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This is 44…Personal Thoughts About Growing Up And Aging Through Digital And Social Media

Tomorrow is my birthday, so to celebrate I closed the “office” for two days and I’m giving myself two “Yes” days (think cold plunge, walk/hike with podcasts, vintage shopping, wine at lunch, Barbie (2nd time) with my best friends, kids snuggles, man snuggles, pig snuggles, and friends from LA coming in to probably Alpaca snuggle). But we can’t let 44 fly by without a little self-indulgent/reflection post because this age/decade is so much more fascinating than I could have predicted.

To celebrate 44, I wanted to quote my friend Jason Derulo via Armchair Expert last week who talked about the top 10 biggest “missers” in NBA basketball – the players that missed the most attempts at scoring. As you might guess they are the GOATS: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, etc. The players that have the most misses, have the most wins. I found this stat so inspiring, comforting and have repeated this ad nauseam last week to my kids, friends, team, grocery clerk, UPS dude (shout out to Dustin) and anyone who will listen.

Mid-life is hard, but also so empowering. Like most people in their 40s, I’m really enjoying the clarity that comes from stirring the pot of life ingredients – i.e. heavy work/family responsibility, daily mistakes, some successes, terrible parenting moves, trips/falls, and recovering on all fronts. Oh and with a dash of try-hard-know-it-all-ism. Let’s call it middle aged soup. Every day is an opportunity to fall on your ass and get back up, which seems to get easier each time, until the fall is greater and the way back up is unknowingly hard. On a good day, I love this weird game of life, while recognizing that I’m lucky enough to do so from a really privileged vantage point. While my vanity doesn’t enjoy getting older, the increasing moments of clarity and wisdom are so worth it – and spoiler: you only get to have wisdom by aging. I’ll take the ladder.

Right now our kids are 7 and 9 and Brian and I are loving these “magical years of parenting” where they can get themselves fed and dressed, but don’t hate us yet. We have a slower, simpler life with dogs, pigs, alpacas, and a neighborhood/community that we value so much. But a career that is heavily embedded in social media is not always easy. I started my (second) career as a design blogger in 2010 before influencing on multiple platforms was a thing and adapting to it has been a REAL WILD RIDE.

2022 was specifically challenging in regards to social media. My relationship with it was already challenged. I fundamentally changed during lockdown and felt immense pressure to go back to a chaotic work life presenting “perfection” all day every day on social media and I just didn’t have it in me anymore. Meanwhile TikTok was disrupting this industry in a really alarming way and the numbers were changing fast. I didn’t adapt as well as I wish I had (mentally or professionally). The numbers were BUMMING me out. I was saying a lot of terrible things to myself that I don’t even want to write down. Essentially, I was full of insecurity/self-doubt and wondering if I still fit in. I’ve been doing this for 14 years, which is like 278 in social media years. Digital (specifically social) media is a game that has so much potential for reward (and I’m so grateful for parts of it) but due to the algorithms it often feels like the Hunger Games – we are all thrown into a battle where the second we figure out how to use the weapons we were given, the rules change and that weapon no longer works. My professional self-worth was getting caught up in it. We were scrambling to try to hit the numbers we had during Covid, and I was secretly wondering if flipping houses would offer more stability and better mental health.

This is also a HUGE reminder to us all – that social media can be very dangerous, mentally if you don’t know how to approach it in a healthy way. I didn’t start blogging until I was 30 and on social media when my frontal lobe was super formed at 33. And even I find myself super affected by “likes” and comments when I’m not in a clear head space.

Thank GOODNESS for my wonderful team. They do so much behind the scenes you have no idea and were so supportive. You see, there used to be just 1-2 social media platforms and that’s it (the blog and maybe OG IG). Now we have/GET to shoot, record, bank, edit, and publish content for 5-7 platforms most days (some vertical, some horizontal, some quick and catchy, some long form, some short form to promote the long form, some visual, some written, some with caption, some long articles, voiceover, etc). Each platform has different requirements, formats with different audiences that want different things. It’s really, really hard to know what will hit (and I’m not alone, all the marketing execs at top companies that I partner with and every content creator I know are equally flummoxed and trying new things every day). You have to look at it like a creative challenge that you get to take otherwise it can be an impossible place to lead from. Last year, I was trying to create the content mostly by myself up here, which wasn’t working AT ALL and I wanted to give up. I missed my team so much. I wasn’t doing the best job, I wasn’t enjoying it, I would forget to get the right footage for the right platform, and I was so mad – I used to be so good at this!!! I found myself really resenting social media, as if it were the problem, and I felt like such a brat. I knew that I was the problem. I had to make a big shift.

The Big Shift…

I took a break – some time to think/focus/read last January. Time is the world’s most privileged commodity of all and I am so grateful I was able to take some to reset. I asked myself so many hard questions. I went through all the “whys,” honed in on my value (shout out to Brené Brown). I read about blockages and started the work to remove the ones that were making me feel so terrible and negative about myself. I dove more into spirituality to feel more connected bigger/higher power/universe (who others might call God). If this makes you bristle or want to roll your eyes, I get that. This is not about organized religion (for me) or weird wellness stuff. Just feeling more connection to what feels good and bigger, to each other, and to the planet. All that meaning and purpose stuff. It might be placebo, I don’t care. Collectively it all worked.

It was like a pair of cloudy gray glasses were lifted off my eyes and for lack of any less cringey terms, I felt really supported, warm, hopeful, clear, and like I belonged here. My pep came back in my step. I felt light and bright again. I was saying yes again to opportunities that felt so aligned with where I wanted to go. I re-invested my time back HERE, into this blog – the one element of this job that I’ve always loved with my whole heart. And the numbers followed. Funny how that works 🙂

I’m so glad that I didn’t make any large changes when I was feeling so down on myself. I could give you all the steps that helped, books that I read, mantras I wrote and repeated – but it’s personal and specific to my life, my problems and career and I don’t want to evangelize or proselytize (but will in person if you want me to:)).

Boundaries… FTW

One thing I did (that I would highly recommend) is identifying the real pain points in my job and strategize how to fix those, without throwing out the baby out with the bathwater. When you are down it’s so easy to be like, “thats it, I’m calling it,” when there might be 1-4 changes that could make everything better. Not everything is fixable but my reaction to the problems and my approach became so much better. We started monitoring comments, which has been wildly good for all of our mental health. I now have a very strict and manageable on-camera shoot schedule rather than feeling the pressure to be “on” all day every day (the recipe for burnout). And on the days that I don’t feel like being on social, I don’t. A huge thanks to my team for posting and managing all our partnerships – it’s a really big job that is super invisible. They allow me to take breaks when I need to and they take the reigns to keep the business going 🙂

The days that are frustrating are less “doomsday” and more just “life”. Doable. All OK. And every time I feel negative (like if I invested heavily in a project that didn’t hit at all), I have so many more tools to help me see it as a lesson, not a total failure. Besides, the numbers are just numbers. The posts that give me joy and make me excited are what I care about.

I’m so grateful that this blog exists and is still growing. I’m so thankful that you are here and that we’ve been able to stay open and thrive despite every major digital media shift. And listen, the middle aged cliche is actually really comforting. Instead of a Porsche I have a cold plunge, and instead of an affair with a younger man we have some alpacas and piglets. The sense of reinvention feels exciting and ripe with possibility. There isn’t an “after” in this case, it’s a “forever tweak”. And I just won’t, can’t, and will never quit you. So thank you. xx

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: Our Back Patio Reveal! (+ How Everything’s Held Up To 6 Months Of Portland Weather)

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7 months ago

Absolutely share your concerns regarding social media … which obviously raises the question of kids on line wayyy before their fontal lobe is fully developed.

7 months ago

❤️ Just so much love to you! Everything you say resonates with me. I love this blog, I’ve been following since 2010 and it’s my little escape during the day, my daily dose of beauty. I’m really happy you’re sticking to the blog format, because when I’m tired of everything else (news, social media etc.) I’m not tired of this blog. Thank you for sharing your design and parts of your life with us and have a very happy birthday ❤️

7 months ago
Reply to  Joy

Seconded x1 million!

Leigh H
7 months ago

Happy Birthday Emily! I’ve been here since the beginning of this blog and couldn’t be more thankful that you and your team continue this project. It seems silly to me sometimes, but this blog / site is this constant 10-15mins of my almost daily life that I so look forward to. I too have reached middle age right along with you and share some of the same sentiments. I hope you have a wonderful day and 44 is full of peace, whatever that means for you. THANK YOU for your work and not giving up on this blog!

Erin Dae
7 months ago
Reply to  Leigh H

Yes, this 100%. I start my workday with the blog almost every morning or catch up at lunch if the morning didn’t start out well. I have minimal FB presence and have no other social media, so this blog is my connection to you and your team and the beautiful work you all do. I have been inspired by posts, found new artists and makers, learned more what my own style is while growing in appreciation for others, and boy have I learned a lot in the comments on the posts about hard topics. This is a great community and I am thankful for it. Thanks for keeping it going Emily, and happiest of birthdays to you. See you again tomorrow!

Michelle Taylor
7 months ago

Absolutely LOVE your blog! Thank you for it! Highlight every morning for me!

7 months ago

Happy Birthday Emily and many thanks to you and your team for the inspiration and laughs I get from reading this blog every morning for years. Cheers!

7 months ago

I value this blog so much. While it seems rather silly and trivial – your blog is my slow down in what you described above. It’s my 15 minutes in the morning between being a mother, wife and attorney, where I get to focus on something for me. Thank you for coming back everyday.

7 months ago

I love this blog- it resonates. I come here every day for practical knowledge, beauty, life stuff and the celebrations/successes that occur and the honest self appraisal too. I appreciate the design content, love your team and you, and there is a sense of longevity and integrity that I trust. I appreciate your journey, work and life and all that you are learning. Happy Birthday.

7 months ago

Chiming in to say that THIS old lady doesn’t use most of the other social media platforms and I’m grateful for long form bloggers who allow me to sip my coffee and read and start my morning at a slower pace. Glad you are here doing what you do.

7 months ago
Reply to  susan


7 months ago

Love love love! I’ve been here since the beginning and see how hard everyone works at keeping the blog relevant, fun, engaging and useful! Please share all the books, podcasts, etc you consumed!

7 months ago

Happy birthday!

7 months ago

Happy birthday! 🎂🎉 This blog is a happy, bright spot in my days, and am so grateful you’ve kept it up at such a high quality over the years. I’m also in the same stage of life, and resonate so much with what you’ve written. I’d absolutely love to see a post about the books, resources, etc…you’ve turned to. Just added the Jason Derulo podcast to my list and am already a Brene Brown disciple. Thanks to you and your team for bringing beauty and joy to this crazy online world.

7 months ago

I really loved and appreciated this post. You are a gem, Emily, and I treasure getting to read your blog. Social media is absurd. If it wasn’t for my Buy Nothing obsession, I wouldn’t even be on Facebook. 🙂

7 months ago

Happy Birthday!

7 months ago

Thank you Emily and team for all that you do! I love love love the blog, I look forward to it as part of my morning “at my desk before work starts” ritual. Don’t ever stop, because I will always be here along with all your other fans. I now restrict my social media to 15 mins a day, I have taken time to identify which posts make me happy and I can count them on one hand. All others make me feel less than. My 15 min per day restriction, keeps me honest and controls those feelings. I feel connected but not beaten down by the perfection in reels. Thank you for everything and happy birthday for tomorrow!

7 months ago

Heart-sourced birthday blessings, Emily! And so much recognition for how you continue to show up in integrity and with kindness and grace. I quit FB in 2020 and never joined most of the others. The result has been more creativity, focus, and ease, no doubt. At age 48, I’m increasingly conscious of how I want to spend this one precious life. Scrolling social media comments is definitely not on the list! And thank you so much for your comment policy here. It makes a huge difference and makes this space feel much safer and kinder.  

7 months ago

HBD! LOVE U LADY! Thanks for putting into words so many of the frustrations I’ve been feeling about social media, content, etc. Sometimes it really does just feel like a bunch of people screaming for attention as the rules change on a daily basis. It’s so easy to feel left behind by that. Whatever the platform/format, people are here for your voice and story. Thanks for sharing it! <3

7 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

I love you both— thanks for all the beauty you make.

Vicki M
7 months ago

Yay! Happy birthday. I am still a follower of blogs so am happy to see you continue on this platform.

7 months ago

Happy birthday! Your thoughtful reflections resonate deeply with me as a 48 year old. I am a meditation coach and one small thing I’d like to offer: perhaps the most valuable thing we have is our attention, as opposed to time. Attention means love and how we use it literally shapes our lives.

7 months ago
Reply to  Molly

Wow, Molly, “perhaps the most valuable thing we have is our attention”–that’s a major paradigm shift. Going to be mulling on that one for awhile. That’s huge. My brain is going so many places–especially about the attention economy making it so hard to truly be present and focus our attention on the here and now. What a gift when we can do that. No wonder we feel revitalized when it happens. Thanks so much for sharing.

7 months ago

I love starting my work day with your blog! I have a few of the social medias, but really love this the most!

7 months ago

I always enjoy these self-reflective posts and will often come back and re-read them. Thank you for sharing! Also, I love that you moderate comments – It’s a nicer experience for a reader of the blog as well.

7 months ago

Yes to all the previous comments! I’m not on social media and am sooo thankful for the daily dose of happiness this blog gives me. It’s been part of my life for more than a decade, and I go back to old posts all the time. Have a wonderful birthday, and thank you for sharing your talents, wisdom, and kindness with us.

7 months ago
Reply to  Martha

Same! Not on social media and love this blog and have been reading for so many years. Thank you Emily!

7 months ago

Happy Birthday! This blog is my absolute favorite, and I’ve been reading for years. It’s allowed me to kick my Snooze Button addiction! instead of hitting “snooze” in the morning, I open your blog immediately! It helps me wake up in a happy way. Keep up the great work 🥰.

🥰 Rusty
7 months ago

Happy Birthday for tomorrow, Emily.💕
44 in numerology = 8, verrry auspicious!
This type of post is my favourite (sans reveals featuring nature and menagerie). You share your authentic self and spill your beans. With age, comes wrinkles, saggy bits and crinkles; but also, if we’re mindful and live with authenticity and awareness, wisdom and nouse. It seems you’ve earned some ‘stripes’ in this department.
I wish for you, that the year ahead brings new inspiration, calmness and the realisation of a long-held dream.
With love,
Rusty 🥰

7 months ago

I have no comment per se, only ❤️❤️❤️

7 months ago

Happy day before your birthday, Emily! I know you said they’re specific to you and your experience, but I sure would love to hear more about the books and resources you used to help you get through a hard time. Stay well! <3

Carolyn Rominger
7 months ago

Sending happy birthday wishes! I’m 65, retired, and don’t fit the profile, but I get so much from this blog! I sincerely appreciate you and all of your team! I rarely comment but wanted you to know how much it means that you all continue to do what you do, and that you do it with such integrity, humor, whimsy, creativity, honesty and grace. Best wishes!

7 months ago

This is still my favorite blog to read. Please never go away ❤️

7 months ago

did i miss the piglet post?!?! happy birthday! I loved reading this. I’m on a social media break right now, my brain is so much better for it.

7 months ago

And don’t forget that you are right in the years when most women start their menopause transition (we will start having symptoms in our early 40s) and that can also influence how you feel (lack of energy, brain fog, etc). I certainly struggled a lot. I am happy you persevered and got your mojo back. Your blog is one of my favourites; I check it religiously every day and hope to continue to do so for a long time. Happy Birthday and all the best!

🥰 Rusty
7 months ago
Reply to  Miruska

Good point. Peri-menopause, ugh!

7 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Yep, just starting in that ‘fun’ journey. I think coming out of Covid straight into it is proving especially challenging

7 months ago
Reply to  Leah

Leah, with you on the extra challenging. Some research is showing that after having COVID the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause are more pronounced, which has been my experience. Hard to untangle! But I am still super grateful for getting wiser as I get older.

7 months ago

Emily, happy birthday! I want to echo so many others who have said that the blog is a bright spot, an important moment of me time before the morning insanity begins, in my day. Thank you (and your team) so much! I also am a 40+ year old, with two young kids, who doesn’t do social media, and a few years ago I realized my daily house blogs crawl was bumming me out more than starting my day pleasantly. I decided I needed to limit to the blogs who passed my “keeping it real” test — those that can make room to acknowledge the struggles of life and show their readers their humanity behind the scenes, in addition to sharing all the pretty/inspiring things. Yours was one of the very, very few that passed the test, and I am very happy to spend some of my time and attention with you every day! Thanks for continuing to write these posts, they are the best. ❤️

7 months ago

And it’s nearly SOUPtember! Good for the soul.

7 months ago

HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And thank you for everything you do and for being you. Being around your age, I appreciate you kept the blog. I find the blog content most valuable even though I enjoy your presence on IG and YouTube too. But the blog is where I engage with the content more. I love how you framed your recent animal acquisitions in terms of a midlife reinvention. We all need something new to look forward to from time to time. I’m currently working on getting a new puppy.

7 months ago

Happy Birthday (tomorrow), Emily. Enjoy all the fun things you have planned. I’ve been reading your blog since the start and enjoy it each morning. I’m retired, and not your typical demographic, but it’s relaxing/enjoyable to read your posts. I used to work in social media and still go on several times per day. Instagram and Pinterest are my favorites, the others get a quick glance.

Roberta Davis
7 months ago

Happy Birthday! Always appreciate your sharing. And I read this blog every day. (Sorry, but I just don’t like Instagram.) Wishing you many more successful years in your career and in your life!

7 months ago

Happy birthday Emily! Longtime blog reader here and at this point it feels like you’re my big sister – cool, kind, giving me advice about what comes next in life in a way that helps me feel really excited about getting older. I hope you have the greatest day!

7 months ago
Reply to  Sam

Came here to say the same thing! I enjoy reading these personal reflection blog posts so much.. happy birthday!

7 months ago

Thank you for sharing! I will admit that as social media changes, I’ve noticed that your social media has remained consistent. Sometimes that’s refreshing, sometimes I’m connecting less. HOWEVER (and please, do not take the former as a critique), your voice is what I’ve been connecting with for over a decade. When you show up, I’m here. I love learning from you and following along. So don’t worry so much about the types of content and staying relevant. Show up in your most authentic way and you’ll continue to receive our engagement.

Louise P-G
7 months ago

Happy Birthday Emily! Cheering you on here and I love reading the blog. It’s my daily treat. I’m so happy to see you radiating joy. Congratulations on 14 years of blogging and figuring it out – even when it’s hard. X

Suzanne Baumann
7 months ago

Love your personal essays, Em. Happy birthday! And, thank you for sending such happy, positive light into the universe and, of course, the life and home inspiration.

7 months ago

I took this summer off of work and it sounds like we had a similar journey (call it spiritual if you like, it’s hard to define). This all resonates with me so much. Love this blog and sending much love!

7 months ago

Happy Birthday, Emily! You are a bright light and bring wisdom, humor, and fun to the internet! May the coming year bring you peace and contentment in the delightful and magical space you’ve created in the PNW!

7 months ago

Happy birthday! Your blog has been a great source of inspiration for me over the years! I’m very thankful, and I’m happy you’re still in this space. 🙂

7 months ago

Happy birthday! And thank you so very much for keeping your blog. I got rid of social media and am happy that blogs are making a slow comeback (especially in Substack).

7 months ago

I love this so much, thank you! And Happy Birthday!!

7 months ago

Your kids won’t hate you. Teenagers are wonderful. I know you were kidding, but I find it to be self-fulfilling prophecy for some people who assume their kids won’t/don’t like them.

Sam E.
7 months ago

Happy Birthday Emily, from a fellow 44er – it’s a great year, and I too have found myself loving the shift in energy in my 40s. Thanks for sharing, too. It’s clear you’re not alone in all of these feelings about social media and how to protect our peace and find our joy these days. I, for one, would love to hear about any books you might recommend from your reset in January – I think many of us would be served by reading those books!

7 months ago

Happy birthday! And thank you for continuing to blog – I read it every single day. Though I follow y’all on social – IG, Youtube – the blog is still the place I go for decorating and style ideas. You offer meaningful context and I value that much more highly that flashy, cutesy, quickly-aged video content.

7 months ago

And this is the type of content that keeps us coming back for more! Real, raw and relatable! Thank you! As a designer, trying to not only keep up with the latest trends AND all of the social media accounts seems endlessly daunting and it is so refreshing to know you are not it it alone and ways that help one may help another. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and experience! All those 40 something’s can relate and the 30 something’s can learn. Sending very happy birthday wishes along!

7 months ago

Happy Birthday, and thanks for sharing your lovely reflections!

7 months ago

Love love love this post!! So personal and relatable and encouraging. Would love to learn about the resources that helped you on your journey!

7 months ago

Gosh, so sorry! I must have posted 3 comments on Instagram about joining TikTok. Sorry for the extra pressure!

At the time I only came to Instagram to keep up with your content and to be fair I really thought you would do so well on TikTok. But I hear everything you are saying.

I hope no matter what you always continue to write even if it is just for yourself. Although, an occasional book would also be nice! ❤️