Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why A Blog? - Week 32

Hello Everyone!  It never ceases to amaze me how things just sort of happen randomly and without anticipation or expectation.  Oftentimes, I'll write a post and think, "Yeah, this is one that people are gonna read!" only to later discover it really wasn't much of a hit.  Then there are those that surprise you, like last week's post!  I'm shocked honestly, it soared right up the reading charts and is in the top two all time most read One Big Wedo posts.  Didn't think that would happen.  It could possibly take the #1 spot by the end of the week, over taking week 16's "Heart & Sol".  Wow!  Now let's see if this week's post nosedives right to the bottom!  Here we go!

Why A Blog?

So why did I decide to write a blog about my experience of folklorico dancing?  How did this really all come about?  This week I'm going to share with readers all about the blog.

Several years before I ever started dancing, I had a desire to blog but never acted upon it.  I tossed around ideas for a blog in my head and would contemplate what I would say and how.  I had lots of concepts, one idea was to write a blog called "My Transparent Reality".  Then I realized that there was a whole Social Network called Facebook that did that for people already.  Next!  From there I went to an idea of one called "The Bartending Pastor".  This blog would be my experience of learning to bartend and my interactions with customers, where in during the course of my listening to their drunken problems, I would utilize my Biblical Counseling classes from Bible College to direct people on a path to resolve their problems.  Of course using Jesus as my example as He was the first, turning water into wine.
Other ideas entertained included a blog of American diners that I've eaten breakfast at, a random picture of the day blog, famous quotes blog, drink of the day blog and so on.  There were many others considered as well.  All remained ideas however and are already commonly captured on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.  So I put the whole blog idea to rest.

I never considered myself much of a writer.  I've always been a fairly decent student though, at least in my opinion.  At Wheaton, I took an English Literature class.  For the final, we had to write a paper on a piece of American poetry.  My poem was assigned and I poured myself into my final paper.  I thought I had written a paper with major insight!  When I received my paper back, there on the top in big red ink was the letter "F" and a note from the professor, "Call Me".  I was so disappointed.  When I called, she told me that there was just no way possible to give a grade anything but, I had missed the point entirely.  Years later, I went back to college again, this time Bible College.  I took a class called Eschatology.  Part of the class curriculum included debating secular world viewpoints and Biblical world viewpoints.  To make a long story short, an assignment was given to write a paper on a controversial subject in society and present both viewpoints.  I wrote the paper and this time when I got it back there on the top of the page was an "A" and a note from the professor that said, "Wow! You could be a journalist!"  Me? Really?  Well, perhaps someday I will give it a try!

One day while I was out shopping at a thrift store, I was looking through some DVDs they had for sale.  I came across a movie called Julie & Julia.  I didn't know anything about the movie but I bought it because it had Meryl Streep in it.  I took it  home put it away and there it sat for months.

Some time later, a fellow coworker and friend of mine told me about a blog he and his wife had started about Bible prophecy.  They were having some success with it.  What struck me most was that he said it was free to have a blog on a site called Blogger.  I like free.  That was something that fit my budget!

Then one day in the fall of last year, I found myself at home with nothing to do.  So, I took out the DVD and put it on.  The true story held my attention.  If your not familiar with the story, it's a movie about Julie Powell who wrote a blog about her experience cooking all the recipes in the Julia Child cookbook.  In fact, you can find the blog on Blogger,  This of course triggered my thinking once again.  For the next several weeks I mulled over what I could write about that people might find interesting about me.  What made me unique and interesting?  Hmmm!

I remember a documentary that I saw on tv once about a reporter who would travel around America to random cities, pull out a phone book, open it up and point on a name.  Whatever name was there, he would call and arrange to tell their story in a documentary.   Another similar story I heard about, was a wealthy man who like to sculpt miniature clay figures.  He would travel around the world to famous landmarks and hide these little clay critters at his destination.  In fact, he became so well known for doing it, that they developed a line of clay critters for a retail collectible market based off him, which I sold in my shops back in the day.  What could I do like that I pondered?  I know I'll travel around to various cities across America, put on one of my folklorico costumes and with boom box in hand (yes, I love the 80's) go into a public park or area and dance, taking pictures with people and then blog about them and the experience of it all.  It was an interesting concept but I had one major problem - I'm broke and I work.  I love to travel but that would've require some serious funds.

The year was reaching near the end and I continued to struggle with what made me so different and that no one was already writing about.  Then a Mexican themed social media site posted some photos of folklorico dancing and there I was!  I came across them by accident and I was like wow, I made it on Mexican media!  Don't they know I'm white?  I was always worried that if I danced poorly that perhaps it would be perceived as mockery or insult if they knew.  I wanted to be incognito!  Dancers use to tell me don't worry, you could pass for someone from Jalisco, just keep your mouth shut.  I knew I wasn't the first white person to dance folklorico.  I had seen a couple performances with white folks in them.  Even a well respected Mexican dancer also had told me that the man who taught him to dance folklorico was white.  So I knew there were others.  But no one was writing about their experience and perception of it.  Sounds like an opportunity.

By the way, I've met others wedos out there during the course of this journey too.  One was a mariachi that performs all over, singing in Spanish, yet he himself does not speak the language.

2013 arrived and one of my goals for the new year was to write the blog.  So that's what I did.  I just stepped out and created a Google profile and established a blog on Blogger.  And here you are reading it!  I set a goal of 52 weeks, which would include my personal experience of folklorico dancing, my perspective, perception and analysis, basic Mexican and folkorico information and facts. Perhaps reaching someone and creating some interest in dancing or attending a show.  The blog has also succeeded in provoking thought, venting frustrations and give the account of whatever I was going through at the moment.  The blog consists of a little bit of my life, humor and bizarre pop culture ideas.  I figured that if anything, I would have a unique account of my folklorico experience in journal form, even if no one read it, that I could print off and keep at the end.  I am a sentimental person.  Plus, this would be a learning experience for me and help me learn more about the history and terminology of folklorico, as well as serve as some self encouragement.

I didn't anticipate anyone in the folklorico community reading it or even being interested in it.  I thought it would reach people in general who just like to read about different topics, who might like to know what the experience entailed for me.  People find it interesting to read about other peoples lives.  I thought perhaps it would help people in the USA to learn a little about our neighbors and assist in developing an appreciation and understanding of the art.  

People actually read the first post!  I was shocked.  People from around the world in fact!  I just kept on doing it.  One day a fellow folklorico dancer made a comment to me, "I saw your blog.  I like it. You are brave and I'm proud of you". Brave?  I had to ask why he thought that and he told me, "I would never put myself out there like that."  

I never thought of myself as being brave.  Growing up in Michigan, I was raised with the belief that you really could be anything you wanted to be in life or do anything in life.  All you has to do was just do it.  You want to be a business person Michael, then be one.  You want to be a singer, then sing.  If you want to write, if you write it they will read!  I think the success I've had in life comes from being a bit clueless and not being told what the right way of going about it.  For example, when I opened my retail business years ago, everyone said that I went about starting it all wrong and backwards!  Yet, I was successful for a season at it.  Then the economy tanked.  The secret to my success has been not knowing the secrets of other people's success.  I did it my way.

Other folklorico dancers also commented to me that they had discovered the blog and found it funny. Oh my!  I started to get feedback from people as well - both positive and negative.  I welcome it all. A friend of mine, an avid reader, happen to read the blog and one day we started to discuss it.  I shared with her some of the harsh remarks about it I had received.  She told me just to stick with it and write it my way regardless because that's what people want to read about.  Tell your story.  Other people started reading the blog also.  It appears that it is serving the purposes I intended it to as several have commented to me that they did learn some things from it and that they want to continue to do so!  That's good news!

As I've shared before, I write these during my breaks and lunches at my industrial job in a warehouse. Every week presents its share of challenges.  Overall, the blog has turned into a much bigger undertaking than I originally thought it would.  I have stacks of Post It Notes and scrap paper with all kinds of chicken scratch on them from writing down ideas and what not for the blog.  I committed to one post per a week and there is only so much editing and perfecting you can do because by Sunday morning it's time to publish.  Regardless if your ready or not!  The pressure is always on as the weekend approaches.  This week the punctuation police hit me up saying my blog was "painful to read" with all my comma violations.  I told them, don't read it then - you're missing the point!  I do my best.

I've enjoyed the whole blogging experience overall.  It's been almost as fun writing about the dancing, as dancing itself.  I have gone back and read my own blog postings.  I do it from time to time.  Sometimes it feels like an out of body experience.  At times, I stop and ask myself why did you write that and I have to reflect upon what was happening at that moment in time.  I will say that some of my perceptions, analysis and perspectives have changed a little over time on some of the stuff I've written.  I would agree some of the posts are better than others, more interesting over others, and better written than others.  Some I would write differently today.  There has been the temptation to go and delete some of them, but that would defeat the overall idea of a blog.  People that follow me can see through my writings the growth and progress.  

A few years ago I had an opportunity to sit in on a conference where best selling author Ann Kiemel spoke.  In fact, she has a blog here on Blogger as well!  She shared the story of her first book she ever wrote.  Only she can tell the story with all the humor and specifics.  But the whole gist of it was that when she wrote her first book, she told her publisher not to advertise it, just put it out there.  She said it was a pathetic little thing and she hoped it would just die.  People discovered  the book, connected with it and it became the best selling book that publisher ever printed.  Sometimes I feel the same way about my posts - unsure and hope they just die!  So there you learn a little about me, I believe that I can do anything, just do it but I'm uncertain about it the whole time - yet I won't quit either!

It's time to wrap this all up, I've said plenty already.  Some of you think I think too much and my posts are too long.  Anyway, in closing, I want to express that there is an incredible opportunity out there for folklorico people to write blogs, articles and the sort about folklorico.  There is much, much more written in Spanish than English about the subject, for obvious reasons.  There needs to be more in English.  I've seen a couple other blogs about folklorico out there, usually quoting the same resources I have in mine.  The information is limited.  And if your like me, don't speak or read Spanish, the resources are much more limited.  So someone could step up and translate the existing publications into English or write a new blog in English as well.  

Case in point, one of the feedback comments from last week states that I failed to mention Marcelo Torreblanca in my post.  He is considered by many as the "father of what we now know as danza Folklorica".  When I looked him up on the web, some articles in Spanish appeared to come up.  I did not find anything on him in English.  Sounds like an opportunity for someone to document his work in English.  I have to be honest, I have never heard of the man.  Several dancers I inquired of hadn't either.  

Some other feedback from last weeks post was about my "king and queen" comment.  I meant no offense by it.  There is an abundance written about the two from last week in English and everyone I've talked with knew of them well, hence my reason for labeling them the king and queen.  Don't know what I'm referring to?  Read last weeks post!  Didn't anticipate it being such a controversial statement, but many hit me up about it!  I said it based on my deduction that if there an abundance written about them, then they must be the most popular and known for it - the king and queen.  If that's not the case then something needs to be done, written, to change the perception!  

That being said, I am inviting some folks to be guest bloggers on my site!  In addition to my weekly posts and bonus posts, I want to start having special guest posts too!  Who wants to write one?  Hit me up.

Lastly, the blog had some newcomers this week!  Welcome Kenya, Nigeria and Sri Lanka!  Glad to know people everywhere are interest in folklorico dancing!  The blog also reached over 4000 pageviews this!  People are reading!  I also received six logo contest entries this week!  I'm sharing them on my Facebook page, so drop by One Big Wedo on Facebook, like me and check them out! You have until August 31, 2013 to submit yours for a chance to win $100.  

Always open to suggestions and feedback.  If you read something that needs clarification or you have a question about, please drop me an email. 

Stay Strong & Write On!  Wedo out, yo!


Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

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Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.

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