I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living my life in public

Terry took this picture of me last week when we went on the hike to Cascade Pass. I like it very much, so I thought well what the heck, I'll just put another picture of myself on the blog post for today. In both of my blogs I've got lots of pictures of myself plastered everywhere. Once in awhile I get a little embarrassed that I am such an extrovert and try to tone down my natural proclivity to attract attention to myself.

As I sit here sipping my tea and thinking about what to compose on this early Sunday morning, that tendency toward living a public life keeps coming up. If someone wanted to know what I've done with myself this past week, I've got two blogs that tell all about it. I follow other people who are even more out there than myself, writing a post every single day about their daily lives, and I look forward to finding out what's on her (or his) mind. Some are gentle compositions interspersed with pictures to illustrate; others are mostly pictures or poems that bring some beauty to my day. It's what a web log (blog) is all about, and it's a new phenomenon in the world today.

Because of the blogosphere, I have virtual friends who mean as much to me as what I think of as my "skin friends," those I visit with and see regularly. Some bloggers are shut-ins with health problems; others are active. Most of the bloggers I follow are females around the same age as me, retired from the world of work, but not all of them are. Some write about the struggles they have in retirement, or the struggle to find a way to retire in relative comfort. The Great Recession we have all had to navigate in the past few years has touched each of us in one way or another, and we share our coping strategies with one another.

But it has occurred to me that I probably have followers, or people who read what I write and don't leave comments, who don't let me know in any way that they are out there. One person wrote me a year or two ago and told me her father reads my blog and never misses it. If she had not told me, I would not have known, but it touched something inside me, knowing that there are people to whom I matter, to whom my life matters, and I know nothing about them, or about why they even care.

When I read a post that I enjoy, I almost always leave a comment, even if it's a short one to thank the person for taking the time to enrich my day. We are joined in a way that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Many people create blogs and find it's not for them; it's not something they either enjoy or find it difficult to keep coming up with "blog fodder." Usually I have no problem thinking about what I want to say, but then again, I'm a cheeky extrovert who figures somebody will enjoy it. If I have a good time writing it, then somebody will also enjoy it, right?

Right. Blogging has given me the opportunity to indulge my desire to expound to a small audience. I am possessive of my group of followers and am always pleased to see when the number increases by one or two and dismayed if somebody leaves for whatever reason. Because Google Reader gives us the opportunity to be alerted when someone writes a new post, it's possible to follow someone anonymously, but I suspect that most of my followers are also people whose blogs I also follow. Once I write a post on Sunday morning, I will then check back often to see what responses it has garnered. The most satisfying comments are when I realize that I've said something that resonates with my reader, and you tell me so, giving me your viewpoint or affirmation.

There are plenty of aspects of my life that I do not share in this public forum. I am married to a very private man who cannot fathom living a public life, but he reads my posts and tells me what he thinks about them. Although I shy away from controversial subjects, I have my own opinions, sometimes strong ones, but I will usually leave comments indicating what I think on posts that bring up those subjects. We probably know many things about each other that is revealed between the lines of our posts, but it only seems courteous to give one another room to disagree without rancor. If someone is snarky or impolite in a comment, I will remove it.

Who could have imagined this universe twenty years ago? We are connected in a way that is immediate and vital. Later today I will find out what you think about all this, if you are so inclined. And in the back of my mind I also think about the silent readers, the ones who don't let me know of their presence, wondering about who else out there in the wide world shares my very public life with me.


Trish said...

I love blogging and reading about what other people do in their lives, what they think about. I remember how, in the early 90s and the early days of the internet, there was something called Genie, which seemed to be a message board. That was all and even it was fun! But this...ah, well, this is the best. And here on your blog, I travel with you on these hikes, through all this beauty.

June said...

I read you because you're a nice person and an illustration of my belief that tragedies happen in life and yet, people go on and live and are cheerful and happy and productive. And you're an inspiration to me for that reason and because you MOVE SO MUCH! My God, woman!

But yes, I do know what you mean about the people who read and only after a long time, post something that says, "I just wanted to let you know that I've read your blog forever and this one particularly touched me."
Blogging makes the world smaller. It makes people closer. If I feel sad on the odd day, it is good to know that somebody somewhere is wishing me well.
How can that be anything but good for the human race?

Anonymous said...

I am generally careful to not write anything that might embarrass or humuliate my relatives. One day, however, my daughter freaked out. Apparently, her college classmate, who was a part-time bartender, served a guy and somehow the topic was kinesiology, which the classmate was majoring in. The customer said, "Oh, do you know L... H......? She is majoring in kinesiology. I read her mother's blog every day."

As you said, DJan, you just never know who is reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

BTW, I mentioned your name twice - yesterday and today. I guess you are becoming famous on my blog, too! Lol.

Linda Reeder said...

Good morning. I always look forward to Sunday morning and your newest deep-thinking post.

I identify with much you write today, which is interesting, because I am an introvert, and making "friends" is so much easier in the virtual world than in the real world. And yet I seem to want to share my life, and sometimes my opinions, with the world.

I know I have silent readers, because sometimes they tell me so. "I know. I read it on your blog," someone will tell me when I see them at a lunch or a family gathering. It takes me back at first, and then the burden of responsibility that brings hits me. These silent readers that I actually know or am related to keep me honest and as kind as I try to be. They are my silent fact checkers. I also know that I must be careful not to make the lives of others too public. There are no secrets on the Internet.

Thanks for another thought provoking read this Sunday morning.

Meryl Baer said...

Comments give bloggers, isolated to an extent, encouragement that others 'out there' read your work. I am amazed when someone I know mentions they read my blog. It encourages me to continue - there are often more silent readers than we realize. Write on!

Rubye Jack said...

Comments are our affirmation that we're being heard. I don't think my blog would be much different if I had no followers but I know I am more careful knowing I have readers. I wish the anons would leave comments but I think it makes some people nervous to put anything on the Internet. I especially like hearing from people who don't agree with what I say as long as they aren't nasty about it.

Your blog always provides me with inspiration Djan.

Rita said...

I am repeatedly amazed at the fact that I have gotten to "know" all these people from around the world that I would never, ever have had a chance to meet before the internet. It is a whole new way of connecting. I kind of think of my blogger friends as I do my pen pals, but even better. It's faster and you can see pictures!!

I know what you mean about wondering who visits but never comments. Have you ever looked at your stats? (I didn't even know where to find them for years and I forget about them...but now that you brought it up...) I wonder if some of them don't comment because they aren't confident with English? I have people from Russia, Indonesia, Ukraine, Philippines, India, South Korea...??? Russia is number two on my list?! For the life of me I can't figure out what a Russian would find interesting with my little blog? Cat lover? Crafter? Art dabbler? Housebound in Russia? LOL! But I take it as a compliment that they are interested enough to come back.

I have friends and family who read my blog and never make comments. They are not bloggers and are just not comfortable doing that. But they read it...and ask me questions about things I have posted.

All of it--just makes me smile. Warms my heart. Lifts my spirits. I am blessed to have met all these wonderful people like you! So glad you decided to blog, Djan!! And I am glad I lived long enough to enjoy all of this that was science fiction years ago! ;)

Sally Wessely said...

First of all, let me thank you for deciding to live your life out there in the public forum. Getting to know you, reading about your hikes, your jumps, you gardening, you observations, has brought me great inspiration. I wonder if you know how much you have inspired me. Beyond that, you have been a lifeline as I have struggled through grief and loss. Did any of us know that was possible when we started writing a blog? Did we know how connected we would become? I doubt it.

There is great responsibility that comes with blogging. We do have to be considerate of those who know us who might not wish to become blog fodder. There are good and bad ramifications that can come from blogging. I try to remember what those are as I write.

I have learned much about blogging from you. You are a model there too. It is interesting to consider those quiet readers. Who are the ones who read and never comment? Are they even out there? I guess they are. It is nice to know they do take an interest in what we have to say, but at the same time, they don't wish to participate in the two way conversation that those of write comments have.

justme_alive said...

I agree Djan, you never know who reads blogs. I'm learning that even though there are those that read and never comment it doesn't mean they are not reading regularly. I for one am thankful that I stumbled upon your blog and admire how you share the innermost joys and pains of your life with us. We've laughed and cried with you. You've encouraged me to step up and embrace life even "with" it's hard times. Thanks, Kimberly

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Once again you have me thinking. I am, in fact, a nearly-off-the-charts introvert. For me, interacting with people face-to-face is exhausting, even when it's fun. But conversing online online is much less draining, and perhaps not draining at all. It accommodates anybody's schedule, and there is always support, wisdom, inspiration, fun, and visual beauty to be found here in blogland. I do watch what I say about close family, and I once deleted a post about my stepmother. I like the fact that you have two blogs with different agendas, I appreciate both of them. Thanks, friend, for putting so much of your life out there.

Bragger said...

We share some of the same habits and tendencies when it comes to blogging. I love, love, love the phrase "skin friends." Awesome!

Red said...

One key thing here and that's audience. whenever you write it should be for an audience even if it's only you.
You are pondering some of the things I think about on the blog. surprising sometimes whom pops up and has been reading your blog.
Yes, the blogisphere is really friendly.

Gigi said...

I am so glad that you are putting your life out here - otherwise how would I have ever "met" you?

This blogging world is a wonderful world and I love how it gives us all a chance to connect with people we'd have never had the chance to connect with otherwise.


I loved the photo you posted with this blog. Great photo of you. So tanned and looking all healthy!
I so enjoy the expansion of my world by blogs and facebooks and the friends I've made.
You expressed very well my exact feelings about blogging.
Thanks so much.

Pamela Kieffer said...

DJan,I never miss reading your blog and always find something kind and uplifting there.
I am not writing in my blog anymore. I can't find much to write about. I still enjoy reading many blogs from the friends I have made on the internet.

wendyytb said...

Dad still reads your blog, DJan! He enjoys it cvery much...as do I!

Linda Myers said...

Yep, yep, yep! All of what you said.

I am gratified when I get a new follower and sad when I lose one. I've only met two bloggers - you're one of them - but I feel like I know and am known by many.

I'm right on the line between introvert and extrovert, so this is a comfortable medium for me.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I'm comforted by this posting of yours today. Why? Because it so reflects what I feel about blogging and about how I respond to comments after I've posted. Just last evening, I wondered why the bloggers of several blogs I follow never read my blog and leave a comment. Perhaps, like that older man you've learned about, they do read but don't comment. Now that's comforting--the knowledge for me that all that's happened in my life might in some way resonate with others. That's what keeps me blogging. And what keeps me reading blogs is the meeting of wonderful people like you. You graciously share your interests, your passions, your reading, and your thoughts with me. Thank you. Peace.

#1Nana said...

I hate to admit that I never even considered not sharing my life...how self-centered is that?

The spouse is my opposite. He doesn't read my blog and really dislikes that I share our lives on the blog. I really don't understand his point of view. Having the freedom to share or not share whatever I want to say has been the gift of retirement for me.

Friko said...

Sometimes I think I am wasting my time blogging, I could be doing something more serious, but then I find I need to get back to it anyway. It is addictive, no doubt about it.
Followers are welcome and followers who read regularly even more so.

Being forthcoming about private matters is best done in an abstract way, i.e. keep painful things about other to a minimum and mentioning real names is not a good idea either.

While it feels good, we'd better all continue to visit and read and take in each other's laundry and if we can help or comfort each other in any way that is very good.

Happy Blogging, DJan!

troutbirder said...

Most interesting. It's making me think about the "agendas" for my own two blogs. Clearly the first one was for the fun of writing and trying to encourage a few smiles. The second one I'm not so sure about.....

Stella Jones said...

I'm usually the last to comment D-Jan, but I always read your blogs. I like to hear how you feel about things and I love that you follow my life too. I do sometimes wonder who reads my blog but never comments. I know there are a few who do that. My view on your sky-diving is as you know, cautious. I wish that you didn't do it because I worry about the safety of it but I know you get a lot of enjoyment from it so good luck to you.

O-town Ramblings said...

I'm woefully behind on both blogging and reading the blogs I follow, so I'm just now reading this post, which really resonated with me. I have a very small following, but I know I have many silent readers. Maybe it's because I write so much about the uncomfortable subject of suicide. Often, I feel my blogging is self-indulgent, and it is to some degree. But, it's also therapeutic for me and others. Occasionally I get an email or a Facebook message from someone who reads my blog and lets me know privately how much my writing means to them. I include a link to my blog on my outgoing emails, and have been contacted by people who've found me that way.

Through my blog I've become connected to an entire community of fellow survivors, people I've known for years that I had no idea had lost someone to suicide. It's both humbling and healing to me when my words cause them to open up to me. More importantly, people have read my blog and contacted me for advice about how to help someone with mental illness, suicidal threats, or support for those suffering with a recent suicide loss.

I also can't say enough about the support and love I've received from my loyal blog followers, including you, DJan. It means so much to me and I always appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

CrazyCris said...

Tuning in, weeks after this conversation got started... but better late than never!

In the past year I've sadly become a sporadic follower... usually catching up on blogs in bursts (which is why I'm commenting on several of your posts in a row). But I always have your two blogs open in my tabs just in case I have time to do some reading, I wouldn't want to miss your stories for the world!

Is it possible to be both an extrovert and an introvert at the same time do you think? Because I'd say that kind of defines me! On the surface people find me this cheerful-active person who talks and laughs a lot and who would never ever believe me were I to try and tell them how shy I am! But put in a room where I don't know anyone and I'm a wallflower. Similarly I can write and joke about many different things on my blog... but I can't seem to bring out the truly personal! It saddens me that I'm too scared to do it. Sometimes I wish I hadn't told family and friends about my blog because then the anonymity would leave me feeling freeer to open up. And none of them stop by to comment anyway so I don't even know if they visit! :o(
I'm jealous of people who can blog so freely of their daily lives. And at the same time they inspire me... perhaps one day I'll be able to open up in the same way. THing is, if I did it right now most of my readers would be surprised at the change in tone on the blog... :s

Keep inspiring people DJan! Hugs!

The Furry Gnome said...

Well DJAN, I don't want you to think I'm just a silent reader, so .... I discovered your second blog a few weeks ago, and have been reading it from the beginning. I certainly feel I know you now, and understand who this 70 year old skydiver is!

I don't usually post personal things, maybe a relic of keeping my personal life separate from my students' lives for 35years. But my own blog has evolved a lot in six months since I started reading others, including yours. I think what I like is not the blog itself, but the life it represents, and yours is certainly one of the most active and most interesting for me.

The biggest surprise to me is what you said in this post, the rapid development of blogging 'friends' out there. I will continue to read and admire both your blogs!