Celebrating 10 years of JustFrances.com

It has been 10 years since JustFrances.com entered the blogosphere, so I thought it was time for a reflective post to mark the milestone. After all, the average blog never even hits the 100-day mark before being abandoned to the wilds of the World Wide Web. So, at 10 years of active blogging, JustFrances has survived the odds – and then some!

This survival is especially joyful to me because JustFrances has helped me to survive being “Just Frances” after my life as half of “Paul and Frances” ended so suddenly nearly 11 years ago when I was widowed at the age of 35. Indeed, it was that widowhood that prompted me to start this blog.

Before JustFrances, I maintained a website with my husband called RyanCentric.com. It was less “blog” and more website, with occasional “news updates” about our travels and adventures. We had thought that it would one day become a place where we would also share stories about the adventures of parenting and family life, as we were weeks away from adopting when Paul died. My dreams for that future died along with him.

After Paul died, I tried to keep up with RyanCentric by sharing a couple of updates about my adventures. But it was hard. The adventures were less enjoyable without Paul, and sharing them on our website just felt wrong. It was no longer a happy place; it was a place that reminded me that I wasn’t a wife and partner anymore. I was just Frances. Just… Frances.

When I started this blog, it was an outlet for the silence in my life. It was a place where I could share random musings and thoughts with the world, even if the world wasn’t reading. Over time, I became brave enough to also share my grief on my blog. Yes, JustFrances morphed into an outlet for my emotions and the struggles of widowhood.

Soon, JustFrances morphed into even more than that. It became a place where I shared everything. Well, not everything, but a lot of stuff – from my travels and adventures to my medical conditions and acute injuries and from my struggles with the grief of widowhood to my ongoing self-improvement goals.

In some ways, JustFrances started as a way to save me from myself. From my isolation, from my sadness, from my grief. And it worked. Although I still feel quite isolated and sad at times, and although my grief still lives with me, blogging has helped me to cope with these things. JustFrances has helped me to become a stronger Frances; a more confident Frances; a braver Frances.

What people may not know is that JustFrances has helped to force me to live an active life. Because I am dedicated to keeping this blog going, I know that I need to have content to populate the pages. And sometimes, that means that I have to plan adventures – just so that I have something to blog about. Yes, the desire to blog for my own personal fulfilment means that I have, at times, forced myself out of my home and out of my comfort zone to experience new things or to have adventures.

JustFrances has also helped me to push myself towards my goals. Because once I’ve said I am doing something publicly, the drive and commitment to doing that thing is much stronger than if I merely told myself of my plans. Blogging has helped me to be more accountable to myself, which has helped me to be more motivated in my personal life.

Thanks to JustFrances, I have become more comfortable with being Just Frances. Yes, I miss being half of Paul and Frances, and I miss the RyanCentric life that we shared. But I have learned to embrace this life; I have learned to embrace being Just Frances.

I don’t know what the next 10 years of JustFrances will bring any more than I know what the next 10 years of being Just Frances will bring. But I am looking forward to both things.

And thank you, Dear Reader, for your support and encouragement over the past decade! Here’s to another decade to come.

Fun stats:
Number of blog posts: 1,374 (including this one)
Number of photo galleries: 139
Number of subscribers: 82
Average number of daily page views in Year 1: 43
Average number of page views in Year 10: 168
Average number of daily page views since 2010: 77
Most page views in a day: 491
Most unique visitors (by IP address) in a day: 392

[Screen shot image courtesy of Wayback Machine from 26 September 2010.]

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