Fellow Blogger – ME!!!!

Fellow-BloggerAlthough for a greater part of this past week, I have felt like two different people, rather than interviewing myself, the Diva has kindly stepped in to take my place this evening. 😀 Any references you may have about my sanity (or lack thereof) can be addressed in the comments 😉

Hi Suz, welcome to my couch. I’ve been looking forward to interviewing you all month. You have some really hard acts to follow after the talent that has been here before you, you know.  There was this one guy that threatened to bring his dog you know. Anyway, tell me though, what drew you to begin blogging?

Hmmmmm. Well initially I began blogging as a platform for the book I was writing on depression although as the months have gone, I’ve discovered that I really, really like writing and sharing my words with others. It’s been satisfying to find that people enjoy what I write. (And it’s great for the ego 😀 )

You know if your head got any bigger, it would have its own postcode don’t you?

Don’t be like that. That’s not very nice. People won’t like you if you’re nasty you know.

*sigh* If you say so but I’m a cat so I don’t really care. I know you want to say more, so tell me how long you have been blogging?

I actually had a Blogger blog for some years a while ago when the children were a lot younger and I was designing Digital Scrapbooking kits for sale in a couple of U.S. stores. My blog then was a mix of anecdotes and advertising of my designs. When I started working in the disability sector, my time became very limited so I printed off all of my blogs and closed down my site. I began my WordPress Blog in August after I returned from the Hay House Writer’s Workshop in Melbourne. That was in August 2013.

So you’re not new to blogging at all?

No. Although I really didn’t have the readership and following that I do now. There is a lot more interaction with others in WordPress and I love it.

Will you please stop butting in? I’ve got an interview to run here. Does this blog of yours have any particular theme?

When I began I wanted to write about depression and recovering from that. It was something that was very relevant at the time with the GG going through tough times and me having been there before and still having occasional lapses. However, things evolved and my blog became about being honest with yourself and looking for the beauty in the every day. Then I felt compelled to write about grief and loss and miscarriage. There are many things I write about really so I guess I have no particular theme apart from remaining positive and living life to the fullest.

Well we can all do with a bit of positivity in our lives that’s for sure. I’m positive that you’re going to feed me tonight.
What about challenges? Do you have challenges in your life that you blog about?
You know cats don’t have challenges right? Oh, apart from working out how to get to that canary you got for Christmas.

My life sometimes seems like one long challenge. This week has been pretty rough and I’ve stepped away from the computer because of it. I asked my boss today why it was one thing after another and she replied “Because when you get over this bump you have something else that you can write about and help people with”. I guess that’s one way of looking at it hey? I’ve said it a million times – “Blogging is the best (and cheapest) form of therapy”.

You’ve probably said it more than that you know!! 🙂 I know because I hear it.
Anyway, how often do you blog? You always seem to be in the computer room.

When I’m on a roll, I try to blog about three times a day (roughly every 8 hours) however lately it’s only been about once a day. The Fellow Blogger series ends this evening with moi but I will consider running it weekly after this. I still have two love languages (as defined by Gary Chapman) to blog about also.

Three times a day is heaps you know. That time could be spent laying behind the curtain in the sun.

Yes. I will admit that it gets a bit much sometimes but I have so much to say at times…

Like right now you mean…..

Oh be quiet.

No. I still have more questions to ask. Like, where do you get your inspiration for your posts?

Wow. Like so many others, I find my inspiration from everywhere. Conversations with colleagues, what is happening in my life right now, what I see outside my window…. really the list is endless. Sometimes I read something on another person’s blog that clicks on that little light bulb in my head and I think ‘aha’. I have a large notebook with scribbled thoughts in it that I turn to when I’m lost. Or, I find a quote that I love and create a piece of digital art and then I write about that. I’m thinking of doing a book with my digital art quotes and my thoughts.

Yeh, yeh…. so the next question you want me to ask is “Have you gained anything through blogging”?

I’ve gained heaps. I have discovered that in this big wide world of ours there are people out there just like me. People who love and laugh and have difficulties in life but pull themselves up and determine to carry on. I’ve gained some friends. And I’ve gained greater self -esteem.

Sounds great. I know you’ve been collecting some of the quotes that other bloggers have been sharing with you but do you have a favourite quote?

Do you really need to ask that?

Well yeh! Because you put it in the questions.

Yes. There is one quote that has got me through some really tough times (and believe me there have been a lot of them over the years).

In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: It goes on – Robert Frost

I’ve learned that life indeed does go on. Each day the sun comes up again and it is filled with the promise of a new day. Each day is an unblemished canvas. And as long as you are still breathing – life goes on. It might feel as if the air has been crushed from you and there is nothing but darkness ahead but this is fleeting and you will emerge stronger for having endured what you have.

Sounds as if you know what you are talking about.

Funnily enough – yes I do.

The GG complains you are on the computer all the time and surely you aren’t spending all of that time writing, so you obviously read other blogs. What draws you to those other blogs?

I follow an awful lot of blogs and each is unique in their own way. I have diverse interests so many of the blogs I follow aren’t just about serious issues but also about craft, writing, poetry or photography. I follow the blogs of fellow Aussies and I also follow blogs that deal with depression, mental illness or grief. I’m drawn to bloggers who are honest and say what they think. I love blogs that are positive and share great stories or hope for the future.

I love great writing as well and of course I love to laugh!

Okay, okay – sheesh you’re long winded. I’ve had enough and I want to go and eat. Have you put anything in my bowl yet or do I have to nag again tonight? Do you have anything else to say before you vacuum the couch and get my food out of the cupboard?

You know you can be really quite rude at times. I don’t know how I put up with you.

You love me ’cause I’m cute.

Whatever!
What I would like to say is that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know so many of you and learning about you and your blogs. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m hoping to run this maybe as a weekly thing from now on so if anyone is interested, please email me and I’ll get back to you. Blogging has given me so much….

I’m getting hungry……

As I was saying, blogging has given me so much pleasure and it is a pleasure to be able to share with you all also. So thanks.

Have you finished now? Great!! I’m starving.

Fellow Blogger – Ned from Ned’s Blog

Fellow-BloggerJoining me tonight is Jurnalist extraordinaire Ned Hickson from Ned’s Blog. To say that I look forward to posts from this man is an understatement. I love his writing and his sense of humour. Ned writes on his About page that he is an editor and humour columnist for the Siuslaw News in Oregon. He has held a few jobs in his life but his latest as a syndicated columnist is the one he loves the most and feels right at home in doing. Ned has several weekly posts such as The Box where he lets loose “Skippy” the blindfolded, rabid squirrel to choose an old photo from the box for Ned to use his Sherlock Holmes skill on deducing what the photo is all about. Each Sunday (or is it Saturday?) Ned also writes a column called My nickel’s worth on writing with tips and tricks for fellow writers. Apart from his writing tips, his posts are all written with a grain of salt and always elicit a laugh from moi. An example of this is An observation of my fridge. Ned has featured on Freshly Pressed and also has a book currently on sale “Humor at the Speed of Life“.

Well Ned, welcome. I’ve been looking forward to having you here on the couch to discuss your blog and what blogging is to you. Tell me what drew you to blogging?

I had been hearing about blogging for a several years and, because I am savvy when it comes to all social and technological trends, I immediately assumed it was a network of swingers. Eventually, a friend explained to me what a blog is, and that “everyone” had their own blog. To prove his point, he showed me my Labrador’s blog, StanleySits. That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own blog. If for no other reason than to deny some of Stanley’s accusations about never getting table scraps. 

Okay, that’s not entirely true. But I’m not going to help Stanley promote his blog by revealing its real name. Let him get his own interview for that. 

I was also drawn to blogging because, as a columnist, I saw it as a way to connect with readers in ways I can’t through newspapers. Being able to post something and have the chance to instantly communicate with people about it is one of the things I enjoy most about blogging. I have also been able to discover some terrific writers who I now call friends with the understanding that I never call them directly.

Hmmmm okay. I can understand the whole thing about making friends but I’m a little scared about your admission that they don’t want you calling them. So how long have you been actually blogging?

I began blogging almost two years ago, when I set a goal of having a site established by my 45th birthday.This was important because I would still technically be younger than Stanley at least in dog years. I ended up launching my blog in June of 2012, two months before my birthday deadline. That August, the week of my birthday, I was Freshly Pressed for the first time. I didn’t know what that meant and assumed it had something to do with free dry cleaning for a month.

*Sue spits out mouthful of water*. Ahhh a fellow Leo! Very cool. Sorry that the dry cleaning gig didn’t pan out for you but Freshly Pressed is pretty cool as well in its own way 😀 Apart from the obvious use of humour, does your blog have a particular theme?

I write a weekly syndicated humor column, so the blog is an extension of that. At the same time, it’s also an outlet or maybe “clearing house” is a better term for things in my mind that don’t fit the newspaper format. For example, there are weekly features on my blog This Just In (random snippets of irrelevance from out newsroom), The Box (when I use my “investigative journalism skills” to randomly “identify” weird, unclaimed photos dating back to the 1980s), and Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing (writing tips gleaned from 15 years as a columnist. No, really) that I probably wouldn’t have pursued had it not been for the freedom of the blog format. Sorry about that.

Apology not accepted because we all love it 😉 Like you, I agree that there is a certain freedom in the blogging format. Although you write for a living, do you believe that you have gained anything from your blogging?

Aside from tangible examples, like more readers and an opportunity to promote my book in ways I could never do in newspapers, blogging provides an intangible creative writing spark on a daily basis. That spark can come from reading someone else’s blog; responding to, or leaving, a comment; and the chance to occasionally be a guest contributor on someone else’s blog. In addition to meeting new writers and readers, guest blogging offers a chance to write on subjects I may not have otherwise written about. In the case of Black Box Warnings or Thoughts of a Lunatic, the subjects were more serious and forced me to write outside of my comfort zone which was a great experience. Pushing your comfort zone means expanding as a writer. Except without the weight gain.

Bite your tongue. We do not gain weight – we redistribute the areas of our brain to other parts of our body! 😉 Given that you don’t appear to have gained too much weight, how often do you blog?

I post four times a week, three of which are regular weekly features. The fourth is whatever happens to pop into my head. You’ll know when that is because you’ll literally hear a loud “POP.”

I’m so pleased you explained what that noise was as I was thinking I was going to have to see my doctor about that! 😉 I guess it would be hard to find inspiration for you writing so where do you look for that?

Everywhere. Working at a newspaper as a columnist and journalist, the news is always happening around me. I’m also a happily married father of four, which means sometimes we ARE the news. I’m also a volunteer firefighter. Between life in general, my job, my family and firefighting, I’m pretty set on material. I also keep a folder of ideas that I turn to on occasion. Sometimes it’s just a scribbled note, other times it’s a news story I printed up or maybe a photo, but I look through my folder and it almost always gives me an idea. Because of these ideas, my editor would really like to burn this folder if she could find it. But she never will because I keep it in her “In” box, which she never touches.

Congratulations on remaining happily married with four children! That’s terrific. I like your idea of keeping a folder of ideas. Many people have a particular quote or mantra that is important to them. Do you have one that you’d like to share?

When I was in my 20s, I used to carry a Daytimer with me everywhere. I was a chef then, and traveling a lot, opening restaurants for Morrison, Inc. But on days off, I wrote short stories and submitted them. To not lose focus of my dream, I wrote this mantra and put it on the front of my Daytimer:

 

A life spent in pursuit of what can be is better than a life spent pursuing what could have been.         

 

It took 10 years, but I’m finally pursuing what can be.

Good for you. The fact that you finally achieved your dream is inspirational. And your quote is awesome. I don’t suppose you get much time to read other blogs but when you do, what draws you in?

One of the great things about the blogging world is its diversity. I love photography, all kinds of writing, art, travel and there are bloggers on every subject. What draws me to a particular blog are 1) The Gravitar: It’s my first impression. If it’s interesting or creative, the better the chance I’ll go there. 2) Titles of posts: If they are well worded, funny or creative, I’m hooked. 3) About: When I visit a blog, the first thing I check out is the “About” page, even before I read any posts. I usually gain some insight about the person, which often times adds more to the post. 4) Coffee gift cards: I will skip steps 1-3 if it means free coffee.

Well Ned, it’s been wonderful chatting with you. I have to go and add a coffee gift card to my About page right now. Before I do, is there anything else you’d like to share?

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the chance to be here on your couch, especially before my dog. It’s nice to get up for once and not be covered in brown fur. From my dog I mean; I’m actually not very hairy.

It’s true, you beat your dog to the couch but unfortunately those grey hairs you need to brush from your trousers belong to my cat – Sorry 😀

By the way – she said to tell you that she loves your book. It’s something she can really get her teeth into. (And she’ll bring the shrimps) 😀

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Fellow Blogger – Dave from Deliberating Dave

Fellow-BloggerSorry I’m a bit behind on this one. Today I would like to introduce you to Dave from Deliberating Dave. He may be a familiar face to some but to others not so well known.. Dave is a passionate man who writes about what he believes in. In his About page, Dave describes himself as an average American who also has a wife and family and works 50 hours each week. Dave is interested in politics of the world but mainly those of the U.S. You can find his blogs about politics in his category Voting and Elections. Along with his more serious posts, Dave ventured into poetry with the post Someday. So let’s meet Dave.

Hi Dave. Welcome to the couch. Sorry about the rescheduling issue but we’re on now. Talk to me about blogging. What drew you to begin blogging?

I used to think that blogging was just like facebook – another place for people to share the drama in their lives.

Over time, this view has changed dramatically as I have been able to gain perspective from all types of individuals.

I had a variety of reasons for beginning my blog.  I had been asked to start a couple of blogs for a business I was working for and wanted a platform to work with where I would not accidentally damage rankings or reputation of the business I was working for.  I blogged with a free wordpress blog for just over two years, and launched my self-hosted site in November.

Yes, there is definitely a vast difference between blogging and Facebook lol So how long have you been actually blogging?

I have been blogging for a little over two years.  Initially, I didn’t have a clear direction or goal for my blog, and I have just this January reached the 100 post mark. I am far from expert, having just recently learned some of the value of reaching and interacting with other blogs.

Wow! Congratulations on that! It is quite important to interact with others on blogs as it helps in developing the sense of community out there I agree. Do you blog about anything that comes into your head or does your blog have a particular theme that you write about?

The main thrust of my blog is to provide voters with pertinent information as we near elections here in the U.S.  In an effort to make this useful and more available to the public, I blog my reactions to different current events which strike my fancy. My apologies to those of my friends who are from other countries and do not benefit from this information.

In addition to the current events stories, I also share things on almost any topic that strikes me.  Many of these stories come from my personal life.  I’ve posted about my gardening endeavours, hunting stories, recently my first attempt at sharing poetry, memories of grandparents, etc.

Yes, I shared the link to your first attempt at poetry. It was heartwarming. Do you believe you have gained anything from blogging?

I have gained several things from my blogging already, and I only expect this to continue.

First, I’ve been gaining friends around the world.  I enjoy reading and trying to understand their perspectives, even when they differ from my own.

Second, I’ve learned more about my own system of government while researching different topics that I have posted about.

Third, I’ve gained a sense of purpose outside my work and family.  It almost feels as if I can give something back to my country if I can succeed at better informing voters a couple of times each year.

That’s great that you feel as if you have found a sense of purpose. Do you have any challenges in life that blogging helps you in dealing with?

I guess my third thing gained from blogging ties in here.  I’ve found that it has improved my time management, and helped me at times to do a little better job of getting out of my shell.Another way that blogging helps me is by reminding me how privileged my life is.

Sometimes it is easy to get focused on my own problems and forget about the people around me.  Then I read blogs of some of my friends who deal with things like autism, depression, grieving the recent loss of a loved one, PTSD or other problems and realize that I am very blessed.

I think it is human nature to become focused on the problems of our own lives at the expense of others. I agree that reading the blogs of others helps you to realise just how blessed we are and really puts our own challenges into context. How often do you take the time to blog?

When I first started blogging, I didn’t have a goal and because of this I was very sporadic.  I would post five or six times in a week and then go for two or three weeks without posting.  Now my goal is to post at least two times weekly.  Anything above that is bonus for me.

I think that’s achievable. Good for you! Apart from politics, where else do you find inspiration for your posts?

I find inspiration almost anywhere.  Listening to the news on the radio, reading a book, walking through the mall, in the checkout line, comments made at work – there is very little which doesn’t trigger a thought or memory.

So you are constantly planning your next blog post in your head 😉 You wouldn’t be alone in that. Many people find that a quote or mantra helps them out. Do you have any that have particular relevance to you?

I seem to go through phases with quotes.  I don’t think I have one that I have kept for a long time, but I have a couple that I currently like.  The first, which I cannot properly attribute, is

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail”

The second is a Zig Ziglar quote and it goes like this.

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

Great quotes and so very true. Tell me, in your wanders around the blogosphere, what do you find that draws you to other blogs?

There are several things which draw my attention.  Good pictures (and word pictures), humour, accounts of climes and lands other than my own, and occasionally poetry are among them.  I love real life accounts of finer points of family life, cooking or camping adventures, and general happenings which might otherwise be missed in the hustle and bustle of life.

That’s terrific. It’s incredible just how many diverse blogs there are out there. In closing Dave, is there anything else that you wish to share?

I truly appreciate this series you have been doing.  I have found several new friends and learned more about some who aren’t quite as new.  I am honoured to be included, and I am grateful to be included in the greater blogging family.

You are very welcome. And thank YOU for your time. 🙂

Fellow Blogger – Vic Briggs from Shards of Silence

Fellow-Blogger

Tonight, I am chatting with the gorgeous Vic Briggs from Shards of Silence. Vic is an artist of the written word and writes both poetry and fiction using her past entwined with her imagination as her inspiration. I first met Vic when she was guesting on OM’s blog mid last year and I have followed her beautiful words since then. Recently Vic has been writing a series on do’s and dont’s of writing with her latest entitled Out of Character? She currently writes posts subtitled “Let’s Talk Opinion” in which she offers her opinion on a variety of topic including blogging – Danger Blogging. Vic’s blog is a feast of well crafted words in whatever genre she chooses to write. I have chosen Moments of You as an example of her mesmerising poetry to share with you all.

Hi Vic. I’m so very pleased to have you here this evening. Please tell me how you came to begin blogging?

Believe it or not, I started blogging by accident. Having come across a blog I wanted to follow, I pressed a few buttons and a few minutes later discovered that – instead of signing up to receive email updates – I had in fact created a blog of my own. This is why after posting Confession on the 31st of July 2013, no new post appeared on ShardsOfSilence for another two weeks. I remember listening to The Beatles’ “Back in the USSR” – it was late in the night and suddenly I had this need to speak up. The song had always irked me for glamorising a place that had been dominated by political un-freedom and oppression for decades, so I took to my blog to give my two cents’ worth. Once it was done, I caught the blogging bug and that was that. I became a blogger.

And the blogging landscape forever changed for having your voice with in it! 🙂 So how long have you been blogging now?

It’s been a little over five months: an adventure. Although it can be very time consuming, I’m enjoying being here with all of you, reading your thoughts on everything from relationship troubles to world events and sharing my own.

An adventure is certainly one way in which to describe blogging that’s for sure 😉 When you began your blog, did you do so with any particular theme in mind?

This is a difficult question to answer; I am after all a writer adrift. In October I dedicated several weeks to the topic of relationships. I started this project, titled Project R: Relationship Interrupted, to help a friend in need. After being abandoned by the person they believed to be the love of their life, they were struggling to cope. Guest bloggers were invited to share their insights on the topic and it was due to their generosity and frankness that my friend was able to recover and move on.

I write both fiction and poetry. Both tend to be rather dark, with one exception: all articles that feature BBC Sherlock’s lead Benedict Cumberbatch have a humorous edge. If you are in need of a good laugh, that’s the category for you. “I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch: Pants on Fire” has been topping the charts for quite a while.

For fellow writers, the “Writing Tips” category may be of interest. I do my best to share everything I have learnt so far in the hope that others will avoid the beginner traps into which I had fallen when I first embarked on this journey.

My on-going Let’s Talk Opinion series engages with other bloggers on issues close to their heart. If I come across a blog post that compels me to write a detailed reply, I tend to write a full article and include it in the series.

I’ve also written pieces on politics and humour, racism and religion, as well as feminism and depression.

I certainly enjoy whatever you write and the fact that you write factually is a bonus. Many bloggers have challenges and they use blogging as a way to help them through this. Do you find this to be the case for you?

Yes, certainly. I was in a dark place for a long while, still finding my way out. Writing is my lifeline.

Another candidate for my “Writing is the Cheapest Form of Therapy” group! 😉 So how often do you get the opportunity to blog?

I post every day. It’s a good way to keep my writing muscles flexed. In the past I used to wait for the muse. Nowadays I like to think that when he grants me a visit I’d rather he found me hard at work.

I like the line about being hard at work when the muse visits. Very, very cool indeed! Where do you find the inspiration for your writing comes from?

From the things that I observe when out in the world, from other bloggers when on WordPress, from books I read or plays I see, from current events and from the deep well of my imagination. This world is an incredible place and if only we take a moment to take a look, it cannot fail to inspire.

The world indeed is an incredible place. I concur most wholeheartedly. Now to my favourite part of the interview – do you have a quote or mantra that you believe fits your life?

Carpe Diem: seize the moment would rather fit the bill. As for a favourite quote: “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” (Friedrich Nietzsche)

I like Carpe Diem. It is a very fitting quote for many.
I know you are out and about in the blogosphere. Tell me, what draws you to other blogs?

Honesty. It resonates with me. Although I have to admit that I am very eclectic in my choices. I will read anything if it managed to hook me in with a good title or a catchy first line.

When it comes to writing my own posts as well to reading those of others I keep an open mind about… pretty much everything.  There is a line however: I don’t tolerate sexism, racism or homophobia. While I cherish everyone’s right to an opinion, I also reserve the right to stand up for the norms and values that I treasure most.

I guess that makes sense. You don’t need to lose the essence of yourself. Thanks so much for joining me this evening Vic. It’s been great to learn more about you. Is there anything else that you might like to share?

Be yourself. Whatever you choose to write about, it is always better to be an imperfect version of yourself than a good copy of someone else. Those who visit your blog want to find out what you have to say. Be yourself, care, and your readers will care too.

Amen to that sentiment. Thank you so much 🙂

Fellow Blogger – Shirley Maya from The Art of Fearless Living

ImageJoining me tonight is Shirley Maya from The Art of Fearless Living. Shirley describes herself and a ‘blogger and single mother’ living in Malaysia whose life revolves around her daughter, writing and publishing. She comments in her posts that “words are dear to my heart” and her blog is full of stories and poetry. Shirley shares her blog with guest bloggers at times and also writes of her personal journey through life. Shirley is not afraid to be herself as shown in this post The Fearless Face and she explores her spirituality in posts such as Do not judge, just love. I’m sure Shirley’s blog will have something for everyone.

Hi Shirley! Welcome to the couch. I hope you don’t mind the streamers and balloons but since this is my 200th post, I decided to make our chat a little celebration! It’s great that you are able to join me to chat about blogging. Your blog is a wealth of information and personal insights that you bravely share with the world. Tell me what started you in the blogging world?

It began as a “Journal” and my “personal compass” to document my journey into becoming Fearless Shirley. It was a good way to track, and keep myself in line. Also, it was and is my haven – a place I could go to “unload” without being judged, and just be myself. I think this is not uncommon for many fellow bloggers. Just having a sacred space to call one’s own, and be allowed to remain as we are, without apology, justification or explanation. Then, the blog started to take a life of its own. And people began to discover the blog. I, too, began to learn about other blogs and bloggers. Now, the sharing and learning became an integral part of my motivation for blogging. 

Sounds fantastic. Yes, I believe that for many of us, we expose ourselves on the pages of our blogs. So how long ago did you begin blogging?

The blog was created in November 2009 but I did not seriously blog until end of 2012 – as in “religiously” and consistently. To be frank, I am a complete I.T. “Dumb Blonde”. So, it took me a long time before I even figured out what is what, and which “buttons” to NEVER press. A frustratingly steep learning curve, to say the least! 

That’s too funny. I am sure you aren’t the first (and you won’t be the last) to have difficulty in working things out. You have a wide variety of categories on your blog however do you have any particular theme that permeates your blogging?

As it is entitled, The Art of Fearless Living – it does essentially revolve around the fears that have infested my mind and took up residence for most of my life. So, in facing and slaying those issues, fears and demons, I share what I have come to learn about myself, or about that particular fear and the “take-away” from it.  However, the blog currently consists of my poetry erotica, short fiction, travels and adventures, as well as my observations on love, sex and relationships from the perspective of an Asian single mother. It is rather wide, I know. When I started blogging, many kind bloggers advised me to focus on a theme, or a niche. But I just could not, because my life and interests are very diverse. Just like the issues I face too 😉 

I think that’s fair enough. It’s hard sometimes to stay true to a particular theme at times. Do you believe you have gained anything from blogging?

Tremendously! And that is putting it mildly.  Firstly, I value the priceless connections made through this medium. I have been so blessed with meeting ‘like-minded’ fellow bloggers, writers, poets and etc. Even the readers or fans have been incredibly supportive. I have learnt so much in the process. My perspective of life, love, people, the world and etc have truly been “enlarged” and deepened. I am beyond grateful. There is such a wealth of talent in this online community – both the creators and the readers. 

You won’t find any argument from me in that respect. The blogging community is full of wonderful people. Many of my readers blog to assist in dealing with challenges in their lives. Tell me, do you have any challenges that blogging is helping you in dealing with?

 Yes, several. But I shall share two of them with you today. 

 

1) I was a very private person. And in some ways, I still am. Yet, I am not anonymous. My name, my face and every info shared in the blog are REAL. They mirror my life, what I do and how I live. I do not hide behind another persona as some bloggers do. Here, I am not judging those who do. I can apperciate why they do. As I advocate the “art of fearless living”, I have to walk the talk and practise what I “preach”. If I had it my way, I’d be a hermit. Literally. Especially, after my divorce in 2002. I went into a self-imposed “exile”. I did not emerge until late 2005. You see, I really don’t like socialising, and I quite detest going out of my house. Above all, I hate interviews (you’ll be laughing here). So, blogging did and does help me break that intense desire to be “reclusive”. It forces me to open up, share more, and learn about others in return. 

 

2) I am tempted to say I was lazy to the core, but from time to time, laziness still rears its ugly head at me. Just to spite me, I am sure. If I had it my way – I would not get out of bed. I was so lazy that I even hated the times I had to get up from my bed in order to go to the bathroom and pee. Yes, its sloth of the worst kind. So, blogging consistently was one way of breaking that damned laziness. Apart from the regular blogging, I also maintain a Facebook Fan page, Twitter, and Pinterest. Also, I am challenging myself to finish a book of erotic poetry and a short fiction this year. Thus, I am kept quite busy these days. Laziness is fast becoming an old memory. Fingers crossed.

You certainly keep yourself very busy. I don’t know how you keep up with things. How often do you get the opportunity to blog?

Twice to three times a week. But I do write every day, research, read, scour the net, and work on other things related to writing. I prepare the blog ahead of time, because I am anal about spelling errors, and presentation. As my travel plans are quite hectic as well, I seriously do have to plan my blog ahead of time. 

You sound incredibly organised. I wish I could manage to blog more than one to two posts ahead at times. 😉 Where do you find the most inspiration for your blog posts?

I know this sounds cliche, but it is the truth – I find inspiration everywhere. From my fathomless pit of fears and issues, to everything I read, see or experienced during my travels. It can be a picture, an aroma, a gesture, anything, really. Lately, I have found much inspiration from fellow bloggers and their writing. The learning never ends, and the same applies to inspiration – as long as our minds remain open and willing 🙂

You would certainly not be alone in finding inspiration everywhere. There are many, many others just like you.
Many people have a quote or mantra that they apply to their lives. Do you have one also?

As my blog is about the art of fearless living, my life mantra is fear-related – We can choose to live in an open space of freedom, or reside within the gilded walls of our fears. It’s always our choice, and our choice alone. Outside of that frightful prison is where everything or anything is possible. Possibly, even our greatest potential. Inside the walls of prison, we shall remain small and our wings will be clipped. 

I find the visual imagery of your poetic words very cool. Thanks for sharing that. Tell me what you find appealing when reading other blogs?

Their writings, their thoughts, their different perspectives and their honesty. I find brutal honesty extremely sexy and appealing. So, anything that’s written from their hearts, I am hooked. No B.S and embellishments – just straight talk. 

I believe that many of the bloggers out there are extremely open and honest in their writing.
I have enjoyed chatting with you very much this evening. Do you have anything else that you wish to share in closing?

Just to clarify a little more about my Art of Fearless Living – it is not so much about jumping off planes, or scaling Mount Everest. Although it could very well include those. Fear does different things to different people. For some, it may the fear of telling the truth, while others have no problems with it. So, it is very personal.
The fearlessness I advocate demands courage from within – to conquer the mountains inside our minds, the limitations we’ve placed on ourselves, or our narrow views on people and life. It is about the fears that stop us from living our lives to the fullest, or even the lives we dream of. 
Here, please do not confuse fearlessness with recklessness. Recklessness implies a kind of disrespect to humanity, and hints of irresponsibility to oneself and others. The fearlessness I refer to is about taking back control of our lives, owning both the good and bad, but doing something positive about them. Because everything we fear and the tools to conquer those very fear are all inside us.
The fearless journey may begin from within, but it will take us to places we will never imagine possible. Once those walls of fear are broken down, we will see a brand new world bloom right before our very eyes. It will most certainly be life-changing.  
Like I always say at the end of my blog post – start your own brand of fearless living and love the life you live.
Thank you so much for your inspirational words Shirley. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you this evening. 🙂
Thank you, Sue, for being such a gracious host and allowing me to park myself at your couch. I hope I didn’t scare any of your pets. I know, Asian ladies don’t usually laugh that “heartily”. Thank you all for reading as well. It has been such an honour and delight. I better be off before I make myself too comfortable in this couch. See you all online 🙂
Thank you so much Shirley. I’m sure the Diva wasn’t scared at all 🙂

 

Fellow Blogger – Joy from Joynpain2

Fellow-BloggerThis evening I am speaking to a blogger who I really don’t know that well yet but also met through the Share Your WordPress Blogs Facebook page. Joy’s blog Joynpain2 is full of anecdotes of her life. Joy’s story on her About page takes you through her journey from anxiety to chronic pain from scar tissue, adhesions and fibromyalgia. Joy has had a lot to do with doctors and recently asked her GP to read her post Open Letter to General Practitioners but he did not take kindly to it unfortunately and seen in her post Appointment: Fail. However not all of Joy’s posts are medically themed. She recently also posted Sitting ’round the Kitchen Table with an update of how life is going for her right now.

Hi Joy. Welcome to the couch and thank you so much for chatting with me about your blogging experience. Tell me, what drew you to begin blogging?

 I was drawn to blogging because of a deep need for community. I wanted to find others who understood what I was going through and I felt the need to be there for others as well. At first, it was difficult to find others who suffer with adhesions like I do, but what I did find was a whole community of people with varying diagnosis that suffer from chronic pain. Little by little I started to find others who deal with adhesions. No matter what the diagnosis, chronic pain is chronic pain and we all believe, understand, and support each other.

I am so pleased that you have discovered a support network amongst other bloggers. That is a great thing to find. How long have you been blogging?

I have been blogging since July of 2013. Around that time I found out that there is no longer anything that can be done to “fix” me. That was a hard thing to accept and more than anything I needed someone to understand what I was feeling.

Another one for the 2013 Club. I really should get around to starting that I think. 😉 It must have been quite difficult for you to receive the diagnosis of ‘we can’t fix that’ I’m sure. 😦
When you created your blog, did you create with a particular theme in mind?

I mainly write about my personal struggles with chronic pain and adhesions. On occasion I will do an informational piece or a guest post.

Okay. I am assuming that you find comfort in writing about this and so that is a good thing. I’m big on writing as a form of therapy 😉 Do you believe you have gained anything from your time blogging?

Community. I have found the community that I was searching for when I began blogging. I have found people who listen, understand and care. This is undeniably the best support group I have come across. Also, I met my best friend here on WordPress. That to me is priceless.

That is wonderful – both finding a community of like minded souls and a best friend. You are blessed in that regard. Many people blog about challenges in their lives (as do you). Does blogging help you with this do you think?

 My life is a challenge. Just getting out of bed is challenging. However, I can express my feelings openly and honestly on my blog and instead do judgement like I might would receive elsewhere, here I get understanding and positive feedback.

I am sorry that you have been judged. People can be so cruel at times. But I am pleased you find support from your friends online. How often do you get the opportunity to blog?

 I try to blog everyday. Sometimes I am unable to write a post everyday, but on occasion I am able to do more than one.

And where do you find inspiration for your posts?

Everywhere. I usually post about my day or my week, but sometimes I get ideas from the weirdest places. Once, I was inspired by my reaction to a commercial I saw on TV. 

I’m glad I’m not the only one that is inspired by television commercials lol. Thank goodness for that. 😀
I ask everyone on the couch what their favourite quote or mantra is. Do you have one that gets you through each day?

Stay strong. Never give up. Be your own advocate. 

Wow! Great advice for anyone!
So tell me, what do you look for in another blog?

Usually I am drawn to other blogs because of the emotion that comes through in the writing. Other times I am drawn to a blog for the humor or the openness and honesty in the writing.

Great! They all sound wonderful yardsticks for finding another blog.
It’s been wonderful chatting with you Joy and finding your perspectives on blogging. Would you like to share anything else before we end this interview?

If I were to leave your readers with one thing, I suppose it would be that chronic pain patients don’t want sympathy. We want respect and we want you to believe us. That’s all.

I think that is all many of us want Joy. Those with mental illnesses, depression and other ‘unseen’ illnesses. We just want respect.
Thanks so much for chatting 🙂 It’s been a pleasure.

Fellow Blogger – Colin from The Catholic Husband

Fellow-Blogger

Joining me tonight is Colin. I met Colin through the Sharing your WordPress Blogs on Facebook when he expressed interest in my Fellow Blogger series. Colin writes as The Catholic Husband. He has been married for over 21 years and has raised 4 children with his wife and began his blog to reach out to others. He explains this so eloquently in his Background and Purpose page. Colin’s love for his wife shines through in his post For My Beloved Wife and he also regularly blogs about a young lady he knows and prays for who is very ill Kathryn Gets a Horrific Diagnosis. Colin shares his faith unashamedly through his writings and reaches out to those in need.

Hi Colin. Thanks for joining me on the couch to talk blogging. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Please tell me what drew you to begin blogging? 

I started blogging because I found myself all too often being asked for advice by others on how to improve or repair marital relationships, this seemed a more expedient delivery system that would fill a need to have some support for men who often feel alienated and alone when they try to discuss such things with others in or society – they have nowhere to turn. Rarely do other men offer truly helpful advice, and the potential for ridicule and derision just for asking. If I make a positive change in one just one mind or marriage then any amount of effort put into this blog is justified. if I’m really lucky they will continue to pay it forward and it might snowball into a wave of change for the better, for ourselves and for our children. I have 3 daughters and I fear for each of them in finding a faithful and loving husband who will cherish and revere them as I do their mother. They have been raised in a household with 2 parents very much in love and devoted to each other and I fear their expectations of a husband far exceed society’s guidelines. They have seen us weather storms by clinging more fiercely rather than pushing each other away and witnessed a symbiosis and a bond that they will seek for themselves and accept nothing less. Happiness is not like any other resource in that by propagating and sharing it, you own is only increased not decreased – how wondrous is the Natural Law that this should be true.

It sounds as if your daughters are developing into beautiful, well-rounded individuals with excellent role models as parents.
I tend to agree that many people reach out to others through blogging as it is easier to share through a keyboard than face to face. People are less guarded and worried about what others think when they are in the safety of their own home. I sincerely hope you are successful in your aims.
Can you tell me how long you have been blogging?

About 14 months? On Catholic Husband.

And does your blog have a particular theme that you write about?

It’s an unusual blog in that it is highly focused on sacramental marriage. Most every post references Catholic teachings on the issue in question. That does not mean that one must be Catholic to use those teachings in their own relationships to dramatically improve them. If anything, I find many non Catholics and even non-traditional couples finding the benefits of implementing the principles sacramental marriage is based on in their own lives. All too often these are poorly explained or poorly understood to completely misunderstood. By clarifying them I can help Catholics avoid pitfalls and ensure that non-Catholics understand the real basis and meanings.

That is wonderful that what you are writing is helping those who may not be of your faith. Building strong relationships is something that should transcend any faith or belief system.
As you have said, you’ve been blogging for about 14 months now. Do you feel that you have gained anything from your blogging experience?

I’ve met and even befriended people from all over the world, all religions, and all walks of life. You’d be amazed how universal the basics of human relationships are. I grew up all over the world and have been directly exposed to many faiths. I don’t think Catholicism is the only way to Heaven (As the pope has pointed out himself), but I know it teaches fundamental truths that when applied can drastically improve our lives and relationships. I really makes me feel good for people to write me and tell me that something I wrote has made a difference in their lives or marriage.

I can imagine the buzz it gives you when you receive positive feedback because of your words. I understand that the purpose of your blog is to help others overcome challenges in their lives, however are there any challenges in your life that blogging has assisted you in dealing with?

Plagued by health problems related to brain tumours, and the aftereffects of prolonged coma, hypoxia, and neurosurgery, Blogging has given me an outlet, even when I am too weak to walk I can write 🙂

.I have long been frustrated by the way I see women treated and the high divorce rate in the US. I have blogged about feeling like women have slipped from a position of wisdom and reverence as wives and mother in our lives to a position of receptacle for men’s sexual angst that is disposable – a pack horse to be used to supplement our income and then be ridden again in the bedroom until she drops in exhaustion or disgust instead of a human being and a helpmate – part of you as much as your arm is and to be treated accordingly. I have 3 daughters – Blogging and reaching such a large audience gives me hope for them finding the type of husband and marriage they are expecting to find, instead of what our society considers normal now.

Your daughters are lucky that you are looking out for them and revere them in their roles as women in today’s society.
Do you find that you get the time to blog often? How often would that be?

That depends on several factors – one is reader input and questions, one is current events, and the last one is at the compulsion of the holy spirit. If you’re not religious you might say massive inspiration in place of the last one. It’s just a matter of perspective. I try to make sure a get at least one thing published once a week. I re-blog occasionally – when it’s relevant or the inspiration to do so is there.

It sounds as if you have worked out what works best for you in relation to your posting. Where do you find the inspiration for your posts?

#1 My own marriage, I made so many mistakes along the way and learned some very painful lessons. I see no reason that everyone should learn those lessons the hard way, and if they choose that path I like to have a walkthrough for them to get out of the hole they dug themselves doing so.
#2 Misunderstood Catholic Teachings – when I hear people make obtuse and incorrect statements about sex in marriage for instance, especially when their understanding is one that I know will damage a marriage I take time to correct it. (e.g. http://catholichusband.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/catholic-sexuality-and-the-marital-embrace/)

#3 Reader questions – I get some really great questions via email. While most people are looking for a confidential answer and the catechetical references to back it up – when I get a flood of such questions I know that there is a subject I need to cover.

#4 Prayerful Meditation in the Adoration Chapel, This has brought forth some of my most personal and heartfelt work (Like http://catholichusband.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/anniversaries-and-what-they-mean/ and http://catholichusband.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/sex-intimacy-and-nfp/  ) Both of which cover subjects nobody wants to talk about but everyone needs to hear.

It sounds as if you tackle some difficult discussions in your blog post. Kudos to you for doing so. Many of my fellow bloggers have quotes or mantras that are relevant to them and their lives. Do you have one?

“Do little things, with great love” – St. Therese

That actually fits beautifully in with something I have been saying to myself quite a bit  and that is “How can I serve”? I like your quote very much.
When you are browsing through blogs in your reader or searching for other blogs, what do you find draws you to particular blogs?

I like stories and parables. I am always looking for Fables what make a moral point whether true or not in blogs. I like to have my beliefs challenged because that is how you know you are still on path. If everything you believe can be torn down by a single argument then you have work to do. I don’t like blogs that tear others down but don’t offer solutions. A good man will point out that something is wrong, a Great man points out it is wrong and then explains how to fix it. I like blogs written by great people using that definition of greatness.

Whilst there are some blogs out there that are not uplifting, I find the majority of bloggers are either upbeat and positive or looking for answers in a troubled world. I’d like to thank you for being so open and honest with me this evening. Before we end this interview, is there anything else that you would like to share?

I’d like to let you know most everything you want to know about me is in my blog. I would hope that people take a moment to read through some of the historical posts and learn something that makes their marriage or relationship better. Men should especially read this one http://catholichusband.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/expectations-of-a-catholic-husband/

Thank you Colin. And bless you. 🙂