I Miss Blogging a Little Bit

nicole bullock 2017Three years ago, after over a decade of blogging, I had lost all my spark for writing on my blog. I had recently moved to Michigan (again), was figuring out where I was careerwise, and had felt disillusioned by the emotional temperature of the blogging world. Although I wasn’t targeted in the same ways as other bloggers, there was definitely snark being written and discussed online about me. It really felt like I had said what I needed to say at that point, and I had no desire to continue the website, other than to keep up my archives.

Last Wednesday, I gave a lunch and learn session on Google Analytics for the Social Media Association of Michigan. As part of the presentation, I pulled up my Google Analytics and Google Search Console accounts to show people how to get around the platforms. Two things became very apparent to me.

1) If I’m going to be speaking about Google Analytics and Search Console, I need to have accounts that I’m not embarrassed to show the metrics on. That means I need to be fixing site errors and blogging more often.

2) The post I wrote about surviving my adult tonsillectomy was bringing about 70% of my site visitors. It’s a gritty, gross, detailed post about how bad it was to recover from getting my tonsils out. This got me thinking that maybe I don’t need to worry so much about concealing the tough and gritty parts of my life.

I used to write a lot about hard stuff…depression and anxiety, morbid obesity, chronic illness, financial concerns, and the struggles of living in a commuter marriage. And while my life wasn’t a perfect and shiny, it was true to who I was, and I received a therapeutic effect from writing about it. So I’ve decided it’s time to update my blog more often, and not worry so much about what people think about what I write about.

royal oak mi bungalowDespite dealing with some ongoing chronic health flare-ups, life is pretty dang great right now. My husband’s career trajectory is fantastic, I’m getting a lot of fulfillment professionally, and Rosie is growing up into a talented and cultured young woman. Time, career advancement,  and frugality has allowed us to knock out a significant amount of debt this year, as well as purchase a cozy mid-century bungalow in Royal Oak, MI. See how cute it is?

I chose to show a picture of the house last spring, when everything was green and beautiful. Right now it’s 15 degrees in March, everything is dead and gray, and I’m counting the weeks until Michigan becomes a verdant, magically green wonderland.

royal oak remodeled kitchenHaving a home with adequate space, with places to store all my things, and a newly-remodeled lovely kitchen has gotten me revved up to do something I’ve disliked for ages…cooking. Between experimenting with my Instant Pot and trying to eat more nutrient-dense foods (to overcome some vitamin and mineral deficiencies), I’ve spent more time in the cooking and preparing food in the kitchen in the past month than I have in the last year.

Despite all of the recipes I have tried, my current obsession is making berry cobbler. My favorite combo is blueberry, strawberry, and pear, with lime juice. I’ve been picking up fresh fruit from Eastern Market almost every Saturday. I wash and slice things up, boil the fruit in water and sugar, and then set to simmer and reduce it down to a syrup. I make the crumb topping with a yellow cake mix and butter, bake it, and it’s so tasty.

Parenting my amazing daughter through teenager-hood has been somewhat challenging, but more enjoyable than I expected. I love the woman Rosie is growing up into, and she is my best friend. I love the moment of feeling flattered when somebody tells me that they think that Rosie is my sister, not my daughter. Between mutually obsessing about Hamilton, musical theater, geeky stuff, travel, and good food, she has a lot of interests and skills that are unique to her. I’m anxious for her to get her drivers licence, so I’m not stuck driving her around for all of her school, drama rehearsals, choir performances, church activities, and ballroom dance classes. It’s crazy to think that she is only 2 years away from graduating from high school.

So that’s life for me these days. I’m not going to wait quite so long before I write up my next life update. 🙂

Wordless Wednesday: Signs of Spring

spring daffodils by nicole bullock

april snow in michigan

Wordless Wednesday: Neverending Detroit Winter

never ending Detroit winter

Not Myself

nicole bullock melancholySuppose I said
I am on my best behavior
And there are times
I lose my worried mind

Would you want me when I’m not myself?
Wait it out while I am someone else?

Suppose I said
Colors change for no good reason
And words will go
From poetry to prose 

And I, in time, will come around
I always do for you 

– “Not Myself” by John Mayer

The past year has been full of awesome highs and awful lows. I’ve had 6 months of physical struggle that’s been unlike any period of my life. I didn’t know when things would get better…but I’m finally feeling like I’m back on my way up. Here’s the recap.

For the first 5 months of 2013, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had lost over 120 pounds and had regained a zest for life that had been dormant for a long time. My professional life was on fire and I was getting opportunities to be in the media, to speak at events, and recognition for my career that I’d worked for most of my adult life to achieve. I was feeling fulfilled, lively, creative, and happy. But I began pushing myself far too hard.

smcslc board ladiesWhen people describe me, they often say that I am “dependable” because I show up at so many events. I am guilty of  FOMO (fear of missing out) to my detriment. Working as a social media professional, I feel the responsibility to be everywhere possible to connect, network, gain knowledge, and have fun. Between work, serving on the Social Media Club of Salt Lake City board, church responsibilities, family time, and keeping an active lifestyle, many days I was on the go for 18 hours straight.

In April, Taylor was transferred to Detroit. After 4 years of commuting to SLC, we decided it was time to relocate our family to Detroit. On top of all my work and social obligations, I threw myself into a very dedicated job hunt. For the first month, I was getting a lot of responses, interviews, and positive feedback. I had a feeling I’d be accepting an offer soon, and made tentative plans to move to Detroit during the summer. Now it’s October and I’ve had no offers. And we still live in Utah.

Within a few weeks of my job hunt, with a pretty enthusiastic response, I suddenly felt like the life had been sucked out of me. I felt fatigue and anxiety beyond any other time in my life. I started cutting things out of my life trying to desperately hang on to what was important – my job, my family, and my health. But no matter what I did, I never seemed to be able to tackle my health. I went from being completely diligent to hardly functional. It was hard to make it through an 8 hour work day, and I often went straight to bed when I went home. I didn’t feel creative and I felt like a failure. But I kept pushing along. And I got better at saying “no.”

Most of the summer, I felt depleted. I gained a few pounds back, and it was frustrating. I tried to jumpstart my metabolism by more sessions at the gym, and would feel dizzy within 10 minutes. I saw several doctors, had lots of lab work done, and no sense could really be made out of my fatigue. I had a feeling that I was suffering from mono, but my “mono-spot” lab test came back negative.

I was struggling, but not in a way that a typical “depressed summer” goes for me. I know the point when I need to see a therapist, and I never got to that point. I looked to alternative means to handle my stress and anxiety. The last week of August, I went to a yoga class with some of my neighbors. It was my first time doing yoga, and I ended the class feeling strange. By the next morning, a gland in my neck swelled up so big that it was difficult to swallow. The sore throat persisted for days, and I eventually went to urgent care to find out what was wrong. I was diagnosed with a peritonsillar abscess, was given IV antibiotics and steroids, and was told to return to my doctor if it hadn’t improved in a few days.

And it didn’t improve. I spent the better part of the month of September suffering, seeing my primary care and ENT physicians, missing work, sleeping, mixing up medications, and trying to get the pain and discomfort under control. As the abscesses were under control, I developed the worse sinus infection of my life. As the sinus infection improved, I developed viral tonsillitis and tested positive for infectious mononucleosis. The tests indicated that I’d had an active round of Epstein-Barr virus for 5 months, and it was causing all of the throat issues. I finally had an answer for why I was so freaking exhausted – I DO have mono. And because the infections were viral, antibiotics would not help, only a tonsillectomy.

At this point, I was laid off from my job. As if 5 months of illness wasn’t enough, one more major stressor was added to the list.

I had two conferences on my calendar, and decided that I didn’t want to miss them and lose out on the money invested. I went to Atlanta for Type-A Parent conference, where I was nursing a recurrence of another peritonsillar abscess. I went to urgent care in Atlanta and was told by the doctor that my “throat looks like a horror movie,” and I needed my tonsils out ASAP. But immediately after Type-A, I had a paid speaking gig at the ObesityHelp National Convention in Anaheim.

tonsillectomy preopI scheduled the tonsillectomy for the first date my surgeon had available, and tried to not push myself too hard on my travels. I returned from California on Tuesday, and went under the knife for the adenotonsillectomy on Thursday. Today I’m on post-op day 2, and it’s been pretty brutal. I knew that the recovery from an adult tonsillectomy is much more difficult than on a younger person, but it had to happen. I’ve been surviving on ice packs, sipping icy drinks, cool mist humidifiers, sleep, Lortab, and limited soft foods.

The plus side of unemployment is that I have endless time to recover. I don’t know how soon I’ll feel like I could survive at day at the office, but it’s nice to not have to hurry back. I’ve thrown out another batch of resumes for open positions in Detroit, and am hoping to catch the eye of a potential employer soon. Once I’m feeling ready, it will be time to fly out to Detroit, look at neighborhoods, house hunt, go to networking events, and prepare for the next move for our family. After 7 months of job hunting from Salt Lake City, it’s hard to know if I’ll get a job without moving there. We’re going to make a leap, we may move before I have a job, and are running on faith.

It’s going to be difficult, especially after not feeling like myself for so long. But I think I feel ready to give the next chapter of life a try. I am confident that now that my tonsils are out, the viral infections will subside and I’ll be back to myself again. The optimistic side of me things it will only take a week or two to bounce back. I hope I’m right.

Summertime Lull

jordan river lehi utEvery summer, I feel myself pulling back a bit.

For most of the year, I am used to having a crazy busy manic life, jam packed with every possible activity and obligation imaginable. But once the weather heats up,  I feel like my natural extroversion pulls back and my introvert comes out. I don’t feel like getting out as much. I feel like I need more time for relaxation, regrouping, and seclusion. The heat sucks the life out of my soul, and I want to reside in a cool dark room.

In past summers, I’ve felt the weight of very heavy clinical depression. Two of these years felt so dark that I struggled with despair to the point that suicidal thoughts crept in. I am grateful that I was able to work through those dark periods, and haven’t experienced any blackness of that magnitude since. But with the track record I’ve had the last 6 years, it’s not surprising that I struggle in the summer months.

This year I have felt tugs of the summertime blues, but nothing to the point that I am worried or fearful. I am so much healthier than I’ve been in past years, which I know has made a difference in my disposition. There are some major life changes on deck, which have taken up a lot of my mental resources to prepare for. I crave time away from the noise, to read a book, and withdraw from the constant yammering of social media. As a social media manager, it seems funny to say that. But in my time away from work, I have been enjoying my time away from laptop screen. Sometimes a week will go by without me opening up my laptop at home.

I am fortunate to live less than a block from the Jordan River Parkway. I spend a lot of my evenings walking or riding my bike along the river. The water flows at a pace that I crave for my life’s balance. I try to time my outings so I can see the sun set over the Oquirrh Mountains. That’s something that I rarely do during the wintertime.

I’ve done some traveling in the last month. I went to California for a friend’s wedding, to Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks for a weekend family getaway, and I just returned from Portland for FitBloggin. Each place I go, I spend time enjoying the natural beauty. It is good for my soul.

If I don’t post as often this summer, don’t be alarmed. I’m just taking some time for myself. As much as I love to write, and I take pride in my blogs, it’s good to get away sometimes.

Wordless Wednesday: Tulips In The Courtyard

tulips in the courtyard

Wordless Wednesday: April Showers Bring May Snow

may snow in utah

In Remembrance Of The Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy

In Remembrance of Sandy Hook Tragedy

How You Can Help

If you would like to donate to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Support Fund to provide support services to the families and community that has been affected, please click the United Way logo below to be directed to the donations page. This fund was created by United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank.

LDS Bloggers Give Back – Single Parent Scholarships

LDS single mom 2004In the fall of 2003, my life became significantly different. I had been in a marriage that was unhealthy and unsafe, and I finally realized that it was time to end the marriage. The divorce went through smoothly and quickly, and within 6 weeks of my decision, I was a single mom. I had been the primary breadwinner, working a full-time and a part-time job, but I had to learn to get by without my ex-husband’s income (and student loan checks). Because I made more than him, child support was set at $35. Did you read that right? THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH. That wasn’t even enough to cover diapers (Thanks, State of Utah!) I had a mortgage payment that I could barely make, so I rented out my basement to a roommate. I was working in medical billing accounting office making $9 per hour, and knew that I needed more income to be able to survive. I looked at what education options were available for me to finish my bachelor degree, but there was no way I could continue working 2 jobs AND go to school AND be a mom. It was a very desperate situation.
I was invited to be a part of a campaign through LDS Philanthropies for promoting a scholarship program for single parents. A group of bloggers met together at LDSP’s Provo office to find out about a unique opportunity to help single parents in need through our blogs. You may have noticed the widget on my sidebar about the campaign, but here’s the gist – LDS Business College offers the Stella Oaks Scholarship for Single Parents in need. Selected individuals who qualify are given full-tuition scholarship so they can further their education and provide a better future for their family. This month, we LDS Bloggers are helping to promote this campaign through our blogs, with the goal to raise enough money for 4 scholarships. Right now there are 45 students who qualify for this scholarship, but the money needs to be there.


I encourage you to watch the video of Megan’s story, who was a recipient of the Stella Oaks scholarship. If you are in a position where you are able to donate to this cause, I hope you will do so. Because of my experiences as a single parent desiring further education, this campaign is close to my heart. If you can’t afford to make a donation, would you be willing to add the campaign widget to your sidebar?
taylor bullock family
I was fortunate to meet Taylor fairly soon after my divorce, and when circumstances were right, we married. I was not an independent single parent for very long, but I also know how important a quality education is. There are many parents who do not have the support they need to complete their education, and this is a chance to really make a difference in the life of a family in need. Will you please consider your situation, and if you’re able, “Give, oh Give?”

While You Were Out

Hey readers…are you still coming to my sadly neglected blog?

It’s summer, and I’ve had a lot of things going on that has pushed my blogging efforts out of my daily/weekly routine. I haven’t posted anything in the month of July, so I thought I’d put in a quick catch-up post for those who care to know how I’ve spent my time.

  • Working as an SEO specialist at SEO.com by day, and desperately trying to get back up to speed on my medical coding practicum. When I was hired 7 months ago, I threw myself into my new job and left a year of full-time study at 95% completion. I’m ready to get it done and official. I’m ready to earn some letters after my name. So forgive me as I’m busy switching between HTML and ICD-9/CPT/HCPCS and trying to speak English the rest of the time.
  • Visited my long-time bloggy friend April Durham on a weekend whim roadtrip. Rosie and I hopped in the car within 30 minutes of concocting the idea, and drove north for a weekend of giggles, good food, and blog design. She gave my site an awesome blog makeover. If you haven’t seen the new look of cuteculturechick.com, hop out of your RSS feed and take a looksie.
  • Attended Type A Parent Conference in Asheville, NC. I decided to go to a conference I hadn’t been to before, and decided on #TypeAcon when I found out so many of my friends were speaking. I got some great blogging and social media tips, met Greg “The Frozen Food Master,” chatted with some great brands, partied and dined.I enjoyed the beautiful and eclectic city of Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and knocked North Carolina off of my list of states to visit to see all 50. Oh, and I drank as much Cheerwine as I could get my hands on.
  • Acted as an ambassador for Visit Salt Lake‘s SLC Summer Crew
  • Summertime tends to be difficult emotionally for me, and thankfully this year it hasn’t been quite as depressive as the past few years. I’ve been trying to living a more healthy lifestyle…trying to be more active, eat better, and lose weight (as always). I might not look a lot different, but my hair is getting pretty long
  • Next week I head to southern California to see family and attend BlogHer ’11. Later in the month I’ll be going on a white water rafting trip hosted by my company. Rosie’s going to be starting 5th grade (!!!) I hope to be ready to take the final exam and national certification exam for my medical coding.
  • How have you been spending your summer?