Guilt in blogging

A friend told me that blogs seem to be guilt inducing. It seems that almost every time she visited a blog the latest posts were apologies for not posting regularly. I took that to heart. I’ve done that myself often enough. So what is the deal around that? It made me think of the phone calls that I haven’t returned yet. I want to. It’s just that I haven’t gotten around to them. I value the people. I value my time. What are my reasons for blogging? I want to blog when I have something to say- just like telephone calling.

Maintaining a relationship with my website is important. I had a web designer look at it.  Her feedback was that it was an “older model.” That it should be sharpened to keep up with the more successful bloggers. After talking around the possibilities she couldn’t come up with ideas and it remains as “older model.” Sometimes I’m psyched to change it around. But the truth is that I like my turtle and colors although I get into a quasi panic every time I read a post warning against light lettering against a dark background. Something about “over forty” eyes. I’ve got those too. Older models.

Every once in a while I check out new templates. They’re okay. I may switch up when I find the right one. I’m far away from being the anti-blogger I used to be. Blogging is like anything else. Other things come up and it gets pushed to the side for a while. I may not be blogging but I may be channeling a poem, revising a chapter, musing about character pathology or cleaning my bathroom.

Some people use their websites to tout their books, announce events, share links, fundraise or do interviews on exciting and creative people. I’ve done all of those at some time or other- except for fundraise. Whatever floats your boat.

I’m not apologizing for infrequent blogging. I’m not feeling guilty. I’m accepting my relationship with it.

Happy blogging!

 

Boogie Board Blogging

Blogging is very much like floating on your boogie board. Dangling your hand over the side leads to the probabilities that you may end up touching something that you hadn’t figured would be there when you first climbed on.  As I continue blogging, new things surface all the time. The trick has been not to drown in the waves of information that overtake me when I’m in the process of floating, er, blogging.

There are countless numbers of blogs out there, just like waves. I want to read all of it, all right, some of it. One cannot blog for interminable lengths of time and never visit another’s blog site.  I have to admit I am curious. I wonder why a particular person has 2359 teeny weeny portraits of people that have signed on to their site. Sometimes the reason is apparent and at other times it’s not. I’m one of those people who will sign up to follow someone’s blog if my heart strings get pulled. I’m not talking about pretty puppy pictures. I’m referring to committing my time to the blogger who has shared some evocative or significant piece on how they view their corner of the planet. The blogger doesn’t have to be sympathetic or even transparent but someone who decided to tell us what is meaningful in their lives and wasn’t afraid to write it. 

Blogs can be about more than one thing. We’re all about many different things. At the recent NYC Blogher/Penguin conference, I was reminded that my voice may sound different dependent on what I’m feeling, experiencing and thinking at various times. That sounded right to me. Sometimes I smile so broadly that I can’t stop even though my face hurts. Other times my apprehensions leave me in a state of preoccupation. I might end up riding an extra stop on the F train because I’m lost in thought. I was going to write G train, but everyone who knows me is aware I don’t ride the G train. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve gotten to know me and I hope I’ve gotten to know more about you by reading your blog and “listening” to your many voices. 

I still haven’t figured out how to visit all the blogs I’ve signed up to read. I plan to read blogs on a certain day or time of the week. I may forget or am scheduled for a meeting that I’d better not miss. I try to keep my visiting schedule for others because I know how much I enjoy being visited and receiving comments. Open dialogue is one of the most enjoyable things about blogging.

I’d like continue blog surfing as I do boogie boarding- lying on my stomach, relaxed, with my hands dangling into the lovely sea green waters. When I come to shore and pad along the beach I enjoy picking up little glittering shells, crustaceans and the like. Sometimes I put them back where they belong and other times they beg me to pick them up and take them home. I pick the blogs I read in pretty much the same way. There are those special ones that whisper softly to me and those are the ones that I’ll press the little tab and “Follow” wherever that blogger takes me.

What keeps you coming back to a blog?

The Anti-Blogger Blogs

Before jumping into the world of blogging, I didn’t understand it at all. A few people suggested I blog but first I had to appreciate some basic things about blogging. I didn’t have to be The Supreme Expert on what I was writing. My well-based thoughts and opinions are good enough. With a background in research I’ve been trained to justify every idea in my head with reams of evidence to prove I was correct in my theory. Not in blogging. I can share my thoughts, change, create and develop. Sometimes people will agree with what I’ve written and at other times, vehemently disagree. I haven’t had to prove my thoughts- not yet at least. The nice thing is that other people get to comment on my blog. We can get a dialog going. I’ve experienced others’ finding their ways with blogging too. I do think that some people are afraid to blog-thinking their thoughts may not be good enough to share on paper. Being human we can have similar feelings. Maybe you’re not a blogger, but then again, you might be.

Here are some elements to consider when selecting your blog’s overarching theme:

Picking your Blog Genre

Choose a blog theme that you will look forward to returning to over time. It should be something you enjoy and a general topic you know something about. Think about what has piqued your interest. There will always be writers who never stepped on a farm- yet, write bestselling novels located in Dilapidated Dairies or on Crow’s Fool Farm. Does it matter whether Carolyn Keene really spent time on Larkspur Lane? Maybe not, but make sure you know about the ‘hood before dropping your protagonist there. The same thing goes in blogging. I like to ready mysteries but I, for the life of me, couldn’t blog on mysteries a few times a week. There are some bloggers out there that are outstanding at this. I’m not one of them. So I mix it up. But if you’ve chosen your theme make sure you can stomach it on the 5500 time that you look at it. Just like writing you will be coming back to it. The joy of blogging is that it shouldn’t be laborious. There is no need to have several drafts and revise incessantly.

Match blogs to overarching blog theme:

Blog posts should, at least a little bit, match what the theme promises. Most writers are amazing people and have vast funds of knowledge. It may be stingy of me to suggest that bloggers keep specific to the genre they’ve chosen. Blogger peeps may blog on various topics. They attach their “other” favorites on different pages, altogether different blogs and add these to their blog rolls or have sections describing and inviting their readers to these other sites.

Look at other people’s blogs. Sample them as you would when picking out your own wedding cake. After a while you’ll see what works and what isn’t too attractive to you. It was disconcerting for me to see the covers of a recommended list of vampire novels at the bottom of a blog themed “Eight Hundred Egg Recipes for the Epicurean” (or something to that effect).  It sort of left a bad taste in my mouth.  Why not have another blog that the readers can blogroll onto? It could be called “Bloody Tales for the Hungry Vamp.” I don’t mind being surprised but not horrified. I’ve also seen how creative others can be. The color combos, the pics, the videos, the screams are all individualized. See how imaginative and inspired you can be!

The joys of actual blogging:

Enjoy the process. Deciding when to jot your blog down is important too. It’s no fun if you dread your blog as you did your term paper. I find that because my blog is about topics that I really care about that subject matter meanders its way into my thoughts all the time. The trick is to write a few sentences about those ideas right away. This could be in the shower, on the train or walking on Second Avenue in Manhattan. I can use my Dictaphone app on my iPhone or write a short note on my beloved index cards and the foundation is there when I’m ready to really get my blog on.

Choose topics because you like them, know something about them and are pretty good at them. I know about mental health. I’ve been a practitioner for over twenty five years. Living a very spectacular spiritual life gives me the confidence to write on it. I may not specifically say that the topics I choose are a spiritual experience on the outset. But when I’ve written about doing a triathlon or swimming with strangers, ‘you can bet your bottom dollar’ that this is a spiritual experience for me.  I guess you should have read my blog entry “Clichés: the new black.” I like clichés, therefore, I wrote an entry on them- despite the fact I get turned up noses about them from most people.

Do don’t tell. Maybe there is something you like to do-like write. Why write about writing all the time? Write shorts or flash pieces. Maybe you “can’t” sell it to a publisher after it’s become part of your blog but you may not have planned to send that piece out anyway. Many of us write about our slices of life but they won’t make it out of the middle drawer unless we take it out ourselves.

My weekly blog entry Palabras is something experimental, growing, and has lived on a few different sites before moving onto my LatinaLibations blog site. In real life I do spiritual readings. Weekly, I do a general reading for the public. It’s not generic but each person who clicks on the site can find meaning for themselves from the reading. This is action I am taking in this form of writing. I’m not telling you I do readings here, I actually do one. By the way, Palabras is Spanish for Words. My Latina-ness was wide awake when I chose this name.

Listen to your intuition when it comes to blogging. Allow blog writing to be one of the more pleasurable aspects of your life. Just like writing, no one is forcing your hands on the keyboard. You’re doing it because you like it. When we begin activities, creative or otherwise, there may be more stress and tension during early involvement in the project. This will change or, at least, feel different after you’ve been at it awhile. I’ve found that my blog has changed since my first entry. It started out basically as a toe dip in the lake. Now I am swimming in the bay area and hope to enter the ocean soon.

Check out my other site www.latinalibations.blogspot.com I recently birthed it and it’s in an early stage of infancy. I may give it a new formula soon. Let me know what you think about blogging!

Resilience- my friend

A few years ago there was a popular tee shirt. I groaned whenever I saw somebody wearing it. The lettering proclaimed that the person who donned it was a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks. Lately, there’s been a word that keeps popping into my head- it’s resilience. At about the same time the tee shirt was a fad, I was in a doctoral program. While I was busy researching spirituality and health, I had a chum who was studying the concept of resilience. I didn’t connect the dots then, how could I think? I was too busy thinking. It never occurred to me that the two things were the same.

I was too busy scrambling up after being knocked down repeatedly, at least that’s the feeling I struggled with then. What I learned was that a person keeps at something if they want it hard enough. Sometimes the process can be pretty hard. It’s a bit different than ‘pulling your boot straps up.’  Unless of course, you are wading through something pretty unpleasant- if you know what I mean. Today, somehow this all began to make some sense. Okay, so, I’m a turtle.

A spiritual dictum seems to be that whenever we survive something unpleasant, uncomfortable or even downright torturous, it allows for us to grow. We develop. We create. We shed old skins and take on the new. Sometimes, if we are lucky enough we hold onto the hand of Something Higher than ourselves that tells us we can do it. Sort of like hearing “You can do it, Charlie Brown!

Lately, I’ve been witnessing a lot of folks show their resilient sides. I see friends walk through grief. I watch others take on physical challenges that they never in their wildest imaginings thought they could. I get to silently observe others set limits on another’s touch or unacceptable hurtful ways. The common theme I realize is that they’ve all said ¡YES! to themselves. They’ve decided to get out of the muck and to choose living life in a way that is more healthy, safe and, mostly, sacred. I’m a fan of that.

I’ve heard that one is known by the company they keep and I like to believe that I am resilient too. When I look up at the glorious sun in the mornings at this time of the year, I remember when I wasn’t so happy to greet its brilliant shine. I could only mourn the happiness I’d lost when I was pretty young and suffered a terrible loss. I spent days in a dark apartment during the summer of my eleventh year walking from the living room to the kitchen, allowing only the light of the refrigerator to shine in my face. Somehow over the years I managed, in my darkness, to reach out to the hands of and for the love of Something Greater than me.

I managed to earn a diploma, wearing a cap and gown, as I walked across the auditorium filled with the many of us who took courses in the School of Hard Knocks. I used my knuckleheaded ways to persevere, somehow, in what seemed to be an unmanageable situation. I eventually learned to surrender and, with that, survive. 

I applaud the resilience that surrounds me. I know my PhD friend would have lots to say in the theoretical sense after years of studying the concept. I bet that she, as most of us, would also have lots to share from the heart. So, if I come across someone wearing that tee shirt, as I sometimes do, I will smile at that alum. We may have had different paths. Some of us crossed rocky paths and some navigated roaring waters but we’ve ended up on shore. When I look back, I see the obstacles that almost kept me from living a full life. When I look within, I find resilience-my friend.

Sparkling Blogs

There are some blogs that shimmer, others dazzle with great shine

Words that captivate attention, creativity sublime

Sentences meander to a place of ingenuity

Stories that are told deserve a place in history

Take me there with your intuitive pizzazz

I will put my trust in your writing razzmatazz

Keep blogging for all it’s worth

There’s a place for your blog on this wide, vast Earth

 In other words, I just realized I love blogging. Anyone who’s kept up with my blog already knows that it’s been a love, hate, what should I wear to the ball, sort of feeling for me. I spoke to a friend who’s been bike riding and she said, “When I was on my twenty-fifth mile, something clicked. I knew that I could ride fifty miles and enjoy it!” That’s how I’ve felt about blogging all week. Blogging has made me reach, down deep. It’s like stretching into a barrel, as far as you can go and, still, you have to elongate your fingers just a little further to pick something that you care about. The prized pickle!

 Writing is the yang of blogging while reading is the yin. Taking the time to read others’ blogs is a discipline. Another friend mentioned, “You produce content, you can’t spend too much of your time reading.” Well, I’ve been spending more and more time reading others’ blogs. I’m happy to be part of a community of bloggers. It’s a balancing act but well worth it.

I like getting lost in the tales of bees and bollywood, vampires and expectations unmet; art and culture that I would never come in contact with were it not for the town of blog. When I first began to write, seriously, I don’t mean in the first grade, I put my arm over my page and hid what I wrote. I also became afraid to read- something that I’ve loved to do all of my life. If someone else’s work seemed more creative than mine I sometimes sulked, seethed, and resented their talent. I initially balked at the suggestion to blog but I put pen to paper anyway. By continuing to write and share and stretch, I can now enjoy the depth and the simplicity of others’ creativity.

 Becoming acquainted with how others set up blog sites, keep their focus and share what’s important to them in their part of the universe has been liberating. It’s brought my existence closer to people that I would never otherwise know live on the planet. I continue to hack away at my novel and come up for air to share words, situations, and themes that are important to me. I’ve created closer relationships with others just like me, who breathe, eat, drink, and are consumed with the written and spoken word. And I love it!

Paranormal Levels the Mundane

My problem with the paranormal is that it’s become the mundane. Blogging about something that’s about as typical as tooth brushing makes for a challenge. I could ask you what you dreamt last night, whether your thoughts became clearer in the shower this morning or what the homeless man yelled out to you when you passed him on the corner. But recognizing various means of communication is an essential part of living comfortably with the paranormal. 

We receive messages via all sorts of media. Some of us see with our two eyes and many of us with the third in the middle of our foreheads. Some of us listen to our iPods and others sit in meditation and listen to their inner voices. Imagine how long our lists would be if we charted down each time we received a message? 

Defining the paranormal is simply complex. The definition depends on who is asking and who is doing the defining. Look up the term and you’ll see paranormal is described as being from something ‘out of the range of normal’ to UFOs. That’s pretty vast in itself. I’ve sat with many entities, theoreticians, my own spiritual guides and a bunch of others to discuss what the paranormal means. We all love to give our opinions.

I started writing this on the train to work this morning with the plan to finish it on the way home. As I was walking along Second Avenue, passing another worker, someone I see but have never been introduced to, I heard ‘check your blood pressure.’ The message was as loud as could be. Immediately, I thought, oh no, I can’t tell her this! She’s going to be frightened. My common sense kicked in, fortunately, and I knew that I had to share the message with her. My thinking told me that I would not be able to live with myself if something happened to her and I hadn’t shared the message. So I did. I felt a bit quirky when I turned back around and introduced myself. After about two minutes of small talk I delivered the message. She did look a little fearful but simply said, I understand this, and vowed to get it checked. She also promised to let me know what the result was.

I feel pretty good because I listened and took a decisive action on something that I could have chalked up to my imagination. The larger issue is that I can be of service to another by listening to the voices that tell me some things. There are areas of this that I may not be certain of, but helping another is something I am always sure is taking right action. Pretty mundane isn’t it?

Regaining Focus

My anxiety soared sky high when I realized that I no longer wanted to blog about blogging. In one of my previous blogs I wrote about what to do and what to steer away from after reading a gazillion blogs on just that. Fine and interesting. I needed and continue to need guideposts on blogging. So keep them coming fellow bloggers but I will bow out of that particular enterprise.

 It’s taken me several attempts at blogging to finally find my niche. As I read others’ blogs I thought long and hard about topics that are meaningful to me. Using time is a delicate enterprise. Blogging, writing poetry, an occasional short story and revising my completed manuscripts, while jotting down notes ideas about other novels, takes almost acrobatic skill.  

My days are filled with exploring the psychic and spiritual inner worlds of the people who sit with me. We piece together life’s puzzles making sense of the challenges and bountiful goodness that we experience in this incarnation. My writings are filled with these life stuffs so why shouldn’t my blog? Duh.

It’s been affirmed that when a person does something they love that the probabilities for success are higher. Good. I believe that success, measured, can only be self defined. Already, I feel in a great place. So- I’m back to a comfort zone in blogging. Mental health, psycho-spiritual realms and that sometimes broad and, other times, fine space of the in-between…writer’s block resolved.

The Beginners Tips to Blogging Written by a Beginner Blogger

Although I’m fairly new as a blogger I almost feel like an expert. I attribute this state of mind to the multiple blogging sites on how to blog that run across my blogging streams. So I decided to pick out the tips I’ve read and reread several times and share them with you, just one more time. This is in case you might have missed the most important ones.

Blogroll please!

Be Consistent: It doesn’t matter if it’s every Wednesday, Thursday or heaven forbid, Sunday, but it must be there when you say it will. Patterns are important because your multiple readers will wonder what the heck happened to you if you didn’t post your entry. I’m only fairly new to blogging in terms of keeping consistent entries posted on my site.  This has probably shown that I am inconsistent and even worse! Unprofessional! So being consistent is probably the first thing I’ve learned as I’ve read the tips.

Name your blog with your real name: Use your real name unless you want to remain anonymous. I really don’t know how many of us writers want to be that. That’s not our point at all. We do everything else to see our names in print- so it’s okay. It’s not really to feed our egos; it’s all about easy recognition. When I was picking out the title for my first blog I had not yet achieved the level of self- esteem I have developed over the last couple of months of blog surfing. I named my first blog with a catchy phrase. If you happened to be a close friend of mine, you’d understand why I picked out such a cute name. Otherwise, you would have no idea. Unless you noted the picture I attached to it- the one where you couldn’t see my face. That led me to the profound discovery of naming my blog with my name. It’s okay. No one will think you are grandiose. It helps anyone who would like to read what you’ve written. Isn’t it much simpler to tell a friend that they can just look up your name rather than a charming expression they’ll forget before logging in to their laptop?

Find your focus: Maybe I should rename that to “find your foci.” There aren’t many of us that are about only one thing. I have many interests but I find it easier to know what I generally want to write about and let it move in a natural direction from there. I say this only after reading my early blog entries and seeing there was absolutely no focus at all. In the early stages of blogging I would write a blog on a whim, on a thought or on an inspiration. There is really nothing wrong with that- my muse would like me to share with you. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m no Julie and Julia. But there has to be some sort of focus. If there is no focus, why would your readers turn their television volume down just to log onto your site?

Be concise: Your readers are writers. They probably want to spend more time writing especially if they are working other jobs to pay the bills, like me. I get sort of glassy eyed if a blog entry is too long. I want to read a few blogs but I also want to make dinner, take the dogs out for a walk (they especially like that too) and play a game of X-treme Fetch (phrased coined by Ginger and Chutney but it sounds more like woof-woof when they say it). Be concise. I think this concept partners with being courteous to readers and can lead to more installments of a topic you’ve chosen to blog. The previous tip on finding your focus led me to realizing that I had to be concise. I’m getting better at it. Note the underlined tips in this blog entry. Most of my entries are told as short storylines. That’s okay because that’s how I happen to think and write but brevity is something that keeps me coming back to a particular blog.

Be Flexible: As a writer you are a creative being. No need to get stuck doing something one way and keeping it that way if you don’t like it. One of the most gratifying things I find about writing is my ability to be dynamic and fun. Change often takes not only my reader, but me, by surprise. No need to be stodgy when it comes to writing. As a writer of prose on my best days, I am sometimes struck with words that come together and what some, okay, basically me, would call poetry. Is there a place for poetry entries on my blog? Of course, it’s my blog. I have a separate blog site for my poetry. I’m thinking about entering my poetry pieces onto my main blog site. As you can see I’m not sure what I want to do. So be flexible, especially if you don’t know exactly which direction you’d like to take. I know that once it’s written and in cyberspace, it’s there, forever, for all eternity but energy changes and so do we as humans, I mean, writers. It’s okay to lighten up.

Blogging can be a scary experience for the novice. I know- I’m one of them. The multiple blog sites that offer help and clarify major points to blogging are welcomed by me. My greater task is to identify what I want to say and how I want to say it. Should my theme be whimsical, nautical or earthy? Only I can decide that but receiving practical knowledge from experts leaves me more time to consider a pink or blue background. Choices, choices…