Whenever I come back to this blog after it's been a while, every word I write feels like that first awkward text you send to someone after you feel you've been a bad friend. I've sent plenty of those texts before. I usually try to cover up my shame with a bunch of garble, emojis and exclamation marks. I want the awkwardity (not a word) to be over in 2.5 seconds so we can get back to normal.
I have not been a bad friend about 9 out of the 10 times I think I've been a bad friend. I'm overly hard on myself. I hold myself to too high of a standard on the days that end in Y. I usually feel the need to repent to people I've known for years when it takes me days to text them back or it is weeks before we schedule another coffee date.
Truth is, I don't like living that way. I don't like feeling like the friend who slips away somewhere in the month of August and comes back on the scene in late October. I crave being constant with people. I crave consistency. But-- even 6 years into this blogging thing-- I still don't write on it as much as I would like.
I encouraged a leadership team the other night and the first thing I told them about was my blog. Of all the things I've ever created, this blog is my baby and it's the thing I am the most proud of. Easily. Hands down. Putting a book out into the world is hard to compare to a free blog on the internet but this little baby has taught me discipline. It's taught me to keep showing up. It's brought me closer to people across the world who I would otherwise never meet or get closer with. A 42-year-old from Spain emailed me the other day and told me she had stumbled across my blog and she read it the whole way through. She told me she was an atheist but she liked the way I wrote about God. She understood why I would think to pray. I thought:
Wow. This is my life. Wow. This is what consistency will get you. It will get people like this woman from Spain coming back to your page to check up on you and the life you've lived since you last posted.
So I've lived life lately. I've been busy getting a wedding dress hemmed, traveling to a dozen states for speaking engagements, sending edits back and forth with my agent for a book, teaching classes, enjoying the "fall" weather in Atlanta, and cooking everything I find on this blog.
Life is chaotic and I don't have time for every little thing I want to be doing but here's the biggest thing I've learned: you're not everything, Hannah. You're not everything to everyone and isn't it so freeing to not feel the need to be?
Truth told: the girl inside of me who used to be a hustle-til-you-die figure died. I had a funeral for her. She was very dear to me and she was the epitome of a #girlboss but she doesn't live in this body anymore. What has replaced her is a young woman who is still ambitious as hell but she gets that life happens... Life happens everyday you are too distracted to see people because you are waiting on emails to tell you how much you matter. And life happens apart from those emails you send at 2am and the constant need you feel to be everything to everyone. Life happens and it's messy, and it's annoying, but it's mine.
So, in the spirit of learning new things and embracing the mess of life, I wanted to write you guys a quick post. It's not perfect but it's a summary of things I'm learning. I dig that I can be honest with you guys and not feel the need to make every word polished.
Here. We. Go.
October is a hard month:
This is tricky to write about because October, for me, has not been a hard month. But one of my friends was leading a meeting the other night and he said, “October is a hard month for a lot of people.” His words made a thud when they hit the ground.
People break up in October. People are reminded of their singleness in October because everyone and "bae" is going apple picking and carving pumpkins without you. It is a season that carries some strange sort of somber undertone that I don’t really know how to articulate. As the holidays get closer, we are reminded of the loss embedded inside of us and the laughter we won’t hear coming down the hallway this Thanksgiving.
For years, October was a month where I celebrated anniversary after anniversary with a boy who claimed all the love my teenager heart could give him like gold. And then, for more years, October was a month where I wished I could zap October 16 off of the calendar and choose not to live it because it reminded me that not all things last.
October may not be a hard month for you. It might be your best month. My friends says she walks around all October like she’s got a secret she isn’t telling people because she feels like anything is possible in these 31 days.
But it might not be your month and that's perfectly okay. You'll have your months and you'll have your years. You'll have your dates you wish you could skip too.
The importance of maintenance:
This past year has been one of the most defining for me because I’ve been dedicated to this idea of “discipline.” I am learning that basically everything stems from discipline. The way to create good habits? Discipline. The way to maintain habits? Discipline.
The thing is this: you can set up some really healthy habits and still fall off the wagon a few weeks, or a few months, after. Every habit, relationship and obligation requires some sort of maintenance. Friends require that you check in with them. Habits require that you tweak them. Routines plateau and require that you reevaluate them.
Maintenance is severely underrated. It’s like buying a car and putting a ton of work into it up front. A few months later, maintenance will be required in some way. Oil changes. New headlights. Emissions tests. In the same way, making changes to your daily life will require you fix your eyes on maintaining them. It’s harder than you would think.
Engagement isn't magical:
Engagement has been pretty normal. No unicorns have shown up. People used to tell me that engagement was the most magical season and I waited for a month or two after there was a ring on my finger for that magical feeling to sink in. But it didn’t. That’s not to say I don’t think my relationship is magical or that I don’t think Lane is the perfect guy for me. It is. He is. But it's something different than magical for me.
Maybe for you it is, was, or will be magical. For us, engagement has been stressful and it has been awesome. It’s been both those things at the same exact time. One is usually not present without the other though.
It’s stressful because we are planning a wedding. It’s stressful because I would never voluntarily host a party this big at any other point in my life and so most of our fights are over stupid things like chairs we will see for one day, for approximately 5 hours, and then we will never see them again. Life is too short to fight over gold-glinted chairs.
I am sure Lane wouldn't mind my telling you there is a pile of fights he and I will never have again come December. We will drop that half-ton of fights into the ocean like that woman in Titanic and we will forget about those fights because they will not matter anymore. We will never speak of the chairs again. What will matter is that we danced hard, we ate burgers the size of our heads, we celebrated with people from miles away, we made it to the finish line and the starting line, and we made this cool, holy pact to one another in front of all these people who absolutely made us.
It’s awesome because we are choosing one another. In a world where it feels impossible to choose a coffee option off a board at Starbucks or choose a laundry detergent from the cleaning aisle at Target, we are choosing. Hallelujah, we are choosing!
But the most magical thing about engagement happened for me before we were even engaged. It happened before I knew I would marry him. It might have been the moment I realized I could marry him though.
We were sitting on his couch and Lane introduced me to the Hannibal TV series. It is both terrifying and awesome. It's bloody but we both love thriller shows and movies. It is a nightmare on repeat but, still, we love it.
I don't remember how it happened but we ended up dragging his mattress across the room and putting it right in front of the television. I made him my signature popcorn, the only thing I was capable of making on a stove top for approximately three years. We laid on that mattress in the center of the room eating popcorn and bingeing on episodes of Hannibal for what felt like an eternity. It was an island of sheets and blankets. I remember thinking to myself, "I never want to leave this mattress. I never want to leave this place. I never want to go away if I can't take you with me."
And that's engagement to me. It's the pending promise that we will spend the years dragging a mattress across the room and making popcorn after long days, hard days, and days that were nothing more than days we won't pocket for memory's sake. It's the pending promise that I am taking him with me. It's a pending promise that I've found the one who won't be another blue-eyed lesson in letting go.
I miss writing to you:
Even as I write this post, I keep thinking about how much I miss this blog. I’ve been so busy traveling, teaching, paying bills, killing student loan debt, trying to gracefully be engaged and assume my role as “bride,” volunteering at my local church and somehow reading fiction that I’ve barely picked up my pen in the last month.
It feels like pieces of me are missing when I don’t sit down to write. It feels like I am only half of what could be my best. My mind is as haunted as the town of Salem in October when I do not sit down and bury these words into journals and word documents.
All this to say: you need to do that thing that makes you most alive. If it's writing. If it's dancing. If it's more school. You need to do that thing because, if you don't, a part of you will die inside. You will shake hands with people in this world and only you will know what you are keeping from the world. So come back to that thing. It hasn't been too long. Come back to that thing and don't abandon it so easily next time.
Writing is that thing for me. It is very much my everything. And you-- you are such a treasure to me. Whether you are in Spain or Iceland, Kansas or Canada, you are a treasure and you give me purpose with each new day. I love your emails. I love your tweets. I love when you stalk me out in the middle of Nashville from the bushes (yes, that happened). I love all of it and I am going to thank God that I got to write to you until the words gave up on me.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting. I love you fiercely and I am making my way back to you one word at a time.