Tuesday, 3 July 2012

What blogging means to me

It's another wintery, wearing-four-layers type evening here in Hobart Town, my friends. Everyone is slumbering. That gives me a precious window of time to write this post, my last homework assignment for the brilliant Blogging Your Way 2.0 e-course I've been doing for the past month. Holly has invited me to speak from the heart about:
  • what blogging means to me;
  • why I blog; and
  • what I have learned in class that I hope to apply in the future as a blogger.
Now that is an invitation I'm only too glad to accept! So here goes, heart on my sleeve.
What does blogging mean to me?

Blogging means more to me than I could ever have possibly imagined when I first hit 'Create blog' on a whim back on 23 July 2010. I was at home with the 3 young pixies, severely depressed, very overweight (due to my medication) and lonely. I felt a huge disconnect to life around me. We'd returned to live in Hobart in September 2009 after 11 years in Sydney - long enough for life, and our old social circles, to have changed and moved on in the interim. Just enough to make us feel like outsiders in our hometown. I started staying indoors a lot. At least that was in my 'control'.
And then, Alice-like, I cautiously pulled back the bloggy curtain and 'stepped through the portal into another world' as I said in my first post

I was smitten. Immediately. This whole parallel universe was there, waiting for me to access it through a few keystrokes.

There were real people out there who shared my values, tastes and interests. They were living lives like mine. Or not at all. But they all were there, just waiting for an outstretched hand from me.
I started hopping down rabbit-holes, discovering realm after realm of fabulous, huge-hearted, inspirational, hilarious and kind souls the world over. I became so adept at following new blogs in my breathless excitement that I soon found myself following 532 blogs! And then I checked myself into bloggy rehab...

After recovering from a spot of blogger's burnout about 3 months in, I worked out the bloggers I really wanted to follow. These people's words spoke to me, on so many levels. Their photos made my heart stop. Their compassion and generosity to fellow bloggers in distress warmed my soul. I had found my tribe. 

Eager to become part of this fabulous and welcoming community, I emailed the bloggers I admired, complimented them on their blogs and invited them to have a peek at mine. I was staggered by the response I received. So many bloggers were really touched to be contacted so personally. I was flummoxed. I couldn't grasp why my action could be so out of the ordinary (of course later I learnt about the social isolation social media can make us feel).

A goodly number of these bloggers started 'following me back' (I was learning the lingo by this stage!) and my following grew like topsy. To my utter amazement and delight. These people *got* me.

I wasn't alone. I was part of a tender-hearted community without borders who enjoyed my company. All this was accessible through a few clicks on the keyboard of our ageing computer, smeared with the pixies' Vegemite-stained fingerprints.

Now, nearly 2 years, 331 posts and 6,438 comments later, I have the honour of calling so many of you Planetarians my friends. My real friends. I loathe that horrid phrase 'in real life' as if there should be a distinction between friends met in person or online. Granted, I'm not referring to odd cyber friends using noms de plume or nasty trolls we sometimes chance across.

No, I'm talking about the friends I've made who (just to name a handful) have:
  • become my blogging buddy, mentor, confidante extraordinaire and dear friend (thanks Felicity);
  • made me the hand-punched and stamped butterfly garland hanging above my head in *my room of my own* (thanks Sarah);
  • painted me the divine Monet-inspired oil painting sitting in front of me as a house-warming gift (thanks, Anna);
  • hugged me and let me cry on her shoulder the morning after my darling Dad died (thanks Naomi); and
  • given me the prettiest and softest butterfly-adorned scarf for my birthday (thanks Iris).
Others have provided astonishing comfort through kind comments (some of you have changed my views on life or problems I've been grappling with), heartwarming handwritten letters and handmade care packages, phonecalls, emails, dinners and fun interactions on social media.

All up, you've made me feel a loved part of a community, something whole which is so much greater than its parts. That's the answer to Holly's question!

Why do I blog?

This is easy as pie to answer. The reasons are still the same as those I posted about here, way back at the beginning of my bloggy caper. 

I blog to:
  • rediscover my identity;
  • achieve clarity of thought and make sense of my life;
  • record moments with the pixies;
  • connect with like-minded souls;
  • satisfy my love of words and use my brain; and
  • find inspiration and escape from Planet Baby.
What have I learned in class that I'll use in the future?
Ooh, there were so many highlights of the course. But for me, the best part was Holly's encouragement for us to 'own who you are so you can shine'. Ever since I started blogging, I have always tried to remain true to myself. Some of you are familiar with my desire to 'keep it real' and share both life's joys and travails. 

But sometimes I've faltered. I haven't backed myself enough. I've opened up a possibility, seen you embrace it eagerly and then stopped in my tracks, like a deer caught in the headlights.
I had so much fun making this!
A case in point is the moodboard I created for Blogging Your Way last year. So many of you were fascinated by all it represented. My posts about it are my two most popular. By miles.

You wanted to discover more about me, the hints cast your way through it. You got me excited. I had grand plans of writing so many posts to elaborate on those hints.  

But then life in the real world asserted itself, as is its wont. Blogging was shunted down my list of priorities with good reason and by necessity. Then when I returned, I lost my confidence and didn't write those posts.

Holly has reminded me how much I want to write them. 

And this time I will. I promise. 
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