How to Join #bloginstead: Move to Blogtown!

It’s Saturday morning. We’ve completed the #3daysinthewilds that comprised the original plan for #bloginstead, and we’re happy in this growing community. The pioneer members have decided to unpack the wagons, build houses, plant gardens, and stay a while. Would you like to join us?

We hope you will!

If you want to move to Blogtown and participate in friendly, human-scale community online, just follow these simple steps. We’re looking forward to welcoming you!

  1. Read about how #bloginstead got started (HERE).
  2. Learn how Blogtown works (HERE).
  3. Do you have a personal blog? If you read about Blogtown in number 2 above, you know we’re personal bloggers. Nobody’s a brand here, and that’s important. If you don’t have a blog, make one. Personally, I like wordpress.com. But it’s your blog. Do what works for YOU.
  4. Follow the blogs listed HERE to join the current group.
  5. Start your own neighborhood in Blogtown. Invite real-life friends to revive or create personal blogs, and then follow the same procedure – everyone in the group follows everyone in the group.
  6. Start writing posts, and start reading and commenting on your friends posts.
  7. You’re in Blogtown! Welcome!

Remember, this isn’t the glamorous world of influencers and the one-finger scroll. This is people talking to people. Don’t worry if you can’t write deathless prose that will shock the world with profound insight and prodigious beauty. Write the way you talk. You have something to say. Just type those words onto your blog. Plain or fancy, they are your words. What makes you an important part of the group is YOU – your voice, sharing your experience and conversing with your community about their experience, too.

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.

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.

First Best Christmas Memory

Candles lit behind a small white house ornament and a pinecone on a table

Mine is the year I played Archangel Gabriel in the neighborhood Christmas Tableaux my mother hosted in our livingroom. I wore the flower-girl dress from her wedding – it was long and white, sleeveless, with a band of gold ribbon around the empire waist and daisies on the bodice and in a strip around the hem. My halo was a scratchy golden band of decorative fabric trim, and my mother made a sheer lemon yellow cape with holes for my hands to slip through that I wore like wings. I remember being coached to hold up my arms when I appeared to Mary, who wore my mother’s blue house coat and a soft white scarf on her little red head. She sat on the flagstone floor of the front hall, stirring imaginary bread dough with a wooden spoon in a ceramic bowl, and I came down the front stairs to appear before her. Our friends took the parts of Joseph, the shepherds, and the wisemen, and my baby doll played the most important role of all, wrapped in a white sheet and sleeping gently on a bed of hay in the wicker laundry basket.

Christmas memories have been part of my writing life this year as I finish work on The Barn and the Book, the next in the Sam and Saucer series. It’s a Christmas story about a boy named Sam, his corgi friend Saucer, some nuns, and the children who play together at the monastery after church. Sam is hunting a Christmas memory of a kind in this story, and as I look forward to the book’s release this fall, I decided to ask some friends about their childhood Christmases.

What is your first best Christmas memory?

That was the question, and the answers were as various and colorful as the people I asked. Although the usual themes appear – family, food, wishes – there’s a plot twist in every one of these stories. I love to be reminded that all of life is unexpected, complex, personal, and interesting.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“I remember my Mom bringing my new baby brother home in a Christmas stocking. ” – Adriane Adams

“I remember most of my 2nd Christmas morning. I remember coming downstairs. I remember discovering presents and my parents’ excitement.” – Elizabeth Calder

“I was the Star of Bethlehem in the Christmas pageant when I was ~5ish. I shone. I beamed. (The big kids and my older sisters got to be the angel choir, because they could read lyrics, and at first I was jealous of them.) Proudest moment of my first 10 years.” – Cynthia Long

“The Anglicans have a tradition of starting Christmas Eve with “Once in Royal David’s City,” with the first verse being sung solo by a boy soprano/treble. When I finally got the chance to do it, that was a real highlight.” – Jonathan Hill, Orthodox Theology of the Beautiful

I was adopted at Christmas, brought home on Christmas Eve when my older sisters were sleeping. My parents put me in a little Moses basket type thing under the tree. My middle sister spent the next many months at least ABSOLUTELY BELIEVING that Santa had granted her wish and brought a baby sister JUST for her! Obviously, I don’t remember this actually happening, but my family still breaks out the picture and story every year.” – Maria Powell

“Christmas for me always meant my dad taking my brother and I to ToysR’Us. He was (still is) a workaholic, and while he loved us very much, he missed a lot. But on that evening, he would go, and we would walk up and down. Every. Aisle. And he had this big yellow legal pad, and he’d write down Every Single Item we said we liked or that we wanted (along with the price). It sounds materialistic, but this was uninterrupted time with our dad, where we could talk about our likes and dislikes, and our interests. Afterwards, we would sit and write out stars (or sometimes lots of stars) next to things we wanted the most, or cross items off we decided we didn’t really want. We never got everything (I can only imagine what that would have cost! Ha!), but that time is very cherished. I don’t know that that is my earliest memory, but it is my strongest Christmas memory. I have other flashes of memories of going to my grandparents’ across the state, or big potluck dinners with extended family that I didn’t really know (There were always Swedish Meatballs! We have a strong Scandinavian heritage.), and I remember the person who hosted those had swinging doors into her kitchen like an old wild west saloon, and I thought that was pretty spectacular. I remember it was my “job” to put up the nativity display, and how seriously I took that. And I remember making cookies out of our old Swedish cookbook. But mostly, I looked forward to that time with my Dad.” – Kira Miller

My mom making waffle sundaes and huevos rancheros on Christmas morning with tamales from a relative on the table, too. I make these things now for my kids, and it means even more after fasting!” – Jessica Archuleta, Every Home a Monastery

“We were at a GIANT family party, and my brothers and two male cousins locked me in a closet, and nobody noticed until I wasn’t there to open gifts. It all ended well! My brothers and cousins had to give me their candy.” – Melissa Elizabeth Naasko

“My earliest Christmas memory is my first memory, period. It is not in English. It was my first Christmas in Guatemala, where my parents were Mennonite missionaries. I would have just turned 3. We invited our friends (and my parents’ house/grounds helpers) Pablo and Erxlinda and their little son Julio to join us. We were eating fresh corn tortillas, called “gua” in Q’eqchi’, the Mayan dialect of the region. (Incidentally, “gua” doubles as the word for food, “gua’ac'” is the verb “to eat,” and if some day you haven’t had “gua,” that is, tortillas, you haven’t eaten at all regardless of what else you’ve eaten that day. Corn is very important to the diet of the region, especially corn tortillas. But I digress…)

My memory is of my parents asking Julio (I think he was 1.5 or 2 at the time) if his “gua” was good (“Ma’ sa li gua?”) to which he answered a hearty and enthusiastic, “Sa, PUES!” (of COURSE it’s good!) And everyone laughed.

So yeah, my memory has nothing to do with Christmas or Christ’s birth, but all the same, I’m delighted that it is my first memory. I was so very blessed to be allowed to grow up in a convergence of cultures, and although my Q’eqchi’ is dormant (it comes back to life when I’m in Guatemala again for a few days), I’m so very glad that my first memory is in that language. ” – Kristina Wenger

“When I was 5 my older brother ruined the secret of Santa for me on Christmas Eve. So my dad started a new tradition of me getting a surprise gift from Elvis instead.” Jill Wojslaw, @TheseParents

“My Aunt Jesse sending us a big box of See’s candy from Pasadena, California each year. We would sneak into it and eat a candy each day, take out the tell-tale wrapper, and wrap up the box again. By Christmas, the 5-pound box of candies probably weighed about a pound.” – Cheri Mullins

“My dad died when I was young, leaving my mom with 5 kids under 7. It was always a struggle financially, but one Christmas, the living room was filled with bicycles – one for each of us! We saw my mom wheeling them over on Christmas Eve – my neighbor stored them in his garage.” – Matushka Wendy

I remember as a very young girl, going to bed that evening: no tree up yet, no cookies in sight, nothing near ‘Christmas’ ready; when we woke, early the next morning, there would be the tree! the lights! the neatly wrapped presents! cookies! and the aroma of coffee brewing! Amid the torn wrapping paper, we’d play for hours with our new dolls, blocks, and games; our mom always took a nap on the couch nearby. As I got older, my mother’s amazing Christmas cutout (anise) cookie recipe with the royal icing and all were handed down to me; now years later, that recipe is handed down to my 2 daughters. They know how to make them as well as my mother and I once did together. We make so many for gifts to share for our neighbors and friends; family. This year we had a slight emergency with our youngest boy; I was just about to make these cookies (they’re time consuming, too) when an accident happened at home that sent us straight to the emergency room; resulted in a 3-day stay in the hospital. My husband and I brought our boy home Christmas eve; the house was clean and cookies all baked and decorated! Of course, I cried.” – Kelleylynn Barberg

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Next time you’re sitting in traffic, choosing apples at the farmer’s market, or waiting for hours at the DMV, look at the people around you and realize anew that every one of them holds a full set of memories, as you do, and a story full of plot twists. Each of us is a mystery. Glory to God!

 

-Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash