Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Thoughts on blogging, boundaries and life.

This is that post that I've been writing in my head, ever since taking a good chunk of July to get away from blogging and social media.  One of the biggest blessings and connectors I've ever had in my life has been the world of blogging and social media, so I want to make that crystal clear before I ramble on.  Some of the dearest people I "know" are you guys... my sweet readers. 

People email me frequently asking for thoughts on blogging and being "out there."  I normally share that I once struggled because I read more than 100 blogs a day. I felt like I had to comment on every single one of them.  I felt like I needed to respond back to everyone who reached out to me, and I gave it my all. As I'm sure you can imagine, there wasn't much left for my family after weeding through bursting in boxes for hours on end, and I knew something was going to have to give.  I was trying to grow my blog because I really did hope to one day use it for an income that would help my little family... and my intentions were good. 

But.

I quickly realized that there is only so much of yourself you can give away with no boundaries intact.  Pretty soon you're a dried up well, and the ones closest to you often suffer.  I know that's what happened in my case.  Blogging became a sort of idol, the first thing in my thoughts.  So a few years ago, after this realization, I backed away and put up a lot of boundaries for myself with all of this social media.  I'll be honest, it was very difficult for me to break that hold.  Not reading all the blogs of wonderful people that I "knew" but didn't KNOW was awful.  I felt like I was letting them down somehow.  (They were surely counting on my comment that day, weren't they?)  And of course, if I didn't comment on their blog... they would soon stop commenting on mine. Oh no!

I am very relational and I hated to think that anyone was being upset by this.

With God's help I gave that all over.  I found that I needed to do that again very recently, which surprised me.  I guess it shouldn't have... since I began blogging in 2008 Facebook has really taken off, Pinterest and Instagram are new, and so are dozens of other ways to connect.  With all of these new fun ways to reach out, it's bound to need a redirection in the boundaries category every so often.  Right?  Anyway, I examined all the places I was getting hung up, feeling stressed, not good enough, less than, or going through the motions... and you know what?  I let myself off the hook.  By doing that, I let others off the hook along with me.  It often works like that.  Grace for grace.  If you come here but seldom leave a comment... it's okay.  If you don't subscribe... it's okay.  If you subscribe but some days have such a full inbox that you just delete without reading... it's okay.  If you don't relate to something I'm talking about or simply don't like to comment... it's okay.

Now, am I saying that I don't care about your feedback?  No way. Not at all!  I love hearing what you say!!  Your comments also kind of keep me on track for what kind of "conversations" you are enjoying with me. And yes, I do look at this blog as a sort of conversation with you.  I love that you stopped and read.  And if you were willing and/or able to take a minute to write something down in my comments, I not only appreciate and read each word, I view it as though you stopped and left a little piece of your heart here for me.  It meant something to me and I appreciate you so much!!   Sadly my immediate family are my main priority, and because they are a lot of work, I can't always answer questions or respond the way I'd like to. I really don't like that part.  I'd love to have two of me sometimes.

The point is, as we do life, work, run errands, raise families, get involved in many causes etc, social media can feel like one more thing on a very full plate.  I know someone out there is nodding her head.  Life is hectic for each one of us... I very much understand if you just breeze in and out of this site most of the time.  Say hi when you can or if you want to, and don't feel any pressure from me about following any "rules."  You make the social media connection between you and I work for you, with my blessing. 
That sort of brings me to the big realization that I've been chewing on during my July break. I've got to make this thing work for me too... and I've felt kind of convicted that I need to invest a bit more of that time, heart and intentions in the areas of face to face relationships.  Many of the people I know in real life have been able to easily and effortlessly keep up with this small Cliff Notes version of my life via social media... and that's awesome for them... but it's left me feeling pretty lonesome in real life and wishing that I had someone out there to share my complete life picture with, and visa versa. Because obviously, relationships are a two-way street.



My question for you is this.  When you love social media and blogging, and the relationships forming there how do you balance the real life relationships too?  What do you do when real life relationships can find out everything they want to know about you by reading about it, rather than stopping by for a cup of tea or taking a walk, meeting up, or having that relational conversation time, etc?  I mean, blogging and social media only show so much of a person's real life and I don't want to be satisfied by only what I read or see.  How do you be intentional, and how do you encourage those in your life to meet you half way in that?  What do you do when it's been a long time since you had to force yourself to go out and make a new friend in real life... and it's scaring you like crazy because this is so much safer and easier? 

I would love to hear about your journey and thoughts with this, as we all live in the same social media driven world.

(And don't forget to enter the fun giveaway here.)



Today I am thankful for:
Perspective.
Encouraging emails.
An ice cream maker.
Sheets fluttering outside on the line. 
Flank steak marinating for dinner.

28 comments:

  1. Hey girl, I only have a few minutes to respond, as I'm heading out the door. But I wanted to commend you for taking the time away that you needed, for asking the questions and trying to figure it all out! I love blogging but it's one thing that I don't manage to do very often at all. I love a small handful of bloggers and they are a must to my day (you're one of them).

    As far as real life relationships go, I don't feel that I have any that I meet with regularly, but I am involved in youth ministry, my team there are good friends. I am also involved in MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) as a mentor, and so I have some relationships there. I will soon be coaching my daughters soccer team, so there will be another aspect of face to face time.

    But those things aren't a replacement for good old genuine girlfriends. Social media doesn't keep me from those things, just being plain old busy does. I guess I don't really have any answers for you - sorry. Maybe though, getting involved in ministry would help (maybe you already are, I don't know)

    I do know that if we lived on the same coast, we'd be great friends for sure!!! Love you and your heart <3

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  2. Morning Sweetie!
    I think everyone grapples with this on some level. The answers don't come easily -- and they are different for everyone. I don't have as many followers as you do, and so I feel like I can handle the comments that come in. Also, my kids are older, and don't vie for my attention as much as yours probably do for you.

    As to the face-to-face relationships, I was already in a stage where those were difficult -- not because of social media, but because I'm home all day, and most of my friends are in the work force. Blogging seemed like a natural way to fill some time now that my kids are older, and build some relationships in a day when that seems to be lacking.

    I have my blog, and for the purposes of growing my blog, I post a link to each day's post on my FB blog page, twitter, and google+. I don't really interact much there. I also have a personal FB page and Pinterest. I use Pinterest mostly to pin from blogs that I read. I don't "browse" Pinterest unless I'm looking for something very specific. I don't have a smart phone, so there's no Instagram for me. I share my best pictures on the blog, so to me, it feels like Instagram would be a duplication of my efforts anyways (just my opinion).

    The answers for me are different for you -- and none of them are easy. Follow your heart. Only you know what your priorities are & how that fits into your daily schedule. People who "get you" will understand -- whatever you decide.

    Hope you have a great day! I'm off (in a while) to scrapbook w/ my Mom. Have to run & gather my stuff. xo

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  3. I think that last question pretty much sums up life. Finding the balance. It is a different balance for everyone since we are all in different seasons of life. I think when you cut out some of the blogs you read and answering every email was the right thing to do for you. We all have to say no to things otherwise our plates do get too full. I don't have an instagram account or use facebook, partly because I know I don't have time for it. I have a blog that I started when I opened my shop that I use when I have time. As for friends coming halfway, invite them over if that is what it takes. :) And pray. Some times our prayers aren't answered when we want them to be but we have to keep praying.

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  4. I must say that there are days I think you are in my head forming the words to write down. Today is one of those. I have very recently realized that I was neglecting my personal one on one friendships. It was easier, somehow to write all my life's happenings in one spot on my blog and be done with it. They knew what was going on in my life...but in reality I was missing out. I made a concerted effort two weeks ago to pick up the phone and invite friends to breakfast or coffee of just visit. It has been such a blessing! Friendships in real life take effort to nurture and grow, but are so rewarding in the end.
    Thank you for this, Sasha!

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  5. I so get this. Blogging is so fun and good, but can also become this two headed demon making us into crazy people. We all know our limits. Sometimes I realize I just had a "conversation" with my daughter without even looking at her face because I was checking instagram. SO lame. There's always times we need to pull back the reigns.

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  6. I don't have any suggestions - I am struggling with the same things. What I find the most unfortunate, though, is that most of us are so busy REAL relationships are what people can't make time for as they're running to the next thing. AndI get worn out from trying to be the "implementer" all the time. I don't know, but looking forward to reading the comments.

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  7. struggling here too! balance is so hard. Trying to do it all is hard on us! after not blogging since Jan, I finally wrote a blog post this morning, about God has ways of slowing us down! now I get on here and find your post :)
    thank God I have things in a little bit better perspective and I know if I rely on Him, He will help me!

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  8. This post rings true with so many of us I bet! I read tons of blogs daily but often don't comment as just don't have the time. I also blog and never really thought much of it until lately when several prespective boyfriends (so dread this whole dating gig) have known way more about me than I could ever know about them on a first date thanks to a quick google search leading them to my blog. Fun times.

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  9. I don't blog, but I love reading blogs and yours was one of the first I ever followed and is my favourite. My friend bought a camera strap you made and that's how I found you. You really have been such an inspiration to me, but I have only recently started commenting . Before I felt like I didn't 'know' you enough to comment...and I felt shy! But here you were pouring your heart out, and I was too timid to actually comment. Trying to work on that. I would like to blog but again am shy to really put myself out there. Will anyone want to read about my life? Will anyone care?! And as for face to face relationships, my best friend moved several provinces away and it seems our only connection now is social media. Not even phone calls anymore. I want to change that, it makes me sad, I miss her voice and laughter and am realizing I need to tell her that! Thanks again for being so honest. I really love this post <3

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  10. If we didn't put up boundaries, we wouldn't have anything really special left for our dearest ones. I don't facebook, instagram, tweet or even have one of those fancy phones for texting. It keeps it in balance for me. I enjoy writing and hope to inspire others with my blog, but it's really an outlet for me. You deserve to save your energy for your family. Your blog is one of the best out there, and it always makes me smile, think or wonder. However you do it, you gotta enjoy the ride. Blessings...

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  11. This has been on my heart lately too. To begin, I had to really come to realize my blog is a documentation of our lives. That's it. There's no trying to grow it. It will turn into a book at the end of the the year to grace our shelves. It has turned into the scrapbook I used to enjoy doing. That realization has given me the room to blog when I want, what I want and take the pressure off of myself to turn it into more.


    Social media is tricky. I don't have a Facebook anymore, largely in part because I got sucked in. I didn't have good self control...it was all or nothing. I've felt the same with Instagram lately so I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I'm trying to make boundaries and keep them but my track record isn't that great...I love/hate social media.

    Real life friends are treasures that are just as busy with life as I am so it's hard to make time to get together...I'm trying. They're trying. We're just not connecting as much as any of us would like. But effort still needs to be out forth because they are here. The Internet has connected so many of us mere strangers yet it has disconnected us from the life right in front of us. It's hard. All the time. Praying for clarity for both you and me:) xoxo

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  12. I say, go with what you feel in your heart is the right thing to do. Non bloggers don't realize how much of our time and effort it takes to run a blog, it really takes a lot of our precious time, and with kids, it becomes a sacrifice. I have not posted in a while now, I think we all just need to take those breaks from time to time, otherwise, how on earth can we slow down, and enjoy our kids, family and friends?

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  13. I struggle with social media - all mediums - and balancing it with life. I am a single mother to two young boys and I have little to no time to myself as it is, and the time I do have I want to do something creative and fun. Spending my life on my smart phone, or in some app, or flipping thru Facebook is not what I want. I want to look back and know that on summer days like today the boys and I spent our time outside. I wish more people were outside, would make it easier to get to know others. But everyone, and I mean everyone is inside these days. I seriously lack a good girlfriend friendship in my life and it would be awesome to have one. One that my boys would be comfortable with so that I could entertain the idea of .... dating. If you were my neighbor, I'd be over your house every day! ;o)

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  14. i go to extremes - i want to quit everything one minute but then dive in the next. i only post twice/week and am totally ok with it. i can't see myself doing it forever. ultimately these things can be really good, as long as they aren't the ultimates. i feel ya on all this!

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  15. While you are on my blog roll and I do read your blog, I don't ever respond. First let me share in why I come on here. I am super impressed with your honesty of your faith and your life. While I think you share a great deal with us readers, I do not believe that I what I read on your blog is all you. What I mean is that I have a blog too. I have FB as well, but those are only pieces of nuggets of me and not the deeper part of who I am. It's an insight to me, yes. I put myself out there on my blog because I am speaking my mind and thoughts but it still is only a fraction of the complex individual I am. I believe that is how it is for all of us social media peeps.

    I will also say there is nothing like real life girlies to be with! I need that girlie time, most of us do! My real in the physical friends don't read my blog. There isn't a need to for them, and if they do I don't really know about it but they would say to you as I have, it's only a piece of Elizabeth that you are seeing with the one thing remaining true about her, she is honest and real. In fact, none of them scrapbook or anything! But we have one common thread, we are Christ followers! :)

    The people that you form relationships with online will and can only go so far unless you feel led to meet in person. This is the biggest difference between real and online. There is a line drawn and there is only so much effort that can take place with this type of a relationship as opposed to one in the real. While I cannot say I have a ton of people responding or commenting on my blog I have known some of them throughout my entire time scrapbooking and that is where it stops. I haven't made any really good friends through social media. Sure I have FB and there are peeps on there that go way back with me, but they only know me from then, not now.

    There can be a balance I believe in the case with you and your followers/friends and real in person friends and I am sure you will seek the Lord in that and He will show you exactly how to balance the two!

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  16. Thank you for your honesty. You have raised valid questions to think about ... and have affirmed why I don't use social media very much. I struggle with loneliness -- a fairly young widow (50+) with an empty nest -- and FB is not cozy enough for me. I, too, relish the face to face relationships that nurture and keep me accountable. Years ago when I was a teacher and computers were becoming part of classroom activities, I always said I'd rather have a real bunny in the room instead of digital pictures of bunnies on a screen. That's how social media feels to me -- digital connections on a screen. I know the world is changing - but maybe getting together to bake bread or make tamales is still the best choice for an afternoon well spent. Anyway -- thanks, again. You have a sweet, sweet spirit and you will continue well on the path our Father has designed for you.

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  17. Great thoughts . . .

    Awesome questions . . .

    I think we should meet for coffee to discuss them. :)

    I, too, am very lonely "in real life". My Bloggy Friends are wonderful and amazing (and many I have met in real life) but most of them live oh.so.far.away.

    I know there is a problem when I can go weeks at a time between conversations outside of my immediate family. Seriously. Weeks without any conversation besides saying "hello" to people at church on Sunday, or the clerks at the grocery store.

    Coffee soon?

    Laurel :)

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  18. It is so hard for us to admit when we can't be the superstar like the blog next door we admire so much, I did the same thing earlier this month. I realized my blogging had become an idol as well and not being the vessel to help as it was intended, actually taking away from my family, which was on of my first priorities. I hear ya, girl. Thanks for your genuine honesty and vulnerability. I appreciate it and know others do to!

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  19. Thank you for your honesty on this post. As a new blogger, I feel very much the same. I started blogging because I was lonely and longing for female friendships. I am still in the process of establishing boundaries. I don't do Facebook because I was unable to establish boundaries with it. But I am enjoying blogging and I adore the new friends I have met through this vessel. I believe that social media can be used to glorify God, but we must work very hard to do that. Thanks for this good post . Susan

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  20. I have thought about this long and hard Sasha. I ADORE the friendships I have made through my blog, and even on Instagram! I get to chat with people all over the world! We have LOTS in common! We open our hearts and share our dreams. Heck, recently people across the globe added our pooch to their prayer lists at church. Wow! But I do CRAVE the safe feeling of having someone next door, or down the street who I could turn to. In my 20s I had TOO MANY friends. In my 30s, I started having babies, and had a few friends, and my neighbor friends. But in my 40s, I find with working full time, I come home and my friends in town have been home all day, meeting for coffee, or supporting one another with their friendship. At that time they are ready for kids and dinner. I am ready for kids, dinner, and someone to vent to or share a smile with. I have always wanted to live somewhere that I had a few really close girlfriends I could have in even when my house is a disaster, just because we are like sisters.So I get it Sasha. Its confusing! Thanks for sharing my morning cup of coffee with me.

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  21. Sasha,
    I have had my blog for a little over a year. I started one, because I saw this great bond between so many ladies and I wanted to be a part of it and share my stories and home projects. It has been a huge blessings and the friendships I have formed have been just what I needed, but it has also brought disappointment. In the beginning I would get my feelings hurt when I would share my heart on a huge story (to me) and didn't get the feedback from families and friends I had expected. Or bloggers that i adored didn't start following me and commenting. On the other hand, I felt so much satisfaction from sharing my story and God's graces in my life. What I have come to realize, is we are all inspired in different ways. I may read a blog, because it provides ME with the inspiration and mentoring I am seeking in MY life. If that person is not following me back, it does not mean they do not like me, they are just on a different journey then me and find inspiration else-wear. However, I have seen my real life relationships take a back seat, because I can't do it all. Online friendships were easy to maintain, because I didn't have to leave my family to interact with them, but what I started seeing was I was checking my phone all the time. I have been very inspired by the blog Hands Free Mama and am starting to really limit phone time. I simply turn the phone off and put it away during certain times of the day. I don't' want my kids growing up thinking I my relationships from blogging were more important then them. Now I am going to start homeschooling and I know I will have to be even more disciplined with my time. Its a hard balance and I have to put my blog on the back burner more then my heart desires, realizing that in this season I am needed by my kids.

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  22. about 6 months ago
    i pulled way back on my blogging
    and social media time

    mainly because
    i realized how it was sucking the time
    i spent with my kids

    as in
    'just a minute (hour) kids
    whilst i finish editing these photos
    writing my post
    pinning my party
    etc etc

    i have not regretted that days go by
    when i havent' even logged on to my lapbook

    i still read the occasional blog
    and have just recently been dipping my toes
    back into FB here and there

    but my time with real, live
    right-there-in-front-of-me folks
    is fleeting
    and i don't want to waste it
    with my eyeballs glued to a screen

    thanks for sharing your heart
    and your concerns

    {Alison}

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  23. I'm a bit late to this party but wanted to leave a note with my thoughts. There is NO substitute for real life and real relationships. I love, love the friends I've made blogging but honestly, the "need" to read every blog & comment, respond to those that were nice enough to stop and read mine, check on FB, read emails, you name it...has become overwhelming at times.

    My 15 year old granddaughter was fatally injured in a freaky auto accident June 21st. It has felt like our world has shattered, along with our hearts. I'm not in a position to blog now nor can I read all the wonderful blogs I love. I just want to encourage everyone to spend time with their children, family and loved ones, treasured friends and new ~ we have no guarantees! I dare say no one would want to say they spent their last day blogging, doing a project, etc. when loved ones are waiting in the wings. Of course, life does go on...just spend your time here on earth wisely. Make each day count!

    xo
    Pat

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    Replies
    1. Oh my heart BREAKS... just breaks for your loss. I can't tell you how much your reminder meant to me. I'm getting off my computer right now!
      Praying for peace for you all as you grieve.

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  24. I just love your home and this idea of a "command center". I need to do that! And I love the fact that you are listing things you are thankful for. We all need to do that! Susan

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  25. Everything you just wrote could have easily come right from my hand. It has all sure been in my heart a lot lately.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  26. Such a true and honest post, one of the many things I adore about your blog. I stopped blogging at least 9 months ago. Why? The people in my real life would look to my blog to find out what was going on, and then their perceptions about me and how they interacted with me shifted. What I shared on my blog was a fraction of my life, and I often didn't appreciate the negative in person comments of people regarding my blog. Does this even make sense?? I shut down- literally. Found myself floundering in our home, not eager to open up to anyone. I'm starting to come out of that shell through my art, and spending more valuable time with my family and a close circle of girlfriends that I trust. I've been considering a blog again, but don't want some of the negative Nellie's in my real world to see it. Silly, huh? !

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