I wish I could adequately extend my thanks to each and every one of you, and do so in your native language, because I’ve learned you are a very diverse group!
In just the past 24 hours visitors have included people living on nearly every continent of the world. At least one or more visited from all 50 United States, as well places such as Costa Rica, Australia, India, Canada, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Netherlands, Finland, Brazil, New Zealand, Chile, Guam, Estonia, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Madagascar, The Canary Islands, Tonga, Greece, Samoa, Italy, Sweden, France, Israel, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Egypt, and the Republic of China. . . among many others….whew!
I stand All Amazed!!
It’s been a fascinating journey. In November 2007 I was just living in my own little corner of the world in Bountiful, Utah going about my life as a wife & mom, and working as a secretary & musician. I was getting ready to launch into a completely new direction with my singing career. I was active in my church, and a volunteer in the PTA. I struggled with finding time to keep my house clean (still do). I was generally spending the majority of my time worrying about my children or our finances (nothing’s changed there). I had just realized it was already time to start thinking about Christmas shopping. Ugh! In all, I was an average person living a very average life. I still am! But, one day I had this not-so-average-at-the-time idea pop into my mind that I was supposed to create a blog. “Ha! Very funny. ” , I thought. I even had a dream about it. Weird. I mentioned it to my husband, expecting him to laugh, too. But knowing how much I love to write and create, he actually encouraged me to go for it. That may not seem like too much of a big deal today, but “way back then” I didn’t even have a clue what a blog was, let alone how to make one! That’s what made the whole idea especially odd because I kept getting this thought over and over to “build a blog”. Later on, I became convinced that I was receiving a personal prompting from God to just “do it”. OK. How could I refuse? So, I did it. Hooray!
“And they lived happily ever after”.
Well, not quite. That’s the short and easy version of the story anyway. The longer version is much more complex and messy. It’s a story that includes personal struggle, facing opposition and harsh criticism, and shedding many, many, many tears.
In the beginning, everything was new and unfamiliar for me. Everything was “hard”. I had to make continual “leaps of faith” to try to learn and grow beyond my comfort zone. I really loved learning about all of this! I discovered I actually had a hidden love for technology and computers (who knew?), but the more I learned the more I found out I didn’t know (this hasn’t changed, I’ve just learned to embrace it). So, I taught myself a lot of new computer terms. I agonized through formats and styles and hosting sites (that I eventually discovered were a waste of my time) and I taught myself “HTML Code” and some other snazzy extra-techie sounding stuff. I did a lot of reading of other blogs and interacting with the authors. I read about ways to “drive traffic” to my site hoping to get someone to actually read what I was spending so much of my time writing and creating. However, since my site was not – and still is not - “monetized” a lot of those ideas didn’t really apply. But, I just kept blogging.
I eventually embraced the WordPress world and fell in love with their templates & designs, their professionalism, their continual improvements, and their really smart-cool-talented-high-quality blogging community. WordPress is the coolest place to blog! Seriously. (I realize I’m sounding like I’d just love to be Freshly Pressed…why yes, I would… But, speaking honestly from hard-earned experience, it’s a HUGE relief to house my blog here compared to where my original blog “used to live”!)
I remember rejoicing when over 50 people visited in one day.
When more than 100 people visited in one day, Mr. MoSop took me out to dinner to celebrate! (I know, it probably sounds silly, but it was so cool!)
Then some more people came – and even more. Then some of the same people started to stop by regularly. And, a bunch of (really cool) people subscribed to the site. Which basically means they gave me a virtual “high 5″ and said they actually cared about what I had to say and they wanted to hear about it if I said anything else! Baffling. I know. But, seriously cool.
At one point along the journey, a reporter named Emily Warburton Jensen over at DesNews started a feature article highlighting Mormon blog posts of interest (a.k.a. the “Bloggernacle”). As it’s happened, not just one but several of my blog posts have been spotlighted over the past few years! Like this one, and this one, and this one. . . and a bunch more. I’m so honored. (Thanks, Emily! You’re very cool)
But, the journey of the Mormon Soprano blog wasn’t always so exciting or happy.
I actually had to deal with some very unexpected and agonizing “opposition” along the road. I’m not talking about people leaving uneducated, mean, or hateful anti-Mormon comments. I was so prepared for that!! (ironically, I expected much more than I have ever received. Thank you world). Sadly, I learned that the worst persecution comes from ‘within’. Being attacked by people you expect to be on your side is the most painful form of bullying anyone can go through. It’s hell. Imagine my little “insignificant” blog actually getting itself in danger of being “shut down” a few times. High drama! Anyone who reads my posts regularly (or irregularly) can have a good chuckle right now wondering where I must be hiding the “dangerous and subversive” posts!
Sorry, I’m not going to go into the juicy details. #1. I’m not allowed to (unless of course I want to stir everything all up again, no thank you!!) and #2. it would just give “them” attention they don’t deserve. The blog isn’t about “them”. (It never was).
Suffice it to say that building this little blog, lovingly tending to it, and watching it grow has not only been a labor of love, (and sweat and tears) it’s been hard labor! So, why even do it? “Why in the world do I keep blogging?!” Here’s some random ideas:
- It’s not as painful as it used to be. True. Thankfully. But, I blogged plenty when it was painful, and I know I would keep blogging even if it got painful again.
- I love to write. That’s definitely part of what makes blogging enjoyable. But, plenty of people who love to write don’t blog. And, I do plenty of writing in my personal journals and all those various “books” I’ve been “dabbling” with – certainly enough to fulfill all my writing quota. . . But still, I blog.
- I love getting “attention” ?? This is an accusation lobbed at me more than once. Ha! I admit we all appreciate being validated, but if I was a glutton for attention I’d simply run around Salt Lake City naked. That would definitely garner some serious “attention”. Fortunately, or “unfortunately”, my blog is not THAT popular. I can list off a hundred or more really popular blogs (ah-oh, I feel “blog envy” surfacing here). In fact, while there may be several hundred visitors – “hits” – here each day, at least according to my stat trackers – the truth is a very small number ever comment. A very large majority of my posts have never even gotten one comment at all. So, that leaves me wondering. Is my stat tracker “broken”? Are all my visitors just “shy”? Did I write something so brilliant that they can’t think of anything more brilliant to add? . . . Well, basically I’m hoping that at least someone is actually “out there” reading and enjoying the blog! I think they are. I’m pretty sure. I actually don’t know anything. . . But still, I blog.
- The Money! Oh, yeah baby! I’m rolling in so much dough from my blog! Whoo Hoo!! NOT…Nope. None. Zilch. I have never made one penny off blogging. But, I’ve certainly invested more than my share. Let me put it this way. My blog has become my 3rd child. And like any good baby, it’s milking me for all I’ve got! True, I’m using a “free” blogging service. But, I’ve shuttled plenty of money out of my pocket over the past 4 years. I purchased my own domain name (several, actually, that redirect). I added upgrades to make the site look good. This includes continually upgrading my “space” every so often because I like to post a LOT of photos and videos….not to mention all of the unpaid HOURS I have spent working on the blog, or creating videos for the blog. So, yes, I know there are people “out there” who blog and actually make lots of money. I don’t know any personally. Do you? I’ve heard people can even make enough money to actually quit their day job and blog full-time. That sounds like Writers Nirvana!!! I’m totally clueless how someone attains that kind of nirvana, though. I don’t make any money. . . But still, I blog.
- Because God Told Me To. Ultimately, I think this is the real reason why I blog. I know, I know, it sounds like some weirdo religious cliche. But honestly, I believe it. That is what has kept me going through all the pain and tears, the opposition and the messy, bumpy road. I had so many good reasons to simply walk away from this. I don’t know why other bloggers keep motivated. I suspect there’s as many reasons as bloggers. (hey, fellow bloggers! What is your motivation?!) For me, I think there’s some sort of higher reason I’m supposed to blog. It’s a calling. Only God really knows the reason. In the meantime, I’m continually learning and growing and trying to listen to that “still small voice” to hear what I’m supposed to do next. I’m sure I’m making a fine mess of things most of the time. Thankfully, I know God loves me and makes allowances for mistakes. I was very blessed early on in my blogging journey to receive some powerful validation. It came from one of our apostles, Elder M. Russell Ballard, who encouraged members of my church to “Join The Conversation” online (thank you Elder B). That talk changed a lot of Mormon lives. Mormons started blogging in droves. SO many, in fact, that our “community” was officially nicknamed the “Bloggernacle“. But, I had gotten the message to blog BEFORE Elder Ballard’s talk. So, that was especially meaningful to me. I didn’t have to heed the Ballard directive, because I’d already heard the call straight from the source. But, Elder Ballard helped me see a bigger vision of how this “hobby”, combined with the power of the internet and the power of the Lord, can “Do Much Good” and spread the Good News!
“The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His son Jesus Christ.” – M. Russell Ballard
So, here I am. 52 Months and 500,000 hits later. A Mormon woman with a life, a story, a voice…and a blog. I am happy to share it with “the world”, or whomever in the world might stop by.
Whether you are here for only a few brief moments, or an extended stay, I hope you feel welcome and that when you leave you will take with you #1. something positive (and factual) about Mormons and #2. a happy feeling about life, in general. Because I’m a believer that life is good.
The Mormon Soprano is still here! Hooray!
Now lets see how long it takes us to get up to One Million visits, shall we?