Sometimes I think it is a good idea to revisit why you started doing something in the first place so you can review/evaluate if you’re still on track or at least happy with the direction in which you’re travelling. Like …
Why did I start blogging?
I started blogging in September 2012 as a way to share photographs I took as part of a 365 Grateful Project. I had no idea how to blog, had never before used WordPress, and was soon to discover a whole new world (the blogosphere) and be catapulted into a massive learning experience!
There’s a little more about what happened in 2012 on my ‘About‘ page if you’re interested, but I won’t get into all of that here. Instead, I want to focus on WHY I started to blog and where I am now compared to then.
A friend had drawn my attention to an article in a weekend newspaper about Hailey Bartholomew (of 365 Grateful fame – see link above) and after reading that article, I felt inspired to do my own 365 Grateful Project. I was going to take a photograph every day for 365 days of something I was grateful for. Why would I do this? Well, because I had been through a rough time, was reassessing my life, trying to reconnect to life, and endeavouring to work out who Min was and what she liked to do. I thought maybe this little project might help. It was also a good opportunity to use the DSLR camera that had been given to me as a birthday gift but had mostly sat idle.
I did that project, completing the 365 days of photographs of something I was grateful for. It was quite a transformative process, in more ways than one.
How was the 365 Grateful Project transformative?
First of all – it was the reason I decided to start a blog, and five and a half years later here I am, still blogging!
When I first started the project it was quite a daunting task trying to find something in each of my days for which I was grateful. I had to consciously remind myself to seek out something, find something. It required a lot of thought. Eventually though, I found myself automatically scanning my surroundings and feelings and being more present in what I was doing and where I was in the process. It became a lot easier to find something in my day for which I was grateful and I was reconnecting to living as well. I found that what I was most grateful for were very simple things, like:
- a cool breeze on a hot day
- that first cup of coffee of the day
- a kind comment from a friend
- the feeling of the sun on my face on a cold day
- seeing the sun rise
- new flowers opening up in the garden
- seeing a beautiful butterfly
Something else happened while I was doing this project. I began to enjoy photography. I decided to do a little 1/2 day local course to learn how to use my DSLR camera on manual (rather than auto). I did that class, learnt a few things and my interest grew. I then decided to enrol in an online course and proceeded to graduate with a Diploma of Professional Photography from The Photography Institute in October 2014. Yay me!
Have things gone off track?
Photography: I thought I wanted to be a photographer. I got swept along in the excitement and dreams of all the other students to create a photography ‘business’. This put pressure on me. Eventually, I lost the joy in photography and I stopped taking photographs (at least ‘proper’ photographs with my ‘proper’ camera). I have come to realise that I had stopped listening to myself and had yet again allowed myself to be influenced by others. It’s not their fault. It’s not my fault either. It’s one of those things. I liked their excitement. I wanted to be part of it. I liked being one of them. I’m not like them though. I love photography but I don’t want a huge career at this stage of my life and I don’t want to be bending over backwards to please others anymore.
Photography for me is an escape into mindfulness. When I was out (mostly in nature) taking photographs, my mind would empty as I focused on my subject and creative vision for the end result. For that period of time, I was free of worries or stress. When I put pressure on myself to make photography a business, the focus shifted on to how I could make money, what systems to set up, what should I charge, what kind of photography should I do, what equipment do I still need, and more. There was no mindfulness escape in any of that. In fact it played on my perfectionist and people pleasing traits and elevated my stress levels to a point that is not good for me. Perhaps I will still make photography a business one day – but it will not be as a photographer for others but rather selling my own photography to those that might enjoy my creative results.
Blogging: Well I’m no superstar of the blogging world. I don’t really have a niche blog. I’m not followed by hundreds of thousands. I’m not making money from my blog (a dribble occasionally) … but does it all really matter? No, it doesn’t. I blog because I enjoy it and because I hope to make a difference in my own small way. I don’t blog in order to win a popularity contest or to become a superstar or to make oodles of money. That would add pressure that I don’t really need and take away my freedom to have a relaxed, flexible, but committed approach to my blog. On another note, I have managed to keep the blog consistently active but last year was blogging only once per week. This year, with my Skin Care Saturday posts, I am now blogging twice per week. I think my blog changes and transitions just as I do. I don’t think things are off track. They’re reflective of me at this time. One thing that HAS gone off track however, is my newsletter. Insert ashamed face here! I have not sent one out in a very long time.
One thing I never realised would happen from blogging that has been a wonderful surprise, is the people I have met! So many beautiful people! Some are local to me here in Brisbane, others all around Australia, some overseas! Some I have met in person, some I haven’t, but the thing about these people that is so special is that they ‘get’ me. They like to express themselves as I do. They like to write as I do. Some of them even share a love of photography as I do. We may blog on different topics but there is a common thread and it’s kind of special.
Life Balance and Happiness: I lost my Dad in early December. I am grieving. I hurt. I miss him a lot. It’s affected me very much losing the most influential and important man in my life. This has tipped my balance and happiness in a not so great direction but it is part of life that we all face one day and I will find my way. On the exercise front – I’m doing Reformer Pilates regularly and love it. I get up at 5:30am and do a 6:30am class three times per week. I need to walk more often but as I’m not sleeping well (thanks peri-menopause) I haven’t managed to get up early (in addition to the already 3 times per week) to do that. Getting up early to walk won’t be as necessary as the weather cools so I should have more success with walking during Autumn, Winter and Spring!
How do I get things back on track?
Photography: I need to recapture the joy I previously enjoyed with photography. I also need to get back into the practice of automatically finding something in each of my days to be grateful for. For this reason, I am considering starting another 365 Grateful Project … or perhaps a variation of one. Watch this space!
I have mentioned this before here on the blog but I have realised that I don’t like carrying around my big heavy Nikon camera and all the lenses. It’s fine for a convenient shoot but not so much when travelling or out all day. On my recent holiday, I took my camera and all my lenses with me but I never even unpacked them or used them. Instead, I took shots with my phone’s camera. It was light, compact, and convenient. It doesn’t take the best shots but it’s convenient. I need to review my camera system. I am thinking of selling it all and starting all over again and Olympus is what I have in mind.
Blogging: Well, it’s in my blood now. I love it! I closed down my first blog and launched my second blog ‘Write of the Middle‘ in October 2014. Blogging is very time consuming but it’s a matter of finding the right balance. I’ve tried blogging every day. That was in the early days obviously LOL! That was ridiculously difficult to keep up and so I didn’t. I’ve tried four times a week and three times a week. Both of those worked for me at different times. I’ve done once a week (for most of last year) and twice a week (from the start of this year). Twice a week works quite well for me at this point in time. This week I’m publishing three posts and though I think it will mostly remain at twice/week, there may be the occasional three times a week. We shall see how I go! I have my skin care business, a house to run, exercise activities to do, life to live etc, and so getting the right life balance is very important to me. You need to live in order to write about life, right? I plan to rectify my lack of newsletter situation by putting great thought into a new and improved format and getting it back on track as soon as possible.
Life Balance and Happiness: I need to get back into that head space that I achieved after doing my 365 Grateful Project. I need to get back into the practice of – LOOKING FOR THE GOOD THINGS – just one thing – every day! It makes an enormous difference to my state of mind. See what I wrote above under ‘Photography’ on this topic. I also need to get back into some regular meditation. Meditation is not as complicated as a lot of people might think. It’s just spending a little bit of time each day sitting with awareness and presence. It helps to quieten and relax an overly active and often anxious mind like mine can tend to be at times! I love this article written about it by my friend Monica who is the Owner at Cultivate Calm Yoga at East Brisbane. I need to incorporate more walking into my weeks and I’m sure with the cooler weather it will be possible to walk at any time of day and so it will happen more often.
Do I know who Min is and what she likes to do yet?
I know who she is far more than I did back in September 2012, but I continue to learn more about her very day. Here’s a few things I know:
- She loves photography (but not as a photographer for others)
- She loves her blog (but she needs to get the right balance with all other areas of her life as well)
- She is uplifted by nature and needs to escape to nature regularly
- Due to her perimenopausal phase of life:
- She can’t do as much in a day as she used to
- She finds concentration much harder than it once was for her so works in smaller chunks of time
- She forgets things a lot so needs to write lists, make notes, put reminders/alerts/alarms in her phone
- As an add on to the point above, she gets lots of fabulous ideas but unless she writes them down immediately – they’re gone!
- She needs peace and space and not to be overwhelmed with too much on her plate at once in order to avoid anxiety
- She’d like to get back into some:
- Art (drawing, painting, mosaics)
- She doesn’t know how she’ll find the time or energy but she needs to (and continues to procrastinate):
- paint inside her house, and
- organise a kitchen, two bathrooms and laundry make-over/renovation
- She wants to move to a quieter, less suburban, more surrounded in nature area
- She is an introvert (not shy) but can seem like an extrovert to others
- She likes lots of time alone but can sometimes overdo it and get very lonely
- She’s sensitive and emotional and can be overly empathetic
- …and there’s lots more!
Did blogging bring me what I was hoping for?
Yes, that and much more!
One thing is for sure – the key to feeling balanced in all aspects of my life is to make it part of my every day to LOOK FOR THE GOOD THINGS!! It helps me keep my priorities and mindset in check. Watch this space – I may do another 365 Grateful Project or a variation of one. Still thinking it over! This might take a while! lol
Do you need to revisit why you started doing something in the first place? Do you know who you are and what you like to do? Do you look for the good things?
Ciao for now,
Link up here at WOTM or with another of us in the Lovin’ Life Linky team:
Leanne ofDeep Fried Fruit
Lyndall ofSeize the Day Project
Kathy of 50 Shades of Age
Deborah of Debbish
and Jo of The Hungry Writer – Joanne Tracey
It doesn’t matter where you link up as it will magically appear on all six blogs.
Very interesting post – I started with this idea of making money, but got bored with that very quickly (realised I had to write about things that didn’t interest me) so it became my little outlet ‘just for me’ – it’s like a therapy session, where I pour out my contents of my head without boring all my friends. It has evolved to a little photography, which is becoming an activity I enjoy to make dull days more fun. I found this interesting: She is an introvert (not shy) but can seem like an extrovert to others People often argue with me when I say I’m introverted…it’s an odd thing, isn’t it?
At one point I thought my blogging might be able to earn me an income. I even went to a ProBlogger conference to find out how it’s done. It was very interesting but all too much for me. I’m 53 not 23 and I kinda want to wind things down a bit rather than up! Also, as you say – I would have had to write about and do things that didn’t interest me and weren’t me and it didn’t feel right. My blog needs to reflect me and be fun and something I enjoy. Re the introvert thing – yes people often mistake introvert for shy. Two very different things! An introvert is not necessarily shy. They just need time alone to recharge their energy. An extrovert gets their energy from being with other people. A shy person is a shy person! 🙂
I agree about the need to revisit things started a couple of years ago. I’ve recently done a similar mental review of why I started blogging originally as opposed to why I’m currently continuing to blog. My reasons have evolved since I’ve started.
One of my reasons for continuing is the ongoing friendships I have made through blogging and the people I’ve met along the way! I really love the blogging communities I’m in.
My reasons have evolved along the way too. I never expected to meet some many lovely people through blogging and I love the blogging communities too. x
I love the idea of the 365 Grateful Project. For a while I was trying to take photos of what I was grateful for but it didn’t last long. It is great that you love blogging, I have kind of lost my mojo at the moment but I am sure it will return.
Maybe you’ll try the 365 Grateful Project again Anne? It’s hard at first but becomes easier and eventually just becomes a part of your day just like brushing your teeth! My mojo for blogging comes and goes too – I think it happens to us all! 🙂 x
It is super (most days) to blog and the fun we get from it!!
I think the fact that I’ve learned about photography is a huge plus too, and the mental challenges of technology!! Along with the wonderful friends I’ve met!!
You sure do learn a lot of new skills through blogging don’t you?! SEO, meta tags, focus key words, google rankings, techno stuff, photography, html, the list goes on! And yes – the wonderful people you meet along the way is such a bonus! 🙂 xo
Great, insightful article Min. I’d love to get my photography mojo back too. As you know, I take morning pics on my phone, but I used to spend hours with my digital SLR, taking shots of all sorts of interesting things. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂 x #TeamLovinLife
Thanks Lyndall! I used to be addicted to taking photographs with my Nikon DSLR. I was out and about with it all the time. I also invested in some really lovely lenses. Sadly, the passion seems to have died. I do still love photography (cos I am constantly snapping away with my phone) but something went wrong. I think with a lighter, more compact and convenient camera my photography mojo could come back. And of course – with the pressure to create a photography business gone too! xo
It’s always good to stop and consider why we do the stuff we do Min. I like that you figured out that you don’t have to turn everything you’re good at into a money making enterprise. I know with blogging that it’s everyone’s end goal, but I hate how it takes the focus away from being able to blog about whatever you like, however you like, and how often you like – and turns it into jumping through other people’s hoops – that just sucks the joy right out of it for me. And you’re so right about the connections and friendships – that’s what makes it all worthwhile for me xx
I think it’s a bit late in the day for me to turn anything into a huge money making enterprise. I’ve worked hard since I was 15. Whilst I still have interests and like to be busy and challenged, I don’t want a mega business to steal all my time and energy and give me back the stress that I said goodbye to. I have been led astray a couple of times though. At one point I got swept away in the possibility of my blog creating an income … just as I got swept away thinking I needed to create a photography business. I think I know myself better now. 🙂 xo
I love your story Min. It kind of mirrors mine in many ways because I also started blogging in 2012 and it took a while to find my niche. However along the way I discovered photography and now I love it. Like you I don’t want to make a living out of photography, but I want to take more professional photos for people to look at on my blog. Thanks for sharing this with us.
I’m glad you enjoyed the read Kathy. Your blog is a definite niche – mine not so much! LOL Photography is so rewarding and enjoyable – glad you enjoy it too! 🙂
Great story Min. I also find the biggest gratitudes in the smallest things. #teamlovinlife
Thanks Leanne – yes the smallest of things can bring the greatest of joys! 🙂
Gosh I enjoyed reading this..and nodding to much of it! Sometimes we ‘look for things to do’ to occupy us and not necessarily acknowledge why. I did find I was like this in my first 2 years away from the family and having sold our house. I used photography in particular. It was a time-out but it also meant i did not confront what I was grieving…then along came cancer. Way to change my life! Actually so much for the good. I am feeling more strengthened by what I have face and achieved..none easily initially as I needed 100% support of my husband and GP in those days. Now, I am taking myself to Sydney to the Oral Restorative Place – two hours drive to and from and 2+ hours there and I am so pleased to be doing so. In terms of health, I decided I wasn’t moving enough and put the fitbit back on but starting at the goal of 5K initially as I am 68 and have one leg not quite as it was before. I feel better for it already. Good to read how you are going…and I hope that in your grief for your dad you find some peace in writing about it. My Dad spent years writing letters to Mum. It helped him greatly. Denyse x
Thank you Denyse – so glad you enjoyed reading my long rambling post! You certainly have had some challenges of late but gee you’ve been brave and certainly inspirational! I’ve taken my fitbit off because it was irritating the skin on my wrist. I’m thinking it was the summer humidity so perhaps once it’s cooled down it won’t irritate me so much and I can put it back on. I’m glad you’re feeling better for being active. It certainly helps – physically and mentally! I’ve never lost anyone as close to me as Dad before so the grief is a new and very painful experience. It gets me at the most unexpected times and still every day. I guess I just allow myself to feel as I feel and let the grief take its natural course. I’m so glad your Dad found a way in which to help him cope with such a loss. xo
I loved reading this Min. I’m a big one for revisiting – especially when you’re feeling low or without purpose or having an attack of the can’tbefaffeds or the notgoodenoughs – and yes, these are genuine conditions.
Thanks so much Jo – so glad you enjoyed the read. I think your psychic powers are on overload because all those feelings you just said are basically how I’ve been for weeks. Maybe astrology could tell me why? xo
I really enjoyed reading your post Min and I’ve learned so much more about you. I also like to revisit and see where I was compared to where I am now. I have been blogging for 3 years and still struggle to find the right balance. I’m getting better and not feeling like it is the end of the world if I don’t post something but because I’m someone who has to do everything at 150% it can put pressure on me. I’ll be making some changes (due to personal reasons) over the next few months and hopefully will enjoy blogging at a better pace. I love all the connections I have made and count many bloggers as close friends. Have a beautiful day and hope that life is now looking brighter for you. You will never forget your Dad and you will always have special memories to cherish. xx
Sounds like we have similar personality types Sue. I used to put so much pressure on myself with regards to my blog. It was like a full-time job only I wasn’t getting paid. Something wasn’t right about that so I eased back on the expectations on myself. I hope everything is ok with you (your personal reasons for making some changes) and that you can find a better balance. I enjoy the connections I’ve made through the blog too – totally unexpected but very much enjoyed! You’re right – I’ll never forget my Dad. I think of him every day and always will. xo
This was a fascinating reflection on your blogging journey, Min. I’ve been blogging for years and I can identify with some of your challenges. I’ve recently started to use a ‘proper’ camera again over my iPhone for pictures to add to my posts and it’s been a really positive change for me creatively.
Looking forward to seeing what your new vision for the 365 project might be.
Glad you enjoyed the read SSG! What ‘proper’ camera do you use? I’m wanting a lighter and more compact and convenient option to my current Nikon situation. Love the Nikon camera and my lenses but I just can’t handle lugging them all around everywhere. xo
My condolences to you. I understand your grief. I would definitely join you for 365 grateful photos if you decide to do it again.
Thank you Jennifer. Still thinking on the 365 grateful thing – do I do it exactly the same way as last time or maybe go with a different option? The brain is still chugging away on that one! lol
Interesting read, Min. I relate to a lot of it. I often think about why I’m blogging, and why I take so many photos. Although both are very time consuming, I do enjoy both – and it makes me see things differently. I see a blog post in this actually! I lost my Dad five years ago, and I cried every day for at least a year after that. It’s a big loss. Hope you see your way through it.
Thanks Christine! It IS interesting isn’t it – both are time consuming – writing/blogging and photography/editing RAW images etc. I seem to love it though … so long as its balanced out with time outdoors in nature, catching up with friends, chilling out with a book, etc etc. I don’t do well if tied too much to the computer. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve lost your Dad too. It’s very sad but interesting to hear you cried every day for at least a year. It’s been just over 3 months since I lost my Dad and I have cried every day since then and I think I will for a long time. The impact on me is enormous – such pain, such loss. It was inevitable eventually but nothing can prepare you for it. xo
I really enjoyed reading your post Min, we have a lot in common! I also lost my dad in late January and it really impacts on you more than you ever imagine so I feel for you.
Blogging is something I enjoy too and the wonderful people I’ve met have been an unexpected bonus as you say.
Keep doing what makes you happy 😊
So glad you enjoyed reading the post Debbie, thank you! We do have a lot in common, including the loss of our Dad’s only just over a month apart. The impact is far worse than I had ever imagined. I feel for you too. Doesn’t matter how old we are or they were the loss is so painful. Blogging and all the wonderful people I have through blogging is certainly a huge help to me during this time. xo