Note: Today is Leah’s birthday. It is funny how Dan, Gary and Leah all have their birthdays on the same day of the week – this year it falls on a Monday – blog day! So, as has been my custom with Daniel and Gary, I dedicate this post to Leah. It is particularly appropriate because though the rest of my family has been supportive of this endeavor, Leah has been my biggest cheerleader and frequent editor. Her comments are always incisive and helpful. More than any of that, though, she is an inspiration to me. I admire her willingness to put herself out there by sharing her songs and expressing her creativity. It only took me until I was in my fifties, but she was a trailblazer for me J. So, Leah, happy birthday! I love you hugely! I wish you love, health, peace and wonderful adventures – and everything you want for yourself, too.
Today’s blog post is my 52nd! A year goes by fast! Well, technically I skipped one week, but still, I think it is a good time to take stock.
First, some numbers. The blog has had over 6000 views and it has had 2,250 visitors. Believe it or not, there have been 50 views from Germany, 10 from Italy, even 3 from China (and some other countries, too)! WordPress provides these stats. I have no idea how to interpret them. Clearly my Mom has visited the blog many times, but not from Germany! I’m not sure how the system tallies these things. I’ve also had well over 100 comments on the blog itself, not counting what has appeared on Facebook, or what was conveyed to me personally.
Despite not knowing how to make sense of the numbers, or how to compare them to any standard or expectation, I am just pleased to have readers! I started this blog to share memories and start some conversations and I think it has been successful. Without you, dear readers, it would not have been possible.
The blog has also had some unintended consequences. One of the reasons I entitled it “Stories I Tell Myself,” was that I believed each of us has a narrative that we use to describe the events of our lives. I think we have experiences and we interpret them so that they fit into the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. For example, to simplify the idea, if a person thinks of themselves as a victim, then they might look for how a set of circumstances reinforces that belief. I think we can trap ourselves in our own narrative.
In my case, I thought of myself as an unhappy child who felt insecure. I felt like I never got the love and attention I wanted. That perception shaped my life in important ways. It has been an effort to move beyond that – an effort that fortunately became more successful the older I got.
Writing these stories, and then editing and rereading them, and receiving comments has been a revelation. In digging through my past, I found so much love and warmth. I think while I was living through it, I didn’t absorb it – I didn’t feel it. I can’t explain that. I think I was more focused on the painful or disappointing parts. But, as I wrote and as I uncovered more memories, I couldn’t help but notice the love that was the foundation.
As is often the case for me, a song lyric comes to mind. Jackson Browne (once again) wrote, in Fountain of Sorrow, “And while the future’s there for anyone to change, still you know it seems, it would be easier sometimes to change the past.” While I haven’t changed the past, and I wouldn’t describe the blogging process as easy, I think I have changed how I feel about the past.
I think the idea of ‘stories we tell ourselves’ is valid, even if, upon closer scrutiny, mine was a little off. Maybe that is the whole point. To discover whether the story is true! Not everyone would choose to examine their own stories in a public blog, but I think it has been helpful to get feedback. When people comment, for example, that the stories about my Nana and Zada make them feel warm and safe, it helps me process and amplify my own feelings.
Writing the stories was also useful. Describing the images in my head helped to clarify them. Having to choose adjectives to express an emotion, or paint a picture of Nana’s kitchen forced me to think more deeply about the memory and its meaning.
I don’t think I am done yet. I think there is more to uncover about growing up in Brooklyn in that time with my family. I think, too, there is more to explore about the beginning of my relationship with Gary, our early marriage and starting a family. I hope you will continue to share my journey and, perhaps, share some of yours. I have very much appreciated when Gary and Leah offered their own stories (and judging by the comments, readers have enjoyed their posts, too). Others are welcome to do that in the comments or in a guest blog piece.
I think it is helpful to examine our stories, our memories; expose them to the light of day. You may be surprised at what you find. I hope I continue to surprise myself.
7 thoughts on “A Year in Review”
On behalf of the other members of your family, I want to thank you for writing about your memories. Your well written blog shows the eloquent and expressive ability you have to communicate. A great family tradition you inherited from Zada, Aunt Simma and Uncle Jack; just to name a few. We all look forward to Monday to delve back in time and share and learn from your recollections. Keep up the great job. And Happy Birthday to Leah and welcome back to the East coast.
After a year of posts, have you thought about a post about the best responses to your post. Which were the most surprising, the funniest or unexpected.
Interesting suggestion. I’ll have to look at that. Thanks.
Linda, I always enjoy reading each and every entry of your blog. Hopefully I can now add to your statistics since I am reading your blog while visiting Italy. Keep them coming. I’ll be in Italy next week too!!!
I see parallels between the journey in your life and your journey to become a blogger. In some ways, those two are the same process. And they show your strength and courage. What a wonderful year of memories. Well done!
Linda – thank you for writing this blog. I look forward to Monday so I can read your eloquent words. Your observations about our family give me a different perspective on events I lived through and ones I didn’t experience personally. I think what you wrote about self-perception above is thought provoking. We often get caught up in our own way of seeing something and forget that there are other possible interpretations. Thank you for reminding me that is true at a time I need to hear it. Also, what you said about not recognizing love is true. As a cousin, I feel remiss that I almost never say it, but I love you and I always have. You have been an inspiration to me in so many ways. I am grateful to you that you share yourself so openly with us. You always give me a lot of food for thought about you, our family, and myself. I hope you have a wonderful experience next weekend and it results in many more of your fabulous essays.
Thank you, Laurie, first for being my cousin! Also, for reading and commenting. I always look forward to getting your perspective.