Reflections and Resolutions

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It’s the end of another year, meaning for many, it’s time to look back and look ahead. I wanted to do the same, share a little about me and life behind the blog, and what I see for myself and this little space I have on the internet for the coming year. I hope after reading mine, you’ll share some of your own Reflections and Resolutions.

Reflections and Resolutions

I will measure my success by the HAPPINESS around me and the JOY I inspire!

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2015 has probably been one of my most challenging years. I must say I recognize that I am very blessed because challenging for me has not been anywhere near as challenging as life has been for others I know. In my own community, in the blogging community, and in the world, it seems on a daily basis I am hearing about tragedies – illnesses, deaths, violence, you name it. Fortunately none of that has befallen me and my family.

I have two healthy kids. I think they are fairly happy when I’m not nagging them. My husband has a great job that provides well for us. He works hard at his job and and at home. His financial and emotional and moral support has allowed me to turn my hobbies into what is becoming a pretty thriving business. I’m able to pay for my son to go to daycare, which sounds terrible and backwards for someone who so longed for and then loved being a stay-at-home mom for awhile. But I came to realize I need to have other aspects to my life and I need to segment those different aspects of my life in order to feel like I’m doing anything well. The Bug is in kindergarten now, and Little Dude is Mr. Social Butterfly who wants and needs to be out of the house and in a group of kiddos as much as possible, and, truth be told, not always with his mama.

So I get to spend my days making food, taking pictures of food, and perusing all of the amazing food my friends make so that I can share it with all of you on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. I mean, there’s more to it than that, parts that are a lot of work and aren’t so fun and exciting, and you probably aren’t all that interested in hearing about those, but there is so much about it I do love that those pain in the butt parts kind of fade into the background. But I can bring The Bug to and from the bus stop everyday, and I can pick Little Dude up early or late depending on whether I have to bring The Bug to an after school activity or appointment, or want to have them both home early to play or go to the park or just take an extra long bubble bath. It’s pretty much an ideal setup.

We have a beautiful home, we don’t live an extravagant life, but we are comfortable. But that doesn’t mean life has not had its challenges.

If you’ve read the blog almost anytime in the past year, you might recall that we moved to Maryland from New Jersey just over a year ago. And you might recall that I lived in a twelve mile radius since the day I was born, so while this move might seem like nothing to many people, it pretty much rocked my world. My entire life I’ve known where to go to the grocery store (heck, I had the aisles memorized), I’ve had my doctors and dentists, I knew the best places to eat and where to shop, I could get into the car and just go wherever almost on autopilot, I knew plenty of people. Changes for me were small and one at a time.

Then I literally felt like everything I knew, everything that was familiar and comfortable, was gone. I had to completely start over. I am yet to find a grocery store I really like. I still use my GPS to go pretty much anywhere. I have to time my appointments, trips to the store, even family outings to work around the insane traffic that comes from living in the Washington, DC area.

Everyday felt like a battle, too. Finding new doctors and all of that. Errands that used to take twenty minutes taking an hour because where the heck is the cottage cheese in this grocery store and what do you mean I have to bring my own bags even into Kohl’s or you are going to charge me 5 cents per bag?!?! Replacing and repairing appliances that we thought were in working condition, burst pipes, furniture that had to be delivered three times to finally get the deliver right. And each of those thing happened twice. Minor annoyances, but when minor annoyances happen day in and day out, it gets a little overwhelming.

Combine a horrible winter, my shyness and feeling uncomfortable in groups of people I don’t know, especially strangely enough around other moms, a job that doesn’t often get me out of the house, and, let’s be honest, my general melancholy, and I didn’t meet anyone for the longest time. I was always thankful for the “friends that live in my computer” to help me through when I struggled to find any other connections, but I also felt alone in many ways. Different.

We’ve been dealing with some behavior problems with The Bug. He is a good kid at the core, has a heart of gold, loves deeply, and is super smart, but focus when he doesn’t want to focus and self-control when he gets upset are still a bit of a challenge. He wants constant attention until he doesn’t want it and wants to be left alone. Social skills aren’t his strong suit, and he seems to be better playing alone or interacting with adults. We are working on managing this and determining if there is an underlying cause, which is an emotional process for us. For rule-following people-pleasers like The Hubby and I, it’s been hard to deal with, and the fact that we have had occasions of reacting more quickly and more, well, loudly, than we should have doesn’t help. But we get frustrated and he gets frustrated. We are working on this. We try to do better everyday. He also gave us a scare when we thought he was having a seizure, sending us to the ER, the neurologist, and the children’s hospital for an overnight EEG, and while this is nothing serious, we still don’t have clear answers.

Little Dude, well, he’s two. I can’t say much more. And while he is adorable and lovable, he is equal parts a whiner and instigator for his brother. He’s also going through a daddy’s boy phase, which is tough for this mama or a former mama’s boy. He went to the ER twice too. Everything was okay, but eek!

I’ve got my ongoing health issues – wheat allergy, crappy stomach, high cholesterol. A friend suddenly and unexpectedly dying of a heart attack sent me into a panic and straight to my doctor because I was having pain in my chest that ended up being acid reflux, and now I think my doctor just thinks I’m nuts. Let’s add to that physical therapy for a wonky shoulder.

This has all really worn me down to the point that I spent a good portion of this holiday season not wanting to do much of anything. I shopped online, made a bare minimum of cookies, didn’t make pierogies as The Hubby and I have done every year since we got married, even in the midst of kitchen renovations, babies, and moving. He has been working non-stop and has lots of stress at work, there’s a stressful situation going on in his family, and all of this has caused stress and tension between us. A nice, long conversation a couple weeks ago have helped immensely.

We’ve had moments of holiday joy – decorating a gorgeous tree, going to see Santa, going to the drive-through light show, making Christmas Eve breakfast for dinner, a fun and relaxing Christmas Day – but I’ve had to work myself up to those moments. I did truly seize and enjoy them, though, even if they were short-lived.

On the blog, I’ve had lots of guest posts, contributors, and at times felt like I was just dialing it in. Putting out content, but not always connecting with readers and other bloggers. Seeking numbers. Traffic. Yet at times I’ve felt an emptiness. A disconnect. Grasping at straws. I mean not all the time. I have some recipes I’m really proud of. I have some photos I’m really proud of. But I want to go a different direction.

You guys, I miss HAPPY. I miss JOY. I miss CONNECTION.

In 2016, I want to get that back, personally and professionally.

What does that mean for me? Well, what do I love? My husband. My kids. My blog. Running. These are the things I have to prioritize. All of these things bring me a different type of happiness and joy that I need to have balance in my life. So it’s a matter of finding a way to give each the time and attention they need to maximize the happiness for all of us.

What does that mean for the blog? Well, in January I am cohosting #EatHealthy16, so you’ll be seeing a bunch of my friends sharing healthy snack recipes on my site. I’ll be using that time to do a little behind-the-scenes work and planning because after that, it’s all me. I mean, I may have the occasional guest post, or I may pop up on other blogs here and there. But I’m not going to have weekly recipe contributors. It’ll be all my recipes. I’m not going to contribute to other blogs, so no, “Hey doesn’t this look delicious? Now go to my friend’s blog to get the full recipe.” Sponsored posts will still happen. This is a job now. But know that the brands I work with are products I love.

What does that mean for you, my readers? Let’s chat. I’m going to work on being better about responding to comments as quickly as possible. Facebook is my favorite social media, and I want to engage more with my followers there. Feel free to send me an email (cupcakesandkalechips {at} gmail {dot} com). Let’s get to know each other a little better. I want to open up more of my life to you. That means maybe you’ll see a family post or fitness post or something else every now and then. I’m thinking of finding a way to bring back my Friday Fun posts in some format where I share what’s going on with the family, maybe some favorite finds from around the web, whatever strikes my fancy. I want to open up more of me to all of you. Because Cupcakes & Kale Chips isn’t a recipe website. It’s a blog. Yes, it’s mostly recipes, but there is a person behind all of these recipes.

A person that seeks to learn and connect and share and inspire. So that brings me back to that image and quote at the top of this post. Those are my words and my personal commitment for 2016. A commitment to all of you. A commitment to my family. And most importantly, a commitment to myself. A commitment to being the person I want to be, so that I can be the best for everyone around me, and especially those who count on me the most – my family. This year…

I will measure my success by the HAPPINESS around me and the JOY I inspire!

What is your personal commitment for 2016?

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I also want to share a little about the image at the top of this post. This is not a sponsored post, but I wanted to tell you about this. You might know that General Mills has been working towards removing artificial colors and flavors from each and every one of their cereals. This is their commitment, and to celebrate the milestone of achieving 75% of their cereals meeting this goal, they teamed up with 60 bloggers and asked us to share our personal commitments, which they had hand lettered. On behalf of each of us, General Mills donated 1,000 boxes of cereal to the Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, S.C. to be used in used in “disaster boxes” that the food bank creates to send directly to help families experiencing loss and rebuilding in the region.

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