What I’ve Learned From Three Years of Blogging(and how none of it will help you)

“Old 2019” is quickly coming to an end. Christmas is just two and a half weeks away and the New Year will make a grand appearance a week after that.

There are a few bloggers I follow who have far more experience as yours truly and graciously offer up tips and insight on becoming more successful at this wacky craft called “having your own blog.”

But, that’s not to say you can’t learn something, regardless of how small “that something” might be from any bloggers out there that work diligently week after week at their craft.

This was originally posted back in March of this year. Since that time and until the end of November, we averaged now around 925 views per month and 680 visitors per month. And like I wrote in the March post, I have no clue what those numbers mean if they mean anything at all.

Having said this, there are a few things or nuggets that I can share that will have relevance to many bloggers out there, whether you’re brand new at this or have been at it for a while.

From March 2019..

First off, if you’re here reading this thinking all of your blogging worries and concerns will be magically solved and that you’ll be the next “big deal” in the blogosphere, sorry mate you’ve clicked into the wrong page.

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Source: Google Images

However, having said that, why not stick through this with me.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned over the past two and a half years is this. You never know what small and seemingly insignificant nugget of information found in what may look like just another random blog post could make the world of difference.

I started this blog back in the summer of 2016. It was our way to share with others the outdoor adventures that Lynn and I were having and to inspire others regardless of the point they may currently be in, to get outdoors and experience all that nature has to offer.

Since starting though, things in regards to the blog have grown and evolved in terms of content and such.

Although I certainly was “committed and serious” from the very start back in 2016, it was during the summer last year(2018) that things got “more serious and more committed.”

I decided to join some online social media blogging groups thinking this might be the way to sky-rocket my way into the stratosphere in terms of followers and exposure across the blogging universe. They were fine in what they provided and such but found they required FAR MORE TIME THAN ANTICIPATED networking within the group.

When I couldn’t commit to the time required, I felt guilty, like I was somehow abusing the group.

Needless to say, I’ve stopped that time waster. I know it may work and be beneficial for some, but it wasn’t in the cards for me.

Some stats….

Prior to getting seriously serious in the summer of 2018, here’s where I was at:

For June 2018

  • 166 views
  • 127 visitors.

Not very impressive to say the least. The numbers were what the numbers were.

Now, as of the end of February 2019, I’m averaging 750 views and 513 visitors per month.

What does it all mean?

I haven’t a freaking clue in terms of whether the numbers are good or not.

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Source: Google Images

It does show that in that eight-month period, we’ve experienced growth and that I conclude is a good thing. I think the growth can be attributed to creating good content that connects with others while at the same time cultivating relationships with those in the blogging world whom you like and respect and who like and respect your writing and content as well.

Five Things

Nevertheless, here are five things I’ve learned since starting the blogging journey.

Write From The Heart

If this doesn’t apply to you, because your blog is about the latest and greatest trends in fashion, well that’s all right. Thinking about it for a second, perhaps fashion is what gets you going. Oh well.

I write from my heart. I write and blog on those elements of life and how they intersect with the outdoors and nature. That is the thing that comes naturally to me. It’s like those emotions and experiences of life can be illustrated and written about through what nature and the great outdoors and teach us.

For me, writing from my heart; that spot that is so very deep within my soul creates at least the potential for good/great content. And isn’t that what you want for your readers and followers; great content with that emotional “right hook” that smacks them right upside their head?

If I am, and to use a well-worn cliche, “not feeling it” there is no use writing about it at that point. Everything then for me becomes a forced and painful exercise, leading to frustration and moving on to something else for the morning. That’s not to say, the draft won’t revive itself and find life published at some point in the future, but I have lots of “draft posts” sitting there and the heart just isn’t feeling it for any of them.

Writing from that “well” which is deep within my soul; the agony, pain and emotions of life, spilling out on the keyboard has been in my experience the posts that resonate and connect most deeply and profoundly with readers and followers.

Remember though, it can take time to get the courage; the nerve; to be vulnerable; to hang yourself out there for all to read about.

It did for me to get to that point to hit “publish.”

Also remember, there are many out there that are in the same boat as you and need to read what you have to say. Some are at a point in their own path or journey that what you’ve experienced and are sharing with them, can make a world of difference.

Perhaps change their destiny

Don’t be afraid to write from the heart.

Write/Post When You Can

Experts or those experts that I’ve read indicate that consistency of posting on your blog is a key element.

Excellent then.

One question that pops to mind is how consistent is consistent? Daily, weekly, bi-weekly, every 3.5 hours or some random combination.

I am not a full-time writer. And I suspect, not many of you are either. Like most, I hold down a full-time job, that requires me to up by 3:15am; out the door by 4:00am and not returning home until 6:00pm. There are some days getting home is earlier, but my four-day workweek is full. That was a choice we made to only work four days a week. Best decision we made in many years!

As such, I can only commit to writing and my blog in the early mornings on my three days off and before Lynn gets up. Once she’s up, we like to get outdoors and take on yet another adventure or we have other commitments that we need to take care of.

Do I post every week?

I try to for the most part. But, going back to the first point, if I’m “not feeling it” it is unlikely that new a post gets written and subsequently gets published. Now, having said that, I have in the recent past gone back and revised earlier posts and re-blogged those.

What’s my point then?

I don’t get all “whigged out” or too upset if nothing gets published on my days off. Life happens; things happen; sometimes the “well” isn’t pumping water that day.

I try to remember that this is my outlet. My creative “thing” that brings me joy and soothes my soul.

If you feel the need and push to publish each day or whatever the schedule is that works for you, then great – go for it.

I post when I can and when the post is ready for me to hit “publish.” Once, twice or even three a week or great. If it doesn’t happen, there is always next week.

Enjoy Yourself

Need I say more?

If this stops being fun and not enjoyable anymore, then from where I sit, it would be time to pack it in and move on to discover another outlet.

I have written before that blogging, on the subjects I do, is a cathartic exercise. Allowing me to deal with, grow and move through life’s challenges and past experiences. It is also my creative outlet. As painting, sculpture or photography may be the creative exercise for others, writing and blogging are for me.

Doing what soothes your soul at even its basic level should be enjoyable, shouldn’t it? If it wasn’t, why invest the time and heartache to do it?

Enjoy doing it – enough said.

Challenge and Push the Envelope

This can mean whatever you what it to mean.

For me, it meant several things.

First, to get to the point to challenge myself to write and blog about issues or topics that I knew were touchy or difficult issues for people and thus difficult or painful for me to write about. This always means vulnerable and hanging your emotions out there for people to get a darn could look at.

Not all of us want the world to see and read how messed up we are or messed up we were.

Doing this can be tough and a challenge for sure. Therefore, it can take some time getting to this point, if this is where you what to go and eventually end up at. Maybe some people never get to this point and that is okay too.

Challenge yourself to be provocative; push the outside of the limits of things; dare to be slightly or significantly different than those others blogging around the same issues.

The second for me was to challenge myself creatively. Up until just a week or so ago, all of my writing and blogging were long-form. Simply what most of you may do and read.

For 2019, one goal was to move in other creative directions and to try different genres of writing.

So, with that in mind, I moved into creating poetry as another way to express myself.

I can emphatically and somewhat triumphally state, I know less the zero about poetry. But, not letting that hold me back, I’ve found that writing poetry challenging, difficult, but rewarding beyond my wildest dreams.

One mantra that I often bellow out is, “that if you’re not moving forward; you’re not remaining in the same place either; you’re moving backwards.”

Challenge yourself and push the envelope of your writing and blogging

Lastly – Find and Follow The Advice of Bloggers Who Are Great at This

It seems funny at this point in the narrative, but this has been the greatest thing I’ve learned since heading off on the blogging expedition.

If you desire to be a great Doctor, you learn and are taught by great Doctors. The same principle applies here.

If you want to be a great or at least a better writer or blogger, follow and learn from someone who has and is doing well.

Read what they have to say. Study what they have done. Examine their blog sites. Pick the points they make that have the most relevance to your own situation. Then go ahead and implement them and see what happens.

Have I taken to heart each and every point these bloggers make? No, of course not. But, I have tried to work some of them into my situation.

The biggest and most important element I work at each time at the keyboard is that content is king. Having great content trumps all other elements. You can promote the crap out of your blog, but if your content sucks it is unlikely people will return for a second visit.

Here are two bloggers that I follow that are doing it well; if not great.

Cristian Mihai and Jordan Peters

Well, that’s it

All of what I’ve learned from two and a half years in this wild and wacky world of blogging.

If you managed to find a nugget here that may help you move forward in your own blogging journey, then this post is well worth the time it took to compose it. If not, that was 10 minutes in your life, you’ll never get back.

One last question though, what have you learned since you started blogging that others may find to be the one thing that could help them the most?

Thanks for reading.

 

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone(Part 3)

It wasn’t my intention to make this into a three-part series or even a two-part series for that matter.

But, after thinking about it for a spell, perhaps having a third and final element or part that examines or at least scratches the surface of “the why?”comfort 11

Why do we need to expand our comfort zone?

In Part 1 we looked at what do you instantly think of when you immediately read or hear the quote – “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

expandFor Part 2 we had a brief encounter examining the definition of your comfort zone and then how to expand it?”

For this last segment, the question to think about is “the why?” Why do we need to expand our comfort zone(s)?

Perhaps, an even better question to ask is, “why not?”

One aspect of life that is as plain as the nose on your face is this.

We do not simply remain in some sort of neutral position of growth throughout life. We are doing one of two things. Either we are growing as a person or we are moving backwards. 

Hovering in the middle prevents us or hamstrings us from growing. When we dance around in the middle of our comfort zone, nothing ever changes – ever!

made ofGrowth as a person will never happen when there is nothing new introduced to challenge us to grow. With no challenges(and you can define challenge however you want) we never find out what we’re really made of.

We just stay comfortable. Being comfortable makes life an “easy row to hoe.”

By existing and merely surviving in the middle, we muck up or miss out on the opportunities to shape and develop ourselves into becoming stronger, more confident, more resilient individuals.

All of which, creates so many longer-term benefits that outweigh the relative comfort found in the middle of our own comfort zones.

As such, don’t simply settle for or accept mediocrity found by lounging around in the middle just to avoid stepping out of your comfort zone; it’s too big a price to pay.

So, having said all of that, why then would we not want to expand our comfort zone?

Five Benefits Of Expanding Your Comfort Zone

  • More Productive – being comfortable squashes productivity. The process of expanding our comfort zone(s) can propel us to learn new things; to be more productive.
  • Adapt To Change – when we challenge ourselves to try and do things we normally wouldn’t, we end up telling ourselves on some sort of subconscious level that we can handle change better than we thought we could.
  • Become More Creative – getting out there to seek new experiences; to learn new skills, or perhaps to open new doors you end up becoming more inspired and thus more creative.
  • You Experience Growth – you’ll grow as a person whether you want to or not. Expanding your comfort zone always takes us to new growth experiences, which adds to our toolbox of life skills and self-knowledge.
  • Become More Comfortable – each of the above results in your comfort zone becoming bigger through it expanding. What it means is what you may not have been comfortable with in the past, you may very well be comfortable with now.

Expanding our comfort zone doesn’t need to be a huge gigantic step or leap. Thinking expansion needs to be really massive can and will likely be overwhelming.

Try starting with small steps; small changes; small challenges. Every win, no matter how big or small adds up and each one builds upon the last on.

Think of stuff that takes you out of what is familiar, but is not too emotionally challenging is a great place to start. Maybe try a new food; read from a genre you might never have read from in the past; try a new activity.

Get out there and add some newness to your life and be open to new experiences.

Really, the options are endless.

When you do those things you’ll be expanding your comfort zone and growing as a person.

Isn’t that the goal?

Remember….

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone(Part 2)

In Part 1, we examined “what do you instantly think of when you immediately read or hear the quote?”comfort3

If you’ve happened to just stumbled across Part 2, you can take a read of Part 1 here – Thoughts From The Wilderness – Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone(Part 1)

The quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” or quotes similar to it and the images they create in our minds can rightly or wrongly scare us.

They scare most of us to only end up shuffling about in our rigidly defined comfort zones, never getting close to touching the boundaries that define them. Or on the other hand, it scares us to create a mid-life or life-altering course correction, which causes a few of us to head off to rock-climb in the summer and ice-climb in the winter.

In Part 2, we’re going to look at the following two questions:

Does “Life Begins AT The End Of Your Comfort Zone” have any application in the life of an ordinary run of the mill soul like you and me? and

Is the issue at hand, perhaps the definition of “your comfort zone and how to expand it? (without the pooping your pants scare scenario)

Tackling the first question, does “Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone have any application in the life of an ordinary run of the mill soul like you and me?”

The short answer is a resounding – yes!

Our lives are meant to be exciting; fulfilling; meaningful; impactful; brimming over with new experiences. All of those and other components as well can be defined any way you want.

But, and this is “a big but” and speaking from experience, you don’t really get all of these things without pushing out towards the edges of your comfort zone.

comfort 5So, are you saying I need to try this?

Well, you can if that’s what you think you need to do.

Just don’t ask me to come along. I’ll go for the plane ride, but not feeling the “jumping out part just yet.”

Our lives then are not meant to be lived in the safe and secure centres of our comfort zones. Unfortunately, for many though, we tend to stay at or near the centre of what we’ve created or defined as our comfort zone.

And we stay there because it is comfortable. Very comfortable.

Any movement away from the centre that heads us towards the edges of our comfort zones involves change and most of us don’t do “change” very well. Why? Because changes in most forms make us uncomfortable. Therefore, it easier and more comfortable to hover around the center. It can be a vicious never-ending cycle.

comfort-zone1

It’s as simple as that.

In other words, to live life, and the only way to REALLY LIVE LIFE is to start to step out and any from the centre of our currently defined comfort zones.

Therefore, assuming that “Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone” has application in our lives, let’s take a look at the second question.

step-out-of-comfort-zone-e1571771014379Is the definition of “your comfort zone and how to expand it? (without the pooping your pants scare scenario)” the issue.

Our comfort zone is our comfort zone. We’ve defined it; we’ve created it over time and that is where we reside.

Some of us will have a large defined comfort zone, while many of us will have a rather narrowly defined comfort zone in which we are comfortable.

If the quote, “Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone” is causing you to “poop up your pantaloons” because there is no way on this side of God’s green earth are you going to be found dead doing……

……then why not simply expand your comfort zone?

comfort 8

Moving away from where it is comfortable can simply mean moving towards something that is different or slightly challenging.

It doesn’t have to be the photo collage above.

Now, it could be if you want and think you need to go there.

And this is the beauty of expanding your comfort zone. You can tailor it to you.

How fast; how far; what new experiences; what do you want your new comfort zone to look like?

It’s all up to you.

How then?

Here are a few examples that I personally tackled over the past couple of years

  • Signed up for a free online university course
  • Went to a film festival(s)
  • Started a blog
  • Submitted material to be published(and succeeded – yay me!)
  • Fished on  a commercial lobster boat
  • Attend several author’s lectures

Each one of those examples required me to move away from the centre of my own comfort zone and add a different and exciting element of “living and life” to my own life. And by doing each of those things and others as well, my comfort zone expanded each time just a little bit.

And that is the end result you’re looking for – expansion.

And when our comfort zone expands, whether it is small steps over time or in big increases, it never shrinks back to its original size.

comfort 10Remember, to live life, and the only way to REALLY LIVE LIFE is to start to step out and any from the centre of our currently defined comfort zones.

Moving towards the edges of our comfort zone is “where the magic happens.” Where life becomes exciting; fulfilling; meaningful. Where we come to the realization that this is how life is meant to be lived.

That there is so much more richness; so much more to experience.

comfort 10Often stepping out of the comfortable middle, results in far more than we could ever imagine.

Staying in the middle though is the place where “living life goes to die.”

From everything that I know, we only have one chance at living. Being in a place that is comfortable is easy because it is “comfortable.”

But, the middle is a poor spot to be in.

You may disagree, and that’s alright. But, don’t blame me if you wake up dead one day and think, “fu@k – settling in and living in the middle all my life sucked really large.”

Taking the steps can be scary for sure, but anything worthwhile never comes without some sort of a price.

Bungy jump if you think you need to or perhaps sign up for a free online university course. Regardless, just move out of the middle and towards the edge.

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Remember….

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Blog Related Stress

Blog related stress and blogger burnout.

Who would think that doing something that one finds exhilarating, fun or therapeutic could lead to such a situation?

Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) has asked that very question in Blogging Insights #9 – Blog Related Stress.

She’s provided us with a bit of background to get the discussion rolling.

Blogger Burnout

You must have come across this term in posts about blogging. Today’s topic is completely opposite of last week’s Blogging Insights when we discussed being grateful for blogging. This goes to show what a diverse field blogging is, its various aspects being limited only by the number of bloggers.

Questions:

  1. What, in your opinion, is “Blogger burnout”?
  2. Have you ever suffered from blog-related stress?
  3. What steps could you suggest to keep blogging from becoming a stressful activity?

One item to start is this. There is a big difference between writer’s block or a dip in creativity and the phrase “blogger burnout.”

Burnout as a concept or reality has a much more negative connotation associated with it, as compared to experiencing a period of writer’s block for example. One definition of burnout is this – “a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged or repeated stress.”

My thoughts on the three questions:

What, in your opinion is “Blogger Burnout?”

Blogger burnout in my eyes is getting to the point where thinking about blogging/your blog; looking at your blog; sitting to write the next post or anything to do with blogging and your blog immediately takes you into someplace that is not healthy.

Like the definition above, you’ve got to a point where your emotional, mental and physical wellness is a stake.

Burnout, when it happens, erodes our energy(exhausted all the time), attitude(becomes rather poopy) and confidence(where did it go) when it comes to the blogging process.

Burnout doesn’t occur overnight. It usually is a slow-cooking process that takes some time to manifest itself. Burnout may start to grow and fester like some infection due to a huge number of factors, like:

  • feeling like you have no new ideas to offer up on your blog
  • looking at your stats constantly – they’re not going up or getting bigger(yikes)
  • blogging life and family life are out of wack
  • working on your blog makes you angry and frustrated
  • isolation takes place – I’m all alone in this!

These plus countless other factors can over time lead us to the point of “blogger burnout”, especially if your blog and blogging, in general, is your livelihood.

All of these factors relating to burnout are much different than “I’m in a creative slump.”

Have you ever suffered from blog-related stress?

stress
Source: Google Images

Not that I can specifically think of.

Blogging and my own blog is not how I make money, nor is it as some bigger component of our overall livelihood.

For myself and I suspect for others, blogging is a source of release; entertainment; therapy; a way to connect; and so on.

If blogging is starting to stress you out in some way(s), going back to “first principles” or “why did I start blogging” in the first place can be a good start.

For example, if you started to blog as therapy in order to release and deal with issues relating to mental wellness, perhaps at this point you’ve strayed away from that and need to get back to the basics.

For myself, I want blogging and our blog to be fun. It is a creative release specifically for me. When it stops being fun; when it stops being part of my life that I eagerly wake up for and can’t wait to sit down and bang away at the keyboard, then it is time to step back and figure out what the hell is happening.

What steps could you suggest to keep blogging from becoming a stressful activity?

First of all, always remembering why you are blogging in the first place.

breathe
Source: Google Images

Be who you are on your blog. So, write in your own style, not someone else’s style. People want to hear or read “you.”

Remember, it is difficult enough just working at being ourselves. Why make it twice as hard, by being something or someone you’re not?

In addition, don’t get highly focused on the stats tab. Constantly worrying about if you have new followers or how many visitors showed up today can quickly drive you away from the process at hand – sitting down and banging away at the keys.

Furthermore, avoid getting your “pantaloons in a twist” if you are having a hard time creating new content or you think you have writer’s block. There are plenty of great suggestions and tips from a wide swathe of bloggers out there that can help you in overcoming a momentary dip in creativity.

Lastly, create a healthy balance between blogging, your work and family life. Family and family life should always come first. Just figure out the balance for the rest that works for you.

Once again a big thanks to Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) for her Blogging Insights Series. Each topic provides a wealth of discussion, information and insights from bloggers throughout the thing called the “blogosphere.”

Thanks again!

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone(Part 1)

“Life Begins AT The End Of Your Comfort Zone” – and don’t you know it, I can’t remember where I recently saw the quote.

I guess where I saw it doesn’t matter really. But what I think matters is this.

Firstly(Part 1)“what do you instantly think of when you immediately read or hear the quote” and secondly(Part 2), how do you “define your comfort zone and then expand it?”

Part 1 – What do you instantly think of when you immediately read or hear the quote?

I don’t know about you, but my mind immediately goes to something like this.

 

The “old gray matter” instantaneously goes to some mid-life changing crisis scenario, ending up where you have completely destroyed any semblance of what defines your comfort zone or comfort zones in general.

ice-climbing-on-the-icefieldsAnd honestly, ending up here scares the living hell out of people.

Most of us never even let our minds go to someplace where we’re hanging off some precipice by our fingertips. Going from a weekend hiking with our family in a provincial park to ending up ice climbing in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is a bit of a stretch at best.

Are there people who head off and redefine on some ridiculous scale what their comfort zones are?

comfort 5

Of course, there are plenty of people who do that on a daily basis.

And it isn’t necessarily forging after some physical and emotional pushing endeavour like ice-climbing. It could be a whole host of things that simply annihilate and hugely redefine their comfort zones.

How about a 180-degree switch in careers? Going from being a Corporate Lawyer to owning and running a pottery studio(when you know nothing about pottery; you just like pottery in general and think you can do it) is about 180 degrees of change as you can get.

In a way, it is what the above pictures represent that scares the poop out of most people when they read or hear “Life Begins AT The End Of Your Comfort Zone.”

And because of that “poop scare scenario”, most of us work quite diligently and I must say effectively at never really rattling, pushing or expanding the fences that define our comfort zone.

Nevertheless, does the quote have merit and any substance to it?

Question for you today though is this, “where does YOUR MIND GO when you read or hear a quote like ‘Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone?”

Wrapping up then….

  1. Does, “Life Begins AT The End Of Your Comfort Zone” have any application in the life of an ordinary run of the mill soul like you and me? and
  2. Is the issue at hand, perhaps the definition of “your comfort zone and how to expand it? (without the pooping your pants scare scenario)

Part 2, scheduled for tomorrow, will attempt to answer those two questions.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

All pictures in this post unless otherwise noted – Sourced: Google Images.

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Happy and Grateful or Grateful and Happy

I wish I had taken the opportunity to snap a picture of the following quote on the sign that ultimately inspired this post.

Ironically, the sign was on the property of a large car dealership on the busiest road in the City that I work in.grateful1

Not only is it a place that sells cars and trucks, but apparently they are also delving into life inspiration and inspirational quotes to brighten our day.

Regardless of the car dealership’s motivation for having the quote at the edge of the road, the quote and the words within it, should if nothing else cause us to pause and think about the meaning behind them.

The question is, “are happy people grateful or are grateful people happy?”

Here in Canada, we’ve passed through the “Thanksgiving Holiday” and are now pressing wildly along and riding the gut-busting roller-coaster of the Christmas season. To our friends south of us, they are in the midst of their Thanksgiving celebrations, which thus heralds in the start of holiday season south of the border.

So, what a perfect time of the year to take a short look at “are happy people grateful or are grateful people happy?”

Often at Thanksgiving dinner or certainly at some point during that time, people sit back and either ponder to themselves or say out loud “what they’re thankful for.” We go through and express gratitude for things like “what we have or been given” or “thankful for the people in our life.”

Thanksgiving and all it entails goes hand in hand with expressing gratitude. Just try it for once!

grateful3

Now, on a bit of a send note for a minute or two( and not trying to make it more complicated than it already is), “gratitude” gets its meaning from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness.

If we think about it for a second, doesn’t gratitude wrap itself around all three of these meanings?

Gratitude is being thankful for what we get or receive in our lives. When we express gratitude, by default, we are acknowledging the source of whatever we received. The source of the goodness or whatever it is we received, often is found outside of ourselves.

Therefore, expressing gratitude helps us to connect to something bigger than ourselves as individuals. It could be other people, a higher spiritual power, or perhaps nature.pooh

In a nutshell, expressing gratitude moves us along to feel and have more positive emotions; to be thankful for the good experiences in life. Gratitude or expressing it helps to improve our health; deal with rough stretches when they occur and helps to build strong relationships.

All of that sounds like someone who is hap, hap, happy.

Conclusion – gratitude is associated with happiness

Okay then.

Have you ever come across someone who was truly happy, yet felt ungrateful for the blessings or the good fortune in their life?

Likely not.

It is akin to “I’ll be happy when…….?”

Unfortunately, in many respects, we live in a society where the “I’ll be happy when attitude prevails. The “when” in that statement makes that whole approach to happiness – exceedingly elusive. “When” is “when?” When or how do we know when we’re there; when we’re happy? If we don’t know or have any concept of what or where “when is”, how do we know if or when we’ve arrived there?

That philosophy puts us in a place where we could never be happy, peaceful or fulfilled in the present. we’d always be chasing something we can never catch.

It is grateful people who are happy.

gratitude 1

It’s as simple as that.

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Are You Grateful for Your Blog?

The eighth instalment in the series Blogging Insights by Dr. Tanya(Salted Caramel) in my opinion, presents the most challenging question yet, that being Blogging Insights #8 – “Are You Grateful For Your Blog?”

Are you grateful for your blog?

The short and obvious answer I would think for all of us would simply be “yes – of course.” If you weren’t grateful, why would you keep the onerous task of blogging going then?

Dr. Tanya gives us a bit of help and insight to get started.

The spirit of gratitude is in the air with Thanksgiving being celebrated in different parts of the world. It is a good idea to be grateful every day for all that you have and all that you are able to do. But in the rat race that is modern life you tend to forget this, so it is good to have a seasonal reminder. Today’s blogging insights questions centre around gratitude.

Her questions are:

1. Are you grateful for your blog?

2. How do you express your gratitude?

3. Has blogging added value to your life? 

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Are You Grateful For Your Blog?

Although there are days when blogging and typing away on the keyboard on our Mac is the last thing I might want to tackle before heading off to bed, I am always grateful and exceedingly satisfied having pushed publish on my very first post back in 2016.

Much like our lives grow and change throughout the years, blogging has grown and changed for me during the past 3 to 4 years. In a nutshell, blogging and my blog, have allowed a creative tap to be turned on that has helped me in a variety of ways.

One way, in particular, has provided the avenue to delve into a variety of mental wellness issues in my own life. By writing how I may be feeling or what I may be experiencing in terms of overall emotional and mental wellness and how I might be dealing with those issues.

I have had many wonderful responses from other bloggers and readers who are dealing with many of the same emotional and mental wellness concerns. Each one of those responses has provided a great feeling of satisfaction knowing that others have gleamed a small nugget from a post, or that they have given me a new tool to work with or advice to further move along the path we call life.

Blogging has made me have to push the boundaries of creativity, which always results in growth as a person. Blogging through necessity has pushed my creativity to become a better blogger. Crafting a post better; writing better; working on topics of relevance.

In addition, it has also pushed me into different avenues of creativity, such as poetry, which has pushed and stretched the boundaries of my creative influence beyond what I would have imagined.

How Do You Express Your Gratitude?

Not sure how to express gratitude to an inanimate object such as a blog?

However, being asked the question, one way to express or show gratitude is to hone your craft each day. In other words, keep working at getting better as a blogger as time marches on.

Read more, learn more about the art and craft of blogging. Pay attention to what your readers are saying and commenting on. These things benefit not only yourself but more importantly, those on the other end who are reading, what in many cases, you’ve poured your heart and soul in to.

Interacting with those who read and take the time to leave a comment, whether it is short or a long and often profound paragraph is the heart and soul often of what we call this crazy, yet wonderful world of blogging.

The art of blogging is a two-way street if you like. Gratitude is expressed outwards to others when we know deep inside of us, that at the other end of the computer link, there is a real person; with real feelings; real emotions and thus we treat and respect them as real people. Not simply as a bunch of keystrokes on a computer screen that needs a response to a comment or post.

Gratitude is a feeling or attitude we adopt or should adopt as a blogging community.

Being grateful for the opportunity, we have each time we sit down at the keyboard and to express that gratitude outwards to those who we may never hear from, but have had their lives touched by the words we write.

Has Blogging Added Value To Your Life?

Again, the very short answer would be a resounding – yes!

Blogging has made me look internally into who I am as a person and dissect the process or path(s) that have brought me any particular point in my life. As difficult as that has been at times, it has resulted in emotional and mental wellness becoming stronger.

It has caused growth in who I am as simply me.

I have also met some wonderful and extraordinary people in the blogosphere. Each one of them has added a measure of value to me as a person.

Growth in you as a person is always a value-added pursuit and is always a value-added end product.

Blogging has in no uncertain terms added much value to my life.

Again a big thanks goes out to Dr. Tanya for adding much value to the blogging world through her series Blogging Insights.

Each topic(at least for myself) results in taking a step back to examine details or personal aspects of blogging that many bloggers may never honestly think about.

Thanks!!

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – It’s A Sign Of The Times

“It’s a sign of the times” is an old adage for sure. We’ve all heard it at some point along the way and I suspect we may have uttered it once or twice as well.

Nevertheless, the first of many questions though that may come to mind is, “what is the sign and what times are we talking about?”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “a sign of the times” as “something that shows the kinds of things that are happening, popular, important, etc., in a culture at a particular period in history – Having metal detectors in schools is a sign of the times.”

The Cambridge Dictionary defines the phrase as something that is typical of the (bad) way things are now – These riots are a sign of the times.”

Two definitions from outstanding sources of “a sign of the times” and both are rather shall we say – negative in flavour.

One word though that stands out in the phrase is the word “sign.” I’m sure that many like myself when we hear the word “sign(s)”, our minds immediately go to signs that are meant to be obeyed. Like traffic signs as an example.

For the most part, life chugs along just fine when we in the example, obey what the traffic signs are telling us to do. And if we don’t follow their heed, bad things can happen to us. Everything from hefty fines to getting injured in a collision or worse.

In other instances, the signs may be simply giving us a vital bit of information as might be found in these signs.

Yes, signs usually pop up to give us a warning or to share information with regards to something.

On the other hand, often it’s the universe that throws a sign in front of us that we should really pay close attention too.

In fact, this type of sign or message may be “a sign of these times.”

 

Back in October 2018 when Lynn and I were hiking a rail-trail not far from our home, we came across a number of signs along the way. Most dealt with signage for snowmobiles. But even though the signage was obviously meant for sledders, the universe was sending a clear message if one was open to hear and accept it.

I wrote a post back then about it titled “Obey The Signs.”

In this day and age, I often read about or hear about on the radio, the need to simplify our lives and to slow down the hectic pace we endure on a daily, weekly and yearly basis.

Right along with what various media formats say about “slowing down,” I hear from friends, family and co-workers phrases along the line, “my life is so busy that I can’t catch a breath” or “I have no time for myself; everything and every day is just go, go, and go.”

You get the idea, and I’m sure you hear the same things. If you’re muttering these though – take to heart the message you’re hearing.

As much as those are words and phrases people are often exclaiming, they are also a sign.

A HUGE SIGN from the universe; a higher power; God or whatever you believe that it is time to obey. When life is telling you to slow down, generally you will slow down.

It can be of your own volition or ultimately it can through forces entirely out of your control. The later ones are generally not so much fun. Our bodies have unique ways of both physically, mentally and emotionally catching our attention.

Because much like traffic signs out on our roads and highways, when we don’t obey them; when we ignore them; bad things are sure to follow.

We don’t want bad things; we want good things; enjoyable things.

slow-down-and-see

Remember…

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

Thoughts From The Wilderness – “GPSing” Through Life

We just bought a new car.

In fact, we’ve had it exactly two weeks today(Saturday).

car

In many ways, it is a pretty basic model, but it does come with a variety of electronic gadgets, including GPS.

Lynn will be the first to admit, that I have an excellent sense of direction. A quick look at Google Maps and I drove from our home in central Ontario to the east coast of Canada.gps3

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve used a GPS in the past. More often than not, they work just fine and get you to your destination with no problems whatsoever.

Sometimes though, blindly following the GPS like its giving directions that have been blessed by God, can lead you to places that….. well …….. places that you weren’t anticipating.

gps4

But, in essence, isn’t a GPS is simply an electronic map?

A “bit version” of our old and it appears long-forgotten paper maps. Back in the old days, one would take out your paper highway map and trace a route from Point A to Point B.

Rummaging around in a kitchen drawer to find a piece of scrap to then write the directions out on. All the while, hoping you got it correct and that there aren’t any construction detours encountered along the way. track.map

With a GPS, if you go off track because of construction, the device simply re-calculates the directions and gets you(hopefully) back on the right course.

All of this is a wonderful, yet dry debate on the merits of the GPS versus the “dinosaur-like paper map.”

One point about maps though, regardless if they are paper or electronic, they are based solely on where others have been.

 

Maps require obedience. Follow the directions that given to you; turn left here; go straight along this road. Don’t deviate from the course set for you.

What about in life though?

Do or should we blindly follow someone else’s map? What if that map only works for them?

Or should we chart our own course through life?

What about only using a compass??

Take a look at this post from November of last year.

It’s a short, yet a powerful read on empowerment and charting our OWN course.

Remember..

 

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —

 

 

Thoughts From The Wilderness – Finding Fresh Content

As part of her on-going Blogging Insights Series Dr. Tanya(aka – Salted Caramel), recently posted the next installment – Blogging Insights #7 – Finding Fresh Content.

Fresh content.

Every blogger worth his or her salt has asked themselves that question at least once since pressing publish on that often terrifying first blog post.

What do I write about next?

Dr. Tanya provided this introduction, as a way to stimulate the creative juices.

Fresh content and new ideas: these are things that bloggers, as well as users of all other social media, are constantly trying to find. The blogosphere and social media stratosphere are like vast galaxies. These galaxies are populated with hundreds of thousands of bright stars, the glow of each of which is constantly clamouring for attention. With so much content creation going on every second can any idea be original?

In other words, where can you find original ideas?

Today’s Question

How do you write fresh content when everything that is worth saying has already been said?

In many of the responses posted to this query already, one theme that keeps reappearing is, “there is nothing much new under the sun to write about. That whatever needs to be said, has been said before by someone else.”

That is a bit of an “old catch-phrase” and in my opinion doesn’t hold much water.

We live in an era like most moments in time, where there is plenty new under the sun and therefore, plenty of fresh content that is prancing in the gate just ready to hit the blogosphere.

As such, if we head off on the premise that there is plenty of new concepts or fresh ideas, then by default, there is more than enough stuff that HAS NOT already been said. Therefore, we have in front of us, endless and thus new and exciting content available to crazily blog about until our fingers become numb from poking away at the keyboard.

Three Quick Thoughts

Be Ready and Willing and Open

Be ready and willing to seek new content or things that may stimulate our brains and help in the creation process. We need to be receptive or open to “allowing the universe” to inspire us so to speak.

New and fresh ideas or content can often be right in front of our eyes, but we miss it.

As an example, recently, I spied an advertising sign at a car dealership as I drove down the road. The sign read, “it’s not happy people who are grateful, but grateful people who are happy.” That is one great idea for a blog post.

Read

Reading blog posts written by others or simply reading, in general, can often inspire in your mind another take on that concept or a fresh new idea altogether. A post written by one person can often lead to another idea, which is yours.

I also find that because I spend a fair amount of time in my car, that listening to the radio(I tend to listen to a variety of news, commentary or talk radio based formats) often generates new ideas or a commentary I can make on something I’ve heard. Podcasts can work in the same way.

Motivation and Creative Low Points

Perhaps the real problem though in all of this is two-fold.

Lack of motivation and a creative low-point.

There will be times in our blogging journey when the motivation to sit down and type or low and or when our creative well seems to have run dry. Personally, I think that one leads directly into the other.

If our motivation to sit and type is low or nonexistent, then we subconsciously or even consciously convince ourselves that our creative well or reservoir has run dry. And thus there is nothing “new under the sun to blog about. It has all been said before.” 

If a lack of motivation and the feeling that your creative well is in need of re-filling, is the issue then, go back and re-look at the first two thoughts and specifically the first one.

I’ve seen it expounded upon by other bloggers who have thousands of followers and write extensively on blogging issues, that when motivation and the feeling of a dip in creativity pop up, one should simply sit and start writing.

It sounds counterintuitive, but often that act of simply typing unplugs the creative log jam and the creative and motivation process refires itself up.

And Finally

I’m sure there is a number of different ways bloggers seek out ideas or work to uncover fresh and exhilarating content for their readers. The items or processes I mentioned seem to work for me. Word prompts and other challenges like that, I find many people partake in.

The main point is this. Even if you think that all has been said before by someone else, it hasn’t been said by you.

The overriding and point of the whole process is, whatever you blog about; whatever your next post is… it is YOUR TAKE ON IT. All of which is new(under the sun) because it is your take, not a take(penned by someone else) that has been written before.

The world needs to hear what you think and about something. Realistically, it could be your opinion or take on a subject that adds clarity to a murky and muddy discussion. It could be your next post, that helps someone across the globe that is in a season of crisis.

I hope it helps.

Thanks again to Dr. Tanya over at Salted Caramel for undertaking this most thoughtful series of insights into a variety of blogging issues.

Remember…

—  get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself  —