On Blogging & Life: Some Reflections on 2014

During this year's Stratejoy Holiday Council, Molly mentioned five different kinds of years. Five different parts of a cycle, if you will.

2014 was definitely a building year for me. One of growth, discomfort, hard decisions, big life changes and lots of progress. This wasn't one of those years where I caught myself saying "I'm having the best year ever!" - but that's okay. In fact, I'm seeing a meme going around on social media that says something to the effect of, "2013 was learning; 2014 was the build-up/practice; 2015 is game time!"

It's true. I feel a lot of good things are in store in 2015, and I'll be working hard to make sure that good energy manifests as much as possible. With that, here are some of my closing, random reflections on 2014:

Photo by Emily Shearing

Photo by Emily Shearing

On blogging

The state of the blogosphere is sooo different from when I started six years ago. Forgive me for sounding like an old-timer, but there's a lot of resources readily available to new bloggers that we had to work hard to pull together before. Blog design, brand sponsorships, photography best practices, social media, etc. Maybe it's just me, but the heart and soul of blogging is also different. Fashion blogging is so popular now that there are clear trends that take off and if you don't dress like a blogger, you're labeled 'edgy' and 'eccentric.'

Guess which two words have been used to describe me/Fresh Jess?

I don't mind those terms but they've made me very aware of the homogenized evolution of fashion blogging - and how I don't want any part of that. What's always drawn me to blogging and to my favorite bloggers is their personal style. The ones who push boundaries. Who parlay their blogs into something more meaningful in their lives. Whose blogs are absolutely representative of who they are, what they're into and sometimes, what they stand for. I will take one Rumi Neely, perfect in her ethereal, floaty clothes I can't pull off here in the PNW over a million girls trying to show me how to layer a sweater over my skater skirt and pull it together with a sweet floppy hat.

Blogging will have you caught up in 'needing' that latest shoe trend (hi Birkenstocks) or re-doing your blog design to match what's already out there - if you let it. Remember what's important to you, and blog about that. Be choosay (ILoveMakonnen voice) and always be yourself. That's how you stand out from the rest.

On social media

Social media has been the vehicle for building connections and opening so many doors for me. It's also become my worst distraction, and this year I hit a wall. It's way easy to get caught up in the hype of the latest trending topic, or in the energy being put out there by the people I follow (which, by nature of having the safety of hiding behind a computer screen, is negative, defensive and condescending.) This year, I caught myself stepping back often, thinking, "What the fuck is this for?"

When your co-worker is in your face telling you why this BuzzFeed article is funny as shit and your industry colleague is asking for help in spreading the word about their latest campaign, it can be hard to distinguish between a distraction and a good use of your time. While there's a lot of useful, interesting things on the internet, how much of what we are consuming is junk?

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of un-learning my dependence on the digital and re-learning what it's like...otherwise. Moving back to paper calendars and to-do lists, for example, or not bringing my phone with me everywhere I go.

My theme for 2015 is to simplify. A lot of that has to do with cutting back the noise and the clutter I consume, especially in the digital space. There might be an app/article/hashtag for that, but I don't need to use it. I'll be blogging a lot about this over the next year!

Photo by Sarah Lovrien

Photo by Sarah Lovrien

On health/fitness

Navigating my second year full-fledged in my journey of health & fitness was a lot more tumultuous than the first. A new job means a totally new schedule; a new set of responsibilities; a new group of people I spend a lot of time with; and re-familiarizing myself with non-freelancer me. Don't get me wrong; that entrepreneurial side won't die or even be stifled. It's just a new thing for me to get adjusted back to office life.

I was exhausted after work for much of the year, and though I didn't necessarily eat like shit all the time, I just wasn't on top of my nutrition game like I was last year. I guess that was my biggest vice this year; comparing myself to me the year before. I was probably more fit, stronger and ate healthier overall this year, but because my leaps and bounds weren't the first times I'd experienced them, they didn't feel as special. Going into 2015 with a renewed, positive outlook and ready to slay.

Savoring the moment with my new nephew!!!

Savoring the moment with my new nephew!!!

On life

I'll keep this short and say that my decision to make my 2015 "simplify" comes from the overwhelm I felt in social media as well as the rest of my life. I'm tired of feeling perpetually behind on email, or that I'm missing out on something I'm not sure I even want when I say 'no' to an opportunity. I have anxiety like I've never had before. I don't need to do it all, and I don't want to.

I do want to savor the moment. That message keeps resonating in me. Cut back on that clutter. Turn down the noise. Decrease my inputs of information. Carefully edit what I consume so I can stay focused on what's important.

Are you consuming without thought, or creating?

Make time to sit, think, brainstorm, create!

Slow down!

Image via    Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Do you have any reflections you'd care to share about 2014? Let me know!

Cheers to an amazing 2015!