Stepping into Unknown Territory ~ My Journey in Launching a New Website

Dear Blog Readers,

Just over a month ago, I launched this new website. I have been so pleased with the great support regarding this switch that I have had from so many of you. Thank you! It is always scary to step out into new territory when it comes to technology and creating an online presence.

I have compared my latest venture in blogging and launching a new website to the feelings I had as a child when I received my very first library card and realized that there were so many books and so little time in which to read them all.

I was quite young when I first walked through the doors of our local library and discovered that this was the place where books lived. It seemed incredible to me that such a place existed where there were rows and rows of shelves going from the floor to the ceiling holding book after wonderful book! I felt as if I had found my happy place. Where else could I go where there was a place dedicated to what I loved most? Reading! Yes, reading was my favorite pastime as child. And, I also discovered I could take home a book to read for free. All I had to do was return the book once I had finished reading it. The big wide world was opened up to me at the library when I was a child growing up in the 1950’s in a small city in the west.

As a child, not only did it seem impossible to ever read all those books in the library, but the library building itself also seemed so vast and unknowable. I did believe that if I showed up every few weeks and left with a stack of new books to read and explore that I just might scratch the surface of all that library had to offer.

So how do these thoughts about library cards and libraries compare to launching a new website?

To me at this stage in life, the worldwide-web seems just like that great big library seemed to me as a child: it is full of places to go to read all kinds of things on all kinds of topics. It seems huge, and scary, and unknowable, and a bit unnavigable.

When I was growing up, when I was in college, when I was raising my children, who could ever have imagined that one day I, a retired English teacher, a woman in her seventies, would sit at a personal computer, write out whatever is on my mind, hit publish, and thereby send my thoughts out into the big wide world out there?

My office while I was working on my new website design with Taryn from Typewriter Designs.

My office while I was working on my new website design with Taryn from Typewriter Designs.

Just like the library, the worldwide-web seems like it is full of all kinds of things to read and explore. All kinds of things seems like an understatement! In thinking of all that is sent out into that worldwide-web, I wonder how my few words and what I have say on this website would even be noticed. I mean, do you even realize how vast theworldwide-web is? I’m not even able to grasp the idea of its vastness.

Some may think that the web is already filled up with blogs and writers and websites and information. They may think that no one is even interested in reading one more blog or signing up to be on one more website’s mailing list. I guess if the web were a physical site, it would be moaning and groaning from all the weight that is is carrying. That is part of the mystery of the web, it is not a physical site. Is it metaphysical? I don’t know what it is. I cannot understand the web enough to explain it. I suspect I am not alone. Many have tried to explain it to me, but I don’t really understand the worldwide-web at all, but that does not prevent me from using it.

All I know for sure is that I now have a web address that says I can be found on this worldwide-web at a particular website address which I created. It is at this address that I have a place where I am able to write blog posts about whatever I want to write about and send those posts out to readers who can read what I write if they feel so inclined. That to me sounds like a wondrous thing.

My husband jokes whenever I take a lot of pictures with my cellphone by saying, “Make sure you don’t run out of film.” I wonder if those under the age of 20 even know what he is talking about. Do they know what it is like to be on vacation in a place where you most likely will never go again, hoping to take some photos of all the awesome sights you are seeing, only to realize that you are out of film and there are no stores around where you can buy more film? Do they even begin identify with the anticipation that comes from waiting for those photos you took on vacation or at some family celebration to be developed at your local drugstore? Do they know the heartbreak when you realize you really did not get even one good shot of anything you photographed?

I recount this little story just illustrate again how the world where I grew up and the one where I spent most of my adult life are worlds apart from the world in which I now live. Today’s world is a world where there are few cameras needing film, few phones used for phoning, and where writers send writing out into what seems like space where they find they can connect with readers whom wish to read what the writer has to say.

I come from a different generation than the generation that grew up with technology. My husband says those in our generation are immigrants to this strange new land of technology while our grandchildren are native-born residents to it. I think that is exactly how it is. Many in my generation feel a lot of culture shock when it comes to living in the new landscape which is now dominated by an on-line presence where doctor appointments and medical test results are now more easily accessed on-line than by calling the doctor’s office directly. Many avoid the worldwide web completely; others venture into unknown territory with adventuresome spirits. I belong to the latter group.

I blogged for over nine year on the free platform provided by Blogger. I loved that platform because it gave me a place to write, to connect with others, and it did not require me to learn too much about technology. Then, one day, I woke up to a blogging world I no longer understood, and at the same time, I also decided I wanted to take my writing life and blogging life to a new level.

I put my money where my heart wishes were and hired a wonderful consultant, Taryn over at Typewriter Designs, to do that which I knew I’d never be able to do on my own. She created my website for me, and transferred all of my old blog posts over to this new website, and then she had the task of teaching me what to do with it all!

She has been so supportive, and has been such a great teacher, so I want you to know about her and to check her out if you too need help with technology that is beyond your capabilities. I never could have designed or put this website together without her. I enjoyed the collaboration with her and the ability to think about what I wanted to accomplish with a new website. My husband also fully supported me in the venture with encouragement, and study, and learning right along with me. It has been a team effort.

A Working Lunch: My husband and I often worked side by side in all that went into developing this new website.

A Working Lunch: My husband and I often worked side by side in all that went into developing this new website.

I think I’ve finally conquered some of the technological challenges of writing blog posts on the new platform I am using, Squarespace, straightened out. I must say that I really am pleased with my decision to switch over to Squarespace for my blog and for my website. It is really quite easy to use now that I had an expert set it up for me. I love the flexibility that it gives me when I am writing and creating posts. I’m still learning the platform, but I think I will only grow to enjoy using it more and more as time progress. (I am not getting any money for endorsing Squarespace, but I just want my readers to know that I am loving using it.)

I also am using ConvertKit as a means of staying in touch with those of you whom sign-up to receive emails from me. That means that I had yet another program to learn, and that has proven to also be a challenge for me despite all the great training I received from Taryn. (Thank you, Taryn!) I’m still working on learning and using this platform.

In fact, right after I launched my website, there was a glitch with the program itself, and I didn’t realize it until after I had set up emails to go out to those of you whom signed up. I am working on getting that fixed, so I hope you all get an email from me soon.

If you have not signed up to hear from me, please do so. I want to keep in touch with all of you loyal readers whom have read my blog for years, and those of you whom are new readers.

Blogging has stretched me to learn new things, but now I am really being stretched as I navigate the new waters of having a website. It is a process, and and an opportunity to grow as I jump into this new pool of information that requires a lot of learning. I hope you will stay with me as I learn to swim with confidence in these new waters.

Until, next time, please sign up for my website. You are not signing up for Squarespace by signing up, you are just giving me a place where I will be able to connect with you, dear reader.

Talk to you soon!

What is the Real Picture Here?

After heavy rainstorms had kept us inside all afternoon, my husband and I decided to take an early evening walk once the storm had passed.  Light  streaming behind clouds created a silvery glow against the now blue skies.  There was just enough light left in the day to cause the glistening green grass to appear as it were made of plush velvet.   A welcoming path drew us towards the foot of the mountains up ahead.  My photographer’s eye began creating the scene I hoped to capture as I asked my husband for his iPhone so I could use the phone’s camera since mine had been left at home.

When he later sent me photos I had taken, I saw I had not captured the scene I hoped to capture. The dog had run into the photo and  needed to be cropped out.

And, I had not held the camera in the right position and the photo was taken at an angle.  “It’s leaning slightly to the left.  Oh well, no problem,” I thought.  “I’ll just edit out those imperfections.”


I tried editing out what I didn’t want to see. The photo seemingly marred by the dog in the lower left corner and the photo’s leanings to the left just did not make the grade no matter how many times I tried to edit it.   Editing was not the answer to making this photo better.  I decided to trash it.  I wished the dog had not ruined the shot by running in to it.  I wished I had held the camera straight when I snapped the photo.

I kept scrutinizing the photo. I just couldn’t trash it, so one more time I tried cutting the dog out of the picture in which I did not think he belonged.

My mind went back to the moment when snapped the photo . While I was enraptured with the scene up ahead of me, I realized the dog too was enraptured with what he saw ahead of him: a place to roll in that lush, velvety wet grass.

How could I cut out dog out of the picture?  He belongs in the photo as much as the light, the sky, the grass, the mountains in the distance.  I mean really, how can I cut our dog out of the picture?  He belongs there.

 Quite honestly, would we have even gone for this walk if the dog were not in our lives?

Cutting the dog from the picture just would not be right. After all, Boston figures very prominently in all of life around here.  

Cutting him out of the photo would distort the story of what really happened on that Sunday afternoon.  It had been a dark, cool, rainy afternoon.  Then the sun came out. The dog needed a walk, so we took the dog for a walk.  That was precisely why I saw this scene. I was walking the dog, and I saw this beautiful sight.

Scrutinizing the photo one more time, I decide it did need to be straightened. Straightening the photo would not not create an inauthentic picture. Or would it?  After all, I was not holding the camera straight.  I did not shoot the photo correctly.  I knew how to fix my mistake, but that did not take the mistake away.

There’s lesson here, I thought.

The lesson:  There is more to a picture than meets the eye.  Sometimes, we want to paint a prettier picture than the real picture so others will see something we created rather than what was really happening.  In life, and in photography this happens.

The Question Derived from the Lesson: 

  • Do I see what is really important in every picture of life?

  • Do I want to edit out the parts of my life I don’t want others to see, or that I don’t want to see? 

  • In my editing, am I cutting out some really important parts of life that need to remain in the picture because they add meaning , depth, and purpose even if they were not in the original design I thought I would create for the picture of my life?  

On Reflection:
Every picture in my life, and every picture of my life does not have to be perfect, nor does it need to represent the “look” I was going for, or the scene I was trying to create.

The unexpected happens: A dog runs in the picture and distorts what I thought would be the perfect photo. That is on a good day. On a bad day, something happens that changes everything. Suddenly the picture has gone awry. The camera lens of life is suddenly tilted, out of balance, skewed, off-balance.

Does that mean that there is no longer beauty?

Does that mean that God is no longer there?

What is the bigger picture at such times?

The Takeaway:

Look at the big picture, the complete picture. Look at the pieces and the parts. Each one has meaning.

I reflected on what I really hoped to capture in the moment of snapping this photo: those strands of silver coming from the clouds hovering over the mountain. Why did I want to capture those silver strands? I hoped to capture a visual for my life verses from Psalm 121.

I lift my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

The keeper of my soul, the maker of heaven and earth, does not require that I live a picture perfect life, nor does He require that I project a picture perfect life. He instead shows me to Whom I can turn when the picture does not turn out the way I expected.

Welcome to Strands of Silver

Welcome to my new visitors:

Welcome to my new blog! If this is the first time you have ever visited me, I especially want to welcome you as I begin a new chapter in my writing life. I’d like to share a bit of background knowledge with those of you whom may visiting me for the first time.

Strands of Silver is not my first blog.  Nearly ten years ago, during the summer when I officially retired, I began a new venture: blogging.  I named the blog Retired English Teacher because that was the only name I could stumble upon.  I was a retired English teacher, and I guess I was having identity issues at the time.

I had no clear direction for the blog, I just began writing blog posts and sending my writing off into the blogosphere not even knowing exactly what the blogosphere was.  In time, I began to gather a few readers, and I also began to read other blogs.  Through reading and writing in the world of the blogosphere, connections were made.  Those connections led to friendships.  Those friendships supported me and my writing through some of the darkest days of my life, and these blogging friends rejoiced with me during the days which brought joy and healing.  In time, my blogging experience changed, and I nearly let it all fall away, but I knew wasn’t done with writing.  I finally decided that what I needed and wanted was a change in my approach to blogging. That led to the creation of a new website, and new platform from which to write.

*Note: Blog posts from my old blog have been transferred over to this site. If you go back and read any of them, please realize that many may need formatting due to the transfer from one platform to another.

Welcome to my loyal readers:

For those of you whom are moving over to my new website from my old website hosted by Blogger, I want to welcome you also! It means so much to me to have you visit me in my new “home” in the blogosphere. Along with a new “home address,” I have also changed the name of my blog to Strands of Silver.

About my new blog:

I am a writer. Every writer needs a place where readers can find his or her writing. Strands of Silver will be where I publish my writing.

I am a storyteller. I like to tell stories that invite my readers to join me as I seek meaning in all of the vicissitudes of life.  Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, said “change is the only constant in life.” We all know this is true, but I think can also all agree that there is change, and then there is change. In other words, for me some changes are harder to process than others. When change is hard, I write about it. Sharing that writing helps me feel less alone.

Writing also helps me pay closer attention to the subtle and not so subtle changes in the seasons of life and in the phases in each season. My life is not that different from others in that we all have our ups and downs. My ups and my downs probably are different from your ups and downs, or they may be the same. You, dear reader, may identify with the stories I write, or possibly, you might read stories here where you will be thankful not to find yourself at all.  Even if you are mostly grateful that you can’t relate to some of my stories, some of my experiences, I do hope that you will find stories here that will help you on your own journey through life.  One never knows when one’s life’s fortunes will have a major reversal, nor does one ever really foresee when one day an event happens that changes everything. If that day comes, I hope that readers will remember that they are not alone.

Strands of Silver was birthed out of loss.  The stories that became strands of silver may initially have been considered as detrital, that which should have been tossed aside into the ash heap of life’s experiences which are better forgotten, left behind, cast aside, yet as those experiences were lived out, the dross was burned away and Strands of Silver in the form of stories remained after the writer had gone through the refiner’s fire. 

This is the place where stories from the past, stories of what is being lived in the here and now,  and stories of hopes for the future are woven together to create silver strands of truth, of wisdom, of love, of restoration, of loss, of joy, of longing, of new understandings, and of old memories. 

When life seems as if it is all in shatters, when all seems broken, destroyed, beyond repair, when it seems like life is fragmented into pieces of a puzzle that will never fit together to create a whole picture, there is the place where stories are told that construct new meanings, new understandings, new beginnings. 

Strands of Silver, were once fragments, threads, remnants, all that remained after a cutting back, a shredding, a shearing.  They were also that which remained after a time of rejoicing, of celebration, or a time of growth.  These fragments, which are really stories, when collected and placed side by side take on new meaning and become beautiful strands of silver which in turn can be plaited or twisted together to create a beautiful design which gives a picture of completeness and wholeness. 

Strands of Silver seeks an integration of all things that life throws at us:  the good, the bad, the brokenness, the mending, the losses, the restorations, the lack of faith, and finding of new faith that is stronger than it was before one had to struggle to believe. 

If nothing else, I do hope that you, the reader, will find a place you will find connection, rest, peace, and a sense of calm and joy that gives you the strength and the courage to sort through your broken parts of life and decide if there is any wisdom to be gleaned from the experience.  I have learned that wisdom does not come from experience alone.  I believe that it is only as we look at the experiences of life through the lens of God’s word that we can begin to gain the wisdom that each experience has to teach us. 

Even as I have reached my seventies, and even as it could be said that I should have silver strands of hair that speak of my wisdom, I would be telling you an untruth if I said that was true. Truth is of paramount importance to me . I always try to live my life and write about my life with authenticity. I certainly don’t have all the answers to the problems of life, but I keep on asking questions and seeking answers.  I am no sage on the stage. I am a writer. I write about the vicissitudes of life. That means that this blog will be where readers can find stories that faithfully recount the struggles that are a normal part of my life.  Hopefully, there might even be a few victories along the way. 

Please feel free to leave a comment. Also, please subscribe to my blog. Thank you so much for stopping by.s

Don’t be Fooled by April

In March and in April, the daffodil heralds the coming of spring.  For some, spring is a difficult season.

For some, April truly can be the “cruelest month.”

As I look back over the springtimes of my life, I associate this season of life with daffodils.  Today, I’d like to use this flower, this motif for my life, to remind us all not to be fooled by April.  It has long been known that the coming of spring also increases the risk of suicide.  This is a difficult topic to write about, and to read about, but today, I think as we look forward to warmer days ahead, we also should be vigilant and watch for an increase in suicidal thoughts and behavior.  

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Saturday Summary

Saturday Summary

What a week it has been!

Saturday, March 16

I hosted my high school girl friends for lunch. We meet every three or four months for lunch. This time, it was my turn to host at my house. Thankfully, my dear friend Dove, here from Vermont for the party, co-hosted with me. We had so much fun decorating the table, ordering the food, and rearranging the house to accommodate everyone.

The group follows a few routines. First things first. Margaritas are made so we can toast one of our classmates that started the group. She is no longer with us, but we remember her and all the others whom have passed with a toast. As we get older, I notice we also toast that we are all still able to get together to make a toast to the past, the present, and future.

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Rare Disease Day 2019 ~ My Story

Today is Rare Disease Day. After years of seeing multiple doctors for strange and confusing symptoms, I was diagnosed with a rare disease in 2013. I have an autoimmune disease called Cicatricial Alopecia. It is a scarring alopecia which in my case has presented as Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia. This disease brings both physical and emotional pain. When hair dies, it hurts. There is itching, burning, and a sense that the scalp is crawling. Emotionally, it hurts to lose one’s hair because as women, our identity is often tied to our hair. Some of you have read my story before. Others have not. Here is my story.

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