Ten Years on the Internet

Exactly a decade ago, I was sitting in a counselor’s office crying my way out of a season of major postpartum depression and severe anxiety. I had lived through a very difficult and traumatic pregnancy and was trying to make sense of the ensuing remnants of all that time held.

One of the things I’d been unable to do up until that point, was write out my daughter’s birth story. My counselor suggested the therapeutic benefits of doing so, and that weekend I began to fill in the details of a long nine months.

That catharsis felt so liberating, I began to look for other outlets to share my thoughts and feelings in writing and found Blogger. I remember I wrote my first post at my sister’s apartment and came home to my house and began what would be a decade long practice of over-sharing snippets of my heart and life.

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I wrote for seven years (from 2008-2014), averaging around 125 posts per year on that domain and built a small readership of family and close friends. I wrote about the everyday challenges and triumphs of motherhood, shared recipes, and told all about our transition from the civilian world into a life and calling of military service. I felt so connected to those who were reading, commenting online, and acknowledging my stories and anecdotes in person. I held nothing back. Everything in my life was up for introspection and examination. I did my best to see the humor and joy in the mundane.

Then in 2014, I began to feel a shift. No longer did it feel right to share such personal details about our kids’ lives so I began to move away from intimate stories that were theirs to share and began to share more about my own spiritual growth, my journey across the country and back again as a military spouse, and even used my blog as a sounding board and form of accountability to write and self-publish a book. I graduated to WordPress and found my rhythm again in this newer format.

During a decade when technology has moved faster that the speed of light, I’ve been slow to come around. I’ve never monetized my blog, never really had anything to market or sell, but rather have kept these online spaces as sacred spots just for my thoughts and ideas to steep. However, the greatest payoff for me has been the lessons I’ve learned throughout my 30s during these ten years of writing online.

Today, in honor of my website’s birthday I would like to share 10 lessons on writing and life that I’ve picked up along the way. Here they are in no particular order:

Writing can help heal what feels broken.

There is literally nothing I do that helps me to process both joy and pain in my life other that writing. Yes, there’s a space for private writing like journaling and diary writing, but being transparent with others adds another layer to helping to be completely honest with yourself.

 

Digital documentation and the cataloging of our lives makes it a breeze to take frequent trips down memory lane.

Anytime I want to go find a photo from one of the kids’ birthdays or a picture from a holiday or of a loved one, all I have to do is go back to the tags or dates of the event and there I will find exactly what I am looking for. For me keeping a blog or website has, in many ways, been like keeping an ongoing digital scrapbook for our family.

 

Publicly sharing your goals, hopes, and dreams provides external accountability. 

Back at the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015 I made some really big, public goals about a writing project. I knew once I put it out there, there would be no going back. While the outside accountability of succeeding or failing for others to see what scary–it was also the push I needed to put in the work and accomplish something that had been a life-long dream for me.

 

Blogging can help you hunt the good stuff in your life and bring into focus all of your blessings.

I’m a very sensitive person who has often had tremendous difficulty navigating transitions and new situations and change in my life. By choosing to keep a light-hearted and grateful tone in most of my posts, I have come to find that this online voice and perspective often translates into my real life voice and perspective. Looking at life through the lens of the good enables you to keep a positive mindset about your circumstances.

 

Writing online can help connect you to a world out there that otherwise may be out of reach. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that blogging or writing online has produced lots of close friendships, but I would say that it has helped provide various networks for collaboration, sharing of common goals, and even writing opportunities on different platforms that have a similar message. I am grateful for the people I’ve met and been able to partner with on various writing and speaking projects.

 

Posting your thoughts can sometimes feel overly vulnerable but those posts usually seem to resonate the most. 

Writing and sharing online invites others to say, “me too!” While nearly all of what I write in this space if for my own “processing,” some of the most widely shared and popular posts have been the ones where I have let loose with my feelings and been supremely transparent about life’s difficulties. I’ve only “gone viral” once, but last July 36,000 people read something I wrote within the span of a weekend.

Writing online has provided a way to memorialize some very meaningful and difficult seasons of our life. It has also highlighted God’s faithfulness. 

I’ve shared a lot about military life, about my continued reluctance AND obedience to homeschool our kids, my faith in God and his faithfulness towards me despite my short-comings, and even just some good habits I’ve hoped to implement into our home. Having a record of walking through these valleys and upon these mountains has become a sort of holy remembrance for me.

 

It’s easy to compare the online writing, photographs, and aesthetic of others to yours, but you must stay true to who you are and why you write.

It can be super easy to look at others’ websites and see just how perfect their photographs are, how pithy their writing is, how cleverly they weave together their stories, and hold these comparisons up close to your work and feel inadequate. The fact is, I have to remind myself that I am usually not writing or posting for anyone other than me and my family and posterity. There will always be someone who does it bigger and better. I say, better to be out there trying even if what you share isn’t perfect. Just be yourself.

 

Online publishing tools and trends have come and gone, but you have to do what feels right to you. 

I’m pretty sure, no one really is “blogging” anymore. With the rise in popularity of Instagram and other forms of social media, the long form isn’t as popular as it used to be. Again, I find the “just be yourself” advice to be appropriate. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I use Instagram but keep it set to private. I have never gotten into Twitter or SnapChat and probably ten other platforms that the kids these days use. For me, posting in this space feels right. It isn’t for everyone and that’s okay.

 

Going long periods of time without deep thought, reflection, and writing can leave you feeling lost. 

This is true as I have found it difficult over the past several months to find my voice online as I continue to grow, change, and as life’s seasons continue to bring new challenges and opportunities. What I do know to be true is that I can feel lost and tired and all out of sorts, but when I sit down at my keyboard and let my fingers do the talking–to deliver what is lodged in my mind and heart–there is part of me that just comes back to life and feels a lightness return to my soul.

 

For those family, friends, and even strangers who have visited this space over the past decade I say, thanks for reading, commenting, and being part of this story of our lives that God is writing for me and our family. I look forward to continuing on as he continues filling chapters as we learn and grow and walk out our faith.

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