Janet Sheridan: Becoming a blogger

I started using Facebook a few months ago. When I bragged about doing so to my teenage grandson, he replied: “Hey, nice. But now everybody’s on it, Facebook’s not so cool anymore. All my friends and I have moved on to texting or tweeting.”

Well, la-di-da, Mr. Cutting Edge. I guess I’m not an early adapter.

Despite its lack of cool, I enjoy Facebook: fussing about my profile page, finding friends and catching up with the lives of those I care about. It’s fun to open my homepage and see red flags indicating I have a message, a friend request or a response to something I’ve written.

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Janet Sheridan

My successful foray into Facebook motivated me to start a blog, a decision as naïve as thinking you can run hurdles after you learn to crawl. Having no idea how to begin, I searched the Internet to see if I could find some expert advice.

Oh my, could I.

As usual, I was among the last to pin the tail on the donkey. According to Blogger.com, in 2012 there were an estimated 35 million bloggers in the United States alone, and hundreds of them were writing about how to blog.

I went on a three-day binge, skimming advice-giving blogs and gathering contradictory opinions and obvious recommendations: “Say enough, but not too much.” “Don’t whine.” “Always use punctuation.” One expert wrote that beginners should ask family members to read their first posts and leave a comment — if they could say something nice.

One bit of wisdom appeared again and again: Bloggers should write about a unique skill, insight or body of knowledge they possess that others might find helpful or interesting. I pondered this advice at length, but failed to isolate anything I knew or could do that made me special. I’m not coping with an unusual medical condition; I don’t have an exotic pet; I’m not a hoarder. My single exceptional pastime is buying houseplants and watching them die, and I have one helpful hint for building good relationships: never discuss difficult subjects when hungry.

Eventually, obsessive list-making interspersed with deep-breathing exercises and peanut butter by the spoonful helped me think of two possibilities: speaking alfalfa talk — in which Janet is pronounced jal-fan-nel-fet — and suggestions for using the 100-year supply of fresh parsley that stores bundle for purchase.

I was despairing over my short — but unique — list when inspiration hit: “I could write about aging,” I thought, “I’m doing that at an exceptional pace and perhaps I could work alfalfa talk and parsley into it.”

Full of excitement, I searched for blogs focused on aging to see how many competitors I’d have. Answer: 1,330,000.

“Oh, well,” I consoled myself, “If old people are writing all those blogs, some will have gone to their reward by the time mine is ready.”

Then I felt very, very bad for having such a shameful thought.

A second bit of common advice was to think of a catchy title for my blog. I considered “An Old Lady Blogs,” but Joel said it might attract a few people, but he wouldn’t be one of them.

After much moaning and head clutching, I made a decision. I used the name of my great aunt to represent all the people in my life who nudged me toward a responsible maturity and named my blog “Aunt Beulah: Living Well to Age Well.”

As the first post explains, Aunt Beulah will consist of “Reflections and recommendations written by Janet Sheridan, a woman at ease with her age who remembers laughing at old ladies as they inched their rubber overshoes along slick sidewalks — and regrets it.”

You’ll find the blog at www.auntbeulah.com with new posts every Tuesday unless my sinuses are acting up or the grandchildren are visiting.

I promise to use punctuation and limit whining. Oh, and if you should happen to stop by, please leave a comment — if you have something nice to say.

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