My Blog is Two Years Old, So Now What?🤷‍♀️

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Invisible-no-more turned two in the month of November, 2018. With that milestone, and the New Year beginning, I got to thinking. How is my blog doing? Is it the same after two years of personal growth, and all the changes that have happened since I began this journey?

Honestly, there have been many times, particularly over the last 6 months, when I have felt guilty about my blog. I have not posted regularly, or been prompt reading other blog posts. I am slow to respond to comments and feel terrible when bloggers, who I truly care about, have waited for me to “get around” to acknowledging them.

I want to be clear here, no one has made me feel this way! Not one harsh word or comment has ever been communicated to me-this is my guilt, my issue. So, I need to either close down the blog, or figure out a better balance with my new, more active (and fun) life!

I don’t want to end my blog, it has brought too much into my life. I have met amazing people, learned too many new lessons and it has enriched my existence beyond words. Instead, I want to analyze my current situation and attempt to bring a clarity to this process. My goal is to write content that is truly engaging, as well as meaningful to me personally.

I got an idea from Amy at Bedlam and Daisies. She took a look at her top blog posts from last year. And, I thought this might be a great place for me to start this analysis. I am looking for trends in what spoke to readers. So, without further ado:

The top ten posts of 2018, ranked by “likes”

  1. Yoga Retreat, One more time –

    2. The Final Family Climb in Tucson

    3. I Am So Touched and Humbled By This!growning self blogger award

4. Leftover Ham? No Problem

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5. Great Article From a Like Minded Blogger

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6. King Cake for Mardi Gras

7. A Precious Gift

8. Standard Route on MT. Lemmon

9. Eating and Drinking Our Way Through The Tucson Botanical Gardens, Savor Tucson!

10. Sally’s Baking Addiction, January Challenge: Conquering Yeast

So, what have I learned from this exercise? For one thing, I have had an amazing year! And, all 10 of these posts are from Jan and Feb 😳 Clearly I started off strong, posting more often, and then let too much time pass between entries.

Variety seems to be key as well. Travel posts did as well as adventure and baking. That seemed to be true as I expanded this list to the top 20 blog posts.

If this is true, then people like the variety but don’t know when to look at my blog, because I am too inconsistent.

Other posts that did well, by this limited metric, included my fellow bloggers. Both posts from my trip to Montreal, where I visited with 3CStyle, ArtyPlantsman and Mainepaperpusher (aka, Dominique💕 ,Darren💐 and Linda🐉) did well. As did my book reviews for James (Jay) Cudney, author extraordinaire 📚 and I have two other books of his in the hopper to post!

What did not do so great? Some of you may remember that I participated in the April “Blogging from A to Z” Challenge in 2018. This was a great challenge for me as I posted daily in the month of April. The posts were pretty detailed and time-consuming, but I was happy that I did it! But, since they were not well received, and took an immense about of my resources, I will not join this year.

Sally’s Baking Addiction challenges are hit and miss. Generally, they are well liked and, because I truly enjoy them, I will continue this through 2019. I have been doing these challenges since their inception by Sally, and although I am often at the absolute deadline, I have made each and every one. I have also learned a few new skills along the way, which makes this worth it for me 😊

So, with this cursory look at my blog stats, here is what I am planning. I would like to set the personal goal of a minimum of two posts per month. One will be related to an activity or travel experience and the other will by Sally’s monthly challenge. I envision that the personal write up would be at the beginning of the month, and the baking post near the end (as that seems to be my default pattern 😉). There may be the rare occassion that I might get three posts in for a month, and I am ok with that!

The point here is that I am going to challenge myself to be a better blog buddy, participate regularly with the blogging community and hold myself more accountable to the overarching goal of my blog maintenance.

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Why Start a Blog Now?

My story is not unique or new, I am just like every other woman who made choices her whole life, worked hard, always with the future in mind, who wakes up one day to find that she is officially middle aged. I knew it was coming. My kids were finishing high school and entering college and my career had been put on hold to help them with the transition. I knew when I resigned my tenure at the college that I would be isolating myself a bit, but I thought when the kids get settled I would just pick back up where I had left off. I didn’t count on the possibility that I would question my passion for teaching and would start the long process of asking myself “what’s next”? This would mark the beginning of the next five years of soul searching, contemplation and waiting……so much waiting.

At this point, I didn’t know that I was in a mid life crisis, because you have to be at mid life for that, right? I was over 40, just like all the other women I knew at the time and most of us were asking these same questions as our families, and purpose, was growing more independent.   It was actually great at the start. I had more time for working out, gardening and experimenting in the kitchen, all activities I enjoy. But over time I found that I wanted more: more human interaction, more purpose and more experiences. I decided to enter a culinary program to see if that industry held any future appeal. I really enjoyed cooking, baking and working in a commercial kitchen and met some great friends that I still see when we can get our schedules to align. However, the thought of “proving myself” all over again in a new field was overwhelming and I knew that I did not want to work the restaurant hours required for success in the hospitality industry. While I was wrestling with these major life adjustments, my husband was entering his mid life crisis and where my crisis was a quiet, internal struggle, his was a category 5 tornado that ripped apart the trailer park. Any woman who has dealt with a man in crisis knows how self absorbed and all consuming his world becomes. There was no room for my problems or concerns at that time, and how could I figure out what I wanted until he decided if he would retire? He spoke of moving to another country, changing jobs, retiring and traveling the world….and so on, and so on. So, I waited some more. I know how hard this question is and that there is no quick answer and I wanted to be supportive and give him the space and time to work this all out. That was three years ago and he has yet to pull the trigger on any clear decision, and I am tired of waiting.

This blog is an account of how I continue to cope with both of our mid life issues and where I find an outlet for those times when I am overwhelmed and feel weighed down by the enormity of these difficult problems. I have found that exercise has been critical for my mental and spiritual health. I have always enjoyed physical activity but at this point in my life, I have really come to understand the benefits of regular workouts.  I signed up to train for a half marathon on a whim, and have finished two this year, I have started rock climbing (indoor and outdoor) and find that both of these challenge me and evoke a sense of pride upon completion. Pride in myself has not always been easy to find, so I have a new appreciation for it now that I am older. Another area that I find myself gravitating toward is time in the kitchen, cooking and baking are fantastic creative outlets for me.  I find it calming to work in the kitchen and really enjoy challenging myself with difficult or new recipes. Gardening is another way for me to relax, create and connect with the outdoors and I have spent considerable time and effort building structures, experimenting with different plantings and weeding (so much weeding!). And, like so many others, I love to travel and explore new areas and cultures as often as possible.

It is my hope that I will be able to connect with others to share ideas, stories and life lessons and, maybe, provide some support to those of you who are also in this interesting phase of life.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”                              -Dr. Martin Luther King