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Old Blog, New Tricks

I created this blog in the Summer of 2011. I’ve experienced a lot of feelings as a result. And the number one feeling I keep having is that I am not doing this quite as well as anyone/everyone else. The fog may be starting to finally lift as continue to gather my lessons and grow my soul. Let’s start this story with last year’s blog.

I Was Lost

Not feeling like I was full of grace. More like full of it, I was bumbling about on my blog. I didn’t understand any of the instructions I was being given to improve myself and my blog. Confused and unhappy, wanting to know/improve/make a difference, I wasn’t scheduling, I was behind, not inspired. Not wanting to give up but…Stuck.

Stuff was missing from my life and thus my blog and I just felt twitchy and unhappy.

And then a couple of things happened.

Fiona's cake face

Yes, having a baby at 46 will change quite a few things as well.

I had maintained a few connections  from my first Blogging Your Way e-course with Decor8′s Holly Becker. You can read my Dear Holly: A Letter of Gratitude To My Teacher post to understand the positive impact of a good teacher. One of those relationships I kept up with was Raincoast Creative Salon’s Sandra Harris. I watched her like a hawk. On her blog and by way of her friends’ support of her endeavors. I knew I had been missing some very important lessons. On blogging, community, and encouraging my creative soul.

She was boldly up to a lot of stuff and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her progress. Sandra was actively involved in a creative community, activities, events, and a lifestyle that I realized I’d been craving more than a little of too. She was off to the Alt Summit blogging conference as a newbie, scared and crazy and I was right there with her in my heart. She was talking about connections and creative endeavors and elevator speeches and I knew I wanted to be standing with her. Where she led, I followed. And she did the same for me. Turns out we mentor each other.

Two Things Came To Light

Through my friendship with Sandra, I met Jennifer Cooper when I attended an artist meetup held in my hometown of Baltimore. I then began to understand what had been missing in my blogging life. Absolutely, it had been community. Yes one person can make a difference but a bunch of people supporting each other can move mountains. Or at least convince themselves they can because they’ve got a community to rely on. Great stuff that I’d never had that before. I was raised an isolationist.

Shalagh on Shalavee.com

As I kept in touch and a watch as Jennifer and Sandra, two amazing inspiring creative women and Moms, I had an opportunity to be involved in the Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You. project. This community was created especially for us to support one another for these times when we need to climb but totally need to borrow courage and be inspired by each other.

And thanks to Holly’s second Blogging Your Way e-course I took in October, 2013, I realized that I was in need of and capable of creating an even better blog. And I wanted to go from a personal place to a more professional place. I could talk and make it pretty simultaneously. For. Real.

I had forgotten that I take nice pictures. I needed to incorporate ‘me the artist’ with ‘me the writer’ to be a ‘whole me’. And that wasn’t too far from where I was. The more I’ve practiced doing my best and letting go of the rest, the better I’ve been feeling.

I’m now scheduling my posts sometimes a week ahead of time. With a baby I can steal time here and there but it’s never a guarantee and I promised I’d keep up my continual streak of posting three times a week. The awesome side effect of interacting with other people and posting regularly is that I feel more creative. I want to write and take pictures. I want to weave these posts from the pretty thread I’ve got out at the moment. And I want to imbue them with wonder and enthusiasm and joy. And I believe I’ve started to do just that.

peek a boo Fiona from Shalavee.com

Next up, my blog intentions. A declaration of what I will be doing here and how. Accountability is so very important. State what you want and the Universe will help you get it. Some of us are just a little slower than others is all.

Versatile Blog Awards

I am proud to say, I was nominated for the Versatile Blog Award. It’s a non-award from a good online friend and I am beyond flattered. Only two years ago, I longingly looked through the window of the online community and thought I would never make such lovely friendships as I saw people creating. And then my lone cowgirl self rode into town, hung around like a pooch waiting for food and a scratch. Eventually, I became a part of the scenery.
stairs to a house no longer there from Shalavee.com
I connected with several fellow new bloggers after the first Decor8 online Blogging Your Way workshop. Women who were new and feisty like me and funny and figuring it out. Among them, Jane Barry of The Curious Love of Green . She lives in Ireland and I share with her a love of food, writing, of creativity,  mothering, and maintaining the home fires. She is wry and driven and I was so flattered when she offered out to me a crowning and bestow-ment of the of Versatile Blog Award. Thanks so much for thinking of me Jane, even if it is maybe one of those non-award awards. The reverence from you means more than words.
After linking back to my bestower, Jane’s next instructions were to then share 7 random facts about myself.
1)  My pinkie toenail is more like a glob that I file down to a flat surface to paint.
2)  I never owned a car when I lived in the city. My first car was ‘Bessie’ the the 1980 Chevy brown truck we bought at a Delaware car auction to haul debris from our new house renovation 12 years ago when I was 35 maybe.
3)  I blew renewing my driver’s license in a timely fashion and had to retake both the written and driving tests in 2012 to get it back. A most  humbling experience detailed in a three part series.
4)  The first middle and last letters of my name Shalagh are my initials, SLH.
5)  I don’t know how to type. Surely there’s a computer tutorial I should be using to learn how to considering I do a lot of writing.
6)  At my wedding, I sang a song I wrote when I was a teen about a river to my husband a cappella for his present. In front of all our guests.
7)  I refuse to shop at Wal-mart. I do not appreciate or respect the way they treat their employees and so I practice conscious consumerism.

One way sign from Shalavee.com
And Lastly, I must complete the process by then passing on the award to 13 other versatile bloggers. So here are 13 blogging gals whom I have the highest regards for.
Amanda Warton at The Eastern Bay 
Kathy Bosin at The Chesapeake Journal
Marg Hogan at Destination Here and Now  
Sandra Harris at Raincoast Creative Salon  
Suzonne Stirling of Urban Comfort 
Lauren Keim of Still + Life 
Sheri Silver of Donuts, Dresses, and Dirt
Sabrina Wolfe of Wolves In London 
Jennifer Mullin at the Fiery Redhead
Heather Serody at Big Girl Life 
Marissa Harrington of Bourbon and Goose
tulip tree in the morning on Shalavee.com
And even if the award stops here, being that it is one of those kind of non-award admirational awards, I hope these women know that I am a devoted reader and lifetime supporter and friend to each of them. I love to write and I love to be read. Did I mention Jane is just finishing her draft of her book? Think I’m busy?

Slow Blogging My Way

Feature Picture courtesy of Holly Becker and her Blogging Your Way  ecourse

New Year’s intentions don’t leap fully formed from my head like Athena from Zeus’ skull. They need to simmer a little. There’s no simmering during Christmas when the To-Do list is doubled and you have to put breathing on it to remember to do so. But on the 12th day of Christmas, I had something to say. I’ve been watching, reading, and listening to my fellow bloggers and there’s a trend I am very happy to see spreading.

back bathroom

The theme that’s spreading throughout the blogasphere isn’t too new. It’s called “slow blogging”, a concept I first fell upon in this post at You Are My Fave dot Com. Back in October. At the same time, I was taking my second blogging ecourse from Holly Becker, who in this recent post, Resolve To Be Happy, talks about a return to passion not automation. She’s been in the blogging business since blogging’s start.

So has Erin Loechner who writes the Design For Mankind blog. In this post from a year ago about slow blogging, says,”I miss the days when blogging itself was my muse. When the simple act of sharing something I stumbled upon was the joy itself and not a frenzied race to click link after link in hopes that I’ll have discovered something truly amazing.”

shelves

My gut says that when blogging gurus Holly Becker, Melanie Blodgett, and Erin Loechner say slow down and live your best life through your blog, they may be on to something. I intend to use this medium as an impetus. To create, inspire, befriend, take pictures, and complete my life. Blogging is a malleable medium. You can work diligently to create numbers, nay mass quantities of followers. Or you can feel the zen-ness of it all. I’m the latter sort of blogger.

It was when I read Britta’ post on Hudson and Hill that someone had made simple the pay-off. “It’s how I connect with myself and other people who are on the same path as me. I’ve found so much hope and inspiration and laughter from other bloggers, and this is my small way to join the conversation”.

the other shelves

I would desperately love to have more people to read what I write since I do want it to be enjoyed. And I also want to feel joy and wonder and gratitude. To let things evolve while doing my best to allow them to and not compare myself to the “producers”. I believe that if I build it, and provide quality content while always striving to improve my technical and writing skills, they will come.

So thanks to all these stellar hard-working dedicated women I have come across who are speaking out to create a climate that is about the quality, creativity, sincerity, and comfort of the posts we create. Sandra and Melanie, you are dolls. Kathy and Amy, you are my camp. Jane and Marg my faraway friends, you are also my inspirations. And all the people who jump in and out to say hey to me here and there, I see you and I hear you and you inspire me.

Bold. Brilliant. Beautiful. You.

I attempt to push a little beyond my comfort zone as often as I am inspired to do so. Challenging myself  to grow is one of my “things”.  And I think am not alone. There’s a gal who had an idea for a project. Her post on her blog this heart of mine was inspirational.

I am accepting her invitation, along with a group of other women, to be a part of the Bold Brilliant Beautiful You project.

Instead of wishing for change, I am making the choice to create the change and joining a community of people with the same purpose. By using the hashtag #boldbrilliantbeautiful on Instagram, Flicker, and Twitter to find the others involved, we intend to connect, support one another, and accept whatever we’re dishing up this year without judgment. I am already committed to a process (blogging) and I really like the idea of not having to go it alone. To post my posts as if shouting to an empty room. To stick my neck out and know perfection isn’t necessary.

For me, Bold is about risks. Setting goals and mapping them out. And then following the map to accomplishment. Bettering my skills. Reaching out to the unknown (especially when it scares me),to  other people,  and asking for their help. Big.

Brilliant is me being crafty, clever, and shining while doing my best and letting go of the pesky rest. I want to follow whims and oversee my to-do’s in a way that actually works. As well as taking that blog ‘o mine to the next level. I want to believe that my creativity is worthy of your admiration and mine.

Beautiful is letting my inner beauty come out into my environment, my art, and my consciousness. Taking care of my body and my soul. And about gratitude for the lovely little people who give me such joy.

I am posting my last selfie to Instagram and reaching out to the unknown. Declaring my intention with the picture of me and the project’s name.  And am hoping I will better know myself and a bunch of other women by the end of the year. If I am in need of permission, I have found a place to receive it ten fold. A community awaits me with support and acceptance. Thank you y’all.

My Christmas Gift To Me

PMS, a full moon, and Christmas aren’t a good combo. Even with a whole lot done, I felt incomplete and irritated at everything this past week. Not feeling the ho ho ho in the holiday tone. Here I had a beautiful baby, everything to be grateful for, and I felt resentful. What?stroller smile

I want to judge it and yet I can’t when it may be telling me something needs an adjustment.

I’ve been feeling more jazzed than ever to move ahead on my blog. Take the next step. I planned to use all the pictures I’d already taken, enjoy an afternoon or two of all out creativity and take more pictures. I’d have blog posts for days.

Then life happened to me. A ton of “do-this-befores“, baby interruptions, and regular chores. When I missed my dental cleaning appointment, I had a fit. I would not be writing all those blog posts I’d intended to. The timeliness of them had passed anyway. I still had no help with the baby. And all the “Making Big Blog Plans for 2014” posts was making me feel crappier.DSC02394 - Copy

By yesterday, 4 days until Christmas, I was saying, “I think I might need some time off.” Time to contemplate 2014, paint my fingernails, read a magazine, create time and brain space. Relax. Be. Breath.

I keep thinking of a scene in the Color Purple where Oprah’s character Sophia drives her mistress’s car to visit her children. She hasn’t seen them in a heartbreakingly long time. It could be the holiday season. Only when they get there, the woman freaks out. Sophia has to drive her away unable to spend time with her loved ones. It’s heart wrenching. And familiar. To be within reaching distance of the one thing that will make you happy and have to leave it.closet shot

I desperately need creative time. I know I went and had me a baby and that is what it is. There are ways around this attention conflict. Expectation adjustments are up to me. Meeting my needs? Up to me. Letting things go that are standing right in my way? Up to me. Do your best, let go of the rest.

My present to myself will be to list out my responsibilities as if they were expenditures and overview my task budget. I may be spreading myself too thinly. And diluting my potential for greatness I feel capable of. I suspect I may just need my own permission to be great.

(And for a little Christmas Picture Prettiness, check out my final Christmas Decor Extravaganza post from last year.)

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