300 Not Out – A Retrospective

Recently I mentioned that I was planning something to mark my 300th post. Well, this is number 300, and the more observant among you will have noticed that it has been more than a month since number 299. The gap is much longer than I had intended, partly due to my natural indolence and a bit of illness, but more the result of the several false starts I made on the planned post. Finally, I’ve accepted reality: it just wasn’t working, so I’ve consigned it to the WordPress equivalent of the round metal file on the floor. I covered some of this ground in my recent-ish post 69 Months Later, but I’ve been looking back over what I have posted over the years, and post number 300 seems as good a time as any for a fuller reflection on what I’ve done, whilst using that as a stepping stone to the future. So…. here goes!

I’ve often restated why I began this blog so, at the risk of boring you, I’ll do a brief recap now to start off this retrospective (you have my permission to skip this bit if you’ve heard it before!). I was diagnosed in late 2011 with depression, and was off work for more than nine months. When I went back I was invited to take a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and, as part of this, I did a number of written exercises which got me thinking more than I had ever done before about me, my life, and what was important to me. After all, I was only 59 so it wasn’t too late to start! At the suggestion of my counsellor, who described my writing as ‘inspiring,’ some of these became the basis for my first few posts. These can be found under  ‘My Story’ in the menu above, and if you haven’t read them before I think they’re worth a few minutes of your time if you want to know where I’m coming from.

The point of doing this wasn’t to wallow in self pity, though: what would have been the value in that? I started blogging because I had realised how important our mental health and well-being is to us, and hoped that by sharing my own experience I could encourage others who might also be having a hard time to see that they weren’t alone. The response was encouraging, so I decided to keep going. Mental health is still, and will always be, important for me and it is a theme to which I return even if I’ve rambled off into the distance for many of my posts.

I think you can learn a lot about blogs from the category descriptions their authors use. I’ve tinkered a bit with my categories over the years, both to tighten up what was in danger of becoming an amorphous mass, and also to (hopefully) make it easier for readers to find their way around. The current menu structure has been largely unchanged for quite a while now: it works for me, and reflects what I’m trying to do. Dip in to some, if you haven’t before. You’ll see that some just take you to the most recent post in that category, while others give you a sub-menu of posts – basically, these are the shorter menus (some were getting ridiculously long!).

Over the past couple of years the number of people following my blog has increased tremendously. Many of you won’t have seen some of my earlier posts before, and I’ve mined my back catalogue a lot to share some of these. I usually add a new commentary, updating what I had previously said, and I hope you have enjoyed some of these. It should go without saying that any post which has been given this treatment is one that I enjoyed writing and revisiting, and sharing them again has the added benefit of sparing me from writing something new! As this is a retrospective, I thought I’d highlight a few favourite posts – both mine and those which appear to have been popular in others’ eyes.

Rather surprisingly, perhaps, when I went through my back catalogue I found quite a few posts that I hadn’t recycled. Some of these, such as those I produced in the two years that I participated in November’s National Blog Posting Month – post every day, watch the quality fall off a cliff – were probably best left alone, and I’ve long since removed the menu link for them. Masochists can always find them via the Archives tab on the right, and looking for the Novembers of 2014 and 2015! One early post which I rather like was Dazed And Confused, from August 2013, in which I had one of my little rants: the target for this was marketing, which is a worthy subject for a moan! Another post from 2013 has a great deal of meaning for me. In those days I often responded to the daily prompt offered by WordPress, back when these were meaningful thoughts, rather than the single word option they went for instead – which was responsible for more pointless doggerel appearing in my email notifications than I could ever have wished for. No surprise to me that these prompts were eventually discontinued. In this post, My Mind’s Eye, I was looking ahead to my imminent retirement and sharing the symbolism of the London Eye for what I wanted to do with my future. My two wonderful daughters took me out for a special day to celebrate my 60th birthday and retirement – I must have mentioned my wish to go on the Eye, as that was part of my day! For some reason it took me a while to write about that day, but I eventually got round to it three years later in A Celebration – another of my favourite posts.

Having begun this blog to post about mental health, I’m rather proud of the fact that my three posts which have achieved the most ‘likes’ from readers are all mental health posts: see the ‘Top Posts & Pages’ links to the right. As I’ve said before, I don’t have a huge readership for this blog, and a typical post is likely to pick up around 20 to 25 likes: these three posts are all comfortably beyond that and the top one, Mental Health Matters, has 140 likes. For some of you that is nothing significant but for me it is astonishing! It was written in response to a report in the paper, about the way that the commissioning bodies for health services here in the UK were diverting funds which were supposedly ringfenced for mental health treatments, using them instead for other services. It seems that I wasn’t alone in finding this outrageous! Those top posts can all be easily reached – just click on the titles – so please feel free to take a look at any that you may not have seen previously. Mental health has been a recurrent theme for me. I used to do a regular series of ‘Dates To Note’ which were usually about health and social care subjects. Mental health featured often in these posts, which have their own menu entry above – as, of course, does mental health itself. If you’re interested, you’ll find my most recent posts – from May this year – under both menu headings. One of the aspects of mental health that has exercised me on several occasions is the way that it is stigmatised. This post from 2013 is an early one of this sort, and I have used that as the basis both for a reblog and a reworked piece. Sadly, this is still an issue now and I fear there may need to be another post of this kind when the time comes this year. As I said, mental health is still an important issue for me, so expect to see more about it in future.

Another important subject for me is music, which has played a central role in my life since I was a child. I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, but I couldn’t live without music. It gets its own special mention in the tagline for the blog, and the blog’s title is that of one of my favourite songs. As well as countless sharings of songs at random times, I also have my occasional series of #SaturdaySongs where, by and large, I share the story of why a song is important to me. The menu gives you easy access to them all, but probably the most important piece for me which relates to a song isn’t in that series: I Hope You Dance, which I wrote to welcome the birth of my first grandchild, has that honour. I’m grateful that so many of you have hit the ‘like’ button for it: that means a great deal to me.

So, after 300 posts in nearly six years, where do I go from here? What does the future hold for my blog? I don’t imagine that I’ll change my blogging habits in any perceptible way: I’m not someone who can produce to a schedule and, since I retired and tried to remove stress from my life as far as possible, I imagine that there will still be erratic gaps or, more rarely, very short periods between posts. I don’t want to be driven by a clock or a calendar, but at least that means you’ll always have that element of surprise when an email notification lands on you! In short, the future for this blog will be more of the same though hopefully not in any boring way! A blogger I respect enormously told me in a comment today that I ‘have a fantastic blog.’ I’m not sure I deserve that, but I’d like to think that I can in some way inform, entertain and amuse you sufficiently to make you come back for more.

Those of you who, like me, use one of the free WordPress packages will, no doubt, have noticed that Facebook have recently made an ‘improvement’ which has meant that we can no longer share posts with our Facebook friends. They did this in the name of reducing fake news: frankly, I think removing this facility from those of us with personal blogs is ridiculous, but who am I to question Farcebook in its infinite wisdom? This has, however, prompted me to do something new. So, as you can see from the picture link to the right, I have…. cue fanfare…. started a Facebook page for this blog. I haven’t done much with it yet, but the intention is to post pictures, YouTube videos and news links which I hope you’ll find interesting and enjoyable, as well as being relevant and complementary to my blog. And, of course, new blog posts will all appear there – Facebook still lets us do that, probably because it gives them the option to bombard us with entreaties to ‘boost’ our posts. For a fee, of course. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be taking up their kind offer! So please, take a look and if you feel in the mood to ‘like’ the page I’d be very grateful. As I said, there isn’t much there yet, but I intend to make it somewhere worth spending a moment or two of your time. I expect I’ll be plugging it here a bit, too!

This has turned out to be a much longer post than I intended, so thank you for reading this far! Thank you also for following my blog – assuming that you do, of course – and for bearing with me for however much of the past six years or so that you’ve been here. Thank you also for all of the likes and comments: it’s good to know that so many of you have enjoyed at least a little of what I’ve been doing, and being a part of the blogging community and sharing those interactions is what really makes it all worthwhile.

See you again soon, I hope 😊

29 thoughts on “300 Not Out – A Retrospective

  1. What I really appreciate about your blog is that it is full of thoughtful, heartfelt posts. That is very refreshing in this day and age. Even though I am still relatively young I am old enough to remember when blogs were personal, not business. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I really appreciate your kind words. I’ve never tried – or wanted – to monetise my blog, so it’s just me that you see. I tend not to follow back the more blatant commercial blogs – I know you do some of that, but you write a lot of non-commercial posts too, which I enjoy. There are plenty of personal blogs still out there too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Diane. But don’t treat it as a goal – just keep doing what you do. I may not comment every week, and you don’t switch on ‘likes’ for your posts, but I read each one. Those descriptors apply to you much more than they do to me!

      Like

  2. Pingback: SENIOR SALON ROUNDUP: AUGUST 27-31, 2018 ~ Esme Salon

  3. Clive, it’s always wonderful to ‘hear’ from you. This is a most interesting retrospective (and yes, much of it I knew but a refresher is never a bad thing) and your tips on navigating your blog (and your words of wisdom about ‘categories’) are extremely useful. It will be wonderful to see the way your blog evolves and certainly I am not surprised at the things that you intend to talk about because they are pretty much what you talk about now. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it 😉. I had no idea FaceBook had stopped the posting of personal blog pieces. Mine post to my ‘Page’ am I allowed to do that or is it considered fake news too? But I am very pleased you have decided to have a FaceBook page – I am sure it will prove really interesting and I shall follow it tout de suite. So whenever you want to pop your head out of your burrow I shall be thrilled to see you and if, like me, you find the muse is absent without leave for a period, then I shan’t criticize. Keep doing what you do and don’t stress. That would never do! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you – and likewise! The navigation tips were intended to be helpful, as I’m sure that some of the blogs I follow have much more to find but it’s hidden! More of the same is about all I’m capable of, so that’s very likely to be what will be on offer!

      You can still post to your page, it’s only the link to personal sites that they have broken. To my mind, pages are more likely to proffer fake news than personal sites, but who am I to criticise Mr Zuckerberg’s thinking? Having said that, I added the new page in my settings but nothing seemed to happen, so I ended up adding it manually anyway. And you can still do that with personal sites – just copy the quick link to the post and put it on your site.

      Thanks for following the page – that will be an audience of 1 so far!

      Thanks for your support, it’s very welcome, as ever xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well done on completing 300 posts Clive!
    Your music knowledge is incredible. I thought I knew plenty but it is minuscule by comparison. You write so well on mental health issues, a topic that is just so important.
    I loved your comment on not blogging to a schedule. I know that doing so is apparently important to lifting readership but hey…
    Thanks for being my blogging friend.
    I look forward to post 301 and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words, Michael, but I think you’re doing yourself a disservice! Mental health is very important to us all, and doesn’t always get the coverage it needs, so I’m happy to do my little bit. Fortunately, I’m not in this for big numbers – I just couldn’t take the pressure of a regular schedule! I’m glad to have you as a blogging friend too, and always look forward to your posts 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fantastic achievement, Clive. Sampling some of your posts here shows just how much ground you have covered over those 300 posts. Some recurring themes, of course, but all the better for that. Here’s to 300 more — at your own pace. Well done

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations Clive. 300 is a real achievement. I hope you feel a sense of pride in your achievement. What I most enjoy in reading your blog is a sense of relaxed companionship, like we’re sitting on the bench in front of the local general store just shooting the breeze. Are we whittling too?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Janet, very kind words. I just try to be me, really. Shooting the breeze sounds good – you can whittle if you like, and I’ll watch, but I think I’d very soon lose a finger or two if I tried it 😂

      Like

  7. I like the way you explain how to navigate your blog. With many posts that is an appetizer to have a look. I was a bit sad to read that the Daily Prompts are closed down. I sometimes liked to use them but had nearly forgotten. Somehow, I don’t like changes too much

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Maria. I realised how much I’d posted over the years and thought an explanation might be helpful. For me, the daily prompt lost all interest when they went to just a single word, rather than the task-based approach they used to use. I never once responded to them after that, and I guess they dropped them because others had given up on them too. You’re right – change isn’t always for the better!

      Liked by 1 person

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