Category Archives: The 'Net
(This started with The Pioneer Woman, but I found it through Mama Kat and her weekly writing prompts.)
I am thirty-five years old and have not done the following:
- Visit Disney World.
- Watch the movie Titanic.
- Work retail.
- Seen a ballet performance other than The Nutcracker.
- Visit New Orleans.
- Read any of the Twilight series or watch any of the movies.
- Pierce any part of my body, including ears.
- Sleep in a sleeping bag in a tent under the stars.
- Read Ayn Rand.
- Attend a Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field.
- Use a Wii.
- Visit London.
- Possess a driver’s license.
- Attend an official viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
- Cross-country skiing.
- Enjoyed prior visits to Las Vegas.
- Been arrested or cited for anything, in spite of plenty of underage drinking in a bar.
- Visit Alaska.
- Eat Baked Alaska.
- Hike Mt. Sanitas in Boulder.
- Toss aside my spirit of ’76 elephant to the trash or donation bin.
When I first heard Bloggy Boot Camp planned on a Denver stop this year, two reactions popped into my head. First, wow!, a blogging conference where the only cost will be the program ticket, no plane ticket or hotel room needed in a year when saving money and travel time is of utmost importance. But then, wait a second, is this format worth it to me, someone without kids, someone without a desire to work with many brands?
While I did turn some heads when I explained that I primarily write about chronic illness, I felt mostly at home during the one-day conference. No one knew (until now) that I avoided the sponsor tables and did not participate in the drawing for free stuff. The only freebie I brought home was a copy of the October selection for the SITS book club, Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. After lunch, no one knew (unless they follow me on my locked Twitter account) that I needed to step out from the “chaos” that any conference brings for a little “me time” to soak in all I learned in the morning sessions.
After attending a session on “Authentic Branding” with Amy Bradley-Hole (@AmyBHole), I felt compelled to take on an overhaul of my “About Me” page. She asked us five questions, noting that we may not have a full answer by the end of her session and that they were meant to set us thinking about whether we are properly branded. (As much as I used to cringe at the word “brand” in regards to blogs, it is true that in order to take blogging from a hobby to something that makes a dent in the bills, a strong “brand” is needed in order for name recognition.)
Five questions to ponder:
- What are my distinguishing characteristics and personality traits?
- What are my guiding principles and values?
- What is my role on the web?
- What is my promise?
- What is my story (why I am what I am)?
Answering these five questions is leading to some reconsideration of the information I put forward on the “About Me” pages of both blogs.
The session that followed turned out to be most valuable. As someone who has been stuck in a “woe is me” spot in her life, I know it has shown through in my blogging the past several months. Inspiration from Jillian Tohber Leslie (@catchmyparty) through her presentation on “The Creative Process in Blogging (and Life)” will most certainly lead to getting my blogging (and offline writing) back on track.
Eight tools to get unstuck:
- 15 minute timed writing sessions. “The only way to fail is to stop writing before the 15 minutes are up.”
- Look at small goals instead of the big picture. (If I can come up with three blog posts a week that are not all about “woe is me”, I will be happy.)
- Write now, edit later. (This is huge for me, as someone who likes to edit almost as much as she likes to write.)
- Keep a Golden Circle. “Cultivate relationships with people who support your creative self and set boundaries with those who do not.”
- Co-create with your community. Realize you are not alone. (Sound familiar, diabetes online community?)
- Replenish the well. Make time for yourself so you do not overdraw on your creative bank account.
- Become an expert from every angle imaginable, deeper not broader.
- Notice how the universe is conspiring to help you. Inspiration from blog comments, or noticing ideas that suddenly pop up when you least expect them.
“Blog Design Basics: Clean Up Your Act!” by Aimee Giese (aka @Greeblemonkey) and a session on vlogging with Jessica Bern (@bernthis) rounded out what I experienced last Saturday. These two women are people I know now in “real life”. Therefore, I could gush and gush about their sessions, but I have picked a few key ideas I walked away with that resonated.
From Aimee, I learned what I already knew, if that makes any sense. Keep consistent with blog design, keep blog design consistent with personality, revisit the organization of your blog every few months – essentially create a style guide.
From Jessica, I decided I need to stop trying to film vlogs in one take. It is impossible to look casual without filming a few versions and splicing them together in iMovie. She also gave out a few lighting and clothing tips that I will take to heart in my next venture into vlogging.
Thank you, SITS girls, for bringing Bloggy Boot Camp to my “backyard”. In a year when travel is light and money is tight, this should become a valuable experience in helping me take back my blogging from a dark place.
Besides the bright spots I detailed the other day, the following discoveries have made me swoon in the past few months:
- How I Met Your Mother (Legen…wait for it…dary!)
- Hiking around Chautauqua and NCAR in Boulder (with the focus on fitness instead of photography).
- The Eternal Struggle (of writers like me).
- Giraffe as spirit animal.
- Kate Winslet, especially in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (but never Titanic).
- Strength training (which as I detailed here, does not have to mean big huge weights).
- Marcus Sakey crime novels (set in Chicago, so well, of course.)
- Woman Descending the Staircase.
- Love and Other Drugs (too much skin and sex? whatever!)
Summer bucket list.
(Inspired by The Guavalicious Life‘s list!)
- WildFit. Exercise five days a week – three longer, more intense, more specific workout patterns, two shorter and lighter workouts – but what kind of exercise we do for those workouts is entirely up to each of us. To give an example, this week is 60-50-65-50-60. I walk briskly for the longer workouts, while for the lighter workouts I find myself either leisurely walking, grabbing a session on the exercise bike in the small gym at work, or doing yoga/pilates work. The nutrition aspect is a little more contentious as there’s no way I can handle the daily total of carbohydrates that the RD/CDE recommends as someone with type 2 diabetes mostly managed by diet and exercise. (Especially if I want to lose weight and maintain acceptable blood sugar after meals
- The first ever Denver area alumni event for the little Wisconsin state college I attended will be held in a couple weeks. Meet and greet at a local tavern before heading over to Coors Field for a Rockies game, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium.
- First normal well-woman exam after the surgeries and decisions and all that fun at the end of June. Okay, well, a new normal – the GYN will likely order the first baseline mammogram, too.
- A whirlwind less-than-48-hours trip to Chicago in July. I vow to finally visit the Art Institute and get one step closer to being like Ferris Bueller singing Danke Schoen and Twist & Shout on Michigan Avenue.
- Lab work (including c-reactive protein) and endocrinologist appointment a couple weeks after that. With WildFit winding down by then, I think I should be able to rock the A1C for the first time in a long time. (Which means
- August will find me with access to a pool, of which I will take full advantage.
- September is still summer, and that finds me first going to Wisconsin to meet my new nephew (born a few days ago), hanging out with his sisters and parents, and catching up with the rest of my kin at a family wedding. Then, I get to feed my bloggy spirit with Bloggy Boot Camp on September 17 in Denver.
The meme rules/questions that you must write on a sheet of paper, not type on your computer or smart phone keyboard (from BugginWord):
1. What’s your name/your Blogger name?
2. What’s your blog’s name/URL?
3. Write “the quick fox jumps over the lazy dog”.
4. Favorite quote?
5. Your Favorite song?
6. Your favorite band/singers?
7. Anything else you want to say?
8. Tag 3-5 other people.
Today marks five years of blogging.
Well, okay, more than five years. I maintained a blog during the summer of 2003, and I experimented with a semi-private LiveJournal for quite awhile even after I started here.
But this particular blog? It came about five years ago as I (a) tried to express feelings regarding my own type 2 diabetes and hypothyroidism diagnoses earlier in 2005 and (b) tried to figure out my role in the husband’s type 1 diabetes following a hypoglycemic seizure the previous year. Gina created D-Blog Day and I created this space – thank you Gina, for getting me started.
The few who came before me in diabetes blogging showed me that writing about these experiences could be therapeutic. To Kerri, I owe the greatest thanks of all in this area of my writing. Not only did she provide the insight I needed into the type 1 world and not only did she inspire my inner athlete to come out from hiding, she opened a huge door for me with the dLife column and giving me pep talks into doing more with being a patient using social media.
Eventually, I found the need to talk about my experiences with anxiety and depression openly, as there is no denying they played a role in the early onset of type 2 diabetes. I must thank Lee Ann and Scott for their continued support on going public with that information.
Many thanks also go out to David and Elizabeth Edelman, as they invited me to blog at Diabetes Daily a couple years back.
As a result, I moved most diabetes talk over there and started exploring my life here as a ChronicBabe as a whole – the diabetes, the mental health issues, and eventual admission of having lived with chronic pelvic pain. At least I try to be babelicious most of the time, though to be honest, it’s been more difficult lately. I know I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again, but Jenni rocks my world with her attitude as a ChronicBabe.
There must be some reason I keep doing the patient-blogging thing, right? It’s not just about me – it’s reaching out to those who may be experiencing a similar situation but cannot find their own words to express themselves. I cannot ignore the role of mental health in physical health – and I hope more people recognize the importance of healthy mind, healthy body.
For all of those who comment, who e-mail, who connect on some level – thank you not only for reading, but for sharing your own stories with me. I’m not alone – you’re not alone.
Then there’s those darn cats. And my love of football. And travels around the country (and around the state). And cooking. And despite my better judgment, some politics and religion. (You’ll have to do some digging for those.)
And there’s the dark and twisty side. After all the talk therapy I have encountered during my relatively short lifetime, I find I would much rather sit down and write my thoughts for the world to see. I know some of it is rather grim when I find myself dealing with some of the fumbles of life. What can I say? It’s cheaper than an hour on some therapist’s couch and I feel much better afterwards.
To those who keep coming back in spite of the dark and the twisty and the football fanaticism and those darn cats, thank you. Thank you, oh so very much.
Some of the writing around the ‘net that has caught my attention as of late:
- Kim at Texting My Pancreas wrote about her time with undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Having been there, done that – this really touched me.
- What do they think on the other side of the pharmacy counter? Like Swimming tells it like it is, pet peeves and all.
- Tracy at Hit by a Pitch talks about the suck of running and working out – and yet why she keeps doing it – to show her 1-year-old son that exercise “is just what you do”.
- Rita Arens, a fantastic writer and a great speaker, tells her readers that writing and queries and book proposals don’t get any easier after the first works are published. (Hey, at least she’s honest…)
- I cannot imagine ever losing my sister and yet I have seen several women lose theirs this year. Most recently, and most unexpectedly, Amy at Crunchy Domestic Goddess is grieving of the loss of her younger sister. While Amy could not put together enough words to express herself at this time, one of her best friends wrote a piece about Carrie, grief, and life after a loved one’s death.
What have you been reading? What has made you laugh or cry or smile?
Answering my own questions.
Because I happen to still be stuck with a giant case of writer’s block, I might as well just answer my own questions today… (Again, if you’re looking for a meme, feel free to snag this.)
- Does Daylight Savings Time make sense to you? Yes. Absolutely. I look forward to springing forward to sunshine when I wake up and when I arrive home from work. It’s all about me, you know.
- Tell me about the first time you surfed the World Wide Web, estimating the year in which your world expanded (for better or for worse). The last week of my senior year of high school (1994). We’d already taken Advanced Placement exams, so those class periods were essentially study halls for our other finals. A classmate showed me IRC at the fledging computer lab in the library during Calculus. Who knew less than a year later I’d be chatting away on a BBS and sending e-mail to the few friends who actually knew what e-mail was?
- Do you even bother watching the television news or reading a newspaper anymore? Sometime this summer, I just got sick of hearing about the economy and crime and tea party politics, so I stopped watching most television news, including The Today Show. We just got MS-NBC back after a long hiatus (thanks Comcast), though, so I finally watched Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow last night. This could turn into a habit. The only print I read is Westword, Denver’s alternative weekly; otherwise I just read the news online.
- What are you reading right now? Some Like It Hot by Gary Paul Nabhan – it explores evolutionary genetic responses to various foods, including chili peppers. I love this kind of stuff, find it absolutely fascinating.
- What interests you more – history or literature? History, but just barely. Learning from past mistakes regarding economics, politics, and social factors never seems to happen, does it? I do like to escape reality through fiction once in a while, however.
- What is one place you have visited (but never lived) that you go back to again and again – in other words, your happy place? Tie between Boston/Cambridge, MA and Portland, OR. Boston’s got the history and culture I crave, close to gorgeous northern Atlantic beaches, easy to navigate with public transportation. Portland is the epitome of the relaxed West Coast, close to gorgeous central Pacific beaches AND to mountains, easy to navigate with public transportation, and has Powell’s.
- Do clowns creep you out? If not, what seemingly harmless person, place, or thing does creep you out? Hell yes, clowns creep me out.
- What’s love got to do with it? I second that emotion?
Eight really simple questions.
Elly rocks, truly she does. She rocks so much that she didn’t just have business cards to hand out at BlogHer ’10, she gave out kazoos with her blog information. Anyways, today she posted this meme – answer eight questions from the person who tags you, then provide eight new questions for eight people you tag. Fun, right??
Given that I am one giant stress ball these days, writer’s block managed to creep in over the past couple weeks. Thank goodness for a meme – and a fun one at that!
Elly’s questions for me and seven others:
- How many tennis balls can you fit in your mouth? Half of one. I have a small mouth and a strong gag reflex. No smart remarks, please.
- Do you have a recurring doodle that you always scribble in meetings? Roses. I learned to draw roses in a particular way when I was quite young and when bored, I will start to doodle one without thinking about it much.
- If you could have any pet, what would it be and what would you name it? Um, another cat? Please? Been holding onto the name Sebastian for a male kitty for what seems like forever.
- Do these shoes make my feet look ginormous? You are tall, Elly, so I am guessing your feet are big no matter what shoes you wear. (Aren’t I nice?)
- Can you put your foot on your own head? Yes. Although dropping the 20 pounds I have accumulated over the past few months would make it quite a bit easier.
- What’s your favorite acronym? RSS. Only because I learned how simple syndication can really be today – Really Simple Syndication.
- If you could be a character from a John Hughes film, who would you be? A female Ferris Bueller. Like if the young woman Ed Rooney feels up in the sports bar was the main character instead of Matthew Broderick. Yeah, I love Chicago.
- If you were a food item, would you rather be packaged in shrink wrap or a tin can? Tin can. Who knows what nasty chemicals are hiding in shrink wrap…
My questions for anyone who would like to play along, though I shall tag eight bloggers at the end of this post:
- Does Daylight Savings Time make sense to you?
- Tell me about the first time you surfed the World Wide Web, estimating the year in which your world expanded (for better or for worse).
- Do you even bother watching the television news or reading a newspaper anymore?
- What are you reading right now?
- What interests you more – history or literature?
- What is one place you have visited (but never lived) that you go back to again and again – in other words, your happy place?
- Do clowns creep you out? If not, what seemingly harmless person, place, or thing does creep you out?
- What’s love got to do with it?
The following women bloggers are tagged. No obligation to answer the questions I carefully crafted to reach across the demographics of the blogs I read. I swear. No, really. (Oh look, a voodoo doll!)
Becky at Tales of Princess Mikkimoto
Jacquie at Typical Type 1
@jenndola at Like Swimming
Kerri at Six Until Me
Lauren at mommy is rock n roll
- It took two hours to get from LaGuardia to the Hilton. Yeah, yeah, traffic, other tourists going to other hotels, whatever. It certainly did not help that the shuttle driver stopped for gas along the way and also asked us, the tourists, for directions to our hotels. (Between that and the fact my return shuttle showed up late enough for me to take a cab instead, I now know why $31 round-trip is not worth the trouble. Next time, I will be cabbing it.)
- No shame in wearing a tutu in the middle of Central Park. For a good cause, of course.
- Flat Jasmine enjoyed herself in Manhattan and at BlogHer’10, glad to keep running into @PoppyBuxom and @blackbird17 everywhere. Smoking area, parties, even the elevators…
- Yes, it’s true. I growled every time I stepped in the television-equipped Hilton elevators and saw a diabetes commercial on CNN, as I am not a fan of how much television advertising for my condition is out there. Just ask Julia.
- I am not sure, but I *think* Dick Cheney was hunting liberals in front of Fox News on Saturday morning. Julia and I fled quickly. (Seriously, the set looked like rural Wisconsin during gun hunting season for deer.)
- Now I know better. It is Tiffany & Co., not Tiffany’s. Unless you refer to the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Thank you for the grammar lesson, Julia.)
- The Humor Blogging panel was, well, hilarious. I noticed that the line to see Jessica Bern afterwards was quite a big longer than that for Lizz Winstead. Oh, how we bloggers support our own.
- Seeing the artist at work at the arts & crafts private party put on by Eden Fantasys. Lee Ann seemed at home decorating her unmentionable sex toy. Overheard at the same party from a certain someone else, “this is making me hungry”. I didn’t dare ask what exactly she was hungry for.
- I joined a conga line behind a cutout of Barack Obama and stole the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off movie poster at Sparklecorn. Yeah, that party would have rocked my socks off if I had been wearing any.
- To cap off my New York City experience, some guy came up to me in Central Park on Sunday morning and told me “nice rack”. Needless to say, I am already planning my next trip to the city.