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10 Years Ago, My Blog Changed My Life

The title isn’t hyperbole.  10 years ago, I started blogging regularly — about 5 times per week — in this space.  All lives change over a 10 year period, but when I look back at what has happened over the last decade, I can say, with certainty, that it was my blog that set everything else in motion.

So thank you, little Me-shaped space.

All the changes together add up to something huge, but the moments themselves were so small that if I hadn’t continued to write, I wouldn’t have known what else was to come.  Isn’t that such an odd thought?  In the individual moments, my blog has felt inconsequential, and I’ve considered walking away from it a few times, thinking it would free up time and not impact anything else.

But that’s not true.  If I had stopped writing in this space at any point along the way, I would have missed out on so many paths that would have never been opened if not for sticking with this journey.

So that is my only advice that I can give you after 10 years of blogging.  If you love it, if you love to write, then keep at it even if you don’t think you’re headed in the right direction.  Even if you think no one is reading and writing your words will never impact your world.  At the very least, you’ve written your truth.  At the most, your words will lead you somewhere amazing.

10 years ago, the twins were toddlers.  They were about to give up their bottles.  We were trying to add another child to our family, and I was emotionally drowning.  I had stopped teaching and didn’t really know how I was going to contribute financially to the family and be at home with the kids at the same time.  I had an MFA, but I hadn’t published a book.  I had a translation degree, but I couldn’t get translation work.  I was so computer-phobic that I didn’t even know how to start a blog.  Josh set up this space for me.

10 years later, the twins have graduated elementary school.  They’ve been following their own bliss, making video games and writing articles.  We walked away from the fertility clinics, and most days, I’m at peace with that decision.  I work out of the house doing freelance writing and editing.  I’ve published 5 books, have a contract for a 6th, and am finishing up a 7th.  I taught myself several programming languages, and I’m currently working on making my first app.  I’m considered an “expert” in online engagement, for what that’s worth.

I think most people will look at this space and think about how my blog had a hand in my work accomplishments, and certainly, it has.  Would I have published all the books without it?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Would I have made dozens of trips to the White House without this space?  Definitely not.  I’m not minimizing the work stuff — it has changed my life.

But what I always think about is the drowning.  The emotional drowning.  And how this space released something in me so I could breathe again.  It connected me to others who have held me up over the years so I’ve never felt like I was drowning again.  This blog changed my life because without all of you, I don’t know where I would have ended up.  Nowhere good.  You yanked me out of my head and let me know what there were so many millions of people out there who were on parallel paths to my own.  That is priceless.

Thank you for being here for the last 10 years.  Thank you for responding to my words, which was the fuel that kept me writing.  And that’s what I needed to do: write myself out of my head and into a community of “me, too.”  Thank you for catching me when I jumped here.

June 22, 2016   29 Comments

Graduation

The twins had their graduation from elementary school.  It has taken me a bit of time to process the moment.  Like many things, the anticipation was worse than the actual moment.  I cried, don’t get me wrong, but I also felt very numb and resigned.

It had to happen.

There were a few events leading up to the big moment.  Josh chaperoned his final elementary school field trip.  I chaperoned my final elementary school field trip.  There were rehearsals for the big day and a program to pull together and parties to throw.  Each time I would think, this is it.  That day I feared is happening.

I’m racing toward it, unable to stop.

The ceremony was lovely.  The kids sang.  They got awards.  They walked across the stage and stated their favourite school memory and wish for the future.  We watched a slide show full of pictures of their classmates from the last 6 years.  The kids sang along with the soundtrack, bouncing around in their seats while they shrieked out each other’s names.  I bawled seeing pictures from Kindergarten; their toothless smiles juxtaposed against the sea of braces across the aisle from us.

At the end of the ceremony, we walked through the school and the students from the younger classes lined the hallways and clapped us out.  The kids began down near the Kindergarten and special needs classrooms and then made their way past the first grade and second grade and on until they passed their own dark classrooms and made their way out of the school.

It was the moment I’ve been dreading the most; the one I didn’t think I would be able to get through.  I cried.  I bawled walking down the hall, all the kids staring at me as I passed and whispering, “That’s the computer lady” and they applauded.  I hugged their old teachers and said thank you.  I thought about all the things I had done in that school, the shapes cut out of construction paper and the xeroxing and the book club meetings.  And I said goodbye to the space, knowing that I would probably be back in that building again in the future, but it would no longer be our home.

I thought I wouldn’t be able to force myself to walk out the front door at the end, but there I was, putting one foot in front of the other.  We had to hurry to make a lunch reservation with friends, and, once again, the reality of the moment was nothing like the anticipation of the moment.  It was hard, it was bittersweet, but it also felt like what was going to happen.  So I could either struggle against it or let myself be carried on.

I let myself be carried on.

June 21, 2016   18 Comments

#Microblog Mondays 95: Larks and Night Owls

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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Josh asked me as we were going to bed well after midnight, “Are you a lark or a night owl?”  If you had nowhere you had to be during the day or night, no family or friends dependent upon you, would your body rather be awake during the day or night?

I know I am a natural night owl because I once stayed back at college for the first few days of winter break in order to see a friend who was coming into town.  It was Christmas, and I had nowhere I had to be until Boxing Day when we were getting together.  I was very depressed during that week due to incidents that happened before break, and I decided to just do whatever I needed to do to get through those days until I could see my friend and vent.

So I rented a bunch of movies and bought a bunch of books and purchased clear root beer (remember that stuff?).  Then I let myself do whatever I felt like doing, and my schedule shifted away from my normal school life schedule.  I would read or watch movies during the day, and then I would start writing around 11 pm.  By 4 or 5 am, I would tell myself to go to bed because it seemed like the right thing to do.  And then I would sleep until 1 or 2 pm the next day.

I am married to a committed night owl, and our kids are both deep night owls who seem to come alive around 10 or 11 pm and sleep until lunch whenever we let them.

So what is your chronotype?  Are you a lark or night owl?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. Persnickety 14. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 27. Virgí nia
2. Uma S 15. Non Sequitur Chica 28. torthú il
3. Lovey 16. Parul | Happiness & Food 29. Ke Anne
4. Mali (No Kidding) 17. Isabelle 30. Aseem
5. Mali (A Separate Life) 18. Geochick 31. Jess
6. No Baby Ruth 19. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) 32. articulation
7. Shailaja 20. Inconceivable! 33. Middle Girl
8. pins & ashes 21. Traci York, Writer 34. Mom Pharm D
9. Unpregnant Chicken 22. deathstar 35. Madhavi
10. Conceptionally Challenged 23. Cyn K 36. Mary Francis
11. Anamika Agnihotri 24. Just Heather 37. Lori@ Laughing IS Conceivable
12. the OCD infertile 25. Rain
13. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 26. Cristy

 

June 20, 2016   36 Comments

Different Kind of Smart

Chalk this up to my different kind of smart

I went on my last elementary school field trip this past week.  It was an end-of-year bowling party in one of those newfangled, computerized bowling spaces.  Loud music.  Flashing lights.  A lot of fun and bittersweet.  They all looked so tweenish.

When we got back to school, I ducked into the main office to make copies of the graduation program.  I estimated that I had about an hour to accomplish this task.  This sounds like a lot of time for making copies, but the copier hates me and often breaks down mid-job.  Plus the program ran a little long.  Like 24 pages long… (Don’t judge me!)

But the copier behaved, and I got all the copies made and tucked away for graduation.  Success!  I still had 20 minutes to burn until the end of school, so I settled down in a chair in the main office and started reading a comic book.  I was completely lost in a side story about Black Spectre.  (The one that is hunting the Omega Drive, not the Moon Knight/Carson Knowles Black Spectre.)

But then I started noticing that many parents were coming through the office, stating they were there to help out with class parties.  That’s odd.  Why would so many parents show up under 20 minutes until the end of school if they wanted to help with parties?  Shouldn’t they have come an hour before school got out?  Do the younger classes hold their parties in the last 20 minutes of the day?

Finally I asked about it, and the school secretary smiled at me and said, “Well, Melissa, they’re arriving because there is still over an hour left on the school day.”

I looked up at the clock and realized that there was no reason why I was sitting in the office.

“Oh.”

“Yeah, I wondered why you were sitting here,” she admitted.

I sheepishly collected my things and murmured that I would be back in an hour.  The secretary nodded and said, “Well, at least you got to look at your pictures.”

Yeah.

I like to end on a high note.

June 19, 2016   9 Comments

600th Friday Blog Roundup

This is the 600th Friday Blog Roundup… which means it’s really the 500th one.  At some point they got misnumbered, and blah blah blah.  But it makes sense.  The blog will be 10 years old soon.  I started doing this a few weeks after I started the blog.  520 weeks in 10 years.  By the time we reach the anniversary for the Roundup, there will be 510 or so Roundups.  Which means there has only been maybe one week per year where I don’t do this.

That is a lot of posts read.  A lot of posts discussed.  Just… a lot of posts.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.  This is how I choose the posts for the Roundup each week.  I read.  I read a lot and sometimes I bookmark things that stick with me.  And then on Thursday night or Friday morning, I look at all the bookmarked posts and I choose a few to talk about.  I’ve never accepted a request because… that makes it feel like work.  And it’s not work.  It’s just the words that reached into my brain and stuck with me after I walked away from the computer.

Sometimes they’re not the most profound posts.  Sometimes they just capture an everyday moment so well that it feels worth asking if it resonated with everyone else.  But sometimes they’re verbal symphonies.

I know some people think blogging is in a lull, but I still find little gems every week.  You just have to be willing to look.  You have to be willing to jump from comment section to comment section to find new blogs.  You need to step away from the spoon-feeding of links on social media and dive back into blogs themselves, waiting for a great post to rise up.  It’s sort of like fishing in that sense.

Thank you for providing so many fish over the years.

Here’s to the next 500.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Um… like someone could write about Lord of the Rings and not have me mention it?  I love Inconceivable’s deconstruction of the ending of Return of the King and how that truth applies to our own personal walks through Mordor.  Grief changes us.  Stressful situations change us.  We can never go back and find things exactly the same.  Sometimes we need to keep fighting so our new future fits our needs.  It’s a gorgeous post.

Grumpy Rumblings has a damn good analogy for finding balance in life.  The post is brief and to the point, so I won’t say much more than that and ruin it.

Kmina’s Blog just celebrated its 7th anniversary, and she muses on the state of the world today as well as a hope for next year.  Again, just a lovely post that is so brief that it would be ruined by more description.  Just click over and read it.

River Run Dry has a gorgeous piece about the shooting in Orlando, her words shaking with rage.  She writes, “Our right to bear arms means our country allows anyone to by an assault weapon, without background checks. It means the CDC can’t even research the causes of gun violence.  And our right to bear arms means that more mothers will sit there, trapped, unable to protect their children.”  It is a must-read for anyone who is shaking with rage over gun violence.

Lastly, Pages, Stages, and Rages has a post about Renee Elise Goldsberry’s speech at the Tony’s announcing her family building struggles to the world.  It was such a profoundly moving moment, and I bawled when I watched it.  Sometimes you just need to see a reflection of your experience inside the greater whole.  Thank you, Renee Elise Goldsberry.

The roundup to the Roundup: The 500th/600th Roundup.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between June 10th and June 17th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

June 17, 2016   12 Comments

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