daily fieldnotes

Setting goals category archive

On Taking a Leap 3

Leaps and risks are linked for me like clouds and rain: you can’t have one without the other. To make a leap is to face your fears, imagine your possibilities, and go into the unknown. To leap is to take a risk.

Christina recently wrote about finishing her first book, and finished the post by asking us to think about the leaps in our lives.  “When was a time you took an enormous leap? What did it feel like? What happened next?”. Like Caren in the comments to the post, I too made leaps that feel huge to me now “when I was younger and less aware of the insanity of my decisions”. Leaving everything I knew to go to college 3000 miles away, the first in my family, armed only with a scholarship, $400 for books, and a heart full of ambition. Moving to Spain for two years and becoming an English teacher. Moving back to go to grad school, and find my way out of heartbreak. Trusting love and commitment again, when I met JJ.

As a kid, I leaped with abandon. Climbed trees so high that I swayed in the wind, nailed wood into the trunk to make steps and go even higher. Jumped from the peaked roof of my mom’s studio to our house, gasping through the danger of air and sidewalk below until my feet skidded into the sandy gray roof tiles on the other side. Then did it again, hair flying behind me as I took a running start down the sloped studio roof. And raced with my brother to the train tracks after hearing the whistle from a mile away, legs pumping furiously on our bikes, hearts racing as we slapped pennies on the tracks to be crushed by the oncoming freight train.

This year, I took another leap. Stepped off the career track I was on to become a professor, and started imagining doing something that allows more expression for my creative soul. It’s felt like the riskiest leap I’ve taken yet, admitting I was on the wrong path and making space for a new one. The stakes feel so much higher as an adult, the unnamed fears so much more consequential.

About to become a parent myself, I can’t imagine courting danger as I did when I leapt across rooftops as a kid. Yet choosing to change my career path feels like reclaiming some of the boldness I felt then, the daring of climbing further into the treetop just to see if I can.

I don’t know what my future job will be. There are surely failures and missteps as I figure it out. But there is also certainty that I’m headed in the right direction. There is possibility in committing to daily creative work as a way of exploring new paths. And there is resolve as I write daily toward the goal of finishing a draft of my thesis before the baby comes in February, so I can graduate in May and leap into what lies beyond.

Blogging in 2011 11

Twice, three times, four times, I’ve opened a new post and then sat with it blank in front of me these past weeks. Not because I don’t write, because I do, pages, every day. Not because I don’t take pictures, because I do, hundreds every week.

I guess I feel some ambivalence about blogging. What does it mean to me? I love reading others’ words, seeing the images from different parts of the world. Reading about books and the writing of people who (want to) write them inspires me. I’ve even become a better citizen, commenting on blogs I read often. But I haven’t figured out what this space means in my life.

From a couple years of reading blogs, I think there are many reasons people blog. To share creative work, find an audience. To remember, capture, words and moments of life. Have conversations about politics. Find, give advice. Mostly people blog to connect in some way, through words, images, ideas, snapshots of their lives, everyday struggles and joys. People blog to set goals, and have company in trying to meet them. We blog to feel less alone, in whatever we do the rest of the time.

I’ve been hearing people say lately that blogging is dying. That it’s “so last year”. What do they mean by this? I think they mean maybe the kind of blogging that is raw sharing, unfocused, venting. Yet from what I’m reading, blogging is quite alive and well. Maybe because I’m drawn to creative (writing, art etc), hobby-focused (cooking, crafts) and support (infertility) blogs these days, and all are spaces that have a real purpose, where the kind of connection that can come from taking parts of themselves and their work and “throwing them on the web”* has meaning for creator and reader.

I’m not sure what blogging means for me as I write this. It changes. When I started buddingscholar nearly four years ago it was about figuring out who I was as a Ph.D. student. Last year in Barcelona it was about escape from the loneliness of working on my dissertation study. And when I started dailyfieldnotes, it was to broaden things, write about my life beyond school. And now?

I’ve been watching this amaryllis grow this last month, and three days ago it started blooming. Watching the green stems and tightly closed buds push their ways up felt hopeful, full of potential. The blooming: it’s bare, wide open, risky, vulnerable.

I don’t know what this medium means, or what stories of who I am will come through here. But looking ahead to the year, I’m resolving to do one thing: write, once a week, and “throw it on the web”, here. Really this is a promise to take the writing I already do, and maybe do some of it here, or else shape it and form it into stories and pieces of a narrative. Once a week, a post. Though I dream of doing it more often, especially posts with pictures, my commitment to myself and the world of blogging is once a week, normally on Saturdays.

When 2012 rolls around, we’ll see what blogging can mean in one year of this girl’s life.


What does blogging mean to you? What keeps you doing it, or has made you stop? Anyone want to join me in my post promise?


*Jon Stewart has started saying this at the end of a lot of his interviews. It implies a casual, quick way to see the rest of the conversations with his guests, but it also suggests hurling and tossing and other things you do with a physical object, and as a metaphor it seems both apt and wrong as a way of talking about what you put online…