Hello, friends. You have probably noticed that my blogging has been pretty sporadic over the last few years. For most of that time, it was simply a matter of being too busy. When you get married, move to a new city, start a new job, and have a baby all in the span of 14 months, life gets a little crazy. Then in the 2 years and 5 months since our son was born, balancing mom life with blogging monthly for the Boston Moms Blog and working part-time on Saturdays just didn’t allow much time for writing, researching, taste-testing, etc.
However, I have to be honest. For almost a year now, it hasn’t been so much a lack of time, but more of a lack of motivation on my part, which kept me from writing.
Let me explain. When I first started this blog 6 years ago, it was mainly because I was feeling overwhelmed and lost and I needed an outlet. Plus, as a busy teacher who was also dealing with fatigue, brain fog, and all the other symptoms that were still working themselves out due to new diagnoses, it was an easy way to keep friends and family updated without explaining everything over and over again on a phone call. Within a few weeks though, I received so many kind emails and messages from people who were reading the blog- some of course were just friends of mine without any food issues, but many were from people who had been sent the link by friends of mine and were so grateful to share my experience.
Before long, I felt like I was part of this community of people who knew exactly how I felt and what my new life looked like- even if we lived far apart and never actually met in real life (the wonders of technology).
And for almost 5 years, that feeling continued to grow. I loved writing, I loved feeling like a part of a virtual community, and I loved that my story could help someone feel less alone. Then about a year ago, that started to change. I attended a local Expo I had been a part of several times before and was surprised to feel a dramatic shift. First of all, we were no longer referred to as bloggers, now we had a new name: influencers. I’ll be honest- I wasn’t a fan of that term. I soon realized the change was necessary though, because I learned that less than half of us there actually had blogs. Apparently everyone just sticks with social media, primarily Instagram.
Now don’t get me wrong, here. I LOVE Instagram. I think it is a great way to share quick tips about new products, gluten-free restaurants, etc. that don’t warrant an entire blogpost.
What concerns me is the shift this change has created in quality of content. On Instagram, it matters how many followers you have or how many likes you can get from a certain post. Even certain companies now send an “application” if you’re interested in trying some new products which requires you to report how many followers you have. Now I have a business background, of course this makes sense from a marketing perspective.
What worries me is that suddenly people care more about the appearance of their Instagram posts than the actual content- and for someone who is gluten-free by necessity, this can be dangerous.
I have seen gluten-free accounts post pictures of products or restaurants that I personally would NEVER trust. For someone who is new to the gluten-free world, it can be easy to trust someone else who claims it is safe (and they have a thousand followers, so it must be safe, right??) Along with that, I’ve seen a shift at Expos I’ve attended. Where I used to feel like all the bloggers banded together and became friends at these events, there seems to be an increased sense of competition now that we’re “influencers”. Let me clear, this isn’t true of everyone I’ve encountered- but it is definitely a shift I have noticed.So I left that Expo a year ago thinking that I needed a break….and I took one. I logged in from time to time and even started a few posts here and there, but my heart just wasn’t in it. So I stopped.
I took time away. I immersed myself in all things Elmo and Thomas the Train (mom of a 2-year-old here) and paid less attention to new products in the gluten-free world. And I don’t regret it at all.
Of course that leads to the big question: what brought me back? (Well, I guess the first question is, are you back??)
Yes, I am Back.
I won’t promise daily postings, or even weekly content at that…but I do have a number of posts in the works and lots of content in the pipeline that I am excited to share. And of course, I’m excited to share some insight into being a gluten-free mom to a non-gluten-free toddler (who is not careful with crumbs yet).
What brought me back?
This one could take days to answer so I’ll leave it with 2 reasons for now. First, I realized that it doesn’t matter if the name changed or even the culture changed among the bloggers-turned-influencers. My mission hasn’t changed. I can still share my experiences in my own way and if I can help just one person with my blog or posts, that’s all that matters to me. I don’t care how many followers or likes I have- I never cared about that in the first place – so I won’t let this new number-focused culture change that.
Second, we lost a family member this summer. I could write pages and pages about the person that he was, what he meant to me, and how he made the world a better place- but I am not in a place where I could do that yet. What I will share is that I used to joke with him that he was my main (and often only) source of unpaid publicity. I lost count of how many times he would text me to let me know that he shared my blog with a friend (or sometimes just someone he met in passing) who was dealing with food allergies/intolerances. I used to wonder how he managed to befriend so many people with food issues, but I realize now that it was more that he simply took the time that most of us don’t to talk to people and really get to know them- even if it was just someone he happened to sit next to on a bus. I’ve received messages from a few of those people he sent my way- a few before he died and a few since- that reaffirmed for me the rare person that he was. He not only took the time to learn about each person he met, but he also tried to do whatever he could to make their life just a little bit easier- even if it was as simple as sharing his sister-in-law’s blog.