In the summer of my 50th year, I did something a little crazy and created a lifestyle blog. It's called slimpaley.com (an homage to the iconic style of Slim Keith & Babe Paley) and though it's almost embarrassing to admit this, it's probably one of the single most liberating things I've ever done.
Why, you may ask, was creating a blog so wildly out of character for me? (I'm only able to tell you this now because I'm so liberated!) All my life I've been an extremely private person. Raised in Canada, with parents from the UK, that was just "our way". My seat was always at the back of the class, the fear of being called upon to speak in public virtually paralyzing. OK, maybe not exactly paralyzing (if I've noticed another thing since turning 50 it's that I've developed my mother's penchant for exaggerating) but an extrovert I'm not.
To be honest, it wasn't simply the fear of failure or being judged that stifled me. For years I'd told myself that if I was going to try something new, I had to do it PERFECTLY. Which is really just an excuse for never taking any chances. Then, as if on cue, at the 1/2 century mark I had my Oprah moment; Was I really going to drift so meekly into the second to last box of Vogue's "What to Wear at Any Age" column without a peep?!
On that summer afternoon when my friends, half in jest, dared me to pen a blog, I teetered on the precipice momentarily and then for once, simply lept off. And guess what? I've come to realize that spending life standing on the sidelines, cheering others on was all very fine but not always fulfilling. I have my own voice, a passionate appreciation for the beauty and humour in life, and a great little camera-I'm having so much fun sharing all of them on my blog. I've connected with lovely people all over the world and learned we have much more in common than politicians would ever have us believe
Finally, I've accepted that DONE is much better than PERFECT. Thank you Tony Robbins (yes, really!)
If you're 50 or over and finding yourself in a situation similar to mine; or simply feeling the desire to jump down from the bleachers and explore the blogging world for yourself, I heartily encourage you to DO IT!
I'm happy to share these tips to guide you along your way;
10 tips for Bloggers over 50
1) Try to remember that blogging is most rewarding when it's an interactive experience for you and your readers, whose comments are truly half the fun. Some of my most popular posts are those where my readers talk amongst themselves in the comment section (It's OK, I don't get jealous) Share stories, beauty, books, decent wines under 10 bucks, anything, just keep it entertaining or at least interesting. No one wants to see 56 different angles of you feeding geese on your return trip to the Netherlands.
*Note; If you live in a small town, stock up on the wine you need for your own personal consumption before blogging about it.
2) Beware of "Refrigerator Syndrome". That's when you stride purposefully over to your computer, sit in front of it, and then completely blank on why you're sitting there.
2B) Helpful Hint on what to do when this happens; Whatever you do, DO NOT retrace your steps. This is a dead give-away. Simply adopt an enlightened expression and exclaim "Oh, ALL this can wait until later. I've spent far too much time at the computer today!" Then walk away and appear to be making preparations for dinner.
*If it happens to come back to you later, feel free to sneak into the bathroom and use your iPhone.
3) Be ever vigilant about NOT repeating yourself. You don't want your kids calling your blog "Shit My Mom Says... Twice"
4) Don't ever let your kids see the size of your font. It's a Bullet Train ride to Humiliationville.
5) Do use Twitter and Facebook to increase circulation to your blog (I had you at "increase circulation," didn't I?!) Don't let the 140 character tweet restriction scare you off -- you don't have to count the characters yourself.
6) NEVER post on your blog after taking an AMBIEN. Trust me on this.
7) Do NOT expect your kids to comment on your blog. You have about as much chance of finding a comment from them in your mailbox as drink coasters in their dorm rooms. Yes, you are embarrassing them but yes they still love you.
7B) PS. I just checked my mailbox again. Nada.
8) Never forget that you have absolutely NO control over who reads your blog the moment you click that "send" button. Your ex, your kid's friends, your kid's teachers, your kid's teacher's friend's kids. Remember; this is a BLOG, not email. *See Tip #6
9) Try not to discuss the weather on your blog. I know it's excruciatingly hard. I do it ALL the time, but at least I know it's an old person thing to do. Do you ever hear young people discussing the weather??
10) If you're over 50 and still lucky enough to have parents that are embracing the world of computers, expect conversations that go something like this;
"Hi Mom. Did you read my blog?"
"No Dear, we don't blog."
"Mom, YOU don't need to blog, you just need to read my blog"
"Well... we're just not 'Blogging People' "
"MOM, all you have to do is click on the link I sent you"
"Oh dear... Was that you? I thought that was your sister"
"But she doesn't have a blog"
"Oh yes she does. She blogs me way more than you do"
All photos by Carolyn Espley-Miller