If I Make Veggie Skewers and Don’t Post a Photo on Instagram, Did I Make the Skewers?

I find the recipe in a cookbook as I aspire to make healthy food for myself at home.

I drive to the supermarket to buy zucchini and baby tomatoes.

I wash and dry the veggies.

I slice the zucchini with great care.

I soak the bamboo skewers for half an hour so they don’t burn in the oven.

I thread five skewers with alternating pieces of zucchini and tiny tomatoes.

I stare lovingly at the pretty thing I made.

I panic.

I feel a deep sadness.

I am alone in my kitchen. No one else is around or coming over soon to witness my creation. What can I do?

I take out my phone and snap a picture in the terrible lighting on my counter.

I post the picture of the zucchini and tomato skewers on Instagram.

I wait.  2 likes, 3, 4. OK good. Now my beautiful skewers officially exist.

I put them in the oven.

 

 

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A Few Thoughts on Blogging

I was a relatively early adopter of blogging. I started my first blog back in 2009, when Twitter was just starting to grow, Facebook was still only for college students, and Instagram hadn’t even kicked off yet. I’ve always loved blogging because I’ve always loved scrapbooking, journaling, taking photos, saving articles… I’ve used Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress. I’ve had photo blogs, blogs about identity, about my work as a journalist, about writing, and about taking “notes for no reason.” They were all lovely blogs, and they all ended for various reasons: either my life changed, or I lost my good camera, or I got busy with schoolwork, or I changed.

This is my latest blog, and I feel especially committed to it. It started a little over two years ago as a place for me to experiment with and ask questions about work-life balance, and I learned a lot from it. Over time and organically, both here and on Instagram, it developed into a place where I can enjoy recipes and the memories that come with them, explore books and share the lessons or beauty I find in them, and share my attempt “to live deliberately,” as Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden.

That’s what work-life balance means to me: being present, living deliberately. One of the things I hate most of all, and that worries me the most, more than not succeeding at something in my work or things going wrong in my life, is when days and days, sometimes weeks, go by, and I don’t know where they went. I know many people feel the same way.

Over the last few months, I stopped posting for several reasons. Two of them are normal reasons to put something aside for a little bit: I had some great projects I was working on offline, and caring for loved ones took up some extra time (both my husband and Minjay had shoulder and knee surgeries respectively last winter and spring, both thankfully are OK!). But two reasons I stopped are worth unpacking.

The first reason was that it started to feel a bit forced. Take putting together the perfect picture, for example. When you scroll down Instagram, so many images and pages look the same now. I often wonder if in some ways so-called “formulas for success” have made us less creative and removed some individuality. Blogs and social media platforms like Instagram have allowed for so much great creativity and self-expression, but I do think we always have to ask ourselves if we’re being as creative as we can, and true to ourselves. Also, the idea that we have to post constantly didn’t work for me. Some things are best enjoyed in the moment, without a smartphone in hand.

The second reason was that I began to worry about growth and audience, and I really don’t want to ever worry about that again. I want to enjoy the blog for me, write about things I care about, and, yes, hopefully connect with some people if my posts resonate with them. I love the communal aspect of blogs and social media. I love connecting with people in my city and all around the world. I love seeing the creative and wonderful things people are up to online and being part of that community. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and sharing posts here on this blog is a way to connect with people and be part of something bigger.

I wanted to take some time to reflect on the evolution of my blog and its purpose: It’s a place to explore, to live deliberately, to be creative, and to connect. And that’s what I hope to do again, with a fresh start.

Thank you for reading!
Michelle