Where To Go From Here

I have been keeping a blog for 10 years. Some of it does not exist anymore, but some of it still does – which YIKES. In those 10 years I have always greatly loved this format. It has been a huge resource for me and a huge outlet and excellent writing practice.

This is the first time that I am finding myself questioning if I want to continue this space and that is scary.

If I am being super honest I have felt my confidence greatly shaken in the last few months as far as my ability to write interesting, engaging articles. I have major concerns that my posts are dull and lifeless, repetitive, vapid. I rarely feel they are initially, but then after they go live they do not feel as rich as I want them to be. I feel kind of like I’m failing.

And then there is this other thing. There are topics I really would love to write about. Sometimes they are all I can think about, but I cannot write about them because it would be inappropriate. Not sexually inappropriate, but from a person to person level, a privacy level, it would almost seem mean spirited. That’s been a real struggle for me. That has been a real struggle for me – the things I really need to work out for myself, the things I would love feedback on happen to be things I can’t write about.

I spend a lot of mental energy trying not to fill every post with stuff about Gabe. Sometimes I want to tell you about how he has been a fucking mess lately. Or how he violently prefers Kamel right now and how that made me cry last night because … I fucking made you inside my body and we had this connection that I totally semi-made up in my mind for almost a year and you are technically still a baby and goddamn it love me!! But I don’t want this to be the house of Gabe. This is the house of Lauren. Acknowledging all of my bits and being mindful about them is hard right now. I feel like large parts of me don’t exist at the moment. They are invisible and I have to be patient until they come back.

I worry that if I am not consistent with writing here that I will lose readers and as cliche as that sounds it weighs on me. It shouldn’t matter, everyone says it shouldn’t matter, but if I’m being 100% honest it does matter to me.

So there it is, I’m feeling lost. I’m not sure what I’m doing anymore. Kamel tells me that it is a phase and it will pass, and that could be very true. So I’ll still be here, chugging along, until I figure it out.

Question Master: Reader Appreciation 2

A year ago (I can’t believe it was a YEAR) I had my first giant questionnaire – all about you! You all read about my (sometimes boring, let’s be honest) life on the daily (well at least 3 times a week… oops) and for your support I am incredibly grateful. The first reason I write a blog is because writing is how I make sense of things. The second is for the discussion in the comments. When I need inspiration I come to you, when I have a question about how to move forward with a conflict in our marriage, how to add more veggies in my life, even how to move forward in this blog land as my life and family and priorities continue to shift and grow.

Anyways! To my point! Today and tomorrow are all about YOU! Please take the time (if you would like) to answer these questions in comments. I promise to respond to each one of you. Thank you for coming back here again and again, and thank you for participating, sharing, liking, what have you. It only works to make this space and my little world better and better. So here we go!!

  1. What are you reading right now? If you aren’t reading a) you should be! and b) what is on your to-read pile?
  2. What is your favorite thing about your life/world/etc? Your FAVORITEST!
  3. What’s the most recent challenge you’ve over come? Giant or teensy – either way.
  4. What is the most common color in your closet right now? (right now, mine is grey) What do you wish it was?
  5. Do you have a pet? What is your pet’s (s) name? If you don’t, what kind of animal do you wish you could hang out with? What would you name it?
  6. Do you have a favorite indie business? Link me and tell me why! Maybe we can get more fun stuff like we did with Lydali.
  7. What is your favorite dinner to eat and/or make right now?
  8. What is pissing you off the most this week? Let it out, let it allllll out.
  9. Tell me about your best friend. You don’t have to name them, maybe they don’t even know they are your best friend, but who are they? What makes them the best?
  10. You have to pick one: Flowers, that often attract bees and other flying creatures, for ears OR shoulder and arm and hand fish scales that are beautiful, but are fishy smelly in in warm weather or over heated rooms.

I am dying to read the responses. <3 Lauren

A Mom Who Blogs

Before Gabe popped out I angsted over how I would change personally and, yes, how this space would change. I didn’t want this to be baby times USA woo hoo woo hoo pro-creating like whaaat!

I am here to report that having a baby has changed me, the deep down bits of me, the me of me, in small ways – NOT big ways. I am sleepier, I am busier (And have less time for bullshit. It is actually a major blessing.), and now that I am not pregnant I feel as though I have razor sharp focus. My time is precious and when I want to get something done it HAPPENS. I multi-task and I juggle and that is how I will succeed, if I succeed at all. I am super woman with no time to waste, yo. Bring on the world! Just let me get a little bit more sleep, please.

Anyway, that is not so much different than before. I have always been good at juggling the hats. I have always been a big producer of things. Working a lot, going to school, taking on too many to-dos on my t0-do list and getting them all done. I was one of those “achiever” stereotype truths. It is clear why I have an anxiety disorder, why I have struggled with various bouts (years) of insomnia, etc etc. But that’s me, and I am still here – baby and all.

But I am still self-conscious, painfully self-conscious, of being seen as just one thing. Yesterday I was writing down blog ideas and scheduling this week and next week on post-it notes I had pilfered from work while trying desperately to fill enough posts that had nothing to do with babies or moms or baby-mama shenanigans. It was stressing me out. Really really stressing me out. I don’t want to only talk about post-partum life, babies, and being a mom. But holy jeebus! This is a lifestyle blog and right now this is my life. So after scrambling to come up with more to say I finally gave up.

This is my life. I can’t undo it. I don’t want to undo it. I love this life. I am not ashamed of this life, I am ridiculously proud of what we have going on here – grumpy baby, scrambling me, and a pile of things to write on my to-do lists all having to do with the things I see and feel and think. And a lot of those things have to do with this new role.

So what does that mean? I guess nothing, except that I am calling it like I sees it. I’m writing about baby stuff more than I wanted to before Gabe was a person who lived outside of me. I will be starting to write more about books, about cooking, about fashion, and many random other things more and more (like I used to). But the kid and the family and me as mom is always here. It is, by far, the biggest thing that is smacking me in the face on a daily basis, and the way I work things out is by writing about them here.

Evolving is strange. It happens even if you don’t want it to, it happens while you are looking the other way. When I was single I talked about writing and loneliness and terrible dates. When I was engaged I talked about jobs and wedding products and trying to navigate another person who was quickly becoming a part of who I was (am). After I got married that shifted things yet again. And here we are with a third person in the mix. I’m still working out the kinks. Thank you for working them out with me – it’s a process and I’m just 3 months in.

I am Lauren and I am a mom and I have a blog. I identify as a writer and a lot of other things; an eater of vegetables, a player of video games, a reader of many many books, a watcher of Game of Thrones. I like to sleep like a starfish, but sleeping with someone else makes that impossible. My child is my favorite and my three best friends are my sisters and family forever and ever. I am from Seattle and I feel like Odysseus having a very difficult time getting back. The list goes on and on. My goal is that that is always reflected here.

Nine Questions

So, the wonderful Christy Tyler had a survey run this week (which I took! because she is awesome!) and it got me thinking: oh yeah, I haven’t done a check-in on content in over a year! And a lot of things have shifted in that year…

I’m definitely headed into a new life-realm (Any minute now! ALLEGEDLY.) and am trying to cast a wider reader-net to keep comments and shared experiences dynamic and varied. Along with some other things I’m attempting…. (gogogogogo). Mostly, I want to keep growing and growing WITH you… these questions help me understand how to succeed at that. There are 9 questions to answer, so it shouldn’t take too much time. And! If there is anything I didn’t think to ask and you’d like to tell me in comments, go for it. Or you can always email me at betterinrealife at the gmails.

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Thank you everyone!!

BusyTown, USA

Things have been crazy the last few weeks. I feel like our weekends have never been full of more to-dos than ever before and our work weeks are just as crazy with stuff happening before and after the times we are actually working. Running running running… and being big and slow. And not sleeping through the nights and itching to use our baby things.

We make up little rules. “We can only do 3 errands this weekend. Let’s pick just 3. Because you need to rest!” This is what Kamel keeps saying, and we try… we really do. But every weekend those “3” things seems to take up way more time than we expect. No napping, no lollygagging. Maybe this is practice for the baby times to come.

I was trying to figure out what to write about for yesterday and I kept coming up blank. Do you want to hear about how we cleaned all of our blinds and windowsills? I doubt this, because that’s about as much story as I have. Or about Kamel’s cute haircut? I’m so happy he isn’t as shaggy anymore. Oh! Something interesting did happen on Saturday – Kamel is becoming a little bit protective the closer I get to delivery. And on Saturday, when I was feeling really great and I was in DO-Mode extraordinaire, Kamel was all, “Stop doing that, let me do that for you, you have to be careful, you can’t carry that,” etc etc etc etc and on and on and on and on. And then I exploded because… AH! I am not broken! I am capable and I am totally good with figuring out when I have done enough or when I need to rest. I could have throttled him, I really cold have. I repeatedly told him to cut it out and that I was fine and to stop treating me like a little kid. He had a hard time with that concept, but eventually got over it. But it’s also very interesting. Two months ago he was all, “I have no worries or concerns!” And now his tune is a-changin’. The journey of becoming a dad is just as unique as becoming a mom.

Anyways! Some things to look forward to in blog land:

  • Giveaway! Coming up either tomorrow or Thursday, depending on how much ish I can get together on my end.

AND!

  • Finally a photo post from Kamel and his Hasselblad!

Other than that, I’ll just be winging it like usual!

How have you been? How is your week going? What is going on in your world?

Question-Master: Reader Appreciation

When I was in college some people I knew would jokingly call me the Question-Master because I …. ask a lot of questions. Not the annoying, “Why? why? why?” ones… or even because I needed constant explanation, but because I was/am genuinely curious about people, situations, etc etc. Sometimes I feel myself doing this at work. I want to know what people think about a situation, I want to know how xyz makes them feel, I want to know the history of a situation. I want to know everything.

When I was dating, I had a way of handling first dates that kept new boys at bay without them even realizing it. I would spend the whole first and second dates asking them about themselves. I really wanted to know lots of things, and the conversations were great, but it also meant I didn’t have to divulge very much about me. I was entertained, they felt appreciated, and I could take that information back home with me and mull it over in peace. I like to know about people, I like to know what people think about things and what their experiences are – especially if they are different from mine.

So! Today is all about you! This isn’t a survey on how I can make this space more interesting, these are some questions that I am curious about because I think they are fun but I also really want to hear what you have to say. I know I am asking/hoping for participation and not everyone is into that – but even if you don’t usually comment, I would really like to hear from you. And if you don’t have time, come back to it tomorrow. This post will be up at the top on Friday as well.

Question-Master Time: 

  • Are you currently living in the place you want to stay forever? If not, where do you want to go?
  • Do you spend a satisfying (for you, not for some arbitrary standard) amount of time with your passions?
  • What is your favorite independent store? (Please link for my own selfish browsing needs.)
  • How did/does the recession affect you? (Or your household.)
  • What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like it cooked?
  • What is the number 1 thing currently making you the happiest?
  • Have you ranted about something this week? What was it?
  • And because all is fair in give and take – do you have a question for me? Leave it in comments and I promise to answer them all. If it is too nitty gritty for the internet I will reply to you in email.

I really appreciate the generosity of your time spent here, your thoughtfulness when I ask for advice, and your kindness when I overshare. I care about who you are and what you think and please know that I always read every single comment, even if I don’t respond to every single one. And I read every single email and facebook message, even if I don’t have a chance (or just chronically forget, because I suck) to reply to them. So thank you! This is your space today! I am ridiculously excited to hear from you.

Redesign: Ba-Bam!

A little reformatting, a little pizazz, a little custom art and layout was all rolled out yesterday and I could not be more thrilled. This has been months in the making and all of the brain storming, all of the ideas, the proofs, the tweaking was for a vision that’s even bigger than this blog. But more on that later. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I’m doing a Goods And Services re-boot. If you were once a button on my sidebar you can probably be again, but for now I’m going in a little bit of a different direction. Instead of promoting others, I’m going to be promoting myself for a little while. I know, I know… it sounds lame when I type it out loud, but I want to gain a larger community of voices. In the spirit of transparency don’t be surprised if you see a facebook ad with my logo on it. I’m definitely still interested in highlighting the working artist, so if you make something you’re proud of and would like to gain more exposure email me about it and we can talk details. For now though, my side bar is going to stay a little more naked.
  • I listened to many of your requests for a search function and made sure to include a search bar on the right hand side. Woo hoo! I always love a suggestion on how to make things easier and more efficient. If you so something else that isn’t working or is awkward to use, please let me know.
  • I really wanted to clean up the whole look and not have pages and pages and pages of scrolling. But I also hate having to expand a post every time just to get the full story, so the top post will always be fully expanded. If you miss a day, the full week’s posts will be directly underneath, as always, but now with a title and teaser. It makes for less scrolling and an overall cleaner feel.

Overall I’m really really excited about the future of Better In Real Life and taking a more polished look into different forms of media. (Eee! Coming soon!) And I’m so grateful to Chris, Scott, and Keriann for making this whole thing possible. I pretty much only do 2 things well. Web stuff and Art aren’t either of them. (Hint: write and edit.) Its takes a village, and I’m grateful every single day. I really hope you enjoy hanging out here even more now! Yay!

Got It Together (Except Only Sort Of)

This weekend we got our shit back together.

Last weekend we attempted it, but failed. I don’t even really know why we failed. Maybe it was because we really needed to have a weekend at home, together, to remember what it felt like. Maybe we needed to lay on our couch, cook in our kitchen, see a movie, go for a walk, play outside, etc. before we could even be capable of putting together all of the pieces. Maybe we needed to find the pieces first. Whatever the reason, it didn’t happen until yesterday.

It’s a good thing, too, because I’m feeling a little … overwhelmed? I’m feeling overwhelmed and surprisingly shy. With this whole redesign thing I’m having people (people who look at websites and make them prettier for a living, who look at LOTS of websites… websites with businesses attached and honest to goodness reasons for their existence) check out my website and see my content. And it’s making me feel naked. And not in the sexy way. I feel exposed and embarrassed? (Second question-mark statement if you’re counting.)

But even saying that it makes me feel embarrassed is also embarrassing. (Oh god I’m a mess.) Like, “Why yes, I have a blog… and yes, I take it rather seriously… and yes… a lot of people have blogs that they take seriously. Blogging is one of those things that’s an eye roll away from being a diary I shove under my bed at night. And yes, I’m going to pay you money to make my blog fancy and do things I have no talent to do. Hi, my name is Lauren, would you like to read about my life?” God, I hope you (person I am hiring) don’t think I’m lame!!

And here we are again at the eternal problem of caring what other people think.

Speaking of… I’ve also been submitting work to people who get paid to judge such things. People who spend the majority of their day saying. “No.” And then they mail me a very small piece of paper, or a very short email saying, “No… thank you.” And it always happens on the day I’ve finally forgotten I’ve even sent anything to anyone, on a day where the sun is shining and the birds are singing and I have plans to meet up with friends and I’m probably also making pancakes with beautiful home-made (not) jam… and then the message arrives that says, “Hi, you don’t remember me, but we read your work, the story that took you a year to write and about 7 drafts to finish and we think it ‘Doesn’t fit with our current content’ but please do keep us in mind for your next story. Read: Nice try, suckah.” All of that in a simple, “No, thank you.” You’d be surprised how each word in a 3 word sentence is loaded that heavily. It hasn’t happened yet, but oh-ho-ho they’re reading and they’re judging and I’m cringing and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So thank god we cleaned our house and washed our towels. I can see our dining room table – the actual table part now. And I can walk around on our carpet with bare-feet and not feel like there are crumbs or feathers…. feathers?… stuck to my soles. And I have clean underwear. And sometimes that’s all there is between you and a meltdown.

Things, February

1. This weekend starts a massive travel-a-plooza (and/or hurricane, depending on the day and who you’re talking to in our house). Here are the numbers:

6 months
7-8 trips between the two of us (1 is pending)
5-6 different cities
2 plane trips currently purchased (more to come next week. Yipes.)

2. I never told you what we got each other for valentines! I got Kamel 2 shirts from this amazing store. Kamel has an affinity for clever shirts. And when we moved I made him chuck 1/2 of them because his drawers were overflowing with shirts that either a) were old and gross (am I right ladies?!) b) did not fit c) I hated or d) he never wore but had a strange emotional attachment to. Now he feels free to buy better quality (ie not shirts he got for free and wore for 3 years straight) stuff and only wears stuff he really loves. Pairing down for the win!

Kamel braved the aisles of Anthropologie and managed to leave with this beauty:

The necklace is the only thing I’ve ever gotten complimented on at work. Two points for Kamel! Also it looks like pirate’s gold. A major plus.

3. So… I’ve been thinking about this ever since last Wednesday when I posted Relationship Truths. Going into that post I had major reservations about publishing it at all. I didn’t want a big angry fight in the comments. I didn’t want you guys to feel like I was “telling you how it is” or acting like I’m Miss Perfect Who Knows Everything, or that I had all the answers. I didn’t want the frustrating back and forth that is, “well I know this one couple who totally makes what you’re saying obsolete!” I was bracing for impact when I pushed publish. I gritted my teeth and hoped my day wouldn’t revolve around putting out fires or apologizing for my pretty solid opinions. I mean, this is actually what I think. I’m sharing it because I think it might be useful, and also because I like to hear what other people think. But this post, before it went live, made me feel like shrinking into a hole and apologizing before it had even begun.

But here is where my true apology starts. I totally underestimated the wisdom in my readers. It’s not like I don’t know you all are bright, thoughtful, opinionated, well read and lovely. I do know this. But the fear of writing in public, of speaking in public, of sharing in public sometimes grips me and I wince before anyone has even raised their hand. Bottom line, you guys blew me out of the water and I felt sheepish about how much you all totally rocked that post. So, thank you. I was totally wrong for worrying and I’m sorry for thinking you weren’t up for the task.

4. After I got home from my latest (and BEST short hair haircut yet!) I became very confident in my need to grow out my hair again. Even though I don’t feel like I have John and Kate Plus 8 Hair, and I feel sassy and it’s easy to handle in the morning, I had this revelation that I am not a short-haired person. I have the long neck for it, yes. I recognize my mother’s fabulously long neck. But even though my hair is short, I still sort of twirl the ends when I’m nervous (which makes zero sense in public and is slightly embarrassing when I realize it), I crave pony tails, and I’m sort of tired of waking up with it all up in my face all of the time. Ya know, as opposed to it all up in my armpits like it is when it was long. Sigh. I’m not really sure how to handle the grow out process… and I need to get through Maris’s wedding without having cray-cray hair (the photos will be permanent, after all)… so we’ll see.

5. January was the longest month of my life. February has seemed to fly by. I realize it’s a shorter month, but I’m still surprised it’s NOT January still. Anyways, here are some bloggy news and updates:

– I’m heading towards another blog re-do. You can look forward to new art and new colors and a new set up at some point in the spring. (Oh god, my towering to-do list.)
– I’ve already planned out my next big GIVEAWAY (I feel like it deserves some sort of trademark capslock) to happen in the coming months (probably 3) and it’s going to be AWESOME. Seriously.
– I’m always on the lookout for more Visiting Artists, so if you know anyone or are interested in being featured please contact me.

Feedback Needed, Part 2

Thanks so much for participating in my surveys! I promise they will make the content here even better! Part of all of this is my own curiosity… I very rarely get to know and understand who all of you are. So this bridges that gap a little bit. But a bigger part of all of this is making sure what I’m writing and how I’m writing it is useful to you, is interesting and entertaining! So it’s good to check in every once in a while to make sure we’re all on the same page.

This next survey is only 6 questions long, so it will be a quick one. Please answer as thoroughly as possible! Now let’s get started…

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Thank you so much! 2012 is going to be a great year! And the content will be even better thanks to your contribution. 🙂