Building a Better Blogroll with Blogging 101

Readers and (especially!) commenters help to enrich my blogging experience. I’d write without them, though perhaps in a different voice, but over time I’ve come to derive more enjoyment because of the opportunity to interact with other writers and bloggers. Blogging 101 continues to be a fun exercise in tightening up my blog, dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.

Today’s assignment: share a few links you love.

Below are three links to blogs you should be reading if you’re reading mine. Which you are. In the past you’d be able to see my entire blogroll in my sidebar, but I don’t want to beleaguered the point I’ve changed things up. I’m happy with the new look despite my penchant for reminiscing about my now hidden widgets.

I wanted to highlight a few that don’t usually get linked but that I enjoy and appreciate. Start clicking!

Only Here, Only Now. Thomas Ross provides much-needed affirmation, relaxation, and stress relieving posts here. I hope they have the same calming, introspective effect on you that I get from reading there.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This is one you’ll find me linked to from time to time because of Lance Burson’s feature there: The 100 Word Song. I thought I’d share a portal to his world of fatherhood, music, and leftist snark because it’s (sadly) been a while since I made time to join in the 100 Word fun. 

Thin Spiral Notebook. I like Tara R.’s blog because it’s full of photographs and still contains her writing. I’d like to take a cue from This Spiral and put more of my own images on my blog.

I wanted to throw this last one in there because not only did I used to write for but I remain a huge Blues hockey fan. They have great articles about the team, the NHL, and all things hockey. Give them a follow!

The Missing Sidebar & Making it Count

During the course of Blogging 101 I’ve completely revamped the look of my blog. In doing so, I’ve done away with the Sidebar feature in the spirit of drawing focus on the content of my posts. That makes this a little difficult:

Today’s assignment: add and/or customize two widgets, one text-based and one image-based.

I have a long list of widgets already set on my Sidebar, but my current Theme doesn’t show them. That could change moving forward if I decide on another make-over, but for now I’m sticking with my look. Please enjoy the following post as I completely ignore today’s task 😉

Photo Challenge: NIGHTTIME

I enjoy taking photos of the sky, be it daytime, nighttime, cloudy, sunny, or any combination of those conditions. I tried capturing a shot of the last Super Moon of 2014 recently with my iPhone camera. I’d love to have a DSLR, but until I get a job as a professional photographer I can’t justify the cost! 

Super Moon, Saint Louis, MO Sept. 23, 2014


I’ve been participating in Blogging 101 from WordPress U, and yesterday we were asked to make comments where we hadn’t previously. The new task is to “Be Inspired By the Community:”

Today’s assignment: write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!

I found Live & Learn, where David Kanigan will often share inspirational quote, poems, and some fantastic photography. I enjoyed his post and it prompted me to think about how I feel we’re shaped by the choices we make in our daily lives.

Whether good or bad, past choices make us who we are in the present. You can certainly choose not to think about or dwell on the unpleasant ones, but unless you’ve reflected on them enough to learn not to make those same mistakes again, shutting them out and denying them as an integral component of your current makeup isn’t healthy. Just as we enjoy remembering the positives, we must embrace the negatives as growth opportunities. They’re all part of us.

I made choices over 10 years ago to get married and have a child. My marriage didn’t last, and ended in divorce, but had I not taken that path I might not today have my wonderful daughter. I might also have pursued a direction that wouldn’t have led to the amazing woman I’m with now. Those choices play a role in how I look at the world and challenges presented on my present road.

What kinds of choices do you think about? Does one stand out in your memory? Regret isn’t a productive emotion, but sometimes we can’t help feeling it. The key is to try to focus on how we can use the choices we’ve made to make new ones we feel better about now.

WWW Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Should be Reading’s weekly prompt encourages us to share the books we’re experiencing. It’s become a fun way for me to find new things for my shelf.


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Wolf in White Van Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying Wolf in White Van, by John Darnielle. Survival, fantasy, sometimes dark and uncomfortable. I highly recommend it.

Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings I just finished Fluke, by Christopher Moore. I thought I’d read all his novels but found this one by chance, thank goodness. He’s hysterically funny, and with the kind of edge I like in my laughs.

The City & the City The City & The City, by China Mièville is what I’m planning to dive into once I finish Wolf. It’s been on my list for over a year now, and I think that’s long enough. I can’t remember why I added this, but it was probably suggested by a reader friend. He’s a “fantastic fiction” author from the UK, and I’m pretty sure that’s in the “fantasy” sense of the word.

Happy reading to you!

Blogging 101: Be a Good Neighbor

I love to interact with my readers and with other bloggers through the comment section, so Blogging 101 has tossed up another easy one for me.

Today’s assignment: leave comments on at least four blogs that you’ve never commented on before.

I had one down before I even read this, commenting over at Blue Chicken Ninja about a poll question. Great way to prompt a conversation with readers, using polls.

Live & Learn is a new blog I’ve found since starting this course, and its creator gives us meaty food for thought today.

101 Books shares something from an author you probably know but aren’t immediately aware of.

Searching for the Happiness gives us some advice I know I’ll heed in my continued quest to figure out just exactly what in the world do I want to do for a living!

I plan to continue blogging well beyond the completion of this course, and I will always welcome comments from my readers as well as commenting on their posts too. The interaction often provides inspiration.

Blogging 101: Start Personalizing

This Blogging 101 task is somewhat easier for me because I’ve had this blog for a while now. Most of the personalization is done already, but there’s always room for improvement.

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, background, or both. Already done? Try a custom widget.

I did add a new custom widget, since I’d already had my header completed. I’m not so sure about the “mission statement” part of it though. It feels too vague, but then again I’m not sure who I am these days or what I ultimately want to do. Pretty scary for 41 with a family. That’s a post for another day.

I really like the theme I chose last week, but it doesn’t show the Sidebar where all the widgets, including my new one, are usually visible. I’m wrestling with the idea of finding another new one that will show the bar, but probably not today. What do you think? Do you like the uncluttered look or would you prefer to see the bar right away, with things like Twitter, badges, blogroll, etc?

Blogging 101: Make Your “About” Page Irresistible

Today’s assignment: create and publish your About page, and adapt it for a widget on your home page.

The “what” of my blog has always been a bit hard to pin down, as I’ve not been ready to commit to any one genre or topic. It’s been a potluck- just whatever I decided to bring on any given day, often based on prompts found on other blogs and websites.

Who I am, on the other hand, is fairly simple to present, and I’ve had my About Me page published for as long as I can remember. Thanks to this assignment from Blogging 101 through The Daily Post I’ve made changes to my page that more accurately reflect current conditions. It was sorely out-dated.

Thanks again for reading.

Blogging 101: Love Your Theme!

This is a fun exercise from Blogging 101:

Today’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use.

I’ve been using Piano Black for quite a while and I’ve really liked it. Maybe I was long overdue for a change but regardless, I’ve not taken much time to look and see what’s out there so this was a great nudge in a positive direction for me.

Here’s what I chose to look at today:

“1. Pick something that speaks to you.”

The simple but bold look of Flounder stood out to me. I also was instantly drawn to take a look at Eighties (though yes, it was near the top of the list and so easy to choose quickly.) Another was Bushwick, for the (radically different, for me) layout with the large cover image.

“2. Consider your content.”

I don’t rely heavily on images but I do like to include some kind of media in my posts whenever possible. The content of my posts is what matter most to me, so I ended up going with a theme I felt brings that to the forefront.

“3. Think about your priorities.”

I’m a huge fan of customization, so that played an important role in my choice. I like the freedom to add and change things around if I want to, even if I don’t do it. In the past it seemed very important to me to have all the things in the sidebar but I’ve decided it would be better for people to focus on the posts themselves.

Ultimately, I chose to change my Theme, feeling it was indeed time for a different look. The black background of Piano was elegant, but also dark, and I’m definitely feeling like my life is brighter these days, and moving in a happier, lighter direction. Current hardships feel more like temporary challenges than simply a way of life. I hope you’ll keep reading and enjoy the update as much as I do.

Blogging 101: Dream Reader

I’ve got a little catching up to do, missed yesterday’s post so this will be 1 of 2 for Friday.

Yesterday Blogging 101 asked us to:

publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it.

Maybe this post will serve two purposes. I can publish this post for my “dream reader” by asking for some feedback. I probably have multiple types of readers and various industry specific people I’d love to have reading my blog such as publishers, magazine editors, and anyone directly involved with the St. Louis Blues.

At a very basic level though, I’m interested in interaction with my readers, so with this post asking a question I hope I’ll find that. Leave answers and feedback in the Comment section below and I’ll be a better blogger for it. Thanks!

Now, I’ve included many different elements in my blog posts over the last few years. Videos, images, embedded music, quotes, and even Tweets. I don’t Pinterest so I can’t put any Pins in a post, and I’m not sure what else I could include.

What’s something new I could include in my posts?

Blogging 101: Saying “Hi!”

The 3rd assignment in the Blogging 101 class is to make some new friends:

Today’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs.

Community has become a big part of why I blog- to meet other like-minded writers and share stories, tips, and generally find folks who want to discuss the matters of the day. You can see my blog roll to the right of my page, and to stay true to the course I’ve added 5 more today. I’ve also written briefly on a daily prompt below, from The Daily Post:

Happy Radars

I’m usually a pretty good judge of the temperature of a room. If you’re reading this and know me and disagree, please say so in the comments! Do we (collectively) tend to put on a “good face” when we’re unhappy or feeling low? Yes. I can almost always tell when that smile is hiding sadness or anger.
Maybe because a large part of my job involves listening to people talk, listening for clues and cues as to their wants and needs, but I can usually hear the underlying sentiment even when it’s being sugar-coated outwardly. Can I read minds? Of course not, but I’m a very empathetic person.
Unfortunately, I seem to be able to communicate far more eloquently through the written (typed!) word than in face-to-face conversation, but that’s probably a topic for another chat. Or maybe for a therapist 😉