I knew it was happening. I could feel it. I could see it. Sometimes you know. Yet, even knowing doesn’t mean you can do anything about it. Maybe it started when Mom died. Maybe it started before then. I don’t know. But it really came to fruition in 2009. I lost myself. I lost who I was. I lost the core of what made me a happy, healthy person. I really don’t think it is important to know when or why or even how. What matters is that I finally reached yet another rock bottom where I have to make changes. And? I am going to make this the year that I do it. Why this year? No reason except…I absolutely have to do it. For me. For my kids. For my husband. For my friends. But honestly, it is really for me.
I guess you could say I lost my way in a few areas: Blogging, personally, writing. They all intertwine so when one goes south, it can carry the rest with them.
I will start with the most obvious one to those of you who are reading this.
Wow. The face of blogging has changed so dramatically I couldn’t even find the words for it if I tried. (And I have tried.) You see, way back in the stone ages (like 1990), I helped my husband with a BBS. That was what I knew of the Interwebs. I loved it. I could sit in the comfort of my house and actually talk to people that were in their house. Amazing. We had games, forums and chats. I loved it! By 1993, I was learning more about what was out there and saw that it was more than just for tech geeks. In 1995/96, I learned the wonder of online journals. (Thank you Al Gore for inventing the amazing Internet!) I had a sleepless baby which led to many nights of feedings and surfing. It was then that I branched away from what my husband was doing and started my own online journal. After time, it morphed into a website with real live links to other websites. I was connected, baby! I kept my website and journal going in one form or another for years.
It was in 2003 that I started what you find here: Mommy Needs Coffee. From Blogger to my own url, I had found my very own space on the Internet. I loved it! I wrote stories about my kids, my life, my observations on both and people came. They actually showed up and read what I had to write. Which of course led me to their blogs where I read what they had to say and commented. It was a small but fun community. A blogger get together meant you all showed up to chat and “hang out” online. You knew that other bloggers had your back when it came to haters. It was fun. I knew where I fit in to the small part of the big picture.
I blogged on while others quit.
I blogged on when there was a huge controversy over whether or not to accept ads.
I blogged on when the term “mommyblogger” was synonymous with fluff and narcissism. I still knew who I was and where I belonged.
I blogged on through the “review or not review” controversy. I blogged because to me it was gratifying and gave me a wonderful outlet for my writing, my thoughts and my silliness. Through my blogging I found friends, jobs and an agent. I also lost friends. Sometimes the written word can do more damage than good. But through it all, I knew who I was and where I belonged. Though the landscape had changed, the core was the same. Many of us who were blogging for a long time felt the growing pains but blogged on.
And then came the Big Change. I don’t really know when the big change actually occurred or what caused the massive shift in blogging, but it shook the core of blogging to the roots. Are you a review blogger or a writing blogger? Are you both? Can you be both? Do you have content that is yours or paid for content? Can I trust you or are you being paid to say what you say? Where are the stories? Where is the writing that drew me into this amazing blogging world?
More than once I tried to express myself but it was shouting into the wind. The noise level was too high. The chatter was too loud. Old voices were drowned out. At least I felt mine was. I no longer knew where my place in the blogging world was. I was a mom. I blogged. I helped bring respect to the term “mommyblogger” with both my writing and the mommybloggers.com site. Yet, I could not identify with what was not being called “mommyblogger” in the crazy changes taking place. It was all about reviews and blogger junkets and what trips you were invited on and what speaking engagements or sponsorships you could garner. It was insanity.
At least it was from the point of view from someone who had been at this for so long. Yes, I was invited on some blogger junkets. I did go when it worked for my family. When it did not, I would have to pass and offer up a name or two of someone who would be able to go and enjoy it. Yes, I did reviews for products I could use and enjoy. And, yes, I did enjoy that, too. I am not against any of that. It was just that somewhere in there the writing, the stories, the real life of the bloggers became over-shadowed. I missed reading stories.
Let’s not even get into the pressure to measure up.
“Were you invited to ______ junket?”
“Did you get an invite to go to Disney?”
“Were you asked to be on this panel of experts?”
“Did you get a free ______?”
Had it become a competition? What are the rules? Where is the master list of A-Listers who go on these things? Do I need to pursue these PR reps or just hope they find me? What about my SEO? Where do I rank? Why isn’t that company talking to me? Push! Push! Push! Get out there so everyone knows your blog! Get known so you can go on trips! Become an expert in mommyblogging so every PR firm in the country wants you!
I was lost. All I wanted to do was write and enjoy the writing of others. Yes, of course the trips, the games, the products, the gaming systems and other things I was honored to review are an awesome perk IN ADDITION TO the writing. But where did an old school blogger who just wanted to write and enjoy it fit in? SEO meant nothing to me. Getting aggressive and going after sponsorships for conferences was foreign to me. Telling a PR rep that I should go on his/her junket felt rude to me. Suddenly, I just didn’t fit in to the very genre that I help give a good name to when it was once just mud. Now what?
I stopped blogging. I couldn’t find my voice. Do I write for the readers, the PR reps, the possible job offers? Could I just write my blog the way I have always written my blog and not get lost in all of the noise and chaos that was around me? I have seen good friends of mine who have been at this blogging gig as long as I have succeed. They write a good blog and get invited to junkets and do reviews. They found their place. Why couldn’t I find mine?
So I stopped blogging.
Then, for reasons I will never know but am more thankful for than I could put into words, I was contacted for a blogger opportunity in DC. I had not blogged in ages. In fact, I almost turned it down. Thankfully, my good friend Dave would not give up on me and just flat out booked my ticket for me. He may never know what that meant to me. Forced into a situation where I wanted to go and felt that I should go, I actually embraced this blogger junket with excitement (and a bit of trepidation). I was not on anyone’s A-list anymore. I was no longer a blogger with a name. I was just a blogger who may or may not update that very few people really knew about or read. But somewhere deep inside I knew that I absolutely had to go on this trip. I had to go.
It was on this trip to DC that I met with the president of A Partnership for a Drug Free America, lobbyists on Capitol Hill, Senators, Congressman, the Five Moms (whom I have met and worked with for a few years already) and, yes, Dr. Drew Pinsky.
That one trip changed everything. Everything. How is it that one person (though so very qualified in his field and so very used to dealing with addicts and the bullshit and baggage they throw down) could meet me, have a few conversations with me and then say to me the very things I HAD to hear? Not things I wanted to hear or would benefit from hearing, but the very things I HAD to hear to move forward. That one trip– and it came through my blog– was life changing.
And? It made me question the things I do and why I do them. Including blogging. (And writing.) I can’t share what he said to me. Not yet. But trust me when I say that after almost 10 years in recovery, no one has ever nailed down my issues as fast, as accurately and as matter-of-fact as Dr. Drew did. He really hit a spot that not only no one else has hit, no one else has even seemed to see it.
It made a difference. A huge difference.
It made me stop and think.
Where do I fit in?
Do I want to fit in?
Is there a place for someone so old school as myself?
Can I still do this and be true to myself and what I want out of a blog?
Do I blog for me or for the new faces in the crowd that may be watching/reading/taking note?
The answer took a long time in coming. (Which is one of the reasons I have been so quiet here.)
I blog for me.
If someone thinks it is good and wants to comment, I love that! If a PR rep thinks I am a good fit for their product or junket, we will talk. If someone out there likes what I have to say well enough to add me to some random list of “Top Bloggers”, then that is up to them.
For now, this blog, this writing, these stories are for me.
If you enjoy them, that makes my heart so happy. If you don’t, there are so many blogs out there I am sure you will find one you enjoy. However, for now, I shall make this blog what it once was: My outlet. My place to share stories and observations on life, love and motherhood. I hope you stick around but if you don’t, I understand. Old school blogging and story telling isn’t for everyone.
But it is for me.
Are you ready for the ride? I am!
Yay! As someone who has sortof ridden this wave alongside you, sometimes drifting apart in this great big sea and back together again, I will say I have been in my own zone for close to a year now and it strengthens over time. I turned off Google searching ages ago, I don’t have ads because that space is my own, and I write what I want there. Sometimes it’s daily life stuff, sometimes more deep like The Little Series (in my sidebar). I do not compete in competitive behaviour, I turn down many opportunities that don’t fit my life (I think i took one this year, that’s it) and I will likely not attend another blogger event, having ended this year on a high note in that regard. (Plus I start nursing school in September and need to save money).
I don’t mind that other people are doing their own thing (reviews, whatever). I just choose to go my own way, like the song goes. 🙂
Best of luck Jenn. No pressure, but I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.
Your friend always,
I can’t wait for the return of the stories. That’s how I first found you.
I love this new/old voice of yours. It sounds like you!
Glad you are finding your way back. Glad I get to somewhat be a part of it.
Looks like we were on the same wavelength tonight.
Oh girl, this post makes me so happy.
When I first started blogging I was extremely jealous of those getting to go to conferences, meet other bloggers, get freebees and the like. I went along with the crowd, only to be pushed away when others got closer because they had actually met.
The tyranny of distance. A whole ocean away.
But then I realised that getting bitter and angry was futile. I blog because I want to. The sharing, the community, the thrill of a comment, the people that come to my blog to hear what I have to say because they like me.
That is what blogging is about. Let us all go back to the turn of the century and blog for fun.
So looking forward to getting to know you all over again.
I believe it was my friend Jenn who quoted recently, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” Do it for you and your friends will follow.
Good for you, Jenn! I’ve always liked reading your blogs. You not only crack me up, but you also can make me cry with your blogs. You have a true writing talent.
I have been a lurker for quite a few years now. You are so good at writing that it flows effortlessly when one reads it. Your stories, your experiences… I have enjoyed each one of them, and have checked the RSS feed I have for your blog daily, hoping that you are okay, not ready to “delete” your URL because you’ve been “away.” And it was so nice, today, to hear your voice sound like the Jenn I remember from before. So, from a loyal lurker GF you probably didn’t even know you HAD… (((((((hugs)))))))
Good for you, mama. Here’s to a fresh start!
What a great post. Glad to hear that you’re reclaiming your blog for yourself!
Thank you! I’ve been reading bits and pieces of your blog for a while and am very glad you’ve found yourself again. Your words are inspiring to me as a relatively new blogger (this year), with “old-school” priorities.
I am so glad you are going to tell 1stories again! I have enjoyed reading your blog since our April babies were little. YOUR voice is the important one! Welcome back!
I am so looking forward to reading your stories of 2010 Jenn! Happy new year 🙂
Glad to have you back and I know exactly what you’re talking about.
It’s so hard to not get swept up in all of the blogging BS and it’s especially hard to really write for YOU – heck, to even know what that means.
I’m trying to figure that out and I’m happy to see you’ll be coming with me. 🙂
I dropped out somewhere between the review controversy and The Big Change. 🙂 I loove Dr. Drew. I wish I could hear all about it, lol. Now I want to meet him, and make out with him. But I digress….
It’s great to know that you’re going to keep up the blog and for the right reasons, for you.
What a lovely post. Thank you.
YAY!! I am so happy to read this. Can’t wait to read YOU this year. 🙂
I could not have come across this post at a better time. Just today I fully realized how set apart I sometimes feel from present main stream blogging. I live too far away (in the middle east) and just blog because I like to. It’s the best outlet I could have as a SAHM, but often feel like I’m lost in the blogsphere.
Your post made me smile. Welcome back to the world of blogging… It’s great to have like minded people around.
This was very inspiring. I’ve only been blogging for a year and had been very “lifted” by my monthly increase in visitors, all the nice comments, an award I earned…then visits dropped off dramatically in late fall and around the same time, my family suffered a crisis (so bad I couldn’t even blog about it. I kept blogging once in awhile but it was hard to muster up much creativity. I am glad to see I’m not the only blogger who’s been in a “funk”! I’ve started the new year with the determination to blog on in spite of lower numbers, and I already feel the creativity coming back. Thanks for this post, and happy blogging!
I love this post (long time lurker, first time commenting). I’ve had the same thing running through my mind, too. I miss the stories, the discussions, the community that blogging used to be (I’ve been around for a long time too).
I can’t wait to read more.
I love you Jen. LOVE. I am here no matter what you wanna talk about!!
Here’s to fresh starts! *hugs*
Thank You! I truly enjoy reading your writings. I cannot relate as well as you, but I feel like we’ve been friends forever!
Thanks for sticking with your writing. I love reading your blogs, even if I don’t get a chance to on a regular basis. It gave me courage to begin my own, and knowing that other people get bogged down in life helps too.
Stick with it! I am rooting for you!
Girl, I have missed you so much. Once a year at BlogHer has NOT been enough. I can’t wait to see what you do.
This post resonated with me. I left blogging back in 2006 and have just now stuck a toe back in the water..wow has the pool changed! I don’t know where I will land either. I just want to …write. And tell stories that move people or touch them or make them laugh. When I left a few years ago, that was all starting with the who-was-doing-better-in-the-PR-race and I felt utterly…depressed. Like I knew I could not really compete in that arena. But I still felt I had something to say. Your post is the first comment I have made on a blog in years. Thanks for the inspiration.
Wow. Your post completely hit home. I have a blog that is woefully neglected and I used to be “the blog hunter” columnist for a local paper. Why did I stop is a question I used to ask myself but really I know the answer, it just went out of season with the demands of mothering 5 kids. Enough about me, I liked your blog when I was searching them out and I still like your writing even though I just catch the snippets that are reprinted in Parenting the School Years. Keep at it!