It's been 15 weeks and 1 day since I've last sat down to blog.

If I'm honest with myself, it's because I'm afraid. Writing for me is where I realize my feelings, where life is breathed into the quiet, yet persistent subconscious thoughts that usually stay tucked in my mind until I let them out. 15 weeks and 1 day piled up, pushing and begging to be free, to be released and make room for quiet and rest.

I'm afraid of what that release will look like tonight. So much more change has happened since the end of September and I think I've avoided writing about it as a coping mechanism.

Writing isn't my coping. Writing is my vulnerability.

And I wasn't quite ready to be vulnerable. I don't actually know if I'm ready now, but there comes a point when there isn't much choice; it just is time.

It is critical of me to say it, but it feels real: I knew some of it was too good to be true.

In the blink of an eye, I lost someone so important to me in October. Her impact was so vast, so profound, so authentic, that her death was felt in the depths of our hearts. Losing her was like getting the wind knocked out of us; "us" being the thousands that were seen by, loved, encouraged, fed, and cared for by her.

There is so much that I could say, but I still don't think I am ready to breathe life into that space yet. It's too painful.

In looking back over past text messages and conversations, I forgot that she told me that I need to keep blogging. I think I forgot because I intended for my blog to be a place for me, and if it happened to mean something for someone else, that would be a gift, but it couldn't be (and can't be) my motivation. It strips this of the joy (and the pain) and the purpose of this sacred space.

At the time, the comment was taken as thoughtful encouragement, but it didn't hold the weight that it does now as I read it again. I now realize that in that moment 4 years ago, she saw me, saw something that was within me, and was calling it out.  

To blog again after losing her and reading those words, it is sacred. It carries deep meaning for me and so flippantly typing words on a screen just to say that I maintained my commitment to blog more consistently felt like it would be disgraceful. She deserves more from me, to honor what she saw in me to "develop my gifts", to honor each of you and to honor myself.

I shouldn't be surprised that over the past 15 weeks and 1 day, in the midst of some exciting transitions something devastating would happen. For a moment, for a short season, I just wanted the good to be good and to not have to just survive (or escape) to get through to the next good thing. I wanted to hold on and celebrate right there, in the present, and to avoid another stint in which I experienced the loss of something or someone.

This is likely not a surprise to any of you, but I think I am finally coming to realize that that is impossible.

A good story most often remains with you when it encapsulates the beauty and struggle, the joy and the pain, and how the person (or people) remain authentically present to it all.

I want to tell a good story. I want to be a good story.

So I have to be in it. All of it. And to let all of it be.

In the past 15 weeks and 1 day, a lot has changed. TJ and I both got new jobs where we work remotely. We found a home to rent in a tiny town called Gearhart on the North Coast of Oregon. Finding friends feels impossible, but the handful of sunny days, ocean, and stunning rugged coastline (mostly) makes up for it. We moved 4 times (before getting to our now home), I've traveled 6 times (mostly for work), and Yeep (our Jeep that just made it past the 200k mark) broke down 1 time in the middle of Portland traffic (this is a number we hope doesn't go up).

Moving the week of Thanksgiving meant celebrating just us in our new home with a small meal of gratitude on Sunday of that weekend, not Thursday like most others. The holidays were warmed by cutting down our own tree, putting up decorations to make our sparse living space feel a little more full, and flipping the wall switch to the fireplace to create that cozy winter warmth. Since we sold almost all of our furniture, we've come to terms that it takes time and money to create a home that feels comfortable and inviting, and it will happen, but it just has to be one paycheck at a time. We haven't undecorated from the holidays, and a part of me has a feeling that a little warmth will be lost when we are back to living in a sparse space. But hey, at least we can drive out and burn our tree on the beach!

The holidays were spent with TJ's family and it was quiet, restful and so wonderful. Having our immediate family in Oregon is a gift. For New Year's Eve, my dream of having a variety show with all of our friends didn't really make sense on short notice and with our people living no closer than 1.5 hours away. (By "friends" I mean new and old friends. I was hopeful we would've met some people by then, but we've only ever chatted with our landlord and our postmaster).  Instead TJ and I stayed in, had a dance party (party of 2), played games (we'd love some 2 person game recommendations, since we've overplayed all of ours), and counted down to 2019.

New Year's Day was nothing short of magical: bright sunshine, homemade breakfast burritos on the beach, small hikes, longer hikes, TJ trying out a surf break near us, reflecting on 2018 and how we actually "just did it already" (our only 2018 goal) and dreaming ahead of what's next. If the rest of the year could just be like January 1, my soul would be full.

But it hasn't been. Staying motivated has been difficult. Choosing movement and healthy food over sitting inside watching shows after work on sequential rainy, windy days while eating all the cheese is difficult. Choosing to sit down and blog and be creative with the time that I now have that I never did in the past is, well, difficult.

And I think that's okay...for now. Not forever.

We're trying desperately to create new rhythms that make room for the rest and growth (and even grief) that we need. But it takes time. And it also takes one step in a direction instead of just thinking or talking about it.

Yes, it is risky.

Yes, it is uncomfortable.

Yes, there is no control over the outcome.

But I can make a move.

2018 was about taking lots of steps in a new direction and even still life happened, all of it.

And we made it. You, me, us. We're here to keep telling our stories.

Tonight is about one step in 2019. I can think about the next step tomorrow. I need to just keep taking steps.