Blogging, privacy issues, and a Mommy Blogger

Photo by ItzaFineDay, via Flickr

The great thing about the online community is the way you can draw on the experiences of a much wider variety of people than ordinary life allows. You can have a conversation with a number of people at the same time, and everyone’s experiences and perspectives (via comment box) enrich each other.

Yet sooner or later, I would imagine every “mommy” blogger has to confront the possibility that her kids are reaching the age where it’s no longer acceptable to parade their every word, antic, and struggle in front of the world.

I’m really starting to wrestle with this now with Alex. Up to now, he’s always been very excited about being featured on Mommy’s blog. But a few months ago, he surprised me by saying, “Don’t put that on the blog!” It was the first hint that it’s time to start thinking more carefully about what I share of his life. His peers don’t read my blog, but some of their parents might, and not everything is meant for the world to know.

I try to be pretty careful about what I reveal about the lives of others. But I’m really struggling with the line in my own household. What you guys like to read is my reflections on children and family and parenting, and it’s hard to do that without sharing the stories that prompt those recollections. Plus, my blog has replaced the journals I have kept from 6th grade on. I sometimes miss that format–the format where I could use as many exclamation points and tell as many secrets as I wanted, be as blunt and frank as I needed to be. There was something very therapeutic in that process, and that’s something I can’t do in a public forum. But typing is so very much faster than longhand, and it feels like I’m hitting two targets by using the blog format.

You see, I began blogging because every author is supposed to have a “platform.” But I soon realized that nobody wants to know my ruminations on writing. And frankly, most of the time I’m not all that interested in writing about writing. What I learned I was good at was taking the moments of daily life and putting them into words that make them at least somewhat universal.  Which brings me back to my opening: the thing I love about the online world is the way it’s possible to glean deep insights from people I’ve never met, and the possibility of offering insights to others who might never meet me. We can learn from each other. Help each other through the struggles we all face. I think that’s really profound.

In order to accomplish this, however, we have to be willing to share–not to set up “privacy” as an idol. There are many times in the human experience when we iolate ourselves from the very people who can help us, simply because we’re afraid of being vulnerable, of being judged. That vulnerability is what frees us.

But where is the line? There’s little, if anything, about my life that only involves me. Any time I have an experience to relate and insights to share as a result, it’s because I interacted with someone else. I can strip identifying details, but are those people not still going to recognize the encounters and feel exploited? I wrote a post last week that never went public for that very reason: it felt exploitive, even though it was something that profoundly affected me for several days.

Most important of all is that line between too much and not enough where my family is concerned. It’s not my place to parade details of an adolescent’s struggles. And yet my own journey as a woman, a mother, and a child of God is deeply impacted by those details. How do I share my story without betraying the trust of those most important to me?

I’d love to hear thoughts from those who have wrestled with this already.

Published in: on September 23, 2013 at 8:41 am  Comments (8)  
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So Much To Say, Not Enough Time

I’ve been trying to do too much in this time with the fourth baby nursing–carry too many responsibilities, juggle too many balls. Something’s got to give. I love posting every day, but let’s be honest–it’s a lot of extra writing, and lately I’ve been scrambling to get it done at all.

So I am switching to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday blogging schedule, at least for the duration of the summer. We’ll see what happens when kids go off to school in the fall.

Now…out to mow the lawn, before the thermometer melts.

Published in: on June 19, 2012 at 5:53 am  Comments (5)  
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Indulging in a Bit of Good, Old-Fashioned Stream of Consciousness

via Flickr”]Sign of the time

Image by FotoRita [Allstar maniac

Lately I’m suffering from extreme lack of creativity in blogging. Of course, it doesn’t help that it’s turning into one of Those Times. You know. The ones when all petty irritations converge on a point, namely your nerves, and suddenly all the drama of the Furies comes gushing out of your mouth upon the heads of people who only sort of deserve it. Like school nurses who seem incapable of accepting that all your kids have really bad allergies/colds, and the plethora of Other Symptoms means it really isn’t contagious pinkeye, and why are you making me come pick up my daughter from school, which causes me to have to skip nap for another sick child and go get the third one from school early so we can go to a stupid doctor appointment to be told that guess what, your kids have ALLERGIES??????

Uh…excuse me while I go plunge into the creek to lower my blood pressure.

Also this week, Nicholas has officially crowned himself The Worst Sick Child I’ve Ever Had. I remember when he was a baby, shaking my head and calling him a Drama King. Up to then, we called Julianna the Drama Queen, but she’s had to relinquish her monarchy. Julianna, I told Christian, at least had reason to pile on the drama.

The last two nights, Nicholas has been up 7-8 times per night. Last night was actually better, because at least he wasn’t screaming pathetically, “I need tih-oo!” every time he woke up. (Tissue, in case you aren’t fluent in Toddler-ese. And lest you think I am overstating the case by calling it screaming…take my word for it. I’m not. Sunday night, every time I almost fell asleep, I’d be yanked back to consciousness by the sound. Nerve-shredding, I’m telling you.

Last night was better, without the screaming. A big improvement, although being awakened by the sound of your door being  banging against the door stop is no fun, either. I’ve learned two things the last two days:

1. When Nicholas grows up, he’ll be the classic “bad patient.” Just saying.

2. I must do everything in my power to ensure that Nicholas never gets sick again. EVER.

In between sick kids, flirting with being sick myself, finishing up a teaching gig in another town, preparing for three public speaking engagements in the next 6 days (each of them a separate topic) and the usual attempts to write, I’ve found myself floundering on the blog. I don’t know if everybody’s just overwhelmed like me now that school’s started and the fundraising and football seasons have begun, or if I’m actually losing your interest, but my stats have taken a hit the last couple of weeks.

If you’re a blogger, you know that leads to serious self-questioning and an obsessive search for ways to FIX IT! So I’ve been trying out some new blog carnivals/memes, some of which I like quite a bit.

The only trouble is, I abandoned most of my old memes a few months ago, because the time I was putting into going around visiting other people didn’t seem to be translating into any significant bump in hits. I got the sense I was seeking new readers unsuccessfully while not really serving my own readership or being true to myself. So I took the plunge and found, gratifyingly, that my stats didn’t suffer for it.

And now I wonder if trying to push the meme thing again is why I’m struggling with both inspiration and stats.

Anyway.

My goal every day in writing is to have a point. And if you can’t tell, this post really has no point. I just gave myself permission to do some good old-fashioned stream-of-consciousness Journaling today. You know what else? It didn’t take very long to write. What do you know? That qualifies it for yet another meme I haven’t visited in quite a while. Now, what image shall I use to sum up this fractured, useless post?….

Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 5:06 am  Comments (15)  
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Searchability

Google Search homepage

Image via Wikipedia

One of the funniest things to do as a blogger is to see what search terms bring people to your blog. Most of the time, they’re utterly ordinary: “kate basi blog,” for instance. But included in the mix are some real gems, and today I feel like sharing a few. In case, like me, you’re curious as to what in the world I wrote that showed up on these searches, I’ve linked you to the appropriate post.

The funny…

The things that make you go “hmmm”…

The not-so-funny…

  • rsv related to vsd (or this one) (No amount of distance can make this funny, but it’s so significant in my life that I’m just grateful when other search it, in the hopes that they find themselves not alone.)

And finally, in the category “what the…?” we have:

  • ugly pie (I don’t know what you’re talking about. In this house we only have cutie pies. ;) )
  • alex w ness (Surely that must be a typo? Virtually every post I write has that in it.)
  • elphant mush (Where did the all-knowing Google find that on my blog?)

Okay, those of you who have blogs, what are your favorite search terms people have used to find you?

Published in: on April 5, 2011 at 5:14 am  Comments (4)  
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A Lack of Focus

Dusk Session #2: Bridge near the Soccer Stadiu...

Her date was pleasant enough, but she knew that if her life was a movie this guy would be buried in the credits as something like “Second Tall Man.”
            —from “The Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay”

There are times when I really do have “so much to say”—beautiful stretches of days and weeks in which I know exactly what I want to put on this blog, and the words flow and the ideas crash along the shores of my mind with not enough time to get them all on “paper.”

And then there are desolate stretches when I weigh and toss every idea that comes along. Unimportant. Boring. Unfocused.

This is me this morning. Sitting gape-jawed in front of a blank Word document, trying to figure out what to fill it with. Clicking through my Google reader looking for inspiration.

A blog is supposed to have a focus. It’s supposed to be about something. That’s how you build a readership: you find a gap in the tsunami of verbiage online, and you fill it. That’s not what I do. I write whatever I feel like writing. I’ll go for weeks blogging about Down syndrome, and then spend a bunch of time on faith issues, with stopoffs on parenthood and marriage, and an occasional rant about something in the culture…

Writers tend to blog about writing. But I’ve never wanted to do that, because frankly, you people don’t find it very interesting. I know because I watch my stats, and writing posts don’t rack up the hits. And lately, Advent is topic non grata as well. (That’s oversaturation, and I understand it. Believe me. There’s only so many times you can say the same thing before people tune out.)

So this morning, I put the question to you. What brings you to this humble little corner of the e-universe? What kind of topics make you sit up and click through? What would you like to see featured here?

Published in: on December 14, 2010 at 6:12 am  Comments (11)  
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A Conversation Only an NFP couple could have

“Christian, guess what? I found the old thermometer.”

“Oh, yeah? Where was it?”

“In my pajama drawer. So what do you think, do we keep using the new one? ’Cause this one registered the temperatures so much lower.”

He eases into bed. “You know,” he says, “I never really liked that thermometer anyway. This new one, when you turn it on, it goes BEEEEP, really loud. And it beeps all the way through while you’re taking your temperature.”

“And that’s a good thing?” I say, bewildered, thinking about how many pre-5:30 a.m.’s in the past week I have muffled the thermometer to keep from waking him up.

“Well…” He pauses. “I don’t know, it’s just so much more aggressive a thermometer!”

 Hmmm. Well, it was side-splitting at the time. Maybe you had to be there.

Word Press is now offering “recommended links,” i.e. definitions of some of the terms you might want to offer readers. And every time I mention my husband’s name, they try to get me to add a link to a wikepedia article that begins:

A Christian (pronounced /ˈkrɪstjen’/  ( listen)) is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who Christians believe is the Messiah (the Christ in Greek-derived terminology) prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, and the son of God.[1][2]

Apropos of nothing.

I’m in one of those bloggy moods this week, where my brain freezes on subjects of importance, and thus you get things like a bedtime conversation instead of a rational, thoughtful approach to a focused topic. This is a direct result of having two articles to finish and a novel to outline in preparation for digging in on writing 50,000 words beginning next Monday. Or maybe I just burned out after last week’s deluge of profundity.

On the other hand, last week I cut loose from almost all the carnivals I usually join, and it was pretty liberating to feel that I was blogging solely to say what I wanted to say. And somewhat affirming to find that my hits didn’t suffer as much as I had expected them to. So thank you to all those who seek me out.

Anyway, please accept my apologies for what passes for blogging this week. It’ll get better again. Someday. I promise!

P.S. Word Press wants me to tag this post with the categories “Christianity, Christ,  Hebrew Bible, Christian, Messiah, Jesus, Thermometer, and Religion and Spirituality.”

Sigh.

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 5:15 am  Comments (3)  
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7 Quick Takes, Vol. 101

Dobby in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Image via Wikipedia

___1___

 

Best link of the week, hands down, in honor of the upcoming movie release (anybody want to be super geeky and dress up for a midnight showing? ;) ): Hogwarts Gets the Internet. Ever wondered what Dobby might say on Facebook?

___2___

All right, people. This is a note to some of you Blogger bloggers. I love to leave comments, BUT. Sometimes I want to tear my hair out and ignore any site with an orange “B” in the URL line. I write my comment, I hit post without doing a word verification because all I got was a little red X, and not a word; it reloads; I scroll down; it displays a red dot; I hit post again; it reloads; I scroll down; it tells me to match a word; I match the word; I hit post AGAIN, and THEN it tells me, after all that, that you still feel the need to approve my comment. Please, for the love of all that is holy, bloggers: If you’re going to enable comment moderation, PLEASE SKIP THE REST OF THE NONSENSE. I know you like getting comments. Don’t make it so freaking hard! (See here for someone else who feels the same way, and knows what to do about it!)

___3___

I read a great writing quote this week:

The first chapter is the last chapter in disguise.
- Richard Peck.

Apparently, he writes a book, finishes the ending, then ditches the first chapter & writes a new one. Hmm. Now, this sounds like a good plan to me, especially after the weeks & months I’ve spent obsessing about how to start in the right place. One more nudge that it’s time to STOP PROCRASTINATING and START WRITING.

___4___

Kudos to Parenting Magazine! They want pictures of kids with Down syndrome. Pass the link around to anyone who can oblige! 

___5___



We made a family page to send with Alex to school. It’s an album that makes the rounds of all the families in the class, and it was fun to pick out pictures and scrapbook them, with Alex making most of the decisions, on Sunday afternoon. We talked about what he liked, who he loved–all that fun stuff that you can include in such a project. On Monday morning he stopped on his way down the stairs and turned back to me, peeking through the railings as I changed diapers and dressed little ones. “Mommy,” he said, “the two most important things about me are my Iron Man costume, and God. I love flowers. I love all the things that God made.” Warmth to the heart of a mommy who finds God in nature.

___6___

Recently, I was sitting by a lake, seeking stillness, when I happened to glance down at my shoe and see a tiny spider, no bigger than the head of a pin, building a web between the loop of my shoe string, my sweat pants, and the surrounding pants. Close as I watched, I never could see the threads she was traversing. And it occurred to me what a miracle a spiderweb really is. I understand what they’re made of; I know it’s produced by the spider’s body…but I don’t understand how they get from one point to another to put up the strands in the first place. Can you imagine staring out at a gap the size of the Royal Gorge, and simply hurling yourself out into the abyss, trusting…trusting in what, to keep you from plunging to certain death?

Of course, I suppose it helps that you weigh virtually nothing, so you can be your own parachute. Still, it’s kind of miraculous, don’t you think?

___7___

Pray for me–have a presentation to give to the diaconate candidates today on NFP, and I’m not feeling very good the last couple of days!

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 101)

Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 4:56 am  Comments (10)  
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7 Quick Takes, vol. 78

1. I have just finished reading “Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther” this week. It started out somewhat questionable, to be honest. The first few “entries” weren’t written very well. I thought I was headed down the poorly-written Christian literature route, but I gave it a few more pages since the opening entries were written by a “teenager.”

2. However, it wasn’t long before I was hooked. I don’t know this author’s background, but the story of Esther was a perfect conduit for addressing matters of faith and sexuality, and I want to share a quote that shocked me, because I have NEVER seen such a perspective written outside of NFP circles. Here it is:

“I am a woman, created in the image of the one true G-d. I will lay His glory at the feet of no man, and for no fleeting pleasure. To touch me is to touch the eternal.”  (Emphasis added.)

3. Another great quote, on matters more general: “In some people, love of G-d leaves little love for others, especially those who stumble and sin often.”

4. I didn’t go into it expecting more than a quick read, but now I’ll be looking for more works by Ginger Garrett.

5. While we’re on the subject of women’s issues, I thought this was a great post, entitled “Satan’s Best Trick.”

6. I have a cold. Which is no surprise, I suppose, considering that my children have been trading the bug for two weeks, and I’ve been fighting it off for almost a week myself. Still…blech!

7. And finally, I have questions for those who have their own blogs (and keep an eye on traffic). Do you find that there has been a dropoff in traffic lately? Or is it just me? I’m theorizing that the weather’s so pretty in so much of the country that people aren’t spending as much computer time. Which is not a bad thing. Time will tell if I’m right.

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 5:25 am  Comments (2)  
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Breaking the Addiction, Day 7

When various blog-friends began talking about an internet fast for Lent, my first reaction was, Whoa! That is a *great* Lenten penance! In every word they wrote, I recognized myself, but I felt sure that I couldn’t do it myself. After all, the reason I began blogging was to develop a “platform” (if you’re not a writer and don’t know what I’m talking about, spare yourself the pain), and although the purpose has evolved, platform-building remains important. I can’t just take a break from blogging for “forty” days. Besides, I have assignments and deadlines—articles, and a second book of flute pieces to finish and send, not to mention the neglected novel that I am determined to submit this year. I have to use the web.

If that sounds like a string of excuses, it’s because it is.

In the end, I settled for a compromise. I decided to fast from checking blog stats. I knew how hard it would be, even though it sounds so trivial. But I wasn’t counting on the persistence of temptation!

I begin the day by posting, which is accessed through the dashboard, upon which the basic hits counter resides. I thought, at first, that I might be able to sneak an “accidental” peek in the morning while opening up my blog. (So much for good intentions.) But it is just below the level of the opening screen. Any peek would require a deliberate breaking of the fast on my part.

The full “stats” page is an easy click, a bright blue link, cheerily taunting me from the left navigation bar. On the blog proper, the total hits counter beckons. All I would have to do is glance at the number and do a little math, and I’d know my daily hits.

I resist, but oh, it’s hard. My whole consciousness strains toward the vain affirmation of those little numbers. Numbers that, in the grand scheme of things, are so very unimportant. How did I get so attached to them? Is this withdrawal?

As Michelle at Graceful points out, it’s amazing how much time is freed up. I am doing more dishes, more straightening, more playing with the kids, and getting more writing done. I’m not sure that’s really the point; I have this feeling that I should be spending that “free” time in prayer and reflection. In fact, I’m almost sure of it. But unlike Advent, I don’t have a plan for Lent yet, to help me achieve my spiritual goals—only an idealized vision. It’s a vision that’s based on my own experiences, but the years in which I really embraced the great, holy emptiness of Lent most powerfully were the years I spent in Iowa, far from home, without transportation on a suitcase campus, where life was focused pretty much entirely on me. Obviously, that’s not the case anymore. I have to grow into a new way to experience the emptiness. And it may not be realistic for years to come. I mean, silence and stillness are just not things that mesh well with parenthood.

Yet somehow, I have to find them. I need to walk through that desert. I wonder, is this fast of mine actually accomplishing anything useful in terms of closeness with God?

Maybe I’m too close to it to know, right now. Maybe the answer to that question will be revealed in time. And maybe I’m just floundering. But I guess that even a failed attempt is a step along the path.

Published in: on February 23, 2010 at 8:02 am  Comments (5)  
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Kate’s Rules of Blogging for New Writers

[wfmwbannerKRISTEN.jpg]

1. It’s OK to spend the time blogging, even if you aren’t sure how many people are reading. Blogging replaces my personal journal. It teaches focus, titling, brevity and hooks. How can you argue with something that helps you record your life and thoughts at the same time that you practice writing?

2. But beware wasting time.

3. Be concise. With so many blogs out there, you have a lot of competition. Besides, you owe it to your readership not to waste their time wandering. Get to the point and get done.

4. Make it meaningful. I’m always astonished by how much fluff is out there—and by how many hits it gets—but for me, substance is key.

5. Make it count. Carnivals/memes are great for networking and exposure, but don’t waste your time and your readers’ by simply joining them without something substantive to offer your faithful readers. Find a way to make those entries serve two purposes. For example, this week I wrote my Tuesday post to combine a photo carnival and two “wordful” ones. I came up with this rule when I realized I was joining four or five carnivals a week, and I was writing to the carnivals instead of saying what was given to me to say.

That said, this post probably does not serve most of my faithful readers, for which I apologize. I promise something more substantive tomorrow. After all, yesterday was Julianna’s first day of school. What more poignant motherhood moment is there than that?

Published in: on February 3, 2010 at 6:03 am  Comments (6)  
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