Name of blog: Mama’s Empty Nest
Your Name: I keep my blog anonymous
Your Twitter: I don’t tweet!
MEN: I’m the mother of three adult children. When they were growing up and even into their college years, their friends congregated at our house and called me Mama [my last name]. As our last child graduated college and headed out on his own, our home, which was a bustling center of energy before, became quiet and empty and my life became so different. The change was drastic when Mama’s nest became empty.
NH: What prompted you to begin blogging?
MEN: I’ve always been a writer and found it easy to put my feelings and thoughts into words since I was a child. But as a busy wife and mom raising children, running a household, doing volunteer work, and eventually working at a part-time job for a non-profit organization, writing wasn’t a priority. I actually started a blog seven years ago when I was recuperating from cancer surgery. But once I recovered, I stopped writing in it. After my nest became empty, I finally had free time on my hands – and peace and quiet – to start blogging once again. That time, writing helped me express the emotions of all the major life changes I was experiencing.
NH: What kind of blogs did you first write?
MEN: My early blogs were strictly personal about what was happening in my life, the cancer diagnosis and treatment I was undergoing, and sometimes just whatever came to my mind. I didn’t really have purpose in writing them.
NH: What mistakes did you make when you first blogged?
MEN: One mistake I made was not considering that complete strangers may read my writing. It never crossed my mind that people who didn’t know me might be interested in what I had to say! The second was trying to be light-hearted and almost silly instead of being true to who I really am and writing about what’s important to me – my faith, my family, and life’s lessons.
NH: What was your worst blog post in the beginning?
MEN: Probably my worst blog post was in my earlier blog and was just a compilation of things that had happened during a couple months’ time frame. It was just like reading a diary of dates and events. Can you say ‘boring?’
NH: Your best?
MEN: I haven’t decided which was my best. I really liked a four-part series I wrote called ‘Home Sweet Home.’ It was very cathartic and helped me put some of the grief and unsettled feelings I had into perspective.
NH: Why did you begin blogging?
MEN: As I said before, I started blogging while I was recuperating from cancer surgery because I needed something constructive to occupy my time. But I discontinued writing as life became busy once more. I initiated a new blog on WordPress in 2010 because I was struggling through significant life events like my last child graduating from college and moving to another state for his new job, my last parent dying, and this feeling of being disconnected that I just couldn’t shake.
NH: What are your top 5 favorite blogs to read?
MEN: It’s hard to choose only five because I have a long favorites list. But I never miss reading these bloggers: Homestead Ramblings, Georgette Sullins Blog, Writing for Daisies, Grace For My Mess, Virginia Views, and I never miss your blog, Nikki, either. For gorgeous photography, I also check Montana Outdoors and These Days of Mine every day.
NH: What inspires you to blog?
MEN: Lots of things inspire me to write….sometimes it’s just a photograph I take or see, sometimes it’s an every day item that comes across my mind or to my attention and causes me to see a new perspective on it. Often it’s a thought or idea I believe the Lord plants as a little seed. Or it may be a scripture or a quote that prompts my imagination to soar and brings a story to mind.
NH: When do you write your posts and how long do they take?
MEN: Since I work part-time, I usually write in the mornings on my days off work or in the afternoons after work. I try to reserve evenings and weekends for spending time with my husband in our empty nest. Sometimes I can churn out a post in an hour or so, often it takes a couple of hours. I’m a real stickler for editing and proof-reading so I pore over my posts for errors and improvements. It also may take extra time searching for a photo to accompany the post.
NH: What is your brand?
MEN: Hmmm, I don’t think I really have one. Once someone told me I had a very poignant style of writing, but if I had to choose what was my brand, I’d say it’s Life — I write about life. Once upon a time before children, I was a newspaper writer/editor, so as a former journalist I tend to write about true stories and real life events, hence, I write non-fiction.
NH: What was your worst comment?
MEN: Oh my! I once had a comment from someone who I believe was a ‘troll’ who said very unflattering things about me and my family, told me I wrote “drivel,” but worst of all, he attacked my belief in God. I deleted it as I felt he was just trying to incite anger and argument from me and my readers. My blog, my rules. You may insult me and my writing all you want, but not my beliefs or my Lord.
NH: Your best?
MEN: You know what? I LOVE comments! Any comment from my readers touches my heart just to think that they read what I wrote and took the time to have a conversation with me. But there have been a couple of comments that truly made me grateful because a reader shared that my writing made a difference in his/her world that day.
For example: 1) “I read your blog every day and every time I read it I come away feeling blessed and touched by your words. The gifts that you share with us are uplifting and always food for thought and reflection.” 2) “I loved today’s entry and have been so blessed by many others as I have been reading to “catch-up!” Thank you for your encouragement! I’ll just bet you had no idea the effect your blog would have on others, but I have been truly lifted up and blessed!” Comments like these mean the world to me!
NH: When your first comments came and they weren’t family or friends, describe that feeling.
MEN: Shock, disbelief! I couldn’t imagine why anyone who didn’t know me would truly want to read what I wrote and keep coming back for more!
NH: Why do you blog now and how has that changed from your very beginnings?
MEN: I still blog from a personal point of view about my life and the things I perceive or God reveals to me, but my purpose is to share my faith, my life experiences, and lessons learned in order to encourage and uplift others.
NH: Do you have any comments to add for people who want to start blogs? Any advice?
MEN: Don’t be intimidated by other writers, just be yourself and say what you have to say. Find your own voice instead of trying to copy those who may be getting tons of readers. When I first started my current blog, I thought the ultimate thrill was getting featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed. It was exciting when that happened to me, but I soon realized pursuing that “prize” shouldn’t be my goal. For me, blogging isn’t a popularity contest; it’s about being real, sincere, and genuine and making a connection with other human beings whether you make them laugh, cry, or just give them something to ponder. Another piece of advice I would suggest is to keep a notebook handy at all times to jot down ideas. With our busy lifestyles, ideas can easily be forgotten or put so far on the back burner they get lost.
NH: How many times a week do you post?
MEN: I usually post three times a week – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays – sometimes less, sometimes more.
NH: Are you a believer?
MEN: Absolutely. I’ve been a Christian since I was a young girl. My faith In Jesus Christ has grown and developed over the years and that relationship with my Savior is what sustains me through difficult circumstances.
NH: Do people at your church or work know about your blog? What is their reaction?
MEN: Yes, some people at my church, work, or in my circle of friends (from near and far) do know I blog and several of them read my posts. They tend to comment about my writing on my personal Facebook page not my public page or my blog. Or sometimes they tell me in person (now, there’s a novel idea!) how much they enjoy reading my blog. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by their reactions and suggestions to get my work published in a devotional or something similar.
NH: What was your family’s reaction when you wanted to begin blogging?
MEN: My oldest daughter is actually the one who suggested I initiate my first attempt at blogging. She is an excellent writer herself and also wrote a blog at the time. My husband, my three children, and my sisters all read my blog and have been very supportive and encouraging, and I think my husband is my biggest fan!
NH: Did you ever write a blog that made someone feel hurt? How did you reconcile that or resolve that?
MEN: I sure hope not. If I have done so, I’m not aware of it. But if I happened to hurt someone’s feelings through what I wrote, I would personally contact them, apologize, and make some kind of reconciliation. It is in my nature to resolve differences; that’s just who I am and what I feel called to do.
NH: What can we pray about for you?
MEN: I’d covet prayers for my family as we maneuver more changes in our lives — all three of our adult children are getting married this year! I would also appreciate prayers for wisdom, joy, and inspiration to continue blogging.
NH: How many hours do you social network and/or blog per week?
MEN: I’ve cut back on social networking a lot. I found it to be too much of a ‘time-sucker.’ Now, blogging, that’s a different story! I enjoy reading other bloggers and have a lengthy blog roll. I honestly haven’t sat down to figure out how many hours I’m in the blogging world because I’d probably be aghast at the total!
NH: How many readers do you get a month?
MEN: Last month, I had a whopping 6000+ hits, but how many of those actually read my blog, your guess is as good as mine. Usually, I average around 3500 hits per month, but WordPress tells me I have 355 followers/subscribers. I honestly don’t know what to make of those stats. What’s important to me is the connection I feel to a number of readers who have become my friends in my own little blogging community. I never expected to be given the gift of friendship through blogging!
NH: Anything else you’d like to share about your blog?
MEN: I take most of my own photos for my blog and that has been a source of fun and enjoyment for me as well. I’ve included one of my favorites. As I travel down life’s highway, I’m thankful that God has blessed me in ways I never dreamed through my blog.
The purpose of this series is to show the heart behind some of the many blogs I read. Most of them might be Christian, but some of them aren’t believers. On July 9, we featured author, Michelle Gregory. With all the great articles out there about social networking, building your brand, and marketing ones self in the world, I wanted to put a different spin on things. This series will make an attempt to get at the heart of the blogger. I’m not asking for submissions. So please keep your comments to prayers for Mama’s Empty Nest, questions for her, or encouragement for her as she fulfills this calling. As Bonnie Gray once said, your comments are a gift.