July 6, 2017

Why Do I Blog?


That is a good question. More than seven years after beginning all this, I'm don't have a simple answer. Certainly, it is satisfying to see something I have written on the Internet and pulled up during a Google search. Those small monthly checks from Amazon for selling a few books or getting clicks on the ads that flow down both sidebars is nice. They don't pay for more than some legal pads, printer ink, or downloaded photos. But, there is some validation there.

I guess there are a few parts to the answer of why I keep doing this. First is my need to write. A blog gives me a reason. I know myself well enough to know I don't have the patience or drive to write a novel or even a nonfiction book. A long time friend of mine has written two mystery novels, both of which I bought and enjoy. It has been a joy to watch his writing improve and his lifelong dream become fulfilled. It was hard, stressful work for him. That path is not for me.

Six to seven hundred words a few times a week is not a lot of heavy lifting. It scratches my itch. Finding a topic usually isn't a problem. Since Satisfying Retirement covers so many topics, I have few restrictions on what can be written about. Committing to something fresh every three or four days gives me the structure I need.

Politics is generally avoided. That subject is so overdone today and almost always guaranteed to generate more heat than light. Religion and sex, the two biggies to avoid in polite conversation, are not often the focus of a post either.  That leaves quite a few topics I can pick from.

Honestly, another reason is I sincerely enjoy reacting to the comments left on the posts. I know some bloggers don't respond, but that couldn't be me. if someone reads what has been written and then actually take the time to add his or her thoughts, I feel it would be unseemly to not recognize that effort with one of my own.

It is interesting to watch the flow of readers into and then away from the blog. I guess this is rather typical, but almost all of the folks who commented on posts of say, five years ago, have been replaced with a a new set of regular participants. If I am still doing this three or four years from now, I imagine there will be a new crop. I guess regular readers just feel the need for freshness and find new blogs to read. Or maybe there is a change in their daily schedule that makes active participation more difficult.

I sometimes wonder where the people who were here earlier in my journey, have gone. Are they still reading  but just not leaving their thoughts? Have they grown tired of retirement as a topic and simply moved on? Since I am a proponent of change, I am not disappointed or upset of this turnover. I am just a little curious.

Blogging is one of the best ways I have found to expand my horizons. I will write a piece that seems to be coherent, on target, and answers the questions that prompted the post in the first place. Then, a reader will leave a comment that adds an entirely new thought or poses a question I hadn't considered. Someone will write something that shows me a direction I hadn't even thought about. Maybe a comment will send responses along a certain tangent that opens up an entirely new path.

Each time this happens I am instantly, and very publicly, reminded that I have a lot to learn. It is clear that my thoughts are not complete. I'm also continuously impressed with the effort that people put into their comments. There is obvious thoughtfulness happening. The comments are meant to enlighten, educate, subtly criticize, be supportive, or allow someone to share a personal experience that relates to the topic. 

The final reason I keep blogging is probably a little silly and exposes a problem with my ego: I don't want to disappoint those who make this blog a regular part of their Internet time. To keep doing something as personal as blogging because a little bit of me says folks would be sad if I stopped seems to be a reason that is both embarrassing and based on an an unattractive level of self-deception.

Importantly, this last reason that I still blog is pretty far down the list. But, in all candor, I felt the need to expose it. Like I noted above, blogging is forced learning and maybe a bit of therapy. Until I am all-knowing and completely healed of my delusions there are reasons to keep at it. 

That suggests I will be here awhile.


35 comments:

  1. Hi Bob. Thanks for sharing your perspective. There are so many blogs out there, covering so many different topics and perspectives, there is likely something for everyone, looking for a way to connect with others in the blogosphere. Your blog has stood the test of time, covering most of the topics that are so important to retirees.

    For myself, I find that blogging is therapeutic for me. I'm on a long sad journey. However blogging has given me an opportunity to put my thoughts in writing. And the support I receive from others on my blog is nothing short of amazing!

    I hope you don't mind if I put in a plug for my own blog, which is intended for those who are on a journey with dementia. www.oneoflifeslittlesurprises.blogspot.com

    Keep on blogging Bob. It is good for the soul, and it provides an invaluable resource for those of us looking to find a satisfying retirement.

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    1. No problem with the mention of your blog, Carole. Dementia is something that will affect all of us in some way, either with loved ones, friends, or ourselves.

      I wonder how many bloggers are like you and me: there is an aspect of therapy involved. I would guess the percentage is pretty high.

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  2. I read a fair amount of blogs. Many I find through the comments on other blogs. For me, I enjoy the comments as much as the blogs themselves. When my husband first was diagnosed with cancer, I followed a cancer blog and then several widow blogs after he passed. Now I have dropped all but one excellent widow blog. I now have about 10 other types i follow, yours being one. I actually like the occasional political post, but often it's preaching to the choir, which is ok since I live in an area that most are not like me in that respect, so it makes me realize there are many out there who do feel like I do. I agree religion is too touchy of a subject for it to stay civil, which is too bad in a way.
    I folllow two particular blogs that are very thoughtful, intelligent and philosophical, but there are rarely commenters. I don't know how blogs get out there and I see you usually have lots of commenters.
    So I'm a big blog fan.....keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks, Mary, and I am sorry for your loss. Blogs, and the Internet in general, can provide support and a sense of "we are all in this together." In such a fractured world that is important.

      If you don't mind, please share the two blogs you mention that are thoughtful and intelligent. I always enjoy good writing.

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    2. One you have on your list...RJ's Corner...very good, but few commentors. Another excellent one and widely read is Time Goes By and I also read a widow blog The Misunderstood Widow that is well written and humorous and has retirement stories mostly.

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  3. As an example, I follow Caroles blog above and have been for awhile and it serves a big purpose and comfort for people in her shoes or any of us as we age and that possibility of dementia is there.

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    1. I have her blog on my to-read list. Thanks, Mary.

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  4. As I prepare to enter my fifth year of retirement, I can reflect back to the confusion and unsettled feelings of that very first year. I sought out blogs more often in order to validate my decision and seek guidance as to whether other recent retirees felt as out of sorts as I did. I am more settled and satisfied with my decision along with being busier than ever. I do not respond to you on most topics, but always feel assured to read of others with similar reactions. I always feel a bit of a lift to see a new topic posted.

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    1. Commenting isn't for everyone. In fact, the percentage of active participants to a blog is in the 1-3% range. That leaves 97% of the readers content to read and move on. You are in very, very good company.

      Some major blogs on very popular topics have hundreds of comments, most of which go unanswered. There simply isn't enough time in the day. When I see 15-25 comments on any particular post that tells me it is appealing and gives a benefit to readers. I have plenty of time to respond to 20 or 30 comments, 300? Probably not.

      Thanks for being there, Suzanne.

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  5. I initially began to read your blog as I knew I was getting closer to early retirement. Your thoughts and comments helped me to realize, along with other writers, that there was a great new world out there that I could learn to experience. I have stayed because while we do not always agree on all subjects, I have always found you to be fair and honest. Can't ask for much else from those whose blogs we follow. Keep up the great work, Bob. Many of us will stay with you as long as you choose to stay on this journey.

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    1. Thanks, Chuck. Yes, we are on opposite sides of several issues, but respect each other's position and have mature, solid exchanges. Sorry to say that isn't as common an attitude as it should be.

      Best to you and Deb and your beautiful Tennessee hills.

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  6. I read so many blogs. Mostly art blogs and some retirement blogs. Yours is about the only retirement blog I read regularly though. I do like to switch things up occasionally so I delete some and add others. Not enough time to read them all! LOL

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    1. How true...just like books, there is only so much time to read and absorb. My current reading stack of 6 books proves my point! I have a post coming up soon that lists some new blogs (well, new to me) I have stumbled upon. It is important to keep looking for fresh input.

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  7. I was introduced to your blog at a retirement education session >4 yrs ago. I enjoy the written word so I engage in reading and writing. I often refer to the dictionary for the right word. The content of your blogs keeps me current. I like to have my thoughts challenged by your blog and those who respond. It helps to keep me open-minded. You say you're not political but if being politic has anything to do with being shrewdly tactful, I think you are. Reading blogs keeps me mentally alert. Because of your blog, I choose a word for the year. "Listen" has served me well for the first half of this year. The seasonal bucket lists from other blogs has motivated me to engage in goal-setting. Menu Mondays from other blogs makes me take stock and plan a menu. I get movie and book reviews so add titles to my reading and movie list. I can travel vicariously. Enough said; I like reading you blog.

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    1. All good reasons to seek out and enjoy blogs, Mona. "Shrewdly tactful" is a great phrase. I do try to respect a commenter's opinion and view even if I disagree. Insults are for cable TV and Twitter. Besides, how will I learn if I only surround myself with people who think exactly like I do?

      I know when I see a comment from you it is going to add to the value of the post. Thanks for being here.

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  8. Your reasons for blogging are very similar to mine...the need to write, and a desire to connect with other people. I have several hundred subscribers to my blog, but only a very small group of people who are regular commenters (maybe a half dozen). Sometimes when there's a lack of response to my posts, I ask myself why I keep doing it. I don't think it's an ego thing, as in "I want them to notice me," but I think it's just that I really enjoy the interaction. I want to share my thoughts and what I'm learning, and hear what other people think. And blogging is, most definitely, therapy for me. Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts on retirement with us, even when we don't comment. ~Kim

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    1. Thanks, Kim, for your thoughts.

      Here is a good example of one of the nice side benefits of blogging: learning about your blog. Nature is something I enjoy being in, but don't know that much about. It seems that I might learn a lot about what is happening in the natural world by reading what you post. If you hadn't left a comment I would never have found you!

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  9. I found your blog in the year before we had made the firm decision to retire a couple of years earlier than we had planned.I felt I had found a resource that offered a calm head, and some experience, and also honesty.A few of our friends simply set sail into the sunset of retirement, bought RV's and took off. It seemed to easy! Why was OUR decision so fraught with doubt and fear? And indecision?? It was quite a journey and your blog posts helped me a lot. Ken doesn't read blogs but would listen to my thoughts on the ones I was reading!!!! I would occasionally forward a pertinent one to him and we'd discuss. As you know, we made a few changes that didn't quite pan out the way we had hoped, but your experiences taught me that it is ok to try this and then try that and to have faith in the process..to not expect it to be a straight line (Is anything important in life ever that easy!!???) Now, I feel we're in the happy space of enjoying all we have worked for, we're pretty content back in our home that has ONE FLOOR, a pool, a yard for Ken to garden. I don't expect retirement to be just ONE DECISION anymore..we have given ourselves the flexibility to try this try that, to travel in different ways that we thought (and not quite as MUCH as we thought!!) and to go with the flow. We're STILL in the process of simplifying, and the more we do the better life feels. Your blog is a great forum for honest, practical ideas related to this interesting time of life!

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    1. It has been a real pleasure to meet you and Ken and learn to play Hand and Foot. That never would have happened without blogging. Over the years Betty and I have met several readers in person. In every case we have found a person or couple who we enjoy getting to know. That has been an unexpected side benefit.

      I took me probably 5-6 years to learn that retirement is not a straight line and is no more predictable than my working days. I can't get fired anymore, but I can certainly endure hardships and disappointments. That is just part of life.

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  10. I remember an ongoing debate when I started blogging (not sure it is still ongoing) dividing bloggers generally into those who do it to make money and those who do it as a hobby (or some other non financial reason). The first group often dismissed the second as frivolous. The second group dismissed the first as crass. I thought then, and still think, that people blog for all kinds of reasons and it's all fine. It's an interesting self-reflection to spend some time answering the question for ourselves. I appreciate your honesty and thoroughness in exploring all the reasons why you keep it up.

    One extra thought--You mentioned in a response that you try to respect everyone's views, even if you disagree. That is a key, I think, to the value blogs like yours offer. You not only provide great content, but you model what civil discourse looks like.

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    1. Thanks, Galen. You know how deeply Betty and I value your friendship and opinions. Portland is on the calendar for next year. This time, I hope to avoid a heart problem, though the hospital was very nice!

      It is very rare I have to delete a comment that is offensive or seems to only be trying to score points. If there is any way I can respond and allow the exchange to deepen I will do so. There are times when I'd rather tell that $#%&%@*&^$ off, but too infrequently to even count.

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  11. I get your posts through email so I don't make "immediate" posts or comments like I could if I were reading it in your blog. The "email the author" link at the bottom of the emails I get doesn't work (it goes to Google and says it's a 404 error). I'm replying this time by sending an email both to the "reply" email address and to your satisfyingretirement gmail address.

    I just wanted you to know that in my case, your posts are thought provoking and reflection causing. The reason I personally don't post my thoughts in response are, number one and frankly somewhat lazy on my part. Since using the "reply" function in email doesn't work I find it too much hassle to go to your blog to post. And number two, I guess I feel that my individual response is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things (sort of the drop in the bucket of blogger-sphere theory if you know what I mean).

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know that there are probably hundreds or thousands of folks like me who regularly read and enjoy your posts but choose to not add their thoughts for any number of reasons. This is not a bad reflection on your efforts, on the contrary, they are an affirmation of how much we enjoy them - although you never get that positive affirmation in a tangible format.

    Please don't worry about being egotistic or self-deceptive. While your concern for those attributes is refreshingly candid your writings are very mainstream and thoughtfully worded to avoid "politically charged" reactions - IMHO. The positions you take are well researched and while I'm guessing you do get some negative feedback occasionally, I find them to be moderate, reasonable and responsible.

    Thanks for taking the time to keep posting and know that you have many readers like me who are grateful to keep reading your work even if we are the "silent majority."

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    1. Thanks, Joe, for taking the extra effort to send me your thoughts. I have heard before that the links on the email don't work. I am sure Google is aware of it, but isn't putting much effort into correcting it. I have no problem with you sending a comment by e-mail. I can easily cut and paste it to the comment section, just like this one.

      Fewer than 3% of a blog's readership add comments. That means there are several thousand each time I post who chose not to, and that is just fine. Frankly, there are some blogs I read that I don't leave a comment or the author doesn't respond if i do.

      I am glad my efforts to remain mainstream and non-judgemental are obvious. There are too many other places in the media to go for that stuff.

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  12. I started reading blogs when I first retired. That first year was a bit uneasy for me despite the fact that I had long looked forward to retirement. I felt a little like a kid playing "hooky" not going to work and I was not sure about the financial road I had put myself on. Suzanne said she looked to blogs to validate her decision and that is exactly what I was doing. Not to mention the need to connect with others after leaving the work world. At first I never commented on blogs although I have always read all the comments. I feel like the comments are what help to bring us all together in this world of retirement. I learn so much from the person blogging and I also learn from those that comment.

    Thank you Bob for sharing your reasons for blogging. I hope you continue because you do reach many people who benefit from and enjoy your blog. You are always fair minded and respectful and I appreciate that. I also appreciate sharing with your readers - after all we are all in this together!

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    1. We are in this together. Thank you Bonnie for your kind words.

      The comments really complete the package...my thoughts for what they are worth, and then others adding, subtracting, and expanding with their thoughts.

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  13. Hi Bob, like many I started looking for non-financial information as I was approaching my "pencilled in" retirement date. As you have said before there is LOTS of information out there about financials in retirement but very little on the other, and arguably more important, side of retirement. I guess the retirement financial advice side pays a lot better.

    I think I read every back issue blog post you wrote and I thought you had a great take on retirement and the issues one is likely to face, it certainly isn't all about the money. I overshot my pencilled in retirement date by 18 months but when I made the jump I was absolutely certain it was the right thing to do and that has turned out to be true. I must say that jumping of your own accord into retirement is probably more difficult than being pushed out with a package like happened to so many of my friends. Heck, if I just kept going in everyday they'd have kept paying me and my life would have continued as before. Inertia is a strong force I guess but boy is my life better now that I've retired.

    I still check in on your blog on a regular basis to keep tabs and add a few comments here and there in the hopes that my retirement experience adds to the conversation. I appreciate that you take the time to keep the blog going and to let you know that you gave me retirement insights that helped me make the right decision.

    - David

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    1. I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different if my consulting business had not faded when it did. How much longer would I have kept up the hectic travel and work schedule? How would that have changed my important relationships? I am very happy I wasn't really given that choice to make.

      You add an important thought: those who are retired who continue to read this blog and add their comments when appropriate really help the new folks. Your experiences are worthy of being shared.

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  14. Hi Bob,
    Wanted to thank you for continuing to blog. Like David, I read all your back issue blogs when I retired. They helped with issues I wasn't expecting, like the unsettled malaise I was feeling.

    Comments from community members who have been retired for a while help newbies like me put issues in perspective and offer insights I wouldn't have thought of. Right now the notion of retirement as a process, and feeling free to try different things and move on if necessary, resonate with me.

    I agree with Galen that you model civil discourse, so your blog is a welcome refuge and a forum for everyone else to engage in same. For me the discourse is both civil and thought-provoking, which keeps me coming back.

    Thanks again.

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    1. What you say fits perfectly with my comment above for David. He has been down this road and has much to add to the conversation. It is easy for me to forget that this blog gets new readers on a regular basis. After all, with 10,000 Boomers retiring every day for the next several years, there are a lot of folks who are looking for answers.

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  15. I'm one of those who often offer a differing view point. I continue to read your blog, and have referred to you as my 'running mate' if I ever decide to take the presidency by storm, because you opinions are often less conservative than my own but we are still creating a dialogue. You aren't just standing on your soap box, but sitting down and having a cup of coffee. Civility is underestimated as a force for change.

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    1. "Civility is underestimated as a force of change." Oh, I hope that is true. Politics? I'm not sure I have the stomach for it.

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  16. Because you have found your niche in retirement. Because of your niche you have found a platform. Because of your niche you have found a different microphone for your thoughts and words that were taken away from you 15 or so years ago when you left the radio business. You were cut short ( or unplugged) as it were but you felt that you could still add value to this big blue orb whereby people from all over VALUE what you have to think and say. Congratulations and don't stop writing. Your audience is vast and growing. You don't need radio waves anymore.

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    1. What a gracious, affirming comment, Jack.

      A deep appreciation for your thoughts.

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  17. In the early days of the Internet, many of us did not really know what to do with the new medium or how to use it. At first, it was just a new way to (passively) receive information that previously we had received through print media, radio, or TV. We hadn't really figured out how to use it interactively and for personal expression. One of my first experiences with the Internet was taking an online university course in about 1989. The course included a forum, where students interacted with each via written comments. It provided an exciting glimpse of the potential of the Internaet as a place for for online discussion and interaction.

    Looking for more of that kind of interaction, I explored chat rooms, and was was very disappointed with the inane, moronic, and vulgar kinds of comments typical in them. I participated in e-lists, where people (usually academics) would discuss certain topics. They tended to be unmoderated, and although the discussions were often interesting, there was a lot of one-upmanship and flaming as well that discouraged commenting.

    With the World Wide Web and the advent of and maturation of blogging, I think we have finally begun to realize the potential of interactivity online. As Galen Pearl says, it is a venue for civil discourse.

    Bob, through your blog you have created something very special. You have built a community that comes together around the topics that you write and the conversations that you host. It might have begun as a need to "scratch that writing itch" but it has grown into a site for human connection and intellectual discussion. I am convinced that part of the way forward in addressing the difficult challenges of our time - global warming, extreme politics, economic inequity, and so forth - rests in building communities and a sense of connectedness.

    Thanks for blogging and bringing us all together .

    Jude

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    1. Thanks, Jude.

      Over the past month or so I have been enjoying not only the quantity and quality of comments, but that those leaving comments are comfortable enough to leave a comment on a comment. That shows a welcome sense of community and trust.

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