Doing what makes me come alive

In 2021, I decided that I’m going to write.

It started out as a whisper. While making my (first-ever) vision board last month, the word “WRITE” in a cute font stood out in a magazine, so I pasted it right at the top. I’ve always loved to write; I love the way it pulls tangled thoughts out of my brain, and I’m fortunate that my job requires a good deal of it. Even just taking the time to write a long Facebook post on a social issue or a reflective Instagram caption brings me energy and clarity like little else. But I’ve pretty much just left it at that.

This year, though, I’m chasing down joy. I’m cultivating purpose. I’m pursuing what invigorates my soul and brings health to my heart. After last year, I’m not settling for less.

Of all the ways 2020 affected me, more than anything, it kept me in a mental fog. If you asked me how my week was on any given day, I probably couldn’t tell you. Griefs blurred into one another, and waking up with any kind of intentionality seemed impossible. I’m so grateful for the sunshine-y humans who fill my home; they sprinkled so much brightness into last year. They — along with God and dear friends — grounded me. But I wasn’t able to focus on growth, on truly thriving.

Towards the end of the year, though, something shifted. I began to feel more like myself — like I could start trying to live “on purpose”. I started some daily practices that have been keeping me rooted, grateful, and present, and have given me the space to daydream about what I want my life to look like. How do I want to feel when I get up in the morning, and at the end of the day? What do I want to spend my time on?

My mind kept coming back to writing, for how it both enlivens me and helps me process my reality. I’m a verbal processor, which Hunja knows better than anyone. As we get ready for bed, a lightswitch flips on in my brain, and it becomes what he (affectionately/exhausted-ly) calls my “soapbox hour”. I process my thoughts on current events and strategies for racial justice and the highs and lows of parenting and on and on. I feel clear-headed and alive. And I get that same feeling when my fingers are on a keyboard.

So, once a week, I’ll be here posting — for my own sake, but also because I am a big believer in what written words can do. They have the power to spark conversations (within ourselves, and with one another) that can foster introspection, empathy, and understanding. They can even create community, when we see our own reflection in the experience of another.

And I don’t know about you, but I long for community — as much of it as I can get, particularly after a year that paired collective traumas of all kinds with deep isolation. I think community, more than anything, is what drew me to making this commitment. “WRITE” means I could always just start journaling, right? That would save me from the vulnerability of asking for likes, shares, and engagement. But if I’m anything, I’m a relational being, so the chance to spark connection and conversation is everything to me. So if you’ve read this far, please know that I’m grateful for your company on this journey!

It feels a little strange to have just written about… writing. But I’m sharing my process, firstly in hopes that it encourages somebody to pursue whatever brings life to their weary bones this year. And secondly, to ask for your support as I express what’s on my heart, in hopes of cultivating human connection, shared reflection, and a sense that we really are all in this thing together.

Published by Ellie Hunja

Ellie is a mother of two (ages 7 & 3) who's on a journey to cultivate a life of purpose, authenticity, and joy. She writes about parenting, autism awareness, mental health, faith, racial justice, and more. She believes that empathy and vulnerability can change the world, and that there is ALWAYS room for dessert.

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