Blogging Mistakes to Live & Learn By

This week I read a few bloggers’ responses to Salted Caramel’s #Blogging Insights prompt “Which mistakes did you make in your first few months of blogging?”   I didn’t participate in the prompt, but I toyed with the question for a few days until I decided:  The biggest mistake I made was biting off more than I could chew.

I started my first blog almost five years ago. I wanted to write on a specific topic but I’m not an expert on anything. Finally, an idea I could get behind came to me and my blog, “52 Weeks”, was born. The idea was to feature one special woman in my life each week. I had an abundance of spectacular female friends, family members, colleagues and acquaintances I could write about.  There was beautiful, courageous Renée, a mother of two boys, who lost her husband to cancer when he was just 40 years old. There was my tribe of close “sisters” – friends I have known forever and who are each strong and beautiful in their own way. There was my step-daughter, a free spirit who often swims against the current to be true to herself. 

So, armed with my niche topic, I outlined the process I would follow, compiled a list of names, and set out to launch my blog. The first person I asked to participate was Ida, someone I have known since grade school. When she accepted, I sent her a list of questions to answer. They included fun facts like: 1) What cause is close to your heart? What’s your biggest fear?  Name a guilty pleasure.  I also asked her to send me photos I could use with the post.

Once I had all the material, I began the post with the story of how we were connected, followed by her answers to my questions. So far, so good, right? Then came editing and that’s where I hit a roadblock. I wanted the post to really show Ida’s qualities and what makes her special.  And I was afraid I just wasn’t doing her justice. So I spent my evenings reviewing, editing, then reviewing and editing again. By the time I published the post, I was behind on the research and work for the following week. And so it went until after nine weeks, I ran out of steam.  I still think it was a good idea and I may get back to it someday! 







Raising our glasses and a little hell

The phone rang late Sunday afternoon and when I answered, I heard an exuberant voice say, “Linda!  C’est Lorraine!” The French words came with an English/American accent but there was no mistaking the voice of one of my oldest friends. She’s been in the States for years, but the miles and the years instantly melt away when we reconnect.

We met in high school and quickly became friends. To be more precise, we first met in ballet class when we were eight or nine, but didn’t get to know each other at the time. I noticed her, though, because even then she was confident and fearless. Add to that the  the luxuriously thick, wavy, honey-coloured hair that hung half-way down her back, and she was hard to miss.

I was the opposite – the timid, chubby kid with asthma at the back of the class. I only ended up in ballet because the tap class I really wanted was canceled. To my surprise, I liked ballet! Maybe it was because our teacher was a former winner of the Miss Montreal beauty pageant. Each week she brought her tiara to class. Toward the end of the hour she asked us, as a group, to perform a step we had practiced that day, like a relevé, arabesque or pirouette. The girl who best performed it would have the glittering tiara placed on her head. Then she would execute the step one more time while the rest of us watched. Guess who most often won the tiara? Lori may not have been the most graceful dancer (none of us were truly ballerina material), but she was fiercely competitive. She threw herself into whatever step was requested with a determination and energy that earned her that crown.

When we found ourselves in the same class in high school, I recognized her right away. To her credit, she remembered me too, although there had been nothing remarkable about me during our ballet days. But by then we had more in common. We were both athletic (I had outgrown my asthma and shed my baby fat) and joined the gymnastics team. Our talent was limited (extremely limited) but Lori dreamed of going to the Olympics and she made me believe we could do it. We didn’t, of course, but the hours we spent dreaming and talking about it were priceless.

She isn’t very tall but her determination, skill and competitive nature landed her a spot on the basketball team. I was happy to be part of the cheerleading squad, which was a much tamer activity than it is today.

She was definitely the leader and I her willing follower. We were still freshmen when Lori decided we should be part of the school talent show. It was really for seniors who would be leaving school at the end of the year to star on the stage of life. But Lori just didn’t see why we couldn’t be part of it. Rules, especially unwritten ones, were made to be broken sometimes, weren’t they?  We ended up with a short number in the show, but the best part of it was the rehearsals with the older crowd leading up to it.

We took different paths after high school, but stayed fast friends. Not long after she graduated from nursing school, she married and moved with her physician husband to the US.  We still see or call each other occasionally. Sometimes months or even a year pass where we don’t speak except through Facebook. It never matters because the second we reconnect, it’s like no time at all has gone by.

Lori is one of several friends I have had and cherished for a long time.  I know not everyone can say that and how lucky I am to be able to. So, no matter what’s in store for us in the years to come, I’d like to think we’ll still be raising our glasses and maybe even a little hell together.

“I’m single and I live with a cat.”

Women can be hard on each other, especially when we’re sizing up someone new. I think it’s only because we treasure real friends and are careful about who we let into our inner circle. But every once in a while you run into someone you like instantly. That’s what happened at a recent fundraiser for the charity where I work.

The fundraiser is an annual Ladies’ Night that’s so popular, it sells out every year. It has everything women like:  finger food, champagne, tarot card readings, a photo booth, manicures, music, dancing and … firemen. To be perfectly clear, it’s all good clean fun, but the firemen who come to sell raffle tickets could easily grace the pages of the annual firemen’s calendar. They’re young and handsome but they’re also sweet, kind and volunteer to do this on a night off every year.

But back to my chance meeting. Our MC, a beautiful and charming local radio personality, was building up to the introduction of the fire fighters. The plan was to introduce them one by one and have them come out to pumped up music. The guys knew the drill.  They wear their bulky, protective gear pants, but T-shirts on top to outline their fit physiques.  Helmets and suspenders complete the outfit. They smile and bust a few dance moves as they’re introduced and join the MC in the middle of the room.

Photo booth:  Our MC with fire fighters

As the person responsible for Marketing & Communications for our charity, one of my roles is getting photos at events. So, I pushed my way to the front of the throng of women waiting for the guys.  When Jacob, the first fire fighter to be introduced came out, I realized that to get good photos, I had to get down on my knees, so I did.  Soon after, I felt the wall of women behind me part and a petite, middle-aged women got down on her knees beside me.

She looked over at me and said, “We’re pathetic, aren’t we?” as she pointed her cell phone at Jacob to snap a picture. She said it in such a raw, honest, funny way that I had to laugh. Putting on a injured air, I said, “Hey, this is work for me. What’s your excuse?”

Without missing a beat, she answered dryly while eyeing my wedding ring, “I’m single and I live with a cat.”  That did it; I thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. “Well, OK then, you’re welcome to hang out on the floor here with me,” I said as we happily clicked away