where and what on earth??? (a much needed update!)

Can you believe it??? A new blog post!!!

I’m still alive, really I am!!! (If you follow me on YouTube or social media, you might already be aware of this!) But, this blog? Oh my word. Have I ever been the most neglectful writer of life…
And my only excuse is…

FOUR KIDS & FOSTER CARE!!!
(I always wondered why more people didn’t do foster care…and then I became a foster parent. But that’s another blog post & another discussion for another time!!!)

Although I happen to know a lot of super moms with more than 4 kids, foster care, adoption and even more going on that are still able to juggle it all, the truth is, I don’t think I will ever be THAT cool. These last 8 months have been an emotional whirlwind, and while I don’t wish away the experience whatsoever, I do have to admit that now that it’s behind us, I see and appreciate the past and the present that much more.

Hindsight really is 20/20 isn’t it?

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But you guys, I can’t wait to share with you all that God did and all that God is doing, and the good news is, I will actually begin sharing it HERE once again! Now that life is calmer and more settled and my brain feels less mushy and cobwebby (new word), I am actually incredibly excited to begin writing again as well as continuing to make my videos over on my YouTube channel. I even have a really fun & exciting little project I’m working on just for you guys that I hope to have ready to go the beginning of January!

I think after all these many many years of ups and downs with my writing and my blog and trying to find my voice and a balance, I’m getting closer and closer to understanding what it is God has put on my heart to do. Maybe it’s the circumstances that have happened over these last few years, maybe it’s age and getting older, or maybe…it’s more likely the combination of both.

Either way, I’m back, and I am so excited to connect with you guys here once again!

xoxo

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creating distance from your art

white blank picture in the room

Okay, so if you followed my 31(ish) days of Blending Beauty with Grace, then you probably realized that continuous blog posts OBVIOUSLY didn’t happen.
Let’s just put that out on the table.

Instead, what I came to accept is that instead of  accomplishing 31 posts, I simply needed that challenge to realize that my intention behind what I blog needs to consistently match my hearts desire of blending beauty with balance.

I had hoped that by writing with consistency, I would be better able to help others, and instead what I found was that the challenge was perhaps meant more for me. (although, I hope maybe some were helped as well along the way!)

I’ve been blogging a long time…
And over time, not only has the blogging world evolved by leaps and bounds, but so it seems, have I.

Blogging is not in any way the same as it was when I started, and as I look back to the beginnings of this blog, I realize I am so far from where I was back then as well.

And while I understand that time changes all things, one thing that has most certainly remained the same is my heart and my intention when it comes to my writing.

Okay, so yes, it still most definitely serves as a form of therapy that has always been a source of helping me to sort things out…but the truth is, I can easily do that just fine in the pages of my journals, where it’s safe and unjudged.

But instead, I choose to do it here (when life allows), because living out loud brings such an incredible amount of hope and comfort and a feeling that we most certainly aren’t alone in all of this.

Writing publicly brings all of that to me…and I pray with every word and every post I share, it also brings some of that to you.

I want to write and share, no matter what the topic, with intention.
With focus.
And with a heart to serve and a heart to worship and nothing else…

This blog, these words, this place…this is my heart.
This is my passion.
This is my art.

But sometimes it takes creating a bit of distance to allow yourself, for just a moment or more, a chance to stand back from your art to fully be able to see what it is you’re even doing…and where it is you even want to go.

And I know that this is that time for me.
It usually is, actually, around the holidays…where I find that I truly need to reflect on where I’ve been and prayerfully consider where it is the Lord would have me to go.

And so, tis’ the season once more to take a moment or more and pray.
To refocus.
To get right.
To get refreshed.

And as always, after the first of the year, I’ll be back…with a renewed heart and mind, ready to write with intention and focus…blending beauty with grace, just as I know God has asked me to do.

I pray, and I mean that…I have, and do and will truly actually continue to pray that all of you are able to spend this season loving others, and more importantly, loving and worshipping Him.

xo

{I will still be doing my thing over on my YouTube channel, so I’d love to see you there!}

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saldana fam cam: shespeaks conference 2014 & more

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Last weekend I had the incredible opportunity to attend the SheSpeaks conference 2014 and meet up with a few of my most beloved friends, Ruth, Mandy and Karen.

We all first got to know each other way back in the day when we wrote for our other friend, Candace Cameron Bure‘s website, RooMag (which is gone now. sadness!). But actually getting to spend one on one time with them that many days in a row was absolutely refreshing to my soul. They’re the kind of girls that are just…comfort, if you know what I mean. Just truly genuine, comfortable and easy going.

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And while I had every intention of vlogging throughout the entire conference, once I got there I was so completely immersed in soaking up all the wisdom being shared, that vlogging was the last thing on my mind. Thankfully I was, however, able to capture parts of incredibly beautiful worship, along with a little bit of when Karen Ehman & Renee Swope shared…both of whom I absolutely adore. {Look them up, you will too.}

If you’re a writer or a speaker or you have dreams to ever be one day, let me just tell you, this conference is for you and absolutely worth every single penny.

It’s just amazing what spending time with creative and like minded friends will do for you.
We should all be doing more of that, conferences or not.

Also included in this weeks vlog…
~ Taylor’s tips for me on how to write a book (who needs a conference after this wisdom?)
~ Makeup I’m wearing
~ Young Living, Butter London & Cover FX unboxings
~ Jimmys Facebook dilemma
~ My tips on how to pack jewelry so it doesn’t tangle
~ One of my most delicious Vitacost food finds
~ and you definitely can’t miss Taylor’s magic tricks….

xo

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learning how to write again

I’ve been at this blog thing for quite a long time. What started as way to write, years later has turned into something far greater than I ever expected. And I don’t mean that in terms of page views, readers, or even SEO. You see, I simply wanted to write. I’ve always felt and said that in order to breathe, to think, to be…I just needed to write. Writing was my exhale.

businesswoman with a note-book

And for years I’d found comfort in the pages of my journals, processing through my parents divorce, rape, death, broken friendships, broken dreams, heartbreaking decisions and painful relationships…as well as celebrating the joys, the lessons, the wisdom and the strength that stood out through it all. Allowing my pen to spill the stories, the feelings, and the memories, gave words to so much that I found I was never able to speak out loud.

Inside it was just a hurricane of emotions, but on paper, it would suddenly make sense. And only once that it was written, was I able to find the courage and the words to speak.

Starting my blog… It was because I deeply longed to write and have it be…less lonely, I suppose. I never had expectations of how many readers, or comments, or page views, or even had any comprehension of SEO or Google Page Ranking. I simply wanted to share publicly the echos of my journals in hopes that maybe there were others who connected and needed to feel less alone in it as well.

*******

And as things happen over time, things changed.
Blogs changed.
Blogging changed.
And I changed.

I looked around and quickly noticed I wasn’t enough.
I compared…too much, and then suddenly I found myself joining the race and dancing the dance. I tried to put on the costume and act the part, doing all that I felt I was supposed to. I attempted to look like everyone else, all the while longing for the simplicity of what it had all begun as for me.

Still though, I shared my life, joys and struggles…but as I’d close the laptop each time, I noticed that I was feeling even lonelier than before the blog had ever begun. Writing was no longer what it once had been to me…and it no longer soothed me the way I had always known and needed.

I was trying to play by the rules and keep up, and it simply wasn’t working for me. Here I was totally exposed yet incredibly alone, and I found myself beginning to resent writing for causing such a struggle.

It was when an opportunity to submit a book proposal to an agent who had hope for me and my ideas, a lifelong dream of mine, seemed to stop me in my tracks. My excitement was quickly replaced with feeling paralyzed by the task of having to include my reach, my numbers and ultimately what felt so much like my “worth.”

I compared, I fell short, and in that, I lost my ability to write.

Ironically, it took until this last writing sabbatical, weeks of not writing…for me to find the truth in all this. To find the reason behind my resistance. It’s as though God stepped in and put a firm halt to the dog and pony show and said, “Stop this. This isn’t who I created you to be. This isn’t what I’ve asked you to do. You are not them. You are you, the you I created with my own hands just I needed you to be, and just because it maybe doesn’t look like what the rest of them are doing, doesn’t make what I have for you wrong. It doesn’t make you not enough. You are enough. My plan is enough. Trust me.”

“They” say to know my page views, and not only know it, but strive for more. I should create titles and topics and keywords that have something to do with SEO, and then promote and get others to promote so that page rank or something like that gets me further up the blogging chain. Clickable links, pinnable pictures, weekly memes, link ups, not too much of this, but just enough of that…

I’m not trying in any way to say all of that is wrong. It works for SO many. It helps to get your message out. And that can be amazing, especially when ultimately the message is about Him. (the Lord)

But I now understand and fully embrace that it is not all about that for me.
Before anything, I simply come to write.

And so from this moment on, whether it makes sense or not, or follows successful blogging protocol or not…simply writing is what I must get back to doing.

All the rest I joyfully place in God’s ever so capable hands, right where it belonged from the beginning. I’m learning how to write again…

I’m learning to write again…

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sabbatical. it’s kind of a thing.

sabbatical

noun

: a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.

:  a break or change from a normal routine 

It’s kind of a thing, taking a sabbatical, if you haven’t noticed….especially around these here blogging parts. In fact, towards the end of last year, I jumped on the bandwagon and had my own little break for a limited amount of time. And it was quite lovely.

God knew what was up when after 6 days of creating the Universe and all of life, He called a time out.

“…and on the 7th day, He rested.”

I’m certainly not God (um, did I even need to write that statement?!?), and I’m certainly not creating the Universe, but there has been a whole lot of busy in my life lately and I’m finding it difficult to do it all well AND be present with the ones who matter most.

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I love blogging. I love writing. And I love each and every one of you that takes the time to read, comment, email and sweetly support me in my little online hobby.

But, if I don’t take a minute to rest and get things back into balance, there will be nothing left of a blog or an online hobby to connect through.

So for the next week, maybe two, will you be praying for me as I breathe and pray and find balance and intention in all that I’ve given my heart to?  Because what good is a rest, if it’s not in His presence?

…and if you really miss me, there is always email, my YouTube, Instagram (my go to social media choice!), and of course, the Mommalogues!

Love you all dearly…see you in a bit!

xo

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let’s talk about blogging

Goodness. Taking that week off from writing in London has really messed with my flow of blogging! I was doing so well with keeping to my schedule, and then just ONE WEEK was all it took to throw me off completely. I’m figuring out that sometimes, writing can be a bit like working out. It’s so easy to get out of the habit if you aren’t doing it consistently.

Anyway…I feel like I have a lot of little updates to share, so I’ll try to catch you all up this week on where I’ve been and what’s happening in my life and heart.

Today, let’s talk about BLOGGING

If any of you have been following for more than a year, you probably know that every few months I cycle through this whole, “What is this all for? Should I still be doing this? Is this even making a difference in the world? Maybe I’m not that good of a writer because I’m not as successful~witty~pretty (insert comparative adjective here) as so and so?” type of funk.

I have to admit, after my unintentional week-ish off, I found myself heading down that road rather quickly. And I think that’s perhaps why things have been more quiet around here. It’s so hard to write when the inspiration doesn’t seem to be there.

Thankfully, I have been blessed with incredibly encouraging and inspiring friends. In sharing my heart, they openly shared theirs, and instantly I was reminded of all the reasons behind why I feel such a desire to share my life through my writing and videos.

I may not be able to write 5 days a week, or even always 3 days a week, but it is my heart to write, and when I feel inspired to do so, I absolutely will. And what I’m learning about myself is that I can’t always force what isn’t in my heart to share, and it’s just not me to make up a blog post simply because the experts say to post so many times a week, or because so and so blogger who is raking in the readers and contracts does it that way.

I don’t want to live in order to blog…if that makes any sense.  Sometimes, I just want to live, and get so caught up in my life and family and friends that I forget to blog. And I don’t want to feel guilty or care that I might be missing out on the growth other blogs are achieving by being consistent, or any kind of that of yucky comparison game I often get myself caught up in. Its taken a few years, but I’m finding that ever so slowly, I’m loosening my grip on all of those strongholds and instead finding a way and a path that is right for me.

In a way, I’m taking it back old school style. I want to get back to why I started this all, which is to share my heart in hopes of connecting to others. And there just can’t be a one size fits all formula for that.

Okay! So, that’s where I am this time around in all of my deep blogging life thoughts.

You still with me? 😉

 

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help me help you: an anonymous survey

I mentioned on Monday that I’m taking a bit of a writing sabbitical so that I can breathe, live, and find my purpose and direction with what I do.

It’s Thursday, and I already feel a bit of a revival in my soul.

It’s like I was on a hamster wheel running in crazy circles with absolutely no direction, and utterly exhausting myself.
Now that I’m standing still and feeling a little less dizzy, I can see where things need to change.
And this is where I NEED YOU.

Already this week I’ve had the incredible blessing of talking to some inspiring bloggers/mentors that have really been able to speak truth into my struggles.
And I think the next step in getting things right is by checking in with you!

I created a SUPER QUICK & EASY survey, where you can be anonymous, and honestly share with me your thoughts and ideas on what you like and then maybe like not so much.

So if you wouldn’t mind, could you please take a quick moment and help me help you?

I love you, by the way, lots.
And I’m excited for whats to come…

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

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write because you have a story to tell

The blogging world has changed so much.
And some of it’s amazing, and some of it, not so much.

I totally get the “not so much” part of it though.
It’s the necessary next step, the natural progression…and I am the first to say, I fall right into that “not so much” part of it pretty often.
It’s why I get boring.  And uninspired.  And consider just shutting it all down.

I’m curled up on my couch right now at nearly one in the morning.
I had to get out of bed after a long tearful talk about life with Jimmy, because I needed to remind myself of something important.
And sometimes just getting it all out of my mind and into writing is the release I need to finally sleep peacefully.

I came across a website today, and it was a tough reality to see.  It was full of people having hurtful opinions about people they don’t even know.  Thoughts and assumptions and plain old mean cuts and comments.  I know some of these people they were picking on, and they’re sweet and genuine and what they do what is right for them.  And now there’s doubt and hurt in their heart, I’m sure.  I know, because I’ve been there.  I’ve been on the receiving end of these kinds of websites and it broke. my. heart. to see such evil.
Because tearing someone apart is just that.
It’s evil.

I get that as bloggers, as people who are living out loud, we are choosing to be exposed to that side of the world.
What I don’t get is why people even care?  And care enough to create a forum about it.
And not care enough to consider that the name they’re throwing around is actually a real person outside of the computer, with a real beating heart and feelings.

I love when others come to read what I write and they are able to relate and we connect.
But for me, (and I get that it’s not this way for everyone), that just can’t be what fuels my blog and my writing.
I can’t always write for the readers.
I can’t always write for the advertisers.
I can’t always write for subscriptions or to gain popularity.
I have to write for me.

I may not fit a genre.
I may not fit a mold.
There may not be a niche I settle neatly into.
And I see people unsubscribing because there’s too much of this or not enough of that, and that’s OKAY.
I even wish them the best and thank them for the time they gave me.

But when I wrote my first story at 5 years old, it was because there was a story in me to tell, and not because I had an audience to please.

me at 8

Yes, my heart soared when I’d read my stories to others and they’d smile or laugh or seem proud.  But even without all that, I knew even at that young age, that I HAD to write.
I loved it.
It was me and it was mine.

And nothing has changed 30 years later.
(I see you doing the math…)

I write because I have a story to tell.
And I choose to do it here, publicly, instead of a journal just in case someone else needs to read it for whatever reason that may be.

And because I remember the MANY posts where someone wrote something so true, or touching, or funny, or inspiring and I felt such joy, relief, and gratitude that they wrote out loud.

I admire the bravery of writers, all possible narcissism we may struggle with aside. (ha.)
Because the truth is, it’s safer in a journal.
In a journal there’s no judgement, there’s no chance of being picked apart in a public forum, no opportunity for rejection.

Out loud, it’s scary.
But we have a story to tell.
And we can’t let fear take away what God has put in our hearts to do.

 

 

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social media & digital discernment: a bloggers mid life crisis

This is the problem I have with Facebook and social media:

And it is that there is so much more to me that you don’t see.

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Facebook is not the whole story.

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{the one moment of peace before Taylor got attacked by ants and Chloe was too hot, and Jimmy became bored.}
~~~~~~~

Sometimes I get lost in my day of laughter and joy and fun with loved ones and there isn’t one picture to prove it happened.

Sometimes I have an ache so deep, a fear so intense, that I could never share it publicly in that moment.

Sometimes there are moments and feelings that words or a status update could never begin to capture.

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{i was having a panic attack and taking a bath to soothe my emotions while he read my bible to help me.}
~~~~~~~

Sometimes that smile I show in a picture you see, is actually a smile masking a world of insecurity behind it.

“Don’t smile too big, you’ll show too much of your gums.”
“Suck in your tummy, and make sure to angle those thighs…”

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{“you’re not tiny enough, pretty enough, but pretend anyway…”}
~~~~~~~

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{deep in the trenches of anxiety and insomnia. i hadn’t eaten or slept much in weeks and could only smile with the help of medication}
~~~~~~~

My marriage has had it’s struggles, big ones, and in those times it simply remained between my husband and I and the Lord.
Facebook never knew.
But you saw pictures of us smiling and it seemed all was well.

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{smile though your heart is hurting…}
~~~~~~~

Sometimes a person and their life are so much more than the images and status updates you’ll ever see online.

Even with a person like me that shares so much…
There is happiness and joy…hurt and sorrow…that are sometimes too much or too precious to ever reduce to 180 characters.

We have access to so much of peoples lives, and yet I think we often forget that what we see is TRULY just the tip of the iceberg.
There is so much more to it than we may ever know or see.

It haunts me to see social media being used in a way (often unintentionally) that is hurtful or confusing to us all.

It causes hurt and envy.
It creates judgement and pride.

“Why wasn’t I..?”  

“Why can’t I…?”  

“I would never…!”  

“So glad I don’t….!”

What began with Facebook making me cry, has lead to me really searching my heart in regards to writing and social media.

I’ve often referred to “this place” as The Bloggers Mid-Life Crisis.
Which for me, tends to happen at least once a year.

I’ve been here before, kind of, but it’s never been quite like this.
This time I realize it goes far beyond Blogging & Social Media.

And the other night I found myself taking notes and realizing it truly is a heart issue.

“What is this all for?
All that we put our everything into?

‘Look at me! It’s all about me!!  Look here, and now here, me again!!!’

I’m so very guilty.
But I long to make it different.

How can I continue to do what I love and long to do, and make it less about me and more about Him?
How do I stop conforming?
How do I change from my core?

I know I need to stop looking at what others are doing, and instead take a long hard look at myself and fix what is so broken and sinful in me.”

Those were my notes that then lead me to this article, Social Media & Digital Discernment, by my favorite Pastor & Teacher, John MacArthur.

It was this quote that I haven’t been able to shake, and I realize it needs to be my new motto for not just social media & blogging, but for my life:

“Like Paul & every other believer, my life is no longer my own. The focus must not be on me, but on Christ. When someone hears from me publicly, I want it all to point to Him.”

Maybe the answer isn’t quitting the online community altogether, but rather changing how we use it.

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brands & bloggers: my advice

When I created my blog, I never ever knew there was a business behind it.  I simply desired to write and share what was my life and loves, in hopes to connect with other women and moms out there.
Crazily, within weeks I was being sent pitch after pitch offering me products and opportunities, if only I’d share about them with my readers.

At first, I got caught up in the “What?!? Free awesome stuff???  Yes please!!!”  And I started reviewing water filters, shampoos, and other random items for FREE.  And suddenly I had so much “stuff” and so many reviews to write, that the lure of it all became less appealing.

Thankfully with time, I have learned so much about this blogging world and how it really all works behind the scenes.
(okay, well kind of.)
(actually, I only know what Mama Kat teaches me when we get together.)

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And while I may not be the expert of all things blogging, I do know as a writer and as an “influencer,” how I want to work with brands.  And especially how I want brands to work with me.

So if I had a chance to give brands advice on how to work with bloggers, here’s what I would offer:
(Just one moment, while I grab my soap box…)

#1: Know who you are working with.  My name?  It’s Summer.  Not blogger.  Not Blog.  Not even Le Musings.  It’s Summer.  And I get super happy when I hear people use my actual name, so know you can get much further with me by doing that.

#2: Know my brand.  I am a lifestyle blog.  Sometimes I blog about fashion.  Sometimes beauty.  Sometimes parenting, and sometimes about my personal life.  For example, I do NOT blog about loving to cook and especially not on how to grow male body parts in 15 minutes…  If I’m going to take on a project with a brand, it’s because I LOVE what it is or what it’s about, and I can’t wait to share it with my readers who I know will likely feel the same way.

#3:  Know my readers, because they are like my best friends.  Without them, I wouldn’t have anyone to share your products with.  Plus, they’re kind of amazing and totally worth getting to know.

#4:  Value my time and realize that blogging is more than a hobby.  I am passionate about what I do, so much so, that I take time and effort to make it the best it can be.  And that includes whatever I do when working with you.  Promise.

#5:  Stick around.  Relationships only getting better with time, and if things go well in the beginning, a beautiful bond has potential to grow.  There are many brands I have such a love and loyalty to because of how well we’ve worked together AS well as I love their products.
If you’re a brand looking to work with online influencers, learn more about BlogFrog’s Brand Solutions here.
As a part of the BlogFrog Influencer Circle, I have the chance to create meaningful, authentic content for brands I love.  If you’re a blogger interested in new opportunities, join BlogFrog’s Influencer Circle and check out some of the top brands already working with BlogFrog.
Now, I’m curious. What do you love most about blogs and blogging?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of BlogFrog
The opinions and text are all mine.
© 2012 “Le Musings of Moi”
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