Utah State Fair earlier this month with my crew.
We went on a stormy Tuesday night and the place was all but deserted.
It was perfect.
I am checking back in here after a week. A WEEK. Our days feel busy and sometimes chaotic, but there is a peace and a joy about them these fall days. I am very grateful.
A lot of you guys have told me before that I don't have to explain when I go on blog breaks or that I don't "owe" my readers anything. And while that makes sense, I always kind of feel like I do need to explain myself to you when I just don't show up for a week. Whether or not you care, I guess, is up to you, but I do feel better when I hold myself accountable so you get to come along with me on this journey of explanation. Here it is, the story of a blog!
I started writing consistently on this blog in September of 2011. I was newly married and Greg was a theater undergraduate student. He spent almost every night rehearsing and performing plays at the college, and I came home from work at 4:00 every day to a quiet apartment. That left a lot of nights with nothing but time on my hands. Most of my college friends had moved away, and I think that many would agree that the transition from college/roommates/ constantly being surrounded by people to married can be a lonely one at times- even when their spouses are around nights. With Greg gone so much, I was fiercely lonely and for the first time in years, had a lot of extra time.
And so, I started a blog. A friend had suggested it to me as a way to practice writing. I liked writing! I was good at it! So I poured my heart and soul into this blog. Always a talker, I now talked to the blog world- whoever would listen to my ramblings. And to my delight, some people were listening! And talking back! This was fun!
Soon I discovered that I could actually make a little money with this blog (and get sent some really cool stuff sent to me!) if enough people were listening to me and talking back. I really really enjoyed it. This blog fulfilled and satisfied a lot of things in me. I was high on blog adrenaline for months. I checked stats four times a day, I promoted the hell out of new blog posts, I paid close attention to my twitter followers, my insta followers, my facebook group. I made new friends through blogging. I organized "round tables" where we all got together and talked about blogs. I charged people money to post on my blog, and I paid other bloggers money to post on theirs. It was kind of wild and really fun!
At some point, my mind made the switch from blogging as a "hobby" to blogging as a "job". I treated the blog like a job. I didn't miss deadlines. I applied for lots of campaigns. If I was going to be out of town, I scheduled blog posts for each day I wasn't around. I had a blog to do list often times longer than my work to do list. Some months I made as much money from this blog as from my full time teaching gig. I took this blogging world VERY seriously.
Greg graduated from UVU and was free from the bondage of the college plays. He had less acting commitments, and the ones he had he was actually getting paid for- HALLELUJAH! Then our lives were blessed with June and a new full time job teaching theater for Greg. Suddenly there were more responsibilities and less free hours to do them in. Everything kind of came caving in for us. As a family, we were soon struggling with and fighting mental illness. We took in a foreign exchange student into our home- a girl who we really loved. But we realized we had no business being host parents. We were struggling with too much. So much had changed so quickly. We were failing at everything. Blog posts got dropped. We had to find another home for our foreign exchange student. Greg quit his job. Things were tense.
A year ago, we started an online etsy jewelry business- hoping and praying to find a way to replace Greg's full time income. It turned out to be, besides June, the biggest blessing in our lives. It has provided us with the space to heal as a family and the time we have needed to get our priorities back on track. It has allowed Greg to work in an environment and on a schedule that is much more conducive to his needs, his personality, and his long term goals. Everything kind of felt derailed there for a long time, and now it was like the train was getting back on the track. Slowly. But surely.
When all of this happened I became a lot more sensitive as to what I was putting online. Many days where the struggle was especially intense, it was easier to just not say anything. So I wouldn't blog. I stayed off social media. I was deeply involved in the story, yes, but it really wasn't mine to tell. It was mainly Greg's story, and I didn't feel right sharing many details of his narrative. I realized that I had made a lot of mistakes in the past concerning things I had posted on this blog- things I had shared about our foreign exchange student, my marriage, my students. People who were really important to me who maybe I wasn't doing a good enough job protecting.
I feel like we have now emerged from the crisis, but not unscathed. I am still hesitant to share as much about my family and personal life. I want to share, I want to be vulnerable, I want to learn and grow from the sharing of stories. I think this is really important. But I also want to protect my family, so I have to find a line that works for me.
On top of all this, a huge factor is that there really isn't the time in my life that there once was for blogging. I work every other day and I teach four 85 minute classes in a row. I have no prep period, which means that I have to do a lot of planning and grading at home. The mornings that I am home I like to take June to the park or a play place or do an activity with her. I cherish and am so grateful for this time I have alone with her. In the afternoons while she naps I work on jewelry, promote our business, order inventory, fold the laundry, make dinner, organize boxes of baby clothes. The jewelry's needs never end. The house's needs never end. At night I try to grade papers and catch up on reading and take a bath and watch The Office with Greg. A few nights a week we try to enjoy something as a family like a movie or an outing to the state fair. Blogging, admittedly, is down on my list of priorities. Whereas a few years ago I saw it as a job, I had to transition my mind back to thinking of it as a hobby. I don't want to give up blogging, and I'm not reading to leave the internet, but I do have to accept that I am not really a "blogger" anymore. I am grateful if I am still considered for campaigns, (like this one and this one that I am doing right now) and I am so so grateful for the extra income, but I have to remember that this is a hobby. If I don't get around to my job for a week, then I get fired. But if I don't get around to my hobby for a week, then I don't get around to my hobby for a week. End of story.
That doesn't mean I don't still want to write on this blog. On the contrary, I have probably had more to say to this blog in the past few months than I have had in years. I want to tell you about my trip to New York with my sisters and how fast June is learning and growing and all of the new things I'm doing in classroom this year. I want to tell you about my new method of scripture study that is really working for me and my expanding belly and why I think not finding out the gender of your baby until delivery is the best thing ever. I want to tell you about all the house projects I've been working on and the dresser I repainted and the books that I've been reading lately. There is so much to say to you! I want to tell you about my favorite fall shirt that I can't stop wearing and that I got for the best deal ever here. I want to tell you about my intense lipstick obsession. SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS!
More than anything, I am really grateful for this blog. I am grateful for what it has been to me and what it will continue to be to me in the future- albeit a bit different than what it was. I am grateful for the friends I have made through blogging, the stories we have been able to share. I am grateful for people who have read this blog and who have shown kindness, support, and love for me and my family. I never could have dreamed what this blog would do for me or the role it would have in my life. There has been a great contentment that has settled over my life the best few months. It may be the upcoming arrival of a new baby, or the beauty of fall in Utah, or how sweet my students are this year. I'm not sure, but life is kind of reforming itself for us and I AM GRATEFUL.