Me on Blogging, and My Childhood, AGAIN

comments: 120

Thankyoupcs2This blog is becoming rather meta-blog, I know. But I read a really poignant post yesterday called "To Blog or Not to Blog" by Autum. She was talking about blogging in a way that I thought was so sincere and interesting, and important to consider, especially at the beginning of this season of joy and fun and, let's be honest, busy-ness and potential stress. Blogging can be lots of things. Most bloggers will say that they enjoy the sense of community; the inspiration; the ability to share and be shared with; the nice, neat feelings of being organized somewhere, at least; the profoundly moving experience of being listened to. But almost everyone that I've ever talked to about blogging feels, at some point, something else, something . . . not as wonderful.

I obviously don't know what those un-wonderful things are for everyone — I think they probably vary more for each individual than the positive aspects do. I know that for me, blogging itself — the actual writing of posts and taking photos — comes pretty easily. But I went to school for years to learn how to write and, you know, I actually worked for a photo-essay-book publisher for several years. So . . . that's helpful. The blog is the first time I've ever written about myself, in first-person; I hadn't known how much I'd needed to do or would enjoy doing that. Many times I write things that I never set out to say, and I do wake up every day wondering what the hell might come out of my mouth. The medium seems to fit the natural . . . environment of my brain. But I must admit that the most important thing about blogging for me is just doing it. I love the real-life friendships I've made, I love the supportive community that I'm lucky enough to find myself in, and I love feeling connected to so many people from other countries, regions, and cultures I never knew anything about.

But mostly I really like the sense of organization and expression that my own blogging has given me. I am someone who has always been easily overwhelmed; and expressing oneself in our family was really not encouraged. It actually wasn't even allowed. The smallest of dissentions was typically met with my father becoming hysterical and threatening (seriously) to have a heart attack, the guilt from which (he avidly threatened) would haunt us forever. Many, many times I thought that exact thing would happen, and it definitely did serve to keep us in line. The only conversation I clearly remember having with him about an opinion I had that didn't end in me crying alone in my room happened around 1977, when we both stood in the living room and agreed:

Me: "I love bell-bottoms!"
He: "Yeah, they're pretty cool."
Me: [Smile smile smile smile.]

That's exactly how it went. I still remember it. For years of my childhood I would also say dialogue that was not my own; it was how I tested out my theory that there was something wrong with the way my family communicated. I read often and everywhere, and I knew a lot about fictional families. I studied them. I memorized their habits. Then I'd walk into the kitchen, take off my boots, and say, "Snow, which was fun in December, is just boring, dirty, and downright cold in February." I liked that line. It was from A Summer to Die, by Lois Lowry, one of my favorite then-and-now young-adult novels. But whereas in the novel it was clear that when Meg said things like this, her father pleasantly agreed (and probably even thought "My! How clever, her!"), people in my house would look at me as if I'd just farted, say "Shut up," and then go back to what they were doing. I tried this experiment many times, with dozens of different lines, and I never got the same kind of reaction the characters did. In fact, if some twelve-year-old started spewing stuff like this to me now I would know exactly what she was up to, and I like to think we'd be sitting down and having a nice talk about her life. (Actually, if someone else in my family had walked in and said something like that I probably would've told them to shut up, too.) (And actually, there was one time when I insisted that my family gather 'round to do a dramatic reading of Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano and that did not go over well, but if you know that play you might know that they really can't be blamed for that one!)

But my dialogic experimentation was helpful in a lot of ways, because I thought that mostly the books were right and mostly the way we did it was wrong, and so from a very early age I started trusting books to show me other ways of being, and I feel lucky that I was able to do that. So while being a regular blogger has helped me stay organized within my life in a way I never have been before, it's also fostered a voice and a place where it's no big deal to lurch about, saying this or that, whatever it is, testing things, figuring out what I think, what lots of other people think. And that is something that has been invaluable to me, something I'd not experienced much before.

Minilanterns On the other hand, I think that for many Reserved (one of the best descriptions of introverts I've read) persons like me (and, I expect, many other crafters) the challenges that come with having any audience at all can be difficult to manage sometimes. All of us want, I think, to be able to respond to everyone's comments and questions, to check-in on our friends, to give help and advice when its needed. But the reality is that there is only so much time in a day — especially at this time of year — and only so many . . . relationships . . . one can do well. The nagging feeling that certain things, people, and opportunities have fallen through the cracks can be frustrating but . . . inevitable? I made a promise to myself early on in blogging that I would give what I could, when I could, because the important thing was to find a way to keep doing it — happily, without it feeling like a burden or another bundle of expectations to be dealt with. As women, I think we are well-trained to do whatever we have to do to meet anyone and everyone's expectations, and blogging can create even more of those. But to me, there are lots of kinds of blogs, and I don't mean genres like "craft" or "political"; I mean: some are sporadic posters, some are personal, some share tutorials, some gather work from others, some show only one's own stuff, some are brilliant at sourcing products, some have ads, some invite conversation and debate, some just put it out there and leave it be, no comments necessary. There's room for them all. I hope we can allow ourselves the freedom to let our own, and each other's, be just whatever they are.

As the postcards say, thank you. As always. For listening, and contributing, how-ever you do.

120 comments

Thank you for sharing not only your talents... but your life as well. Reading your posts make me think about happenings in my own life. This sounds so stalker... but sometimes something mundane or ordinary happens and I think, 'How would Alicia write about this?" and then it all begins to seem exciting and extraordinary. Thanks for sharing and lighting the fuse Alicia!

Kathy Merrick says: November 29, 2006 at 08:56 AM

A very thoughtful, obviously heartfelt post.It is, most often, a blogger's "voice" that keeps me returning to find out more of what she (or he) might have to say.
We humans have such flabbergasting potential for fascinating individuality and revelation and writing that makes the reader say, "wow, that was cool and new and fantastic".

Not to mention that talent some, like you, have for gorgeous photos and beautiful craft.

Love the dialog. I also read Autum's thought provoking post. Love your photos and whatever those little lantern things are. Anyhooo. have a lovely day.


Alicia,

I actually love posts like the one you gave us today: Stream-Of-Consciousness meanderings on a subject matter, one might call it. I love hearing thoughts, feelings, opinions, stuggles, hopes, etc..., not just "all-crafts, all-the-time" posts. So, keep incorporating these more "cerebral?" wanderings into your site, if you will. It gives me wonderful food for the mind. Thank you.

Thank you Alicia, I've had a hard time starting my blog because I keep thinking "why would anyone read this stuff" anyways I am persevering. In ref to yr childhood, and the book that you have referred to as yr favorite, about the two sisters, I have seen that movie, but not read the book, I have added that to my list. I also had an unusual childhood and the movie "Hanging Up" is my reference point for it. I don't know why but around the holidays I have an urge to watch it over and over. A friend of mine said that the movie was depressing and I said "but thats my childhood" for some reason I feel "healed" after watching it every year. Maybe its just facing the past and the realization that as an adult you can make your life into what you want it to be, no matter what happened. Thanks for the inspiring blogs.

Kitty Jimjams says: November 29, 2006 at 09:08 AM

You are so wise, Alicia, but some of your stories are so sad. Thank you so much for your pretty, clever blog, and for being the sort of person who can suprise and cheer and inspire your readers every day.

A wonderful post about a wonderful post. And pretty pictures too!

I always assumed that you must of be raised by whimsical free spirits. To this day my Dad does not understand my little handmade world. I say the word "indie" + he thinks that it is a cult. I think that beginning a blog is maybe the best way for him to see a window into my world. You are the best at taking heavy thoughts + putting them into words + then turning them into a positive!

What an awesome post. My husband doesn't understand why I NEED to post sometimes (or at all for that matter) and sometimes I didn't understand either but I think you helped me unearth some reasons that we share. The kids weren't encourage either to share and weren't really listened to if we attempted. That's one reason of many. I hear you on the organization principle too!
By the way, I LOVE the bell bottom conversation. I feel your smile, smile, smile. I would have felt the same ;)

I found Autumn's post quite thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing your response to it. I absolutely love reading your blog. Cheers!

I like what you said about how blogging has given you a sense of organization. I feel that it has done the same for me, and has made me aware of it in my daily life. Thank you for your words, they are encouraging and uplifting, which is another thing I have gained with blogging, finding the stimulation to be more creative and well, organized.

Yes, I so agree. There is room for all the different kinds of blogs. What would this community be like if we were all the same? Boring.

I definitely have the not so wonderful feelings about blogging going through my head often. It's mostly when I let my priorities get out of whack--say when the family is wondering what's for dinner at 6pm and I'm on the computer, or when one of my children is asking to do something with me and I keep saying "just a minute!" because I won't unglue myself from the computer. Bad, very bad. Those are the times when I think I better just say goodbye to the blog world. And rightly so I think.

But, I really do feel I can strike a happy balance--and I have many times--because blogging has added a lot of good things to my life that I so enjoy. Each day is a balancing act, and I'm getting better at doing it.

I'm feeling sad about what you shared about your family growing up. Please, come over to my house and say whatever you like. We'll listen, laugh--and continue the conversation. xo.

I think this is the longest comment I have EVER left.

Alicia, thank you for your post! This is the first time I've commented, although I've been reading yoru blog now for months. I too have been having many of the same feelings that Autum expressed on her blog, do I have time for it? Is it becoming a burden? I am a blogger, a young mother of four, a full-time student, a crafter, a volunteer. I first began blogging as a way to stay in touch with friends and family - my husband is military and we literally live across the country from most of my loved ones. I have now been blogging for a year, and I had no idea what a profound impact it would have on me. I love to write. It has been something I have done since childhood. Writig stories, sharing stories...but being able to genuinely share feelings about different things while feeling supported and understood is something I have found inspiring. I read quite a few blogs on a daily basis, like a cup of coffee, and yours is one of them. I think you are so talented, inspiring, and real, Alicia. Thank you for what you do and what you are able to give!

A wonderful stream of thought. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Thank you for your post. It rings true to my heart in several ways. My family was similar in that we couldn't communicate for anything! Everything became a huge fight, even the little things. It made the first few years of marriage rather difficult since I needed to learn how to have a constructive argument. Thank God for my understanding PATIENT husband!

While the blogging thing may come easily to some, it is really hard for me. I read on article on blogging once that said basically if you don't have anything interesting to say, don't say anything at all. Because of that I now write with such restraint that I feel like I'm in a straightjacket. I envy your freedom (and education!) in creative writing.

Side note: the book you spoke about is that the one where the girls gets cancer in jh or hs and goes to the summer camp with all the kids who have cancer? They each have matchboxes that they fill with the ashes from the last campfire of the year and take them home. If it is, then I was thinking about that book the other day! At any rate I recognised the quote, so I read it at some point in my youth. I was a HUGE Lois Lowery, Judy Blume kid. In fact, when I was pregnant with my son I re-read a few Judy Blumes. Nothing like a Judy Blume to stoke the pregancy hormone fires!

thank you so much for saying this and for saying it so well.

Hi, Alicia. A new reader here. I am really loving seeing your creations and hearing about life in Oregon. I grew up in Philomath, near Corvallis, and am now in the San Francisco Bay area, and missing my Oregon so very, very much. So it's fun to see your pictures of a familiar place, as well as your LOVELY creations!! This post made me think about my blogging, and how it's starting to become more of a habit (after having a blog for over two years, FINALLY I'm starting to craft it into something more than just a list of what I did all day) and I'm always envious reading of people's blogging communities. So I'm reaching out, to tell you: I love your blog, and you do with it what you want. It's yours, and it's great.

Anne Sheridan says: November 29, 2006 at 10:19 AM

I believe in some way our generation all came from the SAME family of not expressing ourselves and holding in. I celebrate the beauty of women that finally have FREEDOM to say what they think and feel and act to inspire us all. Thank you for a voice so many of us need.

Very nice topic today! I agree so very much. I am new to blogging and for the most part I feel hungry for and uninhibited. But a few months ago I took a two week break from blogging. I ended up with a well written & rude "Nasty Graham" from a woman who was sick and tired of waiting around for me to post something and that she would be removing me from her list and that it had been fun but it was time for her to find a different creative place. It made me start to think of the meaning of blogging at all. WHy was I doing this and for whom? For some reason it struck me. I realized it is my online journal. A place for me to lay down whatever I feel inspired to share about in whatever timing is right for me. A glimpse into my life- for better or worse. I appreciate your post because I look up to the seasoned blog writers and I glean a lot of insight through your daily musings. I appreciate the challenges that may present themselves to you. And it eminds me to keep it all in perspective despite any nasty grahams.

"from a very early age I started trusting books more than I trusted my parents..."

Ah yes. I get this. Totally.

i wonder if it is this time of year, making things for others, considering a craft, wanting to share it with others that makes us all begin to examine why we do what we do? it has been weighing on my mind the last several days as well. you have articulated, in such a lovely way, what i have been thinking... thank you.

Alicia, this is my first comment on your lovely blog--and I just want to say THANK YOU for consistently and beautifully sharing your world with us! Today's post struck a chord with me: I, too, learned to trust books more than my parents; and since they became involved in their own divorce about the time I became fluently literate, this was probably a very good thing for me, too.

I thought I was the only person who tried out lines on my family! Incidentally, I got the cold stares a lot, too. You're not alone there. I eventually concluded that children's book authors didn't know any children, and gradually dived into the world of grownup literature.

Still there! But I come up with my own material to use on my husband & son. :)

Thanks again for a wonderful treat every time you post!

Amen, amen, amen. As usual, brilliantly written and insightful.

Oh, Alicia, you remind me so much of myself. I lived in books and through books. I still don't know what to say half the time. You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself and I'd love to meet you one day!

Another thoughtful post. I wrote a post back in June 2006 titled "To Blog or Not To Blog" about the conflict I sometimes feel from OTHER people about why and if I should blog. Then others encourage me kindly and quite often. So there.

This also touched me today because a food blog that I read with regularity (The Amateur Gourmet out of NYC)wrote a post about "food blogging tips" but in it he became quite harsh about other's blogs. Many people have commented to him (I did as well) saying "thanks, but we all can't be YOU". I think it's sad when self-expression begins to feel like a competition and popularity contest. Yes, some blogs (like your's) will rise to the top just like the cream of the crop. But to demand that those are the only ones worthy to read or even exist is cruel and unfair (YOU haven't said that, but AG and others have). I believe that part of the beauty of blogging is not only self-expression and connecting with others, but also a place for the common folk to have a voice. This is especially important in the world of Big Corporate Publishing. So thanks for your lovely and touching blog, and your kind words to others. Write on!

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.