My 10th Bloggiversary!

What an unexpected milestone!

Tomorrow, December 1, 2022, marks the tenth year that I have been writing this blog. I find it nearly impossible to imagine sticking to any task in life for that long, and yet here we are. What an unexpected milestone.

If this blog were my spouse, I’d be looking around for a traditional gift made of tin, because according to myweddinganniversary.com, “The traditional 10th anniversary gift is tin, symbolizing how a successful marriage needs to be flexible and stable, and able to be bent without being broken. Tin symbolizes preservation and longevity.”

When I started this blog, the last thing I would have predicted was preservation or longevity. I assumed that I’d run out of ideas in about 6 months. But then it became a habit. Then it grew on me. Now, I can’t imagine life without it.

My first post ever, entitled “Nature is what’s happening while you’re not looking.” is a full-on love letter to bridgetending, the job that I’ve now been doing for just over 21 years, and the thing that has given me the time and opportunity to observe the world minutely and then blog about it. But when I reread that post just now, I was kind of shocked that it makes no mention of the fact that I was about to embark on this life-changing blogging endeavor. Of course, at the time I thought this blog was mere whimsy and would have a brief shelf life. That goes to show that we never know how long a journey we will take when we first step out the door.

You’d think I’d have at least said something like, “Hi everybody! I’m Barb, and I’m nervous. Thank you for stopping by. I hope you like what you see.”

But in truth, I don’t think that I believed that anyone outside of my family would ever read it. And that’s a genuine irony, because my closest blood relatives are the very people who rarely take the time to read these outpourings of my very soul. I can only hope they’ll choose to do so long after my body has been made into compost and returned to the earth. If that’s the case, I’d like to say “Hello, relative! It’s about freakin’ time! Ha!”

This blog has caused me to go down numerous avenues of inquiry that I wouldn’t have pursued otherwise. It has allowed me to make friends that I wouldn’t have met in any other way. It has also given me the opportunity to vastly improve my writing skills and find my (often disastrously unfiltered) voice.

If this blog were a dog, it would be 56 to 79 in human years, depending on its size, according to this calculator. Good dog! So good! That deserves a chunk of cheese.

This is my 3,417th post. I now have 655 followers, but I don’t take that very seriously, because I follow scores of blogs that I almost never find the time to read. But when I follow a blog, it’s kind of a vote of confidence, and I definitely appreciate those when they’re directed at me.

Since I’m writing this post two weeks prior to its actual publishing, I can only calculate the following statistics based on overall averages. Through the years, I’ve had about 215,000 visitors who have read about 374,000 posts. That’s a lot of eyes upon my words. It’s almost too much to comprehend. It humbles me.

As for words, I’ve written about 1,808,000 of those in this blog over the years. It’s safe to say that I’ve exposed my soft underbelly to the extent that I can never run for president. But if you’re a regular reader, you know that such an idea would never cross my mind anyway. That much scrutiny and criticism would be my definition of hell.

Having said that, though, I’m even more humbled by the fact that so many people have chosen to share my words with others. I’m unsure if the 4,705 shares on Facebook include my own postings on my Facebook group for this blog, but I can guarantee you that I have had nothing to do with the 4,138 shares on Twitter, the 3,792 shares on LinkedIn, the 4,537 shares on Reddit, or the 4,406 shares on Tumblr. If I were that active on social media, I’d have no time to write.

Of the 15,465 comments that my posts have generated on the WordPress site alone, I must confess that 6,989 of them are mine. I make every effort to respond to every comment, even now, because I’m so gratified when someone takes the time to reach out to me that I feel that they’re owed a response. I’ve learned so much from my readers, and that education, for me, is priceless.

This must be a labor of love, because, despite a brief and feeble attempt to sell out by allowing ads on my blog a while back, I have made not even one thin dime in all these years. In a way, that’s kind of pathetic, but the truth is that I never wanted this to feel like a job. Money has never been the object.

I did self-publish one anthology, and I practically beat you over the head with my plaintive cries to purchase a copy. It’s safe to say that I shouldn’t quit my day job. But I am really proud of the fact that it’s out there, somewhere, especially since my last name is Abelhauser, and there are only 10 of us left on earth. This book is my way of saying we were here.

I learned so much from that first book, and if I had it to do over again, I’d make several significant changes. I have the blog posts picked out for several more anthologies, but as much as I love to write, I lack the follow through to actually make them come to life. I had so many wonderful people helping me with the first book, and many of those would jump right in and help out again if I asked. I just can’t seem to get my act together. The fault is entirely mine.

Part of my hesitancy in taking on another anthology is that I have a complete and utter lack of time, and a good portion of that lack is due to the blog itself. It can be stressful, trying to pump out content on a daily basis. When I’m not writing it, I’m usually in the midst of full-blown anxiety because I’ve fallen behind or I can’t think of anything to write.

To that end, I decided to cut back and only post on even numbered days, starting on August 8, 2021. When I reread my announcement about that change, I have to laugh at my naivete. I actually thought it would double my free time, and I’d have the opportunity to relax and read books, a pastime that I sorely miss.

I miss it still, unfortunately, because somehow when I made that change, my blog posts, which had up to that point averaged 528 words per post, almost immediately increased to 1059 words per post. So I’m actually writing more now than I had been. Believe me when I say that this was not a conscious effort on my part. The reduction in deadline stress seems to have awakened my muse, or at the very least, my tendency to ramble on.

But my life is so full these days, and my health is ever more precious to me. The bulk of my health issues are triggered by stress, so I’ve decided to take a run at reducing my content yet again. Don’t panic. You’ll hardly notice. I’ve decided to only post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays going forward. Statistically, viewership tanks on the weekends anyway, and on the weekdays, it will still feel like an every other day thing for you.

Hopefully this change will be a reduction in stress for me. But who knows? Maybe I’ll start writing even longer posts to feed my addiction. If so, perhaps I should quit blogging entirely and just write the books that are in me somewhere.

Nah. I’d be lost without your comments on a regular basis! I write alone, but we read together.

Thank you, dear reader, for sticking with me all this time. I hope you’ll continue to do so. You have been my companion on this journey of self-discovery by way of inspiring me to explore the world. And that means more to me than you’ll ever know.

So, what will I be doing to celebrate this decade of blogging bliss tomorrow? Truth be told, I’ll driving someone to a very unpleasant sounding outpatient surgical procedure, and then anxiously waiting until I can return him home. That’s what one does when one has a full life, I suppose.

After 10 years, I feel that I have the right to ask you for a favor. Please have some cake for me to recognize this lofty milestone of mine. Maybe even blow out a candle if you’ve got one. At the very least, sing a song, do a dance, or leave a comment below.

Thanks! And this isn’t goodbye. You can’t get rid of me that easily. I’ll be talking to you in two days. Life does have a way of going on.

This Isn’t Goodbye

Am I ending this blog?

So, dear readers, I’ve been overwhelmed lately. I have an ever-increasing list of things that I need to do, and I just keep carrying it over from one weekend to the next, and by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m so exhausted that tackling the list is too daunting.

Bridgetending is the best job in the world in that you get a lot of down time, and you can use that down time to do other things, such as paying bills or cleaning out the digital photos on your computer or scheduling appointments or planning vacations. But I don’t do those things because I spend at least half my shift writing this daily blog.

Don’t get me wrong. I adore this blog. It has improved my writing, it has garnered me a lot of friends, it has given me the opportunity to express feelings and share experiences and explore the world. It’s a huge part of my life.

But it’s also the thing I hide behind so as not to become bored with my job. In that way it has become a security blanket. As I enter my cronehood (using the positive definition of that word, “A woman who is venerated for experience, judgment and wisdom), I am beginning to realize that I’m a lot more multi-faceted and nuanced than I once was, and can therefore stave off boredom in a variety of ways.

And on days when I have writers block, or when there’s a situation at work that actually requires that I do something, this blog has been a huge stressor in my life. I’ve lost sleep over this blog. Sometimes it takes me over rather than being something that I’m in charge of and freely choose to produce.

I have been on this treadmill every day since December 1, 2012. And I’m not sure when it was that I lost all agency. It kind of snuck up on me.

And then the other day I was in the shower, thinking about a conversation I had had that day with a friend in which she was describing how she had lost her sense of smell so gradually that she didn’t notice it was happening until it was completely gone. While washing my hair I thought about that gradual shift, and suddenly realized that was happening to me, too, in blog form. This blog has taken on a life of its own, and it rules me and it’s stressful. When did I lose all control?

Am I ending this blog? No! I can’t quit you guys. And I do love to write. But I’m going to take some pressure off myself. Rather than grinding out content every single day, I plan to only write a post for the even numbered days. (See what I did there? Seven months of the year I’ll get two days off in a row! Woo hoo!)

I’m hoping this will bring multiple gifts to my world. It will allow me to get things done that I’ve been putting off for aeons. It will improve my writing even more in that it will bring joy back into it, and I’ll be able to dedicate more time to each topic if the spirit moves me. It will allow me, once again, to read. I love to read. I rarely have the time. And my eyesight is not getting better from one day to the next, so I should enjoy reading while I can.

And nothing is cast in stone. If I feel the need to speak out about something that’s time sensitive, I can always post it on an odd numbered day. And occasionally I get so inspired that I write and write and write. If I hit one of those periods of abundance, I might go back to daily posts for a time. We’ll see.

The point is, I can be flexible. I am the decider. And realizing that has already taken a lot of pressure off me. I feel liberated.

And who knows? Maybe it will give me the time to finally publish book two. If so, You’ll be the first to know.

So, this isn’t goodbye. This is just me saying hello every other day.

Namaste, dear readers.

Not really! Don’t worry!

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

A Cutting-Edge Political Humorist

Are you an annoyed liberal with an appreciation for a sharp sense of humor? Read on.

Because I’m a member of a delightful Facebook group called Crones of Anarchy, I’ve stumbled upon the amazing writing of Nancy Woods. She has a page on a forum I had never heard of before, called Substack.Com. Unfortunately I won’t be able to follow her closely because that format doesn’t seem to be like a regular blog. You can only regularly follow her by subscribing via e-mail, and I know me. I don’t actually read 95 percent of my e-mail subscriptions.

Having said that, though, you really need to read Nancy Woods’ posts, especially if, like me, you are an annoyed liberal with an appreciation for a sharp sense of humor. Her column is called “Fuck Around and Find Out.” The description on the “about” page says, “Politics has turned into a test of the Emergency Moron System. Stick around for 50 Shades of Cray, because those with a brain like a BB in a boxcar need to be called out.”

Don’t you just love her already? But to further whet your appetite, Here’s a portion of one of her posts, which I’m sharing with her kind permission. Be warned, though, if you’re easily offended, if your knickers are prone to getting into a twist, you may want to give this a pass. But that’s one of the reasons it makes me so happy. So without further ado, here’s Nancy Woods.

__________________________

On today’s episode of “Fuck Around and Find Out”:

Oh, I’m a senator and I’m okay. Senator Lindsey “Lady G” Graham (R-SC) loves Chick-Fil-A and it’s anti-LGBTQ stance and don’t you forget it and I wonder just how much money the company donates to Lady G. Does Chick-fil-A offer glory holes now? Lapdog Lindsey stood up for the homophobic fast food chain after students at Notre Dame protested the university’s suggestion that Chick-Fil-A become part of a “comprehensive dining plan” and that the university is “considering a variety of future restaurant options, including Chick-Fil-A.” The chain is notable for their contribution to anti-LGBT groups and creepy employees.

The Fighting Irish students wrote that they believe “a variety of other restaurants would better fit Notre Dame’s mission and our student body’s needs,” while also calling for “student and faculty leaders to stop catering Chick-fil-A at campus events.”

That’s all it took for Lady G to step in, because his voice is Very Important in his own mind and he’s not been able to kick any toddlers lately. In a series of tweets, he maintained that “I have always thought that Notre Dame was one of the greatest universities in America, if not the world.” But. He then tweeted that “It’s disappointing to hear some ND students and faculty want to ban Chick-fil-A from doing business on campus because they disagree with the values held by the Chick-fil-A founders. What a dangerous precedent to set.” See, Lady G agrees with discriminating against LGBTQ citizens, and disagrees with holding someone accountable for their actions. Witness his love of the Doddering Dotard. Guess he’d also be cool with a statue of Goebbels even if the university “disagree[s] with the values held” by the Nazis.

Lapdog Lindsey is figuratively standing by his man, doubling down as he tweeted “I want everyone in South Carolina and across America to know I have Chick fil-A’s back. I hope we don’t have to, but I will go to war for the principles Chick fil-A stands for. Great food. Great service. Great values. God bless Chick fil-A!”

Because nothing says America like discrimination against our LGBTQ friends, who, last time I checked, were Americans with the same rights and privileges as all of us. Odd that a senator would back a company that seeks to devalue the worth of certain American citizens, but then, this is the GQP and that’s how the mentally unendowed roll. Can you see Narnia in your closet, Lady G?

I wish I’d been a girlie, just like my dear papa.

I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that? http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Pay Attention!

There’s a veritable smorgasbord of observation just waiting for you!

While listening to an author being interviewed on NPR, I heard her say, “It’s a writer’s job to pay attention.”

Whoa. Yeah. That’s it, exactly. Writers write to get you to see things you might not otherwise see. That goes for reporters, novelists, poets, and bloggers. That concept, in a nutshell, is why this blog exists.

I began this blog when I did for two reasons. First of all, I was no longer with my ex, who is also a writer, so I felt free to write without raining on his parade. I never wanted him to feel as if it were a competition of some sort, and I didn’t want to discourage him in any way, because writing is something he loves to do. Everyone should be given the space to do what they love to do.

Second, I had an epiphany one day that as a bridgetender, I spent a lot of time looking out the same exact window, and I therefore knew every aspect of that view on a level a lot more intimate than the average window-gazer. I could tell you exactly where the sun came up at various points during the year. I knew when joggers would pass by, and who had what dog, and when various animals would migrate and have babies. I even knew which transformer was most likely to get hit in a thunderstorm. And while gazing, I had a lot of time to think. All of this is blog fodder.

Paying attention takes practice. Sometimes when my introverted self gets overstimulated, I absolutely have to bury my head in the sand to maintain my sanity. I hole up, take a nap or dive into a book, want complete silence, and don’t care about the shenanigans of the wider world. Sometimes I just play repetitive game apps on my phone for hours on end simply to shut off my brain. And that’s okay, in moderation. But if you stay in that mode for too long you risk wasting your life.

Whether you’re a writer or not, it’s important to look up every once in a while. Lift your head up from your smart phone. Stop gazing at your navel. Smell the roses. Wake up. Face a different direction for a change. Look further off in the distance than you usually do. Have experiences. Listen. Get involved. Act up. Educate yourself. Get political. Ask questions. Get answers. Be curious. Turn left instead of right for a change. Have a creative impact on your world.

If you feel like you’re in a rut, go sideways. See what’s over there. There’s so much to see and do in this amazing world of ours. There’s a veritable smorgasbord of observation just waiting for you. Pay attention!

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Caveat Lector

Critical thinking seems to have flown out the window.

In this blog I do my best not to present my opinions as facts. Would I like to bring people around to my way of thinking? Heck yeah. But I don’t really consider myself particularly persuasive.

I do worry about this, though, because I see a growing trend. Critical thinking seems to have flown out the window. More and more people believe everything they read. People will share memes without even being sure they’re true, for example, and that is causing a whole host of societal problems. (This whole paragraph is chock full of opinions. See how tricky that is?)

I don’t want to lead people down a primrose path. I don’t want to form a cult. I don’t want people to think that I’m smarter than I am. (Well, okay, maybe I do want that last one. So sue me.)

I’d like to figure out a way to promote critical thinking in this blog. I want people to question. I want them to learn. I want them to recognize that there are different points of view, different philosophies of life, and different ways to solve problems. I would love your thoughts on the subject, dear reader.

Until then, let your motto be Caveat Lector: let the reader beware.

Jeez…

Enjoy my random musings? Then you’ll love my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

This Is My 3000th Blog Post

Your comments provide the endorphins that keep me writing.

Wow. I can hardly believe that I’ve posted a blog every day for the last 3,000 days. I figured I’d be able to come up with 180 posts, at best, and then I’d move on to something else. Basket weaving. Painting. Origami. Knitting. And yet, here we are.

Some fun facts for you. As of this writing, I have 651 followers. My blog has been viewed 317,536 times, by 181,429 visitors. It has produced one book and one stalker. (Not to worry, though, the stalker has long since moved on to, I assume, freak out other bloggers.) I’ve used far fewer semicolons than I should have, and entirely too many commas. By the end of last year, I had written 1,275,316 words.

But the words that mean the most to me have come from comments. That’s my favorite part of the blog. They provide the endorphins that keep me writing. I enjoy interacting with you, dear reader, and hope to continue doing so in the future.

So I will leave you with some of my favorite comments, which I also hope to include in my next book, should I ever get around to finishing it. I debated posting these comments here, because it might come off as a shameless ego massage, but in the end I decided that it’s truly the best way to show how much this blog means to me. That, and culling through all the comments throughout the years reminded me just how many friends I’ve made along the way. Reading these comments brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for reading and participating, each and every one of you.

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From pouringmyartout, (whose comments I dearly miss): “I sort of like this slightly weird side of you. Thanks for letting us get to know you a little better… you freak…”

Bob Hamilton: “As I think about your followers, I visualize their jobs…. those with lonely jobs on perches or boats or night shifts or even truckers; those who may enjoy written words more than conversational dialogue; those who love knowledge for its own sake. That may only scratch the surface of your followers, but I feel like a hobo sharing a daily train ride of the mind. Thank you!”

Leah Hurley: “I needed this! Exactly this!”

Paula Ross: “This might be your best blog entry. You were talking for me and about me. Thank you.”

Norm Houseman: “And the congregation said, ‘AMEN!’”

Jen: “An excellent, thoughtful essay. Thank you.”

Cupitonians: “I missed your posts for 2 weeks. I mean, I was in exotic travel mode and I still wished my phone worked so I could read your posts. Crazy, no? I’m all caught up now! I don’t know how you always manage to inspire. xx”

Paulette: “Way too personal…you have touched me at the heart of my life’s problems. I will ponder this blog all day. This is a good thing. Thank you.”

Kramer: “Thanks for letting me know that I’m NOT the only one in the world who feels this way.”

Deborah Drake: “I appreciate all your brave, vulnerable, vivid, colorful, compassionate, and genuine posts. How you see what you see blows my mind wide open every time.”

Helen: “Congrats and keep ’em coming! Always look forward to reading your point of view which often coincides with mine.”

Elaine Lorefield: “You have entertained me and let me into your life.. thank you.”

AvalancheOfTheSoul: “At last, the thoughts inside my head eloquently expressed in a post.”

Kappaloca: “Whoever you are, you have no idea how I needed this today. THANK YOU”

Mountainstroh (Tony): “You make it worth visiting, lady!”

Lyn Sutton: “Look out evil! Barb is armed with guerrilla warfare weapons. She shines a ginormous light. Your blog touches my soul so often that I have embraced you as a positive force of balance amidst the chaos.”

Amy Sassenberg: “Thanks for sharing your stories, Barb. You are a healing force in the world.”

Vicky: “This may seem random, but I love you, Barb. I just do.”

Julie: “Your openness, honesty and clear sense of self is refreshing!”

Liz: “I can’t believe that you have written every day for years – and that each of your posts is so well done.”

Amelia Isabel: “Loving your posts. They’re giving me the encouragement I need. Xoxo”

Sam: “You inspire others with your words and kindness…and I’m proud to know you.”

Carole Lewis: “Finding your Blog has been a bright spot in my days. Whether provocative, thoughtful, soulful, or hilarious, I find something I can relate to on many levels, and I know I am connected in this great universe. And that’s a good thing. Thank You! Carry on, Dear Friend. Keep speaking for those of us that can’t or won’t. Tell us those stories of places we will never visit. Open our eyes to seeing ourselves in a mirror and liking what we see. When I read your blogs, I like myself much better, believe that more things are possible and that I can also make a difference. I am forever grateful to the Cigarette Girl, and the Waving Man, and all the gifts you have sent my way. Your heart flows through your words. Just don’t ever quit doing this blog. I would never survive the withdrawal.”

Richard Williams: “I love your blog. It’s a daily tonic for me.”

Forrest Brakeman: “Even through you’re venting, you have exposed me to a new world. Thank you.”

Kevin: “Cranberries are evil.”

Lynn Fitz-Hugh: “You are the only person I know who can make a story like this funny. Hat’s off.”

Jay: “You’re a writing inspiration! (seriously) Thanks!”

Raquel DeHoyos: “Oh Barbara, I think I love this one the most of all your stories. Thank you for your courage to live it, write it, and share it.”

And this one really made me laugh:

Angiportus Librarysaver: “Get your mind out of the gutter!” But in fairness, he also said: “Sing it, sister. Any @#$%&* can vituperate, but it takes brains to call someone out using Reason. You’re one of the lights in the garbage. Even when I don’t agree with you, which is once in a while. Long live boundaries.”

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

My Eighth Bloggiversary

Our world has certainly changed and grown.

I started this blog on December 1, 2012. I figured it would be a nice experiment, and a way to improve my writing, but I was sure I’d run out of things to say after about six months. Little did I know how quickly our world (and this blogger) would change and grow during all this time. I have yet to run out of things to talk about. In fact, I have even published an anthology of some of my posts which you can check out here. I should have done several more by now, but I seem to lack the follow through. Fingers crossed that I can get back to work with a little help from my very patient friends. It’s been on the top of my to-do list for years. I honestly don’t know what is holding me back.

I was trying to remember the person who sat down at that keyboard, with its several missing keys, eight years ago, and to be perfectly honest, I can’t. I even went back to my first blog post, entitled, “Nature is what’s happening while you’re not looking”, and that really only gives me a glimpse of her. All I know is that I’m a completely different person now.

That new blogger’s whole life revolved around her identity as a bridgetender. It was the one thing she could cling to. The rest of her life was a total shambles. She was very unhappy and felt as if there was no hope. I tried not to show that in this blog, but sometimes it would leak through.

I’m still proud of my job, and I enjoy it, but it’s not the only thing I’ve got anymore. In fact, I look at it more and more as the thing that enables me to live my life and also write this blog. And I’m extremely grateful that bridgetending happens to be something I enjoy doing. I know so many people who really hate their jobs, and given that a lot of their waking hours are spent doing those jobs, to hate them seems like a tragedy to me. I hope I never forget how lucky I am.

Now, I am a wife and a writer and a little free library curator and an exerciser and a traveler. I am a person who has hope and plans for the future. I have moved to the other side of the country to a place that fits me much more politically, albeit much less socially.

This past eight years has really taught me who my friends really are. It makes me realize that quality is so much more important than quantity. And something unexpected happened along the way: I made several additional friends because of this blog. What a gift.

It also occurs to me that I used to say “what a gift” a lot more often in my blog. I really need to start doing that again, because if there’s nothing else that this pandemic has taught me, it’s that so much about our lives and connections to others are precious.

I am also learning, slowly, that it’s important to establish firm boundaries with people. I am a lot less love-starved these days, and therefore I am not willing to tolerate cruel treatment that I would have once overlooked. I no longer have the energy for it, and I also know I deserve better. Some people are best seen in your rear view mirror. Onward!

Now I look forward to many more years of blogging. But there are no guarantees in life. Perhaps the person I will be eight years from now will not be a blogger. And that’s okay, too. But meanwhile, watch this space, dear reader, and thanks to all of you who have stuck with me over the years.

A Brief Ego Blip

Fame is fleeting, but what a rush!

Last month I wrote a post about the Little Free Library that we built for our front yard, and my blog got 670 views that day. Clearly the subject resonated with people. I was really, really proud, because I’m currently averaging 107 views a day.

Throughout the day, I kept visiting my statistics page to watch the numbers go up and up and up, and it was such a rush. I didn’t want the feeling to ever end. But I knew it would, because this isn’t the first time this has happened on this blog.

One time I wrote a post that got 762 views in one day at a time when I was averaging 45 views a day. Ironically, it was called “Holy Screamin’ Cats! I’m Trending!!!” and it was about yet another viewing blip of 376 views. So the post about the trend exceeded the post itself. It will be awfully hard to break that record. Fame, however, is fleeting, as you can see by my statistics below.

I think that how someone deals with that says a great deal about that person. I could have mourned the loss of all that attention. I could have gotten bitter about the return to the status quo. I could have suffered ego withdrawal. But instead I’m choosing to look back at it and smile.

I’ve learned over the years that it’s impossible to foresee which of my posts are going to be popular. And in a way, that makes it fun. Roller coasters that are predictable are not nearly as exciting.

Thanks to all of you who have been along for the ride!

Capture

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The Nuts and Bolts of This Daily Blog

I love the comments most of all, because it makes me feel like we have a community, here.

I spend about 4 hours a day working on this blog. I’m fortunate in that I have the kind of job that allows me to do much of this while on the clock. If I had to dedicate this much of my free time to keep this engine chugging along, trust me, you’d be staring at a blank page.

The truth is, though, I don’t blog every day. Actually, I write two posts a day, four days a week. At least, that’s my goal. The nice thing about WordPress is it allows me to postpone my publishing date, so I can have them come out one a day, one minute past midnight, Pacific time.

If I don’t have at least 10 posts in queue at the end of my four day writing week, I’m very uncomfortable. My world doesn’t feel quite right. I genuinely believe that this weekly routine has improved my writing greatly over the years.

Sometimes I plan even farther ahead. For example, if I have a vacation coming up, I try to get enough posts in queue that I don’t have to mess with it during that time. (I love you guys, but sometimes I need a break.)

But who am I kidding? Even on holiday, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my statistics to see how many people have been reading my musings, and try to get a sense of what brought them here. I also post a link to the day’s publication on my Facebook group, The View from a Drawbridge. Then I run back over to my statistics and watch them spike, because a lot of my readers find me through Facebook. I’m averaging 106 views a day, now. What a rush.

I also try to respond to all comments the moment I see them. I figure if someone has taken the time to read what I write and respond to it, the very least I can do is reply. And I love the comments most of all, because it makes me feel like we have a community, here. And often that feedback from what I call Drawbridge Nation inspires other writing topics, which is wonderful.

Every day, I also reread and edit every single post that’s in queue. That means that if you see a typo, I’ve likely overlooked it as many as 10 times. Shame on me. (I really do appreciate it when you guys point errors out to me, though, so I hope you’ll keep it up.) Often the final draft is so different from the original as to be unrecognizable.

But that also means that I don’t want to get too much more ahead than 10 days. More than that and I feel so removed from the topic in question as to have become bored with it. I’m so over my writing after the 10th edit.

Another thing I try to do is link back to other posts that have something to do with the one you’re reading. After 6 years, I have quite the backlog to draw upon. New readers seem to appreciate this the most.

And after more than 2,200 posts, I’ve found it useful to keep a spreadsheet with the titles, the date published, and a short sentence as to what each post was about. In alphabetical order. With a link to the post. Because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to find anything, and since the ultimate goal is writing anthologies, this is a tool well worth maintaining.

I also link to other sources of information whenever possible. I’m humble enough to realize that there are others out there with more expertise and insight than I have. It is my hope that my posts are starting points for people, not dead ends.

And I enjoy finding really interesting pictures to include in each post. I’ve discovered that a lot of search engines have a way to filter their photographs so you can choose one that is “free to use or share.” If ever I were to be approached by someone who said that I didn’t have permission to use a photograph, I’d take it down immediately. I really do take copyright seriously. But I love the fact that it’s often the photo that draws the reader in.

One thing I do every waking moment is think in terms of blog fodder. Things I see or do. Conversations I have. The news of the day. Suggestions from you, dear reader. All can inspire a post. I have a long list of ideas for future posts. Some have been on the list for so long that I can barely remember what I was talking about. I’ve come to view everything through the filter of my blog. It’s second nature to me now. Like breathing out and breathing in. (I also tend to think in terms of song lyrics.)

This blog came to life because it occurred to me that I spend a great deal of time all alone in my little bridge tower, staring at the same view day in and day out, and because of that I notice minute details that most people overlook. I figured this blog would last 6 months, if that. But now I can’t imagine life without it, and without all of you. It’s such a big part of my routine, and such a source of joy for me.

What a gift. What a gift. And your reading of my writing is what makes it come alive. You are the nuts and bolts of this blog. So thank you, dear reader. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

(And a big thank you to Ray for suggesting this topic!)

You

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

My Sixth Blogiversary

Can you believe I’ve been publishing a post on this blog every day for six whole years? I can’t. I assumed I’d last about six months, if that. But now this blog looms so large in my life that I cannot imagine being without it.

Through this blog I’ve made many friends, have had many unique experiences, and have expressed many opinions. It has improved my writing and given me a platform and a voice to use thereon. It could be argued that it was how I got my husband, because he always says that he got to truly know me by reading my blog posts.

When I realized this anniversary was about to roll around, I asked several people for suggestions as to what I should write about to commemorate the occasion. In fact, they had so many good ideas that it is going to generate a half dozen posts.

But the suggestion that seemed most appropriate for this specific day came from a member of my new extended family, who also happens to be a writer. She said I should pick six blog posts that I loved writing the most. This seemed like a great idea to me.

What I hadn’t considered was that I’d have to plow through more than 2100 entries to pick those six. Yikes. Thank goodness I keep a spreadsheet that includes the title with a link to the post and a short description of what the post is about, or I’d STILL be reading.

What I decided to do was pick a post from each year. Even that was a struggle. But I think I managed to choose some that really speak to my frame of mind during that time. I can’t say these are the absolute best of the best. But they each mean a great deal to me, and I’m proud of them.

So without further ado, here are my six picks. Let me know what you think!

For 2013 I chose Dog Wisdom. I’m sad to say that both the dogs mentioned in this post have crossed the Rainbow Bridge since I wrote this, but they taught me much, as this entry demonstrates. This one was written early on in the blogging process, and I can tell I was finding my footing, and expressing ideas I had been thinking about for a long time.

For 2014 I chose On Looking Homeless. This was the year that my partner Chuck died quite unexpectedly, and I was feeling very lost and broken. Writing this blog every day helped me work through my grief and pain.

For 2015 I chose The Zen of the Pottery Wheel. When I read this one, I’m reminded of how intensely lonely I was when I first moved to Seattle. I can also tell that I was trying really hard to figure out who I wanted to be.

For 2016 I chose Tent Life. By that point I was settling into my new life, and I was able to raise my head from my navel and look about me. It also gave me time to reminisce and to evaluate my past. This post is about that past.

For 2017 I chose Transformations. This post was written at a time when this country was in turmoil, and it is all about how life can turn on a dime, and how scary that can be. But it shows that I’m learning to cope, and that, for me, is a huge deal.

For 2018 I chose “I Can Do It Myself!!!” This post looks back on the strong, independent single woman that I was, but it also looks forward to the still strong and independent married person I’ve become, and it has made me realize that it’s often a lot more fun to do things with someone else.

My, what a difference six years can make!

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A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book. http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5