A Warm Place for the Heart

The article below was previously published at http://www.philippinestoday.net/archives/302 and it also appeared in my post Shameless Plugging:

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A Warm Place for the Heart

April 22, 2007 –

There are blogs that tug at the heart, blogs that tickle your funnybones, even blogs that inspire your soul to reach for higher heights. And then there are blogs that seem to be permeated with such heartwarming stories and thoughts, invariably uplifting and cheering those who are sad and in need of a friend. If there is such as a thing as a “hearth” in the Filipino blogosphere, then Niceheart’s Journey to Honeyville would doubtlessly be endowed with this title. For such is how her blog could be described – a place that truly warms the heart. Niceheart writes with such compassion and heartfelt passion, which is the power that draws people from all around the globe to her site. Niceheart delivers warmth to her online readers, ironically from chilly Winnipeg, one of the coldest regions in Canada.

Niceheart is a very busy working mom who works as a group benefits examiner for one of the leading insurance companies in Canada. She has been enjoying working at home for the last six years now, which gives her more time to spend with her three boys. Her oldest son is 17 and will be starting university this Fall. He is pursuing a career in Jazz Music. Her middle guy is 12 going on 13, and is passionate about basketball. And her youngest is nine, so sweet and adores his two older brothers.

She has been living in Winnipeg since 1989. Her mother and only sister and her family are also in Winnipeg. Together with the other Filipinos in the area, they form a rather large Filipino community there. According to Niceheart, this is “what makes it bearable to live in this city that has long and very cold winters – the closeness of my family and the warmth of my friendships with fellow kababayans.

In this exclusive interview for Philippines Today Online, Niceheart offers us a glimpse into the person behind Journey to Honeyville’s success.

When and why did you start blogging?

In 2004, I chanced upon Joey Alarilla’s “Blog Addict of the Week” at Inq7.net. Before that, I’ve never heard of the word blog. I would visit the blogs featured by Joey and then I realized that this is what I wanted. I already have a personal website where I post family pictures and articles about our life here in Winnipeg. I found out that it’s a lot easier to publish entries in Blogger.com (my host before I migrated to WordPress.com) where my most recent entry appears on top of the older ones. At Homestead.com, I have to create pages and links to make that happen.

So I signed up on Blogger.com during the Christmas holidays in 2004. But you’ll notice that I have entries from August of that year. That’s because I started journaling regularly in August with the intention of posting them at “Catherine’s Corner,” my personal website. When I found out about Blogger, I pre-dated my entries and published them there. If you’ll also notice, nobody visited my blog then because it took me a long time to muster the courage to comment on other people’s blogs and it was only after leaving comments on their blogs did I also get a visit and comments from them.

Why did you choose the title “Journey to Honeyville” for your blog?

I was born Catherine Villamiel. My online name, niceheart, is actually an anagram of Catherine. One of my fondest memories as a child was playing scrabble with my family. It was during one of our scrabble games when my father explained what our last name means in Spanish. Villa is village or town and miel is honey. Thus, Villamiel is town of honey. So that’s how I came up with Honeyville.

I don’t use the name Villamiel anymore. I am not just a daughter, but also a wife and a mother. But what I found out is that as I go through life’s journey, and as I raise my children and watch them grow, I am always reminded of what I was like when I was at their age. And these are the kind of things that I like to write about in my journal. My childhood experiences, how they affect me not only in raising my children, but also in the way I go about in this journey that we call life.

What benefits do you derive from blogging?

I have been working at home for about six years now and I don’t get the chance to interact with people that often. But through blogging, I have met many bloggers from all over the world right here at the comforts of my own home. It’s been great bouncing back ideas with people who have the same interests as I do. I’ve enjoyed exchanging ideas, as well, with anybody who didn’t agree with me. It’s also nice to share experiences with other parents, especially mothers who understand the joys and pains of raising children.

Also, writing about my past, my very painful childhood, has been sort of healing for me. I have never really talked about it with anybody. But sharing my feelings to the world, well, at least to my blogging circle, and hearing not only from those who had the same painful experiences but also sharing to those who are willing to “listen” is very therapeutic. I have never been to counseling but I think that that’s the kind of thing one gets from such sessions.

Do you find anything disadvantageous about blogging?

Yes, blogging can be really addictive. I’m always thinking of something to blog about. It can also take up so much time to visit all the people in my blogroll. Another thing that I found out in blogging, is that if they visit my blog, it’s just common courtesy to visit theirs too and leave a comment so that they know I was there. If I don’t pay them a visit, they won’t visit me, too. It can be time consuming and I usually end up staying up late at night.

What were the highlights of your blogging activities in the past year?

It was in May last year when I received a sudden increase of visitors in my blog and I have been busy not just posting but also blog-hopping since then. And then again in November there was a sudden increase once more and by that time, the number of visitors have doubled. Although the numbers are not that much compared to other blogs, I was overwhelmed and I actually felt that I was popular. Imagine, there are bloggers visiting my blog from different parts of the world!

Do you have any specific plans or goals for your blog? If so would you like to share them with our readers?

I don’t really have any specific plans for my blog. I just want to continue writing about my daily life, as boring as it may sound to others, and to share about my experiences and views on different topics.

What is the most passionate subject that you have blogged about?

I have a few posts about my father’s alcoholism – how he was physically abusive to my mother when he was drunk, how it destroyed our family, the anger and pain that it brought and later on the forgiveness and healing that we all went through. People have different reactions when I write about my painful past. Why relive it, some would ask. But for me, it’s part of the healing process. Yes, I am still going though it. I think it’s a life-long process. Also, I want to share my story to people, so that they may learn from my experience as well.

A few years ago, my mother’s goddaughter went through a hard time when her parents split up. Her mother later on re-married and she felt neglected, alone. She went through a stage of depression and even attempted to end her life. I understood what she was going through. My parents also split up when I was a teen-ager and I was torn because I loved them both equally, yet I had to live with only one of them. I also felt alone when people didn’t understand me why I still loved my father dearly in spite of his actions. And I know that there are a lot of kids out there whose parents are splitting up and experiencing the same feelings and emotions. I just want them to know that it’s not the end of the world. That things will get better. That eventually they will get past that stage and there is hope for a happy life.

How long do you think you will keep on blogging?

I don’t know. There are times when want to cut back on blogging because of the many things that I have been neglecting to do. And there are also times when I keep writing posts after posts. I still have many things to share, so it will probably be still a long while.

Do you have any words of advice to aspiring bloggers?

Just simply, write from the heart.

Visit her blog at Journey to Honeyville.
Link to Catherine’s Corner.

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