Looking back at the year of being sixty two

Well the latest birthday has come and gone and I find that, despite how strong the urge was to write about the experience of growing older a year ago, I have actually written less in this last year than ever before!  It is now a whole three months since I blogged at all and I have even been considering giving up altogether but this morning I was delighted to see a new blog after a break from penny at homemadeheart and it gave me the kick I needed to have a real think about this.  So I thought I would use the blog to have a look at this last year, to think about why I have written and not written and to help me decide whether I want to keep on writing.

So why, after years of writing something practically every week,  has my blog slipped away, especially when I really wanted to explore what it is like to grow older as a woman of my generation, with a life very different from that of our mothers and grandmothers?

So many reasons, silly and serious!

Instagram.

I like Instagram but it is seductively quick and easy and satisfies the itch to connect with others which is also part of blogging.  It is so seductive that I have just found myself sitting here at my laptop supposedly writing, looking out of the window at the misty autumn calm of the valley and thinking "Oh I could just Instagram that"!  The Instagram community is friendly.  Putting up your own images takes no time at all but looking at other people's images soaks up time in a most insidious way.  I am much more a word person than an image person and I have enjoyed exploring images and thinking more pictorially but writing a blog is an entirely different experience.   There is however no logical reason why one shouldn't write and use Instagram other than the fact that there are only so many hours in the day which takes me on to the next reason:

Reading

In this last couple of years I have read two or three books a week at least, devouring books as I have not done since I was a child and a teenager.  Reading has been my escape from the loss of my parents and all the simple pain of my mother's sudden death and the complicated sadness of my father's descent into Motor Neurone Disease.   I know that I am now using time to read that I used to use in writing and in reading and responding to blogs.  It has been brilliant to go back to voracious reading but when I look back at my Kindle I see that I have done a lot of "comfort reading", returning to classics, to the books of my childhood, to familiar well loved authors like Miss Read and then going on to read a lot of genre fiction like detective novels which wouldn't normally appeal to me in such quantity.  That is not all I have read of course.  There is plenty of nature writing there and history and biography but I see with a slight jolt of surprise that I have been using reading to calm and soothe me.  Writing is harder and writing which explores the self harder still.  Thank you anyway to books for your comforting companionship in hard times: to Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, to Green Knowe and the swirl of Roman history in Rosemary Sutcliffe, to Ann Cleeves for the Vera Stanhope detective series and to Elly Griffiths for Dr Ruth Galloway and Frances Brody for the Kate Shackleton series.  Falling on a series of books and reading them one after another, barely coming up for air, is something I have not done since I was a child.  I will always be a reader and cannot imagine life without it but maybe I can do a bit less of that obsessive, compulsive losing myself in it reading that has been a feature of the last year or two.   Maybe?  I am not sure.  I am truly grateful for the companionship of books but perhaps it has been a bit out of kilter.  They do take time, as does the other great time soaker of this last year:

Spanish

I decided a year or so ago that I wanted to learn some Spanish because we would really like to travel in our campervan to out of the way places in Spain.  I thought I would do an Open University course and I have just started on the second year of it.  It is interesting and I love learning languages but my goodness it takes up time.  I am hugely aware that I am only holding on by my fingernails because I am only just doing enough work to get by and I am aware again and again of thinking that I might blog when I have done my Spanish and finding, whoops, again, that when I stagger away from the Spanish course on the laptop having only understood half of it the only thing I have energy for is sitting by the woodburner with a glass of wine and Grand Designs on the television.  I might have bitten off more than I can chew here but I can't give up just yet because Spanish is part of travel and travel is part of the biggest thing that gets in the way:

Life

This year we have travelled as we have not been able to do for five or six years.  And oddly I have not processed that travelling by writing about it, I have just lived it.  And we have another new grandchild and two more on the way so life is very full of family and friends and that is wonderful.  I remember in January 2016 blogging about the need for reflection and adventure and I am intrigued in reading this to realise that I might have been doing more of the adventure than the reflection.  I would have expected it to be the other way round!  Perhaps because for me blogging tends to be part of reflection doing less of it has maybe been part of just getting on with things, travelling and seeing things and unconsciously squeezing out reflection time.   So it looks like I been blogging less because I have been living more and unconsciously soaking up the reflection time of which blogging is a part in reading and watching television and drinking wine!

But writing this has reminded me again of the pleasure I get in writing.  I wonder what to do?  Maybe I will start again and find some way of carving out the time.  What about you?  Do you write blogs or read them or both?  Have you stopped blogging and then started again or simply stopped for whatever reason?  Does blogging just take too long in this instant, instagram world or does it fulfil something that quickfire social media programmes cannot do?  I would love to know how it is for you.

Comments

  1. You should do what gives you joy. If a pasttime becomes a task and takes the time up that you would like to spend elsewhere, then it is time to move on. The good thing about reaching a certain age is that we realize that it is now time for “Me” and so many things that we put off before because of responsibilities, are now there for us to try and experience.

    Congratulations on your new and soon to be grandchildren. If you are lucky and they are near, much of your time will be spent in cuddling those babies. .

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. It is fascinating to have other people's perspectives. You mention exactly what is interesting me about the whole blogging question. Does it give me something which I really value so that I need to find a way of fitting it into my life or has it somehow run its course in the way Alice refers to below? Sometimes I think one thing and sometimes the other! I suspect it will clarify for me as part of thinking about it again here. And yes, the new grndchildren will be another delightful call upon my time!

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  2. Dear Elizabeth
    I for one have missed your blog posts. I have elected not to indulge in Facebook, Instagram etc but admit becoming a 'blog tart' about four years ago and regularly followed about ten blogs (but rarely adding comments). Predominately women in their sixties who write reflectively on life but incorporating interesting items on their local community. Sadly five of these have signed off over the years and I do miss the similarities yet differences expressed globally. Blogging life seems to last about six years and I suppose without the encouragement of comments it may seem slightly lonely on your side. Good luck with the Spanish, the adventures and family life generally. The wisdom of age pushes us onto gentler pursuits and this Australian has appreciated your musings in the past.
    Regards Liz

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    1. Thank you Liz. That is good to hear! I have been blogging for ten years now and would have said it had become such a part of me tht I could hardly imagine life without it and yet being very busy and committing myself to new things has clearly begun to edge it out. I do know just what you mean about the fascination of sharing bits of others' lives in different places. I love that too and I have been lucky enough to meet quite a number of virtual friends in real life and that has been great. I love that feeling of making connections across the world!

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    2. One blog I follow has done a Life Happens. A fresh blog and she is moving to Skye! Still and again very much the sort of blog I enjoy.

      If you write, I will read. The readers and the writers change as Life Happens to us all.

      Just a single change, a weekly hike, has changed the pattern of my life. But those hikes ... become a monthly blog post.

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  3. I've noticed too that the more I live the adventure, the less I write about it. Perhaps in these days when everyone appears to photograph and record every aspect of their life, I need to hug some things to myself and keep them private.

    It seems that a few people are returning to writing blogs; I hope you do too. I'd rather read a good blog post than flick through 'perfect life' Instagram photos. Blogs (or the ones I read) embrace the less than perfect too.

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    1. Ah not just me then Anne! That's interesting. The issue of how much to disclose has been a long running concern when I write because not everything I write about is simply my story to tell. I have tried to respect others' privacy but I think you are right that there is also an element of respecting my own privacy. There are many things to talk about here and some that I would not share on such a public platform. After my parents died I began to feel that if I did not blog about that I would not be telling the truth and I was touched by the responses I received. And I do agree that blogs allow for an exploration and a truth telling, perhaps simply by virtue of their length and the fact that they are not image based, which Instagram and even more strongly Facebook do not. I wonder how much of our scepticism, and even wry amusement, at the "perfect life" images comes from being older?

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  4. I used to think I could write about anything - the blog posts stacked up in my head and it was a struggle to keep up with the cascade of words. Now it is a challenge to find anything I want to write about although I have much more time. It became too painful to have the writer's eye open all the time and once I discovered how to close it I found that it was a more peaceful way to live. I wrote to record the life of our family and so that one day my children could hear my voice if they wanted to - I think I have achieved that and have no wish to continue embellishing what I have done. Perhaps there will be new reasons to write, new platforms to enjoy, but for now I am content.

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    1. "It became too painful to have the writer's eye open all the time" - yes, exactly. I wonder if part of my gentle closing down was actually to do with writing about ageing? After all you can't keep on looking your mortality in the face. You would go nuts. And somehow having set myself the more serious task I felt it was not quite ok to burble on about gardens and knitting and walking and choir and yoga, all the day to day pleasures of life. I'm glad you blogged and wish now that I had commented, not simply read, so I hope that sometime you may find new reasons to write.

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  5. I read a lot of blogs but don't have one of my own. When a blogger I really enjoy decides to stop blogging I am disappointed. It's a reminder that I need to comment more so they know the readers are out there waiting to hear! All the way from Kansas USA

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting. It makes such a difference to know people are reading and liking what they read. Blogging is an interesting combination of writing to connect with people and writing for its own sake. I myself have read lots of blogs regularly which I have loved and have not necessarily commented. Perhaps I should!

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  6. My feelings echo those of Joyce F almost exactly. So now I am doing what she has done by adding my comment here. And I thank you, Elizabeth for your post.

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    1. Thank you. It's great to hear from people who read and I really appreciate your taking the time! It's wonderful to have these connections across the world.

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  7. Blogging is still like breathing for me. It is an unconscious effort. (And I expect that shows! Not much honing going on there.) I was always a diary keeper as a child and now I love to have an illustrated diary. I have not been drawn to Instagram because if I feel like it I can put up one photo and a short caption on the blog. Perhaps I am missing something about that platform? More readers mayhap?
    I have many invisible readers which is briefly puzzling and a little disquieting until I remember that I flit around without leaving my mark too. I am always happy to see familiar names in the comment box and realise I could make more effort to encourage others if they feel they need encouragement to write. I'm always glad to see a post from you.

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    1. I think the thing about Instagram is the speed and almost the purity of a single image. And if, like me, you like the sense of engagement with others Instagram gives you that. So it's a bit like good biscuit and cheese as against cooking something more complex and longer in the making: it's a good thing but a less complicated thing. I too flit around without leaving my mark but the conversations are what makes it wonderful.

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  8. Sometimes our 'selves' just do things. Change, alter perspectives, give up on things. We're very dedicated to thinking of ourselves as wilful beings, making decisions, but I've been astonished to notice changes in me that I never willed or saw happening. I don't mean the wrinkles! Seeing what you've been doing it seems to me to have a kind of wisdom. Xxxx

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