Why I blog

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” ~Gene Fowler

It’s been a quiet Saturday in Metlakatla. That is to say, Rob is on call, and I’m online. I’m contemplating creating another site for business use, and I’m feeling drawn to the WordPress.org side of the universe for the new venture. As much as I love the ease of WordPress.com, (this blog will stay on the .com side) there’s no doubt that the .org option provides more flexibility. You can use plugins that aren’t available for the .com. I’m learning about a whole new world that exists, if I’m willing to do a little more of the set up myself.

Sometimes when I find I’ve spent pretty much my whole Saturday poking around online, following this link and that link, I begin to wonder…is it worth it? Am I neglecting real life for a fake digital version? The answer could be yes, if you look at a specific day or period of time. I tend to dive in and stay in the depths for long stretches, until I have to come up for air, food, bathroom or bed. Other days I don’t live there at all…my digital forays are confined to sites I’m viewing for work, or for life needs…travel or orders or the like.

The reality is that blogging started as a distraction for me. It was a good way for me to learn some new skills and take my mind off things that I couldn’t face at the moment. Some of that has changed in the past couple of years. It’s no longer an escape. It has become a joy, and a pleasure, and it keeps me on a learning curve with no end in sight. I didn’t foresee the connections I would find, or the sense of kindred spirit that I feel when I read someone else’s blog and feel an instant bond. Because I’m out there too, in the digital world, sharing my voice, my thoughts, my days. Not life-changing, not prize-winning…but connected, in the fragile way that on-line connections are formed.

Sometimes I’m intimidated. There are a lot of smart people out there with amazing sites; blogs with humor that seems to pour out of every syllable; writers with insight, calling, passion…you name it. I recognize, with honesty, humility, and just a touch of envy, I’ll never measure up to a lot of what I see. And yet, part of the fun is in the variety, the challenge to improve, learn, grow. Sometimes I feel like I have a tiger by the tail. Keeping up with technology…no, I’m not keeping up, I’m just barely on the cusp of using what’s available…sometimes I think the biggest hurdle is I don’t even know what I don’t know. Sometimes the challenge is making time for a self-imposed chore that isn’t even generating income. But I don’t really see blogging like that. It isn’t a chore…more like my own little baby that is nurtured with my time and attention. As to income…well, not all payments are in the form of money. Maybe I have three tigers in hand. Or maybe it’s just one tiger with three tails…I don’t know. But I do know that though there’s nothing demanding that I blog, I’ll keep doing it. It stretches me…lures me into technology I would never learn about without this impetus; makes me think about new possibilities…surely not a bad thing for my early 50s?

Sometimes I think all this is leading me somewhere. Some day I’ll look back and connect the dots. Or not. Maybe this is nothing more than self-expression, and a little engine for vanity and fulfillment. Except that doesn’t feel quite right either. While I don’t kid myself that I’m speaking to anyone else in particular, I don’t think I’m just writing to see my own words. Well, at least I have the angst that goes with writing…and the questions. Is anybody out there? And if so, is my writing worth reading? Or just empty words?

One thing I’ve learned from reading other blogs…a lot of the things that I wonder, others wonder. My questions and feelings are rarely unique. I suppose there’s value in recognizing that a) I’m not alone and b) I’m not often original and c) there’s a wonderful feeling of camaraderie that comes over me when I read something that I could have written. Or maybe just wrote…the funny thing is, sometimes that happens, no plagiarism involved or intended. I think there are so many writers putting out content online…it seems inevitable that some of us are  thinking and writing similar things.

There’s a quote  (of course, a quote!) I like that resonates with me. From the movie, You’ve Got Mail, the character, Kathleen Kelly says:

 Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void.

See you out there!

What I learned today

My netbook

Blogging has been good for me. I’m sort of a medium computer savvy person, meaning, I can work my way around the standard Microsoft Office programs, and over the years, I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge the old fashioned way: trial and error. Even with the occasional formal class, I’ve learned a lot on my own. I know how to search for answers from online help, and I can frequently find the solution I need when I run into a problem. So I’m not highly knowledgeable in a technical sense, but I’m not bad either.

But with blogging, I’m learning new skills. The program I’m using makes it pretty simple. You can do a lot with a click of a button. But there are tips and tricks that I’m slowly working through. Today I learned to link another page using live text…you know, when you see a word “here” and you click to another page. I learned to do that for my blog. I’ve known how to link other sites or blogs, but this was a new little learning. I love the small victories!

The best part? You can look wonderfully professional (sometimes!) with all the tools that come with the blogging program. Confession: I’m just an at-home amateur. But it’s fun, it’s creative, it’s challenging, and who knows where it will lead?

Yay for the digital world!

Margins

Been on a blogging break…busy at work, busy at home, no time to sit down. I saw this recently:

“Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” ~Gene Fowler

I’ll admit, I’m not producing the next award winning novel here, just jotting down a few personal thoughts, so I can’t claim that the process requires blood. But it does require time and some effort. And I’ve learned that I would prefer posting nothing to posting quickly.

I’ve been reading about margins in life…hardly a new buzz word, I know. But I’m attempting to bring the concept into my routines. That means leaving more time around the edges of my day, around each segment. I’m a list-maker, and I’ve always put more on my daily list than I could comfortably finish. My strategy is to transfer the unfinished items to the next day so eventually, the tasks are done. But the negative part of that plan is that I always feel something is incomplete. I need to be better at setting my day aside, sitting down to a personal pleasure, like blogging or reading. My margin for myself is valuable. Why do I put myself in last place? It isn’t a matter of being selfish: it is a matter of restoring, of replenishing self. Hardly a new concept either, but difficult to transfer from concept to practice.

There are challenges from WordPress to bloggers: blog every day, or blog every week. Without formally committing to either goal, I’ve intended to blog on a daily basis when possible. Now I remind myself, there is time in my day for the things I choose. There is margin. I have to control the process, to make the choice. I choose margin. I choose calm. I choose to create room, space, and time to enjoy.

How about you? Are you leaving margin in your life?

New skills; or, 50 and fearless!

So, after a bit of agonizing over my inevitable 50th birthday… inevitable since I’ve continued to live…I have come to terms with my new decade. I turned 50 in September, and although I don’t want to seem totally self-absorbed, it gave me a little heartburn to realize that I’m now officially old enough for an AARP membership.

I’ve heard some women speak of being “50 and fabulous,” and while that’s a line I’d love to claim for myself, I can’t honestly say that I’m fabulous on a daily basis. My fabulous moments are somewhat hit and miss. Most of the time I have to categorize myself more in the “doing the best I can” mode.

My new phrase that celebrates turning 50 and showcases the spirit I’m striving for is “50 and fearless.” This is not to say that there are not plenty of things in life worthy of fear. Serious illness, loss, concerns about family, relationship issues, money troubles, the leak in my bathroom…all bring some level of fear to my mind. Some fears are easily calmed, and anything that can be resolved with money, in my opinion, is not too big a problem in the first place. It’s only money, right? But some fears are too real, too big, to gloss over with a pep talk. Some things can’t be bought with money. Some things have to be accepted, acknowledged, lived with.

But the attitude…that’s what I want. The spirit of fearlessness is my goal. The spirit that says “bring it on, I’ll find a way to meet this challenge with grace and dignity.” And if I can nurture that attitude in myself, if I can face life with boldness, then maybe turning 50 will be ok after all. It feels a bit like arriving, although I don’t claim to have everything figured out. But by this point in my life, I’ve lived long enough to know that whatever comes, most likely the process of finding a solution to a problem, or finding the grace to accept, will stretch me in new ways, will broaden my horizons, will bring new insight. And after all, isn’t that valuable in itself? I know more, and less, now than I did at 20. I am more confident and more tolerant, less sure that I have the answers to everything. But I believe I am kinder, gentler, softer, and yet have more ability to endure. And as I take stock of myself at the beginning of this new decade, I’d like to believe I’m progressing, not just aging.

So that’s my goal and challenge to myself: to be 50 and fearless. To be courageous and to embrace whatever comes; to seek the opportunity to grow, to stretch, to find new strengths, new skills, new horizons. And who knows? Maybe one day I will be fabulous as well as fearless…with a lot of effort, and a generous supply of grace.