I recently read a blog post by Paula Reed Nancarrow, titled 2014: The Year Blogging Refused to Die. In the post she discusses the history of blogs, why people blog and why many blogs have died out. At the end she asks the question “What’s keeping your blog alive?”
When I decided to start my blog I took advantage of all the blogs on blogs out there, the websites on blogging and the thousands of pieces of social media advice on how to build a successful blog. The one piece of advice that I believe every one of these resources stated is “know your audience”. Paula is the first blogger I have read that has said, “Frankly I had no idea who would want to read what I wrote” in her post “4 Great Reasons Not to Know Your Blog’s Target Audience”.
I began my blog as a way to tell my story and help other people out there who might be struggling with similar circumstances. I needed to target those people my blog would help, but really didn’t know how to, so I targeted disability. I was following the blogging directions so choose an audience. I soon realized from my readers’ feedback that yes, I had accomplished my goal in providing help and support to others in my situation, but I also had people without disabilities reading my blog, simply because they had become fascinated with my story and found my posts inspiring. I am a thinker and a writer, not a talker, so I observe and take notice of things others often miss. So I listened and I began to focus my posts on personal stories that would be motivating to anyone while still helping those in need. Life changes and my blog once again took a different path. The amputation of my leg expanded the audience once more. I listen to the whispered conversations I wasn’t supposed to hear. I listened to the questions being asked, but not directly to me. I listened to the innocent questions small children asked their parents. So I geared my posts to educate and answer all the questions people have about amputation but are afraid to ask. Therefore I don’t necessarily target a particular audience, but instead keep changing my posts to satisfy an ever-changing audience.
At the end of the day I continue to blog for two reasons, with the first being the very reason I began, to help people. Every time I get a message saying “Thank you for telling your story. It has helped me, it has given me hope” I am motivated to continue writing my posts. My blog has helped a wide range of people on everything from someone experiencing life temporarily on a pair of crutches to providing hope to someone battling the decision to amputate a leg. To me that is what blogging is all about – making a positive difference in someone else’s life.
The second reason is the people I have met through blogging that have positively impacted my life. As you can see, Paula has made a significant impression on me through her blog Paula Reed Nancarrow. I love her posts because each one is a unique and different story. Please visit her blog. One of my favorite posts is “The Clean Plate Club” as it takes me back to my childhood dinner table.
The next blogger that keeps me blogging is Melanie Deardorff. Melanie is a social media specialist, health coach and blogger, who herself has improved her health by losing over 90 pounds and is now maintaining her weight after years of being a yo-yo dieter. Melanie’s blog posts provide ideas and information on social media or they might be an interview with a health coach. Either way they are always interesting and very informative. Her posts have given me resources and information that have improved my own blogging. Please check out her blog socialmedia for wellnesspros. One of my favorite posts is “Dale Carnegie’s social media lessons for your health and wellness business” as Dale Carnegie has helped me refocus my life a few times. Of course, also check out her post which features me titled Inspirational Health and Wellness Blogger; Darryl Partridge, Living Life On Crutches.
Some blogs take me back to my teaching days, such as Deb Aubin’s blog, Education is Special. Deb is a special education teacher who blogs to inform people about special education issues. I am drawn to reading her posts because her teaching style and philosophy reminds me of my teaching days in my own classroom. Please visit her blog Education is Special. One of my favorite posts is “The Holiday Reading Jar: A Tradition of Literacy and Love”. Deb is a special teacher and her students are very lucky to have her.
My disability is being a single leg amputee. While I don’t consider myself disabled in any way, my lack of leg creates a challenge in my daily living that the average person doesn’t have, making me fit into the definition of having a disability. While I have been slammed for using the term “inspiration”, the fact is that we all gain inspiration from others. As a teacher I looked to other teachers for inspiration. As a skier I looked to other skiers for inspiration, and as a parent I certainly have gotten inspiration from other parents. So why wouldn’t someone with a disability look to others with disabilities for inspiration? If we write a blog or publish a book based on our own experiences people are going to get inspired by us whether we like that term or not. For me, if I can positively impact someone’s life then let me be an inspiration. That is how I make sense of what happened to me.
The next three blogs inspire me and help keep my spirits up, and I am blessed to have gotten to know these three amazing people through blogging. They are my fellow gimps and none of them share my disability.
The Girl with the Purple Cane, by Liz Jackson. Liz has a complex condition that attacks the myelin sheath of the peripheral nerves and causes weakness and paralysis. There is very little known about her condition and it is currently referred to as CIDP, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy. Due to her condition she utilizes a purple cane i.e. the girl with the purple cane. Liz writes about the stigma of assistive devices and her blog began as a petition to get her favorite store J. Crew to sell other fashionable devices, besides eyeglass frames, such as canes. Liz is all inclusive in her posts and very creative, tackling a wide variety of disabilities including mine, limb loss. Please visit her blog The Girl with the Purple Cane, while I am of course partial to the one featuring me: Why Are Animals With Prosthetics Upworthy When People Aren’t? My favorite post is Taking J. Crew’s Frank Muytjens on a Wheelchair Ride = it hit home on the stigma my crutches carry.
Need some humor? My Odd Sock by Doug Ankerman. Doug one of 2.3 million people worldwide who are affected by multiple sclerosis. His blog is all about using humor to cope with living with MS. Doug does it really well; his strength and humor are a testament to his courage in his incredible fight with MS. His blog always makes me smile and I am drawn to his stories because I also use humor to cope with adversity. Please visit his blog My Odd Sock. One of my favorite posts is Down On the Farm; not only did this post put a smile on my face, but it took me back to my life growing up on a farm.
Last but certainly not least is From Where I Sit by Ann Elizabeth Latos. Ann has Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis; this disease is a genetic defect that causes sudden onset of muscle paralysis. Ann blogs about her life living with Periodic Paralysis. She has worked very hard to overcome and accept her disability. Despite no longer being able to work as a Health/Fitness Trainer, Ann is, as her tagline reads, “Finishing strong after life throws baskets of lemons at you”! I have been drawn to her story as it reminds me of my own struggle to finish strong. Please visit Ann’s blog From Where I sit. One of my favorite posts is Speaking of Counseling, which is about a conversation Ann had with her doctor who had a sudden interest in how she spent her time now she was living with a disability. Ironically the conversation was spurred by the fact that he was experiencing a small dose of what it’s like to live with a disabling condition. He was currently sitting on a scooter with his leg in a cast. This one certainly hit home for me.
Six strangers I never would have met, yet through blogging each of them has touched my life with their stories. Interestingly their blogging has done for me exactly what my blog has done for others. They have positively impacted my life.
So what keeps my blog alive? The many people who find help, hope, motivation and inspiration to push forward living their lives on crutches, living with a disability or finding comfort and courage in my story to accept living life as an amputee. It is also the incredible people I have met through their blogs. I have only written about six, but there are many more and I hope to continue to meet amazing people and learn about their fascinating niches in life.
It was recently brought to my attention that my blog reached a family that needed some hope and support in getting a loved one through an amputation. Without the blog being shared this family never would have benefited from my experiences. They were very thankful to have had the opportunity to have read it. Please don’t underestimate the power that sharing a blog can have. You never know who it will reach.
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