Your Opinions About Free Blogging vs. Paying a Premium

A little over two years ago I jumped into the world of blogging because I wanted to do something more with my writing. Like a child, it has evolved over this relatively short period.

In the beginning, before I knew what I was getting myself into, I signed up for a free blog. I thought I didn’t want to pay if it turned out I didn’t like blogging or didn’t want to commit to it anymore. I have kept the same name, but have changed themes and formats several times. Even now, it is not exactly what I want it to be. If I take time to fix the look, then I have less time for writing. So, it works for the time being.

I have wondered (since obviously I am still blogging) if I should invest some money into it and make it more my own. If I do this, then I hope I would be able to add more “do-dads” to it and not be limited to how many widgets I have. This will allow me to make it more personal. I do have one reservation: I am not sure I want to keep my blog name forever and I don’t know if I will have to start all over if I decide to make any future changes.

So, fellow bloggers, how many of you are still blogging for free and how many have put some money into your blog? Please weigh in and share your pros and cons with me so I can make an informed decision. Thanks!


What Are They Up to When They Are Quiet?

He's a reader now, but once upon a time he ripped a bunch of books.

He’s a reader now, but once upon a time he ripped a bunch of books.

I’ll never forget the time my son was about 18 months old and I had left him in his room while I was in the kitchen nearby doing something. After some time, I realized it was quiet. Too quiet. I went to check on him and discovered what he had been up to: taking all the tissues out of the box and making a big pile on the floor. I have more stories like that than I have fingers and toes added up. I’m sure if you have children or have been around them then you have a few stories yourself.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning I heard a commotion upstairs at 7:30. Based on the sounds, the kids were up and opening drawers, going in and out of their room. I was not worried. I knew I had about 30 minutes to an hour to roll over and get some more sleep before they would need breakfast. Often they wake up early and either read in bed or play. An hour  later I got out of bed. The house was very quiet, too quiet. I prepared myself to find a big mess as a result of creative play. Instead I found them sitting on the floor with clipboards, papers, pencils and colored pencils. They were working on their Young Author projects for school. We had let them play all day Saturday but reminded them that they would not be allowed to play on Sunday until they completed their work. Not only did they both finish before lunch, they did so independently.

It’s strange how you spend time trying to be on top of a problem before it arises based on past experiences. Then your kids grow up and start being responsible right under your nose. I think now I need to shift my thinking about what it might mean when the house is too quiet.

Let’s Go Crazy

Earlier this year I said I was going to give my blog a makeover. I never got around to it. Now I think I am ready. Over the next few weeks I will be experimenting with new themes, colors, photos and arrangements in search of what I would like my blog to ultimately look like. Feel free to give your opinions, both good and bad about what you like or don’t particularly care for. My readers opinions count too!

Happy Anniversary, Better Late Than Never

Blog as a graph

Blog as a graph (Photo credit: dafyd)

I just realized late last night that I launched this blog a year ago. And yet, it almost slipped my mind. I was kind of busy at the moment singing into a microphone.

In just a years time so much has happened on the blog and in my life. First of all, people were reading my blog. That was absolutely mind-blowing at first. Things got even better when people commented. Then I was Freshly Pressed a little over a month after I had dived into the blogging world. I learned how to write and schedule posts while overseas when I had unreliable access to the internet. At every turn I found I had something to say about my immediate world and the larger one around me.

About 6 months into it, I slowed down a bit once I started a new job. I continued to blog, although sporadically. But isn’t that how life is? It ebbs and flows. It meanders like a river that at times is just a little trickle of water over a few mossy stones, then abruptly turns into a quick rushing stream.  In a way I like the unpredictable feel of it.  Although there are many constants (like knowing I will start the day with a fabulous cup of homemade coffee and end it with a good book), it’s the  surprises in between that time that keep life fresh.

Overall  my passion for writing has grown stronger, even if I’m not always consistent. In the past year I have had 57 posts published. For all of you math and data people, that is an average of one post every 6.245 days. If I wanted to round it up, I could say I averaged 1 post a week. I have started 27 other pieces that have yet to revealed. Some of them may never come to fruition, but that is okay because I have more ideas; more stories to tell. If I had posted all 84 of the pieces, my average would have been one blog post every three days. It is something to aspire to. Maybe that will be my challenge for this next year. And perhaps even some larger projects looming in the distance.

So, on this unseasonably warm March morning that is calling me to go for a walk, play the guitar and work on a writing piece, I wish my blog a Happy Anniversary and hope that in a years time, I will be back here to report about it. Until then, keep reading because you never know what I may choose to write about. Also, I still have plans for a blog makeover. I think it is perfect timing for my one year anniversary, don’t you?

Readers Opinion


Image by tonyhall via Flickr

Hello Readers,

I just wanted to reach out to you about my blog. It has been nearly 6 months since I started this project. I enjoy what I do here.

The following will be a bit of housekeeping. I will try to accomplish it without sounding like a memo, because we all know that memos are BORING.

1. Thank you for your comments, your like buttons, your star ratings and your personal proclamations of tears. If you haven’t taken advantage of any of these forms of communication, I urge you to do so in the future. (Screaming and swear words will only be allowed if appropriate.) Your feedback helps me know  how I am connecting with all of you. AND, it allows you to interact with others who comment in this small community called my blog. While I like to respond to my readers, I also encourage you to respond to the comments of other readers.

2. Please sign up for my blog. Did I mention it is FREE? There is no solicitation involved. I am not selling you anything, only sharing my words. My blog is delivered to your in-box when I post. No need to check Facebook or Twitter or remember how to spell the name of my blog. Look on the right hand side of the blog and enter your e-mail address under SUBSCRIPTIONS. If you read my blog on your phone, you will have to scroll down to the bottom and hit full screen mode to get access to the side bar. Again: FAST! FUN! FREE! Any other descriptors I am forgetting?

3. I am working on some new material, but I’d love to hear from you to find out what you would like to  read. In the past I have posted on parenting related topics. I have posted sketches of Spain. I have written essays about music,and  friendship.  I ran a Fiction Friday series for 5 weeks. I have written about my opinions  and my quirks. What did you like? What do you want to read more of?

Of course I will still write about topics that are important to me, that speak to me, and that embarrass me, but this is your opportunity to give your opinion, dear readers.

Enjoy your weekend. I will have a post about my weekend next week.

Five Things to Appreciate in a Modern Home

Toilet 7

Image via Wikipedia

During a most inopportune time, the water heater decided to act up. I made it through a semi-warm shower, then called a plumber.

Two men arrived, tinkered around and declared the heater repaired, but……….(and you should always be wary of buts) if it should go out again, I shouldn’t hesitate to call them.

Not less than 24 hours later, not only was I without hot water, but without adequate pressure as well. As I waited for the plumbers to come to my rescue yet again, I had time to reflect on the modern conveniences of my home that I often take for granted.

In some homes, chamber pots are the new receptacle for chic floral arrangements. No longer relegated to living under beds, these old-fashioned waste vessels of yesteryear have been replaced by dust bunnies and boxes of forgotten possessions. Indoor plumbing is number one on my list of modern amenities that I am so glad I do not have to live without. Every day I turn a handle and fresh, clean water appears. I can drink, bathe, cook and wash with it. And on most days, I can control the temperature. And best of all, no chamber pots!

According to the United Nations Human Development Report (2006) it is estimated that 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation.

A hamper for dirty dishes. A place where scalding water and cleaning crystals work together to remove my caked on bits of food. A place where my cutting boards and utensils emerge sanitized so that I can remain sane when it comes to Salmonella and other invisible germs. My dishwasher provides an easy option for morning clean up. Although I do enjoy the time spent washing pots and pans by hand (A lot of ideas pop into my head when I submerge my hands in suds), I like that I can give my dishes a quick rinse before storing them away in the dishwasher until it is full enough to run the cycle.

Ah, the light scent of a freshly washed shirt. The hard work of swirling, agitating, and spinning, all done by the wonderous washing machine. Who couldn’t multi-task with this monster of a cleaning machine? I often complain that laundry is a chore. I have no idea what life was like beating  clothes and linens against a stone embankment, or washing them by hand. This is definitely a luxury that I would not want to live without.

About 2/7 of the world population does not have a washing machine.

A repetitive beep startles me awake each day; a gurgle of water filters through a tube in a hurry to kiss small granules of a coffee bean and transform them into a cup of morning love; ten minutes of low buzzing that leave my mates face smooth and kissable; Kings of Leon singing in my very own kitchen while I sit unashamed in my pajamas sipping my java;  humming heat that turn my locks into a face framing style. It’s the sound of electricity.  I rely on it every day to do all this and more. I can’t imagine every day being like camping, because “roughing it” gets terribly tedious after a while. 

Did you know that 25% of the world does not have access to electricity?

Cool, refreshing, calming. When I am hot and uncomfortable, modern air conditioning changes my world. I use it wisely and only when necessary. I am not one to sleep in long-sleeved pajamas with the air cranked up.  It is just the right thing a few hours before bed when the house is full of humid and sticky air and there is no wind to push it around.

Did you know that most homes in Spain do not have air conditioning? People rely on  windows with  (GASP!) no screens to keep themselves cool. (It doesn’t work very well in my opinion.)

What do you appreciate or take for granted in your home?

A Little Help From My Friends

I recently wrote an essay for this blog about a group of outstanding teachers. Every word of it was true and I dedicated it to these self-sacrificing people who inspired my words. Three of them immediately responded with sincere gratitude. Of course that made my day, but I wondered why I had not heard from the fourth person. Surely she too had read it. I worried that perhaps I had offended her.

Alas, that was not true. In fact, she has been so dedicated to her role of assistant principal, that lately she simply has prioritized work above all else. In a state of sheer exhaustion, not to mention her e-mail account screaming that her in-box was full, she forced herself to clean it out, where she stumbled upon the story of herself and her colleagues. She sent me an e-mail, sharing her feelings, and this is some of what she said:

“I just wanted to say that on this day as I am battling  throbbing neck pain that just won’t go away (for the 8th day in a row), and as I avoid the stack of work that is growing by the minute behind me – I finally read your Charlie’s Angels blog and cried. Thanks for reminding me why I am still here in a school building that has gone to sleep, and giving me the umph I need to get back here tomorrow.”

I felt thrilled that she had finally found a chance to read it. And that she liked the post was like icing on the cake. But there were two more important messages that I took home from her e-mail to me.

The first was a personal message to me about why I write this blog. In case you wondered, I do so for many reasons: I enjoy creating something from the words percolating in my brain. It clears my head. It is great practice for other venues that I want to pursue in the future (like content writing, magazine articles, short stories and a novel). It is salvation in times of stress. But if I had to name the number one reason for writing this blog, it is because I feel that it is so important is to reach out to others and connect with them somehow, whether I know them or not.

The second message refers to the title of this piece. It has to do with friends and being supportive of them, helping them through rough times and celebrating the triumphs of their lives.  Sometimes I marvel at the technology around me and contemplate the possibilities that it holds for the different aspects of my life. Then I see how using technology often disconnects us from others. Do we really tell those we care about the most how we feel? Are we there for them when they need us, like in the songs, “Lean On Me”, “I’ll Be There” or “I’ll Be There For You”?

So readers, I implore you. Be the friend that your friend can rely on. If you are not eloquent with words or feel “verklempt” now and then, send your friend this blog. Let me be your Hallmark card. No matter how you choose to do it, just tell them. You never know what a difference your words  (or mine) might make in someone’s life.