What good is blogging?

Tonight I got sucked down a rabbit hole that placed me smack in the middle of my old blog posts.

Those journeys always start so innocently, don’t they?

All I wanted to do was check for broken links. But alas, I found myself thrust back into a different world that seems both a million years ago and yet, a mere second ago.

I’m not the first person to ponder the point of blogging, or what, if  any, value there is to it. Many have written about it way more eloquently than I will, but I couldn’t help but try to capture a bit of what I’m feeling right now.

Vulnerable: I was surprised by the rawness and openness that I had in many of my posts. Many of my posts were (are) soul-searching… seeking meaning and purpose in events that have occurred in my life. It’s hard to look over those sorts of things and not instinctively touch the spot where the wound has healed, no matter how invisible or ugly the scar.

Guilt: Blogging provides only a snapshot of a person’s life. As I read through some of those old posts, I cringed at the picture I portrayed of certain aspects of my life and the stories that weren’t being told.

Pressure: I always want to be moving forward and improving at the things that are important to me. Writing is one of those things. Yet, I sometimes put so much pressure on myself to write the next great blog post (heh) that no words come. I have a sheet filled with blog post topics and ideas. Dozens of unfinished drafts saved. I walk around composing blog posts in my head only to draw a blank when face-to-face with my monitor.

Comforted: While there are pieces missing on some levels, blogging adds a layer of richness to the legacy that we each have. While it may not be printed in a book that’s sitting on my shelf, the fact that I am leaving a trail of something that my children can one day read and, hopefully, understand me, and thus themselves more, brings me great comfort.

Grateful: I’ve had three computers die since I started blogging. I’ve lost hundreds of photos each time (excuse me while I try not to vomit at that thought…) Because I blog and share snippets of my life via photos, many of those photos were not gone forever. As I looked over photos I hadn’t seen in several years, I was flooded by the memories encapsulated within each image.

Encouraged: To be able to look back over experiences I’ve had and see how I grew from each is pretty amazing. (Along with that, I’m so grateful that I’ve written so much of these things down, because apparently, I have the worst memory ever. And who couldn’t use a reminder of how far they’ve come, once in awhile?)

All of these feelings flooded me tonight and it was important for me to sift through them and embrace each and every one.

Blogging has caused me to examine myself more. To see the importance in the stories that fill my life. To be grateful for all of the days I’ve had with my children, loved ones and friends, no matter how perfect or painful.

Is there value in blogging? Heck yeah.

(PS – if you dare venture back through my archives, be warned: while there is quite a bit of depth, there is also a lot of fluff. Oh, and if you see broken links, please let me know. I’d prefer to not have to head down the rabbit hole on a daily basis)

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell Your Story

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I’m disappointed.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about something that happened in my life. It would be silly to try and deny that I was nervous and fearful about sharing it. I knew it would shake people and ruffle feathers.

For two years I’d held on to my story, afraid to tell it.

Ultimately, on that post, there were two unsupportive commenters (and several people who ‘unfriended’ me). One had a confrontational tone, whose intention, I imagine, was meant to embarrass me. I easily shrugged that one off.

But it was the second one that, months later, I still find myself pondering and tossing around in my mind.

I was told that some things do not belong on blogs and that my post was one of those things.

My story had no place on a blog. Even my own blog.

…insert long pause…

I had many thoughts about that comment and still do, because ultimately, the post wasn’t just about telling that particular story, but about the fear that I felt in writing it.
In telling my own truth.
My story.

And why?

Because… I was afraid that it would make others angry at me.
Or not like me.

{hate me.}

Do you know what?

Out of the hundreds of emails, comments, texts, tweets and phone calls I received, all but those two were able to relate in some way and applaud me for having the courage to write what I did.

Despite my fear.

Some of those people may not have even agreed with what I wrote; I don’t know… But they supported my right to tell my story and didn’t try to make me feel badly about doing so.

Why?

Because it was my story to tell.

From my perspective.
About my own experience.
Through self-examination.

When all was said and done, the story wasn’t even about what that commenter implied and was pissed off about. But rather it was about sharing something so that others could maybe… hopefully… learn from something I’d experienced.

I will always shake my head at that comment. But I will continue to tell my stories.

Despite the feathers they may ruffle or the way people may be made uncomfortable.

Not everything looks pretty from every angle, but everyone has a right to tell their own story.

And you should tell your own.
Without fear.
Without anxiety.

Unless you are making up your stories and selling them as ‘truth’.

In that case… you’re on your own.

photo credit

A Cautionary Tale: afterward

As I mentioned in my comment on the last post I had planned on doing a follow up to it, to sort of wrap things up.

I  figured that there would be questions and comments that would need to be addressed. I didn’t know how my posts would be received.

I hit “publish” and then held my breath.

The feedback immediately started via comments, emails, dms, tweets.

Thanking me.

Because apparently, a lot of people have experienced the same sort of tale or their own personal BackStreet, and didn’t know if or how to express it. They saw themselves in my tale.

Since I hit publish, I’ve learned and been reminded of many things.

If I’ve learned one thing about the internet (and thank you Jesus for the fact that there is more to it than this) it’s that people do not like to hear things that they disagree with, don’t understand, find unbelievable or haven’t experienced.

No matter how I shared this, there would be people who wouldn’t like it.

I was mean for writing what I did.
wimp for not naming names and “setting it up so that it would be done in comments“.
Even the style I used to tell my tale was criticized.

But all I heard from those responses was: I didn’t really read your post.

Because it wasn’t about outing people. It wasn’t about being mean. It wasn’t about bringing someone down. There are at least 50 bajillion more effective ways I could have written my post if that had been my goal.

It was telling a tale that others obviously needed to hear.

And hear it, they did. Over and over and over again, people opened up and shared their own stories, as we shared a collective exhale.

So instead of wrapping this up in a nice and tidy package and storing it away, I’m crafting a couple of  posts that deal with some of the general feedback I received: ie: what’s appropriate vs what’s not; wearing masks; the truth about our new transparency.

You know — light, fluffy reading.

image credit

a cautionary blogging tale: is ignorance really bliss?

If you haven’t already, be sure to read the intro first.

*UPDATED: I have commented on the response to this post here*

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Once upon a time, there was a blogger (Fantine), who had built a nice little home in the blogging meadow. She’d been through a rough period in her life and blogging had given her a spot to sort through it and figure things out.

She met many amazing, supportive women online; women who, like her, were raising small children or had already done that, and were willing to share their wisdom.

The internet meadow was beautiful.

Rainbows, sparkles, confetti and sunshine abounded.

One day, from out of the blogging forest, a blogger named BackStreet emerged. She was funny, charming and smart. They quickly became friends.

One conversation lead to another and soon, they were brainstorming names  and ideas for an online women’s magazine that BackStreet was wanting to start. Many play-date meetings took place at BackStreet’s home while they both worked hard on the magazine, hopeful that it would be a success and they would be set up in beautiful palaces within the Land of the Internets.

They knew they’d found their golden ticket.

For over a year, just about every waking hour was spent committed to seeing this happen. At the same time babies were nursed, children were schooled, babies were born, families were moved, dinners were prepared, sleep was back-burnered.

Early on, the discussion came up about making their partnership legal. After all, both of them had their fingerprints all over the project.

BackStreet said she would have her attorney draft papers that made Fantine a 50/50 partner, not just in name, but legally. They were both broke at the time, but Fantine completely trusted BackStreet, and was fine with waiting until it was financially feasible to have the papers drawn.

At some point, the decision was made that they would try to start a blogging conference to go along with the magazine. Earlier in the year, Fantine had met Fairy Godmother; someone who had a background in “the business”, and she introduced her to BackStreet as someone who might be able to advise or help them.

Despite the fact that Fantine started noticing less talk from BackStreet about “we” or “us” and more talk about “me” and “I” (clue 1) she focused on the goal, pushing aside concerns. She’d invested so much of her time and they were so close to making it.

Besides, BackStreet was her friend. She’d never had a friend like BackStreet. Ever.

Eventually, the conference went off very well [BackStreet and Fairy Godmother were the shining stars. (clue 2])

With the success of their mini-trial conference, the official one was on track for the following February, with the help of Fairy Godmother.

But conversations were happening  and decisions were being made without Fantine. There was a total disconnect between the public and private personas. (clue 3)

At the same time, crazy demands were being placed on her, followed by her loyalty and commitment being called into question.  The “we”s were starting to refer to BackStreet and Fairy Godmother… not BackStreet and Fantine. (clues 4, 5 and 6)

And so it continued.

Fantine was increasingly pushed aside, being moved further and further out of the picture. Having already invested so much into the projects and being so close to the goal, she struggled with what to do.

Fantine wrote up her thoughts on the pros and cons of walking away, so that she could talk with BackStreet.

After all, they were friends.

The conversation never happened. There was a confrontation on another issue; Fantine expressed her grievances, offered to stay through the conference and in the end, was told that, due to the grievances she’d expressed, she could not be trusted and that all she had ever been was “just an employee”.

Their working relationship ended that day. So did their friendship.

In the end, Fantine was shown something that shook her to the core: an email from earlier on in the project in which BackStreet stated she didn’t have any intention of having legal documents signed.

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So. There it is.

Even now, as I read this, I struggle with frustration. With anger. With jealousy.

All of this over a community whose mission statement was about empowering women. Helping them find their happiness.

I’ve struggled with the fact that from a business perspective, it happens every. flippin‘. day.

Every day, people make decisions that are “business, not personal”.

And this, apparently, was what my cautionary tale boiled down to from the outside.

Business.

So get over it.

But it’s not.

Because in the end, I think what I suffered with the most…

…even more than being stripped of something I’d invested an enormous amount of time and creativity into.

… even more than seeing the other person go on and get the praise, recognition and applause…

was the loss of so many other friendships.

People suddenly had no need for me. My twitter stream screamed with silence. My inbox sat nearly empty.

I experienced grief.

Mourning.

The very community that I was trying to help lift up and promote and empower turned their back on me for standing up for myself.

I made people uncomfortable just by my presence. So I was avoided.

No one wanted to reach out to me in public, for fear of ruining their own chances of success.

So, what the heck did I learn?

Where is the moral to all of this… my cautionary tale?

It’s this:

The moment you put your hopes and dreams into the hands of others, you screw yourself.

I gave all control over to someone else.

I take total ownership of that.

So much did I want this, that ultimately, I allowed my own dreams to become blended and co-opted by someone else. I helped make their dream come true while forsaking my own. I handed over control of my future and signed the check over to them.

I’m responsible for that.

Don’t do that to yourself.
Make your dreams your own.
Take charge of them.

Because honestly? I wouldn’t wish the last two years of trudging through this on anyone. Not even the other person involved. There is nothing pretty about it. No one likes a pity party. No one likes to be around someone who just sits in their own crap and misery.

So learn from me. Take my advice.

Do it your way. OWN IT.

*UPDATED: I have commented on the response to this post here*

(photo credit)

a cautionary blogging tale (Intro)

This time of year has been particularly difficult for me for a couple of years now. Anyone who watches my tweet stream can pretty much figure that out.

I get asked questions about this frequently, and so I’ve finally decided to share. Some people will call me mean-hearted and say I’m just looking for a catfight. Others may secretly nod, because they’ve been through something similar at some point. Still others already have a sense of what it’s about and will silently pray that I will finally move on.

I think on some levels, it makes people uncomfortable.

Holy heck! It makes me uncomfortable!

And honestly, I’ve struggled with how, and if, to share this story.

I’ve always looked at people who wallow and can’t get over something and half-pitied and half wanted to smack them.

But I’ve become that person. The one who can’t move on. Who can’t forgive. Who is bitter. Who is a victim.

I never wanted to be any of those people. I don’t want to be any of those people.

I’d already successfully dealt with that on a separate issue. And I’d tried to deal with this one, shortly after it happened. I have struggled with thoughts that I am the worst sort of Christian – the sort who points fingers and doesn’t examine themselves. A Pharisee.

So I’m going to tell my tale, once and for all. But I’m going to (try to) tell it, not as an exposé, but from a point of self-examination. A cautionary tale. Because, I think that in examining the situation more closely and trying to figure out why it hurt so much, I’ve come to an unexpected conclusion that surprised me. One that others might look at and realize that there is something in their own life that they need to side-step and move beyond.

All I’m trying to do is share, just like I once used to do. Some parts will be vague, for obvious reasons. Other parts will seem blatantly obvious. There is no other way to tell it.

Stay tuned…

(part 2)