A Blurb about a Blog

Nancy Poling, a writer and good friend of mine, writes a blog as part of a team of three writers. I’ve known Nancy for twenty years and I can honestly say that Nancy is one of the most socially and politically conscious women I know. If ever I needed an advocate, she would be my go-to woman. The blog in which Nancy writes is “Smeared Type.” I think you would enjoy the blog. The writers are informative and interesting, writing from three perspectives about things of global interest. Nancy’s latest blog is found at http://www.smearedtype.com/2011/09/republicans-empathy-and-fiction/ You can also learn more about Nancy and the recent books she has written at www.nancypoling.com. Check her out and let her know that I sent you. 😉

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100th Blog Post! WooooHooooo!!!!

Can you believe it?  This is my 100th blog!  When I created this blog, I had no idea where it would take me.  Suffering through a long bout of unemployment was taking a toll.  All my education and past experience seemed not to matter in the job search, whereas youth and vigor appeared to be winning on all counts. Yikes, that left me out! Every position I sought required writing samples, and I had some good ones . . . but they were all dated; I had nothing current.  In desperation it occurred to me that if I wrote a blog, I could kill two birds with one stone: hone my rusty writing skills, and build a portfolio of recent writing samples. Voila! Problem solved.  Then I thought of another benefit of writing a blog, and that was creating a memoir for my children, something they had asked for but for one reason or another I never got around to doing.  WordPress.com came to the rescue and I started a blog.  As to its title, for lack of anything better I just used my name.  If I was going to use this medium to display writing skills for future employers, my name needed to be visible.  In hindsight however, if I had known then the direction I would take with this blog, I think that I would have put a little more creative energy into a cuter, snazzier, catchier, whatever-ier title.  Oh well . . . I’ve tried to change it but haven’t figured out how.  Any advice from my WordPress buddies is most welcome!

It didn’t take long for me to become hooked on the writing.  I did not write on a regular basis, but when I did, it was fulfilling, meaningful, and fun.  In time I learned to upload photos and insert them in my postings.  Not only was I writing again, I also picked up the camera and another laid-aside interest that I loved was rekindled.  I was writing about daily events, memories from days gone by, family history, and sharing photos.  To be honest, the job hunt took a back burner to this venture.  The creative juices were flowing again, and I looked forward to each new post, photographing everything in sight, and thinking about how to make money doing these things that I loved.  I was still sending out resumes, but the blog was my lifeline to sanity.

But I still had to do something about a job.  One day the thought came to me, why keep looking for a job?  Why not take matters into my own hands and create my parnassah (livelihood) as befits us?  I’m too old to keep going through rejection from people whose jobs I could do blindfolded!  That is when I developed “The Plan”: Return to school to get my masters in mental health counseling, then I can contract my work as suits me while doing something I like and have proven myself to be good at; develop notecards using my photographs and inspirational verses of Psalms that I can market; continue blogging; create a web site where I can market my skills (writing, photography, notecards, counseling).  (see June 29, 2010, http://wp.me/pIeHU-7f for The Plan)

Today I am in my fourth quarter of graduate school as I work toward that degree and license as a professional counselor.  I have created several sets of notecards to start marketing.  At this point I have not created a web page other than this blog, but I think I’m about ready for that.  My hope is that I will begin to bring in some money with the web page, too.  I am making this dream happen, one day at a time, one step at a time.  I am working the plan!

And to think that this dream crystallized all because I started a blog in hopes of impressing a potential employer with my writing skills!  Go figure!  Little did I know how I would enjoy blogging, reading other bloggers’ posts, sharing photographs, giving and receiving encouragement to people all around the world.  This is not a big, well advertised, widely read blog, but maybe someday.  It is enough, however.  I’m finding that “enough” makes me a rich woman.  I have enough food to need to watch my weight, enough shelter to think of going smaller, enough health to keep me in good spirits, enough creativity to live vibrantly, enough love to share it freely, enough family and friends to add joyfulness to every aspect of life.  I have enough.

Following are some facts about this blog:

First blog posted: November 17, 2009

100th blog posted: May, 9, 2011

Number of hits in 2009: 406 (6 weeks only)

Number of hits in 2010: 1292

Number of hits thus far in 2011: 1736

Biggest number of hits in a month to date: April, 2011 with 490 (This month, May, I already have 277 hits so I expect it will surpass April’s record before the month is out.)

Do any of these numbers matter: Not really.  It is just nice to see how the blog has grown.

Before another 100 blogs, I hope to have an official web site.  Whether I reach that goal by then, or not, I will reach that goal and I will have fun doing it.  Thanks to every one of you who has taken time to read a blog or two, or to leave a comment when so moved.  I now have friends that circle the globe.  Thanks also to WordPress for making this medium of communication so accessible to those of us who haven’t an ounce of  “IT geekiness” in our bodies!  I look forward to writing many more blogs, shooting massive amounts of photos, sharing the journey with anyone who will read this, meeting many more bloggers and developing more friendships.

Richard, my dear, special thanks to you for tolerating the intensity with which I write, the quirky ideas I always share with you even when you have better things to do, and for coming along as my “protector” and equipment carrier when I want to go to odd places at odd hours to see what wonderful things I can photograph. You truly are my sunshine!  (Please don’t be embarrassed that I added this paragraph.  You are a special man and I want the world to know!)

And forgive me for getting all gushy and mushy with the thanks.  I know it sounds like an award show, but . . . oh well.  This is my 100th blog post!

The Penultimate Day

While packing for our most recent move, I uncovered a box filled with momentos from my teaching days in Detroit.  Going through the pictures and notes from students, as well as projects and assignments that had some significance for me, I discovered something that I had written for my fifth grade girls (I taught in a girl’s yeshiva) on the next-to-last day of class before the summer break.  It was one of those “we are all in school, none of us wants to be here, the grades are all in, so why are we doing this” situations.  As a fifth grade teacher, I felt it was important to help the girls develop their vocabulary skills beyond the expected weekly spelling words.  Every year one of our daily exercises was vocabulary enhancement, what “fondly” came to be known as “Wild Words.”  Each day as the students assembled, hanging up coats and retrieving books or submitting completed homework from the night before, I would write a “new” word on the chalk-board (yes, we were still using chalk at that time) along with a simple definition, the word part, and a sentence illustrating proper usage. (You have no idea how much time I spent every year scouring the dictionary looking for suitable words and definitions!) The girls would copy the information in their writing journals and throughout the day we would use the word as often as possible.  This was a popular learning exercise, and I regularly received feedback from parents that the words were being used at home, too, and some families were even making games for the entire family to learn the words. (“Wild Words” was one of my best “stolen” ideas ever!) I found many ways to incorporate “Wild Words” in all our learning activities each day.

 

On this next-to-the-last day of the school year, in my efforts to keep the girls busy and learning, I decided to have them write a paper with the stipulation that they use as many of the wild words from throughout the year as they possibly could.  As you probably surmise, my students grumbled, mumbled, moaned, and one even suggested revolt!  (After all, what did they have to lose?)  So to appease these angelic revolutionaries, I chose to do the assignment with them.  Yes, that mollified the girls. . .somewhat.  At any rate, I wrote a little essay in the twenty minutes allotted for this activity, as did each student, and to class’s surprise, every one of my students wrote something that was fun and interesting.  Unfortunately I don’t have any of their “spontaneous” stories, but I do have mine.  When I uncovered this piece, I immediately knew that it was “blog worthy” material!  I don’t know why I think that this is blog-worthy other than the fact that it is fun to read, at least in my humble opinion.  I have underlined the wild words in this post (out of over 150 words we learned that year) and just so you know, all words were taken straight from Webster’s Dictionary!  Enjoy.

 

 

What a daunting task!  Initially, the assignment sounded tantalizing.  I sincerely thought the girls would be exuberant about writing a story of such exorbitant proportion.  But no!  The boisterous, cantankerous, persnickety girls almost started a fracas!  They thought the assignment was nothing more than blarneyflapdoodle they called it.  What naysayers these girls are!  Well, I have a proclivity for this sort of thing with the savvy to match.  So this zappy yeasayer threw succinct brevity to the wind and started to write.  Bibliophile that I am, surely I could deal with this conundrum with equanimity and poise.  I noticed that the more I wrote, the cacophony of yammering girls began to subside.

 

Zowie, this may be ludicrous, however there are a plethora of ideas percolating in my head as I write.  Maybe I should throw in some onomatopoeia to make my story interesting: Bang! POW! Clang! Clomp! Ring! BOP! Clap! BAM! Zing! Bling!—I hope I’m not being superfluous.  I would be chagrined to think that I failed to exude the attribute of modesty in this assignment.  That would be downright audacious!

 

The more I contemplated this writing exercise, I began to chortle about issuing such an ambitious task on this penultimate day of the school year.  Hopefully though, this quaint little reflection of a paper will be riveting enough to arouse the vacillating interest of my dubious students.

 

 

The lesson learned here is not in what we wrote that day, but in the surprises we discover, the tasks we master, and the accomplishments we achieve when we push through our resistance and allow ourselves to create.

 

Blogging

 Well, the time has come for me to get with the times, hence this blog.  There are many reasons why this seems to be the right time for me to begin such an undertaking.  First and foremost, I enjoy the writing process.  It keeps my mind alert and focused.  As someone who has been unemployed for a year now (a sign of the times which deserves its own blog) I find that I need to do something that will keep my mind from atrophying.  There is no one subject or theme for this blog–at least not yet!  I feel sure that in time a  theme will begin to emerge, but for now I simply write what comes to my mind. 

Secondly, I want to write for my family, especially my children.  I want to share myself with them.  They don’t  know my story, at least not my perspective on my story.  Do any of us really know or understand our parents unless they make a concerted effort to be open and vulnerable to our impressions and judgements?  I think that if we were to be more open, more transparent with each other — parent and child — we would find within ourselves a deeper compassion and love, one for the other.  At least I’m hoping that is the case.  Simply put, I want my children to forgive the wrongs I committed against them.  Mind you, I’m not talking about intent to do my children harm, rather the wrongs of the stronger over the weaker, the wrongs that occur when one thinks and acts out of their own pain and memories rather than with a sensitivity of how one’s behavior affects those in his or her care, in this case, one’s offspring, my offspring.

Third, this is one way to improve my writing skills, to exhibit writing “samples” etc, for prospective employers.  Bleh….  Secretly and selfishly, I really do believe I have something of value to write about.  To be a writer or blogger, one must be narcissistic enough to believe that others will be interested in what s/he has to write.  I fall in that category.  Seems arrogant to me, and in truth, that is an arrogant stance.  Sorta.  I guess.  Anyway, arrogant or not , I want folks to read my blogs.  Family foremost, friends second, future employers….well, maybe. 

Bottom line, I just like to write.  I like the process.  I hate — strong word? yes, but appropriate — getting started.  So I expect that writing this will be a curse and a blessing.  I will write to my heart’s content.  I will share my world view, life experiences, lessons learned or not, trivia, profound thoughts (as I said, one has to be a bit of an arrogant narcissist to do this), and maybe more.  Please respond if you are so inclined.  Make suggestions.  Offer encouragement.  All I ask is that whatever you write, even if you vehemently disagree with me, that you express yourself truthfully but with absolute respect to me and others who might be reading this.  No name calling.  No foul language.  No insults.  Honest opinions expressed with civility.  (could write another blog on the lack of civility in these days and times.)

Looking forward to this process and your responses!

Chana/ Cecelia Rogow-Futch