I have alluded occasionally over the last few months, maybe longer, that I have been making plans, sorting things out. I suspect some would try to label my mind-set at the moment as ’empty nest’. I disagree but I do think I am at one of those moments in life when you feel that things could change. I don’t mean I am at some sort of cross roads metaphorically, or in reality, or that I have had some sort of revelation. No, it is more a feeling that I am entering a new phase of my life and that if I choose to I can change some things.
I think it is true to say that some of this could fall into the ’empty nest’ category as both my sons now work and the youngest will probably be relocating to Devon in the next month or so but I have been in that situation for a while and I don’t feel a need to fill any void. I have for some years now been in a position where if I fancy doing thing and work and funds permit I do it. My life is also quite full with a job that can be demanding and can have long days and I am involved with two horticultural groups, serving on the committee of both and then there is the blog and that’s where the block really is.
I have been writing this blog for around 8 years. I love it but sometime, like now, it feel onerous. I have tried walking away from it in the past but it is like turning your back on a really close friend. They are after all rare and you never know when you really might need them so it is best to solider on through the less fun times. Recently I have become somewhat obsessed with the stats and my position in a league table. This is not good, it is in fact quite unhealthy and taps into my competitive streak which rears its ugly head from time to time. I have been working hard on the blog, leaving comments on others, responding to comments, trying to keep the content regular etc but the key expression here is ‘working hard’. Blogging shouldn’t be hard work, it shouldn’t be onerous, you shouldn’t do it just to come further up a league table than someone else.
Why should you blog? One of those questions that each blogger will give you a different answer to. I have always said that I blog for myself but I love it when it engages with others and this is still true today. This is why it doesn’t work when I am chasing stats etc. But now I come to another stumbling block which has crept up on me over the last few months and relates to the sense of change I mention above. My blog is entitled ‘The Patient Gardener’ but my interests are diversifying and I want to, and do, other things so why don’t I blog about them more? Is the blog name too prescriptive, am I letting it block my thought process, am I over thinking this – probably! When I first started blogging I got excited when someone left a comment, I got excited to find a new gardening blog, or I saw a plant I hadn’t seen before – but familiarity breeds contempt, well not contempt as that might be going to far, but you know what I mean – and I have lost that thrill.
I love my garden, I enjoy ‘working’ in it but I am struggling to get enthusiastic about always blogging on this subject. I have been looking for something recently, I haven’t been sure what, but I have felt that something needs to change. I have even looked at moving house but realised that I love my house and garden too much to move – the neighbours have put their house on the market this week and I had a quiet tentative cheer! I have started walking and my interest in wildlife is returning. Also having played around with different crafts I have found myself enthralled with embroidery again and getting absurdly excited when I find an embroidery blog, they are few and far between, and positively stroking the cover of the Inspirations magazine when it arrived from Australia full of projects and plans. Whilst I am going on a garden visiting holiday this year, and I have been on them before, I don’t feel an overwhelming urge to go on more. I love visiting gardens but there is so much more to the world and I want to see it. I have a list of places and things I want to see and strangely there are few gardens featuring:
- Iceland including the Northern Lights
- Highland and island to see Golden Eagle and Otters
- Whale watching
- Southern Italy
- Isles of Scilly
- Costa Rica
- Halong Bay
- Anka Wot
- China – the Terracotta Army and Forbidden City, as well as the rice fields
and that’s just off the top of my head. I am in a position to start planning these trips so why not? I have found some companies that do trips specifically for solo travellers, which aren’t aimed at people looking for partners and which don’t charge a single supplement. I have two solo trips coming up over the next two months which will test how I get on. This weekend I am off to the South Coast to visit West Dean Gardens, Great Dixter and Sissinghurst. I am staying two nights on my own in a B&B so that will be the first challenge. Then in July I am going on a trip to visit gardens in Ireland. It is an organised trip but I have to find my own way to Dublin, not that hard I know, and it will be interesting to see how I get on spending a week with complete strangers but people who have a similar interest. I am feeling more content with life as though I have served my time over the last 20 something years bringing my sons up on my own, penny pinching, working hard and now its time to rediscover the things that really matter to me (aside from my sons of course!)
So what I think I am struggling with is sharing all of this on a blog which for the last 8 years has focussed on gardening and gardens. I have tried having a separate blog for crafts but it was just too much. Do I carry on with the same blog name or should I come up with a new one? What would that be – The Whims of an Empty Nester – sounds a bit sad really! Or The Patient Gardener and other musings – too long? Or What Helen Did Next – sounds possibly more interesting than it might be? Would a new name attract new readers but also lose some of my regular readers? Would moving away from a niche mean that its harder to attract regular readers, build up the community of readers that I have been reading about today – does this matter? I don’t want to turn my back on writing about gardening I just want the blog to reflect my life better rather than one aspect of me and I am stuck on how this would work