Stop Shoulding Yourself

“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”

-Henry David Thoreau

When I walk I write. In my head. I come up with book ideas, characters, story plots. If I’m not taking regular walks, you can bet I’m not writing either.

I also use that time to think about blogging and the things I want to do, and sometimes the things I want to change. It’s like a creative board meeting with the birds and foggy spring air.

Six years ago last month I started Mabel’s House. It looked so different then. The photos weren’t great. The writing was stiff. I read other blogs constantly looking for what I should be doing in life, most of which contained pictures of people’s homes decorated primarily from Hobby Lobby. No bueno.

And then the pressure increased. I felt the need to read every blog of every person reading mine. I felt the need to return every single comment. I kept up with traffic statistics. I read and studied “big” blogs to see what they were doing differently, doing better. I thought I needed to do a decorating project every week to be interesting. Then one late night a couple of years ago I realized I was working 20 to 30 hours a week (in addition to my full time job) and Mabel’s House had become an un-fun burden. I came very close to hitting delete on this whole shebang.

I wasn’t blogging because I could, I was blogging because I should.

I was “shoulding” myself into a really exhausting place.

In the past I’ve shrugged off a lot of “should’s.” I stopped tanning (no wrinkles + no cancer = win/win). I cut off my hair. I wear pantyhose to work functions during the summertime because it’s professional and I don’t care what Stacy and Clinton say. I only clean my bathrooms every two weeks because WHO HAS THE TIME? And since I was able to reject these “should’s” why was blogging be any different?

That’s when the changes came. I reduced my blog reader list from over 300 to my favorite 20. I turned off the comment section on the blog. I decorated my house only when I felt like it and only when I had the money. I stopped checking traffic statistics. I gave myself permission to stop carrying my camera around constantly. And you know what? I rediscovered that I really love blogging.

I love it this way, not the way it used to be. I’m telling you all of this because, if I were a betting woman, I’d be willing to place cash on the table that someone today is reading this post and feeling the same way. Uninspired. Overwhelmed. Confused. And to you I say, “Do what you want.” If that means reducing your reader feed and my blog is one that gets the axe… go for it. If that means you don’t post every day… go for it.

After all, aren’t we here for the fun of it? We don’t have a boss who will get mad at our attendance record, or teachers who will grade us on originality and spelling (actually, there are plenty of people who will grade/judge you on spelling and grammar but just ignore them and keep writing).

 I want to encourage you to blog because you can, and you enjoy it… not because you should.

Also, take an early morning walk every now and then. It really is the best mental medicine.


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