A few days ago, I shared with you my word for 2017. In fact, it wasn’t one word, it was two: Focus and Intention. Focus, which is really a continuation from last year and Intention to really make sure that everything that I do has a purpose.
So what exactly is that purpose for this coming year? Well to answer that question, I probably should try to answer what is the real purpose for this blog. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever really answered that before. But let me try to give you a little bit of insight with a little history lesson!
For those of you who’ve been around since the beginning, you will likely remember that this blog was actually birthed during a dark time in my life. We had just moved to a new city, had our third baby and I was staring postpartum depression square in the face. I had never had PPD before and so this was all new. What made it more challenging was that not only did I have three kids under the age of four to look after, I had no family and very few friends living in our new community.
I needed an “out.” I needed a space where I could be creative and share my thoughts. I needed a place that wouldn’t judge me for sitting in my pyjama’s all day long, having gone a few too many days without a shower while making Kraft dinner for the fourth night in a row for my family because that was all the energy I could muster up.
And I found that space…right here on the internet. At first I didn’t share my journey with PPD because I was in the thick of it when I launched the blog. But overtime, as things started getting better, I felt more comfortable opening up about my journey.
I also needed a space where I could get creative. You see, less than a year before the blog launched, I had lost my job in the arts. This was not just a job loss, this was a pivotal life changing moment for me. After 10 years of working in that same field, I knew my time had come to an end (at least professionally). Once the shock wore off and the tears dried up, I was able to pick myself off the proverbial floor and start seeing that maybe there was something more…a “plan B” that I could journey towards.
So this outlet was a space to start sharing and hopefully, inspiring others…that even in the “midst of chaos”…in the midst of the crazy…in the midst of postpartum depression…there could still be beautiful things that we could celebrate in our everyday lives.
But along with all of these things, the blog was also birthed out of a need to make money. I’ve said it many times that I was never “into” blogs before I started blogging myself. I didn’t really understand why someone would spend so much time and resource sharing their most personal thoughts online for others to simply read. I thought that was what a journal was for.
But when I learned that blogging could be a business, everything changed. You see, I’ve always been entrepreneurial. In my adult life, I’ve started three separate businesses, two of which employed other people. I love starting something from the ground up and watching it grow. I love being my own boss, having my own rules and setting my own hours (does that make me sound too fiercely independent?!)
We had just moved to an urban setting (Greater Toronto Area), which meant a higher cost of living, we added a third child to the family which meant we also needed a second vehicle but I had lost my job so we were down to one income. This was going to be our greatest time of financial need yet our lowest amount of financial resources. I HAD to do SOMETHING to help…but what could I do from home, while watching my three kids. When my third child was born, I had seven months at home with all three kids, before the oldest would start school. There was NO way I could afford daycare for my kids, just so I could go get a job to pay for that daycare. I had to find a job I could do from home.
Amidst the Chaos was the answer to ALL of these needs.
Blogging has been an incredible journey, for so many reasons. I truly believe it helped me come out of the postpartum depression (along with various medical treatments). It brought about some incredible friends through the blogging community. And it also became a sustainable secondary income source for our family.
People ask me all the time how I make money blogging and I think I will do a post in the near future to help give you a better understanding on blogging for business. About half way through last year, my blog became like a full time job with the amount of work that was coming in. From June til Christmas, I felt like I was drowning in work and trying to keep up with all my commitments to various brands. I wrote out all the brands that I’ve had to opportunity to work with just the other day and do you know that I’ve worked with over 100 brands in less than 18 months?! (the first four – six months of the blog I didn’t work with anyone). That blows my mind! In the 30 days before Christmas, 22 of my 28+ blog posts were sponsored. That means I either got paid and/or received product in exchange for a post. Blogging is such a crazy, fun and hard industry and I will share more about all of that in the near future.
But the point to why I’m saying this is because as much fun as it has been to work with brands and get paid, looking back on the last part of 2016, I let the campaigns dictate the tone and feel of this blog. I overcommitted and took on probably a handful too many sponsored projects to the point that I often had TWO sponsored posts go live on the SAME DAY.
I don’t regret any of that…I am humbled, in fact, that I get the chance to work with so many incredible brands and agencies. But looking ahead to 2017, I know that I MUST change a few things.
You see, the career that I had before blogging was working in a church, as a pastor. Specifically, a music pastor. Since the age of 16, I knew that my heart was stirring to work in a church, to help people develop their giftings and to try and make some kind of difference in this world.
My husband and I both worked together, for 10 years, in various churches across Ontario. During that time, we also went on a number of missions trips around the world. Actually, backtrack to even before we were married, just a few weeks after my husband proposed, I moved to Harare, Zimbabwe for three months, to work with kids who had been orphaned by AIDS. It was truly life changing (maybe I’ll share that story one day here too).
Helping other people was sewn right into my DNA, from a very young age. My parents always taught us the principal of giving to others and helping those in need. And it’s something that we are actively teaching our kids now.
But one thing that happened when I launched this blog is that I wanted to be cautious of how much “Jesus” I put out on the blog. You know just as well as I do that the Internet can be a cruel place. I didn’t want people to see a word such a “church” or “God” and be scared away. In the same way that if you would meet me on the street and we became friends, you probably wouldn’t know that I went to church every single week until you got to know me better. And that’s not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed about it…quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that having been a Christian my entire life, I KNOW the stigma that comes with it. I know that the minute people sniff “religion”, they’ve already labelled you a”Jesus freak.”
I would rather someone get to know ME…see how I live my life, see how I love others…see that I’m not perfect and make mistakes just like everyone else…and THEN find out that I love God. That has been my approach most of my adult life and so when it came time to launch this blog, I decided that while I wouldn’t hide the fact that I was a Christian, I wouldn’t shove it in people’s faces either.
That being said, Christian or not, I think there is something in every single one of us that longs to do good. We live in a very hurt and broken world. We see people struggling to survive all around us. Many of us don’t even know where to start and how we could help.
Ok, you still with me? Cause I’m bringing it all home NOW.
Why have I said all of this, you might be asking? Because as I looked back over the course of this blog that I’ve been so fortunate to build, I had INCREDIBLE opportunities presented to me. And looking into 2017, I’ve decided that I need to give more and spend some time focusing on those in need.
Have you ever heard the verse “to whom much is given, much is required” – Luke 12:48…well, we are going to try our best to live that out this coming year!
Every month, I want to highlight a non-profit organization/social enterprise that I love and have supported in my personal life. This isn’t a sponsored thing…this is going to be something that is just purely out of desire to try and do something good.
You see, I’m not at a point in my life where I can just pick up and move to Africa for a few months again. There are days where I wish I could, but with a young family, that’s just not possible right now (although I am VERY excited at the idea of doing missions WITH our kids, as they get older). But just because I can’t physically GO somewhere, it doesn’t mean I can’t help in some way. Even with that said, we are going to explore LOCAL places you CAN go to and help make a difference in someone’s life.
This doesn’t mean that the sponsored posts will end, in fact, I have two lined up for later this week and three more this month. Blogging is still going to be my “job” and I plan to fully embrace the opportunities (paid or not paid) that come my way.
What it does mean, though, is that along with the sponsored posts, the room renovation posts, the “pretty” posts, there’s also going to be posts that are going to talk about how we can give back and ultimately help make a difference.
Because amidst the chaos of life, not only can beauty be found in the everyday, it can also be found in the simple things that can ultimately change someone’s life.
Love & Blessings,
PS. If you have a non-profit organization or social enterprise that is near and dear to your heart, I would love to know more about it. Please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get familiar with the organization and what they are all about!