My life has changed.

While our children were little my husband rarely to never took vacations, and we couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, anyway. I centered my life around the home and gardening… then put lots of time into blogging. All those occupations were in sync with my intensive demands of homelife (raising ten children while homeschooling), allowing for creative expression while not requiring lots of money or absence from overseeing the needs of my family.

Now I find I am always on a trip somewhere.

It changed slowly with rare trips to places I never dreamed of seeing… I went to Hungary and Denmark, then to Brazil to attend my son and daughter in love’s wedding. With the advent of grandchildren, there have been increased trips to Georgia, mainly, but Florida and Phoenix were on the list as well.

In the past year we did something -twice- that had been on my husbands wishlist since I met him: a road trip across the nation, visiting the West. He still has the Badlands on his bucket list, but we checked off the others: Highway 1 and Mendocino, Bryce Canyon in Utah, America’s Loneliest Highway Rte 50 through Nevada.

I know some people blog while they travel, but I am an “in the moment experience” type of person. I don’t even like the distraction of taking photographs. I have moderated that and forced myself to take photos for the sake of memories and just because I want to capture some of the beauty that I see, but mostly I drink in the scenery, and let the atmosphere saturate my mind and heart.

The past few years have seen a great increase in travel for me… which may not be comparable to many others, but it is a huge change for me.

I find I like it.

I come back to loads of laundry to do, a marathon of weeding and neglected gardens, but it has been worth the exchange. Time spent by the ocean, seeing vast redwood forests, immense mountains of the Rocky ranges… these are mind opening, soul nourishing events.

So I don’t apologize that this season of my life leaves less room for the type of blogging I once did. My online life evolves and there is no pattern for the shape it will take. But, like all the rest of my life, I have shifted away from letting demands rule my life, and have created space for the simple act of living. Letting the flow of what creates an organic and vibrant participation of relationship and experience to take the forefront, to become my priority.

People figure more predominately in this way of life, and tasks become secondary. I don’t pretend to imply that it leads to being a successful blogger or to create worldly wealth. I do, however, feel richer, and may I say it? Happier. Or maybe happy is not the right word choice, I think the term “joie de vivre” is a more accurate term. The joy of life infuses this pathway.

My garden takes on a wild look, my blogs are temporarily neglected, but I have more to offer when following this roadtrip of life.

A few pictures seem in order here.

Colorado mountain stream by the highway
Dwarfed by the landscape.
lake tahoe
We fell in love with Lake Tahoe
Mountainside Photo Op

Writing To Pay The Rent

This isn’t just about writing for income, and I will say that right at the beginning so no one is confused. But it is going to touch on that topic.

When I first arrived on the blogging scene, I really didn’t know what it was all about, but many who were beginning to blog at the same time had a much more concrete view of what the purpose of their writing would be. Many of those writers/bloggers were inspired by a man named Hugh Hewitt to begin their blogs with the view to change people’s world views. I should amend that to say “Christian and conservative” writers and bloggers. The people of liberal politics had long seen the value in using media to persuade people’s thinking.

But whether bloggers of that time were convinced by a specific person, or of the many who had chanced upon this new door to influence, many of us were of the mind that our writing could “make a change for good”. I know that was always a powerful motivation for me.

It still is, but blogging and online writing has changed for many like me.

It’s A Slow Train

It was a slow train coming for me to adopt the idea that writing and earning money were linked. Or could be, or should be.

And I still believe that one must be careful with one’s motivations, not just in writing, but in all endeavors of life. I also understand that without some sort of support, no writer can keep at their craft for long. This is perhaps one of the biggest evolutionary changes for me: if you keep on writing, over time you find you become “a writer”.

In the meantime, I took a break from writing to influence people’s thinking. After spending a good deal of time in online forums, and the dialog that was common on blogs is those days (early years of 2000 to 2007 or so), I grew tired of what online “conversation” had become. No longer exploring differing opinions, creating dialog, or even giving a rational argument for one’s view. Like the rest of the world around it, the web sunk into the morass of polarized diatribe, pandering, and propaganda. It wasn’t fun anymore, then, either.

Yet, there is something very attractive in the way a person, of no means really, can engage in discussion and a public presentation of views, and touch the possible thousands. That is heady stuff. So, I kept on writing and started exploring the world of online income… some of the things which are called passive income, but truthfully aren’t passive at all.

This was a natural road for me since I had started my web experience with non-fiction types of writing… my garden website‘s nascence sprung from the pages begun at that time. In retreating from the hotbed of politics and religion I found solace (as a writer and blogger) in the garden. In the need to pay for the nuts and bolts of such a thing, I began monetizing. Not the easiest thing to do in my chosen set of topics.

Another thing happened along the way… aging.

The focus of life has shifted, and the reality of needing to produce some income for retirement has also become part of my intention for developing my writing online. This has created multiple motivations for branching out into other sorts of writing and interacting online. And let’s not forget the online revolution itself… Facebook and Twitter have mightily changed online writing and all sorts of things.

I still have not forgotten that desire to impact people, to influence society for good (or goodness sake!). I am just not sure how it all works together, or even whether it can.

Paying The Rent

Earning even a small amount of income online is a lot of work. In fact, for a person like me who is not business savvy, I could not write, if I were dependent on its income. Still, some of the things I do are paying for website hosting for my other sites (this one is free, and I own only the content – not the domain). I have ventured into the world that others entered long time back…. writing for income. This I do on sites like SquidooThis site was sold and no longer exists as a home to writers as recorded in this post, and just this week a few articles on Hubpages. They are looked down upon by some in the blogging community, and I understand why. The impetus now is for these sites to clean up the junky parts of the neighborhood.

I like that a format like Squidoo creates community. I haven’t found that in the blogging sector for a long time. I also like that it is set up to create online income for those who contribute. And I have stretched my writing wings in the more mundane aspects of writing. Which is not to demean it. Why be elitist about our writing? I have distaste for this kind of thinking that is so prevalent in the art world.

So, here I am starting to write on Hubpages, too.

I also have learned some marketing along the way which is very enlightening. You view things in our society a whole new way when understanding basic marketing techniques. We are immersed in it whether we realize it or not. Just look at the sales ploy of “scarcity”, for example…. but I digress.

What reasons might be for writing on such sites as Squidoo, or Hubpages, or even Blogger, for that matter?

  1. They share their income with the creative
  2. On the web, promotion is as important as creation. No one will just show up at your blog or website, anymore
  3. It is a free way to get instruction on almost anything, not least on how to earn money online; okay, maybe this is done a little too well.
  4. You network without realizing you are networking
  5. It encourages you to widen your horizons, the way surfing webpages used to “in the old days”

For me, the Squidoo site helped open things that I had long had an interest in but had no grasp of what it took to accomplish. One of those was utilizing the Zazzle site to create and to earn income. I am still making baby steps, but without guidance (and clearly the forums attached to such sites help,too) would still have gone nowhere with these avenues.

My Affiliation on These Sites

If you would like to read more about my thoughts on these sites, making an income online, etc. Check my WebHelp blog.

Community is powerful. It is necessary as well, and the sooner we learn that lesson in family, our neighborhoods and cities, and online, the better. It is just an illustration of “no man is an island” which we will face over and over until we “get it”.

Ah. Now you see I am only one step away from “soapboxing”, or influencing as I like to call it.

Maybe this part of learning what can help me pay the rent is obvious to you. I have an inkling that for individualists who have a high value on personal freedom, it is a hard won realization.

Paying the rent is not just about money. It isn’t about a materialistic society, it is about how we help each other survive and thrive. Work is important and necessary. All sorts of work -and having integrity and honesty in how we go about it- matters.

One more thing, influence is something we do everyday in all our actions, whether we realize it or not.

This Will Get Me Blogging Again

Ok, I’ve been lax, lame, and what-have-you about actually getting a post up on my garden journal and here. That is ok for me, although it means real setbacks for the blogs… because who wants to wait forever for the odd post to come out? I mean who has time for that? Well, there is the rss feed ( sign up for blogs like mine… real people who singlehandedly try to keep these things going). And comment, please… nothing invigorates a blogger like some good conversation 🙂

Anyway, I came across a fun video, and thought I’m going to try that!

Pre-blogging Exercise routine: Get Your Blog On

Welcome Back, Blogging Again

There is a type of process that many bloggers go through, and some of us can totally identify with the stages that Samantha describes, although I do think it depends on how many different types of online social interactions you have engaged in. “I have at times been kind of obsessive, feeling like I need to somehow document every thought I have…..[later] it began to seem like a duty to produce something for them to read. I hated when I would get caught up in whether or not there were comments, or whether people agreed with what I had written. Sometimes I would allow that to dictate how I felt about myself that day. It can also take a lot of time, and be a distraction from other things that need to be done. ” However, this is mainly to re-introduce Samantha, who has blogged indifferent venues, but always with creative panache and a clear, individual voice.

Check out her 42 Things, part 1 for an introduction to Samantha,”No Spring Chicken“.

Read her blog… for however long she decides to share with us, and maybe encourage her to keep her voice in blog form for us to engage with 🙂

No Spring Chicken

It’s Not About Tequila

At least not for me, it isn’t.
So, I was reading about the worm at the bottom of the tequila bottle because the Third Tribe sent me there. (I joined them this year because of just what the tequila post was really about). It isn’t just because I would like to somehow turn my garden site into an itty business, but because I want my blogging to have meaning, and purpose. And I want to feel I am making headway with my writing and let it at least break even in paying for itself instead of borrowing from the family budget ( somewhat like the government “borrows” from the Social Security funds.)

So, yes, honestly… I would like the affiliate relationships with Amazon and Google, etc, to help me with the hosting for my garden site, the premium templates, and all the other things that were once free on the net, but have become more necessary to pay for in creating a better quality output.

I once did everything free, both on my side of it and other’s side of it. It isn’t that I don’t still, but the realities are that everyone has to make a living. Oh forget this detour- I really wanted to talk about avoidance.

What This Was Really About
The Worm Post began describing the trough I often find myself in, not just in blogging, but in life.

It goes like this:

sometimes people love what you’ve got, love you, and shower you with roses and orders and blog comments and 83% organic dark chocolate.

And sometimes? Sometimes, not so much.

Sometimes it’s dead quiet out there and you feel a tad exposed. You troll Twitter and everyone’s tweets are so peppy, all about how great their businesses are doing, you start to feel a tad bad. The story line, “What was I thinking?” starts sucking you in.

I get sucked into that dark pit more than I like to say. I get sucked into it as a Christian. Sometimes because of the type of Christian I am. I wonder how much of us is what we make ourselves, not because we are so powerful at it, but because of how helpless we are to really see facts. We labor under false assumptions and vague presumptions we pick up along the way of life. Not blaming anybody, it just seems that we humans are very prone to this.

So I followed the post through to the “assessment”. That is what I call the analysis + resolution of pinpointing these problems.

Like I said, I don’t have a history with tequila, but when we got to this point *__________ (fill in your favorite avoidance technique here), I knew we were talking about me and where I go ( I tend to do avoidance technique #Surfing the Internet until your butt goes numb and your heart grows stiff)

These avoidance techniques are what I call “Shadow Comforts,” things we turn to for fulfillment, but which don’t really fill us up.

Ouch. sounds like the Preacher talking to the Sinner, here, right? So how come I identify?
The “Nifty Tips” all sound like things that could work on any battle with depression, etc., but I reduce it down to get rest, develop awareness, get perspective.
I will be translating that into my lifestyle context, and leave it to to you take what you want for yourself.’s View

I think the broken windows theory — a broken window or graffiti in a neighborhood begets more of the same — applies online. I’ll happily approve a comment from someone who completely disagrees with everything I believe in, but if I get a positive comment with a curse word in it I’ll edit it out. My blog is like my living room: If someone was acting out in my house, I’d ask that person to leave.

~The Way I Work

Sarah Palin Shows the Hiccups in Social Media

When blogging came into its own, I found it quite exciting to have a platform to share conversations on religion and politics with the world. In my real world life I found too few interested or comfortable with that sort of conversation, the topics being either too controversial or wrangling for most peoples taste. (At least among those here in a Midwestern, and certainly Church circles). Social media developed a place where those who liked to talk and debate for sake of thinking things out were welcomed,… and yet, as the saying goes, “Something’s rotten in Denmark”.

As Twitter came along, I adopted that, as well. The internet has become an intellectual stew for creating new recipes of thinking, and connections across the world have become congealed. News flies fast, and rumors with their lightweight coverings, faster. It changes how politics on the grand stage is done, now, too.

But here is where the hiccups show up in the way the system of communication is utilized; and I think it is because in politics the personal mores have most easily broken down. The goal is everything, the means nothing in that world, for many.

The latest manifestation of this, and what inspired this little diatribe is the rumor of a Palin divorce which spread through Twitter finding source in an obscure Alaskan bloggers pen. This, according to Mashable. Which also, by the way, shows the clumsy way that social media is used to create and diffuse rumors and news. I suppose the idea is to fight fire with fire, but it also exposes how the manner of democratizing the ability to publicize also has degenerated its accountability to a moral standard of delivering things with truthfulness and responsibility to facts. I never thought I’d say that. Perhaps it is the lightning quick run of Twitter which has broken through the accountability barriers of blogging.

I think we are going to have to reassess some of our views of how social media is used and what it is good for, because right now the rot is threatening to undermine what has been a grand experiment in expanding our freedom of expression.

Another lesson in contrasting true freedom with license, and how human nature will revisit these definitions time and time again.

The Blogs We Want, And Why We Want Them

Time to bring this forward again, after reading a really timely and excellent post @ Intellectuelle and further on @ Nicholas Carr’s blog, Roughtype. In fact, these posts are going into a new direction, enough that while bringing this forward, I think I will make a new post to collate my own thoughts on what blogging, and the good blog, is today. Because I need to know 🙂
Updating and then reposting … also linked permanently on the sidebar

The beginning of a compilation of thoughts from…anyone who wants to answer, but how nice to start out with poetic and insightful bloggers. ( which have dropped down in the list due to updates.)

As blogging moves along its maturity cycle, I find things are changing in both styles and interest. Blogs are becoming more sophisticated, even though a huge substrata retains its rough edged diary look and feel. I predicted that this is the way blogs would evolve, following the steps of personal websites. I think the goal of creating a business environment contributes to this. That requires more of a polished presentation. But blogging is still wide open and there are lots of people who want to start…. anyone with opinions on what they like or dislike are welcome to add opinions in the comments- please do! Despite the spammers I keep this comments string open. Yes, spammers are a part of the blog experience, too- unfortunately.

To keep things interesting for those who have read this , but want the new material, I will start to add the updates from the top, OK?
UPDATE: 8/22/06
Written in counterputal style, Shel Israel,of Naked Conversations, writes this post, Open Letter to Nick Carr, which weights relevance heavily. This is a matter that will be impacted by your choice of niche, and probably the shifting interests of the times.

Shel: “Like the rest of us, if Seth wants to be an A-lister, he needs to not just do the right mechanical things, he needs to interest enough people enough of the time. He needs to have readers enthusiastic enough about what he has to say that they link to him and talk about him and catch his passion and get valuable information and insights on things they care about. In short, he needs to be relevant.”

UPDATE: 3/22/06
This time
presents “David Weinberger about blogs”, with some interesting observations.
Some of the ones I liked best:

  • Our blog is ourself in the public space (our body in the new public space)
  • We write badly and it’s ok, it exposes more of us, you’re allowed to make mistakes (it’s human, adds intimacy with readers)
  • Journalists think that bloggers are narcissists, but they never make any links to other sites except for ads! On the contrary bloggers are very generous in giving lots of links-love (the net is about hyperlinks)
  • Brand < Reputation < Relationship
  • Blogs are here to stay, they’re co-creation, 2-way conversations
  • The blogosphere is a huge focus group (“a defocus group”)
  • PR should be Public Relationships
  • What to do? Listen, Audit, Engage, Give up control(*) (*)Blogging policy: 1. sound like a human being 2. be a human 3. engage, don’t defend 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. be transparent 10. link, link, link…
  • Do you want people to talk about you?

Ok, we got it:) I think everyone emphasizes the importance of linking. With the post “Stumbling Upon” the importance of understanding what “public” really means in the internet age ; highlighted by that thought, “Our blog is ourself in the public space”.

The fact that this is interpersonal action is what separates it from the Academic ways of writing. And opens us, and our writing style and ideas for public criticism. -Just good things to keep in mind when you ‘tryon’ blogging.

UPDATE: 9/11/05
I keep adding to the collection:) Greg Wallace reports on Blogger Survey Results. One of the findings was:

“Gender differences were located in many aspects of blogging. Men claim higher approval of information motivation while women endorse self-documentation, self-expression, and passing time more.”

I think that tends to be true just because I think women tend to get emotionally involved with information. So even when dealing with news, we get more into blogging it on the editorializing of its impact, or our view of it. Men want to see what each other is thinking, more. That sort of mirrors conversation styles that are used in comedy so much.

UPDATE: 9/09/05
UPDATE: 8/21/05
Irina @ The IgNoble Experiment has a list of desired blogging traits:

  1. To maintain an open environment.

    I can’t stand blogs where I don’t have an option to leave a comment, even if I really disagree with what is being said.

  2. To post regularly:
    Not necessarily daily…
  3. To practice intellectual honesty:
    By remaining open-minded, listening to other points of views, reevaluating one’s own position, arguing one’s real position or perhaps playing the devil’s advocate, but avoiding hypocrisy and flattery. And of course, admitting one’s mistakes.
  4. Keeping the balance:
    Between remembering one’s audience and writing for oneself.
  5. A good blogger is able to find a right tone and to avoid raising unnecessary passions.

~these were some of the hilights…like all good bloggers she had more to say. this one found via Carl , an example of an EXCELLENT blogger.
UPDATE: 8/05/05
Newest update for improving your blog or the understanding of blogging is:
A Suggested Protocol for Blog Communication from Info Theory. Basic overview which links to articles on blog etiquette. Info says “Trackbacked sites and posts should conform to the source blog’s sourcing policy” which I find difficult to understand how to implement properly. Lots of us are low-tech and imprecise enough that we don’t keep track of each bloggers personal policy. I think this is only a problem that would grow given that the blogosphere is growing so fast with such easy entry. I viewed this piece of advice as something sophisticated semi-professional bloggers would follow. You never know when you might become serious about your blogging, though, and in the event that you are using it as a journalistic platform this is probably something to keep in mind.

Of course, that was only one point on the list. One main point was “The role of the author is as a host to a party. The role of the commenter is to be a respectful guest.” which garnered the attention of Cao, who is due a H/T.

UPDATE: 7/17
It is time to update again. I have new sources thanks to Julie.
Julie Leung and her husband are accomplished bloggers. She regularly writes on the subject of blogging with expertise and enjoyable enthusiasm. This post,”set of guidelines for parents and children interested in blogging “, takes you beyond the basics, and leads into exploring many aspects of blogging that you probably haven’t considered. It is also a helpful guide to blogging etiquette. Which you might want to know about before you break the rules. Just so no one is surprised.

UPDATE: 7/12
The Evangelical Outpost addresses statistics and behavior in blogging. He quotes David Bayley: “It’s amazing how a ranking instrument such as Truth Laid Bear or Technorati or Site Meter almost automatically turns us into statistics-addicted influence seekers.”
Is this the dark side of blogging, or merely natural human response to checking on one’s progress?
UPDATE: 6/04
Coding Horror: Blogging about Blogging feels :
* you have to want to write
* you have to believe you have something to say
* you have to have an interesting way of saying it

and then makes the observation,”Blogs are interesting because they are honest windows into other people’s interests and passions.” These he quotes from Rory who has a good deal to say on it, while making some additions of his own including the need for comments.

First, on the list, was Bernard Higgins of Certain Slant of Light because he inspired this post. His post should be added to your _must read_ , he gives you his full heart. What Makes a Blog Interesting To You
John Ballard fit some thoughts on what he thinks about blogs on this Morning Reading and Rant

UPDATE: 4/16

No Oil For Pacifists has concise rundown: Blog Audience
Extremely well thought out and helpful from a rather good blogger.
Keely wonders why people like her blog and gets some comments:

“your blog is interesting because it is real.- Hailey”

” I look for writing, humorous or not,-Tish”

“I only regularly read blogs that I can relate to in some way…either the person or the subject matter of the writing. – Izzy”

” Content would be the 2nd thing that would interest me. the first would be layout. – Lisa”
and finally, there’s Pablo: “It’s the ying you your yang my dear.”
UPDATE: 5/28
Dust my Broom – Just us Bloggers eh! has two main points, but lots of detailed info:
1. Links Links Links
2. Good Research which includes looking at the other side.
I would say his view applies especially to news and political opinion blogs.

Continue reading The Blogs We Want, And Why We Want Them

Adrian’s Blog asks: Are You an Influential Blogger?

In his post ‘Are You an Influential Blogger?’, Adrian Warnock lists some criteria of blogging influence. I liked it.

It turns your head around a bit if you give it the thought it deserves. In a way, we all influence the people we touch each day, and I don’t think we consider that so much (at least most of us don’t). How do we react to the clerk at the store? Who saw us speak gently/sharply to our children that day? In the way we influenced our children and spouse, who was touched by their resulting attitudes? The ripple is far larger than we like to think.

In the same way, we blog for influence. Some of us consciously, and some unconsciously, but whatever we place on a public page has potential. In fact, that is probably one of the more jarring wake-up calls I had as a denizen of the internet. Those people across the screen get affected by my words and moods and mistakes. Sometimes the feedback shows I really messed up someone’s day… and sometimes I really brightened it. We do have influence…. all the time, in ways we can’t truly quantify.

And I appreciated Adrian’s reminder today. It may not be a life changer, but line upon line reminders make an ultimate difference. And who knows whether today is the day that God speaks something big to someone through you?
Continue reading Adrian’s Blog asks: Are You an Influential Blogger?