Happy New Year, guys! We had our usual seafood dinner, dance parties and kiddy countdown last night, and the struggle to make it to midnight was real. Andrew woke up 20 seconds before midnight, we did a quick toast and went to bed. Low key, a little crazy, a lot of loud, and kinda how we roll most days. Today was finally less silly cold than most of Winter Break has been, so we headed outside for some tobogganing. We’ll erase the part I flipped off and got a snow job in the face, mkay? My cell phone has been on the fritz all day. A blessing if you ask me…less social media distraction, more being in the moment and zero excuse not to get a new year post up on the blog. So today I write…
I don’t know about you, but 2017 flew by at lightening speed. It’s been a while since I’ve written just for the sake of writing on here. Truth is, I’ve been sort of uninspired. December kinda knocked me off the blogging rails. So many good moments, but add in the layers of holiday hustle and all the “extra” that comes with the season & family life, there wasn’t much time to slow down and be reflective. I’ve never liked to force material.
But reflective is exactly the place I’ve been sitting in. Bear with me, guys, this post is a LONG one. (if you wanna skip all the reflection stuff, you can scroll to the bottom where I share my favourite moments and top posts of the year).
There has been so much good in this year, both personal and blog-wise – family travel, incredible partnerships that helped this blog evolve, personal growth and a whole lot of learning. But despite some amazing highlights, 2017 was not my best year ever. At times it was quite heavy and all consuming. Returning to my career in Public Service this Summer was a major transition, and truthfully one I’m still trying to find some resemblance of balance in. There were also some really tough times, some that will carry into this new year. There’s a whole back story behind this platform, our real life and not all of it makes it to the feeds. My choice not to disclose is not to be unreal, but respecting some stories aren’t mine to tell. There’s been loss, pain of seeing someone I love dearly suffer in end stage, chronic illness, and some challenges we’re working through with one of our kids, affirming for me even the fourth time around, each child is different, and there are territories in parenting we haven’t had to explore we’ll need to step into now.
Truthfully, I ended 2017 feeling confused, a bit unsteady, overwhelmed and recognizing when life adds to the plate, some things need to be taken off. 2018 will be a year of major transition. I can feel it deep in my gut. While I’d love to set goals, fill my content calendar and plan lots of things to look forward to, my heart is telling me slow down, it’s time to tend to my tired, sometimes weary soul, and prepare for some hard. There is nothing sure about life except that some cycles will be rough and some will be incredible. We can’t appreciate the joy without understanding what it means to feel pain. So, I’ve been prepping my emotional toolbox, if you will. We can’t change some things, but we can prepare ourselves for better ways of coping with them. This is the place I sit in. It’s uncomfortable and sucky some days. But the hard stuff that’s come over the last 5 years or so has turned me toward a practice where I find deeper meaning and peace in what life has presented. I’m not a religious person, but I do now experience assurance in knowing all will be well from believing in a power greater than myself and shows me everyday through signs that we are being guided and supported toward our greatest good and highest growth. I’ve always been a spiritual person, but didn’t feel the enormity of it’s power until after the birth of our fourth child – a period of burnout and overwhelm and an experience that turned me toward blogging. I followed the call and some intuitive nudges and it’s been a wildly fulfilling endeavour.
But some days I struggle to keep up with the demands of it. There’s pressure to keep numbers up, back end business correspondence and management, and the whole social media marketing piece. I get asked often how I run the blog with all my other responsibility. I wish I could say there’s a method to my madness, but really, anything blog related gets done whenever there’s mini pockets of time outside of my day job and our very full, demanding family life. Early mornings, and late nights, waiting in the check out line, and on days like today, after family time and while my little guy naps thanks to a very supportive husband.
The blog has been a humbling experience. I am a go-getter and achiever by nature. It’s hard to tread slowly when my instincts are to want to soar. But I’ve acknowledged my limitations at this stage of life. Giving it the energy I really want to would mean trade offs with things I value too highly – quality time with my family and a bit of rest. Andrew and I are still making up for 18 months straight of chronic sleep deprivation. If you’ve never experienced that level of prolonged poor sleep I can tell you your physical and mental well-being takes a bit of a sh*t-kicking. The last months of 2017 were exploring ways to get mentally, physically and spiritually strong and that will carry into this new year.
A beautiful soul Emily of Best of This Life shared a piece of wisdom when I was facing the reality of returning to work and fearing what it would mean for this blog. She shared that being a fempreneur means finding a manageable pace. Pace is exactly the thing I’ve been trying to keep in check, while managing mom of four life, a full time day job, and side gig. Some say “hustle til it hurts.” I’ve never accepted this as wise advice (neither does Oprah or Arianna Huffington, so I’m in good company 😉 ). I don’t half-ass anything, and I’m a firm believer that quality work makes a greater impact than quantity. There’s a time to hustle, and a time to know to rest and/or be fully present for family. I’ve been in this constant state of ebb and flow since I started the blog, which if you read all the info about how to “successfully” run a blog, you can call me a bit of a blogging misfit then. Honoring my will to progress in personal/blog related achievement, with knowing when I need to tend to my spirit will likely continue for some time. Hustle with heart…
So where is the blog heading for 2018? Truth is, I’m not entirely sure, nor was I at the start of 2017. Some days I feel pulled toward another direction and have several other projects I want to undertake. Some days staying on this course and really focusing makes most sense. I can say that some of the best things that happened with the blog this year didn’t come from perfectly laid plans and goals. They came from producing quality work, opening my heart to possibility and putting my personal signature on everything I put out.
I always say “you can’t be content moving forward unless you pause and appreciate the good stuff that happened on the way.”
Some of my favourite moments of 2017 were:
1) Cooking with celeb Chef Chuck Hughes and getting kitchen design tips from the lovely Jane Lockhart through our LG Canada partnership – this wasn’t just a favourite moment, it was such an honour. And I’m not going to lie – I was so nervous about it I near fainted that morning. But these experiences pull me way out of my comfort zone and lead to some of the best memories. So grateful for this one.
2) Being invited to attend WE Family as part of the WE Day initiative– living a spirit of generosity is a value we hold high in our family. This was a transformational and uplifting experience for all of us.
3) Getting out with the kids to enjoy some incredible family events – Odysseo by Cavalia, the Family festival with Soul Pepper, SONY pictures pre-screenings and more. We all hope more family adventure is in store for 2018.
4) Being recognized on Blogger’s of Canada “20 Blogs We Love” feature – was seriously blown away by this one.
5) Getting published on parenting platforms I’ve enjoyed following on my own parenting journey, such as YMC.ca and MomResource.ca Having your words recognized on a respectable medium is exhilarating, fulfilling and slightly addicting. I’m hoping to do more published pieces this year.
6) Being featured in Best of This Life’s Purposeful Living Series – I have admired Emily’s blog from afar for quite some time and this was a true honour.
5) Attending 3 well organized conferences which fueled my continuous learning urges: BConnected, Strut Events & Blog Podium
6) Turning the blog from passion project to business at the start of 2017 – just 4 months after starting. Having your creativity recognized with paying opportunities was extremely validating.
7) Closing the year with a partnership that was on my “dream” list – President’s Choice – a brand we have loved for years, and one that aligns well with our family values, especially with their latest campaign encouraging Canadians to stay connected and #EatTogether.
8) The response to my post on maternal mental health and breastfeeding pressures “A Love Note to the Mama Struggling with Breastfeeding: Your Well-Being is What’s “Best”, which led to an outpouring of Moms reaching out with sighs of relief, thanks and stories of similar struggle. This post had a snowball effect. Shortly after being published I was contacted by CBC’s The Current for an interview and my original post was later syndicated and featured on a medium I love and admire CanadianLiving.com.
Being part of the #howsmom movement was important. Seeing that this remained the blog’s top post all year long made me realized how important it is to open up more and share my struggles. I am, admittedly, not an open book. When life gets rough I go inward and have a tendency to isolate. In part because of my nature, in part because complaining is low energy, and in part because my greatest awareness and strength has come from working through difficulty without external influence. But I do know sharing some of the hard opens a human connection and relatability that I want to bring more of to the blog going forward. I’m going to be very honest – I bawled my eyes out after publishing that post. But it has proven some of my most important, rewarding material to date. Knowing my story helped others and gave them courage to speak out and feel more normal is perhaps one of the greatest blessings of blogging. Being relatable, even while being uncomfortable with being vulnerable, is incredibly powerful.
But vulnerable does not come easy. I never realized how much a journey of self-actualization and self-discovery was in store for me when I began this blog. I’ve uncovered insecurities I didn’t realize I harbored deep inside, but fight through them every day because so much good comes from leaving a cushy comfort zone (okay hold up, I’m going to admit, I still feel like a complete wanker doing video anything [insta-stories!] and posting photos of myself still feels ridiculously awkward). Also, while I’ve made great strides in letting go of my tendencies to aim for perfection, the pressure (part self-imposed, part job expectation) to be of value to partners and produce good work revealed to me I still have a lot of unravelling to do with needing things to be exceptional. Letting myself blab on without editing this post is a good start 😉
One Word Challenge
More than the income potential of the blog is the intangible, yet priceless rewards of personal development and growth. This time of year, the One Word challenge appears in the blogosphere. A time to select a guiding word for the year ahead. You’re told to brainstorm on paper, let words that come to mind flow out. Pay attention to signs. Stay open. Don’t force it. I wanted mine to be aspirational, forward thinking, pivotal. But several times over it was the same word popping up and the more I fought it, the more I realized how well suited it is for right now. It has nothing to do with proving and everything to do will allowing. My word for 2018 is TRUST.
Trust the timing of your life.
Trust that was you seek is seeking you.
Trust that good work attracts good opportunity.
Trust that the tools you need to evolve will continue to be provided.
Trust that if redirection is necessary, it will feel right and can’t be forced.
Trust that the changes to come are for your greatest good and/or growth.
Trust your intuition and continue to let your heart and values be your guide
As I sign off, because let’s face it this has been one crazy long post, I wanted to wish you all a blessed and fulfilling year from our family to yours. Your love, support and encouragement this year means the world to me/us. I’m grateful to each one of you who reads our posts, likes or comments on our material/platform, or reaches out in the quiet privacy of DMs. I wish for you everything good in 2018. Not everyday is amazing, but there’s something amazing in every day.
Before I go, our top 10 posts of 2018:
10. Stay At The Real Life Dirty Dancing Resort
9. Tips + Trends For A Stylish Kitchen Space With Jane Lockhart
8. Unlock Your Family’s Love Language
7. 8 Ways To Ring In The New Year With Kids
6. 7 Best Travel Sites for Fams of 5+
5. To The Snap-Happy Momtogs: Keep On Clickin’
3. 7 Unique Date Nights in Toronto
2. Holiday Family Photo Shoot Tips for Less Stress
1. A Love Note to The Mama Struggling With Breastfeeding: Your Well-Being Is What’s “Best”
Love & light,
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