Hello? Anyone Out There?

Hello?  Anyone out there?  I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked.  I’ll totally understand if what I have to say floats out there like a balloon freed from the wrist of a toddler.  It floats freely, lazily, disappearing eventually.  None notice and none remember.

I’m okay with that.

After all, since my very long digital silence, I’ve come to one conclusion:  I must write for me and only for me.  Anything else is pandering to a crowd that likely doesn’t exist.

I’m okay with that.

Those Little Breaks in Life: Give Yourself Permission to Take One…or Two

There’s part of me that wants to call out in a high pitched, annoying, nasally voice, “I’m baaaaack!”, but how cliché is that? Instead, I just say I feel like doing it, instead of really doing it.  If you are a detail person, you’ve noticed that the last post before this one was dated April 6.  If you’re a relational person and you liked The Wild Mind, then you noticed I haven’t been writing and you missed me.

j0442825I Took A Little Break from Blogging

Well, not so little.  It was a big enough break to get me kicked off some of those rating sites and blog lists since I didn’t post anything in over 30 days.  It was a big enough break for me to finish up the onslaught of work projects, demands and deadlines I had going during the first half of this year. It was a big enough break to give me time to rethink things. A lot of things. Continue reading

The Beautiful Blogger Award

Beautiful-Blogger-Award-from-BLW

I received this beautiful award from my favorite blogger Big Little Wolf at her Daily Plate of Crazy!  This humbles and delights me for so many reasons.   

If you write it, they will come, is a saying I use when I think of blogging in general.  I don’t know if it is true, but it seems that the most successful bloggers write something every single day.  In particular, this truth applies to my own blog.  My stats go way up when I write.  When I don’t write, well, the stats reflect my absence by reporting an absence of visitors to my blog. It’s the reality of blogging, but as every blogger knows, the writing is the easy part.  Assuming the writing is decent, all other things being equal, what makes or breaks a blog is visitors who comment.  Well, that is, if you are actually writing for an audience instead of talking to yourself online. 

I’m not really much of a blogger. I admit it.  No, that’s not a self-effacing comment, it really is true.  I don’t know a thing about SEO, I don’t pay attention to optimizing my posts, my titles or my subtitles.  I don’t even write daily, and there are many, many people out there who write far better than I do.  I can take it.  It’s the truth.  It doesn’t mean I’m a poor writer (though, I’m definitely sloppy at times), but I have no grand illusions about my ability.  As for the blogging end of it, I neither have time and knowledge (yet) to do what it takes to drive traffic to my blog in big numbers.  Because of all this, it is especially rewarding when someone comments on my blog about something that resonated with them.  It is even more gratifying when I get a blog award from someone who enjoys what I write.  It is completely humbling to receive an award from someone I admire so much. 

So, Big Little Wolf, thank you so much for the award.  It means a great deal to me to even be read by you let alone considered a Beautiful Blogger!  I’m incredibly pleased and humbled. You are, to me, one of the most beautiful people I know. So, again, thank-you.

Now, as for who to pass this award on to?  That’s going to take some time and thought.  There are so many beautiful bloggers out there to choose from!

Elton John, Weather, and Oops! There Goes The Last of My Sun

 “Don’t let the sun go down on me”…

album-elton-john-greatest-hitsI can hear those words now just as I heard them during the summers of my childhood blaring out of the community swimming pool loudspeakers. I haven’t heard them in a while. Those old Elton John lyrics are running through my mind this morning.  Southern Oregonians this last week experienced a beautiful week of sunny weather in the high 60’s to mid 70’s.  It was a definite precursor to the wonderful sunny and dry weather we usually enjoy during our summers.  Contrary to popular folklore, not all parts of Oregon are soaked in rain most of the year.  I live in one of the sunnier regions.  Less populated for sure, but it’s worth the wonderful warm dry summers and mild winters and the year round outdoor activities we enjoy. 

sunshineblogaward1 This morning, however, the weather abruptly changed.  Lower temps and some rain welcomed me upon waking.  I figure now is probably as good a time as any (and probably long overdue) for me to reveal my last three picks for the Sunshine Award.

There is one particular blogger I especially enjoy.  She’s the first I check on my iPhone, when I do have time to check and won’t risk being interrupted.  She’s an excellent writer and she’s set the bar for me in writing, blogging, and enduring all of life’s craziness in stride.  Hopefully a stiletto adorned stride, but in stride none the less.  She’s an amazing person and if it fits within the parameters of the Sunshine Award to receive it twice then BigLittleWolf at Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy gets it from me for sure!  C’mon, she should win the award for her blog title alone, but read her stuff.  She writes daily and it is never the same ole, same ole.  I love this woman.  

Next on the list is a fun foodie mom with a big blog I like to visit called, The Kitchen Witch.  She cracks me up and, well, one of these days I’ll try one of her recipes…maybe.  Those burgers she had posted today looked pretty delish.  I’d rather use her personal chef services but, well, post divorce finances and all, I’m going to have to just suck it up and learn to cook.  Ugh.  But seriously, go check her out if you haven’t already.  The picture on her blog is hysterical! Are you kidding me?  Who would think to do that?  Props for that!  I think TKW already got this award from someone somewhere but WTH she’s getting it again.   

The third source of sunshine for me on this day (oh, my the sun really is coming out again!) is a new blog for me.  Not a single mom blog, but definitely a fun read is Gabrielle at The Wifey Blogs. She’s funny, and takes me back to the days when my own children were young.  She’s starting out on some amazing adventures in her young married life and you can read about it all at her blog. She’s also got an amazing blog roll so when you get done reading Gabrielle’s stuff you can go visit the many other amazing bloggers she’s listed there.  I intend to do just that, even though for me it could take thousands of years and cost millions of lives.  

So, that wraps it up for the Sunshine Awards, for me, anyway.  Whew! Now, blog friends and award winners, go spread your own bit of sunshine by awarding this award to ten other bloggers of your choosing.  I look forward to visiting you and those wonderful sunny bloggers you pick.  Enjoy the sun while it lasts! 

The Next Installment of Sunshine

sunshineblogaward1 This next installment of The Wild Mind’s picks for the Sunshine Award, will, like the last be completely astounded that they received an award from me.  They will likely not even know I’ve been reading them and, well, an award from me to them really isn’t going to change their blogging world all that much.  However, since the whole point of this venture is for me to name others that have shone a little light in my world, I’m picking them whether they like it or not. Hopefully, they like it instead of not.

The first up tonight is Amy Whitley, over at The Never True Tales.  Incredibly fun to read her anecdotes of life with young children is really enjoyable to me.  Plus, I really like her writing style and her blog layout and, yeah, the title doesn’t hurt her blog any either.  I have The Never True Tales on my iPhone and I read her whenever I can.  Good times.  Go see for yourself!

My next pick for the evening is another fun mommy blogger who’s been on my blog roll for quite some time. In fact, she was one that I crossed paths with early on in my blogging efforts.  She’s Mir at Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.  She’s funny, creative, and she’s traveled the divorce route like I have.  She’s now remarried and writing about her adventures in her own heartwarming way.  She makes me laugh and inspires me to keep going though I really can’t hold a candle to her (and many of these other bloggers I esteem) in the writing department.  Well…at least not yet.  Just wait.  I will grow up into my writing self someday.

New to my blog roll is a single gal who certainly has it going on.  Jolene at To Be Determined shares her single journey in a candid, honest, forthright manner.  It is like reading her personal journal and that’s pretty fun.  I find that her experiences in the dating world are similar to my own though we have some very different demographics between us.  I hope you’ll consider paying her a visit or two or three.

laugh My last notable of the evening is Mrs.. Squirrel over at Hollow Squirrel.  She is really one of the very first mom bloggers I stumbled upon in my web wanderings.  She makes me laugh till I hurl every time I read her.  She isn’t afraid to call it like it is.  I love her blog.  I hope you will too.

That’s seven of the ten Sunshine Awards announced.  Stay tuned for the final three sometime later this week.

P.S.  Really, I’m not intentionally dragging this out, but it’s killing me to do this and get an entire household ready for a week, not that I mind.  I actually love having the privilege, but I have to budget my time.  I’ve got to do some lesson planning somewhere in here too.  Oh and dinner, yeah.  Somehow I’ve also got to figure out what I can quickly destroy for dinner tonight.

Blog Makeover or Multiple Blog Personalities?

I was really getting tired of the Motion theme from WordPress.  It was kind of interesting to me at first, but it was beginning to wear on me.  Further, I cannot find any of the ready-made themes that I like anymore.  They all seem too limiting to me or they don’t quite seem to have all the little gadgets or goodies I want.  This all leads me to conclude that I’m probably outgrowing the WordPress hosted themes and am going to have to move my blog over to my own domain.  Yes, foreseeing this possible future, I’ve already purchased a domain name.  This is not a project that I can even consider tackling right now.  This theme, Vigilance, will simply have to do for now.  It is, at least, not as annoying as Motion was becoming. 

I’m providing this merely as an explanation for the complete blog theme schizophrenia you have observed here of late. 

Carry on.

Awards, Recognition, Reality & Paying It Forward

sunshineblogaward1

Sometimes life is funny and when you least expect it, it happens.  Whatever “it” is.

I was gifted with my first blog award by my friend Amber over at  Making The Moments Count.  To be honest, she completely blew me away with this!  She awarded me with The Sunshine Award.  She mentions in her post that I pose questions that make her think. I’m pleased that what I write resonates at some level with someone.  On a more personal and direct level, thank-you, Amber for letting me know in such an affirming and public way that my Random Musings means something to you.  Your appreciation means more to me than the award itself.  Thank you!

Reality

I’ve long desired to be recognized as a blogger, but I’ve also been realistic in my thinking.  I don’t have the time available to me each day to really do the kind of consistent search engine optimized writing every day that I need to be doing in order to really be an award winning blogger.  This post is likely a good example of what I’m talking about as I’m writing it at nearly 11 in the evening after a full day at work with kids and then a full evening at home with my own children. I won’t edit effectively, I know.  I get that I can’t devote all my time to blogging and it shows.   I’m also not so certain I am the next  J.K. Rowling or John Grisham of the blogging world.  So be it.  I have to write to please me instead of for other reasons at this time of my life.  I’d given up whatever fleeting hope I had of being recognized in the blogosphere.  And then…Amber.

I’m so honored that I was noticed and recognized by another bloggy friend in spite of the fact that I can only visit and comment sporadically on her posts (or anyone else’s for that matter these days).  I am especially amazed that I received it given that I don’t write daily and blogging is such an  “if you write it they will come” sort of endeavor. 

Recognition

Amber has given me the gift of a positive recognition for something I do that she appreciates.  When she gave out the award, she didn’t just say I was great or that she loved my stuff.  She specifically named what I did that meant something to her. 

Think kids or dogs are the only ones who appreciate some positive recognition and attention?  No way!  I’ve basked privately in this one for the last week (or has it been longer?) since she awarded it.  It means something to me. It means something to me to know that something I thought and took the effort to put in print resonated with someone else.  It especially means something to me that it resonated with Amber, because when I read her blog, I read myself, 19 years ago or maybe 17, with two young girls and I feel all the same things all over again.  Mostly the fatigue!  I’m so grateful I could impact her life positively if only to question, to challenge, to stimulate thinking, because I sure can’t help with babysitting, though, if we lived closer together, I’d certainly be glad to help! 

Paying It Forward

j0430681 Amber received something from my writing and she paid it forward by letting me know.  Now it is my turn to pay ten other bloggers the compliment.  I will be paying it forward in the next few days (I am preparing for a big presentation at a state conference while also preparing for a professional development class for educators next week so, please, be patient). 

Further, I’m going to encourage my readers to consider paying it forward positively as well.  Have you had someone do something or say something that mattered to you in the last week or month.  Has someone done something or demonstrated some quality or skill that you admire?  Has someone made your life better, easier, more joyful in some way?  I encourage you to take a moment and let them know.  It could be that the positive response from you is just the thing they need to hear at just the right moment. 

If it matters to you…if it resonated with you…if it made you think or impacted you …won’t you let the person know?  I’m certain they’d appreciate knowing that their contribution to this thing we call life didn’t go unnoticed.

Procrastinatory Paring and Sharing

So, today, in my usual procrastinatory (is that even a word) I decided to go through each of  the links on my blog roll in an attempt to clarify two things.  First, I wanted to see if the bloggers were even still active.  I mean, no good sending you to someone really cool who hasn’t written anything really cool since last year…or the year before.  I hate that when that happens!  I find a blogger I love reading then realize I’m reading something that happened years ago and this person, for all digital intents and purposes, no longer exists. I usually figure this out after I’ve posted a comment only to realize that the last person that commented commented over a year earlier.  Yeah, doltish, really.  I’d like to spare the handful of readers who do troll silently through my musings here the angst of that experience. 

The other thing I’m trying to do is pare down the blog roll.  When I first started this blog (has it been a year and a half already?), I put people on that were interesting to me then.  I had goals, kinda sorta, in mind for what I wanted this place to be and those people made my blogroll because they seemed to fit the criteria for the kind of resource I wanted to provide my readers.  Yeah, well…things change over time.  Bloggers change, their blogs change, goals change, life changes, we change and I have definitely changed over the last year and a half…I think. Yeah, I have.  I’m still sorting a lot of stuff out and trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up and where I want to be doing it, with whom I want to be doing it, why I want to be doing it are still all up for grabs (well, mostly) but some things have been sorted.  The upshot of the sorting is that I’ve decided that I only want certain folks on my blog roll.  I have reasons for this.

No! No!  It isn’t because I have these elitest, exclusivist or exclusionary tendencies (like some of those really big name blog-for-a-living types that I’m really jealous of because I haven’t made their blogroll yet let alone produced a blog like theirs, but okay!).  It is because I think  it simply reveals WAY TOO MUCH of my ADD tendencies when I have stuff from all over the universe listed that has nothing to do with anything I’m doing here.  Not that I’m doing anything here that is even remotely relevant to the real meaning of life, but it’s sorta fun for me…most of the time.   Even so, I think it is time for this little bloggy to grow up a bit and look a little more…um….what’s the word I’m looking for…respectable?  Ordered?  Thought out?  Put together?  I don’t know…something like that. 

I have a really easy way of determining if I want someone to stay on my blog roll.  If I know them in real life and they are a family member or close friend, they’re automatically in.  Well, unless they request not to be.  That’d tell me something now wouldn’t it?  If  they are just someone out there in the blogosphere then they have to meet two criteria:

  • they have to be posting regularly and recently.
  • I have to get the “I want to be like that when I grow up!” reaction when I read them.

Oh, wait, there’s a third…

  • they have to be on a topic that I perceive my readers (whoever they are because they don’t often identify themselves but I know they are there because my stats say so unless the stats lie!)  would be interested in.  I’m still trying to sort all that out.

Anyway, there you have it.  The reason why some of you might find your names missing on the blog roll and why others will find they’ve been added.  Mostly those who have been deleted so far are folks who aren’t writing anyway and probably don’t care.  If I deleted you and you do care, post a comment.  Everything’s fixable, well, mostly everything.  If you wander in and like what you read, let me know.  If you have a blog and you’d like to be added let me know that too.  I’d be glad to visit your place and take a look around.

Off I go to peruse postings and look at links while avoiding adult responsibilities like laundry, dishes and dealing with other diverse forms of dirt.  I’ve come across a few great bloggers who still rate and need a shout out.  Well, they don’t need it, they are mostly doing fine without my recognition.  I need it, because what they said, how they said it, what they experienced, resonated with me in a way that I feel is worth voicing.  Look for me to share these folks with you in the days to come.  I hope you’ll visit them and find them interesting too!

Blog365 Challenge: Blog Vitamins or The Death Knell?

Alright, I’m in, I suppose.  I can’t believe I’m doing this!  We’ll see how it goes.

I stumbled across this Blog 365 Challenge at http://blog365.ning.com/.  The challenge is to blog every day for a year.  Okay, I guess.  Like a sucker I decided to go for it.  Probably not a smart thing to do considering I’m feeling pretty stale in my writing these days and pretty discouraged about it all.  I mean, there are some really cool blogs out there and, well, mine’s not one of them…yet.  It could be like blog vitamins, this one a day thing or it could spell the death knell for my blog.

But then I tell myself, “Self, you didn’t start this blog thing to take the world by storm, you started this for you so you could practice and get more confident about writing.” 

“Yeah, yeah.  I suppose,” I reply back impatiently, thinking all the while that I’m not sure I’m any more confident and I’m only a little better…sigh. 

What I know is this, to write the good stuff, the stuff that’s thoughtful, intelligent and actually meaningful which might hopefully spark some discussion takes time and that time, at least for me, doesn’t occur in large enough quantities on a daily basis.  Therefore, writing every day is almost becoming a death knell since the only thing I can do is something random and unplanned, like this.   My time doesn’t exactly free up when I go back to school in the fall either.  Oh, what have I done??????

But this Blog 365 was something different and if I don’t make it, who cares? Right? 

I’ll care, I know I will.  I’m just like that.

Kip’s Challenge

My last little benign (or so I thought) post elicited some pointed discussion from a long time reader, Kip. I encourage you to scroll back read the post and his comments and my initial response.  His follow up comment, I will deal with here.  He’s been enough of a burr under my saddle ( I do mean that affectionately)  to earn his own post in response to his last comment.

First his entire comment:

Yes, well, there’s no mystery about the hose attraction, is there? When in doubt, introduce prurience and the mob will take it from there (present company included).

And drama, well, of course. That’s why we read novels and go to plays and watch the tube and if we can’t find it there we create our own.

I expect you’ll keep doing with this blog what you’ve been doing all along. Doing your brain dumps, sifting and sorting the experience of your life, putting it out there for better or worse. Which is fine. But what do you really really want to achieve by doing this in a blog? What role to you want your audience to play, if any? If you want them to acknowledge their presence by talking back, you’re darn well gonna have to provoke them. Get out the big guns. Start spilling out the things we all think about but never say. The things we all want but never acquire. The things we’ve all suffered in silence. Sex, love, death, money. All the biggies. You go girl, I’ll be watching.

*The Wild Mind raps her fingers on the desk in a monotonous pattern while staring pensively at Kip’s comments*

I expect you’ll keep doing with this blog what you’ve been doing all along. Doing your brain dumps, sifting and sorting the experience of your life, putting it out there for better or worse. Which is fine. But what do you really really want to achieve by doing this in a blog?

I originally began this blog to play with writing.  My goals for writing were to improve my writing and to play with a variety of topics and approaches.  This I stated up front.  Another goal, though unstated, was to improve my confidence in my own writing.  I have achieved both these goals to some degree though they are goals that are by nature never completely achievable. While it might not show it here, my writing in other venues has improved tremendously to the point that I am routinely called on to write and edit materials others create before they go to print.  My confidence in my ability to write has improved as well.  Writing for an audience and getting audience feedback albeit sporadically through this blog was a bonus.

I admit, I do not write to intentionally arouse debate or discussion.  I have reasons for this.  Reasons I am scrutinizing myself right now.  It is true that comments are the life of a blog.

Another added benefit of writing on this blog was the sifting sorting process I undertook which Kip refers to in his comment.  Unplanned but valuable to me personally.  I don’t apologize for that, because in the end I don’t write to please others here, I write for my own purposes. I have achieved those purposes with this blog so far.  If it seems less than interesting or meaningful to others based on the presence or absence of comments or interesting content then so be it.  This is my personal journey and it has been valuable to me to sort through the crap I’ve encountered along the way in this format.  Whether I continue in this vein is something I’m weighing.  If I do, I will have achieved my own humble purposes in doing so, audience participation or not.  I am decisively undecided about the direction I want to go with this.

Kip brings up a good point.  What the hell is my purpose here?  Writers generally always write for a purpose. What is mine?  It is a fair question and one I must address.

Next….

What role to you want your audience to play, if any? If you want them to acknowledge their presence by talking back, you’re darn well gonna have to provoke them.

I haven’t decided about this either.  Provoking kind of puts me on the line and I’m not sure I want to take the heat…I’m also not sure I don’t want to either. It is an investment in time and energy which quite frankly I’m not entirely certain I have loads of either to invest in order to present a quality forum.  Certainly not on a daily schedule for sure.  Again, I’m pondering this direction too.

It seems the real question here is not can I or do I want to take the heat, it is, am I up for the mental challenge?  Face it.  It just requires some clarity of thought and some conviction.  While I at times have both of these in spades, I’m not sure I want to put it out there just yet.  On the other hand, maybe it is time I quit lurking in the sidelines and really begin to bring it.

Sigh. This is almost as painful as deciding what to do for a graduate research project.

Start spilling out the things we all think about but never say. The things we all want but never acquire. The things we’ve all suffered in silence. Sex, love, death, money. All the biggies.

Now this is the most interesting thing you’ve said yet.  By that I mean, this is the the statment that has me staring blankly at the screen pondering…pondering…pondering.

Because…

Because if they are the things we all think about but never say there is a reason we never say them!  Maybe they shouldn’t be said? Maybe they can’t be articulated adequately.  Or maybe it would be very healthy to say them. 

And, yes, there is a bit of the chickensh*t in me that says I really don’t want to face the heat!

I get that there’s a challenge that’s been laid down.  Picture me quizzically analyzing said challenge, weighing the costs in terms of time to research, write and respond and then where to focus in light of the many other things I’m also considering.  Plus, there is the knowledge that even after a great deal of time and energy expended my efforts will be lame and weak at best. 

You see, in the end, it isn’t an issue of the quality of writing here, it is a reflection of the quality of my thinking and it is this component I am evaluating and dealing with right now. I simply cannot write anything of quality if I’m not thinking those really wild thoughts and these days, thinking is tough when just as I’m beginning to formulate a thesis statement I’m beset with sibling rivalries, dirty laundry, leaves in the pool and the eternally nagging question of what to fix for dinner.  I hate it, but it is my reality for now.  While I’m fighting it ever so valiantly, sometimes it all just gets me stuck.

Then again, maybe I am just the little podunk cowgirl who really doesn’t have the mental abilities to tango with the big boys. 

Okay, now them’s fightin’ words!

And now, after reading this post,  you must have no doubt that the moniker, “The Wild Mind”, refers not to the bizarre quality and content of the thoughts occurring within said Mind, but instead to the undisciplined and untamed nature of that Mind.