On the plane flying to and from our Seattle/Vancouver vacation, I worked on some of the exercises that my simplicity circle has undertaken from the book The Not-So-Big Life (by Sarah Susankah). In one of the early chapters of the book, Susankah has a long, rather exhaustive—and somewhat exhausting—list of questions about lifestyle which the reader is supposed to answer in writing. (I actually found it useful, in the end, that there were so many questions. I would answer a few easy ones and then get to a harder one—with my brain already geared up in that area of my life to pull out the real, honest answer.) One section of questions concerns exercise, and another concerns food habits. While I typed my answers on my laptop, I realized with a rush of appreciation just how vital the gluten-free, weight-loss/health/exercise, and food/recipe bloggers are to me; they—many of you—are my ever-present support system, with their/your writings always available for me to peruse.
On the days I’m eating lunch at my desk at work, I do my daily flip through some of the blogs I read to see what other people are up to and how they’re doing: to ‘listen’ through the web, to gain insight, and to offer support. Reading the weight-loss blogs while I’m eating helps keep me accountable about how much I’m consuming at that meal. Reading the gluten-free blogs and weight-loss/health/exercise blogs in general keeps me pumped up about foods I can make and reminds me that I am not at all alone in this learning curve we call life; I have people working beside me, and I have people to guide me. (When I imagine how it must have felt to have celiac disease twenty years ago—well, it seems like the world must have been a largely lonely place for people adjusting to celiac disease before the internet.) When I am struggling or I feel a strange (fortunately rare) urge to sabotage myself, all I have to do is flip through others’ blogs to see that it really is true that this too shall pass, and probably quickly, as long as I stick with taking care of myself. Reading others’ experiences with exercise has helped get and keep me motivated about my own path; for example, I remember feeling such extreme excitement when Kim (who had a similar weight to me then, though now she’s five pounds lighter than me!) finished her first 5k. I was so proud of her, and I knew from her experiences and others’ that I could get there, too. When I’m upset, or feeling down, or need inspiration, I’m fortunate to have people in my ‘real life’ who are there for me, certainly. But one of my greatest tools for keepin’ on keepin’ on is just to read a few blogposts and feel the sense of humanity that emanates through many of them. Bloggers—many of you—bare your true selves on the internet, just as I try to do, and it enriches my life.
When we got back from our vacation, I had missed eight days in the blogger world. A rare snowy day in Atlanta afforded me the opportunity to curl up under a quilt with a cup of hot tea (with honey and vanilla almond milk–mmmm) and flip through blogs to catch up. I thought it would take me a couple of hours. In the end, I had to take bits and pieces of three days to catch up on everyone’s writings, because I wanted to go back and read all the thought-provoking, insightful, tasty-looking, questioning, struggling, funny, exasperated, etc. posts that various bloggers I read had put up while I was gone. I wanted to understand the trials people were experiencing that had cropped up in the last eight days, and I wanted to congratulate them on successes. I wanted to re-engage with something that truly is a community–or, actually, a series of many overlapping communities, just like the real world.
The flip side is that blogging my own experiences also helps keep me accountable. Though I don’t write exhaustively about my moment-to-moment experiences, I always remind myself when I am writing to keep my writing true to my experiences. Knowing that I will be honest on here helps keep me more focused on taking care of myself than I would be otherwise. Being able to offer support and ideas to others through writing is a joy to me. And the support and advice I get from comments, emails, and even supportive, silent lurkers helps propel me along on this weight loss/health/exercise/gluten-free/allergen-free/self-care/foodie journey that I’m on. Ultimately, this is a path to greater self-knowledge and self-actualization. The time period starting from January 2007 through now (and still going) has been one of the most interesting times of my life in terms of personal growth, and each of you—along with many people who don’t read my blog at all—have played a role in that. This post is to say thank you for what you have offered me, to let you know that I hope I am offering you something equitable, and to tell you I look forward to going where we are headed, even—perhaps especially—if it is a journey that never ends.