I’ve been receiving a lot of emails and comments over the past couple of months asking where the updates are, if I’m OK, what’s going to be happening to Hygge House? And I haven’t had a full concept of where I was going to give anyone any answers. I had ideas but nothing was forming into something solid and, if you’ve been reading any of my sites for any length of time, you’ll know that I don’t really like to talk about ideas – I like action.
So I had been waiting until I had not just an action plan but actual personal movement before getting back to online life. I wanted to be clear about my purpose here rather than just post online for the sake of it (something I think is a danger to anyone with a blog, especially if, like me, you’ve had a site for over 10 years!). I spent a good deal of December and most of this month changing a lot of my sites and working on new ideas, seeing what was working, what was feeling right, and what should and should not stick.
I also had a lot of quiet, private time in which some days I did nothing or I did things solely for my enjoyment and that was really good. That solitude that I desperately needed helped quiet all of the things that had created too much noise and confusion. Then when I was ready I came out of hibernation and spent a lot of time talking with friends, going out to new venues and testing new waters. During this time I began to have an inkling of the direction I wanted to go but it wasn’t really until this week that I began walking confidently in it and today I was finally moved to say something about it.
Like so many of you – American or not, Republican or Democratic, Religious or Atheist – I was truly inspired and motivated by Obama’s inaugural speech. The past couple of months of reflection combined with his speech of action, determination, compassion and hope helped me to succintly say what I needed to be clear on and do:
Be of Service.
I know that phrase has been tossed around but I actually first wrote those words in my journal when I was 9 years old and from that moment on I began the act of volunteering. I taught swimming to young, underprivileged children, at 12 I taught horseback riding to mentally and physically handicapped children. In my late teens and early twenties I worked in senior housing and answered phones at womens clinics. I even volunteered with Obama before the election because I couldn’t vote and needed to do more than just talk about wanting change – I wanted to help make it happen.
I’ve also been a huge believer in financially giving back to people I was personally invested in or bigger ideas I believed in – even when I had very little money to give. Years ago I read the book, “The 10 Percent Solution” which really changed my views on giving and began donating at least 10% of my income. When online ads became available I started running them, giving all the income from Google Adsense and Amazon to charities (this site gave away $647 last year to charities listed on the right sidebar- thank you!).
In addition to physically volunteering and donating money, I’ve worked hard to create sites that encouraged others to do instead of just thinking about doing. And I have over 47,000 emails from people who have shared their stories of exactly what they did! I have always been so proud of all of that – even if I’ve been quiet about it. Service isn’t about being loud, it’s just simple about doing.
But last year, well, last year was hard. There were a lot of things going on that I had to deal with and it seems like one thing kept coming after another without a break inbetween. I know so many people who had a bad 2008 so I know I’m not alone but I can say it was the worst year I’ve ever had because it was the first year I can remember that I wasn’t of service. I was so wrapped up in things that were happening only in my own world that I didn’t do anything for anyone else. Oh sure, I gave the 10% but that doesn’t count so much in my books because I didn’t give of myself.
My time spent being quiet here was time reflecting on what is it that I believe in and need to do so that I can be useful to both myself and to others both in real life and on the web. I have been thinking so long and hard about this – especially about what to do on the web – because I don’t want to be a bad habit for internet surfers. I don’t want to waste your time. I don’t want you to come here and go away without feeling changed, inspired or able. I don’t want to tack up more decorating ideas that just stay ideas, rehash magazine images that stay just dreams or talk about me in a way that isn’t useful to you.
And although I love frivolity and feel that sharing just regular things and loves are important (I’m a sucker for a pretty photograph and home idea any day and I love the help we give each other (like the chalkboard – thanks!)), I don’t want to be 100% about that. The concept of Hygge House is more about lifestyle than things yet I feel as though I have sometimes not been successful at reflecting that. That’s often when I remove posts; if I feel they are too much about me, too pitiful, or just down right useless I think we should both be spared having to read them. We all need to be selective about what goes into our brains and make sure what goes in is either beneficial or joyful. We shouldn’t settle for anything less because I don’t want you to be blase about life – mine or yours. I don’t want our life to be just about pretty pictures on the web or you coveting ideas – I want our life to be amazing. Full-on rock star amazing.
I think you do because when I wrote the post “Living Well isn’t just about Organic Fruit” the response was overwhelming. But I’ve often wondered since then how many live by what we were inspired by? Did it really change us or was it just rhetoric? It’s like Obama’s speech today – a speech that changed not just a nation but the world. A speech that filled so many of us with pride and hope and courage. I just don’t want something as amazing as his speech and vision to go to waste. I want to live up to the feelings I had when I hear it, just as I hope people in a smaller way live up to the comments they felt after what I wrote.
So I am getting back to being of service and this will spill out into many different forms, some of which have already been going on. I’m excited, energised and hopeful about 2009 and beyond. I’m also excited, energised and hopeful about our community, our friendships, our ability to connect here and beyond despite whatever situation we’re in.
Because we all have challenges. It doesn’t matter what they are; a challenge is a challenge that can be overwhelming or scary. But I think if we step outside ourselves, if we do something to be useful to someone else, if we change our own lives, if we make our dreams real, if we start reaching big, if we let go of 2008 (!!), the fear, the snark, the ‘can’t’, the selfishness, the pity, and break out into something BIG and BOLD this year, I think our challenges will become our triumphs.
So with that, I give you my pledge that in between decor posts and ideas, loves and links that I will share useful information about truly being hygge – how to live well not just in our own homes but out in life. How to help others, how to look outside ourselves, how to do instead of just think. And I would like to propose that if you have a blog, that at least 10% of your blog posts do the same. That we all give back and give to each other and that this is the year we stop putting wishes on the web or in books and start making them real. That we think big and make everything the best we can, not just for ourselves, but for each other.
Because we can. And we will.