As I was scrolling through my stats today I noticed that I had written 99 posts on this blog, making this my 100th post. I wanted to make it something special and I thought it might be interesting to share ways in which my life has changed as a result of blogging.
I really owe it all to my cousin Caroline. Shortly after my mother died in 2008, my cousin Caroline suggested I start a blog to share my feelings and maybe use an “online diary” as a cathartic way to deal with all of the changes in my life. In that year, I ended a 7 year relationship that I thought I would be in for the rest of my life, left a 13 year career that I believed I would retire from in my 60’s, buried my mother and moved from my apartment to my mother’s a house. Needless to say, life had thrown me a few game changers. I’m sure Caroline meant the best. Knowing her, she had probably heard about blogging at a networking event and thought, since I enjoyed writing and yearned to be an author, that writing on a blog would help me. Looking back, there is no way she could have had any idea how much those simple words, “you should try blogging”, said over my birthday dinner, would profoundly change my life.
That summer I fell into a rabbit hole of numbness where, at 36, for the first time in my life since my early twenties, I felt I had no direction and didn’t really care what my future held. I don’t know if I would call it a mid-life crisis; I just felt lost. One night I had a dream that I was sitting by my mother’s grave and started talking to a seahorse named Charlie who wore a red, felt hat. I told him I was looking for my mom and he encouraged me to go with him into the grave and find her at the chimes of freedom, one of my mother’s favorite Bob Dylan songs. After diving into the grave, I found myself instantly “under the sea”, probably a dream state reference from the movie Water Babies. I couldn’t shake the dream and one night, while driving around listening to music and smoking cigarettes, I decided I would start a blog and try to deal with my feelings of grief through my words and pictures. I titled the blog Suicide Birds and Seahorses and to this day it holds some of my favorite writing I have done. The words are raw and honest and because I didn’t think anyone was reading it, which they weren’t, I didn’t care what I wrote. It was freeing and completely cathartic. I keep it up just as a reminder of where I was at that point in my life. Incidentally, the day I met my husband I stopped writing on that blog and I believe that is because, in a way, it had served it’s purpose.
Shortly after I started a “business” blog for my life coaching/counseling private practice called Thoughts From the Couch. I think this has been my favorite blog and probably the one I learned the most from writing. In looking at my last post, See Ya Later Old Friend, I just now realized how truly life changing writing on that blog was for me at that time. Initially a blog to write about things I learned from my clients or posts addressing therapeutic issues, it ultimately became the epitome of a blog diary. Writing on Thoughts got me through many tough days and really helped me hone my writing. It did help me build my practice, but people from all over the country started reaching out to me, telling me how much my writing touched their hearts. It was the first time I realized my writing was good enough and that people enjoyed reading it. It built my confidence and helped me find my voice.
Six months after I started Thoughts from the Couch, my husband Alex and I decided to start a local entertainment and review blog, raannt. Although raannt never affected me on an emotional level, it is by far, out of all of the blogs I’ve started, changed my life the most. What started as a small blog that we never intended to take seriously turned into an international interview website which has allowed us to meet celebrities, attend music festivals and really cool events and delve deeper into the world of pop culture that we love deeply. It allowed me to interview writers who explained to me how to become a writer and celebrities who taught us how to chase our dreams into reality. Even though at times it brought stress to our relationship I also believe it took our relationship to places we have never imagined. We are constantly looking at ways to improve our website and other ways we can utilize it. One of the most important things it personally did for me was introduce me to my current publisher. I still remember meeting her at a local fashion event and hitting it off right away. I would never have guessed that years later she would allow me to achieve my number one dream.
After Thoughts from the Couch, I started a blog for a short time called Peterisms. Looking back, I’m not really sure why I started that blog and it doesn’t really mean anything to me but it did help me realize that I needed to have all of my stuff on one blog and title it, of course PETER MONN. After all, that is what this is all about, right? My life…
*This is a very important lesson I learned about blogging so pay attention! If you decide to start a blog or website that you ever plan on taking seriously or have any kind of following, take some time and really, really be sure of the title of the blog. After, and only after, you have decided on your title, should you open Twitter, Facebook, etc, accounts, so everything is consistent. On raannt, we went back and forth with names and it was very confusing to our readers.
One night I was contacted by a friend who asked me to write some ways in which my husband and I were affected by the ban on same sex marriage in Indiana. She had never meant for me to write a blog post but just asked me to send her a list. Because I have learned to live my life out loud from blogging, I took to my technical page and wrote my Dear Annie letter. I posted it later that night and went to bed. The next day I woke up to viral numbers of readers and thousands of shares across several social media sites. My writing on a blog had made an impact. The amount of emails and messages I received was unbelievable. The Huffington Post contacted me and asked me if they could share the article and also allowed me to continue to guest blog. Since then, Alex and I have been featured in local media outlets, Telemundo, Yahoo and a documentary on same sex marriage for Russia TV all because of one blog post. Our marriage is no different that many others, I just happened to write about it and someone related to it.
After that, I wrote my first book, at the urging of my publisher, and had it published later that year. I am currently finishing my second book. My dreams have come true, all because my cousin suggested I might try blogging as a cathartic way to change my life. Wow, what a change! What a life! I’ve been honored to follow my passion of writing. I’ve been given multiple outlets to write, including books and major publications. I myself have been interviewed on podcasts and television shows. We’ve started YouTube channels and I’ve received messages from people from around the world who email me and tell me that something I’ve said touches them in some way. (Yes, this goes out to you my #1 Fanboy in Canada!) I’ve met celebrities who inspire me and gone to music festivals, award shows and tons of other kinds of entertainment including plays, concerts and sporting events that I never would have imagined attending all because of blogging. Hell, we’ve even been gifted tons of gifts from underwear and beauty supplies to candles, books, watches and tech products. (We even received a vintage Tammy Faye Bakker album from supermodel Velvet D’Amour as a wedding present!)
Years ago when I first started blogging, it wasn’t about all of these things above. I would drive around, take a picture of a semi on the interstate or the coffee sign at a gas station and go home and write about the simple things in life. My dog Griffin would lay at my feet in our stinky old apartment while I thumped away my tears on the keys of the computer while Charlotte’s Web played in the background, Griffin’s little ears rising to the sounds of the animals. Not much has changed in those years. I live in a nicer place that doesn’t stink and my dog PP is at my feet instead of Griffin, but the words are still the same; the feelings are still the same. Between 2 and 3 in the morning, while driving around or looking up at the moon while taking the dogs outside, I’ll get an idea about my mom or life moving too fast or my super cool brother in law and I just feel driven to write about it. That’s blogging. The gifts, the vacations and all that stuff are just the icing, but they don’t really matter. Publishing it and seeing that first view come up and tracing it to Ireland or Brazil and knowing that somewhere in another part of the world is reading something I’ve written and maybe in a way, it will help them too, is truly life changing.
When I first started blogging people made fun of me. Blogging was a waste of time. People didn’t take blogs seriously. When Alex and I started raannt, people said the same things. In some ways, our website has brought us a lot of animosity from others, but I wouldn’t let anything stand in the way of us chasing our dreams. Today, bloggers are sharing their stories of cancer to help other people with cancer. People write anonymous blogs about abuse and rape. Lifestyle and Fashion bloggers are making huge salaries and sitting in the front row of fashion shows because they are bloggers. Book bloggers are dictating what people should read and entertainment bloggers are affecting what TV shows and movies will make it and which won’t. And somewhere in Indiana, a kid who never felt comfortable in his own skin found his voice and grew up, writing about his life on a blog called Peter Monn.
I can’t imagine my life without blogging. It literally has changed everything about my life. It is the reason why I tell everyone they should start a blog. You have no idea where it might take you. Even now, while Shahs of Sunset floats in the background, Alex, swarmed by the dogs, is writing a blog post about his new favorite song for raannt while I am writing on my personal blog. It’s our life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Please check out my book!