Celebrating 14 Women Who Used to Be Strangers

This is my A-Z challenge reflection post. It’s a few days early. After a month of daily posting, I’m keen to return to my regular schedule of Thursday posts.


Loyalty is one of my best qualities. Speed-dating doesn’t work for me. So when I first combed through the master list of 697 bloggers who were doing the A-Z blogging challenge, and made my 28 selections, I promise you that I was committed. I had romantic visions of new blogging friendships formed, of taking turns visiting each other’s online homes not just for April, but for years.A to Z Blogging Challenge logo 2018

If the blogger had written a post about their theme, and most had, I wrote to them there. I told them how much I was looking forward to meeting them, introduced myself, and said why I thought we had the makings of a beautiful long-term relationship.

I gave my heart too early; it’s an old story for me.

Why Blog?

I can think of three primary reasons for blogging, not counting blogging to make money which I see as a whole different beast. Some people blog for:

  • themselves–to have a record, or to work out and synthesize their thinking
  • others–to share information or experiences with the goal of inspiring, educating, or entertaining
  • community–to develop a network of blogger friends and have a conversation with them about the little and big things in life

These purposes are not mutually exclusive. All of the bloggers I enjoy and still follow are as keen to achieve all three purposes as I am.

A Blogger’s Commitments

Depending on our purpose for blogging, some bloggers honour three commitments, and some five. The foundational and non-negotiable three, in my opinion, are:

  • your privacy. This is a legal requirement as well as a moral one. You’ll find it in the small print on every blogger’s site.
  • to not email too often. We all recognize how busy you are and truly appreciate the gift of your email address so we can stay in touch.
  • quality. If we are not consistently giving you the best content and the best writing we’ve got in us, there doesn’t seem to be much point to blogging unless we’re just keeping an online journal.

My final two commitments are of concern only to those bloggers who embrace the third purpose of blogging — to build a community.

Nothing trumps good conversation.

Rich Eisen
They are commitments to:

  • respond to comments that are left on our sites. If you have taken the time to reach out, I will always reply.
  • read each other’s blogs and write comments. This applies only to other bloggers.

Why I Stopped Following 14 A-Z Bloggers

A week after the A-Z challenge started, my heart was broken. Not once, but 14 times.

I’d like to say that the 14 women I ended up dumping felt sorry and wanted me back, but I’m not sure they even noticed I was gone. If they did, they probably don’t know why I left.

And yet the reason is very obvious to me. I know when I don’t matter.

When a blogger doesn’t reply to my comment or gives a cursory “thanks for visiting” response; when she doesn’t visit my site or leave me a comment, the message is clear. I’m supposed to show up day after day with the flowers and the candy. I’m supposed to do all of the work of the relationship.

That’s not happening. I have way too much self-respect to let a guy treat me that way in real life, and I’m sure not putting up with it online. If you’re too busy for a relationship, we’re clearly not meant to be. Have a nice life.

The Glass is More Than Half Full

I’m a fan of positivity, so let’s forget about those bloggers. Let’s talk about the other 14 bloggers, the ones I connected with every day of the A-Z challenge, and will continue to read and chat with a for long time to come.

They weren’t perfect and neither was I. One didn’t respond to comments on her site. Another wasn’t able to post every day. Still others didn’t visit me every day. Of the 364 comments I could have left on 14 sites, I only left 363. So what. What matters is that our intentions were sincere, we wanted to connect and we did, as consistently and completely as we could. I am very happy to have met these women. Most, if not all, of them are now members of the Profound Journey tribe. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting them too.

AJ

AJ writes cozies which, she tells us, are mysteries starring “sassy amateur female sleuths.” There’s no gore or profanity in AJ’s mysteries. All of your attention can be focused on figuring out whodunit.

AJ did an excellent job of walking a tough line when she posted on her A-Z theme of serial killers. Gore was limited and the crimes described as dispassionately as possible. They were all fascinating, but one that particularly caught me was the story of Jack Unterwerger who had such charisma that he became a journalist and celebrity after serving time in prison for one murder and before being convicted of eight more.

Now that the A-Z series is over, AJ returns to blogging about writing, and about places in her hometown of Canberra, Australia.

Alana

Long-time Profound Journey readers will know that living a creative life and encouraging others to do the same is really important to me. Unfortunately, I don’t have the depth or breadth of experiences to provide intelligent, inspiring support. Fortunately, Alana does.

I’ve already mentioned that Alana’s definition of creativity is the best I’ve ever read. From the A-Z challenge, consider taking a look at Naked Soul for inspiration, or Tree Hugs for some stunning photographs.

Alana’s site is under development. Eventually you can expect to see Daily Doses of Inspiration, Weekly Creative Challenges, and a wonderful feature called Awesome Sauce about creators of all kinds.

Beth

Beth has been doing the A-Z challenge for seven years. Her overarching theme for all challenges is A Good Life. This year’s challenge was all about Stretches we could take towards living that good life. Think changes made the Kaizen way – one small step at a time.

Beth’s tough. When the Yarn entry encouraged me to use craft thread or to tell a tall tale, I asked if buying yarn for my mother to knit something would count as my stretch. Her answer? “Nope.”

On Beth’s main site, she blogs about her books (“relationships with an undercurrent of sleuthing in historical contexts”), hiking, and travel.

Cindy

Cindy is an artist. She lives on an island in northern Lake Michigan in the United States. There are 400 permanent residents including a veterinarian who also owns the local hardware store.

You’ll get an appreciation for Cindy’s beautiful writing by reading this post about her island, and for her art in this post about her etching press.

Cindy’s site has been up since October 2011, so you’ll find lots to read and view. I just discovered a page of small collages she made, one per day as a representation of her mood. Unlike Beth’s yarn stretch,  that’s a project I can get behind!

Deb van der Water headshot Deb

Deb, and Donna after her, are the two bloggers who weren’t strangers when we started the A-Z challenge. In fact, I first learned of the challenge on Deb’s site, The Widow Badass.

Deb was originally going to go theme-free on the A-Z challenge but, at the eleventh hour, had the inspired idea of writing posts related to a song that was popular when she was a kid. Readers were encouraged to guess the theme after each day’s post. One reader did guess the theme but it wasn’t me. If Kristofferson didn’t sing it, I probably don’t know it.

Deb blogs about life and she always keeps it real. Her posts are refreshing, fun, and insightful.

Donna

The tagline of Donna’s blog is “new chapters, new discoveries and new adventures.” So it made sense when Donna took on April Adventures as her theme for the A-Z Challenge. Although she regretted that choice a couple of times –trying to live an adventure each day means not being able to write ahead–Donna talked about everything from cruelty prevention at the local dog shelter to hockey sticks after the Humboldt bus tragedy.

Donna blogs about life after retirement, travel, family, and new experiences.

Heather Erickson author headshot Heather

Heather’s quite incredible. She did the A-Z challenge for not one, but two, themes. There was the theme about 26 ways to increase your creativity, which I followed. Check out Experiment with Variety and Approach Zebras with Caution.

Heather also posted daily on her site Facing Cancer with Grace. Her theme was caregiving and this is a woman who knows whereof she speaks. Heather’s husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer five years ago.

Take a look at Heather’s About Me page. You too will be in awe.

Jacqui Murray headshot Jacqui

Jacqui is an educator who writes, like me. Where we differ is that I thought I was a prolific writer and Jacqui actually is one! She has written over one hundred books on integrating technology into education, as well as works of fiction and a nonfiction account of her daughter’s entry into the United States Naval Academy.

Jacqui’s theme was Literary Genres. For each genre, she provided a definition, writing tips, and examples of popular books in the genre. Several were new to me, and quite interesting. Like Urban Fantasy, and even Zombie Apocalypse. I knew about zombie movies, of course. I just didn’t know that zombie stories were their own ‘thing.’

On a regular basis (remember prolific?) Jacqui blogs about books, writing, and technology.

Janet Mary Cobb headshot Janet

Janet has led an interesting and eventful life. She refers to “tossing (her) life like salad” a few times, including thirteen years as a Catholic nun, raising three children, and now running a coaching/consulting business to support small non-profits.

Janet’s theme for the challenge was Finding and Honouring Your Voice. I really appreciated her unique take on words like Whisper and Grumble.

Like Alana, Janet is in the process of developing her blog site.

Jenny Sunstedt headshot Jenny

Jenny says she “enjoys writing long and short fiction, essays, and overly ambitious to-do lists.”

For the A-Z challenge, Jenny wrote short, interesting and often humorous posts about world mythologies and legends. I enjoyed all of them, especially the African god Kalumba and the little Bolivian guy, Ekkekko. If anyone’s travelling to Bolivia, please let me know. I’d love to buy a little Ekkekko doll for the altar in my art studio.

Jenny’s blog site is also new. There’s a hilarious post about a toilet at Home Depot with an elongated bowel (yes, I spelled that correctly).

Leanne Le Cras headshot Leanne

When her blogging muse vacated the premises a month ago, Leanne didn’t wait for it to return. She chased it down by entering the A-Z challenge for the third year in a row!

Leanne’s theme this year was The A to Z(en) of Life via the Dalai Lama. Among other topics, we learned about avoiding negativity, and opening our eyes to the simplest solutions. Leanne provides information, but she’s also not afraid to be vulnerable and open about her own experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Leanne blogs about redefining and recreating ourselves in midlife, especially once the nest is empty.

Sandra Taylor headshot Sandra

Sandra’s is the most unusual and the most bewitching blog I’ve ever read. It’s more poetry than prose, and it inspired me to visualize in a way that I’d never been able to before.

Let me quote part of Sandra’s description of her site: “the faerie embassy is my home space, a beautiful mudbrick castle in a richly diverse forest. which means I am very passionate about wallabies and pythons and mist spiders and twisted angophoras and the sound of the wind and the feel of the rain.”

Take a look at dulcet dawn and the goddess for examples of Sandra’s magical life in a forest in Australia.

Silvia Villalobos headshot Silvia

I just read Silvia’s About page and learned that she moved to the United States from Romania in 1992. English is her second language, but you would never, ever know that. Silvia writes beautifully.

Silvia’s A-Z challenge theme was fictional character traits. For each trait, she gave wonderful, spot-on examples from books and films, and then talked a bit about how a writer could use that trait in their work. Consider the hot-tempered character played by Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or the kind children in the film, Wonder.

Silvia has an inquisitive mind. Her blog is about travel, books, writing, current events, social causes, and life.

Sue Loncaric headshot Sue

The glass Sue has raised in a toast is an apt image, both to thank you for hanging in to the end of this very long post, and as representation of Sue’s belief in positive aging.

Sue’s theme for the A-Z challenge was Thriving in Life. For example, she wrote about resilience and about having a zest for life. Each post included self-care tips and suggestions, as well as information and an inspiring quote or two.

Sue’s blog is exactly what she says in her tagline: “Encouraging women over 50 to be fit, fabulous, healthier, and happier.”


Thank you to the 14 bloggers who made this A-Z challenge such a fun, inspiring, and informative experience.

And again, because none of us would be blogging if it weren’t for you, thank you to our readers. Whether you write comments or not, we are so appreciative and grateful that you are here.

Anything you want to talk about? I promise I’ll always reply!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the tribe:

76 comments

  1. Hi, Karen – Thank you for introducing us to some terrific bloggers from the A to Z Challenge. And thank you for the ‘shout out’ — it is greatly appreciated. As for the fourteen bloggers who didn’t connect back, it is completely their loss. Your posts in this series (as always) were incredibly insightful, thought-provoking and well-written. Many of them successfully nudged me out of my comfort zone and made me THINK. Finally, thank you for modeling such an awesome reflection post. You have set a very high bar!

    1. Hi Donna – You’re very kind and always such a wonderful cheerleader for your fellow bloggers.
      I really appreciate your comment that you were nudged out of your comfort zone. That’s something I’d like to get good at doing, for myself and for others, so it’s gratifying to hear that it’s working even a little bit.

  2. Hi Karen. What an honor it is to be mentioned in this post among such incredible bloggers. This A to Z Challenge was exceptional. I found several blogs that lifted me up each day. Yours was chief among them. What a gift to be able to connect with other women with similar goals as ours. This post so eloquently described what it’s like to face the keyboard each day, hoping to make a connection. It’s disappointing when that doesn’t happen, and so encouraging when it does. I look forward to continuing to read posts from you and these great bloggers.

    1. Hi Heather. Although I’ve said it a number of times in comments to you, it really bears repeating. You belong in ANY list of incredible bloggers. I admire you enormously for your keen mind, great heart and positive spirit.
      It is indeed a wonderful gift to be able to connect with women like you and the others on my list. I’m so glad we’re on our profound journeys together.

  3. Excellent exposition of why people blog! I was happily stuck at reason 1 until I discovered reasons 2 and 3 via the A to Z Challenge in 2014. I still having blogging conversations with people I met then and have gone on to meet 3 of them in real life. It’s a great community.

    PS I an so, so happy that your comments form has now learned to recognise me!

    1. Hi Anabel, It really is a great community. I thought I knew that before, but the A-Z challenge took that community feeling to a whole new level for me. After leaving a career where I interacted with dozens of people a day, I love my solitude, but I was also really craving meaningful connection. I’m so grateful to have found it through blogging.
      Yahoo about the comment form! Shiraz is working away behind the scenes as we speak. I appreciate hearing that we have a win! I’ll pass it along.

  4. Hi Karen! I’m the blogger guilty of not replying to comments on her blog during the AtoZ. I reply to every.single.comment I get every other month of the year, but after the first Challenge in 2015, I realized that I couldn’t work part-time, blog full-time, visit twenty+ blogs and leave meaningful comments, reply to the 20+ comments left on my posts each day AND have any time to eat, sleep or have a life. I decided to let the replying go for April and interact by commenting on those who were nice enough to visit me. It kept me sane and it made for some great interactions elsewhere. Thanks so much for persevering with me (despite my lack of replies) and I’m glad we’re friends – I promise to visit and bring flowers and return your love. I’m also off to check out a few of the bloggers you met and I didn’t!

    Leanne | http://www.crestingthehill.com.au

    1. Hi Leanne, I worried about including the piece about replying to comments precisely because I didn’t want you to feel bad or that you had to justify your choice. It initially hadn’t made sense to me that you weren’t replying – you’re such an open and engaging woman – but then, somewhere along the way, I read a comment you’d made to another blogger’s post where you said that not commenting this month was your sanity-saver.
      I had to include that piece because, on an ongoing basis, it is a big part of blogging for me, as I know it is for you. But please – focus on the part where I said “So what. What matters is that …we connected as consistently and completely as we could.”
      I am very glad to have met you, Leanne, and knew that from the beginning 🙂

      1. I knew what you were meaning about the no comment part Karen – the comments section of my blog is my favourite part (and it kills me a bit to only read and not respond during the AtoZ!) It’s lovely to be back to replying and interacting again. Thanks once more for including me in your list – when I went through it I realized there were over half that I’d been visiting too!
        And thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL – I’ve shared this on my SM xx

        1. Thanks, Leanne. I’m relieved that I didn’t offend you. And yes, I’d noticed that when looking at the comments on many of the 14 women’s blogs. Your comment was often there, especially with Sandra’s blog.

  5. Hi karen , well thank you very much for including me and for the introduction to quite a few women that I haven’t met yet – I dont know why- I swear I visited blogs until I went cross eyed. I have all the time in the world to visit now..
    I have one small correction and that is- I live in a forest in southeastern nsw , australia. new zealand is the land of my birth so hence the confusion perhaps.
    it is thanks to you karen and leanne and heather who came along and visited with me that I feel like I have been gathered up into a tribe of strong creative and exploring women which is a balm to my soul. I am feeling quite rich with the experience …

    1. Hi Sandra,
      I’m sorry about the error. I’ve gone in and fixed it, and it’s long before most people will have read the post. I was a bit uncertain about your location, working on it too late at night to check with you, so I leaped – in the wrong direction. Sorry about that.
      You absolutely have been gathered up into the tribe and we could not be happier that you are here, sharing your unique perspective and poet’s soul.

  6. Karen, thanks so much for the mention here, and for the list of wonderful bloggers to check out. I have so enjoyed getting to know you through your writing and our chats! It is a relief to have the April challenge done, though it was a challenge that I enjoyed. I’m busy getting back to my routines after two weeks away, and more exhausted than I thought, but I’ve been slowly catching up on everything that I missed. Thank you again!

    1. Hi Cindy. I’m sure it will take you a bit of time to get back into your routines. I’m not the least bit surprised that you are feeling exhausted. Please be good to yourself, take your time. Remember, that’s an advantage of being retired. You don’t need to push at yourself. You will return to your natural flow of life soon enough.

  7. I think most of us have the same pet peeve – bloggers who aren’t interested in a conversation.

    Although I don’t always get it right, the effort counts. Showing up and engaging counts. There are some bloggers I’m in awe of because of their ability to cast a thoughtful and meaningful comment every. single. time. It’s obvious they’ve read the post and not just tossed out a banality that implies they did.

    Thanks for introducing your new tribe members. Most are bloggers I know or recognize, and it’s a wonderful side effect of the A to Z to connect with other like-minded people.

    1. I so agree, Joanne. None of us always get it right, and it’s a good thing that we don’t. If we were perfect people, all of our friends would be intimidated and they’d leave us! It’s the effort that counts. Doing the best we can at any given moment… when we’re not too tired or too heartsick to do the best we can. And when that happens, being kind to ourselves and moving forward when we are able.
      Thanks for being such a wonderful blogging friend.

  8. Thank you Karen, for the shout-out!
    I’m so glad you did the A-Z and did such a bang-up job of it, too. (Not that I had any doubt, considering the quality of your website.)
    I have a confession to make though – I did not visit any blogs on the A-Z list this time. Partly because of experiences in years past such as you have mentioned above, and partly because my April was work hell in terms of hours and additional responsibilities. I think my full participation in the A-Z will have to come once I am retired.
    However I did connect with some great bloggers during the month (many from your site, who may or may not have been A-Zing…I can’t remember – it’s been that kind of a month, let me tell ya!)
    And I look forward to connecting with more of your tribe members.
    Congratulations again, on such a great month of posts!!!!

    Deb

    1. Hi Deb. Before anything else, please see my response to Joanne above. All those words apply to you too.
      I don’t think I’d even attempt the A-Z challenge while working full time. Kudos to you for doing so. Now that it’s over and the weather is improving, you get to enjoy all of those summertime activities you wrote about during the challenge. I’m feeling as if the weight of the world is slowly melting from my shoulders and I’m not even working. I can’t imagine what it has been like for you.

      1. Thanks Karen! Ditto your response to Joanne and I, back at you!!
        It feels…weird…like I’m forgetting to do something.
        Gives me an appreciation of how much free time I actually do have, now that I have some back again.
        Yes, looking forward to enjoying summer since it appears to be here already and spring has been bypassed yet again!
        Hard to believe 2 weeks ago was the “historic ice storm” and here we are at 27°C with humidity and thunderstorms. Living in Canada is not for the faint of heart!

  9. Hi Karen! Thank you so much for including me in your 14! Your blog was one of the highlights of A to Z for me. I gleaned so much wisdom not only from your posts but also from the comments, many of which came from women on this list. Your warm, no-nonsense personality really shines through, and your website is visually appealing. I appreciated your support throughout the challenge, and I’m looking forward to a long association!

    1. Thanks so much, Jenny. As I typed that sentence, I grinned, reflecting that I’ve typed exactly those words to you a whole bunch of times in April. I’ve thanked you for your witty and wise posts, for introducing me to stories I’d never heard and characters I hadn’t known. And for the thoughtful and supportive comments you’ve left here on Profound Journey.
      You are doing so well, Jenny, and you are just at the beginning of your blogging journey. I’m going to enjoy watching where you go from here, and cheering every step of the way.

  10. Good grief–reading your summary of blogging was like talking to myself. Yep yep yep, exactly what I want. I noticed this early about you and so enjoyed visiting your posts and chatting. I had similar reactions to AtoZ participants but much less organized so I’m going to check out the 14 (I’m honored to be included, Karen) you listed. My list was probably closer to 5 so you did a much better job of winnowing out perfection.

    1. And I found perfection, Jacqui, if perfection is defined as finding interesting, wide awake women who are keen to uncover what matters to them at this stage of life, and who have the guts to do so in the company of others.
      I too have been feeling a lot of “kindred spirit” happening when reading and responding to your posts. As soon as I catch my breath and have some time, I’m going to dive into your archives and learn more about you. I suspect that there’s lots and lots for us to chat about.

  11. I think you did a fantastic job with the A-Z Karen – something for everyone certainly, and while I didn’t have a comment for all the blogs, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and the comments too. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Anna! You’re not a blogger, yet you frequently leave comments on this site. I’ve noticed and I am hugely appreciative that you take the time to share your thoughts and experiences.

  12. Hi, a very interesting AtoZ summation and so “you”! Recognizing, validating, and growing your tribe. No, I am not doing the comparative monster…OK, not much. How you expected to follow 28 is beyond me….I followed 5 completely and had hard time commenting everyday. I didn’t cause sometimes I just had nothing interesting to add to the conversation or I was not inspired to say anything- the topic just didn’t connect. I stopped into a few folks occasionally if they had commented on others and they had interesting post name linked. So, I found a few new folks along the way & grew my own circle. I can say it was an interesting month…but I am not inspired to be an active contributor in this kind of challenge.

    1. You know, Pat, I was just thinking about whether I’d be in a rush to do this again. I am so glad I did this one. It did let me meet some wonderful women. It did grow my tribe. I did learn lots, not only from other bloggers but from writing my own series of posts. I’m glad those posts are on my site, and I have lots of ideas, based on the posts and the comments I received, about where I want to go from here.
      But unless I come up with a theme that I feel absolutely compelled to talk about for 26 days, I won’t be signing up for A-Z next year. I’d rather deepen my connection to my current online friends than run about scouting new ones.
      And I get it when you say that sometimes a topic just doesn’t connect. I’m going to comment as often as I possibly can going forward, but there will be days when I’m just too busy, or my brain is scrambled and I’m feeling illiterate or, indeed, I just have nothing to say. It needs to be okay to skip the occasional post. And when there is a strongly established connection, it is okay. In that way, the A-Z challenge is really quite an artificial environment. It absolutely wasn’t okay with me that those other 14 bloggers behaved as they did because we didn’t know each other at all, and they were telling me that they were in the challenge only to take, not to give. I’m glad to be back to ‘normal’ times.

      1. I’m seeing your brain work in the next post already! Friendship was an element even here (in the A to Z). I’m hoping I won’t need to search back to find your response to my comment [which required me to remember I commented, find the post and look for me in your many (not jealous) commenters.] Go Shiraz!!

        Anyway, as you know, I also only comment when something connects. It’s the same on MLSTL (which I see you’re now part of as well… I’ve found a few new folks I now follow there). I’ve read some folks and just have nothing to say/add.

        I try and catch up on your back posts if I’ve missed one…because 95% of the time you do write something that connects with me! If we were to be closer by (IRL), we’d have mammoth conversations!

        1. Oh we so would have those mammoth conversations, Pat. I’ll doublecheck but I think I have a really cheap long distance plan that includes the U.S. If so, mammoth conversations may still be a possibility.

          So, Shiraz has now fixed part of the commenting problem and you should be remembered and your image there every single time. What he’s struggling with now is to find a plugin that will allow me to send you an email linking you to my response to your comment, rather than all comments that come in on a post. I think you’ve got that for your site, haven’t you? If so, can you tell me what plugin you use?

          Thanks, Pat.

  13. Hi Karen, thank you for including me in the list of bloggers you didn’t dump and also your kind words about my blog and AtoZ theme. The challenge does not stop at your daily post when you hit the publish button, There is still the linking up to the AtoZ database, commenting on those you are following and then replying to those who have left comments on your blog. Like you at the start I had a number of new bloggers commenting but the numbers dwindled after the first week and I was left with a core group regularly commenting. I agree that if someone leaves a comment I like to reply as I expect in return. I thoroughly enjoyed your theme and getting to know you. I know we will stay connected and enjoy reading more of your thoughts. Time to take a breath though after a busy blogging April.

    1. It’s definitely time to take a bit of a break, Sue, although I’m not sure you’re getting your own message! Wow, you post a lot. And I just read your end of April wrap up post and see that you are a super busy woman. How do you do it all?

      1. Hi Karen, it is lovely to see you at Midlife Share the Love Party and also thanks for introducing me to some new bloggers. I need to set aside some time to connect and read their blogs! I know I’m pretty busy but that suits my personality. In saying that, I do love to have a lay down and read a good book in the afternoons. I’m just trying to live life the best way I can. Thanks so much for linking up and see you at next week’s #MLSTL. Have a beautiful day, my friend xx

        1. I hope I didn’t sound critical, Sue. I’m envious. I used to have mountains of energy but in the last few years have been having trouble fitting in everything I want to do. Maybe I need to take up running?

  14. Karen,

    I am immensely honored to be included in this list of 14 incredible women, and I’m really looking forward to visiting everyone’s sites. Thank you for creating a digital space that is warm and welcoming, and for putting your heart out there. Sitting down to read your comments or your blog posts always gives me a sense of the energy one gleans from connecting over a cup of tea or coffee with a dear friend—one who is caring, well-read, informed, thoughtful. It always makes me smile.

    The variety of bloggers that you share here is a window into what sets your soul on fire, and I love to see the diversity of topics and styles! I’ve bookmarked this post and will revisit it often as I look to read and discover different voices.

    Thank you!!! Hugs. 🙂

    1. What a beautiful message, Alana. When I was writing up my goals for my site, I wanted what you so eloquently expressed. I’m very grateful both that you experience what I hoped for and that you have the talent to put it into words.

  15. What a lovely compilation of bloggers (many that I haven’t “met” yet, so thanks)! To those 14 bloggers who didn’t bother to engage: why bother to blog? At least for many of us, blogging is all about the connections. I can’t imagine not responding to a comment… if someone takes the time to read my post and make a comment, the least I can do is to continue the engagement. The conversations are where the fun begins! I loved your analogy of showing up with flowers and candy every day and getting nothing in return.

    I’m sure you are (maybe more than) somewhat relieved to be at the end of the alphabet but I will again say how much I appreciated reading your very thoughtful, well-written posts each day.

    1. Thank you, Janis. I’m just somewhat relieved to be at the end of the alphabet. I really did enjoy posting on a theme and meeting the challenge of a different letter of the alphabet every day. The conversations were a huge part of that pleasure. Thank you again for being such a dedicated and positive member of the tribe.

  16. Hi Karen
    I hear your voice coming through strongly in this blog entry. As for comments, I do read the blogs that are sent my way, but sometimes I really can’t relate to them or have nothing else to add. I am amazed though that some people can make such meaningful comments. I also appreciated your listing of why people blog. It was great to have it in print.

    1. Hi Fran. I hope you didn’t think I was expecting everyone to comment on every post. I don’t ever expect that of anyone else, and I’m learning to not expect it of myself. Because you’re so right – sometimes there’s nothing to say!

  17. Karen,
    Thanks for including me in your 14 keepers! I jumped into the challenge at the last minute (and did not engage with all the background work of the challenge – I just committed to posting daily) and then April went crazy — and I can say with certainty that I probably would not have stuck to it if you had not engaged with me. I truly enjoyed reading your posts each day — and all the comments from other bloggers. Given my crazy month, I was not able to hunt down and find other blogs but I did look up several from your tribe to follow. I am so happy to have these 14 women to follow. I will make sure to follow them all before this weekend is over. By the way — I don’t have any language about privacy on my blog so if you’d be kind enough to share what you mean, I’d like to add some to mine.
    Truly – thanks for being the one consistent follower to my blog throughout April – I look forward to growing the long-distance friendship.

    1. I’m very glad that you stuck with it, Janet. If you hadn’t, I would have missed out on some special, thought-provoking posts. But you did, and that means that I too am looking forward to growing our long-distance friendship (that’s a nice way to put it.)
      If you go to the very bottom of my post, beside the copyright sign, you’ll see Privacy Policy. Click on that and it will take you to the official language of a privacy policy that I pulled from the internet. There are several versions online that you can choose to use. They all say essentially the same thing – it’s around not selling or sharing email addresses or mailing lists.

      1. Thanks for the info on the Privacy Policy!
        Hope you don’t mind if I also ask if you have received any emails from me about my Thank You and my post yesterday? I am not sure I’m liking the web platform I chose for the blog, these types of blog/email signups are too cumbersome.

        1. I don’t mind you asking at all, Janet. I didn’t get any emails from you yesterday. And I agree with you – if you’re wanting to engage others in conversation, the blog signup and need to log in every time is off-putting. I probably wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t known that I was going to follow you for 26 days.
          If you’d like to talk more about the tech aspects of blog setup, I’m no expert but I do have some info from elsewhere that might be helpful to you. Feel free to get in touch with me by email.

  18. It’s been lovely “meeting” you through the April challenge, Karen. I’ve enjoyed your thought provoking posts and reading the discussions that have followed. The other 14 bloggers have missed something special. I’m glad you enjoyed (not quite the right word for it, is it?) my posts on serial killers. My standard fare is usually not so grim. I hope you continue to enjoy my “regular” posts.

    1. While it’s difficult to match the razor edge intensity of serial killer updates, I’m sure I’ll cope and learn to enjoy your ‘regular’ post, AJ. 🙂

  19. Congratulations, Karen, for not only finishing the A to Z Challenge but finding more blogger friends! I agreed with the reasons you listed under Why Blog? section. Time is precious so I’m glad you’re moving on with the 14 keepers. Have a great weekend!

    1. Time certainly is precious, Natalie. I’m very aware of that lately. April was a month of feeling like there was never enough time for anything. I’m looking forward to that changing soon.

  20. Hi Karen! I think your experience is actually a great metaphor for relationships in general. There will always be those who we resonate with, and others that just aren’t in our same frequency! I also appreciate you narrowing down the reasons that most of us blog. My primary intentions fall into the first two categories. I didn’t set out to make blogger friends but have instead found it to be the wonderful byproduct of blogging. As you know, blogging takes up a lot of time and requires effort so I have learned through the years (I’m going into my eighth year next month) to be very picky about those blogs I follow and share comments. It’s not that there aren’t many others out there writing great stuff, but there is only so much time. I guess you could say I’ve “rightsized” my blogging relationships! Ultimately, having fewer good friends that I really, really connect with is more important to me than dozens of others. Just something we each have to choose. ~Kathy

    1. Hi Kathy. Interesting that you are making this comment at this time. I lay awake early this morning thinking about how I will rightsize my blogging relationships. I’ve certainly enjoyed following the 14 bloggers I mentioned in this post and there are probably another dozen, like you, who didn’t participate in the challenge and who I follow.
      My first step is that I stop following anyone who “isn’t in my frequency,” as in they aren’t interested in reading and commenting on my posts. I do want the community aspect although, like you, that translates to significant connections not simply lots of connections. As an example, there’s a popular blogger in our niche whom I followed for nine months, leaving comments each week. I had replies to my comments, but not a single return visit. We’re done.
      My second step is to advise bloggers who post more than once a week that I will be responding to one of their posts, not all.
      My third step is to set aside some time at the beginning of the day and, if needed, a small bit at the end of the day, to read and write comments. When and if that time expands and becomes unmanageable, I’ll be reassessing.
      Is that process similar to what you have used over your eight years? Any tips for me to help me rightsize?
      Thanks, Kathy

  21. Good morning, Karen. I work on Thursday and Friday, thus I am late to this discussion due to time constraints. I have never understood the appeal of doing the A-Z challenge until now, reading of your experience. I agree with you about the reasons for blogging – my purpose is to help provide a light moment for people with humor, sometimes make them think about something in a new way, and engage in conversation – making new connections. While disappointing for you to have such high hopes going into this endeavor, you’ve polished off your glass that is half full to present 14 outstanding bloggers to your tribe. What a celebration to make new friends and discover such depth of creativity and character!

    1. Hi Molly. There’s no such thing as late to a discussion. That you are here at all is wonderful and much appreciated. How great that you’ve arranged your work for two consecutive days at the end of the week so that you have a run of five days of semi-retirement.
      I love your definition of your purpose for blogging. And may I just say that you have achieved it and continue to achieve it. If I was still in the classroom, I’d be giving you an A++ (even though in one of my assessment books I explain why that is just a ridiculous mark 🙂 )
      Have a great weekend.

  22. What a wonderful tribute to 14 inspiring and strong women, Karen. Such a commitment you upheld during the challenge, whether it was writing, posting, visiting, reading, or socializing. I’m glad you finished rich with new friendships and tribe members. And, I’m glad you dropped the others. I find it disrespectful as a blogger to ignore your readers or followers. When someone leaves a comment, the least you can do is reply to it. A number 1 rule in my book as well. Besides you, Donna is the other A-Z poster I vigorously followed every day. 🙂

    1. It means so much that you did follow every day, Liesbet. It was definitely above and beyond the call for you to do that, especially given the work you’re doing on your book and the very rough month you had in April. Thank you for being such a generous member of the tribe, Liesbet. I’m very touched by your friendship.

  23. Karen, as well as enjoying your A-Z topics, I was pleased to be introduced to some new (to me) bloggers and their perspectives through your site.

    Although I enjoy blogging, it can be a double-edged sword. It is so easy for the time spent on blogging to creep upward until it is dominating big chunks of time everyday. I like writing my blog because I like to write, and I like reading blogs because I like my thinking to be stimulated and to be able to contribute to the conversations that ensue. And I enjoy the sense of community that can develop. But for me, blogging is an interesting sideline, not my daily priority. Just as writing a daily post is a time-consuming challenge, trying to follow and comment on several bloggers who are writing posts daily is time consuming. As much as I enjoyed your A-Z posts and those of some other bloggers, I am glad things are getting back to a less intensive posting schedule.

    Jude

    1. I agree with everything you said, Jude. And I too am so happy to be back to a weekly posting schedule. That’s especially true now that Ontario’s weather decided to cooperate, skip spring, and plunge us straight into summer. There’s so much to do outdoors now. It would be really difficult to spend this month at my computer.

  24. Dear Karen, I am honored.
    You write so well about blogging relationships, about making new friends and sometimes having our hearts broken. You inspired me with each post you wrote this challenge; and I so enjoyed finding your comments on my posts. Friendships are among the most essential and supportive relationships in our lifetimes, part of the formula for happiness, fulfillment. I cherish your friendship and look forward to visiting and learning more with each visit. Now on to visit the other wonderful women you listed here. See you soon.

  25. Right back at you, Silvia. And what a great job you did of anticipating the post I’ll be putting up on Wednesday night. It’s titled, “Can People You’ve Never Met Really Be Your Friends?” Stay tuned 🙂

  26. I am just coming up for air from a long post A-Z week. Thank you so much for including me in this and coming to visit during the challenge. I am always amazed at the people I meet along this journey.

    xoxo
    Beth

  27. Wow. What a list of women and I love how you took the A to Z challenge as a way to actually meet new bloggers, not just a way to get your blog “out there.” I’ve met some familiar friends on your list and found some new blogs to check out…starting with yours! Stopping by from MLSTL.

    1. Thank you, Jennifer. I’ll be back on your site later this week to check out some of your other interviews. It’s a great concept for your blog. By the way, I love your blog name.

  28. Congratulations on completing AtoZ Challene 2018! ….. And congrats to being able to honestly critique your experience in a constructive way. I completed the 2016 AtoZ and felt awesome. Haven’t been able to muster up the stamina and energy to do it again! 🙂
    I want to come back and visit the blogs you paid tribute to here.
    Thanks again and happy to be connected through #MLSTL.
    http://www.meinthemiddlewrites.com

    1. Hi Mary Lou,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m feeling pretty awesome about the 2018 A to Z but suspect that, like you, it will be a while before I do it again 🙂
      I hope you will visit some of the blogs. They are quite terrific. I’m heading off to look at yours now.
      Karen

  29. Thank you for this list of 14 bloggers. Some of them I have not heard of so I will spend some time checking them out to see if I would like to follow. I like you wanted to make friends through my blogging but I also like you have stopped following some bloggers that I guess feel no need to respond to comments. We all have busy lives but if you are going to blog that means responding to comments at least it does to me.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree, Victoria. You’ll always get a response here, as I know that I will on your site. I hope you enjoy some of the bloggers from the list.

  30. What an amazing bunch of bloggers you’ve met. Sometimes I think that blogging has become all about making money and perfect lives these days, so it’s so good to see such a huge variety of personal blogs still out there.

    1. Hi Dorothy. Thank you for visiting Profound Journey. I hope you’ll come back often and that you’ll find it a source of support. I was just briefly on your blog – I’ll go back later to read more – and I can see that you’ve been having a really challenging time. My interest, and the interest of many of the bloggers on the list, is to help women reclaim their vibrant, creative selves. We aren’t a substitute for therapy, but we are a community of women who care.

  31. Karen, I love your idea of selecting “friends” for the month and remaining loyal to those who stuck with you. I definitely want to remember this idea for next time. I responded to all the comments on my A to Z and tried to encourage them to leave a live link which is so much quicker to click on than trying to find their A to Z on their blog. Still, it was a great month. Maybe next year we can meet up! Reflections of my crazy month of April and the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

    1. Hi Shirley, Thanks for visiting Profound Journey. I’m not sure if I’ll do the A-Z challenge next year and even if I do, I don’t want to wait to see what you write about. So I’ll head over to your blog now. If you respond to all comments, you’re my kind of blogger!

  32. Bit late to the party here – April was a zoo and I’m still trying to catch up after doing A to Z on both my personal and author blog. Thank goodness for pre-writing and scheduling! I followed over 70 blogs during the challenge, commenting on most as well as checking out the blogs of their commenters. I see several on this list and I’m checking out a couple more.

    Now I am winnowing the list down, keeping those I want to continue to follow. Plus adding new flash fiction sites as well as sites from “women of age”. LOL! Nice way to put it, don’t you think?

    Oh, and while I commented on all the comments on my blog, I admit to being guilty with the occasional “Thank you for stopping by to read and comment.”

    1. Whew, Donna! Over 70 blogs followed and read during the challenge? I can’t even begin to imagine. Actually, I can and it’s scary. Were you fed through an IV drip because you couldn’t ever leave your computer? You are one dedicated woman! I’m glad you pre-wrote, especially with running two challenges simultaneously. I’ll pop over to see your sites now. Thanks for checking out Profound Journey. I hope to see you again as we both write for “women of age.” (Yes, a very nice way to put it.)

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