Monday, January 05, 2009

Becoming a Blogger

Journaling as a Spiritual Practice


I really don't like being...


But when I'm sick on the Sabbath, there's a secret hurrah that rises up within me. I know I will stay home. All alone. There will be peace. There will be silence. And because I don't blog on Sundays, there will be reading. In between napping and cups of tea.

Two Sabbaths in a row, I've been sick (I'm sure my family suspects a ploy!). Two Sabbaths in a row, I have napped, sipped tea, and read books. And been inspired. Very inspired.

One Sabbath at a time. For today, let's go back to a sleepy afternoon. To Journaling as a Spiritual Practice.

I was supposed to read it slowly and do journaling exercises along the way. Oops, the pages just kept turning until, sigh, there were no more to turn. By nightfall, I was thinking about my first JASP post: this one, dedicated to three new bloggers I recently processed at High Calling Blogs.

Sweet Corn & Cairo. Hope42Day. And The Unknown Contributor.

Because I remember what it was like to be a new blogger. The wide world before me. So much to say and so little ability to say it. Millions of blogs to make my way amongst. Zero comments, zero comments. Then, oh! A surprise comment from some really big blogger who kindly deigned to be the Welcome Wagon of the blogosphere. It was... intimidating.

Just like opening a blank journal for the first time. All that s p a c e.

Helen Cepero offers this to the hesitant journaler. And I offer it to the new bloggers of the world. She says that a journal is a 'place to meet your particular life and befriend it.' She also says, 'Sometimes it is hard for us to claim our own voice with its specific timbre and accent, to walk down the pathway that lies before us, to choose the life that we are given.'

Then she offers a little exercise called 'Reflections on Your Name,' which goes like this...

Write your full name across the top of a blank journal [blog post] page. If you have... a nickname, include that as well. Look carefully at those combinations of letters, those words that somehow identify you. Think about where those names come from and all of the memories, feelings and stories connected to your full name. Begin to write openly and freely... Who named you? Have you ever renamed yourself? How has your name changed as you have gotten older or when you got married? Have your feelings about your name changed over time? How are your parents or grandparents or distant ancestors present in your name? How do you see (or not see) the outlines of your own story in your name?

Becoming a blogger is, in some way, making a name for oneself, as well as bringing one's name to the world just-as-it-is. No small effort, in my opinion.

So, a few things. Maybe today, you who have made your names, shared your names (and continue to share them), might walk on by and leave your own Welcome Wagon gift at the door of these new bloggers. Or maybe you'd like to try Cepero's exercise (let me know if you do and I'll link to you). Or maybe you'd like to leave your own wise thoughts on becoming a blogger, here or on your blog (again, I'll link if you do).

And for our new bloggers, the pathway lies before you. Remember, as Cepero quotes from poet Mary Oliver...

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Hope42Day's Reflections on My Blogger Name
Billy's What's in a Name

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Blogger Billy Coffey said...

I remember first joining High Calling Blogs. And I remember you were the first one to welcome me.

Thank you (again!), and thank you for all the extra work you've done for me.

Feel better.

2:27 PM  
Blogger The Unknown Contributor said...

L. L.
Thank you for the mention and the encouragement. I enjoy your blog so it is enheartening to be in a post of yours. I never thought I would blog (it was a Christmas gift) but I am trying to get used to the idea and embrace writing again.

I see how it can become quite addictive. Already I find myself evaluating my free form everyday random thoughts... wondering, "Oh, is that blog-worthy?" I used to be just a I am a daydreamer with a mission ;-)

3:21 PM  
Anonymous hope42day said...

WOW!!! I am speechless that someone dedicated a post to me and other newbies and also how inspiring it was!!! I TRULY APPRECIATE your post. The quote that really touched me was a journal is a place 'to meet your particular life and befriend it.' That is one reason why I started blogging-to get to know me. The other reasons are to write and write and write...and to connect to others. I plan on writing a blog about why I choose my blogging name and also my birth name-well that makes 2 blogs!!! Thank you again for your support.
Peace and Blessings...

3:53 PM  
Blogger GratefulinGA said...

You generous soul! Thank you for sharing these gems. You could have stopped at the book recommendation, instead you pass it on.
hugs and (a tissue if necessary)
be well,

4:26 PM  
Blogger nAncY said...

the journaling book looks like something i would like to check out.

i think i like my name well enough now.

my blog name...well, um. i guess the only thing that stays the same is the address.

i checked out the new bloggers, and they are surely fine and dandy!

6:57 PM  
Blogger nAncY said...


i also want to tell you what a nice photo that is of the book with the nice tapestry pattern in the background.


7:32 PM  
Blogger Joelle said...

Sick Sabbaths. I love those. I do hope you're feeling better, but I'm glad you could have the time and the tea and the quiet. And thank you for being the first to welcome me to blogging. I still feel graced every time I see your name by a comment. The journal idea is terrific. Will hope for a sick Sabbath to try it....

8:21 PM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

This scratching away in less traveled corners of the blogosphere, it has become that for me: a way to pay attention, a way to pray, a door way into thanks.

Grateful for you, for your hospitable heart welcoming more into the sanctuary of praise.

All's grace,

8:41 PM  
Blogger Linda Worden said...

My husband left today for a 3 day conference. I thought of spending these days with a niece but have such a strong drawnness to having these days alone because I am so fond of time to myself. What joy to read my Christmas mail, ponder the year as it begins, be revitalized inwardly. Thanks for your thoughts.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I started blogging as an assignment for a writing class in July. I remember wondering whether anyone would come and read what I had to say. You did, and it meant a lot. I have since made a point of trying to post comments on new blogs.

I have been blessed immeasurably through High Calling Blogs as well.

Finally, for me, blogging has opened my eyes to see God where I had missed Him before. Not because He wasn't there -- but because I hadn't been paying attention.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Laure said...

you just had to lead us into the arms of mary, didn't you!?! i think more blog posts should end with her voice.

somehow i believe i will forever experience myself as a beginner blogger. i'm no good with a camera and i'm rarely long on words. but how i love the words, l.l. i just love wordpaint.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Thank you so much for the mention AND the encouragement (or the gentle nudging). For all I am indebted. I feel certain that Mary Oliver's words and yours will help me to claim my own voice as I start down this gift path.

7:23 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Billy... why, really? You are always welcome, Billy.

Unknown... encouragement is free (I try to remember that). Oh, do get into writing again (now there's an unusual Christmas gift to jumpstart the process!). What a marvelous thing. And I laughed at your missional daydreaming.

Hope42Day... your enthusiasm humbles me. Truly. I can't wait to see you grow in your writing and find a community that will be truly yours in the blogosphere. Liked your name post too!

Tami... this'll make you smile (or laugh at my daydreams), but I was feeling encouraged by your words this morning when I woke up. Sweet of you to call me a generous soul. Words to grow into.

nAncY... ha! I forgot that your blog name changes just about daily. I think there's probably a post in that too. :)

Joelle... sweet memories and I can't even remember how I first found you. How could it be that I welcomed you first? What luck it was on my part to find the trail to your door.

Ann... I like how you picked up the language of Oliver's poem, about thanks. This year (can I add another dream), I'm dreaming of using my blogs as a place for gratitude a little more often.

Linda... solitude. Nothing like it after the glory and energy of the holidays. :)

Jennifer... really? What kind of class? And you seem like such a natural blogger (I never would have guessed assignment). I love how you welcome others; I've seen it.

Laure... yes, I liked the sound of her voice at the end of the post. I woke this morning reciting her words in my mind. And, hey, I just finished saying at High Calling that there should be a place for poetry in public discourse. So. Mary spoke. :)

Kim... find it (what a marvelous endeavor), claim it, share it... we'll be here. So glad you're here too.

10:09 AM  
Blogger Freedom in the Dance said...

This post has opened up a can of worms that actually could be the gummy kind that are delicious or the slimy ones I put on a hook when my dad would take me fishing...which also explains a lot about the spelling of my name! Being the first girl, perhaps he wanted a boy, and then again, my mom thought spelling my name with an a and a u would make me different...what was she thinking? Now after all these years of constantly correcting others- (hence 'pronounced Dawn'), dealing with constant ridicule (considering my last name was BELL!!!), having a brother actually named Dwayne, and then deciding that it is uniquely ME, I have come to terms with it, maybe. Maybe not, but your post touched a place that I've never really given thought to and so maybe I'll mull over what all this means and after I hear what Daddy wants to say to me though it, I'll write about it;-)
Until then, not sure if I should say, 'thanks' or 'thanks a lot' *hugs*
daune, pronounced Dawn!!!

2:28 PM  
Blogger Freedom in the Dance said...

...and I do hope that you're feeling better...;)

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Jenn Calling Home said...

Enjoy your extended Sabbath but I hope you'll be feeling better soon. About blogging...I have to say that it has unearthed my love for writing, which somehow got buried in the midst of living and/or squelched because of a lack of confidence; I'm not sure which. In either case, I'm just happy to be here and glad to have an outlet for some of life's major changes (midlife, approaching the empty nest, etc.)

9:18 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, in blogging just be yourself. Learn from others, but be yourself before others and God- I would think might be good advice.

But glad to hear of those Sabbaths you had.

11:40 PM  
Blogger God's Not Finished With Us Yet... said...

Well I certainly hope you are feeling better; and you're so right; being sick (though it's not fun) can have it's plights; staying home, being alone, napping, peace...also, if you have someone nearby they can serve you. :D

Yes, you also welcomed me to High Callings, though I just joined VERY recently. It was a blessing to find a comment from you. Thank you!!!

11:57 PM  
Anonymous pam at beyondjustmom said...

Thanks for your encouraging words. I do see this new blogging world as an amazing way to reflect on self, community, and spirit. It's been an incredible catharsis for me, and you've been an inspiration. I'm so glad I found you and High Calling!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Your gift of hospitality is evident in so many of these posts, L.L. Many of us here recall you as being one of the first to stop in and say hello. You give people a sense of being accepted. That's important in community.

To answer your question: I hardly knew what a blog even was about seven months ago. My instructor for a writing class through said we ought to try it. The eight of us in the class all started blogs. The class ended in August. But by the time the class ended, I was already hooked.

Blogging has become a place of release and gratitude in my life. It's so different from the kind of writing I've done for most of my career (news-reporting).

Also, blogging makes me feel brave. :-)

9:45 AM  
Anonymous sam van eman said...

encouraging post, l.l.

and i liked "s p a c e."

11:44 AM  
OpenID writingcanvas said...

I found the journaling book in our library system and have reserved it. Thanks for sharing & I've enjoyed and been encouraged reading through your blog tonight. I found you thru High Calling Blogs. :)

10:12 PM  
Blogger Anna M Blanch said...

L.L - i remember when you welcomed me into the fold - and how much i appreciated that!

My blogging name, or the name of my blog, Goannatree is not something i can adequately explain to others. Goannatree incorporates elements of my heritage, my name, a nickname from childhood, and a photograph. But even as i think about explaining it, I realise i don't want to explain it - it isn't really for others to seems like explaining it would diminish it, cheapen it all somehow! (as silly as that may sound).

I am going to try and track down a copy of the book too..


1:03 PM  

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