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Ten years ago today, I wrote my first blog post. I had decided to try a blog project that involved writing every day for a year, using only the number of words that matched the number of years I’d spent on the planet, about people I’d met in my life. (That blog is no longer public.)

My first entry was about a friend I’ve known since we were both four years old. It was about her humour and kindness and anger at injustice. I’m pleased to say that we’re still friends; my husband and I had dinner with her in Christchurch just a few weeks ago. She’s also the friend who gave me the advice about earthquake preparedness I referenced in my previous post. I like having that continuity in my life.

That project brought a number of people into my life. I have an ornament (see below) hanging in my dining room window from the very first person to comment on that blog. I haven’t met Indigo Bunting yet, but for the last ten years, she has been present in my life. I am confident I will meet her one day. I’ve dreamed about it (though oddly, there was a bad flood at her house in this dream)! Either I’ll get to the US or she’ll get down here, and we’ll get to drink some wine together.

I’ve blogged about some of my blogging friends in my Friends-Not-Yet-Met series. Ten years on, we’re pretty much all still in touch. Whilst we no longer blog every day, and some don’t comment on my posts anymore, and I comment only belatedly on their blogs, we are still in contact. Over that time we’ve seen love stories unfold, books published to great acclaim, children born and other children graduate from high school and college. Each of these events has touched my life. We still talk about a possible meeting somewhere – Italy was always a favourite dream destination, though I suspect it is more likely to be Toronto or Vermont or New York  – and believe that it will happen one day.

Ten years on, I’m still writing, though I’ve been through a couple of different blog projects now, finally settling here at A Separate Life. I don’t write as often these days, and certainly not as succinctly as that first year, when I used only 44 words. I intend to continue, though. It seems that A Separate Life is here to stay.

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I discovered Loribeth in 2010 or 2011, finding at the same time a woman my age who seems to speak my language. Along with some of my other favourite Friends-Not-Yet-Met, she hails from Canada, a country that New Zealanders always feel that we know much better than we actually do. So Loribeth teaches me about life in Canada, the freezing winters and the hot, humid summers, the huge distances they travel (she’s taking me – virtually at least – on a road trip right now), the busy cities. She’s a writer and a reader, and as a result of her reviews, many non-fiction memoirs have now been added to my To-Read list, to be tackled one-day-when-I-have-time.

We may be separated by half the world, but I feel that we have much in common. Like everyone I write about in this series, I hope to meet Loribeth one day. I suspect it will be in Canada or the US, and the fact that she lives in the same city as some other Friends-Not-Yet-Met and near still others just across the border greatly increases the possibility of a meeting. Still, I regularly encourage her to escape the harsh Canadian winter and enjoy a gentle New Zealand summer, including a glass of wine on our deck (wind permitting).

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Susan’s life is almost the complete opposite of mine. As a child, I lived on a farm, and she was in an apartment in New York. I have few childhood photographs (and few adult ones either), and she had an adoring, photographer father. She blogs rarely these days, but her Fb feed is full of old photos of her father’s she has found, documenting the physical changes in New York City, and societal changes too, with photos of parties that look as if they were the inspiration for some scenes in Mad Men.

These days, her own photographs are more likely to be stunning scenes of rural life, winter shots, or of deer or other wildlife venturing into her yard, that always intrigue me. We both share a love of photos of beautiful blooms, though I suspect her camera (and eye) are rather better than mine. She has known tragedy though, as a girl and later as a mother, and I love the way she keeps her daughter Jill alive through her memories.

I would love to meet Susan one day, but to be honest, her stories of tics and lyme disease might keep me away.

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Facebook killed blog comments. I looked back about eight years recently, and it was so lovely to see who was commenting on my blogs. Fortunately, many of this small group of people I first met on my blogs are still around on social media, so I still see what’s going on in their lives. But many are no longer writing or commenting, not even on the blogs of their real-life friends. I blame Fb, as well as mobile devices that make it hard to comment, so I doubly appreciate the comments I do receive when I know it would be so easy to just read and move on.

But on the bright side, there are two young men (okay, boys) in my life who are currently on holiday with their parents. They’re each keeping a blog. I’m getting to see some of my favourite places through their eyes, and it’s wonderful.

 

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  1. I still live in Wellington, in the same house, and we still haven’t redecorated our bedroom.
  2. I write for pleasure, almost daily.
  3. I write two blogs, and one of them is about infertility and not having children.
  4. I consider a number of people (from all over the world) my friends, yet I have never met them in real life, and I have welcomed people into my home, and people have welcomed me into theirs when we have never met in real life.
  5. I carry a device in my handbag that is simultaneously my book, my diary, my notebook, my camera, my newspaper, and my phone.
  6. I talk to people regularly, face-to-face, through a computer – and it’s free.
  7. I have a colouring book.
  8. I still haven’t been to China.

Notes:  

With thanks to the lovely writer of Euler Not Venn, for this idea.
Eight things, because it is Microblog Monday, and I have an eight sentence limit (though this is not included in my eight sentence limit). 

Microblog_Mondays

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It’s the New Year. Whilst that often brings a feeling of renewal, a chance to change what hasn’t worked, and to wipe the previous year’s troubles away, this year it feels harder to do that for a number of reasons. But I need to shake that off, and take the time to look back  – with the assistance of the WordPress annual report on my blog (thanks, WordPress) – and ahead, too.

2015 was my blogging year of the photo, with 148 photos uploaded. I participated in a photo-blogging project in May and afterwards wanted to keep that up. So I’ve progressively used more photos to brighten my blog, and complement my posts. I’ll try to continue this in 2016.

I posted 99 times last year, which is frustrating to learn on 1 January. If only I’d checked my annual report yesterday, I could have reached 100. Still, it isn’t even twice a week, especially not when you consider the daily posts in May. So a resolution for 2016 is to try to post more often, and not rely just on #Microblog Mondays.

Still, I posted every Monday for #Microblog Mondays, and that was and continues to be a good discipline.

One of my most popular posts in 2015 was written in 2011. It was Ten Bad Smells. Makes you wonder what people google, doesn’t it?

I had visitors from 82 countries! That’s pretty amazing, though USA, Canada, NZ, UK, and India contributed the most readers.

Once again the loyal and insightful Indigo Bunting, my first ever commenter back on 1 December 2006, was my most prolific commenter. I think she deserves a gift. Hmmm, I might be able to arrange that.

This year, I hope to blog more. I’ll keep doing little snippets about life and Wellington and drives I take, but really, how often can I write about the harbour or a favourite café without getting endlessly repetitive? So I want to be a bit more thoughtful this next year. Please, hold me to it!

Finally, I love all of you who bother to read, whether you comment or not. Though commenters (see above), do hold a special place in my heart! Hint. Hint.

Happy New Year!

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(Unashamedly posting a version of this on both my spaces today.)

Even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in New Zealand, it is almost impossible to miss, as my US friends travel home to family, cook turkeys and share recipes and enthusiasm for pumpkin lattes (whatever they are), or talk about things and people in their lives for which they are thankful. Sometimes we struggle to be thankful for anything, but I’ve learned that gratitude can be helpful, and it is something I’ve tried to bring into my everyday life.

Bridgett, one of my first blogger and social media friends, participated in a month of daily gratitude, and commented one day that she was “grateful that her hard work paid off,” (referring to a particular achievement). I wonder if she knows how much I appreciated her simple phrasing, her acknowledgement – one that I know so well – that sometimes, hard work doesn’t pay off? My mother knows this, as she sits in a hospital waiting for a place in a care home due to her declining health and memory, and my sister knows this, also sitting in a hospital in another part of the country, with her child who faces health battles every day. None of us are immune from the reality that you can’t in fact achieve anything you want, and that hard work doesn’t always pay off, and that sometimes accepting this is the hardest and bravest thing to do.

So even though Thanksgiving has passed, I’m thankful for friends and
others who see past stereotypes, who understand the power of words and who use them thoughtfully. And since I have a sentence remaining, I am thankful too for those – paid or unpaid – who care for others in need, and all those who show kindnesses and consideration to friends and family going through a hard time.

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