Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy birthday to me: my first year of blogging

Image: 'Nibbler Says Happy Birthday, Too!' cdw9

This week I am celebrating my first year of having a blog, and what a ride it has been. I know that blogging isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it has been a revelation for me.

Making friends
Through this blog I have met and become friends with people who I would never normally meet because of geographical and professional differences. I have developed the ability to use multi-media tools such as video, and I think I have improved my writing skills.

From an academic point of view, my experience with this blog has led to papers being accepted for publication, a book chapter and a number of conference presentations, which I don't think is too bad for only a year's work. I have progressed my thinking about e-mentoring and led a series of blogging workshops. And to cap it all, I have managed to get my CEO to start up a blog, as well as my husband and daughter.

Image: 'Me & Somayeh - Inside the Road' Fort Photo

Reflective practice

This blog has become an invaluable tool for reflection. I have tried to journal in the past but it has never lasted. I feel differently about the blog because my reflections are open for peer review. I often get taken in directions I would never get to by the comments left by readers. That further enhances my own learning. The support and critique from readers has encouraged me to be open and honest which in turn has built my own confidence, particularly in relation to my role as a teacher.

Sharing knowledge and collaboration
I have been able to pass on my personal learning that has been meaningful and helpful to others, which in turn has led to a number of collaborative projects in the pipeline.

Yet at the same time, I have also been challenged about the way I use this blog for feedback and reflection. It has been suggested that I neglect 'real' life sources of help and support. This leaves me with an important issue to ponder in the next stage of my blogging life - am I too quick to go to my online network for support and information? Am I neglecting the 'real' world, to my detriment? What do you think about this?

Where to from here

Probably one of the most important things this blog has helped me do is reflect on my place in midwifery. After nearly 25 years as a midwife and 10 years as an educator, I have reached the stage of life where I am wondering what to do next. I am highly unlikely to go back to full time clinical practice mostly because I don't think my back will hold up to it. Yet at the same time, I am ready for a new challenge in my career.

I think my new challenge is looking at how networked learning through processes such as blogging can be incorporated into formal and informal midwifery education. The beauty of networked learning is that its ubiquitous nature allows me to keep one foot in midwifery, and at the same time connect with other professionals even outside of health - in other words, it offers me opportunities to develop my skills in areas that would otherwise be closed to me. And that has come about mostly by my work and reflections in this blog.

Image: 'Colorful_ness' ishrona

A big 'thank you' to all the readers of this blog

I cannot thank you all enough for reading this blog, for leaving comments, entering discussions and giving me your support. It's your encouragement that has got me to where I am in this blog. I know my blog is a real mish mash of topics, so I thank you for sticking with me, even if some of the posts are not that interesting or relevant to you.

I'd also like to thank Leigh Blackall, Sue Waters and Michele Martin who have been my blogging mentors.

Secret to successful blogging
To those of you who would like to know what makes a successful blog, I would echo the words of Sue Waters, who had her first blogging birthday a couple of months ago:

persistence, patience and commitment

I would also echo Sue's advice to newbie bloggers, to work through the 31 Day Blog Challenge and 31 day Comment Challenge - the activities in these challenges will really hone your blogging skills. My progress through the two challenges can be found in my ePortfolio.

Once again, thank you all for taking the time to drop by. Don't ever be afraid to leave a comment, even if it's to tell me that I write a load of old rubbish. I really value the comments and discussions that all contribute to my learning, and hopefully yours.


Anonymous said...

Happy Blog Birthday Sarah; a pretty amazing journey for just one year! When I started blogging last November I never anticipated that I would be corresponding on a regular basis with a British born midwife living in New Zealand! You're amazing; thank you so much for your support and encouragement in my own blog journey.

Anonymous said...

Happy blogiversary to you!
Happy blogiversary to you!
Happy blogiversary dear Sarah's Musings.....
Happy blogiversary to you!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Had to come back and wave hello to Claire!
Yet another Canadian!
How fun is that?! You have groupies in Canada.

Sandra Elias said...

Hey Sarah - way to go!!!! I'm thoroughly impressed by your diligence and persistence. I was thinking of you the other day as I had an email pass my way about a conference here in Vancouver on eHealth. I certainly hope you'll come visit us - soon!
Off to send your darling daughter a Facebook birthday card!

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Sandra, Lovely to hear from you. Hope to catch up with you in the next couple of years. Ellen is here annoying the goodness out of me and we're off to her birthday dinner in a couple of hours. She sends her love and says she really misses your boys.

Lisa Barrett said...

Happy happy blogging birthday.

Anonymous said...

Definitely persistence, patience and commitment. But with all those ingredients some really amazing things can happen and you can connect with really great people.

Happy Birthday Sarah -- you inspire me (and probably lots of other people) more than you probably ever realise. So I say thank you (but still won't pay for air fare :) ).

And hope you had a great day!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy blog birthday! I hope we count as some of the friends you've made through blogging. Two of the things Imost like about your blog are how often you post (always something to read!) and how good you are about responding to comments. Many happy returns.

Bill Perry said...

Well done! If it were not for your blog and a common blogger contact our paths might never have crossed. Keep on blogging!


Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you both, Claire & Hbacmama for your comments - I have to say that I was thinking of you two when I wrote this. You have both consistently entered into discussion and/or passed on information, and made me feel that keeping this blog going is worth it.

Claire: look forward to getting together and writing some sort of commentary on our mutual experiences of running blogging workshops.

Hbacmama: did you get my comment about you doing a wee talk about doulas on Elluminate - how do you feel about that?

Funnily enough, I feel as if I have strong connections with Canada. I have an aunt and cousins in Toronto and Vancouver. I had three fabulous holiday in Ontario as a teenager. And a very dear friend, Sandra, has moved home to Vancouver from Dunedin, and I miss her very much. I hope very much to visit in the few couple of years and catch up with my family and friend. We also get a few Canadian midwifery students here regularly every year who usually return home to practice as midwives.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

Kia ora Sarah!

Well here's to the next year of your wonderful blogging! Is this one the Rimu anniversary :-)

Ka kite

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you all for commenting: you've made my day. It's so funny, I have never met you guys, but I consider you all to be my friends, and a very important part of my learning and learning network.

Ken: I always appreciate your wisdom and kindness.

Lisa: you get me thinking, which can be painful some times :)

Dot: I think of myself as being a virtual Auntie to your little man!

Bill: I hope we meet up some day at an informatics conference or some such place.

Sue: Hoping to meet you next year if we make it over to your part of the world.

Anonymous said...

Happy blog birthday, Sarah! You've been a wonderful addition to the blogosphere and I always enjoy getting things from your point of view--you so often make me think!

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late, but I'd also like to wish you a Happy Blog Birthday! I really enjoy reading your thoughts.

Carolyn said...

Can't believe I let this momentous occasion pass in the business of my life, but happy blogiversary to you and happy blogiversary to me too!!!

Carolyn said...

Oh and by the way, just in case you are wondering, your stats are streaks ahead of mine now :( to me and :) to you!!

Sarah Stewart said...

It's been fascinating following various people's blogs such as yours, Carolyn & Michele, because I know we've all been blogging for similar amounts of time. But clearly, it has been a hugely powerful experience for us.

kamccollum: thank you for your continuing support.

Merrolee said...

Happy birthday to you.. happy belated birthday to you... happy belated birthday to Sarah...
happy birthday to you.... look forward to what you created in the next year!

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you, Merrolee. We really must get together and write something about our respective experiences of blogging and midwifery/occupational therapy.