A Few of My Cookie Crumbs

The crumbs of Grandma's Lemon CookiesLast week the evidence of too many sugary sweets and too little sleep mounted in our house with outbursts and mood swings at an all-time high. Research goes back and forth about the connection between sugar and hyperactivity in children. But at our house, anecdotal evidence points to a relationship between what we eat and the overblown emotions.

So, we decided: Cut out the after-school filler snacks in favor of fruits and veggies. They came home Monday to carrots and celery, not crackers or cookies. We all felt the contrast between the junk days and the spartan salad ones.  When smiles dissolved into tears, I wavered. “We’re trying it for a month,” I said. “Then we’ll reevaluate.”

Coming back from the holidays I noticed another clear contrast.

During the break I had minimized my online time to maximize family time. But on Monday, I reconnected the loops of life and binged upon what awaited me online in Twitter, Facebook, my Google Reader and email. By the end of the second day I resembled my nine-year-old on New Years at 1 a.m. with a body full of snacks and energy, unable to wind down to sleep.

Days without my computer connection kept me focused on the here and now. Returning to productive participation in  writing, blogging and a broader life forced me to multi-task. I felt fragmented. Am I the only one?

This time, though, I’m not waiting 30 days to reevaluate if my hour-by-hour time is helping me reach my goals or keeping me from achieving them.

For the first year of writing at my website I began a habit of posting every day, which boosted my writing skills, and, I hope, introduced me to some blogging readers and communities. Now, I’m struggling to find the balance between blogging and writing. Writing is my goal, but blogging is my medium. But, on days when I’m fragmented I don’t write my best.

Do you seen my quandary?

Communities—especially the right ones for me—refine my thought process, a necessary element of writing. And that’s why I still keep blogging. Chuck Westbrook finds and features lesser-known blogs like Oktober5 where Ryan posted Simon and Garfunkel;’s 10 Blogging Lessons. Unlike most blogging tips, his tend to validate my goals for better writing, even if they come at the expense of my blogging popularity. He said:

Do yourself a favor and stop thinking about what to write and start feeling what to write. Feel your dreams, the situations and experiences around you–the sound of silence! These will give you more than enough content to write about. With practice, you’ll begin to notice small ideas planted in your brain. The best way for them to grow is for you to write about them.

Two positives happened in these days of fragmentation, ironically, as a result of online connections:

First, a friend asked me: What are your goals? And then she listened while I talked through very unspecific ideas of where I’m headed.

Second, I left a comment on Ryan’s post giving myself permission to take the pressure off and participate in the way that works for me.

Yesterday, that meant I didn’t post. And I didn’t feel guilty afterward. And tomorrow I start again. I will still read. I will seek information. I will participate in the online conversation. But . . . carefully.

I’m going to take it in. Mull it around.  Fit those pieces into my complete whole. Otherwise, my writing process—and, more importantly, my life process—will fall apart into too much sugary sweet and not enough nourishment.


  1. Sarah
    Jan 8, 2009

    I’ve noticed quite a few people who have realized lately the joy that comes when you slow down on your blogging. I believe when you step back and live life before trying to write about it you become a better writer for it.

  2. Ryan
    Jan 8, 2009

    I’ve been thinking lately about people I’ve known with very large circles of influence, lots of friends, and a good memory for names and what was happening in everyone’s life. I was never that person–I’ve always had a hard time expanding my circle of friends beyond my family. Participating online has changed that, and uncomfortably forced me into being more responsible to others. The only thing is I haven’t been very responsible. I’ve decided lately that I need to really deal with my online friends like I would offline friends. That change in perspective is helping me to stop “skimming” the net, consuming without producing, and forgetting the relationships that make up what real-life and online interaction should be about.

    I say all this because of your words, “I’m going to take it in. Mull it around. Fit those pieces into my complete whole.” I’m trying to move more towards that and further away from the hit and run mentality.

  3. TJ
    Jan 8, 2009

    Ryan – I like your way of saying the hit and run mentality. I was thinking ping pong image, but yours works better. I just don’t know if I can swim in all the social circles of my life at the same time.

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