Hi guys! Today we have the wonderful Jo Tilley in the hot seat, she’s here to tell us all about her inspirational blog Dear Bee.
Hi Jo! Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you like to get up to.
I live in Newark, UK, and I am a mum of two grown-up children. I work in a secondary school as a chaplain, employed by the Church of England, and my work consists of a mixture of organising and presenting spiritual events in school, and working with individual/small groups of students in a mentoring and caring role. I am married to a teacher, and I attend Everyday Champions Church in Newark where I serve on the welcome team and worship team. I love the outdoors: gardening, walking, hiking, and even running (although I do that reluctantly and only so I can eat cake!)
What is your blog about?
My blog is a random collection of thoughts about this thing we call life, and I write each blog as a letter to my teenage self, who I call Bee. Generally I try to address each topic through a lens of positivity, to encourage good self-esteem and positive self-worth in my readers. The blog can be found here.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Great question! Sometimes an idea comes from observing people and thinking obtuse thoughts (e.g. Guitars Cover A Multitude Of Sins.) Sometimes I want to address a particular issue and try to approach it in an original way (e.g. Hairy Legs Are Never In.) Sometimes I combine my work in school with the blog (e.g. Who Is Your Running Buddy, which was also the theme of some assemblies I led at school.)
Why did you decide to start blogging?
I work with young people, and have done for many years (I was a voluntary youthworker for about 20 years before I got my current job). I have found that a regular problem, particularly for girls, is a lack of good self-esteem. In latter years, with the advent of social media, I feel this is getting worse, and many young people suffer because of the constant comparison and self-examination and the resultant feelings of inadequacy. I wanted to bring a different voice to all of this – a voice of positivity and love, to say to young people that it’s okay to accept yourself for who you are, warts and all!
You have also published a novel, Worldkeeper, what differences are there between writing a book and a blog? Which do you prefer?
I love writing a blog: I love the challenge of bringing a perspective on something in a limited number of words! I used to write songs, and that brought a similar constraint. However I really enjoyed writing Worldkeeper (find it on Amazon!), as it allowed me to explore an idea and theme in more detail. The characters kept me busy too! I have just started writing a new novel too, so I guess both disciplines have their appeal! (But blogging is really fun!)
Do you plan content weeks in advance or do you have a different approach?
I have a journal where I write down ideas for future blogs in longhand – I have a list of titles, and accompanying thoughts. However I tend to write and publish what seems most pertinent for that week; sometimes it’s already prepared in my journal, sometimes I write it from scratch that week.
Have you had any feedback from people that have read your posts that you’d like to share?
So far, as my blog is still quite new, it’s early days in reaching the audience I’m really writing for (i.e. young people). However I have had positive feedback from older female readers about the style and subject of the blogs, which indicates to me that what I’m writing about speaks as much to us who are the older generation , as to the younger ones. I guess as women we always struggle with self-image and worth – it’s a product of growing up in our society – so I shouldn’t be surprised by that! However I pray that the blog reaches those who need to hear it, because there is such a deficit of self-love in our world at the moment.
What do you enjoy most about blogging?
Being able to be creative with words and ideas, without the challenge of writing a whole novel, is amazing. I love that I’m publishing something every week, and it is being read by people. I love the immediacy of the medium: that I can comment on something topical for that week. I love that WordPress make it so easy and effective to blog: being able to write and edit, adding pictures and links, and tags – and probably so much more that I’m unaware of! I love that blogging is creating in me a writing habit, as it demands that I write and publish regularly – it’s like going to writing gym!
Why should people follow Dear Bee? What makes it unique?
People should follow Dear Bee in order to have a regular injection of positivity, love and humour, and also to be provoked to think about themselves in a different, better light. Also, people should follow Dear Bee if they know of others who struggle with self-esteem, and they want to be able to direct them to a source of the aforementioned positivity and love. So it’s also a tool, as well as some thought-provoking weekly entertainment.
Thank you so much for your time, Jo. I’m already following and love my weekly dose of Dear Bee!