Sunday, January 22, 2012

Red Oak Lane

Over the years I have had many blogs and I have abandoned them all.  I didn't know how to find readers or I got busy with other things or I just didn't feel like I had anything worth putting out there for anyone else to read...

About two years ago my friends from work convinced me to read a couple of blogs.  I got hooked on them.  I decided to try again.  I thought it could be a writing exercise.  I could write about our life or being a mom or living through "the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression".  I had no idea what to call the blog and to be completely honest, I figured it would be another blog that I would why really get caught up in what I called it? fingers were itching to type a post.  Our Life in Words was the first thing that came to my mind and I went with it...clicking through to write that first post.

I never would have thought that I would still be at it almost two years later, but I was.  I still didn't like the name Our Life in Words and so I started to think about what my blog was about.  We homeschool, yes, but this is only our second year and I am far from an expert on homeschooling; I am still feeling my way half the time.  I like to decorate and make our house a home, but quite honestly I am happy with the way our house looks now; if I had started this 8 or 9 years ago when we moved here, I would have tons of posts, but today I am more about eliminating clutter and not adding to it.  I like to cook, but as I have shared before, I have an eating disorder and I need to steer clear of food-focused blogs.  I love to read blog posts about intentional living, finding joy, and making the most of every day.  I love mom blogs and blogs about the joys and problems of parenting.  I find that I connect with bloggers over shared values and interests.  My interest in photography has grown and my blog has become a place to chronicle our family's story with words and photos...and a place to chronicle my journey as a woman and a mother.  I decided that I wanted my blog to sound like it was a cozy home on a quiet road, a place where you could visit and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and share what was on your mind and listen to what was on mine.

I changed the name to Magnolia Lane for so many reasons.  A tree planted in a house we used to live in, the fragrance of the sweet bay magnolia that would fill my yard for two months each spring, my husband's love of trees, my love of that particular tree...and what sounded like a beautiful cozy place to chat.

I changed the url on my blog.  I had decided not to pay for blog hosting, but I knew that if you DID pay they could redirect your url and I thought I could figure it out on my own.  But I couldn't.  I had issues that Blogger, Linkwithin, Disqus and Feedburner could not work out.  Their suggestion was to export all posts and import them to a new url.

A daunting task.

At the same time there were some things going on.  I received some comments that made me feel a bit... defensive.  I also had statcounter installed on my blog and I had a reader who would visit my blog frequently and never leave comments.  I started to question why.  Additionally there was someone with whom I was fairly close with at one time - but who caused quite a bit of drama in our family - who was visiting my blog frequently, posted one of my personal emails on their blog, and made threats to me and others on their blog.

I don't like drama.  There was a time in my life when I let myself get sucked in, but as I have gotten older, I have learned that I am better off without it.  My blog seemed to be creating drama in my life and there were many nights that I went to bed thinking I was just going to shut the whole thing down or make my blog private.  Why put so much of myself out there for criticism?  Or perceived criticism?  Or so that someone can trample all over it?  Or read my blog daily, yet make the cross country trip to where we live several times and never once let us know until after the fact?  I didn't want to share more of my heart and soul just to have people criticize it...or make fun of it...or judge it...or judge me and my family...or criticize us...or ridicule us...

But there have also been many wonderful women that I have met as a result of this blog.  Women that I would never have otherwise met.  Women who are my friends.  Women whom I call on the phone or email or, if they live close enough, meet for lunch.  Blogging has made the world smaller.  I have grown as a woman, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a photographer, a cook, a decorator, a crafter...all because of blogging.

I started to question the time commitment.  Did I spend too much time thinking about posts, writing posts, editing posts, editing photos... Was this a worthwhile use of my time?  Were there other better things I could be doing with my time?  I talked it over with Jason and his advice was,
"We tell the girls to pursue their interests, we need to be an example of that.  We need to show them that you can make progress if you keep at something.  You are learning and building and growing as a result of blogging and that teaches the girls a valuable lesson." 
 Indeed for me blogging has not just been writing posts, but learning html and working at photography and photo editing.  It is learning about SEO and graphics programs, building an on-line community.  Many years ago, a good friend who works for Homeland Security told me that I should get on Myspace (or whatever social networking platform was popular) so that I understood it for when my girls got there, so that I knew how to safeguard them.

All of that seemed valid and valuable to me, so I decided to change the url once again.  This time to Red Oak Lane.  We chose the name because the Red Oak is our state tree, because my husband loves trees and because Oaks are the species of tree that are being planted on the big project hubby is on ;-)  And Lane to me just sounds quaint and cozy.

So there you have it:  Why I blog.  Where the name Red Oak Lane came from.  Why I think statcounter can be counterproductive sometimes.  Why I was blocked.  Why I never redirected Magnolia Lane.