Monday, January 21, 2013

Reflecting on Reflection

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with Emily, a journalist from our local newspaper, to talk with her about one of my favorite pastimes. With a French press pot of passion fruit tea at our local Cup of Joe, I talked with her about why I’ve devoted a part of my life to my computer screen to tell pieces of my story on this blog.  And I realized after our chat that I had never really thought about many of the questions she posed.  I blog simply because I like to do it, but I’ve never really thought about why I love blogging, what I’ve learned from it, and the challenges about telling pieces of my story on this open and exposed platform.  These questions left me scratching my head a bit, and desiring to reflect on why this hobby is an important one for me.

I’ve always loved writing and believe it is a powerful tool for self-growth and reflection.  It’s been a hobby of mine for as long as I can remember, and was one of the passions that led me to want to teach reading and writing to others.  Writing is also something I struggle with, and like any sport or hobby, you grow with practice.  Writing isn’t something that comes easy for me, but is something I have to work at, and the growth that occurs when I make a habit of it is what is most rewarding for me. 

I started a blog at school for my students during a unit on Catcher in the Rye.  It’s one of my favorite books, and a book that requires us to explore our own voice as we are let in on the voice of Holden Caulfield.  Long story short, I loved the effects I saw from this and desired to do something similar to document my life outside of school.  I often thought about how much I could accomplish if I would spend that time writing professionally; however, there’s a lot to be said for being able to separate from work life and find a creative outlet elsewhere.

I started my blog on a whim and had absolutely no expectations for how it would go.  My husband and I were newlyweds, we had just bought our first house, and life was good.  I wanted a way to chronicle the things going on in our lives as a sort of history book for our family.  Back then, I had little to no audience --- my husband every now and then, my mom, and my grandma, and it was the perfect way to practice writing and reflect and remember these times in our lives. 

My blogging became even more important when I found out I was pregnant with Cruz.  I loved being pregnant and had this desire to want to soak up every moment and try and bottle up how I was feeling, what I was thinking, and how I was preparing for him.  I wrote him letters, wrote about what I was craving and how I was feeling, and recorded this ongoing story of what life was like the months before Beau and I would become parents.

My life completely changed on October 12, 2010, when little Cruz came into our lives.  Suddenly, every little moment became so precious and I wanted so bad to slow down time and just exist in this little bubble of being new parents.  Everything was new, everything was a little scary, and everything seemed so temporary.  I will never forget a quote I once heard in a Personal Essay class in college ---- Natalie Goldberg said that ‘writing gives us the unique power to live life twice.’  In a way, writing became my way of trying to slow down time, or do what Holden Caulfield desired when he said that he wanted to put certain things in glass cases and keep them in a museum forever.

Blogging made me more aware, more grateful, and more creatively motivated.  It didn’t take me away from a moment, but made me live in it deeper.  Gretchen Rubin wrote in her book The Happiness Project that in order to squeeze the most happiness out of a situation, we need to not only savor it when it is happening, but express it in some way afterwards.  It’s what Mary Oliver means when she says, “Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.”

Soon, I became a part of this bigger community of other moms doing the same thing.  I found bloggers that I kept going back to for one way or another --- some for their amazing photography, some for their creative inspiration, and some because I felt like they were my friends from far away. I love so many of these women, and have found so much inspiration from them.  They are women --- imperfect and real, just trying to do their very best and share bits of their happiness along the way.  And you know what?  Reading about their happy things makes me happy, and inspires me to look for inspiration, and beauty, and happiness around me.  I think it’s what Annie Dillard meant when she said, ‘what you see is what you get.’  If you look for the bad, you will surely find it.  If you look for the good, you’ll find that it’s there, too.       

And while the process of blogging is the most important part for me, the products are rewarding as well.  I have this time capsule of sorts for my family to dig into one day; full of snapshots of what life was like.  And that is what they are – snapshots.  This blog is a slice of our life, but not our whole life.  There are plenty of things that go undocumented, plenty of things I choose not to share on this space.  As I change, so does the blog.  Some days, I feel like sharing more, some days, I feel like sharing less, and one day, I may find other interests that take away from this blog.  Above all, I write for myself, and try to not force what doesn’t feel right. 

There’s this picture of my mom when she was pregnant with me.  It was late summer and the golden light must have been a killer that night because the entire picture is on fire.  The hue of the image is a mix of the greatest fall colors you’ve ever seen, the sun seeps through the lens in all the right places, and there, standing next to a tree is my mom, holding my brother’s hand, standing there in this perfect white dress, her hair swept up in a messy knot, glowing in a way that only a soon-to-be mother can.  I’ve only seen this picture a few times, but it’s an image that has stayed with me for as long as I can remember.  It’s the essence of motherhood, a snapshot within a bigger story of the month I was born, and an artifact of simple happiness before I was there to remember it myself.  

I think about this picture a lot when I write on this blog.  Stories and images of our life, our history, and our happy. 


  1. I really enjoyed reading this post Ashley. I could connect with so many things you have written here and truly love that this space is a reflection of you and your beautiful family. xx from KC. :)


  2. I really enjoy reading it, too!

  3. Great post---loved reading it!




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