I’m a happy blogger these days; that’s not to say that I’m deliriously happy in real life (although i’m doing okay) – i’m just really happy blogging. My love affair with this medium has chopped and changed over the years, starting on a high, floundering in the middle, and now back on steady ground. Rather like any long-term relationship. It’s as if we’re a community of mini magazine editors, sharing our lives and thoughts, likes and dislikes, inspiration and projects; blogs are magazines that never end. There’s no final page until next month; there’s always another blog to read, another update to find. I still limit my reading as i don’t like to get overwhelmed with too many PR versions, but blogging continues to nourish and intrigue me.
I’ve been reading blogs about blogging – i didn’t realise they existed until recently. who knew? – and was inspired to put together a page of my most useful posts to link to on my about page (see what a conscientious blogger i am these days? ha!). On the advice of Jeanine, I’ve also started to back up my blog using this free downloadable software – i always assumed that Typepad would automatically do this for me, but apparently they don’t.
[Portrait of me by Jeanine Caron]
One of my lovely Unravellers wrote to me recently and asked how I felt about sharing so much of myself on-line and the possible vulnerabilities that it could bring with it, and it really got me thinking. When i started blogging it really was just for me, an outlet for my writing and grieving, while also gently connecting me with other bloggers. These days i love sharing my thoughts and theories too, and my creative searchings. I guess i can’t help but be the big sister who likes to lead by example – i’ve been doing it all my life. Some days i can’t believe i survived the blast, so when i come to this space, it’s now a mini celebration of being alive… Look at the pretty flowers! Listen to this amazing song! Try this – it works!
It took me a long time to feel comfortable showing my face here – i’m still not falling over myself to do it, but i’m getting used to it. Leading my e-course is helping so much – just posting those weekly videos is emboldening me to be more visible online. Now my full name is attached to the blog too, and suddenly i’m more visible than ever. People from the past and present are finding me, and yes, it can occasionally feel a bit strange, but this place has never been my diary – this is my blog, it’s different. It’s a moderated and edited – but still honest – version of me.
To answer the question more succinctly, i don’t feel vulnerable sharing here – i feel braver and fuller. I’m also really committed to – and believe in – my Unravelling e-course, and to be able to teach that with complete authenticity i share myself too. The women and writers i most admire have shared something of themselves with me – in their book, website, interviews, whatever – and that inspires me to do the same. To be brave.
Of course, if someone was to leave nasty comments, then i’d take them personally but I hope this blog, and my online persona, don’t offend anyone enough to want to do that! If i know anything it is that life is too short to a) peel a tomato b) stuff a mushroom and c) leave nasty comments on someone’s blog. i would never do that; everyone has the right to their own opinion, and to tell their story whichever way they choose. Blogging is a way to peek into people’s lives, and in doing so we stitch the world a little closer together; we nurture empathy and understanding. We are all the same, no matter where we come from, whether we talk about our stuff on blogs, on the phone or in a hand-written letter to our grandmas. It’s good to share, i think. We feel less alone.
Okay, is that a soap box i’m standing on? Time to make dinner…. so what do you think? How do you feel about sharing yourself online?
1. Create a Feel-Good Folder
I have a folder in my inbox that I’ve labelled ‘feel-good’. Inside i store all the lovely emails I’ve ever received – love notes from friends, Etsy customers, blog comments and more recently, emails from Unravellers. When I’m having a bad day, i dip into the folder; it’s like a team of cheerleaders doing a dance just for me. When i feel disheartened or down, i let the kind words of friends and strangers pick me up and dust me off… ready to begin again.
2. Treat yourself
‘One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.’ ~ Iris Murdoch
I firmly believe this too. Small treats of choice: a double-shot cappucino, a small square of perfectly dark chocolate, a slice of hot buttered toast, a bunch of flowers, a few new songs from iTunes. A new notebook. A trip round the aisles of Amazon.
3. Look for eye candy
Flowers and pretty rooms are all very well, but there are days when you need real eye candy… ladies, i think you know what i’m talking about:
[David Boreanaz, George Lamb, Steven Brand, Hugh Jackman]
It’s silly and frivolous, harking back to your teenage years, and that’s why it’s so very good for you – indulging in a bit of online eye candy, or a DVD rendezvous with the man/girl candy of your choice. My mate Emma and I have been indulging in a lot of man candy recently, and boy, are we feeling perky…
4. Pick up a book
I’ve talked about my book friends many times before, and here we go again: books save me, every time. They teach me, they comfort me, they entertain me, they take me to another world. They inspire me so much, which is why i intend to publish my own and send it out to befriend whoever needs it. I have piles sitting on my coffee table and beside my bed, ready to hold my hand when i need them.
5. Go for a walk outside
This is the one i am always most resistent to. Pulling on boots, finding a coat… where are the keys… oh, who can be bothered? I’m going to stay at home and mope. But when I do make the effort to go out, even if it’s just a ten minute walk to the supermarket for fresh salad and aforementioned dark chocolate, it shifts my perspective. It gets blood pumping around my body (i live up a steep hill) and distracts me. I breathe more; i step out of my bubble.
It’s been one of those days. I am fighting a cold – and losing – and have felt negative and out of sorts; too much to do and not enough energy. A bit flat. These five things are what i have done today to try to try to turn it around. It worked.
It was a spur-of-the-moment thing; my hands are tired from too much typing but i wanted to post something. I had this ee cummings poem in my head and wanted to share it…. i've been posting videos over on the Unravelling course blog and as my lovely co-conspirators will tell you, it's been painful for me to do this; all my worst inner demons start shouting in my ear as i watch myself on screen. So i blow-dry my hair and put on make up and try to find the best possible light… and then five minutes ago i thought sod it, and with unwashed hair, no makeup and my glasses to hide behind, i read this little poem for you. Not ready to talk to you yet… maybe another time…. Be kind, folks, I'm ripping off the Band Aid.
1. Sofie Andersson 2. photo by Mark Lund 3. French Vogue 4. styling by James Leland Day
These photographs feel like my life right now – a blank canvas of possibility that is being filled with rich colours and meaningful objects, thoughtfully arranged. I've been simplifying things – friendships, expectations, demands on my body – and focussing on what's the most important to me. At the moment that involves getting up at seven every day and working hard, cooking meals full of flavour and spice, wearing clothes that wrap around me in layers of colour. It involves me paying my bills on time and feeling glad that I am able to look after myself. Taking pictures that are full of heart.
i spend way too much time on my own, i know this, but i've never been a particularly gregarious person. I like to spend quality one-on-one time with a friend rather than in a group; i like my own company and the more of it i have the more of it i need. At the moment I'm comfortable in my simple single life; I don't know how i'd fit anyone else into it, but maybe i'd figure it out, if the right someone came along.
I've always carried this expectation that life wouldn't work out as i wanted it to – that i didn't deserve it somehow. I guess it's understandable that a period of deep grief could solidify this belief and make it a living reality – that i was so extraordinarily unlucky – but actually, something else has occurred. As i moved out of the grief, and healed layers of the past stretching back decades, i've come to appreciate the simple things, the quiet times and the fallow months. As my days become filled with more meaningful work, I'm starting to believe that good things can happen, and will. And do. That the dreams i carry closest to my heart can be achieved. Today I feel the furthest from my grief that I have ever felt; at the same time it has been a quiet day of reflection, as i count down to the anniversary. It's funny how we can be our strongest and most sensitive self all in the same moment.