It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since I made my first post. At that time I didn’t know anything about blogging. I read a few of them, but I’d never tinkered with writing on any platforms, outside of MySpace on our honeymoon. (Wow, does that date it or what?) Most of the blogs I did read weren’t even food-focused. Now writing, taking photographs, jotting down recipes, and logging a list of post ideas are all parts of the natural rhythm of my thoughts and life. After three years and 232 posts, here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Celebrate the small victories. It’s easy to forget when page views slow for a month that there was a time when 30 page views a day were not uncommon. There were many months when I had three people who regularly made comments – my husband, a close friend, and one stranger named Sarah (but more about her later). There will always be someone who has more Facebook fans, who scores a book deal, or who has a post that goes viral, skyrocketing her/his popularity. If success is always something off in the distance, how do you ever feel happy about our far you’ve come? Take the time to celebrate every new person who likes your work enough to subscribe, or comment, or follow. If we never credit ourselves for the small victories, we continually postpone our own happiness.
2. Comment on other people’s blogs and respond to the comments left on yours. In the blogosphere, comments are currency. While some people work at blogging full-time, for most of us it’s a beloved hobby. When people contribute to a discussion and leave a note, it feels good. As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, for most of my first year, I had three regular commenters. Two of them are people who love me and wanted to be supportive, and goodness knows I appreciated it. When you spend time writing, it can start to feel a little silly, as if you’re speaking into an empty room, if no one ever speaks back. You have to wonder – why am I doing this? It’s for that reason that the stranger, Sarah, who read my blog and regularly commented, meant so much. She made my recipes. She commented about my blog on forums. She engaged with posts, and especially in those early days, I treasured those comments. They helped keep me writing. You never know, you might be a Sarah for someone else.
Another reason for commenting on the blogs of people you enjoy is that it builds relationships. I’ve come across many people online who seem like kindred spirits. They’re people who have similar interests, and they’re people who I think if we lived in the same town, we could be friends meeting up for a vegan potluck. (Plus, not everyone in our lives actually wants to talk about visiting animal sanctuaries, the best way to press tofu, or who makes the most addictive vegan reuben. Let’s give it up for those people who share our same enthusiasm!) I could very easily say that the best part of blogging has been the connections that I’ve made. What’s more, it keeps me growing to see the creativity in the posts of other bloggers I admire. It challenges me to keep doing my best work when I see their efforts.
3. Blogging doesn’t just create connections outside of your inner circle. It deepens understanding in real life relationships as well. Any time that we redefine ourselves, there can be a period of adjustment, not just for us but for our loved ones too. Who are you now that you’re married, or a mom, or living in the country, or living in the city, working a new job, or going back to school? Who are you now that you’re vegetarian or vegan? You’re the same person you always were, but you’re someone new too. With every step and stage, we learn about ourselves and our values. In writing about veganism and animal rights, both things that I care about very deeply, and then hearing from friends, family, and acquaintances, it’s been a way to connect and find understanding. It’s a way to frame a discussion that is based on ideas and concepts and has been a vehicle that’s allowed for some valuable insights.
After these three years I have to say – blogging makes my everyday life more interesting. Looking through the lens of a blogger, I’m more engaged. Knowing I’ll write about it later is a wonderful excuse to do something new, to try something new, to go somewhere new. As people we’re creatures of habit, but knowing that I want to have fresh material means that I’m stretching myself to go outside of my standards. It keeps life fascinating when we are open to discoveries. I’m sure that even if I wasn’t blogging I’d want to try new-to-me foods or visit the local vegan restaurant on my travels, but going with blogging in mind keeps my senses peeled to take in every moment and engage with it, and who doesn’t want more of that? Here’s to fully appreciating this moment, and as always, thanks for reading!