#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. thank you for this website. and thank you for sharing your story this week. it was touching and you are a beautiful writer.

    thank you for reminding me that when things get bad, they could be worse, and it’s how we deal with those problems that makes us who we are. thank you for being so positive. It encourages me to be positive when i’m feeling, well, negative.

    you brighten my day. =)

  2. This made me smile quite a few times. After a long tough day there’s nothing I love more than to come home and read your blog. Thank you for brightening up my days. :)

  3. i just got broken up with. this helps me a little..

    3 years down the drain but the little things are helping a bit

  4. I really appreciate this blog, but lately it seems things are getting more and more general. While they are still AWESOME things, I personally prefer more specific things that you wouldn’t usually think about, like Sweatpants, or Mac and Cheese, making fresh prints in the snow.
    I understand that there are SO many awesome things out there that it may be hard to choose, and I completely understand the posts as tributes to friends / mothers, however in the future I DO hope for more silly little specifics.

  5. This is my favorite website. I come to it whenever I need to smile or just want to find something else in life that’s awesome.
    Today’s post really hit home for me. This month has been the hardest month of my life. I tore my ACL, am out of rugby for the season when my team has a good shot at nationals, told the love of my life to stay out of my life because he can’t commit, couldn’t enjoy the blizzard of 2010, and got fired from my job.
    This post just really was what I needed today to know that things will get better and I’m not the only one out there that’s going through tough times.
    Thank you.

  6. To quote William Carlos Williams, but in maybe a not so playful tone… ‘This is just to say’: you are so special and I wish I knew you in person because your tales touch my heart. I love the rhythm and rhyme of your writing, and the way you make me laugh out loud and reflect contemporaneously. So, this is–now playfully, and still sincerely–just to say… I have read the words that are in these pages and which you are certainly writing with spirit. Pardon me, they are delightful, so lithe and so bright.

    Find joy.

  7. Thanks for always cheering me up when I am down, man.

    This list of 1000 awesome things deserves to be on the list of 1000 awesome things.

  8. This site makes my days oh so better, thank you. It is amazing and you are amazing and these small moments are amazing :)

  9. Thanks for this. I really needed this exact post, this week.

    Thank you again, for making my day, every day.

  10. I could link to almost every one of the awesome things on this website each day and it is always so amazing to read through on bad days.

  11. Life dealt me a bump yesterday. My coworker, who I’ved worked for two + years, was like my partner in crime, is leaving for another job.

    While I am happy for her, because our work environment is just terrible, I feel alone now that my friend is leaving.

    But, like you said, I must move on. There really is nothing else I can do but be happy for her. I also feel sad because she’s been such a huge impact on my life. With her gone, I feel like I lost a breath of fresh air.

  12. After enjoying your blog for over 6 months and then the wonderful posts this week, I just wanted to join the chorus in telling you how great your writing is, and how it helps make my life better too. As an atheist I was raised to appreciate and hold on tight to the joys in life. My Dad was a big believer in positive affirmations…and your blog reminds me so much of him. I love it!
    Wishing you much success, dear.

  13. This is, believe it or not, the first post in which I read there were actual full sentences that pertained to my life. I almost started crying, because I have a generally optimistic outlook on life, but I have been so close to giving up many times this year. Thank you for this and what you do. God gave you a gift and it is incredible that you realized it in such a way as to share it and give it away…

    1. When I say its the first post in which full sentences pertained to me, I meant that there were concrete examples of depressing events that I have been going through (all of the other awesome posts I can relate to-but I was referring to the sad aspects of this particular post). haha =) its awesome to make mistakes and then realize it!

  14. I love your writing and your thoughts. How sweet life is when we accept that the smallest, simplest things have the power to carry us through the biggest, hardest parts of our lives. This is life. And even when it’s bad, it can be so sweet.

    Thank you for pouring so much goodness into this world. May we all do the same and bring goodness into your life as well!

    Congrats on everything!

  15. This post made me tear up. This was so sweet, and so well-said. Reading this, meant so much to me, and I know it would have meant the same to Chris. Thank you.

  16. I love this site <3 This and a few other things that have happened in my life recently made me decide to start a Facebook group dedicated to AWESOME! Anyone can join from anywhere. Right now, I've only invited the ppl on my FB friends list (at the time of me posting this…there are two of us, cos I literally JUST created the group!) but join join join and post post post and get people in your area together to chat about awesome things in person :)

  17. Your blog is so beautiful. I look forward to reading it everyday knowing it will lift my spirits. Thank you so, so much. I wish you the best!

  18. I love this website because it always serves as a spot of brightness in my day. The key to happiness (I believe), is taking the time to be grateful for what you do have, instead of lusting for what you don’t. These are all things w have experienced, enjoyed and can relate to. Thank you for taking the time to keep these ideas alive in our brain. It’s a noble, sweet, thoughtful project with the best of intentions, and this most recent entry truly proved that.

  19. thank you so much. there are so many awesome things, if we only just realize them in our world. you have taught me not only to recognize the awesome things you point out to me- but you also have taught me to look for my own awesome things. anything can make us smile, we just need to gather up the courage to go out and find out what that is. today- that is this site. thank you

  20. I, like so many other who have commented, would like to say thank you.

    I am an over-worked, over-stressed, over-caffeinated, under-nourished, sleep-deprived college student. Between keeping up with classes and dealing with the stresses of living in a small suite with seven other girls, I find that I have few emotional outlets, and very little time to myself.

    But, one day, my sister pointed me in the direction of your blog- her primary reason was number 709 Waking up to the smell of sizzling bacon. After she e-mailed me the link, I spent the next three days going through the entire blog, reading every one, driving my friends and suitemates crazy with “wait, guys, here’s another one that’s SO TRUE!”.

    Your website has become my escape. I check it daily; read every word. When I’m up past midnight, especially if I’m up writing a paper or studying, I get a little pang of excitement that I don’t have to wait until I wake up to check the next awesome thing (this is inevitably followed, when I wake up, with a slight disappointment that I don’t have another awesome thing to check that day). It’s hard for me to put into words exactly how much it means to me to have these awesome things to think about.

    I’ve always been a strong believer in the power of optimism and how important it is to enjoy the little things in life. I respect and admire you so much for writing this blog and reminding us all about them. You have impacted my life in a major way, and I want to thank you so much. You are truly, incredibly awesome.

  21. I have enjoyed this last week of posts enormously, and thank you for your incredible, and very personal, insights into the awesomenity (sure, it’s a word!) of the human condition. I’ve lost two close friends to cancer in the past six months and have been thinking a lot about what brings comfort and solace in troubled times. Reaching out to others is a good one, but even just feeling a connection to others I don’t know can help keep me grounded. Blogs/sites such as yours have given me those connections and for that I am grateful.

    Keep up the awesome work!

  22. Ever since I Stumbled this blog, (around #900) I’ve been checking it daily, and these five posts have brought a tear to my eye. Rarely have I read something that touched my so deeply. You really did inspire me. And you really showed my that Life really is AWESOME!

  23. You’ve nailed it again, and yes, I certainly hope the Awesome movement catches on and on and on!

    Hope you have an Awesome week!

    oh, and another awesome thing that just happened. My 4 yo just came up to me and gave me eskimo kisses. Awesome :)

  24. Thank you so much for your words in this post. As I’m finishing my graduate degree and struggling to figure out what exactly happens when I join the “real world,” it’s easy to get lost in the anxiety and fear of what’s to come. Reading this post really helped to remind me that somehow, someway, things will work out. Thanks for putting a smile on my face on an otherwise gloomy day. :-)

  25. This is wonderful. It was as awesome as always but even more so since it was more personal than usual. I am going to buy many copies of your book; they will make wonderful gifts.
    Thanks for making me smile today (lumps, bumps and all).

  26. This post may have saved my life.

    I’m going through a pretty rough time, but this has helped me put it into perspective- there are so much bigger things out there waiting for me, and I’ll look back on this like it’s nothing.

    Obviously that can’t just make me forget what I’m going through now. But it’s sure as hell helping me, and it’s an amazing comfort to fall back on.

    Thank you.

  27. Reading your blog the last few months (has it been that long, wow) has made me smile, laugh out loud, cry, sob and feel like there’s other people who go through the same ups and downs… that no one is truly alone.. that there’s something wonderful somewhere if you just look.

    Thank you for this! I sincerely hope that writing this out, and taking the time every day to find the awesome has made you smile.

    You are right up there in my list of awesome, somewhere between the feeling of the mud squishing between my toes from the first spring rain and the taste of dark chocolate slowly melting on the tongue.

  28. This post is better than Dr Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go. And that is a pretty great book. Thank you for giving me things to smile about, laugh about, think about, and be thankful for. Thank you.

  29. “Things will happen in your life that you can’t stop, but thats no reason to shut out the world. There’s a purpose for the good, and for the bad.” Now and Then

  30. Neil, first off, I’d just like to say how fantastic I think your blog is, I know that, compared to many, my life is great, but that doesn’t stop me feeling down every once in a while, and your blog never fails to cheer me up! So Thanks!

    This post is my favourite, because it embodies the idea that life is life, all you have to do is keep living it, which is a great philosophy to believe in.

    This blog, particularly this post has touched me in an extremely profound way, so thank you Neil, thank you so much for giving us such an amazing thing.

  31. Thank you so much – thank you

    I have been feeling so sad for so long and i would have forgotten about the awesome things in life if it wasn’t for you.


  32. I love your blog so much that my #1 angst is worrying about what will happen when you get to 1000. Can we agree that there are limitless awesome things, so that the ride last forever?

  33. I’m truly touched. When I began reading this blog I was because everyday I needed something to remind me that there is something to be grateful for everyday. Even if it’s something as simple as a my tongue or a box of Lucky Charms. This blog really helps me get through the week and this post especially brought tears to my eyes because of just how beautiful it is. Keep up the good work because you are truly


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