Good or grief, let’s write, for the joy of it

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.

Sending love.

 

***

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. ❤︎

30 thoughts on “Good or grief, let’s write, for the joy of it

  1. Regarding your stats, I have the same disappointment and have written about it as well. This is how I cheer myself up: 60 people visited your page. Some immediately clicked away because, well, poetry! And a healthy chunk stuck around and read. Some hit like, some didn’t but you’re getting read. Imagine those people all over the world wanting to read your thoughts, your writing for no other reason except they want to see what you say and how you say it. I think that’s pretty awesome.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jeff. I know you have, and always love those posts of yours. I have come to the same conclusions; though I definitely did not get around to that bit in this post. I actually can’t stand the majority of this entire monolith. Lol. I think my initial instincts were right to a) not publish it and then b) unpublish it. Mainly because I simply did not like the post myself. Unfortunately I then c) edited it (yet again! Sure sign I should not publish it!) and then republished it.
      I have serious issues. ;)) Hugs, and thanks again for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. p.s. actually what you said about the poetry is a really cool tip I hadn’t really thought about (even though I know about picking a niche and all that). Maybe I do need to keep three blogs (one of them is poetry). Or at least two. Genre sorting etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, some people are going to like the variety, and others (like me) aren’t too into poetry and will read or won’t. I’ve definitely had some longer posts get the normal amount of view and very few likes or comments. I’m not surprised people click away, I did that myself today with one of the best writers I’ve encountered on wordpress.

        Like

  2. Sometimes I read a post that is beautiful and deeply touching, yet hesitate to “like” it because of the profound subject matter. It might be about grief, or rape, or illness, and “liking” the piece seems so trivial and contrary to the content. I’ve tried to relabel the “like” button in my mind, to think of it as “touch.” That the written piece touched me and I want to press my palm against the glass and touch in return.

    When you posted after your mother died, I remember a note you included that it was OK to like it. Thank you for that

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kim, this is so helpful. I have not a great memory and yet now that you say that I remember feeling the same about many posts with tough subject matter. I can’t expect people to know what kind of response I’m hoping for if I don’t lay it out plainly. (And yet no one wants to have to beg for likes, so of course the biggest solution is to somehow stop craving them.)
      I love what you said about thinking of the “like” button as being like pressing the palm against the glass to touch in return. That’s a beautiful image and that’s how I think of the “like” button though never articulated it that well. Thanks so much for this comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So here I was, telling you about metta (and leaving a typo of meditation that bothers me still)—planning to get back to you with further well-intentioned guidance on lovingkindness and managing one’s inner critic (which I do with varying levels of success and not at all today)—and you’ve actually been on one or more family-full Buddhist retreats. I’m so glad you wrote this, and I read it, before I bored you with information you probably know better than I!
    All good wishes,
    Annie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Annie. I can seriously use all the reminders about metta that I can get. I can never remember the terms. I can probably use reminders on lovingkindness and managing the inner critic as well, though I will say just the opposite. Quite frankly I’m impossible and sometimes I don’t know how people can stay friends with me. ;))
      About that typo, this makes me smile, I have added the missing “t” to mediators in that comment now; I really strongly dislike that WordPress does not allow commenters to have control of their own comments. To be honest I thought you did mean mediator and I just thought there was a new mindfulness thing I didn’t know about, that’s why I was congratulating you. (Egads, as I write this I realize my reply to that comment will be looking very strange 😆). Thanks for this lovely comment. Means a lot. Good wishes to you too ☀️🌻💗

      Like

  4. “Life is what happens to you while
    you’re busy making other plans.”
    ~John Lennon

    I don’t pay much attention to those
    stats, so meticulously provided by
    the WordPress machine. I think it’s
    like a bait set trap facilitating the
    social media addiction. I do find
    the likes are encouraging, and
    comments allow that glimmer of
    human interaction. But beyond that
    I don’t worry about it. Everybody on
    WordPress has an agenda (otherwise
    why would you bother?). For me it’s
    that grand commission, “Publish or
    Perish”. Art for Art sake is in itself
    an agenda. I think the beginning of
    social media wisdom is that a bit
    of reserved discretion is required
    if you don’t wish to be drawn into the
    vortex of someone else’s agenda
    born of “quiet desperation”, thereby
    stealing away that joy of creativity.
    Keep on joyfully writing, Nadine 💛😎

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love this comment so much. “Art for Art sake is in itself an agenda.” This is the kind of perfect summary I think I needed to hear today. I crave validation like there’s no tomorrow but it’s never satiated.
      I know some of this stuff theoretically, that it’s therefore useless to seek it, but I basically don’t practice returning to that well of inner peace often enough.
      I agree completely, that the stats are “like a bait set trap facilitating the social media addiction” – and last night I was starting to understand that I somehow have to avoid seeing that particular desktop view where the posts are, that lays out the post views vs likes next to each other. It just isn’t healthy for me, and it’s the thing that keeps me in the trap – it’s like I’m in competition with myself, which feels like crap.
      I truly appreciate hearing your take on things, it of course makes perfect sense and it’s inspiring to read from people who have managed to evade or escape the trap. Many many thanks, David 💛🌻🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome, Nadine 🙏
        Off course, Linda thinks I spend
        too much time on social media.
        But that’s because we have 7 kids,
        and they’re always asking for one
        thing, or another. True. But l believe
        in letting them find their own hidden
        treasure 🌈 👁️🌄👁️ 🏖️ 🎠💘

        Liked by 2 people

        1. It’s the same for me with T. But I am a social creature, so a bit of social interaction energizes me. And I agree with your philosophy. A bit of guidance, a lot of love, but also, let them “be.” 💖🌱☀️🌈☔️🌀🏄‍♂️🔆

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this Nadine!! I have nothing deep and meaningful to add to some of the thoughts of those more talented than me. Someone above mentioned the ‘like’ button being like a ‘touch’ button where something you write touches their lives. And that’s the thing, as I have said before, when you write, you touch my senses on many levels. You write with so much passion, and so much integrity, it would be hard not to be moved. Anyway, keep creating, and keep those words coming! xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah Liola, you’re so very kind and generous with your praise. (And, I noticed, just a wee bit hard on yourself. ;)) But I can relate to that last part. :)) Thanks a lot lovely, I treasure your words truly. If we could all just keep the words of friends like you in our minds, instead of those of our inner critics, wouldn’t the world be more rosy. Thank you so much ❤︎🙏xoxoxo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahahaha! That’s my bad counting! Math is seriously not my forte! And/or it fell victim to my over-editing. Memory is also not great these days. Too many pies on the bake. 😅
      Thank you Aeryk, I always appreciate your keen eye and bravery to call it. To me that is smart and supportive. Also the quote Descartes or Popeye, as the case may be. :))) xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I figured it was a simple miscalculation, but secretly I hoped there was something more mysterious going on, like there was some secret code built in that only really smart people would get, ala The Davinci Code. Granted, I would not get it, but it would be cool nonetheless.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You make me realize that although I’m stats obsessed, I don’t look at the number of Likes a post gets. Don’t ask me to explain that, I just don’t. I look at the number of hits as if it really made a difference, and I track the number of comments I get, not so much by numbers but by feel, but that’s because I really enjoy them. What does it all mean? Damned if I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Ellen :)) I always like hearing these “insights” into another blogger’s methods/modus. We each have our stats peccadillos I guess. And I have a feeling it’s pretty common to be obsessed. That’s how the machine keeps us feeding it, I suppose. As for meaning, I often find myself wondering the same thing. ;)) Thanks as always for your thoughtful comments <33 xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You expressed it so brilliantly here – blogging is such a complex labyrinth to navigate & choose where to sink your flag of genre. Totally agree with you – grief is such a raw personal experience unique to everyone in their own way, but the more we write about it, the less daunting it appears and the more we can reach out to others 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Tom, I think you’ve expressed it more brilliantly here, than I ever did. That exactly sums it up! Though we have to wait for the urge to write about it to finally appear.
      I so much appreciate your reaching out today. It’s made a difference in my own little sometimes-convoluted journey. Thank you, so very much. 😊❤︎🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🤗 Hope you’ve been coping okay. This piece resonated with me a lot due to recent events, and I agonised about writing and sharing what I was feeling; ultimately I felt it was best to put it on the page and admit that I needed to reach out to others rather than bottle it up inside & pretend ‘everything’s fine, really’; that can often have much worse repercussions.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That means so much to me Tom. Seriously. I actually have tears in my eyes.
          I’m actually not coping well today. Not at all. Writing is important therapy for me but sometimes blogging is difficult because it causes me to weigh and measure my words, and thus myself, if you know what I mean. Nearly every other day I’m ready to throw in the towel, so that I can stop thinking about it and get something that looks more like progress accomplished. ;)) But it’s connections with people like you that make the difference.
          I’m super lucky in that I do have a supportive family. (So I have nothing to complain about really, which, when you’re anxious and/or depressed, somehow makes it unjustifiably worse, haha. ;))
          Anyway, it’s your own story here that made the difference for me. So thank you again, so very much, for that. 🤗🌻I agree, reaching out is certainly important, and it’s nice when someone reaches back. Thanks for doing that. 💛

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You’re so right! Having that writing outlet has been so therapeutic in helping me work to become a better person & expressing myself much clearer through writing than talking (I naturally prefer peace & quiet rather than socialising amid big noisy crowds). ❤

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Same for me, Tom, same for me… though I was reminiscing today that sometimes, after a long while of introversion, I could use a bit of noisy crowd. Just a wee bit. ;)) 😊

              Like

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