October 23rd, 2008

I've read a few posts lately regarding blogging, being authentic, being vulnerable. What came up for me is how human we all are. We all have these big hearts that get hurt, that open up and shut down, that want connection and are afraid of rejection. We are all so very beautiful and real and creative and lovely.

I've felt jealous, left out, separate. And I've also felt loved, connected, and joy-filled. I've felt these ways in the blogging world and outside of it. I don't think it's particularly unique to blogging. Blogging certainly brings it's own particular bliss and challenges. Fortunately, for me, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

In the past, I've made the mistake of thinking that those I see as "successful" or "popular" aren't experiencing that vulnerability, that feeling of being left out, or conflicting feelings about blogging. But it's all relative isn't it? Silly me. I want to show you that I'm smiling, but that can be hard to do with just words on a screen or even the symbol. :-) I want to say in a silly voice, "Duh! We're all human!" But sometimes it can be hard to get that across.

Melba, who has a brand-spankin-new blog, asked me this morning about whether or not I made any conscious changes to my blog since I started selling my art. Yes and no. I don't think the overall feel of my blog changed. I still share my process, my ups and downs. There are times I'm more open and other times I'm more closed. I'm like that in my real life and on my blog. There is a push-pull of what's private and what's not for me sometimes. And I think that anyone who blogs experiences that. 

There are some things I don't share anymore. At one point, under another name, I blogged about a deeply personal and private situation I was going through. I needed to get it out and the support I received was so helpful, it was like therapy. But as that situation closed. I healed, and I wanted to move on to a place where I used my real name. So I shut that space down and started over. I still blog about things that some people may think too private to share in an open forum. I'll blog about my experiences with depression, for example, because I think that it might be helpful to others and it's helpful to for me to write it out. And then there are other things that I don't blog about online and they're things that I wouldn't talk about with just anyone in my face-to-face life either. I don't think it's about being inauthentic in this case, it's just what makes sense for me. I don't like to blog about my family because I don't think it's fair to them. And I would never want them to find and misinterpret my writing. So, I keep that separate. I find that I still have plenty to talk about anyways. My main interests online are connecting with others, inspiring creativity, and sharing my artwork. I share my vulnerabilities and insecurities along the way because that's part of the journey of being a creative person. And often when we share these parts of our journey, we find we are far from alone. 

There are some gray areas in there. I haven't discussed much regarding politics on my blog. Mainly, I don't want to alienate anyone because while this is a personal blog, it's also a place where I encourage others to be creative through challenges like AEDM and CED2008 and I want everyone to feel safe and welcome to join in. I don't want anyone to feel judged because their beliefs are different than mine. I've wondered recently, if that was the truth, if I was just anxious about being liked or sparking a debate that I didn't want to hold here. I think my intentions were good, but I'm re-thinking my position on how I go about it.

One of the things that came up in some other blog posts and comments was about the act of commenting on blogs, how some comments are too sickly sweet and how some people are more lurkers unless they have something substantial to say. I think many of us have wondered about the commenting practices of ourselves and others. We may wonder: What's the best way to respond to a comment? Do you write a response in the comments? What if they don't come back to see it? Do you email them? Does every comment need a response? Do you need to visit every person who has commented on your blog? Does it really matter? Who the heck knows! There are no rules. We make them up as we go. I don't have a very consistent way of responding to comments. For a time, I responded to every one. Sometimes a comment doesn't really need a response. Sometimes, it depends on my mood. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and get terribly behind and even when I really do want to respond, I just have to let it go and move on. I never want to hurt anyone's feelings. It may happen. We put ourselves out there. We may hurt someone. We may get hurt. We try our best. I try to remember that when my feelings get hurt. We're all trying our best.

I was just listening to a Craftcast podcast where Alison Lee was talking about riding horses and how she had to sit up, put her shoulders back, and open up her chest, which opens her heart. She noted how we should be this way not just on a horse, but in our everyday lives as much as we can, even though sometimes we may not be able to; sometimes we may be more hunched over, protecting our hearts. It was such a lovely synchronicity to hear this as I was thinking all this over and beginning this post. In the end, that is what I want to do here on this blog and in my day-to-day life. I want to open my heart as much I can, as often as I can. Some days I may not be able to and that's o.k., but I can keep reminding myself to put my shoulders back and open up again and again.

That was a bit long and rambling! It always cracks me up when people apologize for a long comment. I love to read long comments! I'm not always in the mood to make long comments, but I always love to read them, so no apologizing necessary! :-)   I'll leave you with a picture of my cat, Tabbers, who is a master-napper and has a huge kitty heart.

29 Responses

Your words hit home for me today. I needed to read what you wrote. Thank you.

hi Leah–I have the same notion about my blog as you do–it is a craft/art blog–so I think I should stick to that subject–BUT sometimes my craft and art reflects what is going on in my life–so then I end up blogging about my life–but I am very careful to not get too personal. For instance, I have been resisting the urge to blog about my recent relationship break-up—-I just don’t think my blog is a good forum for all the feelings I have around something so personal.

I found early on that I just was not interested in reading (most) folk’s blogs when they were all about their pets, or some life crisis–I am more attracted to blogs about crafts and a very few about life—with soem few exceptions. For example, I love Patti Digh’s blog– 37 days. But then, she is an extraordinary writer.

I like your blog because of the art and because it is all about connecting up people (thanks!)—which to me is one of the things the internet does best.

Hi Leah !
I love the first paragraph of your post the best, I think , “We are all so very beautiful and real and creative and lovely.” Yes, we are all just human beings, doing the best we can in this moment. Some people may think that is naive or “sickly sweet” but that is what I need to believe about myself, and about others in this sometimes crazy, mean, hard-to get world. It always feels good when I find someone who believes it too ;-)

Blogging has brought me so very many positive things. I have made connections with people I would never have ever met out in the real world, and I have also shared parts of me that no one would ever have seen (even myself, I think !) if I didn’t have this forum. I have been inspired to improve and go farther, both in my art and in my way of life. And I have had a chance to acknowledge someone else’s feeling or to make someone feel good through simple gestures on my part, like a cheerful or heart-felt comment. I work hard to not seeing things as a popularity contest and at letting go of any little hurts that come up when a post seemingly goes un-noticed. But those little hurts come from within me, not from some blogland boogie man out to hurt me ! I feel fortunate for every connection I make, as a visitor or a hostess. How lucky are we that we have this vehicle available to us whenever we want it !

Viva La Blog, I say !

Thanks as always for the lovely food for thought, Beautiful Leah !

This was a beautiful post, and it really made my day. You are as talented with your words as you are with your art. Just from what I know of you from your blog, you are a very open-hearted person. And that is immensely refreshing.

Your post captures what I feel and what I feel many of the blogging women I read feel perfectly.

I feel the same about comments. I am never quite sure how to respond. It totally depends on my mood and how much time I have. I would like to respond to everyone; even if it is just to say “hi and thanks” but that is just not possible.

I don’t write about politics either except in someone else’s comments. Sometimes I shy away from controversial subjects if I don’t feel I am in the right emotional/mental space to defend myself.

Leah, excellent post.
I like to keep some things close and personal. I don’t air them for just anyone. So that naturally extends to my blog. I will reveal my inner thoughts if there is a purpose such as explaining what inspired an art piece.
I also prefer to steer clear of politics. There are plenty of places to indulge in it if one chooses.
My favorite blogs inspire and inform me artistically. Sometimes they entertain me.
I like your blog very much and the bonus is that it has introduced me to many other great bloggers.

Tabbers looks blissfully happy in that photo. Makes me want to go take a nap of my own…

great post leah. There is a fine balance between sharing yourself online and “sharing” yourself online. I hope that makes sense. I tend to write personal things on my blog to illustrate a painting or what is inspiring something i’m working on. But do I share everything that’s going on in my life? Not even close! because my blog is about my art and my art journey, I also think to myself, would I want a possible collector or gallery reading “xyz”. If it makes me seem unprofessional, then I’ll probably keep it to myself. :)
Sometimes I do wonder if I share too much though. Since I talk about art and business, I do get self-conscious. I don’t want to seem too green and inexperienced or insecure as being a working artist means believing in your work first and foremost. And then I don’t want to seem boastful when good things do happen.
As for comments- I have a hard time with that. I really really want to respond to everyone. But it’s hard to at times especially when blogger doesn’t let me know when people comment! Or sometimes my spam filter gets them. But I feel that it’s nice to acknowledge someone who has taken the time to read my words and make a comment on their own. I’m not perfect at this, but I try.

I’ve seen this topic come up more and more on the blogs I read. It must be a ripple effect of people feeling all weird about blogging. I don’t know ~ I kind of used to feel guilty about not blogging often enough .. but now, I keep it simple and show up at my place when I feel the need to share. (personal stuff or creative stuff). The comment thing.. well.. I hardly get any but have a decent number of readers that come and visit. It’s more of a release for me and if people take away something good, that’s just icing. The best part has been the relationships and connections, not to mention some of the greatest advice and different insights on situations that come up for me.
There’s good and bad with everything, you know? I’m glad that for me, it’s been a really positive experience.
And.. well.. I know you!! (trying not to be sickening sweet)
;-) xo

GREAT post.

I agree with so much of what you said. In the beginning it was all about the comments, but now I feel like I have connected and continue to connect with some dear kindred souls and I want to keep that up. I sometimes have people comment that I don’t “resonate” (ooh big blog word) with when I got back to visit them and I realized that that has to be okay. I need to blog for me and for the few people that I know read it. (And I need to pretend that that is it – sometimes thinking about lots and lots of people who I don’t know reading it is too much)

I love blogging. I love connecting to dear amazing sparkling souls all over the world. I am in awe of this crazy medium. But I like what you wrote. I am going to adopt it for my own blogging experience:

“I want to open my heart as much I can, as often as I can. Some days I may not be able to and that’s o.k., but I can keep reminding myself to put my shoulders back and open up again and again.”

Again and again!

Thank you!!!

I too do some horse riding and it is funny that I’ve thought of that same comparison. I’ve thought a lot this past year about the “opening your heart” concept as I know I tend to shut mine down and keep it under severe protection. But I also know that to connect with people and experience the good you need to be open… even if there is a risk of feeling bad. I even have a meditation podcast that I listen to on occasion that envisions your heart as an unfolding flower bloom. So here is to everyone keeping an open heart to receive the “good” from others.

Wow, that was A LOT of info in that post, lol. I too have had so many of those same questions, feelings. I think I’ve stopped blogging so many times because I get “people overload”. Any way, I just want to say that I am so glad you are who you are. I love what you share and respect what you don’t. I have found that the more “personal” and deep conversations end up in email regardless of what we choose to post.
Much love always,

I’ve been reading some of those posts, too, and I think it’s an important discussion to have. Blogging is a community, but what kind of community is it, exactly? It’s hard to figure out because the members of the community are often invisible, and we are all kind of anonymous.

I am troubled sometimes by commenting and responding to the comments. I feel like I should respond to everyone, but I am not able to and then I get all anxious and overwhelmed. So my responses are very patchy. If I keep worrying about it, I freeze up, so I just have to move on until I figure out how to handle it.

I generally don’t make comments on people’s blogs unless I feel I have something to add to the discussion or they touched me in a very immediate way. I just don’t want to be a “neato” poster. Or rather, I don’t really have the time/energy to respond “neato” to all the neato things out there.

Artist communicate through art so it does get personal on our posts and that is fine…bottom line it is our journal of our life and if the world wants in we have room in our hearts for them…our hearts are big and wide open regardless of “proper eitiquette”. I was never going to share my blog with the world, what a mistake I would have made. Then It wwas going to be only art…straight and narrow…bigger mistake that would have been. I welcome all comments, they are there for my discovery as well. A new friend possibly? Someone who may be the key to something in the future. I wish I could respond to everyone as the comments go in but when I do 2 12 hour “cage” days back to back…there is no strength left in my hands tired of the computer all day. But I read, and re-read and treasure that is for sure. I do not expect to get a comment from everyone or on every post…it is my life, my art journal and journey and does not matter where I go with it because the ride there is spectacular!

Pajama Girl and I think your kitty-witty is so floof-a-doodly cutesee wootsee ;)

Well, if that isn’t a contented kitty smile there is no such thing! I have thought about many of the same things you mention – mostly I write my blog for me, just like anything I write. I’ve been delighted when it speaks to others, and have been through building up comments, and visiting, and am now back to doing what I can when I can. Why and how changes as I do, altho I do get political because, being me, I can’t help it. It’s part of who I am. I once worried about alienating people, too. Now I don’t – I can’t give you the process of getting one place to the other. Mostly, I think, life’s too short and I’m old enough to wear purple with a red hat…that changes things. =]

are you a VIRGO??? (like me) lolol
I have to say your GREAT POST was right on — ditto on nearly every comment!
I am brand new to this blog world– and my 1st post
hopefully explains our blog-a-phobia in a cute yet true way.

I thought about the political thing too but have decided to keep my studio and blog a “safe zone”…
I do not send out political emails but will
respond if needled- ha! With my own family at totally odds with one another and since I am in the minority — to be healthy, I have to stay clear of all that stuff to be the best at my art on any given day. I have learned the hard way how it hurts as I have been on both ends and what does it prove?
Sometimes it just makes more sense to be KIND instead of trying to be RIGHT…
That way I can sleep at night and the depression stays right where I want it— Out Of Sight!
Hopefully you will re-consider and keep your blog clean -lololo
But enough about that!!!

YOU are doing a great job…
Artists feed on every morsel of encouragement offered. As Head Muse of my studio/gallery ( ) – that is apparent every day.

I am a follower of your blog and would love to be connected on this side bar to the right !

GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, the rose garden is my fav too. Hope you’re doing fine, I’ve bee so so busy as of late it’s unbelieveble. Take care.

Thank you so much for this very thought provoking post. I am sitting here on my couch on a Saturday morning. My feet are up on the coffee table and my coffee with soy milk is close at hand. The sunlight streams through the windows and yellow light from outside spotlights different areas of the garden and house. I even took some pictures! But I am rambling… so happy to have a day to check out my favorite blogs and find new ones. What I really want to tell you is that I agree with you. What I want to share on my blog are moments in time, of art, of life and of nature. Sweet moment of discovery. Like every one I have had hard times and sadness. But my blog is more about creating… and like you, my journey as an artist… which I am still trying to define. The joy I find learning about other artists journey’s is undefinable! Thank you for helping me put this into words! Roxanne

leah, blogging is an interesting experience. it helps us connect, share, become aware, and build community. like everyone who commented, i think about blogging and what it means to share and comment. i just do what i can. sometimes i have time to connect and comment. other times i just read. and then there are times when i am just not able to read or comment. it is an organic and fluid approach. lots of ebbs and flow. i love how blogging brings so much out of me and connects me to others. it has been one of the most rewarding experiences for my creativity.

Beautifully said! Thanks for the words and thoughts. . . oh! and the napping kitty

I just want to reach out and give you a big hug! you and tabbers!

Your post promoted my new post:
AND I thank all who commented. it is all appreciated.
Great love abounds here…

Leah, this speaks to much of what I have pondered in my blogging life. I started, not knowing exactly what to talk about other than art, got too personal, then pulled back, getting angry, hurt, etc., and finally hit a middle ground I am comfortable with. I am blessed to have met a few wonderful people along the way and hope to meet more as time goes by. I love to see what other artists are doing or hear about their process, a new technique, and that’s the main reason I blog. I am hoping to connect with other artists. I know, for me, it was important for me to establish for myself, WHY I was blogging. As for comments, I still don’t know how to respond to some, although I usually try. I don’t have nearly as many as you and if I did, realize I couldn’t possibly. I think people understand. I think we do what we can and that is good enough! At first, I wanted comments and felt hurt if nobody left any. Now I feel happy I have touched a few hearts or minds. I think sharing with other artists is what is most important to me and the main reason I blog. I have learned so much from other bloggers! I don’t do politics either! I stick to what speaks most to me, sharing my art, my process, and a bit of my life, thoughts along the way.

Thanks for your words of wisdom. They are just what I needed to read!

I have found that I comment and respond to comments much like I blog, with that same ebb and flow, open and closed. Sometimes I am a serious lurker, but it is all I am able to do at that time, and other times I comment on almost every blog I read.

I think blogging is much like other creative outlets with different stages or seasons. And it is comforting knowing that there is no right way or rules I must follow to enjoy blogging, besides common courtesy.
Your blog is extremely inspiring and I thank you for it. You have helped (are helping) me along my creative journey.


Leah…read your post this morning after listening yesterday to Stuart McLean (Vinyl Cafe on Canadian & US public radio stations) tell a story about an experience he had in high school. He was attending an all-boys school, was painfully shy, had never kissed a girl, etc. He wanted to go to a dance they were having, bought a ticket, but did not have a girl to invite. So, he had his dad drop him off at the school, saying that he had made plans to meet his date there. After his dad drove away, he walked to a nearby community center where he knew they were having a teen dance that night, thinking he would find someone there to invite to his school’s dance. When he walked in, he was crushed to find that all the girls were wearing jeans. The dance at his school was semi-formal. Finally, he found one girl in a green dress. He waited for a slow song and then asked her to dance. While they were dancing, he explained about the dance at his school and asked her to walk over there with him. She agreed. He didn’t really remember anything else about the evening except walking her home. He wanted so much to kiss her good night, but didn’t know how. Reflecting on the story, he was wondering to himself why he didn’t just open his heart and tell the truth. “I really want to kiss you good night, but I’m nervous and am not really sure how to do it.” How adorable would that have been?

He went on to wonder about how our lives would be different if we just told the truth and let ourselves be vulnerable.

The story has been sitting in my heart since yesterday and every time I think of it, my eyes fill with tears and my heart aches behind all the armor I’ve laid onto it. It’s clearly an available time for me to be with this idea. Thanks for adding to the light with your words about Alison Lee’s post, straightening up, un-protecting our hearts.

Autumn always brings this kind of excavation to me. It is the kind of disturbance that unearths new possibilities.

Thanks, Leah!

Blogging is rather like making a presentation about something at a conference – you don’t know who is in the audience and yet you’re speaking about something that is important or exciting to you.

Some people will leave during the presentation

After the presentation is complete:
Some people will hit the door running
Some of those may come to another lecture of yours
some will never come to another lecture of yours
Some people will stop and say a kind word
Some people will stop and be encouraging
Some people will show interest and ask questions
Some people will ask for your card or give theirs
and they will continue to be in contact
and may even become a friend

I am amazed at what my blog has become – I see it changing as I change. I wouldn’t miss this experience for the world – I’ve met some really wonderful people. And I get tremendous inspiration and wisdom from other peoples blogs. Sometimes I comment on others blogs, sometimes I don’t. I almost always reply to comments I get even if only a word or two – although some require no response. I figure if someone took the time then so can I.

Thank you for sharing.

I also have a master-napper cat. He looks a little like yours too. Tabbers, cute name.

~Cat naps~

This was a great post – helped me with a conversation I was having with myself along these same issues. Apologies for the short comment. ;-)

Leah – Really nice synchronicity in the title of your post. I started blogging a year ago, because I was intrigued and interested in AEDM. Well – I didn’t create art every day, but I did keep the blog! Called – Open-Hearted Life! I have mostly enjoyed blogging, I tend to just go with the flow in regards to responding to comments, etc. It’s been good to have the outlet, even if sometimes I bore even myself!

AND – I *will* be doing Art Every Day! I’ve got a few supplies… I’m excited! It takes me a long time thinking and a few tries sometimes before I’m able to do something new; I feel ready, though. So – thank you for *your* blogging and AEDM, because that’s what started MY blogging and a whole new type of relationship with people!

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