Monday, October 6, 2014

What I'm Doing For 31 Days

For two years, I spent every single day in October writing my brains out about matters wedged deeply in my heart.

2011 was the year of Letting Go.
2012 was the year of actually Going.

And it makes sense, because in 2011 we packed up every room in our dream farmhouse, we sorted dishes and linens and toys and art. We thought long and hard about what it was we really needed, and let the rest float away, like the last brown leaves leaving town for the winter. We burned images of pastures and ponies and bank barns into our hearts and resisted the urge, at turns, to shove it all out to the curb and walk away like it had never mattered.

Then we moved into the Betty Draper Rental and, well, there was carpet in the kitchen.

We had almost a year to feel the pulling away of all the things we thought defined us. We sat squirming in a place where beauty was buried underground. We did our best some days to mine for it. Other days, we despaired.

And then we kept on moving.

Just as the leaves were turning again, we were going places - new places. It was exhilarating and confusing. We lost love along the way, but found more than we ever expected.

October 2014 brings different kinds of changes.

We're all settled in, and though I'm inclined to think the hardest work is over, I'm keeping company with new visions. At night, we're dreaming new dreams.

I'm falling down  rabbit holes and taking stock and here's one of the visitors that keeps rapping on my pane: What does it really look like to live a life of surrender? How does it work, in my everyday, to live freed from the American Dream? Is it even possible?

Again and again, I'm punched in the face with all the ways I run toward and away from this world and all its luster. I hate it. I'm desperate for it.

I'm sick of being a perpetual consumer, so focused on getting that it leaves me short on time and too weary to give.

I could talk about this for the next 31 days (I know we're actually on day 6, but when you leave town in September and return well into October, things get wonky in your head) but the truth is, other things call my attention right now.

The other truth is, many of my favorite folks are pouring their hearts onto the page, and though I have always read and will never stop reading, I have fallen into the trap of consuming even them and their words, which they hand to me day after day like a ribbon-tied bouquet.

For the rest of October, rather than reading and nodding and moving along, I will pause to be part of the conversation they're starting. I'll mark an X in their garden - Shannan Was Here. I want to honor the work they're doing, because it is unbelievably hard (and freeing, and wonderful) to write on one topic for 31 days straight. I want to offer back just a little bit of myself, rather than gobbling up the gift they are then moving on to the next thing I need.

There are hundreds of women (maybe men? maybe? now I'm curious...) plumbing their depths and pouring out treasure like tin pails of gems. Nester handled the pesky parts for us and organized 9 different themes, so it's easy to find the stuff that'll strike ya.

I still reflect often on the lessons I learned during the two Octobers where I wrote and kept writing. I remember the nights when I wanted to chuck it, but sat down and worked anyway. I remember battling thoughts (truths?) that if I was sick of talking about it, surely everyone in the world was tired of reading about it. But I kept on truckin'. And I never once regretted it.

I'm committed to leave comments on at least half of the posts I read every day. Because sometimes what we have to offer might look small, but we can still offer it with passion and intention.

I'd encourage you to have a look and do the same. Find something you're itching to learn about and spend this month listening to someone who can remove a bit of the guess work for you. The topics range from food to faith to decorating to parenting to fitness to blogging to art. And then some.

I'm closing with a few I'm most excited about. These are all dear friends of mine who stay close to my heart always, and I'm excited to cheer them on from the sidelines this month.

I may sprinkle new finds throughout this month's posts, too.

Also, I might be a bit more scarce here for the next few weeks. I'm doing my best to buckle down and focus on the right words for the right time. If you think about me, I'd be buoyed by your prayers.

All of Me Loves All of You (haha),

31 Days of Marriage and Church-Planting by Lori Davis
31 Days - Note to Self by Wynne Elder
31 Miles in 31 Days by Becca Stanley 
31 Artists who Influence by Emily Freeman
Cool About School - Grace and Freedom in our Education Choices by Marian Vischer
31 Days - Vignette by Nester


  1. Yes, yes! Writing for 31 days is an amazing experience. And it's because of you that I can say that! Because of you I wrote for 31 days in 2012 and for 31 days is 2013 (only it ended up being January 2014). There is nothing quite like it and I'm praying and thinking on my subject for 2015 (somehow January works better for me, who cares if I'm not like everyone else? I knew that already anyway!) :) So. Thank you for inspiring me. Over and over you have inspired me!! That is all.

    1. Honestly, I was sad that I couldn't swing it this year. I tried to talk myself out of talking myself out of it.
      Enter: YOU!
      You're a genius with your January go-round. Maybe I'll join you and we'll make it "a thing".


    2. I'd be so honored to be "a thing" with you ....she bows modestly.... ;) (even if I might be kin to that Mennonite girl who gave you the hairy eyeball over men's pjs, I mean, ya never know!!) :) :)

  2. Hand raised- can I join too? :) I really wanted to do it in October but I'm running late (obviously)... should I still join? Shannan, you're making me think that it might be ok to still join! I also heard of Jeff Goins 21 blogging challenge that starts October 8- maybe that?

  3. I love you brave girls who never give up and just keep going!!!! I'll be looking for your 30 days in January!!! Yay for breaking the chains and doing what works for you!!

  4. So, uhm...

    That picture of you, that's the one you'd pick, right?? xxoxo

  5. LOVE that you are doing this!!!! Great way to spend the 31 days. I have to be careful not to get sucked in to too many of them! :-)

    I will miss a bunch as I am headed out "on a jet plane" and internet will be sketchy and iffy!

  6. This is probably what I should have done, but I'm plugging through anyways because I challenged myself.

    1. You can do it!!!!!
      I will absolutely do it again...just not this round. :)

  7. This is my first year participating and wow, this has been an amazing process! We're only six days into the journey and I already feel like I've learned so much about my direction in life and I definitely wasn't expecting that from this process!

  8. you crack me up.
    and you love well.
    so very well.

  9. Soooooooo, even though I love Jesus, I'm not doing a reflective or spiritual 31 day challenge. I did, however, literally just start a food blog which is super simple and not fancy. I'm sharing this with you because, as a fellow Aldi lover, I thought you'd be interested in my 31 days of recipes using only ingredients from Aldi :)

    Have a great day!

  10. love your heart. your thoughts.
    always so inspirational here.
    i'm buckling down to find the right words too, the right time.
    i hear ya. you speak my language, girl.
    keep on!!!!

    happy tuesday.

  11. So girl, your sweet comments really are making me happy on my blog :-) you're the bestest.
    Also, thanks for linking to my 31 days - although if we're being honest, it's kinda a bit of a bust thus far. Ha! I need inspiration!

    1. One more thing. I'm making that tomato sandwich for lunch today. Fo' sho'

  12. Shannan, I have many years on your sweet your age.. I can tell you that change is so very hard. Just when you think you have settled into a new life.. with all it's changes... something causes the pain of change to raise it's head.. a head that you thought was long forgotten. I pray that God will surround you and your beautiful family with those who can help the healing continue.... it takes time. Allow God to be enough.. but don't lament that you seem to step backward. He is there.. before you and behind you. You are doing a beautiful work of God.

  13. Girl. I'm honored. Thank you, so much, for the mention. Reading that made me get all verklempt. It was like a pep talk to keep writing my guts out for 24 more days. Thanks for cheering us on, friend. : )

  14. I have been composing an email to you in my head for days. Then I read this. And, as usual, I am undone. You see, your 31 days of Going was (and still is) instrumental in my obedience to a dream & different way of life and your life also strengthens me when my faith gets all wonky & I want to turn back. So thank you for sharing your life, your love, your gift of words with us. And thank you for whispering faith to others who are struggling in the cobwebby hours of the night to give words to their struggle. Would be honored if you had time to peak at mine. Interestingly enough, it is a (can't find the right word) opposite of your path in that we are leaving the comforts of culdesac Christianity in the suburbs to buy a farm in the wrong part of town amidst poverty and just a small wrong turn from danger. But you'll have to read more about our plans for the land on the old bloggity. Too much to write here and we are still fleshing it all out. White knuckles and all.

  15. My house is a mess right now, but I admit I do not like it. I still want the American Dream. Maybe I should give up wanting it? No, I can't! LOL However, I know exactly what "Christian women" you're talking about, and I certainly don't fit with them either--I've adopted 12 kids. Anyway, your post brightens my day, and gives me plenty to think about. Keep preaching it.

  16. This: "What does it really look like to live a life of surrender? How does it work, in my everyday, to live freed from the American Dream? Is it even possible?" This is exactly what my heart is working through, constantly breathing and mulling and seeking. It's the daily walk as well as the overall realigning of life dreams and I'm not quite there yet. But I feel the change...
    Thanks for sharing. :)