Metablogging and other deep thoughts

blogging It was sometime last spring that I first had the idea  that I’d write a blog about the experience of  retirement.  Since that day so many many years ago  (no, I’m not going to count the years) that I first took  an Educational Psychology course (which later really morphed into Cognitive Psychology – the branch of psychology that studies mental processes including how people think, perceive, remember, and learn) I’ve been fond of exploring inner spaces to understand the world.  I had a sense that the transition from professional working woman to retired woman would be an interesting journey … and it has been so far for sure.  So I set about blogging 4 months before I retired and now here I am, some 4 months plus after retiring and I’m taking a moment to think through what the blog’s all about … for me … so that I can decide whether or not to continue writing.

Writing the blog has forced me to pause a couple of times each week in this tumultuous transition to step back and think about the experiences I’m having.  It has enabled (or caused) me to be both “in the moment” and “conscious of the moment” at the same time.  Participant and observer.  Actor and critic.  Eric Harrison, in writing about Awareness Meditation, says that “focusing keeps your eyes on the road, but awareness lets you enjoy the scenery“.  These first months of retirement I’ve been able to do that through the blog (which maintained the focus) and through the impact that writing the blog has had for me (which provided the conduit to awareness).  As I continue to try to figure out what retirement for a feminist woman in 2009 means the blog is of great help … to me. 

It’s also the source of some pretty silly business. img_1396 For example; each day I check my “dashboard” (the behind the scenes organizer for the blog) numerous times to see how many ‘hits” I’ve had that day (a hit isn’t really a good indicator of reader activity, I know, but it’s the only measure that I have to see if anyone’s actually reading what I write and … for some reason … that matters) and whether or not there are any comments.  When the red flag beside “comments” appears I am delighted; it’s the feedback that I’m looking for.  When there are no comments or few “hits” I start wondering whether or not I should even continue doing this.  Are there no comments because what I wrote was uninteresting (can’t quite bring myself to say boring)?  Early on I ended each posting with a few questions which I thought would prompt responses; I stopped doing that when one dear friend pointed out that she liked reading the blog but didn’t like it when I pulled that “teacher thing” at the end and that as she read it it seemed like the questions were the homework assignment.  Yikes!  So, I stopped doing that.  And still, although I know that I’m writing this for myself and to develop a record of this transition that others might find useful, I can’t help but let my ego attach to the readership and responses.  Is that insecurity (in the old sense, before security and homeland were connected in any way)?  To coin a phrase … you betcha.  It’s like performing to an almost-empty theatre; it just doesn’t feel so good.  

Then there are the struggles to decide what to actually blog about.  Do I honestly plumb the depths of my thoughts and experiences as I move through this transition?   That’s what I’ve committed to.   Do I only write about things that nobody will find offensive or do I write about what’s really on my mind?  Well, even though it has sometimes meant I’ve had to unravel things with others I think that writing about what’s honest and true is the only way to go.  Several days ago – when I returned from Ottawa – I was in a close-to-the-precipice panic because I didn’t have any ideas about what to write about.  David even commented at the dinner table one day while I was talking about the blog that:  “Ah, Sylvia has writer’s block” and I totally freaked out.  If my new identity is attached to writing then to have “a block” is to succumb to fear.  Fear of failure?  Fear of success?  Fear of rejection?  Fear of mediocrity?  So I’m going to have to face all of those fears if I’m going to continue to write.  

And continue I will.  

I’ve had a chance to have a number of really good conversations about social media with my son-in-law Andy (an interesting thinker and techno-visionary who’s in Technology Law) over the past months.  What, you might be asking, is social media?  Here’s a videoclip that might help explain it.

This blog has given me a way to be a part of something significant.  It’s enabling me to work through this major transition with others.  I’ve been able to meet women all over the world through the blog, and I’ve been able to benefit from their observations and experiences.  Most exciting of all, blogging lets me – and you, the readers – be a part of something significant that has the capacity to change the world.  The whole Cramer/Stewart brawl happened because of social media I think; people began to see that there was an issue and what followed was a flurry of folks sending videos to others to bring them into “the loop”.  Even Obama’s meteoric rise to the Presidency must, at least in part, be attributed to the power of social media I believe.  Now I will admit that I’m likely not within the major demographic for social media participation; without doing any actual research I’m fairly confident that mostly this new realm is inhabited by folks some 20 to 30 years younger than I am.  

But I am here.  And so are you.  

So I’m left with a couple of questions (not meant as homework though … which doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like your responses):

#1:  How do we – feminist women entering or in retirement and those who think this transition is an important one – harness this new power?

#2:  How will I know when I’m done?


12 responses to “Metablogging and other deep thoughts

  1. I think you’ll now when you’re done (if I’m understanding the question correctly) when you stop caring if you are. Social media is most powerful when no one cares who it’s inhabited by.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Good advice Nicole. For my generation of women it’s still pretty hard – I think – to remove ourselves from caring about who is actually reading what we write. This is part of the whole notion of accountability that I grew up at least in part; if I’m putting words on paper then I know they’re valid because somebody’s reading them. Old think? Undoubtedly. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Ew I wrote now instead of know. Forgive me.

  3. Sylvia,

    I think your blog is important, given the enormous numbers of Boomer women (and men) reaching the end of “normal” working years. And, given the prevalence of age discrimination, the “normal” retirement age may be getting lower and lower. So, here we have millions of people who still have many productive years ahead of them. How do we manage that, individually and as a culture?

    Should you decide that your blog is becoming too much work, I would be delighted if you would consider instead a regular column at, that wouldn’t have to be done as frequently as a blog.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Thanks for the encouragement; good to know this is helpful to others as well as to me. I will think about your idea for a regular Goldivas column.

  4. Silvia,
    Not a fully formed thoughts, but maybe worth consideration…

    1) Why do we A-types draw lines in our lives as absolutes? Blog versus Silence; Work versus Retirement; Busy versus Lazy; Success versus Failure. Maybe there is a more organic, softer conception. Maybe there is no dichotomy there.

    2) Discipline is in many ways a wonderful and admirable quality, it can also be a cruel task master and creativity killer. See point 1) above.

    3) You’ll be finished with the blog exactly if and when you’re finished with the blog. It simply won’t claim your attention any more. Poor us.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      Wonderful reminders Janus; thank you. The dichotomy is such a comfortable place for me to live. That balance between creativity and compulsion is a delicate one for sure.

  5. I for one would be very sorry to see you end this blog. I have been retired since this past June. It has been an uneven transition. I need a sane voice in the wilderness, one who is honest and not “rah! rah!” Your blog directs me think about new things, or to think about things in a new way.

    I do notice that with so much info at my fingertips that I am developing Google Brain. I loved to read the long articles in the New York Times. Now I rarely finish them. I spend entirely too much of my day reading, but I notice am not finishing things if my interest flags.

    Oh, and to answer question 2: you are never done.

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      I’m also suffering from Google Brain … but – and I admit this with caution – I really don’t mind so much. One of the real challenges of going to Antarctica was being totally cut off from the internet for several weeks. It was sooooo liberating; at the same time, it sure didn’t take me long once I was home to get back to it.

      I, too, have become much more willing to just not finish reading something once my curiosity/interest lags. In fact, I’ve recently started reading two novels … both of which came highly recommended and neither of which grabbed my attention. Any suggestions for great books to read? Summer draws near (hoping, hoping) and that means I need a pile of books to read in the sunshine.

  6. I won’t finish reading comments posted on blogs when they go on and on and on (not seen at this blog). Usually the writer seems to have some weird obsession and I just don’t feel any obligation to read their boring posts.

  7. At this point in your/our lives we have many roles to consider. Included in this new phase of our lives are the roll of grandmother and then great grandmother. What place will we have in influencing future generations? What memories will we leave them with? As we are living longer than past generations we must now define ourselves in a way that past generations never had a need to do. Many of us will be healthier, more energetic, and younger acting and feeling than women of the past. What are we doing to take advantage of this youthfulness? Besides the transition of no longer going to “work” are we considering how to positively fill this newfound time with positive influences for the future “children?”

    • Sylvia Bereskin

      All good questions Lisa. The goal for me,for sure, is to figure out how to harness the potential of the good fortune of being retired to make the works a better place. Indeed – I guess that’s always who I’ve been.

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