A couple of years ago, I started a blog called Living Differently.
At the time, we were making some major shifts in our life… extracting ourselves from ‘The Norm’ and I wanted to document the journey. Back then, it wasn’t about amassing blog followers… I just wanted to document the experience in some way. Even if it meant sharing the journey with nobody-in-particular. Even if nobody never read a single post… just the process of writing about our journey was liberating (and, in many ways, healing).
Blogging has always been a way for me to express myself. I find that when I write, things just become so much clearer! I also enjoyed blogging, because I was creating a visual diary of sorts. I could look back on old posts and reminisce… remember… and celebrate our journey and our progress.
Of course, over the years… a lot has changed.
I am not the same Heather who wrote that “Pretty Things on Top of Table Mountain” post in April 2012. It’s almost 5 years later… and the person typing this blog today is… very different… to the Heather-of-2012.
I have grown. I have changed. I’ve evolved.
Some of the big milestone moments over the past 5-or-so years include (but are not limited to):
- The decision to quit careers that were life-sucking… and to figure out who we really are… and what we really want to do with our lives.
- Drastically reducing our monthly expenses (getting rid of the TV, the expensive cell phone contracts, gym fees, clothing accounts, and loads more stuff) so we could invest our money into a lifestyle that we wanted… (ie: travel!)
- Removing our children from the schooling system and choosing to go with unschooling / road-schooling / life-learning / interest-led-learning instead… (we still have not – for a second – regretted this decision).
- Renting out our house in Joburg… and embarking on a long-term experiment of nomadic living… which included a 6-week road trip around South Africa, a 2-month road-trip across the United States followed by 7 months living in Cape Town (including 3 months in this beautiful beach-house).
- Having the space… and the freedom… (during this time of travel) to re-connect with my MUCH’ness… and to write and illustrate, crowd-fund and self-publish my first book called “How Heather got her HAT’ness back”.
- Nick’s big decision that he wanted to move from editing films… to directing films.
- Nick and I co-writing a short film called “Starry Night” and shooting it in March 2016. That short film functioned like a business card of sorts… to prove to the industry folk that Nick is not just an award-winning film editor – he’s more than capable as a director… and so, the process of pre-production for Nick’s first feature-length film has now begun.
- My personal (unexpectedly freakish) experience of having the dam wall of pent-up-creativity finally burst while preparing for Starry Night… (and I have been manically painting and creating ever since!).
- My creation of a second full-colour book called “FODDER” – which contains a minuscule portion of the art, collage, poetry, scribbles, illustrations and ideas that has just…. POURED forth… over the past couple of months.
- Another big Costaras-Family-Decision that the Joburg-Season is now OVER. We’re no longer renting the house… we’re selling it. It’s officially on the market. And we’re heading off for some more semi-nomadic adventures in Europe for an indefinite period of time.
So… all this change has taken place… including something that I never anticipated in the beginning:
There’s now a lot more people on board.
I now have blog-followers… newsletter subscribers… Facebook & Twitter followers… lovely tribe’sters who went with me on the “Hat” journey… there are now faaaaaar more people in my little online world than what there were in the early days of my old ‘Living Differently’ blog.
On the one hand, this is wonderful.
I have met some of the most incredible friends – thanks to this blog and to social media. This blog has opened some very unexpected doors with some very unexpected people. I have LOVED connecting with you guys. I have LOVED hearing from you!! I am super-super-extra-extra grateful for every person I’ve connected with online.
The flip side… of course… is this thing that happens when I know that there are people who actually read what I write.
I begin to overthink. I begin to ruminate. My inner People-Pleaser becomes very very loud and constantly asks me these types of questions:
- “What do these folk want from me?”
- “Am I boring them all to tears?”
- “What would they like me to do?”
- “What would they like me to say?”
- “Are they waiting for me to supply them with some kind of answer or solution?”
- “Are they getting anything out of my inconsistent ramblings?”
- “What caused them to subscribe in the first place?”
- “Shouldn’t I be more…. helpful?”
- “Shouldn’t I be more… interesting??”
- “Shouldn’t I be more… consistent???”
- “Shouldn’t I be offering them…. something… MORE?”
- “Am I disappointing anyone?”
- “Am I letting people down – especially since I’m so bloody inconsistent and all-over-the-place?”
- “What do these folk WANT from me? How can I make them happy???”
See – it’s not YOU guys that are perpetuating this problem of ruminating and fretting. It’s me. I am the problem. I’m the one getting my knickers in a knot as I try to imagine what you – the reader – thinks of my blog… trying to imagine what you think of ME.
So… this is what I did: I went offline. I logged off.
I didn’t write blog posts. Didn’t touch Facebook or Twitter. Didn’t send out any e-mail newsletters. I just… logged off for a while.
I just needed to… separate myself... from “The Audience” (or rather – my twisted perception of “The Audience”) and I needed go right back to the basics. I needed to figure some shit out.
There’s a story I heard about a homeless man who apparently asked someone the following question:
“Do you tell jokes to make people laugh… or because you want them to think that you’re funny?”
Think about that for a second. Think about that question in the context of what it is that you do.
My mother says that I’m over-philosophical… but as an INFP, I’m driven by an insatiable need to understand. And over the past couple of months, I have needed to figure out my response to that question… within the context of what I do.
And I have needed to figure out my response before continuing with this blog…
So – in a nutshell… that’s why I’ve been absent from this blog (and from all other social media) for months on end. I need to understand WHY I blog… or else it becomes yet another meaningless activity in a world that’s too full of meaningless noise as it is.
I don’t want to just…. y’know… make-more-noise-on-the-internet. I need… (what I do)… to have meaning. It has to have meaning. If it doesn’t have meaning, I question it’s value.
“Why am I here? Is it worth it?”… “Why am I doing this? Does it matter? Is it worth it?”… “Why am I dutifully jumping through these hoops? Is it worth it?”… “Why am I spending so much time on this? Does anyone give a shit? Is it worth it?”… “Why am I incessantly worrying and ruminating about these people? Is it worth it?”…
And if I begin questioning the value of something… you already know that things are on a slippery-slope and I’m slowly beginning to disengage.
- I disengaged from church for this reason.
- I disengaged from toxic family for this reason.
- I disengaged from my life-sucking career for this reason.
- I disengaged from “The Norm” for this reason.
And… I am sorely temped at this stage… (and especially since social media has become so unimaginably vile of late)… to disengage from social media as well. To just clock out entirely from Facebook, Twitter, e-mail newsletters, blog posts, Instagram… the whole bloody lot.
The only think that keeps me lurking in the parking lot… is the niggling question… that what I do might – just might – be of value to someone else. And maybe – to them – it’s not just “noise”.
Anyhoo… while I continue to ponder on these thoughts….
… here’s the link to my new book (214 full-colour pages of Mad-HAT’ness). You can download a PDF for free – (although donations are hugely appreciated)… or you can order a printed copy via Gumroad. You can also buy them directly from Barnes & Noble, Amazon and all the other online retailers around the world (although prices vary… and that’s completely out of my hands).
Hug – x