I knew a girl in college who wore long, flowing skirts and no makeup. Her hair looked how it looked with no product or styling or coercing. If she felt like dancing she danced, if she thought something was funny she laughed loud and long (I remember that laugh still: "ha, ha, HAH!" with her head thrust back), and if she wanted to touch you she would. She'd lean in close when she talked, in your space, looking you directly in the eye. Rebecca liked people, liked getting to know them, finding out what made them tick, figuring out how their minds worked, why they did what they did. She hated shoes and clothes and artifice. She liked boys and girls in equal measure, and typically they liked her, too. They couldn't help it. She was light and direct and earthy. And she was the most present and carefree person I think I've ever know.
Rebecca made me uncomfortable while she was making me interested. She just didn't hide. She'd loop her arm through mine and snug her chin on my shoulder, smelling like patchouli and sunshine. She confronted and questioned and she just was so very much her own person. You could take her or leave her and she wouldn't mind either way.
In some ways, Hope's blog Hopenminded reminds me of Rebecca. She has that same carefree directness, that same hippy-dippy, woo-woo peace and love mentality, where they just delve and ask and explore and analyze.
Hope has, by her own admission, a darker experience. There's an edge to her lightness. Her hopefulness is hard-gained and bruised. She is honest (if maybe a little defensive?) about who she is and where she's been. She really is open and hopeful, and based on the glimpses she's given of the life she's lived, it's really a wonderful thing to see. She's chosen -- and probably has to make that choice over and over -- to live simply, peacefully, and joyfully. And for someone like me, who tends to piss and moan about every little inconvenience in her my-god-I've-had-it-damned-easy life, this mentality is really rather instructive.
Now that I've admired the hell out of Hope and appreciated her for drawing out the memory of someone admirable and slightly complicated from my past, let's move on to the nuts and bolts of blogging, shall we? Good. Because Hope needs some help.
Getting the design stuff out of the way, there are three empty tabs. Hey how about taking them down until they're actually useful? You have way too much shit in the sidebars, and you don't need two of them. Get rid of the random posts and recent comments and either stick with the tag cloud OR the categories (categories, please), not both. And your blogroll? It's not really a blogroll. Take it down until it has something in it, or better yet move it to a tab. The design is fine, but consider bumping up the size of your font -- it's way too small.
Now, the writing, which is what Hope and I (and you) care most about. She faces some marked challenges in her writing, with (apparently) little training or education. It shows. But that's ok. You hear me, Hope? That's ok. You keep at it, dammit. You love it, and there's no reason you can't do this if you work hard enough.
But yes, to be honest because that's what we do here and that's what you expect and you can take it, your writing needs some work. You don't need me to tell you there are considerable spelling and grammar and construction mistakes, but I'll do it anyway: there are. You show your rookie roots with rambling, unedited, uncrafted writing. You write because you love it, because it's cathartic for you, because you have to. That impetus is fantastic and can't be taught. What you need -- and what can be taught -- is polish. You need to keep reading good writing that speaks to you, you need to sign up for a local writing group where you can learn from more experienced writers, you need to challenge yourself with writing exercises, and you need to edit the hell out of yourself.
This post here, where you're watching people and recording? That was good (and so was this). Keep observing. Keep figuring out what makes people tick. Write often and always go back and clean up your writing, find the good bits, prune the unnecessary bits, and get to the heart, the poetry, the art of your writing. Your passion is there -- now practice.
P.S. You have a category called "I'm Fingering it all out." I kind of hope that's on purpose. You finger the hell out of life.