February 4, 2010

Trying very hard to find the right balance (but I could really use your help)

{Vintage photo via cessnal152towser’s Flickr stream.}

Last night I could not sleep. I tossed and turned (thankfully my husband is a fairly sound sleeper and didn’t hear my stirrings), repeatedly got out of bed only to lay back down moments later. Such an occurrence is by no means entirely uncommon for me, but there are times when something is weighing heavily enough one one’s mind to the point of robbing them of slumber, that it is best to seek advice from those near and dear you. I sincerely value each of your opinions and friendships, and want to talk bluntly to you all about something that has been eating away at me for quite some time now, in the hopes that you could help me out with it.

A recent conversation with a very dear friend (and fellow blogger/photographer) of mine in which I spoke candidly about certain elements relating to my health helped to give me the courage I needed to turn to my readers for their impute on this matter. (Once the flood gates have opened, as they say...)

I’ll spare you the details (trust me, you want to be spared), but in short I am not in a good state of health. I have not been since I was 18 years old (I’m 25.5 now), as that was the age at which I developed almost all of the chronic illnesses that I now have (more recently however, one cropped up about three years ago). I’m not, truly thankfully, dying or facing a massive medical crisis at this moment, so please do not think that I was leading this post in that direction.

One of the by-products of some of my conditions (I have about a dozen different major, chronic illnesses and a small number of lesser, but still chronic, problems) is that they greatly impede on the amount of time I’m able to spend on the computer each day.

On what I’d dub a “fantastic day”, I’m able to devote about 1.5 hours to being at my computer (many days this number is smaller, very occasionally it’s slightly higher). Due largely to one of my conditions in particular, I’m forced to break my computer usage time up into approximately two to ten minute intervals throughout the day. While I wish I could spend hours on my laptop daily, doing so is not possible at this point in my life and I have come to terms with this. I’m grateful for the time that I do have on the computer and try to use it as wisely as I can.

However, it is virtually impossible for me to stay on top of everything I need (let alone “want”) to get done online, because my computer time is so greatly limited. Between emails, writing blog posts, administering and maintaining a website (that I founded in 2004) for people who share one of my conditions, devoting time to my photography, doing research, and a trove of other online activities (which, believe me, I’ve already greatly scaled back over the last few years), I continually feel as though I’m falling further and further behind on almost everything I need to do online and on my desktop (e.g. writing blog posts).

Over the past couple of days I took an earnest stab at trying to catch up on the wonderful comments that have been left for me during the last two weeks here on Chronically Vintage, however I wasn’t able to visit all of your blogs. This bothers me so, so much (I honestly get stomach pains just thinking that I’ve not been able to come visit all those who took the time out of their day to visit my site and share their awesome thoughts with me), yet sometimes in life one has to admit defeat. In this case, I’ve been whopped by the sheer volume of comments I’ve received lately.

As I say that, please know that from the bottom of my soul, I am massively appreciative of each of those comments. I cannot stress enough how much I treasure your visits and the wonderful words you leave beneath my humble posts.

And so in lies the predicament. As many of you know, staying up-to-date with your comments (by which I mean visiting and commenting on the sites of those who stop by your blog) can just about become a full time job – or at the very least, take upwards of several hours a day. I have to be perfectly honest, it is beyond my physical ability at this point in time to spend multiple hours a day on the computer (on any activity, be it writing posts, visiting blogs or otherwise), and so I’m left racked with guilt now because I haven’t been able to catch up with all of your comments.

Up until this point, about 98% of the time I have managed to catch-up sooner or later on your comments, but this time I simply cannot. I’m truly sorry. I fully understand (and am not upset in the least) if some of my readers opt to no longer comment if I’m not able to comment on their sites. Please know that I will always give it my “fighting best” when it comes to staying abreast with your comments, but that sometimes doing so isn’t possible for me.

I need your advice. I will always permit comments on my posts, and I love hearing from you all, but I do not know how to approach the fact that sometimes I’m simply not able to keep up with your comments. What do you suggest I do?

As my readers, will some of you be hurt if, from time to time, I’m not able to comment as frequently on your posts as you may on mine? How to I determine what a good balance of time spent on replying to comments is? Perhaps is there something I can do to make up for not being able visit you on certain days?

Am I, as I know my very level headed husband would likely say, worrying about this perceived issue too much? Please, I implore you, tell me how you would handle this situation if you were in my shoes? (Yes, I do see the irony in asking for comments.)

With every fiber of my being, thank you for reading this post and for your impute, sweet friends.


  1. I read , but don't always comment, I know for a fact it's hard to reply to all of us, just know that we read your words and think of you xxx

  2. Well I think even without your health problems, the fact that you have over 500 followers through blogger, would keep even the healthiest of people from visiting every blogger who comments on their blog. So with your present condition, it's completely understandable and in fact encouraged that you not worry about all of us. You have always tried so hard to comment on my blog and I truly appreciate that. Those of us that enjoy what you post will always be here to comment and read your blog whether the blog attention can be reciprocated or not!

    My thought and prayers are with you and I hope you can recover quickly from your ailments!! I will always be a fan no matter what!!

  3. Awe, my darling gal, don't you fret over us dahling! I can attest and give you my girl scout honor that I will be a fan of your blog no matter what too! What matters the most is YOU, and your well being, so please please take care of yourself, and when you have a moment or two to grace us with your wonderful posts we will be here :)

    I pray that what ails subsides as much as it possibly can and that it is as manageable as possible for you.


  4. I'm remembering you in my prayers :)
    I say, best to be upfront and honest, just as you've been. I follow blog I enjoy and that I draw inspiration from..whether they chose to visit my blog is their option and I truly don't expect that.
    Some followers may leave but that's ok, I started my blog as a gift to myself, my creative outlet..a place I feel at home and i have been blessed enough that some people have decided to follow me on my creative journey.
    Blessings and inner peace to you :)

  5. Dear sweet Jessica
    Blogging should be fun and not a burden. I love to hear from you but I also know that as our followers grow it gets harder and harder to keep up on every comment. I think that we all put too much pressure on trying to keep up with each and every comment. I for one think that you should feel no pressure to keep up. I would be a faithful follower even if you don't/can't comment back. Your health should be your priority. No pressure here to comment back. take care my friend.

  6. Jessica, your health comes first. Don't worry about us. Do only what you are comfortable with. As someone who has a lot of health problems myself, I understand that it can take a lot out of a person. I don't feel insulted and neglected if you don't respond to my comments or read my blog. I personally comment to show you some blogger appreciation for the work you do. As long you post on your blog how you are doing every once in a while, that is all we need.

    Best wishes and hope you feel better soon,

  7. To be honest i leave comments because i truly adore reading your blog, not because i expect you to leave comments on my blog, so you not being able to keep up to date is no biggie for me. I always appreciate your sweet words but i completely understand if you do not have the time. I only have a few followers compared to you and i struggle to keep up with them, so you are doing really well! If i were you i wouldn't worry too much about it, i am certain that everyone understands and we will always continue reading your fabulous blog.
    I hope i have helped in some small way! xxx

  8. I love you whether you visit or comment on my blogs. Of course, I love your comments and visits, but I totally understand. I have health issues myself! I get it. Do what you can and know that I will always understand. All any of us can do is "the best we can...what ever that is."
    Hugs and love,

  9. Hi Jessica,

    We my friend are on the same page, be it for different reasons, I just posted about the very same issue.

    Jessica, I've come to the conclusion that people come to you because they find value in you and what you share and will comment regardless of whether it is reciprocated or not.

    I have struggled with returning comments and I just can't be all things to all people. Those that come and comment just for a return comment will fall by the wayside...so be it!

    What matters are the fellow bloggers that come here for you. Don't stress about it my friend, it's not good for you. Know that you are loved and appreciated by many regardless of whether you visit or not.

    Love and hugs,

  10. Sweetie, I'm here to learn what makes you happy and what you care to share. I never expect a reply, nor do I ask questions. The time you spend sharing with us is enough. I hope that I am not alone in thinking that replys are not important, what is important is that you know we are your blog friends and we support and love you no matter what.

  11. Jessica, We all understand.
    Please don't waste another moment of your valuable sleep time worrying!
    Lots of love to you, and see you when I see you! Cheers, Karen & Patsy

  12. i read but rarely comment. given your current limitations (both physical and simply time to comment back on all your comments) it wouldn't bother me to comment and not receive an acknowledgment. in fact i sort of figure if i warrant a comment back then i made a good suggestion/argument/or simply made a compelling statement. it makes the return comments all the sweeter :)

  13. Jessica, dear, you share so much of yourself through your posts, which are generously filled with so many well researched and thoughtful delights. Visiting here is more than welcome exchange – you do not have to fret or worry. I know it's hard not to feel frantic about getting back to each person but I know we'd all prefer to have you spend time taking care of yourself and creating Chronically Vintage and know you are appreciative of each visitor without having to contact each person. You have created a hugely popular place in a short time – a testament to how much you mean to your readers. xo

  14. Oh, gosh, honey, don't worry at all! I am the worst kind of commenter (I go through phases) and I have no excuse at all, except that I'm lazy. It upsets me to think that it worries you so! I completely understand, as I'm sure does everyone else, if you can't comment as frequently as you used to. <3
    -Andi x

  15. Your health comes first, always. :) I love your blog and visit it everyday. Keep up the great work.

  16. Darling Jessica,
    Please do not let worry eat you up so. With the many blogs that you follow, please your other online commitments, I'm always delightfully surprised that you take the time to visit my blog and leave such sweet words. I sometimes take several days to respond to my comments and I do worry sometimes about that, but every blogger has many offline commitments too. With over 500 followers it would be almost impossible for even the healthiest person to keep up with the sheer volume of notes left, let alone returning the visit. But all of your followers support you wholeheartedly and no one will leave you just because you don't reply for to them for awhile. We've come to know you through your blog and we wish that you put your health needs above all else and I will continue to read and comment regardless. The only advice that I can offer is to visit only a couple of blogs a day and to slowly work your way through your blog roll. Your devoted readers understand that your precarious health situation takes precedence.
    I wish you well,
    xo Jennifer

  17. I'll echo the thoughts of the other commenters here. Don't add more stress to your life by trying to respond to everyone who comments on your blog. I truly believe an occasional response is fine. I receive nowhere near the number of comments you do and I find it difficult to keep up. I'm always impressed by the effort and thoughtfulness you put into your comments. Your health must take priority and I'm sure everyone understands this.

    The same is true for posting. I follow some bloggers who post only once a week and I enjoy those blogs just as much as those who post more frequently. Do what is right for you. Blogging should be a pleasure, not a burden.

    Ironically, I've just left a comments award on my blog for you (but please do not feel obligated to comment on it!) :)

  18. I only have a few followers and don't always get around to going to their blogs to make a comment after they have commented on mine; although I do attempt to stop by to read their posts as I don't have enough time in my life because of other commitments to do this. Therefore with all your health problems I really don't think we should expect you to be able to get around everyone to leave comments on our blogs just because we have commented on yours.

    Perhaps a shortcut would be just to put a thank you on your own post if anyone has made a comment on it then if we know we did comment we can always check back later and we will know you have read our comment. Theoretically of course if someone has made a comment it is most likely that you have read it anyway before allowing it to be posted to your blog.

    I think you need to concern yourself more with your own well-being rather than losing sleep over what we are thinking about you not coming by and commenting.

    I am sure all your followers will read this latest post and feel exactly like me now that we know you are limited with computer time due to your health and will certainly understand your predicament.

    Take care.


  19. Dear Jessica,
    Bloging should be without obligation...so too are comments. I comment because I want to, but I don't expect a return comment on my blog. An occassional visit from someone is always welcome, and secretly wished for. When I know someone's physical limitations, I especially don't expect their frequent visits. I say, just blog when you can. Don't set strict goals for your blog. Be more flexible with yourself. We will always visit when you post. Sometimes, we need to seriously cut time on the computer. Maybe, once a week for posting on your blog will work. Whatever you decide, we will support you.

  20. Dear Jessica!
    Please don't feel guilty for not replying to all comments! Though I sometimes feel bad about it I only reply to comments when I have the time and feel like doing it. It's not because I don't appreciate people commenting or because I want to be mean, but I have to priorotise many things before my blog.
    And just so you know, I don't mind if you're not replying to this comment ;)
    Wishing you a lovely weekend, darling!

  21. Jessica,

    You are such a sweetheart! I would not worry about mutual commenting for every single comment! I think most bloggers completely understand and if they don't, well, then they're not very friendly bloggers are they? ;-)

    you take care of yourself!

  22. I love your comments on my blog, you're always so nice that I feel so guilty when I have no time to comment you back (like it's happening lately...). By the way, I don't think there are rules in this and when I comment on someone else's post I surely don't expect a comment back! Don't worry and take care ;-)

  23. You are so sweet! Firstly, I would almost count it a blessing that you are unable to use the computer for a large amount of time!! So much of our lives are spent in front of a tiny screen, when we would probably be better off reading books, spending times outside or with loved ones, or just appreciating the world we live in. Also, health is so much more important than commenting on other's blogs, I wouldn't want you to sacrifice your health in order to visit me or any other blog all the time. I will definitely continue to visit you and I don't mind at all if you don't comment back, I totally understand :)

    Don't let the guilt take over, especially causing you to lose precious sleep time over it. You're doing the best you can do, and that's what matters!

  24. Oh my Dear, I don't have as many issues as you do, but I too am getting overwhelmed with the whole blogging thing. And I too feel the need to comment in [the blogs of] those who comment in my blogs.

    And I did a little post on needing to come up with a plan, about this. And one of my sweet readers left me a link here, and to another blog, which is stating that they too, have time issues, etc.

    I don't know what I'm going to do yet. But I do know what I would like to advise you.

    Your health is the first priority. Let everything else take a lesser priority in your life. And simply don't have any angst about so doing.

    If you want to write a post, about what you decide, do so. People can read it and make their own decisions.

    But please, just listen to your own body, and follow its advice, on all these matters. And without any more worry. -chuckle- I understand how to say we will no longer worry, is very hard. I do. But I still think you should not worry.

    I think I should not worry about such things as blogging, too. I think no one should let any part of blogging, worry us.

    Best of luck!!! And gentle hugs...


  25. I don't read or comment on your blog just to get comments back. I love your blog and just want you to know when I appreciate something. I appreciate that you even get to reading my blog much less commenting! Please don't over worry about it.

  26. This saddens me that you feel guilty when you can't always respond...A comment replied to is lovely,but we don't always expect one,your health is the main concern,just post you are OK and that's good enough.x.

  27. Your health is most important and listen, no one can visit every single person that visits them once your numbers start climbing, KWIM? Maybe make an attack plan and focus on your very favorite blogs that you visit and comment on and if there are days that you just aren't up to it, skip it. No harm, no foul. And I hereby release you from ever commenting on any of my posts ever again unless your really want to, okay? I won't feel bad in the least! :)

    In my opinion, I would rather you spend your time writing posts than spend time commenting on mine. :) I love reading what you write! :)

  28. OMG Jessica...I KNOW THAT I WILL continue to read NO MATTER...gees sweetie..they are plenty of other things to worry about..this is NOT one of them..I dont comment to get one back!!! If you can keep up your LOVELY blog that is ALL I ask...you have a gift.... :)

  29. First of all, *hugs* to you, Jessica! You are one of the sweetest, caring people I've run across on this crazy place known as the internet and I *love* reading your blog. It puts a smile on my face every time I open up your posts. I write a comment if I have something relevant to share or just to let you know how much I love and appreciate all the effort you put into each post. I don't do it expecting a reply or a visit to my blog.

    Here is my take on this: your health comes first! If you have the time & energy, perhaps you could respond to any questions or comments you would like to address in a comment on the post or through an email to the specific individual. Read your favorite blogs & comment if you like & are able to, but otherwise leave it be and don't worry! We understand and love you and would rather read your wonderful posts than see you ill & fretting over responding to all the comments you receive. That is what I think and I hope you'll find a balance that works well for you.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend with all my love & hugs,
    ~Christine H.

  30. While it is wonderful to be able to keep up with comments, it is not a blog necessity. Life trumps blog and your health most definitely trumps all!

  31. Lovely Jess,
    I have to admit that your comments are the sweetest and the most special too me since always.I don't know you really but I feel that everything that you write comes from the bottom of your heart and that you are really a special person for me.So don't feel bad but be happy for all the love that these sweet bloggers above have for you!We understand everything and our pleasure is to read your blog, the beautiful posts and not only your comments!So,keep on doing this wunderful work without worrying!
    with love, Tiziana

  32. I don't think you should feel obligated at all to return blog comments. I have a blog, and I know how important comments are. But I want comments to be a natural response to the topic I wrote about, not a social obligation! You should just relax and enjoy the fact that so many people enjoy reading Chronically Vintage.

    And if people are just posting so you'll post back, then they are missing the big picture about blogging.

    Take care, and stop worrying!

  33. Goodness gracious! Please know that my prayers are with you throughout whatever you are going through...from the many directions that pull on you for your attentions to your physical concerns.

    I do treasure your comments that you have left at my blog :o) But I certainly 100% understand how much time it takes to try to respond back and I dont have near as many comments left on my posts!

    You have such a delightful blog and I will continue to pop over to see your wonderful photo finds and fantastic narratives that you create.

    Blessings & Aloha!

    AS you can see from all those that have commented... you truly are the sweetest! And your health is definitely a priority! Please dont stress!

  34. Dear lovely sister, sorry to hear you are troubled over this .. you are so thoughtful of this wonderful blogging community you have created, i think that the people who read your blog are the lucky ones and that any one who has any negative expectations of you should be blocked from ever seeing this sight again! because they would deffinently be the ones missing out.. your blog is so popular and followed because people can tell the honesty and the sincere care you take in creating each post, i think that you give people a great enough present just posting and that you owe nothing to anyone in return because they are the lucky ones to get to see your blog!........

    or have that great man of yours make up a program that would instantly send a message to all the people whos blogs you follow lol.. but i would just go with my first bit of advice!!
    love smoo

  35. Oh my darling! First things first, and you have to be gentle to yourself before anything else!
    As for the comments, honestly, please do not torture yourself over that subject. Anyone who´s familiar with the blogging world knows how time consuming it is, even if you only get a couple of comments per post! I don´t think anyone is expecting you to be able to comment on everyone, to be honest I was quite surprised by the way you always commented back, as you have so many comments in your blog (because it is absolutely lovely :) )
    Please, do take care of yourself, and remember, you´re giving a lot by writting your post already! Honest. If we all come here, is because we enjoy coming into your world, and that is not conditional. Take it easy on yourself, please! The more stress you create around you, the more your cronical illnesses will show their ugly teeth. And besides, cyber world is supposed to be something that brings colour into our lives, not more problems, right!
    Lots of love and blue skies in your way!

  36. Oh...forgot this. If you want to feel more relaxed regarding all this subject, may you should change the statement that comes with your comment boxes. Instead of promising to get back at people as soon as possible, you can just assume that you may not be able to do so, but you are still very grateful for the comments. I swear everybody will understand!

  37. Hello Jessica,

    Well....here I am dragging in after the fact..hehe! :0)

    Jessica, I met a lady online a few years ago that has the IC issue...She emailed me a lot during a few months period since she realized I have the gift of listening and encouragement.

    She was so alone and fed up with this chronic issue. As with most people it really is therapeutic to talk about stuff...hearing one's voice or reading one's written words can be very healing and give you a real affirmation of where you are and what your limits are at that moment.

    You must not fret over how many bloggers that you cannot visit. I follow so many people that is would be a full time job for me to actually stop in and leave them a comment regularly...it's just not realistic...which brings me to another point...

    Blogging for me is a wonderful space for me to connect with people since I'm such a homebody. I dearly love people but really prefer staying at home most of the time....that being said, the blogging community has been a real blessing for me. I'm able to connect with people and they connect with me..that's good!

    Now...on the flip side of the coin I do believe all of us that are active bloggers are falling short on the one on one return of every single comment that is left for us...I don't have massive amounts of comments at my blog and even I do not make it to everyone's blog..it just depends on what's happening in my physical life. :0) It's just an understanding that you may not make it to a blog or they make it to you.

    I feel like bloggers in general are more interested in what they can give than on what they will receive..you know what I mean? It's really a selfless way of expressing yourself..it feeds your own spirit as well as those that visit you...so it's not entirely about the comments being left every single time.

    So...here I am just babbling on and on...my advice for you is *selfcare* first....we are NOT going to forget you! I speak for myself along with so many others that love your blog..my goodness I could stay busy with reading for weeks and weeks just looking back through your archive. I don't have to have you leave me a comment at my blog to continue visiting you. I know how important the comments are to you...because I'm the same way....but I know why you aren't commenting to me....You must take care of yourself first and everything else will take care of itself. :0)

    So there you have it...my bit of wisdom if it makes any sense at all! hehe :0)

    ((((love and hugs))))

  38. After reading this post, I think I'm glad I get very few comments :)
    If you look at the really big picture, what if the internet just disappeard tomorrow & with it , your blog & your 500+ followers . . . what would your reaction be? It's a good way to gauge what is controlling your life and to, perhaps, reassess your priorities. Have you ever thought of not allowing comments? This fan will still visit~~it's always a pleasure to read your work. You are so very talented, don't lost your joy!

  39. ohh my darling.. now i think i may be glad my blog isn't as popular as yours!
    i find it hard enough to do everything i want to on the computer every day - and i'm on here for HOURS. AND i hardly have any comments to reply to.. AND i have no medical conditions to get in the way!
    so i deeply sympathise with your plight, and i think you shouldn't feel so guilty at not being able to reply to every comment!
    take some time out for yourself my dear (:
    and i'm sorry i wasn't able to comment sooner! i've been on my own blogcation (:
    much love, Emma