10 things I learned from my 6 months blogging

This week marks my 6 month blog anniversary!

6 months? How did that happen? In some ways it feels like I hit publish on my first post just yesterday. The day I created this blog I was so overwhelmed by the very basic process of creating an account that I had to step away not really knowing if I’d ever sign back in to write that very first post. I did write it– and I’m just so glad that I pushed through my fear and started to share my life with you fine folks. You all are so incredibly wonderful and have truly made the last 6 months an amazing experience for me.

What started out as a “let’s see what happens” type of adventure has really stolen my heart. I enjoy giving my thoughts a voice and sharing tid bits of my life with you fine folks. But, most importantly, I love communicating with you guys and hearing your thoughts, experiences and opinions. Blogging has become an integral part of my day to day life and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.

laptop-1149412_960_720

It hasn’t been easy though. There have been many days plagued with self doubt, newbie mistakes and questioning “what’s the point?” This tiny piece of internet real estate is truly my happy place and along the way I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share with you today.

10things

Staying true to your voice can be harder than it seems. I realized pretty early on that my “thing” with regards to blogging is writing about topics that pull at my heart strings. If I’m not passionate about it then I can’t write about it well. Mer often tells me that I’m a terrible liar and that when something displeases me you can see it all over my face. This notion really applies here – I can’t be someone I’m not. My “things” seem to keep coming back to advocating for breaking down the taboo surrounding pregnancy loss, being real (sometimes overly so) about the challenges I face as a rainbow mum and challenging ideas that literally keep me awake thinking obsessively at night (two spatulas anyone?). This is who I am – this is what I’m like offline and so it would only make sense that I portray a true version of myself here in this virtual space. Writing from these perspectives is tough sometimes – writing about loss, about anxiety/depression and often feeling like I’m losing myself to motherhood makes me unlike most mom bloggers which scares me and leaves me feeling judged at times. But, I can’t help it and it wont change because this is my story and by consequence my voice.

Engaging with my readers is the best part. I never thought anyone would read my blog. It sort of started out as a way to just put down all those ideas whirling around in my brain. Then, something happened and you fine folks started popping in and taking the time to communicate, share ideas and support me. Can I just tell you how much I love your endless support, kindless and encouragement? I love hearing what you all have to say so please keep your ideas coming! You guys are absolutely the best part of this journey.

Being consistent is key. I’ve been experimenting a little with post frequency lately. My typical schedule is a Monday, Wednesday and Friday type of deal. It works and I don’t feel overwhelmed by the blog which is the way it should be I think. I’ve experimented with upping my post frequency to 5 times a week and felt frazzled, disconnected and overwhelmed. Being consistent is so important to growing your readership and maintaining a sense of community in the blogging world but, at this point in my life and my motherhood journey, 3 posts a week is plenty and I’m okay with that.

Writing blog posts is only a small part of blogging. The actual process of blogging involves so much more than simply writing posts – who would have thought?. Beyond the actual writing part of it, there’s communicating with you fine folks (which I love), publicizing content on various social media platforms (I tend to stick to instagram and twitter), editing images and researching post ideas. I spend less time writing and more time figuring out the rest which was really surprising.

Social media is your friend. Social media is such an important part of the blog world and until I jumped in head first I had no idea just how useful it was! I’m not overly active on channels like twitter, instagram or pinterest but have started putting more effort into putting myself out there via those platforms. Most popular bloggers will tell you that growing their readerships stemmed from having active social media accounts and so I’m dabbling with being more consistent there as well.

Don’t obsess about the numbers. At around the 3 month mark I started to get really wrapped up in the numbers: number of visits, number of comments, number of shares you get the idea. Curiously, it was around this time that I jumped into monetized the blog (update post coming soon) and realized just how important those numbers appeared to be to potential media companies. I went weeks scrutinizing my traffic and trying to find ways to boost my readership then, I realized that by doing that I was falling out of “love” with my blog. Blogging was becoming a chore because I was so consumed by the numbers I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing here anymore. Now, I hardly look at the stats because those stats really don’t mean much. For a relatively low-traffic blog my engagement levels are rather high and I’m good with that since communicating with other like minded people was my goal from day one.

The blog will be there tomorrow. Blogging can be incredibly consuming if you allow it to be. The internet is 24/7 and technically there’s always something you can be doing online that is blog related. I caught myself falling into that rabbit hole back in January and thankfully I was able to acknowledge that I was spending far more time online than necessary. The blog will be there tomorrow – you can’t be “present” all the time ya know? Take time for you- readership building, comment replies, emails and social media can wait.

Be patient. Seeing “progress” however you qualify it takes time. Growing a blog takes patience, hard work and dedictation. You need to really come back to your space and continue to put one foot in front of the other.  Clearly, all bloggers want their posts read, liked and commented on – that’s why we blog and not write a paper journal right? But, the blog world is infinite and often our posts (however great) are hidden in obscure corners of the internet unread and unnoticed by readers. It takes time to grow a readership, it takes time to build that sense of community but slowly it will come. < — I continuously remind myself of this one.

It’s a lot of work. So so much work but I love it which makes it a pleasurable pass time for me. I get far less sleep than I did pre-blog but that’s okay, I enjoy what I’m doing and don’t mind investing the time and effort. Having said that, it takes at least 10 times more time than I initially thought it would. There’s a ton involved in writing a blog that you hope others will read.

Ask questions. Bloggers are generally friendly and willing to share their knowledge. If you’ve got a question just go for it and ask! Some will respond to you while others wont which is fine. In my experience the bloggers I’ve reached out to have been kind, helpful and willing to help me which I’m incredibly grateful for.

With that, here are my top 5 posts from the last 6 months:

QOD

Do you blog? If so, how long have you been at it?

What is one thing blogging has taught you so far?

Advertisements

What makes you an awesome parent?

parent

I got treated to a coffee date with one of my dearest girlfriends Saturday. After speaking to her Friday and letting her in on my need for a break she asked me on a date so we could chat and catch up. Since our move last summer I haven’t really been able to see my friends on a regular basis – we’ve all got a ton going on and with this new distance between us it’s a little difficult to get together as much as before. So, this was an extra special treat. Naturally, the conversation came full circle and we ended up talking about our kiddos (break right?). I told her about my blog and how I write about how damn hard parenting is sometimes and she stopped me dead in my tracks by asking me what makes me an awesome parent.

Well shit, do you know that I really didn’t know how to answer her? I just looked at her dumbfounded and in that moment I realized that I don’t give myself enough credit for the parts of motherhood that I’m actually pretty good at.

capp

I don’t have it all figured out- nope, not even close but I am doing the absolute best I can. There are days that I consciously ignore my kids saggy diaper butt to avoid another diaper change meltdown. There are also days where she watches more T.V than is recommended and we don’t delve into book reading, creative activities or momtastic activities like foot painting or glitter gluing.

There are days that my brain, heart and body are just tired and you know what, I think that’s okay… sometimes.

There are bad days and there are good days and on those good days I’ll tickle my little girl until she laughs so hard she cries. Those days are the ones where I let her explore, make messes and let her just be her – in all her messy glory. Those days actually happen more often than they don’t. So, maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself.

After much thought and reflection this weekend I came up with a random list of reasons why I’m an awesome mum to Margs. I think “us” Mums/Dads are far too hard on ourselves and often fail to see and acknowledge what a good job we do most of the time. We are good enough – we just have to stop, take a deep breath and appreciate it more often, don’t we?

Let’s have at it, shall we?

/ I am an awesome Mum because I’ve created and maintain a safe physical and emotional space for Margs

/ I am an awesome Mum because I love Margs unconditionally and always put her first

/ I am an awesome Mum because (despite my type A personality) I’m allowing Margs to “fall” so she can teach herself to get right back up again (both figuratively and literally)

My friend reminded me to stop and pat myself on the back every now and again so now I’m going to do the same for you – some days we just need that extra shove to put it all in perspective.

Now, I absolutely, categorically insist that you share why YOU are an AWESOME parent too!

Save

Save

Revisiting Kon Mari a Year Later.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.

Have you read Kon Mari? I’m sure most people who get here from visiting the #minimalism tag will know all about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. If not, the book basically describes Kon Mari’s method of tidying which is built on the premise that items that bring you joy remain while all the rest are discarded. It’s essentially a how-to guide for decluttering and organizing your home.

images

I first read it last year while on bed rest – I enjoyed it the first time around but didn’t necessarily agree with many of her beliefs (more about that another day, maybe.) Anyway, while sorting some books recently I came across it again and decided to give it a second read (ha! take that Kon Mari!).

This time, I read it and felt far more inspired and connected to her words. I still don’t really agree with some of her beliefs. Namely, her notions about objects of sentimental value, collections and photos.   But, I felt far more in touch with what she was saying and sort of had a lightbulb moment.

Maybe, just maybe I’ve been quasi Kon Maring my home and life without really knowing I was doing it. Maybe, just maybe her method allowed me to regain some control over my life – maybe, it’s helped me close a very dark chapter in my life.

Here’s what nearly through me off my chair.

“ when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too”

I find it ironic that my need to simplify really peaked after Margs was born. I find it even more ironic that I’ve been feeling my best physically and emotionally since I’ve minimized the stuff in my life. Could it be that I’ve somehow managed to finally put the past behind me? Is it possible that Kon Mari subconsciously inspired me to declutter my life so that I could finally accept my heartbreak and move through the final stages of my grief?

I’ll never get over losing my babies. I’ll never forget nor will I every fully stop grieving for the future I should have had with them- perhaps though, I’ve minimized my life as a way to bring joy back into my life and finally find the peace I’ve been searching for for so long.

These last few months have involved holding, touching and looking at things that reminded me of my lost babies. One day it was a pair of maternity jeans I wore with the twins. Another it was a sonogram photo of our second set of lost twins. I’ve handled candle holders used for vigils to honor these lost little ones. I’ve been faced with dried flowers from their funerals and hospital bracelets from my numerous surgeries.

original

Maybe, just maybe, I’ve finally faced my past.