My Blog is Two Years Old, So Now What?๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ

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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 timeย –

    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 ๐Ÿ˜ณย 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, Dominique๐Ÿ’•ย ,Darren๐Ÿ’ย and Linda๐Ÿ‰) did well. As did my book reviews for James (Jay) Cudney, author extraordinaireย ๐Ÿ“šย 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 ๐Ÿ˜Š

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰). 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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Seven Days Photo Challenge, with a twist ๐Ÿ“ธ๐Ÿ˜‰, Day 3

The lovely Dominique at 3C Style has nominated/tagged me in a photo challenge. And, we all know how I can’t say no to a challenge๐Ÿ˜‰

Apparently theย rules are: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

No Explanations!! Ok, I will let this one speak for itself, but will include the color version and ask for feedback. I am taking a photo class and am looking to improve ๐Ÿ˜Š

Today I would like to tag/nominate Amy from Bedlam & Daisies, she just returned from a fabulous trip and I know she has some awesome photos! And, don’t castles always look really cool in black and white?!๐Ÿ˜Š

A to Z Challenge: A is for Aging

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We all have a personal definition of aging, and most of us can pinpoint the exact moment we realized we may have lost a step or two. For me, that revelation hit in my late 30s.

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It was at my annual physical when my doc asked me to describe the quality of my sleep. I laughed and said โ€œwhatโ€™s sleep?โ€ She didnโ€™t laugh, but began really quizzing me about my sleep patterns. I told her that I assumed my slumber issues would resolve when my kids got older, to which she naturally inquired, โ€œhow old are the kids now?โ€ I sheepishly replied truthfully, โ€œ8 and 9 years oldโ€ย  and she replied, โ€œyour sleep problems are not going to get better.โ€ Ouch!

 

It was at that moment that I realized this was not going to get better without some effort on my part. I was at that annoying age where problems and issues stop healing on their own. I had to help my body along the correct path.

My options were simple. Take sleeping aids which could lead to more problems and dependencies, or accept that I had to take a more active role in the aging process. I joined a gym that week and began to exercise.

This was tough to manage. At the time our daughter was a nationally ranked gymnast and had to practice 20+hours a week, with travel to competitions. Our son was a competitive rock climber with a practice and travel schedule of his own. They both had homework and I was a tenured professor with a full teaching schedule to maintain.

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In the beginning I was only able to fit in a few hours a week. But I immediately started seeing and feeling the benefits! I was falling asleep easier at night, and more importantly, sleeping until the alarm sounded the next morning. I found it easier to work exercise into our tight schedules and realized that my overall mood increased as well. In fact, if I missed more than a few consecutive days in the gym, I was grumpy and in a foul mood. Exercise had improved my mental health as well as my physical state.

There are numerous studies that demonstrate a positive correlation between maintaining good health, and the quality of life through the aging process. And, the good news is that it is not too late to start earning these benefits.

Any physical activity will help reduce the overall levels of inflammation in the body. Inflammation is one of the biggest contributors to heart disease, decreased mental functions and even depression. Inflammation accumulates in the body as a normal by product of the aging process and the body is slower at removing those molecules the longer we live.

Inflammation

 

It makes sense! How many times have you heard that our metabolism slows down as we age? That means we are slower at removing toxins and internally generated molecules, our cells need our help.

 

What we eat and how much we move are the two most important factors to lowering our overall levels of inflammation. Coincidentally, regulating diet and exercise also correlates to higher cognitive levels as we age too!

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Limiting process foods and consuming less saturated fats are crucial to reducing overall inflammation. Foods that help lower inflammation (as well as cholesterol and assist in lowering blood pressure) include fruits and vegetables, whole grains, as well as consuming omega-3-fatty acids found in salmon and tuna. Just about any plant based protein will be beneficial as well, such as beans and nuts.

Once you have the proper fuel, it is time to consider exercise! Even moderate physical activity will earn huge returns on your health investment. The goal is to strike a balance between moving enough to lower inflammation but not to overtrain to the point of generating more inflammation. Confused yet?ย omg

Moderate activity, which is any low impact activity, will help your heart and kidneys flush out inflammatory molecules. Yoga, walking, hiking, swimming and cycling are great activities that will not tax your muscles or joints.

That means you do not have to run a marathon, become a triathlete or perform at an Olympic level to stay young! The government guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week.ย That may sound like a lot, but here are some tips:

  1. Break up the 150 minutes into 30 minute intervals. That is just 5 times a week where you could be walking your dog, going on a hike, riding a bike, swimming-all low impact for bad joints or just getting started.
  2. If you already have a fitness base, try out interval training. This is a great way to get in a lot of effort in a shorter time span.
  3. Try to avoid activities that cause inflammation, at least until you are stronger and fitter. Donโ€™t start out doing HIIT circuit work, or jump into the latest fitness trend,ย  until you have conditioned your body and are stronger.
  4. Your body will become accustomed to your new fitness level, called plateaus. Gradually build up your fitness level. It won’t take long for you to be able to easily walk or hike 5 miles. When it is, you start jogging!

 

Bedlam and Daisies, A wonderful blog from my friend Amy Lyon recently used this quote that I “borrowed”, which sums it up perfectly.

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Invest in yourself today, you are worth the time ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’•

References:

https://www.mensfitness.com/life/anti-aging-news-can-exercise-help-you-stay-young

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315255.php

https://www.webmd.com/women/ss/slideshow-what-is-inflammation

 

If you want more of a scientific explanation, this is a great academic article,

https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/72/9/1218/2731236