GratiTuesday: Brick Walls


Sometimes it takes hitting a brick wall for me to finally make a change that I have been putting off. That final, immovable force which prevents continuing on a comfortable, but unsatisfactory, forward projection. The wall that tells me that I can no longer ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own.

I’ve reached that point. It’s time to change my blog theme.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the first time I had a problem with my theme was four years ago, soon after I began my blog. I didn’t like the small size of my blog’s font but I couldn’t figure out how to change it. So, I didn’t… and I remained frustrated… but I decided to live with it and move on.

I encountered the second challenge when I found myself admiring features and cool widgets on various blogs I follow. When I tried to add the same functions to my pages, I found that many of the options weren’t available to me. Unfortunately, my fear of blowing up my site by making a mistake while changing the theme was greater than my desire to spruce things up.

Then, a few months ago, the title of one of my blog posts, Oaxaca’s Street Markets, suddenly appeared – complete with a link – on my menu bar. When I went into my dashboard to fix it, there was no indication that anything was wrong. I tried to add a new menu item hoping that the unwanted item and link would disappear when I clicked on Save and Update. Nope, it was still there. I began to consider that my problem might be greater than just my lack of website experience.

I finally came face-to-face with a big brick wall – one I could not ignore no matter how hard I tried – when my blog suddenly stopped behaving itself when viewed on a tablet. It was small. It was scrunched. It was unreadable.

That wall finally prompted me to seek help. Because these last two problems spontaneously occurred without my making any changes, I had no idea how to fix them. I know that I’m not exactly a techno-wiz but, as far as I could tell, the logical fixes weren’t fixing anything.

Turns out that I have an “expired theme.” Who knew themes expired?

Within the next week or so, I hope to have a shiny new theme up and running. One that has a larger body font, a few extra features and widgets, a menu bar without a mind of its own, and posts that can be read without a magnifying glass no matter what device is being used.

As I make the transition, I will probably be tweaking things here and there, moving stuff around, and adding features that catch my fancy. If anything goes awry or something looks wonky on your side of the screen, I’d love it if you could give me a heads up. Hopefully everything will go perfectly smooth… right.

I am grateful for the brick wall that smacked me in the head and has prompted me to make a few needed changes. Hitting a brick wall is not very pleasant but, sometimes, that’s just what I need.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

61 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Brick Walls”

  1. We no like hitting brick walls 😉 . In our experience with NASCAR we saw what happens to a car when it hits one = no bueno. Learning to course correct when we first trade paint with another car or scrape a guardrail the better…reacting to the first touch results in less pain and more joy. Joy good – Pain bad. We look forward to your new blog.

  2. I struggled with this for a while. I tried a new theme in July, was disappointed and reverted to the old one. I found one that came very close to what I wanted, and I was able to make the few changes necessary. How much you can change depends on whether or not you are using a free account or are paying for “premium” or “business.” Most themes let you change the header and body fonts. The paid versions allow you to change the CSS that drives the blog’s appearance.

    I’m no expert, but I do have some experience. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me via email myBlogName at gmail

    Good luck!

    1. You are so nice to offer help! I hope that I can muddle my way through. I’m considering going premium so I can get more space for my photos and assistance when I need it (which I’m sure I will). If my theme let me change font size, I couldn’t figure out how… but, again, I’m not all that techno-savvy.

      1. The font sizes should show up under Appearance->Customize in the Admin panel. There should be an entry for Fonts, which should drop down and show options for Header and Body.

        When you change the font there, it will change in the preview pane on the right. It won’t stick unless you press ‘Save’

  3. I’m computer literate but can’t write code so I don’t mess with it any more than I have to. Too bad they can’t send an email blast on themes that are outdated so you could be ahead of the curve. Thank you for keeping font that can be read. There is one blogger I really like, but her font is tiny and she centers it all – makes it work to read it. 🙂

  4. I didn’t know themes expired either! Why there isn’t some kind of notice provided is beyond me.

    I admit I’ve been very lazy about my blog appearance. In the past couple of months, I’ve been lazy about blogging, let alone the appearance of it. I keep waiting for inspiration.

    Looking forward to seeing the renovations made here 🙂

    1. I don’t think they just go *POOF* when they expire, but some don’t support certain changes that WordPress has made over the years so they don’t work as well. It was time to make a update anyway… four years is a long time to stay in one place.

  5. Good luck with the change and thanks for being persistent. I enjoy reading your blog and admire your efforts. I sometime wish I could write a blog, but fear I wouldn’t have enough interesting things to say and KNOW I would have much difficulty with the techy parts.

    1. I’m not sure how long you’ve been following my blog but surely you have discovered that it’s not always necessary to have something interesting to say 🙂 WordPress makes it pretty simple to get up and running… and the basic level is free. Best of all, the blogging community is fantastic!

  6. Hiya from Athens, enjoying an hour’s siesta time to catch up on some posts from favourite bloggers 🙂 Have fun with the changes, and it is fun having a change!

      1. Well, I may still be a chicken to update my self-hosted site (still using 3.6 WP) and you are venturing into territory I, too, should go…I ***did*** update my About page in honor of my 3rd blogiversary last year…
        GOOD LUCK on the changes. If you’re successful, would you be interested in work for hire????

      2. Jan for some reason instead of replying to your comment on my post, it suddenly disappeared. It must have been a combination of buttons I pressed. Trying to type on my lap. Many apologies and it was such a great comment that I wanted to reply too!!!

        1. Now you have me all freaked out… I’ve been messing with my site (offline) and maybe I did something to make me disappear. I wish I could recreate the comment for you, but I made it early this am after massive caffeine fortification.

          1. Haha laughing at the caffeine fortification 🤣 Jan, it was me not anything you did. It is scary changing things and threatening all your work you have spent time writing!

  7. That sounds familiar, Janis. I have to admit, unlike my husband, who always takes action immediately when a problem arises, I postpone it until a better moment arrives. The result: I have massive mental lists of projects that keep hanging over me. In regards to WordPress, sometimes a new issue disappears when I update it, sometimes, I have to enlist the help of… my husband. 🙂 Good luck with your new theme. You will be so happy and satisfied when the change is final!

    1. My husband is the same way about taking action – thank goodness one of us is like that or nothing would get done. Unfortunately, this theme change will be all on me so both my procrastination inclination and non-tech-wiz status will be working against me.

  8. Good luck – I need to do the same, but guess what, I keep putting it off! I also need to decide about space – I’m nearly full again (lots of pictures). So far I’ve just paid for extra storage but Premium might be the way to go. I’ll think about it later ……

    1. Haha… unfortunately “later” came sooner than I wanted. I’m not sure how full my picture bucket is, but I have a feeling it’s close to spilling over the sides. The Premium level sounds like a cheap way to ensure that it won’t be a problem for a while.

  9. Oh my, themes go out of date? How do we know? I haven’t changed mine in eons and should. Maybe you have inspired me (don’t hold your breath though — I hate techie stuff).

    1. I think older ones just don’t get supported anymore. They don’t stop working… they just stop working well (I guess, because mine started to get wonky). Hopefully everything will go well and you’ll be more assured that you can do it too (if I can, anyone probably can 🙂 ). I’d miss those scrolling cat pictures, though.

      1. WP used to put the theme name on the bottom of a blog. I liked that because if I saw something I liked, I knew what it was. They don’t do that. It’s gone the way of the word counts. 😦

        1. I just discovered something that might work for you… when you see that little “Following” button down in the right-hand corner of a blog you are following, click on the three dots on the right. One of the items that pops up is the theme name. At least it does for me.

  10. If you figure everything out, let me know – I’m still so new to blogging that I freak out every time I make a change – thinking it’s going to be a disaster. Didn’t know themes expire – guess I will cross that bridge if it happens.

  11. I love looking at WordPress themes! I hope you end up enjoying the search, Janis. I’ve got a premium theme and I hired a hotshot web guy to customize the site for me. The hotshot web guy is just something I wanted to do, but even without him I’d go premium theme again. There are so many choices and a lot of the premium themes are pretty cheap. Especially compared to the headache of trying to sort through some of the crazy stuff that happens with the freebies.

    1. I’m pretty sure I’ll opt to go premium. I’d love to hire a hotshot web guy or gal but my needs are pretty simple, at least at this point. I have enjoyed looking at all the themes too. I haven’t yet found perfection, but I’m sure I will find something that will work for me.

  12. Hi, Janis – I’m excited to see what new theme you choose, and how it looks on your site. I self-host with WordPress, so I’ve been happy with the theme choice options. In January (my blogoversery) I updated to a new theme, and made a few blog changes, which I was happy with. Since everything was reversible, I actually enjoyed the process. Hoping that you enjoy the process as well. Good luck!!

    1. I remember that you went trough that process with little, if any, problems. I don’t think that self-hosting is in the cards for me, but who knows? I hope that I can have something up and running by next weekend… but don’t hold me to that 🙂 .

  13. Oh Janis, this is one area where, as techy as I can be …sorta, I bite my nails with anxiety. I finally sprung for a premium account with access to good themes. As I type this on my tablet, the font indeed is pretty small. I like to change my background colors and header to match the season, so that’s a feature I look for. Good luck and I’m sure it will be fantastic.

    1. I’m trying to decide between going with “Personal” (one level up from free) and “Premium” (two levels up). It appears that Personal will give me what I want, but I may be missing something. I think I’ve identified a new theme… now I just need to play with it a bit.

  14. Brick walls are more important than we give them credit for. I certainly need to run into a few myself. When I changed my Word Press theme, I also found out that my ‘old’ one had ‘expired.’ Hmmm, smart of Word Press, huh? But truth be told, I like my new ‘theme’ much better. Can’t wait to see what you choose!

      1. Many thanks – I’ve found it easy to use. And I enjoy changing the photo at the top every week (but of course, a blogger can keep the same photo week after week without doing a thing).

  15. I’ll be watching to see what you do. I’ve had the same theme since I started… I’m not one to re-decorate… it’s taking me a whole house move to buy new living room furniture. [Yeah, the current stuff is 30 years old and really, really dated. I guess if I wait another 20 years, it might be back in style.] I’ve been encouraged to add some more category segments to my blog… not sure if my theme has that feature.. or if it’s also in the expired camp! I’m really not tech-savvy on this either, so will be curious to how your re-decorating goes!

    1. I’m actually looking forward to “re-decorating” (I like that) my blog. I was a graphic designer in my past (pre-computer) life so futzing around with the layout, colors, and fonts is actually fun for me. It’s mostly my fear of doing something really stupid and unrecoverable that scares me.

  16. I certainly had no idea about themes becoming expired either. So they’re like milk, huh? Well, thanks for the head’s up on that one.

    I’m like you about making changes — I was fearful about making even one tiny change and having the whole thing blow up. But when I took my “hiatus” this summer, I just figured I’d also finally do a redesign since I was getting bored with the look I had. Shockingly, it was easier than I thought — really just changing to a new theme. I wish you well with yours and hope all goes well. – Marty

    1. I am certainly glad to hear that it was simple for you! It seems fairly straight-forward but I’m terrified of hitting that button that makes it all active. Question: were you able to make all the changes and get it the way you wanted BEFORE you hit the Activate button?

  17. As much as it hurts to hit those brick walls, sometimes they are exactly what we need! And I understand, because I tend to do the same thing: not change until I am forced to do so. Usually, after the change, I wonder what in the world took me so long! I’m looking forward to seeing your new blog theme!

  18. Oh this one hits close to home! There’s a bunch of stuff I need to tweak on my site, but I’m too lazy to take the time to do it. We writers/photographers don’t need or want excuses that take us away from writing and working with images. Its frustrating to spin our wheels “administering” when we want to be writing!

    I had no idea that Themes expired. Thanks for the warning. Good luck with the tweaks. See you when your ‘facelift’ has healed. 😉

    1. Haha! This is probably as close as I will ever get to a facelift! You are so right about the frustration of having to do “technical” stuff when all I want to do is write, photograph, and interact with my followers. I really need an IT department… or techie grandchildren.

  19. I hope that you overcome the tech issues, so you can continue creating great blog posts. I look forward to seeing what you have in stone for us.

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