On Four Years of Blogging

March 31, 2012. Four years ago. It was the date I wrote my very first blog. I had no real idea what I was doing. No idea of where it would take me. Honestly I thought it would be short lived. I have ADD. I like changing things up. I had not written regularly since college, where I had been a Broadcast Journalism major who wrote fiction on the side (renowned Southern writer Lee Smith was one of my teachers….I am not worthy) and journaled on and off to try to figure out all of the thoughts and ideas running through my brain. After college, it all stopped. Completely. I didn’t even know I missed it. It wasn’t until I began to write again that I realized I did.

Two friends were instrumental in getting me to blog. My friend Sheila Foxworthy, took me to lunch in March after I had spent the month of February writing Facebook posts of things I love, and said “I miss those posts. You need to write more.” At around the same time a friend from Toronto who I met online, Joyce Singer D’Aprile (an amazing woman who writes professionally and has a slew of awesome stories to show for it) was also telling me I needed to blog. When two people from different parts of the world who don’t know each other suggest the same thing to you at exactly the same time, it makes you think. Sometimes it makes you do. I trust and respect them both. I decided to give it a try.

As I did in college, I still most often write to pull thoughts out of my brain and try to make order out of them. I don’t think of myself as an especially serious person, so it surprises me I most often write serious things. My mind doesn’t shut down often, so I guess those thoughts are the ones that are deep down, and need to come out into the light. I have a compulsion to figure out the secrets of life, why people do the things they do, and how life can be better and more meaningful.

If you were to go back and read old blogs you may find some that seem to contradict others. That’s probably because sometimes my perspective changes….and sometimes there has not been a change, but life is complex. I may see both sides of the coin, or be unable to escape the grey. I’m OK with that. Very OK. I love that I don’t have it all figured out. That I don’t know everything. I hope every day of my life I am learning and growing and experiencing new things. Sometimes I’d prefer less weighing on my brain, but I would rather exercise it than let it atrophy. I do feel a compulsion to make the world better, to make my life and the lives of those around me better, more meaningful, and worth something. That tends to be a common theme.

Sometimes the numbers astound me. Yes, in our day of statistics the blogger has all the numbers. In these four years I have published 231 entries. I have done a few killer months where I did a blog a day. Those were excruciating. At this point I have no plans to do that again….but I won’t say never. Sometimes I need to stretch myself that way. What is even more astounding is that those blogs have been viewed 19,718 times as I write this.

The blog that has the most views is the one that I wrote earlier this year when my friend Debbie Swing’s 30 year old son Mike had his heart attack (or died, as he refers to it…since in fact he did!) He was resuscitated by an off duty paramedic and then taken care of so ably and compassionately by so many others in our Iredell County Emergency Services. The paramedics, the firemen….they were there quickly and in full force and the hand of God was truly at work. The fact that his wife was about to deliver their first child made it more memorable for all.

Had I known so many people would have read that blog, I would have written it more carefully….better. I would have done them justice. I don’t think I have it in me to do it well enough, though. What I learned is this….those wonderful, amazing people who work so hard for so little, who save the lives of our people on a regular basis and go out of their way to help people even when off duty, seldom get a lot of public thanks. When they found out about it, they shared it. The comments they made with the blog, the emails and Facebook Private Messages I received, stunned me and even made me cry on occasion. What beautiful hearts. I’d been thinking about our local law enforcement having recently gone through the Statesville Police Department’s Citizens Academy, so while I had an appreciation already for anyone in public service, they were raised even higher in my esteem. We need to care for them more and better. I think of what they see in their work most days and I can’t thank them enough for enduring it. I suspect I just may on occasion be that person who scares them sometime with a random and inappropriate bear hug. We all need to be on the lookout for these folks and coming up with random (or planned) acts of kindness that show them they are appreciated by our community.

I made a commitment when I started writing the blog to live out loud…in other words, to try to share my life publicly and truthfully. I think we often live lies and half truths….don’t share our shortcomings, our heartbreaks, our vulnerabilities….who we really are. These things keep us in bondage and don’t allow us to see truth, and keep us from change. One thing I know….to change any aspect of who we are, we first have to acknowledge it. 

And other people….when they tell us who they really are, how do we handle it? I understand why people want to keep certain things secret, because people can be cruel. The rebel in me wants us all to confront this cruelty and value truth over a pretty facade. But I understand why many, why most, don’t. But sometimes people surprise us. Sometimes for the good, sometimes disappointing us. I still think it is better to know truth, and face reality. Face who they are and consider whether they should be part of our life. One thing I believe, though….most of us don’t think you should get the death penalty for being human. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that, though.

There are a few blogs I have written that make me cringe when I think about them. Where I hit “Publish” and die a bit inside. Never have I regretted publishing one for long, though for short periods of time….yes. Recently I think I had a minor panic attack when I saw how many people were reading one that was more personal than normal. I felt pretty strongly about posting it, though. Partially because I didn’t want to and I like to make myself do hard things. But then when I find out my sharing helped people….in the end, it is well worth a bit of discomfort for me. Reactions to these personal blogs often interest me. Some friends will call or send a message that says “Are you alright?” But most of the folks closest to me never mention them. (Some simply don’t read them….so that’s one reason.) Some people know I often put up boundaries with my personal life and it is almost though the blog is public it still doesn’t open doors to those conversations. They’re right….sometimes I don’t want to discuss it. But really, if I put it out there you are free to question me about it. If I don’t care to share additional details or discuss anything more than was written, I am comfortable telling you that. Or even if not comfortable, I will. Unless you catch me off guard and I reveal more than I would have liked.

I try not to attack people as I write, so any person I write about negatively (there haven’t been many), the innocents, and most others in general, remain anonymous. If I can uplift someone, or tell a real life story about those who have made my life or the lives of others better, I may name those names. It always depends on circumstances and how I feel at the time. I have talked about people in blogs that never read it and have no clue they were ever mentioned. I’ve had a few others notice themselves even well shielded….including people I was out of touch with that I never, ever would have thought read my blog. Still others think I am talking about them….and I wasn’t at all.

A group of you read my blog regularly and are such an encouragement. Some comment on the blog itself or on Facebook, some message me, some bring up points you found interesting in our general conversation, some even ask to get together to discuss something that particularly resonates with you. Hearing the reactions is always fun….even when you disagree with me. No one has ever been very hostile, even when I discuss controversial topics or think totally differently about a subject than you do. Some of you have shared certain blogs on your Facebook page, increasing the audience beyond my expectations, and that amazes me each and every time. That always brings a sense of “wow”. A few have told me they have printed certain ones off and read them over and over again. I’ve had strangers meet me and say they have read one, acquaintances who I run into who tell me they read it all the time. It always stuns me. As I said before, I usually write for me….though in time I have learned that part of the exercise of blogging is that I publicly expose part of who I am and what I believe…being willing to be vulnerable and face whatever the reaction from whoever stumbles across it. For an introvert that is both terrifying and in a weird way exhilarating.

So thank you for reading. I have grown in writing this blog and have developed more discipline than I would have thought possible. It scares me to think where it will take me next…..but at this stage of life I enjoy doing things that scare me. I told someone recently that I feared that I had gotten so vulnerable (for me!) that next they may find me jumping naked off a cliff. At this stage in life you never quite know where you go or what you’ll try next. You have been warned. It may not be pretty.

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