Wednesday, June 9, 2010

So What is Blogging All About?


You may remember that I’ve mentioned doing some MOPS talks before. MOPS stands for Mothers of PreSchoolers and the International church in Toulouse hosts the only MOPS currently in France, I think, although I know another local one (this time French speaking) is starting up soon…
I’ve spoken to them before on the themes of Advent, Easter, and Going Green. This time they’ve asked me back to speak about…
Blogging! I really enjoy spending time with these mums – they are a diverse and interesting group of women, and I always learn as much as I share when I speak with them.

Obviously, a talk about blogging isn’t much without access to the Internet, so we will be on line and looking at this blog and others while I speak to them, and this post is going to be the basis of my talk! Please read on, as your thoughts and comments could be really helpful to our session…

I guess I’ll begin by talking about why I began blogging. My mum became very ill, and nearly died after surgery, two years ago. She made a surprisingly good recovery but found it difficult to talk on the phone or type emails, so I was looking for an effective way of communicating with her across the distances. I also started doing some patchwork, a lot of it whilst I was visiting my parents in Edinburgh, and I started looking on the internet for interesting ideas and information about patchwork.
I discovered not only patchwork websites, but also… blogs!
Obviously I knew what blogs were, but was really astounded not only by the visual delights but also the amount of comments, some perhaps fairly superficial, but others showing real friendships between people who clearly hadn’t met in ‘real life’.
So for two reasons – sharing daily life with my mum, and wanting to attempt to join the blogging community, I made a tentative start at a blog.
I was very nervous at first, and kept checking to see if anyone liked my posts, and had left any comments. A few very kind bloggers were very supportive about leaving a message – Sal of Sal’s Snippets, Jeannette of Sans Soucis and Niki of Nostalgia at the Stone House gave me real confidence through their kindness.
And the rest is history – I’ll just give you a run-through of what I have encountered and learned through the world of blogging over the past 16 months:
If you feel a little odd in terms of the things you like doing (thrift shopping and Make Do and Mend and environmental stuff and folk music and collecting lace, in my case) you will find that you are not alone once you get onto the internet! In your local area, your friends may have different tastes to you, and that is great – not a problem at all. But if you feel a bit weird, the internet will put you in touch with people remarkably similar to you, which is both exciting and reassuring. I am not so strange after all…
Whilst blogging could be quite superficial, in fact, most bloggers tend to be honest and thoughtful, given constraints such as my own, where I always want to be up-beat as my main aim is to cheer up my mum. Therefore, I have learnt through the discussions of their lives and the books they have recommended, more about my own life and behaviour (what Jane Austen praised as ‘self-awareness’) than I learnt in the previous 10 years together, I suspect.
Through bloggers and my own blogging, I have learnt that:
“The unconsidered life is not worth living.” This is something Socrates noted about 2500 years ago but it’s taken me this long to find it out for myself… sigh…
For me this has meant discovering that I have tended to rush through life ‘doing’, and not given much time to consider the things that are motivating me, and especially ignoring my feelings. This has often caused problems for my family because I’ve been completely unaware of mounting stress or irritability, caused maybe by pressure but maybe just by a headache or something as simple as hunger. I’ve learnt to step back and say to myself, ‘I feel a bit grotty, so I might snap at the next person who asks me for something’, and that way I’ve been prepared for my negative reaction, and learned to counter it with a more considered response. Honestly, it’s embarrassing that I got this far in life so thoughtlessly… So that’s a big plus for blogging! I think my family would agree.
I’ve also learned that true friends can be made through blogging. The MOPS book asks a question about how much you would actually want to spend real time with your online contacts, and for me the answer would be very positive – a number of bloggers have been very understanding and supportive about my mum’s illness and about many other issues, big and small. They have left blog comments but also emails, sent birthday presents and cards, handmade gifts and books which could help. They have become real friends just as ‘real’ friends would be! I’ve even met two of them.
Another big part of my life this year has been the Challenge of the Utmost Kind. This deserves a proper update in a full post of its own, but I’ll explain it to the MOPS ladies!

Is there a down-side? Of course there can be. Self-confidence and self-control are both needed to avoid:

Feeling that every other blogger has a perfect life and only yours is a ghastly mess (see my Reality Check, put in the sidebar when I realised that some readers mistakenly thought I had a tidy home and angelic offspring!)

Spending far too much time checking to see if anyone has left a comment, and who has recently posted. Turning the computer off is very effective, but surprisingly hard at first!Caring too much (or at all) if you don’t have many followers, or if a follower suddenly disappears (I’ve gone down two recently – what did I do? Well, maybe I didn’t do anything, maybe they just stopped their Blogger accounts. Let’s get a life, shall we?)
Leaving a comment in haste or even anger that offends another blogger or commenter. This is so important – in a particular forum I used to visit some years ago people clearly used their anonymity to become furiously abusive to people with different ideas. There is something wrong with people who do that, and it’s important not to care if a bit of that happens to us, but also to make sure we don’t accidentally get a little like that with other people. The blogging community we are a part of is incredibly thoughtful and caring, in comparison with many internet forums.
Feeling that life on the internet is the ‘real’ one, and that the actual one you’re stuck with is a disappointment. For me, far from feeling like that, being able to share the wonders of bringing up a family in the south of France with my mum and the rest of you has made me massively more appreciative of the blessings we have here. We’ve tried new things and visited new places just to be able to tell you about them, and it’s been great!

So, over to you, blogging friends. If you’re still here, can you let us know what you think about the pleasures and pitfalls of internet life? Your comments will really improve the MOPS session – I never like to do a talk ‘solo’!


Lalabibaby said...

What a lovely post Floss ... you have summed it up perfectly. I found blogging by accident and to me it means friendship, sharing, caring, learning and of course gives me something far more interesting to do than housework ;-) Good luck with your talk ... I am certain the ladies will be delighted x

Michela said...

Hello Floss!
Welcome to the blogging world to the MOPS ladies! Who could describe better than a teacher the blogging world? Everything you wrote is so true.
How is your mum? Any improvement?

Sarah said...

Can only reiterate what you said really. I stumbled into blogging through my business and as a self-employed person who runs a website only business - it can be lonely as I don't communicate verbally with my customers. Blogging has been great to strike up friendships and communication with like-minded people. Also to share ideas, interest and get a different perspective on things.
Good luck with it, I'm sure the talk will go well.

Maria said...

I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said Floss, I really do feel part of a community, but a community of people with very similay intrests who have such a wealth of knowledge. You were very supportive when i first started out in blogland, leaving ne comments etc and i really appreciate that, thank you :)

LissyLou said...

I really loved this Floss...i love blogging..its giving me more confidence and made me realise what i'd like to do with my life xx

Mrs Yappy Dog said...

Bonjour madams la MOPs out there! you won't believe it Floss but my library book Simple Abundance has been missing for 2 weeks, I decided to pay for it as I think it has been half inched. So sad I was really really enjoying it! thanks for advice on care of the cloth, that's two now so I can say I am a collector! The men here think these things are a bit daft but beautiful things should be seen so they will the occasional airing.

Cape Cod Rambling Rose said...

This is a true and wonderful post! I concur with you completely! I started blogging a few years ago, as I had been a stay at home mom for what seemed forever... my oldest child was 12yrs at the time and my younest was 2yrs. Because of the age gaps between my four children's birthdays, I have had a child at home with me at all times for over a decade! I was always meeting new mothers at school, but much of my time was still spent at home with a baby or toddler. That's when I decided to blog... and I realized that there were MANY other moms just like me. I felt an instant connection with other ladies in the same situation as me, many of them living far across the country, and even across the pond. It has been a joy "meeting" these ladies, learning new recipes, gleaning inspiration for new crafts, and learning about other cultures often through the eyes of my children's peers!

TheMadHouse said...

I think that is a really great post that sums things up really well. I started to record the summer I never thought I would have with the boys. It has steamrolled from there, it is my journal, my place. It means an awful lot to me, in both good and bad times

VintageVicki said...

You have put it very well. I too found blogging by accident - but I am so glad I did. I've got to 'meet' so many people who like the same thing as me - we've shared good times & bad.

I love reading what everyone has been doing - its like having a permanently new lovely magazine where every page is interesting.

BTW - yes to badges for scout blankets - let me know what sort of thing you'd like in return.

Mrs Yappy Dog said...

p.s. blogging has encouraged me to make and create things - before I had people to swap with I would never try make anything as nobody to give it to and to paint - I hadn't painted in years, but when bloggers encourage me and compliment my efforts I am spurred on to practice and can see an improvement in my efforts. Plus I am making sort of pen pals I guess who I am interested in and enjoy keeping up with - also less housework gets done but look what fun I am having!

Pom Pom said...

Hi Floss!
Blogging is such a gentle encouragement and a profound connection. I have felt my heart grow bigger as I read about other women and their precise focus on their callings. Callings to motherhood, homemaking, speaking out, creating, and so much more help my soul to stay responsive to the body of sweet souls that exists beyond my physical surroundings. Isn't it hard to explain? I find the insights and realizations quite holy. I love the way you share your life with others. We have MOPS here and it is a blessing to many, many sweet mothers.

maryannlucy said...

Great post. I started my blog as a journal, as life passes by so quickly it is easy for it to go by without being acknowledged, you know the kind of thing - being at work, head down and when you look up your daughter is almost old enough to leave home!! For me now it is about recognising what is important day by day. I may intend to post everyday and most times don't - oops - but I do catch myself noticing the small things that could be a post, and from that I am appreciating more of what my life is. And the other bloggers who comment, come by, become friends? well that is just a fabulous bonus that I never expected x

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Great post - very well put.

Elizabethd said...

Floss, what a lovely post. You sum up so much of the good, the comforting and the learning that one can find in blogging. I think I've always been a little bit fearful of the bad side, consequently dont reveal too much!

But I'm one of the fortunate ones who has met you, and you became a real person then!

Lola Nova said...

Wonderful! I think you covered a lot of my thoughts on blogging. When I got started, I really had no clue what an abundance of community I would feel and the encouragement to follow my passions. I have found that it is important to keep a balance and to shut off the computer, I don't want my child's memories to be filled with mommy attached to the computer :)

Overall, it has helped my creativity, my sense of self, and reminds me to find the beauty in the everyday details. It has re-kindled an interest in photography which I had long forgotten, brought me understanding of other countries and cultures, and has helped me feel less isolated as a parent.
Unfortunately, it has not improved my grammar nor my punctuation :)
Hope your mum is comfortable and I can't wait to hear how your talk goes!

Sherri B. said...

I appreciate so much about this post. It is very nice to know the story of how you started blogging. I think it is important to remember, as you stated, how important it is in the beginning to know someone is reading your posts. You where the first, I do believe, to encourage me and you kept checking back in and for that I will always be grateful. I was always nervous and so afraid that I would make a mistake, so knowing that others felt the same way is probably a good point for the beginner. Leaving comments on blogs made me uncomfortable but I made myself do it and still I feel I may ramble on at times (like right now) but I believe that we should make a habit of, at least occasionally, leaving a few words on the blogs we enjoy as that is how we develope new friendships...Anyone who would like to have a good model to follow need look no further than your lovely blog. Thank you for all of your kindness my friend.

Serenata said...

Why Blog? This is a good post Floss and I'm sure you will have great success at the meeting explaining it. So much of what you said rings true for me as well. I've been blogging since 2007, initially setting it up in the hope that my parents could keep up with what we are doing as we are so far away and for my Australian friend. I've only had a 'public' blog since last year, and it has opened up my world considerably in terms of discovering like minded, caring people. It gives me something positive to focus on as well as sharing common interests and I have made some really good friends and have met four lovely bloggers so far. One day I hope to meet you as well!

Joy said...

I'm with you Floss, when I started blogging I definitely had initial ideas of what I thought blogging was about, but quickly learned it takes on a life of its own. I intended mine to be about "green" matters and keeping out of town family updated. But I've figured out I only know so much about being green and said all I can say out it. Also, it is quite obvious that my family rarely even logs on to my blog. When I mention it they say what is the name of it again.... oh well. I love the community of believers that I have met all over the this planet. It's been encouraging to me spiritually. I also love that we can encourage each other thru tough times.
I'm so excited to hear there is a MOPS group in your area. I've done Moms In Touch for 6 years now and would trade it for the world. Please encourage your MOPS moms to seek out or start a MITI group if they aren't already in one. It will bless them so much.
♥ Joy

Joy said...

oops meant to say wouldn't trade it. not would...

♥ Joy

marigold jam said...

I agree with the others - this is a great post Floss. I found blogging by accident and unlike you I didn't know what it was till I'd been following one particular blog for a while. Through it I have found so many like minded people and it's amazing to be able to count as friends people all over the world who are all so supportive and helpful. I have been inspired to do more craftwork by seeing what some of the other bloggers have made and I have actually met up with one blogger and found her to be exactly as I expected. The downsides are spending too much time on the computer and not enough actually doing things. Constantly popping by to see if anyone loves my post or to see who's about and what they have to say. Trying to follow too many posts - there are hundreds out there and you could go quite made trying to keep up with everyone. I think you have put the case really well and I agree with all you said. I just wish I had known about it when we first moved to France and I missed my friends so much!

Good luck with your talk - I'm sure the mesdames will love it.


Sal said...

Hope it all goes well for you Floss! I bet they will all be setting up their own blogs before you know it!
Another blogger encouraged me to give it a go and so the least I could do was try to encourage other people!
Sadly,just lately,I've been very short of time so I've had to somewhat limit my blog visiting!
I'm glad you enjoy blog world!

Shabby Chick said...

Hi Floss, what a nice post. I think bloggers are some of just the most lovely people and yes it's wonderful to feel you're not so strange after all! You have been so supportive to others in turn, you left such a kind comment on my recent down post and I'm sorry I haven't said thank you before.

I started my blog as a record of what I've done, how the house has changed in the time since I started (although in blogging it has changed differently to how it would have if I had never got involved!). But I've continued it just as much for the contact with like minded people and inspirational crafters. I've made some great friends through blogging who I haven't met (yet) but I hope to one day.

Good luck with the talk! Mel xxx

The Curious Cat said...

This is such a well thought out post - every so often I'd go- Yes! I agree with that and I want to comment but now I've come to the end of it I'm going to have to go back and reread in order to do so... I think it is great how you can find likeminded people through blogging on the web. Sometimes in the past I have felt so alone with my interests and wished there were people out there I could be friends with who like similar things to would be so nice in life to have these people on my doorstep but blogging is the next best thing - and it is such a comfort to know that I'm not alone with my interests and there are people to talk to! There is so much inspiration and ideas out there on the net.

As for the reflective life...that is the beauty of writing and sharing...the more you do it, the more you realise you have so much to be thankful of. Of course you can paint a picture of only the good things in your life - and this should be the focus, so often we have such negative stories in the news, the blogging community offers an antidote to this - but invariably emotional moments and bad things do filter through and if you follow someone's blog regularly you will soon realise no one's life is is just what they allow you to see. Sharing the bad bits can also bring comfort and support in so many ways...

Of course there are the negative bits about blogging -trying to always keep up is my worst one! I want to share in what other people are doing and I find it so hard to reach out constantly but I do try...I've given up on trying to encourage followers so is too much of a full time job! You either like what you read or you don't...anyway..hope the talk goes well - I bet you've got LOADS to say! And I hope your mum is doing better? Lots of Love xxx

Angela said...

Blogging has brought so many new friends into my life - and I agree with so much of what you have said. I think there is a certain amount of self-discipline involved - not wasting time checking up on comments and reading other blogs. But there are lots of positives.
Realising that there are lots of other women with similar interess/feelings/anxieties to my own, and I am not limited to my little village is wonderful.
Above all, the encouragements and support and prayers and loving wishes have been brilliant, and far outweigh the occasional negative comment.
I am sure the Apostle Paul would have blogged [and certainly Priscilla and Lydia would have done - all about faith and fabric!]
Hope the talk goes well - blessings xx

CraftyHelen said...

Hi Floss - this was a very thought provoking post. I have been thrilled to 'meet' like-minded crafty souls. None of my RL friends get the handmade/thrifty thing. I am interested by your thoughts on 'superficial' comments. Would it sometimes be better not to comment, do you think?xx

The Curious Cat said...

oh my goodness - just looking back over some of my posts and found my own post on blogging and guess who I quoted?! Socrates -the same quote! Just goes to show how great minds think a like!!! Weird though hey?! xxx

andrea v said...

Interesting read, and you are to be commended for your honesty. I suppose my attitude to blogging is quite different to yours as I would rather have very few viewers as I find my privacy very important. What I have found fascinating tho', through my past few years using the net to communicate, through my art or whatever, is the instant connection I feel between some people and not others. Still I've always found the net to be an impersonal way to communicate and for this reason i keep a distance to a certain extent. All up, in my opinion blogs ( minus the irritating ones) are normally a great read, many are inspirational, and a great resource.
best wishes....

Sarah said...

Blogland is where I go to meet up with my creative friends. I don't really have many friends that are into sewing and the likes. I love the ideas you pick up on blogs. It's way better than any craft book I've seen. And the friendships I've made are just a huge bonus. My special friends really do live in this black box I call a computer. It's one of the best places to visit in the whole world!

Heloise said...

Interesting post and comments. I think there are many benefits to blogging, for me the main one is not feeling isolated. It is great to see others creativity, read about places that I will never get to see. Above all it is the friendships that come about.

Hope the talk goes well.

Maisey's Attic said...

Hi Floss - great post, and being new to blogging I've loved reading all the comments.

Lot of luck with the talk - xxx said...

I am so glad that I didn't miss this post Floss! ( I worry all the time about people thinking that I don't care if I miss their posts! I hate to think I miss posts, but practically I just can't help it!) I am really amazed how this blogging has become so real, in the sense that I feel really connected to the blogs I visit and the lovely people who write them, I really have made such good friends here! There are so many interesting people in blogland, and many times I feel like leaving it all, because I feel a real responsibility to it all, because of the very downsides that you refer to. But, I want to know what every one is getting up to! ANd when I have forced myself to not turn it on for a day (so I can get on with something else!) and find I have have missed something sad or important in someone's life, I feel so bad that I was not 'there' to give support! You really do find friendships here! MY unblogging friends think I am mad, and can't see how complete strangers , who have never met each other can become so close, but they can! WOnderful post Floss! Suzie xxxx

beck said...

Hi Floss! Another thought provoking post from you, fascinating and fun too. I love the fact you are helping others to learn about blogging. I was just saying today to a fellow blogger that there is a real lack of publications (books) about blogging. Alot is mentioned in the media about facebook but not much about blogland. I love doing my blog and reading updates from my bloggy friends, such as yourself. I love the connections, the humour, the support, the fun, colour & creativity. And I love to see into other people's worlds, all across this great planet of ours. One downside for me has been a local blogger who is very negative and uses her blog to be critical & judging of others. Not nice. But that is one tiny thing so I don't let it bother me. I hope your MOPS enjoy their blog lesson, hey, I am a MOP too. An Aussie one! Lots of love to you Floss, xoxoxo

mise said...

This is ever so interesting, and I think your audience will get insight into a creative, friendly world. I asked last year why people blog, as I was thinking about why I blog myself, and I was impressed by the range of responses (here they are:

I wish I could be there for your talk!

Miss said...

Thank you Floss for a fantastic talk yesterday at MOPS, it was interesting to hear about how to blog, but really fascinating to discover all that you have got out of bloging, the friendships with like minded people, and being able to encourage each other. When life calms down with 3 small children I will definitely be giving it a go!
And this is the website I mentioned that I thought you'd be interested in and I shall be checking out the charity shops for buttons next Thursday! Thanks so much for joining us, we'd love you to come again soon, love Jackie xxx

A Bun Can Dance said...

Wow, Floss, what a fabulous post! This is really thought provoking, and so very honest too.
For me, blogging is largely about telling a story - which is why I can't imagine doing twitter - I love the whole story, words and pictures - I love reading the stories and writing them. Talking of which, the instant audience response is so very exciting and it makes me share my words and thoughts with people so much more than I might otherwise.
I certainly do think of people as blogfriends, and often I feel I know more about other bloggers than I do some of my 'real life' friends, simply because we all share so much here in this virtual playground.
As a finger-twitching creative soul, blogging has made my imagination explode like a roman candle firework! There are so many amazing images of creativity in the blogging world that I just LOVE to be inspired by you all !!
I do admit that there are times when my self esteem is on the low ebb, and seeing all the beauty: homes, creativity, etc etc in blogland can be rather disconcerting.... in these times I've tended to think everyone else is more creative than I am!!
Having given myself a bit of distance in blogland by avoiding the obsessive visiting/commenting routine, I feel better about my creativity and certainly more in tune with what is right for me.
I am rabbiting on here, Floss - typical of one of your provoking posts!!
But my last point is this: I've never felt obliged to blog, I know some bloggers express their guilt if they've been away for a week/month - but for me, I blog because I want to and when I want to - we have to be free to blog, rather than feeling we should meet our readers expectations, don't you think?
I shall definitely stop now,
Sending you lots of love,
Denise x

Purrfect Haven said...

.. hello there Floss, thank you for this post. It is the most wonderful one. I won't, indeed can add no more to the super comments above about my own expereinces and love of blogging (mostly up and rarely down) though I would like to take this moment to thank Denise at Abuncandance for being both inspiration and guide to my blogging life, as I woudn't be here without her (x). Floss, the link to your post is winging its way to friends and colleagues all over the place, who have expressed interest and wonder at blogging, with a little prompt and introduction to your posts and bloggeLand in general. Thank you for expressing it ALL. Love Helen x