Today’s post is a little different to the usual, and it’s one that’s been writing itself in my head for a while now. Grab a coffee, tea, latte or your bevvy of choice – we’re gonna be here for a little while!
I’ve talked in the past about how when I left Canada to move to the US, one of the decisions I had to make was whether or not to sell my car. Having had one since university I wasn’t sure how long I’d last, but here we are nearly 10 months later and I’ve yet to cave in. As you can imagine, not having a car means I do a lot of walking, and during that time, a lot of thinking. The thoughts are usually related to my plans for the day, my to-do’s, and deciding what my workout is going to be while en route to the gym. But sometimes the thoughts are a little more profound and lead me to write blog posts like this one.
Gretchen Rubin wrote a book called The Four Tendencies, and in it, she talks about how each of us tends towards one of four types: the Obliger, the Rebel, the Questioner and the Upholder. Our tendencies affect the way we behave, how we deal with deadlines, stress, challenges, and every-day engagement with the people around us. Just like personality types and love languages, it’s also useful to know the tendency of people around you so that you can communicate more effectively with them.
I, like many type A’s, am very much an Upholder – both to my own expectations placed on myself, and to the things I say I’ll do for others. Sometimes it’s great, and other times, it can mean sticking to a course of action or a routine for longer than perhaps I should.
Why does this matter?
Coming up this April, I’ll have been blogging for a full nine years. NINE YEARS. That’s almost a DECADE. Crazy, right?! In that time, the world of blogging and social media has changed a lot. I’ve changed a lot, and you guys have been along for a lot of the ride. Blogging isn’t my full-time profession, but because I’ve been at it for so long, it’s very much become a part of my identity.
Since 2010, this blog has provided a starting point for countless friendships, learning and skill development opportunities, and professional connections. It’s been a place for me to share my love for nutrition and wellness, and develop as a holistic wellness coach. It’s been a creative outlet to express myself through photography and writing, two things I never thought I’d do for fun. (I was good at English in school, but it was one of my least favourite subjects.)
Going back to those walks and profound thoughts, lately a big thing on my mind has been creativity. One of the places I feel I can be most creative is in the kitchen, creating recipes with fresh, healthy, colourful ingredients. You’d think that after 9 years the recipe idea well would be dry, but somehow that’s never the case. In June of 2015 I created a note on my phone to track all my recipe ideas in one spot, and just before I sat down to type this, I added 5 more to that list. It’s alive and well.
I think the kitchen will always be a place that inspires me. But (and here comes the confession I’m a little scared to make), right now, the other aspects that go into blog content production do not. For the past little while, shooting recipes, editing photos, writing, and doing all the other small-yet-time-consuming tasks that go into getting a post live (most of which you guys probably don’t even see) has felt like an obligation. Being the Upholder that I tend to be, I’ve held myself to a schedule for a really long time because it’s just “part of what I do as a blogger”. Not until recently have I actually spent time in deep thought about whether this is a part of my life that is still serving me well. Is it making me feel the way I want to feel? I talk here all the time about goal setting and living our best lives, and if I really get honest, in this season of my life, churning out more posts on autopilot isn’t making me feel like my best self.
Now don’t get me wrong – I DO still love creating content. I love writing when I feel passionate about an idea or topic, taking photos of things that are just too beautiful not to capture and share, and expressing myself through everything from infographics to Instagram posts. But right now, it all just feels a bit too forced, a bit stale, and a bit blah.
I believe that we have the responsibility to do what makes us happy. At the end of our lives, none of us are going to look back and think “Darn, I really wish I’d spent more time in the office” or “It’s a shame I didn’t scroll through my Instagram feed for a little longer”. I wouldn’t say I’m a fearful person, but if forced to pick a fear, it would be getting to the end of it all, realizing that I hadn’t pursued what brought me the most happiness and the greatest sense of fulfillment. Despite our world being so digitally connected right now, I’m realizing that at this stage as 30-year-old me, a lot of what’s lighting my soul up is surprisingly low-tech.
One of the things I suggest when coaching other women on goal setting and identifying passions is thinking back to favourite childhood activities. The ones that you would get totally engrossed in, lose track of time while doing, and feel immense satisfaction from, even if they served no productive purpose. You didn’t do them for money or recognition, or for social validation. You didn’t feel the need to document them and Instagram them for all the world to see. You just did these things because you loved them. Do any come to mind?
Recently I’ve been taking my own advice. When I was a kid, I loved crafts. I mean I adored them – not just basic colouring (although I did tons of that), but all types of crafts. Stickers, painting, scrapbooking, card making, ceramics, jewelry making – you name it, I did it. Until last Sunday, it had been a really, really long time since I’d let myself do any of those things.
Having felt rather uninspired for a few weeks, I sensed the need to pursue some sort of creative activity but wasn’t exactly sure what that should be. Then, through a short series of happy coincidences, I stumbled across hand lettering and brush lettering. In case you’re not familiar, it’s sometimes referred to as modern calligraphy, and you’ve probably seen some examples on Pinterest and Instagram if you like to read inspiring quotes. Ever since last weekend, I’ve become unexpectedly obsessed with it, and with my complete lack of experience, feel so motivated to practice and get better. All throughout last week I found myself walking – almost running – home from work as fast as my legs could carry me so that I could eat dinner, then work on some of the beginner exercises and tutorials I’ve found. (Thanks to the internet, you can teach yourself just about anything these days!)
I know this might not be the trendiest of hobbies to pursue, but at the risk of sounding like a total geek, I even went to a workshop where I was further inspired to try new techniques – and get back to some of the other paper craft things I used to enjoy so much. Not only has it been incredibly gratifying to watch myself improve at brush lettering – even just over the course of a week – but one of the biggest benefits of all this has been the relaxation aspect. Practicing has been a great reason to get away from all digital distractions, and the difference in the way I feel, both mentally and physically, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Simply getting the right side of my brain working again has inspired countless other creative projects, and yes, you bet I’ve created a new brainstorm note for these in my phone! It’s been so long since I’ve felt this excited about a hobby, and it’s a pretty wonderful place to be.
So… now to address the big question: what about the blog?
The short answer is that no, this does not mean that I’m not going to be posting any more. It just means that I’m going to be doing it less regularly than I have in the past.
To be clear, this also doesn’t mean that I’m any less interested in holistic wellness. I’m just as invested as ever in developing my knowledge and helping women through the work I do as a health coach. Outside of this, I’m incredibly fortunate that my full-time job is very much wellness- and nutrition-centric. It allows me to stay informed – perhaps even more than ever before – about what’s going on in this industry that I’m so passionate about. (Living in LA helps too – it’s pretty much a wellness playground!)
Additionally, I believe that creativity plays a massive role in our mental health. Rather than doing so much content creation here on the blog, I’m going to be trading that screen time for more face time and real in-person connection. I will still be blogging, but the difference is that it’ll be coming from a much more inspired place. Less quantity, more quality, and my hope is that the inspiration from my end will radiate through the interwebs so that you feel it, too.
On that note, I hope spilling my guts in this post might have opened your mind to the idea of identifying where you’re holding yourself to self-imposed obligations, and ones that have become a part of your identity over time. if you’ve found yourself feeling a little flat on the inspiration front, perhaps you might consider exploring something creative as well. It could be completely new (it’s never too late to start!), or maybe it’s similar to an activity you enjoyed doing in the past. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to drop a comment below, or shoot me a note here. Even though I won’t be posting as often, I’m always listening.
Have a beautiful week!