This week saw the passing of a supremely talented writer and much-adored and respected member of the blog community, Sarah Pylas. She was one of The Originals, a well-established influencer when I started out over a decade ago.
Sarah's blog was called Grenglish, a beautifully honest account of life married to a Greek man, her husband Pan. Sarah's devotion to Pan and their son Zachy radiated from her work. I urge you to go and have a little read in her honour.
Sarah joked that behind every Greek man there was a woman rolling her eyes... but the love between them was tangible. Sarah died surrounded by friends and family and was brave and hilarious to the end, Pan told her online family.
And that is what the blog world is, a family. And what an amazing legacy Sarah has left behind, not just the way she touched her fellow writers who she supported and showcased selflessly, but a warm and honest piece of work, a deep insight into her mind. Sarah left us young, but boy, did she packed a lot of life into her years!
|Sarah and others from the blog world at MADs Blog Awards|
My Blog Journey
I paused for thought to reminisce about my own blog Downs Side Up, the way it started, how it evolved and the way blogging as an industry and form of writing has changed over the years and what a close-knit online community we are. We really are the privileged few and Sarah played a large part of that.
I recently had the pleasure of talking alongside Steph Curtis of Steph's Two Girls on this subject at BlogOn. The sacrifices had our families made, what had our words achieved and the friendships and lessons had we gained along the way? Because over a decade ago we were writing into unchartered territory. No-one had put their family stories out into the public sphere in quite such a way before and we inevitably made mistakes as we found our way, from oversharing to dealing with trolls.
Blog/Family Life Balance
For me, the original motivation for my blog was to buy other new parents precious time bonding with their baby, by dispelling the myths and fear that surrounded the diagnosis of Down's syndrome for me when Natty was born. I wrote what I had needed to read in those early days, but soon found the unexpected benefit that the process of blogging was cathartic and allowed me to access support as well.
My blog was organic, there was no plan, it just evolved and I wrote in a homely way about what was topical or going on in our lives at that time. But it did take over. It did eat into family time on occasion, despite always trying to strike a balance between creating change and 'putting ourselves out there.'
And now, post-divorce, I am reworking my blog in order to monetise it without losing its message or my integrity, as that is the perfect work from-home-solution in a post-pandemic world. So now, more than ever as a single Mum, I need to ring fence my time with my girls, and organise my ways of working like never before.
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- Encouraging advertisers to use a diverse range of models.
- Giving our opinions in the mainstream media.
- Campaigning for a more inclusive society, for equitable healthcare and education.
- Advising publishers on how they represent disability.
- Publishing books and resources.
- Giving TedX talks.
- Having tea with the Queen.
- Being awarded British Citizen Youth Awards for work towards a more inclusive society.
- Raising huge amounts of money for charity.
- Supporting other parents in the same boat and changing the narrative around disability.
- Advising at parliamentary level.
- Delivering training to medics and teachers.
- Writing for magazines, newspapers and other online platforms.
Quality over Quantity
I know our friend Sarah always got this blog/life balance right, dipping occasionally into her blog more as a way of chatting authentically with others and having a break from her offline job than anything else, but always writing words of great wisdom when she did.
And I thank her for being in our lives and always being so supportive of others' work. She truly was one of the few who helped give so many of us a leg up. Thank you Sarah.