I measure time in units of childhood. Who had been born, who was mobile, who was in school.
On March 23, 2010 “Going Green” launched. My kids were littles: I had one in diapers, one in kindergarten, and another taking preschool by storm. The days were long, but the years were short. I could carry two of them at once, I never wore white, and three minutes was the longest I could allow myself to focus on any one thing without the walls falling down around me.
Since then, my kids and I have both learned a lot. They now know that I am pretty archaic, with my penchant for 19th century literature and clothes from the 70s. They don’t ask me about music more recent than 1910 because I’ll have no answer nor about British history because I’ll have too long of an answer. To their dismay, they also now know that I love algebra and occasionally make copies of their math homework for my own enjoyment. It gives them something to boast about in the “weird parent” comparisons at the school lunch table.
For my part, I’ve learned from my kids that an occasional pie for breakfast does more good than harm, that teenagers are pretty fascinating and fantastic, that seventh grade is universally hard but necessary, and that sometimes the best thing I can do for my kids is stand back and let them flounder.
And then there’s what I’ve learned about blogging! Truth be told, the initial purpose of writing the blog was to save time. For a while, I had been the one to answer the flood of Dr. Bronner’s customer emails. (Love you guys!) There was a lot of repetition.
- Can I wash my hair/face/baby/dog/laundry/diapers/boyfriend’s grungy wool hiking socks with the soap?
- Can I mix the soap with vinegar/bleach/baking soda/vodka/borax/essential oils?
- Will this recipe I found online/at my chiropractor’s/on Oprah/from my grandmother work?
- And what’s with that label?
The blog was an exercise in answering all these en masse. After all, I only had three-minute windows in which to work before the kids unleashed chaos. But the blog wasn’t my idea. My brother Mike came up with it, and the conversation went something like this:
Mike: Because we get a lot of the same questions, can you write a blog to answer them all at once?
Me: What’s a blog?
With my head buried in the sands of motherhood, I’d missed the rise of the blogosphere. Thanks to several kind and patient people, I learned that a “blog” is a portmanteau of “web log” where people write short, casual entries. I never entirely got the hang of “short” and sometimes I dive a little deeper than “casual.” I still have much to learn.
A lot of those early posts were expansions of my FAQ answers, with a little personal anecdote thrown in to liven things up. Since then, I’ve come to see the blog as primarily a teaching tool and a way of distilling the tsunami of Google-able information into quick tips for busy people. As is often the case with teaching, I have learned far more than I’ve taught.
Through the years, I have never wanted readers to think I have it all figured out, sitting high on the green mountaintop dispensing wisdom from above. Far from the mountaintop, I’m right there in the thick of it with you, learning by doing. Some of the things I try, fail miserably – and sometimes I surprise myself when they succeed. Sometimes my kids hopefully lift the lid of a bubbling pot only to discover an experiment in vegan soap jellies or homemade deodorant, two things I haven’t gotten quite right yet (which is why I haven’t posted about either).
Thus, the title “Going Green.” It’s a process. A journey. A little stumbling and winding, but generally in the right direction.
I’m proud of many things about this journey: That nine years later, I still have lots to write about; that the comment threads for most of my posts are many times longer than the original posts; that there’s still more for me to learn about science and simple living; that I am growing in my abilities as a writer and presenter; and that I still remember and use all those lessons from my 12th grade English class – although I do use contractions and the first person (sorry, Miss Irwin), but I never split my infinitives.
Those early posts are a little cringe-y. Many have no pictures, and perhaps are a little overboard on the TMI. I had no idea what I was doing. I just plunged ahead, saying “Yes!” to the adventure of it all. And here we are, nine years later!
Then there are the early videos. Ha! Some with no microphone. None with a script. Usually one continuous, uninterrupted take. And my nervousness manifested as seriousness with very rarely a smile. In the accurate words of one blunt commenter, I looked like I was on Prozac.
Looking back, here are some of the benchmark posts:
- My very first post: Welcome to My Blog!
- My first video: Making a Castile Soap Spray
- General tips that are still a great idea: Cleaning the Microwave with Lemons. I’m rather proud of the fact that one person responded that this post saved her marriage!
Although the “how-to” posts are more viewed, I treasure the posts I’ve written to encourage and educate.
- Here’s one about giving yourself grace: Falling Off the Green Machine
- And another about defending the underdog: Who Gave Soap a Bad Name?
- Consumer Safety Issues that are still vitally important: Changing the Smell of Clean
Thanks for joining me on the journey, and especially for those of you who have been with me from the get-go. I see your names recur. You are friends I’ve never met. I especially have a fondness for those who start your comments with, “I’ve been using your soap for 40 years…” and even the occasional, “I met your grandfather back in the 70’s…”
One of the traditional gifts to commemorate a ninth anniversary is willow, which I think fits. Not only is a willow tree green, but it is growing and flexible, moved by its environment but sturdy at the core. So, in honor of nine years of this blogging journey, here’s a willow tree for me and for all of you in the process of going green.