Good morning friends and readers, how are you all today? I hope you all have been well, and that we can catch up a bit here today. After not blogging in over a month, where does one begin other than with a life update?

Things have been good around here, and as expected with a family of 5 (plus 3 animals & 2 fish), busy. Our summer has for the most part wound down now that Syd has started 5th grade and Hayden is now going to school 5 days a week as a transitional kindergartner (same thing as pre-K). Taylor begins 7th grade in 3 more weeks.

Hayden has adjusted extremely well already, telling me “school was great” after I picked him up on his first day, and has declared his “new school better than preschool.” After just 4 days of school, he’s also decided that he wants to buy lunch, which is a big deal around here considering the first two kids went their entire elementary school career without ever buying lunch once, so big was their fear of having to actually speak to the lunch lady ha! Hayden’s independence and bravado has possibly even inspired Syd to one day give the school cafeteria a try. God bless 3rd children.

So now that the boys have started school, Taylor and I have a few weeks to ourselves where we’ve just been hanging around the house, doing errands together and not much else besides just enjoying the peace and quiet a bit 🙂 Our new additions to the family have been keeping us quite busy as well.

Earlier in the summer Taylor did camp at the local animal shelter, the SPCA, and somehow we came home with 2 new pets after her time there. We adopted and brought home a new kitten named Tucker the week of her camp, and we also met a cute 1 year old chihuahua mix named Taylor while there. After much deliberation and going back and forth between small dog versus big dog (our old dog Maddie who we had for 15 years was a solid 65lb lab mix), we decided to take our chances on her. We visited with her several times and something just connected her to us. Because she was part of the camp’s youth counseling program, we couldn’t take her home right away, which worked our perfectly since we were about to leave on a week long vacation, and introducing a new kitten and pup into the home right before we were leaving for a week seemed like a bad idea. So the day after we returned from vacation, we picked up Taylor from the pound, and immediately renamed her Cali. We figured it would be quite confusing for everyone if we kept the same name 😉 

The kitten has integrated into the family seamlessly. He’s clumsy, goofy and very sweet, constantly walking around the house purring. He’s been no trouble at all and has been the epitome of easy, as most cats are. Cali is adorable, and the most cuddly and affection dog we could ask for, going just about everywhere with us. She also doesn’t bark much, as one of my biggest concerns with getting a small dog was that it would be a yipper, but we are struggling a bit with house training her. The longest stretch we’ve went without an accident is 3 days, but we’re confident she’ll get there. Just right now in fact, as I’m typing this out, she went poop in the office, while I’m sitting right here. She didn’t even try to sneak off to do it! I had just taken her out for the first time (it’s just before 6am here), and she quickly went pee. I waited for her to go poo, but she rushed back to the front door and I figured she was done. We came back inside, I poured myself a cup of coffee and we both came into the office.  A minute later, I smelled poop, and sure enough! Prayers for patience on my end please 🙂 

Beyond enjoying summer and now getting back into the groove of school, I’ve just been trying to decide what I’m going to focus on now that I’ll have all 3 kids in school full time. My Beautycounter business continues to grow and do well, thanks of course to so many of you who have purchased from me in the past 2 years, and some of you who have even joined my team! I of course will continue to pursue and try to grow my business even further, but I’ve been also mulling over how the blog will continue to fit into my life and business, as well as social media.

Now that I have more time, I definitely want to get back regular blogging, as I’ve missed it very much, just writing like I’m doing now. Remember when blogging first began and it was just a new form of story telling and/or journaling? Before ads and sponsored posts? I miss it and now that I no longer do ads on my blog, and very rarely ever do sponsored posts, there’s no longer that pressure for me to curate perfection in terms of stylized content, perfect photos and highly pinnable, pageview producing content. I want the freedom to write about my interests, without the pressure of numbers and stats to keep up. Sitting here just writing feels so tremendously good right now.

Of course though I’m wondering how and where social media will continue to fit into my life. After sharing so much on social media for the past 7+ years, many days it feels like it’s time to kick them all to the curb and be done with it. The more I read about the harmful effects of social media, the more so I want to be done. It’s a distraction and overly complicates life, we all know this, but this makeshift semi-career I’ve built is also extremely intertwined into it. I’m very tempted to sign off on all fronts and just blog here, relying solely on email subscriptions for people to read my content, as opposed to promoting new posts on 7 billion different social channels. That’s how it used to be in the old days.

I have no answers as of yet, but my gut says to sign off Facebook completely, and possibly keep just Instagram. Facebook because it’s the biggest time suck and pulls me in the most directions. Between my personal account, the 2 groups I run (Howe We Live Community and my Beautycounter team group), and the Howe We Live business page, Facebook takes up a huge chunk of time and sometimes I wonder how much I really have to show for it. I could communicate with my team via email, and those who I correspond with in my group and business page, could also just transfer over to email. I don’t know what do you all think? Are you more likely to read content from a blogger via email or on Facebook? If my goal is to simplify a bit, Facebook is ideally the place to cut back.

Instagram is the one place where I feel least like disconnecting from, but also most confused about. If you were unaware, over a year ago when FB bought IG and implemented the algorithm changes that we see now in the form of out of order posts. In order to monetize posts (charge for ads), IG eliminated the chronological order of posts as how it had always been organized, and instead implemented an algorithm that gave preference to posts which generated the most “likes” in its first few moments of posting. A whole new business was then created of buying “likes.” Buying followers was so 2015; now, to stay competitive you had to buy likes, which meant bots would go in and like your posts, even comment on other posts for you, to increase your engagement immediately after you published your post, to trick the algorithm into giving your post higher priority. Crazy right?  To this day I’m proud to say that I have stood firm on my high horse and have never purchased likes 😉

Next, with the addition of Stories and Live, posts were prioritized not just by likes, but now by how often the Instagrammer engaged with their followers and posted. So basically, the more details of your life you shared, the more time you spent on the app and your phone, the more people would see your posts. You can see where this is going. Those of us who refuse to document every moment of our mundane days, or just decide to keep some things private (ha! privacy, what is that in today’s social media fixated world?!), the more we are penalized.  I don’t sound bitter or anything, do I?

Since I don’t produce sponsored content on IG either, these new and always changing algorithms don’t affect me as much as others, but I have always wanted to write natural and organic posts that readers will connect with and that I don’t have to constantly be strategic about. Basically, the spontaneity and realness has been taken out of the app, which makes it a lot less fun and hinders IMO, organic engagement. But I don’t mean to whine, so I’ll stop. Of course these are small problems, but in the grand scheme of things, I do wonder how I can continue to engage with and build readership, as well as connect with potential clients for Beautycounter, by being less connected to that dang device.

Because that’s the thing at the end of the day, I see the power the phone has on my life, and I don’t like it one bit.

So that’s where I’m at. If any of you have some brilliant insight or advice, I’m all ears. The word intentional has been so overused by bloggers in the past, so at the risk of being just another cliche, I do want to focus on being a lot more intentional with my social media use, and therefore phone, as I continue forward. My kids are watching after all.

With that, I’ll say goodbye. As I continue to ponder what I’ll do going forward, feel free to subscribe to the blog here in any reader you wish, including bloglovin’, as well as signing up via email to my newsletter.

 

 

  • Danielle

    I was thinking about you and your blog yesterday and came here to double check that my Feedly reader didn’t miss one of your posts! Glad I haven’t missed anything.

    I have so many conflicting feelings about social media. My husband and I have both been off of Facebook for 4 years (we are in our mid-thirties and everyone we know thinks this is weird, I just couldn’t take it anymore). However I’m starting to feel the pressure to get back on Facebook with my oldest entering Kindergarten next year and Facebook seems to be the place with Groups (if that’s what they are even called. haha!) regarding communication between class parents. I used to love Instagram, but more often than not it makes me feel bad about myself, as a parent and life in general and that I’m not doing enough.

    The one constant in my life that I never tire of are Blog posts! I am a still an avid reader of blogs and will continue to be as long as they are around.

  • Megera

    Please keep instagram! I started following you back in your early Gwynethmademedoit days, and I’ve always found that that’s the form of social media that I feel most connected to you as a blogger, if that makes sense. I like the blend of advice and sharing about your life, and it’s nice to just read snippets in my instagram feed rather than always having to go through a full blog post.