Fall Back Into Blogging

This week I will be participating in a blog challenge hosted by The Sits Girls website. As you’ve noticed things have been a little sporadic around here through the summer. It’s been that way for a couple of reasons. Yes we’ve been very busy, like everyone else in blogland, and done a lot of traveling. Keeping up with the blog has slid on down the list of priorities. But as I mentioned about a month ago I have also decided to change the purpose and focus of The Journey Leads Home since we have moved into the Empty Nest phase of life. So I’m still trying to feel my way through that. As any new phase of life take some getting used to, so it is with changing the focus of a blog.

At any rate, the purpose of this blog challenge is to help get the participating bloggers back into the swing of regular blogging. So each day of the upcoming week there is an assigned blogging prompt. Since we are going to be in Dallas all week I am going to write a little ahead and schedule them to post on the correct days. This is also going to help with my writing skills. Another thing I’ve discovered in taking such a long break from blogging that my writing skills have suffered as well. Ideas used to fill my mind all the time. I used to need a notebook on hand to write down ideas that would pop up because my mind was just always in writing mode. But now all I get is this ……………………………………………………………………….. If you don’t use it you DO lose it! So I am really looking forward to participating in challenges like this to exercise my mind again. I want to get back to needing a notebook for all the ideas my mind comes up with. So if you’ve noticed my writing isn’t quite what it used to be please bear with me. I’m working on it. It’s kind of like when you haven’t exercised for a long time and you’ve noticed your muscles really aren’t muscles anymore. They’re more fat now. Yeah – my brain is less muscle and more mush right now.

The prompts for the week look fun though. If you have a blog and want to participate in the challenge just follow this link to The Sits Girls site. The prompts are mostly about Fall since it’s the beginning of Fall. And who doesn’t love the change of the seasons? The cooler weather, bonfires, cozy sweaters, beautiful trees….it’s all just what we need after the 90 degree days of summer. Fall is really my favorite season and I am very much looking forward to writing and sharing about my love for it here with all of you this week. If you stop by from the challenge I hope you will leave me a comment with a link to your blog so I can come to visit you as well. That’s one thing I’ve truly missed about blogging – the community of bloggers. It’s like a sisterhood.  I’ve missed my blogging sisters. I’m ready to snuggle up by a cozy fire with my fuzzy socks on and come by your blog for a visit.

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Join My Family

Everyone around the blogging world has been mourning the loss of Google Friend Connect (GFC). I totally understand your loss. However, wordpress.com blogs have never been able to use GFC because of the javascript in it’s coding – which really ticks me off – but that’s another story. However I have come across a new (to me) service for readers to keep up and follow The Journey Leads Home. If you look to your right on my HOME page you will see a box under my blog button called Network Blogs. There is an option to “Follow My Blog”. It will open up a profile in networked blogs where you can then click “Follow”.

I feel like I’m a real part of the blogging community now. I feel like we are all a member of a big family. So if you read my blog then join my blog family!

February Relatives

A new month has rolled around. I love to venture around the blog-i-verse and see what kinds of blog challenges I can find. I love participating in monthly blog challenges because it gives me a reason to write regularly and it gives me a chance to reach out to other bloggers and bond in our common goals. I still have a few challenges I want to explore today, as the first day of the new month.

But one of the writing challenges I have taken part in a number of times before is NaBloPoMo. The theme for February is “Relative”. This will give me a great opportunity to dig a little deeper in the lives of some of my relatives that I don’t get to see very often anymore. Mom & Dad, be ready for all those questions and requests for pictures. In the last year I have written about certain family members. I hope to revisit those family members as well as explore new ones. I also want to learn more about some of Ron’s relatives because they are not only my relatives now too but they are also blood relatives of our children. Someday I hope this blog will be a source of information that MIchael and Lauren can use to learn more about our family.

So I am excited to start NaBloPoMo today. I’d love for you to join us. NaBloPoMo stands for National Blog Posting Month. You can find more information about it by following any of the links or clicking on the button here in this entry or the one in my sidebar. It will be up for the month of February. If you are looking for a great tool to use to get you writing then this could be it. Visit the BlogHer NaBloPoMo site and join in.

NaBloPoMo February 2012

An Excuse for an Exotic Vacation

Today’s topic for the Summer Blog Social is 10 helpful tips to give to someone who is considering starting a blog. Because most of the entries will probably be suggestions about what site to use, how to market your blog and/or ideas about style I thought I would make mine a little different. The others are wonderful and very helpful but my list will definitely help you draw traffic and give you something to write about each day.

1. Inform your family that they are about to become famous. Where else can the average person become well known around the world just for living their life.

2. Learn how to write 800 words about the most mundane parts of your life. Imagine you are talking to your husband at night after he gets home from work and you are telling him all about the exciting parts of your day – such as the laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming, changing the sheets, dusting….you should practice a lot first. Ask him to count the words you say so you will have an idea of how many words it takes to actually talk about those things. Just don’t tell him I suggested it.

3. Capture every event in your family’s life on your camera because one day you won’t have any idea what to write about. Believe it or not it IS possible to run out of things to talk about. I know that is hard to believe considering how much I am finding to say about absolutely nothing right now. But it will happen and then you can wow your readers with amazing pictures of your family or all the other exciting events that happen in your life.

4. Don’t be afraid to stir the pot. We don’t all agree with everyone all the time. Sometimes what you say and think will hit someone else the wrong way. Hopefully that person will realize the same thing and take a chill pill before the hit the comment button. But don’t let that stop you for saying what you believe. As long as you have your blog set to approve all comments before they post then it’s all good!

5. Preface every event with the line “I’m so gonna blog about this”. That way noone is surprised when someone in your life says something about some secret that was revealed on your blog. Then you can say “I warned you”.

6. Get a cell phone so you can text yourself the exciting events that happen each day so you won’t forget what to write about tomorrow. I don’t usually walk around all day with a pad of paper and a pen on me. But I DO always have my cell phone within a foot of my hands at all times. And if you are a regular reader and know that I have fibrofog then you know that my brain is swiss cheese. So it’s handy to have my phone on me to text myself!

7. Get pets. When your husband and kids refuse to be photographed anymore to be used for a blog post your pets can’t refuse. My kids passed the “stop taking pictures to put on your blog” phase a long time ago. That’s when the animals come in handy. Of course it helps if you’ve taught them to sit and stay so they can’t run from you either.

8. Take up a new hobby so you can draw in new readers via Twitter, Facebook or the Tag feature. You know, like sky diving or rock climbing…maybe race car driving or hunting wild game…you’ll always have information to draw all kinds of readers then.

9. Tell your husband you have to go on elaborate vacations in order to attract readers. It’s for a good cause! How else are you supposed to keep your blog exciting and adventurous to keep people coming back? There’s nothing like an exotic vacation to grab everyone’s attention. Duhhhhh

10. Practice being wordy because someday you’re gonna need it. I could give you lessons…CLEARLY!!!

I hope you’ll come over to Liz and/or Jessica‘s blogs to find great links to other bloggers blogs and other social media sites to make new friends.

What I Wish I Had Known Before Blogging

Today begins Summer Blog Socials hosted by Liz at a belle, a bean and a chicago dog and Jessica at Four Plus An Angel. It’s a series of blogging challenges that also includes other forms of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, you tube….I’m not sure of all the ins and outs yet but I know enough to know that it’s a chance to make new friends. And who doesn’t love making new friends. I’m even gonna try to link up my Pinterest. Who doesn’t love Pinterest? Who hasn’t tried Pinterest yet? You don’t know what you’re missing!

Today’s topic is our thoughts about blogging BEFORE we started blogging. I really had no idea what to expect before I started blogging. We were homeschooling at the time so I joined a homeschool blog site. I loved the creativity of building a page where I could display my personality and feature my writing. I started blogging so that family and friends could follow what we were doing on a daily basis. I can’t imagine how boring that must have been. HAHA! I don’t even go back and read those early entries (8/05). After a while I figured out that blogging meant actually writing something every day. Duhhhhh! I began adding some variety to my entries such as picture entries and/or posting videos that pertained to something I was going through at the time. Now I have moved into writing about my illness, spiritual matters, family life, parenting and general thoughts that jump out at me in my life. I have gotten used to the whole idea of writing each day. I don’t promise it’s always good. I’m not gonna win any writing awards. But I always write from my heart. I seem to always have an opinion about something. Thankfully over the last 6 years I have learned that just because I think something doesn’t mean that I have to say it. That’s not an easy lesson for someone like me to learn. But I’ve discovered it’s not always wise to say everything you think. I’m 44 years old and still trying to learn that.

I think “Before I began blogging, I wish I had known…” what to say and when to say it and that you are gonna have to actually SAY something on a regular basis. It’s helped me to follow different blog hops and memes to kick start writing ideas and prompts. But boy sometimes it can get hard when you sit down at the computer and are looking at that blank screen without a single word to be found anywhere.

Let’s Do This Thing

Well, the month of May has kind of puttered out with my 3 in 30 goals. As is typical for me I start strong but by the end of a goal I’m usually barely hanging on. So that seems the be the case for May as well. My goals were to do at least one load of laundry a day, meet a friend for something social at least once a week and to do some research on ways to transition my blog into a way to eventually make some money. I have touched on each of those throughout the month. So, I can’t say the month was a complete bust. But I have not been as successful as I had hoped I would be.

The laundry is my nemesis. If my life were a movie then the laundry would be the arch enemy. I have set my goal each month to be very reachable. I believe you shouldn’t set a goal too big because it would only be overwhelming and easier to give up. At least that’s the case for me. So I set easy reachable goals. At this point any kind of a plan or a hint at any kind of a schedule is an improvement for me. So while other participant’s goals may be more demanding mine are just right for me – which is kind of the point anyway.

I began 3 in 30 in February. I have participated each month except for April. Each month I have had one goal consistently the entire time – to do at least one load of laundry a day. I have not, however, yet accomplished that goal. I have managed to get laundry done each week. But my idea is that, by doing one load every day, I will eliminate the huge piles of laundry who appear to be months waiting to attack. This is a work in progress – sometimes it’s a work in REgress though. That will continue to be one of my goals until it is part of my every day existence just like breathing.

My other two goals for May were to get out once a week to meet with a friend and to begin researching way to improve my blog so that I can move into making blogging a money making venture. I must say that I have given the blog situation a lot of brain time this month. I have improved my blog by working to make it less cluttered looking. It is a continuous work in progress though. And it is no where near the money making stage yet. But the goal was to doing the research. I have done that. There is more to do. But I now have a thought process in the works.

As for meeting a friend each week, that hasn’t quite worked out as well as I had hoped. It wasn’t a flop but it didn’t quite happen as I had envisioned. I intend to continue working toward this goal because it’s one that I really need. A woman really needs to have emotional connections with other women. I’ve learned just how important that is. I’ve also learned how important it is for them to have relationships with a friend outside of their home. Being a wife and mom 24/7 is very fulfilling but it can also be very lonely. If you add in a chronic illness into that equation the loneliness is something of a different deeper level. What makes it even worse for me is that I am naturally a loner. I am an only child. So, for most of my life I have been alone. I have had friends over the years. I have even had a friend who I felt was close enough to me to call my “best friend”. However, friendships change and evolve as time goes by. That is a natural thing. It’s been that way for hundreds of years. That’s why it’s so important to have a number of friends. No person is an island. It’s not healthy for anyone to be alone. So I have been working hard emotionally and mentally to expand my friends “pool”. I must admit that I am enjoying it actually. Reaching out to others can be difficult because of the fear of rejection. But it’s worth the effort. That’s where I am right now.

I have already been working on my June goals. I have them in my mind. Here’s hoping June will be the biggest 3 in 30 success I have experienced to date. Here’s hoping the same for you as well. If you do not participate now I recommend visiting the 3 in 30 site and consider joining in. It gives you something to focus on – something that will help you reach a goal. Let’s do this thing! Let’s do this thing TOGETHER!

They Are “Reasons”…Not “Excuses”…Right?

This has not been my most successful week of 3 in 30. I do, however, have a reason for that. To most people that may be read as “excuse”. But to me it explains why something did not get done and that sounds like a reason to me. So there! My parents came to visit last weekend. YAY! However, that means that I spent 4 days going non-stop well past my threshold each day. Therefore I have spent the entire week trying to recouperate from that. It has taken me until today to feel well enough to even consider getting out of my house. THAT will not happen though because it is raining and nasty and there really is no need for me to be out there in it. Now that is a true “reason” – wouldn’t you say? If you don’t think so please don’t tell me. Just agree with me and we’ll all be happier.

So, I am a bit behind on that blasted laundry. For the first 3 days of the week I didn’t even THINK about laundry (or the computer, for that matter. And that is BAD!). So I am now trying to catch up. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who jumps in and helps me whether I ask for it or not. The kids, however, I have to use guilt to motivate them. Since I try not to do that then I get nothing from them unless I am physically and mentally prepared for the whole bargaining and arguing thing. I do remember telling Michael one day though that “when the pile of towels in your bathroom hamper reaches the top of the shower curtain rod it won’t kill you to wash a few”. Not sure what method I used there. Needless to say it didn’t work though. So, I am thankful for my fabulous husband. He is my right arm, my left arm, my right leg, my left leg, (“do the Hokie Pokie…that’s what it’s all about..”) and my brain most days. Since I am feeling better today I am keeping the washer and dryer hoppin’ to catch up.

I had plans this week to meet Alli for lunch. But clearly I haven’t been up to getting out. But I spent the entire weekend last weekend out and about with my mom. So I think that counts as getting out of the house and spending time with a friend, right? Let’s just go with that! WOO HOO – A GOAL I ACCOMPLISHED THIS WEEK – even if it was my mom!

When I am in a flare I can rarely put two words together to form a complete thought. So, exploring ways to improve my blog and/or turn it in to a money making venture has not occurred. At least I don’t think it did. It may have though. I was on a forum at some point discussing ways to match up my blog with companies to advertise for. Let’s pretend like that happened during this particular week, ok? Otherwise I’ll feel completely like a 3 in 30 failure. Now I just need to remember what forum that was on so I can go back and follow through with the suggestions. Hmmmmmmmm

Next week will be a better week. I will have a much more positive 3 in 30 update to post next Friday. I am already planning the week out. Let’s just hope my Fibro doesn’t bust through the door and take over my life again. And by bust in I mean like, with a bulldozer, kind of bust in.