Back in 2009, I set up my blog using the Thesis theme; it was a trailblazer in its day, allowing non-programmers like me (and many others who visit/ed my blog) a lot of built-in flexibility and control. For years I tweaked it as much as my limited skills would allow, but when you hit the wall with Thesis, you really hit the wall. Last year, I spent more time delving into CSS – changing layouts, fonts, and colours and trying to make Thesis responsive – than I did writing.
Which is daft.
But then I asked myself Why? and that was really smart. I realised that the feel of my blog has always been important to me; creative self-expression, does, after all, sit quite comfortably at the heart of personal blogging. We all evolve and recalibrate as we get older, reaffirming our values and letting go of what doesn’t serve us any more and it’s been happening as much here as anywhere else.
I’m old school; my blog’s not just a place to showcase things that make me go mmm… It’s my online home, and as such, a place that needs to feel cosy and welcoming, yet reasonably light and airy and uncluttered, like my real home. I need it to be functional and responsive but – and here’s the Aha! moment I had last year – it doesn’t have to be toned-down, like the home I currently share with my husband, teenage son and daughter who don’t share my craving for colour. (My longing for a patchwork, floral-patterned, vibrant, multi-coloured sofa recently met with horror.)
After years of deciduous blogging and jeremiads, it stuns me that I still have visitors, but now that my blog is kitchen table intimate at best, a boarded-up ghost town saloon at worst, I decided to change the theme to reflect how I’ve changed as a person.
Sharing the Journey started off as a bustling wee online bistro; I wanted to fill it with music, photos, writing, film clips, quotes, and above all, community. I wanted to be a barista who knew everyone’s names and stories. People used to drop in, write comments as long as posts and even chat with each other in the comments boxes when I wasn’t there. I didn’t fully realise at the time how blessed I was with the quality and quantity of visitors I had here and discovered recently that 2009 was considered to be a noteworthy year for personal blogging, especially blogs written by women.
My tagline used to be Soulfood and Support for Coaches, Writers and Homemakers. It showed up in Google and was emblazened across my header tulips. For a while that’s what my blog offered – and Thesis made sure I had lots of search engine traffic – but it’s hard to be supportive of anyone when you’re not even posting! The new tagline, on the surface, is a better description of what the blog has become, a synaesthetic memory scrapbook…
…a lyrical album of moments
I’ve always enjoyed capturing, exploring and sharing those fleeting, intense moments when presence and learning align, when inspiration flits in and life overflows, but my decision to warn readers of impending lyricism may raise some eyebrows. Lots of folk are repelled by lyricism, but I’m tired of being ashamed of my lyrical tendencies; to be honest, the layers of meaning in the word lyrical actually seem like qualities a blogger should feel no shame in aspiring to:
1. (of literature, art, or music) expressing the writer’s emotions in an imaginative and beautiful way.
synonyms: songlike, lyric, melodic, musical, melodious, rhapsodic, poetic; expressive, emotional, deeply felt, personal, subjective, passionate
I decided to keep my tulips – they always make my heart sing – but this time, I’ve used a photo that includes one of my favourite jugs. Jugs are very symbolic for me; it’s how I write. Life simply fills the jug and overflows. I gave the photo ripped paper effect edges and used a typewriter font for the title because my blog’s curated itself into an old fashioned memory scrapbook.
I spent weeks, probably months, swinging between four or five free themes I like. The others were clean, simple and minimalist – which I love – and one was very easy to customise, but I finally decided to activate the one you’re seeing now (horribly named Lovebirds) because I find it quite gentle and unassuming and it doesn’t rely on fantastic photography to bring it to life.
Just after my last post, we had a death in the family that’s led to tragic knock on effects like dominos falling in a line. When I logged on last week, after yet another lengthy cyber-hibernation, I was glad I’d tweaked this theme to remind me of spring, flowers and new beginnings.
It’s been a season of letting go: I’ve been able, finally, to let go of Thesis, of the dreams I once had for my blog and of the sadness I used to feel scrolling through the archives.
I have fun experimenting with new themes and will probably ‘redecorate’ again, but what you’re seeing now is a victory in my struggle with anxiety and perfectionism. There’s still a lot of theme-tweaking I want to do – evolution is what keeps us creative, alive and human, after all – but I’ve decided it’s better for me to focus on tweaking one theme rather than five.
And what’s even better still? Writing again.
How often do you change the appearance of your website, if at all? If you do change it, what criteria do you use? How concerned are you by the functionality and feel of other folks’ blogs?