Intentional Weekend~ Stop, Write, & Read

I read a blog post early this morning that criticizes another woman's blog. It wasn't guarded at all–just wide open and very frank. The crtique centered on the blogger being too positive and not "real" enough. However, the critic freely admitted that she doesn't even read the blog in question. She just looks at the pictures! I can promise you, she's missing a great deal of real. The words are honest and not always dripping with sweetness and light. Of course, you can't know that if you don't take the time to read the words.

When a long-ago friend first tried to persude me to blog, she pointed out that blogging would give me a platform to write more than the 500 words that was my (oft-exceeded) column limit. I admit, that facet is what sold me. I could write a complete thought, explore a big idea, really dig deeply. 

Not long after I got going, several people advised that blog readers won't stick around for more than 300-500 words, so keep it short. Furthermore, no post should ever go up without a picture, preferably several pictures. Blogging wisdom from those in the know. To that, over time, I heard not to focus too much on homeschooling, because that readership isn't as wide and I'd alientate people who don't have time to do some of those things with their own kids. Not to focus too much on domestic arts; it alienates those who aren't interested or don't have time for cooking or crafting or making beds. Not to write sentences that are too complex; people are used to tweets and status updates.

I think there is a place for quick social media. Often, I prefer to text over calling.

It's 15 minutes until curfew. are you more than 15 minutes from home?

overtime. down by 1. katie at the free throw line.

Long day. Longer night. Wish you were here.

I see the benefit of making connections and getting conversations started with a few quick lines. But I don't fo a moment think I can get to know someone by just glancing through the sum total of their Twitter updates. Further, I don't know them or understand their message if I just look at the pictures and am too intellectually lazy to actually read what they have to say.  Honestly, I don't think you can really know a blogger even if you read every word and scrutinize every picture. I know I've been very surprised, both for the good and the bad, to discover that someone isn't at all who they appear to be online. 

All that said, if we are going to communicate with one another primarily in a digital world, I think there is a place for big thoughts, for carefully constructed language, for posts that fully explore an idea and invite thoughtful comments and conversations. I think we need to listen carefully to one another. This weekend, when I visit blogs, I'm going to read all the words, hear as much nuance as I can, and respond thoughtfully. The latter of which will be a big change for me, because I never leave comments. Comboxes are terrifying.

My time online is super-limited–or at least it should be. If I'm here, I want it to have meaning. It might be counter-cultural, but really, I don't want to waste a precious moment of this life on twaddle. If you're a 500 word reader, it's time to click away. If you'd like to stick around, I'll write about what's real in this snippet of time.

No pictures with this post. I welcome you to use your imagination to paint one in your head: I'm sitting up in bed. The house is quiet because the little girls are still sleeping; Mary Beth spent the night with a friend; the little boys have left with Mike for soccer; Christian stayed up until 4 AM playing guitar in the basement and won't appear 'til late afternoon; Michael worked the night shift and will sleep long; and Paddy will roll out of bed shortly to go earn some money referreeing a basketball championship. I awakened with Mike and enjoyed a way-too-brief conversation before they headed out into the dark for warmups before an 8AM game. I saw them off and then I headed for the exercise bike, still in my flannels. I prayed the Morning Prayer with Divineoffice.com while biking in my nightgown. Then I went to the kitchen to fix a cup of tea. I noticed that there are dishes in the sink. There were no dishes when I went to bed last night: midnight foragers, no doubt. Not wishing to spend too much time in a messy dish world, I crawled back into bed to write. I've just replaced the flannel sheets with lovely white Egyptian cotton ones. The bed is a good place. The tea steams on the nightstand beside me, Vanilla Rooibos in a brown stoneware mug. It's quiet and calm and my world feels peaceful this morning in a way I haven't experienced in over six weeks. It's been a long, difficult six weeks. I pray the peace holds.  

I have plans today to sew with my girls, to deep clean several troublesome corners, to fully engage in domesticity. Then I think I'll probably join Nicky and Stephen when they watch Dr. Rubio's team take on Joe Skinner's team in the basketball championship tonight. That's how I roll. That's me. I'm looking forward to being me in the peace. Please, God, let there be peace.

After last night's thunderstorms, I hear birds chirping outside. They are very inviting. Could it be spring for real? I really should pull all those weeds around the tulip shoots. Those birds are insistent. So inviting and insistent, that I'm going to wave goodbye to you, pull on a UVA sweatshirt and a pair of Paddy's sweatpants, and finish that mug of tea on the front porch. 

Thanks for sharing a bit of morning with me today. Happy weekend, friends.

Comments

  1. Tiffany says

    Thank you, Elizabeth. I’m grateful for you. I don’t homeschool or sew, and I’m not Catholic, but I love coming to your blog for the thoughts you share. When I started out reading blogs, there was a long list of them I tried to read. Now there are only a few that I read regularly, and yours is one of them. It is a great blessing to me.

  2. says

    I read so many posts and want to comment so many times and never find the right words. So I just read, admire and return. I love people who comment. I like to read comments other people leave. But leaving them myself is not that frequent. Reading past 500 words is something I do often!!
    Lisa

  3. says

    Lovely. Your blog is comfort to me. For 5 years you have taught me so much. Influential isn’t even the right word. I know I am getting Real Life here.

  4. says

    So timely. I was just contemplating about how I saw on a FB wall a thread about how “idiotic” some parents are that let their children watch XYZ tv show and a bunch of parents jumping on saying “yeah those parents are lazy” and so on and so forth. I don’t think people realize that what they write, LOTS of people read it. And LOTS of times it’s “those” people that are reading and then thinking “she thinks I’m an idiot”.
    And on the flip side, I know those people that were saying the not nice comments, want conversions to the faith, whether big or small conversions. But when you say those things…no one is going to convert to your thinking, most especially the ones who may need or want the conversion. You can’t make a connection when you put a wall that divides, even if you then try to open a door, it’s not going to be easy to get people to do through it.
    I thought about blogging about this…I’ll count this as my “getting it off my chest” in your scary (NOT) combox ;) Have a great peaceful weekend.

  5. says

    You hit the spot, sister! Yes I am Catholic too, with “just” two sons (and two children in heaven) and homeschooled for about three months.
    I don’t sew but you have inspired me to knit again, to slow down, to be more centered on the home despite a very fulltime job teaching special ed 40 minutes away. Your work, your writing, is a Christian witness, an apostolate if I am spelling that correctly.
    Thanks for your presence in our lives.

  6. Patty says

    I loved all 500+ words and found your morning scene easier to picture without an actual picture. I guess in this case one picture is not worth 1000 words. As you described what makes a “good” blog I came to realize why so many blogs seem so much like each other. Yours is different from the mold, in a very good way. I find each of your posts to be full of very useful information and lots of wisdom.

  7. says

    I so appreciate that, thanks to the bogging world, I have met and come to know so many wonderful women … women whose paths are quite diffent from mine, women who likely move in social and cultural circles quite unlike my own. I welcome the myriad opportunities available in the blogging world to learn and grow through the snippets other women share. I love long thoughtful posts, and short poetic ones too :-) There aren’t a whole lot of blogs I read, and my online time is limited: I so appreciate the blogs where love and truth and goodness and faith shine through. We all have hard days and selfish opinions and high hopes and such deep dreams; we are all human, all beloved children of God. It is a gift to be able to share bits and pieces of our lives and thoughts, as if tossed into bottles sent spinning across the wild lands and seas.

  8. Mary says

    I love your words, Elizabeth. All 500+ of them! I have always been so very grateful for every grace filled word found here. Thank you so much, darling!

  9. says

    I’ve been a regular reader of yours since you started this blog! Your words are so often inspiring and positive. And so are your pictures. Even when writing about negative happenings or people in your life, you are always so kind with your words while being honest at the same time. You will admit your hurt but never resort to angry words to put another person down.
    I enjoy reading here as you inspire me to do better. And I appreciate your wordiness! Often, blogs that always keep things under 500 words sound like a commercial to me. Some thoughts are easily expressed in under 500 words and some need much more. I’m glad you don’t shy away from the ideas that are too big for just 500 words.

  10. says

    Lovely words. I’ve been blogging for just over a year and don’t get as many comments as I’d wish. Many of my posts are over that 500 word limit, and often a picture just doesn’t belong there. I write about whatever pleases me: homeschooling, peace, faith, weird stuff which happens to me , and am glad when it resonates with someone.
    I think it’s sad our attention span has withered so! “Must have pictures”, “Short, easy sentences”, “Short passages” – my goodness. Soon we’ll be a world of 5 year olds struggling to read, yet lacking the child’s natural hunger and desire!

  11. says

    Bravo, Elizabeth. Bravo! (Brava, I suppose….)
    Really, I blog to write. I blog to share, to work things out, to keep my head on straight. :) Sometimes there aren’t pictures. :) I blog, in part, to do the “duc et altum”–to go out into the deep, as JPII said. And if cute clip art doesn’t go with that…well…..too bad. :)
    Love your blog. I get so much inspiration from it!

  12. Megan says

    ELizabeth,
    I’m in agreement with Lisa: I can never find the right words; comboxes are terrifying! I don’t have a blog. I’ve tried, and tried, and finally realized that I’m a READER, not a writer:)
    Your life is such a blessing, and I’m so thankful that you’ve opened your family, your home, and yourself to us in this space.
    Megan

  13. Mama Martin says

    Thank you for sharing. May peace go with you. My ‘find’ this week is “Thank You that the more I let You meet my needs, the less vulnerable I am to temptation and the stronger I am to do Your will.” by Ruth Myers from A Treasury of Praise Day 69.

  14. Loretta S. says

    I really liked the no picture post – maybe it should be a Saturday feature? To balance out Friday’s moment? Also, I’m ready to get my stoneware mug out and invite you over for tea…if only I didn’t live 2700 miles away. Thanks for a peaceful morning start!

  15. says

    Yes, yes to all of it Elizabeth. I find, that when I get to the end of a post like this, I wish there was more. It is a sweet conversation. It is sharing ideas. It is being real. I love it.

  16. Katie says

    I had to laugh, because I generally skip quickly over blog photos to get to the words. This makes me think of that (sort of) recent Conversion Diary post – the one that questioned why more Catholic blogs don’t show up on top mom blog lists. When I mulled over that post and its comments, I realized that the attributes that may make Catholic blogs less appealling to a wider circle are the parts that attract me most – the bloggers talk a lot about very specific Catholic things, or homemaking/sewing/homeschooling/whatever, or they’re very wordy and don’t feature stunning photographs taken with their professional cameras, etc. This isn’t to say that I don’t like the high-traffic blogs or blogs written by non-Catholics (because I do!), but the blogs that give me those, “Man, I really needed to hear that”-moments are generally the (relatively) less popular Catholic blogs, and I would be so sad if they changed in an effort to be more popular.

  17. Kim F. says

    I just had to let you know that I’m so incredibly glad that you didn’t listen to that blog advice all those years ago. I love coming here because of exactly how it is. Pictures or no pictures, what you share with the world is truly beautiful. And I love the writing! I have gained so much wisdom, as a mom, a Catholic, and a homeschooler, from your blog. Blessings to you and your family!

  18. Sarah C says

    Ummmm, can I just say…..I loved that you told us to create our own mental pictures for this post and then described yourself biking in a flannel nightgown! I love it! Since you were so honest I’ll admit that a few years ago when my kids were all still just babies/toddlers I would sometimes just throw on my tennis shoes in the morning in my pajamas and hop on the treadmill. The fact that my “pajamas” were just my underwear and a tank top made this a pretty absured scene :o) Whenever my husband happened to walk in on this he’d get quite a kick out of it.
    PS I enjoyed the rest of your post as well, I always enjoy your words and if I feel like you haven’t posted enough in a given day I go peruse your archives :o)

  19. Christy Thomas says

    You have always inspired me to be a better mother. I found your blog while nursing my first and converting to the Catholic Church. Thank you for all your words and ideas. You’ve helped me find my place homeschooling and living in Joy with my children in our nomadic military life.

  20. says

    I do not comment as often as I’d like but I did read this entire post. I loved how you described your morning allowing for a vivid mental picture. I also loved the fact that you were typing in bed since I’m typing this in bed on my iPhone at 1 in the morning with my little one cuddled beside me. (I can’t sleep.) Don’t change the way you post. We love you just the way you are.

  21. says

    I was wondering if Katie stuck with basketball. Great post. I agree with someone else up there, I usually skip over the photos in posts to get to the words-unless it’s a reupholstery tutorial.

  22. Juliann says

    When I have no time to read any of the other blogs I love, I always read you Elizabeth! You inspire me, motivate me, challenge me and make me want to be a better me. Thanks.

  23. says

    All of the unofficial “blogging rules” were pretty much what led me to stop blogging altogether…
    I always love your blog Elizabeth. :) You write about so much I can relate to.

  24. Carrie says

    Just wanted to chime in… I never post comments either, but yours is the first blog I check every day. I love how we get a glimpse of your life, and i love your thoughts, especially the longer ones! :)
    I love how you show us what a real, Catholic homeschooling life can look like. In fact, you are one of the reasons I’m re-investigating the Catholic faith of my childhood. I only wish that you lived nearby!
    Don’t change a thing!

  25. says

    I had just read this blog post of yours and then read this article on writers digest. Not sure if the comments box here takes links but here it is: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-12-dos-and-donts-of-writing-a-blog?et_mid=542247&rid=233379964
    I noted immediately that one of the “Dos” of blogging is to go long if you really have something to say! And one of the don’ts: don’t go negative.
    I confess I love seeing your photos, but I know it’s a pain sometimes to resize and post them. I appreciate you and your heart even without photos.:)

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