What I’ve learned in a year of blogging

What I’ve learned in a year of blogging

On October 13, 2016, with a deep breath, a prayer, and a mix of trepidation and pride, I hit “publish,” sending my first blog out into the great beyond.

Blogosphere, here I come. 

I’ve written 48 posts since then. It’s been the hardest professional challenge I’ve faced and there’s no paycheck on Fridays. The compensation has been in personal growth. I could fill a book, but instead I’ll give you some snippets on what I’ve learned:

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A simple question with a long answer.  A one-act screenplay based on a true story

A simple question with a long answer.   A one-act screenplay based on a true story

A kitchen, every surface covered with diced, sliced, or whole veggies, some still steaming and fragrant from the grill, some still raw. 

Michael, Karen’s husband of 35 years, enters through the kitchen door, stage left. Dressed in colorful cycling gear, helmet in hand, he glistens in sweat, face red, dirt streaked on one calf, hair matted to his head. He looks tired but jubilant.

Karen stands at the kitchen sink, center stage. The afternoon sun shines through the spotless windows behind her, giving her hair a golden glow, her dewy complexion complimented by the soft pink flush of exertion. Trim and tan, she wipes a loose strand of silky blonde hair from her smooth forehead with the back of her youthful hand as she leans over to kiss her husband.* 

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My gluteus maximus research.

My gluteus maximus research.

After close to a year of blogging weekly, I can say that I’ve learned some interesting things. Like when I researched different names for the gluteus maximus, sometimes called the gluteal muscles, or glutes, for short.  According to, Wikipedia , the fleshy mass of these musclesin a quadrilateral shape, forms the prominence of the buttocks."

In case you’re still on your first cup of coffee, I’m talking about the butt.

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I had to eat crow last week.  At least it was nicely seasoned.

I had to eat crow last week.  At least it was nicely seasoned.

You know the saying “Be careful the words you use because someday you may have to eat them?” 

I learned that lesson recently.

As a fledgling writer, I’ve discovered that I’m more protective of my written words than I am with other aspects of my life. I haven’t always stood up for myself, but I’ve easily stood up for my writing. 

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Keep your eyes open to the little things. Avoiding a thankless marriage.

Keep your eyes open to the little things. Avoiding a thankless marriage.

Years ago, I sat across a table from my new husband as we enjoyed a night out on our honeymoon. As we waited for our food to arrive, the wait staff appeared, singing Happy Anniversary, and delivered a cake with a single flaming candle to the couple at the next table.

Michael and I looked at each other with wide-eyed awe and said, almost in unison, “Wow. A whole year.”

It was hard to fathom being married for a year. Now, it’s been 35.

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This time, I will take a stand.

This time, I will take a stand.

Over 30 years ago, when I worked in Washington, D.C., I took the Metro to work. It’s always crowded on a subway during rush hour, and you get used to being jostled by people, bodies crammed together. But one morning on the platform, I thought a man purposefully touched my butt with his hand. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure. But then I watched the nicely dressed middle-aged man as he walked through the crowd, hands at his sides. As he passed several women, he distinctly turned his hand out to brush their back sides.

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Saying "I’m sorry" is an opportunity for connection and respect.

Saying "I’m sorry" is an opportunity for connection and respect.

My husband Michael leans vegetarian and I “steer” Paleo. It’s hard enough to cook shared meals at home, but finding a restaurant with a menu that works for us both is tougher than beef jerky.

When we do agree on a restaurant, Michael seems to be the one whose order gets messed up. It happened again last week when we went out for dinner. 

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When simple solutions are - literally - right under your nose.

When simple solutions are - literally - right under your nose.

"We live on our front porch in the nice weather." That’s what my husband Michael and I say, which is a bit of an exaggeration. But we do spend a lot of time there. It's a great place to read the Sunday paper, sip our morning coffee, eat lunch on a weekend, or watch a thunderstorm. My favorite seat is the porch swing, which we hung last year after it sat in a box for 30 years.

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I am a warrior.

I am a warrior.

Earlier this year, I wrote my four brothers an email with the specifics of the surgery I would be getting in May. I talk regularly on the phone with my parents and my sister, so those three already knew the particulars of the very intimate procedure. My brothers and I talk less frequently. I couldn’t bring myself to call each of them and go through the whole story four more times. Plus, they’re, you know - guys - and I’m, well - a prude - so I opted for electronic communication. 

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Acceptance. I’m working on it but not yet there.

Acceptance. I’m working on it but not yet there.

I wrote so much last week, I think the writing center in my brain is fried. 

Not all of my writing appears on my blog, but between my regularly scheduled blog, a bonus blog, an op-ed, working on my memoir (here’s an earlier scene) and some pieces that I sent to online publications, I’ve been busy. And my brain is worn out.

I’ve worked on at least seven blog topics so far this week, but I can’t get any of them to gel. Here’s a few that I’ll have for you someday:

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    The thrill of realization: I am a writer.​​​​​​​

    The thrill of realization: I am a writer.​​​​​​​

    This morning, as soon as I wake up, I stumble down the stairs and into the kitchen. The newspaper is sitting on the counter. Michael must have brought it in before he left for his early morning bike ride. But the paper isn’t open. Did he not see my article? Is it not in there?

    I open the paper and flip through to find the Perspective section. Darn, didn’t make the front page there. 

    I open to page two of Perspective, holding my breath just a little, hoping not to be disappointed. 

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    Round and round the seasons. The blessings of a long life with my parents.

    Round and round the seasons. The blessings of a long life with my parents.

    I have always loved to sing. It’s an appreciation and a gift I received from my parents. I sang along with them at home, I sang in the church youth group, in my high school choirs, at the coffee house on my college campus. I sang to my sons until the pre-teen years abducted their appreciation of it.

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    When I became a Pied Piper.

    When I became a Pied Piper.

    I’m the crotchety old lady who lives at the end of my street, peeking though her curtains and complaining when people disturb her.

    Hmmm. Not quite right.

    I’m the reclusive older neighbor who stays in for days at a time and only sneaks away for brief errands when no one is watching.

    Nope. Not that either.

    I’m the introverted 58 year old gardener in the brick house who relishes her solitude. 

    OK. That’s better.

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    I’m open to the possibility. Are you?

    I’m open to the possibility. Are you?

    When I looked out of the living room window the other day, I saw that my climbing hydrangea had buds. “Michael!” I yelled to my husband who was in the yard. I ran outside and dragged him over to look. Upon closer inspection, we saw five clusters of buds about to explode into starbursts of tiny white flowers. I had waited five years for this.

    The next day, I was strolling around the back yard and again yelled to Michael to “come look!”  This time it was my yucca, a name that belies its stately spires of white flowers. In seven years, my yucca has graced me with this vision just once. As I pointed out to Michael the tall stalk rising up out of the scratchy foliage, I noticed two more blooms-to-be.

    There’s more. If you’re not a gardener, stay with me here. There’s a deeper meaning to my garden eureka moments. At least that’s what I choose to believe.

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    Glazing out the window.

    Glazing out the window.

    When we bought our second old house 11 years ago, it needed some serious TLC. The least of our problems was the broken window glass in the basement stairwell door, which I “temporarily” fixed with blue painters tape. Last week, I decided to do the job right.

    I’d done a lot of old-house renovations over 30+ years. Replacing a window would be no biggie, I thought. 

    Hah!

    Here’s how it went:

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    Parking lot prophecies.

    Parking lot prophecies.

    It was almost a year ago that I took a medical leave from my job. I expected to return to work in a month. Then the month became two months. Then three.

    At that point, I didn’t know if I was physically capable of returning to work. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine not working. Age 57 is not exactly an ideal time to drop out of the workforce. And retirement wasn’t on my horizon yet.

    Yet a nagging question bubbled at the edge of my consciousness: Do I really have the drive or the desire to go back to the rat race?

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