The Power of Anonymity

mysterious

When I started this little blog nearly two years ago, I was struggling with mental health issues and I was desperate to protect myself and maintain a level of anonymity – I’ve heard many horror stories over the years of hacked accounts and personal information being stolen and shared (even within the workplace) and I wanted this to be a place in which I could share my real thoughts, issues and feelings without fear of judgement.

Creating a blog was the best decision I have ever made. This little space of the internet has introduced me to a wonderful community of people who have not only provided me with support, but they made me realise that I am not alone and it is ok to stand up and say ‘I’m struggling.’ I am not being melodramatic when I say that it has changed my life for the better.

As the months went by, my confidence grew – I started to receive some brilliant feedback, I became more trusting of people and started to share my blog’s existence with those around me. Now, everyone who is important to me in my personal life knows, and lots of them follow Suzie81 Speaks by either email or across my social media accounts.

There are both positive and negative sides to this. After reading some of my posts I have been able to build some bridges with formerly estranged family members as it has allowed them them to finally see my point of view. I’ve been told by some of my friends that it has given them a better understanding of who I am as a person. My friends and family have also inadvertently contributed to the growth of the blog by sharing my posts across their social media accounts. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and extremely grateful for their support.

Unfortunately, the negative aspect is that I now feel a little restricted in what I can write about and the depth at which I can divulge my personal thoughts experiences. Two years ago I was sending my ramblings out into a nameless, faceless space of nothingness. While I write for me and always have, I am conscious of the fact that I have an audience of real people, some of whom I know and see regularly.

On days like today, I would like to use this space to say what I really think. This is the beauty of anonymity – the ability to be able to let go without the fear of consequence, but the little voice at the back of my mind is reminding me of who will read it. I live quite a ‘vanilla’ existence – I haven’t done anything bad, I don’t have any dark and dirty secrets that I wish to spill out to the world, but I would love to have the power to be able to say ‘this really p*ssed me off.’

Because lots of things have p*ssed me off recently.

What about you? Do your family and friends know about your blog? Does the audience you have in your personal life dictate what you write about?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

Questions, Questions, Questions: The Response

question-mark-iStock_000003401233Medium-copyHere at Suzie 81 I host regular blog parties, which allow bloggers to post links to their sites, chat, meet new people and increase their traffic. However, a few weeks ago I decided to do something that was slightly different from my usual ramblings – I asked a set of seven questions and posted an open invitation for anybody and everybody to answer them, simply focussing on the idea of getting to know the WordPress community a little better. My following has increased over the last few months and I don’t get as much time as I would like to explore other blogs, so I thought that this would be a quick and easy way to find out snippets of information about bloggers, their sites and their interests.

I sent specific requests to some of the bloggers that I have been following for a while and waited for their responses, genuinely expecting just a few replies. My initial plan was to link everyone up, share my findings and highlight any ingenious responses.

Ever heard the phrase bitten off slightly more than you can chew…? This was the situation I found myself in with no less than 70+ responses to work through in just three days. Great, and at the same time… oh sh*t. Thanks to various reblogs, retweets and Facebook shares from blogging powerhouses I was inundated with answers, all differing in opinion, length and detail. Looking at each individual response to each question resulted in approximately 490 answers to read through. Wow. So, before I begin, I wanted to say an enormous ‘thank you’ to everybody who took the time to participate!!!

1. Why have you chosen your blog name?

Mr. Sugarbears is what I call my dog when he’s being good. It started as my Instagram name and now my blog name. ( mrsugarbears.com )

I remember the day that my blog name came to me. I was driving home from work and as I rounded the corner from my home I just saw the most breath taking view …. rolling green hills, cows in the pasture and trees everywhere; I was not in the valley any longer and then it hit me, my blog should be called “Valley Girl Gone Country”…..a California native moving to Arkansas of all places?? there had to be some humor in that….so that’s when this blog came alive. (Valley Girl Gone Country)

I wanted a title that gave the tone of what goes on in life and on my blog – both meandering and multifaceted. (Multifarious Meanderings)

“Artistical Intelligence” means ‘what art means to me’; to use whatever is considered artistical with a certain degree of ‘using one’s mind in order to come up with ideas for all kinds of illustrations’. And that’s a fairly complicated way of saying something what just means ‘drawing smart’  (Artistical Intelligence)

Reinvention is the stage I’m in. I’ve hit a wall in my career, my relationships, at a point where I’m figuring out how to make some changes. ReinventionofMama seemed a perfect fit. (Reinventionof Mama)

My blog name describes what I do – I run. I run around town, around the gym (on the treadmill), around work chasing people and I like to run in the park with my dog. I run around. (I Run Around)

I’ve always loved the word “serendipity” and the way it feels between my teeth. It’s a very satisfying word and it’s so me! (Serendipity)

This is funny actually, I love the song- through the trees from Jennifer’s body and when I started thinking about coming up with the new blog, all I could think of was this song, only I changed it a little to lanes. (Through the Lanes)

I chose my blog name because I am an artist, and I’m definitely on a journey! (tamberrinoartstudio)

My blog name used to be A Look In A Creative Mind. It’s still called like this, but you can only see it when you hit the tab “Blog” in my menu. When I started blogging, I wasn’t an illustrator. I was a student and I needed a creative outlet where I could focus on all the things I had an interest in. Which is a lot and because of this I didn’t have a real focus or specific goals for my blog. I wanted to write in English and share drawings, recipes or random observations. I figured a look in a creative mind would capture it the best. You’re literally getting a look in my mind and whatever observation I have to share. (TJLubrano)

I have always been a frog collector, so I knew when I started a wahm business the name would have to have “frog” in it somewhere.  but by the time I got myself fully onto the internet, most of the business names and domains featuring the word “frog” were already taken.  so I went to an alternate spelling, “phrog.”  I was using phrogprincess and leap phrog design in my business, so when I started my blog soon after having babies, phrogmom seemed appropriate. (Phrogmom’s Weblog)

iStock_000005793936Medium-solutions2. When you have an hour of free time, what do you do?

I ponder the great questions of the universe. (Yes I know the answer is 42!) The really pressing questions like: Is Swifty secretly a dominatrix? Why do I always get boogers after I cut my fingernails? And why in the world do we have white crayons? Could be worse, I could be watching reality TV. (Finale to an Entrance)

I don’t see any of my time as free time, but I also see all of it as free time.  The only planned-time event on my schedule is my 9-5 job.  Outside of that, I do what I want.  This includes (in no particular order): blogging, reading, taking long baths, watching lots of television, cooking, researching math theories, shopping for my family, playing with my cats, playing video games with my husband, having long windy conversations with my husband, playing board games, creating things, browsing the internet, playing with social media, having tea with friends, google chatting with far away friends, and supporting local artisanship. (Rarasaur)

Free time? My time is expensive, people. You want computer help, you pay! I don’t give my expertise away for free! That’s a lie. I do. Oh, I see. What do I do in a free hour? It depends on my mood. I might read (fantasy/urban fantasy/sci-fi mainly). Maybe watch some TV. Read blogs or post something of my own. I might watch TV and blog at the same time, but I never do anything else when I read. (draliman on life)

Well…. I suppose IF I had an hour of free time I would spend it um…. gosh, I just don’t know!  I schedule EVERYTHING!!  Even recently when I took up crocheting, I had to fit it into my schedule.  I suppose, if I could muster an hour to do anything I wanted, that wasn’t scheduled… I would enjoy sitting back and reading a great book.  No noises.  No phone. No children, dogs or husbands.  Just me, my book and a glass of wine…. sigh. Now I’m jealous of that chick in my imagination. Dammit. (WahmCat)

questions3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what would it be?

This is a difficult question to answer. If I choose any age prior to 33 I’d never know Baby C. If I choose any age after he’d never age past 2. I think I’m just going to abstain from answering this question because I love watching my children learn and grow too much to freeze the flow of time. Of course, if I can stop aging while everyone else gets older then I’d pick 25. That seems like a nice age at which to stop. Not too old and not too young. (Twin Daddy)

None. I like the progression of the years and growth. As I get older I’m more and more comforted by the things I learn daily that make my life easier. I’m just as content now at 61 as I was at 11. It’s all the same. (A Little Fluff)

I always believed that if I died and went to heaven, I’d appear as if I was 12-years-old. That was a good time for me. I never grew up with a high self esteem, and it was at that age where I really began to believe that maybe I was good looking. My fashion was jeans, floral design shirts, and I had dyed blond hair. I’d also just discovered the merits of hair gel. I was a cute little kid. (All Hail the Monkey King)

My current age mid forties is good. I still have a young child but also teens and college goers so I can hang on to mothering a while longer but have built in babysitters too. (My thoughts on a page)

Hmm… tough question. I wanted to say 17 at first, then I remembered that would mean being stuck in high school forever. Yikes! I’m going to have to go with 23, grown up but still pretty young. (Pray. Eat. Create & all that other joyous stuff)

Since I am quite young, merely a child, on the scale of life, I would say that this answer will probably be different in about 30 years or so. But, right now, I am happy with where I am. I don’t think I want to be one age forever. That would be boring, and I am most definitely NOT boring. I am quite “eccentric”. I want to live life as any other person would : to age, to learn, and to die. I assure you, my death will not be solemn. I will die happy. (AnnabellaTessoro)

4. If you could learn to do something, what would it be?

I would want to learn how to take photographs with an antique camera. I have an old Wirgin Reflex sitting on my shelf with no film in sight, and I don’t know how to make it work… (Finding Nemo)

I would love to be able to play the guitar. I could finally put my whimsical song writing to music. I know my refrigerator cleansing tune, Throwing It All Away, would be a hit. I just know it. (CaseyWasThere)

There is so much that I would like to learn to do most are creative like things like being a good photographer, being able to write well, play a musical instrument etc something that I think would enrich my life and have that creative edge to it. At the moment I as creative as a lump of BluTac. (Cognitive Reflection)

Ooo… I’d want to learn to do magic! The Harry Potter kind and talk to Unicorns (although learning to see them first would be a good idea) and to dogs too. (Heartsongs blog)

Play the piano. I had piano lessons when I was a kid but I was too stubborn to continue with it. Now I regret it. I would love to be able to play some of my favorite songs to my kids. (The Vanilla Housewife)

If I could learn to do something, I’d had to say I’d like to use my hands for more than just playing music. I’m a creative soul at heart, so I’d like to try my hand (pun intended) at wood-working. I joke with my siblings that in high school, I decided to pick up a guitar, instead of a hammer. Now I want to pick up the hammer. (The Musical Poet)

question-25. What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

The first thing I would do if I won the lottery is pack in work, pay off my mortgage and anything else. Give money to all my family and there are any number of friends I would just love to be able to help out. I also have promised two fellow bloggers a share if ever I win. I haven’t forgotten! The one thing I’ve always promised myself I’d do is wrap monetary notes around stones and attach them with elastic bands then deposit them along my local Main Street. A little message attached would just say they were welcome to share my good fortune. I would love to see people’s reactions to that. I would get quite a buzz. I’d travel. A return visit to Greece, of course. Catch up with old friends. France. Italy. Australia. India. Egypt. New Zealand. Lots of places but those ones for a visit first. I’d take my kids out of school, teach them myself and let the world fill their education. I’m not really big on stuff. But it would be nice to be able to buy whatever I needed without thinking about the cost. Maybe a car whose battery light doesn’t keep coming on for no reason that anyone can discover! (Scottishmomus)

A wig.  Virginia requires winners to go public when they claim their prizes.  I would also get whatever other items I can to disguise myself as much as possible.  Then I would buy two, one-way tickets out of here for me and the kid (hey, guess we better get moving on that learning languages task). (Not a Punk Rocker)

A monkey. I mean, why not? Actually, if we’re being serious, I suppose it depends on how much I’m winning. Enough for a party with friends? Enough for my desired Kombi? Enough to travel the World? Enough to follow Dave Matthews Band on tour? Enough for a house at the beach? Enough to start my own business? Those things. The party first. Then a monkey. (Whimsical Eclecticist)

Money doesn’t do it for me. I’d be as happy buying a book as a car (Richard Ankers Writes)

Buy my own house, not even a large one just my own little sanctuary (Life, the Universe and Depression)

6. What is the thing that makes you absolutely unique?

My inner strength. I often underestimate it but not a lot of people can go through what I have been through. (The Modern Day Fairy Godmother)

Hmmm….I’ve been sitting here for about ten minutes trying to figure this one out. *brain cramp* I think there isn’t ever one thing that makes us unique, but rather it’s the combination of things that compose us. Without a doubt, I’m an odd combination of things—but for the life of me, I can’t think of one thing that makes me unique. Uh-oh. (The Girl Who Blogs)

I don’t really have an inner monologue, I always say… the thing I am thinking about. You could see it as talking without ‘a filter’. My thoughts just go straight out by voice or by keyboard when i’m writing about stuff. (fysiotim)

What makes me unique? I’m like everyone else, but my soul is my own (The English Professor at Large) – sorry, but the link doesn’t work to this site.

My DNA, Finger Prints, Memories, The love for my wife. (My Sore Soul)

What makes me unique is that God made me unique. I’m figuring that out and committing it to memory more and more as time goes on. I am unique, but it has nothing to do with what I have done to make myself that way. I’m an empty, flawed jar of clay. But I am blessed with gifts and traits that make me unique. Much like I am blessed with flaws and weaknesses that make me unique. Also, I make perfectly moist cookies and other baked goods. Like, oooey-gooey in the middle brownies. It’s a gift and a curse. (This Heart)

I am me. First child. Type A. People pleaser. Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother. Teacher. Writer. Entrepreneur-wanna be. Book tour ready. Oh. Not unique? Well then, here’s something else. I have become more and more claustrophobic as I have gotten older, but I love to have really heavy blankets on me at night. I feel like I sleep better if the blankets are ‘pushing me down’ at night. I think it is also a subconscious way to decompress and wind down after multi-tasky spinning all day long. (mommyverbs)

For lack of better words, I march to my own drummer I guess. I don’t let other people’s opinions affect my choice or way of thinking. (Love from tara)

What my past did for my heart. (Oldest Daugher & Red Headed Sister)

questions_large7. What is your favourite blog?

Here is the cop out – there were so many blogs that were listed as favourites that I realised it would take a further few weeks to collate them all. The choices were wide and varied in content and I personally found quite a few new fabulous blogs that I have started following. Instead, I am going to be rather lazy and suggest that you check out the responses on the post. You may find a whole new set of blogs that you never knew existed!!

Phew! My apologies if your comment hasn’t been included in the post as yet – I am going to update this in the next few days to allow for more brilliant responses. Feel free to revisit the post and connect with lots of lovely bloggers!!

Hope you enjoy! Have a lovely week!!

Image credits:

Image 1: anndaly.com
Image 2: dteuro.com
Image 3: contestedwillsprobatelawyers.co.uk
Image 4: reonline.org
Image 5: xkcd.com

 

Blank Screens and Brain Mush: Overcoming Blogger’s Block

This morning was unusual – I got up and went to work, still feeling quite weak and generally ‘bleurgh’ after being ill all weekend. However, by the time I sat down at my desk it became quite evident that I wouldn’t be very productive today, so I was sent home for fear of infecting the rest of the school. I arrived back, changed out of my wet clothes (it’s been raining here constantly over the last week) and decided to update my blog. Unfortunately, I found that I’d been staring at the screen for the fifteen minutes and came to the realisation that I had nothing to write about. Zilch. Zero. Nil points.

In just over six months and almost 500 posts, this was the first time I had experienced the dreaded ‘Bloggers Block.’ If i’m being absolutely honest, it was quite an uncomfortable experience – I had the urge to write something, as I often do, but couldn’t think of a single subject that I found interesting enough to sink my teeth into, or even have a little nibble at.

I was just about to switch my laptop off and then something occured to me (I always think of Gavin and Stacey when I hear the word ‘occuring’ – those of you in the UK will understand this)… why don’t I create a list of ideas for those in a similar situation? So here we are: these are my hints and tips for overcoming Blogger’s Block. Continue reading

Blogging Tips: The Sequel

I was going to call this post ‘Empire Strikes Back‘ as it is the sequel to something that I wrote a while ago (Blogging Tips), but then realised that it made no sense whatsoever to do so.

I’ve recently been getting lots of writers who are new to blogging that are asking for tips and advice. I’ve only been doing this myself for about five months and therefore hope that you don’t feel patronised by this, but rather than writing the same thing repeatedly I thought I would add to my previous list and create a complete post that may assist others when starting out. Please note: this is not a definitive way to blog – these are just tried and tested ideas that have proven to be successful for me. As always, I’d love your comments, feedback and feel free to reblog if you feel it is at all useful to you.

1. Contrary to other’s opinions on blogging, it isn’t necessary to have a theme ie. you don’t have to focus on fashion, or food, or films. Write about what you’re genuinely interested in and don’t concern yourself with the possibility that some readers may not share similar interests. Your passion and enthusiasm for a subject will always be evident in your writing style.

2. Write as frequently as possible – the more you write, the more opportunities the blogging community will have to see your musings. I try to visit my blog daily, although this has been every few days as of late due to work, moving house and sick pets. It takes lots of time to build it up and at weekends I can easily spend HOURS writing. However, remember that quality is always better than quantity.

3. Make sure that what you write is presented in a way that will entice others in. Punchy titles, interesting pictures and well-written paragraphs will not only spark initial interest, it will encourage people to follow you. While i’m on this subject, make sure that you do your best to credit any images and text that you have used that isn’t your own – I’ve seen quite a few examples where bloggers have enraged a photographer by using their pictures without permission.

4. This may sound a little snobbish, but make sure that what you post is well – constructed and well – written. Proof read things before you post them. It doesn’t have to be the ‘Queen’s English’ or of Ph.D quality, but don’t write as though you would text or answer your own jokes with ‘lol’ mid sentence. I instantly switch off after the first few sentences if they are poorly written.

5. Follow various challenges. I participate in the Daily Posts  ‘Daily Prompts,’ every ‘Weekly Photo Challenge,’ and post examples of my writing on the weekly ‘Community Pool.’ It is a fantastic group to follow – they have wonderful writing and photography suggestions with over 50,000 members that are participating in the same challenges and I’ve found it a great place to read fellow bloggers ideas. I also like to particpate in ‘A Word A Week Challenge‘ hosted by Sue and Susie Lindau’s Travel Theme.

 

6. Take the time to visit other people’s blogs. Don’t go through every blog you find and ‘like’ something without reading it. If you genuinely are interested by what somebody has written, comment and let them know that you enjoyed it. Follow them if you feel that their blog is entertaining. Get to know them a little.

7. Share the work of others. Reblogging a post that you thought was well – written takes thirty seconds, but it provides the opportunity for others to view blogs that they may not necessarily see. I have a ‘Sunday Share’ where I highlight blogs that I enjoy reading and I host a monthly ‘blog party’ which allows people to share their favourite posts from their blog. This has also increased the traffic I’ve had both to my blog and others.

8. Don’t become obsessed with your stats. This may seem a case of ‘pot calling kettle’ as I check my stats daily, but you’ll find over time that they become less important. If you lose followers don’t allow yourself to be disheartened – I’ve lost quite a few, but I’ve gained several thousand and these are the people that matter.

9. Appreciate the people who take the time to comment and leave advice on your blog. While I haven’t been brilliant this over the last few days, I usually try to thank every person that has commented as it means a lot to me – they’ve made me laugh, cry (tears of joy I must add) and made feel much better about myself. I’ve been lucky to have met some wonderful people on here and now often receive e-mails and Twitter updates from some of them which is always lovely.

10. Use other social networking sites to promote your blog. I have opened a seperate Twitter and Tumblr account and although it is still in its early stages I have gradually started to include my posts and increase my following.

11. Invite Guest Bloggers to write a post for you. It’s a brilliant opportunity to allow talented writers to share their stories with others. I’ve done this many times and I still have quite a few lined up for the next few weeks…

12. Like any internet venture, protect yourself. Don’t put your personal information or photographs on your blog and don’t allow people to have access to your email address, your personal facebook and twitter or give out your home address unless you feel absolutely comfortable with it.

13. Be honest in your writing. Don’t be scared about telling your readers how you feel about something. I initially started my blog in an attempt to get rid of lots of issues that have been plaguing me for a long time and while I felt a little uncomfortable at first about sharing my true feelings and experiences, the feedback and support that I received was incredible. I call it my ‘WordPress Therapy’ and it has indeed been a truly therapuetic journey.

14. Most importantly, enjoy yourself! WordPress is a wonderful community that allows bloggers from all over the world to be able to meet, support, share, laugh and cry together.

Hope you find this useful! Happy Blogging! You can find me on Twitter @suzie81blog and Tumblr suzie81blog

Picture Credits: