All winter, I’d been keenly aware that the 10 year anniversary of this blog was coming up in March. I knew I wanted to write a post to commemorate it, but it felt like a daunting task. Like anything in life when you’re marking a significant milestone, the weight of self-reflection is heavy.
10 years. Where were we then? Where are we now? When I read the very first post on this blog, I think back to what a scary and confusing time that was, when the economy was tanking and Mark got laid off from a new job after finally finding the motivation to leave his long-time restaurant pastry chef position. But there’s also an optimism and excitement in that first post that I remember well. The motivation is clear – those two kids, who were practically babies back then. We were still relatively new parents and experiencing the first jolt of being overwhelmed by this immense feeling of responsibility for people other than ourselves. We had weathered through lay-offs before, but the difference was that we couldn’t be slackers and squander away the days picking up unemployment checks and playing video games. Not this time. So the 10 year anniversary of this blog also means that our business is 10 years old as well (but I’ll save my thoughts on the business for another day).
About three years in (2011), I wrote a post about a 10 year plan after an exercise that I did for a women’s business group. Essentially, it was where I wanted to be in 10 years. I reread it the other day and it’s super interesting to have some kind of documentation of the goals from your earlier self. If I’m just going by the items off that list (and I know that I technically have 3 more years to go), then I have failed spectacularly. Not because I think the goals are irrelevant now (on the contrary, I think I would be over the moon if all those things actually did come to fruition), but because I would barely be able to check off a single item off that list. But the rational side of me knows that this isn’t really a failure at all. The lack of total disappointment maybe indicates that I may have actually grown as a person. Here’s to looking at the bright side of things.
Ten years feels like a lifetime. I’m ten years older, squarely middle aged now. The kids are tweens and teens. I lost a brother and am now an only child. I lost a grandmother too; Mark, his father. Our life has changed immensely in regards to parenting and family life, but our professional lives haven’t changed much at all. While there were some detours, I’m not really at a different place from where I was when I started this blog and I’m not entirely sure that this is going to change anytime soon either. Our frugality has enabled us to be in a different financial picture from where we were 10 years ago when money was extremely tight, but we’ve always valued savings and experiences over consumerism. Ten years later, we see that payoff in big ways. If what I read about your 40s being your prime earning years is correct, then I’m already looking ahead, trying to figure out how to survive the next 10 with different and new challenges.
Blog posts have been fewer and farther between in the last few years, but that’s also a reflection of where we’re at with personal blogs these days. Sometimes I like to joke that I was a terrible blogger because I squandered away opportunities. Ever so stubborn about not putting ads on the blog, I turned down every sponsored post and ad network inquiry that came my way. Sometimes I look back and think that was pure stupidity to not capitalize on the blog’s popularity when it hit peak traffic stats, but that’s just hindsight rearing its head; I never felt right about making money off the blog (though I did toy with affiliate links for a few months). I can chuckle at the time I talked with a reality show producer from a major cable network when a reality show about bloggers was being pitched (true story…and yes, I thought it was a terrible idea), or wonder what would have happened if I pursued the book proposal after meeting with an agent and publisher (but then my brother’s unexpected death happened). I never anticipated that the blog would get as much traffic as it did back in the day; it was a vehicle to support and document the launch of our business, but it took on a life of its own. A lot of us were figuring out the right balance between authenticity and how much was too much to share as our blogs grew with more readers. There may have been times when I did overshare, but I have no regrets – not even when I was writing about the girls and not even when I was on the receiving end of criticism, negativity and in some cases, just mean and sometimes cruel comments. Some of those discussions on the blog got very heated through comments, but I almost always learned a thing about myself through how I was perceived from the outside. I knew, however, that I had to pull back when we got recognized wherever we travelled, and I second-guessed the entire existence of the blog when I was targeted by an online harasser for months. I know it sounds like an oxymoron considering how personal I’ve gotten at times here, but we’re fairly private people, so I wasn’t altogether too disappointed when blog readership went down about 5 years ago. I have about 10% of the traffic that I did back at its peak, but it feels more like a comfortable space now.
I know the majority of my readers have dropped off now, but I’m always humbled when a comment appears and it’s a name I recognize from the early days of the blog. I’ve connected with some of you on Instagram, so in many ways we’ve all just migrated to a different platform. Although blogging in general hasn’t suffered the death that was widely predicted, personal blogs do seem like a dying breed. But I will tell you this: when I was facing the darkest moments of my life, dealing with my brother’s suicide and an unimaginable lawsuit, you were the ones who provided the most comforting words. Maybe it’s easier to know what to say to strangers from afar without the burden of personal baggage or the fear of saying the right or wrong things, but at that moment in my life, having a place to come to when I felt the most alone in my real life interactions was a gift. Communities are important no matter where you find them, and I thank you for coming here, reading and supporting our family and business over the past ten years.