Love Me, Love My Blog: On Blogging, Boundaries and Privacy

One of my initial concerns about blogging was how private I wanted to be. If this was a place for me to share experiences and explore ideas – many of which would be frowned upon by long-time friends and family members – did I want anyone and everyone to know what I was writing about? Or did I want to keep my identity a secret?

Initially I kept everything as quiet as possible. But I am notoriously bad at keeping secrets about myself. When it comes to my life, I am a believer in “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I believe we all want to feel known and understood, and if our online personas are the way we let people know who we are, then sharing that content might bring us that much closer to feeling known and understood – and, ultimately, loved.

http://www.girlwithmoxie.com/2004/06/cyber-snooping/

Reading through this post from 15 years ago, I struggle to remember which coworker this was, though I have a pretty good idea. She left a few months after I started and later helped me get an interview with her new employer, but I decided it wasn’t a good fit as the job was a lateral move in many ways.

I also realize I was making a lot out of nothing. She gave me the link to her blog and that constituted permission for me to read it. If I had told our mutual supervisor about her blog, though, that would have been a bad idea. (That supervisor was a hot mess, but I had yet to discover this fact.)

I still struggle to practice detached compassion, whether with colleagues, friends or family. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in other people’s problems, especially when your own problems feel insurmountable or trivial. Solving their issues – or helping them find solutions – is extremely validating.

Then there’s the matter of codependency. For years I saw that word as being exclusive to alcohol and drug addiction, but I finally came to accept that codependency is ubiquitous. It’s the subtext in so many songs and TV show plotlines. It sneaks into every relationship, whether with a romantic partner or a parent. In short: codependency is a bitch.

At the heart of all of this is boundaries: setting and maintaining those lines of involvement, whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. Knowing when to call someone on their behavior because they have breached a boundary line and dealing with the potential fallout. I still struggle with this, too. But like this blog, I am a work in progress.

It was 15 years ago today…

…that I began the Girl with Moxie blog. To paraphrase another song, I started at Blogspot, now I’m here (on self-hosted WordPress).

A lot has changed for me in 15 years, both personally and professionally. I started the blog out of boredom and restlessness at my office job. One day while surfing the interwebz, I found a wealth of bloggers who were writing about music, movies, TV, books, their lives, their jobs, their kids. I was introduced to music I had never heard of, found recipes and ideas that intrigued me, made new friends. I decided to dive in and write about whatever was on my mind.

I miss that simplicity. Because while I enjoy Instagram and Twitter is good for breaking news and a laugh, and Facebook does occasionally have its merits, there was something very gratifying about seeking out blogs to read and connecting with fellow bloggers on a much more low-tech scale. Long-form writing is still around, but it is often drowned out by all the video content.

Even though I don’t blog like I used to, I refuse to give up this site for many reasons, the main one being that it’s still an avenue for me to explore ideas and share my experiences without the editorial process of querying, rewriting, editing and handling rejection. I still get some traffic here (seeing the Google searches that bring people to the GWM blog is often amusing), a good friend hosts the site for free, and it’s an archive of my cyberpresence in a way that other resources aren’t.

Here’s the plan: I’ll share content from that first year and add some updates. I’ll try to carve out the time to craft new posts (it ain’t easy these days, for reasons I will get into later).

Let’s do this, kids.

10, ten, 10th anniversary, 10 button

Now We Are Ten

(I totally mixed up my dates and thought the 10th anniversary was June 24, but it was June 14. So I’m cheating and dating this post for June 14, even though I wrote it on June 24. That’s because it’s my blog and I can do what I want. – Moxie)

10, ten, 10th anniversary, 10 button
Photo Credit: chrisinplymouth via Compfight cc

I remember when I turned ten years old. My friend Christy’s* mom said to me, “you’re a decade old now,” and that made a big impression on me. “A decade” sounds way more intense and impressive than “ten years.”

If you would have told me 10 years ago, after writing the post that launched a thousand ships that started it all, that I would still be blogging, I would have shrugged it off. And to be fair, there were long dry spells on the blog. (I doubt that will change anytime soon.) But it’s been a big part of my life in ways I couldn’t have predicted.

It all started because I didn’t have enough to keep me busy at my office job, and blogs looked fun and a way for me to flex my creative muscles. I could write blog posts, read others, and look as if I was working intently on an assignment. Once I was fired, the blog continued to be a creative outlet and gave me skills I could use in future jobs. And I’m inclined to think that blogging gave me the courage to transition into freelancing and leave the cubicle world behind.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve moved to self-hosted WordPress, added a Facebook Page and Twitter account, and spent lord knows how many hours fixing issues, drafting content, looking for images or videos, writing tweets, writing FB Page posts. I’ve learned practical skills, such as how to upload WordPress via FTP, and life lessons, such as never posting content I’m not willing to share publicly. I’ve semi-revealed my true identity, and I have several family members who follow GWM on social media, but I still keep the blog on the DL from clients and others.

GWM has netted me friends far and wide. I would have never connected with Barbara of Bad Tempered Zombie – she’s still blogging, by the way, and writing amazing articles on music & culture – and I hope we won’t go another 10 years without meeting in person. I still remember when Beth of Cup of Coffey came to meet me at ATL when I was making a connecting flight. She introduced me to so much amazing music via her blog and is a big reason why I went to VoodooFest in 2008 to see R.E.M. perform. And Becky (Damn, all these B names, what is that about?) of The PopEye had some of the craziest, funniest commentary on reality TV back in the day. More recently I met Amy of Limit Reached – now Chronicles of Nothing – and found a friend and like-minded blogger who gets it like Billy Idol gets it.

In that original blog post, I wrote about getting published. I’ve since had many bylines and while that’s been very cool, it was getting my fiction and poetry published that has been a big milestone for me. And y’all have been super supportive of my novel writing efforts, as evidenced by my successful crowd-funding campaign in 2012 to help me with research. (If you donated, I’ll be sending out an update on that soon.) I’m still squeezing in time to write fiction, poetry and essays in between paying gigs, though some weeks it’s harder than others to make the time to write for pleasure.

I have no idea what the next 10 years has in store for me. By that time we may all be pod people wearing Google Glass and eating Soylent Green. (Holy crap, I just googled “soylent green” and found this. I’m a little freaked out now.) Until then, I’ll keep blogging when I can, sharing pithy comments and witticisms on Facebook and Twitter, and doing my best to keep y’all entertained.

Yes, Virginia, There Are Still Blogs

A couple of weeks ago on Facebook, I got a message from Beckeye of The PopEye inviting me to be part of a private group. Seeing as I do love to brag about knowing a secret handshake, I joined the group. And it turned out to be quite the walk down memory lane, because all these bloggers I found in my early years of blogging were there. Skyler’s Dad, Dale, Coffey, Splotchy, Grant Miller, Flannery Alden, Gifted Typist, Mathdude…and so many others. Finding the link to one blog would lead me to other blogs I’d long forgotten – some still active, some mildly active, others covered in thick, bloggy dust. It was as if I’d returned to Wonderland after a long absence. (That sounds like a great plot for a TV show, doesn’t it?)

Before Facebook was big, before Twitter was a gleam in Silicon Valley’s eye, and long before phones were smart, we had blogs. A magical place where people could write about whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and find other people who were doing the same thing. Little communities would form, private jokes would be shared, cross-blog projects would be conceived – like the fabulous Green Monkey Music Project of iSplotchy’s doing. (For the record, I’m still mildly annoyed that I never got my chance to guest host GMMP and it was about to be my turn.) It was a supportive, fun community, and though there are many bloggers I’ve never met in person, there are still a few I maintain online relationships with (shout out to Becky and Barbara), and now thanks to the Facebook group, there are several more bloggers I can reconnect with. Because guess what, kids? Blogs aren’t dead. People may move on and do other things, adopt new technology, or simply go with self-hosted WordPress (ahem), but blogs are far from dead. And I am personally very glad that they aren’t.

Last night I realized that this spring it will be 10 years since I started blogging as The Girl with Moxie. Thinking back on that time, I remember what motivated me to start a blog: I wanted to flex my writing muscle without feeling beholden to any editor. I wanted something I could do in my cubicle that looked like work, just so I could make it through 8 hours without losing my shit. When I lost that job, I suppose I could have stopped blogging. But GWM had become a place where I could share stories about my technology challenges and dating woes, or reflect on big topics like vulnerability, happiness, and validation. My blog still is all of those things, and as far as I can see, it will continue to be those things until I get so famous I no longer have time for you people until I feel to stop.

So the next time you hear someone scoff about blogs, or they claim blogging is dead, just point them over this way. Because there are most definitely still blogs. They exist as certainly as love and generosity and the Kardashians exist, and blogs abound and give to life much humor and joy. And there is definitely a Santa Claus, too.

Under the Wire

I had several other ideas for blog posts for today, but I was feeling lazy & didn’t do much of anything other than read, faff about on the Internet, eat, and nap with the cats. So this is what you get.

Here’s a gratuitous cat photo.

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My Brain is Not as Young as I Thought

I am on deadline, which means I am much more interested in faffing about on the Internet (I love that phrase) and dawdling. Today’s moment of dawdling features this mental age quiz, which says I am 43.

Forty-three?!

So much for feeling all of 17 in my head. And 82 in my body.

Doing NaBloPoMo 2011

So at close to the last minute I decided to do NaBloPoMo for November. I did it last year and it was a great motivator. Hard to keep up steam once the month’s over, at least for me, but maybe it will be different on this go-round. Who knows?

So stay tuned, be sure to follow me on Twitter (the link is just to the right of this post…down a little…a little more…there!), become a Facebook Fan, or just read the blog.

From My First Breath*

“So, does Sacramento feel like home?” T-Wizzle asked me. It was the third time she’d asked me that question in the last three months. And for the third time I couldn’t give her a clear answer.

For many years I haven’t felt a sense of home in the way that others do. I will remain longer than I should in apartments and townhouses that do not meet my needs, but I also avoid making investments in furniture until absolutely necessary. I have never hung drapes or curtains, and I have never done major remodeling. I bought a house with Mr. X but we never got around to decorating it. We didn’t build knee walls or repaint bathrooms in an attempt to make the house truly ours; we never quite made that house our home.

But I have also designed and planted a garden, much to the surprise of others – and myself, to be honest. More recently, I installed a new shower head in my apartment and, when I discovered how easy it actually was, I cursed my narrow-mindedness for not installing one in the last place I lived. I have hung pictures around the apartment and installed shelving in my kitchen to accommodate my pots and pans. Between these tasks and getting involved in the community, I do have more of a sense of home than I ever had when I was living in Southern California. In many ways my new town reminds me a lot of where I grew up on the East Coast. But it’s still not quite home.

Because while decorating a kitchen and installing shower heads can mean one considers a place to be home, I don’t believe that material goods create that feeling of home, that sense of this is where I belong. That feeling comes from something much deeper. Home is that elusive smell in the air in the town where you were born. It’s recognizing the once-vacant lot where you once played ball with your friends. It’s holding on to the belief that the world you knew at the age of five is the biggest, widest, most fabulous world that ever was, or ever will be.

Last night I was with Pops, Aunt Gigi and Uncle Roy as they found their childhood home. I listened quietly as they recounted stories from their early years: stories of dollhouses and comic books, neighborhood friends and schoolhouse bullies. I saw Roy beaming with bliss at the discovery that the  built-in milkbox he remembered playing with as a toddler was, indeed, exactly where he remembered it was.

And even though I never lived in that neighborhood or spent time in that house as a child, in that moment, I felt home, too.

This post was inspired by Kirsten’s entry for the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival, hosted by Peter Pollock.

*The title of this post comes from a line in a Depeche Mode song, “Home.”

Thirty days down!

Whew, I made it. Thirty days of blog posts, all because of NaBloPoMo. True, there were days I didn’t post much in the way of original content. But I did post something and I believe that was the point.

There’s no guarantee I will be able to maintain daily posting. A few big things are in the works right now and my blogging time may be limited. This 30 day blogging challenge was good for me, though. It got me thinking about what to write and forced me to become more involved with my blog again, and that makes me happy.

To all of you who have been reading faithfully and commenting: thank you.

To all the lurkers who are reading but not commenting: thank you. But would it kill you to post a comment? Can’t you help boost a girl’s ego just a little?

To all the spammers: I know you think your flattery will get me to approve your comments, but you can’t spell and your comments make no sense. Thank the technology gods and WordPress app developers for a strong spam filter, otherwise I would be spending way too much time removing your ridiculousness.

Coming soon: Resolutions for Everyone Else, 2010 Highlights, and other musings.

Decision 08: Should Moxie Be Revealed?

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking it might be time to make The Girl with Moxie an honest woman, so to speak. I got a digital camera for my trip to New Orleans and it occurred to me that I could start doing short videos and including more pictures on this blog. Lord knows I’m struggling to keep y’all entertained in the manner to which you have become accustomed. Being able to post quick videos could make things much more interesting.

The two people I’ve talked to about this dilemma have given me mixed advice. One said to not do it, the other said I needed to get very clear about my reasons for wanting to go public. Um, since when have I ever been very clear? And I’m a rebel at heart – don’t tell me not to do something because I’ll just do it anyway to be an asshole. That includes running with scissors.

If I “came out”, as it were, the content of this blog wouldn’t change very much, if at all. I would continue to hold myself to the same standards as before: if I can’t say it out loud to someone, then I can’t blog about it. I’m actually struggling to maintain this standard with my Facebook and Twitter accounts, too, to be honest. I do think it’s possible to be authentic and transparent when participating in social media (blogs, social networks, etc.) and still have personal boundaries.

Enough talking! I really would like reader feedback on this issue. I’m ending this post with a poll to see what people think. If you’re a regular GWM reader that comments often, or a lurker who rarely says much of anything, please vote. Feel free to add your comments as well – maybe you have another idea I should consider before making my final decision.

Now let’s go to the polls!
<a href=”http://www.buzzdash.com/index.php?page=buzzbite&BB_id=133005″>Should I stop being semi-anonymous on this blog?</a> | <a href=”http://www.buzzdash.com”>BuzzDash polls</a>