Blogging, or a Way to Slow Things Down

004
I had two thoughts when I read Beth-Anne’s post yesterday.  First, happy birthday!!  34 is doing wonders for you!

The second was wholehearted agreement that time often feels like it’s flying, and that I actually know of a way to slow things down, at least for me, and that’s to document what is happening during at least some of those days.  I blog.

I write something, and usually throw up a photograph (or 12).  I’ve spent three hours on a post; sometimes I blurt out whatever I can in the 12 minutes I have before my eyes close for the night, or throw up a picture if I have 12 seconds.  I don’t know how this works exactly, but the record-keeping seems to help me to experience what’s happened more deeply, to remember it better, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, to revel a little in the amazing bits.  And then, having such practiced this habit the night before, the next day I seem more alert to the life around me.  I breathe a little deeper, I notice a little more, I think of something else to write about.  Things slow down.

I’ve been blogging on a private site and here for over five years, and it might not be an exaggeration to say it’s been transformative.  Not completely on its own, because along with blogging I’m sure I was opening myself up to other positive and creative influences, but the personal blog was at the centre of much of this.

And then five months ago I stopped.

Mostly intentionally.  I decided to take on a large (for me, still providing primary childcare for three young kids) project that I believed would require all of my energies.  Many things slid, not just the blog.  Making things with the children and on my own, seeing friends and family, preparing and eating healthy foods – so many tenets that I enjoy and find meaning in kind of flew out the window.

It was not comfortable, and I’m not sure I managed it that well.  Yet I’m not quite sorry for it either.  Years ago I read Carl Honore who asserted in In Praise of Slow that slow living doesn’t mean that life must always be slow; it means that you are consciously choosing its pace.  Good slow living could therefore incorporate periods where life speeds right up, provided an assessment has been made that it’s worth it.  I felt like I did this and took a plunge (which I’ll be writing about soon!).

At some point though, perhaps a month ago, the pendulum swung to its outermost reach (where it really did not feel great), and began its arc of return.  My project was underway – nowhere near fruition but the birthing was done.  There is much more to be done, but now it’s going to get done with a bit more balance.  The period of continuous fast living is finished now.  I want to slow down, and gratefully, I actually know how.

A few days ago, for the first time in five months, I  wrote a personal blog.  And after I finish here, I’ll write another one.

I’ll tell you a secret about my post:  it’s going to be about shoes.  My three year old’s shoes, to be precise.  A few mornings ago, he curled up his toes and refused to put on his shoes.  This and other assertions of independence and will are becoming routine, and I had to get my other sons to school and the little guy to preschool, and resorted to tucking my struggling baby under one arm like a sleeping bag and toting him to the car, shoeless.  I put his shoes on the top of the car trunk while I buckled him in and the other boys climbed in.

If you are a parent yourself, you probably already know what happened – I arrived at school to discover one shoe on the car trunk.  I had forgotten to put the shoes in the car before leaving my garage and lost one en route somewhere.

Searching for shoes to go out today, I found that no pairs for my littlest except for a pair of flip flops, and as my son was wearing socks (which he really did not want to take off), this would not do.  Imagine my delight when I found two shoes – both running shoes, to boot – a left and a right.  Not a matching pair, but a pair.  Boon accepted.  We could leave, and I felt grateful.

The post was composed in my mind, and I later took the snapshot.  It’s just a brief and random bit about the day, not the most impactful or important, but I choose it anyway.  Now I’ll log it into my memory.  A nod to the day, a moment to take a deep inhale, and to say thank you for all of this.  Short, sweet, and slow.

Advertisements

“I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I am not afraid of falling into my inkpot” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am often asked why I blog.   Many of my friends don’t know how I find the time to write posts between being the primary care giver of our three young boys, the various other activities that I participate in and organizations that I volunteer with.

I am not sure where I find the time either, but find it I do.  It’s that old adage in action, if you want something done, ask a busy person.

Truthfully, I make time for it.  It only took a few months of writing with these incredible women for me to realize that I was gaining so much more from this experience than I ever thought possible.

My three co-writers whom have challenged me to think about things differently, inspire me to try new things and listen to my ideas without judgment have enriched my life.

While I have definitely grown as a writer, more importantly I feel that I have grown as a human being.  I have learned to take risks and unabashedly try new things even though the outcome is uncertain.  Through my actions I know that I am teaching my boys that life is an evolution where opportunities are presented and regrets are not worth having.

I hope that our blog inspires parents too.  It makes me feel proud when I hear people talking about something we’ve posted and I am giddy when I read comments from people whom I don’t know, sometimes zooming from across the world.

Beyond the stories that we share, I hope we are showing parents that it is possible to find time for something that brings you joy and fills your soul.  And if you are like I was and uncertain about what your passion is, try something.

Encourage yourself to try something new.  Just like you’d encourage your child.

Blogosphere Round-Up!

We here at 4mothers1blog like blogs. We like other people’s blogs just about as much as we like our own, which is to say, a whole lot. Here are five posts we think you should be reading:

“God, I love it when your breath smells like Gaviscon” — Porn for Pregnant Ladies (from Pregnant Chicken)

“I get to wear those?!” C.J. said smiling.
“Yup.”
“ALL OF THEM?!” he squealed looking at the tub of about 100 pink lost and found ballet shoes.
“No, silly, just two, you only have two feet.” – “My Son, the Dancer” (from Raising My Rainbow)

This post is a couple of years old now, but it about sums it up. Ten Things I Hate About Motherhood (And One That I Love) (from Her Bad Mother)

The Hidden Mother — a practice in photography of old. To ensure that a young child didn’t move during the long exposure, the mother held the child tightly; all the while, she was hidden by a blanket, not being the obvious subject of the photo. Worth a look ( via A Cup of Jo and Retronaut)

And because it’s a new year: well, hello!

Hello from ant1mat3rie on Vimeo.

Blogging and Blurbing

At the risk of sounding single-minded, when the topic of memory keeping for our children comes up, I really have only one real suggestion.  It’s this:

Start a blog!  Straightaway!  So much fun!

I started writing a family blog two years ago.  I’m not a good memory keeper otherwise, both mentally (can’t remember anything after awhile) or manually (don’t do scrapbooking, etc.). What I have often kept are writing journals, but I haven’t kept them in one place or any order, so they’re not reliable for retrieval at any given time, even if they could be shared (which of course they can’t).

Enter WordPress (or Blogger or Typepad). And suddenly you’ve got an avenue for uploading photographs and can write down whatever you like (nothing, a caption, or much, much more) to go with them.

What I love about blogging ~

~ it’s there for you.  Whenever you have a chance, you can sit at the computer and click and tap away.  You can write or upload as much or as little as you want, with whatever time you have.  It’s tidy, and assuming you have a computer, there is no set-up or clean-up time afterward.

~ it’s easy to use.  I am not computer-friendly, but I learned to do it (in a basic way) without much fuss.  So so can you.

~ it’s instantaneous.  When you decide to post, it’s up.  Gratification doesn’t get much quicker.

~ it’s incremental.  With a scrapbook, you usually have to find a chunk of time and plug away at a big project.  With blogging, you do a little on a regular (or not so regular) basis, often while an experience is still fresh, and before you know it, you’ve amassed some meaningful content.

~ it can be a great way to stay in touch with family, friends, or like-minded community.  You can receive and reply to comments, thus creating some conversation.

~ or you can keep it private, and granting viewing access only to those people you wish to see it.

And perhaps the clinchiest of the clinchers…

~ you can turn your blog into a book!  Talk about having your cake and eating it too!  With the assistance of an online book making company called Blurb, I’m in the midst of making a book from of my own blog to eventually give to my children (who may not have much in the way of baby books otherwise), to my mother (as a Christmas gift) and to myself (because I will always, always love paper and books).

To use Blurb to turn your blog into a book, you must use one of the blogging programs (like WordPress, Typepad or Blogger).  You then download your blog into the Blurb software (I think the best one for blogs is BookSmart), and then you format and edit each page with lots of options for customizing the book.  This process can be time-consuming; it’s kind of like online scrapbooking.  But at least it’s not much harder than creating your own blog.  Then you upload the finished book back to Blurb for printing.  The result is a high quality bound book that features the very people and experiences you find most compelling.

If you’re getting multiple copies of the book as I plan too, the cost might add up, but a single book wouldn’t be expensive.  For the uniqueness of what you’re getting, I think it’s well worth it.

Blogging and Blurbing isn’t for everyone.  It’s not for you if you’re very afraid of computers or you don’t like writing (Blurb creates photo books too, but I think there are cheaper and more accessible options available).  But for it’s been a boon for me, and I’d encourage anyone who is even a little interested to give it a try.

image credit:  devil’sworkshop.org