The End of the Road?

Hmmm… It may be nearing the time for me and WordPress to part company…

I do understand this is a free site so the need for putting up with small ads appearing at the bottom of posts is a necessary evil to be endured – after all there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But this new addition of entire sponsored WordPress posts appearing large as life between my own posts feels like a step too far for me to be able to continue comfortably.

The addition of these full-scale WordPress posts means it no longer even looks to me like ‘my’ blog any more. It’s WordPress basically giving the platform and its native ads equal importance and visual weight to my personal blog posts, blatently muscling in and taking over my chosen content rather than just adding a small post-script to my posts as before, potentially signalling the end of the road for this little blog.

I know ‘all’ I have to do is upgrade to a paid site to get rid to these native sponsored ads but to be honest I’m not prepared to pay for what is no more than a hobby, a pastime – I only blog for fun so it really doesn’t matter that much to me. Advertise if you must, but don’t crowd me out of my own blog space and effectively bully me into submission. I’m not a business, and the bulk of my followers aren’t businesses either.

I had a Facebook page I used regularly for eight years, but when the ads became too aggressive and intrusive and Facebook started to decide for me which ‘preferred posts’ were to be given prominence in my own newsfeed and which should be disregarded I simply removed myself from the platform altogether with nary a backward glance.

So here I am almost seven years into my relationship with WordPress wondering if the time has come to do the same thing here… Hmmm…

Blogging Insights: Daydreams

This week’s Blogging Insights question from Salted Caramel is:

‘What are your dreams regarding your blog?’

All I’ve ever wanted from blogging is my own online space to have a voice to share my words, my photographs, my thoughts and feelings. And luckily for me that’s exactly what I’ve always got from it – result! πŸ™‚

To ‘Me’ or Not To ‘Me’…

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week asks Do you blog anonymously? Why or why not? Hmmm… So basically to ‘me’ or not to ‘me’, that is the question…?

This is my fourth blog here on WordPress, and these days I use my real name and post honestly about my my real ongoing everyday life experience, because I’ve discovered that however cautious I feel about data protection and keeping my online identity as safe as I can within reason, I find that for me I also need to feel comfortable about sharing enough of myself to feel my virtual presence is genuine.

My first foray into blogging was totally anonymous – it was a cautious attempt to give myself a voice to discuss living with a lifetime of recurring depression which worked wonderfully for the first few months, but then I found it all became too restrictive and weighty. I soon discovered that part of the benefit of having a voice is the right to choose not to use it, so I deleted that blog and started all over again.

My second blog was far less anonymised, I used my own first name and opened up the field a bit on topics to cover beyond depression, but eventually that blog floundered and was deleted too – I felt as long as my initial focus was based around writing about my mental health, however light-heartedly, it constrained me too much when what I found I posted most was photographs and poetry for fun. So eventually, that blog, too, bit the dust.

Blog three was based entirely on what I knew I posted most of – images and words – where I not only used my own name and posted photographs of myself but also I twice attended the brilliant ‘Bloggers Bash’ in London, actually meeting other bloggers face to face, which was a great experience as much as anything because it brought home to me that whatever names they choose to post under there are real, recognisable people behind their blogs.

And then for a while I just stopped blogging altogether, and the longer I stayed away, the less I felt like going back to it, so I took a deep breath and chose to delete that blog too. But after another few months I started to wonder about how the bloggers I liked to follow were doing, so I decided to start another new, totally generic blog that would allow for any extended gaps of non-posting from time to time – and here I still am.

Here I discuss enough of my real life to feel truly connected to my blog, but hopefully not enough to disclose or expose the identities of my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my extended family, my friends. I feel I’ve been blogging long enough now to pick up from blogs when people are being their genuine selves whatever name they blog under, and in general those are the bloggers I like to follow most.

I know people blog for many different reasons, both for business and pleasure, but I find myself drawn more towards those who post with a personal touch. I also prefer to be able to visualise the person I’m interacting with online, but it’s not necessarily a hard and fast rule – looking at you here in your cartoon paper bag, Fandango!

People’s personalities tend to come through the page regardless, and I find it is that personality behind the scenes I like to engage with. Hopefully that’s also why people follow me here on my blog, too! πŸ™‚

Disappearing Comment

Oops! I was trying to answer a comment on one of my blog posts earlier and something crashed, and now I can’t find the comment anywhere – it’s no longer on my comments feed, or in the trash bin, so I’m stumped where else to look to try to locate its whereabouts. And annoyingly, I can’t even remember whose comment it was I’ve managed to lose, so if any of you have recently left a comment on one of my posts that has since disappeared, sorry about that, my bad, and all I can say is if I’ve somehow managed to delete it, it honestly wasn’t intentional… 😦

PS Found it! Clicked the link from my email notification to get to it πŸ™‚

Blogging Insights: Distractions

What distracts you from blogging? Apart from family or work what factors or forces prevent you from creating content?

Very timely question from Dr Tanya at Salted Caramel this week. What distracts me most from blogging – and from eveything else that counts as fun in life for that matter – is the infinite black hole of recurring depression.

Chronic depression is (and always has been) without doubt the single most difficult life issue for me, and after the last couple of seriously down weeks where focusing all my efforts on still going to work and otherwise maintaining the basics of life as a priority (cooking, eating, cleaning, keeping the household ticking over, etc.) was the absolute best I could do, I’m beginning to feel it’s time I picked up where I left off and got back to creating some semblance of blogging normality around here.

So I’m going to make a concerted effort to try to join in with some of my usual prompts and challenges over the next couple of days and see how I get on… wish me luck! πŸ™‚

Breathing Space

Think it’s time that my blog took a rest

Gave me breathing space, that would be best

Just a short blogging break

For my sanity’s sake

Till I’m not feeling quite so depressed…

Nine Days, Nothing to Say

Nine days with nothing to say – still here, just been a bit busy with one thing or another and haven’t had a lot of spare time recently to devote to blogging, but no doubt I’ll find something that motivates me again soon enough πŸ™‚

Blogging Insights: Pandemic Posts

How frequently do you post abou the pandemic? Please share links to a couple of your ‘Pandemic Posts’ that you particularly like…

My blog posts are always about the mundane stuff of my everyday life, so as my life has been touched by the pandemic, I’ve posted about it as necessary. I even tried to be a bit creative with pandemic poetry early on, so am sharing links to a few limerick posts. Oh, and I’ve also included my re-write of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ to be sung aloud rather than read silently πŸ™‚

Vulnerability

Stir Crazy

Express

A Bit of Beethoven

What kind of ‘posts about the pandemic’ do you like to read?

I like to read how ordinary everyday people like me are coping with all of this restriction within their daily lives, because that brings me a sense of collective community in this time of crisis. But occasionally I also read a few proper political article posts to get a feel for how other countries view things – OK, to be honest it’s usually America I read about, and I usually end up yelling at the screen in disbelief and frustration at the sheer lunacy of Fuckwit 45 and his ilk, but still…

How have you and your blog adapted to the ‘new normal’?

I’ve pretty much just carried on as normal, and have stuck to my usual blogging routine including successfully completing this years April Blogging from A-Z Challenge. Except I suppose my daily world has necessarily become slightly smaller, closer to home, and there’s a bit of a ‘Groundhog Day’ feel to what I’m posting about. But it’s probably going to be good to have it all down on record for posterity, to look back at once all this is over…

Have you seen any change in your blog stats during the pandemic? Also, are you posting more or less than you used to?

I don’t generally check my stats, so have no idea and am not going to look now, but I’m probably posting at about the same level as I usually do so I would imagine my stats are probably about the same πŸ™‚

Blogging Insights: Pandemic Posts

Who is this Ruth who Blogs Here?

‘Tries hard but could do better…’

Fandango has asked a really thought-provoking Provocative Question this week – he asks:

‘Are you the same person on your blog as you are in real life? Do you like yourself more in the virtual world than you do in the real world?’

What a cool question! All I need to do now is work out how best to answer it. Who is the Ruth who blogs here? Hmmm…

I think my blog me is just a normal everyday part of my general public persona. You know, the polite friendly smiley person who is a trusted work colleague or something similar – much more than a nodding-acquaintance-in-the-passing, but not anywhere near as intimate as the kind of relationship as I might possibly share with my closest friends and family who know all the deepest darkest skeletons in my closet and have seen me at my absolute worst time and time again and continue to love me anyway.

I do sometimes share quite private stuff about me on my blog, but carefully, thoughtfully, and hopefully while still maintaining a bit of dignity and reserve. Because at my core I have a life-long fear of not being good enough, which leads to me being a people-pleaser at heart, which in turn brings me to a frustrating tendency always to try to blog with care so as not to offend. And as a result of that in-built caution I’m very aware of differences in societal norms between bloggers, and therefore how much that cultural awareness (usually) plays into the overall attitude and tone of my posts.

Over the years across other blogs (long gone now) I have shared insights into my life-long struggle with depression, and none of you can fail to notice I’m not at all religious and my politics veer way more to the left than the right. I can be quite strongly opinionated at times, and so struggle hard not to be overly judgemental of others when I do find myself having an online rant. Most of my posts are therefore probably relatively bland and ordinary and harmless in content, and I do try to keep my blog as a positive creative space, although that’s become increasingly difficult to stick to in the current global political arena.

And what do I think of her, this virtual Ruth who blogs here? Generally I think she’s OK, and most of the time we mirror each other’s views in perfect harmony but sometimes I want to push her into being even more honest in what she writes about the stuff that really matters to her. Sometimes I think she skirts around the edges too much, paddling cautiously in the shallows instead of just diving in deep and to hell with it. Sometimes I think she’s just too reserved, too polite, too people-please-y… and at those times she slightly disappoints me. Sometimes I wish she was braver, and cared a little less about what other people thought of her. (But to be honest I think like that about me irl too…)

So what can I say – this persona that appears on the pages of my blog is most definitely me, but I suppose only one part of me. She’s the virtual equivalent of me with my hair done and make-up on, in the smart-casual clothes I wear to go out in public. The confident adult me who understands how to behave well, how to respond appropriately for my age. The careful adult me who is concerned about what other people think of me and always acts accordingly.

So there we are, and here I am, having concluded that I probably feel pretty much the same about the blog me as I do about the real me – basically ‘tries hard but could do better’ πŸ™‚

One Liner Wednesday

April A-Z: C is for Castle

Inverness has had a castle of one sort or another on this site since the 11th Century, but this particular red sandstone version was built in the 19th Century and housed the Sheriff Court for as long as I can remember – this is actually where I did my civic duty by carrying out jury service in a court case many years ago. But a newly built Justice Centre has very recently been opened in a new location on the outskirts of town, leaving the castle building free for development as a tourist attraction into the future.

The statue standing outside the castle is of Flora Macdonald, who during the Jacobite Rebellion helped Charles Edward Stuart (the Young Pretender, the Stuart claim to the British throne) escape back to France after the bloody Jacobite defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 – so exactly 274 years ago this month.

When I was young I used to hear the romantic stories of Bonnie Prince Charlie getting away ‘under the skirts of a woman’ and I always used to wonder how he ever managed to crawl along curled up between a woman’s legs (literally under her skirts) without anyone noticing – it was only years later I realised it meant he actually dressed up as a maid-servant in order to evade capture… Duh! So now every time I see the statue of Flora Macdonald it makes me smile, remembering my youthful naivety…

Oh, and I’ve also included a close up of the main door in honour of yesterday’s Thursday Doors! πŸ™‚

For this year’s A-Z I’m going to take you on a photographic tour of My Inverness, Past and Present. I grew up in the local area, I went to school here and brought up my three children here, but I moved away to London for 18 years before returning home for good at the end of last summer.

P.S. My initial plan for my A-Z posts has necessarily been curtailed somewhat due to the current coronavirus pandemic, but we’ll get through the alphabet one way or another, however creative my use of subjects may have to be – so thank you for visiting Inverness with me, and I hope you enjoy our trip! πŸ™‚