When is an appropriate time to call yourself a writer?

Hi, my name is Darci and I’m a ___

When someone asks what you do, what do you say? Your profession, I assume. But, what if your chosen profession doesn’t entirely encompass ALL that you do?

I love my dayjob. At this point, I am quite content in saying that it is my career. Can I be two things? Can I be a Client Service Associate for a wonderful company in the Wealth Management industry and a writer? If that is in fact, what I am; A writer. Of course! But when is it prudent to declare it?

Where does the title of writer, or blogger, or whatever you love doing come into play? Is that reserved for only when someone asks you about your hobbies?

Do you get to lay claim to the title of your choosing when you make money from it? I suspect that most people would say that seems like an appropriate time. But, if that’s the case then does the $.37 I’ve made from advertisements on this blog count? Probably not….

So where does that leave me. Little, old, self-centered me. I’m not selling anything. My following, while they are some of the most lovely people I’ve never met, is moderate, at best. I have no discernible talent or skill I can offer to anyone as a training tool. I am nothing short of me. Someone who enjoys writing, sharing stories, and of course, blogging. This is what I do, for now. And for some weird, inexplicable reason; I want people to know I do it. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. And more than anything, I love it.

I know that nobody has the answers for the questions above. It is a personal decision. It’s whatever I feel comfortable with. And maybe what this all boils down to – Being uncomfortable. And I’m uncomfortable because I doubt myself. I doubt that what I do justifies me proclaiming myself to be a blogger. Or a writer, or whatever it is that I am. I have doubts in my ability. Doubt in my tenacity to do or be something better. Doubt will eat you alive if you let it. It will keep you from being who you are, or who you’re meant to become. But most importantly, it will keep you from achieving your goals. And I for one, resolve to not let that happen. So.

Hi, my name is Darci and I write a blog.

The Ebb and Flow of Blogging

I can not possibly write one more post about not knowing what to write. I can’t. I mustn’t. But the words keep coming. And this post keeps taking it’s inevitable shape.

Then comes the wishful thinking: Will this be the start of a blogging spree? Will this post send me into a frenzy of creative inspiration, the likes of which my little page has yet to see? With these questions; a glimmer of hope.

Writing to write, they say, is one of the best ways to combat the blank head space that can happen in the world of creative writing. Start with a sentence. Just one. And it will take off. That’s what they say anyway…

Creatively speaking, I’ve been riding the coattails of my last post. It was a personal one about the loss of a loved one. I posted it to my Facebook page and was shared by many who knew my step-father. It was heartfelt and honest. And well-received. That was published 29 days ago…. 29 days without post.

Normally, I’d wait for inspiration to strike. That’s my favorite way to write. Feverishly. But today, I HAD to write something. Anything will do. Do you ever have that feeling? In your writing – do you ever feel like you MUST put something down, for your own….I don’t know.. mental health? I don’t know if thats it really. I don’t know what to call it. Do you?

But I feel like something different is afoot. For the first time, maybe ever, it’s not so much about views or likes. This post is purely for the sake of doing something creative. So, I am just going to send it out into the WordPress universe. And I hope that my dear friend, the spark, finds her way home to me. Wish me luck.

By Jove, I’ve done it.

I have surpassed the 200 follower mark.

While it may not have been a particularly lofty goal, it has been one that has long eluded me. The process was slow but boys oh boys, doesn’t it feel good.

I have never been a person who sets personal goals. I have never strived for anything in particular. Any sort of feat or accomplishment. And it is truly one of my only regrets in life. I wish I had tried harder to be good at something. I wish I had made more of an effort in school, or hobbies, or sports. I wish so badly that I hadn’t given up on so so many things that didn’t come natural to me. But, c’est la vie.

So, this is it. This is what I want to be good at. Writing. Story Telling, Blogging. Creating relevant material that people enjoy. I don’t know where it will lead or what it will become. And that’s ok.

Time to move the goalposts.

Beginners Bloggers Block

Originally posted on July 17th, 2017. And as I approach the two year mark of this post, I wanted to share it again. It was, and has continued to be, my most popular. I find myself referring back to it often when I need a little motivation. And I hope it provides the same for you.

I started out strong. Just over eight months ago.  I was blogging often, having a fairly clear, concise point with each post.  The feedback I got was amazing.  People told me that what I was writing was relatable and how they looked forward to my posts. But, as the weeks went on, I found myself blogging less and less and less.  At one point going more than a month without posting a single thing.

I would still go to WordPress almost every day.  Just under the “Reader” tab.  I would scroll through my saved categories, spending a majority of my time under “Blogging”.   A common post I’d see would fall along the lines of “So, I haven’t posted in a while.” or “Things have been really hectic lately and I haven’t logged in”.  Listen, I get it. I do.  Life gets busy and things come up.  But I couldn’t help but wonder…  Were they really too busy for days, weeks, on end or maybe it’s because they didn’t have something to say? Something they were proud of, or inspired by, or excited about. And by no fault of their own necessarily.

It’s so very easy to rely on an excuse, rather than admit that you’ve maybe lost motivation.  Or perhaps, you’ve been looking for inspiration and have come up empty handed.  I find that so many of my posts have come to fruition because I was inspired by something.  Something happened or I read something.  Whatever it was, was so amazing that it just compelled me to write. To tell the WordPress world all about it.

A few weeks ago, I got the blogging itch.  The one where you need to write something down, purely for the sake of writing.  But, I didn’t know what to write about.  I needed inspiration in real bad way.  So I went over to  Dream Big, Dream Often, to see what the author had been up to. He has a fantastic blog.  Every day he publishes posts that are not only thought-provoking, but also entice engagement from a seemingly very diverse audience.  I’m pretty new to this, but even I know that is no small feat.  And as I scrolled and read, there it was. A simple blog post, about nothing really. It was maybe 3 or 4 sentances long.  In the post, he had asked a question about social media usage. I answered, and in my response, I typed the title of this post.  That’s all I needed, I had my inspiration.

When inspiration hits, there’s no other way to describe it other than a spark.  When I have an idea for a post that I’m excited about, there is nothing that will stop me from writing, editing, revising and hitting that beautiful blue “publish” button.  My eyes light up, you can see the wheels turning and from there, my fingers glide over the alphabet keys with the utmost of ease.  You never know where the spark will come from or when it will strike.  But thankfully, inevitably, it does.  Whether it’s slight or fierce, sooner or later, you’ll have a creative urge that will bring you back from that merciless thing called writers block.

What’s your inspiration? Do you have a place you go or something you read? How do you create your spark?

The End Result

What is your goal? If you allowed yourself to dream wildly, what would be the ultimate end result of your blog? When would the feeling of success creep in? With a certain number of followers? Maybe revenue from advertisment? Or even a small amount of name notarity?

I told my husband that my blog post from yesterday had done particularly well. So well in fact, that it suprassed a super duper top-secret goal I had set for myself. YOU were the reason I achieved it. So, thank you. My husband jokingly said this morning “well, now you just need to become famous and make money from it”. And it’s got me to thinkin’…..

What is my aspiration? My desired outcome?

My answer is almost too embarrassing to admit . And there are many facets to it. My husband has an entrepenureal spirit, he sees opportunity everwhere. I admire that. However, when it comes to something this personal – something that demands such vunerability; constant caution and extreme modesty seem to be the norm. Do you allow yourself to reveal your goals? To honestly state your ambitions? Yikes. Thats a risk. A gamble I dont know if I can stomach.

I worry. I’m a worrier by nature. But when it comes to this blog, as I’ve talked about many times, I worry what people think. That’s why it’s so hard to type what my wildest dream would be. What if people read it and think to themselves “That would never happen. She isn’t good enough.” Granted, I’d never know if that were to be the case. Most people are too kind to say those sorts of things. But, thats where my head goes. More than anything else, that is the biggest obsticle in my path. And I’ve done it to myself.

Goals are a moving target. Sometimes you miss your mark. But if you’re lucky, you achieve it and set another. You just need to get out of her own way to see how it plays out.

WordPress Analytics: A driving force or a moot point?

I have a hard time tearing myself away from the “stats” button. Even if I haven’t posted anything in days, I check it constantly. I’ve never thought of myself as an analytical person but all signs are pointing to the contrary.

Do you do the same? As a person with a modest following, to say the least, I can go days without a view. But I check the stats page countless times a day. I like to try and breakdown the views vs. the “likes”. If this post had 32 views and got 12 likes, then for every 2.67 people who viewed it, someone “liked” it. But then, I’ll take a step further, day by day comparing page views to number of posts in a month, and so on and so on. I think it’s close to bordering on addiction at this point.

But at the end of the day, those stats are what spurs me on. It’s what drives me to type something, edit and publish a post. We all have our own motivators, and I guess this is mine. When I started this blog I knew right away that I had fallen in love. I had never really written before. And as the days, months and years have gone on, I find myself striving for more. To have more views, likes, and followers then the day or post before. To be better, to be seen, and even liked.

I know that’s not everyone’s journey in the realm of blogging. Some use it as an outlet; not caring if a single soul reads it. Not needing it for validation or to fill up their confidence cup. I do. I do use it for that. That little push. That little ‘atta girl. And perhaps I use it too much. As a form of validation.

What is your relationship with the “stats” tab? I’m genuinely interested in how much stock you put in the analytics behind WordPress.

The Spark: A requirement to create?

When searching for advice on writing, you’ll likely come across blog post after blog post suggesting writing just to…..write. And eventually, something will come from it. Will it be good? Cohesive? Something you’re proud of? Who knows. But the act of writing is therapeutic. You feel productive. Creatively.

A little shout-out to the movie “P.S. I love you” and I guess William Blake too.

But when I want to write something. Like, really write something. It’s because of the Spark . It will, inevitably, ignite a passion and urgency that can’t compare to the ho-hum mental state of typing aimlessly. Your mind and fingers are in perfect unison. You have a purpose. A purpose to create. And what a sweet sensation that is. You can literally feel your body decompressing with every word typed.

I got the Spark today. And it was like a greeting an old friend. Warm and comfortable. Coincidentally, it also came to me because of an old friend. A friend I value greatly. As someone who likes to write, I can tell you one of the most priceless tricks, tips or tools you can have is a friend who believes in you. Someone to share ideas with and be inspired by. Inspiration is contagious. It’s a motivator and an agitator. Never to be ignored. Always acknowledged and used to its full potential. It’s the Spark.

Time Management for Mothers: How to include time for Self-Care?

To be very clear, this is not your traditional “how-to” post. I am looking for an answer, not providing one. This is a question that I am sending out into the void hoping for some insight. This concept is something I’m having a hard time getting my head around. I’m not trying to be a martyr. I’m not trying to convince myself or others of what a selfless mother I am. I simply can not figure out what it means and how to do it.

Is getting a haircut self-care? I think it might be. I haven’t one in almost a year. And I DESPERATELY need one. And when I go over the excuses in my head as to why, it really boils down to time. And perhaps a smidge of laziness.

Is going to the doctor considered self-care? Perhaps. If so, I have indulged in that twice this week. I put it off last week and my illness got worse. Why didn’t I go when I first started feeling under the weather? Nikola had been sick and it was inevitable that I was going to get it. As a mom, I think it may just be commonplace that your primary focus is “I’ll be fine. Let’s get baby healthy.” And now, here I am. sick with a virus that has wreaked havoc on my respiratory and digestive system the likes of which I have never seen or experienced. And due to the contagiousness of the virus my mother had to come and pick up Nikola and take him to her house for a couple of days. This is the first time I haven’t been with him overnight and it has been hard. Is having a “night off” from your baby in order to recuperate self-care?

A few months ago, I posted about some terrible migraines I was having. I received messages from friends with helpful tips and one in particular from an accomplished Yoga Therapist with an offer to come in for an appointment. It was so kind and generous of her to reach out. And I wanted to go. I wanted to make an appointment so badly. But I just couldn’t figure out how to move that appointment to the top of my priority list. For whatever reason.

Time management as a mother has got to be one of trickiest parts of the title. Am I willing to sacrifice time with my son on Saturday to go get a haircut, or to go get a massage, maybe go to the movies? There has been this meme floating around that says something like “Society expects women to mother like they don’t work and work like they’re not a mother.” I have a full-time job that I love. By the time I pick up Nikola at daycare and get home its 5:30pm. Nikola has imposed on himself a strict bedtime of 7:00pm. He just passes out, every night, at that time. So Monday through Friday, I get one and half hours with him. That ain’t a lot. I miss him all day long, and then I miss him when he goes to bed. So, when Saturday and Sunday come along, I just don’t want to NOT be with him. There have been so so many weeks where I’ve said “I’m going to go to the movies this weekend. Have some alone time.” but when the weekend rolls around, those plans have gone out the window. I no longer want to go.

Today, there is such an emphasis on self-care. The importance of it, and I believe it is important. This blog is my main source of it. And even then, I can’t find the time or energy to write a post. While I have 23 posts saved to my “draft” folder. The time and energy it takes to complete, edit and post seems daunting. Even impossible. So, how do you all do it? How do you make time for yourself? What kind of priority do you put on your own self-care? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

Stephen King and I

Do you believe in signs?  That things happen for a reason?  And do you believe that every once in a while, the stars can align in such a way that the thought of it all just being a mere coincidence is more preposterous than believing that it was fate?  I do.

I’ve been writing posts for this blog for over two years.  How time flies.  I started this blog soon after a terrible accident my brother was in. One that could’ve had a much different outcome if those stars hadn’t aligned in just such a way.

On October 6th, 2016 my brother, an arborist, was working in a large field with a couple of other crew members.  His foreman had left to empty the dump truck and the other guy was operating the skidder just slightly out of eyesight due to a small hill. My brother, returning from a different task saw the chipper was loaded with brush and started it.  What he didn’t know was that the winch line hadn’t been wound back up before the brush had been set on top of it.  And when he started the machine, the line became untangled from the brush and wrapped around his legs pulling him into the mouth of the chipper.

  • First Star  – My brother was holding onto the emergency reverse lever when he started the machine.
  • Second Star – The sheer force of the line wrapping around him and pulling him was enough to break both femurs, causing extensive damage to his tissue, arteries, and nerves in both legs, just above the knee.   Somehow, not only did he not go unconscious but he managed to untangle the line, climb down from the chipper, and army crawl up the hill to flag down his co-worker on the skidder.
  • Third Star – He had spent some time in the fire service and had medical training. Even with everything going on, he remained calm. He knew that he needed to get his legs elevated so as to slow blood loss. He gave his co-worker clear direction as to what to do.  How and where to put pressure.  And he had his co-worker ask the 911 dispatcher for life-flight.
  • Fourth Star – They were working in a field in the middle of nowhere.  When the call came into the the EMS dispatch, the town paramedics were just around the corner.  They were returning from an earlier call instead of at the station 15 minutes away.
  • Fifth Star – The closest hospital was a small one in the town of Bridgeton. The ambulance had planned to meet Life Flight there.  But when they arrived, the helicopter was still about 10 minutes out. My brother needed blood badly, so they brought him inside. They knew that his injuries were more extensive than the hospital was equipped for, but something was better than nothing.  They wheeled him into a trauma bay and hauled out a special machine.  A while back they had received a grant to get it.  It was for rapid blood transfusions. My brother was the first person to use it. He received 107 units of blood that day.  And just for some perspective, the human body holds between 8-12 units or pints, of blood.  We were told that it could very well be a record.  Most blood given and survived.

As soon as he was fully conscious, people either came to check on him, or he went to meet the people who saved his life. My brother remembered bits and pieces of what happened but as we met the paramedics, firefighters, the life-flight team, the nurses, and doctors from both hospitals – each one added different pieces to puzzle.  A different star, if you will. All of the things that JJ couldn’t remember.  And everyone he met looked at him in astonishment.  Every single one made it clear that they weren’t sure how it was going to end when they left him.  And, inevitably, they all said something along the lines of: “If we hadn’t been around the corner” or “If we hadn’t have gotten that blood machine” and of course, “if you didn’t have your hand on that reverse bar”

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Just before the first anniversary of my brother’s accident I had determined that I wanted to shift the focus of my blog.  But I was worried.  I didn’t really know what I should write about, or if I should continue to write at all.  I really enjoyed it. The act of it and how I felt after each post, but I just didn’t know if what I was doing was good enough. I struggle with a lot of self-doubt.  But, I had written a post in the very beginning about how I didn’t want this blog to be something I quit. A hobby or project I give up on, like so so many that I had in the past.

I wanted to get better at writing before I threw in the towel.  And so, I googled “Best books on learning how to write”, and at the top of every list was “On Writing” by Stephen King.  I was hesitant.  I had never read one of his books.  I don’t care for the horror genre, but I downloaded the audio version and was immediately immersed.  It was witty and thoughtful.  I found myself sitting in the car for 15 minutes or more after I arrived wherever I was heading just to listen.

The book was coming to end and I had learned a lot.  But still was unsure of my blogging future.  I hadn’t posted anything in ages.  With 28 minutes left of the book, I pulled into my driveway.  And as I went to turn off the car I heard something that got my attention.  He was talking about an accident he was in. He was walking in Fryeburg, Maine and was hit by a car.  He was taken to Bridgeton hospital.  The same little hospital the ambulance had taken JJ to meet life-flight. I said “Huh”. Not too weird I guess. But he went on to say he was life-flighted to Central Maine Medical Center. I stared at the radio of my car skeptically. “So had JJ”, I thought.  And as he continued my eyes got wider and wider. When he arrived, his doctor was a man by the name of Dr. Brown.  That was my brother’s doctor. The first of many to perform surgery on JJ.  He’s had 26 in all.  And finally, Stephen King described his injuries, the accompanying surgeries and treatments during his recovery. Between the extensive fasciotomies and the external fixator used to put him back together, the same exact procedures done to my brother. It all left me shock.

Was this a sign? Stars aligning perhaps? I started to blog because of this incredible situation that happened. I needed an outlet; this was my therapy. And when I started doubting my ability and worrying what I was going to write about. When I had come to a possible impasse. I get this book as a last ditch effort to help me find a purpose for this blog and writing in general. And in the final moments of it, Stephen King himself, reiterates the very details surrounding why I started writing in the first place. It felt as if it had come full circle.

Now, I am a fatalist, for better or worse. But I do try to check in with the realist side of myself. To second guess the relevancy of the situation. But in the end, serendipity reigns. And whether this was in fact, stars aligning or if perhaps this turns out to be just a theory of convenience, we’ll never know. And I’m ok with that. So, for now, I’ll keep writing.

THE CRYING HANGOVER

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This is our view from Nikola’s room at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital.  Our baby was admitted this past Thursday because of a mysterious fever, rash, fussiness combo.  Since becoming a mom I have googled everything under the sun related to babies, but this one was too scary.  Their initial concern was Bacterial Meningitis.  It takes 48 hours for the results from the spinal tap to come back. So while their concern is immediate, the results are not. It has been a long couple of days.  When he was born and in the NICU things were tough.  But at no point was he in pain.  This time, that hasn’t been the case.  So many tests, pokes, and prods.  It took more than six hours for the doctors to collect all of the different fluids they’d need.  Nikola cried most of that time.  And so did we.  The feeling you get when your child is in pain is just as indescribable as the amount of love you have for them. I had to prop myself up against a wall, the crying was uncontrollable. Hence, the crying hangover.  I haven’t had one since I had to leave the hospital without him when he was born.  And before that, it was my brother’s accident.  They are every bit as awful as the ones induced by alcohol.  Just a lot sadder.

But we got some great news a little while ago.  His Doctor came in and said that everything had come back negative.  They don’t know the exact cause of the fever but are considering it a viral infection most likely picked up at daycare.  Effing daycare.  We should be able to go home later today.

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A few people have asked lately if I was still blogging.  During the pregnancy I had terrible pregnancy brain, I could barely form sentences let alone put together a coherent blog post.  And since giving birth, well, I’ve been a little busy.

But more than either of those reasons I worried I didn’t have anything to say.  I thought that my experiences and opinions weren’t of value because I’m so new to the role of Mom.  But all of the research I’ve done for everything from best diaper bags to infant cognitive milestones has largely been based on a matter of opinion.  Even doctors opinions differ.    To our great frustration, I might add.  Just today we’ve been told that he’d be going home at 1 and then were told that it would be 6. An RN just came in 15 minutes ago and mentioned something about tomorrow.  Nothing has changed in Nikolas condition throughout the day, just the doctor at shift change.

So maybe my opinion on Dr. Brown’s bottles would be of value to someone.  Or maybe sharing our experience of having a baby in the NICU or even the experience we’re having now could help someone. Somewhere. At some point.

So, let’s try this again.  Back to Blogging.