Beginning again

My first ventures in social media in 1991 started on a Bondwell computer, like this one.

Blogging is my on and off again romance. And, it looks like we’re on again.

There are many barriers to starting something. Especially if you’ve tried it before. In particular, if you feel maybe it didn’t work out that well.

I’ve been using online social media for more years than I’d like to admit, ever since I took the virtual plunge in 1991 (or was it ’92?) to host a forum I called Mimi’s Café on a Canadian system called Suzy (for which all credit really goes to my polymath father [yes dad, I called you a polymath; how do you like them apples?] who connected us to the system in the first place). It was crazy amazing to me then, and to the people who were part of it, that we could gather from across the country and globe to have a virtual coffee and chat about what was going on in our lives.

Since those early days, I’ve seen the rise and fall of various social media platforms like bulletin board systems (BBS) and chat rooms. I have also blogged over the years on different topics such as: science (i.e., climate and ecosystem services), social justice, and more personal ventures in creative writing, photography, music, and visual art. In starting these blogs I usually had the intent to make it last, or even build them into a real world project, but times change and time also gets tight. Some of my content was lost because the platform shut down, other blogs and web pages I closed down as I couldn’t justify paying the fees to support sites that I was basically ignoring. Others I closed because the platforms had become annoying (i.e., MySpace). But mostly, as my life progressed I just got busier, to the point where I stopped blogging altogether in recent years, as well as engaging on most social media platforms.

To illustrate, since 2008 I’ve had a twitter account. It used to be a thriving space where I would post information daily, and engage with a growing number of pretty darn cool people. I even got to chatting on a somewhat regular basis with the likes of several movers and shakers who have since become social media moguls, like Kyle Lacy, Amber Naslund, Liz Strauss, and Chris Brogan—who helped me directly or indirectly with their warm advice to go from not really even ‘getting’ micro-blogging to using it as a rewarding tool for information (sourcing and dissemination) and engagement.

But as time went on, Twitter grew into this Gargantua that lost some of its earlier charm, and I got so busy with my ‘real’ life commitments that my time on twitter dropped to near nil. Partly because I had to. Partly because I let it. And it is a similar situation with my own websites and blogs. My disengagement from these online forums has led me to lose relationships with people along the way—interesting, engaging, funny, inspiring, informative, caring, witty, and smart people. It used to be that if I tweeted or blogged about something, I’d typically have several people responding within a matter of minutes to a day. Now, I’m lucky if I get any response at all. [Except for a couple of die-hards who didn’t go away. You know who you are, and a big thanks also for not giving up on me.]

Well, I’ve been nursing my twitter account back to life recently, and it’s certainly taking time and work to pick up the ruins, salvage what’s good, and rebuild. But, I believe that this actually is time well spent. So much so, that I’m also willing to take the extra time off the corner of my desk to pilot yet another blogging venture—this one. The plan right now is to stop spreading myself too thin, and use this blog to cover any compelling topic that comes along into this one space, the binder being a mindful approach. Stepping back, asking questions, delving deeper, appreciating more. From the inner (i.e., personal) to the outer (i.e., societal, political, environmental), creating mindful content. I have a hunch that if we are going to create a more sustainable world, mindfulness is going to have to have something to do with it, and I’m following that lead.

So, as this new blog has this mindful component, here’s a valid question. Why? Why bother blogging again to pursue this lead when time is already so tight, and I’ve been through this all before and know all the (very real) risks? Why not do more volunteering in my neighbourhood, practice mindfulness in a local community, or spend my time writing a book?

The answer lies within something I’ve gleaned during my recent general hiatus from the Internet. I’ve been busy doing the things that makes an old-school “normal” life busy. Mostly, I’ve been taking care of business. I became a single mom years ago, and as most people know, that means a lot of work was in store for me. So, I have been doing things like work, work, work, and some more work (largely in to my day job involving long hours of writing and editing) to provide the necessities of life for myself and my family and pay off student loans, and studying towards meeting various professional goals. I’ve also been taking time to look after my three beautiful daughters, and spend time with my significant other, as well as family and friends.

Well, what I’ve noticed, is that in the spaces in between these busy hours over the last couple of years, a realization has been creeping up on me. The realization that I miss it.

I miss blogging!

So, again. Like a three year old. Why? Why do I miss blogging?

(Thinking…)

Ok. I miss the writing outlet. Yes, blogging is such a convenient writing outlet with a great final looking format. But wait. If I think about it more deeply, it’s not just that. I can start up creative pursuits like music, drawing, or, namely, writing, at home, which would also be an outlet. People have been doing this kind of thing for centuries. And I am also, concurrently, also pursuing some of these things offline in my own time as well.

So what else do I miss? (Thinking again…)

I guess I also miss the Internet interface. Well… if I think about it some more, no, its’ actually not that. I’ve had access to the info, entertainment, email and all those other normal useful and distracting features of the Internet all along.

If I really think about it, what I miss about blogging is engaging with the people of the Internet. (If you are reading this, that would be you! [Unless you are a troll.])

So there it is. I miss how blogging provides a forum for reflection, sharing, and making connections, as well as discovering and exploring new possibilities. All of this because of the people on the Internet who make blogging such a rewarding and interactive experience.

So, thank-you WordPress for still being around (even though you cost more now). Thank-you Apple for making my computer, which is still working after all these years.

And thank-you to all the great people out there who make blogging such a rewarding experience. Thank-you.

I’ve missed you.

Why? Well, we are down to the physiological experience of feelings now. And my feeling regarding blogging is that it has been a rewarding and authentic experience for me. It’s not just just some fuzzy notion of ‘virtual engagement’. Blogging can involve a real meeting of minds, with specific, discernible and measurable effects. Effects that I miss, because, obviously, I’m not getting them otherwise. A blog puts you directly in touch with people who are really into what you are into. It gives you a forum to develop ideas interactively, giving more direct engagement than, say, just writing a book would. This makes blogging as worthwhile and legitimate as any other kind of human engagement that adds value and meaning to our lives. Regardless of what the science is or the stats are to back up this claim, the heart knows what it knows. Especially over time.

So there you go. I’m back. I’m not sure if I’m more of a prodigal daughter, or that evil cat that came back. I’m not sure either exactly how this blog will pan out. But I do know one thing.

It’s good to be back.