Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Nancy's Summer Blogging Challenge

fireweedNancy Stordahl is a blogging sister I met through the cancer community. She holds a yearly Blog Hop- a blogging challenge for other bloggers to share their work. I haven't blogged in months and her prompt to do this always motivates me. I see that I somehow missed last year's blogging challenge, but then last year was a blur. 

Nancy posted the following questions for this year's challenge, so here it goes. I'm a little rusty so forgive me. 

1. Who are you? What is your genre, how long have you been at it, who or what inspires you or whatever you want us to know.

I am Alene, a 57 year old Australian Shepherd mom to Velcro and Gypsy, partner through marriage to Dennis, oncology nurse now working in cancer research/data/technology, ultradistance runner, currently occasional writer/author/blogger/artist, and now recovering overachiever. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado.

I've been blogging since early 2008 at Journey to Badwater. I started the blog to record and share my ultrarunning adventures and somehow it morphed into a catch-all politicalish commentary on the state of nursing and healthcare.

I am inspired by people who speak their minds unapologetically and act in the interest of the common good. 

My life has been transformed in many ways related to cancer. I have been fortunate to not have had cancer myself as of this point in my life, but our family seems to attract leukemia like a magnet.

My dad, who was being treated for a type of chronic leukemia, and no sooner did he get in remission than he promptly was diagnosed with Parkinson's, died of Parkinson's on October 14, 2020. 

As if that wasn't enough, my stepbrother just went home a few weeks ago after having a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), after being in the hospital and healthcare facility for 107 days after his transplant. So far doing well, fingers crossed. 

So as you can see, I have been dealing with a few things on top of COVID and the political unrest in this country. It's been quite difficult and traumatic in our family. I'm just now starting to have days where I feel slightly familiar with myself again.

2. What's been your biggest blogging roadblock this year and did you come up with a way to get around it?

This was the question that really got me going, thanks to Nancy. I haven't blogged in a long time. For the past few years, maybe since 2018, I've struggled with self-expression through my usual media. I haven't written, painted, spoken, or really interacted that much with people. 

Of course all this has been exacerbated by COVID and social distancing, but it really started after I finished writing my book. Maybe it was a little burnout, too. 

It seemed like even the thought of writing or expressing myself in any way led to an exacerbation of the grief  and traumas of the past year or so, and triggered past traumas, and I couldn't face it anymore than what was already coming my way on a daily basis. 

In a nutshell, I dealt with it by avoidance. I did have a major meltdown in April (the last time I posted on my blog). Since we were still in pandemic mode, I did a few online counseling and griefwork sessions, and tried journaling to stare all the pain in the face, and it did help a lot. It's amazing how quickly I felt better.

I'm not saying I'm done with the grieving or healing and there are still layers of pain under the surface that will have to be dealt with, but I'm not worrying about it now. I'm just following what I need on any given day. I have taken active steps to make my life simpler, and it's a process, having been a lifelong overachiever. 

3. What's something you accomplished with your blog this year that you're proud of?

This is going to sound really weird, but staying away from it until I was ready to say something meaningful and not angry, has been a success. Now I'm trying to figure a way to revive it and turn it into something different. I'd like to keep it going. 

4. What are a couple of your best blogging tips?

Don't worry about what people think of your writing. Just say what you mean, even if it comes out intense, angry, or as written therapy. You set the theme and purpose of your blog. And if it changes, so be it. If people enjoy your writing, they will stay. 

Add pictures and links. Just make sure they open in a new window so people don't lose the original point you were making. 

5. How do you handle negative feedback or comments?

Well, that depends on what they say. I don't have to be right and I don't claim to know it all. As long as someone makes a coherent and halfway intelligent argument, I'll respond. If they are just plain insulting or out in left field, I dismiss it with the delete button. The spam comments are really the worst. I still can't figure out why anyone thinks penis enlargement is a viable enterprise. 

6. Share a link to a favorite post you've written RECENTLY (since last year's challenge perhaps) that you want more people to read. 

I don't have any posts that I wrote recently, but here is a fun post I wrote a long time ago that gives the essence of what makes me tick. It might make you want to read more of my blog. And if it doesn't, that's okay too. 

Thanks, Nancy for keeping the Blog Hop and blogging challenge going!