Tuesday, 25 November 2014

To blog anonymously……or not?

Photo by Viktor Hanacek

I’ve been blogging for just over two months now, yay! In this short space of time I have discovered so many wonderful and diverse blogs and connected with so many people through my blog and other social networking sites that it feels like I have been blogging for much longer!

Before I started blogging I wasn’t sure if I wanted to reveal my identify. I told very few people and use ‘Brighton Mama’ as my name. I set up an independent email address and social media profiles and chose not to reveal my real name. Starting out as an anonymous blogger has been pretty straightforward and I am surprised there are not more out there however as time has gone on I’ve started to question my reasons for anonymity. So why did I start blogging anonymously? Here are some of my reasons.

Reasons for blogging anonymously

1. No pressure. In certain situations I find that telling people around me that I’m doing something can create more pressure than it’s worth. I didn’t want people asking about blogging when I wasn’t sure about it myself and wanted to go with the flow without any added pressure. I didn’t have any plan so just wanted to see where writing would take me.

2. Free writing. I wanted to have the freedom to write about any topic I wanted without too many people I know reading it. I also didn’t want to be influenced to write about certain things or in a particular style. I just wanted to write how I write. I didn’t want my professional background blending in with my personal life. With being anonymous you can write about any topic without offending people close to you should you want to write about them or something they disagree with. I’ve mentioned before that I have written articles on various topics (some slightly controversial) and initially I didn’t wanted my previous work linked to my blog. 

3. Comfort zone. Writing anonymously means you do not have to go out of your comfort zone straight away. Having a blog means anyone in the world can see and read about your life and everything you get up to! If I think about that more it can actually feel quite daunting. So blogging anonymously allows me to stay in my comfort zone.

4. Privacy. In many ways I am quite a private person. I don’t mind expressing my thoughts and putting opinions out there but at the same time I’m quite guarded about my private life so am not entirely comfortable about showing photos or revealing personal details about myself. In some ways I would love to post a million photos of my little boy on here because he’s the cutest thing in the world. In another way though, I feel like I would like to keep our family private. 

5. Shyness. In ‘real life’ it takes me a while to get to know someone. I love meeting people but am not the type to reveal my life story on a first meeting, unless it involves stories about birth, baby poo, nappy rash etc. Haha, just kidding…..well nearly! So, I guess I was a little apprehensive about putting myself out there at first. 

Now that I've been blogging for a couple of months and have lots of ideas about posts I have an urge to reveal my identity. Now ironically or maybe not so ironically, the things that attracted me to blogging anonymously are actually hindering what I can write about. Here’s why:
Reasons for not blogging anonymously 
1. Writing about personal issues and interests. I’m not only a 'stay at home mum'. I’ve had so many different experiences in my life and would now like to share these on my blog. It would be difficult to write a post on one of those experiences without sharing personal information or photos for example. So for that reason revealing who I am makes sense.
2. Connecting with my career. In previous posts I’ve written about leaving my job and putting my professional life on hold to look after baby but haven’t gone into details about what my job was. This was a one of the reasons I started blogging anonymously but now I actually want to reveal more personal things and share my career and actually write articles connected to that.
3. Connecting with other bloggers/readers. I have chatted to so many readers and other bloggers online now and that interaction has been wonderful. There is a really strong community of bloggers. But because I don’t use my real name or have any photos of me anywhere I feel like I’m a bit of a fraud in some ways, hiding behind a rock when I don’t really have any reason to. Sometimes, I have had a comment from someone with the same name as me or even from the same town! I have wanted to say, ‘Oh, that’s my name!’ or ‘I was born there’ and of course I could do that but because I blog anonymously it wouldn’t make sense. I’d like people to know what I look like, to see a face behind the writing so they can perhaps relate to me better or just know I’m human! Signing off with ‘Brighton Mama’ in an email is getting a little tedious! 
4. Meeting with other bloggers in ‘real life’. I have chatted to other Brighton bloggers and joined some local facebook groups and it will only be a matter of time before I go to a meet up. Meeting bloggers in person really appeals to me. You can’t beat face to face contact. So, again, blogging anonymously goes out of the window. 
5. Networking/PR events. I’ve had contact with some brands/agencies and have been invited to a couple of PR events. I didn't go but am sure there will be other events that I would love to go to. This is one of the perks of blogging so if you blog anonymously I don’t know how you could get around this.
6. Telling people I know I’m blogging. I’ve told very few people that I blog (for the reasons mentioned above). Now though because I’m really excited about this blogging journey I want to share these things with people I know. So when someone asks what I’ve been doing apart from looking after baby I can actually tell them ‘I’ve been blogging!’
7. Blogging anonymously is restricting. Of course I can be whoever I want and write about whoever I want. But I haven’t tried to be someone else. I’ve just been me and want to continue being me but even more so! 
8. I don’t have a secret life. For me, there isn’t really a good reason to continue blogging anonymously. I can totally see why some people would choose to stay anonymous. If I were a spy or dishing out the secrets from inside the industry (think Belle du Jour) anonymous blogging would be the way to go. Alas, my life is not that exciting! 
9. The boundaries aren’t clear. I could tell everyone I know I am blogging and leave my online presence anonymous but not sure how that would work. If friends comment they might use my real name or reveal things about my identity. 
10. Keeping the reader interested. I am also wondering as a reader of a blog if you are more likely to be interested in it if you know the person behind it. I have come across various anonymous blogs and although I am just as interested in the writing I am more likely to remember the blogs with real names and personal photos.
These lists show that for me at least the reasons for ‘being me’ are stronger than remaining anonymous. Oh course the debate goes much wider than this. If you do reveal your identify how much other stuff do you reveal? Are you comfortable to share your life on your blog or are you a little more guarded about names and photos? 
So at some point I would like to say ‘this is me’ and include a photo of myself. At the same time it’s quite nice and comfortable blogging anonymously. So what do you think? I can’t sign off everything with ‘Brighton Mama’ forever ..……or can I?
Are you an anonymous blogger? Maybe you love sharing every aspect of you life on your blog? Do you relate more to a blogger if you know what they look like? Share you thoughts with me.

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Silent Sunday: The Pavilion behind the bushes






  TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Can you guess the location?
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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Getting back into reading fiction - an early New Year’s resolution!

I used to be quite a reader. I belonged to a book group and we’d read a book every month then meet over a drink to discuss it. Our group was pretty casual really. We’d meet in a pub or at someone's house and I’d enjoy hearing everyone’s opinion on the book, analysing the characters in more detail and reflecting on the storyline. Some of the time we had completely different views but I loved this part of the review process. A book can be interpreted in so many ways and what one person can think is an amazing piece of literature can be utter drivel for someone else! This made those chats stimulating and usually quite entertaining.

Books I've read on Goodreads

Then I had a baby…..! I was reading all through pregnancy (I probably knew I wouldn’t get much chance after baby was born) but have not read a single novel since giving birth. What I have read is a lot of baby books, newspapers, magazines, blog posts, articles and anything that I can generally read in a short pace of time usually before baby wakes from his nap. When baby was younger I found that in the evening I was too exhausted to do anything however, now he is 17 months and in a good bedtime routine I don’t have any more excuses left!

Here’s why I want to get back into reading:

1. Jade from Bits and Bobs has inspired me to start reading fiction again. Her blog includes interesting and personal book reviews and general reading posts. She is mummy to a lovely little boy and her blog contains a bit of everything. It’s quite refreshing to read something that is a little different to a lot of the parenting blogs out there.

2. I am a ‘stay at home mum’ and after a tough day where I want to pull my hair out submerging myself into a book will put me into another world.

3. I miss the routine of reading a book just before bedtime. It’s relaxing and will make sleep better.

4. Like watching a good film I want to immerse myself in a good book, get hooked on the storyline, be riveted by the characters and never want to put the book down. 

5. I am so over baby books and need some adult fiction back in my life!

6. Reading and finishing a book is a satisfying experience especially if it’s a good read and I’ve missed that feeling.

7. The time I spend browsing randomly on the internet can be better spent on reading fiction!  

8. There are many books that have been sitting on our bookshelves which I have been meaning to read. 

9. I have set up a Good Reads profile (widget also added in sidebar) and it’s a great place to list all of the books you’ve read, want to read and contains wonderful recommendations for future books which I'd like to read.

10. There is no time like the present!!!

So tonight I’m going to start reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This has been on our bookshelf for ever and I’ve been meaning to read it for years!

Would love to hear your suggestions/recommendations for future books! 

Have you had a break from reading? What books would you recommend?


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Friday, 14 November 2014

Competition: WIN baby clothes from new ethical brand, Darlo!



I am delighted to be holding my first blog competition from the new and exciting ethical company, Darlo! The London based ethical baby wear brand is on a social mission to give back to the Indian community. With every purchase of their baby clothing, Darlo will provide a whole week’s worth of meals for a child in India. Yes, that’s right - a whole week of meals for one child!

When Chloe, founder of Darlo, asked me if I wanted to hold a competition I jumped at the chance. In the past few weeks I have actually been approached by other companies that offered products that I wouldn’t buy myself because I disagree with their ethical stance and wouldn’t want to promote for various reasons. Darlo, on the other hand, are an inspirational company and I am more than happy to spread their wonderful work. 



The Darlo range is produced from Indian organic cotton and manufactured in Indian GOTS (global organic textile standard) accredited factories to further enhance their ethical credentials. The desire to give back to the community where the clothing is made was a key reason for Darlo supporting children in India. UNICEF also report that one in three of the world’s malnourished children live in India.
Furthermore, Darlo have teamed up with the Indian charity Projects Crayons, based in Mumbai, who provide education, shelter, food, love and support for the children under their care. Darlo will aim to cover all food costs for the charity and eventually set up further projects to help children living in poor conditions.
Darlo founders Chloe and Jim with girls from Udaan Ghar
who are supported by the charity Project Crayons

Having travelled to many poor countries myself, including India, witnessing how some families live is truly heartbreaking. So it’s great that Darlo is helping children in the Indian community that need it the most. At Darlo’s core is the belief that a little giving changes lives. The little difference here goes a long way to making a big difference there!
As my little boy is 17 months now he is too old for Darlo clothing (boohoo - I’m hoping they have an older range in the future) but I think their clothing range will make wonderful presents too and of course you’ll be helping children in India. Whether you’re pregnant, have a baby or have friends with babies please spread the word about Darlo!

Now for the competition! Darlo are generously giving away a cotton comfies gift pack. This includes a vest, joggers and a neckerchief bib all made from soft organic cotton. 
The winner will be able to choose the size: 0-3 months or 3-6 months, and the colour: grey & mint, grey & coral or mint & coral.
Just enter the draw below. Good luck! 

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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

A tale of two (friends’) pregnancies

A few weeks ago something strange and wonderful happened. My two friends from secondary school who I have both know since I was eleven told me they were pregnant on the same day! Neither knew about the other so it was amazing getting this double load of good news on one day! What are the chances hey? One friend told me her good news in person as I happened to be seeing her that night and the other over the phone. It was amazing hearing this special news from people I have known forever. I was and am so excited for both of them.



It reminded me of how I felt at around the same time. We had been trying for a while and I wanted a baby so much so when I finally got pregnant I couldn’t believe it. It felt magical, like a miracle and I was grinning from ear to ear. That time was a turning point in our lives, full of enthusiasm and anticipation. We were elated! We were having a baby! A baby of our own, our child! A bundle of joy. See, I still can’t believe now it even though our baby is 17 months old! 

I probably overloaded my friend that evening with too many questions. Have you thought about the birth? How are you going to decorate the room? Will you plan to breastfeed? Have you thought of names? Are you craving anything? I had nearly forgotten how bad morning sickness is. I have no idea why because I felt sick for weeks and could barely eat anything apart from ginger biscuits which I have not eaten at any other time in my life! I remember my trip to work being hellish. Having to stand on an overcrowded train in rush hour with morning sickness is not a good combination especially when people are unaware you are pregnant. I had forgotten that those first few months can be tough! I remember being absolutely exhausted at this time too. I reassured each friend telling them the second trimester is much better. Energy levels rise, you're more relaxed, you'll enjoy the new bump and you'll feel that little baby kick! :)

Both told me quite early on so they wanted to keep the news quiet until they had had the first scan and everything was fine. I remember worrying too. I found out I was pregnant very early on so waiting for that first scan at 13 weeks felt like an eternity. I wanted to celebrate with everyone and dance around in the street screaming with joy that I was pregnant but at the same time I knew so many people that had suffered some kind of loss and that scared me. When we did have the first scan it was a huge relief. It was also absolutely amazing, seeing a little baby on the screen, healthy, happy, so tiny but so well-formed already. It was 
one of the best days of my life!!! :D

Both friends have now had their scans and all is well. It’s such an exciting time for them and it’s wonderful watching their journeys into motherhood.


What do you remember from those early days? If you don't have children what do you expect those first few weeks will be like? Would love to hear your views :) 
BFP = Big fat positive (pregnancy test)

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Silent Sunday: Sunset


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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

A letter to my 16 month old

Dear baby boy,

You are 16 months now. I can’t believe how quickly you’ve grown. I know I say that every single month but it’s still true. I still call you a baby but I guess you are a toddler now. To me though you’re still my baby. Your face is all chubby and baby-like still. I still breastfeed you and then you still look like a baby. When you’re teething and in pain, you cry and your poor little face is so sad and that’s when you still look like a baby too. So that’s why I call you ‘baby’ in this blog. 

This month you have discovered puddles and the fun of running in mud (lots of clothes washing recently!), you have learnt to walk backwards and you can turn around on demand (full 360 degree circle). You have suddenly become so quick on your feet. You’ve been walking for months but now you are running! It is a little scary. If I turn by back for just a second you are on the other side of the room or field when I turn back! You’ve started dancing this month which is very cute. Maybe that’s because I’m introducing you to more adult music, especially Florence and the Machine!

You have always had a big appetite and sometimes I am at a loss over what to give you for the next meal. You have become a little picky with certain foods and will make it clear you don’t like something by throwing it on the kitchen floor. That’s why I am forever brushing, cleaning and tidying up after you. I used to say ‘no’ but you would think this was a game and start laughing so I don’t bother anymore. Strawberries and bananas are your favourite foods. If you could, you’d eat a million tonnes in one setting. Your favourite dinners are pasta or something with rice. You’ve gone off mushrooms and even mango but you still love broccoli and you’ve become a great fan of peas! What a healthy little boy you are. 

You love your books, you are pretty much obsessed with them. You demand that I read to you at least twenty times a day, and sometimes it is the same book over and over again. I guess I can’t complain because your books are great! They’ve full of fantastic illustrations and beautiful colours and lovely little stories. You also love trucks, cars, bikes, musical instruments and wooden spoons!

For the past couple of months you’ve understood the word ‘cuddles’ and will give me cuddles whenever I ask (unless you’re in a bad mood) and this is wonderful. Sometimes you wrap your arms around me so tight and give me the biggest hug that I nearly melt! You are also very generous with your kisses. You love kissing other babies but especially children between the ages of 2-8 years. Sometimes it can be a little embarrassing when you go up to a random child at play group and start hugging them but you’re such an affectionate little boy. You would love an older brother or sister but you are lucky that you have lots of baby friends and cousins to play with and of course, us! You laugh more with your daddy then you do with me but I don’t mind as your laughter is infectious!

You are the sweetest boy and I love you more than words can describe.

All my love,

Mummy
I've linked this post with Honest Mum #brilliantblogposts :)

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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Liebster Award

Image by Regina at The Solo Mama 

I have been nominated for a Liebster Award!!!!! Yay!!! Well, I had no idea what this was at first so for those that don’t know: The Liebster award is given to up and coming bloggers and is a great way to connect and spread blogging love :)
The rules of the awards are:  

Thank the blogger who nominated you.
Answer the questions given to you.
Nominate other bloggers with less than 500 followers whose blogs you love.
Post 10 questions for your nominees to answer 

I’ve actually been nominated 4 times for this award now. Thank you so much for all of these nominations! I’ve only been blogging for six weeks so it’s a lovely thought that other bloggers have found me somehow. I would love to answer all of their questions and hopefully I will in another post but for now I’ve decided to answer the questions from Mamavsteacher as it’s her ones that really got me thinking. There were even a couple of days where I was walking around pushing the buggy thinking about certain answers. So here they are:

1. If you could move to any part of the world right now, where would you go and why?

I’d probably say somewhere hot and tropical, sitting on the beach with a cocktail in my hand, going for a swim in the clear blue waters of the calm sea everyday. Yeah right…! In reality though I’m not sure baby would like those hot temperatures and all of my family and friends are in the UK so I’d say I’d still be in Brighton but in a bigger house with a bigger garden :)

2. What’s your favourite season of the year? And why?

I love Autumn! I love the atmosphere, the temperature change (not too hot but not yet freezing), beautiful skylines with the sun low in the sky, wonderful colours with the change of seasons, cosy clothes (jeans, knee high boots and wooly cardigans), and my birthday is in the Autumn :)

3.  Which three novels would you recommend to everybody you meet because you couldn’t put them down?

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Sylvia by Leonard Michaels

4. What is your favourite way to recover from a long and bad day?

Either by going for a nice relaxing swim, having a hot bath and watching an uplifting film or a night out/in with partner or friends :)

5. Do you like or dislike meeting new people? Why?

I really enjoy meeting new people. I’m quite a sociable person and enjoy meeting interesting, creative, positive and worldly people. I’ve travelled a lot, worked in different roles and am open to new experiences so like connecting with a variety of people. As I’ve just started blogging I would love to meet other bloggers.

6. The classic: What would you do today if you knew you could not fail?

Oooo, I’d write a book! :)

7. Is there a new habit you would like to start? What has been stopping you?

I would like to get into the habit of going to bed earlier and doing a bit of novel reading before bedtime. What has been stopping me is the temptation to start blogging/tweeting/texting at these hours!

8. What is your favourite thing to do first thing in the morning?

My favourite thing would be going back to sleep but since I have no choice I get up with baby each day at 7am, except at weekends :) Of course, seeing that chubby 'just woken up' face is a consolation.

9. How are you going to remember your life at the moment in a few years time?

Probably as idyllic! I’m sure I’ll forget about the tantrums and dramas! I’ll remember lots of baby cuddles, family love and trips to the seaside :)

10. Is there something you love to do, although most people dislike it?

Yes, pub quizzes! I really enjoy them and like pondering on the obscure questions. I also like the competition element but I’m not very good at them and can only answer a few random questions but they are good fun and it’s nice for way to catch up with friends and have a laugh. I know a lot of people who hate them with a passion though!

I have nominated the following:
  1. Emily Morrice Our Nest in the City 
  2. Georgia at My Generous Life 
  3. Kohl Mama at Kohl Mama
  4. Steph at Misplaced Brit  
  5. Ria at Dribbles and Giggles  
  6. Carla from Toddle Babes  
  7. Sanna at Wave to Mummy 
  8. Zoe at Mummy's Journey  
  9. Alice at Alice in Boots
  10. Sophie at Cider with Sophie
Here are my questions:
  1. If you could live in any year or era which would it be and why?
  2. Describe yourself in five words
  3. What is the kindest thing you have ever done for someone?
  4. Where do you live and what are your top three things about the location?
  5. Which is the best country you have ever visited and why?
  6. If you won one million pounds what would be the first thing you bought?
  7. If you could change any aspect of your life (without any complications) what would it be and why?
  8. Who or what is the greatest love of your life? (I stole this question from the Guardian newspaper)
  9. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  10. What is your greatest achievement to date?
Hope these get you thinking! Look forward to seeing your answers :)
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