Blog Anniversary :: 9 Years

Today marks nine years of blogging for me.  

My first post was just an off-the-cuff blurb about a wonky night we had down at a local restaurant in our small town.  I called the blog Sonoma Coast Weekly and decided I would post once a week and summarize the goings-on in our town and our life.  I owned a wine bar at the time and was looking for a creative outlet.  Paper scrapbooking never appealed to me, but having a blog could serve as a kind of visual scrapbook, so I went to town with it.

When I first started writing my blog entires, I had no idea what I was doing or if anyone would even read it.  I was clueless about formatting, adding images or HTML (I still am), but I pushed through.  It seemed important to me to document our days.  Life was chaotic and busy for all of us.  I wanted to capture those moments or days so that I could return to them when I needed a reminder of how good I had it.  I wrote about my son, community events, home improvement projects, attempts at gardeningthrift scores and favorite recipes.

Eventually, I would gain confidence in my writing.  After seven years of practicing my writing on my blog, I got up the nerve to submit an essay to an online parenting magazine that I religiously read called Mamalode.  You can read my essay here.  Through blogging, I learned from other female bloggers,  NiciKelle and Amanda, women whom I admired and learned a lot from about writing, homemaking and motherhood.  Upon waking, I would religiously read their new blog posts and absorb their words and life lessons.  These women tethered me to motherhood during a time in which I was struggling - with being a mom, a wife, a friend, a human being.  In 2008, I sold my business and was a stay at home mom for the first time in my son's life.  During this transition, these bloggers were like lifelines to me to another way of living.  I could safely try making my own yogurt by following Nici's tried and true recipe; I bought a bread maker and starting making loaves of Amanda Soule's Who Bread; and Kelle fostered a desire in me to wear red lipstick and dress with more color and pattern and OWN it.  And while the red lipstick never quite stuck and the bread maker has since been donated to the Goodwill, I have taken with me their sweet lessons of living with style, intention and honesty.

There has been a lot of criticism over the years of bloggers presenting their lives as perfect or curated online. Looking back at some of my old blog posts, I guess I can see the validity of that sentiment.  A lot of what I've shared over the years is only part of my story, the part I felt comfortable enough to share at that moment in time, but it definitely wasn't the whole story.  How could it be?  I think this was partly due to the fact that I was just figuring it out for myself.  I can look back on some of these posts now and they transport me to a time when I was lonely and just barely holding onto my life.  It was in those moments that I tried to find the good in my days.  I would rummage around in iPhoto looking for something to hold onto, something beautiful, something inspiring, a glimmer of something that would pull me back from my sadness and refocus my energies on what I did have in my life that was good and worth writing about.

Motherhood undid me early on.  I suffered from post-partum depression, couldn't breastfeed my baby and had no family living nearby to help out.  I wasn't prepared to be a mom and felt so isolated and alone during that time.  I was desperately searching for voices or stories like mine.  That's when I decided I would write my own.  A lot of what I wrote was true, but it wasn't the whole truth.  Does that make sense?  It was more of a journal or catalog of my son's childhood and the things we did, the trips we went on and then some other life experiences sprinkled in there.  I never wanted to pontificate or go too deep.  I guess you could say it was superficial.

When I stopped drinking, I created this new blog space you're reading now.  The template is plain, mostly white, sparse and not filled with ads or other distracting pop-ups.  Partly, because I don't know how to add all of that stuff, but mainly because I wanted to keep it simple.  My name is my blog name.  I'm no longer hiding behind a cryptic moniker, I'm transparent.  Since I stopped drinking, I want to tell the unedited version of my story.  I want to be seen and heard.  I want to be authentic.  I want to walk-the-walk of an honest person.

My first sketchbook entry on January 1, 2014 speaks volumes about where I was headed.

My first sketchbook entry on January 1, 2014 speaks volumes about where I was headed.

I write about creativity and sobriety in this new blog space because they intersected for me in a powerful way on January 1, 2014.  That was a little over a year before I quit drinking for good, but 2014 would be the year I stepped out of my comfort zone and started believing in myself.  In April 2014, I attended a writing retreat called Write Doe Bay on Orcas Island and met my blogging muses, Nici and Kelle, in person.  I bunked in a cabin during that retreat with Elke, the founder, editor and publisher of Mamalode, and we have since become close friends.  From that retreat bloomed a creative collaboration with the writer Annie Flavin, as well as dozens of other connections with smart, strong, creative soulmates.

My roommates and forever friends from Write Doe Bay - Me, Elke, Michelle + Angi (L-R).

My roommates and forever friends from Write Doe Bay - Me, Elke, Michelle + Angi (L-R).

Some people view blogging as over-sharing, but I've always been a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of gal, so this has always felt like a natural way to convey proof of life to me.  As a former legal secretary, I love dating and documenting paperwork and ephemera.  I think my blog is a virtual version of this practice.  It has also served as a powerful tool in my recovery from alcohol and has fostered new friendships and creative collaborations that otherwise would have never occurred.

I'm grateful for this little space on the internet to share about the hard, beautiful, painful, delightful parts of my life.  I love sharing my creative forays, as well as the inspiration I stumble upon when I read another's words, nod my head and quietly say, me, too.

If you've been reading my words throughout the years and left comments or reached out, I want to say a big, heartfelt thank you.  Your kind words and support have helped me in ways I will never be able to fully express.

xo, Tammi