Here’s the short version:
My name is Abigail, and I live in a big old farmhouse with my husband. We have one foot in our New England seaside town and the other in New York City, where he works, and that’s exactly the way we like it.
Every day I blog about the sequin that makes my life shimmer: Food, Fashion, Feathering the Nest and whatever glinting Flotsam floats my way.
Those are four of my five joys. The fifth? Writing it all down.
Fiction and blisteringly hot power yoga come in sixth and seventh, my thoughts on which I mercifully exclude from this blog. Would that my friends and family were so lucky.
Go on, grab a coffee. Make a cheese plate while you’re at it.
Life wasn’t always like this, shimmering like sunlight on a flinty grey sea.
I was an odd kid. I had saucer eyes everyone said I’d ‘grow into’ and a nasty case of eczema. I was quick to smile but happiest with my nose buried in a book, even while walking, and sometimes while walking into walls. I asked my mother if we could paint the walls of my bedroom in yellow and black horizontal stripes, like a bumblebee. Naturally, she went with a lace and cherub theme.
Fast forward to life after college: I took a job in advertising, knees quaking before my college loans, and began to learn about deliverables, target audiences and formatting status reports. My mind wasn’t sparking, but I was polishing other skills: the ability to work in large groups, speak up in meetings and actually care about a budget, all of which were previously unthinkable.
Even so, every time I dumbed down an email, every time I wrote or said words like synergy and optimize, a voice inside me seethed:
Liar! You know better! What about obstreperous? Whatever happened to crepuscule? Louche? Mellifluous?
I ignored it. That voice wouldn’t pay my rent. That was the voice of self-indulgent frippery.
She squealed: See, I got you to use frippery!
Eight years later, the drudgery promised imminent rewards. My husband and I had paid off my loans. I stood on the brink of strategy. Of owning client relationships. Of leadership. Of global scope and multimedia channel distribution.
She needled: Have you forgotten haberdasher and fabulist? Do ineluctable, feckless, sluice and requiem hold no sway?
If I stuck around long enough I, too, could put my children to bed over speakerphone. I, too, could amass a wardrobe crafted to inspire confidence without risking alienation. I, too, could boast an attachment to my Blackberry bordering on the adulterous.
She spat: Subterfuge! Vociferous! Chortle! Kerfuffle! Lascivious! Sonata! Shindig! Crinoline! Supercilious! Persnickety! Phosphorescence! Febrile! Hirsute! Ampersand! Hew! Caterwaul! Pontificate! Chiaroscuro! Claptrap! Curmudgeon! Aubergine! Masticate! Circadian! Eschew! Elevensies! Ocelot!
One morning I woke up in my Manhattan studio with my husband and realized I didn’t want to do it anymore.
The mindless noise, the swirl of professional words meant to persuade without offering a fragment of delight, the daily denial of my creativity, left me craving dead air. I had gone so far as to insist on one hour of pure silence when I got home.
My husband, whose job so perfectly suited him he’d bound in at the end of the day, loosening his tie with a grin, who doesn’t know Chaucer from Chekhov but loves me more than cookie dough ice cream, which is to say more than anything or one on Earth, just blinked and said:
“Then why don’t you quit?”
So I did. And I promptly began a rigorous regimen of morning TV, followed by three or four hours at the gym, followed by evening TV.
I looked great. I had nothing to say.
Eventually, as I shut off the TV and returned to books, I began to rejoice in fresh meals made from local food. In a dress so perfect, it’s a reason to get dressed. In finding beauty in my surroundings. In creating some beauty of my own.
I began to think maybe I could take my two selves, the word-obsessed artist and the competent businesswoman, and fashion a career that cultivates joy.
That’s how I got here, to 5thjoy. I hope it’s of some use to you.