February 19, 2012

Where am I?

barn cat
Barn Cat

When Jeff read that I was longing for a view, he started searching for a new house. We hadn't discussed moving, and it's been a bit of a thing for me, to remind people that we live in a tiny house and we make it work neener neener! But maybe that's not true. Perhaps it's not really working so much anymore. There I was stuck on keeping up appearances for whatever reason, not realizing I was denying myself permission to dream of anything more.

He sent me a link to a dream home. It has a barn (and a fat barn cat). And an art studio with a Diff'rent Strokes winding staircase. And so many windows. With that one link, it was like he gave me the world.

barn view
The house with a view. 

I didn't ever see this coming, because I was more focused on looking at all the things that I thought made it impossible to hope. In my mind I thought that fence around my heart was a good thing, I thought this was high living. What I was supposed to want. I thought because we had everything we needed, I shouldn't long for more.

An amazing, more than I could have imagined to ask for kind of view. 

In letting all that go, there it was waiting for me. We went to see it yesterday. I feel such a peace about this house and love it so much that it's okay if it sells to someone else tomorrow. Whoever moves in will get something amazing. If it can wait for us, then it is ours. I told Jeff I just feel like there is a hand on our shoulders saying, you are headed in the right direction. This is only the beginning.

rooftop view
rooftop deck view

I entered into this year with a vision of taking a break. The first thing I did was quit most of my freelance jobs, including writing for Babble. While it was great pay, I didn't find it to be the best compensation for the time and joy that was chiseled away because of it. It's been a few months now and I couldn't be more happy and proud of my decision. Of course, I would never know I'd feel this way if I hadn't tried it in the first place. Life is funny like that.

I want to be paid for my writing but I don't. And oh how I get why some of the most amazing artists died poor. I rebel against the idea that you should try to make a business out of everything you love to do. I don't want to have to draw you in other than that you just happened to be here. I don't want to trick you. I want you to want to read. And I want to walk away and I want to hate it and I want to be so afraid of losing it and I want to come back.

barn sky

This week I'm driving to Nashville for Blissdom and will be a community leader for a few writing sessions. I wrestle with utter excitement and feeling like the biggest phony - here I am with a burning desire to get rid of what so many bloggers hope to gain, definitely knowing that I am over the disappointment of working with brands, and a fresh belief that the best part of blogging is the freedom to walk away. I don't know how to explain why I do what I do, because even I don't know. And I don't want to have to know. But I also take heart because I'm not the only one.

I want to live in a home that doesn't make me want to leave. That doesn't have me longing for Paris or a vacation. Someplace that satisfies my heart so that I can tend to all of the other things.

I want to write and know it's me. 


  1. Yes. this. Exactly.

    We should talk this week at Blissdom.

  2. Love you and reading all of this you write about here. So exciting to start looking at houses and properties. Keep me posted. Snail-mail heading your way soon. xoxo

  3. I totally understand. I love this post so much. You are amazing, Steph. I hope you know that. XOXO

  4. the best part of blogging is the freedom to walk away and a home that i don't want to leave. thank you for that reminder. i'm really, really grateful exactly where i am.

    [except, i miiiisssss you.]

    i really hope that house is yours.

  5. I've been following your blog for awhile, but never commented.
    I think I'm on the beginning side of what you're now ending--I just had my first baby seven months ago, and I "kind of" write in the evenings. Except that I hate what I'm writing (just boring freelance articles about nothing), and am dying to write real things, things that are important to me. I looked at submitting work to Babble, and then shrugged it off, because I am sure that I'm not good enough. Admittedly, you were/are one of the bloggers I looked at and thought, "If she can do it, I could."

    It's refreshing to hear you on the other side of all of this, and kind of discouraging at the same time. I want to do what I love, write what I love, and be able to make a living off of it. I want to be content with where I am, and not want anything more.

    I guess I just want to say thank you for inspiring me, and thank you for being willing to let go of what the world tells you you should want, for the things that really matter to you.

    Also, that house (and the view) is beautiful.

  6. I feel this way about photography right now. It's made a nice little income, but at what cost?

    Also? That house, that land, that barn, and even that cat...all so very lovely. (and so very Steph).

  7. yes. yes. yes.
    Steph, that's sooo gorgeous, and so you.

    Cannot wait to see you, have long talks, tears, laughs and many, many hugs. xoxoxo

  8. I sob at the idea of ever leaving my home and like Bridget said, I'm the same with photography. Yes, it can make money, but it takes so much time and energy away from my family and what I love to do.

    You are not alone. You will always be one of my most favorite parts of the Internet and life, especially if you come with a chubby barn cat. ;)

  9. love you + you are on the right path + looking at all the right views xo

  10. Man, I hope your house sells QUICK and you get that wonderful property with a view.

  11. your heart is so fresh. i love it. and that view? oh me oh my. yes! it's neat that we are going through the same sort of walk of life right now--selling and moving. it is so fun, exciting, and stressful, and reassuring to know that God is in control when we most definitely aren't.

  12. oh my goodness. yes. this.
    we are too in the midst of looking at homes that others would give anything to own. but if they aren't speaking to me? i walk away. i want what we have here. a lovely little home ... but with a bigger view of the world. crazy how life metaphors life, isn't it?

  13. Beautiful! I feel this too. I love my home, but I rent, so I know it's not my FOREVER. Tricky stuff.

  14. i hope all of those dreams come true..you know, the ones you are scared to even dream. xoxo

  15. I follow you on twitter and read your blog links but don't often comment. This is a beautiful post. Best of all, it's authentic. I really don't think you are alone in coming to this realization. I don't fancy myself a writer but at one time I was a regular blogger. After being bogged down with saying yes to too many marketing campaigns, I realized that I had lost my way. I never got paid but did receive product in return. It was fun until I woke up to all the crap lying around. It was unimportant stuff compared to my family and my true passions.

    Honestly, I never liked the babble posts. It's not that they were bad, they just never felt like "you".

  16. Oh Steph, it's just beautiful and perfect! And made for you.


  17. There you go again. Reading my mail. Writing my heart story. I walked away from getting paid to write too. When it's constrained it feels...I don't know; a ruse at best, suffocating at worst.

    I would love to head down to Blissdom one of these days. I'm not sure exactly what I want out of a blog, a career or even a dream right now. But I'm finding its a freeing place to be.

    I love the house, Stephanie! It's gorgeous. A place to love living is undoubtedly a precious gift. When you stop hoping it's almost like you stop breathing. *hugs*

  18. Wonderful, Steph! I've been so caught up in my own little world lately, there hasn't been a lot of time for the online relationships, but I've been thinking about you a lot and worrying about you and knowing how overwhelming life can be. So awesome that you've been able to sweep away some of those mental barriers that let you dream again! And setting boundaries on what you will spend your time doing. Go, girl!

  19. Steph, I'm so, so happy for you guys! I hope that your dream house becomes reality for you. So very often, you write exactly what my heart is feeling but I've been too afraid to voice.

  20. STEPH! A new home! I am so excited for you. Your writing is always so truthful and heart-changing, and for that I'm so thankful. For you I'm so thankful. Oh, and the barn complete with chubby kitty?! AMAZING.

  21. Can we please - oh, please! - make time to sit down and talk about this next week? Except I might talk through tears. You have written my heart here. (Okay, opposite in some ways. We are looking for a house in the city when I thought what I was supposed to want - as the crunchy chick - was country living. Turns out I have an urban streak a mile wide.) BUT. On the blogging thing. Oh, let's talk.

    (We're in two of the same sessions! I didn't get Jeff Goins, but I'm planning on that one. CANNOT WAIT to see you there!)

  22. Great post, Steph. It's so amazing how so many that I know have started doing something they love because they love it and when it turns into a "business" they no longer love it but are stuck still doing it. Sort of ironic, no? The new house, as well as your heart, is beautiful. You'll do what's right for you, and in the end, that's really all that matters, yes? xoxo

  23. I have been internally shouting lately "What ever happened to old blogging!!!!!" Like when we just wrote and commented and had community. There was no social media and integrated marketing campaigns and stats (ARGH TO THE STAT BATTLE). It was such a lovely place to be and lately I just am starting to hate what blogging has become.

    So this. Is wonderful. Also I love that house. I keep finding myself in the real estate sites searching for "farm house". Who knew....

  24. First of all, I am so happy that you are happy. You are so authentic lately, and I am loving it. Not that you weren't before, but I can feel the healing through your words. It's just wonderful.

    This post was so interesting for me to read. I have often found myself wanting to blend my "fun" writing with my "bread and butter" writing, but perhaps there is a benefit to keeping them separate. I can see where the marketing side of it all would take away the joy, especially when you are writing about the things that are worth more than any amount of money. Once I again, it's all about balance, isn't it?

    Whether or not you get the house, I truly hope you enjoy the new view! <3

  25. Beautiful. I hope your dreams come true... all of them. (And keep coming true as you keep dreaming them new.) Have an amazing time at Blissdom!

  26. I love the farm house, I hope it becomes yours! I have a little blog, I don't have advertising, I haven't done any sponsored writing, and the giveaways I've done have been wonderful things from friends. I think all of those things have a place, but aren't in the place I want to be. I'll be at BlissDom next week (and hope to meet you). But in the prep time for the conference, when people ask what I write about...or what my "goal" is for my blog? They often seem confused when I answer, "to have a place to write." That's what I want from my blog, and if the stories or posts touch someone, then I'm good. If they don't? And only my mom has seen the post? Them I'm good there too. Thanks so much for this post of yours, it was reassuring to know that I'm not crazy for my view.

  27. So beautiful and so, so true. I can relate exactly to what you're saying.

    I know I've mentioned this before, but, as far as blogging goes, I vacillate between wanting to be a big, successful blogger and wanting to post once in awhile, whenever I feel like it, and not really.

    As far as homes, we've been looking for several months now, and what we want (big house, a few acres, older home, in our price range) just doesn't seem to exist here in California. Maybe I should tell my husband we're going to move out there and be your next door neighbor. That property looks amazing!

  28. There's so very much right here.

    It has me teary, but I can't say why.

    Again, because there's so much here.

    (The view, is lovely. Truly.)

  29. Came here through a tweet from Galit...and so glad I did...
    This is one of the most honest posts I've read in a long long while...

  30. Beautiful! Thank you.

  31. You just wrote from my heart. I have been struggling with these same thoughts for months. Can't wait to hug you in a few days!

  32. I believe you nailed it when you felt this is the right path and without a doubt I understand what you are talking about. Change is good even when it doesn't seem upward in other people's eyes. Your eyes are the only one who can see what is best for you but you already know that ;)

    FTR: I'm swooning over this property. To wake up to those views (and that 2nd floor balcony!) may possibly be one of the most wonderful ways to start the day -- even on a Monday!

  33. That is a beautiful piece of land Steph - I hope it, or something just as wonderful can be yours one day.

    We've outgrown our itty-bitty house and are hoping to move soon... for a long time it was big enough and we made it work - but now, it just doesn't work anymore!

    Mostly though this is a beautiful post, I love your heart-writing.

  34. Oh Steph,

    I love reading the words in your world. It may be an adventure and a beginning, but it sounds so much more like a return....I love that you're are trusting this and letting your dreams be lavished on you:) And I can't wait to go antiquing to fill up that fantastic studio! Hooray for empty rooms that need to be filled and white walls that long for your heart.

  35. Just getting to look and dream is exciting! And because you really have made peace with where you are you can look with eyes wide open.

    I am attending a few of the writing sessions. Writing is still very new for me. My husband asked if I was going to learn how to make money from my blog. I said no. That's not why I have a blog. I guess I shouldn't be so definite about that, but we'll see. I am looking forward to meeting you!

    And I do come here because I want to read, but would absolutely understand if you walked away. Funnily enough, I'm going to Blissdom right when I plan to drastically reduce my online time (Lenten resolution). Viewing Blissdom as a retreat to get me started.

  36. Oh what a lovely house with a lovely view! That's so wonderful to hear you say you're breaking down your boxes. It's so frustrating and amazing, isn't it, how we never see them until *after* we've torn them down?

    I hope you find the house with the lovely view in your writing too. But just write. Even (especially?) if it's writing that will never see the light of day. Write, and you will find you.

  37. Yes, Steph. Yes.

    "I thought because we had everything we needed, I shouldn't long for more."

    Isn't the heart's reach for further, deeper, higher extraordinary?

    I just loved reading this.

  38. I love this post so much. Also: I want our kids to play with each other on the Chicago beaches this summer. Last year...where did it go? I miss laughing with you in person.

  39. I love this. That house needs you.

  40. I love what Nicole said above, "because you really have made peace with where you are you can look with eyes wide open". That resonates so strong with me right now, and I truly do believe you do have to make peace (be content - my "new" thing) in order to truly be happy and find your space in this life.

    Your words are amazing, it's been awesome to read along with you for the past 5 or so years, watching you change and grow as a person and a writer (even if it is through this tiny peephole into your world that you blog at!). :)

    Thanks for putting it so eloquently, "I want to be paid for my writing but I don't. And oh how I get why some of the most amazing artists died poor." I totally get that - and I take heart in knowing that I am not the only one.

  41. So, I think that view looks fantastic, and I would love to visit you there, but I'm the kind of girl who is freaked out by wide open space. If I can't see buildings, it's not for me. So, I'm laughing right now at what makes something so ideal for one person v. another. I'm super happy that you are finding what makes you feel good!

  42. I love it :) I quit all my review jobs/partnerships for that very reason; I hated feeling like I was pressured to review something and felt phony saying, hey I did love this, but got it for free, so can you trust my opinion? Not really. Especially since a lot of the things I was getting to review were REALLY nice and great products, but almost all were priced WAY more than I would have actually ever spent on such an item, and I was getting pressure to leave that out of my reviews. Anyways, just tell you; I get it. :)

    I wish I was making it to Blissdom this year, BUT, there will be another and I'll eventually make it, lol. Take care

  43. girl, girl, GURL. i feel like you wrote this for me to read. i'm not sure if that's just my narcissism or serendipity. (although the house would not be my dream view because i'm somewhat terrified of the woods. i'll take the ocean. but STILL...)
    although, i'm on the other side of the fence. i want to get some freelance writing jobs (more than the one i have) because i need to work. but i don't use my blog to do so. because it's my one space that lets me not worry about my audience.
    i suppose i'm shooting myself in the foot, but i figure if i make money writing, it's going to be in addition to my blog writing, not through it. does that even make sense?
    regardless, i'm excited to see where this blog goes now. with just your heart guiding it and without the worry of who is reading. i'm excited about peeking even deeper between your letters.
    but, um, i would totally come visit the woods. just sayin. :-)

  44. You are one of THE most genuine and real people I know, Steph. Your words here prove that to me every time I come to read. I would "thank" you for that but I know you are JUST being you and it's amazing. I know such good things are in your future...

    I'll miss seeing you this week. Wish I could be there. Have a wonderful time and congrats on being a community leader.

  45. I am praying that if this house is God's Will, then it will happen. I can picture you up in the art studio doing your writing. This cat looks like he belongs to you and he is so cute. I've always wanted a Grand-Cat...lol.

  46. You're awesome. And I totally relate to the idea of building up not-quite-enough in your head because you are afraid it's greedy to ask for more. I think what I'm realizing is that what I have can be enough AND I can hope for more. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

  47. I am not easily tricked. I *want* to read, and I suspect I am not the only one. I, quite purposefully, don't read your blog every day. I save it for quiet mornings after the kids are off when I can read and {really} relate and savor the quiet calm of your truthful words.

    I hope the house can wait for you. And the fat barn cat, too.

  48. It's funny how just a photo, or an idea, can be so freeing. It's also funny how you can see it and just KNOW. I have a place like that. I don't know when I'll get there, but I trust that I will, and it sees me through.

  49. I wish I was coming to Blissdom just so we could have another night of knitting. You are so not a phony- you are as real as they come.

    And I love this house. It has soul. I hope it is yours! xoxo

  50. Often the things we need are things we don't realize until we see them. Like your "view". I so hope you get your view.

    The opposite too, as you've written about some of your blogging/writing.

    I've really wrestled with blogging/writing and pursuing paid opportunities. Ultimately I've decided it's too much for me in this season and so I continue to write for the sake of writing and connecting, in my own little corners of the big web, knowing that when it's right to take it further, I'll know.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. It's really refreshing.

  51. looks like a beautiful place. As for the writing, I don't think we have to make money at everything we do but assuming we NEED to make money, we should try to find a way to make money doing something we love. Does that make sense. I dream of being a full time professional writer/social media guru only because I can't afford to not work. (We make it work in a teeny tiny house in a horrible neighborhood because my husband has been unemployed for over 5 years). But I can't stand doing a job just for money and trying to do what I love in the time I have left over!

  52. Just wanted to say I want to read the words in this space because they are real and they are the you I've really come to like a whole lot.

  53. Just catching up on your blog and had to say how much I HEARD this post. So much of it!!

    hugs friend


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