“The unexamined life is not worth living” – Socrates
Today is officially the one year anniversary of my blog – The Ignition Condition. This year has flown by, and I remember starting this blog like it was yesterday. I had been thinking about starting a blog for a few years, but never got around to it – life was always too busy, and it never felt like my top priority. However, I wanted to integrate more writing into my life. I have always wanted to push the envelope on ideas and perspectives, and question what seems commonplace. As an avid reader, I know that ideas and writing holds great promise for change and transformation. And I have always wanted to be a small part of that change. The top highlight of my career so far was writing and publishing the article “Questioning Volunteer Management”, which 7 years later, still resonates out in the world, and I still receive feedback and response from readers. The ripple effect of writing this article has surprised and delighted me, and has solidified my commitment to write.
But it was attending Marilyn Herie’s Centennial Learns workshop on “Blogging for Reflective Practice” that set the fire under me, to stop with the excuses and just do it. Thanks Marilyn! And so I started blogging quietly, at first not telling anyone about my blog and just making sure that I really wanted to take on this commitment, and that I could keep up the discipline of writing on a weekly (ish) basis. As I became more comfortable with it, I figured out how to post through Facebook and Twitter, and some people are reading my blog! It is very exciting to know that people are reading and reflecting on my writing, especially when I have had comments from people I don’t know. Its like when I was a child blowing milkweed out in nature, and the fluffs would fly everywhere, being carried by the wind. I write and when I put it out on the internet, the words and the message is carried to wherever it is meant to be.
As I thought about this post, I realized that blogging has truly been an act of ongoing reflective practice. People have asked me how I come up with ideas of what to write, and my answer is that I am always thinking about it. This blog is now in the back of my mind every day, and in my day-to-day interactions, I reflect on themes that I could write about. This has become my ongoing reflective practice, both in my mind as I go about my day-to-day life, and then when I sit down to write. I actually have an ever growing list of topics that I want to write about, and the list gets longer and longer! And the writing process itself is funny. When I write a post, I just need to write until it is finished. And I never know how long that will take. Sometimes the words flow out so quickly I can’t write fast enough, and I write the post in 30 minutes or less. It feels easy. And sometimes I struggle with every word and have stayed up far too late grappling with putting my ideas into words, determined to finish and publish before I hit the sheets. And it feels really hard (and I question myself – is this worth my lack of sleep? The answer is yes – it sure is).
In reviewing what I’ve written this past year, I also can see that my interests have changed. A year ago, I mostly wrote on the topic of volunteer development/engagement, and now, my topics are more in the area of community development/engagement and civic engagement / political participation. I am also writing about teaching/learning and anti-oppression/power dynamics. While I had an idea of what area I would focus on when I started the blog, I also have allowed myself to be free in following my interest and exploring different themes and topics. I see my blog as not just my published writing, but also as my ‘sketchpad’ to think freely about different areas that I am interested in. While my posts may not be as focused on ‘community and volunteer development’ as I originally imagined, I think there are clear themes that thread through the posts.
So what are my goals for my blog this second year?:
-Keep writing! I used to try to write once a week, and I’m not sure if I can keep up with this, but one every two weeks will be my minimum goal.
-Do a better job responding to my readers who comment! I must admit – I have done a terrible job of responding to reader comments, so if you are reading this, I am sorry. I do feel so appreciative of the interest and comments, so I need to express this better.
-Track/tag my themes in my posts – I haven’t yet really used the tagging function, but I want to do this, so I can group my posts in themes and see what areas I want to ‘dive deeper’ into.
And as a little ‘teaser’, here are some of my upcoming blog posts that I’m thinking of writing:
-Teaching the Power Flower – What Message are we really delivering?
-Millennial Civic Engagement – Stats that bust the ‘apolitical’ stereotype
-Social Exclusion Continues to be Standard Practice in Volunteer Management – Where is the Dialogue?