Let’s Get Real: To Blog or Not To Blog.

I had a bit of a reality check yesterday.

I got a pleasant little email informing me that due to the fact that I’m no longer meeting their required guidelines, I got the boot from the Southern Blog Society.  My guess is that since I barely post often enough to even consider myself a blogger anymore, they had to kick me out.  Bear with me – this isn’t a bitter anti-SBS mean girls post.  I really can’t say I blame them.  Although, I’ve read a few of those posts before.

I’ve told you about all the wonderful and crazy things going on in my life.  I promised you I wasn’t giving O&P up.  For the past two years, I’ve been posting at least once a week, sometimes 5 times a week, sharing what I’ve been cooking, doing, making, finding and experiencing.  It’s brought new and amazing people into my life. It’s helped me keep in touch and get back in touch with people I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years.  It’s helped me launch a business and it’s been the best creative and writing outlet I could ask for.  It’s enabled me to realize that I love shining a light on often overlooked people, places, and things.

I love writing, I love taking pictures, and I love blogging.

However, the longer I blog, the more negative feedback I get for blogging, too.  Lately, I’ve been told how selfish I am.  How self-serving I am.  How I blog (as well as do most of the other things I do) to seek praise from others.  How I should have mentioned this or that in a blog post.  How clearly wrong I was to leave something out or put something else in.  It’s quite the damned-if-I-do, damned-if-I-don’t situation.

Since I started Oysters & Pearls, I’ve tried to keep my blog posts at an arms’ length distance.  I’ve never gotten extremely personal in this space.  I’ve been hesitant to share too many personal stories or details or thoughts or feelings.  Let’s be real: I’m not very good at sharing that kind of thing anyway.  I’ve been told that was a mistake, too, in fact.  And I get it – the blogs I enjoy reading the most are the blogs that share the personal stuff in life – the real talk about marriages, friendships, babies, faith, houses, pets… the whole nine yards.  You feel like you know that person.  And for all intents and purposes, you really do.  But then you stumble upon blogger-bashing sites like GOMI (stands for Get Off My Internet – I’m not even linking because I don’t want to direct traffic to that site) and get sucked into the reality that the more personal you get, the more people will find all the things that are wrong with you.  That’s a scary thing.

But when you keep things impersonal, what then?  I have been told that I think I’m perfect.  That I’m trying to act like I’m perfect.  That by only showing the pretty parts of life, I’m not being real, that I’m lying by omission.  I am not a perfect person. I am messy and scattered and busy and forgetful and happily imperfect.  I do like for things to look pretty and tidy in this space,  mostly because I like pretty things and pretty food and looking at pretty pictures.  But trust me: just outside the frame of that pretty picture, there are most likely dog toys and/or dog hair and a cat sniffing the food and 3 pairs of Wheat’s shoes and one to five of the 40,000 bags I seem to constantly tote around.  Maybe I should be trying to show the messy side of life more.  But I’m not trying to trick anyone into thinking I’m perfect, and I certainly know I’m far from it.  I just like pretty pictures.

So let’s get real.

In the two years since I started this blog, a lot has changed. I went from simply working and coming home (which let me tell you, was a sad state of affairs), to writing this blog, to being on the Humane Society board and being very involved in that, to ramping up my blog, to starting Maiden South, to helping start a Farmers’ Market, to freelance writing for the Thomasville Townie, Southwest Georgia Living, and a series of publications by Southern Forestry Realty.  I’ve taken up (and become obsessed with) knitting.  And I’m sure I’ve done some other stuff, too.  And that’s on top of life, which is getting busier and busier by the minute.

I don’t say all this to have a pity party, for sure.  I am passionate about all of these things!  I certainly don’t list them all for the praise.  And I most certainly don’t list them all so I can passive-aggressively tell you that I’m busier than you.  Although, that’s how I must come across to some folks, and for that I’m sorry.

Lately, I’ve had to dig deep, do some soul searching and figure out where I want my life, and subsequently, this blog, to go.  I stretched myself thin in 2014, no doubt.  It’s been wild and thrilling and scary and wonderful.  But it’s been exhausting.  And it’s been hard.  And it’s been rough to be told a lot of awful things about yourself after you’ve worked and tried so hard to do the right things.  And it just plain sucks to have that self-doubt in my head now.  Am I doing anything I’m doing for the right reasons?  I thought I was… but maybe I’m not?  If some of the people I love the most (and for that matter, some people I don’t even know!) don’t support my decisions, or tell me I’m selfish and self-serving, how do I know if I’ve even made the right decisions at all? Regardless, I’ve decided that 2015 is a year for reflection and self-examination.

I usually don’t talk much about my faith, but the past couple weeks, I’ve been praying.  An awful lot.  I’ve been reading my devotional.  I’ve been reading Thirty One Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and Doer with my business partner (and a true blessing to me and this town), Jessica.  I’ve been reading Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.  I’ve been seeking guidance on my next steps in life, family, blogging, business, and basically all. the. things.

On day two of Thirty One Days, one of the calls to action is to choose a verse to memorize over the course of the month you spend reading the book.  I stumbled across the most perfect verse that has become my mantra – and probably always will be.  So much so, I even created a handy little graphic with one of my favorite pictures from our trip to Yellowstone to plaster all over every computer/iPhone/tablet screen I can find.  No need for it really, as I’ve already memorized it, and I repeat it to myself every few minutes, it seems.  But I don’t ever want to forget a single word: each line in this verse hits home hard for me.  If they hit home for you, too, feel free to snag it and use it for yourself.

Colossians 4 2, 5-6

I wish I always knew how to answer everyone.  I wish I could always have seasoned conversations full of grace.  I try to make the most of every opportunity, but Fear is always a nagging little voice sitting next to that jerk Self-Doubt.  I need to be more wise in how I treat others, most especially outsiders.  And I need to devote myself to prayer more, always being watchful and thankful for my many, many, many undeserved blessings.  As an aside: I love that word watchful.  I really do like to think of blogging and instagramming the little things I observe and am thankful for one way to be conscious and watchful of the blessings around me.

So where does this blog fit in and where does it go?  I don’t know.  I think I still want to use it to share things going on in my life with friends. Because most of you are friends!  And if we’re not, I feel certain we would be.  I cherish this creative outlet and platform, however small it may be.  But I’m afraid that it’s become a platform to promote myself for vain and self-serving reasons.  I stress and worry that I’m not doing a good enough job at blogging.  My hobbies and interests and goals are varied and crazy and different and I feel my blog going in different directions.  So if you’ve made it this far down the page… I guess I’m asking y’all: what do you want to read here?  What do you want to know about?  More about my life?  The nitty gritty personal stuff?  Far less about my life?  Knitting?  Beekeeping?  Maiden South?  Recipes?  What I’m up to?  What my dogs are up to?  All of the above?  Or none of the above?  Do other bloggers out there wrestle with this personal v. impersonal v. blog niche dilemma???

I can’t make promises anymore.  I can’t promise I’ll be able to devote my time to thoughtful, well-researched, thought-provoking posts.  I can’t promise that you’ll like each and every recipe I post here. I can’t promise my posts will be perfect, grammatically or otherwise.  I can’t promise they won’t just be a bunch of iPhone pictures of my dogs eating apples. Which, by the way, is hilarious.  I’m sure I’ll get an email or comment now about how apples are really terrible for dogs and how I’m a bad dog mom.  (I swear, I don’t let them eat the seeds!)

I can promise to try my very best to keep my conversations here and elsewhere full of grace and seasoned with salt, but I respectfully ask for the same from y’all.  I don’t know where this blog will be a year from now or a week from now.  But I do know that I appreciate the positive things this blog has given me, and I appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to read this ridiculously long, wordy, out-of-the-ordinary, touchy-feely post that took me four days to write and hit publish because I was so nervous about putting myself out there.  And I hit publish knowing full well that no matter how open and honest I feel this post has been, there will  be someone who finds fault in it and in me.

Now it’s your turn, if you so choose.  Let me have it.  I’ve told everyone and their mom what I’m feeling.  So whether you’re another blogger with a similar struggle, someone who thinks I’m just an awful person, someone with another devotional/book recommendation for me, or you would like to see more or less of anything or everything here on the blog… go ahead and give it to me.  Seasoned with salt (and a little grace), preferably.

Until Next Time

2015 French Brittany Field Trials

 

It’s that time of year again!

Last year, Wheat and I attended the 12th Annual French Brittany Field Trials in Quincy, Florida just to take it all in.  We didn’t have a dog in the fight, so to speak, but it’s magic to watch those pretty little dogs work, so we didn’t mind.

This year (last weekend), our little Juin competed in the Puppy Division!  We are so proud of that little bit.

A bit of background: This field trial began in 2003 when a handful of friends, (namely my dad’s great friend, Galt) got together to have a Puppy Trial.  Every year since, the event has grown as did the circle of friends with French Britts.  Now, there are nearly 30 dogs in the trials, a catered BBQ lunch, trophies, and afternoon hunts. We are so grateful to be included!

This year, we began at 7:45 or so with donuts from Reynolds Donuts in Quincy (some of the best donuts you’ll ever have).

Reynolds Donuts at 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Our Louie competed in the Old Timer’s Division right off the bat.  At 14 and a half, he was the oldest Britt there!  I couldn’t get a good picture of it… but despite his poor eye sight, lack of hearing, and a long-gone sense of smell, Louie did great.  And by great, I mean he walked around for a few minutes, flushed a couple quail by accident, and got carried back to the quail buggy.

Next up were the puppies!  Juin competed against 7 other puppies, and she did so, so well.  We were proud puppy parents!  Prepare to be overwhelmed by pictures of Juin hunting.  And also other dogs hunting.  Having a French Brittany means you are obsessed with all French Brittanys.

Juin, 7 months, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin also made some new friends. :)

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

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Wheat and June, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat and June, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat and June, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

After Juin, we watched all the other dogs give it a go.  I love seeing all the dogs each year!

Baby, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

My dad was the designated shooter again this year.

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin got called back for another round, and this time I was able to get some much better pictures of her in action.  A French Brittany on point is one of the prettiest things you will see in the woods.

2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin On Point, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin on Point, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin on Point, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin on Point, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Juin, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Wheat has been working with Juin so much since we brought her home, and he was awfully proud of how well she did… we both were!

Wheat and Juin, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

And then I managed to get one picture with my mom before the awards ceremony and lunch.

Natalie and Lisa Jo, 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

Where Juin came in FIRST in the Puppy Division and Second Overall!  We were about to burst.

Juin, Best Puppy and Second Best Overall at 2015 French Brittany Field Trials | Oysters & Pearls

2015 is off to a great start!  Here’s to hoping the rest of it lives up to January.

Until Next Time

Back to Reality

Normally I would be super bummed to be back to reality, but I’m pretty glad to come back to some semblance of a routine.  Kinda.  If you haven’t been following along on Instagram, let me get you up to speed:

 I’ve been attempting to detox from two to three weeks of boozing and celebrating, catch up on sleep and work, and settle into a less hectic schedule.  So far, so good.  I’ve eaten lots of salads, drank tons of water, been doing yoga every day, walking more (love my fitbit!), and drinking lots of juices.  I even spent a day drinking nothing but juices. That’s about as far as I can get on a cleanse.

I’ve been eating clean, which to me includes one slice of whole wheat bread a day, either turned into avocado toast or almond butter toast with pomegranate.

Almond Butter Toast with Pomegranate | Oysters & Pearls

We’ve dined on shrimp skewers with onions and tomatoes, sautéed baby bok choy, and grilled baby eggplant.

Shrimp Skewers and Veggies  | Oysters & Pearls

And I’ve eaten a lot of delicious salads from Grassroots while working in Thomasville.  They can’t be beat.

Salad from Grassroots Coffee Shop in Downtown Thomasville | Oysters & Pearls

And that cleanse I mentioned?  I drank juice all day long on Saturday.  And then I roasted a chicken when I got home from the Shop.  I feel better – I really do!  Find the recipe for the perfect roasted chicken from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home here.

Ad Hoc at Home Roast Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Another clean thing we’ve been eating: MORE PHO.  Pho real.  With pho real pictures, too!

Faux Pho at Home | Oysters & Pearls

We basically wanted nothing but broth and vegetables when we got back from wedding-stravaganza, so pho it was.

Shitaake Mushrooms and a Heartwood Forge Knife | Oysters & Pearls Sliced Radishes, Tiny Eggplant, Limes, and Thai Basil for Pho at Home | Oysters & Pearls Quick Pickled Onions and Bok Choy | Oysters & Pearls Pho Ingredients | Oysters & Pearls

Make your own faux pho – here’s how I make my pho.

It’s amazing what a week of yoga, walking, and eating healthy and not drinking will do!  That being said, I had a glass or two of wine last night for my mother-in-law’s and sister-in-law’s birthdays Sunday night. ;)

I gave a presentation to the Lady Banks Garden Club of Thomasville Friday morning on backyard beekeeping.  It was the first time I had given a presentation on bees, and the first time in a long time in general!  I think there are a few more bee-lovers in Thomas County now.

Pictured: Top left: a worker bee (female), top right: a drone (male bee), and bottom is a Queen Bee.

Bee Diagram | Oysters & Pearls

Bee Diagram nabbed from Instagram @girlnextdoorhoney

I also shared a little tidbit I learned from @girlnextdoorhoney (one of my favorite instagram accounts) with the group.  Rather than paraphrase, I’ll just share the screenshot.  Just more proof that bees are divine little creatures.

Girl Next Door Honey Bee Facts | Oysters & Pearls

Amazing, no?

I haven’t been knitting much lately, sadly.  I’ve just been too busy!  I did finish up a hat for Fuzzy Goat as a sample.  It’s the Tin Can Knits Barley hat pattern in Swan’s Island yarn from Fuzzy Goat.

Tin Can Knits Barley Hat in Swan's Island Yarn | Oysters & Pearls

Just before Christmas, I took the plunge and ordered myself my own yarn ball winder!  I got some yarn for Christmas, too, so Sunday I got it out and figured out how to use it and got winding.  I wound up my Malabrigo Rasta and Sweet Georgia (in English Ivy) and look forward to winding center-pull balls for years to come. Malabrigo Rasta and Sweet Georgia in English Ivy, Wound at Home | Oysters & Pearls

Yarn Winding at Home | Oysters & Pearls

I made a sad attempt to start the Ishbel Shawl with that Sweet Georgia yarn (green), but my oh MY it might be over my head.  It begins with a Garter Tab cast on, which is precisely as far as I got.

Garter Tab Cast On for the Ishbel Shawl | Oysters & Pearls

Pure talent right there… le sigh.  Maybe by next Christmas I’ll have a shawl?  HALP.

And that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to!  Cooking more this week, but it’s pretty much been oldies but goodies.  Pho, Quinoa Pilaf, and plans for a venison pot roast this week.  What are y’all cooking?  I need some (healthy) inspiration!

Until Next Time