The Years, the Tears and the Triumph
Last month, Fort Worth Magazine named me the city’s Best Blogger/Influencer. It was a Reader’s Choice award, meaning the votes came from people who actually knew So Fort Worth It and loved it — and took the time to let the magazine know it was their favorite. I have been so honored, so grateful and just totally blown away that I have been unable to write about it. Weird, right? Well, I figured now is a good time to share some of the raw stuff.
Even though my professional life revolves around writing, every time I sat down to write about winning this amazing award, a wave of emotions would overcome me. The memories of everything I’ve endured since I started blogging back in 2012 would rise up like a tsunami and flood my brain with negative and paralyzing emotions.
But I also know that storms make you stronger, and after every storm, the sun shines again. I feel like this award is my sunshine. God’s timing is perfect and so spot-on; I just had to hang on for the ride and have faith. So if it’s OK with you, I’m gonna share my stormy So Fort Worth It story with you. I hope you find something that inspires you or motivates you through the mountains and valleys I have endured.
It All Started with a Christmas Card
For years, I sent out a newsletter with our Christmas card – my maternal grandmother started the tradition, and naturally, my mom and I followed suit. In 2010, I announced in our holiday card that I was going to start a blog. Blogs were just getting big, and I had so much to say and share, I figured it was the perfect outlet to express my creativity.
As it happens, Hal Brown, the owner of Fort Worth Magazine, and his wife Camille were on our Christmas card list (along with half of Fort Worth). Hal must have made a mental note of my blog (or maybe he just secretly loves reading about holiday lights?) because in 2012, he asked me to start my blog under the Fort Worth Magazine umbrella.
Overjoyed, but Overwhelmed
Having the endorsement of Fort Worth magazine gave me an instant audience, helping me build an organic following much faster than I ever could have on my own. But it turned out to be a very mixed blessing. You see, I wasn’t just blogging, I was also juggling chairing and co-chairing three super major charity events at the same time.
Fundraising for non-profits has always been near and dear to me, but between blogging and volunteering, I had little breathing room left for what mattered most in my life: being a wife and a mother. Add in the everyday stuff like grocery shopping, doctor appointments, family obligations, room mom duties, birthdays, holidays, pets and, well, you get the idea. It was chaos.
2013 was the Year that Broke My Back
Literally! A mere 48 hours before we were opening our home to 500 people for the Wish with Wings Kitchen Tour, I fell down our staircase and fractured Lumbar 1-3 and broke two ribs. I remember laying on the floor unable to move, thinking to myself, what it would be like living in a wheelchair or if and where we could install an elevator. I prayed for the strength to go about life with positivity and joy despite possible permanent disabilities.
And even though I was taken to the ER by ambulance, I was able to get out of bed, get on my feet and make it through the event thanks to the magic of Big Pharma…and maybe a glass or two of champagne to boot. Luckily, I was able to heal from my injuries, for the most part. During my recovery, I had a lot of time to think about my life and what was truly important. I knew I needed to slow down and this was God’s way of tapping me on my shoulder.
I was Burned Out, then Burned Big
In 2015, I decided to take on the World Wide Web on my own and I parted ways with Fort Worth magazine. (It’s all good, though – we just celebrated a joint birthday for Hal and my husband.) By then, though, I’ll admit, I was burned out. I didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm anymore. You could say I didn’t give a Fort. It just wasn’t (so fort) worth it to me anymore.
Obviously – and thankfully – my friends slapped some sense into me and told me I’d be crazy to quit. I agreed – kind of. Remember that part when I said God’s plan was perfect? Well, it didn’t seem so perfect at that moment. Long story short, I hired a good friend’s company to build a brand new website with all the bells and whistles, but after nine months, the entire deal ended up stinking like a big fresh turd. When I finally walked away from the steaming pile, I had lost a $10,000 investment and, even worse, a friend. The layers of violation I felt from her almost cut me in half. Now that’s some next level s** right there.
Putting on My Big Girl Panties
Not only that, at the exact same time the website fiasco unfolded, I was diagnosed with several health issues. I felt defeated and broken and I couldn’t stop crying. I was a mess. But my amazing husband scraped me up off the floor, helped me get focused, and stood by my side as I started all over again. I put on my big girl panties and hired the ace team I have today, former IT director for The Veritas Project and Branding By Nicole. I relaunched SoFortWorthIt for the second time in the Fall of 2017, and the rest is history.
Haters Gonna Hate
Has it been all rainbows and unicorns? Of course … not. To be honest, some of my lows made rock bottom seem like higher ground. The worst stuff involved mean people commenting on my posts. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that a few of my 25 thousand followers would turn out to be Satan-spawned Internet trolls. At one point, there was an entire Gang of Girls on Facebook working overtime to post hurtful words about me. I mean, who has that kind of time on their hands anyways. Can I get a hard eye-roll please?
But at the end of the day, I realized that’s all they were – hurtful words. They weren’t real, and they didn’t change who I was. They didn’t affect who my friends were or change how much I loved my family and how much my family loved me. Hater’s gonna hate. I prayed for all of them (and still do) to learn how to find the good in people and have kindness in their hearts. I keep trying to learn, grow and be stronger through the storms in life.
An Attitude of Gratitude
It’s a work in progress, y’all, but I am still here, and SoFortWorthIt is not just surviving, it’s thriving. And not one single bit of this success could have happened without YOU! Thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in me, for following me through good times and bad, and for voting for me to win Fort Worth Magazine’s top blogger/influencer! It really, really meant everything to me on this crazy blogging journey of mine, and one day when I start earning mad cheddar, I am going to pay for the rights so I can have Journey’s hit song “Don’t Stop Believing” start playing right at the moment you start reading this paragraph.
Until then, stay tuned for my next two blog posts about a job search I’m listing to find the perfect rainbow unicorn assistant and my sensational Tata Harper Skincare experience at Neiman Marcus with a giveaway you won’t want to miss. I can’t wait to write it and share it all with you. xoxo