On one hand, it’s not like I ran a marathon. But then again, it kind of is. Today is the fifth anniversary and my one-hundredth post on Unleashing the Next Chapter. Part of me wants to celebrate with champagne and chocolate, and part of me wants to treat it like just another post.

If I’ve learned nothing else in my short 48 years, one of the biggest life lessons is that we’re not guaranteed tomorrow, and we must celebrate every day, victories big and small. So, allow me a moment to celebrate, and then figure out what exactly one hundred posts means.
This all started long before I created Unleashing the Next Chapter.

  • Numerous online writing experiences through corporate websites, blogs, online writing portfolios, and teaching both traditional and digital composition to more high school and college students than I can remember.
  • So many platforms… I may be dating myself, but before cut and paste, before html, before widgets, I learned Basic on a black screen with green text–no images, and had to not only write content, but program the site. I was so grateful when Prodigy came along…then CompuServe, then the dedicated blogging programs.
  • Previous blogs… the Baseball Mom… Women of the Bible… the Academic Portfolio…
  • There were a few years I was away from digital writing and blogging. But then came Unleashing the Next Chapter. Post number one, published June 5, 2012, has received a total of eight views in five years. That’s probably just as well, as it takes a little time to figure out what works.
  • From zero to over 850 followers and growing.
  • In less than five years, 99 posts, 6,097 visitors, 9,439 views.
  • So many lessons learned!
    • Persistence wins in the long run. As in many areas of my life, I’ve struggled with consistency. Sometimes I have not been realistic in my plans, sometimes life gets in the way, sometimes I lose focus, sometimes a medical emergency changes my priorities. Being persistent, and plugging away as best possible until I found my voice, rhythm, and what works best for me and my life is what allowed me to still be here after five years. So many blogs are abandoned before the blogger is able to figure it all out. I may not be the fastest, smartest, most productive or creative voice out there, but I am persistent.
    • Numbers don’t tell the whole story. Some of the posts that have been most shared around the world haven’t received a single like.
    • And, let’s just take a minute to consider “around the world”… I am flabbergasted each time I notice where my readers are. I write my little offerings from North Texas. My brain comprehends that the Internet allows my words to be read globally. But then I see the stats… oh. My. GOODNESS! I have regular readers from the US, UK, Australia, Philippines, Ireland, Netherlands, India, Portugal, South Africa, El Salvador, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, Bahamas, Ukraine, and the list goes on. I am amazed and humbled. Thank you. I always loved having pen pals as a kid, and dreamed of traveling the world. Due to my health, I doubt I’ll ever get to all the places I’ve dreamed of, but through this blog the world is still interacting with me. For that my heart about bursts with joy and gratitude.
    • Passion resonates more than facts. I’m still surprised that posts I spend the most time and energy and research on, often receive the least reactions. Conversely many posts that come quickly from a place of joy, frustration, or confusion have received the most likes and comments, both on the blog as well as Facebook and Twitter.
    • As a person who is introverted by nature, and who lives with disabilities, my home is my safe place. I can think, dream, read, write, decorate as I like, and control who comes and goes. But it isn’t until I leave my home and go out into the world that I meet people, get new ideas, take risks, and experience life that I make connections and relationships to bring home and develop. This site, this little piece of the Internet that I am allowed to control, is my home base, my safe place. It’s where ideas originate and thoughts are developed. But it isn’t until I go out into the world and share these posts on Twitter and Facebook that most people notice. The interactions and relationships seem to grow and develop on other social media platforms. That is a metaphor for my life.

Now, what to do with these stats and lessons learned? What’s the plan for the next five years? While I think about that, let me share that it’s a dreary, rainy day in North Texas. Today is the fifth day I have been bed-bound from a flare up of Central Pain Syndrome. My sweet friend, Marsha, came over at noon—before the rain started—to take Gizmo out to play and to bring me lunch from a favorite Mediterranean restaurant and a chocolate brownie. She didn’t even know I had cause to celebrate today.
So here’s what my world looks like today. Welcome to my bedroom. Gizmo is lying to my left on his blanket, and Topaz the brown tabby cat, is curled up protectively by my miserable right leg. (I can’t figure out how these sweet souls know when I’m hurting and what not to bump or brush up against.) Chocolate brownie is to the right of my laptop. Excuse me for a minute while I eat my treat. If you have chocolate available, please join me. Cheers!

I have a few things already in the works for this site, and a few other ideas I’m playing with. I’m also open to suggestions if you have ideas for posts you’d like me to consider.

  • Guest posting and cross posting. This will actually start next week as I will be posting on Rainer Bantau’s blog, The Devotional Guy, and he will be posting here. Contact me if you are interested in guest or cross posting.
  • New look. Updating the look and images later this summer to celebrate five years of Unleashing the Next Chapter.
  • Detailed updates as I prepare to publish and launch Torn Between the Two this fall. I already have my next thriller in mind, so there will be posts sharing what I’m learning while researching that story. I hope you enjoy learning as much as I do.
  • Teaching more Bible studies… perhaps online using FB Live?
  • Continuing to advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves, especially on the broad topics of religious freedom, human-trafficking, invisible disabilities, and literacy.
  • Opportunities to present corporate and community workshops and seminars on Speed Reading, Service Dogs, Blogging, Research Techniques, and more.
  • I’d like to do a little more traveling and site-seeing in this region. Realizing how many of my readers are not local to this area, perhaps that would be of interest? They say, “write what you know.” I know North Texas and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Perhaps some of my readers, or fellow bloggers, in other parts of the world would like to create some “day in the life” cross posts?

For those who have been with me from the beginning of this adventure (especially Mom and Steve), to all my regular and casual readers, and to those who have just happened upon this blog for the first time today…Thank you!

Please subscribe, like, and comment. I’d love to know how long you’ve followed this blog, and where in the world you are reading from–that would be a great way to help me celebrate today. You can also find me on Facebook at Kathryn McClatchy: Unleashing the Next Chapter, and Twitter @K_McClatchy.