I Think I Can Do This

I have got to be one of the worst bloggers out there. I post a lot, I post a little, I post irregularly, repeat posts, post so often you can’t keep up, post so infrequently you wonder if they’ve finely put me in a corner with a straight jacket. But, much like toe fungus, I do keep coming back. And I think I’m finally ready to come back from my latest bought of silence. Maybe. Ask me again in a week – I might change my mind again.

So, call your friends, notify the media, sit by your inbox in anxious anticipation, The Upside Down World is back in business. In the meantime, if you haven’t visited the site in a while, there are somewhere in the range of 700 old blog posts just waiting for you to explore. Odds are good that you’ve missed a few. Maybe you’d like to review Theological Concepts, Spiritual Parenting, Women and Christianity, Christians and Evolution, Hell, The Book of Job or perhaps just read a bit more about me. I’ve heard some good stuff about all of them. And I just updated the Spiritual Parenting and Christians and Evolution pages for the first time in eva.

Also, quite a lot of you have downloaded or bought copies of The Upside Down World ~ A Book of Wisdom in Progress and The Upside Down World’s Guide to Enjoying the Hard Life, but not many reviews have been left. If you have read either of these books and would be willing to leave a review, I’d be mighty appreciative. If you haven’t read them, well, what are you waiting for?

So, that’s it. I think I’m actually back for real and I’ll be blabbing at y’all again soon!

-Rebecca

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What were your “25 Random Things”?

Remember when everyone was writing their “25 Random Things” lists on facebook?  Believe or not, it’s been 2 years since that became such a big thing that news outlets devoted coverage to the phenomena which I think means it’s time to take a look back and see what’s changed, what’s the same and maybe what we wish we hadn’t said.  I invite you to share your “25 Random Things” list in the comments below.  If you are a blogger, this is an easy blog post – link back here or put a link in the comments below.

Here’s my list from January 17, 2009:

1. I always put the toilet lid down before flushing. You should to.
2. For several years when I was little my dad owned a small Cessna airplane. Except for my dad’s airplane, I have not flown since I was 3.
3. I am very funny. Sometimes other people even agree with me.
4. I am often stunned at how beautiful, smart and funny my little girls are.
5. I’m not entirely sure what my natural hair color is.
6. I have a spiritual director I meet with once a month.
7. I will be putting pictures of the plants I start from seed and grow under lights up on facebook all spring. They make me very, very happy.
8. I’m not a very good gardener. But I am sure that in 10 years I will be.
9. I did prison ministry in college.
10. I am taking the test to join Mensa next Saturday.
11. I’ve never met anyone I like (and sometimes hated) as much as my husband.
12. I enjoy reading stories about people’s near-death experiences.
13. I had my first alcoholic drink the fall after I turned 20.
14. I am currently writing my spiritual memoir and I’m very happy with how it’s going. (Please send any writer’s agents you may know my way!)
15. Two of the guys I dated in college broke up with me because they said I was intimidating. Continue reading

You Like Me, You Really, Really Like Me!

The internet is so awesome.  It’s like a really broad-scale demonstration of what it would look like if we took the most prosperous 25% of all humanity and transferred their brains to the “the cloud”.  It’s like the internet – the good, the bad, the so bad it’s good and so good it’s making me want to start a meme – is just sitting out there reflecting back at us what we put into it.

The downside is realizing that apparently many of us like to spend inordinate amounts of time watching emotionally damaged drug addicts get paid to pretend to enjoy having sex with each other for the camera rather than taking the time and effort to think up something that we might actually get to try later.  (No wonder there are so many sexless marriages – no one ever has to take the time to think of fun things to do themselves!)  And apparently a lot of us figure its worth throwing a few bucks into the “get rich with an idea so simple you’ll be amazed no one has thought of it before” lottery – just in case we stumbled into one of those stories that show up about unexpected and sudden kajillionaires.  Wouldn’t want to be like the people who turned down jobs at Microsoft (if there actually are any), would you?  And every good politician knows that investment is how real wealth gets made.  It’s what people sick of working do when they don’t have enough money to gamble on wall street.

But there is an amazing amount of really good stuff wandering through our collective minds as well.  As I mentioned the other day in my post “Just a Housewife“, I am pretty much entirely self-taught when it comes to things like the bible, religion, education, psychology and the other topics I blog about here.  Probably 90% of that education has come off the internet.  For those who are interested in looking, it’s a treasure trove of source documents, unusual ideas and places to engage in serious conversations about serious things.

Just like Wikipedia has been proven to be about as accurate as a traditional encyclopedia (albeit with a much more detailed entry on Brittney Spears), I would pit the results of my internet education against more traditional experts when it comes to a lot of topics.  Unfortunately, not being a recognized, credentialed expert means its hard to get heard.  What keeps me plugging away, though, is that when people do read what I write, the response is unusually good.  A popular blog has about a 6% response rate.  In the first 24 hours after posting things (most blog posts die pretty quickly), my reader response rate (measured by “likes”, shares and comments) usually runs about 3 times that.  Several blog posts I wrote show up at the top of the page on google when you search “women’s roles in the bible” or “my burden is easy” or a few other fairly common phrases.

All of which is simply a very long (both hopefully engaging) way of saying that I need help building a larger reader base.  I really do think that I have things to say which people could find helpful or interesting and that aren’t the same things being said every where else.  So, I just want to ask and encourage anyone who likes the things they read here to share this blog with people they know and at places they hang out on the internet.  Not because I think I have all the answers, but because I think that I have some ideas that other people might enjoy encountering.  So, next time you read something you like here, don’t just “Like” it or leave a comment, please pass it on elsewhere.  “Like” The Upside Down World on facebook, mention the blog to other people you talk to or perhaps mention it on your own blogs.  I am trying to do a better job of promoting the blogs and voices I enjoy, largely through “Best of the Week” posts like the one I did last week and which I am going to try to do each week. I would also love to hear from other people who have been able to build their readership on how they did it.  Leave a comment!

One last note, I put up a donation link (that tip jar over there) which people can use to make cash donations to the blog.  In addition to milk and diapers, I would really like to be able to make a few strategic advertising purchases, but I have no funds.  If this is something you would like to support, please consider making a donation today.

Finally, I want to offer a sincerely thank you to the people who do read this blog and take the time to respond.  It encourages me more than you know.  Over the summer when I was putting The Upside Down World – A Book of Wisdom in Progress together, I was on the verge of losing my nerve.  After all, very few people showed an actual interest in the things I write.  So, one night when I really was ready to chuck the whole project, I re-read the 40+ comments people have left for me over the years in response to the most popular blog post I have ever written (which is also found in my book).  Over and over again, people thanked me for the post, shared what they were going through, how much then needed encouragement and told me that they were encouraged by what I had written.  So, I picked my fragile self-confidence up off the floor and kept going.  Because at the end of the day, I don’t really care if anyone knows my name or who I am.  But it means a lot to me to think that perhaps someone’s life might be a little more bearable, enlightened and encouraged because of the things I have to share.

The reason that I blog

True story: a few nights back as I was getting ready for bed, my husband asked me, “what are you thinking about over there?”

“The influence of early Christian views of women on the later status of women in the western world.”

Because aren’t these the things everyone thinks about while they brush their teeth at night?  Other people’s master thesis are my night time musings.  There’s something wrong with me.

But now you know why I blog. 🙂