My blog was created on July 25, 2008, in response to an assignment given when I was enrolled in a summer workshop that was offered by the Southern Colorado Writing Project at Colorado State University-Pueblo. On the day that this blog was created, those of us enrolled in the weeks long workshop went into the computer lab, signed on to the internet, created an account with Blogger, and then each of us set up our very own individual blogging site. Blogging was the future we were told. We needed to know how blogging worked because it could be a great tool in the classroom and in our professional lives.Read More
My desk is way too clean, and my computer is lonely because I never touch her anymore. She wants me to start writing blog posts again.
Here are some of some stats about my blog:
- I have published 346 blog posts! That amazes me.
- According to Blogger, my first blog post, published June 25, 2008, had nine (9) views.
- My next post, was not published until November of 2008. It had 24 views.
- It was not until October of 2009 that I had any readers outside the family whom actually left a comment on my blog.
- My first real follower, or reader, was Jann from www.benchmark60.blogspot.com. She identified herself as #1Nana. We became blog friends and later met in person more than once when we joined other bloggers for a weekend on Vashion Island. We called ourselves the Vashionistas.
The first Vasionista Gathering in 2012
Sandi, Deb, Linda, DJan, and Jann
|Bloggers blogging at a blogger gathering.|
The Vashionistas at the second gathering in 2013
Jann, Sally, Deb
- After my daughter died unexpectedly in June of 2010, the blogging community became a great source of support. As I blogged of my experience, I gained not only readers, but great compassionate support from the blogging community.
- I have never understood the way spammer affect the numbers of views that a blog would have, but I know that as my views grew into the hundreds of views for one post, that I had spammers because I would get nonsense type comments.
- Throughout 2012 and 2013, I regularly had between 400 and 500 views of each post, and I would publish at least 20+ comments for each post. I would not publish comments that appeared to be spam.
- The top number of views that I had for any one post, was 14,778. This post was commented on by 63 people, but I only published about 30 of those comments because of some the attacks that readers made on the comments of others. This post, a remembrance, was written after the death Kara Tippets, a dear, and much loved woman, whom had great influence me and so many others as she battled breast cancer.
- I have used comments moderation since I very first started blogging.
- My 70th birthday post written three years ago had 988 views.
- Travel posts and posts about family in 2016 continued to show high numbers of nearly 2,000 views throughout 2016.
- Admittedly, I lost interest in blogging in 2017, and stopped posting on a regular basis. One would expect readership to go down. The views appear to have been in the 300 - 500 views per post range. I continued to get a lot of comments.
- Then, suddenly, the views seemed to stop, as did the comments.
- I can no longer post comments on blogs I have read for years.
- Not only that, I am getting virtually no comments at all on my posts. I wondered if my blogging friends were mad at me. Had I offended everyone somehow???
- I noticed it seems my posts are no longer appearing on Blogger Reading List.
- I wondered if I had messed everything up when I switched over to Google+, so I stopped posting using Blogger.
- Then, I went back to using Blogger only to post and did not use Google+.
- I’m so confused.
- A dear reader wrote me a private email and told me she could not post to my blog because I needed a gmail address. (I had a gmail address and thought it was linked to my blog.)
- I did a bit of reading about the need to switch to make sure I was publishing using https. Ok, that is when I really get confused!
|Sally teaching high school English|
at Centennial High School
Then, I retired.
I began this blog as a way to keep me writing as I began retirement. I had no idea what direction the blog would go. I even had a hard time naming my blog because at the time the only identity I could come up with was that of a retired English teacher.
I had visions of using the blog as a place to record my thoughts as I launched into a new phase of my life. I had established a consulting business and began to do a bit of professional development in the area of helping content area teachers teach English language learners. That was my passion at the time. Even in retirement, I did not think I would ever want to give up working with teachers who wanted to learn how to best serve their linguistically diverse students. I hoped my blog would reflect my passion for my field of professional experience and expertise that I hoped to continue throughout my years of retirement.
A funny thing happened on my way to working after retirement. After a few years of doing that, I didn't want to do it anymore. I wanted to spend more time with family. I didn't want commitments. I wanted to read, to write, to garden, and I wanted to do all of that in my own way on my own time schedule.
My blog became a place where I wrote about random thoughts, memories, and experiences. It had no focus. That seemed to be just fine with me.
Now, having been retired nearly ten years, I have thought of renaming my blog. I question how much my writing reflects the persona of "retired English teacher." I sometimes wonder if the title puts a lot of pressure on me when I write in a more public format. After all, I really have to focus on my grammar, my punctuation, my sentence structure and all of that. Sometimes, I groan out loud when I see the mistakes I didn't catch before I published a post.
When I began this blog, I had no idea how my world would expand as I began to read blogs and to make blogging friends. Blogging opened up a new world that many of us never knew was out there before we started blogging. I love reading the posts of my other blogging friends. They keep me interested because they are all so interesting.
At times, I wax and wane as a blogger due to family demands, health issues, and other interests, but as I don't plan on abandoning blogging anytime soon.
Perhaps, blogging, as one form of writing, is important to me because of the reflective piece that goes with it. As teachers, as learners, as writers, we find that we are most effective when we practice reflection. I recently came across Peter Pappas' work on what he calls the Taxonomy of Reflection.
His model really speaks to me as I think about blogging and retirement.
Certainly, retirement is an ongoing field of exploration for me. One way that I make sense of my journey through retirement is by writing as a reflective practice.
Most of my writing takes place in my journal, but I also appreciate that I can reflect upon, write about, and read about retirement though blogging. This blog continues to serve as a place where I explore the public expression of my private writing.
I can't imagine my retirement life without blogging in it.
Seeking StillnessDo you have a sanctuary? Do you have a place where you can be still? Do you have a place where you feel safe? For me, my physical sanctuary is my study, which is also the guest room. I have carved out two little corners for myself in this sanctuary. One corner contains my small desk where I write.
The other corner contains my reading chair.
Throughout my life, I have always had to have my solitude. Along with that solitude, I've always needed a place where I could go to close out the world and connect with my inner world. I connect best to that inner world through reading and writing. Without stillness, and that place where I can just "be," I would never be able to function in the world at large.
Despite my need for solitude, and stillness, I also thrive on the energy created by other people around me. I could not be happy if I were not a part of community. In my need for solitude, I am not a loner. I am a "people person," yet, I cannot always be surrounded by people. Ironically, while I re-energize and heal through solitude and stillness, I find that I am also building community through the reading and writing that I do in that solitude.
This morning, I had a Bible study to attend. That meant that I needed to up no later than 7:30. I planned on getting up at 7:00. My husband also needed to get up early, so he had set an alarm for 7:00. I had a rough night. Late in the day yesterday, my gallbladder had acted up. In the middle of the night, I was awakened by nausea. I heard the alarm at 7:00, but I ignored it. At 7:20, my husband came into the bedroom to gently wake me. I appreciated his nudge. I then asked if it had snowed as was predicted. "Yes, but there are no school closures yet," he said. So, I pulled myself out of bed and made my way to the shower as my husband checked the church website and the church school website to see if anything was posted saying that the school was closed due to the snow. If this had been true, our Bible study would have been cancelled.
I know it is the third day of April, but we had snow today, lots of it. After my shower, I walked into the kitchen to get my coffee that my sweet husband had already made for me and looked out of my kitchen window. This was my view:
Today's Reflection: Creating Community through Reading, Writing, and Blogging
In 2007, I read more about blogs in Pipher's book Writing to Change the World. Chapter Fourteen, "Blogs - A Revolutionary New Tool," gives the reader a short summary of the history of blogging and includes a brief assessment of blogging and how people all over the world were using blogs to give voice to all sorts of social and political concerns. She also speaks of blog "building communities, sometimes international ones, of people who do similar work." (p. 221)
It is interesting to note that in the margin of the book next to a paragraph about how blogs provide instant self-publication opportunities that seem to "emphasize self-reflection and social commentary," I drew a * in the margin and re-wrote the words: self-reflection and social commentary." (A * in the margin has always served as an indicator to me that this is an important point to remember from my reading.) At this point in my life, blogging was purely textbook knowledge. I saw its value as a way to connect to the world. I even saw its value as a writing tool, but I had not made it a part of my life.
As I initially intended when I began my day today, I have spent time in my sanctuary where I came seeking stillness. I have rested, and I have read. In my stillness, my inner being has been been at work. My thoughts have given way to expression through writing. This is the natural process for me. It is one I have followed for many years. But now, I write not only for me in my journal, I also write on my blog.
I first began blogging in response to becoming a part of our family blog in June of 2008. This private, family only, blog was created my daughter Keicha, who now writes her own blog at O-townramblings. Our family blog was an active, happy part of our lives through much of 2008. Soon, our exchanges on Blogger were replaced by exchanges on Facebook. I miss our family blog. I wish we would resurrect it and use it again. Like many other things in the life of our family, our family blog died a quiet death after the death of our daughter and sister Julie in 2010. The header of our family blog contained this quote: "AMONG THOSE WHOM I LIKE OR ADMIRE, I CAN FIND NO COMMON DENOMINATOR, BUT AMONG THOSE WHOM I LOVE, I CAN: ALL OF THEM MAKE ME LAUGH." W.H. AUDEN Perhaps, after Julie's death we just could not find ourselves able to tell each other our funny stories. I don't know when we began to have funny stories again. Did we ever have them again? There was just too much sadness, heartbreak, and unfortunately, we soon found ourselves isolated from each other when we needed each other the most.
I began my own blog on June 28, 2008 in response to a class assignment when I was taking a semester long class through the Southern Colorado Writing Project. I did not post another entry until November 4, 2008. (Click to read that post.) It is clear from my writing, that my target audience was my family.
Today, April 3, 2014, I am writing my 299th blog post. Today marks a milestone of sorts.
I have not only spent my day seeking stillness through reading, I am sharing my day via my blog. Through blogging, I have welcomed others into my inner and outer world. I did this quite by accident. I could not have created this special community to which I belong through any sort of design of my own. In some miraculous, serendipitous way, I have found myself a participatory member of the larger community. When I seek stillness, or healing, or laughter, or support, or new insight, or friendship, I do so by sitting in the corner of my sanctuary at my desk. Here, I connect to myself and to others across several continents by writing and by joining in the blogging community conversation. How would I ever imagined all of this when I first heard the word blog?
And, so, as I prepare myself mentally for tomorrow's gallbladder surgery, and for the recovery time that I will have after the surgery, I find it interesting that I not only feel it necessary to tell my closest friends about the procedure, but I also find it important to share this information with my blogging community. I hope to be back reading and writing soon. In the meantime, know that your friendships have sustained me and enriched my life more than any of you could ever imagine.
Reflection on Blogging from December, 2008Of course that is the question...I started this blog, and sometimes I wonder why I continue to keep it. Do I write for an audience? That is a question that just appeared on Jim Burke's ning. It is a question that I am asking myself as I write this blog post. It is a question that does not have just one answer.
I have always enjoyed writing and have kept various types of journals over the years. I kept sporatic journals when my children were small as an attempt to just try and keep some sort of record of what life was like during that period of my life. I didn't really have an audience in mind when I kept those journals, but they were often more than just some sort of daily log of experiences. I wish I had been more disciplined in my journal attempts during those days because now I do have an audience for what I wrote during those busy, hectic times: myself and possibly my children.
Many young moms are blogging these days. They create fabulous blogs full of wonderful pictures of their children. They are pretty blogs filled with flowers and flowing designs. They represent the technological gifts that this generation of moms have developed. I envy these young moms and their blogs because they will have a precious record of their lives with their children. What a gift and a blessing. What I wouldn't give to have the same type of archive of my childrens' activities when they were young. I think these moms must have a permanent camera in their hands to capture all those adorable photos. They also must be incredibly organized to be able to produce these wonderful blogs, cook the meals, do the laundry and clean the house.
When one writes, the audience does not always present itself immediately. We wrtie because we have a need to record our lives. We write to express our dreams, our needs, our disappointments, our heartbreak, our insights, or even as a means of trying to make sense out of what is going on around us. Writing is intensely personal, and for that reason, we are sometimes hesitant to put down our most intimate thoughts and emotions on paper because we fear an unknown or known audience. Audience can intimidate us and cause us not to write or not to write well.
As a teacher, I now see I might have confused my students when I taught about audience and writing. I would tell my students that they did not need to consider audience when they wrote in their journals. In fact, I encouraged them not to think about the reader while writing. I told them that they were just to write. They did not have to worry about punctuation or spelling or any other grammatical rules as they wrote in their journals. I just wanted them to feel free to write without being intimidated by feeling that they must write perfectly if they were to write at all. I told them to focus on developing voice.
Many of my students would write stunning journal entries. They would amaze me with the uniqueness of their individual voices. I would get glimpses into their true selves through their journal writing. Sometimes, I would be heartbroken by what they had to share. Sometimes I would be alarmed. Always, I was grateful that they trusted me enough to write transparently and honestly when they knew I would read what they wrote. I was their audience, and they trusted me enough to write honestly.
Othertimes, when the students had a writing assignment, I would teach about audience. I would remind them that they should consider their audience when they wrote. Unfortunately, many times, these formal writings lacked an ability to touch any type of audience. They became stilted, boring, and seemed to only represent some sort of stylized writing that came about from trying to follow the form style writing that they had been taught in previous years of schooling. This writing would lack life. It might be perfectly representative of a five paragrah essay, but it lacked true meaning. The concept of writing for an audience was difficult for many students to grasp.
When my father became very ill and was hospitalized just days before he died, my students took a quarterly essay test that I had to grade before I could leave to drive over to Grand Junction to be with him. They had to respond to Li-Young Lee's poem, "The Grandfather." They knew they were writing for me - their teacher. They wrote mostly to get a grade. They clearly understood their audience. Interestingly, after all the responses were read, the grades were assigned, and I had left my role as teacher to drive to my father's bedside to become a daughter who only had a few more days to spend with her father, I found that my focus as an audience who had read assigned poetry responses shifted. I found myself recalling the poem, and even more importantly, I recalled the responses my students had shared with me about the poem in their tests. Their words began to comfort me. They gave me strength. They allowed me to peacefully surrender myself to the moment I found myself in. I realized the power of the written word in a unique way. The freshness of my students' youthful responses that spoke of the value of caring for the elderly grandfather while treasuring his final stories spoke to me. We don't always know what response our audience will have to our writing.
Now, I find that I question the appropriateness and usefullness of my own attempts to write by using a blog. One of the most freeing lessons I embraced during this summer's writing project, was the concept that "there are not final drafts; there are only due dates." I can hear Katherine Frank's voice in my head whenever I repeat this saying to myself. I also embrace Anne Lamott's quote about some writing being a "shitty rough draft." The problem with a blog is that those types of drafts are immediately published! Horrors! What was I thinking???
Blogging is certainly the new "in thing" to do. I have so enjoyed our family blog. It has kept me smiling when I read the funny responses my children post. It has been a place where we can share our pictures and update our lives with each other. In today's world, so many of us have children spread all over the place, so it is nice to have a place where we can connect. The blog has been that place for us. It almost reminds me of the old round robin letters that my grandmother's family would circulate.
Blogs that are successful, seems to require audience. One would not continue to blog very long if one did not have some sort of audience. The beauty of the blog is the ability to have a place where one can post something that can generate an immedite response.
As of today, the jury is still out. I am not sure of the benefit of this blog except for serving as a place where I can create a bit of a history of what is going on in my life at the moment. I am newly retired. I struggle with my new status at times. I miss the academic life, and yet I am also happy to leave the daily demands of it behind. I miss my students. I miss the interaction. I miss my audience. That is one thing a teacher always has - an audience. As I used to say, "Just give me a stage!" But, I also like to think that my classroom was a place where we were all learning together. I like to think that I created a more generative, constructivist type of classroom. It wasn't just like the classrooms where I went to school most of the time. It was interactive and interesting. Certainly, if a blog is going to be successful, it must be all of those things too. At the moment, I think my blog mostly serves as a place where I can contemplate and explore where I want to go with my life as as a retired teacher. I don't necessarily need an audience to do that. I only need a place where I can record my thoughts and activities so I don't get lost. So, for now the blog continues.
A Short Reflection on Blogging from 2013:And, now in November of 2013, I wonder what my life would be like if I had not taken up blogging. I am grateful for the richness that blogging has brought to my life. What are your thoughts about blogging? Why do you blog? Has blogging opened new doors in your life you did not even realize were there?
Jann and Linda kept watch from the stairs leading to the shore.
|Breakfast out on Vashon Island|
We saw fog and mist.
It was all beautiful.
These two feed the soul and the body.
I will arrive home Monday afternoon.
He gave me a reprieve, for a few days, but as soon as I get home,
As I write these words, I realize how conflicted I am over the roles that change and structure play in my life. I need structure and hate change. I love change and hate structure. Deep down inside I have always resisted rules, structures, and schedules. I feel very trapped if I am not free to do what I want to do when I want to do it. My daily struggle involves one where I try not to do things as the spirit leads because if I only did things when I am inspired, a lot of things that need to be done would never get done.
If you read that previous rambling paragraph, you may be saying to yourself, "This girl is really confused. Does she like change or not? Does she like structure or not?" My answer would be, "I truly am confused! You've got that right. I am a mess. I love/hate structure. I fight against structure because I feel it confines me. I must have structure to do well. Change scares me. Change is exciting to me when I am in control of the change." Can any of you relate?
As a teacher, I relied on structure in order to have good classroom management. As a ninth grade English teacher, much of my task was to teach order and structure. Much of my day consisted of teaching the structure of a sentence, a paragraph, an essay. Other days, my focus in teaching was on teaching the structure of a story. I loved teaching structure to my students. I insisted that structure was evident in the way my classroom was maintained, and that it was evident in all writing assignments except for journals.
After retirement, I struggled most with structure. I now longer lived by the bell. I no longer had to stick to a lesson plan. I was free to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. Since I needed a hobby of sorts, and because I love to write, I took up blogging. I had a slow start, but then, I found myself spending at least an hour a day blogging. Blogging connected me to an entirely different life. I soon found that a day just was not complete without visiting my blogging friends.
Since we moved in October, blogging has really taken a backseat in my life. This is not because I don't love reading blogs and writing blog posts. This is not because blogging is no longer important in my life. It is because of change and a lack of structure in my life that blogging has been pushed to the back. I so admire those of you who write blogs on a daily basis filled with photos, sayings, and family events. Here it is a week after Easter and my camera full of photos taken on that day is still upstairs untouched. I have not downloaded the photos. I have not written a blog post about our wonderful holiday, and now the news is a week old!
When we first moved, I couldn't even find my desk. I didn't turn my computer on for days. I didn't clear off a place for it on my desk and plug it in for weeks. Then, I actually was unhappy with the location of my office space and my desk. The room selected by me, and the only room suitable for such an area, is in the basement in what seems to me to be the most disconnected from life corner of the house. Needing connection to life to write, I find I have a very difficult time even wanting to enter my office.
Realizing my dislike of my office space, I purchased a desk for the upstairs guest room. This has caused me to feel a bit more connected to life and blogging, but so far, the location is still not totally working out for me. I don't want to move my entire office upstairs, so I continue to feel disconnected to my space for writing.
Then, there is the lack of structure in my life these days. Jim and I have really struggled with this. We found that a new house means that life get lived a little differently. The routine was disrupted when we moved. We are beginning to adjust to our new environment, but it has taken us some time. We have both dealt with multiple health issues in the past year. These issues have not gone away since we moved. These issues have also disrupted our routines in life.
At times, during the past five months, I've thought of giving up blogging since I just could not keep up with reading blogs, commenting, and writing my own posts. I have not given up blogging, but my blogging life has certainly changed. I hope to get some structure back when it comes to blogging. I hope my blogging friends will bear with me. Know that I think of you often, read your blogs as I can, and write when I finally am able to set the time aside to do so.
As I have thought about my future in blogging, I have been pondering adding a new blog. This blog will remain, but I am exploring the idea of adding a second blog. This seems like nearly a crazy thing to do since I can't keep up with this blog, but I hope to create a blog with a different theme and with more structure. Again, don't give up on me as I explore this idea. Stay tuned.
It is difficult for me to describe how much these blogging friendships have meant to me over the past two years. Exploring that topic will have to left for another day. For today, I am just going to tell you a little about the time I spent with some of these treasured people I met online. These folks share themselves and their lives with me and others in this unique place we call the blogosphere. According to Wikipedia, "The blogosphere is made up of all blogs and their interconnections. The term implies that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network in which everyday authors can publish their opinions." While I like the Wikipedia's definition of the blogosphere, I think it does not begin to describe the interconnections and connected community that actually has been developed and established between some bloggers.
Friends from Blogosphere meet face to face
Betsy and George
Betsy had contacted me several months ago to tell me of the travel plans she and her husband George were making. She said that planned on coming to Colorado Springs and hoped we could arrange a meeting while they were in town. Emails went back and forth where dates for the visit were given and then plans for how we would spend the time began to take shape. I cannot tell you how excited I was to actually get to meet Betsy. She has been such a dear and supportive friend to me ever since we met online several years ago.
|Betsy and Sally finally meet|
After lunch, it was my great delight to take Betsy and George to see one of my most favorite vistas in the entire world. I love the spot where I photographed them standing with the beautiful red rocks of Garden of the Gods behind them. Note that blue sky! Note those sunny yellow shirts on two very sunny people. Don't you just love the colors in the photograph? The colors characterize the day. My husband and I had the privilege of spending a beautiful late summer day in September walking among those red rocks under a perfect blue sky in colorful Colorado with two lovely folks from Tennessee. Can you think of anything better? This day confirmed what I already knew. Blogging friends are the BEST! Blogging friends are treasured, dear old friends.
A Weekend with Blogging Friends
The sight of those women, dear old friends to me and to the others, all in the flesh in one spot, was almost unbelievable.
|Hello! We finally meet!|
Deb and Sandi greet Linda & D.Jan
as Jann and I wait our turn to hug our dear friends.
|Sandi, Deb, Linda, D.Jan, and Jann|
Ladies at the Lighthouse
Ladies I can count on to shed some light on many topics
So, once I heard about the tsunami warning, I immediately went to my Hawaiian blogger friend Kay's blog (click to link to her blog) to see if she was ok. She is such a dear person. I read her blog daily, and, even though we have never really 'met,' I've really grown fond her and her husband and her mother. Her mother, originally from Japan, lives with her. They still have family in Japan. Kay is always so kind in her words when she comments on my blog posts. Yes, I think, it is amazing. I am connected to people a great distance from me because of my blog, and I am genuinely concerned about their safety and well being.
I wasn't able to see a posting by Kay until later in the morning on Friday, March 1l. While I was work at the University and on a break, I finally was able to read her most recent blog assuring us that they were safe.
Being able to read a blog on my iPhone also amazes me. Technology has made my world not only bigger but also smaller. It is bigger because I have access to people I never would have met otherwise. It is smaller because the miles that separate us mean little in cyber land.
While I was reading about Kay's situation, I was still worried about the family of one of my student Junichi who is from Tokyo, Japan. He had not yet come to class at 9:30 on Friday. Junichi never misses class, and he usually the second to arrive in the morning. We were all concerned. Was he trying to reach his family? Were they ok? Had they suffered any kind of harm or damage? Yes, because I teach international students, my world is smaller. After all the years that I have been teaching second language learners, I am connected to students who come from many countries and speak many languages.
|Sally with Junichi using iPhone to photograph cake|
Woo Huck on far left
I can't even imagine what she saw on her long journey. I can't even imagine the fear that must have gone through her mind. I wonder if she worried how she would find her home once she reached it. I keep thinking of this woman and wonder at her stamina and determination. I feel privileged to be able to teach her son. He works hard. He studies hard. He is a son for whom she can feel great pride. I am grateful that his life has not been touched by the loss of his mother while he is in the United States. I am sure he must be devastated as he sees the photos coming out of Japan. He will need a great deal of support from others in the days and weeks ahead.
article about him and other Libyan students in the United States in The Denver Post. In fact, I was very shocked when I saw our former student's picture posted in the newspaper. (Photo from The Denver Post)
Yes, indeed, my world in smaller and much wider because I teach. It is also much enriched with friendships that span many countries and many languages. My heart is open to the struggles that other nations and their people are going through. I have worked with, taught, grown to respect, and to care deeply about their youth. My mind is broader, and my soul is enriched because I understand how connected we all are no matter what we believe or what languages we speak.
I am grateful to be part of a profession that allows me to link my life to lives of so many who have come from all over the world. It has been a blessing. My life is much richer because my path has crossed the path of many students from many lands. These students have touched my heart as we labor together in the classroom. Their families are never far from their minds. For that reason, their struggles, their heartbreaks, and the devastation that touches those they left behind at home touch my heart deeply.