Blogging is my Life Coach
Last Friday, I wrote about how disappointed I was with myself for some bad behavior, and that post has been on my mind all week. Which is not a bad thing. I want to change my behavior, so it’s kind of important that I put some focus on it. As I was thinking about all this, it occurred to me that were it not for this blog, I probably would have abandoned my pursuit of Thankful long ago.
That’s not an astounding revelation, it’s simply a matter of accountability. Still, this was not one of the expectations I had when I started blogging six months ago. Other than working on my writing skills, I certainly had no idea of using my blog as a means of self-improvement. But then, I had no calculated intentions of divulging anything as personal as I find myself sometimes doing. Who knew a blog could be such a good listener? It coaxes things out of me that I didn’t know I needed to talk about. And then it gives me excellent advice.
Wow. Blogging is my Life Coach.
It’s no secret that unburdening yourself does just that – it lightens your mental load. Vocalizing your problems releases a kind of emotional pressure. Blogging about it goes one step further in that it adds the element of editing. Venting helps me, but by that point, the emotions are so strong that I have difficulty filtering them. This is also true when I vent in writing, except that I’m able to go back and consider what I’ve said before it reaches my intended audience. Editing forces me to really consider what I’ve written and it’s validity. Through editing, I have the ability to ensure that my words are more precisely what I mean them to be.
Writing for public consumption is helpful, and I’m beginning to feel that it is imperative to my growth. I’m not just releasing the pressure, I’m also practicing honesty. Honesty with others, certainly, about who I am and sharing my thoughts and emotions. But greater still, is the forced honesty with myself.
Perhaps most importantly, writing allows me some distance. I can purge my emotions when they are at their rawest, and later, I can return to examine them exactly as they were originally felt. Memory no longer supplies the truth. The written word is proof positive that this is what I said and thought and felt. It forces me to re-evaluate me, which is good. When I have this opportunity to review what has passed, after the emotional surge is over, I am able to analyze the situation with more reason than emotion. Distance allows me to ask myself questions, such as, “Is this how I really feel?” or “Was I really acting reasonably when I did that?” It puts me in a better position to admit my own culpability and see more clearly where I need to make changes.
What blogging has provided me with is a trail. The thing about a post is that unless I delete it, the words are there. The reminder is there. Without blogging, I think the importance I place on some things would fade rather quickly. I go through various joys and frustrations, failures and triumphs…and it all passes out of my notice in a blink. If you’re over the age of 35, then you know this to be true, that the days and the weeks, the months and the years begin to fly. Life is packed with so much living, that it’s terribly easy to go about your daily existence without really giving it much thought.
Reading and Being Read
The biggest blogging surprise for me was the community, and I’ve learned so much from reading other blogs. Funny or serious, uplifting or sad, there is so much great writing out there, and so many wonderful things being said. But the post is only the beginning of what there is to be gained. Through comments, we bloggers are able to have an actual discussion, whether we agree or disagree. Comments support our arguments, offer us alternate viewpoints, and generally provide more food for thought. Often, what I learn most is about myself. How I react to a post or comment, what emotions they elicit, tells me quite a bit about who I really am. What makes me laugh, what offends me? What can I relate to and what do I have a hard time understanding?
I only have a handful of subscribers and a few others that stop by from time to time. But from this small group, I have received so much. Comments are like the life-blood of my blog. Without them, I really think this thing would shrivel up and die because, although I still write primarily for myself, I desire feedback. I want to be heard. And more importantly, I want to be understood. The people who comment on my blog must be some of the best people out there. Within this group, I have found not only conversation, but compassion, empathy, joy, laughter, solace, camaraderie. In short, I have found that I am not alone, that anything I am experiencing has been and will be experienced by others. Sure, I already knew that, but it helps to hear it all the same. You all are people who help me grow.
How could I have known six months ago that blogging would be able to offer me so much? Outlet, teacher, cheerleader, coach, counselor…
That’s pretty cool. I think I’ll stay a while.
Items of Interest:
I don’t feel like writing this post (in which I talk about being honest with myself and others)
Not so Thankful in September (in which I’m angry with myself for behaving badly)
Yes! You have perfectly expressed how I feel about writing a blog. It has been just full of pleasant surprises. I’m glad to hear you plan to stick around- you are one of my touchstones. I know I can count on you to get me thinking 🙂
On your blog, you recently said to me, “I love this community- we all encourage each other. What a gift!” And I thought, “Wow! That’s what I was just thinking.” That encouragement is something that you seem to easily do, and I’ve been lucky to have you as a blog friend. Thank you so much for being a regular visitor to my little blog home!
Blogging is a great way to expand your circle. In blogworld you can “meet” people you would never get to know IRL. I am blessed in that I have friends of all ages. Some of my friend’s grandmothers are my age and some of my friends are the age my mother would be. But they tend to be alike in some ways; where they are from or where they live now, education, work, family. Different lives but many common denominators.
In blogworld I have come to know people who live in other countries and have very different lives and experiences than I do. And yet we connect through cyberspace. Awesome.
That’s one of the wonderful things about blogging, is meeting so many diverse people. I also find it interesting that I seem to run in an ever-widening circle…of the same people. I just recently realized that I end up seeing the same commenters everywhere I turn. I think it’s what you say, that though we are of different ages, from different places all over the world, we tend to gravitate toward certain types of people, your “common denominators”. I’ve gotten to where I will visit a site many many times before I subscribe, so I feel that I know them better by the time I am following their work. I guess we do the same thing in real life, we test people out and we spend the most time with people that we have an affinity towards.
I certainly have enjoyed your company, and though I don’t always comment, I love getting my emailed posts. I do consider my blog friends a blessing, and you are one of those. You have been very kind to me and supportive, so thank you very much.
Amen. It’s funny – I started (almost two years ago!) just to get back in the habit of almost-daily writing. I hadn’t realized how important the audience would become. Part of me is annoyed that I seek validation through views and comments, but the other part of me — is just really grateful to have connected with some other writers and thinkers who make my world more interesting. Thanks.
No, thank you! Thanks for reading and commenting, you know how much I like that :).
I don’t feel annoyed with myself at all, haha! My dad says that blogging is for people who want to be heard, but don’t want to be looked at :). He pegged me, anyway. And you said it right about being “grateful to have connected with…writers and thinkers who make my world more interesting.” There are so many things I’ve read out there that make me think, and I love that. And your posts make me laugh and think at the same time, so double jackpot!!
Awww, thanks for the shout out to your subscribers and commenters! I don’t subscribe to many blogs, and I don’t comment on many either, but yours I love to visit because of three things: the interesting content, the quality of the writing, and because you always take the time to answer the comments. It’s so annoying when I take the time to comment on a post I like and the writer doesn’t acknowledge it. It’s like the stranger you hold the door open for and they don’t say thanks. If it happens a few times on someone’s blog I stop commenting, and I may even eventually stop reading.
When I read your blog I think: I’d like to know this person in real life. Maybe the anonymity and distance of blogging allows us to be more honest than we would be in real life, and that’s what other writers are drawn to (not that blogging is exactly the unreal life–or is it?). There is not enough honesty in the world, and it’s one of the things I like about your blog.
Your posts always make me think, and I actually reread some of them, when most others I merely skim. You write about subjects and bring up points that stop and make me think, and I like that. And like a great book, I don’t want to waste my time reading something that’s poorly written, and you’re a great writer.
So many times, when I’m struggling with writing and wondering who could possibly even care what I have to say, and feeling I have no authority to write about any issue, I think about the people who regularly read and comment on my posts. It’s nice to know that someone is out there reading, even though for me I think I would probably continue to write even if there were no readers!
Hmmm, see, you’ve done it again! Now I have to ponder awhile on how important comments are to my writing . . .
Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean a great deal to me. One of the things that I struggle with most is writing for myself vs writing to please others. Very early on, I got a comment that said something like, “interesting idea, but your post is too long”. On the one hand, I keep telling myself that I need to do what works for me. I need to work with what I’ve got and continue honing the style that comes naturally to me. Which is wordy. Even my comments are wordy. But that’s who I am. On the other hand, every longer post that I write (including this one) is worried over. Should I have edited more? Could I have said that with less words? Probably. But I have to err on the side of being true to myself. What is the point of writing with a mind on only pleasing the reader, when it means you are not really being yourself? It almost makes the writing like a lie, the intentions unauthentic. And I’m slowly, slowly convincing myself that it’s okay, whether people read it or not, like it or not. Also, come on Michelle, get a backbone!! Stop worrying so much about what people think! But, alas, I do. So, that’s the long way of telling you how great it is to hear that reading my blog is not a waste of your time.
Angela, I remember when you wrote a post about a friend that was having some marital trouble. In my comment, I was honest with my opinions and you responded (very nicely) along the lines of, ‘well, No Michelle, not really’. And it worried me that I had come across as offensive or rude, which was not at all what I had intended. What I remember most is that you basically said, ‘No worries, we’re just talking here’. That, to me, was impactful. Speaking openly, that is an act of bravery for me because of exactly those types of situations. I don’t guess it’s that unusual to want to be liked, or to care what people think of me. But I also fear ridicule, and part of what I’m working on is putting myself out there in my blog and in the comments. And it’s incredible the impact that such a simple interaction between you and I can have. Even though it was a small thing, it takes me one step closer to being comfortable expressing myself openly, without the fear of being rejected. So yes, HUGE shout out, all you Life Coaches!
As for your writing, I was very upset when I thought that the end of Walls with Doors meant you were only going to write about running. Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten a great deal out of those posts, so much so that I’m afraid to give them up (honesty moment: I am so very lazy that the running posts make me feel a little bad because I am so very lazy, but I can’t not read them because I might miss something good). But my favorites are the Chasing Now posts. I can – and will! – turn the tables right back on you. Your writing is excellent and it has made me think and consider, over and over again. Not only that, but you’re a nice person. You’re someone who I can always count on to tell me it’s okay, we’ve all been there. So thanks for that, too.
PS: I totally agree about responding to comments. Of course, I can’t keep my mouth shut, but there are a few I read who either never respond to comments, or just respond to a few select people. I’ve been working up a post about that in my head for months.
I echo your sentiments and those of my blog friend pithypants, up there. When I first started my blog in March, I thought it was just going to be for me. La la la, here I go, writing stuff… And then people started reading it, and subscribing to it, and commenting on it, and I was all, “They like me! They really like me!” But one of the best parts about it is this: I don’t have to always write the same things, or the same way, or in the same voice. If I write something different, I can just change the tags and attract a whole new group of potential readers. My subscribers seem to hang in there with me through the curveball posts and I get to find new writers through the comments. I find myself craving that, and even hoping for certain bloggers to leave comments on certain posts because I’m curious to see what they have to say.
But it’s amazing how much a person’s voice comes through in the writing, isn’t it? You write about lots of different things, but I think your voice comes through very clearly, just the tone has changed. You’re one of the people that I feel like I “know”, and I think that is a result of your style of writing. Well, I guess it must be because that’s all I have to go by. I’m so glad you said that, about not always writing the same things, because I do that too. See, even here (ironic, on a post about personal growth through blogging), I’m gaining some insight and perspective. If you do that, and I love everything you write, then it must be okay if I do that. Why are these things not evident to me? I’m too wrapped up in my insecurities! Arrgg.
I don’t think you have curveball posts, but I can tell you that we “hang in there” because we like you, we really like you. You’re a great writer, very compelling, though-provoking and entertaining. And I love comments, on my blog and other people’s. If the post is the meal, the comments are the dessert. Or maybe the wine – they enhance the flavors of the main dish. I also know what you mean about hoping for particular people to comment. Sometimes I know just what they’ll say and sometimes I need to know what they have to say.
You are so right in all of your insights. I have been blogging just a little longer than you, but I only post about every other week. Still, the sense of community has been the most gratifying–the readers and their feedback give me a sense of being heard, understood–even if we disagree. But the other points are true as well–commitment, accountability, demand for reflection and clarity. I do not always share very personal items on my blog, but am eager too. RIght now I am in the middle of a legal matter and really do not feel right about venting about that yet–although that is what wrecks the most havoc on my peace of mind. My lawyer says to write out what I want to say and send it to him–but it would be so much different to send it to my blogging friends. in time I may feel I can share more about that in my blog. But I write what I can and find connections with the blogs I subscribe to, like yours! Thanks for your honest sharing.
I’m really sorry to hear about your legal issues, and I hate to think of the stress that must involve for you. I completely agree about being able to write about things here – it’s just different. I think it’s like writing to a combination of yourself, your best friend, empty space, your pastor and your psychologist – all rolled into one.
It’s great to be heard, understood, and given good advice, sympathy and comfort. And sometimes being disagreed with is just what I need – a different way of looking at it, another perspective, or a voice of reason that isn’t entrenched in the emotional drama that I feel at the moment. Different upbringing, different cultures, different viewpoints are all wonderful blog community benefits.
You may not post every week, but you always have something worthwhile to say. I’ve really enjoyed your blog and especially your comments. You always have the right thing to say and I have sometimes envied you your words of wisdom or comfort. I wonder “how did she just say what I meant to say, in less words, but much more beautifully?”.
I know exactly what you mean about writing for yourself vs writing for others. When I first started my blog my daughter described it as a “public diary.” Ouch, that really bugged me. I do consciously try to pick a specific theme or topic to write about, and not merely random tidbits from my day, so it was ironic that she chose those exact words.
I honestly did not take your comments about my friend’s separation as offensive or rude. I have a tendency to be too blunt sometimes, and unintentionally stick my foot in my mouth all the time, so I always appreciate someone’s honesty–even if I may not agree. I hope you didn’t think I was rude for disagreeing with your comment!
I was very divided about splitting Walls with Doors into two separate blogs, but I think it’s worked out okay. I like the separation. Chasing Now is probably where my true writer’s heart resides, but I worry sometimes about being too personal or sappy. I always worry about being boring, or uninteresting, and most of the time wonder why anyone would ever give a flying flip what I have to write about! Then I remind myself that no one is forced to read anything I write and I get over myself (usually).
And for the record, I’m always too wordy. I’m working on that!
I’ve never read anything of yours that I interpreted as a “public diary”. Some bloggers do that, and that’s okay. But I think people who are here for the writing put more thought into it than that. We generally have a purpose and we write toward that purpose, putting thought into what we say and how. We may talk about something we did or that happened to us, but we are writing to enlighten, to amuse, to make people think… Anyway, not “public diaries”.
I didn’t think you were rude, you were just talking :). Actually, I don’t remember exactly what we said – I normally go back and re-read before I post, but I didn’t do that this time. I just remember that you were telling me that I had the wrong idea, or something like that.
I agree about the split blogs, too. For you, it provides two kinds of creative outlets, and you can focus on the separate themes. As a reader, I know what to expect when I see my emails. I’m not a runner, so I’ll be honest and say that I skim those. I don’t skip them because they often have some really good “life lesson” moments that speak to me. (I am being encouraged to exercise by simple osmosis, but I’ve been avoiding that like the plague.) I never skim the Chasing Now posts!
I don’t think you are too wordy. I follow several bloggers who regularly write longer posts, and I certainly enjoy and get a lot out of what they have to say. I think posts take as long as they take to say what they have to say. I just can’t get it through my head that it’s okay for me, too – it’s my standard insecurities that I’m doing something the wrong way. And also a lack of confidence, and a belief that I don’t have a level of writing skill that supports or warrants a long post. I just have to keep forcing myself to ignore those insecurities.
I enjoyed reading both your post and the insightful comments that followed. I have been writing for a long time but only recently started blogging. My insecurities wear size XXL shirts, which is to say, you would not want to meet them in a dark alley at night. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to post everyday for the last 16 days. It’s good to know I’m not in this alone.
Hi! I’m glad you stopped by – welcome! First off, I’m impressed that you read through it all :). The comment section is long (especially mine!!), but worth the read. I have gotten so much support from other bloggers, and it keeps you going, for sure. Not being alone in my concerns and insecurities really helps me keep things in perspective and keep a level emotional head.
Michelle, it strikes me that the the urge to improve yourself is in your DNA. We get to improve ourselves by reading your blog and through our interactions with you. Reading your blog has made me a better person and given me that hope you wrote about in your query. I’m glad you’re feeling better (a little late on that, I know).
I’m sorry I disappeared for so long.
I think you’re right about it being in my DNA, as it’s something that I see in other family members as well. I would say that we are big idea people. My problem is that I have the desire, and I have ideas, but I lack the ability, the skill, the drive – the I don’t know what – to make it happen. I don’t follow through, or I tire of it. Quite often I put so much energy and focus into a thing that I burn myself out before I can really reap the benefits of the activity. I did it with this blog at the beginning, spending every waking moment on my new project. But I saw what was happening, and when my energy started to wain, I took a step back instead of stepping away completely. You guys are a big part of the reason for that. I was not willing to give up what I had already gained.
I can’t imagine how on earth I could have made you a better person, but it’s a lovely thing to say. Although, I guess I just wrote this post about how we are encouraging each other to be better people, so… As for hope, I definitely think that it’s something we can provide for one another!
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss your company and wish for your return. At the same time, I think it’s so important to let people have the time that they need. Earlier, I asked you not to go, and I thought that was the right thing to do at the time. Selfish, too, but we won’t talk about that. That time, if you went away, I felt that you would not return. This time was different, different circumstances, different needs you were feeling (I say all this as if I know). It was a hiatus, not a disappearance. We knew where you were.
Now I’m in a middle kind of ground, where I don’t want to put pressure on you to write or comment. I think you need to have a good balance between your work, your life, and your writing, and it can take plenty of time to figure that balance out. I will say that I have been inspired by your writing; it makes me think and feel, which is the best thing I know to say about any kind of art. Your comments provide the same, making me see things in a new light, or making me dig further into what I believe. That’s pretty awesome.