One of the Internet’s most seasoned bloggers begins tenth year with new materialBy Setarreh Massihzadegan
“Hi, World,” Millie Garfield addressed readers of her first blog post, written more than nine years ago. At 77 years old, she was diving into a world created and managed largely by younger generations.
An article in The Boston Globe piqued Millie’s curiosity about blogs—online discussions or diaries created by a series of “posts.” She conveyed this to her son Steve, a video blogging expert, who asked if she wanted to give blogging a try. Seeing it as a way to connect more with Steve, Millie said yes.
“My Mom’s Blog by Thoroughly Modern Millie” launched in 2003 with her shy greeting, an admission that she was new to the scene, and a promise to “write something exciting” the next time. Initially, her short, comical, and honest musings didn’t elicit many comments from readers.
“How come you people aren’t responding to me? I’m 78 years old!” Millie says she posted in frustration.
Fame and reward
In the years since, the world has responded. Millie, who now lives at Brooksby, an Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., gained fame in the blogosphere for her status as one of the Internet’s most seasoned bloggers. She has grown her readership with her optimism, humor, and thoughtfulness.
“I write about everyday things, the movies, books, experiences with people, products,” she says, adding, “I didn’t know I was funny until I started blogging.”
She also drew attention for her “I Can’t Open It” videos, chronicling her frank struggles with difficult packaging. She was invited to speak at a conference of women bloggers, BlogHer, in 2006. The event’s keynote speakers included Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post.
A shy and quiet child growing up, Millie credits blogging with helping her continue to grow into the outgoing person she is today. She has found her voice—written and spoken—and it is strong, her laugh infectious.
“I think I’m more expressive and more confident,” she says. Blogging also caused Millie to change her routine. Before her morning newspaper and coffee, she reads her favorite blogs and comments from readers. She often receives emails from people thanking her for sharing her personal experiences, and she has met readers from as far away as France.
Time to move on
This summer, Millie blogged about her move to Brooksby from her condo of 16 years in Swampscott, Mass. She had been living between Swampscott and Florida for years after her husband died, but the trips south were becoming more work.
Millie didn’t want to make the trip to Florida, but she also didn’t want to be stuck in her Swampscott condo in the winter months.
She wrote in her blog, “Looking back at it now I realize that when you are in your 70s, you are active, your health is good, friends and family are there for you, so you think, ‘Why make the move?’ Time marches on and things change, your neighborhood changes, friends relocate or pass on, your world gets smaller. Time to move on.”
Her condo sold in two days, and Millie had just a month to downsize with help from her son and his wife. She chose a one-bedroom apartment home with a patio at Brooksby, just a short walk indoors from Brooksby’s McIntosh Clubhouse.
“Brooksby Village is better than I thought it would be,” she says. Even having done her research she says, “You can’t get the experience until you’re here. The staff is excellent; they’re just right there for you. It’s more than I expected.”
New home, new material
A shelf in Millie’s apartment houses the 300-page hardcover book of her published blog posts. Though she has written almost weekly for the past nine years, she wasn’t writing as frequently toward the end of her time traveling to Florida. Millie says she was “experiencing the same things every day, and it was hard to come up with something new.”
At Brooksby, Millie has joined the Jewish community, Yiddish group, and mah-jongg players. She has also found renewed enthusiasm for her blog.
“At this point, because I have new material, I’ll continue blogging,” she says. “It’s very good for me personally now that I’m back doing it again. It makes me feel good.”
She has her sights on some of the other activities at Brooksby but says, “There’s so much here to take advantage of, you have to be selective.”
As she celebrated her blog’s ninth anniversary, she wrote: “Life moves on, things change, we change, time moves faster, we move slower, we may eat less but still gain weight and try to smile, rain or shine!”
To read Millie’s blog, visit mymomsblog.blogspot.com.