RECALIBRATION

I’ve been doing some soul-searching lately. I still haven’t found mine. I think I left it somewhere in Monticello, Indiana. And that has everything to do with this post.

I posted Ice Box and now I’m locked in a battle with Past Jeff. Now I can’t seem to write a thing.

I wrote Ice Box to fulfill a college assignment. Before kids. Before I had my first full-time writing job. Before blogging became the leading cause of thought pollution. When all I cared about was appeasing a prof for an A. I got the A.

After that, Ice Box sat frozen in time on my flash drive. A time capsule full of reflections of a simpler life. Unchanged by the world twirling around it.

While it sat there, we launched my career, tripled our mortgage, and had three kids–and not in that order. We also blindly charged forward and launched two blogs before answering the simple questions: Why are you launching a blog? Or two? It’s the sort of thing you settle before you plop down money for a domain name. Or a hosting service. Or a WordPress theme. But we didn’t. We just figured we’d figure it out.

The earliest notion of this blog was to to document our unschooling family’s journey to independence. I wanted to call it The Terrybles. And Jill was supposed to have complete creative control over it, including doing a majority of the writing.

You can see how that turned out. I got to write everything except for the name.

Actually, there is ONE POST on this site written by Jill. Just one. If you can figure out which one, leave the name of the post in the comments below.The first person to identify it gets an autographed picture from my high school years.

 

Whats' the point? Jeff and Jill went up the hill

You know you want one.

 

The other blog we squeezed out was jeffingoff.com. Jeffingoff was to be all mine–for whatever utter nonsense I wanted to dump on the world. And that became a problem for two reasons:

  1. I spouted nonsense
  2. it kept me from putting any time or effort toward J+JWUTH. And Jill hates to write. Her thoughts don’t line up nicely. They have a fear of commitment. They don’t respect the authority of the Central Idea. And they’re restless–unable to sit still long enough to get on the same page.

That meant that this blog just sat there.

Then one weekend Jill went away with the kids. I was alone and cleaning our home in the manliest way possible. But the silence. The shadows and laughs the kids weren’t throwing against the walls.

I stopped cleaning long enough to write KIDS LIVE HERE. I put it on J+J even though that was Jill’s turf and she didn’t assign the post to me. I put it on J+J because it was sweet and thoughtful and didn’t fit jeffingoff.

Then I kept going. I began putting all my new words on this blog and I slowly abandoned jeffingoff. I poured out about 70 posts. I made some incredible friends. I joined some groups. I cobbled together a Facebook page. I began getting serious about blogging.

And that meant I had to have a point–a response to the simple question “What’s your blog about?” So I asked myself:

Is this going to be an unschooling blog? No. I don’t really want to preach and evangelize our lifestyle and battle trolls. I’m happy to share my beliefs, but people get real defensive if they think you’re questioning theirs–even when you’re not.

Will it be a daddy blog? No. I LOVE being a dad but I’m not ready to be a crusader for father’s issues. I don’t want to be a Dadtivist in a movement of men rampaging across the internet under a banner that reads “OH YEAH?? I CAN LOVE MY KID JUST AS MUCH AS A WOMAN!”

What about a DIY blog? No, I can’t do anything myself. Travel blog? Nah, I only go to work and then home. Politics? HELL no. Coffee blog? Maybe.

The answer remained elusive. But when I stopped looking for the tidy response, the category that would satisfy someone else’s understanding of what I was writing, when I stopped asking myself what the blog should be and instead asked: what is it? I found all kinds of answers. It’s an outlet. A community. An apology. An absurdity. It’s a braincation. A sounding board. A coping mechanism. A historical family document. It’s a fiction. Some of it, anyway. I hope I don’t need to tell you that At The Petting Zoo never happened. It’s a comedy. Humanity. Life. A series of observations. A distraction. A moment away from whatever you need a moment away from. It’s a search for meaning. It’s a hope. It is whatever it is to whoever is reading it at the time.

Those answers satisfied me. I found my why. I had just accepted who I am as a blogger when I posted Ice Box. People reacted differently to that one. They thought it was better. More intimate. More expressive, emotive, nostalgic. They wanted more like that. And I agreed with them. Positioned next to all my latest writing, the writing shaped by the changes in my life, I could see a clear difference in style with Ice Box. It didn’t feel rushed or self-aware. It felt honest, natural, and good. And it really made me stop what I was doing and recalibrate. I needed to slow down and be more intentional about what I posted.

For me, it defined my mindset–the difference between how I approached my blogging and my writing.

Blogging is real time. Writing is timeless.

Blogging is a conversation. Writing is an immersion.

Blogging is a flash. Writing is a simmer.

Blogging has a set perspective. Writing is open to interpretation.

Blogging is crowded. Writing is intimate.

Blogging is personality-driven. Writing is inspiration-led.

The best bloggers blur that line. They create moments for their readers that last beyond moments. And I don’t aim to be the best blogger–just a better one.

It’s why I’m going to BlogU. It’ll be my first ever blogging conference. It’ll help me better define my why, my what, and most importantly to me–my how.

I’m so glad you’re here. I’m thrilled about what this moment means.

I hope you’ll stay and laugh with me.

 

 

 

 

24 Comments

  1. I’ve always liked the fact that your blog isn’t just about one subject, random isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
    I do hope you enjoy BlogU and find your why, what and how. Looking forward to hearing about it afterwards.

    • jeffandjill

      06/02/2015 at 10:21 am

      Thanks. I’ll have a post about it, I’m sure. And I’ll probably always be random. I just want to be good random. I want to write posts that last.

  2. I’ll stay and laugh with you.
    I found you by pure chance a while ago and I like your thoughts on random things. We do not have the same mindset, mine being European, so I don’t always agree with you. But that’s just the beauty of it. You make me see things in a different light and push me to question my beliefs.
    When you posted The Ice Box, I felt the writing was less…..chopped, for want of a better word, than your other posts. I liked it very much because I could just let myself sink into your words. Does that make any sense?
    Do I come across as greedy if I ask for more of the same?

    • jeffandjill

      06/02/2015 at 12:36 pm

      You’re not greedy in the least. Because it was through Ice Box that I viewed my blog as a reader and I wanted more of that experience, too. Your feedback helps. I’m trying to not “write for the web” and instead write for the story/thought/idea/emotion.

      And being able to read something you disagree with while still respecting the writer means that you are an advanced being who is obviously from a distant galaxy–because the Internet seemed to have wiped that type of person off of our blue speck of a planet. I wish there were more like you. Thanks for being here and saying hi.

      • Miss Bougie

        06/02/2015 at 2:05 pm

        Um, not from a distant galaxy, just from France.

        In Europe we’re maybe more respectful of other people’s opinion, as we’re all from different countries, speak different languages, have a different history but we live together and strive for a common goal – make the EU work (well, I’m striking out the Brits, here).
        Brits buy houses in the Charente and Aquitaine area, Germans live and work in Paris, Italians snap up condos in Nice and Menton (côte d’azur), Dutch take vacations in the Languedoc region. Portugese take up work in Toulouse and Paris. Many move permanently to France. French move to London, Polish workers are in Berlin, London and Paris.
        So people adapt and respect; mind you, not all of us succeed all the time.
        Neither do I!

  3. Was the post Jill wrote Deep Dish?

    • jeffandjill

      06/02/2015 at 4:44 pm

      No. But Deep Dish was one she assigned to me.

    • jeffandjill

      06/02/2015 at 5:38 pm

      So far, according to my site stats, no one has even clicked on Jill’s post today.

      • Dammit! I’ll just have to figure out how to print your picture from this blog and then forge your signature. I read Deep Dish about a month ago, and was positive it wasn’t your writing. I was trying to figure out why your blog was called Jeff & Jill when it seemed to be all your writing.

        What do you mean you can’t seem to write a thing? This post is a very nice piece of writing itself–it’s way more than just sharing your process. I hope BlogU is an invigorating and clarifying experience for you. And don’t worry–I’m guessing that most of your readers are up for taking this ride with you.

        P.S. At the Petting Zoo never happened?! There was no goat in the confessional booth? Damn am I’m gullible.

        • jeffandjill

          06/03/2015 at 9:41 am

          A goat in the confession booth is extremely believable–so you can’t blame yourself. And Jill plans on getting much more involved as we gear up post BlogU. Whether that’s taking on the writing duties for the occasional post or adding design details to make the blog sing remains to be decided.

  4. I love “braincation”. That should be a thing.

    Like your new site design too!

    Now I’m panicking about how to describe TND at Blog U

    • jeffandjill

      06/03/2015 at 10:40 am

      Sorry for inducing panic! But your blog is easy to describe: funny, smart, and tag-team brilliant!

  5. p.s. Becoming Location Independent for the win!

  6. You and your writing are all that and more.
    Since I’ve already pulled up a lazyboy and poured myself a jug of coffee, I’m planning to stay and laugh with you as long as you’re hangin’ around.
    Thanks for letting me.

  7. Absolutely loved this blog. It’s so honest and funny. I will definitely stay and laugh with you. Hope you have a great and enlightening time at the conference. Be careful tho – it’s Baltimore after all.

    • jeffandjill

      06/05/2015 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks. And I’m glad I wrote a profanity-lite post you can openly comment on without being embarrassed! 🙂

  8. That’s what I’ve always loved about your blog, you write what you want and are great at it. I love the differentness of it. Don’t change! …unless it’s to change to something even more different and you, cos we’ll luv ya regardless. Your blog your rules! Or, no rules.

    • jeffandjill

      06/05/2015 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks. I just want to write things worth reading. I want people to be happy here. You all are worth it.

  9. I like the random and I like the deep. Keep ’em coming!

  10. Everything you said is everything I wish I could do! I love your writing. In this post, I love your statements about blogging versus writing – so true. I also love the bit about people thinking you are questioning their beliefs. You inspire me. Blog U – wanted to go but maybe next year. I think the best thing about your posts are how personal they are and how relatable. For me, the best writing is when I feel like the writer is having a personal conversation with me, and I begin relating it to my experiences as I read. It’s that connection that we all crave. That I crave. Thank you for being real.

    • jeffandjill

      06/05/2015 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you for being here and reaching out. You motivate me to be a better writer and a more thoughtful reader. Every comment I get helps shape the way forward for me. I want blogging and writing and happiness.

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