The Art of Blogging
One of the bloggers I have followed from Day 1 on Word Press is Cristian Mihai who writes on The Art of Blogging. His tips always are right on! His coaching is helpful for those of us who are trying to improve our blogging skills. Isn’t that all of us?
This week he reminded us that blogging is not about numbers. It’s not about how many followers or how many “likes” or how many comments we get. It’s about the people. “Build relationships,” he told us.
Cristian continued by reminding us that it’s about passion. Write about things you really care about, he instructed.
You can’t improve your blog if you don’t know WHY you are blogging, he said. Cristian Mihai always reminds me that I need to be clear about my purpose. What do I hope to accomplish?
People, Passion, Purpose, Precision, and Pleasure
I wrote to Cristian thanking him for the 3 P’s of successful bloggers, but then suggested we need to add two more P’s: precision and pleasure.
I need to be precise about what I write. Make sure the words are spelled correctly, the grammar is correct, and the format is pleasing. Add sub-titles. Add pictures. Edit out superfluous words. Read it aloud to myself or my dog. Make sure it sounds real.
No one will return to a blog that is sloppy or one that uses objectionable language. Or at least not many people will. We all know that. Those kinds of words and messes turn me off!
And the 5th “P” of successful blogging is pleasure.
I take pleasure in writing
about the things I am passionate about.
I get enormous pleasure out of
communicating with the people who leave comments.
I love getting to know people from India,
Sri Lanka, Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Finland, etc…
I really enjoy looking at where y’all are from.
As long as you’re having fun, taking pleasure in the writing process, and enjoying the connections that your blog makes possible, I think you’re on the right track. As long as you write about your passions (one of mine is this “Loving One Another” subject), and as long as you stay true to your purpose and do it with the greatest precision you can muster, then I think you are a blogging “artist.”
I’m glad you are here at JanBeek.
I hope we can get to know one another,
encourage one another,
and give each other feedback as often as possible.
When the great Sufi mystic and poet Jalal-ud-Din Rumi died at sunset in Konya, southern Turkey, on December 17, 1273, he had composed over 3,500 odes, 2,000 quatrains, and a vast spiritual epic called the Mathnawai. Now with A Year of Rumi from acclaimed Rumi scholar Andrew Harvey, you will receive a hand-selected poem from this incredible visionary’s life work every day for the next year – that’s 365 poems from the 13th century.
Increasingly, Rumi is being recognized as the unique spiritual genius he is, as someone who is fused at the highest level and with the greatest possible intensity the intellect of a Plato, the vision, passion and soul-force of a Christ or Buddha, and the extraordinary literary gifts of a Shakespeare. Rumi is, not only the world’s greatest mystical poet, but also an essential guide to the new planetary spiritual renaissance that is slowly emerging from the ruins of our civilization. He speaks to us from the depths of our own sacred identity, and what he says has the electric eloquence of our innermost truth. No other poet or philosopher has Rumi’s almost frightening intimacy of address, and has conveyed the terror, rapture and wonder of awakening to Divine Love with such fearless and gorgeous courage, such humility and such unflinching clarity. “The daily poems have become a routine part of my morning, and they always seem to resonate with difficulties that I am currently facing. That means that each morning, I am given a few minutes to just consider the meaning behind my choices, the value behind what I care about, and ways to better love those closest to me. These few minutes have become a centering time of self-actualization.”You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.
One of the world’s foremost Rumi interpreters, Andrew Harvey began a life-long exploration and explication of Rumi and Sufi mysticism in Paris in 1984, with a group of French Sufis and under the guidance of Eva De Vitray-Meyerovitch, the magnificent translator of Rumi into French. This collection of versions of Rumi by Andrew Harvey contains some of the master’s most luminous verse, along with some of his lesser-read poems, with the aim of presenting a balanced view of his teaching that includes both the high-flying love of God and the rigorous path of discipline essential for those who seek it.
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
“Whatever lifts the corners of your mouth, trust that.”
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”
“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.”
“In the blackest of your moments, wait with no fear.”
“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them.”
“Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there.” Actual course participants share their experiences
“I just started my year of Rumi and it is one of the best gifts I could ever give myself!”
“Rumi brings me closer to God than I have ever been. I feel as though Rumi lives within me and I, him. I hope to find through this course that Rumi can help me let go and let God.”
“Rumi is the truth. The whole world it is in danger – how we can change that only by love? To love each other and not by words, but by actions. Love is the universal law. We live in world with no boundaries, no walls and no control. We are free and do not want to be controlled.”
“Have you not spent hours gazing at the night sky under a spiraling Milky Way in utter joy? Rumi must have done that. His oneness with All is everywhere explicit in this work.”
“Rumi messages are very spiritual and deep, sometimes it takes me a few days to get the real meaning, but the process is what is about to open up and seek deep within you.”
“Rumi has the ability to always connect with the Almighty, as if in tune.”
“I have found that every time I read a Rumi poem it immediately resonates within my soul, my spirit. I use to be in quest for the perfect Rumi poem; however, I have found that each are so loving and beautiful that they are expanding inside of me. The more I take them in the more they grow and the deeper the feelings of these gems go inside my soul, my spirit. There is a personal journey commencing for me and I find that there are few words to adequately explain what I am feeling but that of the feeling of joy.”
“I enjoy receiving the daily translations in my inbox, it delights my soul to relish in all that is Rumi. I have a greater appreciation for the simple pleasures of life because of his poetry. He inspires me to create not from the mind, but to feel and think with the soul.” About Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey is an internationally renowned religious scholar, writer, and teacher, and the author of over 30 books, including the critically acclaimed Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi, as well as The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, Journey to Ladakh, The Return of the Mother, Son of Man, and The Direct Path: Creating a Journey to the Divine Using the World’s Mystical Traditions. He is also coauthor of the best-selling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. His work has been honored with the Benjamin Franklin Award and the Mind Body Spirit Award (both for Mary’s Vineyard: Daily Readings, Meditations, and Revelations, with photographs by Eryk Hanut), and the Christmas Humphries Award for A Journey in Ladakh. Born in south India in 1952, Harvey studied at Oxford University and became a Fellow of All Soul’s College in 1973. He is Founding Director of the Institute for Sacred Activism.
This article inspired me to look more deeply into this 13th century genius. My blogging. Writers’ Group friend, Lilie Allen (@ WordPress Tea, Toast and Kindness) often quotes him. I think this 365 page book of selected writings by Rumi sounds promising.
When you think of “love” – it usually is love between persons, right?
But at our Madison Valley Woman’s Club meeting yesterday,
LOVE was expressed as it relates to nature and the love of climbing.
Our guest speaker was Wendy Gustin.
Wendy doesn’t like climbing.
She doesn’t like it a little bit.
She LOVES it!!
Wendy told us about her adventures in 2017
when she hired a guide and a sherpa
and took off to climb Mt. Everest.
It is the Earth’s highest mountain above sea level,
located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas.
Nepal and China run across its summit point. Wendy reached the summit.
She is one of the 450+ woman in recorded history ever to do so.
The summit is 29,029 feet!!
I had the privilege of sitting this close to the slide show.
After seeing a few slides in the presentation, I grabbed my cell phone.
I knew this was going to be a treat – and I wanted to share it with you.
I didn’t take notes in order to give you exact words,
but the pictures speak for themselves.
Strap on your 20 lbs of boots, and let’s go!
The tiny airport where she landed
is one of the most dangerous in the world.
(Sorry I don’t remember its name)
Miss the landing and you end up in the mountain
sooner than you anticipated!
The steps were steep, but much more doable than
the glacier-covered, steep mountainsides.
Doesn’t look THAT steep, you say?
Those tiny orange and yellow specks
at the bottom of the glacier are the tents
at Base Camp.
Climbers had to connect to a single rope
that guided their path – and required teamwork.
No way you’d catch me climbing that ladder!
(My kitchen stool –
and the circular staircase
to my sanctuary each morning…
that’s my idea of climbing!)
Hats off to the brave souls who love this kind of climbing!
They had to navigate these kinds of ice flows.
Wendy said to look carefully –
can you find some climbers up there??
Here is Camp 3.
From this 20,000 ft. level, they climbed
up to 25,000 ft. and back down to this camp
several different days to get acclimated
for the final climb to the summit.
The wind at this level was brutal at times.
We saw a video of the tents being blown away
(if they did not have climbers in them to hold them down).
This is the sherpas inside Wendy’s tent.
They greeted her each morning,
“Good Day, DeDe!”
as they gave her the hot tea
they had prepared for her.
(“DeDe is a term of affection and greeting
used by the Nepalese).
They also made her breakfast.
Wendy said she got pretty spoiled!
This is the sherpas’ tent.
Many of them stay the whole season
up there at the 25,000 foot level!!
Some are born at the 17,000 foot level
and are acclimated from birth to these elevations.
It is hard to imagine the exhilaration
of reaching Mt. Everest’s summit!
Have you ever had a hankering
to do something like this?
I have the utmost respect for Wendy,
her team, her courage,
her determination and tenacity,
Imagine the fitness routine,
and savings plan, for 5 to 10 years
to get ready –
strong enough –
and have sufficient funds –
to do this.
Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Congratulations, Wendy! Thank you for sharing your passion and the beautiful slides with us.
My pictures of them often reflect light- and do not do them justice, but you, my friends, got the idea, right?
Do you LOVE climbing?
I must say, it’s not one of my passions,
but I certainly enjoyed doing it vicariously!
What is YOUR passion that you’d train and save money for a decade to be able to do?
Why Reblog? Well, Don is my 600th follower!! I want to honor him and his blog and invite you to see his work. I love his photography. I think you will, too. Thanks, Don, for visiting and following JanBeek!!
Gear DOES Matter
One of the best ways to improve your photography? Buy gear. Yes,
that’s right. Buy gear. You are a photographer. It is your passion
(hopefully!) so why not buy gear?
Gear motivates, inspires and allows you to realise your vision.
I would recommend though, buying gear only if you really need it. Buy second-hand gear off eBay or Gumtree (Australia). Cameras, lenses, flashes and bags are tools- if you need them, buy them.
Some will make you a better photographer because you will be able to
capture what you envisage. Some purchases will be duds. Avoid the duds.
Don’t make impulse buys. Research the hell out of each purchase to
guarantee you get a good bargain and you know why you are getting that new piece of equipment.
I have only just bought my first speedlight flash with softbox and
umbrella. Continuous lights served me well for a long time, and I still
use them, but they are limiting when it comes to travelling and I needed
stronger, directional lights, so I bought a cheap but highly regarded
flash- a Godox flash. I didn’t by a Nikon one at four-times the price
with less features. I shopped around, weighted up options, put it off
until I felt limited in my photography.
Same with lenses. I bought a Tamron 90mm 1:1 Macro lens. My other
lenses, a 50mm and 28mm, I bought second hand off eBay. I mostly
photograph people, still life and flowers- 90mm becomes the most useful
lens. I shoot a few landscapes, so a second hand 28mm suits me well.
It has to be justified.
If you are struggling to achieve a look with your equipment, then it is time to buy gear. The sad thing is, I see so many photographers buying gear thinking it will make them a better photographer. It wont.
But having gear, suitable for what you want to create, will make you a better photographer.
Buying the right gear will elevate your photography. And no, there
are no affiliate links here. I never recommend gear, because what is
good for me, may not be suitable for you.
What are your passions? What are you zealous about?
As we wrap up this A-Z series designed to help us add more meaning and find more purpose in life, what is your take-away?
I often have quoted Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat
from their book, Spiritual Literacy. Here is what they had to say about ZEAL:
“Be passionately aroused by life.
Cherish every moment,
honor your commitments,
and treasure your kinship with all.”
Be Passionate About Life
What are you passionate about?
Make a list of those things, people, ideas, places
that arouse your passions.
Prioritize them, if you can,
and decide to zealously do something positive
about each one of them this week.
Here are a half a dozen things I am passionate about:
To “zealously do something positive about each one” of them this week, I will:
1. Practice my faith by attending church and teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, and leading as moderator for our Presbyterian Women. I will “walk the talk” as I strive to apply the principles Jesus is teaching me in His Word. Practice the principle this JanBeek.blog is built on: “Loving One Another.”
2. Devote time and energy to keeping in touch with family far and near. Treasure time with those who are here now… my husband, our daughter and son-in-law, grandson, granddaughter and her family. We are so blessed! Let the ones far away know they are precious to us, too. Write them, pray for them, call, text, or visit them. Never take them for granted.
3. Exercise hospitality as I invite friends to come for dinner, or treat a friend to lunch. Write cards of appreciation, those “Just Because” kinds of cards… not waiting for a birthday, anniversary, illness, or some other “expected” time to get a message. Pray daily for my friends, just as I do my family and our community and world leaders. Put their faces up to God and ask His blessings on them. He knows their needs better than I do.
4. Serve my community in the ways I am able: Food Bank, volunteer sous-chef at the Sr. Center, “man” the desk at the Medical Center as a “Purple Lady,” and visit friends at the nursing home (sometimes with my accordion in hand so we can sing “Oldies but Goodies” together). Shop locally – and express appreciation to our local merchants.
5. Appreciate and help to preserve nature. Pick up after myself. Give to the Wildlife Preserve, the Nature Conservancy., and other worthwhile organizations that work to enhance and protect our environment. Admire the mountains. Appreciate the deer and antelope who roam our grasslands here on Pintail Ridge, and admire the beauty of our birds – and even the cute little rodents (the hawks have to have something to feed on!).
6. Give Time! By now you know serving is a passion of mine – because I am retired and I am blessed with good health and TIME. In the list above I mentioned many ways I intend to serve. One I didn’t mention was my friend, Raymond, whom I visit weekly. He lives alone and his family is out of state. As long as I am able, I hope to look for those in need of what I have to give, and to serve in whatever way the Lord leads me. I am zealous about serving!
Cherish Every Moment
Be Zealous About Life (every day is a gift) – unwrap it!
My friend, Steve, has no trouble finding neighbors who need
their driveways shoveled or blown out. What a gift that is!
Volunteering to help others is giving back … or paying it forward! Someday Steve won’t be able to do this anymore. Then, hopefully, someone will volunteer to shovel or blow out HIS driveway!
Look at the book my daughter sent me:
I bet you have a story to tell about some “giving” you have done.
I try to give daily, so when I received this book, I thought, Why not write about it?
I love working at our Senior Center as a sous chef (that’s a fancy name for potato and carrot peeler. salad maker, and onion slicer). I can pretend I am at a fancy Paris Bistro… and my customers are the most precious children of God! (Actually, they are!)
Another way to volunteer your gifts is to visit a friend who is in a nursing home or at the hospital. Anyone can do that! It doesn’t take lessons or months of practice. Just an open heart, and a wiilngness to treat yourself to the infectious smiles your visit will bring.
In our little town of Ennis, Montana, I introduced you day before yesterday to Artists on Main, the wonderful art gallery with its amazing variety of locally created art for sale. We are blessed to have that shop… and if I had the ability to paint or sculpt or whittle or create pottery, jewelry, or stained glass, I’d use that talent to provide items for my friend, Carol, to sell… or I’d visit a friend and bring a product of my creativity as a gift.
Share Your Writing
But, that kind of art is not my forte’… I love to write, so I share my blogs orally with friends in the hospital. I read “Art is Life” to one of my dear friends this morning.
Play Your Instrument
Before going to the hospital, I shared another one of my gifts: the accordion. Do you play an instrument?
I started learning to play the “squeezebox” when I was about ten years old. (Every good little Italian girl or boy played the accordion in those days!) Now, it is a seldom seen (in person) whimsical, portable instrument that can bring joy wherever it goes!
This one is over a hundred years old.
I bought it from Frankie, my sorta cousin, about 70 years ago.
It still works, but with only 8 buttons, you are limited to songs in the key of F, C, G or A.
Many people today have never seen or heard an accordion played in person. They think of Lawrence Welk and expect me to play Flight of the Bumble Bees or The Beer Barrell Polka with bellow shakes.
Once upon a time, I actually could play those advanced pieces. But now, I am content to accompany the hymn singing at church when the piano or organist is ill or out of town… or accompany singing at the Lenten Breakfast where no other instrument is available. (I did that early this morning).
In the summer, I entertain at our Art Festival in the park.
Sometimes I pull it out at home after dinner with friends
and we have a sing-along.
It makes for a memorable evening.
If music is not your forte’, think of other ways you can give.
I belong to the Madison Valley Medical Center Auxuliary. Sitting at the desk a couple of Fridays each month is one way I can volunteer. Donating our home for the “Home Tour” fund-raiser is another way. Our auxiliary earns thousands with that fund-raiser every year and gives the benefits back to the hospital for new equipment, beds, sheets, and other needs. It’s gratifying to be a volunteer. I’m in the center, middle row here.
I hope you will consider ways you can volunteer your talents
for the benefit of others.
Perhaps you already do – in ways different from mine.
Tell me about a way you volunteer or give back. Does it express your purpose and passion?
In a discussion with my 23-year-old grandson about our cultural use of the word LOVE in the English language, I shared with him that we do ourselves a disservice by having only one word for love. In the Ancient Greek culture, there are six words for love.
“What are they?” Chris asked.
Of course, I couldn’t come up with them from the top of my head, so I went to the web and googled it. From “YesMagazine” on-line – Building a Better World – I found my answer in an article titled, Ideas on the Definition of LOVE from the Greek perspective.
You may already know all this, but maybe, like me, you can’t pop the answer up from your vast memory bank. Here’s a refresher… and a reminder of the types of love our world sorely lacks today (my biased opinion there, of course).
Eros – sexual passion; named after the Greek god of fertility. It represented the idea of sexual passion and desire.
Philia – deep friendship; valued far more by the Greeks than the base sexuality of eros. Philia developed between brothers in arms who fought side-by-side on the battlefield. It is about showing loyalty for your friends, sacrificing for them, as well as freely sharing your emotions with them.
Ludus – playful love; it’s the playful affection between children, the flirting and teasing of teens and young adults, the bantering and laughing of friends socializing or out dancing.
Agape – love for everyone; selfless love, extended to all people, whether family members or distant strangers. Agape was translated into Latin as “caritas” from which our word charity was derived.
Pragma – long-standing love; mature, realistic love that is commonly found among long-established couples. Pragma is about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, showing patience and tolerance.
Philautia -love of self; not excessive self-love in the unhealthy form of narcissism, but the healthy version enhanced by a wider capacity to love. If you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others.
And which of those types of love
do you think we need to expand
most in our world today?
I would say both AGAPE and PRAGMA.
Out of those loves true fellowship can grow and thrive.
Here are five of my high school buddies. How I wish I could have been in fellowship with them when this photo was taken. I PRAGMA these guys!!
Today is the first day of Advent. It is the Christian weeks of waiting. Waiting for the promised Messiah. Waiting for Christ’s Mass – Christmas, the birth of our Savior. During Advent we are reminded to become more quiet. “Be still and know that I am God.”
Cherish your loves, your friends, your fellowship with others, and give of your heart to those in need. Prepare for the coming of God’s Son. Prepare by living your best Agape and Pragma self! Be in fellowship with other Christians and with those who need these attributes Rick Warren lists below. Be with others who are seeking and waiting, learning and growing.
According to Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life, “Genuine fellowship includes authenticity, mutuality, sympathy, mercy, honesty, humility, courtesy, confidentiality, and frequency.” (Page 151)