Back in 2009, I wrote blog posts for an online magazine that aimed to inspire and empower work-at-home moms. As it turns out, most of my stories were about my inability to do any actual work (or shower, or pee) while simultaneously caring for young children who needed my attention.
That was also the year that I met Abby, a writer living in Baltimore and raising two young sons. One day, she commented on one of my posts. She wrote something like, “Are we the same person? I feel like you’re living my life!” We’ve been friends ever since.
Our online chats led to talks on the phone and over Facetime. Then, Abby flew to visit me in Charleston. Later, I flew to Baltimore to visit her.
During one of our in-person visits we wondered aloud: How can we capture the essence of the conversations we’ve been having for years? Storytellers at heart, we brainstormed ways to share our ongoing dialogue with other women: our failed attempts to achieve work-life balance, our desire to redefine society’s narrow definition of success, and ultimately, our determination to live joy-filled lives.
“What about more good, less grind?” Abby suggested during our creative powwow.
“Yes!” I replied. And with that, we had a tagline, a hashtag, and a mission statement all in one.
We decided to create a joint Instagram account to document the good moments that happen all around us, in the midst of our everyday lives. We agreed to a publishing schedule, and a year and a half later, we’ve never missed a day. But I didn’t realize how remarkable that was until last summer, when my dad died.
“I don’t think I can post today,” I told Abby when she called to express her condolences. I had absolutely nothing good or inspired to say.
“Of course,” she replied. After all, it’s only Instagram. We know we can always trade days, or skip a day, or stop the whole thing anytime. One of our most important rules: no stress.
After we hung up, I thought back over the past several days leading up to his death, and my eyes fell upon the stack of mementos from my life that my dad had saved—newspaper articles, graduation announcement, wedding invitation, a story I’d written about him for school. I spread them out like a collage, snapped a pic, uploaded it to Instagram, typed out some thoughts on the tiny keys of my phone—about how we had a way of communicating without words—and hit “publish.” Then, I felt a deep sense of comfort, relief.
There’s an ease to our project, to be sure. Plenty of cute kids and sunshine. But on the worst of days, it stretches us. It challenges us in all of the right ways. Our underlying commitment to not force or fake the silver linings has cleared a path for those authentically good moments to reveal themselves.
Abby and I have discussed ways we can grow our project: we could launch a website, write a book, create a podcast, work to actively increase our following. Maybe we’ll do those things. Maybe we won’t. The point is that I have become surprisingly dedicated to this project, and not because I hope for some grand payoff in the unforeseen future.
We launched the project to find good in the midst of the grind. Ironically, the project has become a daily practice, a ritual of sorts, and I’ve discovered that doing the same things over and over can lead us right towards the joy we seek. Sometimes, the smallest acts can yield the greatest internal rewards.
You can visit the Abby and Angie project on Instagram and share your good moments by tagging them #moregoodlessgrind.