I love this photo; let's call it "Looking Out My Backdoor"... cue Creedence Clearwater Revival. I took the shot in early May as the new leaves were just beginning to unfurl. I was climbing the stairs from our basement after my workout, having pedalled my exercise bike, no doubt listening to a mystery novel on my i-pod. And even though the weather was cold and windy, the sky was blue, and the day promised to be gorgeous. It was Sunday. And I was anxious to have my lunch and then get stuck into the blog post I was writing.
|Looking out my back door|
Sounds counter-intuitive doesn't it? Beautiful sunny, spring day, and I was excited to hunker down at my computer. If I had been facing a pile of essays that needed marking on a day like that I would have chaffed at the task. But blogging is something that I really enjoy. Researching posts or learning how to do something technical that I've never done. Writing the posts themselves. Finding an entry point into a subject, and making it link back to my own situation or experience. I love doing all of that.
Blogging is like planning a new lesson for my classes when I was still teaching: finding a "gimmick" to introduce a topic, making it fun, and telling my own stories were all things I loved to do as a teacher. Especially the storytelling. And I'd always be rewarded by kids sharing their stories in return. I remember telling one class how honoured I was that they let me into their lives through their writing. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true. We'd been working on the memoir writing unit, always my favorite. And kids entrusted me with details of their childhoods that weren't all trips to Disneyland: the death of grandparents, family break-ups, first loves, sometimes embarrassing and often sad stories. Reading their stuff was a privilege. And it was soooo difficult to evaluate. But let's not go there. My point is that once they had told their story and I had told them mine, we forged a connection that was wonderful. And that's kind of how I feel about blogging.
After the research and writing, after I've clicked "publish" on a post, I love sitting back and watching the comments come in. Finding out what readers have to say. And getting to know those who comment often, feeling as if I've developed a sense of who they are. And of course reading other blogs. Essentially learning how much I have in common with so many women out there. That is the coolest thing.
|The Rideau River from my back yard|
Blogging has become an important part of my post-work life. But for months and months after I started writing my blog, I rarely talked about it with friends or family. Of course I called my mum, who has read every post I've written, when I was excited about a topic or reached a milestone with my stats..."Oh, Susie, that's wonderful." She's always been enthusiastic. And there's a few stalwart and supportive friends who were early readers, some of whom surprised me. But frequently if I mentioned my blog around people I know, an awkward silence followed. Like I had said something inappropriate. And so I usually followed up my comment with... "Well, it's just a bit of silliness I'm doing. It's not like it's anything deep or important. You know, just about fashion and books and stuff I'm interested in." I'd shrug and laugh. As if I were apologizing. Never mentioning the hours I spent reading up on a subject before I even started to write. Or how excited I was at the fact that my readership was growing. Or the comments on posts from really smart, interesting women from around the world.
|Five-thirty AM on the river. It's a rare morning when I'm awake at this hour.|
And you know, I didn't put a name to what I was feeling until I read the article Shame: An Explainer written by New York Magazine columnist Heather Havrilesky for the blog Man Repeller. I mean, I knew I was feeling embarrassed talking about my blog, but I didn't equate it with shame. Turns out that is exactly what I was feeling. For according to Oxford dictionary, shame is "humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior." Havrilesky says: "Shame isn't just a bad cognitive habit of the psyche-- your bad brain telling you that you're failing or fucking up or falling behind. Shame is an onboard navigational system, one that's intent on keeping you small and apologetic indefinitely." She goes on to say:"Suddenly I see how often I explain myself unnecessarily. How I apologize for everything I do." Oh yeah, that would be me. Have a look at the full article if you're interested; just be warned, the beginning has lots of profanity.
So. Clap hands briskly here. No more explaining unnecessarily for me, folks. No more belittling, no more apologizing. I am done feeling foolish for how I choose to spend my time. Done like dinner.
Now back to the benefits of blogging. And the community of women of which I now feel a part. I've been reading and loving Frances' blog Materfamilias Writes for years. And I finally got to meet her in person. She's in town for the week, and yesterday we met for lunch at Play Food and Wine in Ottawa's Byward Market. We had a great lunch; the food at Play is always delicious. But the conversation. The conversation was better. I will admit I was a trifle giggly when I arrived, feeling a bit nervous. Like one of Frances' followers on Instagram said... it was a little like a blind date. Kind of strange meeting someone in person with whom I had had so many, many on-line conversations. About books, and fashion, and life. She looked fabulous in her black linen dress and two tone flats... very chic. And the hair. I must say, Frances has the best hair! We yakked up a storm. And then stood in the sun on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant... and then in the shade in the little square across the street... talking and talking. Here's the double selfie I took of us. I wonder, if there are two people in the shot does that make it a "selves-ie?"
|Two blogger buddies.|
And after we parted and I was driving home, I thought how ridiculous I've been to feel apologetic for writing a blog. If someone as smart and accomplished as Frances, someone with a PhD, who has raised four children, and travelled the world, and had a great career... writes a blog. Well, what the hell am I apologizing for? Shame on me for being so silly.
So... no more of that, missy. "No more!" quoth the blogger... to misqouth Edgar Allen Poe. Ha. English teacher joke.
Now, I must remember to find out from Frances what shade her Marc Jacobs lipstick is. I really like it. And mine is too pale, don't you think?
Not that I'm apologizing for that
Linking up with Heather over at Forage Fashion.