Actions in Activities, Musings

The Most Successful Dud I’ve Ever Written

Last week I wrote a letter to my mom.

It was one of my “last minute not really proofread but whatever” posts. It was done, I only had a few hours until it would go live and I needed to go to sleep. Still, I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. I noticed that I kept mentioning moms. Then it hit me. It went something like this: “Man, Mom is really brave. More moms should be like her. I really need to go to bed. What time do I need to get up? I talk about parenting a lot. Hey, Mom!”

It didn’t take me long to make the changes needed. I didn’t think it was my greatest post ever, but there was only one person I really wanted to read it anyway.

The next morning I had to be up early, so I shared the link to my usual places, then left the house and didn’t get back until 8pm. I was exhausted, so I decided to check Facebook and my email and go to sleep. I got as far as checking my email and finding that my blog had gotten over 150 views that day. Well, yeah, not going to bed right away. It turns out that someone shared my link on a fairly high-traffic page.

I learned two things about blogging that day.

1) Just write. Really. I know everyone says it, but it’s true. Write the words your heart is saying. It doesn’t matter if you get views, just do your best. I sincerely thought that post was a flop, but it was for my mom, so I didn’t care. Write for yourself, not for some enigmatic group of people who may or may not ever find you. Blogging will never be very rewarding if you are only trying to get people to your website.


2) Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to share what you love. If people don’t like it, they won’t join you in it.  If people like it, they will. Don’t be afraid to get to know influential people. If you become friends, cool. If they ignore you, cool. Don’t be afraid of success or failure. If you succeed, learn from it. If you fail, learn from it.

Writing is something I love, so I’m going to share it.

Do you love writing? Do you have ideas about things? Check this out! The world needs new ideas. Share yours.

Farm and Family

Beginning Blogging

I frequently see homeschooling moms using the blogosphere in writing assignments. I think writing is fantastic, and blogging is a great way to share what you write and get better. On the other hand, I don’t think blogging should be a school thing. If it is made into one then it becomes a chore. Writing a blog should be encouraged, but not forced. Talk to the child and ask if they want to start a blog. If not, leave it there. If you want them to try writing, have them write a short essay about a topic they like.  If they end up liking writing then maybe your could revisit the idea of a blog.

But let’s say your child is wanting to start a blog. How do you help them get started? Well first you will need to get them set up on a blogging site. The two main ones are WordPress and Blogger. I started out with Blogger and now use WordPress. Both are good, both have different strengths.

For a beginning blogger I would suggest using Google Blogger. It is simple. It is customizable, but not overwhelmingly so. There are more privacy settings. You can make it a public blog, an invite only blog, or a blog that only “authors” have access to. For someone who is relatively good with computers  I would suggest WordPress. Both are great and easy to use, but WordPress can be overwhelming.

Once you have a website set up, just let them write. As often as they want, whatever they want (within reason). I have imported almost every single blog post I’ve ever written to AndieBelle (I lost a few when my website crashed a few years ago and I moved over here). Every so often I go back and read my old posts. There are pages of bad poetry, vague recipes, run on sentences, spelling and grammar worse than what I have now, and content gaps that stretched for the better part of a year. It may not be the best content, but it is what got me started. If you pay attention, I actually still write about the same things, the quality is just usually better now.

Now all you have to do is hand them the reins and enjoy the ride. Don’t forget to comment on their posts and share it with everyone. Comments from adults are the most encouraging to a kid.


Obstacles in Your Path

Lindsey Stirling is an amazing musician. After watching this video of her at a TEDx event, that was all that I could think. It starts out playing Electric Daisy Violin, but it’s all wrong. The violin is out of tune, and Lindsey knows it. Her usual cheerful persona is nowhere to be found, but she smiles anyway. It was actually hard to watch. She keeps playing, and the song sounds better, but it’s still wrong.

She goes on to talk about her next song, Transcendence. She tells about some of the story behind the song and about the name. Then, with what appears to be fear and trembling, she plays the song. It still isn’t right, it’s different. I have no musical training, so I’m not sure what she did, but it almost sounds like she’s playing a different part. Regardless of what it is she does, she does it on the spot, and it improves the song.

I’ll be honest, it sounds like a bad fan cover video. But I think it is a fantastic example of a great musician. How you react when you are given sub-par equipment or material shows who you are. If you can still scratch out a tune that isn’t necessarily easy on the ears, but still not boo-worthy, that is a sign of greatness.

Now, for me, the music thing doesn’t actually apply, I can play piano a very little bit and I can hardly read music at all. But this is a lesson that transfers easily.

Lately I have been having trouble with my WordPress dashboard. I don’t know what the deal is, but when I go to write an entry, it won’t let me use the setting I like. You may not be familiar with the setup on WordPress, but there are two ways you can write a post, Visual and Text. Visual gives you the normal word document buttons like for bold I for italic and, possibly my favorite button, the hyperlink symbol. Text forces you to use code. It is great for embedding video and stuff like that, but I haven’t done any coding since I was about 13. I don’t like writing in Text mode. It puts me just a little further up the crazy meter than I was that morning and the words don’t flow like they usually do.

If you have read my writing long, you probably have noticed editing is not my strongest weapon in my English arsenal. It’s wright up their whith spelling and grammer. I read the words in my head and the little voice assume they say what I meant for them to say. On more than one occasion Mom has hacked my account and fixed something. as of yet, she has not just outright deleted a post, for this I am thankful.

These are just a couple of the things I have had to overcome to get any writing done these past few weeks. So what kind of writing comes out when my pen gets squeezed? I can’t say that I am exactly proud of what I have written under these conditions, but my stats have not been exactly discouraging either.

Actions in Activities, Farm and Family, Short

Change of Plans

As I have mentioned a lot lately, I am very busy. And, what that unfortunately means is, I need to cut some things down. I’m not staying up as late looking at Pinterest or watching Youtube videos, and now, I am not staying up late to work on my blog. Honestly, I’ve tried! I start to fall asleep at the keyboard! Mom says I’m on a grown-up’s schedule now. The scary thing is, I’m getting used to it. I actually tried to sleep in yesterday, the one day this week I’m not working, but I couldn’t sleep past 9.

Enough prevaricating about the bush. I’m cutting my blogging. *runs in circles screaming* NO! No. Not completely! I’m just cutting it back a bit for the sake of quality and sanity. Starting next week I will go back to posting every Wednesday. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been posting twice a week for very long. It’s only been seven weeks, but I think it served it’s purpose. I have been writing much more than I was before I gave myself a deadline. I think that is a key to getting things done sometimes. Giving yourself a good hard deadline and sticking to it.

I was discouraged about quitting. It seems like I’ve done that more this year than ever. I hate that. I don’t quit! But, in looking back, I noticed something encouraging. I have been posting every week since July 2nd, and either every Tuesday or Wednesday since July 23rd.

So, I’m not quitting, I’m just changing plans and reprioritizing.


Live Dangerous

Lately I’ve been thinking about a lot of things. In there among the fandoms and random word obsessions, there is a good bit of deep, contemplative thinking. This is what makes it to my blog most of the time nowadays. I’m not sure what to make of this. I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

If you are new to my blog, but you know me in real life, you may be thinking you are on the wrong blog. There are very few people who I talk about this stuff with. You probably see me as the girl who is either the youngest in the room or the oldest. Quiet most of the time, and then randomly coming out with odd little things that don’t quite make sense. Or I might always be talking, but about things that really don’t matter that much or one of my fandoms. It kind of depends on where you know me from, but in either circumstance, you are probably pretty confused right now.

If you only know me from my blog, and you met me on the street, you would not recognise me. I’m not as introspective in everyday life as I am on here.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. It feels kind of hypocritical. I’m two different people based on where you see me. But, this is who I am when I’m really me.

This really bothers me. I am a person who needs adventure and danger. I get weird when I am too safe for too long. I am an adrenaline junky. I love suspenseful movies and stories. I love rollercoasters. I love traveling.

But, I still fall into a rut of complacency. I don’t do anything radical. I get lazy and unintentional. I end up hurting people because of my carelessness.

I want to live dangerously. I want to do hard things. I want to be intentional. I want to be someone that people see as a profound thinker.

I write on here to work on being bold.  It’s not normal for me to share things like this, but I’m working on it. I want people to really know me.

Last Sunday I volunteered to lead the girls discussion in youth group. It was about the question of why we fellowship with other Christians. I love thinking about this kind of thing, but it usually just stays inside my head, or comes out my fingers to this blog. It was kind of weird, I had said I would do it before I realized what I was saying. It just kind of popped out. I was terrified, but I loved it. I attribute that spontaneity and boldness to my openness on my blog.

The fun person who talks about Doctor Who, Robin Hood and Lord Of The Rings is really me, but, like everyone, there’s more to me than that.


This Side

From this side of the keyboard, it’s pretty exciting. I know it may be tough to fathom from that side, but it’s true. I never know when I’m going to have a random stranger comment or a sudden spike in views.

Most of the time I get on after being away for the day and I find nothing has changed. I don’t have any views or comments. I’m still waiting for someone to link back to one of my posts. It’d be really cool if that happened some day, as long as it was for a good reason. You know, one of those hard hitting, knitty gritty deep posts that people go nuts over. Maybe one day.

Sometimes I come back and I’m greeted with a comment. This always gets me just a little bit ecstatic. That notification, in a sea of notifications, get’s me more excited than any of the others. A comment or message on Facebook, meh, probably not for me since the family shares a Facebook page. An email, probably just a promotional or a message from the library telling me I owe them money. But a comment on my blog? You pretty much just made my day.

Likes and follows are tricky. Most of the time they are just from random people I never hear from again. I’m never really even sure if they actually read my stuff or if they are just fishing. Most of the time it’s just fishing. And then every once in a while, there’s a follow that gets me excited.

There are a few things I’m trying to work on with my writing. I’m trying to step away from the “newsy” type posts and towards the topical posts. You may have noticed this if you have been reading for a while. It kind of just started developing at first. I would be writing, and then I would go off on a tangent. This kept happening. I would be telling you a story and I’d end up with a moral! What? This had always been more of a “letter to grandma” type blog, telling about what’s going on in the family. My blog has been slowly evolving from a friends and family newsletter to a collection of topical posts. It doesn’t really matter if you know me personally now. This may sound cold, but to me it’s a good thing.

I’ve been making mental notes on blogs I consider successful. One of my very favorites is Cynthia Jeub‘s blog. She has really inspired me to share more from my heart. I don’t need to hide who I really am, this is my territory. My domain 😉 . When I first started reading her blog I thought it would have more stories of life with 15 siblings and I was kind of disappointed when I found out it wasn’t. She actually doesn’t mention them all that often. But I like what I found instead much better. Cynthia is humble about her struggles.

One of the things I’ve realized in trying to improve my blog. My posts are way too long. If I am browsing a website and I see that an article is really long, I’m probably just going to skip it unless it looks really intriguing. So I’m working on that. I’m going to have to keep telling myself that it’s ok to be in-exhaustive on a subject. You can always come back later and go deeper. It’s better to be concise and still have their attention by the end of the post, than to fill them in on all the details and be boring.

I hope I never stop writing. It is my getaway. My escape. It let’s me create my own world, or see the real world in a different light.

So, there you have it. The view from the keyboard.

Musings, Pictures

Electric Daisy

I feel like that’s a good description of me. Simple and plain, yet complex and different. Le song

I’m done with my series about camp. Sigh. So, now I”m not sure what to write about other than recent happenings. It’s been about two months since I’ve posted an actual update, so for now I have plenty to talk about. 🙂

Some things haven’t changed though. I’m still jobless. I still volunteer at the library.  My only source of income is babysitting, and that has been going slow. I’m still living at home. I’m still Annie. I’m still a child of God. I still write; for better or for worse, whether you like it or not (of course, you can always stop reading).

In some ways it feels like this Summer has been going on forever. The heat. The lack of a job. The lack of school. It feels like it is never going to end. Thankfully we’ve had some cool days recently, but even that doesn’t change it much. Endless Summer. I’m not talking about a tanning lotion or something.  For whatever reason I was thinking of August as being the end of Summer. I’m not sure why. We are getting closer, but it’s not really fall yet. We still have about a week left before the schools start around here (we don’t start until after Labor day), but even then it won’t actually be fall. Just be cold, would ya!

I start my journey of becoming a doula this month.  I’m really excited, but extremely nervous. For years I’ve been looking forward to beginning my quest to become a midwife. Now that I’m finally here, I’m not sure that it’s what I want anymore. I still love birth and I still think it is part of God’s plan for my life, but I do have other options. Before this year I never thought I could do anything else. I wasn’t smart enough to go to college, but I could learn a trade. Midwifery was something I could do from home. I could be a stay at home mom. But I realize now, I was putting myself in a box. As ridiculous as it sounds, if  you know much about midwifery at all you know that it isn’t something to be taken lightly. I wasn’t thinking big about something that is a big deal.  DSCF0532

I had been hinging too many things on my obligatory, impending husband. The assumption that I would get married at a young age and have children right off the bat. The normal Christian-conservative-homeschool-girl dream. What a twisted idea. That a man would fix my “problems” and make me “right”. This was a very subconscious thing for me; I’ve never really been very traditional. These ideas sneak in like the silent shadows of poison vapor and they are very hard to wake up from. There is only one man who can do “fix” me, and I already have Him.  Unhappy wives, marriages in shambles, kids with broken hearts. I’m seeing, more and more, how true it is that “it’s better to have no man than to have a sub-par one”.

I’ve discovered that I really love to write and that I’m not dumb. I could go to college.  I could study journalism (to my broadcast journalism, former DJ mother’s great joy). I could expand my academic horizons.

I deeply love reading. I could open a used book store. It would be complete with spiral staircase. Even if it didn’t really need it, there would be perhaps a little landing with a comfy chair. The walls would have old newspaper clippings and there would be cushy chairs everywhere. We would only have hardbacks and specialize in old books. It would be a place for everyone who loves good literature, young or old. There will, of course, be at least one shop cat.

I am a person that needs adventure. My parents have known this, it’s part of the reason they sent me to California all by myself when I was not even 10. I must travel or I will grow dim and witless (name that book).

So maybe I will end up a missionary midwife and ride around in the bush tending women in their strongest, yet weakest moments. Or I might be a foreign concordant and inform you on the news of the world. And maybe I’ll wind up being the eccentric book and cat lady who disappears every once in a while, to who knows where. And at some point I might find a man who makes me feel like slowing down, but not much, and begin our joint adventure.

Two things are certain. I will still be Annie, and everything that means; and I will always end up back home.