Shifting the Balance–9 months, 146 posts and 82 countries later

Nine months ago today, Meg posted our first post on Shifting the Balance.  Since that time our lives have moved forward.  Meg has developed a rewarding pattern to her life in Petaluma. I particularly enjoy the times we all spend together and with other close family and friends.

If you aren’t a blogger, you will have missed one of the curious aspects of blogging. WordPress keeps track of visitors to our blog on a country by country–not individual–basis.  We are now up to 82 countries.  We haven’t figured out how to get the attention of any one of Greenland’s 56,000 residents, but we are still trying. In addition to keeping a tally of every country with visitors to our blog, WordPress actually includes a map for Meg and me.  Here is the map for our blog.  Red records this highest number of visitors, which are from the United States, and visitors from every other country are highlighted in orange, indicating a slightly lesser number of hits:

It is to really fun to watch to see which of our posts are the most popular.  Our photographs usually get views within minutes or a couple of days.  Our articles may receive very few views the day they are posted.  But they may continue to receive views for months.  The most popular of our posts are Meg’s 4 posts focused on Natasha’s wedding and my post comparing Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice.  It is also really rewarding to receive notification that someone “likes” our blog or has commented on a post.  Most of those who “like” us are individuals who view our photographs.  (They are a fairly tight community).

One of our most faithful readers is a young man from Romania, Cristian Mihai.  Born in 1990, he is already an author and a very active blogger himself.  Christian, thanks for regularly “like”ing our photographs.  We love your stuff!!  Romanian music is pretty cool.  Thanks and good luck.

Blogging has become a part of the rhythm of our lives.  Most of our posts capture the fun times of our lives: weekends Meg and Jake spend learning about Northern California, and visits Terry and I make to points of interest in Kansas City.  Occasionally, we write about our travels.  When time permits we review a book or write about issues that are of particular interest to us.

There is supposed to be an art to blogging. Among the suggestions made for successful bloggers is to have a blog theme: something like marketing, travel, photography or cooking.  We read some wonderful specialized blogs and follow Sheila’s Lifestyle Solutions and PhotoBotos among others.  So we really appreciate the specialized blogs. But we just keep rolling along as we write about a wide variety of subjects and post photographs we like.

Our lives are, in some small ways, focused on our blog.  We talk to each other about what we are doing on the blog and who has a post ready for publication.  We also continue to look at our lives and our worlds with eyes toward potential blog posts.  When we see a beautiful building, a fascinating book or article, or just visit a park, we want to share it.  Our posts are also a way for us to communicate with each other. That is satisfaction enough for me.

Thank you for following our blog. Clotilda Jamcracker, (another author and blogger), thanks for “like”ing this post.  Thanks to you all.


Shifting the Balance –6 Months, 82 Posts and 47 Countries Later

On October 14, 2011, Meg began our first post this way:

My mother and I have decided to start a blog. For as long as I can remember, we have talked about everything going on in the world. Naturally, our conversations trend toward identifying problems and then brainstorming possible solutions. Overall, our primary objective has always been to visualize the world in balance.

This is our 82nd post.  We have been “viewed” in 47 countries including such diverse places as the Netherlands (of course we have family there), Serbia, South Africa, Brazil and Croatia.  Two of our most popular posts have been “I couldn’t resist the tulips”–yesterday, and “The importance of buying local”–in January.

Our focus from the beginning has been about finding and maintaining balance in our lives and in our world.  We sometimes discuss whether we have maintained that focus, because most of what we post is about beauty in the world around us.  Only occasionally do we write a piece about meaningful issues. When we do, we work hard to write in a way to encourage civility and to be open to the opinions of others.  We never want to embarrass ourselves or cause harm to others. But trust me when I say that our opinions really are only Meg’s and mine and not the opinions of our families, our employers, or anyone else.  We do quote from documents such as the U.S. Constitution, international treaties, books and similar information.  Hopefully we do so accurately.

For those who do not blog, it is difficult to explain the personal satisfaction associated with hitting “publish” after researching, drafting, reviewing and editing each post.  More important is that writing a blog encourages us to look at life a little differently.  When I drive by a beautiful statute or see graffiti on the wall, or look at photographs of countries we’ve visited, I try to figure out the best way to share the information with others.  When I read a book, or a newspaper article, I wonder whether others would be interested in learning about it.

Essentially, it causes us to live our lives with greater awareness.  And isn’t greater awareness an essential step toward living life better, while meeting our goal of finding and maintaining balance; consistent with our name Shifting the Balance.     Ann

Picking a Name for a Blog

How do you pick a name for a blog? Meg and I spent a lot of time studying blog sites and reading blogs written by others. We wanted to understand how this works and to reflect on topics we intend to write about. we want flexibility and to write about light and serious subject. we don’t want to talk about partisan issues and we don’t want to add to the venom we see in much of our public dialogue. We do care about education, the environment, healthy lives and healthy communities. We are interested in how we individually and collectively adapt, and contribute, to our changing world.

With all of this in mind we had great mother daughter dialogue as we considered a name. After careful reflection–and some frustration finding a name that had not been taken, we have decided on Shifting the Balance. What does it mean to us;;

Shifting the balance on environmental, health care and similar challenges;

Shifting the balance from emotion based to information based dialogue;

Shifting the balance from unhealthy to healthy life choices on food, physical activity, use of resources both personal and public;

Shifting the balance–well you get the picture.

A year and a bit


It has been an eventful year with both joys and challenges as our lives change and grow. First, Meg and Jake were married on a beautiful May evening, at a lovely vineyard in Sonoma California.

Meg’s last semester of school was packed. She completed her research project for Brush Creek Community Partners, interned for Mid America Regional Council and served as co-director of the IRS Tax Clinic that assists low-income individuals prepare and file their federal and state income tax returns. She was also President of the environmental Law Society. Meg graduated from UMKC Law School in May. I got to “hood” Meg. That was really special for me.

Jake travelled back and forth between Kansas City and Northern California from March until July 1, when he relocated to a mid-sized town in Sonoma County, just an hour from San Francisco. Meg stayed behind to take a Bar prep. course and the Bar. In August she was sworn in as a member of the Missouri Bar and the Bar of the Western District of Missouri. Jake, Meg, and their two dogs, Lily and Cousteau, are now happily at home in California. Terry and I, and our dog, Casey, remain in Missouri.

Meg and I developed the blog as a way to stay connected by writing about matters of interest to both of us. We both like “shifting the balance” because we find that our family discussions often focus on balance in national and personal financial priorities, balance in maintaining health life styles, balance in our use of time, balance in terms of learning from and respecting the views of people across the national spectrum. We believe balance is an important part of individual lives, family lives and the lives of communities. Shifting the balance is necessitated by the constant change that is part of our lives–we grow, we change jobs, move across the country. We deal with almost constant changes in technology, individually and collectively we shift our lives to accommodate recessions, seasons, life stages. Change is constant, balance requires constant accommodation to that change.

Welcome to our blog.

Shifting the Balance

Meg has a J.D. in Urban, Land Use and Environmental Law. She focuses on maintaining the balance of community and environmental health, healthy lifestyles, and encouraging sustainable living.

My mother and I have decided to start a blog. For as long as I can remember, we have talked about everything going on in the world. Naturally, our conversations trend toward identifying problems and then brainstorming possible solutions. Overall, our primary objective has always been to visualize the world in balance.

Now, the tricky thing about balance is that you constantly have to readjust for change. That seems to be one thing people forget. Things are always changing. Ideas. Technology. The DOW. Politicians. People also change in the process. We grow up. We go to school. We start taking the ideas and theories talked about growing up and we learn how to implement ideas into action. First, we have to find the balance in the world, and then we have to figure out how to maintain it.

So here’s where we usually wind up. Our conversations tend to circle around the same things, the environment, politics, community, the economy. We also talk a lot about our dogs, affectionately referred to as “the kids.” Our family (dogs included), our community, healthy foods, excercise…these are all important components to maintaining a healthy and balanced self. The same things are important to a healthy and balanced community. Here, we will continue to brainstorm our ideas for how to maintain, or rather, how to shift back to the balance.