February 17, 2009
now we are four
The Beehive is 4!
You know, it just occurred to me how fitting it is that we started The Beehive in February. We're always restless in February, aren't you? Itchy. Twitchy. Bumfoozled. I mean, when is the world ever more drained of color and energy than in February? The light is wimpy. The air is tired. The trees are inky claws scratching at the grey, clumpy sky.
Yuck. Just yuck.
So back in February 2005, we were right on schedule with the crustimony blahs. The mullygrubs. Cabin fever. The whutevers.
We needed a project.
"When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear," so they say. A dear friend sent me a link to something she was toying around with, something she called The Common Room. Clever gal, she had taken to calling herself The Headmistress (why yes, I'm sure you have heard of her) and posting memos to her family on a blog, of all things. Always a trailblazer, that Headmistress.
How fun. How anti-blah. How decidedly unmullygrubbish.
I clicked the Blogger icon, idly wondering what I would call myself if I were to do such a thing. I thought about how my sassy friend Joy calls me Shenaynay whenever my real name ain't quite spicy enough to suit the moment. (I call her "Pandamonia" when necessary.) Then I thought of my young niece and nephew who call me Queen rather than Aunt. (Smart tykes, they get more dessert that way). So I rather idly typed "Queen Shenaynay" in the box, looked at it with a smirk, and hit enter. I never imagined that anyone other than my family and maybe a half dozen other people would ever see it. People like the Headmistress and Pandamonia, maybe.
And that's how we became the accidental bloggers you know and love today.
At first, The Beehive was a scrapbook for our family, a place to thumbtack mental snapshots for our own mutual amusement. Before long, though, a whole pack of our face-to-face friends had found us here. Lots of them started blogs, too. And there for a blip of time (back before Facebook and Twitter bloomed), our blog was something beyond a family scrapbook -- it was also a big virtual happy hour with our real-life friends. The comments were often more fun to read than our posts.
But within a year many of those early bloggers sputtered out and disappeared. I, on the other hand, was hooked. So when the big raucous happy hour with our real-life blogging friends dwindled down to an occasional quiet tea party, we simply went back to tacking stuff up here mostly for our own amusement. It was a different purpose, but it was still a good one.
Every once in a while I checked our blog stats just for the phooey of it, and those stat bars were always taller than I expected. People were finding us even though the blog has always been blocked from search engines. We even got nominated for some blog awards here and there, which was a real kick considering we'd never made any efforts whatsoever to get noticed. Hey, that's encouraging even if it wasn't what you were after.
And then I got cancer. The shock wrought a silence, and my silence stretched out into something that turned into a full-blown sabbatical. When I thought of The Beehive during that time, it felt like something far away, a relic that memorialized a brief slice of my pre-cancer life. I couldn't remember how to be that person who wrote things that others might enjoy reading; at times I couldn't even imagine how I had ever been that person. Cancer left me feeling quieter, enlarged inwardly but outwardly shrunken. What did any of it matter, anyway? In my mind, The Beehive was history.
Then one gloomy afternoon, I decided to read chronologically through our archives. And you know what? It made me happy. Post after post, I was reminded of things that I would have long since forgotten had we not blogged about them. And little by little, I began to feel the infectious force of our former selves, the color and verve of our life before cancer came and knocked the wind out of us.
I wondered, as I read those happy posts, could I get that back? Could I make the years ahead go back to being the kind of years I would want to remember -- unlike the one I had just spent in cancer hell? In years to come, would I find joy and pleasure in reading Beehive archives from 2008? 2009? 2010?
I needed to believe I would.
So I ended the sabbatical. To be honest, blogging again was ridiculously hard at first. The Beehive was supposed to be a fun thing for us, right? So I had to ask myself: if blogging (or journalling, if you like) is a pain sometimes, is it still worth it? Why? Good questions.
As for me, I find that blogging makes me notice what is worth remembering. Somehow that makes me live more mindfully, more present in the moment. Being more mindful makes me more grateful. And being grateful -- that is, choosing to live in an atmosphere of gratitude -- is what has made me whole again.
I think it's something like what Flannery O'Connor called the habit of being. Flannery knew a thing or two about the power of writing to help a soul transcend bodily afflictions, and a whole host of other aggravations besides. I think Flannery figured out that this "habit of being" thing, as she called it, was the key to surviving in a world marked in every molecule by original sin. But that's another post for another day... and really, you want Fa-So-La-La to write that one.
Four years later, I still ask myself about once a week what purpose blogging serves for me. For whom do I blog? Is it worth the time? The thought? Can it justify the dust bunnies it sometimes spawns? I need to think about the answers, and often. Because it helps me stay mindful, and thus it helps me keep writing.
So that was a long way around the barn to say somebody pass around the cake and ice cream already! We're like way totally into cakes around here these days, are we not?