My Experiment in Community

When I started the latest incarnation of my blog, I gave careful thought to what I was doing (The Blog) and why (Why am I blogging?).   After 6 months of active publishing, I think it’s time to take stock of how I’m doing.  Here is my self-assessment.

Of the 4 objectives I set at the beginning, two were inward facing and two outward facing:

1)    To Create — This blog will be a creative outlet, an opportunity for me to bring into being something imaginative, entertaining, and occasionally, hopefully, inspired.

Publishing the blog has been stimulating and I have enjoyed the creative process.  I’m producing something that I’m proud of.  Some posts that I’ve particularly enjoyed writing from a creative perspective are The S&M Motel, Elisabeth, and Flamenco).  I hope that you’re enjoying reading and commenting on the blog.  With the goal of making it better, I welcome your feedback on my writing or any other topic.  Your suggestions are genuinely and greatly appreciated.

2)    To ReflectThis blog will encourage self-reflection, an indispensable activity on my journey of self-realization (the pursuit of self-knowledge). The blog will also be a journal of sorts, a record of memorable experiences, learnings, and other musings.

Writing encourages me to reflect on my experiences and to organize my thoughts.  I have definitely written about some topics that I was trying to process (e.g. Coming to terms with an alternative lifestyle, My Struggle with Stuff, Dachau, No Good Deed Goes UnpunishedParting is Such Sweet Sorrow), or where I wanted crystalize my thinking (e.g. Why Dream Big?, Why Live Boldy?, The Decline of the American Empire, Is Life Getting Too Complicated?).  As an added benefit, the blog also documents many of my memorable experiences in words and in pictures, the way a scrap book or photo album might.

3)    To Create Intimacy —  By sharing of myself, this blog will enhance my existing relationships and possibly develop new ones.

The blog has allowed me to stay in better contact with some family and friends while we travel.  I have also shared it with some new friends that we’ve met on the road, some of whom are now following too.  I think that I was a bit naïve (or overly optimistic) when I began about the complexities of online communication and relationships.  Despite the fact that the feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive, not everyone has responded favourably.  Not everyone cares or wants to be reminded about our gallivanting around the world.  People have busy lives and this blog competes for their limited time.  And, surprise surprise, not everyone agrees with what I have to say.  Although I never write with the intention to offend, I sometimes write about personal topics that are not often discussed, and I can occasionally be controversial.  Sometimes I don’t communicate clearly or people have a different interpretation.  Sometimes I suspect they just flat-out disagree with what I have to say.  I hope that they will find sufficient value to continue participating.

When I share my thoughts or beliefs or something that I’ve learned, I try to write them in a way that that is meaningful and true for me.  I don’t think that I have all the answers, and I try to avoid preaching to others.

Don’t tell people how to live their lives.  Just tell them stories, and they’ll figure out how the stories apply to them.  – Randy Pausch

I had hoped to receive more comments on the blog and to generate more dialogue, but I’ve learned that discussion of any in-depth or serious topics online is challenging.  Still, I greatly appreciate it when I do receive comments or feedback from others, and I’m willing to risk discussing some more weighty topics in the comments if you are.

4)    To ContributeI want this blog to be of value to others — one of my contributions to the world.  I’m optimistic that someone will learn, grow, or be inspired.    That someone will dream bigger or live more boldly that they otherwise would have.

I write this blog with others in mind.  I try to share stories that they’ll find interesting or stimulating in some way.  Ultimately this comes down to personal preference, so I try to write things that I would enjoy reading, and I get occasional guidance (usually on things that I shouldn’t write) from my wife Diane.  I hope that this blog helps to make the world a better place.  OK, that sounds like an overly lofty goal, but the sentiment is correct.  Although I have no direct evidence that it has occurred, I hope that I am helping to inspire others to achieve their dreams.  If you want to share a story about how this blog has touched or inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear it.

In addition to my 4 stated intentions, each of which has implied benefits, I have also benefited from increased learning.  To write about a topic I need to understand it first.  Although I’m not a journalist, I want to write with integrity, so I do my best to make sure I know what I’m talking about, and I try to check my facts.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot more about my subjects than I would have otherwise.

I’d like to thank-you for making May the most-read month ever for this blog.  There were over 1700 views of DreamBigLiveBoldly.com in May.  I must admit that I was secretly hoping that the blog would grow into a larger community.  It’s one way to get feedback that people enjoy my work.  If you know anyone that you think might enjoy the blog, would you please let them know about it.

How do you think I’m doing against my stated intentions?  What are your suggestions on how to make the blog better?  (Live Boldly. I can take it.)

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6 Responses to My Experiment in Community

  1. Hi Patrick, well what a great post. I’ve enjoyed all of your blogs so much that I feel duty bound to give somefeedback after all of your efforts. I guess the headline is that your blog and example of travelling has definately inspired me to be more adventurous. I can never hope to match your energy or enthusiaism but I now find myself putting myself out just to get an experience that I may like to subsequently write about. Although that might seem a rather shallow reason for doing things I think that any motivation is valid if it gets one off the proverbial sofa. Examples of this were may two guest blogs, in particular the one where I went out at night in Saville- I’m naturally a home bird in the evenings and find it easier not to make the effort. Another signifcant change that your approach to life has prompted in me is to try and be more positive and less cynical about…..everything. On a more prosaic matter, I really like the new look blog. I want one!! Is envy still a mortal sin? I forget.
    I don’t think you should worry about being controveseral or upsetting poeple I think you should try and communicate your feeling and experience as clearly as possible, it’s more interesting than having a polite version and often provides a spur for thought and comment from the reader. I’m impressed with the tally of readers. Have you thought about doing some video, uplaoding it to youtube and providing a link in your future blogs… I’m sure you would have, but a little peice to camera from our favorite online author would definately bring a smile to this readers face.
    Martin

    • Great feedback Martin. I’m glad that I’ve inspired you a bit. Without turning this in to a love fest, you are an inspiration for me also. From you I’m learning to simplify my life, relax, be in the moment, and laugh more. On the blog, I will continue to speak my mind, and people will decide whether to participate or not. I have considered video and might add some in future (I think there is an extra cost from my blog host to embed it, but a Youtube link might be a workaround). When you’re ready to have your own blog, let me know, and I’ll help you get started. Perhaps when we meet in September? Then I could be a guest poster on your blog! In the meantime, if you’d like to practice a bit, I’m sure that readers here would love a guest post about your currnet travels by canal in England.

      Patrick

  2. Cheryl Matthews says:

    Like Martin, I feel duty bound to provide some feedback. I don’t want to be a lazy reader all the time. I also agree with Martin when he told you not to worry about being controversial. Please continue to speak your mind. We don’t and shouldn’t agree on everything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear your unique perspectives and impressions.
    One of the ways you might want to try to get more readers is to link your blogs to social media such as facebook and twitter. I receive your blog notifications through my e-mail, but have to admit I go through my mail because I have to, not to relax. I tend to go to facebook when I’m ready to relax and have a little more time to do so. I read several blogs, that I otherwise wouldn’t have discovered on my own, through facebook.
    Okay, get back to travelling. Don’t let this become a job for you. Hi to Diane
    Cheryl

    • Hi Cheryl — “Duty bound”, wow. You and Martin take things seriously. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the feedback, and the suggestion. I’m not much of a facebooker (I have an account but rarely check it), but I agree that social media would be a good way to expose others to what I’m doing. Probably not omething that I’m going to pursue while traveling (already a lot on the plate), but perhaps when I get home. I hope that you and the family are doing well. Enjoy the summer!

  3. Christine says:

    I’ve had it in my mind to comment/respond to this post since I read it but haven’t been able to sit and ponder and formulate until now. (Being on vacation has certainly helped with that!)
    As a start, i just want to say that I love your blogs about the many places you are visiting and the many things you are experiencing and am glad to be able to follow you and Diane along the journey. Alongside your personal reflections and impressions, I love reading all of the well researched history that you provide about the places and the people of them. When accompanied by your photos they make for both interesting and informative reading. Thanks for doing the research and drilling it all down to manageable snapshots!
    I only hope that you are not discouraged that there are not more reader comments. If the other readers are anything like me, we love reading your posts, but don’t always have the downtime to ponder and respond. But this doesn’t mean we do not value your insight and stories, because we do. 🙂

    • Thanks Christine. I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. I’m glad that you took the time. It’s great to know that you’re reading and enjoying the blog. I write it for me and for you. Patrick

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