The BrainStorms Award

I was chuffed to bits to be nominated for the BrainStorms Award by Rachel from the https://jasperdenhealth.com/ blog and I’d definitely recommend that you check our her blog for health and fitness tips. There’s always something intriguing on there; always something to learn about staying healthy.

Rules

  1. Thank the person who nominated you
  2. Tag your post with #BrainStormsAward and follow https://brainsstorms.wordpress.com/ if you’re willing
  3. Display the BrainStorms Award logo
  4. Display the rules on your blog
  5. Talk a bit about your blog, why you started, what you write about and your goal for your blog
  6. Answer the five questions you’ve been asked
  7. Nominate five other amazing bloggers
  8. Ask them five questions

About my blog.

Well, where to start? I don’t have a particular subject matter or agenda that I stick to for my blog. I write about whatever takes my fancy really, although there are regular poetry blogs. Have a look on any given week and you might find posts about sport, parenting, exercise, book reviews or just whatever happens to be making me smile at that moment in time.

I started the blog because I was a frustrated writer. I’ve written a novel – unpublished, so I’m a bit like the LA waiter that tells you he’s an actor – and tried to get into journalism, but never really got anywhere. I set up a blog because I had to have a heart operation and the rest required meant that I had time on my hands for a change. That was three years ago and while growth has been steadier than I’d have liked, people still read the things I write. Some are even complimentary!

With the future in mind, I’d love to see more people read, ideally I’d like to monetise it, but who am I kidding expecting to earn money for the nonsense I write. Further to that though, I’d love to see where my poetry writing could take me.

My answers to Rachel’s questions

  1. What was your favourite experience? As I’m quite old there are genuinely a lot of experiences to choose from. And that’s not me being all rock ‘n roll, it’s just that I’ve been here for a while. If I had to settle for one though I’d go with something travel related. One that really sticks out is visiting the Grand Canyon. It’s a long story, but for the purposes of the post, here’s the shortened version. We flew in, went to a remote ranch, quad-biked deep into the canyon and on the way there had to stop on the trail toto allow a rattlesnake to pass. The cowboys who were accompanying us then proceeded to prod the bush that it had retreated to in order to make it rattle! Terrifying for me, an absolute delight for my thrill seeker wife!
  2. Is there a place you haven’t been to that you would like to visit? So many! Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the Scottish islands, the list might be endless. Narrowing it down to one though? I think I’d say the Canadian Rockies where some of the scenery just looks absolutely unbelievable. It’s always seemed like the kind of place I could go to and never tire of.
  3. Has the pandemic changed you? In a way, yes. I’m even more uncomfortable around people for starters! I thought I was awkward before, but stick me in a place with a number of others now and I’m an absolute shambles. It’s changed my thoughts about the future somewhat. It’s made me realise that we should live in the moment a whole lot more than I’d have ever thought. Not that I’m off thrill seeking all of a sudden, but with my very mild approach, it’s made me think about ambitions and plans and just fitting more into life. Isolation has also made me change my approach to health and fitness and having been so limited about being outdoors for so long, I’ve now absolutely contracted the running bug.
  4. If you had lots of money, what would you spend it on? The sensible answer would be property. A great big family home, with lots of land and outbuildings and stuff, mainly so I could hide, but also some boltholes for family escapes in places like Canada and maybe somewhere in Snowdonia. However, when I’m not being sensible I’m being a complete knobhead so of course I’d spend lots of it on the same stuff I spend it on now; trainers, books, crisps, beer and magazines that I never get round to reading. Lots of money would probably open me up to lots of other ways to squander said money, so maybe I’d start buying artwork or rugs. I’d absolutely, definitely buy a stupid amount of animals – we’ve always wanted to get ducks and goats, but I feel sure I’d be the proud owner of at least an emu and probably a shire horse. Maybe a reindeer or two.
  5. Who do you admire and why? Bob Mortimer. An undoubtedly hilarious man, but more to the point someone who’s made his way in life by just being daft. He admits as much himself. And I think if there’s one ambition that I’ve ever had it’s just to try to get away with as much daft stuff as possible. I have far too many serious aspects to my life, so wherever I possibly can I just try to get some silliness in. Bob came into my life as half of Reeves and Mortimer, so if you’re aware of their act and their TV shows, you’ll know just where I’m coming from. Bob is a man who can break an apple in half with his bare hands and has performed actual dentistry on himself as well as being solely responsible for the character Train Guy. What’s not to admire?

My Nominees

https://smellysocksandgardenpeas.com/ @AndSmelly

https://6in10.blogspot.com/ @WestphalErin

https://liveparentteachrepeat.com/. @LiveParent

https://billswritingplace.wordpress.com @a_silly_place

https://peppervalentine.com/ @peppvalentine

Please feel free to check these guys and gals out. Great blogs and lovely people, all of them!

Questions for my nominees

  1. Could you recommend a cheese to me and let me know why, please?
  2. What’s your favourite quote?
  3. If you could have walk on music, you know for every time you enter a room or your workplace, what would it be? You can mix songs together if you want.
  4. Who would you get to play you in the film of your life?
  5. What were your three favourite things about lockdown? (It’s Ok to say that there were good things about lockdown, by the way. We discovered a house with an entire miniature railway in their back garden that we’d have never known about had it not been for lockdown walks)

So there we have it. Post over. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and if I nominated you, I hope it hasn’t caused the kind of panic that these things always cause me. Breathe. It’ll be OK. I’ll look forward to reading your responses. And if you haven’t been nominated, but happen to stumble upon this post, feel free to answer some or all of the questions in a post or just in the comments.

Blog Goals for March

I find running my blog incredibly fulfilling, yet extremely frustrating, all at the same time. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. What started as an outlet for some kind of creativity and initially to explain how I was feeling at a difficult stage of my life, has more recently become a little more serious and I would really like my writing to have a bigger audience.

I started my blog after having heart surgery. Writing a blog was something I’d thought about for a while, but it took what felt like a near death experience to give me the kick up the backside that I needed to actually start writing. It wasn’t really a near death experience, but it was a heart problem that required being admitted to hospital, then followed up with actual surgery, so there were lots of times when I questioned whether I’d get through it.

Once I was well, I started a blog, using my first couple of posts to write about what had happened to me. I suppose it was cathartic, but it was also my way of letting people know that I was alright. They’re on the links below this paragraph if you fancy a read. But then once they were out of the way, I began to write about anything and everything!

When did I get so old?

Conquering my fears. What’s the worst that could happen*?

Over 100 blog posts later though and I feel like I’ve reached a bit of an impasse with it. The blog is definitely growing in popularity, but at the pace of a glacier. Am I being impatient? I’m not sure. It’s fair to say that I only started taking things even kind of seriously since this time last year, when the pandemic meant I had a lot of time on my hands with which to write. But it’s definitely been a frustrating time over the last six months or so, when apart from one brilliant month, growth has been slow. So I thought I’d start to set monthly goals, in order to organise myself a little better and perhaps get some useful advice in response.

March Goals and Targets

  1. I need to find better ways of publicising my blog. I use social media and tweet about my blog quite a bit, without it being all I ever do on there. I also post on the blogging RT/community sites in the hope that I’ll gain regular readers, but despite a small amount of growth, it doesn’t really seem to work. I feel terrible, even in a comment post, when I’m commenting on people’s blogs, because ultimately it feels a bit desperate. I might as well just be saying, ‘Look, I’ve commented on your blog, so have a look at mine’ and I don’t like feeling that way. If it’s a specific subject of blog, like a sport or an educational blog I might tweet certain more applicable sites for a RT and this can work too, but I feel like I’m just relying on other people’s popularity and good will in doing so. My blog views for a typical month average around 400-500, which feels OK, but isn’t rewarding in terms of the effort I put in. I don’t know if I’m expecting too much, but then again I’ve read ‘goal’ type posts like this from other people before, moaning that they’re only getting thousands of people visiting their site per month. Looking at your stats on WordPress and seeing that another day has brought in 14 readers becomes no fun whatsoever after a while! I genuinely feel like I post my fair share of good quality posts and I’d love it to reach a bigger audience, but must admit, I’m pretty clueless! It’s lovely reading positive comments from people, but then again, I’ve visited blogs posts that consist of an inspirational quote (so, 12 words, let’s say) that get a load of positive comments and that kind of thing makes me wonder where I’m going wrong. Alternatively, maybe what I’m posting is utter rubbish! Whatever it is, I need to find some kind of answer in March!
  2. Stop posting utter rubbish! Just kidding; I have at least some faith in what I write. But that said, I want to write at least one post in March that breaks some personal records for my blog. Why not think big, eh? Whether it’s views, or likes, or just the number of people who read it in Luxembourg, I’d like to post something that captures the interest in the next month. I’ve had some that – for my little blog – have done really well and it’s a brilliant feeling that I’d quite like to replicate.
  3. Come up with better titles for poems and blogs. I seem to have no imagination for this at all. In the past I’ve written blogs called ‘I have some questions about music’, ‘Whatever happened to the mix tape?’ and poems called ‘Teams Meeting’ (about a Teams meeting), ‘Heart’ (about my heart operation) and ‘Early Morning Run’ (I won’t ruin the surprise with that one). It seems I’m very literal when it comes to titles, so maybe some snappier titles might bring those readers in!
  4. Write more poems (with better titles, of course). It took me ages to pluck up the courage to write poems consistently and then to actually post them online. They always get a good reaction and I love the process of writing them. It’s been quite a confidence boost. They generally come in bursts and I can write two or three, pretty much straight out in one go, in one sitting, but it’s been a while since anything new came along. I had an idea this afternoon, opened my notebook to write something then got distracted. A couple of hours later I noticed the open page of my notebook! Luckily I remembered what I had wanted to write about. I must try and make time to write more poems though and it would be good to find a proper place to showcase them too, as those regular 44 people that read them could be improved upon!
  5. This one’s not a blogging goal; more a creative one. I’d like to post more videos on social media. I posted one of me reading my poem ‘An Ode to Joe Wicks’ and it went down really well (relatively speaking; we’re not talking millions of views and instant fame here). More to the point, I really enjoyed doing it. It does feel like a real ego trip though – here’s me reading my poem, so watch! I struggle finding a reason why people would want to watch! But then, videos I’ve done for friends always get a good reaction. And I know that makes me sound like the tone deaf X-Factor contestant who tells Simon Cowell all her family tell her she can sing, once he’s finished laughing. I created a character based on every bad teaching stereotype I could think of and let friends see ‘his’ first video. Their reaction told me it has legs, so I’d love to see where that could go. I have lots of video ideas, mainly involving me making myself look like a complete knobhead (I’m a natural)…I guess I just need to find a way to link them to my blog now!

So there we have it. My goals for March and the kind of post that I think I’ll make a regular early in the month kind of thing. If you have any advice or would like to let me know what you thought, then leave me a message in the comments. Thanks for reading (you now know you’re one of about 35 in a rather exclusive club!)