Thursday, 11 April 2013

How blogging enriched my life by Tammy Ryan

At the end of December 2011 I was depressed. Not in a clinical sense, just in a “is this all there is to life?” kind of way. I had just had my third miscarriage, and I was miserable.

At the time I was working in the office/sickbay at a local primary school, five days a week, eight hours a day. I enjoyed my job, (as much as you can enjoy plugging a child’s nosebleed) but I was lacking in some other areas of my life, namely almost everything else. At nights I would come home from work, cook tea, watch TV mindlessly for a few hours, eat more ice cream than I probably should, drink more wine than I definitely should, then go to bed, only to repeat it all over again the next day.

My weekends were even less exciting. Growing up my mother taught me by example that weekends should be set aside for cleaning. She would devote whole days to the pursuit, and so without even realising there were alternatives, I grew up and did the same. All Saturday I would wash/polish/vaccum/dust/mop/fold and wipe until finally, Saturday night, I could collapse on to the couch with a glass of red and smile with satisfaction at the sparkling cleanliness all around me.

This satisfaction would last right up until the next day, when my husband would eat his breakfast in front of the TV and drop crumbs all over the mat, then he would mow the lawns and traipse grass and other crap right across my pristine floors with his work boots. And after that, just in case I wasn’t already seething enough, he would shower and use his dirty towel to wipe the steam off my freshly polished mirror, leaving a dirty big fluffy smear right across its face. The bastard.

Come Sunday night, my clean house would be looking a little more jaded, a little less like a show home and more like an ordinary home again. Sigh.

So January 2012 rolled around and I decided I needed to stop these kinds of time wasting activities (i.e. cleaning), stop focusing on my fertility issues and find myself a project. By divine intervention (or maybe I just glanced at the bookshelf as I was walking past) I remembered a book I had purchased the year before but never read, ‘The Wonderful Weekend Book’ by Elspeth Thompson. The blurb on the back promised the book was packed with ideas that would help you ‘restore the balance to your life, reconnect you to the seasons and other people and – quite literally – not cost you the earth.’ This sounded right up my alley.

Now I am the first to admit that I am, ahem, technically not very good with computers and the like. In fact, my laptop has had to be repaired several times due to unfortunate incidents such as ‘liquid on the keyboard’, (snorting coffee out my nose while reading something funny on Facebook) and a stuck { key because I may or may not have bashed the keyboard out of frustration one too many times. (Disclaimer – am not actually admitting to any such thing here as my husband may read this. As far as he is concerned the fat cat sat on it, and that’s the story I’m sticking with, whether it sounds like a Dr Seuss excuse or not). My husband is also the proud owner of a very flash mobile phone whereas I am only allowed a great big brick of a thing because I have a tendency to drop it. Frequently. Within the first thirty seconds of purchasing the bloody thing in fact.

However, I mused, the whole point was to try something new and different, so technology challenged or not I headed to the first blogging website I could find and I made myself a blog. Which was crap. Really. So I deleted it and went to Wordpress instead. I am still, a year and a bit later, figuring out all the cool things I can do with Wordpress, mainly through trial and error – cue much hysteria when I occasionally do something I smugly think is clever and five seconds later it appears I have deleted the whole damn lot. Luckily hubby is a deft hand with all things technical and has thus far managed to fix or undo everything I’ve done. Phew.

The blog I created is called ‘The Year of Wonderful Weekends – reclaiming life’s simple pleasures.’ The aim was to do a new activity from the book every weekend and then blog about the experience. And I did this diligently for the first few months, including things far (like far, far) outside my comfort zone such as Sleeping Under the Stars on a farm, and a walk to hear the dawn chorus of the Kakapo birds, (which, funnily enough was at dawn, a previously unseen time of day). I made jam out of (stolen) rose petals, went beachcombing and fishing, had picnics at the lake with my family, explored the garden and its inhabitants with a magnifying glass, painted a painting, decluttered my bathroom cabinets and mailed New Zealand postcards to some lovely blog followers scattered about the world. And that was only in the first two months.

I became enthused about my weekends again. While I’d always looked forward to them, I now really looked forward to them, excited to try something new and to share it with people afterwards. I enjoyed making connections with people from other countries, letting them into my life and gaining glimpses into their worlds as well. I was nominated for Inspiring Blogger awards (and while let’s face it, who hasn’t been at one point or other, it was still a buzz for me to know that people were enjoying my blog).

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and while I was too scared to do any activity that could, in my mind at least, cause another miscarriage, I was also determined to stick with the blog. So I just did some of the tamer activities from the book, like mushroom hunting. Seriously. With weapons and everything. OK not really weapons as such…more like…oh just read the blog will you.

The book blurb was right. Over the course of the year I really did reclaim some of life’s simple pleasures; some I’d never even known existed. Like baking my own bread, (it’s so easy!)  and making time for the people you love. And all of it is recorded forever (or at least until machines take over the world) on the internet, complete with photos. I can go back through the archives on my blog anytime I want and remember the fun times I had, and the not so fun, like when I slept under the stars and my face and hands got eaten alive by mosquito’s and I puffed up and looked like I had gone ten rounds with Rocky in the ring. Really attractive. Not. Or when the dog got badly constipated and people at the local park thought we were bonkers for clapping every time she did her, you know, business.

Throughout the year I also shared updates of my baby bump and pregnancy news with my followers and enjoyed their well wishes, and at the end of October our daughter Holly arrived safely into this world. And even though she now consumes my every waking hour (also the ones traditionally known as ‘sleepy time’ like 1.00am, 3.00am and 5.00am - yawn) my year of wonderful weekends taught me that you must have balance in your life in order to be happy. So I make sure that I have still have a little time to myself occasionally to do something that recharges my soul. I’m much happier these days, and more in tune with the world around us. I stop and admire the flowers, feel the sun on my face, and smell the seasons in the air. When Holly is older I look forward to sharing some of the activities I experienced during that year with her.

This year I am still trying to add to the blog, although sadly not every weekend due to time constraints (also known as the baby), and I have a brand spanking new blog about my experiences in self publishing. Yep - I’ve fulfilled a dream and I’ve written and published a book ‘Charlie and Pearl’ available to purchase now on Amazon (please do).

My new blog, (known online as ‘Help me – Help Holly’) chronicles my writing/publishing highs and lows, and my efforts to help support Holly and my family through the odd sale of the book. I’d love to see you there!


  1. I will definitely check it out Tammy. Your story is both interesting and inspirational!

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