A Look Back At 12-Plus Years of Blogging

Two weekends ago after I already published my post for the Sunday Salon, I received the above message from WordPress.com. I later added a message on the end of the post that I would commemorate the occasion, and all my years of blogging, in a post the following weekend. That didn’t happen, but now here I am…

Actually…

I began my first blog, in late October 2005, with the now defunct just a (running) fool  to chronicle my journey to reach a marathon by the time I was 40. In late April 2008, I started another blog, also defunct, Just A (Reading) Fool to keep track of what I had read, was reading and wanted to read. Then in December 2007, I began Journeying with the Saints (you guessed it, also defunct) to chronicle a journey through The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius of Loyola that began in September 2007 and ended May 2008. Somewhere in the midst of those blogs, I also had another blog, Unfinished Rambler, a humor blog.

In 2011, I consolidated all of my blogs into one on a self-hosted WordPress.org site and called the blog an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe) after being inspired by this quote:

β€œWe live in an open universe,” said William James, β€œin which uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possibilities are natural.”

But if the universe is unfinished, so are we. Each one of us is, in fact, an open universe. Each one of us is a microcosm of uncertainty, choice, hypothesis, novelties and possibilities. Each one of us is an unfinished person in this unfinished universe. And each one of us feels an infinite and mysterious obligation to complete ourselves and somehow contribute to the completion of the universe. [emphasis mine]

George Sheehan in This Running Life

The primary purpose of that blog was to serve as a portal into one unfinished person’s life, especially through three elements of not only who he (I) is (am), but who we all are: body, mind, and soul.

This was the header image for an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe).

I even had a signature I created that I used at the end of each post:

In 2015 or 2016, I “lost” my self-hosted site to the host that I believe changed the terms of our agreement, so after trying Tumblr and some other platforms for a year or two, I returned here to WordPress.com with the blog that you are on now: Still an unfinished person. I also decided to come out from behind the curtain and use my own name. It wasn’t, and isn’t, that I’m trying to promote my own name. I think it’s more that – now especially after turning 50 in 2019 – I can own my own name, if that makes sense.

So what have I learned after 15 years of blogging besides to own my own name?

Mainly these two things:

  • Write what you want to write.
  • Interact with whom you want to interact.

Write What You Want To Write

While it’s all well and good to have a set schedule, it’s also good to break free of that from time to time and write outside the lines. For example, occasionally, I don’t want to do a “traditional” monthly wrap-up post, with the clearly marked breaks: Books, TV/Movies, and Music. Sometimes a month just flows together. And sometimes I don’t want to title it “Pushing Forward Back…” as I have.

That also means not always keeping to those breakdowns in each week’s Sunday Salon posts: books, TV/movies, and music. The Sunday Salon is supposed to be focused on reading so sometimes I just focus on the reading and not just on list but something I’ve gotten from the reading, or even just a quote or two from the book I’m reading. For example, I did that recently with a post on a collection of poetry, Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.

Writing what I want to write also means not writing what I don’t want to write. For me, as mostly a book blogger now, I eschew book reviews. Why? Because I don’t like feeling the pressure of reading something I don’t want to read, or maybe not at this time, which is often why I don’t do well at reading challenges or readalongs. I like to read what I want, when I want, and most of the time that doesn’t mean reading newer books by newer authors. To me, there are too many books from the past by authors from the past that I want to read. For example, I’m slowly making my way through the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories (more about what I’m reading in next week’s post).

Interact With Whom You Want To Interact

I identify myself as a book blogger so those are the bloggers with whom I like to interact. However, I choose not to interact with all book bloggers, but a select circle of book bloggers and groups, namely The Sunday Salon. Many of the book bloggers that I follow have been around for at least five years, some 10 to 15 years, and at least one even longer than that. Many have come and gone and some return later, so I’ve also learned to keep those bloggers in my feed reader in case they return (example: Florinda of The 3 R’s Blog: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness) and also reconnected with others through Instagram after many years of no contact.

Now this doesn’t mean that I don’t interact with new book bloggers or welcome comments or conversations or interactions with those bloggers with which I might not be familiar. I do both, but mostly I stay in the circles with which I am familiar. You are my people, book people. I embrace you:


So how did we first meet? Was it through The Sunday Salon or was it somewhere else? Do you remember? How long have you been blogging? What are the most important thing you have learned in your years of blogging? Or if you want, do your own blog post on your own blog and let me know and I’ll add the link here. πŸ™‚

Pushing Forward Back February/March 2020

Highlights from this past month: getting a new table for our kitchen, getting a romanesco cauliflower in our Misfits Market subscription box, Seamus (as usual), and the cover art for the book Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.

February found me finally reading poetry this past week after going back and forth whether or not I wanted to read it or not. I read two Mary Oliver books: Dream Work and Blue Horses, enjoying the latter more than the former. I also read two other books this past month:

  • Heaven, My Home, the second in the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi,

enjoying the former over the latter with those two as Attica Locke continues to astound me with her writing.

I still am continuing to read the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories and Pillar of Fire, the second in the America in the King Years series, by Taylor Branch, something I will continue into March.

Highlights of the month include our getting a new table set for our kitchen, our watching the movie Knives Out (which was very good) and having a day off this past and my taking the day off this past Wednesday for Ash Wednesday.

March: We have no special plans, but I am taking a vacation day for the first day of Spring, which comes this year on Thursday, March 19. If the weather cooperates, maybe I’ll get out for a hike that day in the nearby Pennsylvania Grand Canyon to celebrate the changing of the seasons.

The only other thing I know for sure that I’m adding to my reading for March is Lent Is Not Rocket Science: An Exploration of God, Creation, and the Cosmos: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent by W. Nicholas Knisely, the 13th and current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.

On the TV and movies front, I guess the movie I’m most looking forward to seeing is Jumanji: The Next Level, which comes out on DVD and streaming on March 17. The first one was a pleasant surprise and I’m hoping the second one will be good too. Last month, we also watched the Zombieland sequel: Double Tap and enjoyed that so hope we will continue our success with sequels.

I’ll leave you with this, from my favorite contemporary composer:

Posts from February:

Some. Of. The. Poetry.

I began the month gung-ho for poetry, joining a poetry challenge, and then doubling down on reading All. The. Poetry. Then after deciding I had bitten off too much, I declared I would have None. Of. The. Poetry. But yesterday after reading two books of poetry, I now am thinking I’ll be okay with Some. Of. The. Poetry.

The two books of poetry were by the late Mary Oliver: Dream Work and Blue Horses. I read both yesterday on Ash Wednesday, which I took off as a vacation day. I borrowed the first from Prime Reading, the second from the Free Library of Philadelphia via the Libby app. While I liked the first one, I enjoyed the second one more for poems like the main poem:

Listen to “Franz Marc’s Blue Horses” by Mary Oliver by On Being Studios on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/franz-marcs-blue-horses-by

The poem was inspired by the painting below:

Turm der blauen Pferde (The Tower of the Blue Horses) c. 1913 by Franz Marc (1880–1916).

I guess I am okay with poetry. For now. At least. Some. Of. The. Poetry.

Lenten Plans 2020

In the Episcopalian tradition, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Because I am Episcopalian, at least in name, not in church attendance, that is how long I will be observing Lent. Here is what I plan on doing for Lent, in accordance with invitation from the Book of Common Prayer (p. 265) to observe Lent “by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word”:

  • Starting Lent with a day off from work today during which my wife and I are attending an Ash Wednesday service at our church and then staying in a meditative frame of mind the rest of the day by listening to quiet music and reading.
  • Praying Daily Devotions both morning and at the close of the day, using the website of the Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church. The devotions also include links to readings from the Bible for the day, which I plan on reading too.
  • Reading Lent Is Not Rocket Science: An Exploration of God, Creation, and the Cosmos: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent by W. Nicholas Knisely, the 13th and current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. According to his biography on the diocesan website, Knisely was a graduate student at the University of Delaware when he decided to leave behind his studies of Physics and Astronomy and was sent to Yale/Berkeley Divinity School to study for the priesthood. He also taught Physics and Astronomy for nearly seven years at Lehigh University while he was serving in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
  • Denying myself alcohol and soda throughout Lent.
  • Ending Lent by going to church that Saturday, Holy Saturday, or Sunday, Easter, depending on my schedule.

If you are a Christian and observe Lent, what are your plans for the season? If you belong to another faith tradition, do you have practices within it to reflect on our faith daily and/or periodically? Anything you read for your particular faith? If you have no faith tradition, how do you relax/meditate/stay calm?

I used my post from last year on my Lenten Plans 2019 as a template for this post.