Repacking My Life and My Blog

Never fear, my free form headspace articles have not been forgotten. As my blog has evolved over the past few years, I have felt the desire to do more with it. With daydreams of being a nomad,  I have watched countless webinars and read many blog posts on how to turn your blog into a profitable business. I already have my own coaching business which I began separately from my blog. I started my blog as my passion project, a way to communicate with my friends and family when I moved abroad to Thailand in 2013. I had NO IDEA what would come of it.

At the time, I was graduating with my MA from WVU in Secondary Education with a specialization in English. My BA was in English. Since I was a young child, I loved to write. I loved reading, creative writing, and creating entire fictional universes. I couldn’t understand why my classmates hated writing so much. If the assignment was one page I wrote three. I couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult for most people, but it just came so naturally to me.

Take a minute and think of your favorite teacher you’ve ever had. Every single one of us have “that teacher.” For me it was my 9th and 10th grade English teacher, Chapman. Chap. Chapstick (my personal favorite.) He is a living legend when it comes to teaching and he saw something in me I couldn’t yet see in myself. I am happy today to call him a friend and mentor to this day. In recent years and more stints living in foreign countries, I haven’t spoke to him as frequently as I would like but he will always be someone who I credit for my passion for English and especially writing. He made me believe I had something special, an actual talent. Mind you, both my parents were incredible teachers and my mother was a phenomenal English teacher whom I greatly admire,  but it’s really hard to believe your parents when they tell you you’re “special.” Mr. Chapman was that teacher for me and for that, I will always be grateful. I wanted to pursue this hobby because of him and I’m not sure where I would be without that spark to this deeply burning flame.

In high school, shortly after Chapman’s English class, my best friend tragically committed suicide. How on earth does a 15 year old cope with that pain? Partying. Check. Drugs. Check. Numbing the pain. Check. Writing. Check. Writing was my saving grace. I turned to this former hobby and past time as a form of therapy- an escape. This was really the only healthy coping tool I had at the time. I didn’t share much with others but finally I decided to share something I wrote for the one year anniversary of Corey’s death(which I shared again here for the piece I wrote about the 10th anniversary earlier this year.) I quickly realized that my words could help people. They could reach people. They might even be able to save people.  Then I thought they might be saving me.

I vowed from about 16 years old that I would write a book about Corey’s life and death. Tainted Perfection. With a bright yellow cover. I can even picture the font. As I write this tears are welling up in my eyes. Because this book already exists in my mind and I can’t wait until I bring it to life.  ( I apologize to all of you who have heard this 1,000 times, especially random strangers at the bar.)

My passion for writing never faded away but I stopped doing it for a hobby and started doing it for the dozens of English classes I took at WVU. I had awesome teachers, with great peer review sessions and classes where we workshopped each other’s work. I once again was reminded that I had something. Definitely not perfect grammar. But Voice. Feeling. Soul. You can’t make that shit up. But I didn’t know exactly what to make of it.

I didn’t pursue it much further until 2013 when I decided to move to Thailand and start a blog. This was the first time I really shared my work with more than just my college classmates. I couldn’t believe the response and how badly I missed this therapy and outlet. Quickly, I realized how difficult blogging is and how much effort is behind the scenes. I had no form of consistency but tried to share as often as I could, maybe once a month or so. But when I wrote I felt it. It flowed and I was so proud of how I could synthesize my experiences into a meaningful story for others to read.

Fast forward a few years, I moved home from Thailand and still kept up with my blog and then decided to move to Australia. At this time, I also started my own health and fitness coaching business on the side. What can I say I have a lot of passions? My business is highly social media driven and my brand focuses on how living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t hinder you from enjoying the other aspects of your life. In fact a truly healthy lifestyle is one that you find that connection and importance of health of the mind, the body and most importantly the soul.

My business was and still is a lot of work but work that I thoroughly enjoy. The more I read personal development books, attend seminars, watch webinars, take leadership courses, etc. the more I realize there is a serious entrepreneurial spirit that was always inside of me. That part of my spirit is thriving off learning new things every day, challenging myself and helping others do the same.

I started to get this pull in my heart after I attended an amazing creative festival here in Sydney called Rad Livin in 2016. One of the presenters was a well known life coach here in Australia and she led the audience through an exercise to try to find your true passion or heart calling. The writer in me was screaming at me LOUDLY. I started to take note that the happiest times in my business were when I was blogging, creating content for social media or just writing creatively based on podcasts, books, or seminars.

So it’s been a gradual learning process trying to figure out how to best pursue my love of writing creatively and also pursue my coaching business. I am such a complex individual and I need my business to represent that. I can’t just tell you what workouts will help you tone your under arm flab and how to meal prep. I want to know what you think about when you look in the mirror, who your greatest inspiration is, and what lights you up from the inside out. I want to talk about aliens, poverty, politics and I also want to break it down on the dance floor on an occasional Friday night, because who said healthy and smart girls have to be boring?

I adore learning and I try to learn as much as I can about being an entrepreneur and blogger. I realized from all of my research, webinars, and collaborations that the most successful blogs have a niche market. I needed to pick my route. Travel blog. Fitness blog. Teaching blog. Nutrition & recipe blog. “Lifestyle blogs will flop.”

But, to me,  that is what my writing encompasses. That is what I encompass. A little lady with a whole LOT of passion for a whole LOT of things. I want my blog to be my journey, my words, my stories. I quickly saw that they help you, too (which is amazing.) But why do I have to “brand myself” so specifically. I want to have a lifestyle blog because I can’t extract one area of my life and only focus on that. Everything plays into who I am, what I’ve learned, and where I’m going and most importantly what I think will benefit sharing with you.  As human beings- our minds, souls, and personalities are multifaceted. I don’t wanna be put into a box and I’m guessing you don’t either.

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On the other hand, I also want to establish a good connection with my audience. My coaching business has deepened my passion for wanting to SERVE others. I want to help you live the life of your dreams, practice self-love, challenge yourself physically and step outside of your comfort zone. So, in 2017 I decided I wanted to try to gear my blog more toward my audience and less toward my personal stories and reflections on my life and travels.

And then I read this. And my eyes welled up with tears. That’s a good sign, if a stranger’s blog can bring you to tears. I connected so deeply to her words I felt like I could have written them. Or the Universe needed me to read them. And all those blog posts only read by my mom and closest friends started to make sense. All of the posts that I never promoted with a Facebook ad, used keywords, tweeted or even shared on more than just my personal Facebook page came rushing back to me. At the end of 2016, I wrote a reflection piece and then compiled a week of posts with quotes from all my favorite themes of the year. I was astounded looking back at how real, vulnerable and authentic my words were. I was and still am damn proud.

So, here is my pledge to myself and to you, my loyal audience (Hi Mom.)

In 2017, blogging is an incredible business. Social media is a business tool and a business in itself. The Internet is the future of business. Websites, SEOS, Sales Funnels, Email correspondance software, CRM’s, algorithms, trending hashtags, YOU NAME IT. It’s a business. There are a lot of experts and I don’t claim to be one. As I was so gracefully reminded by the blog by This Battered Suitcase, there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with advice and tips, even sponsored ads or trips, but it can get boring. And the writer in me refuses to ever let the most enchanting part of my existence become a boring, run of the mill experience for myself or my readers. Ironically, I even wrote a piece criticizing the list style blogs which I really do dislike and so frequently skim or completely skip. But there is a time and a place for every style of writing. And I truly believe you can do any style of writing well, with candor, grace and poignancy. That is my goal and my pledge to you. I will offer you content that is authentic to me, my voice and my journey.

I am still extremely passionate about my blog, being an entrepreneur and finding a way to mold all of my passions into one fulfilling career and lifestyle blog, (Oh, no she didn’t.) For every webinar I attended and blogger advice article I’ve read, I’m sorry. But I can’t listen to you.

This is a lifestyle blog. But why do we even have to call it that? It’s MY BLOG. EnSUSiasm. I will talk about predominately travel, my mental health struggles, my business, but also my teaching career,  relationships, heartbreak, food, general thoughts and musings. I will tell my story and bare my soul in hopes to be true to my heart, my voice and my passion. I want you to be a part of this journey but I will still be here if you are not.

I will not sugar coat things. I will promote things I BELIEVE IN, whether I am getting paid for that or not. At this moment in time, I haven’t made one dollar from my blog. That’s not something I am saying because it’s wrong to make money from your blog, I am reflecting on how true my love for writing is. Expanding my audience may mean this blog is profitable but I will always remain true to that little girl in her father’s desk chair, typing away on an original Macintosh computer, determined to create the perfect sequel to Where the Red Fern Grows. (I didn’t win the contest, but trust me I should have.)

My blog will change and evolve which I genuinely want it to because I continually change and evolve. My words are my story. My journey through this complex but magical universe. When I am creating, writing, editing, or reading-  I am free, I am focused, and I am in my element. I’ll continue to learn more about the blogging world, the business world, the writing and literature world and everything in between.

But this is my promise to myself mostly, that I will write with the passion and honesty that I feel in this moment. That is my soul’s purpose. That is the fullest expression of me.

That type of creativity is magnetic. It is inspiring, pure and dare I say, magic. Fuck the simple, boring, cookie cutter content. This is my life and MY blog and despite any premium fonts, fancy themes, or pretty wanderlust worthy photographs, my words are the backbone of this operation and that will never change. Let’s explore, absorb and cherish this beautiful complex world and leave one hell of an adventure behind.

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16 thoughts on “Repacking My Life and My Blog

  1. Peter says:

    Your writing continues to advance with a definitive voice (that is all yours) emerging. I talk about you from time to time with current students and tell them how you “caught fire” and now live life in the moment, to its fullest. I think it was probably your smile and giggle that first day when you were a little 9th grader that caught my attention. I thought, “This kid is ready to GO!”

    • sussabell says:

      It’s an amazing post!! I agree. I totally don’t knock anyone who is making their blog their business I think it’s awesome but I think you can do it in a way where your content is still quality and true to your voice, ya know? You should never go into it FOR money that makes for very boring and surface level content!

  2. featherflint says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m also a born writer who has seen other passions come and go along the way. I also started my “lifestyle” blog with the determination to not be pigeonholed into a niche, or to become one of the SUPER BORING blogs out there (why are there so many?!). I’ve been at it since September, and while I haven’t seen the kind of success that a lot of other bloggers talk about constantly, I know that I’m telling important, vulnerable, raw stories about real life in a way that 99% of bloggers aren’t, and I think integrity and passion are better than making money off of boring crap any day. I’ll be clicking around the rest of your blog now – excited to have found you, and feel free to check out mine, too – I think you’ll recognize yourself in some of my posts!

    • sussabell says:

      Amazing!!! I am so happy we connected I will be sure to check out your stuff and look forward to supporting each other on our non-boring journey as bloggers!!! ❤❤sending lots of love and good vibes to you. Xxx

  3. siddharthandshruti says:

    Your passion for blogging really shows. Sometimes readers get upset when the content of blogs change. But like you said, blogs change and evolve with you. I’m glad you are not sugar coating things. Beautiful writing, btw. Hope this year brings you lots of happiness.

    • sussabell says:

      Thank you so much! Honestly my content has remained pretty much the same but since 2017 I was writing more reader geared! But when I read this blog I felt
      Inspired to write however I wanted to!

  4. Melinda Donovan Bell says:

    So exciting to see how many readers have felt the fire of your words. Can’t wait to see where your new journeys take you and your blog.

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