Blog Milestone – 100 Followers!

katya-austin-554633-unsplashHey everyone! I just wanted to send a special shout-out to those of you who took the monumental step of following my blog. Thank you! In just a little over year’s time I have 100 official followers worldwide, in addition to slightly over a dozen email followers.

I realize that not everyone reads all of my posts, and that my blog topics can vary wildly from one to the next, but I appreciate that you take the time, and toss a few likes my way. For that I give a hearty thumbs up back to you, as much as I am still green at this, still very much a newbie. 

I would love to hear your feedback. What drew you here in the first place, what topics speak to you the most, and what would you like to hear more of? I’d even love to hear from you guys with a quick country or state roll call. 

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.

~Denise

 

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

 

500 Thoughts

hans-peter-gauster-252751-unsplashSometimes the inside of my brain feels like this photo here → 

I seriously have about 500 thoughts running through my head tonight, these being the first few:

  1. At least three blog ideas (actually way more) where I simply need to find the time to write
  2. The packing and prepping for my daughter’s first dance competition of the season, tomorrow, which involves a weekend away and a desperate need to pack healthy snacks so I don’t feel like loser mom for not properly feeding my artist-athlete with a nut allergy
  3. Wondering how our powder room remodel is going, why our front porch is still torn up from some foundation work that needed to be done months ago, and why both of these things are taking longer than expected
  4. Why I hear a clicking noise inside Roxanne (my relatively new Jeep) and whether that’s just marginally annoying and I can live with it or if it’s actually something bigger I need to get looked at
  5. How to “market” myself better professionally internally or externally should it be warranted, and why this is getting more important than ever before
  6. Whether I should be posting/blogging/whatever on LinkedIn and what I should write about if so
  7. Whether I should be posting/blogging/whatever on Yammer which is our internal social media tool at work to “market” myself better professionally with my colleagues
  8. Music I want our little family of five to make for Christmas (a really “out there” idea even they don’t even know I want to do this year but we have the equipment and our own studio to pull it off)
  9. What Christmas gifts and donations are needed for
    • Immediate family
    • Extended family
    • Colleagues, Secret Santa and charitable donations at work
    • Teachers, friends, and charitable donations for our three school kids
    • Church charitable donations
    • Other coaches and teachers for our three kids and
    • Anyone else I’ve forgotten, because yes, there are years I have forgotten and I feel horrible about it
  10. When the shopping for all of the above needs to be done, when I’ll have time to wrap it all and deliver it
  11. How much anxiety I feel about going to CrossFit tomorrow because I have missed quite a bit this last month due to travel
  12. When in the world we’re gonna get a tree or see Santa, and both of those need to happen sooner than later
  13. Whether we will EVER get Christmas lights hung on our house but that depends on when the front porch slab is returned to its proper position and the yellow tape over our front yard is removed so the people hanging lights don’t fall into a foundation hole 8 feet deep
  14. When in the world the front slab of our porch is gonna get returned to its proper position so that UPS and Fedex can deliver packages to our front door, which is gonna happen a lot this month
  15. When I’m gonna get around to cleaning the house, because even though I actually hired someone to help us earlier this year (because, uh, duh: see all the above), she fired US for being slobs, telling us she is not our maid, even though “maid” is literally part of the name of her business: go figure on that one
  16. When I should start planning our trips for 2019, because planning is half the fun for me
  17. When I can start making the small health and behavior changes I learned about after reading The Blue Zones and taking the quiz mentioned in the book, because I have the potential to live healthfully to age 97 if I do
  18. Whether I have enough money saved for retirement to live until 97 (and I think we all know the answer to that one)
  19. Will any of my kids be in a position to take care of me or want to while I live to 97
  20. When in December I can invite every cool woman I know to my house for good wine, delicious food, and laughter
  21. Wait: when are the kids’ Christmas concerts?
  22. Oh shoot: I have no more vacation this year
  23. Whether my oldest understands how to use a planning calendar to stay on top of his assignments and goals
  24. Why am I worried about anything when I’m healthy, we’re happy, and we have everything we need when so many people don’t.
Pretty sure I need a glass of wine.

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

rawpixel-574835-unsplashSharing a short little ditty today: September 30 marks my first anniversary of this blog!

I promise, I had no idea what to expect when I started Live Laugh Love Louie. I have known for a long time that I loved and needed to write, and enough friends of mine encouraged me to give this a try, so I did! And now here we are, 1700 visitors later, from 54 countries around the world, and roughly 2700 views including those from 89 followers.

My most popular piece, drawing plenty of attention even a year later, is “What does it mean to be beautifully broken?” I guess it helps when there is a movie on the horizon by that same name! I used more of a third-party voice when I wrote it, but my natural tendency is to speak more from a first person perspective. Maybe I’ll play with third party voice a bit more in the future, since it seems to have resonated so well.

Mostly I will continue to write from the heart about things that mean a great deal to me.

Family is foremost in my life, but I try hard not to talk about my kids and husband very much on here. Their privacy is important to me, and for me to talk about them to complete strangers seems exploitive. I lean more toward shielding them from public viewing, so you won’t hear too many intimate details about them from me.

The same goes for my friends. I may tell stories about them but I will mask who is who to protect their privacy as well.

But as you can see, I love travel and resolutions and planning. I struggle with the remnants of a broken heart, loneliness, religion, politics, and fitness. All of them are ripe for mining.

I’m thinking a lot about my oldest who will be leaving our home for college in a few years and whether we’ve done everything we should to prepare him for those steps. I also think about my daughter and the world she’s growing up in, and how very different her experience already is compared to mine. And I think about my youngest, and the pure joy and innocence he brings into this world, and how precious it is. All three remind me every day to be present and grateful for the gift of today and to find things to laugh and smile about.

So please take a moment and let me know what you’ve liked best so far, whether it’s a topic, tone, or turn of phrase. I’d love to hear from you. And in closing…

Thank you to all of you who showed an interest in my little corner of the internet.

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel on Unsplash.com

 

#6: Write for Real

Part of a series of ten segments, checking the progress of my 2017 New Year Resolutions.

I joined Facebook back in August 2008. Talk about a face-palm first post, so telling of great things to come! haha I was the mother of a new baby, and these were the days when Facebook seeded the start of your post with “I am…” and you fill in the blank which for me was, “still trying to get caught up on sleep.” Where’s Captain Obvious when you need him? Oh, such insight and wisdom! Duh.

As Facebook evolved, my friends list grew, and I found my footing on what to post, I ended up posting a lot and I got a whole lot better than that first anti-climatic entry. I posted about every day kind of stuff, kid stuff, parent stuff, working woman stuff, and lately politics (don’t hate me)… Short posts and some long ones, too, and I found that I loved it.

Writing was a creative outlet I desperately needed while I held down a demanding, highly logical and analytical job. I craved connection with family and the friends I met from all around the country during my relocations and frequent travels. For as much heat as the social network gets, Facebook was a critical lifeline for me at a time when I was stuck for years at home caring for our young kids without family nearby or any good friends to rely on as a support network. I mean, there is only so much money and time you can use for a babysitter before you are a neglectful parent, and I had waited too long to have kids to make that foolish mistake.

Now over these same years, a family member of mine frequently dismissed any discussion I started about Facebook as a total waste of time, despite how much I personally enjoyed connecting and communicating on it. These comments were hurtful, because it felt like they were deliberately dismissing me and what brings me joy. I don’t bring it up anymore. I don’t bring up my writing or really much of anything that is going on with me, because this particular audience turns a deaf ear.

It’s been almost a decade now. That dismissal still stings, and that family member and I have grown increasingly distant. But as an artist, you need to ignore what your critics say and push through, creating from the heart. Artists deal with this rejection quite a bit from their own families. Thank God my husband is supportive. He’s an artist too, a musician, and he tells me, “You don’t choose your art: it chooses you.”

What surprised me was what happened with my writing on Facebook. It was the number of people who stopped and told me in person how much they liked what I wrote, people who I never realized even read my stuff. Is this what my husband means about my art choosing me? I am genuinely flabbergasted every time it happens but it happens too often to be pure coincidence.

I also noticed I got a lot of positive reaction online whenever I wrote something long…and always when I thought maybe I shared a little too much or got a little too jan-kahanek-184676verbose. Every single time, those are the posts that seem to resonate with people the most. Go figure. I’m a slow learner and a late bloomer but I’m catching on!

I wasn’t always a writer. My favorite aunt, Nancy, gave me a diary when I was 9 years old, a tiny little 4″ x 6″ version with a light blue cover, a page for every day of the year, each page trimmed in gold, and the whole thing protected by a little lock. I wrote in it every day. Some days there was more story to tell so I’d continue on scrap paper and tuck the folded postscript in between the pages.

9-year-old me thought a diary was a brilliant idea because I knew my memory and recall of specific details wasn’t very strong. I’d look back at what happened over the prior week and be stunned to discover how much of it rolled off my back or disappeared from memory altogether. I have the entry for the day Aunt Nancy died when I was 10. I have journals all the way through public school and college, and a few years after that while I was still single and traveling for work. I no longer wrote daily entries but I wrote whenever I needed to sort things out, which meant I wrote a lot.

Oh, it’s painful to read those diaries now! Yes, I still have all of them. What a jumbled collection of thoughts. I had zero ability to express myself. My ability was so poor, I never considered writing as a career. What surprised me in retrospect is how my penmanship, introspection, and expression improved over nearly two decades. And if I told you that my honors accounting professor had the single biggest influence over my ability to write, you wouldn’t believe me. I’ll tell his story one day too, I promise. Dr. Thomas J Burns of Ohio State was a doozy of a man.

As a teen I was an avid pen pal with several friends I met at church camp and all-Ohio school activities. These letters switched to email at some point but life kinda got in the way and eventually I fell away from sending long emails.

So Facebook was the first time I had written any personal commentary of any length in years, and it was out there for my “friends” to see. What should I post about? What’s in my heart, or what would resonate in “conversation” with friends, or should any given post be a little of both?

I never ever once thought of myself as a writer. Not once in all these years of journaling, then pen-pal writing, then Facebooking. I just felt compelled to write. I just had to do it.

It got to where a couple of friends urged me to write a book or at least start a blog, which I tried a few years ago. “Denise’s Daily Delights and Dilemmas” was up and running for a few months but I got scared. I became afraid that I would be judged for telling my truth, and it became pretty apparent that I wasn’t quite ready to share my art with anyone.

Then I developed writer’s block: all this pent-up stuff to say but I had no idea what to write about. I wasn’t sure what perspective I was writing from: professional working woman, older mom to young kids, traveler, mentor, friend, artist…what? So I shut down the blog and abandoned the effort for a few years.

I quietly started a second one called “Teeny Tiny Thinker Thoughts” but posted once and never touched it again. Never told anyone about it either.

All the while I kept posting on Facebook and this time, the comments were more frequent and bold, and sometimes sent via private message, imploring me to write more. Write formally. Write anything.

“When you gonna write that book?”

“You have a knack for words. I love what you have to say, your little insights…”

“I want a signed copy of that book you’re gonna write,” and

“You need to write about this in your first book.”

And so the inner doubt wore off after many years. I knew I had turned a corner when I ran into my old boss at a conference two years ago and we caught up over dinner. He’s a traditional CPA type, the managing director for the local office of a global audit and consulting firm. I hadn’t seen him but a handful of times since I left the firm and it was delightful catching up. He asked what I had been doing with myself and I blurted it out as naturally as anything I had ever said: “I write.” He did the classic double-take and I realized what I had just admitted out loud for the first time.

The final straw was this summer talking to my cousin Steve who pulled me aside at an all-too-soon funeral for another cousin. Oh Lord, I’m probably hosing the quote big time but I’m pretty sure he asked me, “Cousin, for the love of God, when are you gonna start writing for real?”

Steve didn’t know I had “writing more” on my 2017 resolutions and that I was penning some essays on the side, starting what may be a book one day. But it was his words that pushed me to launch this blog a few weeks ago on the last day of September, the month I turned 50.

I am writing “for real”, whatever comes in my heart… and I’m not going to question whether it’s worthy or too wordy or too nerdy, or whether I have an audience for it. Of course, I want to hone my craft. I want my tone to be hopeful and positive, like I try to live my life, and like my husband and I try to guide our kids and how we purposefully choose the people around us.

I feel like a Flying Wallenda navigating the inner critic tightrope, carefully balancing informative and constructive thoughts that push my art forward all the while doubts and insults hit me like a wind shear from any given direction, not to mention the very real outer critics who exist.

The difference this time? There is no net and no end in sight. I love it and I’m doing it, for real.

 

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash