Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A True Heart

Last fall, when I moved to a suburban hilltop, I wondered if I should change my blog's name. Did Rattlebridge Farm fit? I no longer lived on a farm (though my new house has a creek that comes and goes, along with an infamous ditch -- and we actually need a little bridge. We also have a ramshackle barn). It wasn't long before I began to question the blog itself. Should I keep it? Put it on ice or hit the delete button? Wait, was I still having fun? Was I blogging from the heart? Or was I blogging when I didn't want to, but it was time for a post? Because if you don't post for weeks and months, people may wander away. 


You'll be like a little bird on a branch.

Why do you blog? To connect with other like-minded folks? To share your talents? To develop talents? To learn, grow, land a book contract, connect with Brands, or write about your little corner of the world and your outlook on that corner?

There is no right or wrong reason, of course, just as long as your Life's Work makes your heart speed up (in a good way) and fills you with joy. Joy is a gift, something we all want in our lives. It can be the tiniest thing in the world, and it's still joy. 


From a reading standpoint, why do you become emotionally attached to certain blogs? You know the ones, the blogs that you read every single day. And if you don't see a new post for a few days, you go into withdrawal. For me, a keeper blog needn't be filled with exotic travelogues, high fashion, an Elizabethan garden, the latest in home decor, or the tastiest recipe. 

My favorite bloggers can show photos of their dogs, and I'm happy all day. Or they may write something that resonates to my bones, and I know I've found a soulmate. What works for you? What pulls you back to a blog? I know one writer who has an engaging writing style. Her words tug me through my laptop screen, and suddenly I'm in her kitchen. Well, not really, but it sure feels that way. I could swear that my friend is "talking" to me, that we're laughing over a cup of hot tea and polishing off a dozen fresh-baked chocolate peanut butter bars. No matter how often I visit, I can't wait to tell her what I'm thinking. 

I know other writers who take amazing photographs, the kind that lift me out of my mundane life, into a fantasy world.  I might not need those blogs as much as I need the ones that show everyday life, but I wouldn't like to think of a world without either one of them. (Some do both, an alchemy of words and imagery, and these blogs may never find huge audiences for inexplicable reasons, but they are a huge blessing to many people, even if they don't leave comments. Note: some blogs are so big or wonderful, I am just too scared to leave a comment; but that doesn't mean I don't adore their posts and/or style).



No matter if you are writing a novel or a poem or a blog post, you can't go wrong if you pretend that you are writing to one, special friend. You aren't writing to a group; just that one special person.  



Each time a blogger writes a post, she puts a message in a bottle, along with a piece of her heart. She casts the bottle into the sea of Social Media, known for its ever-changing waves and busy shipping lanes. What will happen to her bottle? Will it sink? Wash up on an uninhabited island? Or keep floating, waiting for the next wave, hoping a like-minded soul will find the bottle. And if they find it, oh please, let them write back.  And that's why we, as blog authors, cherish every comment. We aren't talking to ourselves anymore. The monologue has become a dialogue. We have found a kindred spirit.

This is all I know about writing and blogging: 
If your heart is true, you will find the truest hearts.

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75 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this inspiring post. I look forward to you posts. I am not one that posts everyday, as I do not have that much happening in this stage of my life. But, I do so enjoy reading blogs. So, please keep up the good work.
    Have a wonderful week in your new home.
    Mary

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    1. Thank you, Mary. I hope you have a wonderful week, too.

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  2. "Each time a blogger writes a post, she puts a message in a bottle, along with a piece of her heart. She casts the bottle into the sea of Social Media, known for its ever-changing waves and busy shipping lanes. What will happen to her bottle? " Oh my, you captured what I believe is the heart of most bloggers. We want to connect, and I love that I can reach out and connect with so many from all over the world with such different interests, but all wanting to share the joy in their lives, and sometimes their sorrows. Will someone care for the sorrows too ?

    I look at blogging more as reaching out, sharing, a modern type of pen-pal. I have found the blogging community to be a caring community for the most part, many people willing to offer excitement, prayers, concerns, good advice, and humor that enrich my day and indeed my life. Great post, thank-you.

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    1. I have seen so many people who care about our joys and sorrows. Love your analogy of a modern day pen pal!

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  3. Beautiful post and so true - when I first started blogging the best advise I received was to write like you were talking to your sister or best friend :-)

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  4. I found your blog by accident one night when I finally had a free minute to myself. You see, I work full time, and am a caregiver for my husband full time as well (which is not always so glamorous). Your blog is beautiful and I so appreciate that you let us have a glimpse into your world. It is a great escape from what can be a very hectic life! Thank you for inspiring me to encourage my creativity to bloom.

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    1. I'm so glad you're here, Zoe! Blessings to you.

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  5. I've always felt that once blogging becomes a 'chore' I will shut down. I only want it as a little bit of joy in my life. I would keep visiting others, though, as many have become friends. For now, it's fun and photographing my tiny corner of the world only helps me understand and enjoy my surroundings. I have learned so much from other blogs and my recipe book is FULL. lol Deb

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    1. Deb, this is so true--writing always helped me on my personal journey, and blogging has extended the journey. Like Eudora Welta always said: "It's not the destination but the journey." And learning is one of the best parts.

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  6. Good thoughts. Blogging has taught me a lot and made me question a lot especially whether I should bother or not. In the end I always remind myself that my blog is like a journal and reflects things about me.

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    1. And those are my favorite blogs. In many ways, it is so much harder to write about our private lives because we lift the veil, one that leaves us exposed. I've struggled with a complicated grief, one that's mainly centered around losing my beloved Yorkies, and I haven't gotten to a place where I can even write about it. But I know that writing about it on the blog will give closure.

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  7. Amazing post, Michael. I blog for a lot of the same reasons, but I think mainly to share what I am doing with others. Like you I love to get that message in a bottle returned with a comment. I enjoy your blog, the photography, tablescapes, recipes, decorating, and following your trials and tribulations with the ranchburger. Don't change the name, Rattlebridge Farm is as much a state of mind as it is a place.

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    1. You're right, Carole. It is a state of mind. We live on a road that is at the edge of a subdivision, but as the road winds up the hill, it's very rural, passing out of the city limits. My old Georgian was at the top of that hill--same road! Another world, indeed.

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  8. Yes. This totally speaks to me. When I first began blogging, it was all about table setting and searching for the perfect dishes. Then a lot of life kept happening. I left my blog up, but quit writing for a year. Now I am back, mostly reading and occasionally posting. But because life just keeps happening, I do have a few blogs that speak to me, that I really enjoy and make me happy when I visit. And yours is one of them. Thank you.

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    1. I'm so glad you're back, Miss Merry. You were missed.

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  9. You have (almost) inspired me to re-start my blog, Michael Lee! I stopped blogging (http://beyondthegardengate-beth.blogspot.com) last August, but left the door open to return. I blogged mainly because I enjoyed taking photos of my garden....of course, living in the Midwest, that garden is snow-covered at this point! lol
    I have made a lot of friends through blogging, several of whom I have met.

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    1. Oh, Beth, I hope you'll continue to think about it. If you enjoy taking photos of your garden, that's a sign to keep going. Winter is a revealing time for a garden. A time to dream and plan, too.

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  10. I've been thinking along the same lines, almost did a post over the weekend airing what's been on my mind. That post is still in a draft stage maybe to be shared at another time. You truly hit on everything that's been rolling through the hills of my mind. Thanks so much for this post. ~ Lynne ~

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    1. Lynne, you and I have been blogging the same amount of time, eight years. I look forward to your post!

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  11. What a great post! I just recently started blogging. I started blogging becasue I was inspired by so many woman who wrote about everything encompasses their hearts. It's my personal space and I too love seeing comments and knowing that someone else is out there reading me and sharing my stories. This was a very beautiful post that I very much enjoyed! Thank you!!

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    1. It's a supportive, loving community, isn't it?

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  12. You have the ability to put into words the thoughts that are in my mind. All the reasons that I love to read blogs. My little blog started out as a journal of my life to be read just by me and for the most part has stayed that way. I don't do magnificent decorating or cooking posts..just my life. But how I enjoy visiting blogs such as yours daily. Please continue to do what you do so well. And I love that you will keep your same name. Your writing brings such a joy to me.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much, Peggy. I enjoy blogs that are, in essence, journals--cooking, decorating, gardening, etc. The "journey" part of the journal is always more interesting and heartfelt. This is the direction I'd like to go.

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  13. Thank you for this post and PLEASE keep blogging! Blogging has changed so much in the past few years with all the "big blogs" going commercial and making the blog their job. I, personally, don't enjoy those blogs as much any more. It kind of, to me, took the personalness (is that a word?), out of their blogs in a way. Not all of them but some. I ONLY blog because I enjoy it. I wouldn't have enough content/ideas to blog 7 or 8 times a week. I just share my little corner of the world as you said. I, too, have asked myself the same questions about continuing as I have lost so many comments??? I don't know why. XO

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    1. Pinky, you've been around since the RMS days. You are a keeper!

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  14. Yours is the very first blog that I ever read, and now I have my own. You are one inspirational woman!

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  15. I used to worry about topics and photos.....today I share what is real in my life whatever that may be. Right now moving to a new state, building a new home and life seems to take the front burner on my blog. I'm amazed at how many readers are identifying with my journey. One never knows unless one tries! Thanks for sharing what many of us are thinking. I LOVE following you and your new journey.

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  16. Thank you......your words spoke volumes......

    Lois @ Pineridge Hills

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  17. Love this post! Please don't stop your blog...I have such a deep connection with it. My mother introduced me to your books and when she passed and I found your blog, it's almost like she never went away. Love the "flow" of this blog. It's never just about one thing, it's like life, ebbing and flowing. Some days I get to see a post about home improvement, other days it's about food, others just about life in general but I cherish each one. Thanks again for making me feel that I'm watching the birds with you!

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    1. Your words lift my heart. Thank you for finding my many messages in many bottles and for writing back. xxoo

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  18. You've accurately described the way I feel about your blog. I love your voice (and your gorgeous photos). I was so worried about you when you had that nasty fall last year. You've been an inspiration and a companion. A kindred spirit. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to all of us!

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    1. Barbara, thank you for caring and reading.

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  19. gardenthymewithdiana.comFebruary 16, 2016 at 3:46 PM

    Hi Michael Lee,
    I love your blog and pictures etc. I'm probably just dense but here goes. Trying to figure out who's who.
    Does your Mom lives with you, is Doc her husband? Who is Bandy? The more I look at the past posts the more confused I get as to whose house this is. Please enlighten and forgive my ignorance. Thanks

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    1. No, my mother lives in another town, and we talk on the phone every day. I wish she'd visit more often. Doc is my husband of 37 1/2 years. Bandy is our son. The three of us just moved to a 70s ranch house. Hope this helps! :-)

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  20. Wish I could write like you.
    I think we all resonate with your thoughts today.
    Your blog means a lot to many people.

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  21. I do not have a blog however am a loyal reader to many as IMHO bloggers are a breed of their own and deserve the highest respect as it takes courage to do what they do whether it be sharing with strangers their life journey, knowledge etc. while risking criticism by unknowns globally. -Brenda-

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    1. This is so true of any creative endeavor--I'm glad you pointed this out!

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  22. You are so right on all respects. We all blog with our own voices and there's no right or wrong. Sometimes I wish there weren't so many trying to tell us what to do. :)

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    1. Stacey, you said it best: "We all blog with our own voices." And a true voice shines with authenticity.

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  23. Miss Michael Lee, do not stop writing the blog! I did that in my most bossy mother/teacher voice I could. Did you hear that! :-) But really, you can't leave us now. I want to see how you decorate the house. I want to read your soothing words. I want to know that you are just a few hills and miles away, as a friend. And you will be telling us about the yard, your new neighborhood, and critters. I blog just for the fun of it...and will continue as I like to take pictures and tinker around the house. I have had such fun making friends with you and many other bloggers. I am like another who viewed it as pen pals. I love to chat, gab, blab, and have found others who like to also. Many of us, of a certain age, have like minds, interests, etc. and it is fun to share. Keep doing what you are doing nice lady! Sheila

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    1. I will if you will! In this big world of blogging, I think of you as a neighbor. xxoo

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  24. An inspiring post during these bleak, winter months! It can be hard to find inspiration when the skies are gray. Thank you!

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    1. I know what you mean. We've had two straight days of rain and gloom. I need to put out a "safe" bird feeder, and it's just too wet. So I'm baking cookies. LOL

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  25. Even though I'm rather new to your blog, I would be very disappointed if you upped and quit on us! ;-) I've been a fan of yours for a long time, having read several of your books over the past few years. So when I found out you had a blog, I was like, "Yippee, now I can get a dose of Michael Lee more often!"

    I do question myself a lot though on why I continue to blog. I get very discouraged when I lose followers or don't receive many comments. But then I dust myself off and get back to it. If anything, I love the friends I've made through the blogging community and I also simply love the process of writing and photography. So onwards I plod...

    By any chance, are you writing a new book? :-)

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  26. Speaking and writing from the heart and being authentic is the only way we can receive the nurturing feedback that we need. This business of getting older and continually losing who and what we love is tough. Nature certainly helps with the healing and also finding kindred spirits which I think is why we are drawn to certain blogs—we recognize parts of ourselves in the posts. So, as long as you receive joy from blogging and it doesn't become tiresome, I hope to continue the visits, Michael. Take care.

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  27. I write my blog strictly for my family. Because I publish it each year and make a copy for each child, it becomes a running diary of our lives together. Now its become a joke when someone says, "what did we do last Easter?" and someone else says, "get the blog out and find out!" And if I pick up a few readers in the process, that's just icing on the cake for me. I've made many friends thru the blogging world and that gives me joy!
    I do want you to know that your words are comfort to my soul. Often, when I don't read one other blog, I'll read yours. I like your crazy spirit. Your photos are awesome and every post brings something different!!! Never stop writing!!!

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  28. Thank you for the heartfelt and inspiring post. Your honesty and humility is refreshing and certainly welcome to me. Keep on sharing your authentic self.

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  29. Thank you for the heartfelt and inspiring post. Your honesty and humility is refreshing and certainly welcome to me. Keep on sharing your authentic self.

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  30. I blog because I want to and I like to. If ever I feel like it becomes a chore... I simply don't post. Voila! I love reading so many different blogs... It's so much fun peeking into someone's world. Also, it allows me to connect with others with similar interests that I most likely wouldn't have known about "in real life", bridging generations and geography. I love your blog and hope you'll continue, however only continue if you want to, not because we are all crying/whining over here! :-)

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  31. I enjoy reading your blog! You know how to write for sure! I enjoy the story's ,decor and all else! It's very therapeutic ! I think! I appreciate your posts! I'm sure it is a lot of work! Keep up the good work and as far as what to call your home or post,followYOUR heart! Cindy

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  32. Michael Lee, I would read anything you write! (I'm still missing Teeny's adventures...*sniff*) I love your message in a bottle analogy. I used to fret when I hit publish that I would only hear crickets and I still do to a certain degree. I read a quote that I taped up by my laptop for a little blogging reminder: "You can't exist in this world without leaving pieces of yourself, without affecting in some tiny way everyone, everything, you come in contact with."

    Thank you for your blog, I'd love to share an oatmeal-raisin-pecan cookie and cup of tea with you. ♥

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  33. Thank you for this post. You've put my thoughts into words.
    Lately, I've slowed down due to health etc. I hope to pick it up in the Spring, but at this point, I'm not sure. Nine years is quite awhile in the land of blog. I've seen lots of changes.
    I hope you continue. I enjoy each post.

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  34. I definitely relate to this post. I think we've all had times where we don't know what to write, but feel the pressure because "it's time" to put up a post. Happens to me quite a bit. I keep going because I love sharing my work. I love taking pictures and I love food, and it makes me happy to share. I also love connecting with everyone in this little world of blogging. So many like-minded folks, and most everyone is so kind. It's a wonderful community that I couldn't imagine being without, and Rattlebridge Farm is part of that world. Of course, I would follow your blog if it was under a different name too :-)

    Hope you are having a great week!
    ~Jessica

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  35. I LOVE your blog, and the photo's you share with us. The recipes are tried and true. Thank You!!!!

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  36. You have so perfectly expressed my thoughts about blogging. I especially relate to the metaphor of the message in a bottle. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  37. I adore your blog and always get so happy when I see a new post in my email inbox. I dont have a blog of my own, but I subscribe to a few that I really enjoy and look forward to reading, yours being one of them. I agree with you that reading about everyday life and seeing beautiful photos of everyday life ( birds at your feeders for example) Are more enjoyable than some glamorous magazine worthy spreads. Just hearing about everyday life is somehow comforting - and I always get so much inspiration from seeing the little changes people make in their homes - I ve painted many of my interior doors black after seeing your posts on whether or not to paint your doors black ! And I love them by the way ! Anyway - thanks so much for a great blog that i absolutely love to read !

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  38. Beautifully written! I wanted to start a blog for years and finally got up the courage to do so on January 1st. Since starting my blog, my appreciation of blogging has changed. I love the heartfelt content of your blog. I love reading a blog and feeling that I have learned something or laughed. Your blog inspires me every time I read it! Thank you!

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  39. That was beautifully said and written from your sweet heart, Michael Lee. I love the friendships that I've made through blogging. Through blogging, you really get to know people from them sharing their homes and words. Someday when I get to heaven, I'll know my blogging friends' souls, even though I've never met them.
    May your week be JOYful. xo

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  40. Well said, Michael Lee. I still remember how I felt when I first started out -- like I was really "putting myself out there." I just had my sixth "blogiversary" and posted about it last week. I never knew when I started out how very much reader's comments would mean to me! Love your beautiful and uplifting blog!

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  41. Lovely post and written from the heart. I love connecting with people from all over the place that share common interests. Photographs of gardens, food, travel, and pretty vignettes give me a break from the stresses of everyday life and are a great source of inspiration! You definitely write one of my favorite blogs and even though I don't always comment... I would go into withdrawal if I couldn't visit. Hope you never hit the delete button! :)

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  42. Isn't it funny, that after all these years, we're still too scared to write on someone's blog? We were the beginning, for God's sake. But, it's true. The fancy blogs have surpassed us and even us old bloggers are afraid. Not that they'd write back to me anyway LOL

    As far as blogging, I don't know what I'll do. Some days I feel dumb about what I post and want to throw in the towel. Other days, I can't wait to share something. I think what keeps me going is the passion for my old house and the friendships that I made and missed while I was gone. Counting you as one of them ;)

    A friend of ours encouraged me to try and make a living at blogging, but I know that'll never happen. As I've said before... who would pay me? I live in a world of old and there's no sponsor for living in the past. At least as far as I've seen. Besides, I'm not even sure it's a good idea. I'm too honest ;)

    I hope you stay around my dear friend, because it would be a very lonely place without you.

    hugs and love,
    rue

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  43. So heartfelt and appreciated Michael Lee! When I first started blogging I felt so alone and intimated, but I knew I was doing it for my own creative push and challenge so I threw my fate to the wind...every so often I FREAK out because I share my daily hum drum stuff, and discover people actually read it, but hey, I think it's important to be real, so THANK YOU for this post! I'm with Mary, I would love some more Teeney's adventures....
    Jenna

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  44. This is a special post Michael Lee and I know your words resonate with many. When I started blogging I did it to become a better cook and to push myself creatively. I am astonished by how much I have learned, experienced and done because of blogging, and how many new paths and friends I have found. For me it has truly been an example of giving and receiving tenfold. You have always been one of my mentors, your kindness and skill with words makes visiting you a unique experience. I often think of my blogger buddies when I'm putting a post together, and then sort of freak out when I realize that more people than the ones I know are reading and sharing my life, and that part scares me. But all that to say, I think the best blogs are the "real" ones, the ones that are personal and dotted with real life challenges. I loved your message in a bottle analogy, what a wonderful way to explain it!
    Jenna

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  45. It seems like so much has changed in the blogging world. When I first started blogging, I could hit the handful of my blogging friends in a morning and spend the rest of the day working on my posts. Now, I have to hit Facebook and twitter and there's a million other blogs and let's not forget Instagram and Periscope. It just seems like work now.

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  46. ♡... even though I deleted blog, there is a few I must check in on. And yours is my fav.

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  47. One must do as one is compelled. As for my teeny tiny opinion, I love how you sum up a situation or opinion. Tell a story or a yearning. I appreciate you and wish you well. I feel your deep sorrow over your dogs. Lost ours last fall . Not a day goes by that i don't look for him or think of him. These "mature years" are not easy. Some days would be completely for the birds be it not for my my dear husbands sense of humor. Anxious for spring, Kathy

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  48. P.S. The desk in the sunbeams looks perfect to me. Another reason to trust thine self .

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