Ask Lauren Fleshman was started in January 2010 in a booth seat at the Flying Star Restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jesse and I were sitting opposite one another playing “laptop battleship,” the made-up game where two or more people sit at a table staring at their laptops not talking to one another. Maybe you’ve played it. It’s sweeping the nation.
Jesse was working on “what the hell to do with his life after business school” and I was working on “how to find meaning in the day to day when my running is in the shitter.” Basically we were staring at this:
“I need something else in my life besides my running,” I said for the 36th time of the trip. “Running is just too freaking one-dimensional. When you’re winning and healthy it’s great, but when you are injured it sucks the life out of you. It’s just not healthy.”
Jesse peeked his blue eyes over the top of his MacBook. “Well what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. I used to be more than a runner. A student. A musician. A teacher. I had friends. Roommates. Other things I cared about. Other lives I cared about. Now it’s just all about me all the time.”
“That’s part of the deal dude. You’re a professional athlete.”
“Shut up, you know what I mean. It makes it so that not even the good times are as much fun. And the bad times are freaking terrible. People go through this stuff all the time, all by themselves, not just pro athletes, and feel awful about it. It’s stupid. Why don’t we have a way to talk about it?”
“Maybe you can give talks or teach or volunteer or something? But the travel…uh, maybe you can write about your experiences for a running website or something?”
“Maybe…I like to write. I like to help people out. I have all this experience I’m not doing anything with right now. I just don’t know what to DO with it online because I don’t understand this internet shit [insert whiney pouty frustrated face you only show your spouse or parents]! Can you please help me. I can’t do it by myself.”
Jesse paused for effect and cocked his eyebrow so high a curl from his head got tangled up in it. As two extremely independent and stubborn people, we RARELY ask one another directly for help.
I stared back with watery eyes [ultimate chick card, not proud of it.]
“Let’s see what we can find,” he replied, and tucked back behind the Macbook.
Polster is on the right. I know this picture is confusing, but just try to focus on his face.
By the end of our four hour lunch I had a domain name, Ask Lauren Fleshman (“ALF”), a plan, and a husband with computer skills who just finished his MBA in sports business. Jesse and I felt strongly that my website should reflect who I am, and what I care about, and not just “look cool” and “be full of fancy flash stuff” but I had no idea how to create the site by myself. Jesse got a temporary website up and I started blogging with immediate plans to revamp it and make it do all the things I dreamed of. I bet about 15 of you remember that original iWeb site.
His web-designer cousin Loren Polster was hired for the real ALF site and when he presented it to me, I gave him the hug of the century. I wasn’t just given a website, I was given a purpose outside of running, something that I couldn’t have made for myself. Thank God for people with actual technical skills, eh?
So Why Change Anything?
In the past three and a half years, my readership has grown from 4 on the first post to….well, lots. I’ve learned what information is most helpful for my readers and what is not. And as the needs of my readers have changed, it became obvious that my website had to change too. It became more than I imagined. I had no idea I’d get so many THOUSANDS of questions, or that I would end up with a big collection of content that would be difficult to locate after a week or so. The website for me had become like a frighteningly disorganized desk that is overflowing with so much loose paper that despite my best intentions, I just couldn’t do work there. I’ve essentially stopped answering questions because I can’t organize them, and that breaks my heart because that is my favorite part of having ALF in the first place!
SOOOOOOO…that was an extremely long way to announce that ALF got a full body makeover, and I’m not just talking about what dress she is wearing on the outside. Behind that dress are undergarments that perform functional miracles, exfoliated skin that has been plucked, waxed, buffed, and moisturized, and organs that have been restored to optimal function thru a juice cleanse. It’s still the same at it’s core, but updated for the now.
Even though McKayla is not impressed, I want to thank the birds.
I want to thank Oiselle for asking me how they could help, and for providing all the resources to make my blog the way I really wanted it. They set me up with a very talented design/development duo, Regina Baerwalde and Christine Estrada, and let us take it from there. No strings attached. They never once imposed any requirements or forced me to plug their products, or anything you might expect. Any sign of Oiselle products or collaborations that you see on the new site exist because I want them there, and I personally asked for them there. I am the only person who controls the content on my site. I will never take for granted how fortunate I am to have a working relationship like that, so thanks a million to the Volée at Oiselle.
While you are here, if you don’t mind doing me a solid: please get comfortable, click around, and any kinks or feedback you see, please let me know by commenting on this post or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. These types of things don’t come out perfect on day one, and I could really use your help identifying what still needs to be addressed. There will be little adjustments here and there over the next couple weeks.
Thanks a million to all of you for your support over the last 3 ½ years. The next 3 ½ are going to be even better, and I can’t wait to share it with you.