Today I celebrate 4 years of blogging!
I never thought i’d make it to 4 years since i’ve griped at least every couple of months about my cyber torn attachment to blogging and pondered so much about whether or not to continue with it over the years, and of course i must have carried on with it, because i’m writing this aren’t i?
I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just the way a lot of bloggers are, i’m not unique, at least not in this particular way. I’ve never yet interacted with a blogger who didn’t get the hump with blogging every once in a while.
…and I continue to blog because it’s almost like I just can’t help myself.
So 4 years.
I’ve gained a lot of weight sitting at the computer, and now at my laptop.
The good (?) thing about having a laptop though is that it allows me the freedom to walk to the fridge with it and not lose a moment of my online time.
I realise that not many of my readers know me in real time and therefore might look at the pic that used to be up top of this page (my Facebook pic) and think that’s what i actually look like everyday. But really, i have gained about 4 stone since I first started blogging, I am a very voluptuous lass and that is why I don’t post anything but head and shoulder shots of myself usually. And even then, they have to be tweaked considerably!
Weight gain is one of the side effects of blogging?
All we bloggers, but we still can’t help ourselves.
Somebody pass the peanut M & M’s.
So why did I ever start blogging you may ask? (humour me, i wanna talk about this)
….in 2000 or 2001 I first went online.
In those days I thought AOL was great and good and honourable…and reliable….and hey I happen to LOVE ‘You’ve Got Mail‘ and digged the american voice that would tell me that I too had mail, everytime I went online. (and i was gutted when no one sent me mail and i felt deeply unaffirmed 😉
I had moved to my current home with the children, shortly after the irrepairable break down of my marriage (now annulled) and once I had moved, for the first time in years I started to have a say in what I did, where I went, how I lived my life.
Really. You don’t want to know how bad things were, really you don’t.
(once you get me started I might never stop)
I began to attend the Church of England Church nearby, becoming great friends with the vicar’s wife, and our children got along with one another equally well, and even further links were forged when our children went to school together.
I had always had an interest in Religion, and as I became more and more interested in it, I went online a lot and began to read up on church history….I also digged out an old New Testament I had been given many years before, and I soon realised that far from baptism being an option, it was a necessity.
(my ex husband, a non practicing Catholic… had assured me baptism wasn’t necessary and that a baptism celebration would be an unecessary drain on our finances).
Thinking myself already baptised (that’s a whole other story)….I had my children baptised soon after we moved here.
For a couple of years then we attended the C of E Church nearby, but the children didn’t really connnect with it and neither did I. We would go one week and not the next, our attendance was sporadic and though the intention to practice the Christian Faith was there, I really couldn’t reconcile a lot of what i was learning, with the church I was attending.
The fact is, that once the spark of interest in faith issues had begun, I was spending hours online every day researching more and more about Christianity and particularly, its roots….after a couple of years I felt that I could no longer continue to receive communion in the Church of England (they’d never even prepared me to receive ‘communion’ it was just something people were encouraged to do and I was certainly never discouraged from it).
You could say then, that God used the internet to reach out to me and to bring me to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church.
So no matter how many wierdos I ever encounter online (and I am convinced there are a plethora of them) I earnestly believe that internet interaction is a hugely valuable resource….because it certainly proved to be such in my own case.
At this point then, via my internet reading I knew a bit about a lot of stuff pertaining to Catholicism, but I had no one to discuss it with. I didn’t know any Catholics and I felt I couldn’t really discuss all this with my friend, the vicar’s wife as her hubbie was a minister in the Church of England after all!
(I did eventually talk about it with her, though perhaps I was a little too enthusiastic in inviting her to attend Mass with me?… and she was genuinely happy for me to be following the path that I felt God was calling me to walk along.)
I was almost prepare to leave the C of E church behind, but I still needed some convincing before I took that step of Faith…I neeeded to know so much more ….I needed to know that this was really God calling me to the Catholic Church…I needed to know that I could fully accept all that the Catholic Church teaches…..because it wasn’t just about me anymore, I would quite possibly be bringing my two children (then aged 7 and 11…is that the name of a store in America?) with me…if they chose to come over to Rome too.
But who could I discuss this with?
I didn’t know any Catholics and I didn’t want to set foot in a Catholic Church until I knew for sure that was what I was being called to do….I’m such a romanticist you see, that I suspected I might just fall in love with the Mass if I attended one and I didn’t want a romantic faith….I didn’t want a faith built on sentiment, but rather Faith and Fact.
It was around that time in 2002 that I discovered online Catholic Forums.
I began enquiring about conversion by tentatively dipping my toe in the water of a ‘thread’ or two and before I knew it I was asking how a person could become Catholic!
I received a huge amount of support and encouragement and it was absolutely fabulous that I could at last discuss Faith issues freely and also that there was such a wealth of knowledge available to me by so many devout and well informed Catholics and I will be forever grateful for their pointing me in the direction of encyclical after encyclical, apologetics website after apologetics website…I also spent a fortune on books from Amazon.
One of my best ever purchases in those early days, being Scott Hahn’s Rome Sweet Home. (I gave it to both my parents to read after my conversion and they both converted too, so it can’t be that bad a read can it!)
I was almost certain at that point that God was calling me to the Catholic Church, but I was concerned particularly with my CULT history (you can read about that in the following posts 1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) that this was just another thing I was ‘latching’ on to. I was anxious that I might be jumping on yet another faith trail that may lead to heartache and confusion….that it wasn’t something God was leading me to at all.
I would cry and pray an cry and pray and then one particular Sunday morning when we we were about to go to the C of E service and my children were ‘kicking off’ about not wanting to go….I went upstairs and knelt by my bed and tearfully, and somewhat angrily said,
“God, you have GOT to let me know where you want me… I will follow you wherever you lead….but you have to show me how to take those first steps towards you….I have to know that YOU are guiding me in this.
I am going to the C of E service now and you’re going to have to let me know if you want me to be somewhere else. I’m so confused, the kid’s are confused too…you’re just not being fair…I want to receive the REAL JESUS in communion….why do you have me learning all this stuff about the Catholic Church if you won’t let me know loud and clear that it’s where you want me to be?
Show me where you are, show me where you want me!!!”.
Or something along those lines.
And so we went to the C of E service that day and when we got home I knew that in good conscience, we could never go back there again.
It began to ‘feel right’ that I was making the decision to leave the C of E Church behind. And soon I started to be strongly of the belief that it was the right time to start thinking about going to my first ever Mass.
I went with my daughter to the Catholic Church in the City Centre one Sunday.
It happened to be the very church where my Mum, a non Catholic, had gone to watch her friends being confirmed when they were little girls. When I had talked to her about thinking of becoming Catholic, she spoke of its great beauty with such unreserved sentiment that I felt a pull toward it myself.
But truth be told, I had previously gone to a different Church on the Saturday evening before that, but as we had not known the Mass times we had turned up too late for Mass and the gates were locked!
I like to think it was meant to be that we ended up at Sacred Heart Catholic Church…and although it isn’t necessarily the church in which I will always worship, it will certainly always have a very dear place in my heart and I will forever consider it my ‘home’ parish, because I knew the moment I walked into the Church for the very first time,the moment that I met Canon David Goodwin and his homily spoke to me so greatly… that I had indeed, come ‘home’.
And so it was, that when I finally became Catholic after an all too long (to me!) course of RCIA instruction…. like most enthusiastic, newly converted Catholics, I wanted to share my journey with others.
I did this verbally with friends and family and even with complete strangers…. I couldn’t help myself….but it also seemed a natural progression for me to want to share the Good News of my conversion in a medium that had fascilitated my own journey to discovering the Church that Christ founded.
I won’t go on and on about that here, because you can read more about mine and my children’s conversion and reception into the Catholic Church here and here…and how a couple of years later my Mum became Catholic and a year after that my Dad became Catholic.
But basically, my blogging all started out pretty much being just me and a couple of my fellow forumites commenting on one anothers blogs. (those comments didn’t transfer from my original blogging platform to the next one I blogged with, which was blogger).
And then it all changed.
It had all pretty much been just me spouting forth to an almost empty echo chamber until I began to get comments from people I didn’t know.
What a buzz that was!
Real people who didn’t know me, interested in me, interested in what I was saying!
Well, i’ve discovered many things since i’ve been blogging these 4 years….one of which is that there are as many different personalities as their are blog templates in the blogging world, but with a lot of time and more than a little inclination you can ‘read’ a person in cyberspace just as surely a you can ‘read’ a person of your real time acquaintance.
I’ve discovered that very real ‘friendships’ can ensue from not only a commonality of shared belief (though we don’t all share the same faith or indeed, any faith) but an enjoyment of learning about one another, our families and experiences.
And not that I’ve ever really cared much for the opinions of others if they differ to my own, but it’s no longer thought of as ‘sad’ to establish friendships via the internet, because most people nowadays realise that it doesn’t infer an ineptitude or inablity to make ‘real life friends’.
Cyberspace just affords us all another means of making friends.
And about ‘real life friends’….what does that mean anyway!
Thanks to a wealth of exposure to ‘real life’ friendships in which bitching and backstabbing have often been the ‘norm’, I have become, ove the years, incredibly selective about who I spend my time with, when I have a choice to do so.
If I felt so inclined I could have scarcely an hour to myself on any given day of the week if I wanted, but i’m more able than ever to see that gossipy fake friendships turns me into someone i’m not very proud of being.
Truth be told then, I have relatively few ‘real time friends’. Lots of mates, lots of acquaintances, but friends I can rely on?
I could count them on less than two fingers.
I’m intensely private despite the blogging (believe it or not) and I suppose that bloggin’ friendships do largely fulfil my desire for friendship and communication but yet also that of my need for privacy. (I don’t have to leave the house and no you can’t share my vanilla slice).
Having said that, I’m not anti-scocial…i’m just selective about who I socialise with.
I used to think there was something wrong with me for not having accumulated a vast wealth of friends over the 40 years I’ve been here on earth (largely because i listened to people who have that opinion themselves) but I think it’s an awfully naive person who believes that the measure of an individual can be ascertained by how many ‘friends’ attend their funeral service….or of how many friends they have on Facebook, come to that.
So I would summarise this little ‘friend & blogging analysis’ by saying that you, my dear readers, are in fact very real friends to me indeed (you might want to pinch yourself just to make sure!).
You’re as much a part of my life as any other of my friends.
And while i’m in sentimental mood I would like to say that it might have been a zealous enthusiam to profess the faith that bought me to the blogging world, but it is the sharing of our lives with one another that keeps me blogging.
We bloggers offer prayers and support to one another in a way that some of our ‘everyday’ friends aren’t even ‘there’ for us. We know and care about one another’s health and wellbeing, faith and families…. and through all the letters, the emails, the facebook thang, the real life meet ups that may take place behind the scenes, we are connected in a way that sometimes leaves those so-called ‘real life’ friendships to be discerned to be only as shallow as a petre dish.
So no, I don’t happen to think it’s sad at all to count you as my very real friends, and I thank you….on this my 4th Year Anniversary of blogging, for sharing this journey of mine, and for allowing me to be a part of your journey through life also.