The Moment I Realized I Had Something To Say – A Reflection on 6 Years of Blogging
This past Sunday, I marked 6 years blogging here at the The Homes I Have Made. 6 years. That’s so wild to me. I’ve never been a blogger to mark anniversaries with a big reflection or giveaway; but for some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about this crazy journey of mine lately. Maybe it’s because I currently find myself in such a similar place as I was in 2011 when I started the blog. I had a new baby, was living somewhere where I didn’t know a lot of people, and was struggling to love the home we had. And while so much feels the same, it certainly isn’t. It’s been a long blogging journey where I’ve experienced some awesome opportunities but also some major wrong turns. It has brought me a ton of joy, but boy have I cried a lot of tears too. It’s more work than I ever imagined it would be, and I’m not nearly as “successful” as many bloggers who started around the same time (or even after!). But I’ve stuck with it all these years because I am still as passionate (if not more so!) about sharing the message I realized I had all those years ago. I clearly remember the very project that prompted me to start The Homes I Have Made, and I thought today was the perfect time to share it with you!
I was a blog reader long before I was a blog writer. I think that’s true for most of us. Interestingly though, I was an avid reader of food and fitness blogs! I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising, considering I was in graduate school pursuing masters degrees in both nutrition and exercise physiology at the time. I loved checking in regularly with the bloggers I followed…to see what they were eating and what workouts they were doing. They became part of my day, and I enjoyed following along in their mundane comings and goings, as well as (what seemed like) their big adventures.
There was something about the essence of blogging that was just so captivating to me: the writing, the connection with people no matter where they were, positioning yourself as a subject matter expert in a certain community. I was truly and thoroughly hooked; so Greg and I would chat at length about how blogging would be a great fit for me and our lifestyle. I tried so hard to envision myself as a food/fitness blogger. It’s what I read. It’s certainly what I knew. But I could never figure out what exactly I could say that wasn’t already being said. I didn’t feel like I could contribute something new and different to an already loud conversation. Honestly, there was nothing about being a food/fitness blogger that excited me.
Shortly after I finished graduate school and had Henry, we moved to Virginia. I suddenly found myself home alone with a baby all day and in a house that felt like a sterile shoebox. Although we had family in the area, I didn’t really know anybody else. And being home all day with a difficult baby (and not at a day job) was a shock to the system I wasn’t prepared for. Sewing and crafting had long been a way for me to cope with deployments, loneliness, and ugly housing in the past. So even though this move was a one-year assignment, I set to work decorating our new house just as I had done to the three others before it. I needed the shoebox to feel like home, and I knew how to make it one.
I started where I almost always start: curtains. There is just something about hanging curtains that transforms a sterile rental into one that is cozier, prettier, and more welcoming. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time and money though, so I looked through what I had from our previous apartments. Our previous rental had a big sliding glass door in our family room; and along the sides of it, I hung two long lengths of plaid fabric (that perfectly matched our couch pillows) to look like curtains. I even pleated them and hung them with Velcro, which I remember thinking was just so clever! (Keep in mind, this was pre Pinterest! And no judging my bad photos!!!)
But in our new Virginia home, our family room had 4 windows. The two panels weren’t going to be enough, and I couldn’t get any more of the fabric. So I thought and measured. And thought and measured some more. Then I grabbed my scissors, sat down at my sewing machine, and transformed every inch of those 2 curtain panels into 4 new window treatments that instantly transformed our new space.
On the surface, I took two curtain panels and re-imagined them into 4. I had done similar hack-style projects countless times before. But when I hung them and stepped back to soak in the visual change to our family room, I could also feel my attitude shift toward our new home. And from experience, I knew that shift would translate to our neighborhood, our community, and our life. I did so much more than just make some curtains. And in that very moment…I knew I had something unique to share with the world.
I learned early on in Greg’s career that the very task of creating a home is a necessary and important component fur surviving and thriving in this lifestyle (for me, at least). And I wondered how many other people like me needed to know the same thing and be shown how to do it. At a time when so many bloggers were painting cabinets, laying tile and knocking down walls, I started The Homes I Have Made to chronicle my unique, renter-friendly techniques and ideas. To show that there are other ways to create beautiful spaces than taking on big, expensive and permanent renovations. And to inspire and embolden other families in similar living situations that it’s worth the time and effort to do the same. I wanted to show friends, neighbors and even strangers that…
When big, expensive and permanent changes aren’t possible, you can still create a home you love!
I’m not sure Greg initially understood why I started a home blog and not a health blog, but I did. I didn’t have the vocabulary and focus to articulate it back then, but it’s been the guiding force behind every design decision in our home and every post I share here on the blog since. I’ve certainly lost my way a time or two (or twenty!), but then it was you all who pulled me back and reminded me what I was good at and why you were here. Your encouragement, your suggestions, your responses and your support have helped me focus in on my message even more and feel more confident sharing it loud and clear. I may have had the message inside, but it was with your help that I learned it was valuable and worthy of sharing.
When I see other bloggers creating the homes of their dreams with tile and new flooring, I admit I still have to consciously pull myself away from the jealousy and comparison. And when I find myself pining for our “forever” home so I can finally make some real changes too, I stop myself and focus in on this: our mobile, temporary lifestyle is the exact thing that gave me this blog, my voice, my message, and this wonderful, awesome journey. It’s what makes me and what I do and share here different than everybody else. It’s who I am and what our family is about. And it’s what has given me the opportunity to connect with and inspire so many of you! And that, my friends…I would never ever trade for a tiled backsplash or hardwood floors…but maybe some freshly painted white walls! (<– I couldn’t resist! 😉 )
Over the next week, I will be making some final adjustments on a renovation of a different kind…one I think most of you will be really excited about. If you pop over here within the next few days, you may see it in various stages of completion. So instead…meet me back here next Tuesday to see the whole new look this “home” of mine is getting!
Huge virtual hugs to you my sweet readers. Thanks for the last 6 years, and here’s to the years (and homes!) ahead!