Friday, May 30, 2014

Stepping into the blogging light

When we first start blogging, some of us shy bloggers do absolutely everything we can to keep others from finding out who we really are.  Hiding ourselves under different names, shielding our privacy, moderating comments, keeping our own secrets.
Blue iris and sunlight
We are like a closed flower, blooming for only a select few.
The internet is a big and bad we were told, don’t divulge anything, to anyone, especially your private details. 
That person you think might be a new friend could be intent on impersonating you and stealing all of your information.
Gradually as we wander through other blogs we relax our standards a bit, sharing a few details, using our real names with those whom we have started to trust. 
We even become comfortable enough to let it slip where we live, and what we do, opening up slightly like a dandelion in the morning sunshine.
We’d marvel from afar at the open book bloggers, those who tell all, share lots, showing images of their children, name their spouses, and even, horrors of horrors posting their real birthdays. 
Shockingly brave.
And then we would read about a blogger who had images stolen, or blogs hacked, and that would be too much for us to bear.
Our quietly opening flowers suddenly snapped tight again in fear at what was out there. 
We shy bloggers might have spent the next little while purging any pertinent data from our old posts. 
Was my husband’s real name in that post, shudder and hit delete. 
Ack, there is a hand, with a wedding ring on it in this photo, what to do?
Delete, delete, delete.
Blue iris streaming sunlight
After awhile we become comfortable again with our level of openness, familiarity breeding not contempt, but contentment. 
We might ask ourselves, who reads our blog anyways, who cares, what would they do with anything I write about?  So we open up like a flower in the sun once again, spread our petals to the warmth of the blogging community, and bask in the warm light.
Bootsie and grass sunlit
We find our middle ground, our patch of garden that lets us bloom, and flourish like the flowers that we want to be.  We still have our internal blogging rules, the unspoken ones that allow us to share, but still be secret enough to quiet the scared voices in our heads.
While Muddy Boot Dreams might have started as my home based business, selling greeting cards and images, it’s been the last 6 years blogging that I have really started to dabble in social media. I have seen it grow in many directions, pages on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, Instagram feed, website, and more. 
Meticulously commenting as Muddy Boot Dreams, I lived, breathed and was MBD in my interaction on social media.  I worked hard at promoting the name, the brand, the image.
What I didn’t want to face up to was that with a bit of digging almost anything can be found out anyone on the internet.  So blogging under MBD didn’t hide my real name, and it didn’t keep me the anonymous blogger I hoped it would.
I am a real person, and not just my “brand,” trying to keep the two separate isn’t working as well as I thought it might. And what happens when I no longer wish to be MBD, and want to be Jen?
Since that little epiphany I’ve connected my blog to G+, and am now commenting as Jen Vandervoort, authentically and openly showing everyone who I am. 
Well almost, my profile pictures still requiring a little digging I’m not quite as comfortable with this “real” me stuff as I pretend to be.
I realized that while MBD is a brand, I am, and will always be me, Jen. 
I want to be able to say proudly to anyone, yes that’s my blog, be it a future employer, friend, neighbour, or a stranger.  Those photos are the ones that I have taken, those ideas are mine, I’ve worked hard on this, and I am proud of what I am creating. 
Proud enough to claim it as mine.
Wow, that’s a little scary to put out there, but so be it.
Bootsie looking at tulip
I’m owning what is written, and photographed, if it’s under Muddy Boot Dreams, or my name. 
Bit by bit, I will move forward, finding out what suits me best, and make my choices as I go along. Some parts will stay, some will change.
I’m choosing to be as real as possible, without revealing every single secret I have, it’s OK with me, to be me.
In the end, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it? 
Believing it’s OK to be genuine, and not just a reflection of your image, style, your blog, your presence on social media.
If you have been blogging under your real name for sometime you might wonder what all the fuss is about. 
For me it’s just another step forward into the light, opening up those petals to bask in the sun. 
This flower is learning to bloom.
Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

How comfortable [or not] are you with blogging under your name. 
Do you use Google+ with your real name?


  1. Glad to meet you, Jen. I am Ann Rasmussen and I am addicted to gardening and I live in Ault, Colorado. So talk about having your blog material stolen, I have a funny little story. I really haven't worried much because I just don't think that my photos are that good. I am working on a heritage book for our family reunion at the end of the month and wanted o do some research on the Blue Star Memorial roadside parks that honor our war veterans. My grandmother has such a park named after her. I blogged about her and guess what I found in my quest for information? The city of Lakewood literally copied and pasted my narrative on Abby Duston. In fairness, the writer did provide a link to my blog. So I guess I do have a web presence. I have had to stop posting about the granddaughters because my son in law doesn't really like the girls on FaceBook or the blog, so I respect his wishes. Do I worry about my words and photos being out there? No, just my social security number and my weight. Thank you for another insightful discussion.

    1. they copied and pasted your whole blog post?
      That is not fair use.

    2. They did, photo and all. The article showed up in a goggle search on the city of Lakewood , Colorado page. I was not expecting to see my work. The writer did provide a link and did give credit, so technically my blog was not plagiarized.

  2. I went through much the same process, Jen. First just the blog name. Then my name. First, no mention of Don's name and then I cautiously asked permission to use it and to use his photo. Now, I use it all. I'm already visible on the web due to my theater credits.

    But I don't use Google+. I've never like to be pressured into something and I feel that Google has done that with Google+. They already know enough about me! They don't need to know more.


  3. It's a brave new world my friend, great post............. your anonymous not so brave friend Grace/ Buttons:) Hug

  4. Wow! That was so inspirational. You are just amazing. I'm still on the very shy side of things. I have been wondering lately about putting a photo of myself as my profile photo. But I'm kind of still unable to do so.
    My first name is somewhere on my blog and you are the only one who has used it once. It appears and disappears according to how I feel, at the end of my posts, alongside Thammie which is what I put at the back of my dolls.
    You sure are an amazing person Jen.
    My hand can be seen in one of the latest photos I have posted on my blog. One day maybe it will be the entire me, who knows?

  5. Glad to see so much of you however you choose to be known Jen....Yes I have blogged under my name all along and under G+ with my real name....somehow I find it easier to share my life on my blog than in person as an introvert....maybe blogging as who I really am has helped me more than I know....but I have opened up more and more as I have branched out and blog on other blogs too....

  6. Great post ! I blog under my nick name that I have had most of my life as I was born and raised on a farm and my love and heart have always been in the country hence the name Country Gal ! I post of what I love , photography , pets, nature and my Papa who all are my life , I try to post positive things, thinks that may make one smile as they do myself and not to post things that are negative as there is already to much of that in life ! I have been thinking of hooking my blog up with G+ but not changing it over to G+ but haven't figured out how to do that yet lol ! Yes if you are on a computer and have the slightest bit of info on there anyone can find you no matter how hard you try to stay private on the world wide web there is no such thing ! Thanks for sharing , Lovely photos ! Have a good weekend

  7. What a great post. I blog under my real name, but am pretty shy about a lot of social media. I blog; that's it. No Facebook, etc. I am surprised, too, at some of the details I have shared at times, because they are more personal; but it seemed OK at that moment.

  8. I am not comfortable with a lot of the social media and tend to avoid it. I blog and on rare occasion go into Facebook (my sister set up my account years ago) to see friends and family photos, but do nto hang around in it like many do. I do share a lot on my blog and feel quite comfortable with it. Though I do not have a huge following, I do have friends who follow by email and by bookmarking my site, but not many leave comments. I try to leave comments on the many blogs I do follow myself!

  9. Great thouths. I see you are opening up your bloom and it's wonderful!
    I may be the shyest blogger (my blog name is nick name) but I am very shy in person as my social media shyness is a reflection of my real self. Some day will I open my bloom more? Will see :-)
    Beautiful photos and I especially love the 2nd one. It looks dreamy :-) Happy weekend!

  10. I use my first name and my online name to post, share and comment. I rarely reveal pertinent info, don't post photos of my family, but do share photos of our cat, gardens, and nature and little snatches of our home. We are doing a kitchen reno and I'm still contemplating sharing it on my website ... never really showed that much all at once. I was slow getting into Facebook (do have one for my website now) and even slower getting into Pinterest as you know because of the pilfering that goes on there. I'm still not really comfortable with it but I'm sticking with it bit by bit.

  11. I know exactly how you feel, I have been hacked , stolen from and still feel the sting, I find myself becoming a bit more confident and envy the people who put all out there for everyone to see, its a scary world , even in blogging,

  12. When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I had no problem with using my name, my husband/s name or the kids or grandchildren. I guess I didn't realize how many people don't do that. I talk about my family, but don't talk about personal, private stuff. To me it is just that - personal and private. I think everyone has to do what is right for them. My blog is mostly about projects, etc. so I just leave the other stuff out most of the time. Your post today is very thought provoking - as usual.

    Have a great weekend.


  13. I am one of those brave bloggers who started out with my full name and a photo although I don't post exactly where I live I think someone could find me easily. I didn't worry about it one bit until I started hearing horror stories of bloggers who had their blogs/lives stolen then I got kind of scared. I still worry some days and pray it won't happen to me, a humble country girl. :) Your pictures today are gorgeous and I thank you for sharing this insightful post. Enjoy the weekend Jen.

  14. A very thought provoking post Jen. When I started blogging I hadn't had much contact with other bloggers or blogs so I didn't really know any better and put my full name and a photo on my blog straight away. I decided not to join Google + when it started simply because when other people have joined I found it difficult to get directly to their blog and the Google Circle of Friends is just the same as having Followers really. I do reveal little bits about myself now and then but not on FB as it all takes time that I don't really have to spare. A lot of people spend an inordinate amount of time on Twitter - saying nothing really interesting - I get lots of followers on there when I don't actually contribute anything except my blog posts - I find it kinda weird. No in the end I am quite happy with just my blog and the friends I have made there - I'm not out to conquer the world, just my own little part of it.

  15. Hooray for you, Jen! I am kind of an open book but I have "code names" (which really mean nothing-lol) for everyone. I have pictures of our home and the kids. My DIL is not on my blog because of her job but other than that-it is what it is. I figure if someone wants to ferret my info out they will do it anyway. I am a kind of -What you see is what you get-person. I don't do FB much at all though- xo Diana

  16. Bootsie is in fine form today!

    I began VERY wary as Elephant's Eye. After a few people (with RL? first names commented that they felt silly talking to EE, I changed to Diana of EE. Then the big brave jump to my real name and face.

    I prefer to be informed and aware. If information about me is out there on the web, then I want to fight back with some information that I choose to be out there.

    Have just had all my Addo elephant photos lifted and published on another blog. I snarled. He said but but there's a link! I snarled again. Take MY pictures DOWN. Now he's being quite chatty. Was only trying to improve my SEO. No, thank you, clumsy!

  17. I use no real names only my own but my blog is more like a record of what happens in my life sometimes I comment on what is wrong with the world, but not too much.

  18. I started with just my last name now I use my full name. Sometimes I feel I have to be a bit careful what I share in posting and commenting. Super shots!

  19. My name is on my blog but I keep my blog away from social media and out of my professional life so very few people know I have one. My blogging life is very separate from my every day life. As for people stealing my pics, most of them are pretty crappy so I don't worry too much. If they stole my words, that would be different!

  20. My name is there in social media. It is part of my email address anyway. I am somewhat more private about my family, never using my kids names or my husbands. They are not part of social media themselves so it isn't for me to put them out there.
    I have met some bloggers in person and they have been wonderful.

  21. I wonder about how much to show and share of family members. My persona online is fairly anonymous - it helps that a well-known porn star has the same name so she takes up most of the room on the interwebs;)

  22. I was never very cautious when I first started blogging and then some of my family and friends put the fear in me. Personally I keep Facebook (which I rarely even go to) and my blog separate. FB is where I hear from high school buddies and those I was never even really close to. I would never want them to read my blog, it's too personal...they just aren't a part of my present life. I don't give family my blog address...I just don't want me life to be entertainment for extended family!!


  23. This feels like a big step, Jen! I suspect privacy on the net is an illusion anyway so it is best not to over share. Nonetheless, I like the blogs that feel real and are more personal than brand. Oddly enough when I visit a blog where someone is featuring something they made rather than promoting generic ads I hang around longer. I like creativity that comes from the heart the way yours has done before and after I knew your name.

    Since my fictional persona, Penelope, is my inspiration for blogging and there is a book about her with my name on it as the author, it is not likely that I am anonymous. :)

  24. As someone who is in the process of rebranding my blog I have thought of all of these things, Jen. It's like a little dance of one step forward and two steps back. What part of oneself do we choose to give away and what part do we keep private? As you say, if someone wants to find out who you are, they will. The privacy we once held dear has pretty much been stripped away with the internet. I can even find my father's prisoner of war records and he has been deceased for 18 years. So we will bravely soldier on. xo Laura

  25. I do blog under my real first name but not very many people know my last name - unless you actually know me. I used to worry about it but I worry less and less. I just have to watch that I do not say anything derogatory about work as people from work do read my blog. But I am the recruiter for our organization for all of Southwest Saskatchewan and Tweet for work so my name and image is all over the internet. I guess if some creeper wants to find me - he can find me. Haha.
    But I think a person has to do whatever makes them feel comfortable. If it's using a different name or an alias - that's OK.
    Happy June Jen!
    xo Catherine

  26. I don't use my real name on Google+ and am wary of how much information I give out. If I include photos of my family, it is usually the back of them and I don't refer to their real names. It's their privacy and if they are funny about what I put on my private Facebook page, then I am sure they wouldn't want me to post their faces for blogging readers. It's hard, as I would love to share so much especially with those who have followed and commented for a while. But with teaching my two teens about 'stranger danger' on the internet, it can be easy to fall into the trap ourselves of giving out a little too much information. I had a bad experience over Christmas where someone was being a little untruthful with me, and luckily another blogger had had the same experience with the same person, so the alarm bells went up in my blogging world and no further replies were given to this contact. It's a tricky one but in most circumstances a good experience. Have a wonderful week Jen x

  27. Since the original purpose of my blog was to one day promote a book I was finishing, I deliberately (and innocently, I suppose) put my name on my URL. How could people find my book if they didn't know my name? As it turned out, I'm still waiting on an agent's response, so no book yet, but I've discovered that blogging gives me an outlet for thoughts, forces me to write non-fiction (mostly), and gives me a sense of accomplishment (and feedback) when I write a new post. I agree, if someone wants to be creepy, they'll find me out anyway. However, my kids' and grandkids' names will never be in my blog.

  28. I am not as paranoid as I should be. I am not part of the Google Plus thing...I think everyone finds their own comfort zone:)

  29. Good for you! I do blog under my real name and my real email. But I do try to keep my family members names private. I am sure with a bit of digging everyone could figure that out, but who is that desperate to dig?
    Hugs to you Jen,

  30. I do fret about my name and info being " out there, " although only a passing thought. After all, I put myself "out there" and figure I must have wanted to take the leap. I do regret signing up for the Google, Circles whatever . . . I know I am "on there" and they certainly have ALL of my photos . . . I don't do FB, Instagram . . . etc . . . Really all I want from doing my bog is a chance to create in thought/word, share my photos and my life. To have a chance to meet others who do some of the same. I have also found it to be a way to leave some of my life to my children by having my blog years printed into book form. I share my name openly, my husband's and children. Someone can find that out anyway.

  31. We all have our acceptable limits, don't we? I truly believe there's no right or wrong, but we all grow into our comfort zones. I don't include family members or my own face much to allow for a little privacy. But I don't think it's wrong if someone wants to be way out there. I just feel, personally, that I'm "out there" enough already. Very thought-provoking post, Jen. Thanks!

  32. Oh yes - I recognize myself in this post! The funny thing is that at work everyone calls me Lady Fi (after my blog)!

    Gorgeous shots!!

  33. Each day we put ourselves out there and what we say is a reflection of who we are. The sort of niche I have settled on is very much who I am. I only have two days scheduled. My new Women Speak forum on Tuesdays and Transformations on Thursdays. The rest of the days I am flying by the seat of my pants. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you, sweet friend. I hope for only the best for your dad. xo Laura


Your comments make the blogging world a more interesting place to hang out.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams