Like many bloggers, I tend to analyze blog stats after publishing. Based on the relatively high number of views I’m getting lately, and the relatively low number of “likes” on recent posts, I’ve been pondering why that might be.
It seems particularly odd, because of the fact that I don’t think I’m writing anything offensive; for example, nothing political, no critiques, no recent rants. [Edit: this post was actually written before the previous two ranty posts, immediately after “Myosotis inhalation.”]
There is a reason for that, by the way. I’ve been down that road and it can be, very stressful. For the past while, I haven’t been able to manage that kind of self-imposed stress. I also know that paying attention to negative things does, in a way, feed those negative things. In my most mindful minutes, I try to focus on the lotuses, rather than on the mud. [Apparently, I can’t stay away from mud for too long. In fact, by all available evidence it would seem that I adore mud.]
Anyway: 60 views, 25 likes in 24 hours, I received, on that one recent completely innocuous poem about creativity. That’s quite a lot of views for one post in that amount of time, in my itty-bitty stats corner. And it’s also a low likes-to-views ratio, in my books. Especially on a poem so mild and harmless.
That said, for that particular post, I didn’t expect nor care much about likes. It was truly a self-heal type of piece, and very quickly and joyfully done. And it generated such a lovely discussion with Göran, my “DLOWF” (lol, see comments for that piece to understand the acronym), and also a couple of very kind comments from a couple other fave people on WP, and even a link-back from one (thanks, Matthew :)). So yeah, I was pleasantly surprised and grateful, in spite of the low likes ratio.
Now back to ranting. :)) With the exception of a few lurking friends and family members (hey, lovers! or…haters? Eek ;)), I’m well aware, thanks to user stats, that my viewers are almost entirely through WordPress Reader, which means there is no actual physical barrier to hitting the “like” button — such as the possible issue of not being, or not choosing to be, a Gravatar user, and/or the like button not working (as it doesn’t for me, from the front-end of most WP websites).
Sidenote #1: Thank you to each and every WordPress liker and commenter. Pathetic as it may sound to those lucky folks with more self-confidence, you make my blogging day smiling and sunshiny, with that tiny star-lighting action. For reals.
And yes, compared to you mega-follower (and mega-following) bloggers (some of whom are following this blog, regularly viewing it, and yet for some unknown reason, not “liking” it), I know these issues (and numbers) must seem minuscule to you, and you’ll probably soon write an article about how to get over these kinds of insecurities. But I’ve read many of those, tried that, achieved it sometimes, even written about it (on previous and/or private blogs). Tip: try writing something personal for a change; it makes for a more interesting read. (But less monetizing/popular. Can you hack it? Probably yes, and you’ve been there/done that, and kudos, you’re ahead of the game. Thanks for the fake-follow, and re-follow, and re-follow. But I’m not buying your stuff, certainly as long as you continue to enjoy lurk-farming the articles of the rest of us. Bam! How’s that for blunt. I’m getting more Dutch by the hour.)
As some of you are by now aware, my mom suddenly passed away less than one month ago. Based on my changing stats, I had a random thought: some of you, probably the same suddenly-interested ghostly people who read my grief posts without “liking” them, are perhaps expecting me to write only about grief, for some extended period of time. Or to not publish at all, in order to respect some kind of unestablished mourning period, for gods knows how long.
I know there are as many reasons for not “liking” as there are people, and I might be wrong in your particular case. But if I have in fact struck the reason, I will tell you this, in case you didn’t already know:
Everyone processes grief in their own way — i.e. there are as many ways to process grief as there are people.
If I don’t write and share about grief, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have grief, or that I don’t want to share. It might be, or it might not be. It might be that I’m not in the mood to do that at the time, or that writing joyfully is my chosen form of therapy or meditation in a given moment. Or it might be that I’m just happy, living in the present moment.
I have recently written a lot of pages about grief. I have shared a few of them on this blog and two other currently-inert blogs. I don’t know if I’ll share the rest. I might, or I might not. Or I might do that at some future date.
Yes, the five stages of grief and all that, I know that paradigm, I’ve studied others as well, I’ve helped others with them (mostly in the local vicinity where there is an aging population—at least, I’ve tried my best, and on people’s own terms, as far as I was able to interpret those); I’ve experienced them myself, in different ways and for different reasons, at various stages of my life. Maybe I’m in denial. If so, that’s okay with me, too. It’s my denial to get through.
Sidenote #2: I went through a ten-year stint of reading nothing but self-help. You know you’re saturated in a particular genre when you feel you can subsume a book’s contents by reading its title. I don’t want to read any more self-help, at this point. Sorry to disappoint. [Edit: and with that stupid bravado comment, I went back to reading self-help articles! Argh. I never stop being wrong. ;))]
Sidenote #4: I’ve also dragged my kids, for the past two summers, to week-long zen-Buddhist mindfulness camping retreats — and even managed to get my introverted, self-professed-beer-boobs-and-beach-loving husband to come to the last one. And he even somewhat enjoyed it, especially the “militaristic-style” regularity of the schedule. (I prefer to call it peace-corps.) Don’t I deserve a medal? Haha. I was hoping you’d think so. ;)) But actually, in some ways T’s much like a monk himself. (Other than the boobs and beer part. ;)) Mainly due to the fact that he’s hard-working, feels and fulfills a healthy responsibility to others, and he’s content in his own being. He truly has the “mind like sky” mentality. I have learned tons from him throughout our near-19-year marriage. He came from a single-mother household that included periods of homelessness (alternately living in the back of a car, in a small trailer, and in an abandoned logger’s cabin, until they were evicted by a ranger) and the core values he has upheld, and what he has achieved in his lifetime, are nothing short of amazing.
Sidenote #5: I highly recommend it. Dragging your family to a Buddhist mindfulness retreat, that is. It’s not easy by any means, it’s a lot of sometimes-hellish work, actually, trying to meet the schedule for various ages in the midst of volunteer-run mindful organized chaos; intermingled with the joys of group van-camping in a parking lot (again, with kids) more than five minutes walk from each tightly scheduled activity, group chores, and no tap nor toilet near to the camp spot (yes I sound spoiled), and a fair bit of exasperated wrangling of there-dragged kids (or was that just me?). But the monastics, with very few exceptions, are mostly amazing, truly selfless people. They set an example through calmness and silence that any of my early and bungled attempts at force-feeding my online and book-learning might never have achieved, here at home.
Side benefits of side-note #5: communication between all members of the family has improved. T and the boys have realized that I’m not some freak of nature — there are others out there in the world, some of them very rational beings, who believe that mindful listening to and expression of feelings in relationships is important. So nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah (puts fingers in ears, sticks tongue out).
I do daily calisthenics, a bit of yoga, I eat a mostly vegetarian diet (strict, and/or alternating with vegan, since the age of 16, but now more compassionately flexitarian since moving to the French countryside, where farming is the principle local industry and understanding of the reasons for vegetarianism is very low), I go for daily short walks, I usually get up early and do morning pages.
But guess what, I’m still just a fumbling human being. Most of us don’t choose to live in a monastery, due to not truly wanting to give up certain lifestyles (including making love with our long-term partner and/or chosen art), or because we can’t/shouldn’t, based on previous chosen and often-joyful commitments (children, marriage, etc.). In the everyday lay-person’s world, we still just have to get out there and live.
We can read all we want, experience all we can, and still, each time we experience an emotion, including grief, it’s new. It’s at a different stage of life, with different experiences, different subject matter, different people, different viewpoints, different levels of awareness and capabilities.
I write as a near-daily practice, but also when the mood strikes, and interacting in blogland, as I like to call it, is a diverting pastime for me, more than anything. I have sometimes called it an addiction, and there are times when it does feel like an addiction, but that’s also partly me being hard on myself.
We are all addicted to something, whether we’re aware of it or not. We’re biologically hardwired to seek that stimulus-response payback; that release of endorphins; the quick hit of dopamine. Most of us likely know this already. (I got to see a review of this with my kids via a Netflix show they love, called Brain Games, the other night, so it’s fresh in my mind now. I do recommend that show for family watching by the way. The younger kids especially love it, but it’s good for all ages.) (Do I sound like an ass, Ailsa, my darling virtual daughter and millennial-minded sister-friend? Thank you. That’s what I’m going for. ;))
For me, writing and/or blogging is a passion and it’s a hobby, and it’s what I do whenever I can create a minute of spare time. It’s my not-so-secret wild romance, my ever-changing and multi-personalitied love-affair with creative muse.
As for time: how do we create it? I am a mom of four kids aged 8-16, I have a rather large extended family spanning two continents that I regularly engage with — especially now, after my mom’s recent passing (there are at least one or two FaceTimes/phone calls a day); I have a lot of admin work to keep up with, which is sometimes only possible at night, for overseas business-hours reasons; and I have a small part-time volunteer job in the local community. Obviously all this keeps me varyingly “busy,” (though I’m not a fan of that word) just as most of us are in fact “busy.” So how do we make time for creative passions?
In my case, I hardly ever watch movies or TV, unless it’s with the kids or the whole family. I don’t go out much, other than to enjoy nature, or for necessary tasks such as grocery shopping/other errands and/or the school runs.
In other words, this is my main chosen form of entertainment. Writing, creating, and interacting with fellow bloggers. I “do it for the joy.” If it becomes less than joyful on a regular basis, I won’t do it anymore.
Sidenote #6: I don’t take medications, I don’t take drugs (other than caffeine — I’m definitely still a morning-coffee addict), I currently don’t drink any alcohol. (Six weeks to go until the original one-year experiment/goal is reached! Yay me! Maybe I can tackle some of those other old lagging goals I gave up on, soon. Or maybe I’ll crack a bottle of bubbly. We’ll see. ;)) I don’t have easy nor insured access to therapy, I don’t go on exotic vacations or regular spa treatments or anything like that.
Sidenote #7: Kudos and power to you, if you do any or all of those things and they work for you. I have done some in the past, and might do them again, one day. This is just me “doing me,” right now — as a previously-mentioned mom of young kids, also living in the remote countryside of a foreign country, without medical insurance, and with a healthy reluctance to put blind faith in chemicals and doctors — all that complicated and sometimes-beautiful jazz.
It does cost energy to share. It’s giving the world a piece of yourself, and seeing what happens to it. How will people react?
As it happily turns out, sometimes very supportively and positively. That gives me and/or other response-stimulated creators energy to keep sharing. Thank you, supportive and positive people. You make the continuance of this and other blogs possible (for evolving-but-nonetheless-still-“like”-addicts, like me ;)).
(And no, dear supportive blogging friends, of course I don’t expect you to read and/or like or comment on every post. This post is not principally directed at you — though I know you’ll possibly read it and support it; thank you. It’s directed at the consistent WordPress lurkers that we all know — or rather, mostly don’t know — and yet still try to love.)
I try my best to practice living in the Now. In spite of occasional attacks of anxiety, where I sometimes fall into old patterns of excessively ruminating on and worrying about my own imperfect actions in some situation from the recent past, or in overly scrutinizing the possibilities of the world’s future, I tend to live mostly in the moment. I experience things intensely and then I move on.
My mom was much the same, in this way of being, may her loving soul rest in peace. And she was highly creative. She was perhaps a little more extroverted than I am in certain ways, and would “get out more,” but she also spent a good portion of her leisure time in an actively-meditative creative zone — painting, sewing, crocheting, singing, playing guitar or piano, the list goes on; she was talented in many things, not the least, in encouraging people. And she was the philosophical queen of letting go.
In other words, I know I’d have her blessing to do my thing, whatever way I choose to do it. And I hope to pass her blessing on to you, that you may do the same — especially if you write from the heart, and/or from the present moment. I love to read your blogs, by the way. In case you haven’t noticed.
So let’s get (or keep!) a dance happening with our creative muses, and in spite of how scary it can be, let’s try to ship it — i.e. in Blogland, hit “publish.” And repeat. This is how we learn and evolve. And perhaps some day, with any luck, we may feel we have in fact achieved our dreams.
P.s. this now stupendously long post is especially dedicated to blogging buddy Joseph, who recently encouraged my rants ;)), and most of all to Rachel, who saved it from previous post-publish-shyding by sending a heartfelt behind-the-scenes email (after her heartfelt comment was apparently lost in transit). With much gratitude to these two WP angels.
p.p.s.! In other, more exciting, news, one of my longest WP buddies, Ailsa (a.k.a. Pizza Party Of One), has made a recent reappearance in Blogland. Thank the diet-curry-wine gods.
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Auvergne, France. Thank you for being here, now. ❤︎