Blogging Laryngitis


nicole bullock thinking
You know that feeling when you have laryngitis? Straining to make noises, a sore/achy throat, and feeling the effects of vocal fatigue? You know that you should probably rest your voice, even though you have a lot to say? That’s how I’ve felt lately with my blogging. I have said so many things on my blog over so many years, and I continue to think of so many things to write about. Even though I technically have a voice, I feel like a bit of vocal rest is best right now.

Micro-posts on social media have been just what the doctor ordered lately. I’m doing so much in my personal, professional, and private life, so blogging has been on the back burner. When I do write, my posts end up being saved unfinished in my draft folder. I have spent over 12 hours writing about a topic really close to my heart this month, but when it came down to hitting publish…I couldn’t do it. I did not feel ready to open myself up to the possible criticism and necessary explanations that it would begin. You have to have a thick skin to write about anything potentially controversial, and my skin is eerily thin right now.

The past 6 months since my move to Detroit have been a thrilling, fast-paced, up-down-and-sideways, and sometimes horrifying experience. With my professional career being Internet-based, the appeal of blogging has waned over the last year.  Knowing that business decisions can be influenced by the things that I publish, I have grown extremely cautious.

It’s weird that I feel like this right now, because I living in Detroit gives me SO much to talk about. I am falling in love with my new city, and I want to “say nice things about Detroit.” I love the history, architecture, and culture that have made the Motor City so interesting and appealing to me. I’ve been toying about starting another offshoot blog dedicated to all things Detroit (because I have an addiction to registering domains, and already have purchased a few for this purpose). But again, social media feels like the right place to share it.

Bear with me as I figure out my place in the blogosphere. I’m going to sip my icy drink and listen for a while.

Hi, I’m Nicole

In preparation for my 3rd BlogHer conference, I wanted to give a little updated bio for my new friends visiting the site. I began blogging in 2002, and this is my personal/memoir blog.

My love for writing began when I was 13 years old. My family moved from Portland, Oregon to Salt Lake City, Utah, and I kept in touch with many friends with frequent letters. Those letters eventually turned into emails. I was an avid daily journal writer for years, and blogging was a natural extension of that habit.

My husband Taylor is a regional airline pilot. For a few years, this blog had a pilot wife-centric theme, but lately I write less about aviation and pilot wifestyle. Taylor and I met online and “Cute Culture Chick” was the online persona I hastily chose for my dating profile. We have been married almost 8 years. In that time, we’ve lived in Utah, Southern California, Michigan, and Georgia, and currently are back in Utah. I have a daughter named Rosie who is nearly 12, and although I’m a mother, I don’t like being called a “mommy blogger.”

Common writing themes in the blog include humor, travel, pop culture, and my journey of self-discovery. I’ve faced a number of health problems through my life, which I’ve chronicled through posts over the years. I recently had a gastric bypass and have lost almost 100 pounds so far. I blog about my challenges and triumphs with my weight loss at Beauty and the Bypass.

Professionally, I spend my time doing social media, SEO and corporate blogging. I worked in healthcare for 10 years, but when I made the transition to internet-based work, my personal blogging has suffered. I occasionally work with brands, but this blog is not revenue-focused. This is where I have fun and write for me, and have thankfully had people say they like what I write. I’ve made wonderful friends though blogging, and these relationships are what keep me going.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. I’m active on Twitter @cuteculturechic, so please give me a follow so we can connect!

June Update

Last weekend I went to a blogging conference, passed out business cards, and hung my head in shame that I had not updated my blog in SIX WEEKS (what kind of blogger am I??) So now I am writing to rectify this.

In my defense, I have posted at Beauty and the Bypass a few times since posting on Cute Culture Chick. And I’ve had a heckuva month and a half. Here’s the run down.

New Job: I started a new job as a social media manager. I get to blog, curate content and strategy, and keep things updated on several social channels, such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. After being online all day at work, I rarely feel like hopping on my laptop to spend more time doing it for myself.

We Moved: At the beginning of June, we moved out of our ridiculously overpriced apartment and into my parents’ basement in Lehi (t’s a great opportunity for us to tackle our debt, you know?) After a week and a half of mad packing, we finally had everything moved. The day after we moved in, there was a sewage backup in the bathroom next to our bedroom. The flooding wasn’t terribly expansive, and most of our belongings were spared, but it still sucked. We had to stay in a hotel for 4 days while the crews ripped out carpet, disinfected things, and dried out all the excess moisture. Two weeks later, we still haven’t unpacked because we’re waiting for the rooms to be recarpeted. We’ll have to repack and move everything out for the carpet guys to do their thing. Almost a month of living out of boxes, and I’m ready to unpack and settle.

Rosie’s Play: Rosie was in Murray Arts Council’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She had rehearsals and performances six nights a week this month, some nights going till 11:00 pm. It’s fun to see how she’s picked up acting and performing like I used to do. But after moving to Lehi, all that chauffeuring took up my life.

Type A Parent Conference: The last weekend of June, I was in Charlotte, NC for the Type A Parent Conference. I had so much fun, and so much to say that I plan to do another post about it. The standby travel was tough though – I ended up flying to NC by way of Rapid City, SD and Minneapolis, and home though Memphis and Vegas.

Keane Concert: Keane is one of my very favorite bands, and I saw them in concert for the 5th time this week. They performed at the Gallivan Center in Salt Lake City, and it was the first time I saw them play outdoors. My friend Esther recently had back surgery, but refused to miss the concert. She came in a wheelchair and I enjoyed the show from the ADA-accessible seats. If you’re a fan of Keane, and haven’t seen them live, I strongly suggest you make that happen.

So, that’s been my June. What have you been up to?

How Did You Find My Blog?

blog traffic google analyticsSometimes I can’t believe the funny searches people Google to find my blog. Checking my Google Analytics account is sometimes funnier than the spam messages I get. Especially when they find posts that have two very unrelated post topics combined into one search.

As I’ve worked in the search engine optimization industry this year, I’ve become a bit of an analytics junkie. I do a lot of keyword research and have found that a lot of people search things by their train of thought, not with proper grammar.

Today I decided to look into my GA account to see if I wanted to tweak a few things on my site, and went into my organic traffic search section. I was laughing hard enough at some of the searches that I thought I’d share a few humdingers with you:

  • Nose bleeds from the use of crack cocaine
  • Cute chick in a sombrero
  • George Michael Faith Jeans Butt
  • Anonymous compliments from a spider
  • Hot Dutch LDS Women
  • Narcissism medical coma
  • Precancerous bachelor
  • Blue Canary wife blog

So, my question to you, dear readers, is how did you find my blog? Did you meet me in real life first? Did you find me by Google or social media?

Not a Mommy Blogger

Rosie Bullock and Nicole BullockSince I’ve been living in Utah again, I’ve had lots of opportunities to meet fellow bloggers. Combined with the blogging conferences I’ve attended over the last 2 years, I’ve made some amazing contacts. Some are photography bloggers, some are adoption advocates, some do professional blogging on behalf of businesses. Last week I attended a meetup of local Utah bloggers. As I introduced myself to people I was meeting for the first time, I was asked “What do you blog about?” and “What kind of blogger are you?” It’s often difficult for me to answer the second question, because I don’t consider myself a mommy blogger.

I’m a mom. I blog. But I hate the term “mommyblogger.”

The tagline of my blog used to read “The Culture Loving Pilot Wife Mom Blog.” I was in a very specialized niche of women, the pilot wife/girlfriend bloggers. A lot of people are interested in the unique experiences and struggles that a family in aviation experience. But after a few years of having my blog being focused on being a wife and a mom, I was forgetting to write for myself.

Now don’t get me wrong. I fiercely love my husband and daughter. They are the two most important people in my life. I devote an enormous amount of energy toward working and sacrificing for their happiness. However, I have realized through much trial and error that I don’t survive well without focusing on myself.

I have been blogging for 9 years now. I’ve blogged on a variety of platforms – Blogger, LiveJournal, Myspace, and now WordPress. My blog has evolved several times in each platform.

A few years ago, Mashable posted an article titled “Top 10 Misconceptions About Mommy Bloggers.” The list includes cliches, such as “Mommy bloggers just write to get free stuff,” “Mommy bloggers only write about baby-related topics,” and “Every mom that blogs loves being referred to as a Mommy Blogger.” For a long time, I didn’t mind when people called me a mommyblogger. And when I started adding MOM to my blog tagline, my traffic increased. But after reading and writing blogs for almost a decade, I’ve realized a key reason that I am not a traditional mommyblogger.

I embrace my imperfection.

There is a difference between chaos and imperfection. Everyone knows that being a mom can be chaotic. But many of the closest friends I’ve made through blogging are the ones that have been able to sympathize and commiserate on weight lossdepression and health problems. And those topics are the hardest for me to write about because I reveal my imperfections and insecurities. And I’ve also found a lot of strength.

When I began blogging in 2002, I didn’t know a lot of people who blogged. I would add everyone’s blog to my reading list, comment faithfully, and loyally read every post. By keeping up with all these blogs, I had the same problem as when I wrote more traditional “mommy blog” posts. I got sucked into everyone else’s life, and didn’t give myself enough time to focus on me. Six months ago, I made the difficult decision to give up Google Reader. As hard as it was to stop following the lives of so many friends I’ve come to know over the years, it was also very cathartic. I found myself comparing myself less to others. I spent my precious free time reading about topics that I wanted to know more about, rather than following the minute details of every friend’s child’s dance recital or potty-training success.

Do I feel like a jerk that I gave up every detail of my friends lives? Of course I do. But do I regret it? Not at all.

And I’m not embarrassed to say it…because this blog is about me. I’m a “self-centered” blogger. And it’s totally okay.

TMI Friday: Don’t Mess With My Peeps, Yo!

Don't Mess With My Peeps, YoI’m Nicole, and I’m a Mormon.

But I don’t always feel comfortable talking about religion on my blog. As I’m sure most people do in their life, I have had questions about my faith. I have heard unsavory stories of things that have happened through the history of my church. I have lived half of my life outside of Utah, and have conclusively decided it’s more difficult to live my faith in Utah.

“Mormon Culture” is sometimes hard for me to stomach. I will joke about funeral potatoes and green jello as much as the next girl, but I notice people get so caught up in the “culture” of our faith, that they really don’t focus on the content of the faith. I try to live the Word of Wisdom, but I drink Coke. I have a friend known  as Jesus in SLC, who calls me the “coolest Mormon ever.” I have no qualms about joking about the quirks of our religion’s peculiar culture. Part of the Utah Mormon Culture is a conservative political leaning, despite the church’s ever-present stance of political neutrality.

A few years ago, I became acquainted with my friend Gabrielle, aka @funkyvalentine on Twitter. She and I bonded, even though we had very differing opinions on many topics. Through the years, her blogging and faith have been through some significant metamorphosis. She converted to the LDS church, but struggled with some questions with her faith. Eventually she made the decision to leave the Mormon church, and she publicly made statements about this on her blog.

A few days ago, I found out about a podcast on LDS Liberty where the podcast hosts ripped her beliefs to shreds, both spiritual and political. Gabs admittedly has some beliefs that don’t fly with mainstream lifelong conservative Mormons, but the hosts of LDS Liberty made a very public, very blatant attack. I posted the following comment:



Since yesterday, this podcast started being discussed at length on Twitter. I won’t go into the details of our discussions, but it made me sad to see how mean people can be to each other. Especially when it comes to something personal and sacred like religious beliefs. This podcast was a personal attack, a case of cyberbullying, and it’s not okay. I don’t think the podcast discussion was helpful – it was self-righteous and accusatory. Feelings have been hurt, and I personally felt like I needed to talk about it on my blog.

Do you think LDS Liberty took it too far? I’m not interested in discussing the particulars of Gabrielle’s beliefs versus LDS Liberty’s beliefs…but rather the situation in general. Feel free to comment, but please be kind. Hurtful and abusive comments will not be published.

Can’t we all just get along?

Is It Worth It?

Is it worth it to ask for help?

Is it worth it to try and try and fail every time?

Is it worth pouring your heart out, if you aren’t strong enough to handle rejection or silence? Or if your honest pleas for emotional support are met with nonchalance…because eventually you’ll be able to snap out of it? Or is it better to bottle it all up inside until you are certain you are going to explode from pure emotion? Is there a magic release valve so what I feel inside doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to implode on myself?

Is it worth taking a breath, when every breath is labored?

Is it worth getting out of bed, when every action you perform causes physical pain?

Is it worth it to work on my physical body, when I feel like I will never be beautiful or healthy enough? Is it worth it to try drug after drug to heal myself, when it leaves me feeling worse than before?

Is it worth trying to give an explanation, when you feel like everyone already has a firm judgment established about your situation?

Is it worth it when your sheer emotional pain is overshadowed by the guilt you feel for allowing your loved ones to strap on a seatbelt to face your emotional rollercoaster of hell, over and over until you’re sure you’re going to vomit from eMOTIONal sickness?

Is it worth it trying to go to sleep at night, when more of the hours you spend in bed are spent worrying instead of actually sleeping?

Is it worth it to go to therapy, learn and master the steps and tools which will lead to your recovery, only to be plagued with overwhelming feelings of despair and sadness and worthlessness?

Is it worth it to pray when it feels like your bedroom ceiling is plated with stainless steel and your desperate prayers are ignored by a God that is too busy to listen?

Have you ever wondered who will come to your funeral? Is it worth entertaining that fact when you feel like nobody cares? Does the thought of your death feel like it would leave the world in a less chaotic state?

___

I don’t know all these answers. But I know that I think about them a lot. I know the good people I have in life – the family, the friends, the ever increasing circle of influence I seem to acquire. But why do I always feel alone and misunderstood? How can I have a knowledge of my Heavenly Father’s plan, yet still feel like I’m going to be an exception to the rule? How do I get the help I need, when I feel like I’ve done everything in my power and knowledge to make myself better?

Why is depression so difficult to overcome? Is it possible to truly be healed of gaping hole I feel in my heart? Why am I my own worst enemy, setting myself up for failure with obstacle after obstacle on a course that I feel I’ll never be able to achieve? Why does the horrific abuse I’ve endured in my life pale in comparison to the mental anguish I can’t seem to stop inflicting on myself?

My depression tends to be cyclical. I’m really struggling right now, but I’ll bounce back and feel fine in a few days. If I’m lucky, I’ll feel fine in the morning.

But for tonight, permit me the chance to have a literary pity party, and allow the thoughts swirling around my head to be expressed and left to rest for the night. That’s what my blog is for.

Non-Tangible Birthday Gifts

birthday candles Saturday is my birthday. Other than being excited to see friends for the Frida Tweetup – whoop-de-doo. Make no mistake about it, I do love my birthday. Born on February 5th, I’ve said since about 1985 – “Feb 5 is a great day to come alive.” It’s situated far enough past Christmas that budgets have recovered, and just before people have shot their wad on Valentines’ Day. I do love presents….but this year, it really seems unimportant.

Last year I celebrated my 30th birthday, and it felt pretty monumental. But  for the first time ever…this birthday just feels like another year in the history books. At this point, I’m really just happy to still be around. 30 was a year of physical health struggles, mental health struggles, financial struggles, and the beginning of the biggest identity crisis I’ve ever faced. I’ve made it through with the support of family and friends – both online and in person.

Earlier this week, I had a discussion with a friend over Facebook about birthday gifts. She wanted to know if she should get me an iTunes gift card or something off my Amazon Wishlist. She’s been unemployed for several months, and it meant so much that she was planning to spend her meager funds on me. I hate to think of her spending money on that I know she doesn’t have. I told her that I didn’t need a gift…and she seemed sad that I rejected her opportunity to give. Since then, I’ve been pondering this idea. And late in the night, I had a thought – this year I’d rather have non-tangible gifts.

It means the world to me when a random stranger smiles at me. Or someone offers to watch my daughter so I can have some non-mommy time. I read and reread the heartfelt emails I receive which say why I’m loved and important to them. Blog comments and Twitter replies feel like a gift…it helps me know that my thoughts and words make a difference. I love getting invitations to come over to have dinner with a friend’s family, thus taking away the stress of deciding what to make for dinner after work. I love getting unexpected mentions online, such as links to my blog posts or professional recommendations on LinkedIn. I love when people show up at my house randomly to give me a hug (and don’t judge me for my messy house.) Or just slap a sombrero on my head, sing Happy Birthday in Spanish, and present me with a dish of fried ice cream.


So unless you were planning on giving me a stash of Coke Zero, don’t waste your money on a birthday gift for me. I’m curious what people will do/say, so I will report back next week to let you know how my non-tangible birthday gift experiment went.

Wordless Wednesday: Nicole’s Knotty Hair

knotty naughty nicole

When unraveling braids, my hair gets a little knotty/naughty

Putting the CUTE back into CuteCultureChick

nicole bullock weight loss

I may not be everyone’s ideal of beauty, but I am beautiful. At least, I believe I am most of the time.

The last 24 hours have really rocked my world. An article by Maura Kelly was posted yesterday, via the Marie Claire website, entitled “Should Fatties Get A Room (Even on TV?).” In this inflammatory piece of literary rubbish very bluntly and vocally stated her disgust with people who were overweight. She was speaking of a CNN article about a CBS sitcom called “Mike and Molly,” in which a couple meet at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. Maura Kelly states,

“Yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”

As I obsessively thought about this subject yesterday, I decided to watch some episodes of “Mike and Molly” on CBS.com. The show is a comedy about two blue-collar people falling in love, who happen to be obese. Sure, there are fat jokes poked in, but it is a COMEDY series, about people who are more real than most other TV relationships. The fact that they meet at an OA meeting shows that they aren’t content with themselves, and are making proactive steps to improve their lives. I truly believe that Melissa McCarthy is a knockout.

For me, and I’m sure for most people that struggle with their weight, it’s more than just fast food. It’s metabolic and chemical deficiencies. It’s long-term, deep seated fears and habits. It’s difficult to feel judged and misunderstood. It’s hard to be persistent when months of strict dietary observance result in plateaus. And despite the notions portrayed in the media, and the hurtful/helpful comments from loved ones,  I have to remind myself that I AM NOT WHAT THEY PERCEIVE ME TO BE.

Obesity does not equal Ugly

Obesity does not equal Lazy

Obesity may mean flawed and weak, but aren’t we all?

My weight has exacerbated my respiratory problems (asthma and sleep apnea), and I have PCOS. I know my emotional scars and depression are intricately linked to my body issues. Back in May, I started Weight Watchers for the 8th time. It’s embarrassing to say that out loud, but it’s true. Weight Watchers has worked better than any other weight loss method I’ve attempted. And believe me, there have been some crazy ways I’ve tried. Wackjob doctors, diet pills, starvation, injections, days of eating nothing but oranges and pickles. I have kept all my Weight Watchers materials (five different printing editions). I have a thick file folder full of my written food trackers. Month after month after month of negligible progress.

Fortunately this spring, I got up the guts to give it another try. Since May, I’m down 25ish pounds. Unfortunately that means another 160 to go. No weight loss effort has very netted a loss of over 30 pounds. It’s hard to not get frustrated and give up. Or I’ll be having some good Momentum and financial difficulties require dropping the $40/month membership fee. When I’m motivated, I exercise like a maniac…and usually hurt myself. I’ve been through numerous counseling sessions and support meetings, partnered up with workout buddies, and nothing seems to have a lasting effect. I’ve learned the coping mechanisms to avoid binge eating…but I still occasionally relapse. I’m seriously considering bariatric surgery, but I don’t feel like I’ve reached the “last resort” point yet.

So for people who look at my body, thinking I’m lazy, disgusting, slothful, unattractive, I wish they could know the real me. The desire I have to be healthy and shapely. But it’s been a long time since CuteCultureChick has FELT cute. I’m committed again to working towards a better life. I just wish those with narrow minds and cold hearts could recognize that.