Take Aways

This week I participated in Seth Godin’s #YourTurnChallenge. My goal was to blog everyday (Mon-Sun) here on my site as well as on the challenge’s official Tumblr blog. This is my Day 7 (and final) submission.

The writing prompt for today is: What are you taking away from this challenge?

I’ve been blogging for over 7 years now. I jumped at this challenge not to motivate me to post everyday, or to simply get something going. I said yes to the challenge so I could see just how large my tribe is. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone.

I’ve not been disappointed.

For the longest time, I thought I could take my skills as a writer and turn them into something profitable. I imagined that my writing would impact so many people that folks would trip over themselves to get to me.

I had the wrong mindset. It’s no wonder my imagined “success” never came.

This week, my blog stats have been meager. But I’ve had upwards of 10-20 people share my links. Once upon a time, I would’ve been bummed by the low visit totals; but now, I’m ecstatic that 10-20 people thought enough of some of my posts to share them.

I’m slowly learning it’s not the size of the tribe that matters.

It’s not even how much that tribe supports you.

It’s the fact you have a tribe at all.

I take away gratitude to know I’m not alone in my journey to create things that help provide perspective and meaning. I take away joy in knowing I’m not flying solo when it comes to writing words that inspire or encourage or uplift. I take away humility in knowing that there are members of my tribe who are much better writers than I.

I take away commitment to keep pounding out words that might help one person over the course of a lifetime.

So to all my fellow #YourTurnChallenge authors, thank you for the journey. Thank you for some stunning and insightful blog posts as well as some I truly didn’t understand. Thank you for putting fingers on keys and keeping with it, for sharing your work, for shipping your gifts to the world at large.

If we keep at it, we will eventually change the world for the better.

Into the Deep End

ImageOn Monday we went swimming at my sister-in-law’s pool. It has a diving board and a ten foot deep end, so Ella was all pumped about being able to dive and jump into the pool. But once she went off the diving board, Jonathan wanted to go too. He stepped up on the board and got ready to go, but the lifeguard blew his whistle and stopped him.

“You can’t go off the diving board with a life vest on. You have to be able to swim,” he said.

Rachel talked with him and let him know that Jon could kind of tread water. The lifeguard said that as long as Rachel were in the deep end, holding onto the wall, Jon could jump off and she could then swim out and get him. That seemed fine, so Jon took off his life vest, Rachel slipped into the water, and my son stepped up onto the diving board.

And he jumped.

He made a satisfying splash, and as soon as his head came back above water, he smiled. But the panic took over because he realized he didn’t really know what he was doing. He started paddling, and suddenly, for a split second, he disappeared under the water…

…until Rachel brought him back up. She had him. He was safe. Together they swam to the pool wall and climbed out. Jon had triumphed. Everyone clapped. It was cool.

But then Jon spent the rest of the day in the kiddie pool. He was too scared to even go in the shallow end of the big pool. In fact, he actually spent most of the day huddled in my lap, sipping his juice, too scared to get near the water. The episode with the diving board just chilled him on having any more pool fun.

This morning, I know how he feels. I tried to make the move to the big time as a writer. I ordered new business cards with the blog logo. Easy. Then, I upgraded my WordPress to a premium account.

Not so easy.

Well, the process was easy. Everything went smooth as silk, got the domain that I wanted, got the site linked to it. And then I went to the part I was really excited about – customization. I was ready to make the blog look like I wanted, ready to bring my vision to life.

But the tools were limited. I don’t know what I was expecting, but essentially I paid $100 for a domain and the options to change a limited number of fonts and colors. Which, by any standard, is a steep price to pay. I immediately regretted it.

WordPress has a great refund policy, so I was able to cancel my purchase. I expect to get a full refund in a couple of days. But that still left me without my goal – a completely personalized website, with my own domain.

So I did some more research and learned that I could get everything I wanted through iPage.com for around $70. Being cheap, I signed up.

I’m excited. I can download the WordPress.org package and transfer my blog completely over to my new website. I can have personalized email at my own domain. I can open up a store and sell ebooks or t-shirts or coffee mugs if I want.

But the domain is in limbo because I made that stupid mistake with WordPress.

And immediately, I felt my stomach knot up. I felt like I wanted to vomit. Like Jonathan off the diving board, I suddenly seized with fear that I’m an idiot, I can’t do this, that I’m going to make more and more mistakes until I eventually screw my life up so bad I can never recover.

The reality is, I might have to change the domain name to something ending in .net or .org. Big deal. There’s worse mistakes.

But for me, it’s part of the process of breaking free: I’m learning that I can make mistakes – even big ones – and my life doesn’t end. Before, I felt free to make small mistakes, but never big ones. Never. It was why I never risked anything; when you risk, you open up the door for big mistakes, and big mistakes can set you back.

But they can also set you free.

I’m hoping that the domain issue is resolved in a day or so, and I can begin building my website and get it transferred over by the weekend. The neat thing is I can import everything from this blog to the new site, no content lost. The even neater thing is I have the opportunity to add personal skills that can make me more attractive as a freelancer as well.

Today was a huge step into the deep end. For a minute, I thought I was going to drown. But I know now that I can swim.

That’s a victory.

So This Is New

ImageYeah, I changed the blog again. I’m striving for a more professional site that looks great but is still easy to navigate. I’m not sure this is the one, but for now, I like it a lot.

So what’s new? Well, for starters, the name has changed. Instead of Everyday Faith, it’s now the simple yet boring Jason Eric Brooks. That’s to help get higher in the old Google rankings, and also to connect my writing with me, instead of a brand that doesn’t connect to me as an individual. That sounds conceited, but it’s the way of the modern media world, and I’m getting used to it. Strangely enough, I feel more freedom to take credit for my words – I don’t need to hide behind a descriptive but impersonal brand.

I have the confidence now.

There’s also a new static landing page that gives you an idea what I’m all about as a writer. The blog is now featured on its own page, which is kind of cool. Also, you’ll notice at the top of the page the little black boxes – those are the gateway to some blog extras.

The first box takes you to my sponsor information and subscription link, as well as a calendar that shows you all of the days I’ve posted this month. The middle box (the one that looks like a chain link) takes you to all of my social media connections. You can simply click on an icon and go straight to my profile. The final box is the search feature – click on that, type in a word, and you can see if I’ve written anything on that topic.

As I mentioned, not the easiest thing in the world to navigate, but once folks get used to it, I think it’ll work for a while. Eventually I’ll get around to changing the domain, but as I’m on a budget, I’m trying not to just toss money aside.

So – that’s all for the day. I hope you don’t hate the changes, and as always, I’m open to feedback and suggestions. In fact, I need a logo for that front page, something font driven I think, featuring my initials or something. If you want to take a stab at something, I’d be happy to feature it on the page and give you credit. In the meantime, I’ll continue cleaning things up as we go along, so if you see something ugly or horrific, leave a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook, and I’ll add it to the punch list.

Personally, I’m gonna spend some time staring at the walls of this new place, fighting back buyers remorse. Talk to you later.

To The Email Subscribers


This is my friend Nathan’s photo from Paris. I featured it in a post last night as a way of testing my new blog design. It looked so cool on the site, I thought it was perfect. Then, I was notified that those who subscribe via email got nothing in their inbox. Squat.


So…about last night.

Apparently, it’s not very wise to make significant design changes to your blog at 2:45 in the morning. The mind doesn’t seem to be very fresh at that time. So that’s how you ended up with a post that talked about a picture you couldn’t see…unless you went to the website, saw the changes, and could figure them out.

I’m always looking for a website design that is expressive of my particular style. That’s why the look of the website changes sometimes, even if it doesn’t change that much. I like things clean, modern, and with a punch of color. Last night, I thought the current format would offer me that plus a really neat way to feature some awesome pictures I’ve been given access to for free.

Looking at it this morning, I don’t think that way any longer.

Guess I’ll be changing designs again at some point this morning, so until then, please know you have my most profuse apologies for sending you a post that wasn’t a post. Hope finally getting to see Nathan’s awesome photo makes up for it a bit.

No Blog Today – Just Book Writing

I’m not posting anything funny, witty or thoughtful today. I’m busy finishing up the first half of my new book You’re Still Here: Surviving the Death of a Child. If you’re interested to get a sense of what it’s like, you can check out the free sample chapter I posted last week.

I’ll do my best to give you something to read tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s a little present to get you through the day.