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. ūüôā

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.

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.

Why I Love Type-A Conference

type-a parent conferenceOne of my favorite things about being a blogger is connecting with other bloggers. While social media indeed gives opportunities for connection beyond blogging, the real connections happen in person. I’ve been attending blog conferences since 2009, and the conference where I feel most at home is Type-A Conference.

Beyond BlogHer, which is definitely the most attended blog conference for women, most conferences have a large following regionally. I had never heard of Type-A Conference until early 2011 when my friend Gregory Ng announced on Twitter that he was speaking about videoblogging. For a while, I had a food review blog and I connected with Greg through his frozen food review site FreezerBurns. Not only was I intrigued to find out more tips about vlogging from one of the best, I was also looking for another conference to attend that summer. Earlybird tickets were still available, and I signed up to attend the 2011 Type-A Conference in Asheville, NC.

type-a frelleI loved the tagline for Type-A Conference: Engage, educate, empower, evolve. I knew is was more relevant for me than conference that were for people that are just starting out with blogging (since I started blogging in 2002, I don’t need the basics), and the conference topics were right up my alley. I made plans to room with Kelly (aka @childhood) ¬†who I knew from other conferences, and Jenna (aka @frelle) who became a new friend.

The first year was a little awkward because I knew so few people. I recognized a lot of faces from BlogHer and Bloggy Boot Camps, but I had to go out of my shell to get to know people. And you know what? The people I met at Type-A were SO nice! Greg, who tipped me off the Type-A, was just as wonderful in person as he is in all of his videos (and I learned a ton about videoblogging in his session). I met Kesha, who had a vibrant smile and personality I couldn’t resist (she ended up being my roommate for BlogHer last year. I met Robyn, who I had followed online for years, and we became fast friends. Robyn and I roomed with each other at Type-A in 2012 (and I will room with again this year), but we’ve found a world of things in common and she’s become one of my favorite people in the world (seriously!). I met Nicole, who not only has an awesome name, but she forever has influenced the way I say niche (“It’s niche like quiche, not nitch like b*tch!”)

type-a friendsType-A was held in Charlotte in 2012, and not only did I get to explore another city, I made a GAGGLE of new friends (I love the word gaggle – it makes me giggle).

It’s one thing to say “I have a zillion friends on the interwebz!” but, you know they’re your friends when they’ll help you out on a second’s notice. I could namedrop until kingdom come with the wonderful ladies and gents I met in Charlotte, but the people who have really become very dear friends are Andrea, Jacqueline, and Anne. Whenever I need a favor online, these ladies are always eager to help, and I’m eager to do the same for them.

blogger-town-hall-partners2013 will be an exciting year for the Type-A Conference franchise. Not only will the main Type-A Parent Conference be held in a new city (Atlanta), there are two advanced sessions as well. I’m attending the profit-focused session in Philadelphia in April, and I’ll be speaking about SEO on an expert panel session. In October, Type-A Advanced will be held in New Orleans, and the conference will be focused on visual images.

You will likely hear me talking a lot about Type-A Conference this year because I have been selected as an Official Type-A Parent Conference Partner. I believe in Kelby and the amazing things she has been able to create through Type-A Parent, and I would love others to benefit from the experiences available through Type-A. The conference has a well-established reputation for outstanding learning with actionable takeaways. It features power networking with the best and brightest parents who blog, plus the major brands and firms who want to engage them. Type-A is where influential digital parents grow their business and connect.

If you’re interested in attending, I have a special discount code available for 25% off registration for Type-A Atlanta (for a limited time).

A lot of ladies in Utah have been sad that the EVO conference was discontinued, and I can assure you that Type-A is as high-caliber an event at Type-A – there’s a different feel, but the education and network is just as amazing.

And keep your eyes peeled…I will be doing a giveaway for a full conference ticket to Type-A in April!
type-a collage

 

Wordless Wednesday: Kickboxing Bloggers

bloggers night at title boxing utah

Blogger’s Night Out at Title Boxing Utah

My Ride This Week: 2013 Honda CRV #HondaTestDrive

honda test drive nicole bullockI’m a car junkie, and I especially love Honda vehicles.This week I’m driving a brand new 2013 Honda CRV…how cool is that? Honda of Orem selected me as one of the local bloggers to participate in the #HondaTestDrive. I’m reviewing and sharing my experiences driving a top-of-the-line 2013 AWD Honda CRV EX L. It’s the posh model with the upgraded stereo and rear entertainment system. Here are my first impressions of the CRV.

The car was delivered to me at work on Monday, and I got the full run-down on all of the CRV’s features. I was given the EX-L RES model, which has just about everything you could ask for: heated leather seats, Bluetooth, moonroof, all-wheel drive, Econ Drive, and the rear entertainment system. It’s a 4-cylinder model, but with 185 HP, it’s got a lot of pep.

The guys from Ken Garff Honda of Orem helped me set up my iPhone with the Bluetooth system, which enabled me to make and receive phone calls, stream music, and get turn-by-turn navigation. I was given the keys and a full tank of gas, signed some papers, and was told to enjoy myself for a week.

honda test drive

Part of the agreement for the #HondaTestDrive was to share my experiences over social media. I have been posting pictures to Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook. I have mostly had positive things to say about the experience. I realized that I hadn’t done any sharing on YouTube yet, so I recorded this video while I was on my way home from work yesterday. Forgive me for the poor lighting (very bright drive home) and for taking the video vertically…I didn’t have a great place on the dashboard to secure the phone.

One thing I’m not thrilled about with the CRV is how long it takes for the windshield to defrost. When I left for gym at 5:30 am, it was about 16 degrees. There wasn’t enough frost on the windows to use an ice scraper, so I thought I’d wait for the windows to defrost. When I’m driving my Scion xB, I usually have a melted section of my windshield within about 2 minutes. I sat in the car for a few minutes, and enjoyed the seats as they heated up, but the windshield looked exactly the same. I tried playing around with the buttons for the heater, both fresh air and recycled air, and it still took 10 minutes to have the windshield about 90% cleared off. In my book that’s not cool, because I really am a stickler about having a clean windshield.

Sidenote: I think it’s funny that picture shows Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good” playing when I snapped the picture. Frosty windshields are no good!

So far I’ve driven about 200 miles, and I’ve got about a quarter tank left. Even with having the Econ button pressed for most of the time I’ve driven it, the fuel efficiency hasn’t been as good as I’d expected. I watch the dials on the dashboard to see if I’m driving at the most efficient speed, but I still don’t think I’m getting as high gas mileage as I should. But…it is a new car, and I’ve heard that engines need some time to be broken in to get the most efficient gas mileage.

So…all in all…I’m having a great experience. It’s been fun to get to know the folks at Honda of Orem, and also to spend some time in a really classy vehicle. I’ve had fun showing it off at social media events and to extended family members and coworkers. I’m a little sad my #HondaTestDrive is already halfway over.

Wordless Wednesday: KSL Instameet #KSLLive

KSL Instameet with Utah Bloggers

Winner – Breathing Space Blogger Retreat Ticket

Congrats to June Haskell, AKA Simply June, who is the winner of the ticket to Breathing Space Blogger Retreat. ¬†Her entry simply said, “Relax? What’s that?” I think everyone feels that way to a point.

I’m excited that Breathing Space is in less than two weeks! Can’t wait to have fun, enjoy the company of friends old and new, and get away from it all.¬†The Breathing Space retreat is now officially sold out. If you’re bummed that you didn’t win, but would like to be added to the waiting list, email¬†lindsey.breathingspace@gmail.com.

Giveaway – Breathing Space Blogger Retreat

breathing space blogger retreatHave you heard about Breathing Space blogger retreat?¬†It is a 2 day gathering of bloggers to relax, get to know each other, and fun held in Utah’s Daybreak Community in South Jordan. Not only will bloggers get to learn new things and have a fun time, they will be able to have a “bed and breakfast” experience sleeping in the gorgeous model homes in Daybreak! Classes will range from floral arranging to photography, quilting to cooking, and more.

Breathing Space will be held Friday May 4th at 3:00 pm to Saturday May 5th at 7:00 pm. Registration has been conveniently priced at $75 to make it affordable for all. Registration includes four catered meals, a choice of seven of the fifteen different classes, ‘dorm style’ sleeping arrangements in the model homes, and lots of free swag from our sponsors like Diet Coke, Chick-fil-a, Sweet Tooth Fairy, Whippy Cake, Torani Italian Syrups, Crabtree and Evelyn, and the Color Me Rad 5k (and you get a free ticket to the race with your registration as well!) There will be a Stepford Wives party and a Cinco de Mayo fiesta too!

I am on the event council for Breathing Space, and it’s been amazing to help put this event together. I’ve gotten to know other bloggers, been able to help seek out sponsors. We have a weekly #BreathingSpace Twitter chat to help get to know other bloggers before the event, which will help take away some of the awkwardness of being thrown together in a room with only a few people you recognize. I’ve been to a lot of blogging conferences, and I’m excited to attend Breathing Space where it has a great line-up of classes and activities, but is on a smaller scale so you can get to know everyone.

GIVEAWAY: I am giving away one ticket for full registration for Breathing Space. Currently, there are only a handful of tickets, and it’s possible that the registration may be closed before the event when the giveaway ends. Ticket is valued at $75 and is¬†transferable¬†if you are unable to attend (you’ll just need to let me or someone else on the council know.) Join in on this unforgettable experience!

To Enter:

Comment on this post – Tell me what you like to do to relax and have some breathing space in your life

For additional entries (leave a comment for each entry)

  • Follow me on Twitter @cuteculturechic
  • Subscribe to my blog via RSS
  • Add my Cute Culture Chick blog button to your site (see sidebar)
Giveaway ends SUNDAY, APRIL 22nd at 5:00 PM

 

Blogging Everywhere But Here

The last month has been pretty crazy for me. I’ve been doing lots of blogging, just not on this site. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to have weight loss surgery. On February 7th, I underwent laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. I decided to publicly share my surgery journey, and created the blog Beauty and the Bypass.

The last 6 weeks I’ve thrown my heart and soul into that blog, sharing the trials and triumphs of weight loss surgery. The awesome thing is that I’ve already lost 35 pounds, but it’s been harder than I expected. Rapid weight loss isn’t always fun and success. I’ve had to deal with pneumonia and severe dehydration, which has necessitated extra trips to the hospital. If you want to read more about it, they’re well documented on my other site.

As you can see in this photo, I’m already looking a lot different in my face. My cheeks are much less round, and I’m finally losing my triple chin. This is the difference of 3 weeks…not bad, eh?

Notable Posts on Beauty and the Bypass

But my blogging efforts haven’t just been limited to blogging about weight loss surgery. Between my employment at SEO.com and doing contract blogging for companies like ZAGG, I’ve been putting out a lot of content into the bloggosphere. After blogging for 9 years, it’s so nice to be able to get some good recognition for my blogging abilities. I’ve had offers from several other companies, and I’m hoping to find a good balance between personal blogging and being a voice for brands and businesses. Here are some other cool posts I’ve recently written elsewhere:
I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging on this site for the near future. Cuteculturechick.com is my baby, and I’ve poured my heart and soul into it for so many years…but my writing skills have been in demand elsewhere. My goal is at least once a week, but that will vary with available time and content ideas. I’ve got a BUNCH of posts in draft for my Flashback Friday series. But if you’re missing what I have to say, I’m always around on Twitter and Facebook.