As of Valentine’s day of 2020, I finished up my 7th year of blogging. It has been a wonderful journey, I had no idea I would still be here writing. I hope this post helps me refocus my need to write and share about West Virginia. This blog was created because of my personal disappointment and anger over comments that were made by national newscasters about my state and the people who call it home in 2013.
That was a long time ago and overall the image outside the state still seems to be about the same, but community members like myself are trying to change that. I am only one voice that is trying to give our state a #Newstory. There are organizations throughout the state that continually try to let the world know that we are working hard to make my State better. One of the organizations that share my passion is The West Virginia Community Development HUB. They continue to share wonderful stories about our progress and efforts to change for the better. I have written for them several times and will continue to share what I think is wonderful about our home.
So let’s Celebrate what I have learned over the past seven years and share some of my favorite posts and the ones that readers have liked the best. My favorite may not be the same as my readers but they are good and they mean something to me.
I started my blog on a very cold and snowy afternoon in February 2013. As of today, I have had 242,790 visitors to my site and 91,000 of then stop into this website in 2016. I have written a lot over the 7 years, but only published 279 posts, this post makes 280. I found that my readers love ghost stories and Appalachian history. So I am not surprised that my post The Lost Soul of Loveberry Church is one of my top two posts being viewed 12,670 times. The other is about Marker’s Mark Bourbon and the distillery tour in Loretto Ky. Both seem to strike at the heart of what is wonderful about Appalachian culture. It seems that a story that has a little mystery or myth gets people reading.
My favorite stories about my life are read often also but might not reflect the mystic of the mountain state as well. All of the stories I wrote about my experience with the Barnwood Builders are fun but the last one the Completed DIY project and the last visit with the Barnwood Builders, is maybe my favorite. But, the story I am most proud of on the blog is Why a Life of Service is Not a Job but a Lifestyle. Because the post shows my intentional shift in thinking about my future. Now 4 years later I am still living a life of service. I still work for Non-profits and still work in the Community Development field. AmeriCorps changed the direction of my whole life and I am so glad to still be part of their program as a member of the Board of Directors of The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area and a liaison between the Americorps Service Members, the Staff, and Board of Directors. I hope to continue to part of the National Service for many more years to come.
The best part of my Blog Celebration is that writing often and from the heart has had major benefits for me. I have not only improved my writing and spelling skills, I learned to have my own writer’s voice and be more confident with that voice. I have found a place where I can share my feelings, be curious, and learn from other bloggers. It has always been a surprise to me that there are others out there that are interested in my stories and take time to read them. WordPress is a place I call home with supportive readers and writers all around me.
The very most important lessons I have learned as a Blogger are
1.”We have Power”! As writers, we have the power to make or break our communities, our country, and our lives. Our stories are a reflection of our beliefs and by sharing those beliefs we influence others to believe the same way. So make sure you are shaping a world that you want to live in.
2. Being creative is a need not an option! For me being creative keeps me from feeling stuck in my life, in my relationships, and in my mind. So Blogging is one of my favorite pressure releases. Some people play sport to relieve stress, I create thoughts and put them on paper to save me from myself. When I can I draw and paint too!
3. I am a change-maker! Because of this blog, I have helped others from all over the world change their way of thinking about my country and state. That would have never happened any other way!
So here is to another seven years of writing and reading. Let the magic of words continue and I hope I still have positive stories to tell you!