Two days ago marked exactly 8-1/2 years that I've been blogging.
When I first started my little blog called Chookooloonks, I had absolutely no lofty goals or dreams -- in fact, at the time, I wouldn't have even dared call myself a "writer." Marcus and I were simply waiting for our daughter to be born. Because we had chosen to adopt, our families in Trinidad and England were feeling pretty disconnected from the changes that our lives were going through; unlike pregnant women, I didn't have any pictures to take of my growing midsection, so there was really nothing for me to share so that they would be invested in the process.
One day, however, I came across a "weblog" -- an online diary, for heaven's sake! -- and thought it would be a good way to share with our families what we were going through on a day-to-day basis. So I did a little research, and started one. The only reason I didn't password-protect it was because I didn't want to add a layer of complexity for my parents and in-laws to access it -- and besides, I reasoned, with so much on the internet already, I hardly thought that anyone would ever visit my site other than my family. There's just too much more interesting stuff out there to look at, to be interested in my life.
Eight-and-a-half years later, I realize that I could've never, ever anticipated how much starting this blog would change my life. Yes, my way of making a living has changed because of this blog; but to be honest, that's just a tiny part of it. Because of this blog and the blogs that it has allowed me to connect to, I have made some of the closest friends I've ever made in my life: people like Maile Wilson, Jenny Lawson and Laura Mayes, to name an immediate and cherished few. My blog has connected me with the brilliant works of others, and turned those people into offline friends: people like Alice Bradley, Brené Brown, Irène Nam, Josh Yetman, CC Chapman, Asha Dornfest, Danielle Henderson, Kelly Wickham, Helen Jane Hearn, Kristen Howerton and so many more. And of course, without Chookooloonks, who knows when I would have ever gotten the opportunity to travel to Kenya, and make friends like Arthur Kakai and Mike Gebremedhin, two really great men who I continue to communicate with, even though they both live on the other side of the planet from the place I call home.
Almost without exception, the likelihood of my meeting any one of these wonderful folks before I started blogging was next to nothing. Creating this site helped me amplify my voice, loud enough that it could be heard by people who might care to hear it, and who I was lucky enough to hear shout back. Chookooloonks has allowed me to, in the words of an overused expression, find my tribe, my kindred spirits.
It has allowed me to find true friendship in a whole new way.
The other huge, amazing, life-altering part of Chookooloonks, of course, is allowing me to connect to all of you: those of you who I've never met before, but who come visit me every day, offering me encouragement in the comments section of this site, on Twitter, on Facebook, and even on email, when you send me wonderful notes and stories of your lives. Every blogger, at some point, feels a moment of gratitude for the people who visits his/her site, but believe me when I say that what i feel when you've shared with me is bigger than just mere gratitude: connecting is something I live for, something that fills me up on a visceral level. My father likes to tease me that I was constantly getting new pen pals when I was a kid, constantly trying to connect; I'm here to tell you that decades later, I haven't changed: I'm thrilled whenever you reach out to me, from your homes and offices and computers all over the world. Just thrilled.
Related: about a month ago, Roger, an online friend, sent me the video below, and the imagery totally illustrates exactly how I feel about connection, particularly if it's cross-cultural. The video was shot in Kenya, so I get pretty nostalgic while watching it. But the parts that really get to me? At about 2:35, when the violinist is showing the Maasai warrior how her violin works, and then again at 3:35, when he's watching her play with his hand on his friend's shoulder.
I'm misty at those parts every. single. time:
Great, right? I just love the colours and imagery and joy and kindness and love -- that's what it's all about, man. So thank you, thank you, thank you, for visiting Chookooloonks. Writing this blog and sharing it with you has literally changed my life in beautiful ways I could've never imagined.
And now we get to the fun, completely amazing part:
I was inspired to write this post by a request from Shot@Life, the organization within the United Nations Foundation which educates, connects and empowers the championing of vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. I was so honoured that Shot@Life invited me to participate in #Blogust, and while you can read all about this initiative here, this is what it really boils down to:
For every comment left on this post through the end of August, US$ 20 will be donated to Shot@Life. To be clear, $20 is what it costs for one child to receive 4 life-saving vaccines: measles, pneumonia, diarrhea and polio, diseases which take the life of a child every 20 seconds, and which are completely preventable if only they had access to these vaccines. So, to be even clearer:
1 comment = US$ 20 donated = 1 child whose life is saved
Your comment could directly save a child's life. How incredibly cool is that?
Please, leave a comment below, wherever in the world you might be (using the "guest" option when leave your comment is easiest). Tell me where you're reading this post. Or tell me how blogging has helped you connect with someone awesome. Or whatever you want to say. Shot@Life says every comment counts. So, please, connect with me.
It's a beautiful, different act to show love in a whole new way.
(And incidentally, if you're moved to continue helping after today, leave a comment tomorrow on the beautiful Katherine Stone's blog, Postpartum Progress -- I'll be passing the baton to her, and she'll have a similar post up, requesting similar comments to save even more lives. It's all so very, very cool.)