Posted in Blog, Blogger, blogging, Digital Marketing, Inspirations, Thoughts, writing

Beginners Bloggers Block

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.

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Posted in Blogger, blogging, family, Inspirations, life, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Mischance, Migraines and Milestones

These three “M” words won’t mean much to most, but to me, they are perfectly entwined.  For better or worse.

A few people have mentioned recently that I hadn’t done a blog post in a while.  And they are right in a way. I haven’t done a public blog post in over a month.  But, I have been writing. I have a few posts drafted and edited, ready to go when the time is right.  I did, however want to write something to check in, in a way.  With myself more than anything.


 

Mischance – An old-timey word for bad luck.  Bad luck is what started this blogging journey. When my brother was in his work accident, I needed this outlet so badly.  And as his recovery has progressed, I realized it’s no loner my story to tell.  My perspective at this stage is a sort of a moot point.  He has his voice and can post his updates as he sees fit.  That may be hard for some, family especially, whereas he’s very stingy with his information, but that’s his choice.

One of the main reasons I haven’t been posting is because I’ve been having a lot of migraines lately.  I had never had a headache in my entire life, until about a year and a half ago.  Except a hangover headache.  Had plenty of them.  Stress does weird things to a person’s body, and mine apparently deals with stress in this form.  I’ve lived a fairly stress free life, which I am incredibly grateful for.  But, I think it’s catching up with me now.  I’ve been through a few different types of medicine, and recently switched it again, and so far so good. Hence, this blog post.

It has been 6 months since I started this blog.  It was a milestone I wasn’t sure I’d see.  Even though I had made a couple of posts at the beginning about my motivation and wanting to see this through. There is always a little doubt.  Can I do it?  Do people want to read it?  Does it matter if they do or don’t?  I can do it.  I have no doubt of that.  My self-confidence shakes a little when it comes to the last two questions.  I guess we’ll see how this goes along.  Maybe I will answer them at my 1 year milestone.

 

Posted in blogging, family, Inspirations, life, writing

As my Meme would say – “To Us”

As the year comes to an end today, and we reflect on the year past, there are surely lots of things to be remembered.  Good and bad.  It’s what we make of the year to come that matters most now.  Looking at things with rose-colored glasses is difficult for some, and I am that “some”.

While the traditional New Year’s Eve song “Auld Lang Syne” isn’t necessarily relevant to my life right now, it is a symbol of new beginnings. It brings us into a new year. A new state of mind. Resolutions, promises, and expectations. 2016 seems to be a year some would like to forget. If you find  yourself on any sort of social media, you will inevitably see things like “worst year ever!” or a growing list of hashtags with similar sentiments. Celebrity deaths aside, it would appear that more people than usual have experienced hardships, tragedies or loss this last 365 days.

I find myself coming up short on the positives often. Every year on my birthday, I get a call from a friend of mine. Her name is Katie, we’ve known each other since elementary school and she is a rose-colored glasses kind of girl.  She does this thing on birthdays. She’ll ask “What was the three best things about this past year? And what three things are you looking forward to in the next year?” I turned 33 on November 22nd, and I knew the call was coming. I had tried to prepare for it.  I dug deep for answers to both questions. So deep, in fact, I don’t remember what I said. I think maybe I’ve forgotten because the responses I gave her maybe weren’t the truth, or particularly important. Except one answer. In response to the best thing about last year was “I moved home.” That’s all I had, but it was a big one.  When she called,  my brother was still in the hospital.  Our lives were in a mild form of chaos.  I couldn’t see the forest through the trees. I had tunnel vision, and I mean like longest tunnel in the world vision, with only my running lights on.  What I could see, was very dim.

I know that I am more negative than I intend to be.  I envy the optimists, the positive Polly’s of the world.  Negativity creeps up on me. I’ll start a sentence or story with the intentions of it being neutral, and before I know it, it’s taken a turn south. Or when I’m preparing for something.  An event, not in a social way, but more of an outcome of something.   It’s hard to see when you’ve crossed over from being prepared to pessimist. “Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best” is a saying that sums up my outlook most days.  I don’t see that perspective changing for me. While I believe in this saying wholeheartedly, it does, more often than not, tend to slant towards pessimism Negativity spreads like a weed, while the opposite somehow takes more care and nurturing to hit not just mainstream media, but self-acknowledgement.

But in this time of reflection, I’d like to publicly declare my one and only resolution attempt for 2017. I will be that positive Polly. No more negative Nancy. I will make a serious attempt to see the best of situations and speak only to that. Not in the annoying overbearing way some people do, but in a realistic, non-condescending way. A way that doesn’t demean the gravity or seriousness in the situation, but simply emphasizes the best possible outcome.

With all that being said, or typed rather.  I’m going to start the new year early.  My rosey glasses are on.  I’m going to take today and celebrate the end of an unforgettable year.  For better or worse, it is done with.  I will raise, perhaps a few glasses of champagne tonight.  As I have been known to do, often without a special occasion.  We will move on to the next year and I’ll do my absolute best to make it one where #bestyearever will be my most often used hashtag.  As soon as I figure out how to use hashtags…

 

To Us!

Posted in blogging, Food, Uncategorized, writing

Surviving Succulents – Part Two

I had no idea there was going to be a “Part Two” when I wrote the original.  But here we are.

Guys!  What I wrote about in the original post almost happened (If you’ve just started reading my blog, you can find the original here).  I almost gave up.  My blog hit a bump in the road and I wavered.  I have been counting the days since my last post, but couldn’t bring myself to write anything.  And here’s why.

Do you ever have an idea or vision of how you want something to play out.  Or how you want something to look?  We’ve all seen those “10 epic pinterest fails” lists of people who try to create or recreate something amazing that they’ve seen and have come up so very embarrassingly short.

When something doesn’t quite seem to be turning out the way I had envisioned, I immediately start a quiet downward spiral.  Most of the time, when this happens nobody can see this slippery slope of doubt and over-thinking.  It sneaks up on you. Even I find myself being surprised by its onset.  I try to fight through it.  Find a way around it.  Fix it.  But more times than not, it gets the better of me.  I can’t get past my shortcoming.

Let me give you an example:  Kruno’s parents had been looking forward to a traditional American Thanksgiving.  And I had the added pressure (all internal) of transporting the meal to Boston the next day to celebrate with JJ, my dad, and aunt Nanette.  I had imagined a Norman Rockwell-esq presentation at both my house and the hospital.  However realistic or unrealistic it was.  I had a vision.  I prepped two separate turkeys, one for each day.  I timed out everything perfectly and at the second basting session, when I removed the roaster lid, all I saw was bone.  I had cooked both turkeys upside down.  Kruno’s mom was beside me to watch as I prepared the most important meal of year.  She saw the horror on my face and the tears in my eyes.  The Norman Rockwell scene in my mind disintegrated just as the bottom half of the turkey’s had.  Lots of expletives started flowing out of my mouth. Along with sentences like “I ruined it, I ruined Thanksgiving.” and “How did I mess this up so badly?”

The turkey was delicious.  I didn’t ruin Thanksgiving.  It just wasn’t presentation worthy. But, that small detail, the vision of this beautiful whole turkey being presented on my grandmothers antique turkey platter, and not being able to have that image come to fruition, was enough to send me down that spiraling slippery slope.

So, back to my blogging bump in the road.

Two weeks ago I had an idea.  I wanted my blog to have it’s very own page for recipes.  My grandmother was a fantastic cook, my mother and aunt inherited her intuition and I like to think that I did too.  I reached out to my family for their copies of her recipes and was ready to start editing in a couple of days. I logged on.  I fiddled with the settings in WordPress, sought assistance through the handy “chat now” feature and researched everything I could find on relevent topics.  For days and days I tried to figure it out.  I knew how I wanted my site to look, and how I wanted it to read.  But everything I read and all the helpful chat people told me what I wanted wasn’t possible.  I couldn’t get passed it.  I’ve had several posts I’ve wanted to publish, but because of this hiccup, I couldn’t.  I even turned off my Facebook setting, so my friends couldn’t see what I was doing.  I didn’t want them to see if I made a mistake or if something looked weird.

Well, I figured it out today.  I fought my way up that damn slippery slope. I rose to the top and compromised on my vision.  My site is still under construction, but the template it set.  Content will be added soon.  And I’m happy.  Not just with the website, but that I didn’t give up.  I’ve given up on far too many things.  Too many ideas and projects.  But not today.

 

 

Posted in blogging, family, Inspirations, Maine, Uncategorized

The Good and Bad in Goodbye

There are many ways to say “Goodbye”.  It can have many different undertones.  It can be sad or even happy in some cases, and other things in between.

My brother has hit a milestone in recovery from his work accident. After 46 days in the hospital, he has been transferred to rehabilitation in Boston. There, he will get his first prosthetic and soon start walking again.  We have been preparing for this day since he was out of the ICU.

J.J. doesn’t remember much of the ICU.  How could he?  When they first brought him in, he was hooked up to multiple machines and had 19 different bags of fluids hanging from what the nurses called his “Christmas tree”. As they days went on, and specifically after the amputation, periodically the nurses would come in and trim the tree. And soon enough he was down to barely a shrub.  During his stint in the ICU, those nurses were his lifeline.  They were our lifeline.  They barely left his room.  We relied on them for everything.  And they never did disappoint.

The day that J.J. was moved from the ICU to a regular room was one of those confusing types of goodbyes I’m talking about.  We said goodbye to our lifelines, and cried a little.  It was tough.  The uncertainty of it. What this new floor, with the new nurses was going to bring.

These men and women were every bit as amazing as the last bunch.  The nurses seemed to love J.J. like a member of their family.  Some brought him in homemade food. They hung out with him in the middle of the night when he couldn’t sleep.  They checked in on him even when he wasn’t assigned as their patient.  J.J. loved them too.  He had a system, how he liked things. Certain pillows in certain places on the bed.  All the nurses knew this secret, sometimes unspoken system, and obliged.  If they were ever bothered or annoyed by his requests, they certainly didn’t let on.

On Friday November 18th, J.J. was told that he was ready for Spaulding. He would leave Monday morning.  I asked him a few times if he was excited.  He response was always the same.  “Yes and no.”  I know the decision to leave CMMC was a hard one for him.  But his case worker assured him that Spaulding was the place to be.  That Sunday, we said goodbye to a couple of our favorite nurses.  Shelby, Kristen and Abby.  I started to cry, and so did they.  J.J. said “way to go, Darc.”

Monday came, more goodbyes were said.  I’m sure there were fewer tears considering I wasn’t there. They loaded him into the ambulance and headed to Boston. He’ll be at Spaulding for about 4-6 weeks.  The facility is amazing.  It’s a state of the art, futuristic looking place right on the harbor.  While the first day was tough, just getting accustomed to their way of doing things, J.J. knows this is where he needs to be.  And in time, saying goodbye to the people here will be just like before.

To all his nurses at CMMC, we miss you terribly!

 

 

Posted in blogging, family, Food, Inspirations, Interview, Maine, Recipe, Travel

Macedonians in Maine: An Interview

I met my husband, Krunoslav on Match.com.  He worked 7 days a week and I worked at a busy Irish Pub.  We both had odd schedules that didn’t afford either of us many opportunities to meet a potential girlfriend/boyfriend.  He sent the first message, I noticed his name was not an American one.  He said he was from Macedonia and that he liked soccer.  I made up a story about needing some info about soccer for something I was working on for the pub. And within only a couple of messages our first date was arranged.  It went well.  So well in fact, we met again the next night.  He watched “Glee” with me and I helped him deliver papers at midnight.  And as they say, the rest is history.

The first time I met his parents was when they made the long trip from Macedonia to Denver for our wedding. Their names spelled phonetically are Nikola and Kruno’s mom is Blageetsa. His mother speaks english “little bit” as she says.  She speaks it better than she thinks.  And his dad can say a few words.  It’s amazing what you can tell about someone without speaking.  Just by observing a single moment.  As I walked towards them coming out of the international arrivals gate, I knew that they were lovely people.

Well, the In-Laws have arrived for another visit.  We have been looking forward to it for months.  For the last few days I have been thinking about what to post.  And this morning it came to me.  An interview with my in-laws.  I wasn’t sure how the request was going to translate.  But, they agreed and thanks so my wonderful husband and his translation services, it went very well.

Q: How did you meet?

B: We met at a party at a restaurant.  We were introduced by friends.

Q: Do you remember your first date?

N: Not the specifics, but it lasted awhile.  It was the next day after the party and we had our first kiss.

Q:What is Skopje, Macedonia like?

N: It’s very historical (dates back to 4000 b.c.) . Similar to the Old Port portion of Portland.  Our house is in the Suburbs of the capital, Skopje. It’s a very tight-knit community.  Learn more about Skopje, Macedonia Here.

Q: What are some customs or traditions of Macedonia during the holidays?

B: On Christmas Eve (usually on or around January 7th as they use the orthodox calendar), we make a loaf a bread and put a coin in it.  When we sit down to dinner we each take a piece, and also have a piece for family afar and Jesus.  Whoever gets the piece with the coin, it will be their lucky year.  For us Christmas isn’t about presents, it’s about family and emphasis is on the meal with family.  On August 2nd, we celebrate our Independence from Turkey. It’s like your 4th of July.

Q: What is the biggest difference between your country and the US?

B & N: How friendly people are here.  Whenever you go into a shop or store.  People greet you.  They say “hello” and “how are you”.  People don’t do that in Skopje.  The other thing, is that people seem so busy here.  We work either the same or more hours per week back home, but aren’t always in a hurry.  We have time to spend with family and friends.  Back home, families only have 1 car.  Here, everyone has a car to get where they need to go quickly.

Q: What is your favorite thing about Macedonia?

N:  Family.  Not just the family as in people but the sense of family and community.  Kruno added – Our country was recently in a way.  It went though a very hard time and what got people through that, was family.  It’s very important there.

What is the hardest part of international travel?

B: Being bored on the long flight.

N: Blageetsa being bored on the flight.  She kept getting up and moving around.

~ They did add, that being in the last row was nice.  It seemed a little less cramped then the other flight.  I asked if they minded the long wait to disembark the plane.  They both agreed that it wasn’t a big deal.  They are far more patient than I.

What has been your favorite thing you’ve eaten while in the US?

B:  Yummy Chicken (A family recipe of mine, find it here)


 

It’s interesting how a short visit with someone can give you so much perspective.  How different families and different cultures go through life.  I always thought that my family was an affectionate group.  We pale in comparison.  The love my in-laws have to give is immeasurable.  When they said during the interview how important family is, it was an understatement.  They love with their whole hearts, their whole being.  I can’t count how many times I’ve been told “I love you” Or “Kristinia (kruno’s sister) says she loves you”. And it’s not just me.  It’s to all members of my family, and friends.  People they have only met one, maybe two times.  Their second day here, they asked to go see my brother in the hospital.  They talk about him everynight.  They’ll ask how he is doing today, if I’ve talked to him. They’ll tell me how much they love him and that they pray for him. They share memories of their first trip here and the people they met.  How our friends are lovely people, and how nice they were, how much love they have for them because they are our friends. The language barrier is tricky to navigate, but when sharing a feeling they are able to communicate with ease.

I knew it the first time I met them and I know it now.  They are some of the most kind, generous and loving people I have ever met.  And I am so very lucky to have the Petrov family as my in-laws.  I couldn’t have asked for better.

 

 

 

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The Petrov’s First Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Posted in blogging, family, Inspirations, Uncategorized

Bravery in the blogging world.

Well well well.  Today marks 2 weeks of blogging.  To most that doesn’t mean much, and I’m sure in a few months, it won’t to me either.  But today, right now, it feels like an accomplishment.  I’ve gotten over the initial hurdle of nerves and worry about putting myself out there.  I feel like I’ve set a stride that’s comfortable but challenging.  I don’t post if I have nothing to say. But try to take a few minutes everyday to just sit and think.  Think if there is something that I’m going over that I could put down here, and if that would help free up my mind a little.  Today, there is.  There is this one thing I’m kind of hung up on.

How much is too much info?  How personal can/should a post be?

I had lunch yesterday with a friend and I mentioned the blog to him.  Like I have done to literally anyone who would listen to me these past 2 weeks.  We started talking about how difficult it is to write about some personal experiences. And about how much bravery it takes to write about your life.  At first, I thought, it doesn’t take that much.  It’s not a big deal.  Then I thought about how this  populates to my Facebook account.  While that’s a setting I have chosen, it does cause me to second guess somethings.  I hesitate before writing and posting.  The fear that people you know may read something very personal about you is, in fact, really scary.  It’s not the strangers or the once-in-a-while glancers, but the people you are friends with, or even the people you see on occasion.

That leads to the next question that I’m surely over analyzing.  How much bravery in the realm of blogging is an acceptable amount?

I certainly would never write something with the intentions of offending someone or to purposely make someone feel uncomfortable.  But one of the primary purposes of a blog is to share your life with others. Not just the pretty surface stuff, but the tough stuff that can sometimes be ugly and heavy.  The kind of stuff that maybe could help someone through a difficult time or situation.  Or even sharing a particular story that could potentially connect you to someone who’s been through what you’re going through and offer insight.

I’ve had a post in the hopper now for a few days that I’ve been wanting to publish (I hate that term, it makes so unnecessarily official.  But that’s what they call it).  And every time I’ve looked at it and wanted to hit the button, I’ve hesitated.  And I’ve gone back and forth on whether to post it or not.  I worry that it’s too much.  Too personal. As people and social media evolve things that were once taboo, are becoming the norm.  Things that would once send a religious person straight to confession are commonplace and barely warrant acknowledgement. 

So, here I am.  Asking you.  What’s your opinion on the matter?  What are you comfortable writing and reading?  I need some guidance.

“Writing is both a mask and unveiling” – E.B. White