Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

B is for Blogging and Balance

So… I never got my other post up for A, and I am letting it slide.  Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day… and after a backslide into winter weather, i was ready to get out and enjoy some sunshine.  So… late on the B post too.  *But* the lateness ties right in to my belated blog post!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about blogging… and the purpose of this blog… and how that fits into everything else that is important to me. I’ve spent the past year trying to figure out how to ration my blogging time and make it beneficial for both my readers and myself.

Basically, that is one of the areas I will be addressing this month. Yesterday I was working on a post about being an ambassador… and how I communicate my beliefs and priorities. This blog is one vehicle for that communication.  I am planning on spending the month expounding some on what is important to me and what I am musing on at the moment… and you are invited to join in, offer comments, and see if you want to stick around after the challenge!

I would also love to know how you balance your blogging with the rest of your life.  For me… it is all so tied in with other issues… trust, disclosure, making good use of my time, taking time for me (and what the best way to do that is).  I don’t feel like I have a great balance of any of that… and I’d love to hear your thoughts on balancing blogging with everything else you juggle in life!

A to Z Revisited

 

Last April I stumbled upon a new blogging challenge from Arlee @ Tossing it Out — to blog through the alphabet in April.  As a fairly new blogger, I was not sure I was up to the challenge.  I made it, and made many new blog friends along the way.  If you have a blog or have thought of starting a blog, consider joining in on this years’s challenge!  The challenge has exploded — so far nearly 400 people have signed up so far!  Arlee and the crew who are helping him orchestrate the contest would love to have 500 bloggers joining in the challenge.

My goal is to start posting a bit more between now and April — I’ve been slacking on keeping up a presence on the Internet!  I am so looking forward to reconnecting with some bloggers I got to know last year and discovering some new blogs and friends this year.  I hope you’ll join in!

Multitude Monday: 1000 Gifts #36-55

I didn’t even post this last week… and have spent too much of the past week struggling to be grateful.  I was glad to see that I had a draft of what I meant to post last week… it helped remind me of nice moments.  That is one of the many reasons I am glad I am doing this.

Continuing with the list of things I am grateful for… with Ann and the gratitude community…

36) My imaginative little boy who makes robots out of grocery store boxes

37) Shopping sprees to buy Christmas gifts for others

38) Wind-blown leaves

39) Multi-generational cooking over Thanskgiving weekend

40) The cousins we live close enough to for my little boy to see them semi-regularly…

41)… and the ones that live far away that we still keep up a good connection with

42) Christmas music

43) the way a Christmas tree makes a room cozier just by turning on the lights (even if it is hard to capture on the camera)

44) family movie nights snuggled under blankets eating popcorn

45) being able to go to the symphony’s holiday concert…

46)… and watch my little boy be enthralled once more by music.  He loved it… even though it was a long and late night for him.

47) Christmas ornaments that remind me of how far we’ve come…

48)… and of old friends…

49) or that are from times I can barely remember… because my mom cared enough to save them for me (I made this one when I was my son’s age)

50) Watching my son put them on the tree… even when they are clumped together in typical preschool fashion (and even with a lump in my throat realizing how much taller he is from *last* Christmas)

51) And realizing that he already knows that Christmas is about more than getting new toys…

52) The silence of being up at night after everyone else is sleeping.

53) Snow flurries

54) Listening to kids at church practicing a song they will be singing in a few weeks

55) An internet connection… because otherwise how would I be writing this blog?  (And for many, many other reasons)

NaBloPoMo and end of November thoughts…

Well, this is my last post for NaBloPoMo. I am impressed that I made it every day (even if yesterday just ended up being 1/2 of what I wanted it to be!). I am glad I participated if only because I met some interesting bloggers along the way. I am going to have to go back and hunt for some more when I am not so focused on figuring out what to blog about every day!

I’ve also liked being able to focus on thankfulness.  There have been several days when I have not felt very thankful… and probably even a few when thankfulness didn’t make it into my blog post for the day… but focusing on thankfulness this month has helped me find the little things to be thankful for in the midst of tough days or challenging situations.  I am glad that I am going to be able to continue that focus through linking up with The Gratitude Community on Mondays (even though I ran out of time and never finished my post for yesterday… I’ll just have an extra long one next week!).   I’ve (re)learned that although it is not always easy to be thankful in all circumstances, there is almost always something to be thankful for, even in tough circumstances.

I’ve started thinking a little more about why I am blogging.  Blogging was originally a way for me to get out updates about family… or just try to make some sense of a rapidly changing life.  It is faster than handwritten journaling… but more public as well… and I struggle with the same issues that I suppose any writer does.  Am I writing to get recognition (in the form of comments if nothing more)?  Am I writing to feel like I am part of a community?  Is my blog truly showing who I am… and would I write it even if no one was reading?  I keep thinking of a book I read in college on writing and some of the dilemmas inherent in writing about life.  I probably should re-read that book.  I’ve also skimmed and been thinking on a post I read about blogging as a Christian.  Hmm… lots to think of.  I’m sure some will make it on here.

Looking forward to December as a time for family… a time to share some of my family’s traditions with you readers and make some new traditions as well.  I am glad I will not be blogging every day… but I am grateful for the pattern I have found in blogging several days a week and hope to continue that.  Thanks to all of you who have gone on this journey with me, whether you commented or not.

Here are a few blogs I’ve added to my Google Reader over the last month. Not all are NaBloPoMo participants but all are wonderful bloggers!  I am thankful for all of them, and hoping to be able to read and respond more in depth after taking some time off during the last week or so of holiday craziness.

Filed under Soul Care in my Google Reader if that tells you anything…

Food & Weight Loss (hey, for me they are somewhat related… though they are categorized separately in Google Reader)

Simple Life

When my husband and I first married, we had no choice but to live frugally. I was grateful that I had learned so much from my mom (who raised a family of 6 on one income) about couponing and rebates.. but moreso that my parents taught me the value of buying only what you need.   I’ve learned over the years that it is important for us to be as debt-free as possible (I’d say debt-free entirely minus the mortgage… but the last few months have taught me that is not always possible) and to spend our money wisely. For example, once we were able to buy a home we opted for a townhouse and mortgage payment which was well below what the bank said we could afford (though I must admit that I have no idea how we could have afforded what they thought we could afford!) I have been very grateful for this decision over the past 4 years as we have weathered multiple job losses and income fluctuations with no minimal worries about how we will pay the mortgage. So far, we are making it.

I am not as much into couponing as my mom was, or as I have been at other times of life. Part of that is that I have started shopping at Aldi (which doesn’t accept coupons) and that I tend to cook from scratch(ish) moreso than buying processed foods that have coupons available. (Plus, I’ll admit, I just haven’t taken the time to do so!) I have lately started paying more attention to money-saving blogs and sites such as Groupon.com or LiveFabuless.com. I’ve loved being able to receive a few freebies by blogging as well (a few books, at this point).

I realize that couponing and blogging are just part of the overall philosophy that has led to living frugally. For me, it is freeing to know that, even though there are times it doesn’t feel like a choice, this IS a lifestyle I have chosen. I am all for anything that simplifies life… and for me, simplifying the spending does that. I’m still working out what all that means to me (and our family… because sometimes it is too easy to not get everyone else’s input). I know part of it is reducing the clutter (ugh) in addition to following the budget. The upcoming holidays are a great time to start doing both.

Forwarding to you a blog post I found today and particularly liked. I am going to copy the post here to save you a click… but the original post can be found here.

8 Useful tips on how to prepare yourself for a frugal life in 2011 (reposted)

If you face trouble to manage your finances in the ever expanding cost of living, you may think of cutting down expenses. However, cutting down expenses is not the only solution; you need to change your lifestyle as soon as possible in order to survive the increasing expenses of 2011. In case you are facing monetary crisis the best way to do away with this crisis and also remain out of it in future is to start living a frugal life in 2011. Thus, go for a frugal living and stay debt-free as well as stress-free in 2011. This article provides you with information you need to know in order to prepare yourself to live frugally in 2011.

  1. Get clutter-free – If you want to start living frugally clear out the clutter in your house, it will not only save you money that you may have to pay for your extra storage, it may also help you gain some extra cash by selling out the things you will never need.
  2. Eat frugally –Avoid buying packaged and processed foods as they are much more costly. Purchase cheaper cuts of meat. Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Do not go out for grocery shopping unplanned as it results in more unexpected purchases. Make sure to make a list and buy only the essential things required.
  3. Don’t buy books – It may sound weird but it is better not to buy books when you can simply borrow them from the library. In case you do not re-read your books, it is better to get them from the library instead of wasting dollars on them.   (Melody’s note:  Not buy books?  Well… okay, I refuse to not buy books but I do have standards for what I will buy and what I will borrow.  I put them in the comments after a fellow book lover commented on this item!)
  4. Don’t buy DVDs – Don’t waste your hard-earned money by buying new DVDs when you can simply subscribe them from Netflix (US). Such a subscription allows you to watch movies of your choice but with a reasonably lower monthly fee.  (Melody’s note:  I have so many DVDs I want to get rid of… which gets into that making family decisions and not just my wants part of decluttering!  I also have to note I make an exception for Disney DVDs!)
  5. Buy second hand items – Buying second hand furniture, rug, waffle makers and night lights may help you get real treasures sometimes though at a terribly affordable rate. (Melody’s notes: I also have to throw in a plug for second hand Christmas gifts and children’s items!  No, not re-gifting… but we have gotten some great gifts in previous years for our little boy through using Craigslist and similar.  Plus an amazing deal on a twin bed and mattress!)
  6. Use one car – It is better to go for one car even if you have two or more cars. It is one of the expensive items that you posses and it may have various expenses related to it like maintenance and fuel. Thus, it is better to use one car as it will be more manageable for you.
  7. Smaller house – Even if you can afford a large house, it is always wise to go for a smaller one. You can easily save money and also still be comfortable even if you have a smaller house to live in.
  8. Use free entertainment – Frugal living does not mean, you have to sacrifice all the happiness of your life. Go for entertainments that are cheap and save money while you have some fun.

I’m thankful today that I don’t have to figure all of this out on my own… and so thankful that I have learned as much about saving, spending and simplicity as I have along the way!

Thirty Days of Thanksgiving



What are you thankful for today?

I’m not looking for the general answers of family, freedom, health…though those are all great things to be thankful for. I want to know what happened in your life TODAY… who touched your life TODAY… that left you grateful.

The practice of daily thanksgiving is one I was first introduced to a few years ago… and pull out and dust off and revisit every now and again. November seems like a great month to practice being grateful for daily blessings again.

My plan is to blog every day about the daily experiences I am grateful for… and to let those people who touch my lives that day know how thankful I am for them. If appropriate, I’ll blog on that too.

I would love for you to join me… and pass the word along to your blog friends. If enough people are interested, I can try to figure out how to start up a Linky or something.

I’ll put up my first official post tonight. Let me know in the comments if you are interested in joining in!

Edited to add:  Hey, I just realized I can not only do 30 days of Thanksgiving but count it towards NaBloPoMo too!  So what if I’m not quite ready to write the great American novel?  I can blog… and maybe eventually get to the great American essay?

I’m still here!

I feel like I’ve been neglecting this blog lately. Several times I’ve started a post and just not finished it. I haven’t been visiting other blogs as much either.

I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am trying (again) to work more on exercise/eating better/healthy lifestyle in general. I’ve been spending some time doing that, and some trying to organize the chaos around here… both of which have contributed to not much blogging time! I have mixed feelings right now about blogging about the whole “trying to lose weight and be healthier” journey, at least more than comes up in menu planning.  (I welcome any input on that!)  I also don’t want to do a “these are the 25 things I did today” type of blog.

I think what I really need right now is to sit down with a notebook or in front of the computer screen and just be introspective for a while… though I can’t guarantee that what comes out will be blog-worthy or anything I feel like sharing!

I am planning on doing a Thankful Thursday post tomorrow… beyond that, I’m not sure.

What I really need to reflect, write and blog about is priorities… and whether or not how I spend my time reflects them.  Hmmm…. just got another idea about that which may be showing up at some point.

So spend some time checking out the other great blogs on my blogroll… and I’ll be back sometime soon (I hope!)

What’s Next? (Twenty Things Tuesday)

Several people have asked me what’s next now that I’ve finished the A to Z challenge. I am still figuring out what I want to do with my blog. I tend to be a person who loves structure but hates being the one who has to develop the structure (hence my unorganized house)… so I can’t say I’ll stick to anything 100%!

I love the Monday Menu Planning I’ve been doing and I’m sure I’ll stick to that on Mondays. I am writing random book reviews as well and will put those on from time to time. Besides that… I’m trying to take life as it comes and write about it as I can. One thing on my to-do list is to start to tackle that stack of books I’ve been wanting to read (and review). I am also participating in an online bible study and may write on that from time to time.

Here’s my list of books to read and/or review… some will be quick and some will take a while to get through.

  1. Silent Grief by Clara Hinton — I am feeling very privileged to have the opportunity to review this book.  I am re-reading the book before writing a review and hoping to have it completed in the next few weeks.
  2. Searching for God Knows What by Don Miller — Reviewing this one for BookSneeze. I’ve read it before… but in a rush, and I’m looking forward to being able to browse through it again!
  3. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O’Martian — Going through this one in the online bible study. I’m not sure what will turn up from it in my blog.
  4. Simply Praying: 52 Weeks with God by Patsy Lewis — I bought this a while back with great intentions of reading it. I didn’t make it through the first chapter. I’m starting over again…
  5. Scream Free Parenting by Hal Runkel — mentioned this book in another post and a promise to finish and review it. Here I’m promising again!
  6. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling — finishing up re-reading the HP series (and, no, I won’t be reviewing it)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling — same as above!
  8. Mind in the Making: the Seven Essential Life Skills that Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky — teaching kids life skills, executive thinking, etc. Reading as a parent and a counselor… I don’t own this one yet but it is on my wish list.
  9. Courage and Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story by Barbara Abercrombie — found this browsing for books… it is on a wish list to buy and read soon!
  10. One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft by Susan Tiberghien — another I found browsing for books… guess if I am going to start writing more I need someone to give me some structure to do it!
  11. Reedeming Love by Francine Rivers — rereading one of my favorites for the first time… probably not reviewing unless I decide I want to practice reviewing fiction
  12. The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers — A book review convinced me I need to read this one. It may be a while, but I’ll get it read!
  13. The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth by Madeleine L’Engle — A book that talks about story, written by one of my favorite authors?  What’s not to love?  I’ve been meaning to find and read this one for a while…
  14. – 20.  The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set — rereading through a parent’s eyes… trying to decide when a good time is to introduce my little boy to these stories!  Easier reading in the midst of wading through some nonfiction that will take a little more thinking.

Besides that I’m trying to get a routine going for getting organized around here (the house *and* the blog).  If the past is any indication, having lots of good books on hand that I don’t let myself read until I finish whatever task I set for myself for the day will be good motivation!

Musings on A to Z…

I recently completed the A to Z challenge to blog through the alphabet with daily posts in April. I was interested in the challenge because I had just started a blog (again) and thought the challenge might inspire me to get into the habit of blogging. I wanted some ideas for writing… and I liked the idea of having encouragement along the way.

I started the challenge with a bit of a plan. I had certain things I wanted to write about. Then I kept getting inspirations that demanded to be written instead. (Or, to be honest, some days I took the easier way out instead of struggling to write on an important but difficult topic). So… you’ll have to wait for my musings on community, grammar, systems, trust, womanhood. And that is okay. One of the lessons I need to learn in life is how to just go with the flow… trust… not feel I have to plan everything out. This challenge was part of that.

I found during the challenge (as I find anytime that I am writing for a longer period of time) that I was writing more about myself… truly my self… which is not what people who meet me initially see. Not because I hide it… but because it isn’t readily seen, and my day-to-day life doesn’t tend to lend itself to sharing much beyond the superficial. I spent much of the challenge thinking that my blogging is largely self-centered… but, amazingly, people would comment who felt the same way as I did about various issues.

Along the way, I met some amazing bloggers. Our little group of assorted bloggers grew into a community. I learned more about the few bloggers I had known before the challenge, and met many more bloggers I would never have met without this challenge.   I enjoyed visiting others blogs… though keeping up with visiting and commenting was the toughest part of the challenge at times.  I figured out a few ways to help me keep track of everyone along the way (FriendConnect through my blogger account… and WordPress has a similar option to follow WordPress blogs, though they unfortunately aren’t compatible with FriendConnect!)

I never thought of quitting the challenge.   I have a perfectionistic and a stubborn streak that does not let me quit challenges (even some I probably should have in life).   However, there were times along the way that the only reason I made the effort to blog that day was knowing that others were looking for a post from me. I needed that accountability. I learned along the way just how it important it is for me to make time to blog/write.

I am starting… a little… to think of myself as a writer again. I love the thought of being able to keep company with the many fledgling, experienced, and professional writers I have met through this blog. I hope that having readers and knowing that I can help others through my writing (even if just to know they are not alone in day-to-day struggles) will keep me motivated to keep sharing my musings. And I hope that sharing will spill over more into the non-blogosphere world.

I learned more than I am sharing here… today, I’m dealing with brain fog from trying to fend off a sinus headache, preoccupied with thoughts of Nashville flooding (lots of friends and family there, and while everyone is safe there is much to be done), and trying to get motivated to prepare for out-of-town guests later this week (in other words, clean!).  I’m sure that more will come out along the way of what I’ve learned from this challenge!

Thanks so much to Arlee for starting the challenge and to the other bloggers who encouraged and inspired me along the way!  You can read more of their reflections on the A to Z challenge by clicking the links below or visiting Arlee’s blog!

X is for…

X-ray? eXamine? Maybe a bit of both…

I was thinking last night about the persona I present here in blog-land. I think the “me” of this blog is more spiritual, more reflective… definitely more talkative… than the “me” people who see me day-to-day know. I’m undecided on how I feel about that. I certainly don’t want to put myself out there as someone I am not… and you are not going to read anything on this blog that is non-authentically me… but I struggle at times (okay, most of the time) about how I present myself in the world. What parts of myself I show… and when… and to whom. And how in the world that all adds up to me.

Sometimes it seems others have this remarkable ability to compartmentalize their roles in life in a way that I do not. Or they are able to blend everything together into this symphony of themselves in a way I do not. Or maybe everyone has these different aspects of self they show to different people and they are perfectly ok with that. (I don’t mean that I, or others, intentionally mislead people or hide areas…though of course we all do at times… just that we naturally show different aspects of self as we go about the many relationships and arenas we do life in).

So… x-ray… isn’t it great when you meet those people who know what you mean and get who you are even when you can’t quite express that? I absolutely adore my friends who ask how I’m doing… want to know… and call me out on it when they get a “fine” and that isn’t what they wanted to hear (or what I wanted to say). I love it when someone is able to put words (at least words that others can understand) on something that I am feeling and can’t quite express. And I love when I can do that for others as well. Those moments have been among my favorites of this blogging challenge.

(ALso, am I the only one out there who keeps getting middle-of-the-night “inspirations” on what to write that deviate completely from what I had in mind? I don’t think this is the greatest post-of-all-time or anything… but it came up and seemed like a decent idea. I was all set to write on XX — women in my friends and family who have inspired me… or womanhood in general, or something similar… guess I have more material for a later post!)