Embroidery on Buildings in Madrid

On My Modern Met this morning, you can read about an artist who embroiders buildings! Imagine the delight you would feel if this was your idea. Maybe you were sipping tea, gazing through a window, or you were fingering a favorite embroidered cushion, or, more likely, you saw the blank stretch of painted facade on a building and presto! Your imagination began cross-stritching roses across the plaster.

In whatever way the inspiration came to her, Raquel Rodrigo is embroidering buildings. Or rather, she’s installing large cross-stitched pieces on buildings. She uses the same technique you do, but her “cloth” looks like the large mesh you might use to hold up a tomato plant in your garden, and her “embroidery thread” looks like colorful rope.

The result is delightful. You can see fascinating pictures of Raquel’s work on her website. Go look!

Blogtown: Can we build it?

Arriving at lunch time on Day 2 of #bloginstead, I realized that I don’t want this experience to end. I see it growing as people join us and we become more adept at navigating this little virtual town we’re building. It would be sad to dismantle that on Saturday morning.

I’ve been pondering what I’m observing during this vacation from the social media vortex. Some would define blogging as a form of social media, but it is an older form, and it lacks many of the less appealing attributes of its descendants.

What’s good about this kind of blogging?

Looking around our group, I see that we are people, not brands. Our websites are home-made. We are not trying to monetize our interactions. We are not seeking to be influencers. We are not photoshopping the bumps and swirls of our real lives out of our communicated identity. If anything, I see a remarkable (and beautifully articulated) honesty in our posts. And I see the essential kindness in our responses to each other that is necessary to protect that kind of honesty.

Our communication is slower. Writing it takes longer. Reading it takes longer. It’s happening on a human scale, almost in real time.

I keep returning to my sense that #bloginstead is like visiting people in their homes, instead of at a shopping mall. It’s possible to visit in both places, but the quality and intimacy of the interaction will be much higher in the living room than in the food court.

So now I’m asking myself: what can I do to give #bloginstead a longer life? Could it become a movement? How?

Defining the Movement

There’s the long story, full of facial expressions and gesticulating hands no doubt inherited straight from my French ancestors. But in a nutshell? This.

#bloginstead: An intentional community of human beings who use personal blogging as their primary online social space.

If this community has a rule, it is to behave as if you were speaking to each other in person, face to face. Kindly. In good faith. As the beautiful human God created you to be.

The next question – can #bloginstead grow? Yes, it can grow if it has an understandable structure that can be replicated, that doesn’t depend on the herding capabilities of a single person.

The structure is simple. It has two components – people and blogs – and two methods – to be an active poster and commenter, and to invite others to participate with you.

Don’t wait for the fish to find you

Too often, personal bloggers get discouraged because they send a post out into the world and nothing happens. That’s because this is a crowded era, noisy and fragmented. It’s easy to be drowned out.

Blogging with a group solves that problem, but only if you are an active participant. Even in our little pilot group of 28, the people getting the most out of it are thriving because they post each day and then run over to see what their friends are posting and what they can say about it. Be that person.

Don’t come alone

You might think, “The only reason this is working for you is is because it’s so small. You all know each other, so you all comment on each other’s sites. But if everyone did this, people would get lost in the crowd, and blogging would be lonely and frustrating again.”

The solution? Don’t come alone. Decide to #bloginstead and invite your friends to do it with you. Two friends, three friends. You’ll soon make more, but you need people you already know to start you off. The more you write and the more you visit other houses in Blogtown, the more your little neighborhood will grow.

#bloginstead works and benefits us if it is a group activity. Like a neighborhood, we each build and run a house of our own. But we enjoy our time in those houses and benefit from it if we know and serve our neighbors.

#bloginstead: Day 2 morning news

Good morning! Welcome to Day 2 of #bloginstead, a group of friends who had abandoned social media in favor of blogging for 3 days. You are SO welcome to join us! Jump in by following the participating blogs and tell us who you are so we can follow you too.

New Members

I’m happy to say that our group grew during Day 1. Each new member was added to the list upon arrival, but I’m going to add them here to, as an extra way to rejoice. They are:

Susan at https://kindlerofjoy.com/

Amanda at https://emberings.com/

Martha at http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/

Heather at https://sleightholmfolk.com/

Emmie at https://justonerobin.com/

Kristi at https://raisingorthodoxchristians.com/

Angelina at https://angelinasgarden.wordpress.com/

Sarah at https://skbrangwynne.weebly.com/blog

You, Writing about #bloginstead

Skating around from one blog to the next, I read your reflections on why you’re here and what you’re hoping will come of this experiment. In the spirit of #bloginstead, I hope you’re all reading each other’s posts as they come, but for anyone who missed them, here’s some good reading to bring you up to speed.

Elizabeth, jumping in and offering you fair warning: https://elzabeta.blogspot.com/2020/01/day-first-of-bloginstead.html

Anna, beginning a true-life love-story miniseries and leaving us hanging on the cliff: https://browndressproject.com/2020/01/08/happily-ever-after-takes-work/

Matushka Anna, who is including amazing photos with each post: https://prayingwithmyfeet.blog/2020/01/07/back-in-the-saddle-bloginstead/

Sarah wrote us a poem. She seriously did. https://thelivescript.com/2020/01/08/bloginstead-the-hermits-lament/

Cris , fearlessly writing about being fearful: http://criscramer.com/blog/2020/1/8/standing-up-again

Stasia, amazingly honest and poignant, and smelling of roses: https://stasiastruggles.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/bloginstead/

Andrea, storytelling, story-keeping, in the forest and looking back at her family: http://storiedpathways.com/2020/01/07/sharing-a-story/

Nic asking the fascinating question, “But what if there wasn’t?”: https://metanoiabum.wordpress.com/2020/01/07/bloginstead-1-dig-deeper/

Catherine, on embroidery, translation, and doing fine things well: https://eventhinealtars.home.blog/2020/01/07/on-doing-fine-things-well/

Michelle, responding to struggle with new dedication: https://hopefulpatience.blogspot.com/2020/01/update-on-what-i-will-post-going-forward.html

Summer, offering what may well have been the quote of the day (it’s about helpful failure) and a pirate dog song: https://summerkinard.com/2020/01/08/bloginstead-challenge-day-one-episode-two/

Susan, remembering why she started blogging in the first place: https://kindlerofjoy.com/2020/01/08/2020-and-new-beginnings/

Amanda, because she can’t do anything else: https://emberings.com/2020/01/08/id-like-to-bloginstead/

Martha, bringing us a cozy Christmas post that even includes paper crowns on grownups: http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/2020/01/thoughts-on-nativity.html

Emmie, asking hard questions and finding beauty in a pomegranate: https://justonerobin.com/2020/01/09/whole-and-part/

Have you read these? Hop along over. Browse and comment. It’s peaceful, and these bloggers will answer your comments. The conversation is just waiting to happen.

#bloginstead – the WHOLE list

This is just a quick reminder that the list of blogs to follow has been updated because some new people joined us, so be sure you scroll all the way and follow the 4 newest group members!

Here are the most recent members:

And Susan! https://kindlerofjoy.com/

And Amanda at https://emberings.com/

Martha at http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/

Heather at https://sleightholmfolk.com/

Emmie at https://justonerobin.com/

Kristi at https://raisingorthodoxchristians.com/

Angelina at https://angelinasgarden.wordpress.com/

Our group now has 28 members!

#bloginstead Day 1: What is interesting so far?

I was up early (child, dog, job), and that first groggy waking moment had a crisp edge of curiousity on it because TODAY is Day 1 of our #bloginstead challenge. I have the WordPress app, so I peeked at the notifications after breakfast. Sure enough – there you were! I saw posts from friends, and friends commenting on posts from friends. I love this!

Relief

Leaping off a social norm is always interesting, and I expect many moments of insight during #bloginstead. The first? It’s striking that the primary expressed emotion among the group is RELIEF. Blogging is slower than Facebook/Instagram/Twitter, and it’s deeper. And at least for now, it’s beautifully free of the death spiral of insanity we see daily online. I know not every blogger is sane, but the group intentionally communing for #bloginstead? All quite sane. Lovely. Articulate. Interesting.

Mechanics

The second thing that struck me was my own awkwardness at getting around to see all of the participating blogs. It’s been a while since I did this, and the participants are on several different platforms. Makes me realize how I’ve adapted to the one-finger scroll on social. That awkward feeling is just the brain stretch of releasing one habit and looking to build another. No problem.

Food for Thoughts

Yes, that was a typo at first – “thoughts” – but then I left it because it fits. Already, just a few hours into #bloginstead, the experience itself and the posts and comments have spurred a host of ideas, questions, introspections, speculations. Perhaps that’s the natural result of any step outside routine. Or it could be that this platform – which was intended to help you WRITE – is naturally more conducive to THOUGHT than the frenetic anxiety scroll in which we usually indulge. It’s too soon to draw conclusions, so I’m planning to enjoy the wondering.

If failure was impossible

UPDATE: Please note that we have 2 new members of our group, and 2 current members with a new address: New members are Amanda at https://emberings.com/ and Susan at https://kindlerofjoy.com/ and Matthew’s new address is http://vespersinvienna.com/index.html and Catherine’s new address is http://eventhinealtars.home.blog .

It’s Day 1 For REAL of #bloginstead, so now I can dream up interesting things to talk about with this friendly group of people who are spending these 3 days communicating with one another ONLY on our blogs.

So ask yourself this: if it was not possible for you to fail at anything, what would you choose to do with your life? What would your career be if you knew going in that every choice you made along the way would be the right choice? What if all your plans would be flawless and smoothly implemented? What would you do if you really could do ANYTHING?

The list of blogs to follow for #bloginstead

Remember, everyone participating should follow all the participating blogs so we can communicate easily during our 3 days!

Today is our day to get organized. Everyone’s signing up and following each other. The 3 Day Count begins tomorrow, Wednesday, 1/8/2020.

Here’s the list to follow. Be sure to keep going all the way to the end, so you don’t miss out on anyone! Please note that these blogs are on multiple platforms, so they have different kinds of Follow buttons or in some cases no button. But this is the community of people participating, so one way or another, this is who we’re talking to for the coming 3 days!

Cynthia at https://cynthiajunelong.wordpress.com/

Elizabeth at https://elzabeta.blogspot.com/

Anna at http://browndressproject.com/

Mat. Anna at https://prayingwithmyfeet.blog/

Edna at https://www.engageorthodoxy.net/woven-blog

Phoebe at http://beingincommunity.com/

Nicole at www.nicoleroccas.com/blog/

Sarah at https://thelivescript.com

Matthew at http://vespersinvienna.com/index.html

Cris at http://criscramer.com/

Stasia at https://stasiastruggles.wordpress.com/

Pres. Vassi at https://vscardbox.com/

Nancy at  https://moretothestorypicturebookreviews.com

Amber at https://rejoiceinthehome.com/

Andrea at http://storiedpathways.com/

Nic at metanoiabum.wordpress.com

Elias at https://remims53.blogspot.com/

Catherine at http://eventhinealtars.home.blog

Michelle at www.hopefulpatience.blogspot.com

Summer at https://summerkinard.com/

Oh, and also, me! Right here at https://melindajohnsonwriting.com/blog-2/

And Susan! https://kindlerofjoy.com/

And Amanda at https://emberings.com/

Martha at http://thescrumptiouslife.blogspot.com/

Heather at https://sleightholmfolk.com/

Emmie at https://justonerobin.com/

Kristi at https://raisingorthodoxchristians.com/

Angelina at https://angelinasgarden.wordpress.com/

Sarah at https://skbrangwynne.weebly.com/blog

Ian at https://orthodoxtrucker.com/

Cynthia at https://kaiserswest.wordpress.com/

Bev. at https://bevnalabbeyscriptorium.wordpress.com/

Amber at https://lakeanneliving.wordpress.com

Gia at https://deardad.family.blog

Lisa at https://lisahoweler.com/

Welcome to #bloginstead!

Remember that scene in Mary Poppins (the ORIGINAL Mary Poppins) where the horses leap off the merry-go-round and ride away cross country?

That’s what we’re doing here. I’m collecting as many friends with blogs as will come off the merry-go-round with me, and we’re all going to communicate via our blogs INSTEAD of via Facebook for 3 days.

For 3 days, we’ll post on our blogs the way we’d post on social – informal, chatty, what’s up at the moment, stream of consciousness, whatever it is that constitutes a conversation for you at the time. Everyone in the group will follow everyone in the group, and we’ll visit by reading and commenting on each other’s posts. Anyone who doesn’t have a blog but wants to join in commenting is very welcome. After 3 days, we decide what, if anything, we’ve discovered.

#bloginstead #3daysinthewilds

Want to join in? Follow this blog. I’ll be posting a list of participating blogs later today, with links where you can go to follow them.

UPDATE: We got to the end of the 3 days, and nobody wants to stop. So nobody is stopping. Want to join? Here’s a list of people to follow to get started, and please let me know if you’d like to be added to the list.

The last day of 2019

This moment has little in common with the year that preceded it. It’s quiet. I have no immediate responsibilities, and I’ve had enough sleep for several days. The writer in me has relaxed into a daydreaming creative. Gratitude and peace are vying for space in my heart.

As always, I reserve this space for reflection on only those aspects of my personal life that directly manifest in my writing life, so I will not be journaling the events of this year. They were many, and more than once, they were life-changing. But I learned from them, and I’m glad of that.

In my writing life, I broke into two new genres! First, board books. It began with Piggy in Heaven, and then I got a contract for a second board book (due out in 2021), and a third is about to be contracted for August 2020. Three board books, three different publishers. Happy dance!

I love board books! I love writing stories that will be illustrated. I don’t think that will ever get old – hooray for illustrators! And I love the solid cardboard pages. I remember that board books are often teething toys, and this makes me smile. Little hands, dimply cheeks, wide eyes. God bless them every one.

My second burst into a new genre is a book I wrote with a group of friends. That in itself is unexplored territory, but the genre – a devotional journal – is also new to me. I’m looking forward with curiosity and wonder to the Fall 2020 release of Seven Holy Women, from Ancient Faith Publishing.

The third Sam and Saucer book took shape this year. I just sent in my revisions. The name of this one is still evolving, but it’s due out in July 2020. It’s interesting, to me at least, to look back to the scratch papers scrawls, the short story, the collection of short stories, the day we abandoned the collection, and the birth of that first book, Shepherding Sam. At first, I thought that was the only book. But the second – The Barn and the Book – came quickly, and its release in Romania was another highlight of 2019. I was sure there would be only two Sam and Saucer books. My editor said she thought there might be three. No, I said, just two. But maybe there are three, she persisted. Well, maybe. Actually, yes. It turns out there are three, and now I have learned not to decide how many books are in a series, because what do I know?

This was the year of audiobooks, too. Shepherding Sam and The Barn and the Book are now both on Audible, and with the gifted help of actress Sophia Boyer, so is Letters to Saint Lydia!

And now. I’ve lived too long with my wild brain and my busy life and my acceptance of the many twists and turns in the Great Plotline to make plans for 2020 in the ways I might have once. I do have hopes. I hope I write often. I hope there will be board books. I hope there will be many spacious hours adrift in the middle-grade novel I began this year. I hope I photograph our corgi doing one of the zillion adorable things he does, all the time, when I can’t reach my phone.

God bless and keep you!

Image: Clock, Grand Central Terminal, New York City, Bryce Barker on Unsplash