january 11: containers

January 11, 2019 @ 3:08 pm | Filed under: ,

I posted an explanation on Facebook today:

A wee reminder. If you are looking for my discussions of books, art, nature, pop culture, homeschooling, and joyful family life, you’ll find that at my blog and on Instagram.

Here on FB, I write (since 2016) almost exclusively about current events and policy. (Occasional book-related announcements, and sometimes quips that later make their way into a real post elsewhere. But 90% policy discussions and political commentary.)

If you prefer my rhapsodies about pine siskins and Betsy-Tacy books, they’re still happening, just not here.

It was HARD to pick just two items for rhapsody examples. 🙂 It’s a long list, my enthusiasms. Fountain pens, Pacific Northwest skies, Cybils books, Lisa Congdon, Cozyblue Stitch Club, sketchbooks, Creativebug, Scott Peterson, poetry, Ritter Sport Bars, Portland adventures, Journey North, Chronologically LOST, the northern flicker at my feeder this very moment, Holly Wren Spalding, Small Meadow Press, raisins raisins all we are is raisins, the Snoopy cast album, the Bravewriter Arrow I’m writing (Harriet the Spy this time), historical fiction, cherry cobbler…you Bonny Glen readers know better than anyone what lights me up. I could link almost every one of those off-the-top-of-my-head items to a post (or many posts) here. I won’t, because that takes too long.

(The WordPress SEO plug-in is constantly yelling about my failure to include internal links. It also berates me for writing long sentences. I laugh and ignore it. I can’t remember the last time I looked at traffic stats for this blog.)

When I was assessing my lapses here last fall, I realized I knew exactly how I wanted to use this space—the way I always have: a chronicle of my enthusiasms and the hilarious or thought-provoking things my kids say. Those are the things I want to remember, and to lavish words upon.

Two years ago, when I became compelled to do some writing about policy and advocacy, I decided Facebook was the best space for that—the place where I seem to connect most directly with the largest number of people. (I have more followers on Twitter, but I seldom tweet anymore. My FB connections are almost always people I actually know, and therefore the chances of a real discussion are higher than in the Twitter flood.)

A while back, I started compiling these little happy lists—the sorts of things I’ve been posting here in the past couple of weeks—in my notebook at first, and now spilling onto the blog. Two years in a row, I had the Flow Magazine “Tiny Pleasures” page-a-day calendar (I miss it!) and it was easy to jot down two or three or ten tiny pleasures of my own on a planner page. But I write to share, and I believe in habits. It’s a habit worth cultivating: recording those little happy lists here where we can talk about them. I mention something, and you mention something back, and next thing you know, Isabella Tree’s Wilding is on my nightstand waiting its turn…that’s what I always loved about blogging, those sparks flying back and forth.

It does feel, sometimes, like half a picture, or an indulgence. Serious and dangerous matters require our urgent attention. I’m doing my best to further discourse (especially around practical policy solutions) and spur compassionate action. I’m…just not doing it here. My kids love to tease me about my passion for containerizing. Show me a jumble and I’ll give you a nice basket. When things heated up after the 2016 election, I realized I needed online containers, too, in order to maintain balance and composure. In order to do the work, but not be consumed by it. In order to keep noticing and celebrating the many riches all around me—those pine siskins, this beautiful book. The way Scott keeps me supplied with specially extra-caffeinated cocoa so I can get up before dawn to write. The way the sunrise begins with deep blue, not the pink or gold you expect. The delight of seeing Bean and Rose walk down the street to have lunch at a favorite café. The broad expanse of crocuses that will bloom in Wilshire Park only a few weeks from now.

The happy jolt I get—still, a year and a half after the move—every time I see Klickitat Street on a sign.

kids in rain slickers under autumn trees

So. Little happy lists here, and serious policy discourse there, and occasional light snark on Twitter, and whatever it is I do on Instagram. (It’s seasonal, I guess? My Stories tend to be a mix of day-in-the-life homeschooling glimpses and Portland adventuring. My grid is 85% swooning over nature. I guess it’s like when I sweep everything off the counter into a pretty box to be sorted later. People who’ve helped me pack for a move know what I’m talking about.)

Do any of you compartmentalize your social media this way? I’d love to hear what balance looks like for you. I know some of you don’t do FB or IG at all, and with Facebook especially I see the wisdom in that.

As a postscript I’ll add that lately, my favorite thing about this blog is clicking the ‘related posts’ button at the bottom. It keeps tumbling me into moments I had no memory of, and I’m grateful for the archive.

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6 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Melanie Bettinelli says:

    I think I tend to be kind of the opposite to you. Downright anti-container. When blogs were proliferating and people sometimes had multiple blogs: the cooking blog, the project blog, the homeschool blog, the faith-based blog– I happily dumped all my eggs in one basket and just… wrote. (Dom and I did try to have shared a cooking blog, but soon I let it slide and slipped back into sharing recipes at The Wine-Dark Sea. I’ve tried twitter and Facebook and Google plus and found that for me it was overwhelming to do more than one social media platform. I’ve not even been tempted by Instagram.

    Now I do find Facebook helpful in keeping up with friends and family and feeding my thirst for interesting articles and pretty pictures and such. And these days it tends to be where I share my daily spur of the moments thoughts and photos. My blog is more for longer form writing and also for my set forms like my learning notes and book notes where I keep track and share about homeschooling and what I’m reading. I do think Facebook has siphoned off a lot of content that used to be on my blog and I’m pretty ambivalent about that. I’d be much happier for it all to be in one place, everything jostling up against everything in one messy jumble.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true in all areas of life. But in general I’m probably organizationally challenged. I put my books in order once when we moved in and once again when we moved book cases into the living room. But once that was all set, the books tended to migrate all over the house and the impetus to tidy them up and put them back in their places just hasn’t been there. I tend to like the idea of pretty baskets, but any system falls apart as I hem and haw about what goes where. Some things want to be very much in their own places, but a lot of them don’t.

  2. fatima says:

    Just saying, that a while ago, I read through a whole lot of your blog using the ‘related posts’. I was totally amazed by the tidal homeschooling and all the books, and the reading you seemed to do. And wanted to know all of what you had written here. But especially the ‘related posts’ threw up lots of the fun things the kids said or did.

  3. Penelope says:

    I still, after all these years (13!!) of blogging, only blog. As the other platforms came along I just … couldn’t see trying to splice my focus. I like the simplicity of a long term journal … (i have kept paper ones too, since childhood).

  4. lesley says:

    So lovely to be included in your list of enthusiasms. : ) You will remember how fond I am of containing from Wisteria & Sunshine…yet I haven’t been able to do so online. I rather envy you yours. For me, blogging (sadly neglected for the most part,) Instagram, my newsletters and Wisteria & Sunshine are all similar in intent and it makes it challenging to decide what goes where…and when.

    But your fascinating post might make me give it a go again, using Julie Morgenstern’s approach of Sorting, Purging, Assigning a Home and Containerizing. Remember the name for the last step…equalizing? It still makes me groan a bit, tho’ it is a worthy step. xo

  5. Kathryn says:

    Oh, yes! Containers for me too. FB used to be snippets about kids and pictures, but as the kids have turned into young adults and an almost-teen I don’t post about them much any more. We have been lucky enough to travel a lot over the past couple of years, so it has evolved into mostly posting pictures of our adventures, mixed up with a few random comments and occasional shares of things that pop up on my timeline. I have more FB friends than IG followers so post there even though much of what is on my timeline would really be better suited to IG. I use IG for more travel pictures and rather erratic sharing of other photographs. Twitter is my container for history, archives and politics related stuff, which I generally prefer to keep away from FB. The Brexit mayhem is leading me to spend far too much time there . (For balance Twitter also lifts my spirits with competitive duck pictures from museums and videos of dogs trained to respond to Harry Potter spells.) I very much want to get back to posting on my poor neglected blog – partly to write about what I am reading, and also because I like the longer online diary format. A while ago I set up a local history blog, which may or may not get revived sometime. If I feel the need to blog history stuff again, it will go there.

  6. Karen Edmisten says:

    I started compartmentalizing without really meaning to, but I get sloppy. My poor blog has been nearly dead, other than Poetry Friday, so I guess it became a poetry blog (though I have high hopes for more blogging in 2019.) I tend toward political rants on Twitter, and Facebook is still my happy place to share bookish things, family stuff (to limited audiences), and intriguing articles. Instagram is a hodge-podge of life snippets and quotes. (I think. See? I’m sloppy.)

    Btw, your Year of Tiny Pleasures calendar is on the way. 🙂