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One year ago this weekend, I officially launched Sunshine Whispers. Wow, I can’t even believe it has been a year. Like many things in life that are worthwhile, if I had any inkling how much this blog would consume me and change my life, I may have reconsidered. Of course, once I published the first post I was hooked and now this little blog has become my passion project, my platform, and my mission field. So, on this, my ‘blog-iversary ,’ I wanted to share with you, my readers, a few things I learned about life from becoming a blogger. Note: Clearly, I ‘learned’ many of these things from other avenues as well. However, those lessons were definitely reinforced this past year. As with getting baptized, getting married, and becoming a Mom, you could definitely say that becoming a blogger completely changed my life… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
10 Things I Learned About Life from Becoming a Blogger
- Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle: I am not sure who coined this phrase, but it is repeated often in blogging circles as encouragement for new or small bloggers. There are bloggers who have been writing for 8 or more years! They have content on top of content. They have spent years building a readership, building an income, and building relationships. From a blogosphere perspective, I didn’t exist before August 1, 2014. So, when I see a fellow blogger’s post go viral on Facebook as I pour my heart and soul into a post that I hope will garner even 50 views, I often repeat this phrase to myself.
There are many obvious applications to life, right? The person who has more experience, more time in service, more years, should be farther down the road than you are. Don’t be discouraged by that fact, be challenged! Don’t give up, strive to attain higher and higher goals. Emulate them. Study them. Seek out mentoring relationships with them. Most of all, be patient. Your blog, or any other worthy goal in life, is attainable if you keep at it.
- Be Intentional: Have you ever thought about making lasagna (or some other special recipe) only to discover you don’t have tomato paste? I think that one secret of highly effective people is that they plan, plan, plan… and this gives the illusion of more time, more productivity, and more spontaneity. I can’t begin to count the number of times folks have asked me how I ‘do it all.’ Well, there is no secret.. and I can plainly tell you that I don’t ‘do it all’ well. However, the success I have had can be attributed to being intentional.
So, I plan. I research area events so I know when to pounce on the best deals and the most fun sounding ideas. I brainstorm craft ideas, write down everything I need for the craft, and then schedule time not only to do the craft with Sweet Pea, but also to shop for supplies, prepare, and finish it. I can tell you that even with this kind of intentional living, there are still events that get cancelled because we need a Saturday morning pajama party. There are still numerous crafts that never see the other side of the craft cabinet. But I know that if I am not intentional about the planning, nothing will ever get done.
- Proactively look for beauty and inspiration in the ordinary: If you look more than 5 minutes on social media, you will find a great article about empowerment or positive thinking. Becoming a blogger has reframed my world. Instead of living life on auto pilot, every day is a new opportunity for a potential blog post. Everything that I see, hear, read, or experience is a lesson to be learned, a moment to be celebrated, or an idea to be developed. This reframing has made me a much more grateful person. How could it not? There is so much beauty and wonder in the world. Actively looking for that inspiration has quickly become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Community is absolutely important: Anyone who has been part of a team has lived this life lesson in spades. Blogging is no different. As a blogger I am plugged into countless blogging forums where I network, build relationships, share content, and am able to crowd source countless blogging conundrums. Most of what I have learned as a blogger has been through these forums and the other bloggers on them have been a continuous source of encouragement for me. I could not have effectively built this blog without them.
- Prioritize ruthlessly: Would you like to know the quickest way to ditch bad habits and meaningless activities from your life? Start a passion project. Ask anyone who is a rabid cake decorator, crafter, runner, quilter, writer, musician, etc.. and I can all but guarantee that most of them will tell you they don’t have time for time wasters. For me personally, I all but quit watching TV (my husband and I have a standing date to watch Walking Dead, and my daughter insists I watch Minnie Mouse with her.. but that is pretty much it for me), reading or watching news, or getting caught up in mindless internet surfing. There just isn’t time.
Having a passion project isn’t just about ditching the TV though. Because this project consumes so much time, I have to plan (be intentional) about carving out plenty of quality time for my marriage, my family, friends, self care, and my relationship with God. The analogy about filling your bucket with the biggest, most important, rocks first is absolutely true. By making time only for the most important things in life, I am able to give more of my best to them.
- The value of reciprocity: In order to be successful as a blogger, you absolutely need other bloggers. You can write great content, but it is other bloggers who will share it and spread the news. The quickest way to get on the sharing train is to reciprocate and share the work of others as well. This is really a key to building any relationship though, isn’t it? No one wants to build a relationship with someone who always takes and never gives.
- Be authentic!: Don’t try to act or sound like someone else. Be yourself! You have a valuable voice to add to this world. If you try to be someone else, folks will be quickly dismiss you, and in the process we all miss out on your perspective.
- Anyone can change the world for the better: This blog may not win the Nobel Peace Prize or lead to a multi-million dollar book deal. However, every week someone new tells me that something I wrote touched their heart, or a craft I did with Sweet Pea inspired them to get messy arty with their kids as well. This blog is just a drop in the bucket of eternity, but there is a good change that someone will read something on Sunshine Whispers today that will encourage them. To this person, my little blog will have a significant impact. That fact makes my heart sing!
- Take the long view: As with many long term efforts (endurance races, starting a business, a marriage, faith), it is important to realize that the goal isn’t to do everything right now. The goal is to keep moving forward. One more post. One more share. One more picture. I would drive myself crazy if I tried to do everything at once. Honestly, there have been numerous times in the past year where I could not stay on schedule. There were times of illness, death, spotty internet access, all consuming celebration. You know what? That is just fine. The blog never went away (well, technically it did go away for 12 hours on July 3rd because I forgot to renew my domain.. oops!). I received great advice early on that if I didn’t want to burn out and quit blogging altogether, I would need to be gracious with myself. If I don’t post my planned post today… tomorrow will still be there. In the meantime, I need to do something… even if it is just one thing. Sometimes, that one thing is just enough.
- There is beauty in rest: It is not possible to blog like a machine unless a) you have a paid staff or b) you do not need to sleep. Neither one of those circumstances apply to me, so I need to take a break from time to time. It isn’t just me though– my daughter needs me to take a break. My husband needs me to take a break. Rest is replenishing. Rest gives you the space to plan, reflect, gain inspiration, recoup enthusiasm.So, are you feeling discouraged? Maybe you need to take a break. It is okay. You aren’t on break forever. Rest. Reflect. Plan. And then.. get back into the dance of life. Everyone will have missed you.. and everyone will be so glad you are back!
Are you a blogger? What have you learned about life from blogging? I would love to hear your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading this year and I hope to get to know you better in Sunshine Whispers– Year #2!