Meet the Crew

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then . . . . I contradict myself;
I am large . . . . I contain multitudes.” ~ Walt Whitman (from Song of Myself)

hearts by Heleen - Dutch Colours/ Dutch SistersIt’s blog spring cleaning time again and all of my selves are enjoying the process of renewal. Everything, everything is made easier by my decision to craft my life around how I want to feel.

My editor brain is enjoying the quest for clarity; the re-writing, the deleting, the cutting, pasting and re-ordering of my narrative.

The life coach in me is enjoying the big questions: Who am I? How do I serve? What do I want to share? With whom? Why? How? Where do I want to go? How do I plan to get there?

The lingust and language teacher are evangelists for connection, for learning and sharing.

The translator instinctively understands – lives and breathes – the concepts of heart connection, vibrant expression, authenticity… the filtering of essence and soul. (Perfectionism? Anxiety about getting things ‘right’ before they’re made public? Part of the territory.)

The homelife coach shares those obsessions, but she applies them to the notion of homes as sanctuaries, galleries, gathering places, life-museums: her realm is the relationship between function and form, the balance between simplicity and warmth in the shared spaces, between serenity and cosiness. Am I living my life by design? What am I holding on to? Why? What does it say about me? These are her questions. She loves letting things go to make room for what matters most. She’s the one who HATES the clunky, stuck, cluttery, unfixable bits of her blog and so spends hours learning CSS and HTML and searching for that perfect – but elusive – free WordPress theme, the one that’ll pull everything together.

The homemaker – mother and wife? She wants to create a home where folk are loved, cherished, supported, championed, heard… She curates, treasures connection and is always available.

The daughter? Exhausted. Caring for a ninety year old father is an honour, a hymn of gratitude and also, sometimes, a challenge; she often has to press the blogging OFF switch.

The writer? Ah, well, she has the easiest role; as long as she can be authentic, everything’s fuel.

The songwriter, lover of music and poetry? Desperate to share her favourite music, lyrics and poems but frustrated by copyright laws and technology.

The poet? Waiting. She doesn’t mind; she just keeps soaking it all in and taking notes.

The painter? Also waiting, but resenting that blogging takes her away from days spent inspired, immersed in colour, details and texture, watching something recreate itself in paint. I suspect she also plays a major role in the longing to log off.

The crocheter? Couldn’t care less about blogging; she’ll post pictures of colourful blankets someday, but she comes to life when the laptop clicks shut.

The quotehunter? The reader? Longing to share everything, but biding their time, reading… filtering… building up to that moment when the jug overflows… they’ve gathered thousands of quotes to share, but ah…the filing and sorting is a chore.

So that’s a few of my me’s, but enough to illustrate my complex relationship with blogging.

How many you’s make their way into your blog? Do you ever feel like you have multiple blogging personality disorder? Which of my blogging selves do you resonate with most?

In my clearing out today, I found this version of my very first post, published in 2008 on a simple wee practice blog before I  launched properly. My decision to keep it got me wondering why, so I decided not to bin it. I still visit craft blogs for pleasure, and it seems I still have the same blogging values as I did back then.

Autumn Hearts

I love unique blogs full of exuberance, creativity and pure authentic passion. Blogs that feel like snack food for the soul. Blogs that don’t make me feel like my only purpose as a reader is to bump up the numbers at a vampire fest. I logged on today to learn from some of the world’s top pro-bloggers and ended up feeling like the poster child for how not to blog. A few of my crimes?

  • I use the word ‘I’ more than ‘you’.
  • I write about myself, my home and my family – one blogger called this “egocentritis”.
  • My favoured format isn’t daily How To… lists or Top 10 anythings.
  • My posts are so long they’d land me in blogging jail if there was such a place.
  • Even my short posts aren’t easily scannable by folk who like to whizz through dozens of posts a day.
  • My post titles aren’t written with search engines in mind.
  • I still think of you as a reader, not ‘traffic’ that needs to be ‘driven’ somewhere.
  • I haven’t stuck to one niche.

That’s why I was delighted to come across today’s Daily Mmmm… while I was doing what I call synchronicitous surfing, letting my natural curiosity take me from one link to another for the length of time it takes to drink a coffee.

A couple of curious clicks led me to a Dutch blog by a stay at home mum and part time teacher who makes little works of art, creative pieces rich in colour and detail. I love hand-made craft items that take time and love to create; in much the same way, I enjoy blog entries that aren’t just dashed off to feed the insatiable hunger of the search engines.autumn-hearts

I smiled when I came across these wee hearts; they warmed mine on a cold autumn day full of low self-esteem, self-doubt and ranting frustration. I wrote to the artist and asked her for permission to use this photo; she replied, in English, within minutes and her warm, appreciative response made my day.

Dutch colours: hearts | Dutch Sisters

16 thoughts on “Meet the Crew

  1. Hi Janice,
    I came here by way of Sara’s blog. I can relate to not having a niche or writing for search engines, which is probably why I have a miniscule number of readers. My blog is an eclectic mish-mash of topics, the only constant being my quote of the week series. I have also dabbled with paints, crafts, and write the occasional poetry and fiction. Another thing that shows up frequently are my cats, although we have only one now.
    Oh, and your pictures of Greece were gorgeous! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
    Linda recently posted…Quote of the WeekMy Profile

    • Hi Linda – good to have you visit and to see your wee cat photo in my boxes! I’ve got so used to it in Sara’s boxes over the last year.

      I nipped over to your blog and really appreciated the Irish quote; you’ve inspired me to hunt out my favourite Yeats poem.

      It’s obvious you enjoy your blog and expressing your creativity and your love of life, and when it comes down to it, isn’t that all that matters? Doing what we love and having a genuine connection with the folk we do share thoughts with? I once wrote “You have to trust that if you send your words out in a bottle, they’ll reach someone who needs to hear them.” It’s one of the beliefs that keeps me writing here.

  2. Hi Janice – so much to offer us … I’m amazed at my own blog and what I’ve achieved through it … and I can’t sew, craft, paint, garden (well probably could if I had one!), and wasn’t able to write … the blog has opened my eyes to writing, and to engaging with many around the world, to learning so much about the world, to having a grasp of and perhaps understanding so many things … I just enjoy what I do and am glad people come to read.

    However I need to do more … and the summer beckons – perhaps a long break to get life into gear again and being productive … but keeping those connections we’ve made over time … I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for over 7 years now – and I’m still in touch with early commenters … as you are … we do touch and understand each other a little …

    I agree with many of your thoughts … I don’t write for search engines, I write for you with my ideas in mind, I don’t do niches … and generally I tread along my own path … and I like to learn – as long as I educate myself as I go .. and people come over to comment … I’m a happy bunny!

    Do hope you’ll stick around .. and enjoy being back in blogland … and I can garner wisdom, patience, clarity from you .. cheers for now – Hilary
    Hilary recently posted…Scarves from Stones … ? Rock Chips onto Silk …?My Profile

    • I’d like to think I can offer you something, but it’s enough for me to know you can email if you ever need anything, or can pop in here for a cuppa and a slow read! Over the years, you’ve shown us all that one of the keys to being happy is to do what you love and keep at it.

      Your formula has been the same since I met you through Nadia’s blog – learn eclectically, share with clarity, wit and fun, support others in their blogs… Even when it got hard because there were so many blogs to visit (victim of your own success!) you just shortenened the comments but still supported folk. It also stuns me that you haven’t fried your brain with the amount of photos you manage to upload into every single post!

      Your blogging’s also an example of something the blogging advice sites never accentuate – cheeriness, kindness and determination not to exploit or hurt folk. All the useful, interesting content in the world is nothing if you’re turned off by the author. I’m glad we’re still in each other’s blogging comunities – it’s like meeting for a coffee down at the library! (Also glad that you’re not repelled by my ridiculously long posts! 😉 )

  3. The “multitudes” excerpt has come to me three times in 8 days, Janice! Thank you for spreading what I consider a love song for our inner selves. I resonate and welcome such an invitation to my fuller being, the prompt to embrace all of myself. You and many of your readers may already value this Rumi poem, as I do, though admit it’s inspiration rather than something I can consistently enact: http://persweb.wabash.edu/facstaff/hulenp/sperit/poetry/rumi/guesthou.html

    Thank you for modeling your multitudes for me to enjoy, learn from and marvel at!

    • Oh, gosh Connie – I hope you don’t mean that my tinkering with the blog has somehow sent out multiple feed/email alert thingies! 🙁 All I did was update a few typos, add data to the image and add a bigger photo at the top. (I can see things better after I hit POST, even though I use the preview post setting when I’m typing.) I did download WordPress’s Jetpack plugin recently, but uninstalled it and ran away screaming after it messed with bits and pieces all over the blog. Or did you mean you’ve received or come across the quote in two other places? (Which would make me think “That’s so meant!” if I wasn’t still worrying about feed/email thingies! 😉 )Please let me know.

      And you’re SO spooky… that Rumi poem is one of my favourites, and I’m currently going through my poetry category, recategorising and culling them so I can reposition the best ones. Did you ever read the post I based around it? http://sharingthejourney.co.uk/categories/poetry/guest-house/

      You’re always so gracious and generous, Connie; you see so much more than I can when I’m tired and sinking into fear-based thinking. I fear there’s nothing much to marvel at at the moment except the speed with which I can nose dive into a drama and a slump, but your words always calm my inner panicky child and reconnect me to my best self.

      • I am SUCH a stupid panicker, Connie… I only posted Meet the Crew two days ago. Ignore me… I haven’t been sleeping well and my common sense is starting to leak through the cracks!

        • Perhaps it’s the crack where the light comes in, according to Leonard Cohen! Glad to know you appreciate Rumi, too, Janice. I’ll go enjoy that at the link you provided. Thanks!

  4. I identify with this so much! I find it impossible to say what I want to say in the recommended 200-500 word posts, so my own posts tend to be lengthy (I can’t even write a comment in so few words!). And I say ‘I’ a lot. And I don’t do anything with search traffic in mind. I’ve tried to do it the ‘right’ way and it didn’t work for me at all, turning my blog into something that felt like a chore and me into someone who wasn’t being true to herself.

    I can’t find the link to this, but a while back I came across a blog post from someone who pointed out that most of the blogging advice out there comes from men, and that women have a different take on things. She said it was a bit like shopping – a man will identify a need, go straight to the right shop, and buy the first thing that fills the need adequately. Women like to browse and look at a lot of things before making a decision. If you apply this to the web, then men tend to like the ‘how to’ articles and lists of the top ten things about X because it gets straight to the point. Women are far more inclined to want to feel a connection with the writer, to learn something about them and their lives, and to have the information wrapped up in stories. I know I’m generalising a lot here, but I think it holds true to a large extent, and it renders the blogging advice a bit skewed.

    Personally, while I might use the ‘how to’ type of blog as a source of information, I never hang around any longer than I have to on these. I’d much rather read the kind of blog posts you write yourself, which are thoughtful and give something to ponder on, and make me want to come back for more.

    This whole issue is something I’m currently grappling with, as I’d like to earn some money through my blog by providing online courses and ebooks, but I don’t want to become an obviously commercial blog. Finding the balance is really difficult and I’m feeling my way towards it at the moment.

    The Emerson quote has always been a favourite, so thank you for reminding me of it.
    Gilly recently posted…The invisible gorilla experiment, and taking your camera for a walkMy Profile

  5. Hi, Gilly! Lovely to find you in the boxes! I started visiting a few photography blogs last year, after a spell of cyberhibernation. I visited the blog of a former Calm Space colleague (Joanna, who used to have the writing blog, Confident Writing) as I was curious about what she’d been up to. When I found her new blog, I loved the zen-like, poetic quality of her work and was delighted by the concept of contemplative photography. (She later helped me navigate Twitter and I found your blog via a retweet.)

    Through synchronicity, I found and enjoyed other photography-based blogs as a form of zen practice, a way of connecting differently with the online world. I used to just take them in silently, enjoying the whole wordless experience, but I’m a connecter and a word addict; the photos and posts often land unexpectedly like creative writing prompts and I find myself commenting so that the author knows their post has inspired something in a non-photographer. I’m glad you responded and came over to visit; in such a visual cyber world where everyone can keep things short and sweet on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, I’m never sure how welcome comments actually are on photography blogs, even well-intentioned comments.

    I’m glad you could identify with something in the post; I was worried about it, knew it was far too long and thought it might sound self indulgent; I almost deleted it. I really get what you said about women especially enjoying the ‘feel’ of a blog and instinctively knowing if it’s somewhere they feel a connection, a place they enjoy visiting for more than just information. (I visit a couple of crochet blogs for the cosiness and glorious colour!)

    My latest post is an original newsletter article that was adapted into the blog post that launched my blog, six years ago this month. It was a guest post at Write to Done, then owned by Leo Babauta and edited by the lovely Mary Jaksch, to whom I’ll always be grateful for helping me launch. The blog version had to be adapted: it had to have ‘How to’ in the title and lots of small paragraphs and mini headers to break it up. I posted ‘Treasure Hunting’ today because I always preferred the feel of the original. It had more ‘poetry and flow’, for the lack of a better phrase.

    One thing you might consider is a simple paid membership plugin for certain areas of your blog. That way paying logged on members can access premium material. I think honesty also helps creatives make money from their gifts: if I find text at the end of a free e-course or ebook that says something like ‘If you enjoy the kind of material I share on my blog and found this e-course/e-book useful, you might like to try my….’ I don’t feel exploited or think the blog’s a cover for marketing. I know of several coaches and sites that work with introverts and creatives who find marketing difficult; let me know if you’d like some links.

  6. Janice, not only do you have the most thoughtful blog posts that I’ve ever come across, you also have the most thoughtful blog comments (thanks to your readers and you). For those creative people who are trying to figure out how to make a living from their authentic passions, I highly recommend Molly Gordon from http://www.ShaboomInc.com.
    Barbra recently posted…Speaker Bio: How to WriteMy Profile

    • Thanks, Barbra, for the link and the support! I really do think I’ve been blessed with the folk who visit these boxes; so many creative, wordloving caring people – and many a multi-talented ‘Scanner’!

  7. I am having an interesting experience right now – Going on Medicare last year in the USA, I am having my first health physical since I was going off to college. I have just been stop gaping it when I have an issue. Tomorrow I have tests with a Dr. of Physical Medicine – not quite sure what that will entail – a new breed of meds to me. On March 13th I fell backward down the stairs and sprained my back, my right foot stopped working and my Essential Benign Tumor in my right/writing arm has gone ecstatic in constant shaking. Next week the Neurologist’s exam and more physical therapy. I am re-evaluating the whole life….I can not drive because of my right foot – My hubs is getting upset and we don’t know what to do next and the thought of leaving his art – with 3 flights of stairs – is making his so sad We are diving into what next with new and sometime scary future thoughts. Emotions are just popping out and I am so happy to have my book reviews to ground the journey. Spring is so much hope is new weather patterns and vibrant colors It blooms like the frame to each days picture and outcome.
    Patricia recently posted…DOG CRAZY: A Novel of Love Lost and Found ~Meg DonohueMy Profile

    • Wish I knew what to say, Patricia. So much pain, but I’m glad you’re able to shift your focus, to the frame that’s always there, that holds each day, that’s bigger and more constant than your fear, your pain and your joy.

      Like you, I keep reading to get through to the other side. You’ve mentioned your condition and injuries, but remembering what you wrote about trying to incorporate meditation into your nights and days, my instincts tell me to suggest you eat very, very consciously, for health, for deep nutrition, for spiritual daily meditation and if it’s an issue, for weight loss and improved mobility and better breathing. I recently read and enjoyed Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung’s book Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life. Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart is another one I reread often.

  8. Janice,

    Regarding the quote — been there and done that! I even took down a post with a mistake once and then, put it back up again…totally forgetting about subscribers. I had people email telling me I had a problem with site!

    But beyond the “apologies” the other things you mentioned in the post are so true of many of us. I’m fast seeing the other side of 60 and I laugh all the time at the “words” that escape me now. Like you, I think of my brain as this gigantic filing cabinet with way too much information and sometimes the poor old filing clerk just isn’t as fast she used to be.

    I woke up night one trying to remember the name of some actress in a movie. Don’t ask why. I mean I actually staying up as my mind went through movies she’d been, the actors who shared roles with her…anything to remember her name, but I couldn’t. However, over coffee the next morning, I remembered!!! The truth is this part of getting older, but as they say, “It’s a better alternative to not getting older!”

    I lost parents younger and I have to admit I envy you the time with your dad. I hope your week is going well:~)
    Sara recently posted…Nature Nurtures HopeMy Profile

    • No way are you nearly 60!! Your lovely sense of humour, sunny nature and the joy you get from photography and writing (and the sea nearby…sigh) are obviously keeping you young! I’ve dealt reasonably well with other symptoms, taking them in my stride or dealing with them if anything could be done, but the word paralysis has been the scariest so far, scarier even than a couple of cancer tests my doc sent me for last year. Hubris, really; my memory’s always been very sharp so it had never crossed my mind that it would join the litany of symptoms.

      I’m afraid I had to laugh when you mentioned the actress; my family’s actually enjoying that aspect of my occasional bouts of brain fog. For years it astonished them that whenever they asked “What have I seen her in?” I could reel off several films and TV shows, the scenes and characters. (My brain use to work like that.) Now I have to ask them or I just look it up on IMDb on my wee smartphone before it causes me to lose sleep – yup, I’ve been there, too! I usually remember in the bathroom the next day. Last week I shouted “Squirm!” in the middle of a TV programme; the word had been eluding me for days and although I kept getting ‘squiggle’ or ‘wriggle’, I knew they weren’t what my brain was searching for.

      My husband’s been ill this week, so lack of sleep has made me more emotional than usual, but there are three drafts lined up in my admin box right now – I must be feeling better! I’m seeing my dad tomorrow. I am very grateful that we’ve become so close these last few years, but the sandwich generation thing was unexpected. I never thought that when the kids became independent or left home, 90 minute drives to and from the town I grew up in would be my next phase.

      Thanks for visiting both posts. 🙂

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