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

Still wondering if you went to OPRF...they turn out some amazing writers, but I think you must have had this gift in an earlier life...you have the wisdom and vision of an old soul. I'd like to think that somewhere along the line, your parents helped you find the strength of self, home, love and independence that runs so richly through your posts. So enjoy your writing and work-- thanks for all.

Thanks for this post Alicia. I've just started my own blog and your words make me feel better about putting myself out there.

I was planning to re-de-lurk today with a comment to let you know how much I look forward to checking in with your blog every day—it's my end-of-day routine to make a cup of tea and have a quiet read before I turn in for the night. I love your writing and photos and the glimpses you share of life all the way on the other side of the continent. I've only had my blog for about six months and it occupies a funny place in my life: I think about it a lot, sometimes feel guilty when I'm too busy or tired to work on it, am best pleased when I manage to post something insightful with great pictures...but only my immediate family and blogging friends know about it. I haven't shared it with any of my close personal friends...I really like having that sort of public/private space that they don't know about. People often tell me I'm too reserved, that I bottle things up...when really I prefer to offer considered opinions, not off-the-cuff rejoinders. Sometimes I want to tell them I'm not "bottling things up," I'm just *thinking*. There's a difference (isn't there?). I love my blog because I can think about something for hours or days, then write it all down with no interuptions.

Anyway. Mostly I just wanted to say thanks for a though-provoking, inspirational, blog. I really appreciate all you do.

I'm comment, #72! yikes! I so wish that the photography and the writing came easy for me as it does for you. It is intimidating to try to fit in this blogging world when I feel SO inadequate as a writer and photographer...two critical elements of a blog, for sure. But I love to craft, quilt, stamp, create, etc. and I love to read about others that do, too. So I try to force myself to do the best I can, reminding myself that I can't be good at everything. I am trying to find the balance in my blogging just as I struggle to find balance in every aspect of my life. Thanks for posting on this topic. It's interesting to read others' take on it as well.

so there are so many comments, but just add my here heres to the pile...

so well put
so heartfelt
so right
so you

thankYOU

alicia,
you are just beautiful.
how absolutely comforting to know that your upbringing was perhaps as dysfunctional as most everyone else's! and look how beautifully you turned out!

and just how deep is your well of wisdom and passion that yields all these wonderful posts, by the way?? you just never run out - thank goodness!

xo teri


Hey!

I already commented - but i wanted to ask you. did you make the ornaments? Did you see the ornaments like that in Martha Holidays? I need to find the beehive paper. I am loving the vintage holiday this year.

too cute!
xo
Lili

I hardly/never comment. But I <3 you and your blog and yours is my favorite of all favorite places to visit on the internet. [I think I always say that when you post "All I Want is a Normal Life" posts. Oh well! <3<3<3!]

I find it fascinating that so many bloggers describe themselves as reserved and introspective. I think it is marvellous that we have found a way to tell our stories without having to wait for the noisy ones to finish.

I am just delurking to say that the Bald Soprano is one of my favorite plays and I too participated in a dramatic reading of it once. The picture of you doing that with your family made me laugh out loud. Stop making me love you! You're seriously tops, Alicia. Thanks for this lovely and insightful post.

so glad you shared these thoughts here. today. i feel a bit like you took a deep breath and just shared your true feelings about something without pausing and then settled back into your comfy chair with a cup of tea to see what people had to say about it (knowing that you would still be yourself no matter what they said).

love this.

I remember when I'd just started my blog and a friend questioned why.She said she could understand why I would write it and likened it to a on-line diary but she really couldn't get her head around why anyone would read it.I still struggle with that bit myself but am so glad people do.
My husband says he never meets people in real-life who are as beautiful as my blogging friends.I think that's what I love the most that the people in my bloglines all bring beauty into my day (you are no exception Alicia!).

Great blog today - I am new to blogging and I am so enjoying reading my favourite blogs. I find it so inspirational and a sense of contentment to know that there are women all around the world who have the same beautiful souls. I have a very close knit group of girlfriends. We have been friends for years but not one of them enjoys craft, sewing or quilting etc. Blogging for me has been a chance to share my thoughts, projects, creativeness and pure excitement with women who are not going to give me a confused look. Don't get me wrong - they are wonderful supportive gorgeous girls but I just can't share with them this side of me like I can share it with bloggers. Keep blogging Alicia - you inspire me so much!

Thanks for this~

Thanks Alicia x.

Alicia:
I literally cried after I read your amazing reflections about blogging. Thank you for your mesmerizing words and for allowing me the opportunity to connect with inner truths that are beging to emerge,
but that are so quickly silenced. After thinking about why I was so moved by you, I realized that I
don't have the kind of community that encourages
the kind of honesty that you do. I also realize that
I desperately need this honesty at this point in my life. Thank you for spending the time that you do on your blog; your generosity of heart and spirit, not to mention the depth and honesty of your song, is exactly what the doctor ordered for this
Posie gets cosy fan.

i so wish i had tried out lowry lines on my family...;) and i second that amen from stephanie's blog....

{hugs}

Hi!
Wow, I guess one or two people found your blog thought provoking today, hu? lol.
Seriously, though, this is one of the reasons I love blogging....I love to hear what thoughtful people have to say about life.
God bless!
Terri

Thank you for your insightful post. Seems as if you're not alone-- which I suppose is rather the point, isn't it?

lovely, alicia. i love the path I'm escorted down every time i read one of your posts. this all wouldn't be the same without you!

I appreciate everything you give, and you give so much, sharing your talents and showing us parts of your life. There's no pressure from this little corner of the world, just thanks, and an occasional tiny wave hello in the form of a comment to let you know I'm listening.

Very well said, Alicia. I couldn't agree with you more.

..::Alicia::..

"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."
{and I am with Beth}

I know this has been said before and will be again but your posts are so heartfelt and thoughtful.
They (you) are just beautiful...

**"Ginger" loves her new home -- but Bella hasn't seen her yet. She is peaking out of her Christmas stocking.**

xo
stacy


thank you for being you and for sharing what you do and what you love.

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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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