Thursday, January 19, 2012

Still Out-Dooced

Most of us here in yoga-blog-land are busy either being indignant or completely nonchalant about Bodies-Being-Wrecked and Viral-Yoga-Videos. But outside our cozy little circle, Dooce has separated from her husband and it's Big News.

Dooce and I go way back. No, really! ;-) Here's the story:

I started my first blog in late 2000, back when Blogger was brand new and there were exactly 8 bloggers in my city (We all knew one another and used to meet up to go bowling - and all are still good friends of mine). In those early years, I was interviewed by both our city newpaper *and* the national one. I gave a radio interview and appeared twice on a national talk show. All because of my blog. My blog attracted a mind-blowing 500 readers per week (times have changed: this blog averages that same amount in about a day).

Back then, there were very few cut-and-dried rules about what you should or shouldn't blog about. We were all winging it and I winged it badly. I made the mistake of writing about work on my blog and I was fired from my job as a result. About a month later, a blogger in the States named Heather Hamilton also (and more famously) got fired. Feeling her pain, I decided to send a note. We exchanged a few emails. "This sucks." "Yeah, it does suck." What else is there to say?

I never heard from her again, but I've certainly heard *of* her because Heather, Dooce, is now the owner of a online media empire. She's appeared on Oprah, runs marathons with Christy Turlington and has travelled the world on the strength of her blog an her story. Me? I became a yoga teacher. Different paths, indeed!

Heather has created a brand out of the very blog that got her fired. And her personal life has become part of it. Her home decore, daily photos of her dogs, stories about her two daughters - it's all there. She was the forerunner of a blogging genre called MommyBloggers and she does it really, really well.

The announcement of her trial separation from her husband brought up mixed emotions for me. All of us who blog publicly have had to sort through our own boundaries regarding what we do and do not post. I've stumbled through this process on a few different blogs, including this one. I still suffer as many misteps as I did with my very first blog over ten years ago. It's always a negotiation; It never gets any easier.

So this seems like a good opportuntity to talk about my vision for this blog, moving forward.

Last year, I took a hiatus from blogging. I was no longer comfortable with the format that had served me so well for almost four years: practice reports. Simply put, I no longer enjoyed writing publicly about the process of my Astanga practice. It felt uncomfortable, like shoes that had become too small. I simply outgrew it.

I was also struggling with how to manage my relationships with my teacher and my shalamates while writing so openly about my practice in a public sphere. That too felt uncomfortable. I didn't want to find myself in a situation where I might inadvertently upset my teacher. I wanted my communication with her to be free from that kind of 'static.'

I felt like I couldn't write honestly, not because of anything that had been said to me, but because of my own discomfort. When I started this blog, there were five readers and I knew all of them. My audience had expanded in wonderful and unexpected ways, but it had changed my writing.

I took a hiatus last year. I always enjoyed the blog and I missed writing it and being part of the 'Cybershala' community. I thought about how I could best serve my 'audience' if I came back. To be honest, the posts that drew the best response were always those that examined current issues in yoga or those fun personal stories that weren't practice-related. I suspect there are more than a few of you who come here just for the Princess Fur photos. ;-)

For my return, I made a promise to myself: I would write in this space each day for a month, just to get back in the habit (it's been hard!). I also had to make decisions regarding content and the boundaries around it. I decided that any specifics about my yoga practice/the shala/my teacher were now off-limits (writing about shalamates has always been off-limits).

I'm now using private online communities to update friends about my practice. If I need to get stuff off my chest, I write or talk to trusted friends (you know who you are and how precious you are to me).

It's a compromise that's seems to be working well so far. When January draws to a close, I'll continue writing but slow down the pace to a few posts per week. But as it stands, I *do* plan to continue writing.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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