Me on Blogging, and My Childhood, AGAIN

comments: 120

Thankyoupcs2This blog is becoming rather meta-blog, I know. But I read a really poignant post yesterday called "To Blog or Not to Blog" by Autum. She was talking about blogging in a way that I thought was so sincere and interesting, and important to consider, especially at the beginning of this season of joy and fun and, let's be honest, busy-ness and potential stress. Blogging can be lots of things. Most bloggers will say that they enjoy the sense of community; the inspiration; the ability to share and be shared with; the nice, neat feelings of being organized somewhere, at least; the profoundly moving experience of being listened to. But almost everyone that I've ever talked to about blogging feels, at some point, something else, something . . . not as wonderful.

I obviously don't know what those un-wonderful things are for everyone — I think they probably vary more for each individual than the positive aspects do. I know that for me, blogging itself — the actual writing of posts and taking photos — comes pretty easily. But I went to school for years to learn how to write and, you know, I actually worked for a photo-essay-book publisher for several years. So . . . that's helpful. The blog is the first time I've ever written about myself, in first-person; I hadn't known how much I'd needed to do or would enjoy doing that. Many times I write things that I never set out to say, and I do wake up every day wondering what the hell might come out of my mouth. The medium seems to fit the natural . . . environment of my brain. But I must admit that the most important thing about blogging for me is just doing it. I love the real-life friendships I've made, I love the supportive community that I'm lucky enough to find myself in, and I love feeling connected to so many people from other countries, regions, and cultures I never knew anything about.

But mostly I really like the sense of organization and expression that my own blogging has given me. I am someone who has always been easily overwhelmed; and expressing oneself in our family was really not encouraged. It actually wasn't even allowed. The smallest of dissentions was typically met with my father becoming hysterical and threatening (seriously) to have a heart attack, the guilt from which (he avidly threatened) would haunt us forever. Many, many times I thought that exact thing would happen, and it definitely did serve to keep us in line. The only conversation I clearly remember having with him about an opinion I had that didn't end in me crying alone in my room happened around 1977, when we both stood in the living room and agreed:

Me: "I love bell-bottoms!"
He: "Yeah, they're pretty cool."
Me: [Smile smile smile smile.]

That's exactly how it went. I still remember it. For years of my childhood I would also say dialogue that was not my own; it was how I tested out my theory that there was something wrong with the way my family communicated. I read often and everywhere, and I knew a lot about fictional families. I studied them. I memorized their habits. Then I'd walk into the kitchen, take off my boots, and say, "Snow, which was fun in December, is just boring, dirty, and downright cold in February." I liked that line. It was from A Summer to Die, by Lois Lowry, one of my favorite then-and-now young-adult novels. But whereas in the novel it was clear that when Meg said things like this, her father pleasantly agreed (and probably even thought "My! How clever, her!"), people in my house would look at me as if I'd just farted, say "Shut up," and then go back to what they were doing. I tried this experiment many times, with dozens of different lines, and I never got the same kind of reaction the characters did. In fact, if some twelve-year-old started spewing stuff like this to me now I would know exactly what she was up to, and I like to think we'd be sitting down and having a nice talk about her life. (Actually, if someone else in my family had walked in and said something like that I probably would've told them to shut up, too.) (And actually, there was one time when I insisted that my family gather 'round to do a dramatic reading of Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and that did not go over well, but if you know that play you might know that they really can't be blamed for that one!)

But my dialogic experimentation was helpful in a lot of ways, because I thought that mostly the books were right and mostly the way we did it was wrong, and so from a very early age I started trusting books to show me other ways of being, and I feel lucky that I was able to do that. So while being a regular blogger has helped me stay organized within my life in a way I never have been before, it's also fostered a voice and a place where it's no big deal to lurch about, saying this or that, whatever it is, testing things, figuring out what I think, what lots of other people think. And that is something that has been invaluable to me, something I'd not experienced much before.

Minilanterns On the other hand, I think that for many Reserved (one of the best descriptions of introverts I've read) persons like me (and, I expect, many other crafters) the challenges that come with having any audience at all can be difficult to manage sometimes. All of us want, I think, to be able to respond to everyone's comments and questions, to check-in on our friends, to give help and advice when its needed. But the reality is that there is only so much time in a day — especially at this time of year — and only so many . . . relationships . . . one can do well. The nagging feeling that certain things, people, and opportunities have fallen through the cracks can be frustrating but . . . inevitable? I made a promise to myself early on in blogging that I would give what I could, when I could, because the important thing was to find a way to keep doing it — happily, without it feeling like a burden or another bundle of expectations to be dealt with. As women, I think we are well-trained to do whatever we have to do to meet anyone and everyone's expectations, and blogging can create even more of those. But to me, there are lots of kinds of blogs, and I don't mean genres like "craft" or "political"; I mean: some are sporadic posters, some are personal, some share tutorials, some gather work from others, some show only one's own stuff, some are brilliant at sourcing products, some have ads, some invite conversation and debate, some just put it out there and leave it be, no comments necessary. There's room for them all. I hope we can allow ourselves the freedom to let our own, and each other's, be just whatever they are.

As the postcards say, thank you. As always. For listening, and contributing, how-ever you do.

120 comments

What a post today Alicia. I am glad you found books and believed in them, but sorry you had to go through that. I lived in the exact opposite household. My father always encouraged dialogue, actually I would say fostered it. I could walk in a room and say things like you wanted to and if my mom and dad agreed, they did... if they didn't they would ask me why I thought that way. So open, and it is how I raise Emma. Funny thing, I am a reserved person and Emma is quite the opposite. She is the expressive person.

But.. you are so right. You can only do so much in a day. I love your blog and enjoy reading it. I enjoy the simple act of reading the wonderful blogs I have found. I think it makes us all feel a little more normal, we know there are others that are a lot like us, do things a lot like us, etc. I think that is so important in the information crazy world we live in where sometimes it seems that anything goes.

And I am with Susie.. I would love to get to meet you one day. You have got to be one of those women you meet and instantly like, feel like you at home with.

Alicia, once again, you've said what I wished I could say if given adequate time and much much talent. "Blogging as a job" is not really what I set out to do. I don't know what I set out to do, but my world is brighter because we do it, in whichever way we do it.

Eloquent, you are. xo

thank you alicia for voicing this. i love that there really is room for all of us in our different voices, shapes and sizes.

thanks for being you. i loves ya.

I am so lucky to have found your site. You have magical talent. I ordered some of your postcards. CANNOT WAIT to spread the word of rosylittlethings!!
acaligurl

as always. well put. thank you.

Wonderful post. I love the way you articulate your (incredibly interesting) thought processes. I still can't put it out there - yet.

Wow. Your post could not be more timely. I am taking time this year to explore my creative side, and find I am spending a shocking amount of time getting over a less than optimal childhood. For now, my new blog and many projects languish, but your telling of your story encourages me enormously. Ah yes, the oft-praised crafting community! I first liked you for your hip, fun girliness, but now I love you for your truth telling! Blessings!

Wow, I just happened to be visiting your blog for the first time today, and you have succinctly put together some feelings and thoughts I have been brooding on for the past few months.

My trial in blogging has been a person who comments regularly. Despite how much we agree on so many things she always puts a negative twist on all her comments to me. She is someone in person I know I'd love but I can never understand why all her comments feel like she is trying to bring me down a notch or two.

Do you ever have that?

I love your family stories. So well said. I'm usually in such a hurry with so little time to even sit down and read, but your posts are always a delight and make me pleased I slowed down take a peek.

thank you for saying this!

I started my own blog, but struggle with it because i feel i will never be as fabulous as the blogs i admire. Its good to be reminded to be present in your life today, and that where you are in crafting, blogging, business, $, anything, is ok.

i enjoy reading your blog because it feels as though you're speaking out loud and it gives me things to think about, learn or do. to put it simply, i think you’re smart.

it must take a lot of effort to keep a blog going successfully. sometimes i worry because you do share very personal stories with us and it seems a little risky to me.

it must also take a lot of patience just to take the pictures. there are times when i'll cook something for example and i can't wait to eat it. i can't imagine having to set up a shot to take a picture, or scott waiting for me to finish. the back of his head would appear in every shot!

thanks for all you share with us.

Great post Alicia. I read Sutum's too and it reminded me of a decision I made early on in my blogging life. I told myself that I would post when I can and not apologize when I'm busyand don't have time to post. I figured it was a slippery slope to feeling bad all of the time because life inevitably gets busy and the blog will often have to wait. Of course, I still feel twinges of guilt when it's been a long time between posts or if I don't have time to answer an email or comment on favorite blogs. But giving myself the guideline early on of not having to apologize for it helps me to remember that it's OK -- even epected -- that life will get busy and that's how things should be. There's nothing wrong with it at all.

p.s. Wow! I love that definition of a reserved person. I had to ask my husband if it indeed fit me because sometimes I doubt my perception of myself.

thanks for what you write. and thanks to bojack for the link. i love the personal nature of blogging and, as a blogger, always interested in knowing how other bloggers feel about the particular passion/obsession of blogging. keep it up.

Alicia =^..^=

As so often the case ...
With such perfect timing you send your thoughts.

Very wonderful to read today.
(I think I smiled aloud of your remark about the welcome feeling of being "organized somewhere, at least" ::giggle::)

Say hi to my favorite puppy dog for me.
=^..^= love, zU

so glad you're here. Thank you.

That was beautiful. Well said, well said, my dear. Thank you for that post. ;)

Nicely put, Alicia. Cheers.

I have a theory that people who are not in a position to experience meaningful feedback from others get "out of tune."

Without a friend to say "you know, I didn't hear it that way" it is very easy to assume that our own reaction to things is the only possible reaction..... And then to tilt, farther and farther away from what "a reasonable person would think."

For you to have tested the atmosphere in your home so consciously shows an amazing perspicacity, especially for one so young (and even more especially when you fully expected to get smacked down verbally for doing it). I'm so glad you had your books, and that you decided they showed a better path.

One reason I blog is that I hope for meaningful feedback on the images I post. I know some of them are good; I wonder what others like (or don't) about them....

Feedback is good......

(I LOVE Ms. Winterberry!!!!!!! I also love your postcards in today's post.)

I am so grateful for you, exactly as you are. Thank you for this most eloquent post. I've been thinking of our last conversation and your very healthy response. You are a good egg. The best.

What a great post and yes, i think a lot of us crafters can relate.

Well said, Alicia! I, for one, am glad you share here, since I love checking in!

Great post! And once again, beautiful, deliciously-colourful photographs, Alicia! Gosh, you're GOOD!
You know, my mother apologized to me in my mid-twenties for not letting me express my views when I was a teenager. Hearing her acknowledge that made a difference. I'm glad that you remained true to your vibrant (reserved??) self!

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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