Keeping On Point When You Blog

Even though I’m not much of a writer on the day-job side of my life, I do try and keep up with advice, thoughts, and suggestions from professionals across the board.

Today I received a newsletter from Hubspot, a great newsletter geared towards the marketing/blogging worlds. They published an article called 13 Blogging Mistakes Most Beginners Make.

Now I’m not new at blogging — heck — I’ve been doing it for years. Ha.

But the article made me really think about how I have been writing blogs, how they have changed through the years, and wishing I knew then what I knew now. So I thought I’d share their basic suggestions.

The main article had 13 faux paux’s for beginners, although us “seasoned veterans” could use a look too:

  1. Create blog posts that serve your larger company goals.
  2. Write like you talk.
  3. Show your personality; don’t tell it.
  4. Make your point again and again.
  5. Start with a very specific working title.
  6. Use a specific post type, create an outline, and use headers.
  7. Use data and research to back up the claims you make in your posts.
  8. When drawing from others’ ideas, cite them.
  9. Take 30 minutes to edit your post.
  10. At a certain point, just publish it.
  11. Blog consistently with the help of an editorial calendar.
  12. Focus on the long-term benefits of organic traffic.
  13. Add a subscription CTA to your blog and set up an email newsletter.

Now, granted, these tips are for those writing blogs for their companies. But the tips are golden for us social bloggers as well.

The one that grabbed my attention the most was:

  1. Use a specific post type, create an outline, and use headers.

Mistake: Your writing is a brain dump.

Sometimes when I get a great idea I’m excited about, it’s really tempting to just sit down and let it flow out of me. But what I get is usually a sub-par blog post.

Why? The stream-of-consciousness style of writing isn’t really a good style for blog posts. Most people are going to scan your blog posts, not read them, so it needs to be organized really well for that to happen.

I look back on my beginning blogs and that point is soooo me. Thinking I have something of value to share, but doing nothing more than “let it flow” until the blog was more of a sharing of the moment’s emotions than helping someone else through their journey.

That is all good and well if you are writing for a philosophy class, but if you want your readers to really get something out of your writing, you need to narrow it down to something specific.

We all want people to read our blogs, to get something out of them. Otherwise they will just check you off the inquiry list and move onto the next person. 

I’m not saying you need to write an instruction manual. But even poets need to reread, rewrite, and reconsider — have they put what they wanted to get across down succinctly enough? Are people really getting where you’re coming from? Art, poetry, and sometimes even plain writing is always in one’s point of view.  That’s okay.

But when you are blogging emotions, you need to have an outcome. A finishing point. A reason for the emote in the first place. Using your blog as a brain dump, as Hubspot says, isn’t really a good style for blog posts. Most people are going to scan your blog posts, not read them, so it needs to be organized really well for them to take their time and digest what you’re saying. Organized so it clicks with the reader and they come back to see what else you have to say.

If you want a little writer’s boost (and who doesn’t?). check out Hubspot or other professional marketing or writing newsletters. If you glean ONE point from an article, you’ve learned something.

And who doesn’t want to keep on learning?

How Do You Know What To Write?

I have to be careful this sounds like a helpful post and not a journal entry.

Do you ever confuse the two?

I have read blogs that read like journals, rambling thoughts, working out problems, hypotheses, assumptions about the world that have no beginning nor end. They are just … for better or worse .. venting.

Then there are those blogs that pose a question, a hypothesis, that seek an answer. What do you think? Have you ever done that? How do you do that? That’s more looking for direction in your own wonderings.

There also are blogs that share unique experiences, connecting to those who wonder if they are the only ones who think this, feel this, experience this. I call these affirmation blogs. They don’t always offer answers, but the assure the reader they are not alone in the things they go through.

The first example is usually the weakest style. You want to share your angst, your amazement, your purging and affirmations. There is nothing more to gain from rambling thoughts than just an acknowledgement that someone has read your thoughts. After all, there is no cosmic space to really allow for an answer or an additional ramble.

The second can be more popular, especially if you have followers who love to write back. As you all can tell, there are more readers than there are commenters, so one can never take feedback from their suppositions (cosmic or real) too seriously. A hundred people may shake their heads “yes I hear what you’re asking but I don’t have an answer for you.” Only one will write that response.

The hardest to write, and the most rewarding for all around feedback and expansion, is the third example. Sharing meaningful experiences that others can identify with. People need little encouragement to share their experiences back, but it has to be the right encouragement. You have to learn how to write in an inviting way so that people feel comfortable writing back.

We balance our reading time between all three types of bloggers/writers. But those who really enjoy writing enjoy writing back. It’s just hard, sometimes, to respond to someone whose prose is wandering aimlessly through the countryside.  It’s easier to pick a subject, a particular thought, a particular experience, and to focus your blog on that one (general) thing.

You will get more feedback, which is really why we all blog, and less nodding and moving along.

I haven’t quite mastered this technique yet, but I’m working on it. I see many of you are, too. You are leaving me space to respond to your thoughts, which encourages me to pass your thoughts along to others.

And really, isn’t working together and moving forward together what blogging is all about?

Look! Look!

Today I am really overwhelmed with beautiful, fun, magical posts. Color! Poetry! Philosophy! You don’t have to follow them (although you will be glad you did), but go take a peek and see if you don’t come out with a smile on your face!

 

Rich Impressions

https://rothpoetry.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/rich-impressions/

 

Each day…..is a little life…..Purplerays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://purplerays.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/each-day-is-a-little-life/

 

Apple Blossom Breeze — Brenda Davis Harshman

Apple Blossom Breeze

 

Flows — My Monkey Mind

flows

 

Dancing Birds – Make Art – Magic Happens

Dancing Birds

 

Miracle — All of It… — David Kanigan

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/28060549/posts/48754

 

Each Leaf In Its Own Time — Leaf and Twig

https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/2019/05/21/each-leaf-in-its-own-time/

 

What Do You Yearn For? — Jan Beek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do You Yearn For?

 

Not What I wanted to Hear — Walt Page

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/127080456/posts/4554

 

How Do You Get Others to Read Your Blog?

It’s a question all of us bloggers have. 

We have a point we want to get across. A message. An adventure. We want to share our wisdom, our mistakes, our discoveries. But sharing these “important” milestones in our lives does not always increase our readership. As I’ve said before, the average blog reader only has X amount of hours/minutes/seconds to read what you have to say. 

How do you get them to read YOU instead of/along with others around you?

As you know, I also write a blog at work. At first it was for announcing new publications and nothing else. I took it over three years ago and have been working on it ever since. It was/is a business blog, and I always put that spin on that in my writing. Always tried to keep it sounding a bit formal.

Today I had a talk with my boss, someone who is experienced, articulate, and has his finger on the pulse of the proverbial social media world. And he told me it was time for the company — me — to change the sound of our blog.  That today’s reader wants conversation. Wants to be part of the conversation. Not dictated by it.

Now, it’s funny. I’ve made my personal blog casual and friendly. I have always treated my readers as friends. But I always thought work was supposed to be different. That it was supposed to be slightly conservative and formal, friendly yet polished. It was “the company” giving advice, not the writer.

But the world has changed. Successful companies listen to their customers and followers. They understand they don’t have all the answers, but want to give you what answers they do have. And often what they offer is just what you are looking for. 

So how does this advice help us every day bloggers? How does it help us get more readers, more followers, more friends?

I think the most important thing to remember is that it’s the tone of the conversation that matters, both in person and on the Internet. You still have to have a professional approach to proper grammar, sentence structure, and a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. You need to make a point.

But you also should be having a conversation with your readers. Make them feel comfortable about what you write. Even if they don’t agree with your point of view, an inclusive conversation makes them want to read to the end.

I am looking forward to being more “casual” at work in my approach to connecting with readers and customers. I want them to know I care, the company cares. There will be no sales tags at the end of each blog; only information that can hopefully make their life easier.

That’s the approach I’ve already taken here. And thought I don’t have a lot of followers, every day brings a surprise, a smile, and a chance to make a new friend. 

How do you approach getting more readers of your blog?

Bloggers Are A Unique Breed

I think that a lot of the time bloggers spill their secrets to their followers so they can get whatever it is out of their system. You can’t see the facial responses or audio cues through this two dimensional world…no one can really judge you face-to-face, so why not tell your tales of woe?

I know I do a lot of that. I used to be a lot worse when I kept a journal. I’m older and less a drama queen, so the tits and tats I share on my blog won’t rock the Rockies.

I do a lot of counseling to myself every morning on my drive to work.  Every morning I say “starting today…” or “from now on…” Early morning I’m full of piss and vinegar. The world is mine, I can do one of a hundred things that I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to doing.

But often by my evening ride all I can think of is writing and laundry and picking out clothes for tomorrow. So my blog seems to be a perfect outlet for my stumbling tumblings.

We bloggers have to be careful, though, about how much we whine and emote through our writing. Readers can take adversity only in small doses. Considering the average attention span of blog readers is three paragraphs,  us bloggers have to use a lot of discretion in what we share, how we share it, and if there is a solution to our problems.

To me there is an energy when someone reads something and says “Yeah! me too!” I’m not really looking for understanding as much as camaraderie. My mess ups are your mess ups. Your misunderstandings are my misunderstandings.

I also think that life is too short to beat yourself up for your mistakes. You are you, after all, and there are quirks to all of us. I manage to laugh at my goof ups…that is, after I feel embarrassed and remorseful. I figure if I chuckle and learn something from my misconceptions, you can identify more with your own similar guffaws.

We all have our reasons for blogging. I follow all sorts of blogs…poets, painters, writers over 60, writers under 60. I learn about living with a chronic illness, being homeless, and life without one’s partner. I watch the steps it takes to create a painting, write a novel, or grow a garden.

But I also know my role in the blogging world is to give my readers a wry smile now and then. When I say I’m a semi-colon queen they know what I mean. When I write how awkward it is to climb up into my husband’s old pickup truck they know what I mean. And when I say I’m obsessed by my grandkids they definitely know what I mean.

So don’t be afraid to share your quirks, your puzzlements, your amazements, and your foibles. Don’t be afraid to whine, wonder, or wish. We are all human. We all have to get things off our chest. You will find what you’re looking for in your followers. A little tea, a little sympathy….

…an the realization that you use too many damn semi-colons…

 

 

Do We “Get” Each Other?

There is a certain responsibility as a blog writer and a blog follower.

You need to write content that is entertaining, whether it be sad, provocative, funny, or informative. But you need to read the blogs you follow, too.

I’ve been lax in that department.

I always manage to read the first few that pop up in my reader, but it takes a few thumbing motions downwards to see what all I have missed. And often it’s alot.

I follow blogs that haven’t had anything written for 6 months or even a year. I always figure they will come back sometime. I follow writers who post every day. I sometimes feel bad I don’t connect with either of them as often as I should.

Which makes me wonder. I wonder if those who have 5,000, 10,000 followers, how many blogs do they follow? Do they read them all? Respond to them all?

I’m a believer that you shouldn’t “follow” someone unless you are really following them. Learning their story, enjoying their painting or photography. Maybe you don’t have to comment on every post you read, but it’s nice to say something nice about what you’re reading.

I get to wonder about those who have thousands and thousands of followers. Especially on places like Twitter. If you’re not online when someone else tweets, what does it matter? Their important words will never be picked up by your reading public. I sometimes try to go into Twitter and pick someone I follow and read all their tweets going back a few weeks. But time is of the essence, and I’d rather read other’s blogs.

Then you circle back and wonder if all the people who follow you really read you. Really look at your images. And do numbers really matter.

I hope you write because you love to write, and have found an outlet for your emotions in the form of a blog or a tweet. You will find those who really click with you commenting over and over again. Those are the people who make me feel special. Liked. Like they really get me.

Get your blogs ‘a blogging and get someone!

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek Part 6

Darlene Foster writes the kind of blog that plays to the voyeur in me. She travels, she writes, posts on other blogs, does book signings — what is not to envy?  I have been following her blog Darlene Foster’s Blog for a while now, and am loving her excursions since she moved to Spain. Darlene turns her sight-seeing jaunts into experiences we all can relate to. A little history, a lot of pictures, and I’m walking through the beautiful Ta´Pinu Sanctuary on the Island of Gozo or through the streets of Cordoba.

Looking for a little getaway that is more in line with your lifestyle (rather than the latest magazine)? Take a walk with Darlene and tour the countryside at your own pace!

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Three Days in the Charming City of Cordoba

Posted on: July 13, 2017

During the visit of my aunt and her friend, we took a bus trip to the Andalusian city of Cordoba, about five hours from where I live in Spain. Originally built by the Romans, it became an important location during the Moorish occupation. The ancient city of Cordoba held some of the world´s first known universities and medical schools. The fascinating architecture throughout the city reflects the Moorish, Jewish and Christian cultures.

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More of Darlene Foster’s wonderful blog can be found at https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/. You’ll love your journey!

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek! Part 2

A number of you may know (and follow) my second creative friend. David Kanigan creates his blog Live and Learn with thoughts, quotes, research, and philosophy. I mean he’s amazing. I have no idea how he finds the quotes he does. All are thinkers and feelers. He is light and he is deep. I can see his feelings and thoughts through the pictures and stories he shares.

*   *   *   *   *   *    *    *    *

Lightly Child, Lightly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The love a parent feels for a child is strange…

It’s like trying to describe sand between your toes or snowflakes on your tongue to someone who’s lived their whole life in a dark room.

It sends the soul flying.

~ Fredrick Backman, from Beartown: A Novel (Atria Books; Tra edition, April 25, 2017)

Notes:

  • Photo: Kristy G. Photography (via Newthom)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Ethereal and fun, I look forward to his writings every day. You will too.

Check out David at https://davidkanigan.com/.

Where Have My Bloggers Gone?

admin-ajax-phpMy method of reading/following blogs is of my own design. I don’t read every day, but rather pick an evening and read through as many as I can. Sometimes I click on “Manage” Reader and go through the list of names I’ve followed since I started blogging.

I was kind of sad this evening, for I clicked on a number of names and found a number of people who haven’t written in quite a while.

Where have they gone?

There are millions of bloggers one can follow out there — who knows what prompted me to follow A instead of B. What caught my interest as opposed to those that didn’t. Be honest. You can only read so much, follow so many people. You owe your allegiance, your attention, to the writers you really enjoy.

So what happened to those whose prose I enjoyed? Whose opinions I shared?

I imagine it’s what happens to most of us.

Life.

Our career changes, our family changes — our place in the writing world changes. Maybe we have burned out our point-of-view. Maybe our style has changed. We’ve turned into painters our needlepointers or quilters, our creativity exploding in new directions. Maybe we’ve had babies or found a new job. Maybe we’ve moved or got bored or started a new blog somewhere else. I don’t  think about the ultimate reason people have stopped writing….I like to believe in happily ever after. Like being immortal.

I’m always adding new reads to my list — but I do miss the old reads. I understand the need to move on, but I still like to linger in the shadows of the past.

There are times when I get the urge to just stop blogging, too. Like I’ve said all there is to say. That my readers really don’t get much from my writing. Yadda yadda. We all tell ourselves the same crap when we hit that plateau. But I soon come to my senses and see how much my writing in here helps me out there. Because of my continuous writing — here, there, and everywhere — I have become a better writer, and am now being given a chance to write at my place of employment.

Others continue writing because they’ve found redemption, release,  and rebirth through their words. They share information, research, spiritual thoughts, funny stories, poetry, recipes — whatever makes them happy. And we love them for it.

The world of creativity is a huge place. When you close one door, another opens. To those who have moved on from their blogs, go for it. Make your now the best you can make it. To those who are still looking for their place in the writing world, keep on blogging.

And  hey — drop me a line if you come on back.

 

 

Angels and Witches and Dreams

s-l1000October is for Dreams

 

Ever since I started this month-long series on Dreams and Nightmares, my night life has really been cranked up. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been focusing more on my crazy dreams, wanting to remember them more, or are just fascinated by the worlds that are only accessable through those states.

I want to end the month with more light and fascination.

I really love the bloggings of Austin and his blog The Return of the Modern Philosopher. He is funny and creative and talks to gargoyles, THE devil, and other various characters about life, love, politics, and everything inbetween.

The following blog is from way back in 2013. It is based on a supposed “fever”, but, knowing Austin, it could be just another state of reality. But it does tie in wonderfully into my October is for Dreams segment. Enjoy!

 

Delirious Ramblings Of An Angelic Man In A Cauldron Fever Dream

Posted on November 10, 2013 by Austin

I remember waking up on the porch of The House on the Hill, Modern Philosophers.  I was still in my pajamas with my Magic robe pulled tightly around me.

I was soaked in sweat as I slowly opened my eyes and glanced out upon the falling snow.  Why was I sleeping with my glasses on?  Why was I out on the porch?  Was I shivering from the cold or from my fever?

“Why are you out here, Austin?” came the sweet, soothing, familiar voice to my left.

I glanced over, and the mere act of moving my head sent a violent pain throbbing through my skull.  My tired eyes focused on the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen, Rachel the Archangel.  Her wings were still visible and she held her mighty, flaming sword in her right hand, a sure sign that she sensed a threat.

I told her I didn’t know why I was on the porch.  She strode towards me, her eyes constantly checking to make sure there were no surprises.  After what seemed like an eternity, she finally arrived at where I sat.  Her big, brown eyes looked down at me, she sighed, and then finally smiled.

“You don’t look so good,” Rachel advised as her wings vanished and the flame extinguished on her sword.  “Judging from the sweat pouring off of you and that deranged look in your eyes, I’d say you have a fever.  Let’s get you inside.”

She reached out and offered her hand.  The second I grabbed it, I felt a chill race through me.  My body temperature immediately began to drop as goose bumps popped up over every inch of my 6’3″ frame.

I told Rachel how beautiful she was, and that I knew she would come for me.

“I’ll always come for you, Austin,” she cooed and that was the last thing I remember. The next time I opened my eyes, I was in my bed and saw my three closest Witch friends staring down at me.

“He’s finally awake,” Ti-Diana whispered to Waltzing Matilda and Volcanica Ivy.  All three of them approached the bed with caution.  “How are you feeling?”

My throat was dry and extremely sore, but I managed to ask them where Rachel was.

“The Archangel?” Volcanica Ivy asked as she looked down on me with concern.  “She wasn’t here when we arrived.  Are you expecting her?”

Why had Rachel left?  Did she just bring me up to bed and vanish?  Then I saw it.  Rachel’s sword was leaning up against the wall in the corner of the room.  She had been here.

“Gary the Gargoyle came to fetch us,” Waltzing Matilda explained as if she thought the perplexed look on my face meant I was wondering how the three most powerful Witches in Maine had come to be in my bedroom.  “He told us that you’ve been extremely ill and wandering aimlessly around the house.”

“We’ve come to cure you with Magic,” Ti-Diana assured me as she squeezed my shoulder.  “There’s a cauldron of Feevahbraykor Elixir bubbling down in the sun room.  Once it’s ready, we’ll give you a dose and all will be well.”

“Just rest for now,” Volcanica Ivy suggested.  “You need sleep.” The next time I opened my eyes, I was on the couch in the living room.  I was in my pajamas with my Magic robe wrapped tightly around me.  My fever was gone, and The House on the Hill smelled as if an apothecary had exploded in the next room.

I got up to wander into the sun room and find the source of the smell, but the room was empty.  The only thing I discovered was a dark smudge in the middle of the floor, as if something large, round, and hot had been set there.

I trudged up the stairs, crawled into bed, and settled in under the covers.  I looked over to the corner, expecting to see something there, but there was nothing.  I couldn’t quite remember what I thought would be there, and my mind was too tired to form any further Deep Thoughts on the topic.

I’m pretty sure I fell asleep the second I closed my eyes…

Dreams Give Us Strength

 

landscape-022October is for Dreams

 

The other side of night is day. Despair, hope. That is what the dream world provides. An escape from the horrors or pressures or stress of the day, or perhaps a continuation of the love, good times, and everlasting friendships of the day. Either way, the word “dreams” become part of our every day vocabulary.

I follow a blogger who has become a good friend through the years. Ann Koplow has been writing through the ups and downs of life, including a very recent heart surgery. Her blogs are full of unique pictures that relate to her topic at hand…all written with hope and love and a bit of humor. She shows us all that we should never stop dreaming.

It is her blog of December 28, 2015, that I bring to you this evening. If you like the ring of dreams, please check her blog The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.

 

Day 1092: Dreams

Here are some of my associations with “Dreams” on this Monday of the week between Christmas and the New Year of 2016:

  • This time of year feels particularly dream-like to me.
  • I think and talk a lot about dreams, at work and elsewhere.
  • One of my favorite books is Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill, about the amazing healing that happens when people share dreams in groups.
  • Even though I’ve been living the dream of blogging daily for (almost) three years, I’ve written only four previous posts with “Dreams” in the title (here, here, here, and here).
  • When I got my first cardiac pacemaker at age ten in 1963, my being alive and well over fifty years later was just a dream.
  • I’ve had several dream jobs — including creating the recruitment video for Berklee College of Music in the 1990s — but nothing more satisfying than my current work as a psychotherapist.
  • When I was 44 years old, I consciously gave up the dream of ever having a child.
  • One month later, I found out I was pregnant with my dreamy son, Aaron.
  • Two nights ago I had a dream when I was falling from a great height to certain death, but because I knew I was dreaming, I wasn’t afraid, at all.
  • If a dream comes true and I get a call-back when I try out for The Voice on February 21, I’m going to sing  Mad World, which has this line:  The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.

Because I was dreaming so much yesterday, I forgot to take many photos. Which of these images seems the most dream-like, to you?

Remembering Italktoomuchitis

giphy1Greetings!

Although I think all my past blogs are funny/magical/clever, I don’t often repost them for the fear that thousands of likes rather than an appropriate few will jam the WP system.

Keeping that in mind, I was wandering through the rocky mountains of my memory and thought about this blog from June 2012. It hits the bullseye once again.

 Chit Chattin’ Cathy

doll Chatty CathyI subscribe to a few blogs where the author has broken out of their silent shell, finally finding a voice that is sparkling and true.  It’s not easy sharing something as personal as one’s self ― especially if that “self” has been suppressed for longer than one can imagine. I appreciate their efforts to finally let the world know who they are.

I, on the other hand, suffer from Italktoomuchitis.

I don’t remember when I contracted this disease.  It certainly wasn’t in grade school (too ugly), nor high school (too busy trying to get pinned). I worked in downtown Chicago for a PR department, but trust me, it was far from glamorous…or talkative ( I was rather submissive in those days). Found love, got married and had babies. I didn’t think of myself as overly verbal back then. But now I wonder — when did I become so…chatty?

Chatty is a relative word. Those of us old enough can remember the “Chatty Cathy” doll.  Pull her string and she’d say a half dozen things. What a novel idea at the time. For those of you a bit younger, this phenomenon was a highlight in Steve Martin’s tirade in Planes, Trains and Automobiles: “It’s like going on a date with a Chatty Cathy doll. I expect you have a little string on your chest, you know, that I pull out and have to snap back. Except I wouldn’t pull it out and snap it back – you would. Gnah..gnah…” Well, I’m beginning to think I’m that doll — and I’m the one pulling the string.

These last few years I think I’ve carried the chatty thing a bit too far. One question and everybody knows what I had for dinner last night, why I think my cousin’s child is out of control, the cramps I had this morning, and how much my dentist charged for root canal. I spill my son’s secrets to his wife, and tell my customers not to buy today for it goes on sale tomorrow. What is wrong with me? Since when have I become this effervescent fount of non-interesting information? I find I want to respond to everything. I have an answer for everything. Whether or not it’s informed. I find I have little patience for opinions other than mine, and need to comment on every and all things that come my way. I try and keep my mouth shut most of the time, but believe me, sometimes it’s a struggle.

I wonder if it’s that old person syndrome. You know ― the older you get, the less you care about what others think.  That seemed like such a cliché when I was younger. All those old fogies saying what they want to, not caring if they offend this person or that.  Most over 70 were a little crotchety and unreasonable, but hey, maybe they just weren’t thinking straight. Pre-Alzheimer’s and such.

As I got older I started to get where they were coming from. Now that I’m teasing the 60 mark, I’m finding those outspoken 70-year-olds weren’t so far off the mark after all.  Having spent a lifetime trying to get my thoughts and opinions across to others, I can see why caution is thrown to the wind and oldies say just what they think. I’ve been questioned and second-guessed more times than you can count; I’ve been unsure of my choices and bothered by the choices of others. I sometimes wonder if I should have turned right instead of left, if I would have made a difference, if I should have said something back then.

And I have gotten to the point where I’m tired of not being listened to.

I’m not saying that my opinion is any better than anyone else’s. We know the world by what we’ve experienced. I have kept my thoughts and opinions respectful and private. But in suppressing the nonsense that runs constantly through my head, I find myself talking and sharing more than when I was 20. It’s like the filter is broken. And I wonder — is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Through this need to reveal more than the neighborhood stripper, I find myself volunteering information that no one is interested in. Well, maybe they are, but in a superficial sort of way. I think we all do that — we listen to others babble their life stories, their grocery store nightmares, their crazy family history or their list of illnesses. We listen because we really do care. Not that we can do anything about their stories, but because we know that sometimes others just need someone to listen.

Often the babble that comes out of other mouths has nothing to do with what’s really going on inside. Maybe the storyteller suffers from insecurities, or illness, or loneliness. Maybe sharing the story of their kid’s accomplishments is a way to assure them that they did a good job as a mother or father. Maybe all they want is to be noticed. To be cared about. To be liked.

Many things fuel our chatter — or lack of. Where we’ve come from is not nearly as important as where we are headed.  If chit chatting about great recipes or the knucklehead in the cubicle down the hall gives us a little clearer sense of self, I’m all for it. We all need to get the chit out of our heads so we can think clearer and feel stronger. And as long as the chat is not destructive, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of babble at the bubbler.

Alas, sometimes I think my only solution is to wire my jaws shut.

Trying To Keep Up

thanks_for_reading_cat_2This is ridiculous.

Yesterday I purposefully started going through the roll of bloggers I follow, determined to read at least the last thing they blogged.

Like all of you, I have other responsibilities in my life that get in the way of reading and writing all the time. When I come into WordPress, it’s either to blog or reblog, and read about the last 5-10 blogs in my Reader.  I would follow more bloggers, but I feel it’s a disservice to sign up to follow someone you’re never going to have time to read.

And I have come to the realization that it is the group you keep in contact with that makes your writing worth while, anyhow.

My statistics say I have 943 followers.Or 445, depending on the statistics. In truth, I bet less than half of them read my writings on a regular basis. Which is sad but truthful. How could they? If they follow 30, 50, 70 bloggers, AND if they also have a life, there is no way they can give all the bloggers their full attention. Unless you are a wiz at multitasking or a speed reader, you just can’t read them all. Especially if some people blog more than once a day.

The same is time for Twitter. I suppose I follow 90 or so, and that many may follow me. Do you ever come back a few days later and the little button pops up and says “more tweets” and you click on it and the tweets scroll past you like a roulette wheel?  How can you follow  40 or 4,000 Twitter accounts and read every tweet? Do you think that your followers read your Tweets several times a day?

The importance of social media is an illusion.

Yes, getting your name out there is important, It can be a well-developed strategy for getting readers and writers. In some cases, high numbers may mean your word is getting out to the masses. Like the prophets, thousands of people are taking your words to heart.

More often, though,  numbers are just that. Numbers. Eenie, meenie, miney and moes clicked on your name like chits on a voting card.

Back to going through the blogs I follow.

Some blogs show a sea serpent with the words “No Recent Posts.” I can only hope they have gone off on other writing paths, other ways of self expression. Then there are bloggers who haven’t written in a while, but come back just often enough that the sea serpent doesn’t get them. Next are writers who write once a week or so. it’s easier to follow their journies because they let one message sink in before they start another. Finally are the daily bloggers, ones who have learned the way of images and poetry and short whispers that can be digested in one sweep.

I feel I owe those I follow my attention and my emotions. I would take on more birds and butterflies, but common sense tells me I can never grow if I’m busy doing nothing but following.

The purpose of today’s blog is perfectly clear. I say this all the time. Quality is so much more important than quantity. You can major in philosophy for 20 years and still not understand it if you don’t go out into the world and create your own reality. Don’t be fooled by the numbers. Movie stars and singers and top book writers have thousands of readers following their every breath, their every Tweet. Are they better off having all those followers if their messages don’t resonate in people’s souls?

I’m not saying don’t expand your reading base.  I have often read someone’s comment and gone off to find their blog and read their posts. Sometimes I follow them, sometimes I comment, the least I can do is like. There is so much to learn in the social media of today.

But don’t be fooled by the numbers. I wouldn’t trade the heart-felt comments on my work for all the thousands of glances I catch. Those who like or comment or just come and read and silently disappear mean more than any amount of checkmarks on the wall. If someone likes my stuff, they’ll repost or tell a friend. That’s what I do with the blogs I like. The same is true for Twitter. I should be tweeting 30 times a day, but I only retweet comments that mean something to others like me. Other artists, writers, purveyors of The Arts and the Unknown.

There are a million great blogs out there — a million great writers. A million great photos. A million great emoters. Find the ones that make you feel good and stay with them. But don’t stretch yourself thin. Make the most of your reading time.

Many a truth comes through a whisper as well as a shout.

Thanks for the Blogging

Thanks

Thanksgiving.  That time of year when we eat too much, watch too much football, and sleep away the day. It also is the day we give thanks for friends and family and our life, such as it is.

This Thanksgiving I want to put an extra thank-you out there. A thanks to the wonderfully fun, entertaining, and sometimes poignant blogs and bloggers that I follow.

I know there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there; millions reading, billions thinking about the whole process. Like you, I don’t have a lot of time to read — I, too, have a bizillion other creative paths to walk down. (Think of how tired we all are!)

But I’d like to thank the following bloggers for keeping my dream alive. I know there are some that I have missed, some who have taken a break from blogging, and many that I should be following, but in my heart I love you all.

Check them out, and, if they tickle your fancy, give them a follow!

 

The Return of the Modern PhilosopherVery funny blog about aliens, vampires, gargoyles, and love and life in Maine.    https://moviewriternyu.wordpress.com/

Everyone Has a Story.  Strong stories about divorce, recovery, and discovering life again.  http://everyonehasastory.me/

Maxima.  Love poems that cannot help but stoke the flames in your heart.  https://hillsofherchastity.wordpress.com/

Not Quite Old.  Funny, uplifting blog about finding the balance between growing old gracefully and staying as young as possible.  https://notquiteold.wordpress.com/

Live & Learn.  Uplifting blog dances across all topics, with perfect pictures to match.   http://davidkanigan.com/

Leaf and Twig.  Gorgeous images accompanied with the perfect haiku.       https://leafandtwig.wordpress.com/

Catwoods Porch Party.  Art, cats, nature, animals, weather, and whatever.    catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com

Dawn Whitehand.   A wonderful Australian artist, making unique mixed media sculptures from clay, found objects and textured materials which are based on organic natural forms.   dawnwhitehand.wordpress.com. (She also has a kickin’ blog of poetry and images at apoemandadrawingaday.wordpress.com.)

gwenniesworld.  Marvelous photography with an eye for nature.  gwenniesworld.wordpress.com

The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally.  Combines personal memories, physical hardships, and a plethora of images reflecting her everyday life.  annkoplow.wordpress.com

ImaginePublicity.  Motivation and marketing savvy.  imaginepublicity.com

The Beauty Along the Road.  Discovering Beauty in the small details of our lives through scenery photography and heartfelt words. beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com

Glorialana’s Blog.  An uplifting, sensitive blog that also slices gently into your heart and soul. glorialana.com

Breezy Books.  Encouraging advice and personal stories for those who love to write.  breezybooksblog.wordpress.com

Victoria K. Gallagher.  Flash-Fiction with a cup of Re-Ali-Tea, as she so aptly puts it.  victoriakgallagher.wordpress.com

Carol Balawyder.  Writing about justice, mid-life dating, grief, inspiring blogs, and  awesome writing workshops.     carolbalawyder.com

Andra Watkins.  Best selling author and traveler who explores family and life relationships.   andrawatkins.com

The Write Transition.   A medical thriller author, physician, public health advocate, and writer who believes every experience is worthwhile, even if our paths deviate from where we started.   carrierubin.com

Jillian Maas Backman.  Best selling author and motivational speaker, a creative muse who ties intuition to success on all levels.   www.jillianmaasbackman.com

Cats at the BarFunny adventures of a boatload of cats.   catsatthebar.org

Figments of a DuTchess.  Creative thinker and a successful participant in Weekly Photo Challenges.  drieskewrites.wordpress.com

Booksphotographsandartwork’s Blog.  Great eye for photography, with a book review now and then.  booksphotographsandartwork.wordpress.com

gwenniesgarden.  Some of the most unique and gorgeous flowers and garden photography I’ve seen.   gwenniesgarden.wordpress.com

Friendly Fairy Tales.  Fairy tales and poetry celebrating magic and nature for kids of all ages. http://www.friendlyfairytales.com

hugmamma’s MIND, BODY and SOUL.  A mother’s love for her daughter and her life is reflected in her heart-warming tales.  www.hugmamma.com

Please Pass the Recipe.  Original and traditional recipes and the stories that go with them.  www.pleasepasstherecipe.com

A Journey Called Life…  Everything from poetry to fantastic images to stories about life.  www.architar.wordpress.com

The Procrastiwriter.  A motivator (and procrastinator) who shows how to be a successful writer around a full-time life.  www.theprocrastiwriter.com

And last, but not least, Sunday Evening Art Gallery.  An online art gallery featuring unique, fantastic art and artists.  www.sundayeveningartgallery.com

HAPPY TURKEY DAY!

I Want It All

a4d9a6e95ab9b4ddaac67a2adb860cb5Are you your own best friend?
Or are you your own worst enemy?
Have you found a way to balance the two?

I have the world’s best intentions — I really do. And sometimes I’m even able to carry them out. On the other hand, sometimes my intentions last as long as a thought. Big burst of emotion/intention, then big hit of sidetrack/misdirection.

Now that I’ve finally found the loves of my life (except from 9-5), I am finding it nearly impossible to balance it all without falling asleep at my desk.

Everything is temporary, I know. My kids living with me for a few months has been the greatest gift I ever could have received. I spend my day thinking of what my GB and I can do when I get home. He is a bundle of energy (vs my total lack of it), so I try and plan accordingly. I also plan time for him to be alone with his parents. After all, they all WOULD be alone together if it weren’t for me. First act of balancing.

But spending the 5 hours (ideally) between work and bedtime have drastically cut the time I have to spend on the other love of my life: writing. Specifically (at least at this moment) my blog(s).

I know there is no comparison between flesh and blood and words on a screen. No comparison between talking to my daughter-in-law and responding to posts online. This time will soon be gone, and I’ll have evenings to myself once again. Every day is a new experience, a new adventure. Who want to miss that?

But I am a Sagittarius, and I want the glory, the excitement, the magic NOW. I am an adventurer, even though I may fall flat half way through my trek. And I (like all of you) are multi-dimensional. I love creating, researching, building, perfecting whatever it is that sets my heart a flutter. My blog (especially the Art one) is quenching my thirst for personal satisfaction. It is something I can call MY OWN. Not hunting or fishing like the boys; not going back to school like friends; not raising children like my kids and friends kids. It’s something created out of my soul and warmed by the sun and fertilized by the moon. It’s something that has turned from a fad idea to a real pursuit of the extraordinary.

I think I suffer somewhat from the life-is-running-out syndrome, too. I’m getting older:  there are fewer years ahead of me than behind, and there’s tons of things I still want to do. I’ve given up dreams of visiting the museums of Rome or wandering through the moors of Scotland. Discovering the planet China is off my list, too. But I can still do things that make me happy, that make me proud. I’m just running out of time to do them.

My circadian rhythm is so out of whack I doubt I could get it back in line with a baseball bat. I get home, am awake, creative, love the evening, the sunset, the kids, the night. Then I can’t fall asleep. Midnight, 1, 2 a.m. and I’m still cruising through the galaxy. I get up at 6 so four hours of sleep isn’t doing it for me. I’ve tried everything to calm down at night. My fear is that I’ll have to give up everything creative if I want to sleep. Or clean my house. Or even make it to work on time.

I admit it. I want it all. I’m too young to retire, too poor to quit working. All of you creative sprites know how it is when you just start getting into your project and you look up at the clock and it’s midnight. Einstein’s time travel continuum has struck again.

So. I ask you. Any suggestions on how I can do it all?

In this lifetime??

It’s A Small World After All

mickey_mouse_tired_wallpaper_-_1024x768In a couple of weeks my crew and I will be heading for the sunny confines of Disneyworld. Besides the fact that for the first time ever I’ve been able to pay for my vacation ahead of time, I am looking forward to visiting the world of Peter Pan and Lightning McQueen. The last time I paraded through those hallowed gates, the father of my grandson was barely older than my grandson is now.  Cosmic synchronicity aside, I am so looking forward to a week of not making my own bed and no extra charge for air conditioning.

Alas, the world of vacation in general and DW in particular is not the same as it was 22 years ago. This spritely body is not as spritely as days of yore. So I think I’d better update my To-Do List.

  • Be prepared for average day temperatures in the high 80’s and lows in the mid-60s. No sweats needed, as DW’s lows equal Wisconsin’s highs.
  • Bring a small, portable container of baby powder. No reason to stick together more than necessary.
  • Less is more. A week’s worth of underwear (Plus 1 method) is okay; 7 pairs of jeans, not.
  • Get a haircut now so that it has a couple of weeks to grow into something civilized.
  • Moving is relative. I can still cross distances as I did in the olden days. It just takes a little longer. Therefore, map out bathrooms and misting stations ahead of time. Note air conditioned venues as well.
  • Food rules from home count double here. No creamy, spicy, or burpy delights. Stock up on imodium and Pepto.
  • No need to try the lobster look the first day. Xtra duty sunscreen at 200+ suggested. ChapStik a bonus.
  • Reinvent your idea of what water play is. A 4-year-old does not hang around the shallow end of the pool for any length of time.
  • There are enough adults in the group that each one can schedule a time out. Use it. On yourself and others.
  • The Smartphone is the new camera. Keep it close. Preferably in your pocket. Also doubles as a patience-building tool, as in Jet Pack, Jewels Saga, and Swamp Attack.
  • Water is the lifeforce of DW. Pack many and refill often. Leave the imported beer until you get home.
  • You will undoubtedly leave one important thing behind. Put something to the side (that you can buy down there) and purposely forget it. Break the curse early.
  • Give up any idea of bringing a purse. No need to always take up two spaces. If it doesn’t fit in a fanny pack, you don’t need it.
  • Granola bars are your best friends at the park. Just make sure to get your system used to all that fiber about a week ahead of time.

I’m sure you have your own dots you can add to my list. Any thoughts, experiences, or reality checks are appreciated.

Let’s hear it for the Mouse.

Are You Or Are You Not?

writing girlSome of the best advice, the best posts, are posted by others. If you are on Facebook, you know what I mean. The following post was shared on my FB by my very special friend and writer Jane O, who found this on Author’s Publish (www.authorpublish.com), who published it from an article submitted by Chantelle Atkins (http://chantelleatkins.com/), Chantelle also is a fun writer, and she hit the target with her article, “How to Know if You Are a Writer.”  It’s a little over a thousand words, but it’s soooo true! See how many are you!

They say that everyone has at least one good book in them. Does that make you a writer? Or is it more than that? Is it something you decide to be, something you learn to be, or something you have always been whether you liked it or not?

The following statements are what I believe marks someone as a writer. The following factors distinguish writers from other individuals. You don’t have to agree with every statement except the last one. It is the ultimate defining factor, but all the others are key factors that inform why I am a writer

You stare into space. You gaze out of windows. You fall into trances. You drift away. Reality jerks you back. People get impatient and roll their eyes. Get your head out of the clouds, they said when I was young. They told me to stop daydreaming. Don’t stop daydreaming.

Your concentration is variable. Sometimes it is like a dog with a bone, fixed and savage, eyes narrowed, teeth clenched, hands like claws, fingers pounding at the keyboard. Nothing can break you. You keep going until your back aches and your neck cricks and your bladder protests. Other times you are in and out, like clouds in the sky, drifting and aimless. This is because people want your attention and your mind is somewhere else. Sometimes it is because words, images, and voices are forming and joining in your head. You have to sit back and be patient. Don’t try to force it.

Real life gets in the way. This is annoying. Especially when you are on a roll. Housework, real jobs, phone calls driving places, and shopping can all interfere with your writing. You’ve got to do all these things, because real life dictates that you must. But these things are often a chore, something you resent and rush through. Just to get back to the story.

You can’t sleep at night. Your head is full of it all. All of the time. It is relentless. Their voices are getting louder. They are drumming at your door. Kicking their feet against the wall. Moaning and whining. They want their turn. When is it going to be their turn? They’ve told you so much now. You know what they look like. You know what they sound like, how they speak, what slang they use, what their mannerisms are. You know their stories and their dilemmas. You just want to get some sleep! But you can’t, not until it is done. Not until things are settled. They are in control and they know it.

Inspiration comes at strange and wonderful times. Dialogue springs into your head. Characters grow and change, becoming more real. They sneer and jostle and roll their eyes and seep inside your consciousness. Plot twists you never knew you were capable of dreaming up. Oh my God! Where did that come from? Who would have thought? But of course…that would be brilliant…that would work, that would tie in and make sense…and then…and then…You have to get home quick. You need a pen. A phone to tap into. Anything. You must not forget. You must not lose it!

You people watch. You don’t know you are doing it. It is not on purpose. You are often a loner, an introvert, someone who carries things around, cradles them inside until writing sets them free. You think people are not for you, not really. But they are. Because they are the life and soul of the stories. And they are everywhere, doing what people do. They are sloshing drinks and swearing under their breath. They are wiping oil stained fingers down their shirt. They are sighing in the queue at the store,  biting their lips with some secret unknown worry. They are shiny with sweat, frantic with unrealized dreams and potential. They have whiskered chins and nicotine fingers, fat thighs, and newspapers rolled under arms, they have backpacks and are going somewhere, but where and why? They pass you on the street, they look through you, they are chatting on the phone, they are always living lives, secret and unknown. They could be anyone. They could have a story.

You suffer from crippling self-doubt. It has plagued you for years. You don’t blow your own trumpet or beg for attention. You swallow the words you really want to say. You don’t know why you write, I mean, who are you? Who are you to write anything? Who wants to know? Who will care? But you do it because you have always done it. One way or another. Sometimes life gets in the way and people tell you to wake up and stop dreaming. Make money, work jobs, pay bills, care for kids. They wonder why you care about writing. What is that? It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t make you any money. But you know why you do it. You do it because you would go crazy if you didn’t. Because the voices would get too loud to bear. Because the people inside your head would feel lost and let down, be voiceless and alone. Because of all the things you don’t say in real life, all the things you have stood by and watched and heard and felt and thought, because all those things need to come out. All those things. They need to be heard.

You write. Ultimately it comes down to this one fact. This is the crux of it. If you are a writer, you write. Whatever it is. Poems, fiction, non-fiction, blogs. Whether you share it or not, whether you publish it or not, whether you think you are good at it or not. You do it anyway, there is no choice.

Coming Soon!!

gif

Art is Fun. Art is Intriguing. Art is a Happy Dance.

I have so enjoyed finding Art in different places, in different guises. I can’t believe the diversity of creativity that has been out there all this time… and I and am just now discovering it. I have gathered more images for my Sunday evening blog than I could thoughtfully put into my posts.

so…..

I am opening a new Sunday Evening Art Gallery page so you can explore more of the magic that lies right outside our door.  These creators are marvelous. And I can’t wait for you to explore their worlds with me.

I am hoping to have the Grand Opening this Sunday, the day after Valentine’s Day.  After I love the world, my friends, my family, and my readers.

Hope to see you there!

Sneaky Little Spammies

trash can, opened, top at sideAs I prepare for my next blog, I keep getting informational e-mails that someone has commented on my blog, which excites me, until I find out it’s some totally different subject they’re talking about to some totally different person. And I realize…yep. The Sneaker Spammer has snuck through my door.

I am way over trusting when it comes to things in this world — you tell me the sky is blue, I believe the sky is blue. You tell me you saw an alien spaceship land in your back yard, I believe an alien spaceship landed in your yard. I also believed my spammy guard was smart enough to cut out things other than Chinese or Arabic.

Guess not.

So I have dropped to the moronic level of Spammies everywhere, and will begin moderating the comments. I love free speech and all, but I love privacy, too.

New blog coming soon — feel free to comment on it — and I’ll be sure to let you through!

Just Because It’s Different

fantastic-photo-3It’s a beautiful Fall Saturday. Cool afternoon, a bit of sun. Don’t have to go to work today. Going to make Chicken and Goo for dinner tonight.  I look around — the kitchen is a far cry from what it was when I first woke up this morning.  An accumulation of not being home, a full dishwasher I didn’t unload, grocery shopping, various machinery I/we didn’t put back where we found it, all made for a mess one step away from a bomb having gone off.  But I sleepily (but thoroughly) cleaned said disaster area, and moved around to work on the other piles that had accumulated from a week’s worth of busy days.

My first downfall was to put on some smooth jazz from Sirius on the telly. Second was to throw a load of laundry to be changed around “later.”

Never do later. Later never comes.

Second — and final — mistake was to go on the computer. Wrote a short piece for a publication, checked my Facebook, then came here. Decided it was time for a new blog look.  I’m like the home decorator’s best friend. If I could move every so often and decorate a new place to live I would. Not that I would feel as home as I do now — it’s just that I love playing with space and color and atmosphere.

That’s probably because I’m never satisfied with where I am.

I mean,  I AM happy. I AM blessed. I DO love my house and the view and the music and my decorations and most of my wardrobe.  But being a creative sprite means I always want to tinker with things. Not knowing what I want half the time, I tinker to the point where I mess things up and forget what was there originally.  A writer always edits and rewrites and clarifies just where their story is going. A good blogger has a path, a destination in mind when they share thoughts and words. An artist knows if their painting will be modern or traditional. And they are good with that.

Me? I have a dozen things I want to do and not enough time to develop any of them. I love this blog…this is what I want to do. I want to share laughs and insights and the weirdness of the world as I get older.  But I also have a photography blog in mind…something to do with faeries and nature paths and mystical hiding places. I’d also like to do a blog that shares eclectic pieces of the world (poetry, images, thoughts) in a more delicate sort of way. (Like one of the blogs I follow….http://davidkanigan.com/… Lead, Learn, Live…go check it out).  I also thought about starting a blog that would highlight some of my writing through the years.

But who has time to create all these things?  I thought of changing this blog theme today, and did nothing but waste two hours of time trying to adapt a new style, none of which tickled my fancy. I would have been better off doing research or writing something or looking at images.  Now the afternoon is winding down and the laundry needs to be switched and the livingroom could use a vaccuuming and the bathroom definitely needs a wiping down.

Do you all have pretzeled moments like this? As a creative sprite I’m sure you must, although the form the pretzel takes is molded more around your lifestyle.  I love my life and everything…I believe that all these loose threads of creativity are here for me to collect and make something out of when the time is right.  At least I have fun in the planning stages.

My last creative flourish earlier was to type in “fantastic images” into Yahoo just for the beans of it. I downloaded the first one that made me say “wow”…for no other reason than I found it creative. Consider that creative itch scratched (for now.)

Got Milk?

200177370-001Are you a multi-tasker? Does it work?

Tonight is Thursday. Working a half day tomorrow then taking off with my daughter-in-law and grandbaby and heading to the cabin for probably the last time this year. I really need a month away, but I will take two days.

Again I have left every task to the final hour. I always do. I wanted to write my blog before I take off, yet I didn’t give it the respect of time and thought it deserves. I have others blogs I want  to read; I peek and go ooohhhhh and get all excited and keep on moving, promising to come back and read soon.

I’m currently watching Sons of Anarchy, typing, waiting for my last load of laundry to finish so I can finish packing. I hate half of my wardrobe, so picking out comfies for the weekend is more a chore than fun. Even when I get up nort’ I won’t relax. How can you with a  3-year-old? I will bring my laptop, but it will most likely never leave its case and tote.

Is your life like this too? Or are you bored out of your mind?

So tell me. Do you schedule “you” time?  Does it work? Do you feel guilty if you take away family time or work time or sleep time?

Let’s share. Multi-task if you must. You can  answer me while you watch TV and  write and clean up your computer files and switch the laundry and talk to your significant other and pet your dog while you drink your glass of chocolate milk you poured an hour ago.

You get my drift…

Mirror Mirror On the Wall

mirrorThe Goddess needs a Makeover.

Not the blog — the blogger.

Six-0 has really taken a toll on this body. Not that I was knockin’ them dead at five-9…or five-8…or five-7…you get my drift. I’d like to blame my meds, but I think that’s only an inkling of the reason. I suppose I’m not moving around enough, drinking too many glasses of wine, enjoying spaghetti waaaay too much (I had to stop making my own sauce so frequently…I eat it all), too many of my daughter-in-law’s deserts (she is so awesome at those things!), and not enough fruit and fiber.

I need a new photo of myself for a book/magazine that I will be writing a column for (only twice a year, but it’s a great publication: Crone: Women Coming of Age http://cronemagazine.com/). So I need some updatin’. I have a couple of older pics, but upon reflection, they are about 5-7 years ago, and they’re not quite me NOW.  Honest in age, and all.

I’ve asked family to take pictures of me. Ick. I am not photogenic in the least. I’m a lot of fun and magical and goddessy and deep, but I am not photogenic. Recently I discovered “selfies”. (Actually, I never knew what selfies were until someone on FB posted a pic on what cats would look like if they took selfies). So I tried that. Here’s one of me looking off to the side. Here’s one with a smile that looks like I’ve got cramps. This one looks like I’ve got sunburn — or hives.

What is this intense focus on how I look?

I mean, I’ve never been one for the mirror. One of those childhood hangups, I would guess. I must have looked fairly okay all these years, though, for I’ve had a husband for over 32 years that still chases me around. Or rather we ache and pain around. But that’s fodder for another story.

I could go to one of those glamour photo places. They could soft focus me and clean up my Polish complexion and maybe even slenderize my neck. Maybe they could give me a new hairstyle while they’re at it. And either take the shadows out of my glasses or get rid of the puff bags under my eyes.

Maybe I could have my pic taken from far away. But that’s not quite a mug shot, is it.  Maybe I could be peeking through some ferns, or be looking down and reading a book. Or typing on my laptop. But that angle would just enhance my neck rings.

Or maybe I can just get over it. This is not the Miss America Pageant here. This is a publication about the great things getting older offers. Experience, love, insight. Those I definitely have. Then there are the natural rewards.  A mature palate. Check. Old enough to afford Hacker-Pschorr German beer. Check. Old enough to walk/exercise at my own pace. Check. So what does it matter that my aura is a little rounder?

I really can’t lament what I never really had. Just gotta get it overwith. There are more important things in life than looking a little toasty in a selfie.

So…what do you think?

me2

Blank Brained

face-coloring-page-03I feel like I haven’t been here forever. Between escaping for Labor Day Weekend, football drafts, and visiting children, the world has curiously slipped around me.  My fellow bloggers Ittymac (http://ittymac.wordpress.com) and Hugmamma (http://hugmamma.com)  and Coochie Mama (http://andrawatkins.com) and the Philosopher (http://moviewriternyu.wordpress.com)  have fortunately carried on the ways of the world, but I feel I have a lot to catching up to do.

I often talk about my Muse. She’s a feisty Irish lass that pops onto my shoulder at the most inopportune times with ideas and opinions and story lines. So where was she when I was in Wisconsin’s Door County for four days?  DId she go on vacation too? Why is it that often when I find myself with a big chunk of time, all I want to do is sit and listen to the wind blow through the treetops or zone out on TV?

Sitting at a campground. The hubby and family went off to the beach. I stayed behind to watch the dogs. They were tied up, quiet. I was full from a slice of sub, it was peace and quiet. There were even sporadic clouds to break the summer sunlight. I was ready. OK — so there wasn’t a lot of phone signal near the Lake Michigan campground. No problem. And my laptop’s keys were sticking and the computer was slow. And the spiral notebook I put in my bag was a little damp from a bottle that leaked water. Minor setbacks to a woman who has a list of engaging, entertaining, mind blowing things to write.

Yet there I sat. Blank brained. Blank faced. The dogs lazily spread out sleeping, and the sound of distant campers tinking in their tent stakes filled the stillness.  Before I knew it I was either dozing, staring into the woods, or doodling on the page that was supposed to hold my future writing.

Does this happen to you?

Do you get all snuggly and cozy and ready to read a great book and wind up staring at the blurred pages? Do you pull out all your jewelry making stuff and arrange it all and get ready to create something extraordinary and just stare at your beads?  Do you have an idea for a blog, short story, or poem, and when you get to the blank page your mind is blank as well?

Do you have an explanation for this — other than old age?

Tell me your stories. Tell me your solutions.

Now….what was I writing about?

The Ball is not Crystal

??????????????????????????????????????What is the purpose of blogging?

I imagine you will get as many answers as there are construction barrels in Wisconsin.  But I ask myself that a lot.

I wonder why it is I chose to write this sort of blog. I subscribe to others, and they, too, run the gamut. Some are funny, some are inspirational. Some get personal, some are spiritual. I think of the scope of this blog. Is it too long? Too short? I see lots that are under 300 words. I see lots that are 900 words. I see blogs that have thousands of followers. What makes a person follow one and not another?

At one time I thought about writing a funny blog. My friend at The Return of the Modern Philosopher (http://moviewriternyu.wordpress.com) mixes writing about talking to Zeus and aliens and all the weird goings on in Maine with personal glimpses of the writer behind the madness.  Then there are others like David Kanigan  (http://davidkanigan.com) who makes you think and feel, sometimes with as little as a couple of sentences. My friend Itty( http://ittymac.wordpress.com/) is a font of inspiration and strength pulled from her life experiences. I am a fan of so many others, just like you.

We all read blogs for all kinds of reasons. But how do I figure out what others are looking for?  Yes, we write for ourselves. The more we tap into our “talent” the more believable — and readable —  we are. But what do readers want? How do you get to the thousands of followers mark? And does that necessarily mean you have a good product?

And, as you all are saying back to me — what does it matter?

I don’t really have an answer to that. I want to entertain, I want to encourage, I want to make people laugh.  Do I want to be a famous blogger? A famous writer? Do I want to dazzle the world with my keen insight into getting older?

Or do I just want to write?

Entertaining friends and family, both old and new, means more to me than having hundreds and thousands of followers who never open an e-mail. Having fun writing is more important to me than forcing words out just to make a dollar. Writing is therapy in a hundred different ways — I am no different.

So tell me,  friends, readers, writers — what makes you follow a blog? What do you look for?