I Am an Escribitionist

Escribitionists are those who blog about themselves, their experiences, and their reflections. It sounds like such a bad thing, connoting, as it does, exhibitionism, but it’s simply a way of distinguishing the diary-like bloggers from those who write from a more journalistic point of view.

The danger of being an escribitionist is that it leaves a blogger vulnerable, not just emotionally, but also physically. People have been known to retaliate offline for online disagreements and, more commonly, people with a felonious bent will take advantage of those bragging about being the Bahamas for a week. So not a good idea to advertise when your house will be vacant!

In the beginning, I was very careful not to say anything of a personal nature. I didn’t make my birthday known, where I went to school, where I lived. For a long time, I didn’t post photos of myself, and I protected my gender (some people were shocked when they found out I wasn’t who they thought). I even refrained from offering opinions about anything but writing and books (but even then, I sometimes got an argument from those who misunderstood what I was saying. See: “Ah, the Difference a Comma Makes!”)

I was especially careful during the years of Jeff’s illness, particularly the last few months when he was so bad off, not to write anything about my life. I was trying to establish myself as an author at the time, perhaps with a male pseudonym, and we both agreed a professional demeanor would be best. Besides, I felt it would be a betrayal of him to talk about what we were going through, and he was afraid I would seem pathetic.

After he died, though, all that care we had taken in laying the groundwork for my career as an author no longer mattered. I was in such terrible pain and so bewildered by what I was feeling (I’d never before encountered even a mention of the utter mental, physical, emotional, spiritual agony of profound grief), that my pain burst out of me. First I screamed my pain offline (I was pacing the house one day, feeling as if I needed to scream; when I realized no one could hear me, I just let the pain rip out of me). Then I spewed my pain onto this blog.

That’s when I discovered the adage “we all grieve differently” is wrong. Many people told me that they experienced the same thing that I did. We might show our emotions differently, but the pattern of grief for a spouse, life mate, or soul mate often follows the same timeline.

By the time my pain became manageable, I was in the habit of talking about my life, so I wrote about my experiences taking care of my nonagenarian father and my frustrations with my abusive homeless brother. I wrote about my travels (making sure always to post after the fact so that no one would know where I was at any given moment).

If I made a mistake and gave too much information, it didn’t matter because I was never in one place long enough for my indiscretion to catch up to me. But now that I am in my final home and not going anywhere, I can’t run away from the mistake of giving out too much information, though I fear it’s too late.

I do try to be careful, but any hope of anonymity (at least pertaining to geography) is long gone. Too many online friends have become offline friends. Too many offline friends have become online friends. Anyone who is paying attention can string together the crumbs of my life that I scatter online, and find me if they really wanted to, though why anyone would want to go through all that trouble, I don’t know.

Still, it is a concern. Unfortunately (fortunately?), it’s way to late to change my ways. If we writers are supposed to write about what we know, well, I know writing, grief, and me. Few people like to read posts about writing (they are either writers themselves who know it all already or non-writers who don’t want to know). I’ve said all I can possibly say about grief in my five hundred grief posts (https://bertramsblog.com/archives-grief-posts/) and my two books about grief: Grief: The Great Yearning and Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One.

So that leaves . . . me.

It’s always hard to admit the truth, but there’s no getting around it. For better or for worse, I am an escribitionist.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Who Visits My Blog

Well, yes, of course, you visit my blog. But so do people from all around the world.  Most come from the USA and other English speaking countries. Others come from countries I’ve never even heard of, and yet, someone in those countries has heard of me. What an amazing thing the internet is!

Here is a map showing where my visitors originate:

Pink shows visitors, and the darker the pink, the more visitors. Apparently, if I am reading the map correctly, the only places from which no visitors have come are Greenland, Svalbard, Turkmenistan, Western Sahara, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, and Central African Republic. I find this utterly astonishing. Not to be disingenuous, but I simply can’t imagine being interesting enough to attract so many different people.

Here is the incredible list of countries where visitors have come from. (The number represents visitations only, not views, since often people click on more than one blog entry, and each click is a view):

United States 364502
United Kingdom 64705
Canada 42126
India 35091
Australia 25092
Philippines 7152
Pakistan 6247
Ireland 6045
South Africa 4668
New Zealand 4236
Malaysia 4145
Singapore 4003
Germany 3227
European Union 2448
France 2093
Netherlands 1982
Indonesia 1657
United Arab Emirates 1556
Brazil 1364
Hong Kong SAR China 1318
Italy 1317
Spain 1283
Norway 1262
Russia 1258
Saudi Arabia 1091
Denmark 1085
Thailand 1053
Japan 1012
Sweden 1002
Turkey 957
Lebanon 939
Bangladesh 881
Vietnam 875
Romania 834
Mexico 827
Belgium 822
South Korea 799
Switzerland 739
Nigeria 733
Poland 714
Kenya 711
Greece 709
Argentina 685
Israel 589
Nepal 570
Egypt 561
Jamaica 556
Sri Lanka 510
Portugal 490
Finland 462
Trinidad & Tobago 444
Austria 415
Taiwan 406
Hungary 353
Ukraine 337
Jordan 330
Cambodia 319
Malta 316
Ghana 298
Qatar 292
Czech Republic 278
Bulgaria 278
Serbia 271
Mauritius 261
Kuwait 260
Morocco 252
Croatia 244
Slovakia 236
Puerto Rico 231
Colombia 226
Slovenia 194
Oman 185
Tunisia 171
Albania 162
Algeria 158
Chile 156
Iraq 153
Cyprus 153
American Samoa 150
Bahrain 141
Bahamas 141
Lithuania 138
Estonia 131
China 126
Uganda 124
British Virgin Islands 121
Iceland 119
Zimbabwe 119
Tanzania 117
Latvia 115
Georgia 112
Myanmar (Burma) 110
Peru 108
Ecuador 102
Venezuela 101
Macedonia 100
Botswana 96
Guyana 96
Costa Rica 94
Palestinian Territories 93
Panama 91
Armenia 91
Belize 88
Brunei 85
Barbados 80
Maldives 79
Fiji 77
Bosnia & Herzegovina 76
Isle of Man 74
Luxembourg 73
Jersey 71
Azerbaijan 70
Bhutan 69
Dominican Republic 64
Afghanistan 63
Namibia 62
Antigua & Barbuda 59
Yemen 55
Syria 55
Zambia 55
Kazakhstan 54
Grenada 54
Moldova 53
Malawi 49
Papua New Guinea 49
Guernsey 49
Ethiopia 48
Guatemala 47
Belarus 47
Macau SAR China 46
Bermuda 46
Guam 44
St. Vincent & Grenadines 44
Cayman Islands 44
St. Lucia 43
Cameroon 41
El Salvador 37
Libya 35
Uruguay 34
Curaçao 32
Laos 32
Bolivia 31
Lesotho 30
Gibraltar 29
Honduras 28
Paraguay 27
Mongolia 26
Nicaragua 26
Montenegro 26
U.S. Virgin Islands 25
Swaziland 25
Rwanda 25
Aruba 24
St. Kitts & Nevis 20
Suriname 20
Mozambique 20
Dominica 19
Monaco 19
Côte d’Ivoire 17
Northern Mariana Islands 16
Sudan 16
Seychelles 16
Åland Islands 14
Senegal 13
Congo – Kinshasa 12
Somalia 10
Kyrgyzstan 10
Angola 10
Madagascar 9
Vanuatu 8
Djibouti 7
Uzbekistan 7
Réunion 7
Guadeloupe 7
Anguilla 7
Liberia 6
Caribbean Netherlands 6
Solomon Islands 5
Faroe Islands 5
Haiti 4
Cook Islands 4
Turks & Caicos Islands 4
Benin 3
Iran 3
Burundi 3
French Polynesia 3
Cuba 3
Liechtenstein 3
Gabon 3
Sierra Leone 3
Timor-Leste 2
Martinique 2
Mali 2
Tajikistan 2
Micronesia 2
Vatican City 1
Burkina Faso 1
South Sudan 1
Congo – Brazzaville 1
Falkland Islands 1
St. Helena 1
Marshall Islands 1
Mauritania 1
Netherlands Antilles 1
French Guiana 1
Montserrat 1
Kiribati 1
Cape Verde 1
Niger 1
Samoa 1
Sint Maarten 1

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

Happy Twelfth Bloggiversary to Me!

I created this blog exactly twelve years ago today, back when I hadn’t yet become a published author, back when I had just acquired my first computer and didn’t even know what a blog was. I had read how important blogging was for authors, both as a way of getting known and as a way of connecting with readers, so I decided to “act as if” I were going to be published in the hopes of making it happen. I had nothing to say, no one to say it to, no reason to say anything, but I didn’t let that stop me. I started blogging on September 24, 2007, and haven’t stopped since, though admittedly, I don’t post as much as I once did.

Did acting as if I were going to get published work? Perhaps, though there is no direct connection that I know of. Still, one and a half years after starting this blog, my first two books were published. I now have eight books available: five suspense novels, one mystery, and two non-fiction books about grief.

Nine and a half years ago, my life mate/soul mate died, and his death catapulted me into a world of such pain that it bled over into my posts. This blog became a place where I could try to make sense of what I was going through, to offer comfort and be comforted, to find my way to renewed life. This blog sustained me during the years I cared for my father, and it gave me a place to rest after my father died, when I was thrown out into the world, alone and orphaned. And this blog offered me a place to call home when I set out alone on a five-month, 12,000 mile cross-country road trip, gave me a place where I could talk about all the wonders I was seeing. Often on that trip, when I was between visits with online friends, I thought of William Cowper’s words: How sweet, how passing sweet, is solitude! But grant me still a friend in my retreat, whom I may whisper, solitude is sweet. And this blog became a place where I could whisper, “Solitude is sweet.”

Currently, as I am settling into a home of my own, it’s nice to know that whatever life throws at me, whatever problems I encounter, whatever challenges and adventures — and joys — come my way, this blog will be here for me.

Although I’d planned to post every day when I started blogging, during the first four years I only managed to blog three or four times a week, but exactly eight years ago today, I made a 100-day commitment to post a daily blog, and once that initial commitment was fulfilled, I continued to post every day for four and a half years. I probably would still be blogging every day except I got out of the habit of daily posts while on my great adventure because so often on the road, I had no internet connection, not even with my phone. And now that I am embarking on the new adventure of homeownership, complete with internet, I have few internal (or external) conflicts to give me blog topics.

But still, the blog is here, always welcoming me when I do find something to say, generally once or twice a month, but perhaps, when I get tired of my new offline world, I’ll be back here every day.

During the past twelve years, I have written 2,480 blogs, received 17,489 comments, and garnered 780,711 views. It amazes me that anyone wants to read anything that I write here. This is so much a place for just letting my thoughts roam, for thinking through problems, and (I admit it) for pontificating a bit. It’s been a kick, writing this blog, and I want to thank all of you for indulging my whims and whimsys.

Thank you for reading. Thank you all for your comments, your likes, your support. They have meant more to me (especially this past nine and a half years) than you can ever imagine.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Spreading the News

I’ve joined a new online site, Quora.com, to help spread my message of the importance of grieving and perhaps to find readers for my new grief book: Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One.

Much of what is written about grief is either shrouded in dense scientific terminology or filled with meaningless platitudes and slogans. Very little relates to the lived experience of grief, leaving many bereaved bewildered and troubled by the unhelpful advice they are given, which makes my book — and my mission — so important.

Quora is a question and answer site where anyone can ask a question, and anyone can answer.

For example, someone asked: How do you stop missing deceased loved ones? I responded:

I don’t think you ever stop missing deceased loved ones because they are always gone. The miracle of grief is that grief will diminish with time, rather than continue growing. Since every year takes us further from our beloved mate, it would seem as if the pain of loss should deepen, like layers of watercolor washed one on top the other until the shape of the missing part of one’s life is darkly hued. And yet, through some miracle of grief, our pain does not increase through the years, but instead, the watercolors lay softly on our lives, reminding us of what we had, reminding us of the loved one we still yearn for.

However, that being said, one way to stop missing them so much is to do new things, things you would not have done while that loved one was alive. Travel someplace you would never have gone with the deceased. Try something you would not have done if they were alive (in my case, it was dance classes). Every new memory you make takes you one step further from the past and one step further into a future where you can still miss the person but live a happy and fulfilled life. For example, if you have strong memories of the loved on Christmas, create a new tradition for yourself alone.

My profile on Quora is: https://www.quora.com/profile/Pat-Bertram-1 If you too are on Quora, please follow me so I can follow you.

Another way you can help me spread the news about Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One is to post a review on Amazon after you have read the book. The more reviews, the more Amazon’s algorithms kick in, and the more people see the book.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

***

Pat Bertram is the also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Twitter. (@PatBertram) Like Pat on Facebook.

Wishing You A Day Filled With Light And Lightness Of Being

The internet, especially the social networks, has made me aware of the entire world, not just my local hemisphere. (That’s a phrase you don’t hear everyday — “my local hemisphere”. ) I used to think today, the winter solstice, was a natural day of celebration since it signifies the end of the creeping darkness. For the past six months, ever since the summer solstice, darkness has been creeping into our days and stealing our light. Today we have reached the end. Tomorrow the light begins to grow, but only in the northern hemisphere. Down under, they begin a time of creeping darkness.

Still, since I live in the northern hemisphere, this is a day to celebrate the growing of the light.

S

Wishing you a day filled with light and lightness of being.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Thousands of bloggers from all over the globe are Blogging for Peace today.

One subject. One voice. One day.

Words are powerful . . . this matters.

May the Light of Peace Shine Upon You.

 

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I’m going to Blog for Peace. Will You?

 

If words are powerful, then this matters.

 

On November 4th, people all over the world blog for peace. Blog4Peace was created and founded by Mimi Lenox, who believes that because words are powerful, blogging for peace is important. Although I do not believe in the possibility of world peace (because war and stressful times are never our personal choice but are fostered by others or foisted on us by circumstances) I do believe in personal peace, in finding peace within ourselves no matter what happens to provoke us into chaos.

I especially believe in peace after the pain of grief. Too many people are silently aching for a love they once had, a life they once shared. I blog for them, in the hopes they will find a more peaceful time.

And yes, words are powerful. And yes, this matters.

How To Blog For Peace:

  1. Choose a graphic from the peace globe gallery http://peaceglobegallery.blogspot.com/p/get-your-own-peace-globe.htmlor from the photos on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BlogBlastForPeace#!/BlogBlastForPeace/app_153284594738391 Right click and Save. Decorate it and sign it, or leave as is.
  2. Send the finished globe to blog4peace@yahoo.com
  3. Post it anywhere online November 4 and title your post Dona Nobis Pacem (Latin for Grant us Peace)

Sounds cool, doesn’t it? See you on November 4!

(Little did I know when I painted this picture that I would be painting my peace globe!)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Upgrading My Blog

When I started this blog eleven years ago, there weren’t any ads at all on the WordPress site, or at least none that I or my readers ever saw. Gradually, as WordPress grew bigger, ads began appearing at the bottom of individual posts. People who had a WP blog and were logged in never saw those ads, nor did I, but I did always see a WP ad about paying to have the ads removed. Ironic, right?

I never thought anything of it. I liked the free aspect of the blog, and since people are used to seeing ads, I didn’t think it made much difference. And anyway, no ads ever appeared on my blog itself (the home page), only the individual articles. Until recently. When I was in Seattle recently, I used my sister’s computer, and before I logged into my blog, I noticed that ads were appearing on the home page.

So I finally gave in and paid for an upgrade to have the ads removed. This also gave me a domain, so if you are the sort who happens to notice such things, you will see that this blog now displays the URL “bertramsblog.com”, though the original URL” ptbertram.wordpress.com” and any links or bookmarks you see or have saved will still get you here.

Will this make any difference to anyone or anything besides my bank account? I don’t know, but I do know I have to start getting more professional (at least to a certain extent) about my writing career. The rights to most of my published works will soon revert to me, and I will have to figure out what to do with those books. I might have to self-publish, though I really hate the idea of giving Amazon so much of my fiscal information. I also not want the expense or the task of re-republishing the books especially since they’ve already been published and republished. On the other hand, I really love being a published author.

But that is a quandary for another day.

For now, this one big step to make Bertram’s Blog more professional is about all I want to deal with.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Gathering of Gatherers

Once upon an e-time, long ago and far away, there was a social networking site for writers, photographers, and artists of all kinds called Gather. I haven’t thought about this site much lately because, well, because it’s no longer there. The owners sold it, and the buyers only wanted the health site part of the owners’ holdings, and so Gather was deleted. All our photos, articles, discussions . . . gone. Though some people were perspicacious enough to copy and save those discussions, I was not one of them. Luckily, I was able to recreate some of the photo essays I posted on the site, those I was most proud of, such as Echoes, Deep Thought. Or Not, and Short and Witty Photographic Ditty.

Today, when I was talking with my sister about my upcoming trip, she mentioned how wonderful it was that I actually turned online friends into offline friends, and so I told her about two of the women I will be visiting on my way to Seattle. Then it dawned on me — I’d met both of those women on Gather. Not only that, it was my sister who had introduced me to Gather. She’d found a contest on the site that she talked me into entering. And that contest led the way to many new friendships.

It’s interesting to think how one small thing can reverberate through the years. I don’t know if my sister actually changed my life by her urging me to enter the contest, but she sure had an effect, and my life is richer for it.

Gather might have been the beginning, but I have since met others online through my blog or Facebook. Generally these folks started out as fans or fellow grievers and became friends. People often caution me about visiting people I only met online, but I have never had a problem. (Apparently, they haven’t had a problem with me, either, because almost all of them have remained friends.) Over the years, reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, seeing the photos of their families and vacations, participating in various discussions, you do get to know people. (It’s the same as offline, actually.)

I must admit, having people to meet along the way makes any trip a wonderland of possibilities — not just because of meeting the people themselves, but because of all the things they love in their area they want to share, things I would never have found on my own.

People who are fed up with the politics and policies on Facebook and who are looking for another place to hang out would be gravitating to Gather if it still existed. For a while, Facebook was an adequate substitute for Gather, but it is becoming increasingly unfun. (Which is one of the reasons I keep blogging — it makes me feel as if I am in control of at least a part of my online destiny.)

I can’t go back, but I can go forward, and forward means I will soon be meeting friends from Gather and elsewhere. I can hardly wait!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Plethora of Riches

The internet makes research easier and quicker than finding the proper books or sending away for brochures and such, but so much information is available online, that it’s almost impossible at times to process this plethora of riches.

I’ve been researching campsites and campgrounds for my upcoming adventure in May, and last night, when I realized I did not end up with a single hard fact after a couple of hours of perusing various websites, I closed down my computer. It would be nice if I could just drive for as long as I wanted, then magically find a perfect campsite when I needed it, but unfortunately, most campgrounds or campsites are down a side road. I could pass within fifty feet of one such and never even see it.

So, as frustrating as it is, if I don’t want to end up in motels every night for lack of a more interesting place to stay, I have to do the research. Besides, some places are only available on a reservation basis. I’ve been told you need to reserve a space six months in advance for Yosemite National Park, and though I really should visit the park, without a firm grasp of my itinerary, making a reservation seems a bit risky.

Most of the online camping directory sites seem to be geared for RVing rather than tent camping. For example, in one listing of places to camp, I found Walmarts, truck stops, turnouts, and various other places that might do in a pinch for parking an RV (though does anyone really get excited about sleeping in a Walmart parking lot?) but there is no way to pitch a tent. Or if tents are allowed, which I cannot imagine, there is no way I would ever tent camp in a Walmart parking lot.

Even some campgrounds in national parks and other national lands seem to be geared solely for RVs. One campground I researched that seemed ideal had a single spot for a tent camper. And that spot had to be reserved.

There are still tent-only campgrounds, but those all seem to be the hike-in kind. I might be comfortable out in the wilds by myself, but I am not comfortable parking my ancient VW and just leaving it at a trailhead for a few days. Besides, although wilderness hiking and backpacking is generally safe, I’m not sure the same would be true of a campground on the edge of civilization. And anyway, would I really feel comfortable walking five miles to camp? (I’m laughing at myself. I don’t know why this is even a blip in my head — five miles? Carrying a full pack? That is so ridiculous at my stage of fitness — or unfitness — as to be a non-issue.)

I know there are plenty of places out there for me to stay — after all, I found them when I was on my road trip. Admittedly, the parks and monuments where I camped were not insanely over visited like Yosemite and other parks in the Pacific states, but still, May is not the height of the tourist season, and I do not need to see the popular parks just yet. (After all, I have never been to the Grand Canyon, which everybody knows, but I did stay at Chiricahua National Monument, which few people ever heard of, and it was wonderful!

It’s a good thing I have four months to research. At the rate I am going, I will need every day of that time to prepare if I don’t want to stay in motels or (heaven forbid!) sleep in my car in Walmart parking lots.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.