6 Ways Our Marriage Resembles a Tree

Twenty-five years ago (8/8/92), I stood on the Brooklyn Promenade and said “I do” to Wayne.

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Intrigued by the SITS Girls prompt, “If you were to describe yourself as a tree, what kind of tree would you be?,” some arborial thoughts on our 25-year old marriage.

We aren’t a “flashy” tree like the Hawaiian Rainbow Shower (Cassia) tree, known for its eye-catching blooms, its frequent changes in appearance, or its notoriety.

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Source: Flickr

Instead, I like to think we have these qualities in common with other trees:

Longevity

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Source: Flickr

The Great Basin Bristlecone Pines are the longest-living trees known to man. According to the National Wildlife Federation, they grow straight at low elevations, “but at high elevations, the trunks become twisted.”

Same after 25 years of marriage. Growth gets a little less straightforward as the years go by.

Faithfulness

I read that elm trees represent “dignity and faithfulness.” This elm tree in Oklahoma City, the “Survivor Tree,” survived the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and became an important part of the memorial.

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Source: Flickr

My daughter visited the Oklahoma City memorial earlier this summer and, comparing it to the 9/11 Memorial, said “it was so different in comparison, a place of looking forward.” We both place a high premium on being faithful to each other; it matters and I believe it will continue to make difference “looking forward.”.

Fruitful

Our biggest blessings are our children, Tenley and Wayne Kevin, so a tree that bears fruit is in order. And we’re Floridians, so let’s go with “orange.”

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Source: Pixabay

Extending Open Arms

Even though I don’t consider us, as a couple, all that public or outgoing, we have made it a priority to deepen family ties. Ready for a tree pun? This involves, um, “branching out.” I love this beautiful live oak tree here in Tallahassee at Lichgate.

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Credit: VelvetteGypsy on Pixdaus

From trying to make every get-together, and Wayne’s incredible cooking for those get-togethers, to the last three years taking care of Dad, reaching out has been an important part of our marriage.

Deep Roots

Deep roots are essential to a good marriage. I couldn’t find a great example of one type of tree that has the deepest roots in the world. Rather, I found this blog post explaining that strong root systems need water, oxygen, and space. In other words, it’s not necessarily the kind of tree you plant but how you treat it that makes a difference.

Determination also matters, as Nietzsche points out:

Wedding Anniversary TreeNietzsche was right, as was the blogger who emphasized the fact that you have to always be vigilant to create the right conditions.  

Strength

Smithsonian Magazine says this about the Baobab tree: “Its bark is fire resistant. Its fruit is edible. It scoffs at the driest droughts. It shrugs, and another decade has passed.” Sounds about right for 25 years of marriage!

Wedding Anniversary Tree

Source: Pixabay

It may not be the prettiest tree on the planet but it is still there, while others have come and gone.

Twenty-Five Years Later

My favorite marriage quote came from Ann Landers:

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.

 

Now we are caught up in celebrating the new marriages of relatives who were babies (or not born yet) in August of 1992, like my niece Olivia, who will be getting married in September (this is us at a recent party for her and her fiance, John Landon).

Wedding Anniversary Tree

My wish for all these new marriages is longevity, faithfulness, fruitfulness, open arms, deep roots, and strength.

And for our marriage, 25 years in, a happy anniversary to us!

Geneva’s Train

I have the good fortune of participating in an incredible group of bloggers via Midlife Boulevard. In addition to the online magazine focusing on women over 40, we have a Facebook group for support, content sharing, and the occasional joke or two! In 2016, we are spending January adding a blog maintenance tip per day. When we started the series, one of the first tasks was to define our goals.

My four-part goal included “write once in a while just for the sake of writing……not for anyone else’s message but my own.” Point being: I love writing about causes and am really enjoying writing sponsored posts, but I truly believe good writing springs from writing for the sake of writing. Therefore, I am going to plan to write once a month (at least) just to write, not from anyone else’s talking points or guidelines. My writing has started feeling so uninspired to me; I am afraid I have forgotten how to paint pictures with my words, and that would be a loss.

Keeping that goal in mind, I am using an inspiration from the SITS Girls 31 Days of January Writing Prompts (I may want to write for the sake of writing but I still needed a little starter spark!). Finish this story: A girl, sitting alone on a rock at the edge of the woods, jumps when she hears…

Geneva’s Train

A girl, sitting alone on a rock at the edge of the woods, jumps when she hears the spurt of air explode out of a can of carbonated beverage as its top is popped. The owner of the can could be her brother (opening a Pepsi), her mother (opening a Diet Coke), her father (opening a beer), or her grandfather (opening a beer).

No matter who it is, they are interrupting Geneva’s reverie. Her mind, along with every iota of her imagination, was deeply involved in the book in her hands and now the flow has been disrupted.

“Whoever it is, how can I get them to go away so I can get back to my book?” she wondered. Her brother would be a temporary irritant; if she would refuse to engage, he would probably seek an easier target elsewhere (the kittens came to mind). Her mother would want her to do something (emptying the dishwasher came to mind). Her dad would want to probe her agenda for the upcoming week (committing the stories she had written to a flash drive came to mind). Her grandfather, who had short-term memory issues, would want to know (for the 50th time) if she had seen the postcard his granddaughter (her cousin) had sent from Paris.

WHY was it so hard for the people in her life to give her train of thought its due? Trains of thought did not always stay on track.

Sometimes, trains of thought stayed parked at the depot, unable to depart because there just wasn’t enough fuel to send them on a trip.

Sometimes, trains of thought became so overburdened with the weight of their heavy cargo that they lumbered along, clogging up the track for the other trains carrying lighter, more streamlined loads … the trains with logical agendas and contents that others were expecting.

Sometimes, trains of thought flew along the track, light as air, having been dispatched to someplace new to Geneva, awaiting a load of ideas, fantasies, or outlandish plans.

This time, her train of thought faced a split track. The track of her book placed her within an arm’s reach of a protagonist named George, feeling a new and exhilarating lightheaded magic. In the book, he had already planted a garden, tamed a bucking bronco, and headed off a confrontation between two enemies. Wasn’t it her turn yet?

The other track led back to chores, an inquisition, or a boomerang into the old routine. Back to her regular life, and that stop was growing more mundane by the day.

Unable to contain her curiosity any longer, she sighed, shut the book, and turned.

What she had not guessed was that the can was being opened for HER.

“Sparkling water with essence of mint?” asked George.

And with George’s arrival, the train bellowed with the beauty of imagination and Geneva gave in to a flurry of delight, realizing that her dream had not been derailed.

Geneva's Train

Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

The Blogoverse has a new citizen and that is a very good thing. Since March, Pam has been blogging at Pass The Honey. pass the honey Pam and I recently started a Facebook conversation about blogging and how to make the most out of a blog. As I started my response to her, I decided to share my thoughts as a blog post.  Pam does have some specific questions, but I am going to share some “basics” first with my top ten tips for new bloggers and save my answers to the specifics for a later post.

Make A Date With The Page

This is the single best piece of advice I have ever been given about blogging. All of the credit goes to Nametag Scott. He advised me to “pick a frequency and stick to it, whether you feel like writing or not.” I prefer a less ambitious frequency to a more ambitious. For example, I blog every Sunday and occasionally create a post on an additional day. If I felt pressure to post three times a week, however, it would be difficult for me to keep that up. “Perspicacity will post every Sunday” also helps readers know what to expect.

Choose A Platform

I began blogging on Blogger and eventually changed to WordPress. For me, the move has been for the better in several key areas. My spam problems (and “anonymous commenter” problems) have been virtually eliminated by the use of Akismet. My ability to use Google Analytics has been enhanced (maybe it’s just as easy with Blogger but I did not start using Google Analytics until I had switched to WordPress).  I find it easier to work with images in WordPress than Blogger.

Quality Writing Matters

No matter how you write (or how widely you distribute your blog), poor writing will hurt your blog and your audience’s receptiveness to future content. Do you want to read mediocre writing? (That said, the main reason I blog is to flex my writing muscle, so I know that some of my writing will be better than other pieces. As with anything else in life, take the time to pay attention to your content rather than posting just to post. (Conversely, I can paralyze myself with worrying about a piece of writing’s readiness. There are times we you just have to press “publish.”))

Think About Images

Different bloggers have different thoughts about images, but for me a post feels almost incomplete without at least one image. I know as a reader I prefer to have a visual to accompany the words. One source of visual content is (wait for it…) our own lives! Here is a post that presents some great tips for creating your own visual content for your blog. Sources of free photo content that does not require permission from the creator are plentiful. I like Morgue File and a WordPress Plugin called PhotoDropper which literally drops in a photo you choose from its collection and attaches the appropriate credit to the post (it is only available for WordPress, though).

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

Be Accurate

I suppose I worded this one pretty bluntly, but if you are going to write about facts, get them right. I once hosted a giveaway for Jason’s Deli on my blog and stated that there had been a “parade of short-lived establishments since Banjo’s Barbecue had vacated.” There had not been a “parade,” there had been one (not sure where my memory pulled the “parade” from) and a commenter called me on it. Unfortunately, that was when I was still on blogger and the commenter was anonymous (although I am pretty sure I know who it was). The frustration is I would like to have followed up with them personally but could not due to the anonymous comment. (I did make a correction to the post, however.)

Say Yes to Yoast

If you want your posts to be found, one component that is important is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A fabulous tool for making your post more “findable” by search engines and the like is the WordPress SEO Plug-in from Yoast.  Among several useful features, Yoast helps the blogger create a “meta description” that is most attractive to potential readers. Let’s take my World Book Night 2014 post, for example. When I first published the post, the meta description was a mess (it appears in the “snippet preview”): WBN Yoast I went into Yoast and made some adjustments (the text in the “meta description” box): WBN Yoast Two

Get Permission

There are protocols that you should follow as a blogger. Certainly if you are going to use an image, give credit to the creator and obey all copyright laws. But “permission” extends to other areas of blogging too. If you are going to excerpt someone else’s writing, link to their original work or credit them prominently and (if it is an extensive excerpt) let them know in advance (or at a minimum send them the link afterwards).

Get The Word Out

I have read various estimates of how many blog posts are published in the world daily. Suffice it to say the number is high. There’s no way you could read them all. For that reason, it is important to make sure your blog gets in front of people.  This is an area where I could certainly make improvements, but for now here is what I do.

  • Make sure there is a place on my blog where people can subscribe by email
  • Participate in Triberr, which amplifies my reach by tweeting out my posts via other bloggers (and vice versa)
  • Participate in Linkups, where bloggers share their posts and agree to comment on others’ posts (a favorite linkup of mine is the SITS Girls Saturday Sharefest)

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Although I blog to flex my “writing muscle,” I would be lying if I didn’t say that comments rock my world. I love to know that people are reading, and I have had some great dialogues via my comments section (as well as heaps of support at various times in my life). “Comment to others” goes in the category of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Share generously on others’ blogs and hopefully many of them will do the same for you. Likewise, respond back when someone comments to you.  Creating a community around your blog (or at least a sense that you’re having an ongoing conversation) is, to me, an important piece of blogging success.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you understand how many people are visiting your blog as well as a host of other metrics related to your readership. While it’s easy to get unnecessarily wrapped up in these metrics, it is also helpful to know if anyone is reading (and how long they’re staying, how frequently they’re returning, etc.). I also need to be able to report my Google Analytics data when I am applying for various sponsored post opportunities.

Top 10 Tips

BONUS!

Enjoy it. There is hardly any mistake you could make that would be a fatal flaw. Writing block happens; typos happen. Life gets in the way of posting. Pam, you’re a year away from retirement and, to quote you, “I want an exciting life and I will try my best to have it.” Something tells me you’re going to succeed, and I for one can’t wait to read all about it on your blog!  Pam’s blog can be found at Pass the Honey (link here). Stop by and say hello!

(Lastly, Pam was Tenley’s (my daughter) English teacher last year. Thank you for making her senior year one in which the joy of words was alive and well!)