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Friday, September 9, 2011

Blogger Breakdown...Guest Post by Elizabeth Maxson

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.

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
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.

Elizabeth Maxson

Hello Everyone!

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:

Blogger Breakdown

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 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.

Display Dilemma:
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.

With Love,

All beautiful photos and text courtesy of
Elizabeth Maxson


Gracefully Vintage said...

SO so True... Thanks for sharing, and taking the load off all of us, and showing or reminding us why many of us love the world of blogging.

Mona Kay Gorman said...

Thank very helpful to me, and I'm sure, others. We put so much pressure on ourselves....

You and your family continue to be in my thoughts!!

Jemsmom said...

What an absolutely brilliant post! I blog because I enjoy it. I go for long bits without posting and then I may post three times in a week. I do it for me and I have maintained that stance. In the beginning I started thinking of how to be a "big" blogger and then I decided that (for once) I don't have to join the bigwigs and be the best of the best. I do it for me to record our life for our family and friends. It is my journal for Jemma to know what went on in our home. If people like me, they like me. If they don't, they don't. I don't worry about it and I think that is what has brought me blogging joy!

I hope that our mother is doing well and having good days. I continue to pray for you and hope that you are taking care of yourself too!

Joanna said...

Well said, Elizabeth! If blogging became a chore for me I'd stop it immediately - I have quite enough chores to do!

Keeping you and your Mom in my thoughts Anne.


Anonymous said...

AMEN!!!! Very well said and I completely agree with you! I can't tell you how many followers I've lost because I wasn't meeting their expectations. Your right, blogging should be done for ourselves, not for the benefit and to please others.
Thank you for reminding us of this, with no apologies!

pbrenner said...

Oh my, what a timely post! I don't blog myself (I have one with I think 2 posts on it, lol), but my entertainment is visiting this wonderful world of women who create - it makes me happy to see beautiful creations and read about other's lives. I get inspiration as well (though I need a great deal more perspiration to bring those inspired ideas to fruition!) I had also noticed a number of bloggers getting burned out, etc., and it made me sad. Elizabeth said it so eloquently - you beautiful band of bloggers do NOT need to apologize to any of us leeches who bask in your work (and I mean leeches in only the kindest way - they are useful critters at least, lol) Please to all of you lovely literary ladies - share when and what you feel like, be with your family when you need to, and take care of yourselves daily!

Anne - I keep you and your mom in my prayers. I work in San Antonio at a Catholic mission organzation (Oblate Missions) and have the luxury of attending daily mass. I include both of you in my daily intentions. Please know that many people whom you've never met are praying for you and your family.


Seawashed said...

Thank you for sharing this very encouraging post. I don't even know Elizabeth so after I leave this comment I will go make a visit to her blog. I began pulling away from blogging last spring. I realized I spend too much time doing something that I enjoy and neglecting the things that are needed for me to do. I did explain to an extent. But that was so that no one would think I was sick or something bad happened to me. I haven't ever felt the need to apologize because I blog for free. I think the pressure comes from all the bloggers that do it for income. Most bloggers today blog for some bit of money. I still blog for free by choice, and so I do not feel any pressure to blog. I still enjoy blogging most of the time, but have become weary of it more often this year. I think I have been discouraged by the need to make money from it. I need extra income as much as the next person. My husband is the only provider of our family of six. He lost his job for nearly a year. We would have lost our home if my parents didn't step in and help us out. But I just could not add the ads or sponsors to my blog. I don't want it to be a job. I did open an etsy after two years of applying for part-time work with no luck. God has so far blessed me with this new venture. It has become a return to my Artistic roots. And I do now let my blog readers know of my shop happenings. But my blog is still free and I am free to let everyone know what I am doing. Oh dear, I just realized I am rattling off probably too much. It's just that this Blogging Breakdown has affected me too. I have been a bit broken down. And I have noticed many others, including you, feeling the same way. So thank you again for sharing Elizabeth's post with us. It is helpful. ox Kerrie

Tina@WhatWeKeep said...

Applause, applause, applause!
Wonderful insight for us all. I blog for myself and for "free" also, and still feel pressure sometimes when I see bloggers who pop out a post every 5 seconds. But to each his/her own and thanks for the reminder that this is for pleasure not pain!
Thanks for the intro to Elizabeth, Anne. I'm so glad today is a good one for you. xoxo, Tina

Seawashed said...

I just read the comment above me. Oh how that blesses my heart. I am a new Catholic and have been able to attend daily Mass now. I have been a Christian for 28 yrs but last year attended RCIA and was confirmed Catholic. I am a quietist/comtemplative type of person, so the Catholic church has been a beautiful sanctuary for me to dwell in. Daily Mass has become more lovely than Sunday Mass. I'm so thankful God lead me to the Catholic church.

The Cottage said... beautifully said Elizabeth. The last post on my blog was an apology for not posting for so long. Seems funny now....

I struggle with not posting regularly and since my blog is mainly to promote my store, I have major guilt especially when my customers ask why I'm not posting. So now my reply is going to be quite simply... "Come in to see what's new, it's always better in person AND I get to chat with you (my customers) in person!"

Thanks for relieving the guilt...I do feel better knowing there are others out there struggling too.

My prayers and thoughts are with you Anne...glad today is a good one!


Sissie's Shabby Cottage said...

I have really enjoyed reading her thoughts on blogging. She is a very wise woman.


Gail said...

This is a great post! I blog when I feel like it and have never felt compelled to do it for anyone other than myself.....too much pressure. I already have a very full life and don't really understand those who feel the need to compete with their become a follower, follow me on FB, Twitter, what have you.
To each her own of course, but especially when I see someone with a giveaway essentially bribing you to do all those things in order to be considered for the giveaway...well, I find that a big turn off, and again it smacks of that competitive spirit that pervades blogging. No wonder so many are burned out....yes, go live your life and try to fit blogging in when you can, you'll be much saner for it!

d e l i g h t said...

Wonderfully written, wise and so true! Thanks for sharing her insights and introduction to her blog.

the old white house said...

AMEN. As women we certainly should understand when someone has a busy life outside of blogland. My first concern will always be my family and then as much as I enjoy blogging, it is an extra curricular activity... extra being the key word here. Thank you Elizabeth for your common sense approach to it and for sharing it with us.
Thank you Anne, for sharing this post with us. I hope your days continue to get brighter and that your mom is gaining strength by the day. You all continue to be in my prayers. t. xoxooxo

Susan EvelynAndRose said...

Such insightful words. Elizabeth has done a wonderful job of describing the blogging conundrum of many. I was starting to feel guilty about not having posted in a while, but I've been getting kids settled into school and creating stuff for a new Etsy store, so posting took a back seat. I know I shouldn't feel bad about that, especially now envisioning Elizabeth's metaphor on making a 'better' dessert for the visitors on the go. Hysterical.
Anne, you and your Mom have been in my daily prayers. Wish I could meet you some day. The more I read your blog, the more I see how much we have in common. Maybe our next trip to Dallas.
Take care,

At The Picket Fence said...

Oh my! This was so chock full of wisdom and insight that I need to go back up and read it all over again. I just put it up on our facebook page because I know so many others will benefit from reading it! I think it all goes back to what the intention is for blogging. Because that dictates how you approach it and what kind of pressure/importance you put on it, you know? Our intention was to build community and share with others far more than it was to showcase our projects. And this helps us to feel that we don't need to "entertain" but rather share in the lives of those we are privileged to come in contact with. Thank you to Elizabeth for bringing this issue to light and hopefully helping all of us have a healthier bloggy perspective! :-)
Love to you,

Anonymous said...

This is exactly why I admire her so. Sometimes I read her posts over and over and take in everything she says. Hers was the first blog I ever found, before I really knew what a blog was.

Hope all is going better with your prayers are still with you all. xo

Anne Marie said...

I have followed Elizabeth and her writing for quite some time...and was (seriously) overjoyed that she actually came to visit my felt like a celebrity came by...because I admire her so much...not because of her decorating skills (although she rocked her weddding...did you see it? oh my goodness - the best) but because of her true nature of thoughts onto the screen.

I would highly recommend some publisher to contact her - she has a gift to reach out and be honest yet approachable - I admire that so much.

(you know I'm praying for your mama Anne!)
Anne Marie

Rhonda said...

I have to say blogging does put pressure on us, something new to say, something interesting to say, something new to share. But, I feel it keeps me going....keeps me pushing myself to be clever or unique.

Some of my best posts and best creations came out of down to the wire - last minute to get it done.

Prayers to both of you wonderful women.

The Flying Bee said...

I agree with everything Elizabeth said and so much more...having gone through burnout myself and still trying to recover.

Miss you so much, too. I have been under the weather, but hope to give you a call soon. I am glad today is a little brighter :)


judi said...

EXCELLENT post! i SO agree,i started to get caught up into the blogging "expectation". it got old really fast. as elizabeth said, it wasn't fun anymore. i wasn't living and doing in the r.e.a.l. world. this should be a reading assignment for all new bloggers(and some not so new)!
thanks anne and elizabeth!

outjunking said...

Very right on! When I first started blogging all of 7 months ago a friend say to me about her blog " it's a lot of pressure" I didn't understand. It didn't take me long to figure out what she meant. Even after I was in the hospital my own husband meaning well said to me " I'm going to help you get back in touch with your followers. Oh the pressure.

Sandi~A Cottage Muse said...

This post is just wonderful and makes me feel better about a few decisions I have made regarding my blog. I began this adventure for me and now that I am refocused I am happier. Thank you Elizabeth and Anne!

Anonymous said...

A wonderful post FULL of wisdom and insight into our busy lives -- as women. We have just one life -- and we should be GRATEFUL for each and every day. We need to make the most of every minute by enjoying and treasuring the beauty of them.

Many of us who do not blog, love to share in your creativity and admire the roads you have taken that many of us have not. But first and foremost, we want your happiness and what is best for each of you and your families!

Each of us must do what is right for us. THANK YOU for these wise words -- for you bloggers as well as those of us who "follow" you!

Christine said...

I love this post! I am a new blogger and I have noticed that some bloggers feel that need to post all the time (even on holiday) and as a newcomer I felt that pressure to perform. It's good to know you are not alone and yes there is a life out there. I look forward to meeting Elizabeth when she and I have time...

LaurieAnna's Vintage Home said...

Wow, what a "hit home with me" post. Such clarity of thought and perfectly written words about the self-inflicted pressure we place on ourselves as bloggers. Wonderful and insightful post....loved the photos of the scissors!

Thank you for sharing your wisdom Elizabeth, and thanks for hosting her words Anne.

My continued prayers for you and your mom.

xoxo LaurieAnna

Privet and Holly said...

What a genuine
gift this post
was, Anne....and
thank you, Elizabeth!
I am sort of at a
crossroads, myself,
so need to digest
this thoroughly. I'm
going to pop over
and visit E's blog.
So happy that things
appear brighter for
you today, Anne; still
praying hard : ) !
xx Suzanne

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

I really love this post...I decided a long time ago never to blog because I felt obligated. It's a creative outlet and a small part of my life...I post when I have something I want to share, and I never feel like it's a job. I feel bad when I see others stressing out from it, too!

savvycityfarmer said...

everyday I decide to quite ...

Shanon at Vintage Sparkle Chic said...

What a beautiful post! I have noticed other bloggers feeling the need to apologize for being absent for a while. I feel it is the bloggers with stores that have a lot of this pressure. I don't have a store so I blog when I feel like it, and I don't if I don't. I have noticed so much pressure on bloggers and have tried to convey to them to not feel pressured and that when they have something to show we love to see it. Elizabeth, you really said it all completely and wonderfully. I will go and check out your blog next!
Anne, thank you for sharing this with us and prayers continue for your mom.


Carole said...

Incredible post that I must have missed from Elizabeth. She's such a great writer and so open.
That girl should write a book....but maybe she's already thought of that:)
Anyways I'd be lying if I said I haven't felt the pressure but I've started to give myself a break in the last year or more. I think reading Blogging for Bliss helped me to do that. I did have customers telling me I should blog more but I know they understand that there is just so many hours in the day.
After all you have to have a life to have something to write about.

I certainly hope that you are not feeling the pressure dear Anne during this difficult time.
You are forever in my thoughts and prayers.


Lili said...

What a timely post on this subject and wonderfully written! Sometimes it is hard to keep it in perspective, we can be such people pleasers reluctant to disappoint! Great guest post from a very wise lady. Hugs Anne! xoxo ~Lili

Low Tide High Style said...

What a truly wonderful post, thanks Elizabeth, and thank you Anne!

Kat :)

My Grama's Soul said...

Good morning sweet Anne......Perhaps this wonderful post means you need to take a little break.....Please, please do whatever you need to do to take care of your self and your beautiful mother.

So glad there is sunshine in your world today.



Ironstone and Pine said... well said! thanks for sharing, i think we all have felt that guilt at one time or another, and she says exactly what everyone needs to hear. Thank you for posting this Anne, I was very glad to read it and totally agree!!
Hope you are doing well and pacing yourself..........

MJ said...

Such a huge fan of Elizabeth and her and I have had conversations on this topic before. Her guidance has helped me to not apologize for feeling like I need a Break. I have taken a few and Im not guilty anymore. I love what I do, but I love life more...when the two can work together that is fine and when they don't the laptop can wait. Life is too short.

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