#565 Moving forward and moving on

We’re all gonna get lumps.

We’re all gonna get bumps.

Nobody can predict the future but we do know one thing about it: It ain’t gonna go according to plan.

Yes, we’ll all have massive highs, big days, and proud moments. Color faded, postcard-streaked blurs will float and flash through our brains on our deathbeds, of wide eyes on graduation stagesfather-daughter dances at weddings, and healthy baby screeches in the delivery room. And dotting those big moments will be smaller ones too: fragile hugs with Grandma on Christmas morning, two-year-olds handing you a bouquet of dandelions and saying ‘I love you’, or your boyfriend staring into your eyes and smiling while lazing in bed on Sunday morning.

But like I said.

We’re all gonna get lumps.

We’re all gonna get bumps.

It’s sad but things could happen or hurt you that you just can’t predict.

Your husband might leave you, your girlfriend may cheat, your headaches might be serious, your dog could get smacked in the street. Yes, your kids might get mixed up with tough gangs or bad scenes. It’s sad but your mom could get cancer… or your dad could get mean.

There will be times in your life you’re tossed down the well, too. There will be times you’ll cry yourself to sleep, with twists in your stomach, with holes in your heart. You may wonder if it’s all worth it and you may think that it ain’t. You may wonder if you can handle it or you may beg for restraint.

But when bad news washes over you and when the pain sponges and soaks in, I really hope you feel like you’ve always got two big choices:

1. You can swish and swirl in gloomy darkness forever, or
2. You can grieve and face the future with newly sober eyes

Sure, life has dealt me some blows in the couple years I’ve been writing this site and this book. There was the mind-numbing loneliness of moving to a brand new nowhere town, the broken heart of a major breakup, the searing waves of regret when a friend disappeared, and the general life pressures of starting a new job, living on my own, and trying to make new friends in a big city.

But I’m lucky because I’ve had a way out for the past two years. I’ve had a secret pill to swallow, a magic potion to swirl, and a bubbly cauldron to sip from every time I felt down or felt black or felt blue. And I hope you know that remedy and I hope you feel it, too.

After all, you’re reading it right now.

Yes, awesome things make my life better, people. And I hope they do the same for you.

I honestly can’t go a day anymore without smiling at a couple tiny awesome things in my world. Whether it’s fixing electronics by smacking them, waking up and realizing it’s Saturday, or moving all my wet clothes from the washer to the dryer without dropping anything, these tiny things make a great big difference.

So come on. Come on! Are you with me? Who’s with me? I say if you’ve got a couple fist-pumps in you, if you’ve got a sneaky twinkle in your eye, if you’ve got an itchy old soul that loves smiling at strangers, dancing at weddings, and popping the hell out of bubble wrap, then come on in and join The AWESOME Movement.

Yes, it’s my sincere hope that The Book of Awesome helps those who need it to grieve, move on, and remind them the best things in life are free. For those folks, maybe it’s a ladder out of the well or a dusty flashlight beam in the darkness. For others, perhaps it’s just a little laugh on the back of the toilet, a bit of peace before bed, or a spark for debates about gasoline fumes, alarm clock strategy, or what matters most to you, you, or you.

For me, I know I’ll have more dark days, and I know my friends will too, but I like thinking that snow days, steamy buffets, and the cool side of the pillow will always cheer me through to the other side.

While polar ice caps melt, while health care debates rage on, while buzz saws chop down forests, while wars go on and on, I hope there’s always a special place we can click online in the darkness or flip open for a few minutes to turn off that bright light, snuggle right on up, and get comfy to chat about the sweetest parts of life.

Thank you for letting me take a break to share personal stories about myself and behind The Book of Awesome this week. The comments and emails have been achingly beautiful and wet my eyes many times. I am so incredibly thankful, lucky, honored, and excited to keep going down this road with you.

Thank you for letting our stories all tightly twist together as we all keep moving forward and we all keep moving on.


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This post is part 5 of 1 2 3 4 5

Photos from: here, here, here, here, here, and here

157 thoughts on “#565 Moving forward and moving on

  1. I love this blog. It is SPOT ON and AWESOME. Welcome to the real world we live in, where all that matters is being able to look at your life and seeing something beautiful, even if it’s just one small, tiny thing in the midst of some serious chaos. This blog makes me believe that it’s all going to be okay.

  2. Simply, thank you.

    This provides everything you have hoped it would. What an AWESOME reminder you’ve given us.

  3. You have captured and published what many take whole lifetimes to achieve: the realization that life is simply life. Life is happy, life is sad, life is going through all the rough and tough times and finally seeing the beautiful light at the end of the tunnel.

    I had a terrible year in 2008. Absolutely terrible and I had no idea how I was going to recover and be able to move on from the hardships that I endured that year. But I did, and I’m so glad I did. 2009 has proven to be a wonderful year, and so many dreams came true to me. 2010 is proving to be even better, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has to offer. Of course, that isn’t to say that 2009 wasn’t rough. But I now realize, with help from yourself and this amazing website, that there will be good times and there will be bad times.

    And that is simply AWESOME.

  4. I can’t thank you enough for your incredibly inspiring posts. The last 3 have hit home in a way that I didn’t think was possible. You inspired some very heartfelt posts on my own blog this week and I thank you for that.

    Being dumped by the person you think you’ll spend the rest of your life with is awful, and that’s what I’ve been dealing with for the last 3 weeks. Of course I know that I’m not the first person to go through a break-up, but sometimes it’s hard to find someone who can truly relate. I’ve felt very alone at times. What you’ve written has resonated very deeply within me and I’ve found your words to be so comforting. I’m the type of person that always finds the silver lining, and when I’ve struggled recently, you’ve brought it to me.


    1. I could not have said it better. I’m going through the same thing. It’s hard to hear someone say to you that it will get better, but it is much easier and more inspiring to know that it is coming from someone who has experienced similar things and dealt with real hardships and can still stay this positive.

  5. I have to say, this blog has made me smile many times since I first discovered it. It’s been a great source of joy, even on bad days. You’ve got something amazing here and it makes people smile.

    And making people smile, that’s awesome.

    Thanks for the blog, thanks for showing us everyday that there’s always something awesome in the world. It’s make it a better place to live in.

  6. I may have said it in several different ways, but I don’t know if I typed the following words here: Thank You.

    Like people said so far, thanks for everything. Me? I love getting comments, and I bet you do, too, with everyone reminding you how AWESOME you are.

  7. Hey, i was just scouring the internet looking for “How to move on” in Google after a break up from a long relationship.. I didn’t actually read this post because I found it drawn out and nothing like some of the other posts that I looked at (after being intrigued of course by the title of the blog). Cool looking blog, but everything i just said was a lie.. I’m going to go do something else now.

  8. i have to say, i never had the courage to comment on these posts, despite my adoration, but the past 3 days, i dont see how i can’t comment.

    looking at the comments before mine, i realize something crucial: im not alone. my heartbreak has been extremely overwhelming , and it’s really, really nice to see that other people understand. its also extremely nice to be reminded of the light at the end of the tunnel, and of the reasons to keep pushing on

    my favorite Robert Frost quote: “The best way out is always through.”

    despite my pain, i’ve found such comfort in these past posts, and i truly believe that things will get better. for everyone. and that includes you, neil, if you’re reading this, but i know you know that already. :)

    thank you a million times over again. this website always seems to be just what i need :)

  9. You’re blog is even better than broccoflower the cool side of your pillow. It’s real, it’s comforting, and it puts things in perspective. For me, today was one of those days where a small bad thing seems to make all of the problems that have been burdening you spill out.
    The good cry and warm shower definately helped me get over it, but so did trying to think about these awesome little things. So I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but I’m going to say it again: thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. I know what this means, and I certainly agree with the sentiment, but I’ve got to say – despite all my time spent on the internet, I still can’t see this without cringing a little and thinking:

      “It’s not true! How can three be strictly less than itself.. and then strictly less than itself again! It doesn’t make sense!”

      However, I agree – hearts all around, to nerd and non-nerd alike!

  10. ok.. so i posted this on the wrong number, but it was meant to go here:

    thank you so much for posting this today. i had a really rough day and had to face either a pity-party-for-one, or standing tall, learning, and moving on. this post was exactly what i needed to end my day on.

    you rock.

    and again… you rock

  11. Neil,

    this week’s posts have been the AWESOMEST.

    You got me happy-crying the 5 days and left me with a great feeling. You really have a gift for telling stories and touching people’s hearts, so… thank you!

  12. I could marvel about your unique voice, your inspiring writing, your ideas and your dedication. marvel all day. but all i want to say is:


  13. First and foremost, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this blog. I cannot begin my mornings without coming on here and seeing the next awesome thing, smiling and nodding my head in agreement as I read each post. This blog honestly makes my day. It sets my mood. No matter what happened the night before or what I know is going to happen today, I always click on this site in my head when times are tough and it does help me through.
    Memories of uneven swing sets that jump in the air with each swing, toys I grew up with, and yes the string of green lights on my way to work always brighten my day and you bring it all to life in this blog.
    In a world where bad things are the things that make the news, its nice to have something to make me smile and laugh and even sometimes cry (happy memories tears). Thank you Neil, thank you so much.

  14. Come on man, you have now made me crying for the third day in a row. Still, your blog entries really ease my mornings. Thank you.

  15. I am so incredibly glad I stumbled upon this website several months ago. I read it every weekday before I head off to work and it puts a reassuring smile on my face every time.

    I can’t wait for the book.


  16. Thank you so much for your VERY personal touch. I love your site. Everyone has a story to tell and I am no different!! I lost the 3 most important people in my life in 15 months – My Gran, my Gramp and my Dad. Your blog has put a smile on my face when some days I just did not know if I would ever smile again. Thanks heaps. Thanks Neil.

  17. I’m so sick of lumps… and i’m so sick of always having to choose 2… but i guess it’s better than 1


  18. Brilliant, simply brilliant.

    There is no way that I can describe the feeling of reading this post, or your blog, because its… you know it.

    Keep it up champ.

  19. Neil, I also have a blog – mine is about gratitude – and just like you spend every day looking for the little awesome things I spend everyday looking at the world for things to be grateful for. It’s an amazing lens to see the world through.

    It makes me grateful to know you’re out there doing what you do. Thanks

  20. When I read your posts, they feel like you wrote something which is so true. I would like to add one more awesome thing to your blog: Realizing that the day has changed and I would be able to read one more new post. Awesome!

  21. Seriously, the people at work are going to call in an intervention for me if they see me crying one more time! But I have LOVED this week’s posts.
    You are brave, wonderful and immensely talented. Thank you so much for sharing “you” with all of us!

    P.S. Taut twisted tightness! Awesome!

  22. I haven’t commented before, but I just wanted to say thanks for keeping this blog going. I’ve loved your series of posts this week — they’ve made me appreciate so much. And overall, spending just a couple minutes each morning to think about all the little things in the world that are great helps me start my day out smiling. Thank you so much for that.

  23. I was just thinking to myself this morning, “I wonder if Neil ever has not awesome days. He has to. Everyone does. Then how does he still manage to write something awesome on his bad days?”

    Then today I read this. You find the awesome even when everything around you isn’t. Very, very hard for me to do. But today, after reading this, I think it will be easier.


  24. So I’ve read this blog for a few months now, stumbled on it at work. I commented once on the short or tall post, I forget.

    I just have to say thanks a ton for tipping the scale in favor of the week vs. the weekend. What I mean is that…I can stand the week more because of your blog. It’s something to look forward to every day when I fire up the old computator and hunker down for the good ol’ 9-5. Then the weekend rolls around (TGIF today!) and although I look forward to sleeping in, flipping over the pillow to the cold side, and sleeping in more, I know something’s missing in my weekend! Your posts.

    Thanks again for making the week a little more AWESOME than it already was. We all know the weekend has more than enough AWESOME already. You make the Mondays seem not so Mondayish.

    1. Great sentiment Zack! I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but Neil definitely does his part to “tp the scale in favor of the week”.. Love it.

  25. I love reading your blog every.single.day. Every day. It’s my boost through the morning, right after I drink my steaming hot cup of coffee. It makes me smile. It makes me laugh. And it makes me stop to appreciate the smaller things in life that are truly AWESOME.

    You do an amazing job. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for reminding us all to keep smiling through the rain.

  26. Neil,

    you have made my top 5 list of people living or dead I would like to meet. Your blog has been hugely inspiring in more ways than one and I tell everyone they need to check it out. Thank you for being someone who pokes people in the ribs and says “look at the clouds” when they are busy staring at all the gum and trash on the sidewalk.

    May your days be full of more sunshine than rain!

    1. Anita-I love that analogy you made about the trash and clouds because it is soooooo true.

      Also, it is so true that this site is influential, it makes me happy when I am about to cry, even at small things. Thank you neil for making one of the best sites on the internet. I enjoy soooooo much coming here and relating to people, whether it is rain hair (because secretly we all love just singing and dancing in the rain, just no one will admit it, even when someone points out their (gasp!) rain hair) or spending all your money on candy (which reminds me of the days when me and my brother (who is in another country now) used to compete and make candy banks, haha, I still have one). Point is, your blog shows that EVERYONE has a weird side, and you are the one who finally can say “yep, I’m weird, and proud to admit it”. Besides facebook, and my email, you are the best site, and you are right below (1.) harry potter and (2.)phantom tollbooth in books.
      Thanks for making me smile, and I will SO recommend the book and this site to everyone I know because it is. EMOSEWA. !!!

  27. Thank you for helping me through some difficult days.
    The post you did about making it through a year, i read that on new years day, that day and night sucked a lot, but when i think of ‘New Years 2009’ i dont think of all of the horrible things that went down that night, i think of that post, it was what made it possible to make it though the night.
    You are better theraphy than anyone of my friends.

  28. I’m with you!
    In these freezing and dark days of Finland’s winter I read this blog every day and it makes me warm inside…I feel you!

  29. You cannot know the impacto of this message on my life. I´m in a darkiest and saddier days of my life and now, I read this.
    God bless you.

  30. Thanks for summing up exactly what makes this site so AWESOME! I find myself coming up with my own awesome moments in life and those are what get me through the bad days. Keep it up!

  31. Neil,
    It must be quite a feeling to have a network of support behind you. I’ll admit, before I began reading your blog, I thought,”How corny.” But I learned: corny is good. Corny is simplicity, and simplicity is bliss.

    This morning, I woke up, and the first thought in my mind was,”Awesome!!!” Because I knew Part 5 was to be posted up this morning, and I’ve been looking forward to it all of yesterday! Thank you so much for helping others realize the little fragments in life that make it a wonder. You’ve helped MANY through just a few, simple words, and I wish you the best with whatever future endeavors in store for you. :)

  32. Thank you for this site! It is definitely a bright side on dreary days. Your posts this week have been fantastic and brought up good memories.

  33. Like so many other people I eagerly check this site every day – and sometimes more than that, haha. Every post brings out the bright side of life when I can’t find anything to smile about, which lately has been more often than I’d like.

    1000 Awesome Things is not only your secret pill, Neil, but it’s mine, too – and I think many people would agree with me.


  34. Your writing is so fantastic. During these dark days of winter weariness, reading your posts (especially this one) really does pull me out of the dark and towards the light. THANK YOU! (awesome!)
    Love, P

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