How to Build Your Tribe: The Power of a Blogging Community

imageI’ve made no secret of the fact that blogging has changed my life beyond all recognition – my initial post was published without any expectation and my journey over the last three years has been so amazing that I have to stop and pinch myself every so often to check that it actually happened.

I’ve documented my blogging process on many occasions, creating a number of advice posts based upon what has or hasn’t worked for me. It’s hard-work and can be a time-consuming and often lonely business, with countless hours easily being spent just on the writing, publishing and promoting of a single post, and I’m beyond proud of everything that this little space of the internet has achieved. However, none of this would have been possible without the support from the community, and, above all, my tribe.

Actually, if I’m being honest, I’m not a fan of the word ‘tribe.’ It sounds cliquey, which is one of the things that I dislike most within the blogging world, but it is inevitable that you will naturally gravitate towards certain individuals online in the same way that friendships are formed in real life. So, for the sake of this post, I’ll stick to using the terminology, just for now… Continue reading

How I Am Building My Pinterest Page

Building up my Pinterest pageA few months ago my bloggy friend Elena, over at Elena Peters: Midlife Blogger surprised me by doing an analysis of my Pinterest activity. I’d had an account for quite a while, but did little with it, and she very kindly decided to help me out as she has achieved great success with hers in a very short amount of time. Not only that, she created a series of posts, effectively a ‘How To’ guide on developing and growing a readership.

After reading her advice, this is what I did

  • Added my blog link and key words to the description of each of my boards.
  • Changed my account to a ‘business’ account.
  • Created a group board and invited other bloggers to share their posts. I’ve participated in one of Elena’s shared boards and it has been a great way to see more blog posts, so I’ve started my own.
  • Joined several other group boards.
  • Created different boards of things I am interested in: running, hair and beauty (ie, things that I could do myself without looking like a panda), photography, food, motivational quotes, Birmingham… I’ve gone pin crazy adding things that have inspired me.
  • Put the boards into an order that made sense – my blog board first, followed by my group board, followed by my interest boards, with my group boards at the end.

After a little while, I started to develop it even further.

  • I made my pins into ‘rich pins.’ This was quite a complicated process as I am a .com site and not a self-hosted .org like Elena, so I will give more details on this in a later post.
  • I started to created pin-worthy images. For this, I use Canva on my iPad – it’s a free app, extremely easy to use and I have had lots of fun trying out new ideas and styles with it.
Images created with Canva

Some of the images I have created with Canva

  • I have also started putting keywords into the ‘Alt’ section of my images before I publish the post.

And the results? For one, my following has more than doubled, although it has admittedly slowed down recently due to my lack of activity on there at the end of September.

Since Elena’s advice I have seen a steady, but noticeable increase of an extra 100+ views, and my October views are set to be sizeably higher. In fact, they will have tripled in just a few months, which is amazing considering the small amount of time and attention I actually put into the account.

Want to know more? You can find mine and Elena’s amazing set of offers for setting your blog for success in 2017, with brilliant advertising opportunities and a KILLER Pinterest and Twitter course bundle…

Simply click on the image below



Bloggers Behaving Badly


Last month I published a post about the idea of ‘Blog Envy,’ which discussed ways in which we naturally feel envious of other blogs, and bloggers. During the comments that followed it was suggested that I examine the opposite – content that could be considered to be poor. While it’s an interesting idea, it’s far too controversial for my liking – the beauty of the blogging world is that it is an open forum to discuss whatever subject the author chooses, and there is no right or wrong way to do so.

However, it did get me thinking about the bloggers behind the posts. While I’ve had predominantly hugely positive experiences with the community, the longer I spend in the blogosphere the more I notice behaviour that I would contribute to what is often referred to as ‘The Dark Side’ of blogging, and I’ve spent the last few weeks collating examples. Continue reading

Two Years? Happy Blogiversary To Me!

imageToday is my two year blogiversary. Two years. While I follow blogs that have been around five times longer, I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown.

Two years ago, I was in a very different place. The Bloke and I were going through some difficult times – he had lost his father and his best friend within a year, we were experiencing major problems with our neighbours and I was finding my job extremely difficult. I was suffering from anxiety and depressed. Writing has always been therapeutic, and The Bloke suggested that I start a blog as a way of being able to exorcise the demons that plagued my thoughts on a regular basis.

It turned out to be the best decision I have ever made. I was instantly addicted – spending hour after hour pouring out everything I could think of into this little space of the the Internet. Within the first few weeks I had written about fifty posts.

Over the last two years, life has continued to be a rollercoaster of highs and lows. We moved house twice in just over six months, my beloved cat died, my other cat was diagnosed with diabetes, I spent a week in hospital with a kidney infection and a virus and I became desperately unhappy at work. On the positive side, my little sister got married, my family and I were able to repair relationships that had been fraught and strained for years, we now have a lovely landlord, nice neighbours and are fully settled into our home, we’ve had many wonderful evenings with friends, seen films, shows, been on visits to London, and after years of being conflicted about my profession I made the decision to finally take the risk and quit, handing in my resignation just a few weeks ago.

The blogging community has been with me every step of the way, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined just how much Suzie81 Speaks would grow and develop. With over 390,000 views, 11,600 followers, a successful weekly hashtag party on Twitter, monthly sponsors and lots of comments every day, blogging has become a part of my daily life. I’ve been Freshly Pressed, featured on Mumsnet and The Sits Girls on several occasions, one of my posts went viral on Facebook and I’ve loved every minute of it! It has given me confidence, self-belief and the motivation to change things for the better. Better still, I have met people from all over the world that I would now consider to be my friends. People who have listened, empathised and have gone out of their way to offer support, particularly during extremely difficult periods of my life.

To those people (and I make no apologies for the potentially vomit inducing sentiment), thank you for everything.

As a chance to give back, I am hosting a blogiversary party this Saturday. For those of you who wish to participate, simply check out the link below by clicking on the image:


Hope you can join me then!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page

Looking for new blogs to follow? Why don’t you check out my sponsors – you can find their links in the sidebar of this page

Blog Advice 2: A Comment On Comments

Blog comments

I remember receiving my very first blog comment. I was absolutely elated that someone had not only read what I had to say, but had taken some of their time to be able to let me know that they had enjoyed it. While I always, and will continue to, write for myself, it inspired me to keep going.

Since then, the comments that I have received from so many people across the blogosphere have helped me through some extremely difficult times over the last few years.

Comments, in my opinion, are one of the driving forces behind building a community – they forge connections and relationships and can be instrumental when increasing traffic to your posts. Last year, when things were particularly busy, I was pretty awful at replying to comments and I lost followers because of it. This year, I made a promise to myself that I would try to reply to as many as possible, and I’ve done my best to keep up with it.

I am often asked questions about comments:

1. How can I encourage people to comment on my blog?
2. How can I find the time to reply to comments that I receive?
3. How do I deal with negative comments?

However, before I begin, I would like to point out one thing: comments should be in response to something that you have written, not the basis for how you blog and what you blog about. It is your space of the Internet and at no point should a reader dictate the content of your posts.

Encouraging and responding to comments

I like to encourage discussion and as many comments as possible on Suzie81 Speaks, and I do this in several different ways:

I ask a question at the bottom of my posts: What about you? How do you feel about…? Have you ever had to deal with…? This is an open invitation for others to leave a comment and share their personal experiences.

I read and appreciate all of the comments I receive, and I try to reply to as many as I possibly can, often asking questions or requesting advice.

I read a twitter conversation a few months ago between two bloggers that focused on comments and how often they responded to them. Both were in agreement in that they shouldn’t reply if all they were going to do was just say ‘thank you,’ because of the length of time it takes and the fact that they were just too busy. I clicked on their blogs, expecting to see hundreds of responses, only to find that one of the bloggers had received two or three comments on their posts, while the other had maybe ten or fifteen.

On an average day Suzie81 Speaks receives thirty to fifty comments, and sometimes this will increase to nearly a hundred at the weekends. That doesn’t include tweets, facebook messages and emails. In the last month this little blog has had over 1,100 comments, including replies I have left.

While it is hardly setting the blogging world on fire, I try to respond to as many as I possibly can, depending on how busy I am in my work schedule. I may not reply on the same day, or sometimes in the same week, fortnight, or even month (!) but I personally feel that if someone has responded to something you have written, they deserve your acknowledgement and gratitude for doing so, even if it is just a simple ‘thank you.’ Wouldn’t you expect the same? If you are inundated with comments and want to reply, then you need to find the time. I have found that I have had to create one less post a week and then use that time to reply to comments instead.


Leaving comments on other blogs

There are two reasons to leave a comment on another bloggers post: sharing your thoughts about the subject they have discussed, and increasing your own traffic. I usually only leave comments on blogs that I follow – using the comment section purely for traffic boosting purposes is not wrong in any way, but isn’t particularly genuine.

Rather than discuss how to leave a comment, I thought that it might be fun to create a list. There are several different types of commenters that I have seen within the blogosphere over the last two years. Which category do you fit into?

The Conversationalists: These are my favourite! They have thoroughly read the post, formed an opinion about it and wish to share what they think with you. They may want to know more, or share their own experiences of that topic. They are polite and respectful, even when they disagree with something, and offer support and advice when needed. Their comments often result in conversations and the development of relationships over a period of time.

The Minimalists: These usually consist of short, seemingly supportive but generic sentiments. Good post! Nice job! Good luck! Well done! I like and appreciate these, but can only really respond with a simple ‘thanks!’ in return.

The Cryptic: These usually consist of a random question or quote from a dead celebrity that bares no relevance to the content of the post. When asked to explain their meaning, it’s rare that the commenter will reply.

The Wrong-End-Of-The-Stick-ers: These skim, or only read a section of your post, they have taken it out of context and will then proceed to rant in outrage in the comment section. They will usually back down or change their tone when the context is explained, but I often get frustrated with these as I have to waste time almost justifying what I’ve written, which I hate to do.

The Traffic Builders: These are generally people who have seen that a post is doing well, they will write something short and generic such as ‘I really enjoyed this,’ and will then leave a link to their blog with a demand for you to go an read it, for the sole purpose of building their own traffic through yours. I often reply to these comments last, and usually just with a ‘thank you.’ If I don’t have a connection with that person, it is also rare that I will visit the link.

The Antagonists: These people can’t quite be classed as trolls, but are not far off. These are the people who are consistently argumentative with whatever is posted. There are two or three people that I have seen doing this on several blogs, including my own, and it always leaves me wondering why they follow them in the first place? Of course, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with everything that is written all the time, but surely if our content is not to their taste, why do they not just unfollow? My response to these sorts or comments is to be as polite as possible and not take it personally unless they turn nasty. Then I simply ignore or send to the trash.

The Trolls: These don’t require much explanation. Their comments are specifically designed to hurt and should be ignored and placed in the trash folder. This is really important to remember: don’t respond, ignore, send to the trash and blacklist their URL in your settings. If it persists, report them to WordPress. I had to do this with one individual, and they were wonderful.


Want to know more?

Here are the Do’s and Don’ts of comments, either on your own or on other people’s blogs.

1. If you don’t want to deal with comments, turn off the comment option on your post.

2. Ask a question at the end of your post. Encourage others to share their thoughts with you.

3. Set your comments so that you have to moderate it before it is published. This way, you can check it first and have to option to send it to the trash folder if it is inappropriate.

4. When leaving a comment, don’t leave a link to your blog demanding that someone ‘checks out your post,’ unless is it relevant to the topic. Your blog can be found through your Gravatar and blog name if you have linked it correctly.

5. You don’t have to write an essay, but at least try to be a bit more expressive than ‘nice post.’ You’ll probably get a ‘thank you’ in return to a short comment, but it isn’t likely to build a connection.

6. Reply to comments as often as you possibly can. I love receiving replies, and I know others feel the same.

7. If you find that you are struggling for time, write one less post a week and take the time to reply to the comments instead. You don’t always have to do this, but it might mean that your following grows and your community becomes stronger.

And most importantly…

8. Don’t change your blog or it’s content based on the comments of others. If you’re happy with it, keep doing what you’re doing!

What about you? Have you got any advice for developing the comments that you receive on your blog?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to hop on over to my Facebook page



imageI made the decision on Monday to share the fact that I have quit my job – Suzie81 Speaks was created nearly two years ago for the sole purpose of being able to write down my thoughts, opinions and life experiences – and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t expecting some sort of reaction to my post after I had pressed the publish button. I’ve known certain bloggers within the WordPress community for nearly two years and in that time they have repeatedly proven to be wonderfully supportive, so I assumed that my revelation would have prompted a few comments from some of my closer online friends.

What I didn’t expect was 48 hours of wonderful chaos. Within minutes of the post going live, the comments and the tweets started to flood in from teaching staff and people involved in the education system. My stats rocketed. I started to receive Facebook and text messages from former colleagues and friends who had read about my decision, despite the fact that I hadn’t shared it on my Facebook page. I checked my email account to find a number of lovely messages from more bloggy friends… I’ve even been given a career suggestion by my friend Steve over at Steve Says – although I’m not sure how feasible that would be!

What has surprised me the most was just how many people feel the same way, and I’ve been utterly fascinated with the stories that people shared with me. It’s so sad that in a profession that was once respected and admired there are now so many people that are unhappy and are finding their physical and mental health being affected by such immense pressure. I found it really inspiring to see so many people who had found a way out and created a different path, particularly those who are now extremely happy in their new roles!

I wanted to say how appreciative I am of all of your support. I’m slowly working my way through all the comments, so please forgive me if I haven’t replied yet! It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure that I will certainly feel better once the Summer term is over. I’ve worked out that I have 60 working days left…

Now I just have to find a new job!

Thank you x


Want To Find New and Interesting Blogs?

One of my favourite things about the WordPress community is the sheer variety of interesting and exciting blogs that are available. Here are two that I would highly recommend – they’re totally different in style and content, their authors are brilliant and I’m sure you’ll find that they’re absolutely worth your time!


Jolene, at Valley Girl Gone Country is a Southern California girl that moved to Arkansas. Like Suzie81 Speaks, she writes about her life and experiences, but she is also an avid reader and has built a solid reputation reviewing independent novels. Her blog is beautifully written, honest, witty and for those of you that love books and stories, or wish to have your own creations reviewed, this is the blog for you! Jolene was one of the very first people that I ever communicated with when I joined WordPress, and her support, her friendship and her insight has helped me through some very difficult times!

You can also find Jolene on her social media sites:

Twitter: @joleneVGGC




Helena, at offers support for effective change for life. Starting as a nurse and then a UK midwife, Helena is now a psychotherapist/hypnotherapist, fertility & IVF Coach and miscarriage counsellor and her blog discusses ideas on Mindfulness, EMDR and CBT approaches, Fertility and Maternity Reflexology. Her blog is insightful, intelligent, informative and a must read!

You can also find Helena on her social media sites:

Twitter: @fertilityexpert



With 10,000 members now in the Suzie81 Speaks community, I’m sure that there are lots of you that will enjoy these blogs and the genuinely lovely women that created them. Check them out, follow, comment and share with your bloggy friends!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page


The WordPress Community Experiment: The Answers!

In August I decided to do a little experiment involving members of the WordPress community. I asked a series of seven questions and invited anyone and everyone to respond, regardless of whether they followed Suzie81 Speaks or not. I had done a similar experiment the year before with great success, and as my community has grown since then I thought it would be an interesting way to get to know fellow bloggers. While I expected some sort of a response, I didn’t expect the enormity of the amount of answers I received, generating HUNDREDS of individual answers to my questions. In order for me to be able to include everyone, I have had to limit it to just one answer per blogger. I haven’t compiled it in order of preference, but I have tried to include an interesting answer from each person, complete with a link to their blog if it is still available. I think you’ll agree that the responses I received are emotive, witty and offer a small insight to the variety of bloggers that exist within the WordPress world.

It’s a lot of reading, but here is a pre-made blog party for you where you can go and check out all the blogs that participated.

Editors note: If I have accidentally missed you out, please let me know and I’ll link you asap!

1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I thought of two iconic things from where I come from and where I live now ie Scotland and New Zealand, hence Thistles and Kiwis (Thistles and Kiwis)

The DMB song “Grey Street” described my life spectacularly at the time. (Georgia Mom)

It was the name of the website that I created during my Ph.D. (which I have quit since then). Originally it was Science Fiction, Media and Fandom, but evolved into Science Fiction, Transmedia and Fandom as I did more research work. Save for gender studies, it reflects my main fields of work as an independent researcher, writer and public speaker (Natacha Guyot)

It seems like everything I say is part of a bad conversation. So every post is Another Bad Conversation. (Another Bad Conversation)

Telling the Truth. It describes in three words what I’m doing in the blog. I’m telling the truth (for the first time) about how I was groomed to be a victim, how that affected me as a child, young adult, wife/mother and professional, and what it took to survive and thrive. (Telling the Truth)

I came up with the name while talking with people at work. They kept calling me Bitter Ben because of all the complaining I would do at work. They said I should start a blog about all things I was bitter about. The natural extension Ben’s Bitter Blog. (Ben’s Bitter Blog)

It’s based on a old episode of M*A*S*H (Apple Pie and Napalm)

Special Needs children are referred to as Exceptional, and I live in Delaware, so my blog is for all the Exceptional people in Delaware, children, teens and adults! (Exceptional Delaware)

My ex was stalking me on here.  I needed to come up with a name he wouldn’t associate with Kate.  My 11 year old son came up with the name FlippyZipFlop, and I decided to keep it.  Professional looking?  Absolutely not.  However, it makes him a part of my daily writing, so I’ll continue to keep it. (FlippyZipFlop)


2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

Pace yourself in blogging. Set a schedule. You can write as much as you like, but you don’t have to post it all as you complete it unless it is a time sensitive subject. I border on burnout daily, hourly. (Ronovan Writes)

You won’t get 100,000 views on your first blog post. You will start off small, but regular, interesting posts, full of passion will generate traffic. You will meet other incredible bloggers too, there to support you and provide you with advice. (A Reflective Student)

Once you figure out what your theme is, you have to remember it each and every time you post. I can’t write about fashion and celebrity in my blog unless I can find a creative way to bring it back to health and Dr. Oz’s advice. (The “Whiz-ard” That is Dr. Oz)

Participate, participate, participate. In whatever you like and where your preferences go, from Weekly Photo Challenges, Daily ones, Writing ones, all sorts of challenges other bloggers do… You will find benefits are triple, you craft your talent and things you are passionate about, you meet other people who are interested in same stuff and others see your work. (Ivy Mosquito)

My advice would be to write with passion. Write about your passions, because if you’re not having fun writing, then you will feel burnt out quickly. Also, make sure to read as many blogs as possible. This will help you meet other bloggers and help you become a better blogger (Humyn)

Be true to yourself and don’t try to cater to others. (Richard Ankers  The Writings)

Blogging is about community, about sharing, and about learning. Enjoy the process and making new friends! (Writing Rachael Ritchley)

Just be yourself and don’t worry so much about the naysayers… If you put out genuine posts then stand behind them. (Valley Girl Gone Country)

Get a thick skin. In the infidelity blogs it’s dangerous. You show your pain and hurt and you get people who did the same things to other people, be they cheating spouses or their third parties, who come in and insult you or patronise you and try to make you feel you caused it, or you should do (insert self serving course that let’s them off the hook). Well, screw that. You have to be strong enough to stick to your voice and not be hurt by them. I’m sure trolls hurt bloggers even on less sensitive topics, so the thick skin is my best advice. (Writes Itself)


3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

Working at in Int’l border crossing and a naked man walked in and asked my supervisor for a cigarette and a light, then walked back out into the rain… We all just stared as each of us was speechless. (Annette Rochelle Aben)

When I worked in another city, I found out my “twin” (the one they say you always have) worked in the same building. For a year, we had fun taunting and fooling those who knew us. (Mary J. Melange)

Strange doesn’t really happen to me…stupid, yes, all the time, but not strange so much. The strangest thing that’s happened might be my mother picking out my husband nearly a decade before we got married. (Somber Scribbler)

Being knocked out by an electric potato peeler and waking up thinking I was in heaven because this beautiful lady was looking down at me. (Hugh’s Views and News)

The day my Father in Law asked me to do him a manicure and pedicure. He had never had one and saw me doing my own. It felt a bit odd and it did take me aback when he asked. He passed away that night, a heart attack in his sleep. I always wondered if he ‘knew’… (CeeJayKayFit)

During the last month of my pregnancy I was on full bedrest due to concerns about pre-eclempsia and it was the height of summer in the DC Metro area so the windows were shut tight with the AC on full blast.  During that last month periodically I would start to smell my grandmothers Snickerdoodles (which she made me every year for my birthday) or her perfume (Heaven Scent) – my grandmother had passed away a few years earlier.  My son, The Boy of Terror (BoT) talks about her now and about her snickerdoodles (Masala and Blarney)

It involved a sleepless night, Apples to Apples, some lab goggles, my eventual detainment and a supposed ban from WalMart nationwide. Try not to re-live it. (Permashift)

Being surrounded by the SBI and law enforcement and soldiers and things while innocently exploring a cooling tower at a nuclear power station. It turns out that just because the front gate is open does not mean that you’re welcome to visit. (This was before 9/11 or things would have probably been even stickier than they were.) (Nerd in the Brain)

I was 16 and some random guy proposed to me at the library. He also asked me if he could meet my father to ask for my hand in marriage. I just looked him up and down and walked away. Btw he wasn’t joking … (Nuuray)

I had taken a $20 bill, in singles, and left them all in a family Dollar store as  Random Act of Kindness. About a week later, a woman handed me a $20 dollar bill in the dressing room, in my yoga studio, saying – “You must have dropped this because there was no one else there.” Astoundingly weird! (Lavender Reflections)

On my blog or in life? In life, setting the garbage truck on fire is probably the strangest that my wife will let me talk about in public. It’s a long story so you gotta find that on my blog. (Parnassus Musings)

If we’re talking about overall, probably the time I was kidnapped, robbed, molested, tied up, and left for dead by 4 Guatemalans in the jungle in Belize on the first full day of my honeymoon. I wanted to go to DisneyWorld. (O Pie-oneers!) EDITORS NOTE: WHAT!!!!



4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

My boyfriend said to me once “We will both grow old and let’s face it, not look youthful and fabulous any more. But you have wonderful personality so you will always be the most beautiful person in the world to me.” (I Follow Islands)

I had a meeting with Dr. Dre about the possibility of his buying my bank robbery script. He told me, “You are one sick mother$%^&*” and that’s the coolest compliment I’ve ever received about my writing. And it was from Dr Dre! (The Return of the Modern Philosopher)

The executive director at work (large, worldwide organization) wrote the following statement on his well-read blog last year (about me managing the internal communications blog) — and he’d never done that before or after about anyone else. “… If you ever get the chance to meet Diane XX, please thank her and give her some feedback. She is amazing and we are lucky to have someone like her as a part of our team. Her enthusiasm and desire to help is second to none.” That had to be the high point of my working life! (Thoughts, Tips and Tales)

My mum. Just a few weeks before she died. I stayed over night with her in hospital and she woke up the next morning and said: “how lovely that I open my eyes and the first thing I see is you” (Carol’s Learning Curve) EDITORS NOTE: THIS MADE ME CRY.

I once went out with my version of The World’s Most Interesting Man and he said I reminded him of Ireland. This guy absolutely loved his trips to Ireland and he has been everywhere and went on to explain how I remind him of his favorite place. It was very, very smooth of him. So, I replied with well that sucks because I’m Scottish Welsh. (Winter Bayne)

”The world needs more people like you”, (my grandfather) (A Blonde Brain)

I have a husband who says lots of wonderful things—probably far more than I deserve. I think, though, that the day a student came in and told me that she got into nursing school and thanked me for helping her with her application was one of the best moments I’ve had—it was a moment of really seeing that what I do really and truly affects other people. (Part Time Monster)

My son telling me that he was finally feeling OK, months after his depression hit its lowest point last year. Being told “I love you”,  sincerely, by someone you love is also a nice thing to hear. (Not a Punk Rocker)

This is a toughy. One time before I got married to Mrs. Fearless Leader, her daughter (now MY little girl too) came up to me while I was washing dishes and asked, “Toby? Would you be my Daddy?” It’s pretty hard to top that. (Dumbass News)

November 22nd, 2009 @ 15:41:23

5. When presented with a time machine, which one time and place would you visit?

My teenage self to warn against making major life decision based on love for the wrong me (tenderness on the block)

Middle Europe at the end of the last Ice Age, right after the eruption of the Laacher See
volcano (Germany) 12900 years ago. (A Neat Street)

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna on VE Day at End of World War ll. (A.K.Andrew Writer’s Notebook)

Most definitely pioneer days. I’d be on one of those Conestoga wagons heading off for new adventures out West. (misterio press)

Any time during the life of Gene Kelly or Frank Sinatra. I absolutely adore them both and would worship the group that Gene Kelly walked on if he was still alive! (New Teacher Life)

I would go back and see The Beatles in concert in 1963 or 1964. I was too young to have seen them. (Vintage Rock)

I’d travel into the future to see if we ever terraform Mars. Then start quoting Total Recall; ”Are you crazy? I don’t even know anything about Mars!” (One Man’s Adventures in the Big Wide World)

I would go to a place near Moscow (Russia) to 1974 and play badminton with my dear friend Yury (he passed away in 1976 when he was only 42 years old). (Pursuit of Happiness)

I’m more of a “never look back” person. I try to live in the moment and learn from each experience. While it is tempting to ponder time travel to an early time in my own life, and maybe tweak a few things, I would refrain. You always have to go through the dark to get to the light. If I was thinking about it from a historical perspective, there are so many times I would love to visit, mostly during the 20th century. The world went through so many dramatic changes. It would be fascinating to experience things first hand. Specifically, I would visit the 1940s. Politics, war, fashion, music. It was an important time. (Steps Times Two)


6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Well, my first name is pretty cool. If I just had to change it, I’d go with Cesare and insist on the correct pronunciation. (Sourcerer)

Duke, because of a chance encounter I had with John ‘Duke’ Wayne which ended with him asking me to wear his nickname as a thank you for a service I was able to render him. (dukea98)

I’m named for my grandfather. There isn’t another name in the world I’d like better. (Old Road Apples)

I absolutely can’t think of any other first names I’d like because I’ve taught so many girls over the past 43 years and probably have memories of all of them. (How Can I Control My Class?)

Years ago, when I was working as a psychic, I was advised to be a one-name psychic and that Jennifer is not my name. I chose Rachael. After 14 years of not using that name, I am using it again. I truly am Rachael, not Jennifer. The name never suited me. Makes me think of a leggy blonde with biceps. Rachael is the Earth Goddess.  (A Little Fluff)

I’d like to have the first name Éilís which is Irish for my real name. It rhymes with ‘I wish’ when pronounced correctly. It’s unusual and a traditional link to my heritage. (Green Lizard’s Blog)

Probably the name of some literary character given that I named my daughter after the heroine in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. (Parent Your Business)

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Maybe something like super or amazing or uncanny. Incredible, astonishing, spectacular…. well you get the point. I might even need a cool costume made of spandex. I would need to go on a workout binge first though. (JED’s Playhouse)

7. If you were a ‘B’ Movie, what would it be called?

Decent People Also Succeed. (ashokbhatia)

If it’s the 1950’s campy invader type, it’d probably be something like “Revenge of the Lab Wererat”.  If it could include late ’70s and ’80s sci-fi and comic book movies, it might be “Song of the Stars”. (the tao of jaklumen)

Close Encounters of a Would-Be Reporter! (Thoughts By Mello-Ello)

Frenzy of the Sleepless Zombie Mama vs Mutant Laundry Pile of Doom (Barb Taub)

The Day It All Went Weird. (Manchester Flick Chick)

Starship Captains Don’t Wear Dresses. When I was a kid, they said that would be the name of my biopic. (Things Matter)

Indecisive Decisiveness (though, that may run the potential of becoming an art film…) (Ecclectic Alli)

Estrogen Overload…I have four daughters who are 21, 20, 18 and 15. Good times!!! (greatsnaps, goodtimes and me)

“My Time Is Now” and its sequel “Damn, That Was Fun!” (Butterfly Sand)


EDITOR’S NOTE: A special thank you to Gene’O and his blogs, including Sourcerer Blog who posted all of the links onto a Pinterest board.

Interested in seeing all of the answers in full? Visit the original post here and read on!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page


Image Credits

Game of Thrones: zipmeme



Polar Bear:




If We Were Having Coffee #4


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weekend went far too quickly for my liking. I met some old friends for a meal and a drink in the town where we went to college fourteen years ago. They’re all beautiful, glamorous ladies who turned up wearing lovely dresses, and as usual I had a great time catching up with them. Almost all are new mothers to beautiful children, so a large part of the conversation was about motherhood, to which I could only offer an occasional ‘aww bless,’ but I’m really pleased for them.

I would tell you that my mum’s house felt a little strange after the death of one of her dogs last week. She still has two, and the dog was only small, but the atmosphere of the house seemed quieter and a little more empty. One of her other dogs was behaving very strangely towards me throughout, approaching me with caution and being very nervous when I stroked him, which upset me a little as I have never been cruel or raised my voice to him.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how saddened I am at the execution of British Aid worker David Haines. While I will keep my angry thoughts to myself (and I am not going to get involved in a political discussion surrounding this), I will say that my thoughts and condolences are with his family – I can’t possibly imagine what they’re going through.

I would tell you that I am feeling a lot more refreshed, having slept for hours this afternoon, almost causing me to miss my train to return home. However, I haven’t been able to completely relax and have remained anxious for a lot of the time, so one of my tasks for this week is to research relaxation exercises and practise them.

I would tell you that I’m delighted to have access to WiFi again. My mother doesn’t have the Internet and my phone finds it almost impossible to find a connection. I’m surprised at myself at how frustrated I get after a while…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m excitedly planning for The Bloke’s birthday next month, despite the fact that he’s always a miserable bugger when facing the prospect of being another year older. I’ve bought him the Lego Ghostbusters car and a few figurines that I’ve seen him eyeing up, and hopefully that will take the focus off his age. I’ve also told him that he’s only as old as the woman he kisses, and as I’m 32 he’s got nothing to complain about!

I would share with you my recent playlist, most of which features tracks from 80’s films. I seem to be revisiting my musical youth a lot recently – you can’t beat a bit of the Footloose soundtrack!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m really annoyed with my vets. One of my cats was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year ago and since then we have religiously injected her twice a day with insulin and spend a fortune on special food to ensure she remains in good health. We have learned how to take her blood sugar levels regularly and her levels are good, and she is in an excellent, happy condition. However, when we went to pick up the usual two vials of insulin for the vets the other day, they told me that they have only given me one vial and they wouldn’t give me any more until I brought her in for blood tests, that apparently are compulsory every six months. This is the first we had been told about it, and nobody mentioned it six months ago. Apparently, these tests are going to cost me £100, which I don’t have, and her insulin is not going to last until next pay day. Can anyone in the UK with vet experience advise me on the legalities of holding back essential medication as a way of holding me to ransom?

I would tell you that I’ve lost 10lbs in weight since the summer. I’ve got another 50lbs to go, but I’m quite pleased about it… I will have a beach-ready body by next year. I want to go to Vegas, so I’ve got something to work towards!

If we were having coffee, I would share with you the picture of my youngest sister that appeared on my Facebook wall yesterday. She is getting married at the beginning of next month and so held her Bachelorette Party in York, a beautiful, historical city that is miles away from where my mum lives. I expected to see pictures of penis – shaped straws, drunken women in fancy dres etc. However, nothing quite prepared me for the image of my sister being straddled by a very unnattractive, completely naked male stripper. My eyeballs were bleeding – it’s something that I can’t unsee. My mum, however, thought it was hilarious. At least she’s having a good time – I hope they didn’t pay too much money for the experience – I’d be wanting my money back!

What about you? What would you tell me if we met for coffee?


Created by Part Time Monster, these are a series of conversational posts. They’re a great idea if you don’t wish to focus on a specific theme. Check out her blog and create your own!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

Putting Things Into Perspective


I’m sitting on a train on the way up to Manchester. It’s 7.00am – I have been awake since 5.00am, and currently resemble the closest thing to a zombie that a live human being is going to get. Despite this, I always enjoy travelling at this time in a morning – it’s quiet, there aren’t usually any screaming children and the nutters haven’t yet surfaced, so I’m enjoying the calm of the carriage at the minute.

I’m spending the weekend with my mother, who is still reeling after the death of her little dog, and tonight I am going to meet up with some friends that I made during sixth form college when I was sixteen. We’ve always kept in touch, mainly through the efforts of one or two of them, and we meet up at least once a year. Most of them are married, some have children, and over the years we’ve supported each other through our various achievements and life events. It’s nice to be around people who enjoy each others company, and it’s always guaranteed that I’ll have a good time.

I’m in need of a good night if I’m being honest – the last week has been a sea of paperwork and headaches as the new academic year has started. While it usually eases as time passes, the initial list that I find myself working through is always astronomical, and I always marvel at how calm and relaxed my colleagues seem during this period. I have managed to keep up, but don’t mind admitting that the pressure has reduced me to tears in the privacy of my own home on a few occasions.

By Friday afternoon I was feeling a little down – I was saddened by the news that a teenage scumbag had set fire to Manchester Dogs Home, resulting in the death of sixty animals (yet another reason why I don’t like people sometimes), and my friend informed me that his Nan passed away. Her death wasn’t unexpected, but I still feel sad for him and his family. If you’re reading this my lovely, you know I’m here whenever you need me.

However, when the chips are down, things always seem to happen that put me firmly back in my place and offer a little perspective.

Our school has its Open Evening next week, and my choir (who are brilliant) have been asked to perform. I have been a little worried as a few of the members of the group left at the end of last year as they had graduated, and so our numbers were down and there wasn’t the time to rehearse new starters. However, when I went to my classroom at the end of the day to start a rehearsal with the remaining students I was surprised to see all the ex-students sitting there, complete with a visitors pass and a big smile on their face. It turns out that they had heard about the performance next week and wanted to help out. I gave them a massive hug, and one of them told me that they wanted to surprise me ‘because you’re a legend Miss.’ Suddenly, the paperwork worries didn’t really seem to mean anything – THIS is what the job is about. I almost cried.

The Bloke, as always, has been pretty amazing throughout as well. Last night, after I had regaled him with the story about my choir cherubs, he told me that he was quickly going to the supermarket around the corner, and when he returned I saw that he had bought all of my favourite foods, and we cuddled up on the couch while watching NCIS: LA and talking rubbish at each other. It was exactly what I needed.

I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I have a job that (while challenging and frustrating at times) continues to give back. I’m lucky I have a lovely bloke, a family, amazing friends and the opportunity to spend time with them…

…And this morning I heard that Manchester Dogs Home has received over £800,000 in donations since the fire.

Good things will always happen during bad times.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.