I am a rule follower in most areas of my life. But not in the blogging world. I don’t proofread (and I make lots of typos!:) ). I fail to spend time formatting pictures. And I’ll post multiple times in a day. Furthermore, I am absolutely horrendous at following the guidelines for awards (although I am eternally grateful to those of you who have graciously sent them my way). However, there is one blogging tradition that I feel like I just have to honor – the year in recap, especially since the one year anniversary of my blog coincides with the conclusion of 2012.
So, here goes – a look back at Lessons From the End of a Marriage 2012. I apologize in advance if I get this wrong. Again, I don’t follow the blogging rules so well:)
Last December, I spent some time with my friend Christian. I showed him the outline of the book which I had started two years prior and had just committed to finishing. He recommended that I start a blog as a way of pre-marketing the book. I knew nothing about blogging, so I downloaded two Kindle books on the subject – one free and one $.99 – and I set up my WordPress site that afternoon. I set a goal of posting at least three times a week, but I was intimidated by the thought of coming up with that many ideas.
I didn’t need to worry. The ideas just began to flow and I found myself posting daily. I found a rhythm of writing in the mornings and jotting down ideas throughout the day in a small spiral notebook I kept in my purse (no iPhone yet:) ). I started following other blogs and found myself pleasantly surprised at the supportive WordPress community. I was still working on the book and the blog was a great place to explore ideas and solidify the themes.
I experimented with Facebook and Twitter and tweaked my blog settings. I never really knew what I was doing; I simply did what felt right in the moment. Looking back, some of the posts makes me giggle and some make me cringe. But I’ll leave them – they are part of the history.
I learned the humor inherent in seeing how people found my site. My favorite search terms?
- lisa arends bigamy (This one always makes me giggle. I’m not the bigamist! 🙂 )
- monkey lifting weights (because of this post)
- shaved monkey (that would be this one – I guess my monkey mind titles are a little strange:))
- how to get away with bigamy (please – just say no!)
- happy birthday to my car (I felt weird when I wrote that title, but I guess I’m not the only one)
- goddess flexibility pics (uhmm…thanks but I’m no goddess and I’m not very flexible)
- math show sole (????)
- squish bikini (eww! there is a pic on here of me in a bikini, but I don’t consider myself to be super squishy)
- crying is okay here (yes it is)
- the joy of outdoor showering (I know I love it)
- who did mrs wayne dyer marry (I would hope Mr. Wayne Dyer)
I went into blogging with the idea of promoting a book. I had no idea that it (and writing) would become an inherent part of my life.
The Big Time
As I made my way into the blogging world, I found myself commenting on sites all over the net. Huffington Post was a frequent visit of mine and I often found that the articles in their “divorce” section spurred my own ideas, which I frequently left on their page. Then, in April, much to my surprise, I was asked to write a piece for them sharing my story.
And, oh what a ride that was. The piece went viral, sending over 20,000 visitors to my site in two days. It was cross-posted around the world in a variety of languages. The comments poured in. Most were shocked. Many were supportive. And some were hateful.
It was a strange feeling. Until that point, I had a relatively small and insular group of readers. I had kept my name hidden (thus stilllearning2b). My readers were supportive and understanding. The readers of Huff Post? Not so much. This was a crossroads for me – I had to decide if I wanted to pull back or go full force with my story, not knowing what the repercussions would be and having to thicken my skin in the process.
I think my choice is evident. I remembered my motivation to share in the first place – I didn’t want anyone to feel alone in their journey as I once did. I kept writing, adding more Huffington pieces and adding MindBodyGreen and others to the list.
By the end of July, the book was finally finished and ready to be published. I wondered if I would still feel the compulsion to write now that the project was complete. Again, I had nothing to worry about.
This period was when I really began to identify as a writer. I decided to be transparent in the process and share my story of self-publishing and writing for Huffington Post. The completion of the book also put me in a different place emotionally, and my posts began to focus more on present day rather than with wrestling demons from the past.
Things exploded in the early fall. Another Huffington article went viral and I began to be contacted almost daily by producers. Most offers fell flat for one reason or another, but The Jeff Probst Show became a reality in September. It. Was. Surreal.
I had already exposed my identity to the internet, but now my “teacher persona” and “blogger persona” met for the first time. My coworkers read my book and approached me in the halls, giving me sympathetic hugs. My student’s parents sent me encouraging emails and engaged in whispered conversations at school events.
My little blog project wasn’t so little any more and it had grown well beyond what I could control. There was some anxiety associated with being so “out there.” It’s not always easy to have strangers comment on your life, your feelings and your actions.
I keep coming back to this. Every time I ponder pulling back, I receive an email or comment that helps me recommit to sharing. I have been so touched, so humbled and so inspired by the messages I receive or the posts I read from others who are surviving their own tsunamis. Additionally, I have found that writing reminds me of what I have in my life; it makes me grateful for what is rather than bitter for what was lost. I no longer feel alone. I am amazed at the supportive community that is all around us if we are willing to be vulnerable and show our pain. You guys are awesome:)
I am a planner by nature. It is somewhat uncomfortable for me to accept that I don’t know what 2013 will bring. So here’s to letting go of expectations, staying in the moment, practicing gratitude and sharing the love:) I wish all of you the happiest of new years!