Blogger Life

Life Lately

Flowers

We all need a break from time-to-time. While taking a day off from our day job may not always be feasible, enjoying a respite from our side-hustle should be. After the weekend, I felt like I needed a break. I had a great post planned to start the week, but when I got home Sunday evening to write it, nothing flowed. A couple of years ago, I would have forced myself to sit and write something…anything…just not to miss one of my scheduled posting days. But, honestly, who wants to read something that doesn’t come from the heart, and has no soul? I value your time and this space too much to publish just for the sake of putting something out there. So, I hope you will excuse Monday’s absence and understand my need for a respite.

If you have been following along on Instagram Stories this week, you may have seen me talking about my recent appointment with my endocrinologist. I appreciate all of the well wishes and prayers that you sent my way on social media, so I feel that it is only appropriate that I share the outcome of the appointment here.

After almost six months of blood work, neck ultrasounds, and treks into New York City for follow-ups, my antithyroglobulin levels remain elevated. Weeks earlier, I had hopes that despite a modest 50 point decrease from my February numbers, we could stay the course and keep up our watchful waiting approach. But after my appointment with my endocrinologist on Monday, a new course of action has been prescribed. Next week, I will have a consultation with a radiation oncologist at a hospital closer to my home, and will likely have an I-131 whole body scan performed, followed by a dose of radioactive iodine. Since my surgery in 2013, I had been resistant to undergoing radioactive iodine treatment, but given the length of time that my numbers have been elevated, and on the recommendation of my endocrinologist, I have decided to pursue this option.

I never imagined that I would be making this decision. For the last four years, my numbers had been steadily trending downward—which is a good sign after surgery. I can still recall the sheer shock that overcame me when I opened the results of my blood work from November 2016 and saw that my antithyroglobulin level was more than double what it should have been. That was the beginning of this setback and I am finally ready to write the ending and close the chapter.

The last six months of waiting, wishing, and wondering have taken a toll on me—even if I have tried to suffer privately. These months have reminded me that despite my best efforts to push unsettling news aside, sometimes you need to tackle things head-on—especially when they pertain to your health.

As always, I appreciate all of your support. It means so much!

Monday Mantra: Take a Digital Detox

Social Media

As someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I’ve started to recognize how important it is to come up for air every once in a while. It’s easy to get into a routine, as I have, of waking up, scrolling through Instagram, browsing your Twitter feed, and perusing Facebook…all before you have even gotten out of bed. What’s worse, is that I have found myself scrolling through Instagram every chance I get—whether that’s in the check-out line at the grocery store or into the wee hours of the night (when I should be sleeping). So what’s a girl to do when you love your social media feeds, but really need to take a timeout? Insert the digital detox.

I’ve read plenty of posts on doing a digital detox, reaping benefits from it, and limiting your social media usage at critical times of the day, like before bed. Since we are bracing for a major snow storm on the East Coast this Tuesday (foiling my plans of having my scan done in New York City this week), I figured this past weekend was a nice time to take a hiatus from social media.

In the past, the idea of being “offline” for a whole weekend would scare me. Just thinking about all the posts and pictures I would miss makes me scream #FOMO. But after blogging for more than three years, I have learned that it’s okay to take a step back. Sometimes you need time for yourself or a little breathing space to feel inspired to post again. And that’s okay.

While I did post on Instagram once during my digital detox, I spent much less time scrolling through content. Rather than feeling like I was missing out all weekend, I felt free. I wasn’t tethered to my iPhone or trying to find the perfect picture to post, but I was able to enjoy my weekend and capture each moment with my own eyes…instead of my iPhone.

Now that my weekend digital detox is over, I am looking forward to jumping back on all of my beloved platforms (especially Instagram!) with a renewed appreciation…and perhaps some self-imposed time limits.

Tell me, have you ever done a digital detox?

*Image via PicLab Studio

The Next Chapter

writing

I recently wrote a post about change. Well, there has been a development in my life that has warranted my taking my own advice.

In August of 2015, I decided to quit my 9-to-5 job and give blogging full-time a try. It was a decision that came with some heavy consequences, like the loss of a stable income. And while the paycheck every two weeks was nice (and appreciated), the job itself was unfulfilling. I needed to make a change and pursue a more creative venture, so I put in my notice and decided to work for myself. I had a powerful incentive to take this leap of faith: After having thyroid cancer in 2013 at age 26, I promised myself that I would appreciate my time more and do what made me happy.

My adventure with blogging this last year has certainly had its up’s and down’s, but I’ve learned more in one year of full-time blogging then I had in any prior role I’ve held. From pitching to brands, working with a photographer, determining my rate, creating consistent and engaging content to finding my voice and being confident in my writing, those valuable lessons are hard to put a price on.

But being in business for yourself is no easy feat. Working at home is at times isolating and stifling to creativity. It is also incredibly difficult to depend on creativity for income. I’m reminded of what Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic (remember she held odd jobs until she hit it big with her fourth book) about how difficult it can be to ask your passion to support you. Those words profoundly affected me. I had turned something I was doing for fun and tried to make it profitable. Sometimes this formula equals success, but not for me at this time. I am perfectly okay with that, for I learned the very important distinction between an avocation and vocation.

So while I will not be a full-time blogger this year, working from my nice home office, and running up to Starbucks at noon, I will be using the skills I have gained from blogging in my new role in marketing. Fortuitously, my employer hired me because of my blog and all the skills I acquired through creating my site, writing copy, and promoting content.

I will forever be grateful for these 13 months — the friendships I’ve made along the way, the brands I’ve collaborated with, and of course, all of my readers who make blogging such a rewarding experience. But with my new time constraints, my blogging schedule will return to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday each week. Of course, you can follow along on Snapchat and Instagram (@livinginsteil), where I will be posting daily.

The greatest lesson for me in all of this is that sometimes you can’t turn your dreams into dollars, but you can allow your passion to pave the way to a paycheck.

*Image via PicLab Studio

Blogger Problems

Home Office

Help! Technology is failing me.

Last week, my first generation iPad kicked the bucket. I more than got my money’s worth from the device, but it was my lifeline. Despite having a home office and multiple gadgets that begin with the letter “i”, the iPad was my preferred machine. So learning that the Apple store no longer “supports” my beloved was a bitter pill to swallow. After resigning myself to the fact that I would indeed need a new iPad, I still have yet to open and set up said purchase. At least my desktop and I have grown closer….

To add insult to injury, some of you may have noticed that I have been MIA from commenting on your sites. The absence has not been by choice. My comments have not been registering on most sites that I’ve visited lately (although commenting with Disqus or on Blogger sites has been working fine). Don’t ask me how or why, but the long and short of it is that I’m not sure what to do or whom to contact about the problem. If you’ve missed seeing my comments or have a solution to this dilemma, please let me know how I can resolve this issue.

Status Update: As of yesterday, it looks like my comments have been appearing again. Here’s hoping it was just a minor glitch and that everything goes back to normal. But if you have an explanation, I’d still love to hear it!

Ah, the perils of being a blogger in the 21st Century!

*Image via PicLab Studio

You Know You’re a Blogger When…Take II

You Know You're a Blogger When

It’s time for another installment of You Know You’re a Blogger When…. If you are a blogger, you will probably be able to relate to some of these thoughts.

1. You firmly believe that watching Snapchat should count as an Olympic sport. Speaking of the Olympics, is anyone else having trouble getting things done now that the Summer Games are on?

2. You have a permanent case of writer’s block because it’s so nice out and you just want to spend your days at the beach.

3. You’ve lamented almost daily (and maybe even blogged about this topic a few times) about how fast the summer is going. You’ve also created a summer bucket list in the hopes that it will stretch the remaining days out a bit.

4. You’re officially tired of hearing about the Nordstrom anniversary sale (and you and your bank account are glad that it has come to an end). And no, you’re not ready to start talking about fall fashion!

5. You have way too much fun playing with Snapchat filters (especially when they momentarily turn you into an Olympian!).

P.S. Apologies for my absence yesterday. I had a post scheduled for Wednesday that got scrapped at the last minute. And, well, the Olympics are on!

*Image via PicLab

Musings of a Blogger

Sag Harbor, NY

Today is supposed to be 91 degrees in my part of the world, which all but guarantees that I will be spending the day at the beach (catching up on emails and pondering blog topics, of course!). As another summer week seemed to whiz by, I’m left with a certain satisfaction of all that I have accomplished in the last few days. I finished each day with a checked off to-do list, new goals in place, and a decent sense of direction for the remainder of the month. So, I deserve a beach day, right?

Here’s a short breakdown of my week:

The week started out a bit rocky. After performing an upgrade on my iPhone, my beloved Calm meditation app (which I have been using daily for over two months) suddenly wasn’t free anymore. I loved my nightly guided meditation, so you can imagine how upset I was when I tried to use the app before bed one night and it was locked. Fortunately, I found another meditation app to take its place. I’ll soon be sharing more about my meditation journey and the apps I use!

I changed up my routine a bit and went to a Tuesday evening kickboxing class. Why is working out at night so much harder? Anyone else feel this way?

By Wednesday I was beyond sore, but mustered up enough energy to make friends with the new lawn mower, a Honda purchased from Home Depot. I admit, mowing the lawn is one of my least favorite activities (or it became one years earlier, when I was attacked by yellow jackets who had burrowed in the ground and were on the defensive after I mowed over their home! #grownupproblems). But this time, I felt a certain sense of achievement after mowing the lawn.

On Thursday, in an effort to reward myself for performing said manual labor mentioned earlier, I stopped at Ulta (you know where this is going) and picked up a new foundation and skincare products. Since I’m still hunting for a lightweight summer makeup, I did a little research before heading to the store. With reviews in hand, I made my decision and can’t wait to try my new liquid foundation. Look for a preview on my Snapchat and Instagram (@livinginsteil). A review will come to the blog soon.

And here we are at last — it’s Friday. I hope you all have a great weekend!

The Insta Index

This past weekend made me want to countdown the days until the official start of summer. But by Monday, it felt like fall had returned (and I had to pull out an additional layer to run errands). Here’s hoping that this wacky weather realizes that it is mid-May, and summer should be on its way soon.

In the meantime, here’s a quick Instagram round-up:

Kendra Scott Earrings

{Seeing blue with these Kendra Scott beauties}

May Sunset

{A Fiery Sunset}

Nutella Milkshake

{Nutella milkshake from Go Burger}

Countdown to summer

{Summer Countdown}

Barn Day

{Let me in…I know you have treats in there!}

Follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (username: livinginsteil) to keep up with all of my musings!

Monday Mantra: The Benefits of a Break

Monday Mantra:  The Benefits of a Break

Well, another weekend has come and gone, and a new week is starting. I’d like to thank each and every one of you who commented on last Wednesday’s post about my taking a few days for myself. I love this site, so it felt strange to stray from my regular posting schedule. But I needed that break. I really appreciated all of your comments supporting my decision to take a long weekend.

I once heard someone say that “a routine is the enemy of time.” That line struck me. I thought, “Yes. Time passes in the blink of an eye because of my routine.” Perhaps having no routine keeps you in the present moment — constantly engaged and with a sense of wanderlust. But what I’ve found from my time as a blogger — with whatever routine I set for myself — is the precise opposite of the quotation. The absence of a routine is the enemy of time…at least for me. It has tested my discipline, my passion, and my focus. Sometimes one or all three of those things have been lost. My long weekend taught me that without structure, the days tend to blend together with little to separate one from the next. My break also showed me that I crave a routine. For the last few months my routine has been the same: wake up, read lots of blogs, respond to comments, post on social media, and write. Did you notice anything missing from that routine? Like lunch, a walk in the park, time for myself?

Some time away gave me a bit of perspective — I am someone who needs a routine. And not just any old routine, but one that evolves and changes — one that is filled with little things to look forward to. Last week I began meditating, and while I’m only six days in, it is something I plan on incorporating into my daily routine this month. When it comes down to it, a routine is your friend, your stability, your blueprint for activities and goals.

I didn’t plan on using this break for soul-searching, but that’s exactly how it played out. I’m excited to embark on a new routine, embrace the beautiful spring days ahead, and continue to create fun content for you all!

How was your weekend? Did you learn anything new about yourself?

Blogger Goals: Me Time

Flowers

We are halfway through the week, my lovely readers. How has it been going for you? It’s been a rough one for me — but I’m managing as best I can. I’ve gotten behind on my blog comments and social media posting this week — sorry. In the spirit of self-preservation, I am allowing myself a long weekend, starting today. I have never deviated from my regular posting schedule since I started blogging more than two years ago. But this week has taken a lot out of me, and rather than write half-hearted posts (which, let’s be honest, are no fun to read), I’ve decided to stay true to myself, this blog, and you — my readers.

I’ll be catching up over the next couple of days on some “blog-keeping” (a blogger’s version of housekeeping), and making time for rest and relaxation. I will be back to my regular daily posting schedule on Monday, May 9th!

Hope you all have a great rest of the week and weekend!

Three Quotes to Boost Your Productivity

Three Quotes to Boost Your Productivity

Ever since I’ve returned home from Rhode Island I have hit the ground running. My usually sluggish Monday morning routine was instead greeted this week by someone who woke up slightly earlier (did you catch my Monday Mantra post about mornings?), planned out her day, and crossed off every item on her to-do list (by about midnight). How’s that for being productive? And the energy levels haven’t decreased since…

I took my own advice of accomplishing the most pressing things early in my week — like, first thing Monday morning. Since I was out-of-town last week, there were quite a few emails to reply to, posts to start writing, and just general follow-up. Of course, my productivity was interrupted with a few minutes spent perusing Snapchat and Instagram every so often.

So here’s how I’ve achieved “productive rockstar” status (at least in my own mind):

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today: Benjamin Franklin said it best. This is actually a quote that I try to live by — okay, maybe not on Fridays when the weekend is calling me. But for the most part, if it’s on my to do list, it gets done that day. One way to make sure that happens is by limiting my list to just three “must accomplish” tasks per day.

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time: I couldn’t agree more with Bertrand Russell about this! But I didn’t realize how dependent I was on social media until I went to Pennsylvania (and then Rhode Island) and was constantly checking Instagram, making snaps for Snapchat, or tweeting. I love engaging on social media, but when I need to get work done it can be a major distraction. Limiting the amount of times (in an hour) I check social media platforms has been crucial to getting more done during the work day.

Failing to plan is planning to fail: Thank you Alan Alamein for these wise words! I have a confession: planning is not one of my strengths. Both times I’ve traveled in the last month I should have had posts written well in advance. And both times that didn’t happen (although I did a better job planning ahead the second time). I tend to make good use of my time in a pinch, like writing a blog post on the ferry ride over to New London, Connecticut. But I did use much of my afternoons to write in the hotel room when I probably should have been out exploring my destination. Note to self: plan on planning. Anyone have any planning tips they want to share? I’m all ears!

While it feels great to be productive (yea, I’m still beaming about all that I have accomplished in 48 hours) it’s also important to cut yourself some slack. You can’t always have those super productive days, and when you work in a creative field like I do, it’s not always possible to get in the groove. Don’t beat yourself up if something gets pushed to tomorrow. As long as you’re on top of your priorities, it’s okay to take a break and resume productivity 101 at a later time!

How do you ensure you accomplish everything you need to during the week?