Sunday, May 12, 2013

Flotsam and Jetsam: Leaving the Blog

Do you know the difference between flotsam and jetsam? I didn’t. It’s a matter of intent. Flotsam is accidentally lost, jetsam is that which is intentionally jettisoned. Both wash up on ocean beaches; both inhabit our lives.

I began this blog a bit accidentally. I didn’t purposefully purchase a garden project; it just came with that cute house I bought in North Carolina in 2007, after a loss that was not intended. Restoring the garden accidentally saved my life. Lessons learned snuck into my journal. A writing teacher casually mentioned blogging. I was intrigued and dabbled in putting my learnings out there for others to read. I added photographs; first a couple with each post, then one per paragraph. Before I knew it, the garden, the writing, the photography, the blog had insinuated themselves into my life.
And now I have realized this: My passion for writing this story, and my loyalty to it, is distracting me from my obsession to write about this year in my childhood home with my mother. To learn about and write about growing old and how to relate to those who are already there. One year ago this month I jettisoned the garden. Reluctantly, as I am sure most jettisoning is. Usually, in order to move on, something has to be let go. Now I am jettisoning the blog.

This blog has been my lifeline for three years. It seems longer; I keep trying to make it four with creative math. Begun on May 21, 2010, it was my first ongoing public writing. I was exploring gardening and being single and paying attention and thoughtful writing. 150 posts. That you have read it, and sometimes commented on it as you found meaning for your own life from it, has been more affirming and gratifying than you know.

I have also made friends through the blog. One, Amelia, lived on the other side of the country from me. Now we live in the same state. She also has a blog, and recently she wrote this:

“My newest realization about why I write is that it has become a promise I make to myself. It is a promise to reflect on my day, to pay attention to little thoughts that keep appearing in my brain and need to be teased out and integrated into my thinking more fully. Composing and playing with words helps me exercise my intelligence as I work to choose the correct word and construct meaningful sentences and phrases. Writing with some regularity is therapeutic gardening for me. I can till, and weed, and plant and reap. I feel more alive because of it.”

All of that is what writing this blog has been to me. Writing as therapeutic gardening has been my justification for continuing a garden blog after I left the garden. It is why I have been so reluctant to let this blog go, though I have considered it before. Will I stop paying attention? Will I stop trying to tease out the oddities and inspirations of everyday life? Who will I be without it? But this blog has become comfortable. And like a beloved career, it is keeping me from seeing what it is keeping me from. It is absorbing the energy my new obsession needs to become a passion. It is keeping me from teasing out other things and integrating them into my thinking.

Last May I left my garden, but I decided not to leave my
garden blog. I would, I figured, find other gardens. And I have. And my new garden is much bigger than my quarter acre in North Carolina. It has mountains and ocean, valleys and hills. I have clung to the blog this year to get me through the transition to my new home, to see it, and to keep me connected to you. Now it’s become a crutch that I need to learn to walk without. I think I will grieve. I don’t deny that. I do not do well with clean breaks from meaningful relationships. But until we grieve, we can’t move on.

So, thank you dear readers. Thank you for your loyalty and your encouragement, of which there has been much. Look for me here:

I publish Morning Sentences, photographs, and my other writing on my website, including my blog about life with Mama. I expect I will post about my view from the garden from time to time. Or reinvent the blog one day. I am open to possibilities. I do not want to jettison our connection; you can sign up on the site to follow me, if you wish. I hope you will.

"As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better" (Martin La Spina). I hope that applies to jettisoning something that has been very good for me.

See you in the garden.




graceread said...

Gretchen, I grieve the ending of this blog and rejoice with you in the opportunity letting it go brings into your life. I have loved this blog and it has inspired my life immensely. I check in with nature more than ever now that you have show me how interconnected we really are.

Marc Bridgham said...


I am forced to confess that I don't think of your writing as separate projects but one generous sharing of your life, reflections, lessons, and observations. I'll take it in whatever form it comes. Read it with pride that you are my friend. And love reading it as i love you.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love your blog. Are you still writing? My name is Annie Kempf. I would like to follow your journaling or blogs. You are very inspiring. I can send you my email.

Ben said...
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