Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I — like hopefully all of you — have a lot to be thankful for: There are people in my life who really love me and whom I love. My body is healthy. I have an income. I have no real unmet need of any kind. I have the possibility of tomorrow, and, unlike other times in my life, I’m actually excited about that possibility.
In addition to all these things, this year I am also thankful for this, this blog and what it represents. When I started ToHearLife.com back in June, I had two main goals: to make writing an integral part of my life, and to get over my fear of other people reading what I write. These were for the purpose of the greater goal, which is to one day be a full-time writer. While I’m still millions of words and countless submissions away from that goal, I’m grateful that I have achieved the first two goals of making writing an essential part of my life and being, not only unafraid, but desirous of people reading what I write (cut to me checking my blog stats every night before bed).
But beyond helping me meet my current writing goals, this blog has also been helpful in ways I hadn’t foreseen. It’s pushed me forward, not only in my literary aspirations, but also in the mental, emotional, spiritual, and even social aspects of my life.
This last year or so has been key in my work towards greater mental and emotional health after years of struggling against depression, untrue beliefs, and myself in general. Along with helpful relationships, an excellent doctor, the right medication, and a change of habits, my blog has surprisingly been an important factor in my personal progress. Mentally, it has given me something to focus my attention and effort on that is both helpful in the moment and important for my future. Thoughts of darkness, defeat, or self-hatred get drowned out or shifted by the simple thought, It’s been five days since I made a post; I have to post something tonight. Emotionally, it’s given me a way to express feelings that have often derailed my time and heart in a way that is a thousand times healthier than my old usual means. (There are few downward-spiral-ly excesses that can stand against the realization of If I give in to this now, then I won’t be able to write later.) Needing to write, and having a place to share that writing, has brought more emotional and mental stability and discipline than almost anything else I’ve found.
Spiritually, as I go through a time of change and questioning greater than I’ve ever had, my stories give me a way to play out various scenarios, express frustrations, and bring to light realizations that sometimes I haven’t admitted even to myself (let alone God). Writing and sharing my stories have served as a type of spiritual diary that I probably wouldn’t have kept in another format.
And my blog has helped me socially. When I started it, I did so in a vacuum. None of my friends are writers, and I didn’t know anything about starting or maintaining a blog. But through this platform, I slowly started discovering other bloggers and they started to find me. I took a couple WordPress courses that allowed me to get to know the people behind the blogs. Now I’m part of a community in which I can share my writing with others and also enjoy what they share. I’ve been able to interact pretty frequently and helpfully with the bloggers behind sites such as Plane, The Retrospective Reel, Soundtrack of a Photograph, and The Lonely Author. I’ve also found other blogs, that, while I may not really know the person behind them, I frequently enjoy (like Bedsheets and Canyons, and The Renegade Press). For the first time in my life, I’m consistently being able to share and receive ideas, encouragement, and critiques with other writers. The people I’ve met through my blog that I would have never met otherwise are truly one of my favorite parts about it.
And so, for all these reasons, this year I’m thankful for this blog and the personal meaning behind it. My simple blog represents me finally taking steps towards the future that I want. It represents me being at greater peace with myself as I allow my thoughts to be put on the page and then offer up those thoughts for others to see. It represents me being disciplined about something that matters and not letting apathy, laziness, or remnants of depression take control of my time. It represents a clearer, more focused mind than I’ve ever had before, and emotions that, while still wild, are now more often under my control rather than the other way around. It represents me giving and receiving help with like-minded people. In short, this blog represents me moving forward in finally getting my internal life in order. For that I am thankful.
And that means I’m thankful for you, readers. Thank you for being part of this personal and writer-ly development. Thanks for stopping by and giving my words a bit of your valuable time. Thanks for your likes and comments and encouragement. I hope this Thanksgiving you’re finding your own way of positive change for your life.