Blogging: When Nagging Doubts Take Over Your Mind

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Would you like to know a secret? Something about me, as a blogger, that I’ve never told anyone before?

Well lean in closer, my gentle readers, here goes…

I’m spending way too much time worrying about what to write here.

I mean, if I learned one thing from my blogging break it is that when I’m not blogging I wake up in the morning with a mind filled with mellow thoughts.

And I start my day with a sense of clarity and purpose that’d make Covey [and his Seven Habits] happy.

But when I’m actively doing the bloggy thing I wake up in the morning uncertain, with confused ideas about what to write here and low-level anxiety about whether or not what I published earlier in the week was a good idea.

Doubts fill me in a way that only the Devil [and his Seven Mortal Sins] could take joy in.

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So you know what I did? How I handled these nagging doubts that worry me?

I conducted a study on my bloggy self and my writing behavior wherein: 1) I tracked the time I spent blogging during October;  2) I reviewed my following/commenting process looking for a better way to do it; and 3) I evaluated my categories with an eye to revision.

Here are my findings + changes:

1) I put in about 3 hours per day on all things blogging, such as researching, writing, editing, publishing, reading other blogs, and commenting;

2) I follow a variety of bloggers and to do this more easily I’ve ditched WP Reader entirely, choosing to upgrade my Feedly account wherein I can have everyone filed away, all orderly like;  and

3) I need to have fewer categories, well-defined in my head, so that when I sit down to write I’m focused and unworried, thus I’ve re-envisioned my blog with 7 categories.

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So has my little foray into personal blogging self-awareness helped me feel more in control of what I’m doing here?

In a word, YES.  Most definitely.

And maybe the message of this blog post is that once a year I need to revisit what I’m doing on this blog and how I want to keep on doing it, so that writing my personal blog doesn’t cause me to worry.

Seems obvious as I say it here, but sometimes the obvious doesn’t come so easily to me.

No secret about that, now is there?

Laughing With A Friend About Her Peeping Mom Problem

HERE’S the dealio. Friend and her husband live in a house on a country road, with an acre front yard, situated on the top of a steep hill.

This is rural. Very rural.

Directly across the way on the other side of the road on top of another hill is Friend’s husband’s parents’ house.

From their front doors they can see each other’s houses in general, but not the specifics, such as what’s going on inside the house or who’s sitting on the front porch.

Because they’re isolated up on their hills, it is private.

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Antique wire-rim spectacles

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EXCEPT that Mother-in-Law recently retired from a full-time job and bought a pair of binoculars to watch the birds in the trees that surround her house on a hill in the middle of freaking nowhere.

However birdwatching has not been enough to keep MIL entertained.  She is bored. And clever.  

In fact, MIL has figured out that by sitting just so in her living room she can use her birding binoculars to look inside Friend’s house.

Or to see who’s sitting on Friend’s front porch.

To spy, in other words.

This new turn of events has put a strain on Friend and MIL’s relationship.  MIL sees nothing wrong with peeping in on her son & wife’s daily life, and despite being asked to, will not stop her peeping.

Friend is peeved.

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Bowl of plastic eyeballs

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BEING a pragmatic soul I asked Friend why she didn’t shut the blinds on the windows on the front of the house. She told me she didn’t want to do that because it was unfair for her to have to do something she didn’t want to do because of her MIL’s interference in her life.

Uh huh.

So I suggested that Friend needed to do something to get MIL’s blood pressure up and offend her enough so that she’ll stop being a peeping mom.

“Amuck, amuck, amuck…”

To wit, I suggested that Friend could join a coven, dress like the witches in Hocus Pocus, and have a witches meeting in her front yard, complete with dancing, spells, and a big cauldron of boiling something, like the witches of Macbeth.

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.”

And you know what, my gentle readers?  Friend told me that I was being silly, unsympathetic to her plight, and that I was: “NOT TAKING THIS SERIOUSLY.”

To which, between giggles, I managed to say: “You’re right, because this is not a problem. This is an opportunity to EITHER get over MIL’s interference & shut your dang blinds OR cause some mayhem.”

The choice is hers.

Question of the Day

With a peeping mom directly across the street from your house, would you buckle under and shut the blinds?

OR

Would you stir the pot and cause some trouble to make a “mind your own bidness” point to peeping mom?

I await your insightful answers in the comments below.

Just A Closer Walk: We Attended A Funeral Last Week

It’s been 2 weeks since my FIL passed away.

He was 89 years old, diabetic, and had Alzheimer’s, the long good-bye.

His funeral was a week ago Monday in the city where Zen-Den grew up, a 4 to 5 hour drive from here.  We drove there on Sunday and came back later in the week.

The funeral wasn’t a sad or maudlin affair because the person FIL had become was nothing like the person he’d been in his prime;  even then, in his better days he was a ‘hale fellow well met’ with some Archie Bunker thrown into the mix– stubbornly clinging to the past.

However, as is the way with people who suffer with Alzheimer’s, FIL deteriorated slowly, forgetting his resentments along the way.  He became physically weak, and seemingly ready to leave this world.

The best part of the funeral was FIL’s 3-year-old step-great-granddaughter who stole the show.  She was cheerful, of course.  Dressed in a sundress + straw hat.  Delightfully curious.  So much so that at one point during the memorial service she went up front, quietly, to join the pastor, sitting her little self down on a chair nearby him to watch.

Which was cute– and a visual reminder that life goes on.

And on that positive note I’ll end this post.  I’m not even sure why I’m telling you this, but some days, occasionally, I write here in a serious way as if this were my journal–  instead of a personal blog filled with flapdoodle and twaddle.

Today is one of those days.

Rambling Thoughts About That Which I Spot

{ By Ingrid Chang Via Join The UpRoar }

ON SUNDAY WHILE READING COMMENTS on tweets about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner with the mean lady who said the bad things [either Michelle Wolf or Sarah Huckabee Sanders depending on your point of view], I saw a comment that said: You spot it, you’ve got it.

I had no idea what this meant so I googled it and after a cursory investigation discovered that this is a way of saying that: if you notice someone’s hurtful behavior and it annoys you greatly, then you’re aware of this behavior and feel the way you do because you do the same thing.

The meaning of this new-to-me phrase was a surprise.

I thought it was going to mean that if you’re aware enough to notice that another person is behaving in a bad way [spot it], then you’ve got the situation covered so that this person won’t negatively affect you [got it].

I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS phrase all week.  There’s a truth to it, no doubt.  But I dunno, here’s the thing.

Is it not possible that you notice hurtful behavior in other people because you’re an observant person who watches how other people behave and misbehave, thereby giving you insight into what makes someone else tick?

Just because I can spot what’s going on with someone else, doesn’t mean that I’m like that.  I’d say it means that I’m perceptive and empathetic and tuned-in to the people around me.

I’ve no pithy conclusion here, other than to say that my assumed interpretation of this phrase was wrong.

And now I know better.

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Questions of the Day:

Anyone ever hear this phrase before? Use it in polite conversation or in comments? How far out of the mainstream am I to not know what this means?

In Which A Forgotten Friend Sends Ms. Bean An Email

The following experience is not how I do things, but there’s an odd sweetness & humor to this story. Plus, you can’t take things like this personally. You gotta laugh.

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Hosta starting to grow in the stones underneath the deck, early spring.

I got an email from someone, let’s call her Pebbles, who I last heard from when I was in my 20s.

Pebbles had gotten my email address from someone on FB who knew where I was. I’m not on FB, but Pebbles was looking for me because, as she explained in her email, she wanted to re-connect with me.

To be my friend again.

Pebbles’s email was filled to the brim with newsy tidbits about her blessed life as the wife of a successful businessman and her role as a granny of a parcel of fabulous little ones and her passion, which was either going to the beach or playing golf.

I can’t remember which.

Surprised, but happy to engage, I replied to Pebbles’s email asking a few questions about that which she had told me and sharing a few details about what was going in our lives now.

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The other day I got a reply to my reply to Pebbles’s email.

In it she answered my questions about her life and commented on my life.  Like a friend might do, right?

But here’s the thing that makes this communication exchange odd– and like none other that I have had.

Pebbles replied back to me, using the email that she’d initially sent to me and I’d replied back to her on; that’s normal enough. HOWEVER, her response came five years after I wrote back to her.

Yes, I said years.

Not five months. Not five weeks. Not five days. Not five hours.

Five years.

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Knowing me as you do, my gentle readers, you can imagine that my inner Nancy Drew is curious.

Questions abound: where the frostbite has Pebbles been for five years? Do I want to know?

And why did she keep my response email for five years? If she wanted to get back in touch again, why didn’t she start a new email to me– like, you know, people do?

And what prompted her to think of me to begin with? I’d really like to know the answer to that question.

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Nut shells discarded by squirrels on the stones, late winter.

So here’s my plan.

I’ll follow Pebbles’s lead and reply back to her recent email… in five years. I’ll ask the above questions.

Then when she responds back to me, presumably in another five years, I’ll tell you what she says in answer to the above questions. In fact, you, my gentle readers, will be the first to know after me.

Because I have no doubt that ten years hence we’ll all still be here reading and commenting on each other’s blogs. We bloggers are a reliable group of people who tend to live in the moment. We like to keep things current.

But as Pebbles has shown me, not everyone does.

Throwing It Out There In A Kick-ass Kind Of Way

  FOR A PROJECT I was working on I looked up the meaning of kick-ass*.  I found the following words used to describe kick-ass:

impressive • powerful • cool • effective • hip • vigorous • interesting • extremely good • forceful

In the process of this research I also discovered that kick-ass is sometimes considered vulgar slang.

[News to me.]

  I WAS SURPRISED BECAUSE: 1) I use the word in casual conversation– and as we all know I’m anything but vulgar;  and 2) I occasionally describe myself as kick-ass… because you know I am… in certain situations.

However, from the foregoing word research I’ve concluded that despite my good intentions and a desire to communicate clearly, in today’s world it doesn’t matter how I say something because someone will find a way to misconstrue what I have said.

Even when what I’m saying is truthful.

[Maybe especially when what I’m saying is truthful?]

  AND ON THAT OBVIOUS, yet annoying, note of writerly despair, I’ll end this post, my gentle readers, with what has become my latest favorite saying.

In fact, if you’ll forgive my vulgarity here, I’ll even suggest that this saying is a kick-ass way to add a bit of levity to your day– not that I’m suggesting that you should do this in your real life when your choice of word seems to get people all snitified.

But you could.

[But don’t.]

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* Alternative spelling of kick-ass is kickass.  There does not seem to be agreement on how to spell it. 🙄 I went with Merriam-Webster’s spelling because I majored in English in undergrad and I have a fond spot in my heart for this dictionary.

In Which I Remember Why I Like To Shop Online

I saw a former neighbor when I was out shopping in the real world. I hadn’t seen her in years, which was fine by me.

I’m a person who believes that losing contact with some people along the way is healthy because we’re not meant to stay in touch with everyone we’ve ever known.

When former neighbor spotted me, there was nowhere to hide, so I smiled.  My smile was sincere, just not in the way that I imagine former neighbor thought it was.

You see, I was smiling because I knew I was about to find out a few things that were wrong with me.  This is because former neighbor knows everything.

Yes, she knows it all.  She is always right.

And me?

I’m sorry to tell you, my gentle readers, I am wrong.  About almost everything.  All the time.

‘Tis a miracle that I can hold my head up high when I walk out my front door. THAT’S HOW WRONG I AM.

And true to form, after a bit of “where do you live now?” chit-chat, she started rabbiting on, allowing me to learn that I am wrong about 3 specific things. They are: 1) the value of higher education;  2) what sterling silver really is;  and 3) that I’m getting my hair cut at the wrong place.

Fortunately the conversation ended there because she spotted someone else she knew– and needed to correct.  So I took the opportunity to walk away, saying “good-bye” as I scurried in the opposite direction from where she was standing.

But as I was doing so, in a moment of self-awareness, I realized that shopping online is easier and quieter, with fewer distractions– and less criticism.