Tuesday, September 30, 2014

31 days of cheerleading

My husband is a graphic designer who generally whips designs out of his head and produces them on screen in less than fifteen minutes. I proved to be a challenge for him, an exception, will you, but we finally did it together. We created a logo and business card for me as a writer that surpassed my expectations. 

And I love the finished product, more than I thought I would. And I feel humbled by it, too. I see the words, so stark and clear: 
Amber Cadenas

They're hovering above a beautiful feather, so delicate and astounding, and I wonder how that feather can hold up those words. Those words, so weighty and committed and unapologetic. What does it mean, really, this title of Writer? 

Many days, I find I need to go back and remember.

* * * * * 

The last time I practiced blogging every day was in 2011, when I started the year off with the goal of writing every day - for the entire year. Yeah, kind of crazy, I know. I made it through the end of March and for the rest of the year maintained at least five days a week. And this was back when pretty much no one read my blog and I did it for the sheer joy of writing, the necessary growing pains of becoming a writer in the verb tense, not only as a noun. 

I don't know how I did it, when the idea of anyone reading my words daily seemed too crazy to imagine.

And I think that's sitting in the back of my mind, as I've wavered back and forth, deciding whether to participate in the 31-day challenge. Who would even want to read my words for thirty-one days straight? I even tire of myself for that long. If some bloggers imagine they might gain more readers this way, I fear I would lose the few I have: TOO MUCH AMBER popping up in my inbox.

But the other side of this struggle, the honest to God truth, is that I hate the thought of being left out. Left behind. It's this image of a girl standing on the ground watching her friends grab onto huge bouquets of balloons and lifting off, soaring higher and higher, further and further away. Of no longer standing in the same place but in different worlds, different levels. And as she stands watching, those friends become smaller and smaller, swallowed up in sky, as they fly off to discover distant lands.

And she's happy, truly, for their soaring. But she feels smaller somehow, too. Less significant there on the ground.

* * * * * 

I miss the days when writing didn't feel like a competition, even as it also is, here, a beautiful diverse community. It still can feel, too often, like competing for a larger slice of the internet pie. A larger following.  A larger body of published work in a variety of reputable places. And maybe, also, this feeling is more the reflection of my own writing demons than the reality itself. It can be hard to distinguish between the two, to separate "I am a blogger" from "I must grow my blog."

To pull apart "I am a writer" from "Look at me" is, for me, one of the thorns in my side - an inner wrangling of the motivations of my heart each time I lay my words bare on the screen.

If I can lay it all out in a naked heap, this is why I finally landed on the side of No. No, I won't be joining in the 31 days as a writer. I will be reading, and I will be cheering writers on, but for me, I know too well my heart in this season. My intentions are at best murky and I wish this weren't so. I admire those pure of heart writers who can genuinely say, "I don't care" with regards to stats and comments and following and shout-outs. I can't say that yet. I care, and I don't. I cheer, and I feel insecure. But where I really want to land as a writer is the place where I can be standing there on the ground looking up, whispering or shouting or breathless on my knees, "Look at her! Look at you!" and feel no undue smallness from below. 

So those of you who are doing this, hear me: I applaud you. You soar, friends.  Because I know, for many of you writers, this is about those words, that thing, burning in the depths of you that simply must come out. About needing to know you can or feeling you must, and those are all good reasons to do this. I will learn to become a better cheerleader, hoping this is what penetrates my heart after these thirty-one days of October.  And maybe next year - maybe - I will join the masses.

Linking up with Unforced Rhythms


  1. You express this so well, Amber, that fear of feeling left behind, that's a little how I feel this morning seeing everyone announcing and starting their month. And I also wonder, who would want to read THAT much of my words??

    I continue to wrestle with being pinned to the ground by life circumstances, by struggle, but I believe, when I stop fighting and looking up and start really looking around - THIS is where the masses live, here in the struggle, the not quite making it or fulfilling our dreams and THIS is where God came to meet us and walks among us. I believe this and I need help to believe it.

    I may not have the heart to cheer very much in this season and that's ok. Also, I love the card. I had cards printed a few months back that said, "Spiritual Director, Writer, Speaker." I told my friends they were "aspirational cards." It's difficult to claim the truth of who we are when we don't yet have irrevocable truth, but reality is, from others I've listened to, no amount of publishing or speaking or anything will convince us of the truth of who we are unless we believe it deep down before it is even completely a reality.
    Anyway, I love the design. Take care!

    1. How glad I am to know I'm not alone, honestly, Kelly. I appreciate your reaching out like this. And I've thought on your words throughout the day - how when we stop fighting where we are, we see God here in the struggle, in this not-yet-fulfillment of dreams. Him walking among us here. I believe this, too - and I also need help believing.

      And you're so wise. It is absolutely ok that you do not have the heart to cheer much in this season. I know that well. I might have more of a heart for it now than I have for a long time, and I'm hoping more of it kicks in. Your honesty and self-acceptance is refreshing to me.

      As for those words on writing and believing who we are deep down before it's completely a reality? Yes, oh yes. I am hoping to become more convinced of this myself. Thank you for sharing these words.

      Take care, friend - I mean that in the most beautiful, whole way. Take care.

  2. Oh, Amber! This is beautiful...and your husband is a genius!! I LOVE the logo and the business card design. I must say I was SO hoping your blog picture hadn't changed, because I love it so much! I don't know what it is...there is just something about it. I love the primitive look, so it just really speaks to me. I could so relate to your words. I have been praying to GOD that He will please help me along these very lines. I don't want to care about stats and popularity...for truly it is HIS space, not mine. It was birthed in the throes of literal anguish, and truly, it was all His plan from the first. I appreciate your humble spirit...your transparency, and your writing is so infused with the love of God and your dependence upon Him. So thankful to know you and to walk hand in hand with you on this journey. It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful, genuine, precious people God has brought into my life through blogging that I would never have met otherwise. God bless you, my friend.

    1. Thank you, Cheryl - for all these words of encouragement. You right here, you just cheered me on, and boy, if that isn't a humbling thing to receive after a post like this. I, too, am so glad for the unique, genuine people God has brought across my path in this crazy journey of writing. You are one of those.

  3. Amber. How you paint a picture with words. I especially could "see" the feeling left behind.

    I simply could not do it this year even if I thought i was ready to. I haven't posted for almost a month during rehab with my new knee. I didn't even journal for one whole month and that is almost unheard of for me. It' was like the drugs and the boot camp rehab stole my thoughts and my pen. I am journaling again. - ready to even start posting.

    I too struggle with some of the same things you do. probably all of us do to some extent. I don't even know how to see the stats and it's probably best I can't. I do know that preparing a blog post is a creative process for me and it's important for me to do it. It just gets mixed up with "is anyone else reading this stuff?" Apparently not many, so why do it do it? And I come back to it's important for me to do it...but it still gets mixed up. The thing that helps me is that i do create digital books with many of my posts for friends as gifts and most of what i write and much more yet to write is for my family and i need to never forget that.

    lots to think about. as always I enjoy your writing. and it would be fun to meet you some day. I smiled when I saw recently you are 33 - I am exactly double that! there must be something significant in that but i'm not sure what! :)

    1. Welcome back, friend. Welcome back. I look forward to reading more of your words again. And you're right - it's probably good you don't know how to access your stats. It's hard enough just to wonder who is on the other end of our words, as you said. But you writing for your family and friends is laying a trail more precious than you may ever know. That is rich and beautiful and no small endeavor. My grandma, who is almost 92, has written several autobiographical books and I just read one for the first time this past year. It blew me away and endeared me to her in a special way. I don't doubt your telling of your story is and will continue doing the same thing for the ones who love you.

      Thank you, also, for such kind and thoughtful words of encouragement. I don't often feel that interesting to people, so it is a kind of gift that you enjoy learning about me through these words. Humbling and honoring and affirming. Thank you. xoxo

  4. oh and i love, love, love your business card.

    1. Ooooh. Me, too. My husband is very gifted at bringing ideas in one's head and heart to life in picture.

  5. Amber,
    This is beautifully honest and true: "I care, and I don't. I cheer, and I feel insecure. But where I really want to land as a writer is the place where I can be standing there on the ground looking up, whispering or shouting or breathless on my knees, "Look at her! Look at you!" and feel no undue smallness from below. " I can relate....I know my limits so although I was tempted briefly to write for 31 days, I know it wasn't for me at this season in my my life.

    Gorgeous business card :)

  6. As we've talked about, I relate to this in all kinds of ways. I am holding space for you, friend, as you cheer on others AND as you seek to receive in deep places the love you willingly hold out for others. You are a gem. I love you.

  7. And the card is awesome, sister! Ricardo has some mad skills. :)