Interview With Esmé

One of the joys of blogging is the sense of community that develops with our followers and with those whose blogs we follow in return: many ‘chats’ take place in the comments section! I’ve mentioned before that I’m a contributor to the Senior Salon, which is a community for the more mature blogger. It was originally started by Bernadette, of the Haddon Musings blog, and has since been taken on by Esmé, whose blog is called Esmé Salon. Some weeks ago Esmé started a new series of interviews with fellow bloggers and I had the honour of being the first to feature there. These interviews appear on her blog every Friday, and she has now published (I think) twelve in total. My apologies, Esmé, for taking so long to get around to this but I thought I should share it with my own readers too. If you’d like to see the interview in its original location it can be found here but for your easy reference I’m re-publishing it below. The interview ran as follows:

“1. What is the name of your blog and how did you decide on your blog name?

My blog was initially the very original ‘Clive’s Blog’ but I decided to change the name when I retired, to reflect my new status in life. ‘Take It Easy’ seemed to fit this, and its taken from a song you may know.

2. What prompted you to start on this blogging journey?

I was off work for nearly ten months in 2011/12 with depression, and part of my rehab when I went back was to take a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). My counsellor set me writing tasks as part of this, to record my thoughts and feelings, and it was his suggestion that I turn these into a blog, as he said my writing was ‘inspirational’ and would help others. This is how I started, in late 2012. Those first posts are under the ‘My Story’ tab in the menu at the top of my blog, and give people a good idea of why I began.

3. To date, what blogging achievement/s are you most proud of?

I dont think Ive any real achievements to speak of. I received several blogging awards in the first year or two, but Ive removed the badges from my site – they felt like bragging, and that isnt really me. My sense of achievement is from the many interactions Ive had with people who have read my posts – particularly the ones relating to mental health – and who tell me that my writing has helped them in some way.

4. How would you describe your own blogging style?

Open and honest, theres no point in doing it any other way. I also pride myself on writing to a good standard of English – I do, after all, have a degree in English Literature! I like to think that what I post has some semblance of form and structure, to make it easy to follow.

5. What excites you most about blogging?

The thought that I can post something into the ether and it can be read by anyone in the world, providing of course that they have an internet connection! I dont have a massive regular following but it is always good to meet new bloggers who pick up my posts.

6. What platform do you use and why?

I use WordPress. I have one of their free accounts, and this has given me all that Ive needed. Im not a professional blogger, I dont do this for money, so its good to enjoy my hobby for free! I kind of stumbled into the WordPress platform, as I knew nothing about blogging before I started – I just googled ‘blogging platforms’ and chose from those I saw. Im very happy with it, and see no point in changing.

7. What genre/topic/theme do you blog about? Do you ever deviate from that theme?

As I said, I began writing about depression and mental health. I followed that with a series I called ‘Dates To Note,’ which was intended to raise awareness of a range of health and social issues. Ive since widened into more general thoughts, often along the theme of how times change and, in particular, on music, which has always been an important part of my life. I do return to mental health issues too, as this is very much something that matters to me. Really, I guess I just ramble on about anything that takes my fancy!

8. How often do you blog per week or month?

I dont blog to any set pattern, Im not that organised! On average I probably post a couple of times a month, sometimes more and sometimes less. I occasionally take breaks, if theres nothing I want to write about – the longest of these was seven months!

9. Do you have any wisdom or tip/s regarding blogging to share with us?

I wouldnt presume to think I could advise people! All I would say is that, whatever you write about, be sure that it is something you care about. Be yourself, be natural, and your enthusiasm will show through. Theres nothing worse for me than reading something written because the author feels they had to write something – anything – to keep to a schedule when they really dont have anything to say.

10. Do you participate in linkup parties? How do you feel about it?

Ive done a couple of them, but Im not sure they are for me. The one that has grabbed my attention is the Senior Salon, which was created by Bernadette for writers ‘of a certain age’ and which you have recently taken over. Ive met a number of good blogging friends through this, and look forward to finding more as it develops.

A few things about me:

11. What do you like to do other than blogging?

I read a lot, mostly newspapers and magazines. I should read many more books than I do! I also watch a lot of sport on tv, especially football (i.e. soccer) and cricket. I spend a lot of time with tech, too: Im addicted to my iPad and computer!

12. Where do you reside?

I live in a small town (pop. 12000-ish) called Epping, in the UK. Its about 20 miles from London, but is much slower paced than the big city. Its a town with a long history, and a very pleasant place to live.

13. Are you an indoor or outdoor person?

On balance Im an indoors person. I do enjoy going to live sporting events and to live music shows, but I have a long term health condition which restricts my movement. Its frustrating, but I dont let it get me down. Theres always the balcony to my flat, where I can enjoy the good weather – if we ever get any!

14. Do you still work, and if so, what is your trade/profession?
15. Or are you retired? If so, what do you do besides blogging?

It feels easier to take these two together. I retired in September 2013, when I reached the grand old age of 60. Prior to that I had for twenty years been a manager in our National Health Service – I had many jobs in that time, but a recurring theme of these was working with our clinicians to help develop new services. As to what I do apart from blogging, please see answer 1 in this section!

16. Do you wish to be 20-something or the age you are now and why?

It would be great to be young again, with all the dreams and expectations of youth, but Im happy the way I am now. We get a little older every day – thats a fact of life we cant change! Not having to work for a living is a huge bonus, too.

17. What makes your day a good and happy one?

Doing the things I enjoy, the comforts of a relaxed lifestyle.

18. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Short, content, easy-going.

19. Share with us 3 interesting facts about yourself.

Ive been divorced and living on my own for 10 years, but have two beautiful daughters from the marriage – I love them both to bits!

I was born and brought up by the coast but never learned to swim – I was afraid of the water!

Im an awful cook!

20. Do you have any other tidbits to share with us about yourself?

My older daughter is expecting a baby at the end of May, so Im going to be a grandfather. Im so excited! There may be a mention of this on my blog at some point 😊

Please share with us your social media links, in order for our readers to follow you:

Twitter: @clivechip

Instagram: @clivechip

Pinterest: clivechip (I really should update this, havent touched it in years!)”

I’ve followed the series of interviews as it has developed, and am finding it fascinating to learn more about the featured bloggers. Some are new to me, others more familiar, but even with those I already ‘knew’ I’m discovering hitherto unseen aspects of them. If you’re interested in what makes other bloggers tick do take a look at Esmé’s blog – the link is in my opening paragraph, and you can find direct links to some of the previous interviews in her menu (and others are linked at the end of each post).

A little update on me to end with. In the interview, which was published on 4 May, I mentioned that I was due to become a grandparent at the end of May. As it turned out, the little one was in no rush to get here, but duly arrived on 6 June: that is D-Day, but I don’t think there is any significance to that. And fortunately her parents avoided any temptation to call her Vera Lynn! If you missed it, I wrote about this in I Hope You Dance and a follow up in Teach Your Children

You may not be a senior blogger like me but, if you are and haven’t yet found the Senior Salon, I can recommend it both as a place to share your own posts and to find others to follow. And even if you aren’t so senior in years, there is plenty of good reading to be had there and on the rest of Esmé’s blog, not least the interviews. Do try it!

 

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Senior Salon – Reminiscing (Again)

This popped up in my Timehop feed today, from 24th Feb 2016. It was originally written for the Senior Salon, which was started by Bernadette – you can find her blog Haddon Musings here. As you will know if you read my previous post, Bernadette has decided to bring the Senior Salon to a conclusion, and it somehow seemed fitting to round off my involvement with it by sharing this post again.

Regular readers will have noticed that I make a good deal of use of my ‘back catalogue’ – I’ve been doing this for more than five years now, and many won’t have seen these pieces before. This one is something of a first, though: here, I’m reblogging a post which itself contained a previous one, from 2013. If you haven’t seen either of them before the earlier one explains what music means to me, and how important it has always been, particularly when my depression was at its worst. So, this is a kind of ‘buy one, get two free’ deal – you can’t deny that I give you your money’s worth! Or maybe you can 😉

Take It Easy

Since the lovely Bernadette, the author of Haddon Musings, started the weekly Senior Salon I’ve become rather more disciplined about writing something for my blog at least once a week, so that I have something new to share with the growing band who participate. There is much to be learned from sharing the experiences of others and I’m making some good new blogging friends. Do follow the link and you’ll see what I mean: after a day or two there are usually around 20-25 posts there. As well as posting something new to the Salon I’ve also got into the habit of looking through my previous posts and adding a link to one of my “golden oldies” each week. New followers won’t have seen these before and I like to think that they’ll enjoy them. I live in hope!

Having not been well for the past couple of days…

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Ch-ch-changes Revisited

Amongst today’s emails – just the usual hundred or so – was the regular Monday one from Bernadette announcing this week’s Senior Salon. It was a little different from the norm, however: Bernadette was giving us the sad news that it was to be the last Senior Salon. Looking back, I would guess that at least half of the blogs I read most often and, in particular, comment on, are those to which I was introduced by Bernadette. I understand perfectly why she feels the need to call a halt, and wish that I had the time and commitment to take it on for her – but, as you will have long-since recognised, I’m not the most organised or regular of bloggers! But I will always cherish those bloggers who, through our Senior Salon introduction, I now regard as friends – some have even joined me on Facebook, which is great!

This got me thinking to a post I wrote a couple of years ago. I think I’ve since recycled it, but it seemed a fitting way to mark Bernadette’s final edition of the Salon by sharing it again: it does, after all, talk about how important blogging communities can be for us. So, Bernadette, thank you for all your hard work and commitment, and I’m glad that I’ll still be seeing all your new blog posts and what you share on Facebook (and thanks for the Instagram follow, too!).

For a final time, this is my post Ch-ch-changes:

Has it ever struck you how much we can become creatures of habit? Although we may live varied lives, and have many things to occupy our time, at the core of this is likely to be a foundation of what for each of us is our ‘norm.’ Wherever we may be, and whatever we may be doing on any given day, we will most likely be framing that activity in the context of a routine of some kind. At its simplest level, this can be something mundane, such as what time we get up in the morning, whether we have breakfast or not, and if so whether we have it before or after our morning ablutions, that kind of thing. However free-spirited we may believe ourselves to be, we all have our own behaviour patterns, whether or not we recognise them as such. Since I retired nearly three years ago my routine has changed – I don’t have to worry about being up and ready in time to catch the train to work, and I don’t have to compress the things I would rather be doing with my life into evenings, weekends or holiday time. But there is still a routine there, it has just adapted to the change in my circumstances.

So, what happens when something knocks that norm? How do we adjust to it? If something big happens to us – a major family event, perhaps – we tend to take it on, challenge it and manage the required change. Births, marriages, deaths and other events in the family have a massive impact, but we try our best to deal with them, to cope, and to move forward with our lives. I have recently had such a change with one of my children (who are both adults, but still children to me!), who has needed help and support, both in the practical sense and also in a more spiritual way. For me, the realisation that this has made a difference to my life has manifested in several ways, a very simple example being that I have seen and spoken to my ex-wife more often in the past few months than in the whole preceding eight years since we were divorced. I’m not presenting that as either a good or bad thing – our divorce was perfectly amicable and we are both content with our outcomes – but it brought home to me the sense of family changes and the impact they can have. But I don’t intend to say any more about that: it is too personal, particularly for my daughter, and isn’t for publication.

Let me instead give you a much less important example – less important in the great scheme of life, that is, but it has nevertheless made me think. I’ve mentioned before that I have been invited to become part of the Senior Salon, run by Bernadette of the Haddon Musings blog. Since Bernadette started this six months ago it has developed into a vibrant community of bloggers of a certain age, with a wide range of interests, and it has become a part of my routine to take part in it. I enjoy the range of interests that fellow bloggers share, and it has got me into the habit of posting at least once a week so that I have something new to offer. Yes, I still have my hiatuses but they are fewer. And if I want to think of myself as a blogger, regular posting is kind of important, right? The Salon starts each Wednesday, with an email notification that the new link up has gone live. This email usually arrives around 7am UK time and my Wednesday norm has become a morning trip to see my lovely nurses for my regular bandage change, followed by a return home, breakfast and my thoughts turning to converting the ideas that have been stumbling around in my brain into a post. Or, like today, I sit at the keyboard and pray for inspiration – you can tell, can’t you! Ah, but I can see you thinking, today isn’t Wednesday. Correct! Have a prize! I didn’t get the email yesterday, and so I spent the day watching the Euro 2016 football instead. Tough job, but someone has to do it. Nor did I get the notification today, and I began to wonder if perhaps Bernadette was ill, and unable to set up the Salon this week. But there it was on her blog, so all was clearly well with her. From our interactions on our respective posts I thought it highly unlikely that I had been banned, so I checked my WordPress settings for the blogs I follow. Have any of you ever seen this message:

“You have blocked all notifications for blogs that you follow”

I certainly hadn’t come across it before, as it seems to me to be a very strange thing to do. What is the point of following blogs if you don’t want to see what people are saying? To be honest, I didn’t even realise that the setting existed. Fortunately, WordPress also kindly told me how to change it, which required no more than one box to be unchecked, and normal service has been resumed. But it left me with a few thoughts. How could I have changed such a setting when I didn’t know it was there? Do I have a maleficent alter ego who creeps into my blog when I’m asleep and changes everything? Are WordPress operating some kind of practical joke to see how alert we are? (in my case, not very alert, apparently!). Why did this matter to me anyway?

There were two main reasons as to why it mattered. The first was that it made me realise how unobservant I am. I probably get around 30-40 emails each day announcing new blog posts, and I hadn’t realised that I saw none of these yesterday and, so far, today. I pride myself on being intelligent, aware and alert, but clearly I’m not as good as I thought! The second was the change in my routine. In six months my Wednesday has shaped up as I described it earlier, but yesterday was different. Every time I checked my emails I looked for the one telling me that this week’s Salon link was live, but to no avail. Yet still I didn’t spot that something was amiss. A change, albeit a small one, had taken place, and it was a little disconcerting. I had been taken out of my Wednesday routine and it just didn’t feel right. My regular habit had been broken. I’ve found both the problem and the solution, and will be enjoying my usual participation in the Salon, although I am coming ‘fashionably late’ to the party this week.

Am I being stupid to think this way about it? Am I building it up beyond its importance? You might think so, but I don’t. Our routines and habits are important to us, however trivial they may seem to others. The sum of all our little pleasures – like reading other people’s blogs – adds up to the whole of our enjoyment of life. Every little part has its place and its importance. A wise man once said:

So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same

But in its own little way, yesterday didn’t feel the same. Strange thing isn’t it, this life and the way we live it.