When I posted about losing my job, a very kind and helpful person left the following comment:
You have 2500+ posts in “uncategorized”. And you were managing social media for a company that is supposedly teaching people how to blog?
So helpful! No, seriously. Even though I know the person was kind of being a dick, what they were saying was true. Working for TheCompanyThatShallNotBeNamed made it almost impossible for me to put any time into this blog. I was too busy reading and promoting over 3,000 blogs 5 days a week. That left little time or desire for me to write anything of my own.
Turns out that uncatergorized posts were the least of my worries. Just after I lost my job, my blog was hacked, infected with malware and a complete disaster. Luckily, my kind, talented, generous, all around awesome friend Joelle offered to help me get things fixed and back online. A few days later, I had a new blog host and a beautiful new design. I felt inspired to write again, to become part of the blogging community again.
But those uncategorized posts weighed heavy on my mind, so I decided to go through them and fix the archives up a bit. It took me a couple of weeks, but I went through every single post. It was a trip reading back through the last 12 years of my life. I cringed, A LOT. Depression isn’t fun and reading back through that time was painful. I’m not very proud of who I was 12 years ago. Many of the posts made me cringe. But I’m grateful that I was able to go back in time and remember where I’ve been and appreciate how far I’ve come. The stories I’ve written about my children throughout the past 12 years are one of the best things I’ve done in my life. I would have forgotten so many little, but wonderful life moments were it not for this blog. (Like the time my daughter told me she loved me more than going to the bathroom. Or the time I made the ugliest cupcakes EVER for Ethan’s class on his birthday.) It was evident that my children have always been my comfort, my joy and the thing that I love most in life. I can say that I am proud of the woman, mother that I am now.
Now that this blog has been fixed and things are in order, I feel like I can start over again. I want to write about my life, my kids, my feeeeelings like I used to. I want to build the community back that I once had here with my readers. I want to be myself again without having to censor myself to protect someone else’s brand.
I can’t remember the last time I felt this inspired. Whether it be writing or photography, I look forward to expressing myself creatively again.
In 2001, I started this blog.
By 2004, there were a lot of people reading this blog. At some point, it became what some may call “popular.” (You can punch me in the teeth for using that stupid word.) There were thousands of people stopping by to read what I was writing every single day. My posts would get a ton of comments (Super funny, smart, thoughtful comments.) I was actually proud of this blog and there aren’t many things in my life that I am proud of, believe me.
Then, something happened. Something I’ve never written about. I emailed privately with friends about it, but never addressed it here, publicly. This something that happened shook me up. It freaked me out. It made me question putting all of my business out here for all of the internet to read. I wasn’t mad about what happened, but I was sad about it. I learned that not everyone appreciated what I was writing and that people who didn’t even know me could hate me enough to be cruel to me publicly.
That Thing that happened definitely changed me, changed the way I approached blogging. I didn’t shut my blog down, or quit blogging, but I definitely was more guarded with what I put out there. The fear of people twisting my words into cruelly crafted posts or other type of assholery affected my ability to write my truth and put it out there for all to read.
Posting has been sporadic over the past couple of years and I’ve lost a lot of readers (justifiably so.) But, I’ve never been willing to fully let my blog go because of what it means to me. I’ve written my life in words for the past 11 years. I can go back and read what I wrote to my children on their birthday’s, there are things that my children said when they were little that are documented here forever. When my son graduated from high school, I printed out posts that I had written about him, put them in a book and gave them to him as a gift. He loved it and was grateful I had kept an account of his life as a kid. That alone is worth keeping this blog.
I recently agreed to do a series of sponsored posts in the hopes that it would inspire me to write more regularly. The topics would be something I have experienced through parenthood and it seemed like the perfect thing to get me through the funk and back into the habit of writing (while at the same time earning me much needed dolla bills to help cover some Child Related Expenses. Can you say Travel Ball/ Gymnastics?) It didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. I found myself unable to get over the mental challenges that have pestered me over the past few years. However, over the past few days I’ve felt more inspired to write again and I like the way that it feels. I feel the urges that I used to feel to “write this down and hit publish.” I’m hoping this renewed desire to write will continue and that I will be able to put The Thing behind me once and for all and make this blog enjoyable/readable for an audience again.
Write something. Write anything. Just write.
This is what I tell myself every day. Then, I sit down to write and I’m frozen with fear. Overcome with insecurity. Paralyzed with self-doubt.
I’m not smart enough. I’m not funny enough. I’m not clever enough.
But you love to write. I tell myself. So, just do it. Just write.
There are so many things I want to write about, so many things I should write about.
Like the heart warming visit I had with my son at Camp Pendleton this weekend. Or the conversation I was forced to have with my daughter about wearing deodorant at eight years old. Or how I have committed to another six weeks of fitness boot camp.
I should write about everything. I should write about nothing. I should write like I used to. I should write like I love to. I should write like I want to.
Tonight I’m doing it. I’m writing. But more importantly, I’m going to hit publish and then do it again tomorrow.
Even if no one is reading. Even if everyone is reading.
Write. Just write, dammit.
This is a true story that happened just now.
An old friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook just now. It started out like this:
“So, my husband has been telling me he sees a picture of you in some warehouse on his route…”
I instantly felt afraid because, SAY WHAT?
The message continued:
“today he talked to the owner and found out the story. The owner is the guy who bought your old house and found stuff in the attic. He took it to work to throw in the dumpster and the Mexican workers found the picture and dug it out of the trash and hung it in their warehouse where they eat lunch. Funny huh? It’s a pick of you and 3 other women in a bathroom mirror.”
Funny? Or creepy?
It feels creepy.
I wrote back and sent the photo I suspected they had HANGING IN THEIR LUNCH ROOM. (WTF?!)
“Yes! That’s it! I guess they enjoy the view while they eat lunch. Too funny!”
Again, say CREEPY. NOT FUNNY.
(But maybe a little bit funny? It is a little bit funny, yes?)
I’ve been told this is one of the most awesome photos I’ve ever taken. I guess the guys in the warehouse on 8th street would probably agree.
It’s been a while since I’ve logged on here.
Truth is my son’s absence has affected me more than I expected and more than I have confessed out loud to anyone. I miss him deeply and don’t feel like myself without him in my daily life. I know my son is alive and well, but I’ve not seen his handsome face or been able to hug him or hear “I love you, Mom” for 70 days. I know that I will see him again, but being separated from my son continues to take a toll on me both physically (I’ve gained weight, which is awesome! I’ll not fit in any of my clothes for BlogHer! I hardly sleep and you know what that does to a person’s face!) and emotionally.
On Saturday, we got two letters from my son. He sounded so positive and had some exciting news. He scored 225 out of 250 during shooting qualifications and he earned the coveted “Expert” badge. But there was some bad news in the letter. He’s experiencing severe pain in his knee. He said he’s worried it may be a fracture. He’s trying to tough it out, but if it gets worse, he’ll have no choice but to go to medical. If it *is* a fracture, he’s worried he’ll be dropped from his platoon again and placed in medical recovery. That means he’s training will be delayed again and he won’t be graduating on August 10th. There’s nothing I can except hope for the best and pray to God I don’t get the dreaded “I’m injured” phone call for a second time.
In other news that is not related in any way to my son being away at boot camp, I just purchased my plane ticket to NYC for BlogHer next month. (Can we talk about the price of a plane ticket? Because I paid more than double what I paid for the same flight in December. What up with that?!) I’m getting very excited about BlogHer for so many reasons, but mostly because of CheeseburgHer! And if you read that and thought “What the heck is CheeseburgHer?!” I’m writing a post just for you. Because you need to know about CheeseburgHer. I can’t wait for it to get here so we can get down. (While eating Cheeseburgers, while wearing bags on our heads, while possibly jumping on or off of beds.)
Yesterday I tried logging into MT so I could write a post about my husband creating a secret garden. (And by “secret garden” I mean he planted an entire garden and didn’t tell me about it until the garden had already produced monster size zucchini and the corn plants were as tall as the fence. Like, one day he was just all “hey, come check out my corn plants!” and I was all “corn plants? WHAT?” Then, he walked me to the side yard, and I saw corn plants and zucchini and strawberries and MOFO TOMATOES. That’s kind of weird, isn’t it? That a husband would plant a garden and not bother to tell his wife?!) Wait, what was I talking about again? Oh, right! I tried logging into my blog and couldn’t. So I went to check on my blog and nothing was there. Just a blank page. I emailed my hosting company and they were all “oh, there was an HTTP error, but we’ve fixed it. However, your site is still down.” That confused me very much because you fixed it but it’s still broken, huh? I got an email from them a few minutes later that made me cry. It had the words “compromised” “attackers” “injected” “obfuscated(!!!) and “malicious.”
My site had been hacked.
I immediately panicked. I imagined worst case scenario (losing all of my archives and every story I’ve written about my children, for my children, about my husband’s penis, Judy the Senior Citizen Stalker!) I was sent a list of instructions on how to fix it, but I’m not that smart and had absolutely no idea how to make the changes necessary.
I started to cry. Then I started freaking out on Twitter. Which is never a good idea.
The Eight people who still read this blog were all “Oh no!” And I was all “I know, right?” And then I MAY have said something super dramatic like “RIP, Joy Unexpected.”
But look! The blog is not dead! That is only because Joelle came to the rescue to save my it. She deleted files and upgraded MT and probably a bunch of other things that I do not understand. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have a friend who always makes time to help me through my blogging emergencies. She really is the best and if you ever need a new blog design, you should totally hire her.
This experience has made me realize how much this blog means to me (I kind of want to punch myself for saying that, but it’s true.) I have been neglecting this blog and the wonderful people who read it. It’s just… life, man. It’s never easy, right? And sometimes, it is downright hard. Most days, I find myself so busy I don’t have time to pee, much less time to blog. It’s crazy and it’s stressful and I’m doing my best to survive each day (one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, one milkshake followed by a glass of wine at a time and all that jazz.)
If almost losing this blog has taught me anything, it’s that I need to stop drinking milkshakes and start writing again.
I swear, the next time my husband secretly plants a garden, I’m gonna blog ThatShit immediately.
I have a friend named Lindsay.
Lindsay is a blogger. A very successful blogger.
Lindsay is not only my friend in real life, but also my friend on Facebook.
Sometimes, when I write a funny story about my life on Facebook, Lindsay will leave the following comment.
“This is going to make a GREAT blog post!”
And every time Lindsay leaves that comment, I laugh because I know what Lindsay really means is “stop posting these stories on Facebook and start blogging again!”
She’s right. I have been using Facebook to share my life instead of writing about it on my blog. On Facebook, I can share the stories that I feel are worth sharing without having to spend a great deal of time (or thought) writing it out.
Here’s the thing– I love Facebook (you’re laughing, aren’t you?) I have reconnected with amazing people from my past (Sixth Grade Love of My Life) but more importantly, it’s allowed me to reconnect with people whom I love– family, friends– but had lost touch with over the years. It’s also a place where I can interact with people during the day. I work from home and am alone and online all day. It can be very isolating at times. It’s nice to have a tool like Facebook, where I can get some kind of ADULT HUMAN INTERACTION during the day. But as much as I love Facebook, it’s becoming very clear to me that it’s made me a really shitty writer/blogger.
The next time I want to tell a story on Facebook, I’m going to log into this here blog, put some time and thought into it and create a mofo blog post instead.
Lindsay will be so proud.
Check me out. I’m writing on my blog. Because I can. Because I love to write. Because I love that I can write whatever I want, about anything I want for no reason at all. I love that I’ll be able come back and read these words in the future and I’ll be reminded of the time I sat at the computer and wrote this post because I felt like writing. Not because I wanted to sell you something or because I needed to increase my traffic or because I was building my brand.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Because there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s why you blog. To each his or her own. I truly mean that. I don’t begrudge people who do this for business reasons or to make money or to get free things. Hell, I run ads on my site. I will write a review or participate in a giveaway every once in a while. Sometimes I’ll do it because I love the product, sometimes I’ll do it to earn a little extra cash to stash away in my Secret PayPal Account (for which I can spend on things like shoes and perfume and not feel any guilt whatsoever.) But I have a separate blog for that because this blog right here? The one you’re reading now? Will always, simply be my words, my stories, my truth.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
I have read the comments that were left on my last post several times over.
So kind, so encouraging, so honest.
One comment in particular has stuck with me.
I’ve noticed how the blog has changed – in the sense it has become more serious and ‘self conscious’ in its writing style. That’s where you are going wrong, Y – you are trying to write like other bloggers, not yourself.
I’ve been reading for a long time and when I started went through ALL the archives. Stop trying to be like other people and write overly sentimental, faux meaningful stuff. Get back to YOU – a stream of consciousness that is raw in its honesty and FUNNY. That is made made you so successful in the first place and its what we love and want to read. I hope you’re not offended – that is not my intention. I have enjoyed your blog for years and support you. I understand how difficult it must be and how insecure posting must make you- FORGET IT . There’s enough ‘Oh so touching and tragic’ blogging out there. Puke. Give me old Joy Unexpected any day of the week.
I needed to read that. I have been so focused on how much blogging has changed that I never stopped to consider how *I* had changed in the way that I write. It’s true that I no longer believed that My Story was worthy of an audience because my writing, this blog, just wasn’t good enough anymore. Maybe I have been over thinking things. Maybe, I’ve been trying to be something that I’m not or simply trying to hard.
I can’t tell you how many funny (to me) stories I haven’t written because I didn’t think they were “good enough” to publish here. Oh, how dumb of me– taking myself so seriously! I used to write about things like being scared of ducks and buying generic vaginal cream without a second thought.
I want to not be afraid to write like that again- to be myself here again. I think I’ll start by hitting publish on this meaningless post that will not change the world nor inspire a single person in any way, shape or form.
Ahh, feels good.
I’m sorry that I’ve been so inconsistent in writing here.
Every time I sit down to write, I am overcome with disappointment with what this blog has become. It used to be a place that I loved, that I was proud of. Not so much, anymore. I feel completely lost in this sea of New Blogging. I am not a brand, I do not have a “story” to sell. It’s just me, writing words, telling you stories about my life, about the family that I love. And I wonder if it’s worth writing anymore because of how much things have changed. I doubt myself. I doubt my place here. I doubt the value of the words that I type here and publish for the world to read.
I’ve been through this before. I’ve questioned not doing this anymore, but I always come back to this: This blog is important to me because it is a record of my life that I want to share with my children in the near future. I want them to know how much their words, their little lives meant to me, every day of my life. I want them to know that they made me laugh, that sometimes, they made me cry, but they always made me want to be the best human being I could possibly be.
One minute I have absolute clarity about this blog and why I continue to write here. Then, I stumble upon a conversation about SEO or traffic or Alexa ranking or “can I see your media kit?” And I’m all “What am I doing here?” again.
And so, I stay quiet.
One thing I know for sure is that I love to write. Another thing that I know is that I adore the people who read the words that I write.
I’ve been neglecting this blog.
I have reasons. Long story short?
I’ve been struggling to find balance in my life.
How does one juggle it all? The work. The kids. The housework. The bills. The Horny Husband. THE MOFO LAUNDRY.
I started to feel like I was losing control, unable to keep up with the most simple things– like taking a shower every day.
Something had to give.
I gave up the things that didn’t pay the bills.
Writing. Photography. Working out. (But that’s another post for another time.)
Turns out, while those things may not pay the bills, they are vital to my health and happiness.
I miss creating things– words. images. muscle definition.
So I’ve made a promise to myself. I will make time to express myself creatively. I will pick up my camera, dust it off and capture the world around me. I will write every day. I will read everyday.
I will no longer allow the stress of daily life to suck the life out of my creative soul.