Good morning, everyone. Today, I am marking ten years of my life here on Bravenet.
When I first started this blog, I thought it would be a great way for me to write my memoirs. No hand cramps, no running out of typewriter ink, no whited-out places where changes had to be made or completely re-written... A blog was the perfect medium. I knew next to nothing about blogging, or about how it worked, but I figured it couldn't be that difficult to learn, so I forged ahead and signed up.
In the beginning, Bravenet had something called a Community Page, where posts from bloggers both new and existing appeared. It was wonderful; you could log into the site, and a categorized list appeared showing summary posts - and, Bravenet even had a Journal of the Week award, so the winner's name and blog appeared near the top of the page. It really was awesome, and I miss that Community Page dearly. I think everyone who was here when that page was up misses it...
Anyway, the Community Page was a great medium for bloggers all over the world to share their stories, learn about other cultures, meet new people, and in some cases, even meet some blog friends in actuality and further strengthen their friendship - like Shawno and I did.
When I first started blogging, I needed a lot of help understanding how to work some of the features and options. It was thanks to two of the now-former bloggers here - Wil Henderson the 3rd (a.k.a. "Captain Canuck"), and my dear friend Grizz, that this old Tree went from bland to awesome. There were times when, no matter how simple their explanations were, I just couldn't "get" what they were saying. Instead of getting upset or frustrated with me, they offered to help me out. All I had to do was give them the login information, and they took it from there. There were no words then - and there are no words now - to convey the depth of my gratitude to them for taking time out of their lives to help this newbie.
Wil and Grizz are no longer here, but their kindness stayed with me, and over the years, I tried to pay that forward by helping other new people the way Wil and Grizz had helped me. For a time - and with the blessings and support of the Bravenet Support team - I even had a Community blog, complete with tutorials about everything from customizing a blog to getting rid of unwanted spammers. The blog even served as a liason between the Support team and the community when things went wrong across the site.
Over the years, this blog has changed dramatically. It started out as a way for me to write my memoirs, and evolved into something completely different. Sometimes, it was a battle ground; other times, it was a kind of story nook (remember Fright Month?); still other times, it was something even I can't define. The point is that, for ten years, this blog has marked life, death, and everything in between.
It saddens me more than words can say that Bravenet phased out the Community Page - which left bloggers using the free services without any access to Support when things went wonky - and now, they're phasing out this service in favor of the blogging componenet on their SiteBuilder. A service which, in my opinion, removes the feeling of personability and creates, instead, a feeling of impersonality. The blog component cannot be customized like these existing blogs can be. You can't even use images from your existing photo albums here to personalize the page. It's cold and impersonal, in my opinion, and I am not the only one who doesn't like it.
But, I digress. Ten years is a very long time; that's a whole lot of life to share in one place. Good, bad, ugly, and indifferent, a lot of life has happened...
I have made the decision to keep this old Tree going for as long as Bravenet allows it. I still won't share the harsher experiences life brings me - I have a different, private place for that - but I will continue to share the relatively happy, thoughtful, less unpleasant moments here, for as long as Bravenet lets this Tree stand.
Happy 10th Anniversary, Holly Tree. You've come a long, long way, baby...