I remember when I first started my blog and I was looking at all of the other blogs around me to see what they were doing.  As much as I loved to write, I admit that I had no idea what to do with a blog if I wanted it to be a success.  I looked at things like growth numbers and statistics trying to pretend that there was some secret success formula where I could figure it all out.  Then I tried to tackle the other daunting side to this venture: social networking.  And that has been just the tip of the iceberg.  Self-hosting, SEO, newsletters, marketing, testimonials, contact pages, opt-ins, opt-outs, etc. etc. etc.  The list goes on and on.  Some days there is so much to do, it would seem easy to quit.  Or at the very least, re-evaluate everything I was doing.

But I guess I have found a stubborn gene.  I knew I buried it somewhere down there.  You can’t bury something forever and it bubbled to the surface.  I am not a quitter.  So I kept writing.  And as time has gone on, slowly but surely, I have started to find a voice that I liked, and that other’s seemed to appreciate.  What’s more, I found that I liked the voice too.

Just a few days ago, busting my butt, as usual, to try to write another piece, and get it out there, I got a message on twitter.  I checked to see who it was from and it was Elizabeth Brico asking me to check out a post.  I knew Elizabeth.  She was one of the first blogs that I read when I started blogging and connecting with other bloggers.  (Check out her blog here.) But she has a voice that was unique to all of the other bloggers that were out there.  She was speaking from a place of pain.  This pain was not going to dominate her, however.  She used it to speak creatively and to have an amazing, intense voice.

I know I have spoken about difficulties in my life in little snippets if you caught things.  It’s been rough and there is something about Elizabeth’s blog that speaks to me.  I do not have PTSD in the classic sense.  But I developed some tendencies that could fall into that category.  How did that happen?  I married a person with borderline personality disorder.  It’s a cluster B personality disorder where the person has difficulty regulating their emotions.  It finds expression in cutting, “gaslighting,” blaming, splitting, manipulation, and guilt.  I oversimplify this here.  But if you want to know more I am glad to discuss it.

When you are with a person with a personality disorder, if you want to maintain the relationship, you begin to develop coping mechanisms.  Honestly, there are great coping mechanisms out there.  But frequently, the person develops poor ones.  I admit that I may have developed a bad one or two.  In addition, I discovered some things about me that I didn’t like.  I knew I needed to change things after divorcing my ex-wife.  Elizabeth has been able to speak to that side of me that recognizes a bit of brokenness and the need to change.

The Blogger Recognition Award 2017

So when she said I needed to look at something, I clicked on the link to see what was going on that she had singled me and a few others out to check out her page.  And then I blushed.  Ok, I didn’t really blush right away. But I started to read and found out what she had done.  She had nominated me and a few others for the Blogger Recognition Award 2017.  I was speechless.  I had to message a few of my other blogging friends, especially ones that were also nominated, to find out what they thought and what they were going to do.  Sitting here and writing this now, I have to admit that I am still stunned and honored.  And so thank you, Elizabeth, for your thoughtfulness, for the gift you share with others, and for your inspiration to me.

My Responsibilities For My Nomination

In acceptance of this nomination, the nominee has a few responsibilities.  I know that some people think that male responsibility is either an oxymoron or that me believing in them makes me a unicorn.  I do believe in them, however.  And as such, I have certain things I need to do.  As a nominee for the 2017 Blogger Recognition award, I am responsible for the following:

1- Thank the blogger who nominated them and provide a link to their blog.

I would hope that the previous link would have been enough to get you to check Elizabeth out, but for those of us with lazy scroller disease (And  I think I might be one of them.), you have another link here to rectify your early mistake.  Check her out.  You will find a kindred spirit.

2- Write a post to showing off my nomination to everyone.

For a good bit of time, I was thinking about adding a video of me dancing a jig.  But as a co-worker of mine so often says in her characteristic manner, “Don’t nobody wanna see that.”  So I will not scare you with my awesome Napoleon Dynamite type dancing moves.  For those of you disappointed, you can try to imagine me doing the funky chicken if that makes you feel better.  As for me, I just want to thank you.

3-  Tell a brief story about how your blog started.

This I figured was unfair.  I promised myself when I wrote the history of my blog I would make sure that it’s length would compare with War and Peace, Les Miserables, or at the very least Crime and Punishment.  But if I must, I must.  And so I will tell you . . . in a little bit.

4- Give other bloggers two pieces of advice.

This kind of reminds me of the time I gave advice to an ex-girlfriend about dating someone.  I know this sounds bad.  But we were friends at the time.  I told her how to handle a situation.  And then she ignored it entirely.  Whether it turned out well for her in the end, only she can tell.  I, on the other hand, am not telling you to ignore my advice when I give it . . . just bury it with Jimmy Hoffa.  But if you do listen, I warn you that knowledge may come.  Knowledge is dangerous, or so some politicians would have us believe.  Anyway, I will get to number 4 here, I promise.

5- Select fifteen other blogs to nominate and tell them the good news.

Just so you realize that you were not going to have to be the only one to be tortured here, they decided to torture the nominated people for good measure.  Fifteen?!?!  It’s not ten.  It’s not eleven.  And it’s not even the perfect twelve.  I suppose they could have made us feel unlucky and stopped at thirteen.  But they went to fifteen instead.  Hmmmm… can I come up with fifteen?  Stay tuned.

So let’s get to three, four, and five, shall we?

Number 3 …

I remember when I was told that blogging was all the rage.  I was working at the library and one of the librarians figured she would start a blog for us at the library.  Unfortunately, I think it completely missed the point about what a blog was supposed to be.  Then, when I was in grad school, they had me take a course and write a blog for it.  It was about 50 YA materials and how to deal with them at the library.  Not your typical exciting blog.  I’m sure it’s still out there in the ether somewhere.

When I finally decided I wanted to get into the blogging act, I had several iterations.  At first, it was to talk about whatever was on my mind.  As you know, my mind is a whirlwind of crazy, so that didn’t last long.  Then I moved onto doing a blog about my dating experiences.  It would be nice to say that I just didn’t have enough to write about.  Unfortunately, I would be lying.  I could write a novel and have even sketched an outline to one on the subject.  But my heart wasn’t there.

Then there was the movie blog.  For those of you who have been following me long enough, you might have seen some of my plagiarized copies of my previous blogs, with an MST3K flare.  It was supposed to be a serious blog that would review movies of all kinds.  I still like to review movies, obviously.  But when I started to get serious about that blog, there were a ton of people there before me.  And when I dug into the people who were supposed to be the really popular and successful ones, they were quitting.  I didn’t want to be the guy coming to the party just as everyone else was leaving it.  That didn’t appeal to me.

So I sat down and thought about what I wanted to write, and what I had a lot to write about.  I kept coming back to being a dad, and a single dad at that.  So I started to do some research.  It’s not that there aren’t dad bloggers out there, or even super popular “single dad” ones.  But there weren’t as many.  And given how many of us are out there now in the world, I figured this was a place I could speak.  I started slowly this past January, just trying to find my voice.  I enjoyed the writing, but I wasn’t sure where it would go.  And then came the Super Bowl.  It was a good game; but, football is not my first love in sports.

I started thinking about all of the parents who go to Super Bowl parties to converse, or just chat with friends.  And if they really get into something it’s the commercials.  So I started to write with that feeling.  All of a sudden I felt like I was in another world.  It was a trance that blended humor, imagination, and information.  And my hands were typing but I almost wasn’t there.  I had been inspired before when I wrote poetry.  I knew what inspiration was.  And this was it.  I have kept writing from that day on, honing that feeling, and have never looked back.

Number 4 …

I know I have sat here from my perch and discussed various things that I have dealt with when blogging.  Whether it’s been about expansion, busting my butt marketing, or what social media things have worked for me, I kept you up to speed.  But advice is a different animal altogether.  We all want to be successful.  Success, on the other hand, is defined by different people, differently.  So if I were to give out two pieces of advice, they would be the following:

1- Find your “why.”

Be honest with yourself.  Why are you here?  Are you here to write?  Are you here to promote?  Or are you just here to make money.  I am not denigrating that last one. I want that too.  But I am here for my daughter.  I want to find a way to better support her in her life.   And I want to find something that she is proud of and can laugh at.  Along with participating in my blogs, she has read many as well and has laughed heartily at them.  My daughter’s laugh is the most amazing sound in the whole world.  It moves me and lights me up on the inside.  (I imagine this is true for all parents with children.). She is my “why.”  Everything else becomes easier knowing this.

This means I stay up that extra hour, or do that extra piece.  I consult more, or I go way out of my comfort zone trying to network.  And when things get rough, I don’t quit.  There is no quitting.  Because I know why I am doing it.  And she is worth it. Every. Single. Second.

2- Be your authentic self.

Just because I know why I am doing things does not mean I am doing things the right way.  Ultimately, I am selling myself.  And in order to do that, I need to be me.  Sales is hard.  It’s harder when you don’t believe in the product you are trying to sell.  So when selling myself, I need to believe in me.  I can’t do that when I pretend to be someone I am not.  Just write and let the words flow.

Someone asked me what to do about writing.  They would take 20 minutes of wasted time, they felt, before the words came.   My advice, don’t view those as wasted minutes.  First, they get your muse juices flowing. (No comments from the peanut gallery!) Second, they may be the inspiration for a future post. Don’t delete those thoughts.  Keep them and revisit them.  And finally, everyone needs to find their center when they are doing something.  You need to find yours.  Those 20 minutes aren’t about waste.  They are about finding the best way to communicate who you are to your audience.  You and your audience will never regret that time you took.

Number 5 …

Here is the dreaded fifteen.  I have to come up with fifteen people I would like to nominate for this award. I just wrote a list of seven who inspired me.  And now they want fifteen?!?! What makes it really difficult is that, two of the people I would have nominated are taken.  Ana De Jesus and Brandi Kennedy are amazing bloggers.  You can check out their blogs on the links I provided, and read about how they have been inspirations to me here.   Elizabeth nominated them before I got the chance.  Ugh! And beyond that, there is Elizabeth herself.  Feels like when you take out three of fifteen you should get a handicap.  Maybe I should have a handicap, like golf.  Can bloggers have a handicap?  I will have to find out.  Might make another good blog post.

So here are eight bloggers (in no particular order), aside from the three I previously mentioned, that I believe deserve recognition:

Daddy Poppins – One of the first dad bloggers I connected with on twitter.  And he makes me laugh every day.  He reminds me that I need to keep myself laughing and have fun.  Because crying in blogging is the same thing as crying in baseball.  It’s the anti-Nike slogan.  Just Don’t Do It.

Julian Caldwell – Creator of GetConnectDad.  He doesn’t do all the writing himself, but he has organized and pieced together a group of dads speaking to other dads about the importance of parenting and how to raise your kid.  He’s a good guy, and an inspiring person trying to bring dad issues to the forefront.

Sondra Barker – I suppose since I have a bit of the foodie in me I was bound to find one or two inspirations here.  Her videos and articles on Pretty Fit Foodie often make me smile, frequently make me laugh, and always make me hungry.  If you love food, and especially if you live in California, you need to stop on by.

Gigi Dubois Ashworth – She would be the second foodie on my list at Gigi Eats Celebrities.  Also a fun watch.  She’s a blogger and a vlogger as well with a sparkling personality and is a ton of fun to watch.  I’m still waiting for there to be competitive salmon eating so I can see her compete.

Adam at Ask Yer Father – One of the founding members of the #Dadsquad.  He believes in promoting dads and working towards changing the stigmas that exist in society about dads.  Far too many people today feel like dads are bumbling idiots. They are portrayed that way on the television or in film.  He is working to change that and is an inspiration to me.

Graeme at Dad of Crazy Twins – Also a founding member of the Dad Squad and active promoter.  He seems to have such a happy way of life.  And his love for his kids and family is evident in everything he writes.  It’s great to have great dads out there that are role models.

Stacey Peters – She of Duffelbag Spouse is a woman who inspires me.  A military spouse and married for the last 21 years, she tells her adventures wherever she is at.  I love that she goes into local eateries, or other beautiful places and tells her story.  I also admire anyone who can make a life of 21 years with someone who is constantly on the go, all over the world.  Get ready for beautiful pictures and great storytelling.

Divya Budhraja – She is the brains behind Eat Teach Blog.  I think I just connected with her because I was a teacher in a past life.  Ok, maybe not that far past.  Actually just about 12 years ago I was out there busting my butt teaching.  I loved her style and her wit as well as her heart.

Continue The Conversation

Well here you are, at the end of my blog, wondering how fifteen became eight.  It’s the new Math I tell ya!  Eleven plus four equals eight, or something like that.  Actually, the fact that I found eight plus the three that I couldn’t add, I feel like I was doing well.  And there were a couple I knew that someone else was nominating that I then shied away from.

Honestly, there are way more amazing blogs that I have seen out there.  Some have quit, however. Or they dropped off the face of the earth.  I don’t know.  And so I didn’t have enough regular experience with them to put them here.  But tell me who some of your favorite bloggers are, and I would love to take a look.  I am always for connecting with and getting to know more amazing people.  Aside from that, if you haven’t checked out these amazing bloggers, definitely give them a go.  And with that, mic dropped.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life