As is always the case when one approaches a birthday, I have begun to look back over the year that has passed. Going over lessons learned, goals achieved and opportunities created, I have slowly come to realise that so many of the positive changes which have come about in my life over the last 12 months have been down to my determination to blog regularly. If you were to look at my profile on Blogger, which is where I have my professional blog, Textual Tangents, you would see that technically I’ve been blogging since 2004. This dates back to when I first signed up with Blogger and began a blog called Cup of Stars, which was going to be about life as a home educating mother of 3 who was embarking on a phd. I deleted that blog earlier this year, and do you know, it did not have one single post on it! I had thought in the past that this summed up my life at the time better than any words I could have posted there. I considered myself too busy to blog. So what’s changed? What has made me a consistent blogger despite the hectic schedule which is my life? My Thursday Thirteen this week is all about answering those questions, by sharing what I’ve learned about blogging, and how it’s made a difference to my life.
- Connecting – One of the best things about blogging is the wonderful connections that are made with others out there in the blogosphere. There’s such a special sense of camaraderie which I had thought no longer existed in our insular, fast-paced world. Knowing that my blog not only connects me to a community, but that it is in itself generating a community, is one of my primary reasons for continuing to blog.
- Sharing – I love to share. I love to show others things that I’ve come across,whether that’s a new You Tube clip, a new blog, a new book etc. Quite often these things won’t be new to others, but they are to me, and I get a kick out of knowing that I may have helped others to discover something that might be new to them too.
- Engaging – I saw a t-shirt recently which had the slogan “I am going to blog this!” emblazoned across the front. Despite not being a fan of the slogan t-shirt, I actually felt tempted by this one as it rung true to me. Often when I’m out and about, I find myself thinking, “This would be good for the blog!”. I really feel that writing the blog has tuned me into the world around me in a way that I wasn’t beforehand.
- Photography – I don’t think I have ever taken as many photos in my life as I am currently. I can now honestly say that it’s a rare day indeed if it passes without at least one new photograph. My photos often appear on my blog, as I find they not only brighten it up, but they often spark off ideas for posts, or they make me examine issues more in depth. My love for photography has been one of the more surprising discoveries!
- Research Profile – Blogging has really raised my research profile. Now while this might seem like an outcome rather specific to a blogging academic, I would like to suggest that it could be transferred to any blogger. By blogging about my interests, others in my field have come to know about my work and my areas of research. This has led to opportunities that I may not have been offered otherwise. Surely this must apply to all lines of work!
- Technology -Despite playing around with Blogger back in 2004, I didn’t really understand much about the technology. There was lots that I couldn’t do with my blog. And, you know, there’s still lots I can’t do with my blog! However, I am on quite a steep learning curve, and I feel proud that I have managed to teach myself the basics.
- Commenting – I have learned the value of commenting, both on my own blog and on others. It really helps to facilitate that sense of community, doesn’t it? However, I have also learned that even when there are no comments, people are still reading and engaging with your writing. This has been an important revelation, as it applies outwith the blog. Even when you’re not receiving feedback, press on. You are affecting others than you may think!
- Social Networking – Through the blog, I have discovered social networking. I am now on Bebo, Facebook, Stumbleupon and Delicious. I don’t get as much out of these networks as I do from blogging, but I do enjoy participating in them, and will continue to do so. Oh, and incidentally, if anyone wants to link up with me through any of these sites, drop me a line.
- Selfish Blogging – When I began blogging for the second time earlier this year, I blogged for readers. I blogged for other people and not for myself. I boxed myself in and I felt I had created a restrictive space where I couldn’t blog about what I wanted to. My solution was to start Lives Les Ordinary, and I haven’t looked back since. My other blog is now used as the space where I post about my career, and this blog is where I post about whatever I choose.
- Altruistic Blogging – Despite blogging about whatever interests me, I have discovered that others are interested in those kinds of things too. Although this may be stretching the definition of ‘altruistic’ slightly, I do think that by blogging for myself has rendered my writing more interesting and, I hope, more enjoyable for my readers.
- Release -By blogging at Lives Less Ordinary, I have found a release for all those thoughts and opinions that used to just circulate round my brain. Now I can blog about them, and this process seems to free up my mind to concentrate on my research and on the home education of my children.
- Creativity – I think that my creativity levels have increased tenfold since beginning this blog. I’m having fun making unusual connections and I’m constantly coming up with new ideas for posts. I’m also finding that, by being a part of the blogging community, I am continually finding inspiration on other people’s blogs, which is also making me not only a more creative blogger, but also a more creative person in general.
- Time Management – People often ask how I have time to do the blogging that I do. I have such a full life already, why add to it in this way. What I have found though, is that blogging has enhanced my time management skills. If I want to do all the things on my to-do lists then I have to be organised. I set aside time for the upkeep of the blogs. I set aside time for my reading. I set aside time for my writing. I answer emails as and when they come in and I am always available to my children.
Well, as I turn 29 next week, I can celebrate safe in the knowledge that I’ve spent the last year learning some wonderful lessons through the world of blogging. What have you learned through blogging?
My other TT posts: What I Found in Madrid, Rules To Live By, My Life in Scent, My Family, New Habits and Memorable Moments
To get everyone in the mood for this evening, here are some atmospheric photos from the graveyard in Edinburgh that I’ve mentioned before.
Have a spooky Halloween!!
This is my photo for the Only The Good project this week. It was taken last week on our way from the wedding to the reception, and I took it through the car window as it was moving, so the focus isn’t as clear as I would have liked. Help me to find the good in this picture by leaving me a comment with what good you can see in it.
The Only The Good project is to get people to look at the world in a different way, to acknowledge–if only for the brief time they do this exercise–that there is good in everything and everyone…to briefly change shadow to light.”
If you would like to take part, you can either leave a comment on this post which focuses on ‘only the good’ that you can see in the photo. If you have a blog and would like to participate you can
“Post an original photograph that may at first seem rather ordinary–a photo in which the good isn’t immediately obvious–and invite people to comment. A brief explanation of the photo’s subject, where it was taken, etc. may be provided. I urge you to use only original photographs so that copyright infringement is not an issue.”
I love going to the Chamber’s St Museum in Edinburgh. We have a family membership, and we go at least twice a month, if not more. There is always more to see, more to discover. I don’t think you could ever say, “Right, that’s it! I’ve seen all there is to see in this place.” While we were there at the weekend for the Flamenco dancing and the Picasso exhibition, my husband suggested that we go up to the roof garden. Do you know, I don’t think I even knew there was a roof garden! So, we took the lift to the 5th floor and walked up the spiral staircase to the 7th, before coming out onto the decked roof of the museum. What a sight. I took so many photos! I love Edinburgh. Can you see why?
If these photos don’t convince you that Edinburgh is a beautiful city and worth a visit, check out this clip:
Oh, and by the way, I’m not employed by the tourist board, in case you were wondering! I just love this city.
During my trip to Madrid, I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t get to see any Flamenco dancing. This could be reason number 46 to indulge in a return trip However, during a visit to Edinburgh’s museum to see the Picasso exhibition today, we managed to catch some Flamenco music and dance. What fantastic, complex rhythms. It always seems to me that traditional Spanish music and dance balances control with energy, restraint with freedom, and what I saw today only cements that for me. Really beautiful and so expressive. I took a series of photographs of the dancer as she was executing her complicated moves, and I think they really capture the movement and the grace she displayed. What do you think?
Despite being ridiculously terrified of spiders, I am completely captivated by webs. I love how they act as reminders of the importance of connection. Connections between the self and others. Connections between dreams and reality. Connections between seemingly disparate ideas.
I’ve been discovering a lot of webs recently, and whilst they entrance me with their silvery complex structure, they also demand an understanding of the importance of connectivity. Here are some photos of the most recent of my finds, followed by some quotes I think you’ll like.
- We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.
- - Herman Melville
- Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.
- - William Plomer
- Our life is composed greatly from dreams, from the unconscious, and they must be brought into connection with action. They must be woven together.
- - Anais Nin
- Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.
- - E.M. Forster
- What do you associate webs with? What connections do you value? Do you think we are more connected now than in the past, or are we more disconnected now than we have ever been?
As I mentioned in my Thursday Thirteen post this week, I went to a wedding yesterday. Here are some of the photos from the day:
Last week, my Thursday Thirteen was all about how I prepare to give a paper, as I was traveling to Madrid to deliver a paper at a conference at the weekend. This is my first post since I got back from Madrid, as I got back late on Tuesday evening, and then I was at a wedding all day yesterday (more about this in another post). So, I thought that I’d base my Thursday Thirteen this week on what I found in Madrid.
In Madrid, I found:
- New Friends – One of the things that I love about conferences is that I always meet such interesting and lovely people. This conference was no exception! Every evening I was out enjoying great food, great wine and great conversation with people I had only just met at the conference. it was worth the trip alone just for that!
- Old Friends – As this was the second Conference of the Book that I had attended (last year’s was in Boston), I also got to catch up with some friends that I made last year. Many people travel from far and wide, and if it weren’t for this conference, I don’t think we’d have much of an opportunity to see each other.
- Angels in the Sky –
- Public modern art –
- A Good Reception – My paper was very well attended and it seemed to be well received. I managed to control my nerves, and I think that it went well in the end. I certainly got quite a few positive comments regarding it afterwards. So thank you to everyone who wished me well last week. Your wishes clearly helped!!
- Renewed Joy in my Research – This happens at every conference I go to, and it is in part why I love going to them, despite the effort of putting together a paper and a presentation for the event. When I left Madrid on Tuesday, I realised that I was brimming with excitement regarding my own research, and that I had felt that exact sensation when returning home from last year’s conference. I feel now that I can really get stuck into getting the phd finished off.
- Tapas – I’ve been out for tapas in the UK, but really it can’t compare to the tapas in Madrid. I had the most wonderful chorizo, prawn fritters, cured meats and fish… the list goes on and on. Truly delicioso!
- Generosity and Compassion – When I woke up on Sunday morning (the day I was giving my paper), I quickly discovered that I had no voice. I came down with a cold on the day I flew out and it gradually got worse throughout the duration of my trip. When I arrived at the conference, the organisers were so lovely and gave me some orange vitamin C fizzy drink, and my voice returned long enough to give my paper. What a relief!!!
- Wonderful Service – Everywhere I went I received really excellent service: the airport, the hotel, the conference centre, the restaurants, cafes, shops… The Spanish people left a wonderful impression on me, and I will certainly go back one day with my family in tow.
- Amazing Art – On Saturday evening the Prado was open free to the public until 9pm, so I managed to see some of Spain’s greatest works of art. Very impressive!
- Fans –
- That I Knew More Spanish Than I Thought I Did – I learned Spanish for 4 years at high school, but haven’t used it in 14 years. So, needless to say, I didn’t hold high hopes for understanding anyone, or for making myself understood. However, I didn’t do too badly! If I had any spare time, I might have taken up lessons again. Maybe in the future…
- An Excuse To Go Back – Unfortunately, the Reina Sofia museum was closed every time I had an opportunity to go, and so the painting that I really really wanted to see, Guernica, went unseen by me. However, rather than spend any time regretting this, I’ve decided that this just means that I have to go back another time. What a pity
Hope you enjoyed my Thursday Thirteen this week!
If you read my Thursday Thirteen post today, then you’ll probably know that I’m off to Madrid tomorrow. This means that I’m going to be offline till Tuesday. Until then, I wish you a lovely weekend, and I’ll tell you all about my trip when I get back.
Elisa, over at Watching Dr Who, has very kindly named Lives Less Ordinary as one of her five blogs that make her smile. This, of course, means that I get to share with you 5 blogs which make me smile. So here they are:
- Miss Gala Darling at Icing
- Bob at Heroes Not Zombies
- Shelly at This Eclectic Life
- T at Attack of the Redneck Mommy
- Holli Jo at Evolving Blueprint
I urge to go and check them out as they are all brilliant blogs, with really dedicated writers. If any of those tagged feel that they can’t participate, that’s fine. I’ll just be content in the knowledge that I’ve led more readers to your truly excellent sites. Well done, and thank you for making me smile!