Nine years ago, I sat down one late summer day in 2008 and signed up for a Blogger account. I’d been “blogging” since before it was referred to as such on Live Journal long before then, but this was different. I’m not sure I knew quite how different it would turn out to be, but on that day I sat and wrote the very first blog post on a little blog I decided to name The Sweetest Occasion, a play on my mother’s maiden name, Sweet. (You can read more about that here.) Fast forward nine years later and I’ve been blogging full-time since May of 2011, less than three years after I’d started my blogging journey. When I started blogging, Twitter wasn’t even a thing. Facebook didn’t have fan pages. Instagram wasn’t even a twinkling in anyone’s eye because phone cameras were still years away from producing decent photos. The concept of Snapchat would have made us all laugh until our sides hurt. Blogging was a way of bringing people together, connecting with readers, forging friendships with people across the country or across the globe. And it was exciting. Today some of my very best friends in the entire world are friends I made through blogging back in those early days. Reading each other’s posts, leaving comments, maybe even exchanging emails and genuinely investing in these relationships was what made blogging special. No one thought we’d be doing this for a career, no one was worried about how many Pinterest shares any particular post would receive (because, you guessed it, Pinterest didn’t exist either), and it was all done for the love of the thing, not for the promise of any reward other than something deep, personal and intangible.
On this late summer day in 2017, almost everything about blogging has changed. Most of us who do this professionally now work with sponsors to create content as a way of funding our sites and supporting our families. Sponsors help us to produce content we wouldn’t otherwise be able to produce and it helps us to do things like pay for site hosting, computers, camera upgrades, food for recipe testing, craft supplies and the list goes on and on. Like many of my colleagues, I’m signed with a talent management agency who helps bring me work, negotiates my contracts and handles much of the business side of what I do. I am grateful and honored to do what I do every day, and I could not be more thrilled that my 2008 self sat down and wrote that first blog post. There’s a catch though. Back before we were all obsessed with page views and worried about growing huge social media followings and creating the content most likely to go viral on Pinterest, blogging was so much richer and more fulfilling on an emotional level. People actually read posts in their entirety and would engage in the comments. Bloggers wrote more authentically about their actual real lives and their real hearts, whereas now we’re often so caught up in trying to churn out the best of the best content that we don’t even feel like we’re living real lives. (Guilty as charged, especially in November and December of each year.) I suppose it’s just the evolution of the industry, much like any other industry sees growth and changes, but it also feels like a terrible waste of an opportunity to use these platforms to connect more deeply with other humans.
Last week, I wrote a blog post that resonated deeply with so many of you. You blew my mind with hundreds of comments and messages here, on social media and via email. I spent a good chunk of the week replying to most of you (I’m still catching up on some, but I promise I am responding to every single one), and I realized how amazing it felt to connect with you in that kind of way. I didn’t write a single other blog post all week. I just chatted with you and thought a lot about how remarkable it is that so many of us feel the same things. And, guys, you inspired me. Deeply. To my core. After years of blogging and worrying about the perfectly lit and styled photos, I remembered why I started a blog in the first place. It turns out, connecting with other humans who share in what your heart feels is so uplifting and such a great source of hope and joy. It is so much harder to feel isolated or alone when you’re surrounded by a community of amazing people who are feeling the same things you’re feeling or who can relate to you in some way. And it made me realize that I want to keep that kind of real discussion and dialogue and connection going, not just once in a blue moon when I feel like I need to unload something off my shoulders.
Throughout the rest of August I’m going to continue to post a little less. June and July were insane months personally and professionally and the fall always gets crazy in the ramp up to the holiday season. I had already decided I wanted to take a few more days here and there this month to spend a bit more time with my kid, to get lost in nature for a few days and to spend a few more afternoons floating in the water before our fleeting summer is over. But now I’m also going to take some time to figure out how I can infuse more heart and soul into my little corner of the internet again. I’m still going to share lots of what you know and love, but I’m thinking I need to do a little soul searching on the best way to connect with you on a more personal level while doing so. One thing I think separates Bob and I from a lot of other bloggers is that we actually love to entertain and do so regularly. We host a lot of really great parties. Cooking big Sunday dinners for the family or inviting neighbors to cook out with us potluck style is a common occurrence. Sometimes I don’t post as much as everyone else, because I’ve made it a commitment since having a family to actually live my life in the moment with them and to not allow myself to be so completely bogged down by numbers that I lose sight of what’s truly important in life. Don’t get me wrong, I still worry about the numbers. A lot. I compare myself to others even though I know I shouldn’t. A lot. But we also really deeply value our relationships with the humans in our life and I think we do a good job of that, so I want to try and find a way to translate that into the content I’m creating for you.
At the end of the day, this is always going to be a site about celebrations. But I think that it can go deeper than just parties and fancy little cocktails. (Although, friends, I really really love those things.) I think we can talk about celebrating life and celebrating love and finding a way to spark and cultivate real, true, deep joy in a world that seems to be filled unnecessarily with hate in 2017. I want this to be a place that inspires you, not just to try a new recipe but also to open your heart and your lives and your home to the people you love. And after years of staying super private and hiding behind the camera, I think you’ve all convinced me it’s time for a coming out party of sorts. So prepare to see more of my face, more glimpses of our home and the life we’re building between these walls. Prepare yourself for me to get a little more real about the topics that affect us all daily and to write more of these long-winded posts. None of that feels particularly comfortable to me at the moment, but it feels right. I don’t quite know what it will all look like or how it will play out in terms of content and editorial calendar logistics, but that’s what I’m going to work on figuring out over the next few weeks as I soak up a bit of summer and get honest with myself about what’s been missing from The Sweetest Occasion for a while now.
Thank you all for your endless and persistent love and support. Every time I feel like I’m talking into a vacuum around these parts you sweep in with your warmth and friendship and remind me why this whole blogging gig is easily the best job a lady could ever hope to have. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so sincerely and deeply appreciative of you and that’s why I’m hoping I can make what I do here an even more valuable part of your life. In the meantime, get outside and enjoy summer! The snow is coming all too soon for some of us and I’ve got fireflies to catch. xoxo
[Photos from Vintage Revival.]