Always Well Within is Two!

Cherry BlossomsThe spring blossoms of April herald my blog’s second birthday, a useful time to pause, reflect, gather lessons, vision ahead.

And celebrate, of course!  Very few blogs make it past the six month mark.  I’m almost as old as the Minimalist Woman!

Thanks to you – my extraordinary readers at Always Well Within – there’s a purpose to my words!

When I starting blogging, I lived within a small, cozy blog cocoon.  “Thrilled” described my response to having even a few visitors to my blog.  A single comment brought sublime joy.  My intention was to share, serve, and be of help.  As naive as it may sound, I had no notion of “professional blogging” and felt no pressure to get ahead in the blogosphere.

Blogging Year One:  Obsession and Addiction

But that was bound to change!  timethief, a favorite blogging mentor, often spoke about the place of social media in blog promotion.  There are more than 72 million WordPress sites alone in this world and that’s just one part of the action.  The chances of someone finding your blog is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.  Hence, social media as one “essential” aspect of blog marketing…if your wish is to have readers.

Somewhat an introvert, I strongly resisted.  I clung to the notion that “content is king” and didn’t put my toe into the swirling online social stream until 4 or 5 months into blogging.  In retrospect, it was senseless not to start right in.

The result of social media engagement was two-fold.  In the early days, I made fast friends with amazing people like Zeenat Syal, Tess Marshall, Robin Easton, Annabel Candy, and many other incredible spirits.  I felt so much enjoyment and nourishment from my new social media engagement.

But, I also got sucked into the whirlwind of blog marketing seduction, the endless stream of alluring posts, courses, webinars and the like on how to grow your blog bigger and bigger and bigger.  I went from an innocent beginner to obsessed and stressed in no time at all.

“Post three times a week, post everyday, guest post like mad, comment on 25 blogs a day, put the right elements above the fold, create snazzy headlines… “  There’s truly no end to blogging activity unless you draw the line yourself.

Not only that, blogging and social media can be chemically addictive!  The “likes” and the “stat spikes” can trigger your brain’s reward system, unconsciously making you want more and more validation.  Until suddenly you find yourself sneaking a peek online at all times of the day or night.  Blogging addiction is a contagious disease that descends upon many first-year bloggers.  Fortunately, blog obsession can be reversed.

Blogging Year Two:  Gaining Sanity and Perspective

Just one problem – for me – when it comes to blog marketing.  I’m not good at following the rules.  I don’t like to shine apples.  I’m adverse to hardcore marketing.  So I was caught in a constant state of ambivalence, feeling angst the whole time.

Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a professional blogger, selling products on your blog, following sound advice on blogging better, or wanting to be a successful blogger.  And, I’m not implying that insincerity is part of the blog success formula.  There are many genuine, heart-centered bloggers that go for the gusto precisely because they care.  As Zeenat Syal unabashedly says in her heart-centered blogging series,

“If you are a writer or a blogger or both, there is the constant need to be able to put your thoughts into the best possible words. You want your writing to be impactful, to be helpful,  to be understood and of course you want it to spread far and wide. In other words GROWTH is what we are aiming for.”

At the same time, it’s reassuring to know that there are even famous bloggers that do it wrong relentlessly.

But here’s a secret:  my ambivalence goes beyond blogging.  As one friend recently put it, it’s like my feet have wings.  There’s a deeply rooted ambivalence about treading on this earth, not uncommon among highly sensitive people.  But I am activley getting my feet firmly planted on the ground!

But first, year two was all about regaining my sanity around blogging, allowing myself to blog at my “level”, and finding my own blogging path.    As part of the process, I took a week-long digital sabbatical.  This question bubbled up:

“It’s easy to fritter away one’s limited and, thus, precious time captivated by social media and the illusion that we are being of help.  Are we really helpful or is it just ego’s game?”

After the digital reprieve,  I devoted a month to simplifying and realigning my digital engagement.  The Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Digital Overwhelm was born.
My sanity more or less recovered, I take blogging far less seriously and blog with greater ease.

Blogging Year Three:  Waiting to unfold!

What will year three hold for Always Well Within?

As life is constantly unfolding in new and unsuspected ways, I don’t truly know!  But it might be time to get over my ambivalence…

These are some of the thoughts, urges, and possibilities that have been rising up of late:

1.  I’m more aligned than ever with the intent of Always Well Within:  to help my dedicated readers discover greater happiness and freedom.

2.  I’m enchanted with being “true”.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” – Ernest Hemingway,  A Moveable Feast

“One true word” may be one motto for my third year blogging.  These words are actually part of Hemingway’s advice on how to get started when you have writer’s block.  This is not my challenge, but the idea of being “true” speaks to me.

3.  What does being “true” mean? 

There’s always an element of untruthfulness in each of us because we live, to some degree, in delusion.  As we gradually strip the delusion away, we become more and more true.  “True” to me means staying aligned with my heart’s purpose and writing from my core rather than being motivated primarily by externals.

I write spontaneously.  Sometimes, I’m compelled to create a piece that may seem formulaic, but it helps and inspires me in the moment so I think it might help you too.  Then there are times when my writing tends to be esoteric.  My knees shake and I wonder if people will disconnect.  Or I write about dead birds, not your most alluring of topics.  My writing is likely to continue as this eclectic mix.  At the same time, I care about meeting your needs.

4.  I don’t want to contribute [too much] to information overload.

People are literally drowning in information, which is now a “product”.  They often don’t know what to do – there are so many options – or who to trust.  Ironically, there’s no time to apply all this online advice because they are so busy reading or writing more.

I believe in the power of balance and stillness.  To gain more “traffic”, the strategic advice is to post shorter blog pieces every day.  But, I would like to see a world that enjoys the quiet in-between spaces and want to be part of creating that.  At the same time, I realize each person is responsible for discovering their own information comfort level.

Some of the best bloggers – Gail Brenner, for instance – post in-depth pieces once a week.  This is the style that I prefer to short daily posts, as I find the volume of the latter overwhelming.  Generally, my style is to write longer, in-depth blog posts, but sometimes I write succinctly too.  I will probably be posting once a week and sometimes add an inspiration piece mid-week.

5.  I’ve enjoyed blogging on WordPress.com but it may slowly be time for a change.

Blogging on WordPress.com is easy, the support is good, and new readers are funneled in your direction.  But a hosted platform has limitations.

The new WordPress.com comment policy makes it difficult for some people to comment.   Then there was the unannounced implementation of infinite scrolling.

So I’m contemplating moving Always Well Within to a self-hosted format some time this year.  That’s a huge step as it means losing all the Google juice I’ve built-up over the past two years.  It involves asking people to resubscribe to the new site, which typically means a good number of readers melt away.  But, perhaps the recent hiccups are signs that it’s time for a fresh start and greater freedom,

6.  Then there’s this little part of life called making a living:  Envision Writing

I’m delighted to announce my new writing site:  Envision Writing.  I’m a seasoned professional freelance writer who specializes in creating compelling content for individuals (professionals, solopreneurs, creatives) non-profits, and small businesses.

Please take a look at Envision Writing.  Check out my writing services, portfolio, and testimonials.  I would be delighted to have you as a reader there too.  Yes, I plan to also blog there.  Am I crazy to attempt two blogs?  We’ll find out.

Know someone who needs a writer? Please consider sending them my way.

Thank You!

The urge to be a writer began in my childhood.  Although I’ve taken detours, writing has almost always been part of my life.  Now, as one of my blog readers, you’ve given even more meaning and purpose to my weaving with words.

Thank you for being here quietly in the background or actively commenting, voicing your unique insights.  Thank you for sharing my posts on your favorite social media sites and spreading the word about Always Well Within.  Thank you for encouraging me and sticking with me.  Your presence makes all the difference in the world.  I’m committed to continuing to write valuable content for you.

What Would You Like to See on Always Well Within?

The whole point of Always Well Within is to help you improve your life, transform troubling emotions, and find a greater sense of ease and happiness.   How can I focus my articles to be of more help to you?

  • What would you like me to write about? 
  • What would you like to see more of on Always Well Within in the coming year? 
  • What would you like to see less of on Always Well Within in the coming year?

I would love to hear your thoughts…as long as they don’t involve video blogging!  Feel free to share your blogging lessons too.  If you have trouble commenting due to the new WordPress.com commenting policy here’s the secret:  use your real name, blog url, and a fake email.  This way you will still receive a link back to your blog.

I see life as a profound healing journey.  I’m so glad you are traveling along with me.

This year, when I can pull myself away from writing for you, I’ll be making time to feel the grass under my feet, bathe my shoulders in the sun, listen to the nightly coqui symphony, and remember:  it’s all a quickly passing dream.

If you enjoyed this article, may I ask you to share the link with others on your favorite social media sites?  And, I would love to connect with you on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook Page  With love, Sandra

Comments

  1. says

    Happy Birthday to Always Well Within! And congratulations on your new site–it looks great. Really enjoyed reading about your blogging journey, and you included some great links, too. Hope you’re going to celebrate!

    • says

      Thank you, Charlotte! I’m so glad to have connected with you this year. I appreciate your writing wisdom, confidence, and connection with your inner essence. Wishing you the best with your new book! So exciting!

  2. says

    My darling Sandra,
    This post flowed liked poetry for me. Beautiful! You are not only a seasoned writer, but a beautiful soul, who I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing.
    And the best part we are both celebrating our Blogging years together this month! Woohoo! I love that we are in sync in more ways than one ;)
    I hope you have marvelous and countless blogging years ahead….wherever you go I will follow dear one…be it wordpress.com or wordpress.org.
    I’m sending lots of love to Envision Writing too! I tried leaving a comment yesterday…but it kept sending me an error.
    Lots of love to you always and forever,
    Z~
    p.s. youre and inspiration!

    • says

      Dearest Zeenat,

      It was so wonderful to see that you are celebrating your blog birthday this month too! I love your birthday post, which is so full of love, joy, and positivity! I had to laugh a little when I see my own tendency to introspection in my post:)

      You’ve been there for me almost from the start! I’m so fortunate to have a wise and joyful blogging buddy like you. All my gratitude and love to you!

      I’m still learning the self-hosted system so I’ll be sorting out what happened with your comment at Envision Writing. Seems like there’s comment chaos everywhere!

  3. Vishnu's Virtues says

    Congratulations Sandra on your second blog birthday and your new writing blog. This is great insight as I start my own blogging journey. If you’re going to be even more committed to helping us discover happiness & freedom and being authentic as you go forward, I can’t wait to see the next year unfold!!

    I enjoy reading all of your articles Sandra but the one’s in pursuit of our spirituality are my favorite! You seem to write on unique topics that others don’t. Best wishes for the next year of blogging!

    • says

      Thank you, Vishnu. I’m very exciting that you’ve started your blog now!!!! Fabulous! I just got back from a weekend away so I haven’t had a chance to pop over yet. I wish you the best of luck and hope your blog reaches thousands of people. I’m sure you will glide through your first year beautifully without a moment of consternation.

      Thanks for your feedback on what you like on the blog. I really do appreciate it! I’m glad that you find what I offer here is “unique”. It’s been wonderful to connect with you in the last year!

  4. says

    Well I for one will follow you wherever you go! :-) As for what I would like to see more of…well how about a series on the link between mindfulness and writing, or writing as a way of accessing mindfulness, a way of finding our way home as writers in the world? How wonderful would that be for an on-going theme?! Whatever you do, best of luck in your 3rd year of blogging! You are always worth reading!!

    • says

      Thank you, Soul Sister! These are great ideas for topics! I would love to explore them and am very grateful for the topics. So happy to know you!

  5. Jean Sampson says

    I will also continue to follow you, share what your loving and compassionate heart and eyes are feeling and seeing. I love all things spiritual, and anything that you happen to find that you feel like sharing will be just fine with me! Happy Blog Birthday, Sandra!

  6. jade4922 says

    Hi Sandra, I have always found your writing filled with integrity and beauty, and have appreciated our friendship. At various times, I have been inspired, challenged and moved by your blog posts. Congratulations to you on a wonderful and fruitful two years. You are a light that shines brightly.
    Love to you,
    Gail

    • says

      Hi Gail,

      Thanks for your kind words. Isn’t it interesting that I would describe your blog in very similar words. I feel a deep bond with you as I know you are helping people both practically but also showing them how to link to their true essence. You are seriously one of my favorite writers in the blogosphere. Each piece that you write seems crafted with such care and communicates in such a whole way. All my love to you!

  7. says

    Happy blogversary, Sandra!! I enjoyed your frank and introspective recap of your first two years and am excited to see where Always Well Within goes in its third year. I have been contemplating cutting down on my screen time (constant internet access just isn’t good for my slightly obsessive personality), but will continue to read you as long as you write. :-)

    • says

      I appreciate our connection very much, Jennifer. You are a gifted writer and I always enjoy the unique perspective you bring to green topics. I fully understand cutting down on screen time. When that’s already part of your job, the added time reading blogs can really make it feel like being glued to the screen almost all the time. I was off the internet all weekend, walking barefoot in the grass, and enjoyed it immensely. Glad you are finding balance. Thank you for continuing to read as you cut down on your screen time. All my love to you!

  8. tess123 says

    Hi Sandra,
    Happy Birthday! I find your blog amazing. I love no. 2. Love it…one true sentence?
    I love you! xo

    • says

      Tess,
      You’ve been such a big support to me from my first year onward. Thank you so much for being there for me. Yes, if we could all find one true sentence! Amazing fun. Love you too!

  9. says

    This is such a wonderful milestone and what a joy to celebrate it with you :) I loved reading the insights you gained over the past two years. Isn’t it amazing how far we come in learning about the self and others through these amazing interactive platforms!

    I think you are doing such wonderful work, and although I do not read many blogs today, yours is one of the few that makes me come back as it has a certain energy of wisdom, tranquility, grace, honesty and authenticity that isn’t always easy to find out there.

    Thank you for your wonderful work and here is to wishing you another enriching and enlightening year :)

    • says

      Your words moved me so much! Thank you, Evita. You are so on target when you speak about how blogging is a path of personal evolution. I’m so happy to know you. Thank you for your good wishes. All my love to you.

  10. galenpearl says

    Isn’t it great to get all these birthday congratulations and tributes. I think many of us can relate to your journey — the initial exploration, the surprising obsession, the backing away and rebalancing. I’ve been asking myself some of these same questions lately, about finding that balance. I look forward to seeing what your next year brings.

    • says

      It really is, Galen! I feel so blessed and honored. You certainly frame up the journey succinctly! I’m so happy to be connected with you. I look forward to what the next year brings for both of us.

  11. says

    Dear Sandra,
    Here you are celebrating your second anniversary as a blogger as I send you all my love across the miles. You have been a loving friend and your articles have inspired and helped me so much that I will always be a a follower of yours no matter where you blog online. Your writing is focused on things that matter and your insight and wisdom guide me onward. Happy anniversary and may you have many happy returns.

    Love,
    TiTi

    • says

      Dear timethief,

      Thank you for sending your love across the miles. Often, it doesn’t seem as though we are so far away from one another. You were one of the very first bright lights I encountered in the blogoverse and I’ve learned so much from you. I am eternally grateful. I’m curious to see if I will still be blogging in 5 years like you!

  12. says

    Happy Blog Birthday, Sandra :)

    Wherever you go, I’ll follow, and I check the RSS feed for your blog daily. Your observations on meditation and Buddhism are so spot on and useful for me. Your blog presence feels “real” to me and gets “realer” all the time. Happy to call you a friend, and sending best wishes for the year ahead. Hugs!

    • says

      Wow, getting “realer” all the time sounds exciting. Glad we are on this journey together. I love the way you are fully you on your blog and never want to miss a moment. Thanks for your good wishes.

  13. says

    Congrats Sandra! Wow, you’ve really summed up a lot of the truth of the journey of being a blogger. I’m so happy you’ve made it this far–I DO know it is something to celebrate, I’ve thought of pulling the plug on my own blog many times, haha. But my readers keep me going. If it wasn’t for them I would give up. Thank you so much for sticking around, and for being such a supportive blogging friend in my life (whose never afraid to disagree with me or challenge me, I appreciate that as well!) You and your blog are a blessing in my life. Thank you.

    • says

      Interesting! You are so vivacious and positive, i can’t imagine that you’ve ever wanted to pull the plug on your blog. But I’m sure it happens to all of us. I’m very happy to be connected with you. Yikes, I’ve challenges you!!!!! I’m glad you have gone with the flow and found your own wisdom with that. Thank you for your kind words.

  14. says

    Happy Blog-Birthday! I’m so glad you’re going into a third year! I look forward to seeing your work blossom even more. You are an incredible soul and it’s been so wonderful getting to know you. Thank you for speaking truth and for writing so beautifully!

  15. says

    Thank you, Lynn. This is what it’s all about for me, blossoming as a soul and letting that pour on the pages. You really see to the heart. Thanks for gracing me with your presence!

  16. says

    Again, well done, Sandra. I have the tendency toward obfuscation (there’s a word that describes itself!), and it’s kind of punkish–I don’t want to be too easily understood. That said, the read/write net has been an excellent whetting device; I consider my audience in a way that my personal journals do not. If I only wrote for the audience (the visit “spikes,” as you say), I’d not write “a true sentence.” “A fit audience I find,” said Milton, “though few.” Even so, I wish you an ever-broadening circle in your well-written wellness writing. Keep dropping pebbles!

  17. says

    I thoroughly enjoyed your comment, Mark! I appreciate your writing, which is deep and thought-provoking. You may have sparked me back into ambivalence here! Love the Milton quote. Thank you for that gift.

  18. says

    Happy Birthday Sandra! And thanks for all of your great work! I love your blog. You also encouraged me to check my calendar. It seems my log turned 2 on the 13th, and I missed the big day!

  19. says

    Thank you, Terry! You were one of my very early readers, so it means so much to me to hear from you today. Congratulations on your blog birthday too! It’s not too late to celebrate and share the fun with your readers. I look at it more as my blog “month”. Thanks and lots of love to you.

  20. Noch Noch says

    Congratulations! and good luck for the coming years and new blog and direction :)
    I’ll follow you to the new site!
    Noch Noch

  21. says

    Time flies…when you’re on your path, sharing life and wisdom so generously and with so many. Your writing Sandra is a gift. I often bookmark your posts, savouring them and giving them time, letting your words sink in to make the difference I imagine you wishing for all of us. And you do make that difference – lovingly, reliably, beautifully. Thank you.

  22. says

    I’m very moved by your appreciation, Sandi, which is articulated in such a stunning way. Just reading these four short sentences strikes me with your own talent for weaving words into an enchanting trance. I’m letting your appreciation sink in and feeling very gifted. All my love to you.

  23. says

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday to your Blog, Sandra. You have a lovely place here – and I wish you all the best :-) I am happy we connected. I can’t believe my blog will be ten years old this July! How time whizzes by. And how wonderful to reflect on all that has happened. I loved your “writing” site, Envision Writing, too. Wishing you happiness! (I actually use another email to comment :D)

  24. says

    Well Done, Sandra! You are a visionary and a fighter.

    I enjoyed reading this post but I’m gonna be totally honest with you. With due respect I think you contradict yourself… look at “Blogging Year Three – point #4″… I feel you write well thought content but you seem to be carried away and your writings are too long. Information overload can cause all sorts of mental and spiritual problems, to name just two. There’s way too much of everything everywhere.
    Another constrtuctive opinion of mine, if I may, is: why using sooooo many links in a single post? I personally find it distracting, and certainely will not be bothered to check not even half of them. I agree links to other posts/websites/whatever keep a flowing energy and interest into a post BUT with moderation.

    I really don’t mean to sound negative. I’m not, believe me. I just felt I had to share my thoughts with you on this after reading it all. I sincerely wish you much success with your “Envision Writing” project which I have visited and I must say: it looks Brilliant! I can see so much hard work and thought has been put there. Keep it up!

    All the very best to you,
    Tree Spirit :)

    • says

      Thanks very much for your kind words and your feedback, Tree Spirit! Yes, sometimes my posts are long. I can understand why it seems like I am contradicting myself! That’s why I made the joke about learning to write succinctly! Personally, I like longer posts less frequently rather than many short posts. But I appreciate we are all different in that regard. That’s a good point about having too many links. I’m sorry it was too much for you. I don’t normally have many links in my posts, but I did go a bit wild in this one! I really enjoyed linking, yes, somewhat excessively, to some of the amazing bloggers who have supported me from early on. I just changed my link color to orange rather than a subtle gold so it stands out even more. Yikes! Thanks again for your input. May your good heart continue to awaken and unfold.

      • says

        Me again! :)
        I’m so glad you appreciated my input and didn’t take it as just criticism per se.
        Please don’t feel sorry for anything you do, including blogging: it is YOUR blog, your world of expression and as you may have noticed: a learning journey. You are free to do whatever you wish. But this you already know, of course. :)
        When I read what you say about “Personally, I like longer posts less frequently rather than many short posts.”… I immediately thought “yes, me too” and couldn’t help comparing it with emailing as I tend to write long emails to certain individuals with whom I connect in a more intelectual or spiritual ways.

        Anyway, you are very welcome and I also wish your life to be filled with many Dreams come true!

  25. Lance Ekum says

    Sandra,
    Two years – how wonderful! And – you have created such meaningful content in this space, which is a gift to everyone who visits.

    What I love about your writing today is how introspective it is…which touches upon the soul…

    Wishing you much joy and happiness as everything continues to unfold for you…

  26. says

    Hello Lance!

    It’s so nice to “see” you! Thanks you for positive affirmation and good thoughts. I appreciate what you said about my writing being introspective and touching upon the soul. It may not be for everyone but I’m happy there are special people like you who appreciate it. All my love to you!