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

Reflections on My Very First Blog Post

I had an intense desire to tell my story.

I’ve been blogging daily since December 1, 2012. That’s well over 3000 posts on more topics than I can count. I’m amazed that I still have anything to say. The current plan is to keep going until I run out of ideas, but I can’t speak for the future me. This blog has taught me much, but one of the biggest lessons is that I evolve over time. The future me may want to head off in a different direction entirely. We shall see.

I decided to check out my very first blog post to see what I think about it from some emotional distance. It’s entitled, “Nature is what’s happening when you’re not looking.” I find it rather revealing in retrospect.

First of all, my writing has greatly improved since then. Not that what I wrote was bad. I would just write it a bit differently now. I tend to inject more of my personality into my writing these days. Perhaps that is because I’ve gained confidence. I also hope I’ve gotten even more entertaining to read. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I still think I’m an acquired taste, like beer. Either you’ll like my stuff or you won’t. I can be weird. I’m definitely opinionated.

I’ve always thought that this blog had taught me how to observe the world. Everything I see, do, and hear is potential blog fodder. But now that I reread my first post, I can see that I have always been one to study the people and things around me. Whether I’m sitting quietly on the sidelines or right in the thick of it, I’m taking it all in.

And clearly, I was itching to write by the time I started. I had been holding back so as not to rain on someone else’s parade, but I sense a restlessness, looking back. I had an intense desire to tell my story. After more than a decade on the graveyard shift, I really wanted to be heard. Blogging was my way of reaching out.

It may not be as obvious to the outside observer, but I also sense that I had been in a rut for a long time, and was hoping to write my way out of it. This blog has been a catalyst for change. When I look at where I was back then and compare it to where I am now, I see this blog woven into the fabric of the flying carpet I’ve been riding on. I might have stayed airborne without those threads, but it would be a different rug, indeed.

And, without a doubt, I am grateful for the many friends I have made because of this blog. You know who you are. Thank you, dear reader, for being here and breathing life into the view from my humble drawbridge.

And now, as my friend Carole says, “Onward and upward, into the future!”

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

Search Terms Revisited

Your guess is as good as mine.

WordPress has a nifty little feature that allows me to review what search terms have drawn people to my blog posts. Sadly, it doesn’t tell me which post in particular it brought the person to, or who did the search, but either way it can be very fascinating.

The most popular search term that draws people to me, by a country mile, is “I hate alcohol.” And indeed, I’ve posted several rants on the subject, so that makes a certain amount of sense. Another popular one is “bridge symbolism,” and that happens to be the title of my most popular post.

Another term that’s more popular than in should be is various versions of “6 inch heels”. I wrote a post once about how destructive high heels are to women, and I included a picture of some 6-inch black stilettos. I strongly suspect that people go to perv on the picture more than they do to read the article. Oh well.

On thirty different occasions, someone has used the search term “stupidity” to find my blog. That kind of hurts my feelings. But I guess I’ll get over it.

People searching for the truth about a scoundrel named Andy Johnson in Jacksonville, Florida often find me, because I’ve posted some inconvenient facts about his lack of integrity on more than one occasion.

“Sex breast” seems to have drawn people to my blog on eight separate occasions. “Breast sex” was the term seven additional times. I have no idea why. I’m not sure I want to know.

For the life of me, though, I’m stumped about “a cat get bitten by diamondback snake”. Why did that bring them to me, and why did they search for such a sick thing in the first place? People are strange.

And then there’s “gas gauge empty pee”. Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this 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

Revisiting Delirium

I wrote this when I was sick as a dog.

Blogging is a labor of love. It can be stressful, finding something new to talk about every day, then actually carving out the time and motivation to put it into writing. Some days I’m much better at it than others. Some days I’m in the zone, and other days the zone eludes me entirely.

But those zone days, when everything clicks and I feel inspired and am proud of the writing, are some of the best days of my life. As long as I get one of those days every once in a while, this blog seems worthwhile to me. It’s all the reward I need.

Without further ado, I urge you to go and check out a blog post, entitled Gently Down the Stream. I wrote it a year ago when I was as sick as a dog. So, naturally, I wrote about being sick as a dog. But there’s something about the flow of this post, the descriptions, the mood, the depiction of my delirium, that really makes me happy and proud.

Enjoy, dear reader, let me know what you think, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Delirium by Feeriee13 on DeviantArt

Read any good books lately? Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

N-N-1 Autumn 2020

The results of another great writing and photography challenge!

For several years now, I’ve participated in a delightful photography/creative writing experiment that was created by two of my favorite bloggers, Anju, who writes This Labyrinth I Roam, and Norm, who writes Classical Gasbag. They thought it would be interesting to see what people all over the world were doing/seeing/experiencing at the same point in time. As Norm explains it, in N-N-1 the first N stands for the number of participants, the second for the number of photos (they should be the same), and the 1 stands for one time.

Norm hosted this edition, and the subject was Autumn 2020. We all know that this has been a crazy year, and as we transition into a different season, all the participants had the opportunity to reflect on the insanity. The results are bittersweet, but in the end, there’s always hope, and that was reflected in many of the write ups. That’s what I cling to.

Please check out the really beautiful photos and the thoughtful, accompanying writing at Norm’s blog. (My photo appears below, but you’ll have to visit Norm’s blog for the write up.)

Now is the perfect time to stay at home and read a good book. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Diddly-Squat Again

Rich people riding stuff out.

True confessions: I like to read my own blog. I like to read it way too much, if I’m honest. It’s my version of gazing wistfully into a mirror.

But every once in a while I’ll come across a post that I wrote when in a completely different situation, and yet it will be so applicable to today that it gives me the shivers. So it is with On Doing Diddly-Squat.

I wrote that post back in 2018, long before this pandemic. Long before doing diddly-squat was the norm for all of us. It talks of rich people riding stuff out. It talks of leaders not taking responsibility. It talks of bolting one’s doors.

I hope you’ll check that post out. It’s a heaping helping of déjà vu.

deja_vu_by_chin2off

Like this blog? Then you’ll love this book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

I Missed My Blogiversary!

Seven years, writing a new post every single day.

December 1, 2019 was the 7 year anniversary of this blog. Seven years, writing a new post every single day. That’s an amazing accomplishment, even if I do say so myself. When I started, I assumed it would be a 6 month project at most, because how on earth would I come up with a new topic every day? Surely no one has that much to say. And yet, here I am.

So you’d think I’d have remembered on the day. I should have taken myself out to dinner or gotten a massage or something. But no. It totally slipped my mind. WordPress had to remind me with their automated congratulations. I celebrated by eating apple pie for breakfast the next morning.

This blog has been a major part of my life. I spend at least 16 hours on it every week, and even more than that if you count the hours of stress over writer’s block and utter lack of inspiration. It’s been the source of great friendships and fascinating feedback. It has also been the source of my first book. I’ve also halfway cobbled together a second book, but I can’t seem to get motivated to finish it. (I was about to say that follow through is not my strong suit, but if that were the case, this blog wouldn’t exist. So the lack of a second book is due to basic laziness. Ouch.)

The bottom line is that I can’t imagine who I’d be anymore without this blog. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time to read it, dear reader. I’ve marked my calendar so that I won’t miss this anniversary in future years. I hope there will be many more celebrations to come.

I can’t help but wonder, though, why it’s so easy to overlook our own accomplishments, even for those of us who wouldn’t think of overlooking the accomplishments of others. That sounds like the topic for a future blog post. Hmmm…

Feather-Pen-7