Bailing on the blog-a-day

Two weeks ago I took up the challenge to post a blog every day. I’ve lasted exactly two weeks. But I’ve learned a few things:

  1. I still enjoy blogging. I had forgotten.
  2. I really enjoy the online community of bloggers who read and comment on each other’s posts. This group, however, can quickly grow and get out of hand. At which point it becomes either a time-consuming burden, or a guilt-ridden neglect.
  3. Having a goal in mind, to post every day for example, does motivate me to think more, write more, shoot more photos, and enriches my life.
  4. On the other hand, posting every day causes me to write more drivel and less meaningful posts which is counter to my life’s beliefs and goals. See yesterday’s post.
  5. I had hoped that the pressure of writing something everyday might lead me to a theme that I could center on instead of the randomness I continue to pursue.
  6. I need to spend more time on my longer term goals (next book for example) and less on coming up with something, anything, to fill this page.

I could probably come up with a few more points, but won’t burden you with them.

So, my post-a-day challenge has come to an end. I’m going back to my willy-nilly, post on a whim approach. Best of wishes to the other women who continue to blog on and in particular to Joss Burnell, who sent out the challenge that I temporarily accepted. She wrote a thought-provoking and inspiring post today that is well worth the read: The Third Third.

As for my blogging future, I hope to settle into some kind of regularity that you and I can count on. Time will tell if I succeed.

Now, I have an interview to transcribe and notes to organize for my birth-mother project. More on this as it progresses.

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The book is published, now the hard work begins

I’ve entered the marketing stage of self-publishing project, although I really don’t like to use the word marketing. The whole point is that I have to somehow, in this noisy, crazy, over-stimulating, cyberworld, let readers, who might be interested in my book about Alzheimer’s, know that it exists. It’s not all that easy to get a book on someone’s radar screen.

That said, I want to thank Beth Ann Chiles at It’s Just Life, for posting about Where Memories Meet today. I met Beth Ann early in my blogging experience in 2011 and she has been a friend ever since. She writes an assortment of interesting posts on a frequent basis. I always enjoy her Teapot Tuesday where she shares a teapot from her extensive collection. She has been doing this for a while. I have no idea how or where she keeps all these beautiful items. But what I think makes Beth most special, is that every month she picks a worthy cause to feature in her Comments for a Cause. At the end of the month, she donates money to the cause based on how many comments she received throughout the month. It’s a double-win for the cause: money and exposure. Well done, Beth Ann.

Now, it would be great if you could go visit It’s Just Life and read all the wonderful things Beth Ann said about Where Memories Meet. The results of a short interview with me are posted there as well. Here’s a sample question:

1. What is your favorite thing about sharing such personal stories about your family? Or maybe a better question is what was your motivation?
For the answer to this and other questions visit It’s Just Life.

Changing blog themes – advice welcome

I’m still struggling to get back into this writing gig. I’ve been on a detour through photography, where I am working hard at learning how to use Adobe Lightroom and Elements. I like both programs, but there is a lot to learn.

I’ve been thinking about changing my WordPress theme and shaking things up a little. Have you changed your theme? Any tips? I don’t want to mess myself up. I’ve posted a lot of photos over the years. This is a project that will take some focused attention, I think. I’m not quite ready for it yet.

Meanwhile, winter is turning to spring here. The sky is blue and the sun is shining outside my window as I type. We are due to have a beautiful day today. I may wander around my gardens and make plans. Or perhaps yank out a misplaced perennial or two. I love this time of year in the garden.

I’m serious about wanting help and advice regarding themes. Please do share your knowledge. I’ll appreciate it.

Here is a picture I took this week at the Cincinnati zoo. I may post more in a blog devoted to that later. No promises. I’m having more fun with my camera right now than I am with this computer. I hope you are all well and that warmer, sunnier days have come your way, or will soon.

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This little gibbon reminds me of the game we played when we were young – Barrel of Monkeys.

 

 

 

 

 

Keep going

It’s no secret to those few bloggers and friends who continue to follow my posts, that my energy for this is waning. I would just like to say thank you for sticking with me. I will be back to reading your posts and writing my own, hopefully soon. Whoever thought when I was in the throes of trying to keep up with all your posts that I would ever say, I miss reading what you’re writing. But I do.

I’ve been reading a small Advent book I purchase many years ago called Let it Be: Advent and Christmas Meditations for Women, edited by Therese Johnson Borchard. It clearly has a religious bent, but not overly so. Many of the readings have secular value. I would like to share a small excerpt from today’s reading that I found particularly appropriate.

Be Patient, Stand Firm

“Commitment and enthusiasm are two concepts that are, unfortunately, often confused. Commitment is that quality of life that depends more on the ability to wait for something to come to fulfillment—through good days and bad—than it does on being able to sustain an emotional extreme for it over a long period of time. Enthusiasm is excitement fed by satisfaction. The tangle of the two ideas, however, is exactly what leads so many people to fall off in the middle of a project.

“When the work ceases to feel good, when praying for peace gets nowhere, when the marriage counseling fails to reinvigorate the marriage, when the projects and the plans and the hopes worse than fail, they fizzle, that’s when the commitment really starts. . .

“When we feel most discouraged, most fatigued, most alone is precisely the time we must not quit.”

—Joan Chittister, Songs of Joy

If you are struggling with a project, I hope you will keep going.

Christine

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One thing’s clear — re-evaluating blogging

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Since Mom and Dad died in January I have undergone a lot of confusion and soul-searching about life—from large general philosophical questions like “What’s it all about?” “What’s the point?” to small particular practical questions like “What do I do with my Wednesdays now?”

The event of Mom and Dad’s death, and I call it a singular event because that’s how it feels to me, has been, and continues to be, a transformational one.

I know my life and times are changing, but I can’t always articulate exactly how.

Today one thing became clear.

I’m refocusing this blog and the title of it on Random Thoughts from Midlife. I had switched the main title of my blog to my name from advice I got online while trying to figure out how best to market my book. I’m heading back to my original inspiration and letting my other blog-website (such as it is, a mere stagnant skeleton waiting for me to return) bear the burden of my name.

I first started this blog in January of 2011. On my “About” page I wrote:

I have a father with Alzheimer’s, and a mother who is trying desperately hard to take care of him. I have two living sisters and one brother. We lost my younger sister Annie to cancer in August of 2009. She was permanently and severely disabled at birth. We loved her dearly.”

That’s what it still says today. It’s just one more thing about my life that needs to be updated now that Mom and Dad are gone.

I started my blog because I wrote Annie’s book. That’s the simple truth. I wrote a book and I was trying to figure out what to do with it. The online research I did continued to talk about how I needed to have a platform—a completely foreign concept to me at the time.

I knew a blog could be an important building block of the elusive “platform” so I thought about what I might possibly blog about. Several years prior to this I had the notion of writing a magazine with stories and photographs called Random Thoughts from Midlife. I went so far as to jot the title down on a scrap of paper and stuff it in a drawer. The fate of many of my ideas.

Forgive me if I’m rambling. I know some of you will stick through this to the end with me and others won’t. It’s something I need to do regardless. Thank you if you’re staying.

Since Mom and Dad died, writing has been one of the larger questions I’ve grappled with. Maybe I don’t need or want to do it anymore, I’d think. What am I doing with my blog? Does it need a more specific direction? Should I give it up altogether?

It really all boiled down to What do I want to do now? Some of my lack of direction came from the empty nest feelings that I directly transferred to the care of my parents. Dad had Alzheimer’s. Annie died in August. My youngest left for college in September. It was an easy shift to let the care of my parents fill the hole left behind by my children.

When I was in college, the second time, earning my English degree, I took every course in Women’s Studies that was available to me. Several of these courses used journal-type writings from women—not famous literature, just simple accounts of their lives. The slave narratives I studied in several courses were a similar inspiration to me. Just simple people, perhaps living complicated lives, who chose to tell or write about what they went through. I saw these stories as a gift to the rest of us who might now be able to see more clearly, understand more deeply.

In my view, and you might not agree, midlife is a time period that is undervalued by society at large. As we head out to pastures no one is interested in what we’re doing anymore. They’re all watching the three-year-old thoroughbred races.

I also think that technology has somehow undermined the perceived value of the experience of our more mature members of society. Who needs to ask Grandma how to make a pie crust when you can Google it and get expert advice from 4 or 5 individuals with their own television shows?

I think midlife is a fascinating time of life with many of life’s largest issues at the forefront. I think all of our lives are important even if our faces are not on Hollywood’s big screens or we aren’t a star athlete or the head of a major corporation. We all count. I believe that some of the greatest wisdom can be found in what society may consider the least of us. I am grateful for the technology, that on the one hand threatens to devalue us, yet gives us the opportunity to speak and have others hear our voice.

Some of the topics I’ve written about on this blog include:

Adult children
Being a grandparent
Physical problems of aging
Travel
Hobbies like photography, gardening, and genealogy
Taking care of aging parents
Alzheimer’s
Losing a parent
Long-term love of a spouse

Many of these are common things that those of us, in the middle of our lives, are concerned about, value, and live with.

I think my original idea was a good one.

Welcome back Random Thoughts.

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If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear why you started your blog, why you continue, and what you try to do with it.

If you’re not a blogger, thanks for reading my blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this post.

Sights and sounds at the VOA

I’ve had a goal to do more short video on my blog. I don’t know if you’ve tried to use video, and maybe I’m missing the shortcuts, but it seems there are a lot of steps involved:
1. Take the video
2. Upload or download (I can never figure out which is what) the video to my computer.
3. Open iMovie and start a new “event.”
4. Import the movie.
5. Start a new “project.”
6. Edit the movie by selecting segments, or clipping off bad ends, or whatever I can do with iMovie (which at this point isn’t all that much.)
7. Finalize the movie.
8. Share the movie (there is an option to share it directly to YouTube, but that didn’t seem to work for me so I exported it to my computer.)
9. Go to YouTube and download or upload (still haven’t got it) the movie.
10.Copy the movie’s URL and paste it into the “text” page of the WordPress new post editor.

Am I missing something? I suspect if I didn’t want to edit the movie first this process could be significantly shortcut. But I’m going to have to get a whole lot better at planning and shooting videos for that to happen.

I know I talked about this before, but I’m trying again. It’s one of those things that I think if I just do it enough times it will become second nature to me. What do you think?

Also, I vaguely remember seeing a post from WordPress about a new way of adding video that works better. I can’t find it now. I know I saved the email for a while, but I suspect it went the way of the recycle bin on a recent purge in an attempt to get my inbox once again below 50 messages.

That was just the lengthy introduction. Here’s the post.

It was a beautiful breezy day at the VOA this morning. I walk by these little chiming spoons every time I go there. I think it would be lovely to have lots of silverware chimes such as these hanging from the limbs of my trees. Not sure Mark will go for it.

This group of ducks caught my eye. I think they are mallards, but they don’t look quite right, so I’m wondering if they are a group of juvenile mallards. I also don’t know what they’re doing.

Are they practicing their swimming? Having a party? Diving for coins? You tell me.

I was going to show you photos of wildflowers from Leo’s Garden, but in the interest of time, and a desire to have an easy post for another day, (you didn’t hear that from me), I’ll end it here.

It’s still a beautiful day here. I hope you have nice weather to enjoy where you are.

How do you manage your blog subscriptions?

I know I should have figured this out by now.

When I first started blogging, I subscribed to a lot of blogs I wanted to follow through an email subscription. It didn’t take me long, or too many days of an overflowing email inbox, to see the error in my ways.

So I followed a fellow blogger’s advice and moved everything to Google Reader by using RSS feeds. Which worked well for a while. Until Google decided to discontinue the Google Reader effective in a few days.

Now I’m scrambling to move all the WordPress blogs I follow over to WordPress “follows” which puts them in a WordPress reader. This doesn’t solve the problem for the Blogger blogs or self-hosted blogs.

I know there are other RSS readers out there, but frankly, didn’t have the energy to deal with figuring it all out.

This morning I finished up visiting all the blogs I follow and am either following them through WordPress, through email subscriptions, or somehow on Blogger– I haven’t entirely figured that one out yet.

I’m missing my Google Reader already.

I’m worried the work I did this morning is going to result in email overload again. However, gmail has started using tabs, that I think I am going to like, that will sort my mail into “primary,” “social,” and “promotional.” So all the ads I get (solicited and un-) show up under the promotional tab which I can easily ignore for as long as I like. And the blog posts updates I get go under the social tab, keeping them conveniently in one place where I can read them at my leisure. Everything else goes under the primary tab.If you have gmail I’d like to hear how you feel about the new system.

I think what I will eventually do is what I should have done from the beginning, and create a page on my blog that lists (and links to) all the blogs I like to read either occasionally or everyday.

I’d love it if you could share with me how you manage the blogs you follow. Do you have a system that is working well for you?