This is my first Thanksgiving as a blogger. After four and a half months of posts, I feel I have a lot for which to be grateful. There is a lot I have accidentally learned.
1. Blogging made me a better person.
One of the things you learn very early on about successful blogging is that you can’t live in a bubble. You must travel on that cyber highway and visit your fellow bloggers. You must take an interest in what they cooked for dinner last night; browse their vacation photos; learn the names of their pets; learn of their latest book; listen to their latest song; care about their latest struggle.
In other words, you must give that which you hope to receive.
I have humbly learned this lesson from bloggers who never needed my “follow” or “likes” or comments. They have thousands of followers. They have been Freshly Pressed. They have published their books. But they visit my blog on a regular basis anyway. They respond to my comments. They encourage my work.
They (and I mean you) have taught me as much about being generous as they/you have about writing, cooking, photography, traveling, and living.
2. Blogging made me a stronger person.
My mom used to say, “If everyone likes you, then you’re doing something wrong.” I’ve always agreed with this wisdom – in theory, in my head, but never my heart. I am a people-pleaser. I genuinely like people, and I want them to like me back. Blogging provides an opportunity. With each click of the “publish” button, you get a chance to stand by your work, to stand by your word, to stand by yourself.
And stand by myself I did. What could be worse for a people-pleaser than to receive zero “likes” after a post? I can think of only one thing – to receive a lot of “likes.” The best and most uncomfortable thing to happen to me early in my blogging experience was to live with my insecurities. I learned to stop worrying about what other people were or weren’t thinking. I learned to be proud of my work – even if I was the only one. (Okay, Big D’s a pretty big fan too.)
Little by little, this strength has spread to other relationships in my life. I’m pretty sure I’ll never enjoy confrontation. But Mom was right. If being honest about who I am, what I believe, how I think, what I enjoy, and what I create means allowing others to dislike me, then I’m probably doing something right.
3. Blogging made me a more disciplined person.
No one likes to think of themselves as a quitter. In fact, I am not a quitter . . . I am a stop-starter. I hear that this is an important trait in hybrid technology, particularly when idling at a stop sign or stop light. But I’ve never heard of a car sitting at a light for 15 years before deciding to go again.
I think for those 15 years I was afraid of committing to adulthood. I didn’t want to get nailed down to one profession, one way of doing things, one song, one genre, one story. I still don’t. As long as I didn’t go, there were miles and miles of road ahead of me. Anything was possible.
There have been times when I’ve questioned the validity of continuing to blog. Let’s face it, once you decide to answer all those “what ifs” that were stretched before you, things can get bumpy. There are pot holes, speed bumps, rude drivers, dead ends, and many ways to get lost awaitin’.
But in the words of Elder Joseph Brackett, “To turn, turn will be our delight. Till by turning, turning we come round right.” It is the simple gift of going and turning that delights. Blogging has put me “on the road again,” with all its turns – ultimately, turning me round right – turning me back to myself.
4. Blogging made me a doer.
I have talked about writing a book for a very long time. I’ve been thinking about it for longer than that. This is true of a lot of things in my life. It’s not that I’m lazy. Actually, once I commit to something, I can’t do it half-way. Which is why starting a blog is brilliant for someone like me. Blogging is just the kick in the pants I need.
Once I chose to blog – once I started it, I knew I wanted it done right. This means going “all in” with my resources. And since I have no money, any talents, ideas, time, and character strengths must get put on the table.
This is my planner:
I know it looks like a hot mess, but that’s only because it is . . . like all living things. I am constantly thinking ahead and revising and conceptualizing and organizing and creating. I get up early in the morning and look forward to the work ahead of me. I love talking over ideas with Big D. I love thinking of ways to make this blog better.
And because of blogging, I’m not just talking and thinking anymore . . . I am DOING.
5. Blogging made me a better list maker.
I rest my case.
– Anita, Noted in Nashville