Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Who Reads Blogs?


Are personal blogs just a written form of reality TV? That question crossed my mind when someone on The View said he never watches the genre because he is philosophically against it being passed off as entertainment. At first I totally agreed with him until I looked up a list of popular reality TV shows and much to my surprise I found out that on occasion I actually watch five shows that fall into that classification: American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Hoarders, Antiques Roadshow, and Storage Wars. Who knew? When I thought about reality TV shows I was thinking of those programs that make me want to stick my fingers down my throat and vomit: Here Comes Honey BooBoo, The Kardashians, Real Housewives, Duck Dynasty, Jersey Shore, and The Apprentice. These shows are very popular which just goes to show that taste in entertainment is far from one-size-fits all. Why am I philosophically against make-me-vomit television?  I don’t think it’s good for society to lower the bar so much by depicting the daily drama that occurs in these so-called average or affluent families. I don’t want to go back to the days of Father Knows Best but if we’re going to elevate and encourage voyeurism then what we watch should have some redeeming or teachable factors to justify having cameras capture so much bad behavior. Garbage spoon-fed into society, garbage out.

Having said that, I also have to say that reading personal blogs is not much different than televised voyeurism. We not only get a window into the daily lives of the blog writers with all their flaws and foibles but we also get the main attraction; we get a window into the blog writer’s stream of consciousness. A stream of consciousness according to about.com is defined as: “A narrative technique that gives the impression of a mind at work, jumping from one observation, sensation, or reflection to the next….” And aren’t we all interested in knowing how our own stream of consciousness stacks up against the next guy’s? We want to know, for example, how often our neighbors think about their past and future, their families and society at large, even the lint in their belly buttons. We want to know if they worry about the same things we do. We want to know irrelevant stuff like how it feels when someone goes to the ‘days calculator’ online and finds out they are 26,227 days old. By the way, the answer to that last question is that being 26,227 days old makes me feel much older than the run-of-the-mill septuagenarian that I am---like I’ve crossed over into Buddha-land. Say something insightful and wise, old woman.

This long winter has been hard on us blog writers who live in the Snowbelt because many of us have to live inside our heads more than usual. To write, we need outside stimulation and we're not getting any. There are just so many ways I can describe the impassable roads, the birds at my feeders and the tin fold hat I’m thinking about making to keep the crazy, snowbound thoughts from coming in. There are just so many ways a widow can say how lonely she is or how much she misses being relevant in the world. Oh, here we go again! says the Mary Poppins-like voice in my head It really is time to say something insightful and wise, old woman.

Okay, I’ll give it a shot. “This, too, shall pass. Spring will come, I’ll get back out into the world and once again the box of Reynolds Wrap will be safe from the would-be hat couturier who lives on Widowhood Lane."

Who reads blogs? According to Social Media Today, blogs get 46 million unique page views per month and 71% of internet users read blogs. They also report that the majority of blog writers are women. There are 6.7 million bloggers on blog sites and another 12 million on social networks. Clearly, a lot of people are interested what others have to say about things that touch their lives in some way, be it a personal musings blog like this one or a blog written by a hobbyist beer maker or the highest earning blog of all, the Huffington Post.

The unique page views on this blog number over 64,000. Yet only 1,033 comments have been made. I’ve often wondered about my statistics. Who are these people who come and read my thoughts but never share their own? Who are you? Won't you give me a clue? Did you land here by mistake, a Google search screw-up? Are you a recovering widow like me? Are you a fellow blogger? And the most important question of all: Do you also have a roll of Reynolds Wrap that hides from you on long, snowy days? ©

33 comments:

  1. Great connection, Jean. I just watched (or didn't watch; I fell asleep a few times) Cinema Verite, about the Loud family in the early 70s. It's hailed as the first reality show. Things didn't go well, for the Louds or the director. The tech folks went on to further success, though.

    I read all sorts of blogs--mommyblogs, home decorating, running--as a consumer, like I'm reading a catalog. I very rarely comment. Maybe it's voyeurism, but I'm pretty introverted, so I'm often more of a listener than a talker in my daily life, anyway. I've learned a lot. I have a colleague who studies silence as a political act. His contribution is that we don't read too hastily into silence. Some people have nothing to say. Some people's words will be distorted, so they remain silent as a form of resistance. That's all to say, there are lots of reasons people don't comment. It would be neat if some of your quiet readers outed themselves here! And I think you've welcomed them with great interest and hospitality.

    With widow blogs, though, I have felt the need to reach out. After all, it's not easy to assemble a community of widows in the "real world." I sure am glad that I've run into you here, and interacted with you, as well!

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    1. Thanks Fichereader! If I understand what you're saying about your colleague's study---that we shouldn't read too much into silence---I would agree. I wish more blog sites would have the 'like' choice to click on so you could at least let the writer know you were there and read. Many people are introverts or have nothing to add or are insecure in their ability to write, so they don't. And with musing blogs sometimes they seem so intensely private that I feel like I'm invading their space to comment which doesn't make sense considering the blogs are public.

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    2. What a GREAT idea! A "like" button. I also would like more blogs to send me an email to remind me to read them. I'm getting lazier by the day.

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    3. If it wasn't too much trouble and somewhat scary to move a blog, I'd migrate to a blog platform with the 'like' button.

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  2. Jean :

    I love reading your blogs, common sense, kindness, empathy & spirituality in your blog attracts me towards your blog. sometimes when I am running low in my inner strength department I find that in your blog. keep on blogging. I love reading your blogs & how you navigate life when sometimes it is so difficult I find truly inspiring.

    Asha

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    1. You are always so sweet and supporting, Asha. I can't believe how long I've been blogging, starting way back on the site where we met a decade ago. Do you still blog over there? I rarely go back since I've left the stroke community behind. Life always has new challenges lined up for us, giving us new opportunities to overcome and be proud of ourselves, doesn't it.

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  3. I love reading your blog, the good, the bad, the weather! Especially love that your sense of humor always prevails. And I'm glad the posts are archived as I love to start at the beginning. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. I am so glad you started a blog. I feel the same way about reading yours as you do about mine.

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  4. I think I do post sometimes trying to get feedback that I am quite normal and not going crazy and also a place to put down my feelings because of my arthritis, I can't write anymore in my book journal. I admit I am a voyeur and love to read other's blogs, but--the only reality TV I watch is Survivor AND I wouldn't watch The View if you paid me, LOL.

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    1. I don't like The View as much now that Joy is gone. I'm not clicking with her replacement. Once Barbara is gone, I quit watching, I'm sure. What cracks me up about you and me is I wouldn't watch Survivor if you paid me. LOL

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  5. Jean :

    it surely does, and yes I still blog over there but ofcourse my blog revolves around my universe who is now junior in high school & has aspiration to become doctor after seeing my medical ordeal & struggle. I am glad my ordeal didn't become obstacle in his life''s path & became catalyst in him becoming compassionate human being. Well everything happens for a reason. Can you believe next saturday I will be decade old stroke survivor

    Asha

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    1. A mother couldn't ask for more than to raise a compassionate human being. Well done, Asha!

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  6. I picked up your blog from "Time Goes By" and thought I'd see if you write often enough for me. I read blogs in the evening instead of watching television. I will watch a few "reality" programs: "Pawn Stars," and "Antiques Roadshow," but characterize most of them as trash.

    I keep a "Favorites" list of sites I visit daily and I have to warn you that I purge it mercilessly. I get the feeling that you're not too crazy about readers unless they comment now and then, so here I am. I prefer bloggers who comment daily and who show a sense of humor. I've seen your sad side and hints of humor and, so far, I like what I see. I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog of my own, but am not sure what type of blog I'd enjoy doing... so I trawl the 'net to see what I could handle.

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    1. Welcome, Class of 65! If I really cared about the ratio of readers to those who comment, I would have quit blogging years ago. My blog is just a high tech extension of diary keeping that I've been doing since I was ten. If other get something out of what they read here, that's a bonus. IF they comment that's a bonus.

      If you start a blog, let me know so I can check it out. You learn a lot about yourself when you comment to blogging. By the way, I pretty much add new entries twice a week. Daily would be hard for me to pull off.

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  7. Ditto to Asha's comment. I'm always inspired by you, and you are relevant. I read blogs for all the reasons you listed. I don't think many of my friends and relatives who are not in the blogging community would get it. My stats tell me that I get quite a few lurkers, too. I wish they all would comment, but they prefer to remain anonymous.

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    1. I am inspired by your blog as well, Bella. You're a great writer and you write about topics I like. Most of my friends and relatives don't get blogging either.but when you think about how few people in the world actually read (anything) on a regular basis, we should not be surprised.

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  8. I think of reading blogs as more like reading a collection of letters or memoirs (or published journals, like May Sarton's) than like reality television. And "reality" television (most of which is too heavily edited to be very real) does not have the opportunities for creating a "virtual community" that blogs do. Indeed, where the sense of community occurs is in the blogs about the reality television shows! I like the fact that your blog is about real life (which includes cabin fever and closet purging among other activities). -Jean

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  9. That's a great way to view blogs. I am quite hooked on reading them and you do get a good sense of the reading and their frequent people who leave comments. I can't wait until you get to Maine and start blogging about your transition into your new phrase of life.

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  10. I have been reading your blog for about a month. We have much in common. I live in Minnesota and am thoroughly tired of the below zero temperatures and the many inches of snow. I became a widow on Oct 2 2012 after 42 years with my husband. I have read blogs for several years. I am pretty much an introvert and do not have a large list of friends nor any family members except for my children. My first blog was 'What it's Really like to get old". I have added other blogs as time went by. Some are political, some about growing old, some are about photography, some about nature, some about how people live their lives and when it became evident that I was soon to be a widow, I looked for people who might be walking the same road. I found a young woman who had met and married the love of her life only to find he had an incurable brain cancer shortly after. Her husband passed away a month before mine so I followed her blog to see how others handled this loss. She seems to have moved on and more power to her. I guess I was looking to see if there were common paths that people followed as they rebuilt their lives. Mostly I use blogs to learn about people who share my interests and life style and learn more about how people who live different life styles look at things. I do read my list of blogs every day and have learned many things. I really don't comment very often, but sometimes it hits close to home or I think I might have something to add. I like your blog and it has been added to my list. 'The Old Reader" brings a list of new blog entries so I don't have to go searching around for them so I don't miss any new posts. It is really handy. Thanks for writing this blog. I see we are both doing much the same things after losing our spouses.

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    1. Hi Joan, thank you so much for commenting. We DO have a lot in common. I'm going to have to see if I can find that first blog you started following about getting old. I've never hear of 'The Old Reader" but I just googled it and you can bet I'll be exploring that today. Thanks for the tip and thanks for following this blog. Once in a great while II wonder why I blog publicly instead of privately and it helps to be reminded of people who are walking the same path as me who might be following along.

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  11. I have been reading your blog for a few months now but did not comment because other blogs I had been reading did not aloow for making a comment unless you had an internet presence so I gave up teying. But I see your blog allows anonymous comments so here goes. I am a recent widow, 7 months. Your blog has helped me tremendously! I enjoy all your observations. What you write has helped me feel so much less alone. Thank you for writing!! Ann in IL

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    1. Thank you for the comment ad for following my blog, Ann! Feeling less alone in the world really is a great advantage of the internet isn't it. I don't know what I'd do without that life line especially back when I was at the seven month mark of widowhood. Hang in there, it does get easier.

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  12. I've commented a couple of times, but thought I would add my two cents. Mostly I read a few different blogs each day because I enjoy adding new thoughts to the ones circling around in my own head. I am a widow of 19 months and while that was initially what drew me to your blog, I stayed because I enjoy your musings - it makes me think about why I do the things I do, and gives me hope that I, too, can try to branch out as I traverse this new path - when I read about your closet purging adventures, it makes me think about what I have left to clear out in my own, and although it's a one sided conversation in the sense that I don't always share my thoughts with you in return, I have lively conversations in my own head as a result. For instance, hearing about Don's "ghost" makes me ponder similar experiences with my own husband - and if I were truly on top of things, I would repay your kindness by making it a 2 sided conversation, but I generally just browse through blogs a bit on my way out the door to work - so it I guess blog reading gives me a source of new thoughts for the day - and I do appreciate your talents and humor - it brightens my day, even when you are snowbound. Thanks for making the world a brighter place. ;-)

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  13. I wrote a whole long comment about why I read blogs and how much I appreciate yours, but I think it vanished into the ether(net), so let me just say I appreciate you giving me new things to think (and smile) about as I traverse the path of widowhood (19 months). Sorry that it's a one sided conversation because I don't comment often, but I do enjoy your talents and am glad that you share them with the rest of us. Your honesty and humor make the world a better place. ;-)

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  14. I remember you commenting in the past, Cindy. I really appreciate it when someone comments even if it's only once or once in a blue moon. It gives me a sense of who is "out there" and that's great. Not everyone has the time, desire or self confidence to write in a public format and I get that. Thank you for the many complements. That gives ME something to smile about.

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  15. It is a great post, what you said is really helpful to me. I agree with you anymore. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here. Thank you for sharing such a useful post.

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    1. Thank you, Jan. It's nice to hear from someone overseas.

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  16. Like you, I wonder who all those readers are who never comment. So, here's my comment! I came over to your blog after reading your post on Time Goes By because you said you call yourself elderly. I wanted to see just who does that!

    My husband and I tease about being elderly, but we don't say it outside of the house, and we work hard at staying healthy and vital. I try not to discuss my age very much but am not against telling people my age. (I'm 61) I've had a hard time calling myself retired, though, because I really had no intention of retiring when I left teaching. I wanted another career, but no one was willing to hire me, and I believe it's because I'm elderly!

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    1. Thank you, dkzody, for introducing yourself! I loved that post about 'coming out as old' over at Times Goes By. One of these days I might like to write about that topic myself. Oh, to be 61 again. I'd love that. I don't mind telling my exact age in "real life" but on the internet are a few facts that I keep to myself, more for security purposes than anything else---my age and my birthday.

      Age discrimination in getting hire is definitely real!

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  17. Mama reads blogs too. She likes to read about a lot of different things. First she would like to say that she also likes "Storage Wars." She likes Barry on the show but heard that this may be the last season he is on the show.

    Papa likes Duck Dynasty. Mama is like you - she cannot stand that show and has to leave the room. And he thinks that watching soap operas are bad but it is torture for Mama to see him watching Duck Dynasty all night.

    However, you do know us through your schnauzer, Levi and our blog. Mama found this blog while she was reading about Levi. Mama would rather tell her story through us instead of relating to her experiences. She really enjoys it when people talk about their dogs as much as she does about us.

    Love -

    Hershey and Kaci

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  18. Hi Hershey and Kaci!

    My favorite on Storage Wars is also Barry and I didn't know he was leaving next year. I hope they find an equally quirky guy to take his place.

    We have never forgotten you two and your mom from the dog blogs. And, of course, Levi thinks he should have more of a voice in this blog and I keep telling him maybe one day I'll let him start another one all his own.

    Give your mama my warm regards!!!! And Levi says, Woof! Woof!

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