Monday, January 23, 2012

What It Was Like Pre-Blogging

I remember when I first found out about blogs. I had heard and read the term "blogs" on public radio and on Sunday morning news shows. I knew it was a word that meant weblogs, but I wondered, with all the weirdies in the world, who and what and why would someone would go on line and make their life a public diary?

That's what I actually believed about blogs.

But then, about four years ago, on the magazine rack at the grocery store, I saw a copy of Time with the headline, Year's Top Blogs. I took it home and read the lead article. I was surprised at the excerpts from the featured websites. The words I saw from these award winning blogs weren't personal diaries; I read about food, crafting, home life, not just introspection and personal drama. I googled each site mentioned, and loved what I found.

I had never read a blog before. There was all kinds of writing, and funny, funny blogs. And it was like people talking to you, not at you. To a woman who had always felt left out and a tad lonely (alright...a lot lonely) in a small town, it was like finally finding the keys to the right club. I would rush the kids to school in the morning, and hurry back home to get on line. I had people to check up people! It was incredible to me that this portal to another world existed, and I knew nothing about it.

One top blogger named, in particular, was so charming and down to earth; self effacing in an endearing way. Her simple words framed around heart rendering photos that she had taught herself to take. She loved to cook, stay home with her children, and though she was voted as a TOP BLOG her writing retained an intimate, welcoming style. And the website itself, visually, like entering a storybook.

Here's something about me: I'm always late to the party. I also am from a sit-on-the-fringe-and-watch type of mentality. I'd smile at this top blogger's daily anecdotes, and noticed that at the end of each entry, readers of her stories (at the time I didn't know they were called *posts*) would leave a talk back. I would see *comments*, and then a number before that. In her case 12,512 "comments." I wished I could leave a comment too.


So, and I don't care that you know this about me....blogging has all The Truth Shall Set You Free to my ego; titter away, and then come back to the story.

I had to tell this blogger about the joy she gave me every morning; it didn't feel right to keep it to myself, when someone impacts your life this way. So, I emailed her. To thank her for picking up my mood during the long Wisconsin winter, how she made me laugh and helped me to feel like I belonged to a small town with really nice smiling people in it. I told her I wish I had a blog so I could comment. Then I signed my email, Love, me.

She emailed back about what an ingenious way to get a reply back and HAHAHAHAHA about needing a blog to comment.  I didn't have the heart to tell her no HAHAHAHAHAHA was intended.

And thus, an encouraging, loving, nurturing online relationship was begun -- true, one sided, my view, on my part, in my reality. But, it comes down to this: I felt it. It didn't matter that we never actually talked, emailed, or did any back and forth: it felt like we did. Just from my visits to her blog. I had a friend I could check in with every winter morning.

This blogger was one of the handful so implicit in my making it through the winters and the seasonal depression they bring, before I began my own blog; before I had become a true part of this incredible online community.

So, this post's for you, Pdub, and all the mental good you do for me-- and thousands of others -- each morning when we log on to your site, The Pioneer Woman.

Thank you, Ree, for the years of smiles, happy tears, wistful sighs, good eats, and some hot cowboy action thrown in here and there.

Photo Source
I ask you, what else in the world do you need on a cold Wisconsin morning?

*During this month, I'll be highlighting the bloggers I call "The Great Depression Slayers of 2010." To the crucial ones I clung to before I began blogging, the ones that pulled me through, I thank you.


  1. This is so sweet. I love how you share yourself so freely. Isn't it amazing how we can truly feel as though we know the people on the other side of the screen?

    I used to feel the same way about blogging - I had no idea there could be a back-and-forth aspect, or that anyone would ever read but my family and close friends. How things have changed...

  2. Hah! You hit all the notions I had about blogging. Every single one!

    Great tribute!!

  3. And now you are this person for so many other people.

    It goes around...

  4. I feel the same way about Pdub. It was because of her I decided to start blogging. And then I got to meet wonderful people like you Empress. And here you are now, twittering away with the Ree herself. I think YOU are AWESOME sauce!

  5. What a great tribute! I first started blogging back in the 1990's, 1998 to be specific. Back then, they really were personal diaries, and some of the things I shared kind of make me cringe today.

  6. I hope you know, dear friend, that how you feel about the Pioneer Woman is how I feel about you (although luckily I already have a blog when I 'met' you) :)

  7. I don't know if you know this, but you are other people's Pioneer Woman.

    Yes. Yes you are.

  8. That is so sweet! Until I started following a blog, I had no idea that there was this whole "network" of blogging and bloggers. It really is an amazing thing.

  9. Love this! I honestly cannot remember what I did with my time before I discovered blogging.

  10. This is great! I came to the world of blogging late too. And, I hate to admit this, but I kinda made fun of people with blogs. In my defense it's because the bloggers I knew were on the pretentious side or huge whiners. Anyway, eventually I discovered the truth. There are some fantastic blogs out there with incredible people behind them. You're definitely one of those.

  11. very cool...i actually had to be coersed into blogging...i did not want to...but think of all that i would have missed....

  12. Wait. I don't have to have a blog to comment?!?

    4 years later I find this out?!

    Man, hindsight is such a bitch.

  13. Reading about these feelings from someone you find so engaging, you from Ree and me from you, makes being a new blogger less intimidating. Through your post you're telling me I can learn, I can do it. This winter should go much quicker with your "The Great Depression Slayers of 2101" at the ready.

  14. I started blogging in September of 2006 and couldn't help telling everyone I knew I'VE STARTED A BLOG! Most people who knew me were supportive and that led me to tell everyone else in the world about MY BLOG.

    One day I was at the video store and couldn't help pulling out my business card and shoving it into the hands of a 30 something man next to me. "It's my BLOG!" I trilled. He looked at the 18 year old behind the counter and shrugged and said, "What's a blog?" And the 18 year old replied, "No idea, dude."

    I walked away genuinely confused. HOW COULD THEY NOT KNOW WHAT A BLOG WAS????????????

    I'm guessing now they do.

  15. Oh, man, see?

    Have you all read the comments here?

    Do you see what kind of people I know?

    I tell you, my eyes are glistening with tears.

    You are all so very wonderful to me.

    Thank you.

  16. Hee Hee. I have history with P Dub, too.

  17. Since we're being honest, you were "that blogger" for me.

    I didn't know what I was doing when I stumbled onto the blogosphere.(And in many ways, I still don't.)

    But the first time you commented on one of my posts, my heart skipped a beat. My silly, 42-at-the-time-year-old heart.

    It's powerful stuff, this blogging thing.
    In ways we don't even know.

    So thanks, GDRP (and I wish I had a cool PDub nickname for you right now...)

    But nevertheless.
    We regular people are grateful.

    Even if we don't get hot cowboy action here.

  18. You certainly paid it forward by offering so much good stuff for the rest of us! Thank you for the moments of laughter and the moments of wonder...oh, and for sharing Baby E with, where is he coming offense!

  19. You are amazing, so I too thank PDub for giving you the inspiration to start your blog because it gives me inspiration. XO

  20. I hope you know that you're MY Pioneer Woman, Alexandra. xo

  21. YOU. Yes, you are one of the greats.
    It's like it was written in the bloggy stars with your name :)
    And as for 2012? I'll give you a holler if I need a buoy.

    ~ MUAH ~

  22. You are the sweetest most authentic blogger ever. So many bloggers look to you and are met with your sweet,kind smile and genuinely good heart. So glad you started blogging, the blogosphere would be a little less wonderful if you were not part of it. Xoxo

  23. I needed to read this today. I often feel on the "outskirts" of the blogging world - and I'm often too shy to jump in. Blogging is a way to relieve my loneliness and my blues, but it also contributes to it sometimes. I read somewhere once that you were one of the friendliest women in the twittersphere, so I decided to follow you. I thought, "Surely, she'll never speak to me, she's too big." While I'm pretty sure we really have never spoken, I got to know you here and on twitter and I have learned that you truly ARE one of the nicest women! I pretend we're friends. :)

  24. I love hearing how you started blogging! And of course it was in an adorable, sweet, perfect way. Thank goodness PDub wrote you back and set you straight that you didn't need a blog to comment. Or maybe it didn't matter because you got your own anyway.

  25. Yes. I read blogs for about 2 or 3 years before I began blogging. There were a handful that I followed, but I never thought I was "qualified" to start a blog...thought you had to have something to say.

    HA! Now I blab everyday, proved that theory wrong.

  26. I started blogging because I read a magazine article about it. I'd never read a blog before and I just decided to jump in. Now I my Google reader is full of blogs that I read.

  27. I'm so glad I know you. You're a lovely, beautiful light on the internet. Big time.

  28. What a lovely tribute to Ree, someone who has inspired many of us. It was fun to read your pre-blogging memories, because I could completely relate to the scratch-your-headedness over blogging. And now I can't think of doing anything else.

  29. Sweet - I'm glad I had the privilege of making your acquaintance considering the places you'll go..people can't help but love you.

  30. That was just lovely and I'm sure that PDub loves it! Like you - I had NO idea what a blog was until very recently, but it's an amazing community of friendly faces and I just love it!

  31. Like Julie and Alison, I share the sense that you're one of those PDub type bloggers for me. Moving to a strange country a long-ass way from home, family, and etc has made it really hard to feel connected. Blogs (and my dear darling friend twitter) became where I went for connection, conversation, commiseration, and lots of laughter. I've been blogging for what seems like an eternity in blog-years (like dog-years but with less activity and slightly better breath),since 2008, but it's only in the last six months or so that I really got a sense of what people meant when they talk about "online community." So thank you for helping to create that (and, like Julie, when you first commented on one of my posts? I was all OMG GDREmpress commented!!! Husband said "wha...?" He is dead to me now.)

  32. Um, yeah. You hit it on the head. Because I'm a dork, here's an analogy: The Empress is to The Pioneer Woman as K A B L O O E Y (and so many others) is to The Empress. Thank you for being my denominator.

  33. You.EMAILED.PW?!?!?!?!?! The word work flowing from your fingertips shot directly out to her EMAIL?! ANNNNND she..... RESPONDED!??!?!?
    What the WHAT!!
    I can't talk to you anymore.
    The jealousy consumes.

    **turns away and huffs**

    But... I wuv you.

    You are a super awesome lady and I am so happy that PW is your blog homie, like for realz and stuff.

  34. Wonderful tribute! And I'm pretty sure you've paid if forward, too many times to mention!

  35. I still thought it was a diary when I started. Ha! So glad I stumbled in to this wonderful world.

  36. You guys crack me up.

    You are, each of you, so very kind, funny, sincere, amazing.

    When I talk to non bloggers about blogging, they say, "FOR FREE? REALLY? You couldn't get me to put in those hours for free."

    Free? I call it paid in diamonds.

    You're all awesome.

  37. Here's one for you: I had a blog for three or four years before I even knew it was a blog. I just called it a "website" and used it to write newsletters to my church and family and people that support our volunteer work.

    And then it gets worse: A year and a half ago I started the Memos... and had never even read another blog before I started it. I had NO. IDEA. the great, big blogging world that's out there.

    A year-and-a-half ago. Talk about a newbie over here!!

    I have to add, I'm only barely 34 - young enough that you'd think I'd be a little more "with it". Not that you're not young. Just that... I'm younger. ;)

    So there you go. I hope I've helped you to feel even better about yourself.

    P.S. Hi. It's been a while, ey? :)

  38. Good Morning! Just a note to let you know you won a copy of Write to be Published by Nicola Morgan over at my blog, Middle Passages! Congratulations! Please be in touch via email with your contact information and I'll order a copy and send it to you!

    Lovely post by the way. You gave me a smile, and what else do you need on a cold Massachusetts morning? :)

    Liza@Middle Passages

  39. I love this. And you. And pdub. And Dana up there. This is lovely and true. Like you. xo

  40. I had the same response to the first time I learned about blogs - from an NPR story back in 2004 maybe - why would anyone keep an online diary? Hahaha.

  41. Yeah, the Pioneer Woman is quite a special lady -- I'm glad you found her words when it looks like you might have most-needed them, Empress!

  42. What a great idea! I know what you mean. There are blogs I rely on to get me through the bad times (yours being one of them).

  43. What a sweet, lovely post!

    Isn't it amazing how these "strangers" can touch our daily lives - sometimes in the best possible ways? You do that, too, lady!



  44. For me, it was a NY Times article about a community of bloggers who had raised an incredible amount of money for a certain, beautiful sweet girl who had been severely burned in a plane crash. Yes, Nie Nie. I immediately went to her blog link from the article and was mesmerized. I think I sat there for 4 days straight, reading every single one of her splendid posts. I emailed my sisters and said, "Have you heard of this blogging? Take a look!"

    It took me a few months to work up the bravery to start my own blog and it took me about a year to realize, "oh, you have to comment on other blogs to get an audience? It's not like, if you write it, they will come?" So, don't worry Empress, you weren't the only one without a clue.

    Ree is one of the very best introductions to blogging a person could get. So glad you found her because somewhere along that road, our paths converged and that, my friend, was a great day.

  45. Isn't it amazing? I'm still in disbelief...all these wonderful people that I never would have meant. My life has changed with blogging, I really have to say enriched.

    Incredible to me, that all this was out there, and I almost missed it.

    Thank you all, for your heartful comments here. You don't know how you've uplifted me today.

  46. I love this post. I have been blogging nowhere near as long as you or Ree, but I have already felt the pull of this great "blogosphere" community. And I just today realized you write for MilwaukeeMoms, too. I live just north of Milwaukee, in Whitefish Bay. Now I have an even better reason to read locally! :)

  47. WOW. You followed my blog, and then I checked you out too and you have like, 800 followers!!!! that is about 799 more than I have!!! I am touched that you stopped by and read my blog, and I hope you have time to read more of it. I am also going to check out your archives. Thank you for making my day!


  48. So much to say, but you've left me speechless, Love. Thank you xo

  49. I love April@ Red Dirt Mama's comment. How cool, to be known as "one of the friendliest women in the twittersphere." That would just about make my life. Yay you, Alex:)

  50. I love you. I love this idea. I may steal--er--borrow it.

    And I'm glad you started blogging.

  51. I am loving this series you are doing. Good stuff, my friend.

  52. Wow!!! This was/ is me! But I am still too scared to start a blog.... I think your blog is great and I love reading your posts all the way over here in Australia.... Thank you!

  53. Love this. She is pretty special, huh!

  54. Confession: I don't read PW.
    I don't. Not because of anything in particular...ok's because I don't know how to navigate her site...I suck. I know.
    Blogging is so therapeutic and the women I've met? Pulled me through tough times. I'm so glad I took the plunge and that you did too...because I love the shat out of you.

    1. I'll come over and help you, sweet cheeks...if I can do it, well, YOU KNOW IT CAN BE DONE.


  55. :) Best part is that YOU influence people without realizing it. I remember when you told me to submit to Mamapedia. Thank you for that. Even if you don't want to cuddle with me. ;)

  56. ---What a great story about this Fab blogger...

    I am sure several new bloggers feel exsactly the same about you, dear. Xx

  57. This is how I feel about you.

  58. My goodness.

    Every one of these comments here..why I will always be grateful for blogging.


    Thank you so much...the connection I've found, the avenue to write what I feel, I can't even tell you.

    It has done more for me than any other thing in my life, other than my children and marriage.


  59. What a cool story. It just goes to show that no matter how much cold technology takes over our lives, we still crave a warm, human connection. Thanks for sharing.

  60. I'm so glad I found this. When I mentioned to my husband that I told Ree she was part of what influenced me to start blogging and that blogging has already changed my life so much for the better - and then thanked her for having a little hand in it - he told me it was a silly thing to do to ambush her and get all weird and sappy on her; that I should have been cool and waited...oh...I dunno...10 years until my blog was more successful and I could be seen as a peer and not a stalker. Needless to say, that thought completely mortified me. Somehow, deep down I felt that she was not the type of person who'd view it that way. She seems a genuinely lovely person. Her reply was "'re gonna make me cry." See, I'm like you - when someone impacts me on a profound level, I feel the need to let them know. She may hear it hundreds or thousands of times, but she hadn't heard it from me until now and I wanted to say it because if you get that chance to tell someone they've made a difference in your life, why not do it? I love your story and that's part of the beauty of blogging. You can make that connection that would otherwise seem so unattainable.



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