My First Year Blogging

One year ago I created this blog, writing my first post called “A six week experiment: Leap Blog.”  I set out to blog everyday for six weeks.  I had also just left a job to commit to my doctoral program full-time, so the idea of taking a leap of faith was all around me.

Leaping (and blogging) would be a new chapter in my life, my chapter one.  

Despite the countless school projects, I wanted to keep the blog personal.  I wrote about family, self-exploration and little adventures I was having.  I reflected about my past, even my small stature.  My six-week experiment turned into 50 days.  In learning more about the best practices of blogging, articles and books talked about niche.

I fought this idea. 

I thought focusing on only one topic would not represent my whole self, but also I would become bored or run out of things to write about.

I was wrong.

Having 50 posts to write, day after day, I had to get creative and attempt to work ahead.  Through this exercise, not only did I get to know myself more, but those who were checking out my blog.  School slowly began creeping its’ way into my posts.  Despite research and interest in social media in higher education, those early posts included other topics I was passionate about like leadership development and interventions for bullying.

After I had completed the 50 posts, I committed to writing at least weekly.  I became excited about a new project on the blog called The Doers Series, where I would interview women who were rocking out their fabulous authentic selves while pursuing their career passions.  To date, my most popular post on my blog was in this series, highlighting a close friend and YouTuber Mary Doodles.

I still love this series and hope to release more soon, but on July 22nd my blog significantly changed.  I released, Student Engagement Through Social Media: #IsItPossible?.  The post didn’t go viral, I’m not sure if it even got a lot of views.  But this was different.

I had found my niche.

This happened at the same time as completing a student success course in my doctoral program, where my dissertation also significantly shifted.  I began to see how I could connect my interests in leadership, college students, social media, identity and branding all wrapped up in one.

 It just fit.

So the idea that I fought for the first five months of blogging, slowing broke down.  I couldn’t wait to continue sharing.  And, it seemed like others enjoyed reading too!

 This has been a journey.

I began 2013 ‘leaping’, there were times I felt as if I was free-falling,other times floating, and then there it was.  I found my footing.  Life is full of challenges.  The unknown, the unexpected, the ultimate moments.  We are evolving beings, learning from each other, getting more comfortable in our own skin.  Answering the question: who am I?  What am I passionate about?  What do I want in my life?

photoSo I begin chapter two.  I am done leaping.  It is time for courage. 

In making new years resolutions, a variety of projects and websites are found.  One of these is One World 365.  My word is courage.  But because I am long-winded and can never settle on just one, this next year’s blogging motto is found on my journal, a quote by Matisee “Creativity Takes Courage.”

  • This spring is also a major milestone in my program and research, by April I will defend my proposal.  Out of a five-chapter dissertation, I will defend three of those chapters.  As currently written, my topic is Developing Digital Student Leaders: A Digital Study of Student Leadership-Identity-Decision Making on Social Media.
  • Because this research won’t begin until fall I also have another research project that received grant funding from NASPA, exploring Senior Level Student Affairs Leaders use of Social Media.  I have an amazing group of 15 Vice Presidents, Associate VPs and Deans of Students to interview in the month of February.
  • In the next year I hope to go beyond my blog to sharing content in person, through conference and college presentations.  I am thrilled to have already been asked by a few universities to share my work in the next few months.
  • Have it be a position on a college campus or something of my own, this next year will be to sort that out.  I use courage this year to press out the fear.  The kind that questions my qualifications or content I produce.
  • A few days after the new year I received a phone call from my mother, the call that no daughter ever wants to get.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It is slow-growing and we are moving swiftly.  This spring will take me back to Wyoming at least twice, between work-ish related trips and school projects. We’ll take any digital hugs you can send to my family and me as you think of it.

This year…

I use courage to support my family.

I use courage to take risks in my research, knowing in academia there will always be study limitations and critical analysis.  My dissertation is only the beginning.

I drum up courage in 2014 to be more creative.  Whatever you call it: change agent, instigator, explorer, troublemaker or innovator.  I’m going to shaking things up.  And I want you to join me. Project collaborations, challenging conversations, co-curating content, community building.  I welcome it.

I thank all that have read, commented, shared and overall supported me through the last year.  I especially want to recognize my family, in every move throughout my life, I have known they have my back.  To my husband, the second hardest working man I know (next to my dad) and inspires me everyday.  His support and sacrifice is astounding to me.

Thank you everyone for leaping with me, helping me create a net.  But even further, building a solid foundation underneath my feet.  I know moving forward, grounded in strategy and focused on fueling my work with courage, it will be an amazing second year!

2 Responses to My First Year Blogging

  1. ammamarfo February 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    Josie, I’ve truly enjoyed “hearing” your voice over the last year. May the year ahead give you the courage to speak loudly, honestly, and vulnerably in all the scenarios that need your voice. I promise I’ll keep listening, and look forward to seeing you in real life next month 🙂

    • Josie Ahlquist February 15, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      Appreciate your support Amma. I have enjoyed getting to know your voice via your blog and book too!

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