27 Harsh Facts Every New Blogger Should Know About Blogging

These 27 harsh facts stand true for new bloggers, old bloggers, all bloggers. Hugh shares the reality of blogging in the following post.

Hugh's Views & News

Thinking of starting a blog? Here are 27 harsh facts I’ve learned about the world of blogging since I started my blog in February 2014.

#bloggingtips #blogging #bloggers

  1. Blogging can become addictive and take over your life.
  2. You’ll probably lose touch with some friends because you won’t have the time to keep in touch with them anymore.
  3. Readers don’t find your blog, you have to find them.
  4. Just because somebody ‘liked’ your blog post, does not mean they read it.
  5. Just because somebody left a comment on your blog post, does not mean they read it.
  6. Blogging can seriously stress you out and make you feel guilty (if you allow it).
  7. You’ve more chance of winning the lottery jackpot, than one of your blog posts going viral.
  8. Over 81% of bloggers who want to make some money out of blogging, will never earn more than £100.
  9. Not everyone will agree with what you have to say.
  10. Not everyone will…

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Today and Every Day

I wrote this for Martin Luther King Day last year and I’m sharing it again this year because I believe it still holds true today.

Today is the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Our children are taught about his dream, his work, and his words. All of a vital part of our history. But he represents more than just a piece of history- a time of civil unrest and injustice. What he began, along with others, remains a work in progress. A marathon. A 50+ year marathon.

I typed and backspaced and typed and backspaced many times trying to capture meaningful words to express my feelings on this day. Let’s be honest. The things that our children are taught, the quotes we share, the talking points of this day are important every day. They should be represented in our lifestyle, our words, our actions. And the most fitting words that I can find were said by Martin Luther King, Jr. himself.

  • “The time is always right to do what is right.”
  • “Our lives…

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Three Things Thursday

Isn’t it funny how a certain post will show up in your feed right when you need it most? I was looking for something, not sure what to write about today but wanting to write, and then there it was- the perfect post- #ThreeThingsThursday- created by Emily at Nerd in the Brain and hosted by Natalie at There She Goes. Three Things Thursday is a list of three things that made you happy this week. This actually lines up perfectly with my mindfulness book, which asked me to share some memorable moments.

downtown chicago

 

Before they headed back to school, I was able to spend the day at the museum with my college kids, who I don’t see nearly enough. Going to the museum is a favorite pastime from my childhood that I was able to pass on to my kids. It was a special day.

 

 

 

 

bingo

 

 

I played Bingo with my parents. This is actually a regular occurrence but hasn’t happened in a while due to circumstances beyond our control. It was nice to do something that feels just plain normal and everyday. I’m blessed to have my parents still here and nearby.

 

 

lights

 

We are having a heatwave here in the Midwest, which means the snow, icy slush and general messiness along with the freezing temps are gone- temporarily. I’m going to enjoy the 60 degree day for the brief time it’s here.

 

 

 

 

What made you happy this week?

#Bathwater

I hope your week is going well!

-Kat

Deconstructing Christmas

IMG_1461Yesterday when I reached down to unplug the lights that decorate our family room, three year old let out a cry of dismay. “NOoooooo, don’t take down Christmas!” He has an extensive vocabulary, well beyond his three years, but this was the year he discovered Christmas. In his ever-expanding world, the concept of Christmas was so huge it was beyond words. If you were to point out each individual decoration, tradition or experience, Beej could easily tell you its name accompanied by some incredible adjectives. But this entire experience has been so enormous in his life that he wants to hold onto all parts of it.

I’ve been slowly taking down decorations when he’s not here. The stockings, pillows, table runners and other fabric items have been washed, folded and stacked up to be packed. Any wall decorations have been taken down when I noticed them still hanging there. Snowmen and Santas and all the other cutesy stuff I place on shelves or table tops has been gathering on a table or flat surface out of Beej’s reach, ready to be wrapped up and boxed.

When Beej arrives today he will find the biggest change so far with only the tree with lights but minus ornaments, window lights and yes, the “Christmas” aka lights in the family room being the final reminders of the holiday. I’m hoping this will satisfy him as I get him prepared for the next holiday. Valentine’s Day.

Beginning with Halloween, Beej is more aware of holidays and seasons. This causes him to be slightly resistant to changes. He mourned Halloween and protested Thanksgiving. He insisted that he did not like Thanksgiving (although he didn’t know what it was) and within a day or two, Thanksgiving was the greatest! It doesn’t fail to amuse me because around here the difference between the two holidays is that I pack away the ghosts and pull out some turkeys- everything autumn-like remains. And then in true Beej fashion, he was so attached to Thanksgiving that he incorporated the cornucopia into his play kitchen.

I’m always sad to take Christmas decorations down. For such a stressful time of year, I should be happy to see it leave. And yet, each year stirs different feelings inside. This was the first year that I had the full Christmas beyond my husband and kids. Hosting for everyone (my parents, siblings, nephews) is a big job, but this year didn’t seem as much of a trial. Everyone is in a much different place than years past and I think it speaks to the strength of family what we were able to rise above past drama and come together. Two of my children were not with us on Christmas day, which left a huge hole in my day, but we celebrated as a family a few days later and it was good.

Maybe it’s all the extra baggage that Christmas includes- tons of family face time, crowds shopping, planning parties, our own expectations, missing loved ones who are not here- that leads to a sort of let down feeling. But the truth is I’m ready to pack it up and let it go. I’m all into letting things go these days so I’m focusing my thoughts on how uncluttered my house will feel with all the Xmas trimmings gone.

It’s time for me to shake my thoughts free of jingle bells and Santas and look ahead to a full year. I have a loved one still on the road to recovery, two kids graduating from college, one applying to grad schools, a lost sheep who needs some tending, and mindfulness of my own to work on.

Oh, and if you hear the angered cry of a three year old, you’ll know that Beej has begun his boycott of Valentine’s Day!

-Kat

Catching Up

I did finally make it out of Target in time to celebrate Christmas. Two of my kids were not with us this year so we will be celebrating with them soon. Their absences left a huge hole in our day. Lucky for us, our little guys were with us and there’s nothing like the excitement children have for the holidays!

We shared good times, good food and a cozy fire with some loved ones. And that mischievous elf, Jack, stole my camera and attempted to take a selfie!

I hope this holiday season finds you happy, healthy, safe and warm!

Love, Kat

Help Me Raise £250 For The Dogs Trust By Leaving Me A Link To Your Blog

Can you help my friend, Hugh, over at Hugh’s Views & News raise money for The Dogs Trust by leaving him a link to your blog?

Hugh's Views & News

The Christmas tree is up, but something is missing. There are no gifts under it, and I need your help to put that right.

#charity #appeal #christmastree #christmas

For this year’s Christmas charity appeal, I’m asking you to help me raise up to £365 for The Dogs Trust.

The Dogs Trust, formerly known as the National Canine Defence League, is an animal welfare charity and humane society in the United Kingdom which specialises in the well-being of dogs. Click here to go to their website.

Want to get involved? Here’s what you need to do.

  1. In the comments section of this post, leave the name of your blog and a link to it. This can be a link to your ‘about me’ page, a favourite blog post you’ve published, or the home page of your blog.
  2. If you’re an author, you’re also welcome to leave me a link to any books you have published. So, for…

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Crossing Tracks

Yesterday I drove over railroad tracks that I go out of my way to avoid. It’s something I’ve been doing for four years and I’ve been pretty successful finding alternate routes that aren’t too far out of my way.

One morning four years ago I woke up to news that a pedestrian had been struck by a train. I didn’t know that I knew him until a few hours later. And it wasn’t until even later that his death was determined to be suicide. He left behind a wife and three young children.

The last time I saw him was a few months before his death and he had appeared to be the same as always- friendly, cheerful, upbeat, positive. At that time, I was still unfamiliar with the faces of mental illness.

Four years later I have gotten a much closer look at mental illness and the impact it has on the person, as well as their loved ones.

Like so many illnesses, it is not always visible to the casual observer. Sometimes it’s hard to see no matter how close you get to the person. Unlike other illnesses, mental illnesses carry a stigma that is hard to shake. While people are quick to understand the ravages of cancer, they are skeptical of the legitimacy of an illness that shows no easily identifiable symptoms. And the obvious signs- sadness in a person suffering from depression- is thought to be in the person’s own ability to control. Unlike other illnesses where, if neglected, a person will end hospitalized or at least, under a doctor’s care, a person suffering from a mental disorder might not reach that place until they attempt suicide. (And as I’ve found out, deny their intention and not accept a mental illness diagnosis.)

It’s sobering. eye opening. challenging. heartbreaking. sad. The following video, courtesy of NAMI- National Alliance on Mental Illness ,talks about the signs.

I know this isn’t in keeping with the holiday spirit we are all embracing these days but mental disorders do not take a holiday. The mom with three children, at least one too young to have memories of his father four years later, will have an empty space in their Christmas. When my family celebrates the day, there’s a good chance that mental illness will impact our day in some way, as it does every day of our lives.

For two years I’ve stayed mostly silent, vaguely referring to someone who was struggling. Yesterday I pulled up at the stop sign. I knew that just out of sight past the line of trees was the train track that I avoid. I could turn that way, which would be the quicker route, or go out of my way, adding at least ten minutes to my travel time. But I knew that it changed nothing if I took the long way. Either way, that pedestrian that I knew from that long ago news story was in my thoughts.

I turned toward the tracks, and as has always been my routine, I slowed down and looked both ways. I closed my eyes for a split second and sent up a prayer and heartfelt message that he knew that he would never be forgotten, that he had touched so many lives and continued to touch them, even in absence and that my hope continued to be that he had found peace.

As I continued down the road, I realized that not writing about this was no longer an option. It has taken my writing hostage and I have truly felt silenced.

Mental illness has come to our family.

We will be as supportive as we can. We will do what’s best for everyone. I’m sure we will continue to learn and grow.

And as we already learned through Kris’s gender identity journey, regardless of what we do, life goes on and so do we.

Much peace,

-Kat

 

 

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Abandoned or Alone

Nothing says ‘abandoned’ like a toy that was left behind. And it’s those toys, some of Toy Story fame, which are featured in my entries for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Abandoned or Alone. 

As is often the case, I had completely different photos set aside for this challenge when I happened to walk into the family room after Beej left with his dad. There were Buzz and Woody, laying there abandoned by the little boy who had just been giggling when he accidentally pushed one of Buzz’s buttons.

bw buzz and woody 2

This caused me to stop and look around at all the other toys that were looking just as sad, waiting for their person to come back and play with them.

All I had to do was to look down when I glanced out the back window to find a teddy bear and friend, peaking out at me. Why he’s hiding there with a storm trooper (or is that a clone trooper— oh shoot, I know this!!!), I really don’t know…

bw teddy 2

Putting laundry away, a quick check in Beej’s bed found Knuffle Bunny, the most abandoned toy in our house due to the number of times he has been loved, wrestled with, posed, and yes, abandoned in his short time in our family.

bw knuffle bunny 2

A quick pop into Kris’s room found this lion, laying on a shelf with other discarded items.

bw lion beanie baby 2

And finally, I came across another Woody, this one long abandoned by Andy, who tossed him in his closet when he went to college (yeah, the irony of that is not lost on me!).

bw woody

black-white-banner

Thank you to Cee for hosting this and other photo challenges! Click on the link in the introduction if you would like to find out more!

-Kat

The Angel on My Tree

Originally written two years ago, I’m sharing this post again for all of those moms of transgender kids who find themselves struggling at this time of year.

IMG_9297This will mark our sixth Christmas since Kris came out as transgender and navigating the holidays has been a journey in itself. I’m happy to report that each year it becomes less and less of an issue. This year is probably the first one that will only find me shaking my head at the ornaments and wondering what’s next.

Whether you are facing your first Christmas or your tenth since your child came out, if it is causing you to feel sad or a bit blue, please know that in time, it will get better. You won’t be in this place forever and you are not alone.

The holidays can be a difficult time for many people for any number of reasons. The list is endless. For me, my downfall is the ornaments on our tree. Since Michael’s first Christmas 25 years ago, my kids got ornaments with their name and the year on them. Some years I would also get a personalized family ornament. Then lets add in the ones given as gifts over the year, always with a name on them. That’s a lot of ornaments.

When Kris first came out as transgender, the impact of opening the boxes that first Christmas and seeing the name that I had given my daughter times 18 (and more) caught me off guard. That first year, all of the ornaments with Kerri’s name on them were put away in a separate box. During year two, I braved that smaller box and studied each ornament, determining which ones would survive…

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Elf Business

missing-twizzlerLast year our elf, Twizzler, was reported missing- Missing: One Elf. In Twizzler’s absence, another elf-Jack- was sent to watch over CJ and Beej. He was introduced to us by Ginger, my office elf. We all thought this was a temporary situation and as November came to an end, CJ began asking if I knew when Twizzler would be returning. Since we genuinely thought that Twizzler was going to be back with us long before Christmas last year, we welcomed the replacement elf but held onto the hope that our Twizzler would return!

christmas elfIt appears to be uncertain if Twizzler will ever find his way home. On December 1st, the boys came downstairs to be greeted by Ginger and Jack, along with a letter explaining that Twizzler remained away on another assignment and that Jack will be our elf for this year.

Jack is a friendly guy and Ginger, who is younger, seems to really like him. She has already expressed an interest in joining him on future adventures.

CJ still expresses sadness that Twizzler did not come back and remains hopeful that he will return one year.

Meanwhile, Jack has made himself completely at home!

And as for me? Well, I’m not going to rest until I figure out where the heck that mischievous Twizzler ran off to! “Son of a nutcracker!” -Buddy, the elf

-Kat