Recent thoughts on blogging

BeachWalkingBlogging

Perhaps you have noticed that the spaces between my posts get larger and larger? I’ve enjoyed sharing my tricks, tips, and even my life over the years with my blogging readers. I’ve spoken at Blogger 2013 and this past month at ShiftCon 2015. I have blogging friends, Twitter friends, and most recently, Instagram friends. People that I’ve never met in real life but I have shared important times with, and who encourage and inspire me every day.

Sometimes, truthfully, I hang onto the space just so that I won’t lose those friends. I want to say that I’m a blogger because I want to be with them.

But, truthfully.

As you probably know, I recently completed my yoga teacher training. I am in the midst of a study right now about making space in our lives for the divine, for the holy. In order to properly lead meditation, one must meditate.

With three new yoga classes per week and existing 1-2 Lagree classes to teach, where will this space to meditate and dwell come from?

It will not come from more activity. It will not come when the feeling of “I must do this next…” follows me every time I sit down for a moment.

My kids are growing up so fast. Little Sir just entered kindergarten, and Little Lady just cannot wait to join him. This is my last year at home with her. I cannot believe that he is not with us during the day anymore, and he never will be again. As much as I waited for the day when they would both be in school all day, I am already grieving for the time that is ending.

How will I spend this last year? Will I spend it dashing upstairs to get a blog post finished as they finish dinner? Will I spend it trying to drum up business for sponsored posts? Will I attend Twitter parties instead of putting them to bed at night?

No, my friends, I will not. Not because any of those things are wrong – many women with children enjoy them. I don’t. At least, not anymore.

And while the blogging conferences provided plenty of swag at Christmas time, the money for the travel could just as well have gone toward a family weekend.  And if I don’t spend the money at all, I don’t have to earn it through blogging, either.

I read the piece that Dooce published recently about stepping back from her own blogging. It felt a little bit like the end of an era. So many of the bloggers from those early years are stepping back. Gina of The Feminist Breeder, for example. Others have stepped back for a while and returned full force with new passion, like my friend Charmed Valerie.

Maybe I will be one of those who comes back in a few years with renewed vigor, who knows.

In yoga, we use the term “holding the space “. That phrase has been following me around for a few weeks. It describes the idea of sitting in silence (or even within activity around you) and waiting while something grows or becomes clear. It’s a nonjudgmental place, where there is no right or wrong answer. Just waiting to see what will happen, to understand what should happen.

Readers and friends, will you hold the space for me? I may visit now and then with some thoughts. But I am no longer going to promise to blog regularly.

For now, I am still loving Instagram, where you can find me @consciouslyjenny, and my new love is Periscope, where I am, incongruously, still @_conscientious. Please visit me there!
Love & hugs,

 

Jenny

Where does a SAHM part-time worker fit?

image via memgenerator

When someone asks me “What do you do?”, it isn’t an easy answer. Do I answer, “I stay at home with my kids” or do I list off my various part-time jobs as a fitness instructor and blogger? Usually I do both. It’s such a weird place to be, a SAHM part time worker, right in the middle of both “mom” categories.

As someone whose significant other earns almost all of the income for our family, are my part time endeavors even significant enough to call “working”? Even combined, none of the jobs pay much. As someone who only works part time, I am definitely thankful for the flexible schedule that I get in exchange for the lower pay. I love that I can work a few days a week at 6am, part of one weekday, and then a few hours on the weekends doing things I love. It is all a huge blessing.

But there’s also the parenting part.

As a part-time worker, I don’t get the financial benefits or structure of full-time professional childcare I would have as a working mother. I know, because I’ve been a full time working mother. When I worked full time, we had a nanny who came during set hours. If I worked full time right now, the kids would most likely be in preschool. In both situations, they would benefit from the experience and training of a professional educator and childcare expert. Someone who would teach them to read before they even go to kindergarten, most likely. They would be taken care of during set hours, during which I would be free to do my work (unless they or the nanny were ill, of course — been there, done that!).

Instead of a professional educator and childcare expert, they have me. Well, part of me. Because I spend the majority of my “spare” hours in part time work, I am not using that time to scour Pinterest for worksheets, set educational goals, read about the developmental milestones they’re supposed to be hitting and target their activities accordingly, as most of my other mommy friends do. We have fun together, sure! We go somewhere almost every day, but it’s most often the pool, the museum, the zoo — somewhere that they can run freely and play, not learn specific things. The goal is to be physically tired so they’ll take a nap. My poor second child still doesn’t know any of her letters. Neither of them understand the days of the week. I think about what it takes to do all that, the extra hours that I can’t seem to pull from thin air, and I just want to take a nap too.

It’s only due to our food intolerances that I spend as much “homemaker” time as I do: making our own bug repellant, soaps, bread, and toothpaste. In fact, that’s probably how I am using the time that I should probably be teaching my kids valuable things like Scripture memory or full moon intention-setting. That illusive time goes to hand-making things to keep Little Sir from getting diarrhea due to stomach irritation. Driving to the chiropractor. I have to make a conscious choice every day not to feel bad about how much more I should be doing.

There’s the mommy guilt, but there’s also the career guilt.

As a part time worker, there are a ton of opportunities to take it a “little further”. Getting my RYT200 is one of those. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it, but I also know that it’s just not realistic right now. Taking that kind of time and financial resources away from our family while my children are this young is not something we are in a place to do at this time. But then another client or friend asks me to teach them what I know about yoga and I just want to do it SO BADLY!

If I am honest with myself, having one foot in the working world provides some welcome gratification in contrast to the endless energy suck that is my precious children. Not once will they say “thank you” to me (except when Daddy makes them!), but my clients and friends do say positive things about my part-time work. It takes a conscious act of the will every time to step back into those unappreciated Mommy shoes and away from the seemingly fulfilling fitness instructor/blogger shoes.

As I was writing the first draft of this post, my daughter came into the room three times asking for me to sing songs. It has taken me about 3 days to complete this post, due to interruptions of the same kind.

I know in my heart that these are the best kinds of interruptions. That singing all the songs is what life is made of, and not the Facebook-ing, the Pinterest-ing, the 6am classes, the handstand practice, the Sanskrit pronunciation.

My friend Janelle was speaking today of a kind of selfless support, of having a job that consists of supporting others: being the wind. I love that analogy. As a feminist, it’s important for me to remember that I can choose what work I do, and that one kind of work is not exclusive of another kind. I CAN be a SAHM and a part-time worker, and neither one is “not enough”. Both are exactly what works for me right now, regardless of how I answer the, “So, what do you do?” question.

Cooking for kids with food allergies: my fave resources

Cooking For Kids With Food Allergies: My favorite resources (online and offline)

After Little Sir’s initial bout with food intolerance, most of which his body overcame after treatment by our naturopath, I become highly aware of the challenges of food allergies and food intolerances for kids. Little Sir’s remaining sensitivities are dairy and gluten. He really cannot have anything dairy more than 1-2 times per week without his body going on high alert (typically with diarrhea being the first sign of trouble, followed by a runny nose). We are mostly a diary free family, but I do allow him to have a frozen yogurt treat occasionally or some cheese on gluten free pizza. I list him as having a dairy allergy at preschool and at bible study/church so that one one will feed him any dairy without my knowledge. He also still has quite a bit of trouble processing whole wheat as well. It’s not actually the gluten he has trouble with, but breaking down the actual kernel of wheat. His body does best if he avoids wheat products, so I feed him a very low gluten diet. I buy gluten-free as much as possible and try to restrict anything with wheat to about every-other-day. So right now, we are largely dairy free and gluten free. Still, it is so much better to avoid these two things than the huge list we started out with.

On this journey of Various Things We Need To Avoid, I collected great resources from other green blogger friends, from amazing friends like local kids’ chef Tara Andersen, and even from you, my readers and Twitter followers! I wanted to pay back that advice by doing a post listing all my favorite and most valuable resources for recipes and ideas on cooking for kids with food allergies (or sensitivities/intolerance).

Local to Dallas (my favorites, unpaid — none of these business know that I’m writing about them!):

  • Half Pint Palates – will custom prepare handmade, healthy, kid-approved food specific to your child’s allergy or food sensitivity.
  • Natural Grocer by Vitamin Cottage – has several locations in Texas including Richardson/Dallas, Lakewood, and Preston/Forest in the Dallas area. They have extremely high standards for their products and often lower prices than some of the larger national healthy food chains (coughWholeFoodscough).
  • Reverie Bakery – vegan (dairy free) and gluten free bakery here in Richardson. Just went yesterday for a treat for Little Sir! He loved it!
  • Unrefined Bakery – gluten free and vegan bakery in both Dallas (Lower Greenville) and Frisco. I got cupcakes for Little Sir’s 3rd birthday here when we were dairy free and soy free. It’s nearly impossible to find soy free bakeries, which is why I love them!

Online stores

  • Vitacost (referral link) – not just supplements! Also a lot of allergy-friendly foods that are difficult to find in stores. I save a lot by using their Set N Save option to have certain items delivered on a regular schedule. If you aren’t a member yet, drop me an email at jenny {at} conscientiousconfusion {dot} com and I can send you a code for $10 off your first order! Orders over $50 have free shipping, so I often go in on an order with several local friends to reach the $50 threshold.
  • Azure Standard – this online store does local drop-offs, so you will need to find a drop-off location near you. Or, start your own! A huge variety of not just specialty foods but also organic produce and grass-fed meats.

Blogs

I definitely have to include Pinterest in my list of resources, and will be doing a followup post on How to Search Pinterest for Allergy-Friendly Recipes, because it is a little tricky. My BFF started a collaborative board for me called What Little Sir Can Eat where I pinned recipes when he was on the severely restricted diet. Feel free to check it out!

Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list — it’s just a list of what I have used. I’d love to hear your favorite resources in the comments, so that we can all share with each other!

Last day of #NaBloPoMo: Lessons learned

NaBloPoMo November 2013

It’s the last day of #NaBloPoMo! I made it…sort of. You might have noticed that I missed about 5 days in there. But overall, I feel like that is pretty good. Here are some good and bad things I learned in this year’s blogging-every-day challenge.

  • It’s a good thing to put my post ideas out there ASAP before I forget. Blogging daily makes that easier.
  • Some of the things I do every day aren’t unusual to me but seem to solve problems for others, so it’s good to blog about them (essential oils, natural remedies).
  • The pressure of having to blog every day tends to unbalance me: due to the number of commitments I have in my life right now and the age of my children, the time to write has to be taken away from my kids or from my own self care.
  • I don’t like how I treated my kids when I was trying to bang out a blog post before the end of the day sometimes. There was far too much “Please stop that and leave Mommy alone for 5 more minutes” and “Can you please stop that, it’s keeping Mommy from blogging”. Sometimes I wasn’t able to get down on the floor and play with them after their nap because I was still messing around with Pin-able graphics or doing social media promotion of yet another blog post.

Overall, I am glad I did the challenge. It was less uncomfortable than last year, it felt more beneficial. At the same time, I am glad it is over. I can’t handle blogging every day because it requires me to make choices in my family and personal life that I am not comfortable with. I will continue forward, attempting to blog more but also giving myself grace to have a day or two (or three) where I can just relax.

Start a Local Moms Blog in Your City

City Moms Blog Network - looking for site owners in your city!

I’m sure you’ve seen on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook how much I have loved being a writer for {city} Moms Blog over the past 3 years. (Remember, Dallas Moms Blog has a Mom’s Night Out coming up next week!) It has been such a great opportunity to develop my writing, play a part in connecting moms in our city, and to get to know the other women on our fabulous team.

{City} Moms Blog is an amazing resource for moms in the {city} area and we are passionate about what we do! I’m proud to be part of something that is making a positive influence on both our beautiful city here AND on a national level! Did you know {city} Moms Blog has over 30 Sister Sites around the country?

These 30+ Sister Sites make up City Moms Blog Network. Each site is written and run by local moms, for local moms. They provide parenting information unique to their community, and to make things even more fun, they each throw fabulous events to get moms in their cities out on the town.

This network of locally focused moms blogs has empowered women all over the country to start their own businesses. When someone joins City Moms Blog Network as a Sister Site owner, they are joining a family that is eager to encourage and support one another. Sister Sites are provided with assistance in the startup phase, ongoing education and resources for continued support, and a community of fellow site owners eager to share best practices.

With the help of City Moms Blog Network, these Sister Site owners are able to become entrepreneurs (mompreneurs) and local influencers, all while doing something they love and are passionate about. I have loved watching the {founder/founders/owners} of {city} Moms Blog grow it into what it is today, and I am thankful and proud of the part I am playing in that!

Is there a City Moms Blog Network Sister Site in your area? City Moms Blog Network is currently looking for Sister Site owners to start a local moms blog in 25 specific cities in California, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. If you or someone you know might be interested in impacting moms in your community like {city} Moms Blog is, jump at this opportunity to join CMBN with your own Sister Site. These ladies are passionate about what they do and would love to partner with YOU to do the same!

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NOTE: I was not compensated for this post, although it is an announcement passed down to me from the CMBN. I wanted to help them spread the word!

 

What is The Green Sisterhood and #greensisters?

Green Sisterhood logo

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed an avalanche of tweets this weekend with the hashtag #greensisters. I do apologize for the volume of grouped tweets, it should only have happened once. When you see tweets or shares with the hashtag #greensisters, you can know that I am sharing something from another blogger who is a member of The Green Sisterhood with me. You might be asking, “what is The Green Sisterhood?”. The short answer is that we’re a group of bloggers who blog about green living, the environment, various forms of low impact living, handmade and DIY, and who are all passionate about making positive changes for our future.

What does The Green Sisterhood do?

If you are a blog reader or someone interested in green living, climate change, or environmental advocacy, The Green Sisterhood is a great place to learn! Subscribe to our weekly email to receive summaries of what each sister is blogging about this week. Or, visit the main GS blog on Fridays for a weekly reading list of the best of the sisters’ posts each week.

If you are a blogger (green or not), The Green Sisterhood hosts free blogging-related webinars regularly. Today at 12pm CST we’ll be hosting Lara Galloway for a webinar entitled “Blogging is NOT a business”.

If you are a business or PR professional, The Green Sisterhood is a great way to reach people who are interested in your product, service, or book. With a combined 2 million page views per month, all the green sisters function as a unit to reach a relevant audience through our individual blog voices and social media channels. You can contact us for rates and options by emailing info {at} greensisterhood {dot} com!

What does The Green Sisterhood mean to me?

On a personal level, I feel really privileged to be a part of this group of women. I would not be tweeting out links to these ladies’ posts if I wasn’t truly interested in what they have to say. They encourage me daily to keep up a greener lifestyle and to advocate for change when I might otherwise be silent. I’ve found that The Green Sisterhood encourages me when I get discouraged about blogging or making positive changes in my own life and the lives of others. It can be difficult to “be green” when no one around you is doing it. I don’t know how many times I’ve had friends ask me a question about green living that I can answer by passing on a link to a post from one of my green sisters. Some of us are greener than others in various areas. Together, we have experience in nearly every area of sustainable living, or we know someone who does.

I feel like we also serve as sounding boards for each other when it comes to blogging decisions. For example, if I have a question about how to handle the business end of blogging, I ask these ladies. We had a great discussion just last week on working with PR reps, the points which we discussed will likely come up when I speak at BlogHer in Chicago in July. When Google shut it’s RSS reader shut down, there was Karen Lee with a post about alternatives to Google Reader. They’ve recently encouraged me to (reluctantly, awkwardly) embrace Google Plus.

I hope that you love The Green Sisterhood as much as I do and that you’ll follow along with us as we move forward for a greener future!