Farewell, iThemes + The Journey Ahead

Not all big transitions in life have a ceremony or a big event to mark the occasion, but I know the importance of acknowledging the end of an era. As my chapter with iThemes draws to a close next week, I wanted to share a bit about what I’ve learned, what the journey has meant, and where I’m heading next.

My time at iThemes has represented eleven full years of my life: building meaningful relationships and friendships; professional and personal growth; developing my instincts for business; embracing the challenges of loss, change, and even success. 

Early into my first year at iThemes, we had our team motto created in giant letters to hang in the lobby of the office. I stood back, took photos, and watched as the letters were leveled and attached to the wall. Every day we walked through the front doors to work, we’d be reminded: 

Make People’s Lives Awesome. 

For us, this motto meant a responsibility to three sets of people, in this order: 

  • Our families
  • Our fellow team members
  • Our customers 

iThemes was always, for me, a place to connect to that mission. I knew the work I was doing mattered because it was fueled by a shared purpose. Whatever we were doing to innovate and serve our customers, we also wanted to make an awesome life for the people closest to us—and for ourselves. 

But the truth is, I always struggled a bit with how to define myself in terms of my career. iThemes has represented so such much to me, but I’ve always had other interests. Behind the scenes, late at night, and on the weekends, I was doing other work. I just had no idea how to integrate it all—the “iThemes” me, and the real me, the writer, the journal-keeper. 

This quote has followed me around for years, showing up again and again in unexpected ways and places:  

“What you seek is seeking you.”
– Rumi 

These words speak to two parts of me: the one that’s optimistic and hopeful, then the other one that dabbles in pure skepticism and cynicism. I’m mostly suspicious of the mystical, but I wanted this to be true: could what I want also want me? Is it possible there’s a mutual searching between us and what we long for? 

In 2014, I started keeping a daily journal. Introduced to mindfulness by my counselor, I discovered this novel approach to focusing my attention on the present moment. Mindfulness helped me discover a new truth that will guide me for the rest of my life:

Our days are full of meaning and significance if we’re paying attention. 

Keeping a journal was a natural outpouring of shifting my awareness to the present: with so much beauty, with so much meaning and significance, I wanted to capture it all, keep a record. A day’s events began to feel so important to me, I couldn’t let them slip away without wanting to capture all the details. Maybe it was a duty I felt to tend to the new outlook on life that I had been given. 

Ultimately, in keeping a journal, I learned I want to be a writer. My job at iThemes has always relied heavily on technical writing, copywriting, and SEO. On the side, I began to dabble in poetry and flash non-fiction, in short stories, and even outlined a novel or two. But I know, deep down, my defining genre is memoir—specifically, in the form of keeping a journal. 

But how can you possibly make a living keeping a journal? That was the perplexing question that seemed to only have one answer: you can’t.

But something within me was defiant. I was going to stick with it no matter what. Sometimes, I was even bewildered at my commitment to the work: thousands of hours, two books, an email series, teaching workshops, retreats, and recently, a webinar. All on the subject of journaling. That’s how much it meant to me. That’s how much I needed it.

Then earlier this summer, I happened on a job posting. And I almost fell out of my chair. I knew, instantly, that I had found my dream job. So I spent the next 48 hours working on my resume (which was nonexistent), then applying. I didn’t mention it to anyone. 

The next week, I went to Colorado with my family on vacation. I checked my email daily for updates. The days went on, the job posting went down, and I began to think the opportunity had passed. I was on a hike by myself, cresting a ridge to a view of Pikes Peak, when the quote struck me again. Except for this time, I felt an odd sense of assurance. Something seemed to tell me that all the work I’ve done over the years has meant something. It hadn’t all been wasted.

Back at home, I did some digging. I contacted a friend who I thought might know something about the role. She did, and with an astounding amount of kindness, she flagged my resume. The next few weeks were a whirlwind, but I dug in and gave it all my effort. I sat at stoplights, whispering to myself, “I want this job.” Like saying it out loud meant it wasn’t just locked up in my head and heart. I succumbed, at times, to more angst than I’d like to admit, but tried to stay hopeful, and vulnerable to how much I wanted it. 

So today I’m excited to finally share … 

I’m the new Digital Marketing Manager for the Day One journaling app. If dream jobs exist, this is mine: helping others learn how to keep a journal, and with the best tool built exclusively for that purpose, Day One. 

On Keeping a Journal

We all have an impulse to document our lives in one way or another: through the photos in our camera roll, through Facebook posts, tweets, or Instagram reels. Maybe it’s through to-do lists or calendar invites or blog posts. Some of this we do plainly in public view, so we may carefully curate what other people see about our lives. 

A journal is simply a personal record of experiences, occurrences, insights, and reflections kept on a regular basis.

A journal is simply a personal record of experiences, occurrences, insights, and reflections kept on a regular basis. A journal, however, is the antithesis of what we may share in public.

A journal is the private, sacred space we all need to process thoughts, record memories, and make sense of our lives. No one in the world is watching. Not your cousin or your coworkers or big tech. With a journal, you trade in the affirmation you get in the form of likes or hearts or retweets, but the work you do to face a blank page with honesty will keep you true to yourself. 

A journal will help you remember your life, stand witness to it, and capture time as it passes. My journal is full of memories, some that might have been otherwise forgotten. On countless occasions, I’ve experienced the strange phenomenon of a memory being unearthed just by reading a journal entry. Would I have remembered it otherwise? I’m not so sure.

A journal is both a mirror and a compass, and I believe it’s one of the most important practices we can develop to foster reflection, introspection, and clarity. I’ve learned the sound of my own voice, and the two different stories I often tell myself (my memory and my journal often offer two very different narratives).

Keeping a journal will teach you to see all the beauty and wonder and significance in your life. It’s there, I promise. 

So, let me say this: 

Find your passion. Figure out what you truly want in life. Be brave enough to grant yourself the freedom to really, really want something. 

Find your passion. Figure out what you truly want in life. Be brave enough to grant yourself the freedom to really, really want something. 

All of it matters. All the work you’re doing now, even if it seems disjointed from who you wish you were or what you wish you could be doing.

Reframe this struggle as the primary indicator of how meaningful and important it is to you. After all, good stories are about two things: 1) wanting something and then 2) overcoming the inevitable obstacles you’ll face to get there. 

Cultivate your sense of identity, even if it means you secretly rebel against what you ought to be doing. Don’t give up. All roads will lead you there. But you must stay on the road.

So, what would happen if this was true for you? 

What you seek is, indeed, seeking you. 

I owe iThemes and the amazing people there a debt of gratitude: for believing in me, for trusting me, for giving me a place to grow, and for letting me be who I truly am.

As this chapter in my life draws to a close, just know it’s been one of the most rewarding and meaningful things I’ve ever done—getting to work with you all, help build this business, solve problems together, and serve our customers. We’ve had a ton of fun, and those stories are the ones I’ll always hold dear. I’ll miss you all immensely. 

This song by one of my favorite artists says it best:

Love is change.

With much love, and much hope, for the journey ahead.