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Creatively Engaging Grief, Trauma, and Everyday Life

When I started I Love You, Amen in April of 2019, I was treating myself. My birthday was a few months away, so my goal was to gift myself with the domain name and site, and to have my first post published by my birthday in June. At the time, I was working as an interior design specialist for a furniture store, and had a part-time gig as a personal stylist. I imagined that the blog would be a way for me to express my love for fashion, design, and writing - a home for my creative pursuits.


I published my first post the week of my birthday, and in true Gemini fashion, it was about all things fun and fancy. I featured the gifts I'd bought myself and started an Instagram page to hold space for whatever lifestyle content I decided to create after that.


As my professional workload grew and changed that summer, my personal projects also evolved. Design and styling felt like a job - they were my job - and it was harder for me to find the energy to create fresh content. I fell into the comparison trap and spent hours browsing other design and fashion blogs and pages, convinced that I would never be able to build what they seemed to so easily develop. The blog fell by the wayside as I leaned in to other creative pursuits and endeavors.


In March of 2020, I got an email from my hosting site, reminding me that my yearly charge for the domain would soon need to be paid. We were in the first weeks of these 'unprecedented times' of COVID and I had left my position as an interior design consultant. My stepson was just starting what was meant to be a short-lived foray in distance learning, I was still working remotely for my styling gig, and my husband had just been encouraged to buy a computer for the slight possibility that he'd be working at home for another week or two. (Sidenote: Yes, he's still working from home and yes, our son was in distance learning for over a year)


Do you remember that, dare I call it, the honeymoon phase of COVID? The world was learning to bake sourdough bread. We reveled in all of this newfound time together, time in our homes that we'd barely had since we moved in. There was a pressure to do Something but also a pull to do Nothing. I found myself writing my way through it, as I always tend to do when life gets hard. And if I was writing anyway, why not share some of it online?


I'm tempted to pretend that there were daily posts and incredibly profound thoughts posted on that original server, wisdom that was imparted on thousands of followers, life-changing revelations that helped guide women like me through the pandemic. But, I've spent enough of my life as a woman pretending that things were better than they really are.


The original blog was rambling, awkward, and inside-joke-level personal. I kicked it old-school and treated it like a modern day MySpace (with a devastating lack of a personal soundtrack - I still miss that option). I posted poetry or speeches that spoke to me, not thinking about SEOs or building an audience. It wasn't a great or inspiring platform, but it was mine.


Then, yesterday happened. After taking life-changing courses (shoutout to Selfmade by Brit Morin and Author School by Rachelle Gardner), I've been thinking a lot about building a more professional platform. I want to create a space for women, femmes, and nonbinary folx to feel less alone in their grief and trauma, and also to find hope, resources, and activities that can help them find their way through life. With that in mind, and after months of convincing myself I couldn't do it, I finally bit the bullet yesterday and signed up for a new platform.


Instead of starting with a new domain, I wanted to keep the spirit of I Love You, Amen alive - the phrase actually comes from a prayer I write at the end of every journal entry. "Thank you for (x), I love you, amen." It reminds me to be present and grateful, even and especially when things are tough. I'm intimidated just enough by technology (and really, change in general) that I get to the point of basically closing my eyes as I push buttons and hoping it works out for the best. I 'connected' my domain, and didn't realize until hours later that it meant the old "I Love You, Amen" site would be overpowered by ILYA 2.0.


If you haven't picked it up by now, your girl Katie over here is quite the sentimental lil love bug. When I realized that none of the posts or content would transfer over, it took a lot of deep belly breaths to keep from laying on the floor and throwing an all-out tantrum. I kept saying, the writing wasn't even that good, no one even read it, most of it is easy to recreate if I really want...but in the end, I just needed to feel my feelings.


And I guess you could say, that's why I wanted to create this page in the first place. I Love You, Amen is a place where people can feel their feelings and know they're not alone in it. It's a place to express and explore creativity, grief, trauma, and all the other things we hold in tension on a daily basis. We're building a community of deep-thinking, resilient, artsy-fartsy, and awkward little love bugs who have rested in darkness as much as they've danced in the light. I'm beyond excited for the potential and possibilities of this movement.


So, what can you expect from this page? Not every post will be this long, or maybe it will be. There will be a place to find resources, support groups, and therapists, a place to share music, books, and podcasts that have made us feel seen or helped us see the world in a new way. I'll offer writing prompts, activities, mindfulness practices and other things I've found or created that might help shine some light or let you dig in to your own path.


I'm also working on a guided journal for those of us that are take a more analog approach to our self-discovery. Anything that is offered here is yours to keep or share - I just ask that you give credit where it's due. This is a work in progress (isn't it all?), so please be patient as I figure out how to build a fancy website with all the things - and if you have gifts you think could help the process, please reach out!


Thanks for listening, love bugs. Next time, it's your turn to talk.


I love you.

Amen.



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