Is it just me, or is New Year’s Day sort of anti-climactic? I feel like we should start the new year with a day that encapsulates all we aspire to in the coming 12 months, and yet it is generally a lazy, slothful, counting-down-the-hours (and not in a fun way) write-off day that we simply endure. This year in particular felt like a throw-away day, after a New Year’s Eve party that was actually sort of impressive given our status as 30 and 40-something parents of two.
We hung out with our neighbors, their friends, and our collective nine children. Inappropriate games were played, (have you tried Cards Against Humanity? Go do it. Now.) bottles of champagne were consumed, and our children stayed up way too late. So did we- 3:00 am. For real. Our girls didn’t get nearly enough sleep, nor did we. Our recovery day was pretty unimpressive- lots of napping, movie-watching, and anti-hangover food. (For us, not the kids. Although my toddler did ingest far too much cheese in one evening.)
This day of fatigue, raw nerves, and irritability culminated in a moment when both of my daughters were in my lap, and all three of us were crying. We were fried. Certainly not the day of inspiration, invigoration, and reflection that New Year’s implies. When I realized I had to write this post for Finish the Sentence Friday about my blog goals for the year, my first reaction was this: meh. (In fact, I just had a total Freudian typing slip- while I was typing blog goals, I accidentally (?) wrote “blah goals”. Hm.)
It’s true that I am feeling a bit uninspired as I ponder my goals for Mommy, for Real in the new year. I wondered if I’d written a New Year goals post last year, and had a lovely time re-reading my aspirations to “do less unplanned swearing” (note that I had no intention of scrapping the deliberate use of profanity- there’s a distinction.) and “less complaining.” Say it with me- epic fail. I also aspired to exercise more, sing more, and be more organized. (I know, I’m laughing, too.)
Well. Here’s what actually happened in 2013- I blogged my ass off. As I was searching through my archives, I found nearly twenty posts in January alone. Twenty. My blogging goals for 2013 included redoing my site, learning more about blogging, increasing my network, and getting my work “out there.” (In case you are confused, “out there” is the place where bloggers get excited when other websites publish their work for free.) And I succeeded on many fronts.
I was blogging all the time at the beginning of the year, and I definitely achieved many of my goals. I moved my blog from Blogger to WordPress, redesigning it along the way with the help of Julie DeNeen. OK, fine, she didn’t “help” me, per se, she just did it. For the first time in my life, I finally got paid to write something, and submitted my work to a variety of websites. In May I was delighted and honored to be a part of the Denver Listen To Your Mother cast, one of the best experiences of my life- writing and otherwise.
In July I traveled to Chicago for BlogHer and met some of my favorite blog friends in real life- this was definitely a highlight of the year. My writing partner Jessica and I created The HerStories Project friendship series and website in 2013 and then published the anthology of friendship essays we compiled in December. I found a place in my blog community through hosting Finish the Sentence Friday, being a co-founder of the Brilliant Book Club, and through the amazing HerStories Project community. Truly, there are some amazing bloggers out there.
Looking back, I think- how am I going to top that? (or something that sounds less braggy.) So here’s my answer- I’m not.
In fact, I may be one of the few people who sets out to blog less in 2014 than she did in 2013. Amy Wilson, one of my writing idols whose book When Did I Get Like This? was one of my biggest influences when starting this blog, summed up some of my concerns and ambivalent feelings in her post Is Blogging a Dead Language? (Bloggers- you should go read this right now.)
I most definitely intend to keep blogging in 2014, but perhaps with less vigor than I did in the previous year. That sounds like a pretty pathetic goal- who sets out to preserve the status quo as their New Year’s Resolution? I met so many great fellow bloggers last year, many that I consider to be actual friends and have subsequently met in real life. (Ahem, I just had lunch with Kristi of Finding Ninee last week!) I want to stay connected to these women, and maybe even discover other new writers this year.
But I can testify that in my zeal to stay engaged, discover new blogs, and make great blogging connections last year, everything else in my life suffered. Everything. In my desperation to find a place for myself in the blogosphere, I clawed my way in, sometimes to my own detriment. For at least half of last year, I probably spent more of my free time reading other blogs, commenting, and sharing than anything else. That idea I had about more exercising, singing, and better organization? Yeah, right. I was blogging, submitting, reading, and commenting so much that I had time for little else.
This year, I want to stay connected to my community with perhaps a bit more balance. Maybe this year I actually will accomplish other things outside of my blogging/writing life. Maybe I can step up my meditation practice, hit the gym more, do more yoga, and instead of frantically typing when I find myself with a few hours of solo time, I can pick up a book or sit down at the piano. When I am with my kids, my friends, or my husband, I want to really be with them instead of worrying about what I’m missing on Twitter or my Facebook groups. I don’t want to be mentally composing essays or planning out future blog posts.
Similarly, when I am blogging or writing, I want to be just as present and purposeful. In 2014 perhaps less will be more for me, which means that when I am writing, I need to make it count. I want to preserve the integrity and authenticity of my own voice when I’m blogging. When you write something for another site, it makes good sense to bear in mind their audience and voice when you’re submitting- on my own blog, I want to remember why I started Mommy, for Real to begin with. Because I had something to say about parenting– about the confusion, frustration, and ambivalence that is all wrapped up in the ferocious love I feel for my daughters. I want to write when I feel inspired, rather than out of a sense of pressure or fear that I am failing to measure up, or out of desire to write the next viral post that will finally put me on the map.
Already there is buzz in the blog world about two conferences coming up this summer- BlogHer (duh) and Blog U, a brand new one led by some of my favorite and most revered bloggers. And I’m likely not going to go to either. I’ve averted my eyes while some of my favorites have announced their registration in one or (sob) both of these events, and I’ve stayed deliberately quiet. In an effort to preserve the balance I am aspiring to this year, barring some unforeseen events or good fortune, I will probably sit out the blog conferences this year. It’s just not the right time, and I’m trying to remember that not only is it unrealistic to try to get published everywhere, you simply can’t go to every blogging or writing workshop offered in one year. OK, maybe you can, but I can’t. And I’m a little sad about it, and a lot jealous.
I do want to accomplish more of my writing goals this year, and I plan to do just that. In a focused, subdued way, in direct contrast to how I started in 2013 with a distinct lack of balance and a smidge of obsessiveness. I will continue in pursuit of that elusive blogging balance. And I do want to stay connected to my community of friends, bloggers, mothers, and readers.
In that spirit, many of us know that Facebook is making it hard to stay connected these days, by requiring pages to pay to promote the posts they want their audience to read. It’s a big bummer for many of us bloggers. So I encourage you to stay in touch with me in other ways:
You can subscribe to receive email updates. As mentioned, I intend to blog less this year, so your inbox will definitely not be flooded with daily posts from me!
You can follow me on my personal page– this is different from a “friend request”- you will only see posts I share with everyone, rather than my boring regular status updates and pictures of my kids. Next to the “send friend request” button, click “follow.”
You can follow me on Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest, too!
You can still like and follow my Mommy, for Real FB page, but you may not always see my posts.
(Thanks for this great idea, Sarah at Left Brain Buddha!)
This post is part of Finish the Sentence Friday- clearly this week we were writing about our blog goals for 2014; check out the posts below and see what all the other bloggers are working on this year. I can’t wait to find out if I am the only one with visions of mediocrity ,or if another blogger is also striving to blog less, maintain the status quo, or just be “good enough” like me. Happy New Year, everyone!
Next week’s sentence is: “If I had a million dollars, I…”
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