on blogging, a new shop, & being brave.

  I looked at my phone this morning, bleary-eyed, and couldn't believe it: May 1st....is it true that we're already 5 months into 2012?! (By the way, I keep my phone by my bed at night, and I realized that I've been checking my email in my sleep. Seriously, problems right there! Who does that?) It's another reminder of the passing of time. How it flies by without asking us "can I keep going?" and how sometimes, the passing of time holds a sadness with it, because as hard as we try to hold onto it, it slips quickly and surely out of our hands like sand. Yet time passing can also be sweet and happy. And I've found that to be true lately... because this little blog had a milestone this week - reaching 400 followers! And though it is certainly not about numbers or stats to me - it's about hearts, souls, and relationships -  it is still a fun step in this blogging journey (Which will be celebrated at the end of this week with one AMAZING GIVEAWAY including some of my favorite blog sisters!! Keep checking back!) And with this milestone, I remembered how it all started. Two summers ago, I started a journal of things I wanted to write about someday, and I scribbled - "I want to blog brilliantly and beautifully.... but I just can't." I began writing down ideas of names for my imaginary blog.

And one day, I wrote down three little words: "Sweetness Itself Blog." I was on a short break from work; I sighed and looking down at the words on the white paper... I dreamed, "What if I could start a blog?" The very thought made me smile... but it also made me scared. A hundred questions (or rather, doubts) flooded my mind. "I don't know how to design a blog... what if no one reads it? What if my friends think it's dumb?" And the biggest one of all ... "What if no one understands what I write? What if I really am the only one who thinks this way and believes these things?" So, I didn't do it. Months and months went on, and I often thought about the idea of blogging and writing. I toyed with ideas, thoughts, themes. I journaled about it, I even questioned the title. The next Spring, I finally started a fashion blog. And I called it "Pink & Polos."

    It was my first attempt at this thing called blogging, and it was half-baked. Honestly, it was my "I'm too afraid to jump in the water so I'm just gonna stick a toe in." It was fun, but I made no meaningful connections with it and I didn't share who I was...not really. Oh, I shared the side of myself that loves Marchesa and Chanel gowns, pink Lily Pulitzer shifts, and boys who wear Ralph Lauren polos. But I wasn't being real, and I knew it. I never shared my heart, my struggles, or most importantly - my faith. Now, I'm definitley not saying that there is anything wrong with fashion blogs or just sharing one slice of your life on a blog - being true to ourselves and what we know we are supposed to do looks different for each person. Yet for me, somewhere deep inside my heart, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed to write about more... and that fear was holding me back. So late in 2011, I deleted "Pink & Polos" because the Lord clearly whispered to my heart to do it. He also told me to start a new blog, to start from scratch and do something I was scared out of my mind to do. Really. But I did, hesitantly and with fear and trembling.... and here I am tonight, blown away by the beauty of this process and the community I've found.

    Not only have I found my "voice" and seen lives changed, the most amazing community of women has encircled me. At times, it just takes my breath away. I've met life-long kindred spirits and the best of friends. People I can tweet or email, and beg "I'm having a bad day, prayers please!" And prayers are sent up. I used to believe I was the only one who had strong convictions about purity and waiting - but I've been proved wrong, by dozens upon dozens of emails, stories, and hearts who share the same convictions I always have. And I've learned so much from each and every blogger. I remember when I first started Sweetness Itself, somebody told me (with a negative tone in their voice) "Blogging is ridiculous, it's just a bunch of people who have nothing to say, all saying the same thing. Why do we all need to say something? There are a few good writers out there who write books, let's leave it at that." But that opinion has been proved wrong. And so have all my former fears.

      Not only have I been encouraged and uplifted by the blogs I've found, I have learned so very much. And I firmly believe that every person has a story to share. Every single individual has a voice that is begging to be used. And I've found a wealth of wisdom in the unique and different perspectives of beautiful people, walking totally different walks of life.... living all around the world. And what moves me is this: You've made me think. You've challenged me. You've brought me a whole new, fresh perspective. It's been like traveling all around the world and meeting the most incredible people out there - and learning from them lessons that shape who I am....I've learned so much from all of you. Kelle Hampton teaches me how to write well, how to accept differences in others, and how to embrace unexpectedness in life. Casey Wiegand taught me to be brave and pursue my big crazy dreams, even if that means making sacrifices... and how to love  your babies like crazy. L teaches me to serve others and love Jesus. Ashley teaches me how to be honest and real. Chantal showed me how much God loves His daughters. Rae is encouraging me to pursue unimaginable dreams. Kerri shows me how to trust the Lord and make amazing DIY projects, while Meg teaches me how to be real with the God and how really love a husband!And there are so many more of you who have a big impact on my life every day.

    So my dears, all of that to say (kudos to those of you who lasted through that whole long rant, haha!) go out there and take a risk. You know that big, crazy dream you have? The one your big toe is sticking in but you're way too afraid to let go and take the plunge? From a once-fearful dreamer to another, I say - go for it girl. Because it might be scary and uncertain, doubters might doubt and haters may hate - but friend, it might turn into something amazing and it might take your breath away.

This blog is living proof.

   As we're talking about being brave, I bravely stepped out in the spirit of being fearless - and I finally started the Etsy shop I've been yapping about for about a year. Go check it out if you fancy :) 

Sweetness Shoppe -  www.etsy.com/shop/SweetnessShoppe

   I found paper dolls cut out of fashion magazines from the 1800's, by my precious great-great grandmother who had little and made do - and now, they are treasures in my family. My grandma copied them, and I print them out and make pretty, funky, sweet, and romantic cards out of them. It's my hobby. And now I'm sharing it with you.

 So I encourage you to go.... Go out and be fearless. Pursue those crazy, insane dreams - even if you're scared, I dare you to jump. Because it just might turn out to be all kinds of awesome!

Love and thanks
to all the sweet friends I've happily gained through
"jumping" and pursuing my scary dreams.
My readers, know that I pray for you.
And bloggers? Know what you write is not in vain...I learn from you.

Go get 'em, you beautiful dreamer.