“You Need to Remember What Is Really Important”: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

I remember rushing up Bascom Hill, a hefty climb, to the Social Science building at UW- Madison. I didn’t want to be late for class. I was the teaching assistant and official note taker for the undergraduate diversity class of 465 students. It was a lovely fall morning and I was feeling a sense of excitement. I had just received news that the grant I wrote with one of my professors had been funded by the National Institute of Health, the top in the pool of applicants. It meant I would be on a fast track to finish my doctorate with a career in academia guaranteed.

uwm

Photo Credit: Bascom Hill, University of Wisconsin – Madison

As I crested the top of the hill, I neared the site of one of the last battles of the Black Hawk War. Just shy of the plaque commemorating the war, a tribal elder appeared dressed in an unlikely outfit – blue jeans and a plaid flannel shirt. He looked at me with severity and simply said, “You need to remember what is really important.” I didn’t have time to reflect on the message then, but in the decades since it is something I contemplate often, although this isn’t a story I share with others for obvious reasons. The challenge of walking in two worlds, one based on rationality and empirical evidence and the other based on a deeper spiritual awareness are not easily reconciled. It turns out that I didn’t finish my degree based on elder caregiver issues. It would take more than a decade and many experiences later to finally complete a study on Indian child welfare, but that’s another story.

black hawk marker_big

Photo Credit: Dennis McCann, Journal Sentinel 

Today, I was reminded of this unlikely encounter by the last two blogging 101 assignments: “Content Loves Design”, and “Plug in to Social Networks.” Again I am reminded to think more deeply about why I began blogging in the first place and why I have continued. Honestly, I do hope people read my posts and find something of value. And I am grateful for the virtual friendships and community that allow me to see the world from so many different perspectives. Yet I am challenged daily to remember what is really important. It isn’t fame, and it isn’t being acknowledged by awards or having thousands of followers. For me, blogging is about connecting on deeper levels with people who share a commitment to exploring how we can each make the world a better place in our own ways.

Facebook is a necessary superficial medium to maintain some connection with family and acquaintances, but it has proven to be a profoundly disappointing venue for engaging in substantive dialogue. LinkedIn, focused on connecting on a professional level is likewise not a platform for sharing deeper dialogue. So what would be my purpose for using either of those venues for engaging potential readers?

Looking back at my encounter with the tribal elder who miraculously appeared, I realize that what I have needed to learn at various points in my life has appeared at the time I was able to learn from the message – Sartre’s existentialism, Camus’ absurdism, Kuhn’s scientific revolutions, Bronfrenbrenner’s ecosystems theory, or Freire’s liberatory praxis. The stories I tell are no comparison, but I think they do have meaning for those who find them when the time is right.

I am grateful for the prompts that encouraged me to think more deeply about life on the margins and what really matters. For me, it isn’t fancy fonts or fame. In an age of overwhelming choices, I realize once again how grateful I am for the community that finds what I share worthy of attention although what I have to say is simple and unadorned.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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26 Responses to “You Need to Remember What Is Really Important”: Blogging 101

  1. mandy says:

    Carol, there were two things here that really stood out for me: “You need to remember what is really important…” and “what I have needed to learn at various points in my life has appeared at the time I was able to learn from the message.”
    I am only coming to understand this and it removes a lot of weight from my shoulders. I’ve beat myself up wondering why I didn’t “get it” sooner, to prevent all this waste of time. And you state the answer in this post: I wasn’t ready to learn. And maybe if I got it on the first try all the time, I wouldn’t be doing what I do now. Maybe it takes a reasonable amount of struggle to make a difference.
    I agree about all the mediums out there–blogging seems to be the best way to interact in a productive way. I wish I could engage with you and others who are ions ahead of me in education, and experience, but I’m grateful you are here sharing your vast knowledge and so welcoming. ♥

    Liked by 2 people

    • carolahand says:

      Mandy, these are such important insights about what really matters – not something formal education teaches. I am grateful for the experiences in academia, most importantly because I saw behind the curtain of Oz. My experiences taught me that wisdom and compassion don’t come from books or those who profess to know all the answers – they come from living, listening, and learning from everyday conversations and actions. My real teachers are people like you who continually polish their hearts and souls despite adversity.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I hear and align with you, Carol. For me, blogging is an opportunity to be a messenger; to share some perspectives that are important to me and that I hope (and in some cases, know) will resonate with readers. That’s it. It’s not about numbers or followers. It’s about making meaningful connections and nurturing (even the virtual) relationships that grow out of mutual interests and exchanges. And the WordPress community is the only social media platform within which I actively engage because the people here are of greater depth than those who use other social media tools. Just my opinion. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jeff Nguyen says:

    I agree with you that many of the social media platforms were really not designed for in-depth discourses. In fact, most of them were created to provide an access point for privacy intrusions by corporations and the intelligence services. I think you’ve chosen a good path by pursuing connections with your readers rather than sheer numbers of followers. Hope your week is going well, Carol.

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      Thank you for your comments, Jeff. I appreciate your perspective on social media and blogging a great deal.

      Finally, I have been able to work outside during a rare day without rain – and if the weather forecast is accurate, maybe even three more will follow this week, so I’m happy.

      I send my best wishes to you and your family, Jeff. 🙂

      Like

  4. I attended medical school in Madison and frequently dream about being back there.

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      I didn’t realize that’s where you went to school, Stuart. It is a beautiful campus with some many fascinating opportunities to participate in scholarship, culture, and political advocacy, although my guess is that Walker’s reign as Governor has had a devastating effect there.

      Like

  5. lorriebowden says:

    I love the freshness of this post…the true understanding of what you want to accomplish! I, too, love the connections here on WP…I have met some really amazing people who have become real friends to me! Thank you for expressing your thoughts so beautifully…and for writing from your heart…it shows! ❤

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Lorrie. It means a great deal to me.

      I just reread your post about having faith that answers would come when we need them. Today, I was wondering whether it made sense for me to spend so much time and energy on gardening, but nonetheless decided to work trimming dead branches for my huge lilac bushes. It means closing my eyes as I saw the branches above my head with my Japanese handsaw. As I was working, a lovely elder came to the fence to say “I’m so glad your out here today. I have wanted to tell you that every day when I walk past your yard, the beauty touches my heart. Thank you.” She told me that others who live in the apartment building across the street feel the same way. My answer came. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • lorriebowden says:

        I love this Carol!! How beautiful. Yes…your hard work in your garden must give innumerable people joy and happiness! I am not a gardener but I SO SO SO enjoy when I see one…so I would be so grateful to see yours!! I am happy you got to see the joy you create in the world!! Thank you for brightening my day 🙂 ❤

        Like

  6. Shery Alexander Heinis says:

    Hi Carol – Thank you for reminding us about what truly matters. These words of your ring true to me “For me, blogging is about connecting on deeper levels with people who share a commitment to exploring how we can each make the world a better place in our own ways.” I actually wrote something similar down about whey I created my blog, and why I write (poetry). It’s really about connecting, sharing and contributing. Thanks again..

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Shery. Your comment helped me realize that I missed so many chapters of “Under the Golden Apple Tree – Book 1.” My reply was delayed so I could read what I missed 🙂

      I appreciate hearing your perspective on why you write. Your poetry and storytelling are gifts that touch people’s hearts and explore important issues with greater depth.

      Like

  7. Well, fortunately I found this blog in my spam folder. I made a mistake and my blogs were being spammed. Glad I found this pleasant exchange. And it is interesting that you have a community here, Shery, Jeff, stuartbramhall, and usually Nicci. We exchange comments on yours and Jeffs – good meeting places of like minded folk. And again such synchronicity in your writings and my recent thoughts. Same issues too – what’s really important and how do I reach out. Thanks again for a thoughtful essay.

    Like

  8. Silvia TIC says:

    Hi Carol,
    We do get many messages through our lives, but miss most of them. We remember the ones that made a difference and changed us not because we were ready to learn, but because they made a difference and changed us…as a teacher, career coach and community worker, I know that you may try something with a student, client or neighbour and that “something” just doesn’t get through…sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months, sometimes for years…and then suddenly, this person comes back to you and says “thank you! Now I got it!”…or they may never come back and never “get it”.
    It is interesting how our brains work…it is like something is working on the back while we are engaged with business as usual. Then when this “thing” comes to the front and we become fully conscious, we tend to think it was always there (and it was)…
    I personally use social media a lot: I use Facebook to communicate with family and friends who are too far physically but close spiritually. I also use it to connect with people and groups and stay in touch in between projects and meetings…it helps everybody to know what we are doing, see how children or progress are progressing, etc.
    Thanks to Twitter and Facebook (and some groups at LinkedIn) people have learned about things happening in other places of the world, with pictures and videos in real time and faster and bolder than reading it from newspapers…they are being used to organize campaigns, courses, marchs…
    I do agree with you that design and followers have no weight if you have nothing to say, don’t say it well or people don’t care about what’s said. Many a time I have wondered why some bloggers have so many followers and comments and others don’t…obviously all of us who blog do so because we want to communicate and engage in a conversation. That others out there want to engage as well, that’s another story…
    I do read your blog and love just as it is…

    Like

    • carolahand says:

      Thank you for sharing your ever-thoughtful insights and comments, Sylvia. I value the experiences you describe about teaching – I agree that our job is to share what we can and allow others the freedom to come to their own conclusions…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “The challenge of walking in two worlds, one based on rationality and empirical evidence and the other based on a deeper spiritual awareness are not easily reconciled.”
    Carol, there is a world contained in your words. Thanks for this.

    Like

  10. susanissima says:

    Beautifully expressed, Carol. Blogging at it’s best is a floating, visionary salon, a place to develop and synthesize ancient with new ways of being in the world. A creative portal, if you will.

    Like

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