Saturday, May 14, 2016

Guard Your Magic

Pansies at the Pier

*tap tap* Is this thing working? Oh, there you are.

Hello, there. Remember me?

It's been a very long time since I've written in the space. So long, in fact, that I'm surprised I even remembered the passwords to get in but here we are.

I read a piece this morning about Mommy Bloggers, and how they all suck-and then a lot of facebook comments (some really mean, some not), more pieces that were responses (some angry, some not) and weirdly enough, this whole thing struck such a chord with me I felt the need to come out my self imposed blogging silence because believe it or not, I've been there.

I've been that angry person who felt like the entire blogging world sucks. Some of you might even remember.

When I started blogging, I was stunned that anyone would read what I had to say. Even more startled when I was asked to speak at the first Blissdom Canada. Me? They wanted me? Why? As things rolled along and I became more and more involved in blogging, it became a blessing and curse.

A blessing because I met so many wonderful, talented, supportive people who I never would have met otherwise. Blogging taught me that I could chase other dreams, increased my self confidence, and made me part of a community. I am a writer, hear me roar! I had some great jobs with incredible online publications, worked with some international companies, got to meet incredible famous chefs and go places I never would've gone to otherwise. It was amazing.

It was also a curse because I had a hard time saying no. I became overwhelmed with the amount of things expected of me, on top of family obligations and a full time job. I had no experience whatsoever as any kind of editor, or business manager. I couldn't leave my job at the drop of a hat for a conference or event, yet I felt like I was expected to. The only way I could keep up with the content I was expected to produce was to write late into the night, after a full day at work and tending to a sick husband.  The constant flow of requests to write about things felt unyielding and the pressure to continue to preform was great. It was a pressure I put on myself, yes-but it was there. Eventually I felt like I had gotten in so deep that there was really no gracious way to just step aside. Did even I want to? Hadn't I worked for and dreamed of this? Would it be there for me waiting if I took a break?

For a while, blogging was an escape from real life that was, at the time, pretty unbearable. With a best friend and her husband both dying of cancer and a sick husband, I had no other outlets. Conferences were an escape. I am grateful that I had those opportunities and outlets, yes. There were so many wonderful opportunities that I was given by so many great people, and for a time there, I managed to hold it together.

Until I came to a crashing stop.

You see, I always put my own needs last. My needs for sleep, down time, relaxation. My needs to just be instead of always worrying about taking photos of food or writing a blog post. Reading a cookbook just for fun. Whipping up something in the kitchen because I wanted to, not because I had to. Going to a farm just to see it, not because I had to write about it.

You see, in the beginning that's what blogging was. I lived and then shared online-but somehow along the way, without me even realizing what was happening, it changed. During a time when I should have been looking after myself in the midst of taking care of sick and dying family, I even put blogging before my own needs-and that, my friends, was a massive mistake.

Eventually I hated blogging and everything about it. I hated sponsors, I snapped at people I worked with, I was unreliable and did poor work. Twitter irritated me to no end, Facebook drove me nuts. I burned bridges, said some pretty stupid things, and then walked away from most of it. I couldn't write anymore. There was a falling out with a friend, and my self confidence took such a beating I didn't think I wanted to write again. Ever.

Honestly, if anyone from my old community is even reading this, I'm surprised. I was awful.

And I'm sorry. Really, truly, deeply, sorry.

It wasn't you at all, it was me. I was a gigantic, broken, hurting, asshole. 

Sometimes I think that when we crash and burn, it's easy to point fingers. It's easy to bring up the not so great parts of blogging and say, "see, it's THAT. Don't do THAT. THAT SUCKS." The reality is, you have to find your own balance. I can't make blogging a business because I'm not that kind of person. I need to keep it a hobby for my own mental health. I'm not into the numbers game, I don't really care about stats or clicks or whatever, and I just want to write for sake of writing. Others love the whole business end. Some love doing sponsored posts-while I'd rather stick a fork in my eye. It really is all about knowing yourself and your limits, and then sticking to them despite all the pressures and noise. I was naive-I fully succumbed to the siren calls of areas in the industry that I later found out just weren't for me. At the time, I so desperately wanted them because I thought that being invited to THAT event, or writing for THAT publication meant that I had made it.

Then once I had it, I found that I really couldn't juggle it all, and felt like I had no way out.

The bottom line, is there is no right way. There's no magic ticket. The magic, to be honest, is you.

Your personality, your hard work, your words are the magic. Nobody is like you, and our combined talents and differences in the world of blogging is what makes it great.

Remember the great? The days when we all wept for a fellow blogger's loss? Cheered for their successes, like when someone landed a book deal? Those were what made the community great. It feels like now there so much noise, we're losing the magic. Many fantastic bloggers have packed it in, either from burnout or they feel that their time is over and have nothing left to say. 

My demise was my own fault. I take full responsibility for that and at the risk of sounding like an old school blogger stomping around and saying, "you young'uns, I have advice for you"..well, I actually do. Listen, don't listen, it's up to you, but here it is:

Never allow your magic to get lost under all the noise and stuff you feel you should be doing. Don't put yourself last. Life is hard enough! In the span of 6 years I lost 3 loved ones to cancer, my husband battled Hep C, my son went through hell (that's a story I can't share without his permission), we moved, we were nearly killed on our motorbike and I changed jobs TEN times. That alone would break most people, much less one trying to work full time and blog full time on the side. For awhile I even took on a part time job at Starbucks and worked THREE jobs, 55+ hrs a week.

It's crazy talk to do that. Trust me. I know. I've been the person rocking in the corner crying because I was dumb enough to take that on.I have been paying for it physically ever since last year.

I do not know this blogger who thinks Mom blogging sucks. I don't know her story. I'm sure that she's a perfectly nice person. What I do know is that there are people out there who are hurting, and if you react to everything and take everything personally, you let them steal a piece of your magic. Don't do it.

Be yourself. Live. Like, really live. Leave the phone at home and go play with your dog, eat drippy ice cream and stick your toes in the ocean. Hold babies. Watch sunsets. Hold hands with someone you love. Try coloring (that's my personal favourite). Spend time with your friends, dance, and hug your children. Write, if you want to. Do that which makes you soul sing, no matter what anyone else says.

Don't squander your magic because that, my friend, is what life really is all about.

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