I have been writing this post in my head for almost a year now. But now that the cursor is blinking on my screen, I’m not even sure where to start.
Well let’s start here: First of all, I’m not writing because I feel I owe anyone an explanation. I told myself long ago in this gig I would never apologize for not “showing up” in the online space. I say that because there is a lot of advice floating around out there that to be successful as an online creator you have to “show up” consistently. While it may be true that consistency is key for the health of a social media account, it’s not always so good for one’s mental health. I much prefer to “show up” for my family and friends IRL.
Pic above from the blog archives November, 2014.
I started my Blog and Instagram nine years ago this year. NINE, wow – thats a long time when I say it out loud. I had a newborn and a 2.5 year old and I was working a full time job and feeling lost, overwhelmed, and completely burnt out. But I knew my purpose in life wasn’t to be a slave to an office job and never see my babies, which was the life I was living at the time and miserable because of it. I started the blog and Instagram as a creative outlet, quit that job, and we moved from LA to Phoenix where we added one more baby to our brood. In retrospect, it was 100% the best thing for me and our family at the time, hard as it was to leave a profession I had worked so hard at and was so passionate about.
And now here I am again, facing burnout yet again and what feels like another cosmic shift. Is this what they call a midlife crisis?
More people than ever do appreciate this now, but content creation is a lot of work. Staging and taking photos, posting regularly, constantly learning new photography and videography skills, engaging with my audience, and trying to do what so-called “experts” say to keep growing and staying relevant in what started as a creative outlet. Also, I have always been a one-woman show. With the exception of hiring a photographer here and there, I write, produce, link, negotiate contracts, invoice, etc. etc. all my own work.
Over my nine years of creating content, I have watched others blow up or bow out of the space completely. I’ve seen some take “scheduled breaks” and come back – with varying degrees of success. Still others completely re-invent their brands. And to be clear, I absolute root for and support all of these women on their various paths! I have also seen ever-faster shifts in what is trending, what kind of content keeps creators relevant. It’s honestly head-spinning and exhausting to keep up with.
I have thought about bowing out completely myself many times. Those who are close to me in real life know I have been feeling this burnout for about three years now. The scheduled break concept never really resonated with me though. There was a time I posted on Instagram every. single. day. To not post for even one day would give me a level of anxiety that’s hard to describe. In retrospect, that seems ridiculous! But every time I’ve taken a step back (with no timeline, schedule, or set boundaries on exactly what my social media usage would look like) I come back to it, feeling grateful for this “job” I’ve created out of literally nothing. The flexibility for my family, being able to only take on projects that make sense for me, the flexibility. None of that is lost on me.
The universe just keeps guiding me back to creating content, so I keep doing it.
Some of you may have noticed this last year I have been posting less than ever. Some of you may not have noticed at all. I was honestly reluctant to share my reasons why, because on top of my “never apologize” rule, I have struggled since the start of having a more public online presence as to where I draw the line between my personal life and what I share publicly. But now that I feel I’m through that time, I feel more open to share. Life will always be a little chaotic when you’re a mom and have a family including three busy kids, but it seems like it is finally leveling out a bit here. Having a little distance from the chaos of last year gives me the perspective that perhaps some of you can relate to what I was going through. Or maybe I just need to get it off my chest. LOL
So let’s talk about the last year or so.
Around the holidays each year, I tend to get pretty burnt out. On top of family time and hosting holidays (which I absolutely LOVE to do), the pressure to create fun holiday content for my own brand, on top of brand work which tends to peek in the fourth quarter, it all adds up to a lot of pressure. At the end of 2021, my husband turned 40 and I threw him a big surprise birthday party. I organized a fun and fancy birthday party for my daughter that year too. I had the opportunity to work with some of my favorite brands for holiday content. And in-between it all, our whole family got COVID. This was at a time when quarantine restrictions were changing, but it basically took us out for a whole month as we each got it, one by one. I pushed through it all, but by the time January rolled around with all of that behind us, I was not exactly energized for a new year. In fact, I felt more burnt out than ever.
All of this lead to me deciding to take a step back and not pursue as many sponsored opportunities (the meat of my business) in early 2022.
In the spring, I also took some more time off for an elective surgery that I had been considering for a long time, but also had a longer recovery. I am ok now, so happy I did it, and recovered beautifully! I didn’t share the details at the time because it felt so deeply personal and was of course all very raw. But since I’m laying it all out here – I had an abdominoplasty (aka tummy tuck). I have had disastasis recti since really my second pregnancy, but after my third, my abdominal wall separation never fully repaired itself back together. I have actually shared about my struggle with this on the blog before, and to be perfectly honest, while some things would help temporarily, no amount of diet or exercise or non-invasive procedures or anything else I tried ever “fixed it” or would completely heal my abdominal wall back together. This was of course extremely frustrating because I consider myself an active person, I eat clean, and I know I have a strong, healthy body. I would often get mistaken for pregnant (especially when I was bloated) which was of course mortifying. But beyond that, this was something I wanted to do for myself.
Pic from my first day home from surgery, complete with compression garments, easy-to-digest food, the recliner I lived in, and grinning through the pain.
As much as I thought these little breaks would help re-energize me to get creative again, the universe was telling me it still wasn’t time yet.
Because then we decided to move states, again.
The move was something I thought I might write a whole other blog post about. But considering there’s probably only a choice few of you who’ve made it this far, I’ll try to keep it brief right here. 😉 Like many things in 2022, life felt too busy to not only just live through, but also to attempt to document/share at the same time. I was also suffering from some major self-doubt that anyone cared about what I had to share anymore, about what my voice even was. My babies are not babies anymore, I wasn’t having any fancy parties, or taking as many fun trips. Our personal life was shifting pretty dramatically, and as much as I wanted to take you all along for the ride, I was not only not sure if anyone cared, but I wasn’t sure I could actually manage to keep sharing at the pace I had in the past.
I’m sure through the lens of social media, the move seemed like a rash decision. In reality, it was something my husband and I had been seriously considering for at least a year, and had been in the back of our minds for much longer than that. The short story is this: both he and I were raised in Colorado, and our entire family on both sides currently live somewhere here in the state. There was a time we thought we would never move back, but after the tragic loss of our sister in law in 2021, on top of my husband transitioning to a fully remote position that same year, we felt there was very little still tying us to Arizona. Other than the warm weather, naturally.
Ah, but the house! I can’t tell you how many people said something to that effect to me when we even broached the subject of moving. We did pour our hearts and souls into that house. We did think it was our forever house. But at the end of the day it was indeed, just a house. We wish we could’ve somehow kept it and still moved to Colorado, but unfortunately, that just wasn’t in the cards for us.
And the stress of selling the Arizona house, while trying to look for a new house in a very competitive market in Colorado was just, a LOT. It was for sure a leap of faith because our Arizona house sold in less than 24 hours and we hadn’t found a new house in Colorado yet! It took a couple more months to find one, but we did. And we’re so happy with where we landed. Our new house is very different, but we are making it ours, bit by bit. In the Arizona house we did a full gut job (which was our intention from the beginning) so it was truly our style through and through. But here, we intend to live with it as-is for a bit, and hopefully make some updates down the road. So stay tuned for that!
We moved to the Roaring Fork Valley, just outside if Aspen, in the summer and stayed with my sister for two months during a bit of an in-between period. I know to some that sounds absolutely insane, but I am so so grateful to her for letting us stay with her and take us in during that time. All in all, it was actually fine! But staying in someone else’s space always has it’s own stressors, ya know?
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We did add new carpets and fresh paint to our new house during the time we were staying with her, and finally moved in to our home in late July. The kids started at a new school (lots of big emotions going on there) and we slowly settled in to the new house. I wanted to share some home projects, but I barely had the energy to complete them at this point. This is another goal of mine to share more of in 2023.
In the fall, I had the pleasure of traveling to the happiest place on earth for a collaboration with my partners at Get Away Today, went back to Phoenix for a visit with friends, went to help my other sister-in-law after her double mastectomy and breast cancer diagnosis, and as a family we went to Hawaii! So yeah, a lot going on. My sis-in-law is doing much better and also recovering nicely. I am also still dying to share with you guys more about that Hawaii trip too so again, stay tuned for that.
And then we arrived back in the holiday season again.
In the midst of the end of year holidays, I was still feeling like I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to being a full-time content creator. I found a job posting for a local outerwear company in garment design and production, which seemed serendipitous because that is the field I worked in in my former life in LA. I never thought I would have the opportunity again to work in fashion outside of New York or LA. I was pretty excited as I read the description because I knew I would be a perfect fit, hesitant though I was to go back to an office job. I created a resume for the first time in probably ten years and went through the entire interview process. In the end, I didn’t get the job but I’m choosing to see it as a blessing in disguise. Another sign from the universe that I perhaps content creation is truly where my heart belongs.
So there it is – the last year in a nutshell. Including the many (longwinded) reasons why the universe told me – it’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to take a break. It’s OK to take a long break. It’s OK to NOT know what’s next. You will still find your way. So in case you need to hear it too, and maybe you can’t quite hear the universe’s message to you just yet – it’s all gonna be OK.
For now, I am feeling a little burst of creative energy. That’s the thing about being a creative entrepreneur. The creativity comes in fits and spurts. And although I have been advised many times to “niche down” my content – my life is full of many interests and many aspects I like to share. Aren’t we all that way? So I want to continue to share what brings me joy: design love (mostly home but also some fashion), natural living (healthy eats + staying active), motherhood + family, and now that we are free to do so once again – more travel + adventure! Heck, I may even throw in one more category of my formerly indoorsy-turned-outdoorsy-self, just to really go against the grain! 😉
Thanks for sticking around this long. Both for this post and for those of you who’ve been following along for years. I’m so grateful to you all for being here, truly. I am excited to move forward with all of those things that bring me joy. I’m going to start by going back to some of travel and home projects I never got to last year, with no apologies for not sharing them in a more timely matter, no regrets for where I am today because of it.
CamilleFebruary 10, 2023 at 10:10 PM (1 month ago)
I just love you friend! I’m so glad we reconnected this year, and I’m glad you took care of yourself and are still in the content creating world!
Jolene KutyFebruary 11, 2023 at 6:52 AM (1 month ago)
Sending hugs. Missing you but glad for your new adventures and health.