I experienced a very special joy today when I received
an unexpected phone call from my blogging hero,
the beautiful Elizabeth Maxson.
My love for this gal goes way back, as I sang her praises way back when in
THIS post. This was our first time to speak, and to say it
lifted my spirits would be a huge understatement.
lifted my spirits would be a huge understatement.
She is just the epitome of everything I aspire to be as a blogger,
but more importantly, as a kind, generous, loving woman of God.
I was so impressed with one of the last posts she did
on her Elizabeth House Shop Talk blog,
that I asked if I could share it here with all of my readers,
and she most graciously agreed.
I think you'll find it as thought provoking
and full of hard-won wisdom as I did.
Thank you for sharing Elizabeth,
and thank you for being you.
It has been quite some time since I have posted on Shop Talk. I sure have missed you and hope you are having a great summer and are having fun.
First, let me say how much I appreciate all of your emails. I read them and do respond to each and every one of them. Sometimes it may take some time, as I am out of town a lot, but I so enjoy hearing about your adventures, your businesses, and I will always try to help you in anyway that I can. I never have professed to be a professional in anything, but I do offer help based on my experiences or from what I have learned from others and I am happy to share.
I have had several readers ask me whether or not I was going to do the store display contest like I held last year. I have a couple of answers for that. While I truly enjoyed (and I think you did too) the displays last year, I had been wanting for several months now to write about a topic that directly conflicts with my requesting you creating displays. Because of my schedule, I just simply have not found time to write to you what has been on my mind so much lately, but feel it is important. So, if you will indulge me for a moment, and let me say my peace, then I will propose to you what I am thinking about the display contest. How does that sound?
Basically, the topic I want to address is called:
And in order to break up the text, I will include a series of photos of scissors that I took some time ago - a simple little tool that we all use when we create...and that is what we do best...we create.
Creative people always find a way to stay in touch.
Over these past several months, I have noticed something that seems to be running rampant among our blessed blogger friends. While I am very upfront and admit that I do not spend a lot of time online and on blogs due to my schedule and work, I do miss not reading and keeping up as much I would love to. When I do find the time, I find myself spending hours at a time reading those wonderful blogs, catching up, and spending time regretting how I don't do this more often. I don't comment often, as I zip from one blog to another, all excited to see how much everyone has grown, or the projects they are doing, or my hugest regret? To discover that a blogger has endured a very hard time (a family member loss, or illness) and I was totally unaware for months.
However, these past several months, due to my projects, and writing assignments, I had the privilege of reading quite regularly because of research I am doing, or needing to get in touch with people due to my projects. It was a joy to be "in touch" for so many months. But it was during this time that I discovered something disturbing.
Sometimes, creating requires time with ourselves
I started discovering quite of few blogs in which either the blogger felt the need to take a very much needed break from blogging to take care of themselves, their family, a personal issue, or in one case "to just get my life back." And then I discovered another set of bloggers who were apparently just returning from a much needed break who were excited to be "back" but also went on and on about how "good it felt to live in the real world" again - referring to their time away from the cyber world. I am not talking about just one or two bloggers here. I am referring to more than a dozen, and those are only the ones that I happen to frequent on a regular basis. But these two sets of bloggers - the ones taking leave, and the others who are returning, this isn't what is bothering me.
What bothers me is what the two have in common. Both groups felt the strong need to apologize for their absence, for "neglecting" their blog, and for their need to spend time away from their blog. Many felt the need to "explain" how their families were needing them or how they just needed some "down time" and so on. What sadden me was that these wonderful, talented, giving, loving women, who have given, given, and given, year, after year, after year, felt the need to "explain" or "justify" why they want to just simply live their life. They just want to live their life without reporting it to their readers.
Creating in the blogging world has sadly gone askew.
Somewhere along the way in this wonderful world of blogging, things have gone askew. Somehow, many now feel obligated to report their lives on a regular basis to their wonderful readers. The very readers that have made bloggers feel special all these years, can sometimes become the same readers who become angry or disappointed when bloggers can no longer live up to what the "cyber world" or "blogger world" has deemed as redeemable as proper blogging or blogging protocol. For some, creating is no longer creating when it comes to blogging, but rather it has become a form of entertainment. I am very happy (and honored really) when my creations happen to inspire others. But if I find myself creating in order to just keep or grow readers or followers, then I am no longer creating, I am entertaining. For some, that is perfectly acceptable and I am in no way judging. If blogging is the way they make a living, then of course, you better entertain. But I am not talking about that level of blogging. I am referring to those very talented and giving bloggers, who for years, have been giving, giving, giving, and sharing their thoughts, creations, tips, ideas, travels, and more, and after doing this for years, they find themselves actually feeling the need to apologize, explain, justify, their need to slow down, and actually LIVE in the real world without having to report it, discuss it, photograph it, download it, share it, or worry if they do, they will "lose readers" if they don't post often enough. How did it come to this?
Blogging is an up close and personal invitation into our lives....
Over the years, blogging has turned into a form of wonderful communication, a way to connect, a big business, a way to sell our products, a way to advertise our talents, and more. But as with anything, too much of a good thing can become not so good. As we share our lives and our creations, we are inviting total strangers to examine us, up close and personal. But that is the point...it is an invite. Sort of like having guests over for dinner and they demand more and more dessert and so we leave the dinner table and go whip up something even fancier in our kitchen and our guests lap it up and stay later and later for more...and when we get pooped, we find ourselves apologizing for not having more dessert to whip up and we explain that we have to get up really early to work, go see grandma in the hospital, and take the car in to get fixed. Then our guests, leave in a huff, and mumble about going to the neighbors's house because they have "better dessert" and their door is always open. And here we stand on our stoop calling out apologies and promising to make more dessert later when we don't have so much to do. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
Somehow, blogging has sense of entitlement - readers line up, expecting you to post (give) often.
What starts out as a way for most creative bloggers to simply share what they are doing, turns into expectations and entitlements of many. If a blogger happens to have a way with words, photography, or captures the delight of others, then more is demanded of him or her. It is soon forgotten that what the blogger is posting is "free" and "given" to the readers.
And this is where a blogger is at a crossroads: he/she can either start "performing" and sacrifice her true nature of creating from the soul, or she stays true with her soul and reports her creative activities when time allows because, hey, she is busy creating, living, and it isn't personal that she hasn't posted, it just simply means that way, long before the Internet was ever invented, we would have never heard of her before, and would have never even received the few tidbits of her life that she invited us into in the first place. So, I am grateful that she took time out of her busy, creative life to invite me in whenever she can, and share with me her exciting creations and I don't begrudge her for not "reporting to me" on a regular basis. Who am I to demand or be disappointed that this total stranger does not share on a regular basis just so I am entertained or inspired by her talent?
Blogger Breakdown is something that is going around.
I find it sad that I discovered so many talented and creative women these past months who not only felt the need to take a break, but felt the need to apologize for it. But I understand, because I used to do the same myself. But I made a decision a long time ago that made me quit apologizing. Blogging is not my living, my life, nor my end all be all. I like to share, and I want to inspire and encourage, but I have a life off the computer (a very busy one) and I won't apologize for it. And it truly makes me sad to have discovered recently so many wonderfully talented women out there who feel the pressure "to keep up" or "be better than the other blog" or a very real pressure to "be different."
Wanting to be different is easy. You already are. You only need to show a bit of yourself at a time.
Blogging to me is a creative outlet. If my readers only want pretty pictures, they get it sometimes and sometimes they get stories. I don't aim to please anyone but me. If my creative outlet ends up inspiring others or encouraging others, then that is icing on the cake and I am doubly pleased!
That is how I ran my store and it went well. Why in the world would anyone own and run a business they don't like? That is what working for an employer is for - at least you get sick days and vacation. Owning your store should be your passion because in the beginning, no sick days, vacation or time off, so you better love it and do it to please yourself.
And I see blogging the same way. You do it because it pleases you. If it interrupts your life, if it takes away from what you need to do, or causes stress, and if it is not how you make a living, then why in the world would you ever apologize to anyone for not posting? You are standing on the stoop of cyber space calling out to total strangers, "I will have better desserts later, I promise! Please don't leave!" Now, when you see it that way, isn't it kind of silly?
So, if you feel the need to get a permission slip to stop blogging for however long you need or want to, then I am giving you one. :-) Sometimes, we just need to hear what we already know, from someone else, you know what I mean? You all work so hard at your businesses, the holidays are coming up...there are only so many hours in the day! CEASE THE BLOGGING and go live in the real world for a while and spend time enjoying all that is around you for while. Go read a book, or bake something good and DON'T photograph it, and post it...just get some milk and eat it with a loved one. If blogging has become a chore, a stress, another "thing to do" on your list, or just isn't fun anymore, then it is time to stop for a while. I am giving you permission. You give, give, give...stop and give to yourself now. :-)
Sometimes, hanging out together in person is a way to really connect with the world again....
Connecting with friends and family on a regular basis is more important to me than blogging. While my readers mean a lot to me and I am honored that I am going to meet a fellow reader/blogger/friend for the first time half way around the world next year, that is the point. I am going to MEET her in person! Nothing like a real hug to connect.
So this brings me to my display dilemma. Because after feeling the way I do after what I have discovered recently about the Blogger Breakdown, how am I supposed to ask my readers to participate in a display contest that I will be posting? Will that be creating pressure for you to perform? Or will it inspire you to perform? Will this be just another "thing on my list" to do? Or will it be a form of creativity that you long for? I feel conflicted seeking out this request while I see so many bloggers so busy doing what they need to do already. Will I be adding to the stressful situation?
So, I will leave it up to you to decide if a display contest fits into your scheme this year or not. Should I have the display contest, here are some of my new guidelines:
It would be a holiday display contest that all displays will be built in the month of November.
I will post the photos the first week of December
A short paragraph must be included with your entry along with your link, or name of your location - I will provide guidelines of the paragraph - most likely something like : What inspires you to create?
I will watch for comments or emails regarding this. I will be out of town in two weeks and when I return, I will let you know at the end of Sept or beginning of October if there is to be a display contest for November. The last thing I want to do, is add to your already very full schedule, and yet, I don't want to deny anyone the chance for fabulous inspiration!
from my house to your house,
Thank you again Elizabeth, and I do hope that all
of you will pay a visit to each of her beautiful blogs,
And thank you all for your continued prayers
and well wishes, today is a brighter day.
All beautiful photos and text courtesy of