I knew it was near the “anniversary” of this blog, but I had to check the date.
The first entry was published February 8, 2011.
I began with the inspiration of tracking my upcoming 40th high school class reunion. The blog would be a place of encouragement and humor about class reunions in general, and why they are important to us as people.
There are people who are not the least bit interested in reliving high school. I have heard stories of families that make me understand that not everyone had the life that I and many of my friends did. There was poverty and abuse, and people had moved beyond that and did not want to look back. I must understand and respect that.
I lived in a military town. For many, it was one of many stops in their life, and just happened to be the stop where they graduated from high school. It was the place that their father’s career put them at that certain time. Some of these individuals thrived and made new friends, even considering it a blessing to have the opportunities that the Air Force gave them. Others resented it deeply and didn’t want to “connect” very much, because this situation was fleeting. I have friends in both camps.
As we plan reunions and events, we must accept these issues. No one should be made to feel that they MUST come. There are two people who have asked to be removed from our lists and I have complied, of course. We have one person who years ago asked to be removed, and then a few years ago, asked to join our website. This type of situation is WELCOME, but I will have a phone-to-phone conversation with them first. If you didn't want to be included; what changed your mind? As a social worker, I realize the motives may be less than honorable. It was not the case this time.
So we have those who don’t want to be included, but we have about 30 “guest members” also. This is not a problem for me and there has never been an issue.
I found myself getting sidetracked in writing during the reunion planning itself, but entries were related to “connecting.” I found a novel about a 40th-class reunion and reviewed it. I found “ten reasons to attend your class reunion” and tweaked that, and will be revisiting that subject shortly.
All in all, it was interesting to write about the connecting of the reunion itself. But, that time came to an end and I still had ideas!
So I continued to write—with the central vision of “issues of interest to people of a certain age.” I have been delighted to know that younger people learn from the blog too.
That said, what exactly HAVE I learned these last four years?
- I have learned that life is certainly unpredictable. My Cancer Journey was never a thought when I started this blog. It has been a ride that I never expected, but I grew in wisdom, faith, empathy for others, and also learned to receive from others. I needed to learn that. I learned that my husband and children had strengths that I didn’t realize, and these were good things to know.
- I have learned that I share issues with other people, such as My Fitness Journey. I struggle and continue to, but I know that others relate to that. I never expected to break a foot in the middle of the night; struggle with torn menisci (in both knees), and what cancer would do to an exercise program. I wrote the series on Aging Issues and found many commiserates. Some of those entries were painful.
- I have learned just HOW MANY connections I have had in the history of my life. Some are humorous, some not so much, and maybe, just maybe, someday my children and grandchildren will be interested in the history of their grandmother and grandfather. Examples are “The Other Mothers” and “The Other Fathers.” It was my hope to show how many more people were involved in my upbringing than my parents and immediate relatives. These people helped shape who I am.
- I have learned that there are issues that we do not all agree on. This blog has challenged me to put to paper the things that are important to ME, even if you do not agree. I admit to being a conservative and as I write this, I wish we had a third political party, even though I am registered with one of them, I am, as many people are, just plain frustrated with ALL politicians! I am a Christian believer and that will always shape my worldview, but I will listen to others.
- I have learned to be flexible—there are things that happen in life that you just do not count on. When I decided to quit work, I knew that I would have to research and use other methods to cut corners. In truth, it has not been as bad as I expected. From this, I spun-off The Thrifty Tabloid, and there are, and will continue to be lessons I have learned and resources that I have found. As I have said before (many times), “Why spend money on this when you can save and do something special later?” I am all about special! Tomorrow I am getting a mani/pedi!
- I have learned to appreciate the people in my life, past and present. I was raised in a fine community, with good neighbors, wonderful church family, and the large majority of my friends’ parents were wonderful people. (There are always exceptions) I could talk to these people, and I still do. I come from a closely knit family that—for the most part—is not spread out all over the place. I married into a good family, although some adjustments had to be made on both sides. Sometimes small-town living can seem like “big city” to those who live in rural areas. As the years have marched on, our family members live in all types of locales, from the farming community to the military, to small and large cities.
- I have used this forum for our Christmas letters, which is like a running history of our family. I have kept some things private for safety, but I know what is available if someone wants to look for it.
How have I grown personally as a result of this blog?
- I have learned to guard my family’s privacy and make this blog about MY feelings and issues. Anything about anyone else has been “pre-authorized.” My family can be very funny! However, this is MY story; my feelings about life events, not theirs.
- I have re-thought some of my memories. It has helped me to put some of them away and/or in their proper place. I have also remembered some things that I had forgotten, that have given me a new appreciation for those things. Sometimes it WAS the “good old days.” Other times, it simply was not. (For example, I would never go back to those good old days with my breast cancer diagnosis! I thank God for the progress in medicine that has been made)
- It has helped me to appreciate other people. I think most of us think mostly of ourselves. We become parents and that changes radically, but it’s still a little bit about us. Did I lose that baby weight (the correct answer is no), am I doing things right? I am no different, I have been about me. The culture tells me to be, and it takes real change to overcome. It takes commitment to other people, it takes a realization that I am only on the face of this earth for a limited amount of time and what AM I going to do with that time? I have learned to respect others’ accomplishments, whatever they are.
Where am I going from here?
I plan to chronicle the 45th reunion. You will be seeing short and longer “updates” about what is going on. If you don’t read this blog for that reason, you can skip that.
I plan a series on relationships with friends (today) that I barely, if at all, knew in high school. All of these will be approved, of course. One of my main gripes is that people think that we are all the same people we were in high school, so therefore I am not attending my reunion. Nothing could be further from the truth. I will explore the relationships that have commenced and endured after high school.
One of the things that has made an incredible impact upon my blogging is, of no surprise, reading other bloggers! I have learned much, make no mistake about it, and I have shared some that were of particular interest or POWER to me; but I learned that I did NOT want to be the “professional blogger.” Oh, I read books on “how-to” and why not turn a hobby into a paying venture? Well, I decided that’s not me on several levels.
I DO read others, and I am annoyed at the pop-up ads or the “slowly-loading” ads that make me want to give up before the blog page even loads. Those ads are how money is made. That is not what I want happening to my reader. While I realize that not all entries are of the same interest to all readers, I want them to at least SEE the blog before they make the decision to read or not to read.
You also have to write ALL THE TIME! I have no deadlines and I do not write without some "inspiration." In other words, I don't write just to write.
I have consulted with some of my readers, and we have agreed that the simple format and layout is “enough.” There are different “topics” on the right side. If you just want to read about how breast cancer affected me, well, there you are. Click on that link and you won’t be bothered with anything else. There is also a “search” feature. I never expected to have over 300 entries, and there may be something you are looking for that was published two years ago!
There is also links to the most read posts “of the month.” If I posted “of all time,” those would always get clicked on and no others would get read. There are a few blogs I follow listed. I do not take those lightly. They are either (1) interesting or thought-provoking, or (2) they are those of good friends. Sometimes both. I will not post a blog unless I think it’s worthy of being read. The one on Sears Homes is well-done, but I realize the audience is small. (I love it though!) And, most importantly, the “Blog with Integrity” badge. That is what I strive for—integrity in all things.
That’s it, keeping it simple and concise as I move forward. If you wish to follow, you may do that privately by email, or you can become a public follower. I do like having “fans.” I still am a little vain.
Wrapping up, I do like to see comments. If you don’t have one of the accounts on the drop-down arrow, then choose “anonymous” but leave your initials or first name so that I know who it is. Just me; the whole world doesn’t need to know.
Blogging has changed me and it will continue to change me. It challenges me to learn new things. It disciplines me to put those things or ideas down on paper. And, hopefully, there is a little creativity in there too. I am not expecting any literary prizes.
Until we “connect” again…….