I spent a lot of time in my lovely wife’s art studio area in our home around this time last year, with hours spent on a computer or the phone. Prior to November 10, it was all taken up with a job search because being unemployed sucks … bad. As of November 10, I added something to the mix: blogging.
I was determined to publish at least one blog article per day for a full year. Today, I’ve reached that goal. Today, I’m celebrating that personal achievement.
A year ago, when some friends heard that I was blogging, they would often respond with, “Oh, that’s nice. It’ll give him something to do while he’s looking for work.” While there was truth to that, it actually went deeper for me. To me, it was more like a race to see which would get me closer to being back on my feet professionally — looking for a “regular job,” or the blogging.
My pace when it comes to looking for a decent, “regular job” is still as strong as I can make it. But it’s gotten me only plenty of nibbles and only a few decent “bites” as I keep fishing around for work in a field that I’m at least trained for and experienced in, outside of the extreme pressure and disappointment and crazy hours I’ve found in taking a stab at auto sales.
The blogging has turned out to be more promising so far, even though this particular blog hasn’t gotten me a dime in pay. I haven’t done this blog for actual pay — more for a deeper, more “personal reward.” On the music blog I created as a “spinoff” of this one in early September (thecrossovermusicchannel.com), I’ve earned some pocket change through clicks on paid ads. That’s pocket change more than I’ve earned in all my searching over the past year for a decent job in which I’ve had at least 16 years of experience, between writing/editing or computer programming.
At one time in the year that this blog has been around, I had someone write a comment on one of my articles, asking me if I was mentioning in my job search about my blog — saying that it should impress any potential employer through my dedication to a task at hand, my willingness to work hard, my ability to communicate, my loyalty to my family, etc. I have been mentioning it lately, using it to try and help “sell myself.” I’m not sure it’s been a “plus” in my job search yet. At times, I can’t help but wonder if our political climate has become so divided that my outspokenness here has hindered me. Who knows?
But I keep speaking out. It’s all coming from the heart, just the way it did when I started writing here a year ago today. I’ve been honest, open, passionate about expressing what’s on my mind about my world and the world around me.
I’ve tried to be an advocate to those who’ve needed it. I’ve tried to be a positive example when it comes to being the best husband and father I can be. I’ve tried to show a humorous side. I’ve tried to get readers to think beyond the obvious. I’ve tried to show the beauty and mystery that surrounds us through my photos. I’ve shown a bit of the “sports fan” in me at times, bringing out the part of me that got me started as a writer in my teens. I’ve tried to entertain, enlighten, and motivate. I’ve tried to be a witness for my faith, one of the things that inspired me to start this blog in the first place over a year ago. I’ve had readers who may not believe in any form of religion read my “faith” articles anyway, and tell me they’ve been touched by them. It’s only fitting that this one-year celebration should come about on my Sabbath day.
I hope that I’ve succeeded in all my goals for this blog in some small way.
I’ll celebrate reaching my one-year goal of at least one article published per day by giving links to articles published over the past year in a variety of areas, along with a little background on each link. These have been chosen by me out of the 644 posts I’ve published prior to this one over the past 366 days, based either on popularity by the number of times they’ve been viewed, or because they’re a personal favorite of mine. Largely, they’ve been chosen by the readers, for one reason or another.
Thanks to you for following along on my personal journey over the past year. I may not publish new blog articles on an everyday basis now, but I know it’ll be close to it so don’t “tune out” now. I still have plenty to say and to share. In fact, I’ll have something in store for Veterans Day tomorrow (November 11). Stay in touch!
This one started simply enough. I got a call one night after dinner time from a number that showed up on our caller ID with amazing frequency, offering the same thing every time in a recorded message: take a quick survey, and if you follow through to the end you’ll get a free cruise to the Caribbean. Now — 5,260 views later with lots of comments from angry people around the country who found this article through a Google search either on phone numbers or the word “telemarketer” or the term “political opinions of america” — they found this simple article that took me mere minutes to write. It’s even brought some legal minds from around the country in on the “case.”
I never dreamed when I gave my youngest son Grant an assignment before last Christmas to teach him a valuable life lesson that it would touch so many people to this day, but it has in the following article.
My advocacy for the homeless didn’t stop there. One reader from the Los Angeles area named Katy wrote a comment in the next article saying the following:
“Does your organization ever come to the los Angeles area? You are very inspiring. I am a young single mother of two boys, I go to school full time and work part time. I am fortunate to have a strong support system. I try to help the homeless when I can and I would love to help out sometime.”
That’s part of why I’ve been doing this for the past year. It’s comments like that that have kept me going, determined to keep pushing on.
And then there’s my friend Jeanie. Her story still gets read as well, long after it first appeared. I occasionally see posts she puts up on Facebook. I hope her life has turned out better since this appeared around mid-March.
I started doing music video playlists on a daily basis — along with articles on other topics on a daily basis — around early January, and I kept doing them until I launched my music blog in early September. My most popular music video playlist by far has been this one. I still see it pop up — four times so far just today, in fact, and counting — with one word usually found in the search engine terms that led people to it: “communion.”
I laugh at weird times. Sometimes I might laugh at a wrong time. I’ll laugh when I get pissed off and I get in a fightin’ mood. I’ll laugh when I think about what a character like Archie Bunker would say if he knew we had a black president today (one of my top-viewed posts ever). I’ll laugh when I tangle online with a former U.S. lawmaker named Tom Tancredo, especially when he hides behind the name “Marla” for whatever reason and still acts all tough. And I’ll feel like laughing when my family loses its health coverage, even though it pisses me off. You’ll have to excuse me for my weird reactions. People are strange.
It’s odd that a sports fan like myself — a former sports writer and sports photographer to boot — has written so few sports articles in this blog. The title of this next article alone was enough to get a whole bunch of hits on Google, from people asking the very same question that I had.
Early last December, the thought came to me: this blog isn’t just about me, it’s about people like me as well. I had a few friends online who I knew were struggling to survive through unemployment themselves — well-educated, skilled, hard-working people who desperately want to work and provide for their families. The first person I contacted about telling his story was my friend Dom from the East Coast. Dom did find work again for a while after this next article appeared, but the last time I chatted with him online — around the time of the presidential debates — he was unemployed again. It’s a vicious cycle.
And then there’s my family. Where would I be without my family? I hate to even think about that.
Last spring, I thought it would be a nice touch to give my lovely bride Amy a day each week to let people get to know her better as well, so we started the “Amy’s Angle” feature. She’s been so busy the last couple of weeks, she hasn’t had time to do one lately, but she’ll get back into it sometime soon.
The next article has been her most popular, and it’s gotten the most one-day views out of anything I’ve published so far in the blog’s history.
One of the most memorable times I’ve had in the past year — or any year, for that matter — was the time I visited my old college friend and roommate Baron Chase in the San Francisco Bay area around last New Year’s, seeing him in person for the first time in about 27 years. Out of that visit, my “batteries” were recharged. I felt energized, and I felt a sense of hope for the future.
During that visit, my professional musician “bro” Baron introduced me to some new friends and fellow musicians with tremendous talent. I volunteered my time and this blog to help do some public relations work through social media to talk about the music of and a couple of online shows for Lester Chambers and the Mud Stompers, and I’d do it all over again. Lester’s name still pops up quite often in my search engine results or when people search the term “Stageit.com.”
There was a period of time in early April when I worked “overtime” because of a photograph Lester, his wife Lola, and their son Dylan put up on Facebook that went viral. That was quite a time, never to be forgotten. But I was happy to do it, for Lester and my other musical friends.
I guess you could say that I’ve done some “PR work” in the blog for my church as well. And, yep, I’d do that all over again as well, but it’s all come as a natural part of my volunteer work for my church anyway.
Oh, man, I’ve written a lot of political stuff here over the past year, haven’t I? Like it or not, politics affects us all in our daily lives, one way or another, so we might as well pay at least some attention to it.
But there’s one article that I’ve done on politics that’s been the most memorable of all. It involved a U.S. Senator named Pat Toomey, and a former pro football player and author named Pat Toomay. The two men often have people confuse them for each other … as Pat Toomay himself told me after I published the following (see what he wrote in the comments section).
Photography is one of the great passions of my life, although my training in it has pretty much all come through on-the-job experience, along with trial and error. I’ve done a number of photo blogs here in the past year. These are two of my favorites.
Finally, there are my own personal, spiritual beliefs. They’re the beliefs that I’ve held inside of me from the time I was a young boy. They’ve carried me through hard times before, and I still have faith that they’ll carry us through now. It comes from a love that never fails.
- Closing in on a personal goal (viewfrommiddleclass.wordpress.com)
- New City Rules Focus on the Homeless (everydayfamily.com)
- Hypocrisy and doublespeak (redbrickblog.wordpress.com)
- Op-Ed (madinamerica.com)
- Madison homeless campers asked to vacate (weau.com)
- Bloomberg bans food donations to homeless shelters (dailypaul.com)