Big Updates for 2024!

I have a pretty significant update for you all today. This post includes administrative matters, subscription info, refined goals for life, and transparency on some of my failings, so hang on.

Midlife Crises Can Be Good

Today’s post went through many renditions and included the following titles:

  • The Death of The New Lighter Life
  • The Future of This Site
  • News & Updates
  • Blogging IS Dead
  • I’m Done With This Site
  • Social Media – My Arch Nemesis

Needless to say, I have gone through (and may still be going through) a bit of a midlife crisis. I’ve been mulling over what I’m doing with my life and what my purpose is going forward. The past couple of years have been hard. Don’t get me wrong – I have a WONDERFUL life. I’m very very fortunate!

But there have been some very challenging times with church, career, parenting, friendships, finances, etc. Thankfully I’ve had Mark (the kindest and most patient person I know) to help me unpack all the hard stuff in my life.

Soul-searching and hard times are both very good things, but it is much easier to say that once you’ve made it to the positive side. I’m at the stage where I’m really trying to understand WHO I am and what actually matters.

For so many years, I’ve been striving to attain greatness. Greatness as a Christian, wife, parent, and friend. Greatness in my, gardening, blogging, and creative outlets.

After reflecting and taking a hard look at my life, I have some clarity. Looking back – my life has been about overcoming my deficiencies, (perceived or real).

Always striving and never attaining generally has left me feeling very empty. It’s never enough, friends.

The Wakeup Call

There are a whole lot of underlying “things” in that previous section but today I just want to focus on the blog part of my life.

A few weeks ago, I had to gather income and expenses for our accountant to complete our 2023 taxes. Needless to say, I ended up extremely ticked off when I realized that I was at a loss for 2023 (shoulda kept better records and I would have known sooner – hehe).

A financial loss was the result of my best efforts. Let’s not even go into what my time and countless number of hours worked “cost” me.

During 2023, I made a big push to grow the blog. I invested in advertising, image licenses, blog maintenance, software, plugins, etc.

Most of my effort was with the end goal of growing the blog financially. A big part of my enjoyment of the blog is providing helpful tools to readers. Mostly, I loved the creativity of putting out appealing (pretty) content.

I Lost My Soul Blogging

I admit it. I lost my way over the course of the past few years. More recently I started using AI for some of my content and (somewhat) changed my focus to things that were trending on Google or Pinterest. I looked for gaps in information that I could fill regardless of my actual interest or care about the topic.

(I bet you can find the posts that AI-assisted me with, which are utter and complete trash.)

All that soul-sucking work I did in 2023 resulted in paying to blog instead of earning a profit. Disheartening.

Blogging is Dead

That was my conclusion. Blogging is Dead. I told Mark that I was done and set about to shut down TNLL. He tried to talk me off the ledge and I gave myself a little bit of time to cool off.

My reaction was an adult temper tantrum, which I am NOT proud of – but it is what it is.

I do NOT actually think blogging is dead. However, blogging has changed so much over the years and it has become increasingly difficult (in my opinion) to build a community without significant cost, time, a team, and consistent social media presence/growth.

On top of that, Google Ads do not pay well and they are annoying. (Sorry friends they’re staying for now because they help to cover the basic costs for this blog) Amazon referrals have decreased over the years as well.

Blogging has changed and most information is shared on social media, in less than 30 seconds. If you know me, you know I have a very strong aversion to social media. I tried to overcome it intermittently over the yeasr, but man. Social media sucks the life right out of me.

What to Do Now?

I have been pondering my life choices, who I really am, and what I actually want from life. Friends – I had an epiphany!

  • Why do I need to stop blogging?
  • What if I stop putting up fake (or semi-fake) crap?
  • What if I blogged because I enjoyed it and not because I want to show up on page 1 of Google search results?
  • Why do I have to try to post weekly with keyword-rich posts and perfect outlines of content?
  • What if I posted about things I cared about, regardless of their popularity or how much compensation I get?
  • What if I let go of the pressure to post on social media and let myself grow in those areas when I want to? (there is more to unpack here but that is a big topic for me)

Now that sounds refreshing!!

Keep Stopping & Starting

My little midlife crisis has helped me realize more of who I am and what I care about. I like variety and I get bored with projects. I switch gears and passions frequently and unexpectedly.

I stop.

I stop pursuing hobbies. I put things away and start new projects. Most often, I go back to those projects, but sometimes I don’t.

What Happened to Gardening?

4 years ago, I was 100% all the way invested in gardening. I went hogwild and put in 5 raised beds with inground irrigation. I got to organizing my seeds and growing my rhubarb & strawberry patches, cattle panel trellises, and garden hod construction.

This year?

I’m converting 1 of my 5 raised beds into…well, into nothing. We are going to cover that bed with a deck. I will probably only plant one bed with tomatillos that I’ll be buying from our local greenhouse.

That’s it.

Is Stopping Bad?

I have settled on the reality that it’s not bad to stop.

Actually, stopping is a GOOD thing, but hear me out…

If something that used to bring you joy is not a necessary part of your life, why can’t you stop it??

If that thing that you used to enjoy becomes mundane or a burden, you should not feel obligated to continue with that hobby/interest. If you have other things you’d like to try or enjoy with the ebb and flow in your situation and season of life, stopping and starting is to be expected.

Please hear what I’m NOT saying…It’s not honorable to stop something. Stopping is stopping. Like my kids like to say, “It’s not that deep.” There IS value in working through struggles/problems to see something to completion. However, I think wisdom is stretching yourself when needed but not unnecessarily or just for the sake of finishing.

Is Starting Bad?

Now let’s flip the question…

Is it bad to start something new? I would bet most people say, “No, of course not…” but the caveat to that answer would be, “…as long as you finish it.”

Well, why do you HAVE to finish it? Do you ever REALLY finish it?? And what does it mean to finish it??

To unpack gardening…

Just because I’ve almost completely shelved gardening this year doesn’t mean the past 4 years (and the other stints I had before) weren’t valuable. If and when I get back to gardening, I have tools and skills to build off of from the other times I’ve gardened. There is value in the time spent and there is value in stopping.

I’m SUPER glad I started gardening. It brought countless hours of enjoyment and satisfaction. Conversely, I’m relieved to stop gardening this year.

No Shame or Guilt

I remember watching That 1870’s Homestead announce she was taking the year off of gardening on her YouTube channel a few years back. I couldn’t wrap my mind around her taking a break. But here I am taking AT LEAST this next year’s garden to near non-existence.

Mind you – I’m not comparing myself to her. She is incredibly consistent and I admire her work. My shock at her year break reveals how I defined success previously.

Today, my success is living out what matters to me and removing unnecessary burdens.

What to Expect Going Forward

This post is all over the place but I wanted to at least clear the air on where I’m at and apologize for “selling my soul”. I’m sorry for trying to sell you on things that didn’t matter to me. Going forward, things will be different.

Content I Care About

I will not look at trends or what keywords pay the most ad revenue per click. If I am interested in something, I will share about it here. If I find something genuinely useful that I feel adds value, I will put a post up about it. If I just want to ramble, I will ramble here.

Recommendations Regardless of Compensation

I will provide honest recommendations. I will work to weed out any old recommendations that I no longer consider genuine from my perspective. I will recommend recipes from other bloggers and products I love regardless of what I get in return.

Time Breaks in Posts

Let’s be real – irregular posting is nothing new for me. At least I’m admitting it, right?! Ha! I will not post regularly nor will I apologize for gaps in posting. This blog is part of my life – it is not my life nor is it my career.

Less Structure & Formatting

Google loves highly structured and formatted posts. Posting content this way adds more stress so I will not be crazy about structure and format. I can appreciate posts that are structured, but I will not stress about outlines and content length for each section of a post.

No More Subscriber Newsletters

I did a bad thing in the middle of my crisis. I deleted thousands of subscriber’s information that I’d been gotten over the years. I’m sorry guys. It was accidental (I forgot to download the csv doc before I deleted the account). I would categorize this blunder as a “happy mistake” in the words of Bob Ross.

I don’t mean to be flippant about this. It is what it is. Thank you for subscribing to my blog. By doing so, you were given access to my jam-making guide and free printables page. The subscription service was expensive and not automated, which meant I had to format every email that went out.

Put simply, if you were a subscriber, you’re no longer subscribed to this blog. Losing every subscriber meant I couldn’t notify you of this significant change.

Printables Page Unlocked

I’d love it if you came back and visited this site, but I’m not going to try to incentivize you with my printables page. My intention with that page was to have it automated so all my printables would show up seamlessly from my Google Docs account. I spent weeks trying to get that to work but gave up and settled for the current format.

On top of that, my printable file output tanked and I hardly added new content despite my best efforts to do so. All that said, my printable page is now available in the menu of the blog, or here. No subscription needed or passwords. As much as I can update that page, I will.

Thank You for Your Support!

This post became far more of an unburdening of my soul than I intended so if you read this all – you deserve an award.

From the bottom of my heart – thank you for being here. Thank you for your support, your reviews, for purchasing my pattern, and for giving me the grace to return to authenticity.

Here’s to a happy and successful remainder of 2024, filled with all the things that matter.


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