“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”–William Wordsworth
One year ago today I posted my very first blog. After a considerable amount of debate and self-doubt (and, I’ll admit, an overwhelming amount of FEAR), I finally garnered enough courage to “test the waters, one little toe at a time.” That first blog post was a short, simple writing titled, “A Few Things I’ve Learned over the (Many) Years” and included a few tiny (miniscule) nuggets of wisdom acquired from 50 years of experience.
Since that time, I have posted 59 blogs, written over 63,000 words, had over 12,400 views of those blogs and elicited 732 comments. Not bad for a beginning. Some of those blogs were serious and emotionally draining to write–like the one about my dad’s alcohol-induced dementia (“My Dad’s Third Wife”), the one about women devaluing themselves (“Beautiful Women Everywhere”), and the one about my youngest son leaving for college (“Today Is the Day”). And some of them were silly, light and entertaining perspectives on my world (or, at least, that was my goal–I have found that sometimes being funny is even more challenging than being serious).
What an amazing journey this has been! In the words of Barbara De Angelis, “The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.” I am not the same person as I was a year ago, and believe me, I have been groovin’ through the dance of my life; I have poured out “the breathings” of my heart, bared my damaged soul, and wracked my sleep-deprived brain, and in the process I have learned more about myself and the people around me than I have learned from any other experience (ever).
In addition to learning how difficult it is to be amusing, I have also learned how difficult it is to be honest. I have struggled at times with how much to reveal in order to tell the story (and have probably on several occasions revealed much more than was desired by those reading). And although I haven’t intentionally “lied,” I have sometimes shaded the truth just a bit in order to protect the innocent (namely, me).
I have learned that I cannot focus when South Park is blaring on the television or when the Cardinals are beating up on the Cubs or getting beaten up by the Nationals (can I hear a “Good grief!”?). However, I have also learned that I can have moments of profound inspiration while driving, sleeping, and showering. I have mastered the art of jotting down ideas with one hand on the wheel and both eyes still on the road, and I have become proficient at scribbling legible comments in the journal by my bed in the darkness of midnight. Unfortunately, though, I haven’t figured out yet how to record all those lucid thoughts that come to me in my early-morning shower between the “wash” and “rinse” cycles, and no matter how many times I repeat them, they almost always evaporate before the last drip has dried.
Perhaps the most enlightening discovery I have made through my writing is that I’m not so abnormal after all–either that, or I have a lot of company in that “crazy as a loon” category. I have been amazed at how many others have shared the same absurd thoughts, peculiar feelings, and irrational fears; sweeter words have never been spoken than “I know exactly what you mean! I thought the same thing!” What a relief to realize that I’m not alone, that I’m most likely not a permanent resident on the lunatic fringe.
I have also learned there are no limits to the kindness of strangers and friends. The support and encouragement I have received have been overwhelming and humbling, and because so many have been so kind to me, I have made a concerted effort to be more considerate and compassionate toward others (I’m not saying I’ve always succeeded). Even those who don’t understand my humor have tried to help me, as evidenced by the comments a little further down of a Mr. Hanafi, a medical doctor from Indonesia who was so concerned for my well-being after reading “The Heebie-Jeebies!” that he advised me to seek professional help!
And speaking of comments, every single one of them left on my blog (as well as the countless comments left on Facebook) has been so appreciated and so precious to my heart (not to mention flattering to my sometimes faltering ego). I think it’s only fitting, as I celebrate this one-year anniversary, that I close with some of my favorite comments from my readers:
BronxBoy55 (on “I’m a Simple Girl”): I found myself nodding in agreement on almost every point. (I don’t wear mascara or stiletto heels, and my legs will never be smooth, but pretty much everything else sounded great.) If you want to be partners in the world domination thing, it would be half the work for each of us. Then we could take turns having weekends off.
Caryl (on “I’m a Simple Girl”): Great job, Karen!! I love reading your blogs! It’s pretty much like having a conversation with you!!
Pampr1 (on “Lessons Learned from My Three Sons”): I cried tears of laughter reading this, so good.
HomesteadRamblings (on “Welcome to My Fantasy World”): AMEN AND AMEN!
Sue (on “Livin’ in Limbo”): Love it! There are thousands of us out here that know EXACTLY how you feel! – so THANK YOU for sounding off for us all!
emjayandthem (on “Maybe Getting Older Isn’t So Bad After All”): This juicy post had everything I love: well written, full of good humor and life lessons and, most importantly, full of the kind of reflection that gives me pause. Well done!
hugmamma (on “Here a Germ, There a Germ, Everywhere a Germ”): Wonderfully written! A topic so mundane, and yet described so eloquently…
Free Conscience (on “Wal-Mart Makes Me Crazy”): Absolutely amazing! Tears!!!!!!!!!!!!
Amiable Amiable (on “Wal-Mart Makes Me Crazy”): OHMYGOD! This is the most hysterical story on the planet! My face hurts from laughing! . . . Thank you for sharing such a hilarious experience!
Miranda (on “I Resolve to Eat More Mangoes”): I just laughed out loud and startled my 3-year-old, who was absorbed in “educational” morning cartoons, at where your check will go if you don’t meet your goal. Please meet your goal! Please meet your goal! You can do it! . . . Here’s to treating our bodies like temples! I so enjoy your writing.
Teri (on “What I Really Want to Say”): You are simply too fabulous for words Iced Tea. Forget about being a nice girl. I order you to speak your mind openly and often. And please let me know when you do – I want a front row seat to cheer you on!!
BronxBoy55 (on “What I Really Want to Say”): Honesty, humor, humility, logic, and sensitivity. What a perfect combination. How you worked it all into one post, I don’t know. But thank you.
Jamie (on “What I Really Want to Say”): Awesome! I am not sure which parts to specifically cite… it was all good! I had a good chuckle this morning. In the future, when you’re among friends don’t be afraid to voice some of these opinions — don’t wait to blog it. That would be motivation for estranged Ozark residents to return just to be in your company with a glass of wine or beer for a good laugh! I’d also like to give a shout out to Ralph and Henry!
Mohammad Hanafi (on “The Heebie-Jeebies”): Dear Mrs. Icedteawithlemon. Although I am not a Psychiatrist, but I thing you need to meet doctor for psychiatric consultation. Relax and think of something beautiful. Thing about your grow up children. Think of how beautiful Taj Mahal or Niagara fall. I really hope that you can enjoy life. We live only for a very short time.
Sam (on “The Heebie-Jeebies”): Congrats on your popularity MOM! Now you know how I feel. Isn’t it great! It really brings a sense of humbleness, but I digress . . .
Mean Wives Club (on “The Heebie-Jeebies”): Fantastic article! We laughed through the entire bit about the purple-thong lady with the stretched out butterfly tattoo. Kudos to you, Dear!
Aachren (on “I Believe”): You rock! Seriously. Can I be you when I grow up?
Jane (on “Beautiful Women Everywhere”): Again you have given us a beautiful reason to enjoy ourselves as we are. Thank you for saying it so well.
Angie (on “Braggin’ Rights”): Perspective AND laughter! The best medicines! Your posts are far better than the morning news. Thanks!
Julie (on “Baby Steps”): Wonderful as always! The one time I can use the word epiphany in my own life I was standing on the side of a mountain. Cold, soaked to the bone, in tears, and feet that were swollen and bloody from blisters, 30 miles from the nearest trailhead, I had no other choice but to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I had never been so far out of my comfort zone. A change happened that day……I knew for the very first time that I could handle absolutely anything that came my way. Ever since I’ve been making up for the time lost seeking safety instead of personal growth. Thank you for taking the time to share with us, Karen. And one final thing…..when this blog (and subsequent book) gets made into a movie, I would like my part to be played by the incomparable Jane Lynch!
Jamie (on “Baby Steps”): What a great, honest story!! I have traveled to many parts of the globe, but oddly enough, leaving my comfort zone simply meant writing and sharing my thoughts from the safety of my living room. (Thank you for your support.) We each define our “comfort zone” differently… I love your writing, so please keep sharing!
Darla (on “Today Is the Day”): Bravo! I’m definitely printing this for future reference. This is the exact list we want our adult kids to post on their refrigerators and refer to multiple times on a daily basis AND maybe even carry a condensed version in their wallets . . .
Janet (on “The Power of a Kind Word”): I’ve just found time to catch up on some of my favorite blogs, and this was the best. I love that you allow us to really see inside you sometimes. I’ve said before that I enjoy your precision, concision and elegance in writing, but when you add “heart” to that, it is so much better!
Brad (on “It Was 1970 Something”): The car rocks but the writing is even better. Great to hear your voice.
Rhonda (on “Lovin’ Spoonfuls”): Again, I am moved. I’m a hugger, Karen. Imagine the biggest, warmest, most enveloping HUG coming your way. Your writing is magnificent. It touches me where I live. I love your blogs.
Casey (on “Today Is the Day”): How can I be crying?! Makes me love you even more, Mrs. E.
Polly (on “Can I Really Do This?”): The longest journey begins with a single step. Enjoy this first step and all the steps following it . . . on your way to your writer’s wonderland!
Some of you beautiful people have been with me since Day 1, and some of you are more recent arrivals, but all of you are dear to my heart–thank you for reading my blog and for helping to make this past year such an amazing experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey thus far, and I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the ride. Hang on!
(And, by the way, I have also learned, through my research, that a novel typically ranges in length from 45,000-120,000 words, most commonly between 50,000-80,000 words. Hmmm.)