Blogging

Why Do We Blog?


So, go on then. Why do we blog?

When I started blogging all those years ago it was because I was going through an extremely dark phase of my life and I was introduced to the idea of keeping some sort of journal to keep track of what was happening to me and how it all made me feel.

I began a blog with the site that came with my Hotmail account and my posts were very “urgh, had another bad day today”. I didn’t really intend anyone to read them and they were more of a personal record of feelings more than anything. I didn’t know much about writing online and I know that not many people read my stuff so it didn’t really matter what I wrote or how often I posted.

Then the Hotmail site announced it was going to be closing and offered to migrate all our blogs over to WordPress. That timing coincided with the start of another new phase in my life where I felt I needed to challenge myself and so when I started the Mushy Cloud here on WordPress I committed to writing  a blog post every day for a year.

It was not as easy as I thought it was going to be, but I did it. A whole year of blogging!

I did find that some days were easier than others and content came to me quite naturally but other days, crikey, they were hard. I moved away from the personal stuff and began to look for content that interested me and so I began to write thoughts for the day, or share bits of poetry and “on this day in history” type of stuff, and I loved it. It was exhausting, but satisfying to get to the end of the year without having missed a single day of posting content.

After that particular challenge I decided to pare it back a bit, but I had the bug for writing and when I restarted my studies with the Open University in 2013 I was keen to build on it. Ironically, as I began to study the art of creative writing, my public writing on the Mushy Cloud tailed off a bit and towards the middle of last year I sort of lost my way a little. I had gained my bachelors degree in the summer of 2016 but even so, my writing mojo had gone.

I then started studying for my Masters degree in September last year and this Christmas I decided to re-challenge myself to post something every day for as long as I could as a way of making sure I did some sort of writing at least once a day. It was a way to discipline myself and to focus my thoughts on what I was studying – warm up exercises if you like.

But something happened, and I rather like it. I began posting in January and by the end of the first week I thought to myself that I would never find enough content to write something every day and I thought I might pare it back again to just once or twice a week. But I know myself, and I realised that if I only committed to once or twice a week I would either forget to do it, or I would find another excuse not to do it at all. And so I pushed through and made it to the end of January.

I had another rethink and thought, well, I’ve done a whole month, that’s enough to say I have met my challenge of writing every day and so time to stop now. But again, something happened. I had revisited some of my favourite memes and blog-hop sites from when I was fervently blogging before and I picked up some lapsed online friendships and I realised that I had missed them. There are genuine people out there with whom I have a genuine connection, who care about me and who I care about in return, and I had missed that online connection.

Now that we are well into February I have still not failed to post each day, but more than that, I am finding that my daily writing exercises are getting easier (not published online), and I am deepening those online relationships with people through blogging. And it’s great!

I had forgotten that pull of online friendships, with like-minded people who like to share things from their corner of the world with me and I am keen that all this continues. I draw strength and support from reaching out to people online and it helps me with my “real life” reaching out.

I admit that some days I do “cheat” a little and post just a picture, or a thought, or something quick and easy. But I try to make up for it with meatier stuff later on when I have more time.

So, that’s why I blog – it is somewhere to share thoughts with online friends, it helps with my daily discipline of writing and it is a way to meet a personal challenge of putting myself “out there”. Why do you do it? I know there are people who share aspects of their lives on here that I find invaluable and they draw strength and support just as I do, but I would love to hear what motivates them to do it. Is it like me, that sometimes you just need that quasi-anonymous relationship that is conducted through your screen? Or is it something else? Drop me a comment and let me know.

Happy blogging!!

 

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General/Journal

A Friday View


It’s been another mixed day today so I thought I’d share a few photos with you.

First, my daughter’s car. It’s a lovely little car, almost a year old now, and perfect for her to run around in to work and the gym and so on. I quite like it myself to be honest, especially all the automated features like windscreen wipers that come on on their own when rain is detected. Or the medianav device that connects to my phone so I can listen to my own music without trailing wires all over the place.

One thing it is NOT good art its opening the bonnet to replace the screen wash. Exhibit A…. my dad helping me work the stupid bonnet out and filling the stupid water bottle.

Next, this headline in the newspaper today: Music is good for dementia, which is great news for most of the people I know because we enjoy so much music we have got a huge pool to choose from in later years in case we need it to keep our little grey cells working.

Now, like every good story arc, there has to be an element of tragedy, or disaster, or downright nastiness. My next picture shows a group of youngsters attacking not one, but TWO buses near home this evening.

These kids were goading the drivers and trying to damage the vehicles. The drivers had it well in hand, but even so, it saddens me to think that this is what passes for entertainment for kids like this.

And finally, the best bit of the day, my other band room – Todmorden Community Brass Band. This its the band I conduct on a Friday and where my poor husband gets a load of stick from me as he sits on the top chair as Principal Cornet.


We are currently in our post Christmas spell and we are looking at potential pieces to play in our forthcoming anniversary concert so and over the summer for our outdoor gigs in and around the local area.

So that’s a little peek at my Friday this week. I also did some studying and some work for church but I didn’t take photos of that. I could perhaps share with you a little something I watched as part of my studies if you like?

Go on then. Here’s a bit of Laurel and Hardy from 1928. I hope you enjoy it.

Blogging, Daybook

Daybook Entry – 9th January 2018


For Today 9th January 2018

Looking out my window… I can see the frost on the ground that has still not disappeared from this morning.

I am thinking…that sometimes, it’s the small things that affect us more than the big ones. For example, the papercut on my finger is distracting me beyond measure, yet the sore throat that I thought I had got rid of with antibiotics is now about half-way developed again and until I try to speak or swallow, it is not bothering me at all. And still, that papercut is making me feel utterly miserable.

I am thankful… for the easy access we have to medicine in our world. I know there are places on earth that don’t have ready access to even the basic medical care, so for those people, the throat infection I have had might have proved to bring a totally different outcome than the one I had.

One of my favourite things… is hitting on a great story idea and starting to plan out the characters and plot points to tell it properly. One of my least favourite is editing it once it has been written. Feels so much like destruction for a while, and then it gets creative again, but that initial destruction of an idea is one of my least favourite parts to writing.

I am creating… I made myself a long, chunky scarf a couple of weeks ago and I am trying to create a hat to match it. I am on for my fourth attempt so far (completed and undone to save yarn) and I am still not happy with it. The colours are great, but I just can’t get the right shape of hat. It’ll come!

I am wearing… warm clothes today. It’s not that cold outside, but as I’m still under the weather a little, I am feeling chilly in my bones.

I am reading … “Origin” by Dan Brown. I started it last week but I haven’t really been in the mood for reading since, and I am still only about three-quarters of the way through it. I will do a proper book review when I’ve finished it.

I am praying… for a tiny baby born too small for his gestational age and who is facing some complex health issues; for an old friend who has to face a serious operation in the next few days.

I am learning… to take care of my health. Not easy because I don’t like to say “no” to things, and because I have a tendency to push through things just so I can keep going. I have learned particularly over Christmas that that is not always possible – or advisable.

In my kitchen… we are “budget cooking” at the moment, and the challenge is on to find nutritious and filling yet inexpensive meals for the family. We are eating a lot of inexpensive protein, such as grains and pulses, which turns out to be a bit healthier too. Win win!

Post Script… You may already have a prayer pattern which you use daily, but if you haven’t or are perhaps looking for something different, why not give this a go? It is the Examen prayer as defined by St Ignatius of Loyola and is something I have used quite a bit and I find it useful when prayer is difficult.

St Ignatius of Loyola

Shared Quote… “The beginning is always today.” Mary Shelley

A moment from my day… Just your average Grandma playing about with your daughter’s Navy uniform…

Closing Notes… I am struck again by the valuable contact that I have through the people who come and read my blog. Thank you all for making yourselves known to me and for our conversation and debate we strike up online. Social media has such a bad reputation, but when I make contact with friends through my blog I am minded that we shouldn’t just take a reputation blindly, and be thankful for those times we buck the trend.

 

 

I like to do the Daybook entry now and again, and it is hosted by Peggy at http://thesimplewoman.blogspot.com. Please hop along and have a go yourself if you’d like to link up with her.

Blogging, Daybook

Daybook Entry – 4th November 2017


FOR TODAY 4th November 2017

Outside my window… the night sky is alight with fireworks and bonfires. It’s that time of year again!

I am thinking… that I’m glad I had my hair cut last week (professionally this time) but I am going to have to keep straightening it until it grows a bit and the curls drop out a little.

I am thankful… for my two wonderful children who have grown up to be such wonderful young adults.

In the kitchen… a new recipe of mine which I have perfected over the last couple of times of trying it, we had pearl barley risotto with chicken and mushrooms. Delish!

I am wearing… grey and blue. Not a reflection of my mood, thankfully.

I am creating… lots of stories! I am about 6 weeks into my Masters degree work and I have got short stories and flash fiction coming out of my ears at the minute. I am loving the creativity of writing, and of finding characters who speak to me so I can tell their stories. I will post some on here, but I have to be careful that I don’t share something which I am going to use as an assignment later or on else I could be caught out by the anti-plagiarism rules with the OU.

I am going… to go for a walk in Heaton Park tomorrow afternoon. Pictures to follow.

I am reading… “Rather Be The Devil” by Ian Rankin for fun, but oodles and oodles of other stuff for my Masters. I’m developing a bit of a crush on Victorian gothic horror at the minute which started out as research but is now turning into entertainment .

I am watching… “I know who you are”, which is a Spanish crime thriller shown on the BBC over the summer. I discovered it yesterday and I am hooked. It is the story of a lawyer who is accused of murder but who has lost his memory of any events before the alleged murder. It is in Spanish with English subtitles, so it needs some concentration (ie, no crocheting or Candy Crush while it is on!) but it is well worth it. Again, something I started to watch for research purposes but is turning out to be an entertainment piece too.

I am praying… in thanks for the safe delivery of a friend’s new baby, for the safe delivery of another friend’s baby in a couple of weeks and for the safe gestation for another friend who has had two heartbreaks in the last year. God is everywhere in creation, and for that I give thanks.

I am wondering… how I am going to get through the next 8 weeks until Christmas. As ever, the family calendar is FULL and if I don’t count studying, I have got 5 days between now and Boxing Day where I am not committed to something or other. I always go through this wobble around this time of year and I have never come unstuck before, but nevertheless, the next couple of months are going to be busy.

I am looking forward to… Boxing Day…!

From the boardroom…I really want to make these this year.

DIY ~~ making string ornaments.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/456974693425566704/

 

I am hoping… Ethan and Megan are having a good time in Scotland this weekend.

I am learning… that I am stronger than I think I am.

Around the house… things are very quiet for a change. It’s weird.

I am pondering… how to present a discussion for my BAP* in a couple of weeks.

A favourite quote for today…

“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, you are listening” – Lisa M Hayes

One of my favourite things… is a book and brew in bed before sleep.

A few plans for the rest of the week: church tomorrow, Stay and Play then a pre-BAP meeting in the afternoon then band on Monday, band again Wednesday, Study group Thursday, praying at a funeral on Friday, band Friday night, then Messy Church on Saturday. Yes, it’s a tad busy this week!

A peek into my day…

I sit next to Gareth in band, and this is his “unique” way of keeping his music tidy during rehearsals *ahem*

Postscript:

*BAP – Bishop’s Advisory Panel. This is the 3-day selection panel where my suitability for ordination training is assessed and decided. I will be attending BAP at the end of November and there’s a bit of preparation to do before I go, including (and not limited to) booking my train tickets and deciding on how to invite a discussion around one of the church’s marks of mission.

Blogging, Daybook

January Daybook


simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 11th January 2017

Looking out my window… I can see clear blue skies, but I can hear the wind howling and there is a storm on its way.

I am thinking… I might cook cheesy bacon pasta for tea tonight.

I am thankful… that mental health in young people is taken seriously.

One of my favourite things… is driving with my son to band practice and having a natter about all sorts of things, both big and small.

I am creating… this little beauty. I began it during the evening on Boxing Day (for my non-UK readers, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day) and it is going to be used when we go away in our caravan this summer.

Rectangle blanket based on the traditional "granny" stitch, using rainbow colours. Three repeats of the individual colours followed by three rows of each colour afterwards. Just starting the blue three now and hopefully will finish it this weekend.
Rectangle blanket based on the traditional “granny” stitch, using rainbow colours. Three repeats of the individual colours followed by three rows of each colour afterwards. Just starting the blue three now and hopefully will finish it this weekend.

I am wearing… layers, layers and layers today. The heating is on but I’m bone-cold.

I am reading… “The Coroner (Coroner: Jenny Cooper Series)” by M R Hall

I am watching… The BDO World Championships on TV this week. I love watching the darts, and the BDO suits me because it is not as high-powered or glitzy as the PDC competitions. Darts are good to crochet to as I can listen and only half watch the TV as I’m concentrating on the yarn in my hands.

I have been listening to… Pemberton Old Band rehearsing for a competition this weekend in Skegness. My son plays bass trombone for them and I sometimes give him a lift to rehearsals. I have enjoyed the experience of being a groupie rather than a player since he started playing with them, and it makes a refreshing change for me to hear a piece of music being crafted into a performance piece to contest level by a band of this calibre. They are in the First Section (one level down from the Championship Section but working on their way back up) and they are a level above where I played with Middleton Band before I stopped playing.

I am hoping… my brother recovers quickly from his surgery yesterday.

I am learning… to trust my instinct.

In my kitchen… I have been making the effort to cook proper meals from scratch. We have a limited food budget and sometimes it can be a challenge to eat healthily all the time, and I have been enjoying the challenge of finding recipes and dishes that we can eat to fill us up, fill us up healthily, fill us up healthily and inexpensively.

Board room… we are looking at the story of Jonah and the Whale for our next Messy Church and I really want to do this activity with the children:

Post Script: I found this site (Strategies for dealing with change) when I was looking for something to help someone I love who is going through some really difficult, anxious times. I found this picture, and thought it would be great to share with you too. Please visit the host site for more like this.

 

Shared Quote…
strong-roots

Closing Notes… I began this post this morning, about 12 hours ago (which is why I said the sky is clear blue and not the midnight black it is now) and today has been another one that has been packed with drama, fun, music, family, planning, crafting and laughter. I thank God that my life is so varied and that it is filled with so many people who stimulate me in so many different ways. I have to say that being a mum is challenging at the minute, and I trust God to see us through the particular storm we are weathering just now. I am grateful to my friends who visited today too – a bit of a giggle and a chat with people you love goes a long way to making things feel better! And music. Ah music. Where would I be without you? Laughing with Ethan and Megan in the car going to band rehearsal tonight and having fun finding music that we all like. Fortunately all three of us have similar musical taste and we enjoyed a great 45 minutes each way listening to all sorts of stuff, from First Class’ “Beach Baby”, to the cast recording of songs from “Sweet Charity”, by way of Glen Campbell and his “Rhinestone Cowboy” (with alternative words, courtesy of yours truly) and a bit of “Hairspray” to finish with. You definitely can’t stop the beat if you’re travelling with the Pamster at the minute!

 

 

Blogging

Love and Loss


angelOver two days this week I have been involved in four funerals. When I say “involved” I mean that I have provided the music for one, delivered the eulogy and address at one, supported a friend who was delivering his first eulogy at another, and at one to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of a friend. It might seem that to go to four funerals in two days is a bit much, but to be honest, I found those two days a journey of personal and spiritual growth, and I have learned more about myself and the relationships I have with people around me after reflecting on the lives of the four people I said farewell to.

For the first funeral (Wednesday), my role was to play the music during the funeral of Daniel*. He was an elderly gentleman whose family had chosen to have a church service and burial, and his funeral was attended by lots of family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. He was a big Blue (a big Manchester City fan in case you didn’t know) and he was brought into church to the beautiful singing of Mel Torme and “Blue Moon”. In the congregation was Fred Eyre who used to play for City and who now provides match commentary on Radio Manchester. The tributes were read by Daniel’s friend, and by an 11 year old little girl, who lived next door to him. It was very moving to hear an 11 year old child speak about the gentle giant that Daniel was, and she brought me to tears with her emotional speech.

On Thursday morning I attended three services at the crematorium, one in each of the three chapels there. I had the privilege of giving my very first funeral address. It was for William*, who had died in October and whose family were unable to organise the funeral for him. I did manage to speak to a couple of people who knew William and I learned a little of his life and the manner of his death, and I drew on that information and the gospel message to be able to write an address for him. I didn’t expect many family members to be present, but as it turned out there were about 50 people there to hear the funeral service and to mourn William’s passing.

Straight after William’s funeral was the service for George*. My role was two-fold, first to be a support for my friend Nick, who was also delivering his first funeral address, and also to be a mourner for George who had only two distant family members there for him.

After George’s service was the funeral of one of my own friends, Bryce. He was a cornet player and involved in many brass bands over the years so the chapel was full to the brim, with standing room only at the back and down the sides. I estimated over 200 people were there for him today, and the tributes were rich and emotional, moving and joyful. The band played “Nimrod” as a piece of reflection music, which again was very moving, and there were lots of tears shed at the very end when Bryce’s own cornet playing was relayed to the gathering in a recording he made about 18 months ago of “Ave Maria”.

So, four very different funerals. Four very different people, and four different views of death and saying goodbye to them. When I look at them as a group of four, I see the differences that life throws up to us. One man drew a couple of hundred mourners, another drew just two; one man’s family had split down the middle and didn’t really know about each other – not because of any argument but by a simple drifting apart and not speaking to each other; one man had no family to even fall out with and was truly alone in the world.

The differences go on and on, but it’s the similarities that strike me.

All four men at some point in their lives had met with hardship and struggle. With health, with learning difficulties, with failed marriages, with family splits. They had all loved and lost in one form or another, and yet they still managed to survive into later years, to about 70-80 years old each.

Another similarity is that they were all loved. Love is love, and to me it doesn’t matter whether there are just a couple of family members and “staff” from the local church to mourn you, or whether there are 200 people and a big brass band gathered to send you off, the fact is that these men were all loved and were mourned.

But it’s not just love that we understand in human terms that these men experienced, they are loved by God our father who loves us all, no matter how lost or broken we may feel, or how messy and chaotic our lives may be, or how we view ourselves as failures and so on. The love that sustained these four men sustains us all too, and we all have the promise of resurrection in glory at the end of days.

Death is a great leveller, and I realised on Thursday that no matter what our life’s achievements are or what may try to accumulate in material wealth, we all end our days on earth here the same way.

 

*Names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the individuals concerned.

Blogging

Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…

new_year_meme

A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

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A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.