Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A Return To Old Fashioned Blogging

During my years of blogging I've written a few. I actually began this journey about fifteen years ago at the now defunct, Homeschool Blogger, where I blogged under the name In Beauty and In Grace.  We had two young girls living in our home at the time and we homeschooled, so that blog naturally focused on those subjects.

I don't really recall what it was that made me make the switch to Blogger, I think it was the simplicity of editing and being OCD, it HAD to be perfect. Many of you who have faithfully followed me for years now may recall the many colors and themes that I've created all in an effort to present our "perfect life" well, because, don't we all? Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing what I or other bloggers have shared over the years. I think, hope, that deep down my readers know that my life has been anything but perfect, if not, maybe try friending me on FB, where I'm a bit more raw and honest. But I know for myself personally I have enough troubles of my own, I don't want to sign on and read about yours, too. Truth be told most people put their best face forward online, and I am no exception.

My first blog at blogger was Life in the Little Nest, which I felt better reflected our family as a whole. I was happy with that format for awhile, perhaps the longest I've ever stuck with a layout and theme. I was into the hues of the sunset at the time, blues, peaches and rust, and the decor of our home reflected that as well, so it made posting pictures flawless because everything blended so well. I'm showing a bit more of that OCD now!

Then in 2016 our lives changed dramatically when my husband and I separated. Basically, the nest fell to the ground which left me in a bit of a predicament. But with my mother's declining health, my youngest daughter and I moved to Texas to care for her. I had no idea when we arrived in February of that year how long we would be there, but my gut feeling was that we were in it for the long haul. I also found that for the first time in my life I had a freedom I had never experienced before. Having married young and moved from my father's house to my own at 19, there had never been a time where there was basically no one to tell me what to do. And so I embarked upon a new blog, which bore the same name as this one, A Gathering of Days and the focus reflected my stage of life, living life one day at a time, discovering myself, and living with authenticity and purpose.

Then as it turned out, our time in Texas was cut short when my mom passed away in May of 2017, which left me once again at a crossroads. As I struggle with social anxiety am a highly sensitive person, and have ADD, holding down a job in the traditional workplace terrified me, and that was when I began exploring blogging for a living. I knew I could support myself for a year with my savings, and so in January of 2018 I moved to Word Press and began a new blog, An Intentional Life.

Writing is definitely what I feel called to do and it has been affirmed so many times as my gift, but it wasn't long into my new blog that I began to realize just how much the world of blogging had changed since I wrote my first post all those years ago. To be successful you needed a presence not only at your blog, but on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Linked In, I could go on. Not only that but there were algorithms and best practices. You needed to be careful about copyright laws and while I always used images that were in the public domain, living in a basement efficiency apartment did not lend itself well to taking my own pictures, and finding images I could use legally was difficult. By March I was starting to sink and feeling defeated. I knew that the likelihood that I would find an audience and generate enough income to support myself in a year was unlikely. I had no idea how I was going to support myself. My anxiety and other mental health struggles provided a small income through disability, but not nearly enough to live on, and if I became self employed I knew I would lose all of that. My counselor advised against it, and was concerned that eventually I would not be able to handle the pressure of being self employed and regress. It always fathoms me that the government recognizes that my illness is crippling and that because of it they deem me as "unable to work", but then address that by providing support that no one could live on. It leaves you at the mercy of others, but then guess what.  If they help you "too much", now you no longer qualify for health insurance. It's a constant teeter-totter to make sure I'm staying within the parameters.  It is difficult enough to humble yourself and accept assistance, and so it is important to me that I do so honestly,

I've never shared much about my mental illness online and I likely will not. It's a very personal issue and one that I've found is often misunderstood. I will tell you that even thought I am considered "high functioning", that's really just a nice way of saying that I can fake it well for awhile, but eventually it all comes crashing down. I want to be well, I've wanted that for years, but the prognosis for my condition is not favorable that I will ever fully recover. In fact the counselor who diagnosed me way back in 2001 told me from the beginning, "This is what I think you have, and there is no cure." I do well day to day, but I will admit that is because I live in a very carefully controlled environment. I know my limits. I know that I have a very low social threshold. I know that I'm going to walk around a hundred times a day looking for something that I just laid down and the reality is that it may be days before I come across it again. I know that multi-tasking escapes me, and that if I am interrupted in the middle of something important, it's likely it will not get done until I am reminded. Thankfully I am also surrounded by people who love me, and who will often say, "Do you know where your phone is?" And by the grace of God, one of those people is my husband.

We reunited late last year and it has been incredible. I am so thankful to God for the healing he has done, and thankful for his provision, because had our reconciliation not happened at the time that it did, I likely may have been homeless. My daughter, who is 19, had assured me that she would not let that happen and would take care of me. But can you imagine the burden you carry as a parent knowing that your child, who should be out partying with her friends and embarking upon her own life, instead is willing to take on the bulk of the burden for your support? It is humiliating, I can tell you that. But that was what I was beginning to resolve myself too. I knew she was genuine in her affections, and with my disability income I could help her out as well. It was truly a miracle that things began to move toward reconciliation with my husband when they did. I certainly never would have imagined it. And that leads me too today.

I had already grown frustrated enough with Word Press before our reconciliation to know that was not the direction I wanted to take. And when I looked back over my years of blogging, I remembered being happiest when I was writing for Life in the Little Nest, and for a brief time at the previous A Gathering of Days blog. Of course, our lives are much different now. Our daughters are grown and engaged in or embarking upon lives of their own, our family is dispersed. But I am still very much interested in living authentically, slowly and with purpose and I believe it a message that mothers old and young need to hear. And so I returned to blogger. I knew that all the statistics said that I wouldn't be successful, but thankfully that's no longer a requirement, at least being successful by the world's standards. I've come to accept my limitations, and thankfully since I can't support myself, like Hagar, God has not forgotten me and He has always provided. Since I was diagnosed in 2001 there has not been a day that I have not a place to lay my head or been fed, and for that I am thankful.

And so I am returning, you might say, to "Old Fashioned Blogging", a sigh of relief, which I don't think I'm alone in. I hate the world that blogging has become, and I am grateful to the handful of blogs that I follow who seem to have never gotten caught up in the "business" side of things. I am still going to keep my FB page, I think, and Instagram, because they are both fun, but without the pressure to post "only on these days at these times". What a bunch of malarky! I know they are experts and they've conducted the research, but for me, it has taken all of the fun out of blogging and we've become so focused on making a buck here and there that we've forgotten why we were writing in the first place. I know I did. And while I may still include an affiliate link here and there, if I ever make a dollar off of that, well, thanks for the Caramel Macchiato, because that's about all I ever actually believe I would generate from this space, or be allowed! Teeter-Totter.

My reason for writing is to inspire, and to share the wealth of knowledge and resources that I've gained over the years and continue to come across. The focus will continue to be on living your best, most authentic life, but at a slower, simpler pace and seeking the sacred in every day. In addition I will most likely throw in a recipe here and there, because I LOVE FOOD! Are you with me? And because I homeschooled all of my children at some point which adds up to near 30 years of experience, I share resources that I used and continue to seek out for others on the journey at my sister blog, A Considered Childhood. There is a link with my latest post near the top of the right side bar, and if you click on the tab at the top that says "Home Education", it will take you right to it! So if homeschooling and free resources and links to some of the best reading by the women I consider the experts excites you, then I encourage you to visit!

And now it's time to wrap this very LONG, too long, post up! I appreciate you reading this far and I'm looking forward to sharing with you in the days and weeks to come!

Until then,

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