Sunday, December 9, 2007

Blog posts are little snapshots into our lives

WARNING: MY VERBIAGE RUNNETH OVER...

Mrs. G wrote a very thoughtful post yesterday on the boundaries of blogging, called Boundaries, Anyone? She raised several issues in her post and ended with this paragraph, "What are your feelings, reader, about the boundaries of blogging? Is your blog open to the public or your immediate family? Do you occasionally tip-toe or do you feel it's your life, your blog, your story to tell in whatever manner you choose...warts and all?"

I've been wrestling with these questions since I read her post. Just how do I feel about boundaries and my writing here, open to any who care to find me on the Internet? It is an interesting question and one for me that needs further exploration.

When I first started this blog, late last spring, I didn't tell anyone about it. There was something so freeing about the ability to just empty my thoughts onto a page and post it out into the world. Like sending little messages in a bottle, wondering if someone would find it and for a moment feel a connection through a message from a stranger. It was during a period of time in which I felt both suppressed and invisible. Suppressed because it had been many, many years since I had expressed myself creatively - other than the brief period of time that I took up painting to deal with the pain of infertility, or wrote my spiritual autobiography to share with a small, intimate group at a Covenant I class at church. Make no mistake, this suppression was self-inflicted.

In the last few years, my entire life has been about being a mother and a wife. And overall this path has been glorious and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But, as a woman and as a wife and mother, you are "trained" to put everyone else's needs before your own and you often lose track of who you are. Especially choosing to stay at home, despite the playgroups, the wonderful friendships made with other mothers and the variety of activities that fill your day. I think that it is extremely challenging to find something that is just for you - something to cherish and hold close - that is not within your role of a mother or wife. And I found that separateness, that fluid channel through blogging.

For me, my blog is a place to exercise my writer's muscles. To stretch and grow, to blunder and smash my face, to at times rip myself down the middle and show my insides - when I'm brave enough. It is therapy. It is a way of staying sane. Because I couldn't stay quiet anymore. It is my mini-course. My salvation. And most importantly, it is my connection to other people who might hear an echo into their own souls, as I have heard the echos in their writing, in their blogs. A sense of community. As if riding together on the crest of a wave that starts out far at sea, gathers momentum and then slams onto the beach. Do it. Just to make sure that you are still ... Awake. Alive. Present. Do it, because it feels good not to keep it all inside. Do it, because in the end it doesn't really matter - it is just words flung out, into the wind - maybe sticking, probably not. It is just not all that important, other than that it fulfills you. And that is important. To you.

It seems ironic to me that although I was having some kind of identity crisis, and feeling that I had lost a part of myself since I had become a mother, I chose to start a Mommy Blog. And to write about that part of my life. Yet, you write what you know and I do know about being a mom. I am reassured that I am recording the moments with my children somewhere, for the moments are so fleeting. Perhaps someday I will have the courage to write about something a little less personal, a little more interesting and something that bears more weight. For now, this satisfies and feeds my soul.

My husband, E, encouraged me to open up my blog to family members. At first I was a bit resistant. The idea of it was scary, vulnerable to do so. When I was an actress that was always the case for me. Far easier to perform to a packed house of strangers than for my family. Maybe because strangers don't have preconceived notions of who you are and their comments on your life tend to hurt less, if critical. And to mean more if in praise. Hey, someone out there likes me! And they don't really know me, so that must mean they really like me! A.K.A. Sally Field's Oscar acceptance speech. So, I did invite family members to come to my blog and some of them visit and some don't. And that is good, because somehow it feels balanced. And I don't have to repeat stories about the kids again in emails!

I fear that I teeter back and forth between tip-toeing and flipping my skirt up and saying, WHOOOHOO look at my panties! I am both of those people. My children are getting a little older now and I am more conscious of them having the ability to someday read what I wrote about my life with them. I would never want to hurt them in any way. And my relationship with my husband is off limits, yet I touch on things that hopefully he will not feel threatened by. Having his respect is crucial and vital to me.

I hope that I have not been guilty of airing dirty laundry. Maybe some stained laundry, but not dirty laundry. That holds no interest for me. Somehow there seems an agenda behind those kind of posts. An agenda that begs to blow up in your face.

Mrs. G's post has stayed with me and weighed on me until I had to sit down and write about this. It has gotten me thinking more about what I want out of blogging and is there a purpose to it, other than just using it as a vent or outlet for creativity. Perhaps it is meant to be temporary, to bridge the jump between writing about things banal and then really taking a risk and trying to write something more concrete - like a book. Perhaps it will be just another creative venture that dies out... All I do know is that it is a journey that I relish and hopefully will make me a more interesting person to my children, when they think of me someday as someone who had her own interests. Created her own fire in the belly. Even if it was pretty messy on some days. Because life is messy. That's why they invented baths. Blog posts are little snapshots into our lives. And everyone uses different lenses.


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16 comments:

Mary Alice said...

Nice post. I too have spent the day ruminating on Mrs G's questions...only I haven't managed to get the answers all down nicely like you did.

Lisa Milton said...

I blathered on at Mrs. G's and I'll try to be brief here.

(I might have to write a post too.)

I wrote a post about a year ago, and a key player was an x-boyfriend - never mentioned by name, but I knew some people could probably figure it out.

It wasn't a scathing portrayal, but it wasn't complimentary either. I wondered what he would say if he read it. But it stands. It was not intentionally cruel or mean.

I wrote a post after that, saying I hoped no one post was taken out of context or misunderstood.

I don't know how I can write well and never raise an eyebrow.

Ok, going now.

Must eat dinner. Great post.

Lisa Milton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
happygeek said...

I am glad you do blog, I love your line "it is my connection to other people who might hear an echo into their own souls, as I have heard the echos in their writing, in their blogs. A sense of community." You said exactly what i think (albeit a bit more eloquently!)

WorksForMom said...

Wow, this has been on my mind too. I love how blogging is a "dumping" ground of free will and thoughts. Kudos to being brave enough to share with your family (I have considered it but have never done it - I don't even posts shots yet).

Beautiful post (again). You articulate your thoughts so well!

Janet said...

I started blogging only recently but I knew going in that people I kenw would read it. Actually I told people I was starting one because I was afraid I wouldn't have any readers otherwise. And it was set up mostly so the family could know what was going on with the kidlings. It has morphed into something else. I don't have a lot of deep dark thoughts that people don't already know about, so I haven't really written anything surprising so far. Hmm> Did I even answer the question? Drivel, drivel I say (and write). Sigh.

JCK said...

Mary Alice - yes, isn't it awesome how one blogger can inspire others. Obviously, our Mrs. G sent a ripple into the blogosphere. A good one! I love being challenged to think about things. I'll be tuning in to see if you post something, too.

Lisa - Yowza on the ex's. Funny, though. I loved what you said about how you didn't understand how you could write without raising an eyebrow. Amen, Sistah. We just have to find out where the lines are, I guess. Sometimes they are worth crossing. Sometimes not.

Thanks, Happy Geek. You are part of that community!

WorksforMom- Kudos to you for not sharing with your family. At first I wanted it to be a place separate from family, but then my husband encouraged me to open it to family so they could see what was happening with the kids (because my newsy emails have dried up) and also see my writing.Sometimes it can be an inhibitor to what I'm writing.

Janet, the interesting thing is that it can morph into something else. Just like art! You have your own piece of art out there! :)

Thanks for the comments, ladies. I'm enjoying the discussions.

Professor J said...

Great post, JCK. I, too have been thinking about this since Mrs. G's post--she's one smart cookie, our Mrs. G.

I have a step daughter with developmental disabilities and some behavioral/emotional issues as well. I've only lived with her for a short time, and I find it extremely challenging and lots of fun. I've been tempted to blog about my new parenting issues (being a parent for the first time in 48 years), but haven't wanted to "air our dirty laundry." So, I think about these issues a great deal.

Nice panties, by the way.

HRH said...

Love the post. I often have that "crap, my mom is going to read this" moment every once in awhile.

Mary said...

I too started blogging for that intellectual outlet, to flex my creative muscles. My phrase for the ethical dilemmas of blogging is Blethic or blog ethic. Blethic for me means I get to tell my stories, but not someone else's. If your story intersects mine, then I get to tell that part, but not the rest. This is an issue for my children--my oldest is 11 and he's hysterical. And deeply private. He's okay if I tell 'our' stories but not his. Blethics will develop for me, I'm sure, as my sense of blogging matures (or maybe fizzes out, who knows). Now I"m going to read Mrs. G's post . . .

Mrs. G. said...

You have given ME much to think about. Here I thought I was just stirring up my own pot.

I'm over here almost every day and I think you have the most elegant, articulate dirty laundry in town.

JCK said...

Professor J - Yes, our Mrs. G is one smart cookie. I can see why you wouldn't want to post about your stepdaughter, but also how it would be challenging not to share, too. OH, MY you flatterer on the panties parade!

HRH- Thanks for coming by! Too funny on the CRAP, my mom's going to read this!

Mary, I really like your phrase - Blethic. Thanks for coming by and writing what you're thinking about.

Mrs. G- oh, gee whiz, Mrs. G....LOVE YA!

Kellan said...

This was such a good post.

I have always had an open blog and I do find that I occasionally hold back (I'm like you - with the skirt thing) because I have family that reads my blog and I don't want to offend any of them. But, I don't think that hurts my writing so far and I hope one day, when I really have something to say that I feel I really need to say - I'll just say it.

Hope you had a good weekend. See you soon. Kellan

by Johanna Brandvik said...

it's such a personal thing...blogging choices. and how about blogging etiquette?! now there's another post! in any case, i admire the thought and consideration and respect you give to your blog and your writing. i'm going to email you a thought I just had...privately.

mountainmama said...

Gosh...there is definitely something in the ether! I have been mulling over this very issue, and my position on it, since reading a really thoughtful and searingly honest post by another of my fav blogger ladies Smiler (From Smiler, with Love) about a recent relationship break-up and how it affected, and was affected by, her blogging.

I'm one of those who blogs for myself. There is a whole complex back story which I guess I will be exploring in my own post, but the upshot is - I am somewhat troubled by the ethical concerns, yet even more troubled by the sense that it is most important to me to be completely honest and myself on this platform in a way that is unique and more than a little precious in my life right now.

Confused? Me, too. The simplest explanation is that right now I'm not being completely frank with everyone, despite that being one of my core values. And it's bugging the hell out of me.

So, the synchronicity of dropping in here and reading this tonight (and you bet I'll be slipping over to Mrs G's to read her post next) - well, there is definitely something in the air tonight...

Thanks, JCK - your articulate, eloquent, irreverent musings are always such a pleasure. I'll be sure to link you when I pen my thoughts... send a little linky love your way :)

bubandpie said...

I don't worry much about boundaries with my own life, but I've been unusually aware lately about boundaries with other people's privacy. I really want to post some of the photos I took while house-hunting yesterday, but they ARE the interior of someone else's home and I'm pretty sure that's at least rude, probably unethical, and possibly illegal. So I contented myself with the exterior doors.

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