2021 Mid-Year UpdateThis Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy
*UPDATED TO ADD*
I wanted to create a quick addition to the start of this post to say that I am beyond humbled and so appreciative of all your amazingly kind, supporting, encouraging, and loving comments below. You’ve touched my heart in ways that words cannot explain. When I wrote this post, I didn’t expect such a response or outpouring of love. In fact, I was feeling bad about not being as active with my postings lately and just wanted to explain and apologize. You have overwhelmed, encouraged, and inspired me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Here’s to many more years of Inspired by Charm and this beautiful community.
Friends, how is 2021 treating you? I can’t believe we are almost halfway through the year. As I grow older, time seems to just go faster and faster. Does anyone else feel this way?
Given that we are at this point in the year, I thought it would be a good time to check in with you, share a little update, talk about the year, and chat about what’s on the horizon.
While there is nothing major happening, I’m always a bit hesitant to share these more “personal” posts. So much has changed in blogging over the past five years or so that posts like this seem almost taboo. However, I’ve felt the tug to write a little update, so here I go.
A QUIET 2021:
If you follow the blog closely you may have noticed that things have slowed down somewhat dramatically after a very busy holiday season. This year’s gas felt really different. I assume it’s the combination of the dumpster fire that was 2020 and just feeling what I’ve determined to be a need to pivot.
“The need to pivot.”
I came across the following thought in a meme and it just hit a nerve of truth for me: “I want you to stop confusing exhaustion with unfulfillment. You aren’t tired, you’re unfulfilled. Give yourself permission to pivot.”
I have been blogging since 2009 and it has been my full-time job since 2013. While lots of changes have happened in that time period, twelve years is still a long time to be doing relatively the “same thing.” Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thankful for my job and still generally love what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else, nor do I want to do anything else. I suppose the blogging just feels a bit mundane on occasion.
2021 has just brought on this feeling of being tired/exhausted. This feeling has left me uninspired and unmotivated. At first, I just assumed that my creativity well had just dried up, or that maybe I had lost my talents, or that maybe I was just plain old lost. But what I’m learning is that maybe I’m not tired. Maybe I just need to pivot. I need something to be overly passionate about again.
The behind-the-scenes of blogging has become A LOT. It’s simply not enough to create a project/recipe, photograph it, and then share it. There are dozens of algorithms to keep up with just to be seen. There are dozens of “requirements” that Google puts into place that constantly change. These requirements need to be met, maintained, and constantly adjusted in order to be seen. And don’t get me started on social media. If you’re not outperforming yourself or putting on a grand show with every post, you basically don’t exist. Plus, you also “need to” create an Instagram Story, Timelapse, Pinterest Story, Google Story, IG Reel, and YouTube video about it. Say what!?
I love what I do, but because of all of these external “requirements,” a simple blog post seems like a heavy task rather than a simple joy.
I’m also trying to avoid comparison. As I mentioned above, blogging has changed so much. Many bloggers now have teams of people working for them. They have teams of people … assistants, people that write their posts, photographers, content managers, SEO experts, social media managers, videographers, and the list goes on. (And there’s nothing wrong with that approach. These folks are killing it and I love watching their businesses grow.)
Here at Inspired by Charm, it’s just me for the most part. I do have someone that edits my posts for grammar and spelling, and I have an amazing couple that has been filming videos for my recipe posts. (I’ve been adding those to my blog posts, YouTube Channel, and IGTV.) These people have been such a blessing to my business.
Some days I welcome the excitement and drive to keep moving forward and to become better than I was the day before, but other times I’m just annoyed and frustrated as I didn’t sign up for all of the “extras” that I just mentioned. I don’t want to be the CEO of some online media empire. I don’t want to be a manager of a team of people. I just want to live in my own space while creating, sharing, and inspiring.
It’s interesting too because I’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite bloggers and Instagrammers have talked about the same thing in one way or another. Some have stepped away completely. Others are taking the summer off. Others have made shifts in how or what type of content they are producing. Being aware of these situations has been so comforting. It makes me feel a little less crazy knowing that others are feeling the same way.
And I don’t say all of this to complain. I feel happy. I feel blessed. I feel a sense of purpose in that this is what I should be doing with my life. I suppose it’s just a reminder to be a little kinder to myself, do what I can, and not compare what one person can do to that of what a team of 6 can do.
While I’m generally pretty hard on myself, I’m trying to remind myself that this is just one of those ebbs in life that we all have. Thankfully ebbs don’t last forever. I’ll be chugging along on my flow in no time!
So how do I pivot? That’s my challenge because I haven’t figured that out yet! Ha! To be honest, I think a big part of it is just changing how I see and respond to things. It’s simply about showing up, doing my best every day. meeting the requirements I can, forgetting the rest, and then being at peace with it all. “We can do anything, but we can’t do everything.”
In a nutshell, that’s the long and short of where I’ve been at these days … physically and mentally. I think 2021 is just a year to be a bit quieter. A year to pause and reflect… and that’s okay.
OTHER THINGS I’VE BEEN DOING:
Phew! With that chunk of information out of the way, I thought I would share some of the other things I’ve been up to for the first half of the year.
While this isn’t everything, these are some of the most notable things:
Crate and Barrel Collaboration: If you missed it at the end of last month, I shared a post about my side porch and fire pit area in collaboration with Crate and Barrel. (You can find that HERE if you did miss it.) This has honestly been the highlight of my year. As mentioned above, I’ve been blogging for 12 years and Crate and Barrel has been the one brand I’ve dreamed of working with. I feel so blessed to have had this opportunity.
There’s even a dedicated page to my design and product selections on their website. I didn’t even know that this was going to happen. I was filled with so much excitement and gratitude when they shared the link on their Facebook page.
Firepit Landscaping Makeover: The aforementioned collaboration motivated me to tackle another project on my list … a makeover of my backyard fire pit area. I’ve been sharing the progress on my Instagram feed. (There is a saved IG Highlights if you missed it.) The project turned out better than I expected. I love having this little oasis in my own backyard.
I will be sharing more about this on the blog VERY soon. I’m just waiting for a few more plants. Once they arrive and I get them into the ground, I will do a full post about the update.
Gardening: This spring I was really busy outside. I planted over 60 perennials plus a few new trees and shrubs. And that’s in addition to the 70+ plants I added to the landscaping around my fire pit.
Gardening is a labor of love. And while the fruits of this labor will take a couple of years to fill out and unfold, I was so happy to make such great progress.
My Art Practice: I’ve shared a couple of posts about this on the blog (here and here), but 2021 has been a year where I dove headfirst back into my art practice. It couldn’t have come at a better time as this has been a nice mini pivot for me and something I’ve really been enjoying.
I signed up for three local in-person art courses. One was an introduction to painting which has been completed. Currently, I’m in an oil painting class where the students work on whatever project they choose and the instructor provides guidance. I LOVE the instructor and students, so this has been wonderful. This particular course will end this week and then the following week I will start a new course focusing on painting Pittsburgh landscapes en plein air. Plein air essentially means painting outside. The class will meet every week at a new outdoor location and we’ll paint outside from life. I’m especially excited about this class!
Art has brought me so much joy and peace this year; I really want to dive deeper into it. I have been trying to make art a daily habit. And while I’m not quite there, I have been painting or drawing as much as possible.
While 2021 has brought a more relaxed blogging and working schedule, I’m not just sitting around in my PJs. I do have some fun projects in the works. I’ll be sharing more about each of these as they come to life, but here’s a little sneak peek.
Retaining Wall: When it fits into my budget, my goal is to tackle one large project each year. Two years ago it was my kitchen makeover, last year it was custom cabinetry for my entryway and living room, and this year it’s a 100 ft. two-tiered retaining wall in my backyard.
This project will happen in September, but I spent a lot of time figuring out the plan and finding the best contractors. Once this project is complete, it will open the doors to allow me to add even more to my backyard including a shed, garden, outdoor oven, etc. I can’t wait!
Bedroom Updates: I have two bedrooms in my house that have mostly gone untouched since I moved in. While they don’t require major renovations, I want to give them some sort of style direction. One room will get painted, the other room will receive wallpaper, and both will get new light fixtures and furnishings.
The goal is just to have these spaces feel more complete and intentional.
Basement Studio: This might be the project I’m most excited about. I’ve never shared my basement online before. It’s not that it’s all that bad, it’s just an awkward space with bad lighting.
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to turn my basement into a little creative studio. (I’ve been doing my art out of a small section of a bedroom and it just isn’t cutting it.) Well, I’m finally going to do it! I will obviously take you along on the journey (before photos coming soon!) and share my plans and process.
In a nutshell, here’s what needs to be done:
– update lighting
– repair and paint paneling (walls)
– new flooring
– furnish and style
– update doors and windows
While this isn’t a major renovation, there is still a lot to be done. I’m hoping to tackle some of the projects myself, I’m also bringing in some folks to do the projects that are beyond my skill/knowledge level. Thankfully I have some great folks lined up so the project should be underway soon.
With all of these design projects, my current plan is to take my time with them. While I’m anxious to get them completed (especially the basement studio), I’m in no rush.
Art Practice: As I mentioned above, my art practice is currently a big focus for me. My goal is to be able to do one painting each day. As I’ve watched and listened to other artists talk about their evolution and practice. the one thing I heard, again and again, is how important and helpful it was for them to paint every day.
I’m still working on developing my style and trying to figure out what medium and subjects I like best. Once I feel more confident and have a clear direction, I would love to be able to create a collection and offer some work for sale. I’ve been so surprised at how many folks have asked about purchasing some of my art. I would love to make this a reality.
More of What You Love About IBC: I also plan to bring you more of what you love. While I’m not going anywhere and updates will continue to be here on the blog and on Instagram, I suspect that things will be slow and quiet for the rest of the summer and things will ramp up around August. But who knows, that could change! I’m trying to let 2021 unfold as it would like. No pressure. I hope you’ll stick with me.
… I think that’s enough for the year, right?
THAT’S A WRAP:
So that was a lot. Haha. I think I should wrap things up here.
While I knew this post would be informative, I didn’t realize how long it would be until my fingers hit the keyboard. I hope that this was insightful, informative, and gave you a little look at how I’ve been spending my days.
If you’ve gotten this far in this post, congratulations, and thank you for sticking with me. Now, this is the point where I’ll ask you what you’d like to see here. And while I always appreciate the typical responses of “more of the same, recipes, keep doing what you’re doing,” etc., I’d really love to know what your soul is craving more of when you come online. What brings you here? Also, when you leave this space, what left you feeling happy and inspired. What improved your day, your home, your life. Let me know in the comments below. Thank you!
Until next time, my friends!
I am new to your blog and Instagram postings, and have to wonder, what took me so long to discover you?! I am loving your variety of topics and presentation of all things inspiring. I find your thoughtful advice, suggestions and pictures all very, very enjoyable, and every time your blog drops into my inbox, I excitedly read it before others! Please just be true to yourself, your values, your own forms of inspirations, and your own goals, and when you continue to do that, everything else will “pivot” in just the right ways for you. Know that what you bring to others is joy, wisdom, humor and a fresh honesty that is so needed and so beloved no matter the season. I am so glad to have “discovered” you!
I am late to see this but I try to visit your blog weekly, but that just has not happened this summer as I am trying to spend more time working on home projects (inspired by you!) , reading and catching up with friends. I am from Pittsburgh and now living about 5 hours away, so I love to get cool updates from your blog. I feel as if I may know where your house is, and what you have done is amazing. And I can always find a good recipe or inspiration from you as well. So I would say you are doing it just right. I think we all try to over think everything. I just saw Jimmy Buffett in concert and was reminded of that. He played just about the same set as when I saw him in college, 35 years ago. And you know what? Everyone loved it, including my 2 college aged kids!
You might enjoy following the Turquoise Iris. She is an awesome artist and personality. And has a very kind soul.
I agree with the comments. You are truly loved and admired and respected. Your comments about the social media requirements (pressure) and the teams to build a blog brand.
What I love most about your blog are the basics: photos, recipes, projects and more of your amazing photos. I hope you find value in a life coach. I think you are just getting started. The beauty of a pivot is you can do it again and again. laura in Colorado
I always look forward to your blog posts and IG posts. They “inspire” me as I try to start a little blog of my own. Thanks for always being “real” with your followers 🙂
Ihave loved your blog for a very long time for all the reasons others have mentioned; your creativity, your humility your attainable for me decorating. So informative, so lovely. So personal.
I will continue to follow you no matter what you pivot to or how much time there is between posts.
Im glad you havent turned to “corporate “ blogging as others have. Theyve lost the friendly feel of a good friend sharing. Thanks for all you share.
OMGosh…..yes to all of the comments about the ‘wonderfullness’ that is your blog!!! I think so many of us are feeling the same way, banking on 2021 to be filled with renewed vigor, and it feels slow off the blocks instead! Hang in there…..and keep on being yourself! As an ex-Pittsburger, I love seeing and reading about the area….could ya throw the word ‘yins’ in once in a while…to make us homesick ones grin…..😉. Have a really great day!
You be you, Michael! That’s why we come here. I don’t need a hollow “influencer” to show me how perfect their life is and how imperfect mine is. I like that you inspire without being about the sale, you have your ups and downs, but are mostly up, and it makes me happy to see your smiling face, home in progress, and yummy food.
Life is change and I look forward to seeing where your road leads you to.
Oh my gosh Michael…I just wanted to reach through your post and give you a big hug….I so enjoy your freshness in telling things just so they are. The good and the bad I love the way you decorate with such whimsical items. We have to look after ourselves no matter what. Wherever you choose to go I will definitely follow……take care of you….everything else will fall into place
I have enjoyed your blog for years without commenting. Thought you might like to know that my son and his husband made a pair of rainbow wreaths with me just like your Christmas wreath several years ago. We love having them in our homes. You definitely are very talented and inspiring. Thank you.
Awww. I love that so much!
Michael, you continue to be one of my absolute favorite content-creators and bloggers. So happy to hear you’re not giving up, but that you’ve brave enough to pivot. Yay you! Thank for always providing exceptional inspiration and motivation for us. And holy cow that beach ball piece is TO DIE FOR! Love, love, love!
More, more, more! Soul…that’s what your blog has that many others do not. It is extremely obvious that you put your heart and soul in everything you do. I have followed you for quite a long time, and honestly, I still get excited when I see IBC in my inbox because I KNOW I will be inspired, motivated, and be totally engulfed in your presentation of the genuine map of everyday life. Authenticity is what I prefer and crave. Showiness will fizzle. Soulful endeavors shared with your followers will endure and inspire while the latest fad will be just that. Thank you, Michael. Your artistry in every area of your work is a standard of excellence that is beneficial and rewarding for all of us!
Oh Michael! You are such a wonderful and vibrant person!! We all appreciate your honesty as you share with us! I love all your post; but definitely am interested in more decorating posts! I love your unique style! Please give us more! I’m excited to see what you will do with the bedrooms!! Enjoy your summer Michael; and keep painting ❤️
Thank you for being brave and baring your soul. I have often found myself looking at Pinterest and thought “this is so unrealistic!” You have just the right amount of design that feels attainable and therefore is much more enjoyable to read and follow your journey. I’ve always wished I could bless the world with a gift like painting, and you obviously can so please keep it up! Looking forward to hearing from you soon!
I love everything you blog about. I really love your home makeovers! I’m stunned every time. I wouldn’t mind seeing room makeovers from your other blogger friends. Recipes are always a bonus and I’m a big fan of table scapes…yes!! Thank you for doing everything you do and all that you put into you blogs. Knowledge is powerful, especially when it’s shared. Appreciate you!