DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
I have a forum attached to my blog where people from all over the world meet to discuss simple life. There are over 8000 forum members now so we have an enormous amount of good information about growing food, cooking from scratch, family, simple living, routines, budgeting, baking and much more. Please click on the image above to go there. Newcomers will have to register. It's free, friendly and we're waiting for you.

13 September 2011

How do you blog?

How do you blog? What makes your blog so popular? What's your blogging secret? These are three questions I'm often asked. The simple answer to the second two questions is: I'm not sure. And because I think the first question is about the practicalities of blogging, the ins and outs of it and why I do what I do, I'm going to write about that today.

I started this blog on 14 May, 2007 with a post about Brandywine tomatoes. Since then I've written 1624 posts, 44,333 comments have been published, there are 3672 followers and there have been over 4 million visitors. When I started, I thought I would write about our everyday life and that would make a fine record for us about when we planted and what we harvested, and as one of our sons was living in Canada then, he could see that everything was fine and dandy at home. I had also started writing a book that I couldn't get published and I had a lot of material that I thought was worth sharing, so I logged into Blogger one day, and here I am. I never set out with the idea of creating a popular blog. If you care too much about being popular you concentrate on the wrong things, and it comes across as desperation. My aim was to connect to like-minded people and to share what I know - it is my responsibility as an older woman to do that. It surprised me when so many people connected with me here, and stayed. When I first started collecting statistics for my blog, I thought the counter was wrong because it kept telling me there were always a lot of visitors.  


In the beginning I wrote every day as I was firmly convinced, and still am, that to create a relationship with any readers who wandered my way, I had to give them something original and interesting to read when they arrived, and the promise of something new tomorrow. Writing every day gave my early readers a little unspoken promise that if they came back, there would be something waiting. It also revealed a little bit of Hanno and me, and the life we were living, and I hoped that visitors would take the time to give a little bit back too. That happened, we made the connection I wanted to make and over the years I've developed friendships with some of the readers here and built up an idea in my own mind about what many of you are like in real life. Each comment adds to that.

I used write my blog when I got up every morning - 4am. If I did that, I had enough time to give it the attention it needed while still having time for the work I did later in the day. One thing is for sure, you can't write about a life you don't really live. I put my camera in my apron pocket in the morning and if I do something I think I might write about, I grab the camera and take the photo. Now I find it's better if I start writing the blog the afternoon before, then I edit it, or add to it, the next morning. I usually have it published some time between 4am and 6 am. 

My subject matter often comes from what I do during the day but it also includes occasionally responding to emails, step-by-step guides, recipes and thoughts I have about this and that. I am not self-conscious at all about writing my thoughts on death and ageing and I hope the posts I write on those subjects, as well as the unrealistic desire for perfection, help bring those topics into general discussion more. At the moment, not many people talk about those things and they are as important as happiness, health and slowing down.

I have no formula - I don't write a certain number of words, I just stop when I feel I've conveyed what I hoped to. If you read about what makes a successful blog, many writers say you should be mindful of keywords and to create headlines that reflect popular keywords. I don't. I think the way to get readers is to write well, almost every day, and to comment on other blogs similar to your own and join forums about your subject. And you have to give it time - time to write well, time to develop your own voice and style, and time for readers to find you.

I have never set myself up as an expert. I just want to share what I know and what works for us here. I think there are many ways to live a simple life, ours is just one way. I hope that what I write helps people believe they can make the changes they want to make. Over the years I made sure I was not swayed by advertisers and people wanting space on my blog - I get emails almost every day asking for that. I have done some bartering deals and lived true to my values, and despite being offered some incredible incentives, I only blog about and promote products I use here. I couldn't honestly recommend anything I haven't used myself and, more importantly, would continue to use.

Now that I've been writing for so long, I think, but I'm not sure, that if there is a secret, it's regular interesting content. And you have to write from the heart, you have write well, you have to be believable. I hope I have done all that. There are still many things I have to learn, there are always changes being made here so I guess while we keep evolving, I'll keep writing. To tell you the truth, this blog has become a friend to me and I would miss it if I stopped. In the silent early morning hours, with a cup of hot tea steaming beside the keyboard, I've shared many thoughts and words here but I am still amazed that from this silent spot, as soon as I hit "publish" these words travel out in to the wide world, to you. Don't you think that's incredible?

53 comments:

  1. Yes, it is incredible! Your blog is an inspiration. I began blogging when I started feeling like my family and I had struck on a goldmine lifestyle and other people had to know about it and how wonderful our lifestyle was making each of us feel inside and what it was doing to us as a family. Sometimes I worry that I don't convey that message enough or, on the opposing foot, I talk it up too much until it feels forced and people consider me one of those 'rose colored glasses' type of persons.

    All I know for sure is that I can't keep it in and so I have to blog! If I had time, I would blog every day, but alas, its too time consuming for our busy harvest season, time of year...

    Blessings to you dear Rhonda! :)
    Mary
    http://lundkids.blogspot.com

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  2. Hi Rhonda! Greetings from Toronto, Canada! Thank you so much for your blog! I've been reading it for a couple of years. What I like about it is that I'm interested in simple living and you offer lots of common sense useful ideas. And you are yourself as you write- not trying to impress or do anything for status, but just writing about every day life as you experience it. I too, started blogging when our daughter lived in Sydney. I visited her twice during the 3 1/2 years she lived there, so it's also fun to hear about Australia from you. She just moved back to Toronto to be closer to family especially when I was diagnosed with cancer and now that there is a little nephew on the way. So we're moving into a new stage of being grandparents, just like you. I encourage you to keep writing and sharing your perspectives on life and basic house keeping/ home making skills with the next generation. Thanks so much!

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  3. I dó think it is incredible! All your fabulous words and thoughts, within a couple of minutes on my screen. All the way over to Holland. What a great joy!

    One of the last things I do every day is visiting my dear friend in Australia to read about her incredible life. Sharing tips of living a simple life, but also loving family-items. Thank you so much for being that friend Rhonda!

    Love from Holland

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  4. Thanks, Rhonda. I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into maintaining this blog.

    I also think it's amazing that what you write is read, enjoyed, reflected upon and applied to daily life by people from all over the world. I am in the Netherlands, you are in Australia. How cool is that?!

    Anna

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  5. Thank you Rhonda for being woman who encourages others, I love your blog, My own mum died when I was 15 and I love being able to come here and learn the things she was never able to teach me. I love the new photo of you on your page.
    Thanks for the Blogging advice too, from someone who is just getting started.

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  6. Yes, it is! :o) Thank you, Rhonda. You very often hit a topic I would like to read about the certain day :o). This one was it, "The changes we make" was it, the topic "freezing" and so on..
    In general I like your "motivating" posts. Rhonda, just an idea: could you write about your impression of your readers? Who are we who come regulary, or how is the profile of the people you have met through your blog?
    M. from the Czech Republic

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  7. I do think it’s incredible that words can travel so far and influence so many, Rhonda. Your blog is filled with great ideas and such wonderful encouragement to us who may strive to emulate some of your habits. Thank you for posting nearly every day such interesting content and great photos.

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  8. Hello everyone!

    M, I wouldn't like to write about my impressions of the readers I feel I know. I may be completely off and upset someone. Also, there is not enough space to write about everyone and I wouldn't like to write about some and not others.

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  9. Incredible indeed Rhonda! Your love of life and enthusiasm for your lifestyle shines through your words. Popping in here really is like sitting around your kitchen table. I love that.

    I love blogging too. I started to keep track of how my little city garden changed over the seasons, and it ended up being about all kinds of things I've done. I've recently started a new blog (for various reasons), and it feels a little like I've moved house! It was the right thing to do, but I kind of miss the old place a little...

    You are indeed an inspiration. I love it that you consider it your duty as an older woman to share your wisdom. Thank you for sharing it with us :)

    Jenni x

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  10. Hello Rhonda!
    It is incredible to be able to connect to you from across the world. Just amazing. When I pop by your blog each afternoon it's as if we are sitting down for tea. :) Most of the time I have a cup with me.
    I think one of the reasons I always come back is that you are a very reassuring, comforting person who is confident and lets me know that yes, I can do this too. :) Thanks for posting!
    The Girl in the Pink Dress

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  11. I love the fact no matter where we live in this vast universe we all can learn from each other...the common goal..Live simply~~To Simply Live...comfortably and happy..
    That is what brings me back to your writings and the comments of others will lead me to their posts as well...
    This blog is a field mind of like minded people..and for that I thank you!
    ~~Peace & Love~`
    Blessings

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  12. Dear Rhonda,

    I don't comment very often because I tend to get a bit too "wordy". But I can say this, I love your blog and I'm so glad I found you. You are such a talented writer and I do read your blog every day.

    Thank you for keeping your blog going. I hope you will keep writing for a long time.

    A Faithful Reader, Jeri, from Utah, USA

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  13. Yes, it is incredible what you have achieved here, and I think the fact that you have never blogged for popularity, but just to share your wise view of the world is part of the reason it works. It is like having a favourite aunt to turn to when you aren't sure how to do something!

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  14. I love that all our blogs connect to people all over the world and let people know that they are not alone in this journey . Thanks for being one of our 'Elders' Rhonda and sharing all that you know.

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  15. Hi Rhonda, one of my favourite things about your blog is that when I wake up first thing in the morning there is some inspiration waiting. It keeps me focused and motivated for the day. I have a three year old and a three month old baby so to stay on the path I want to be on, one of a sustainable lifestyle, I need someone like you encouraging me along the way! I try to often write my blog but sometimes I have breaks from it, it is always encouraging, however, when people contact me and ask me to write again. I don't have many followers but have realised that there are lots of people reading that I don't know about. Your blog has been an inspiration to me in many ways, thanks!

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  16. Having something well written and interesting to read is always a pleasure and I enjoy my daily visit here. With the other international comments, above, it almost makes me feel like your neighbour as I'm south of you where I live at the mid coast of NSW!
    I've 'discovered' other blogs I like from the Friday "On my mind..." posts and I've made some more 'bloggie' friends from this so a big "Thank You!" for starting it.
    Cheers,
    Robyn

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  17. Dear Rhonda,Every morning after my walk around the block at 7am when the world is very silent and hushed, it always amazes me that by the time I sit down with my hot cuppa, you already have 12 comments and have been up at 4am.
    As we are of a similiar age and I have always lived a simple life, I enjoy travelling through you into other worlds.
    I pick a member picture or a comment and check out many other blogs.I particularly liked inner pickle from the other day. There have been many a journey where one blog leads to another.
    But my day starts with you, because you make me feel normal.
    No-one else in the block has chickens, or a vege garden in the front or back that I can see,just pristine well mowed and manicured lawns and gardens.Do they sew or knit, can they bake bread,do they actually mow their own lawns, so very very neat.
    So I thankyou for bringing a bit of normality into my world.
    Chris from Coffs Harbour

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  18. Rhonda, Your blog is full of inspiration and wisdom and comes from the heart - its no wonder you are so popular! Thank you. Ros

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  19. Such an interesting post. I love the sense of community and inspiration from the blogging world. My favourite blogs are the ones that blog daily, yours being one. I try to post every weekday as it is nice for readers to read or look at something fresh. Not too keen on using words in titles and posts just to bring readers in. Like minded readers tend to discover each other anyway over time.
    Thank you for the time you spend each day to inspire us. You certainly are an early riser!

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  20. Rhonda, I read your blog because you have the value of integrity. Your posts are sincere and somehow, across the great wide world that you mentioned, that sincerity manages to come across to people. Not only that, you are generous in sharing your thoughts and wisdom. For me, it is a feeling of reassurance and comfort to read your blog - thank you for continuing to write.

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  21. I love this post.

    I love that you do not go in for key phrases for the post headers. When I read that somewhere I felt doing that sounded too formulaic and too key word spamming.

    You have such an honest, real blog and I truly believe
    That is why people love you.

    Nothing about your blog says ' sell ' or fake. Your blog screams, love. It says here is my life, here is my truth.

    Thank you.

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  22. Accidentally successful.
    It's interesting, isn't it?
    Why we blog.
    What motivates us initially.
    And then what continues to give us impetus.

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  23. I am so glad that you started blogging all those years ago and kept it up. I started after moving over to Australia from the US and missing my daughters and my friends, thought this could be a connection back to them and they could see how my corner of the world was. My main blog is purely a gardening blog and through it I have got lots of tips and learned so much on how to grow things in this very different tropical climate. In fact I first saw loofahs on your blog! Now I grow them regularly. I have had a break from blogging lately due to some personal issues, but after reading this post I am keen to get back on track. Thanks for your positive outlook, it is very inspiring.

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  24. It is incredible! I appreciate what you share here Rhonda, and think this is a lovely post. x

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  25. Hmmm... I think the appropriate answer to the question "How do you blog?" is "Very well thank you!"

    And... seriously?!? You get up at 4am?!? Of your own free will?!? There isn't enough money on the planet to get me to do that! I guess that just proves that there are many ways to be simple, because to be honest, I can't think of anything worse than getting up at that hour! :~)

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  26. It's your honesty that shines through, Rhonda! Your blog is you, pure and simple, and thats what I (and obviously many others) like. Our everyday lives are not about designer housewares or the flashiest cars, although we might enjoy the odd fancy to own them! Rather, our lives are just about general living and that is what you bring across so well - something that many of us already do and many others aspire to do!
    Oh and personally I love that sometimes you are so honest that your topic would be considered cringe-worthy!! You are inspiring!!! x x

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  27. This is so true: "you can't write about a life you don't really live". I keep coming back to your blog because, quite apart from everything else, it is REAL. Unpretentious. Advice delivered in the context of trial-and-error, compromise, and wise reflection on an actual life being lived. There have been many blogs I've started following and after a while I become overwhelmed by the constant advice delivered without context, or the clear desire to be gaining popularity or 'expert' standing or drumming up business. Anyway, thank you.

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  28. You are an inspiration, very down to earth person, just as your blog title says! I agree with Ecocatlady, you couldn´t get me to get up at 4am to blog, I am a night owl, so have great difficulty getting up early (I get up at 7am to go to work though). I have only recently found you, but whenever I can I read older posts as they are all very informative. Thank you

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  29. Hi Rhonda,
    I'm pretty new to your blog and when I discovered it a week or so ago I went through so many of your posts and couldn't help but read many of them to my husband. It's inspiring to see how you and your husband are living your life, we have a very small back yard and a smaller balcony that doesn't get too much sun so it's been hit and miss for us this year, very few things have survived.

    Wondering if you could do a post on what you recommend growing in a shady area.

    Thanks,
    From Canada

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  30. Dear Rhonda, I don't remember how I found you, but I've followed you ever since. I appreciate the effort you put into each blog and I did wonder how you find the time, but I guess rising at 4am is a bit of a clue. Down To Earth motivates me to work harder in my garden, encourages me to cook rather than buy packaged food and teaches me how to live a successful simple life.

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  31. I really do appreciate that you have chosen your sponsors so wisely - only endorsing products that you really believe in. Your blog is hugely popular but not covered in banners and ads and I think that conveys to us your readers that you are not in this for what you can gain but for what you can give. I also appreciate that your photographs are real and not styled. As you say you grab the camera and take the picture carrying it with you in your apron pocket. I love that. Sometimes the unrealistic desire for perfection can spill over into our blogging. I sometimes get disheartened when I see my own amateur pictures on my blog taken with a basic point and shoot camera but that is because I have been looking at a blog with super styled shots in high definition with not a weed in the garden or a spill on a baking tray!

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  32. Oh Rhonda how I love your blog. It reminds me that I am sane, I just choose a different path to others and that is okay. i have never met you, probably never will, and yet I feel as if I know you. Whatever the 'formula' for your blog is, don't change it..."If it ain't broke, don't fix it". By the way I made a loaf of your bread yesterday, Holy Cow!!! It was sensational. I've tried lots of different loaves and this was the best by far. Just thought I'd let you know.
    Hope you have a great afternoon
    Cassandra

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  33. Great Blog Rhonda...down here in chilly Victoria, i sometimes envy all the Tropical produce you grow!I love the comfy nature of your blog, and it really does feel like catching up with a long time friend..a very sensible knowledgeable one,
    cheers

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  34. Rhonda I have been a follower of your blog since 2008, it has provided me with wealth of information and inspiration, and encouraged me to nurture what I value most - my home and my family. Thankyou

    Jacqui
    Townsville

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  35. Although I don't knit, sew or have a veggie garden (gasp!) and have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, I share your love of family, home cooking, organic food, recycling, green cleaning, simplicity, reading and community. It's great that we don't need to be carbon copies of you or anyone else to benefit from one another in Blogland. Keep up your wonderful writing, Rhonda.

    Cape Town
    South Africa

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  36. Thanks for a brilliant blog; I read it every day and despite being on the other side of the world everything you write about is of relevance to me here in the UK. I shared your joy with your new grandsons, having a new granddaughter myself, and love reading about your life and family. You are a true source of inspiration and long may your blog continue.

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  37. Good morning Rhonda, I start every day with your blog and enjoy it so much. You write from the heart and are an inspiration. i love hearing about your garden, your expanding family and all your yummy recipes. I also like to read the comments of your readers. it is amazing how much we share and we are all over the world. Looking forward to your book! Karen from CT

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  38. I think it's the chooks :)
    You can't have chooks, especially ones that have names, and not be a down-to-earth gal. And what's not to love about someone like that.

    Always grateful to have stepped on to your porch,
    Vicki
    Trinidad & Tobago

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  39. Hi RJ

    I've been a long time follower of your blog and having had little or no internet for the past month I feel like I've missed an old friend.
    Keep doing what you are doing and writing from the heart as I know I will continue to follow and be inspired by you.
    Lis xx

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  40. Dearest Rhonda, I have only been reading your blog for a little less than a year now and I love it. I love hearing about Australia and your life of simplicity. You are such an inspiration and encouragement to me. Among my circle of friends I am considered the "weird" one, they just don't understand why I would want to make a product like soap or butter when I can simple run to the store and purchase it already made with none of the labor. There is really no good way to express to someone the joy and satisfaction of making your own. when a good loaf of bread comes out of the oven or I cut into a fresh batch of soap, words just can't express how good that feels deep in my soul. Thank you for sharing with me your life and even though you don't know me at all, your distant friendship.

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  41. Hello Rhonda,
    I am a regular reader although I don't comment too often. Thanks for offering us a little peek into your writing process! It is interesting to try to imagine what it is like on your side, and your blog posts do a wonderful job of filling in the colors, so to speak.
    I want to thank you for your high quality of writing. I think you find just the right balance between mastery of the English language and a relaxed approach to your topics. I have read a lot of blogs, and I often find myself getting irritated by their writing style. There seem to be too many highlighted sentences or hyperlinks, too many exlamation points and smiley faces and so on. Your style is clean and uncluttered. It lets me focus on what you are saying instead of getting sidetracked by how you are saying it.
    Thank you for your wonderful work that you so kindly share with us. I really enjoy reading it each day.
    Luci

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  42. Rhonda, your blog and your words have given us so many happy hours reading material. You have always inspired many of your readers/followers.
    It is amazing what modern technology can provide for us today. We can meet other folk across this globe, connect with their thoughts and pictures through a button on our computers, and all this can happen without us having to leave the comfort of our own homes. I for one am intensely greatful for this facility, or else how would I have found out about you and your fantastic blog!
    Now I can`t wait till your book comes available, too. Keep blogging as long as you can, because there are now thousands of us out in this wide world that will turn on their little computers to read your wise words and look at pictures of your way of life.
    Best wishes,
    Sarina.

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  43. I am grateful for the time and effort you have taken to pass on your impressive knowledge. I know people ask me garden questions and such and I only know what works for me. Even though they may only live across the town it may be different on their land. Many things though are universal. Our family has benefited by my reading your posts and implementing more steps toward independence. I get strange looks at times when I have commented about your crooks antics or such and people ask where you live. They think I am talking about a friend who lives close to us! Well I feel you are a friend as one definition of friend is one who has your best interests at heart. Since families are not as near to us as we like now a days we connect where we can with people that are close to us in interests and views on life. I want to add I was impressed when you choose to only sponsor products you use and truly believe in. That meant a lot. Sarah

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  44. Hi, yes ditto what everyone else says, your blog is great and inspirational. I have started my own blog a few months back. I love the idea of having a public diary. I also have what I think are great ideas about life and living simply and would like to share them with others and so help move us away from the consumer society. Plus I feel really blessed to have such a wonderful life, I can't keep it to myself! Maybe I am boasting but I don't think so, I don't mean to, I just want to show a good way to live is possible.
    Dayla

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  45. Dear Rhonda

    At school (a long time ago) I read EM Forster's "Howards End"; the motto or subtitle of the book was 'Only connect'; that is - in a nutshell - connect with others around and close to you through words and actions, and meaningful human connectedness will follow.
    That's what I think blogging (wouldn't Forster be incredulous?) is about: we 'connect' in the blogosphere when it is meaningful and heartfelt.

    That is why I enjoy your posts.

    And yes, your style does break the conventional rules of blogging, but when you write with meaning and respect, you don't need to obey arbitrary conventions.

    It's what I try to practise in my own blogging, which I may say, I do slowly. One post a week is enough.


    All the best


    Richard

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  46. Rhonda, your secret is that you share your experience, wisdom and knowledge without judgment and without preaching. Your words are inspirational, good-humoured and gentle. Yes, your blog is very interesting and full of all kinds of wonderful information. But it's your delivery that keeps me coming back again and again.

    -Tracy

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  47. I think those wonderfully kind eyes of yours drag a few followers in, such a lovely photo and a face you have to trust. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  48. HI Rhonda,
    Your blog is informative and inspirational and definitely "down to earth" and for me that's the main reason I read it everyday, you are a normal everyday person that we can all relate to. We have never met but I feel you are a lovely, kind, warm person. I hope you never stop blogging and am looking forward to your book :-)
    Di
    Mowbray

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  49. I have to say Rhonda, that I regard your blog as an encyclopaedia and a gentle nudging tool more than anything else. Some blogs I view for the pictures, others keep me in touch with old friends, and other because they make me laugh.

    As to why I blog, I'm not sure. Partly it serves as a diary and a reminder of things Howard and I have done. I'd like to think it would inspire other suburbanites to live a less commercially dependent lives. We'll have to wait and see on that.

    I'm not as consistent with entries as I should be. For reasons that will be apparent to anyone who reads it, The most recent entry was very hard to write. Normally my mind works overtime, but this time, turning thoughts into sentences was difficult.

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  50. Thank you for this, Rhonda. I am one of the many who wondered how you all fit it in and it was interesting to read your process. I suspected that you write early in the morning. This is the time set aside for my meditation, however reading your post it occours to met that your writing has, in some way, become meditative. I shall continue to check in,

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  51. Hi Rhonda,

    I love reading your blog, I don't comment a lot or read everyday. I do love to stop by and catch up with all your posts. Thanks!

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  52. Hey! Quick question that's totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4. I'm
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Thank you for your comment today. I love reading your opinions and thoughts. We have built up a wonderfully diverse community here that I'm very proud to be a part of.

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