Time to Reflect
This week is the fifth anniversary of the Days of Deepening Friendship blog. Initially, DDF was an experiment. I had just written the book, Days of Deepening Friendship, and we decided to market this book primarily through social media. We would begin by presenting an online retreat through Lent of 2009. The material would be based on the book, and we would produce a video every week of me (Vinita) talking about the week’s topic. I would provide fresh material every week, including a suggested spiritual exercise.
I’d never done video and was not excited about that—did not consider myself particularly beautiful or visually interesting, and was not comfortable in front of a camera of any kind. But we all agreed that video was necessary to connect a face and person to the material; we thought the personal connection would be important for some people who visited the blog.
So our IT people put together a teleprompter of sorts, and after a couple of tries, I was doing all right with reading and looking into the camera at the same time. Frankly, it was much easier to write all the material than it was to tape those weekly spots. But this gave me the opportunity to practice Ignatian indifference by not allowing my personal insecurities to get in the way of the work.
The response to this retreat was greater than we had anticipated, with more than 2,000 people subscribing, and we had lots of traffic throughout the weeks of Lent. During the years since, we have maintained a strong core of subscribers who visit the site regularly and contribute to the conversation.
We have tried a number of approaches on DDF: weekly posts according to current events, topics, the liturgical year, saints, holidays, writing exercises, and interviews with authors. We never know what will work best in terms of holding the interest of the people who visit. And, on any given day, we don’t know who will visit or what that person’s greatest needs will be. Our goal is to speak to needs and interests many of us have in common. So we will continue to try new things and sometimes old things done a bit differently. We trust grace to accompany us and the people who participate with us.
Two years ago, we decided to change the emphasis of the DDF blog, based on the responses we were getting consistently. It became clear that a majority of our visitors—at least the ones who posted comments—were female and in the second half of life. Why not shape the material to an older audience that already possessed a good measure of life experience and the wisdom that comes with it? So we changed the descriptive line in the blog’s title to “for women growing wiser.” Here’s the video that kicked off this new phase:
Every year I say to my colleagues: “If you feel that the site is not accomplishing what we need, we can discontinue it.” I enjoy writing for DDF and especially enjoy the community that has formed around it, but it is not my site, and it’s certainly not about me. I am the face and voice through which the material is provided, and my goal is to express welcome and encouragement.
What have you enjoyed most about DDF?
What would you like to see on the site that we haven’t done yet?
What would you like us to revisit?
We began this blog with a Lenten retreat, and now I’m pleased to announce this year’s Lenten retreat: Practicing Mercy. Join us starting next Monday.