flailing. I saved it in a folder on my computer to remember on the days I'm feeling lost. I'm starting fresh, and I hope you'll join me.
Tell your story, the heart whispers. Tell all of it. Every fracture — every pin prick of light.
I remember the parts of me — the shards that merged together create a mosaic of color and syntax. And so I open my mouth, take a deep breath, and begin.