To Blog or not to Blog and Forms of Expression

choosing a Topic for your Blog

If you’re like me, you probably spend some time thinking about what to write for your blog. A niggling voice inside your head might even tell you to forget about it. You will not be heard. Your voice is fading in the wilderness, even before you take your place in the field of dreams. There are so many bloggers out there; so many exerting themselves to make it upstream. Who wants to listen to what you have to say? You don’t stand a chance.
I say, don’t pay any heed to that little voice. What do you have to lose? Nobody needs to give you permission to express yourself, however you see fit. You should write whatever is on your mind. It seems that no matter what we do, we cannot please everybody, but we can please ourselves.

Sometimes I remind myself that we are all merely passing through. This works wonders in preventing me from taking myself too seriously.

So why are we so afraid to show our inner thoughts to the world?

If we write with the pure intention of showing our brilliant and unique mind processes, we run the risk of losing the plot. Are we trying to impress? Why not scribble our thoughts in a journal and leave it at that.
The only way to write is from the heart. Pour parts of yourself into what you write. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability.

Yesterday, I happened upon a blog by a young man who revealed something very private about himself. He wrote about why he attempted to commit suicide. At first I thought, No, don’t do it, don’t tell this to the world. But it was honest, well-written and helped me to understand what he and people like him are going through. It must have taken a lot of courage, but I suspect he felt he had nothing to lose either. After all, his co-workers, friends and family all know about it anyway. Now they can understand him better. Judging by the comments, there are many people feeling as desperate as he was. By revealing his pain, and by admitting that he has no obvious reason for feeling so forlorn in the world, I suspect he will help many others, regardless of their age.

And so, even if we write about losing the lid of the teapot, we will have expressed ourselves. Does this mean that we should write any old thing? I suppose it depends on how you write it. The most mundane things can be made into something beautiful. Like an artist faced with a blank canvas, he creates his image with few tools, but it’s the composition and the colours he chooses that makes his art unique.

Sometimes we dismiss what we know, assuming everybody knows that anyway. But what if they don’t?

Am I the only one who feels like this? Is everybody else more computer savvy than me? Will I look like a fool? The voice is relentless; like a mad dog it just won’t let go.

If only I could write as freely as I think, I would have a blog up every day. Isn’t most of life a work of art anyway?

For those of us who have to write, we will find a way, no matter what. If I were to consider what I would take with me if stranded on a desert island, I would take as many books as possible and a stack of journals and pens. A friend of mine, who happens to be an artist, has lost most of her worldly goods. She paints and does photography, but now in her cramped flat, her normal creativity is blocked. It’s a long story… Without a proper studio, and without a laptop, she cannot continue to work as she has done in the past. The situation is, I am sure, temporary. But the muse breaks through and finds another avenue.

Her creative avenue is now knitting. I don’t think she is aware that each pair of socks she knits is a work of art. ‘Look,’ she’ll say, as she shows me her newest work-in-progress. ‘The orange part at the top is the sun rise, the pale blue/turquoise main body is the sky, and the green feet depicts the fresh, green grass.’

‘Yes, but what is that circle in the middle?’ I ask.

She sips a glass of wine.

‘That’s the whole wide world,’ she says, with a crazy laugh. Knitting has become her lifeline and, despite her restriction, she has found a way to express herself and retain some semblance of sanity. As I look at the pile of socks, each with its own theme and meaning, I feel both tenderness and awe at the resilience of the human spirit. I know that she has sat there, night after night, knitting up a storm and pouring in all her emotions as she tries to keep paddling on the stormy seas. Something as simple as knitting socks can be a saving grace.

the socks I knit

It is our nature to find some way of expressing ourselves. So maybe your blog will ignite a spark of recognition in your reader. You never know. Just don’t ever give up. There’s a whole wide world out there, millions of thought processes, laughter, tears, people riding the crest of the wave, others being pulled down into the murky waters, only to rise again, refreshed and renewed, while some are merely skating on the surface and hoping the ice won’t break.

So, what do we have to lose? Just do it!

Ten Things I love about Germany

Barbara Doran-Rogel Author

I’ve come a long way since I first moved to Germany in the early eighties, not just in terms of miles but in my change of attitude.  Communication is the key, I say, and now that I can easily speak the language it certainly makes life a lot easier.  When I first came here I was dipping my toes in a new sea, getting a feel for the mood and very aware of the differences between the places I had lived and my new country.

To be honest, if it hadn’t been for my boyfriend and his group of eager-to-speak-English friends I would have felt lost.  One underestimates the power of language and the ability to communicate. I had to learn how to fit in here.  Many years have passed since then.  Happy memories of me and my pink bicycle cycling up to the Schlosspark in warm sunshine, sitting under…

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Ten Things I love about Germany

Ten Things I love about Germany

I’ve come a long way since I first moved to Germany in the early eighties, not just in terms of miles but in my change of attitude.  Communication is the key, I say, and now that I can easily speak the language it certainly makes life a lot easier.  When I first came here I was dipping my toes in a new sea, getting a feel for the mood and very aware of the differences between the places I had lived and my new country.

To be honest, if it hadn’t been for my boyfriend and his group of eager-to-speak-English friends I would have felt lost.  One underestimates the power of language and the ability to communicate. I had to learn how to fit in here.  Many years have passed since then.  Happy memories of me and my pink bicycle cycling up to the Schlosspark in warm sunshine, sitting under a tree with a book, pen and notebook and a flask of coffee, headphones connecting me to my Walkman. Yes, it was a long time ago. I always had an English book from the local library nearby.  What was I reading back then?  Anything and everything, as long as it was in English.  Anais Nin’s Diary, John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, The Letters of Evelyn Waugh just to mention a couple. Oh yes and Raymond Chandler.  I doubt if I would have read his books before that but I really enjoyed them.

A couple of years later we moved to the U.S.  More wonderful adventures.  One child and five years later we returned to Germany.  This time life was different, more serious. I didn’t want to be here.  I found it hard settling in the village.  I missed the friendly Americans.  Somewhere along the way, I have adapted. In fact, I realised that I have lived here longer than anywhere else.  My first four years were spent in London, fourteen years in Ireland, the rest in Germany and the U.S. with spells in Tuscany and the Channel Islands.  Speaking about spells:

I’m under the spell of:

The local markets–My favourite thing to do here is to go the weekly market.  Such an array of flowers, vegetables, a sea of colour. I love chatting to the funny farmer who sells little bunches of flowers and always has a joke to tell.  Most of the vendors are robust, no shrinking violets here; after all, they’ve been up since the crack of dawn, week after week, sunshine or hail.  When I can figure out how to do it, I’ll add a picture of the market.

The fact that there’s such a demand for English. So, although most the younger generation  have a pretty good command of the English language, there is always plenty of work for those of us who want to teach, whether in a language school or on a private basis.

The variety in dialect, culinary delights and landscape.  It’s quite a big country so there’s always a lot to see.  You can travel from the rustic Lederhosen Land in the south to the Baltic or the North Sea, visit the yearly carnival in Cologne where Germans really let their hair down, to the former east zone and delight in the architecturally rich cities of Quedlinburg or Dresden.

Traditional cafes and restaurants.  Although the country is swamped with the usual chain eateries, Germans have managed to maintain their own cultural identity. In every town you will find restaurants that serve excellent and affordable local food.

Efficiency.  For the most part, things work pretty well here. Bins are collected weekly–blue (paper), yellow (plastics), brown (compost) and black (the rest).  Buses and trains generally run on time.  Yes, a theme of efficiency runs through the land–this can sometimes be a double-edged sword but I’m concentrating on the positive here.

Oodles of public holidays.  In fact, holidays in general.  Although it doesn’t affect me personally, most German workers have six weeks holidays a year. Added to that are numerous religious holidays.  Did I mention that Germany is a pretty religious country?

There’s always something going on.  Every village has it’s Schutzenfest once a year–I’ve never been–don’t ask me!  Germans are great drinkers and love any excuse to party.  Although there are regional differences, I’ve been to Wurst Fests, Fisch Fests, Spring Fests, Jazz Fests, Pre-Lent Fests, Hooray We can Eat Sweets Again Fests, The Neighbour cut his Hedge Fest, The Farmer got a Wife Fest.  Don’t quote me on this. But seriously, there’s something called an Alte Schachtel Fest for women who reach a certain age and have not yet married–I think it is 25.  There is also a similar one for fellows who have managed to escape the institution of marriage. I think they have five years extra before they are forced to celebrate this event.  Whoever said Germans have no sense of humour.

Yes, humour.  I once went on a bus trip to Prague with my German friend. She had me in stitches. Granted we were probably locked in our own Silly Zone but laugh we did.  We laughed even more when we arrived at the hotel a couple of hours later.  Everyone was starving and the staff of the newly-opened hotel couldn’t cope with the bus load of Germans. The Germans couldn’t cope with the lack of efficiency. Picture some of the guests rolling up their sleeves to help.  It was endearing and embarrassing, hilarious and mortifying.  Sorry, I veered off subject.

Frugality.  I’m constantly surprised by their handling of money. You’ll rarely see them flaunting their treasures.  They take their money seriously, no squandering here. I have witnessed the most blatant acts of penny pinching at work.

Creativity.  I love the way Germans present things.  Whether it’s a little gift bought in a local shop, a rose bought from the florists (oh, did I mention the fabulous florists?), a cake made by your best friend…I could go on and on.  They have the knack and have the ability to dress up the simplest thing and make it look marvellous. I was almost moved to tears that first year in Germany.  My work colleagues, two older ladies, had decorated my desk with a beautiful little lilac Viola, a lighted candle and my exquisitely wrapped present. Did I mention the time I almost set the office on fire?  No more candles for me that year.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my first blog.  I welcome your comments.

Barbara

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