You've seen Friday Night Lights, yes? Choose: Taylor (the man on the left) or Riggins (the boy on the right):
COACH or RIGS?
I think I've made my case.
What say you, Internet?
A lot of people have been asking how I'm feeling about the move, ever since my Farewell, Austin post. The truth is, I'm sad and excited and scared and happy and overwhelmed. Sometimes one right after another and sometimes all at once. It's complicated. On top of this, I'm incredibly busy, trying to figure things out for TxSC, my final going away party, and packing. One of my dearest friends Mary moved from Austin to the UK only a couple months ago, and she emailed me to check in on me. I wrote the following off the cuff, in the middle of the night to her:
Packing is the worst: It's so overwhelming, looking at our house with years and years of stuff / junk sitting piled up, taunting me. In many ways I just want to say forget it and leave it all-- you know? How and why and why and why do we have so much stuff? How is this stuff so important yet so unimportant at the same time? This stuff, it's like it exists in a plane between nostalgia and a scarcity complex, so I feel compelled to take it all with me.
There's not enough time for everything: I'm thinking about how fleeting my time left here is and how many balls are still up in the air, and it's mind boggling. How do I balance packing and tying up loose ends and work and spending time with people? Why is this so dang hard?
There's a lot of doubt even though I'm sure we're making the right choice: I'm emotional because I love this city and I do not love Atlanta. I'm leaving something that feels very secure at a time when I'm at the top of my game. My web traffic is way down since I switched domains. I've lost two advertisers since I'm not fashion focused any more. And I'm leaving it all for what? For the vague feeling that somehow my family will be better off for it in the long run? I'm torn between screaming WHAT ABOUT MEEEEE?! and just gritting my teeth, putting my head down, and just getting it done.
I think most of all, I'm just sad: I went on a little drive with Jena today to run errands and after she left I realized that I know no one in Atlanta near where we're looking for houses. That drives with friends won't happen for a while.... because I have no friends there. The comfort of our city group and church-- a constant / sure gathering of friends every week, something I've done for years at this point-- isn't there. I don't even have a dang house. I feel a little lost; like I have nothing to look forward to in the short of it. Once we get a house and get the kids in school and we get plugged in a church and reconnect with family, sure, sure. But immediately? I have nothing. I don't even know if I'll have a private spot / room in my day to mourn. It's mourning, right? This feels similar to mourning.
So, yeah. All that. What a bummer of a post, huh? You probably didn't come to Indiana/Elsewhere for that, but I don't know. Maybe those of you who have been here, done that can shoot me some encouraging words. I'm not a person who is often sad, so it feels weird to me, to have my eyes start stinging with tears periodically throughout the day. I'm like WHAT IS THIS LEAKING FROM MY FACE?!
On a lighter note:
1 / I had been holding on to all of Jude's old clothes and shoes in the chance that I had another baby boy. (I'm still open to that but) I was not moving seven Rubbermaid containers of his old stuff to Atlanta. I gave tons of it away to friends, gave a lot to Goodwill, and sent a giant bag to thredUP. I'll let you know how selling there works out.
2 / Speaking of selling stuff, the last few times I've sold stuff to Buffalo Exchange they have purchased the things that I took in almost as a joke. I did an experiment to see if they were still buying super outlandish stuff. Lo and behold, they bought my wolf costume and flower crown for $25 and $15, each. Not bad for things I had originally thrown in the Goodwill pile.
3 / Behold the fanciest sports drink of all time. We bought fancy water to stage our kitchen counters with, but when we packed up all the cups and glasses and I needed to rehydrate, I had no other option but to make powdered Gatoraid with Acqua Panna. Is this how the very rich live? Is this what Mariah Carey drinks at the gym?
4 / Chris and I fit the contents of a five bedroom, three bath house and a very, VERY full garage into two Pack-Rat containers. They're en route to storage. I'll be living with a small sample of belongings until we find a new house. House hunting will resume next week. In the meantime, I'm wearing the same three pairs of shorts (including these) from now until further notice. Let's hope we find a house by winter.
5 / I had my final face-to-face meeting about Texas Style Council today with my partners Melissa and Kristin. Melissa found this Girls Scout vest at Blue Hanger and had to have it. We're feeling inspired by movies like Troop Beverly Hills and can't wait to buckle down and get #TxSC15 rolled out!
6 / We move on Monday but have been staying at a hotel since Tuesday. Sharing one hotel room with three kids under three is not advisable, but what can we do?! During naps and starting at about 8pm, I'm stuck in the dark in a corner, keeping dead silent. By the grace from God, all three of the kids napped at the same time today (thank you sound machines and blackout curtains!). During nap time today, I did not want to move at all for fear of disturbing them, so for lunch I ate cold leftover noodles from dinner last night. I could not leave to find a fork, so I attempted eating in the dark, using two ballpoint pens as chopsticks. This is now for sure in the top five most pathetic moments of my life.
Someone assure me: this is just a phase. This all will pass. Right? RIGHT?!
I met Jenny and Savannah, the power duo behind Maiedae at the last TxSC, and I got to know them over brunch before they flew back out. They were both so warm and kind, and I liked them both right away! Little did I know that in a year I'd be moving to their turf.
Last year they threw their first Maiedae Mixer, and all the way here in Texas, I followed along on Instagram wishing I could be a part of the festivities. It looked so beautiful and the attendees all looked liked they had an amazing time.
The second annual Maiedae Mixer will be in Atlanta in just a few weeks on September 20th.
And I am all about it!
Um, they had me at "Get Fancy". Because, really, any excuse to wear something that isn't covered in spit-up or drool would be welcomed. But also, I could really use some more Atlanta friends, being the new girl in town and all. Won't you come and be awkward with me? Learn more about the Maiedae Mixer here or if you're already saying YES-YES-YES as you read this, registration is live here.
Last night was our last night in our house. I wanted to take time to write a sappy missive about all the memories I've made here, but today we're in that super rushed spot in the process of packing where really I'm just throwing junk in boxes... but quickly, you know?
It's dang near impossible to pack up a house with three kids three and under underfoot. As a visual reminder of what we're battling along with the boxes, here's this:
As if you needed to be reminded.
Packing and cleaning when you have kids is like eating an Oreo while brushing your teeth.
If you think this is bad, on Monday, I will attempt to board a plane with those three monkeys, a little dog, and our favorite belongings.
Your advice, prayers, and time machine so I can warp past this part would be very much appreciated.
One of the things that I'm most proud of regarding AdoredAustin.com and my time in Austin is the Texas Style Council Conference.
I'm a gatherer. I love getting a crowd together to have a good time, so in 2010, when I found myself lamenting the fact that I could not afford a SXSW Interactive badge, I decided to go rouge and throw my own thing for likeminded women. I sent out some emails to some women I admired for a get together at my friend Tracy's place for quiche and crafts. News 8 tagged along, fellow blogger Grechen suggested that a learning component be added for the following year, and boom! Before we knew it, Texas Style Council had become a full blown three day conference, with attendance from all over the world with amazing sponsors and lovely attendees and knowledgeable / nationally known speakers, including The Glamourai, Susan Koger from Modcloth, Lucky Magazine, Kendi Everyday (keynote in 2012), and Emma and Elsie from A Beautiful Mess (keynotes in 2013).
And although I love gathering a crowd, the minutiae that's involved with planning events escapes me. Event planning is not my forte, it's not something I enjoy, and never in my wildest dreams did I think TxSC would grow the way it has. I have been very fortunate to have the hardest working support team come alongside me since year two to help put it on. This cannot be said enough!
After every year's conference, I ask, "If we do it again, how can we do it better and differently than what we just did? How can TxSC be different from what's already being done?" And every year, I'm flooded with emails from happy attendees and a handful of emails with really honest and helpful constructive criticism. I'm proud of the work we've all done-- all of us! And best of all, I have found something I really care about: helping people use their online presence to create offline connections. Some of my most lovely friendships have been born from TxSC and I've watched women meet through TxSC to partner together to form new businesses. It's been a trip!
At the conclusion of TxSC 2013, there was this moment where I was thumbing through the program, marveling at all the people who had come. We had nearly 400 attendees, an amazing set of speakers, three very full days of programming, and incredibly supportive and well received sponsors. My staff was so hard working and so well balanced. We had found our stride. Despite the hard work and how personally I take every bit of criticism, I wanted to do TxSC14 for sure.
But as the year came along, I couldn't find an answer to my annual questions. "How can we do it better and differently than what we just did? How can TxSC be different from what's already being done?". I had already scrapped the panel format. I had already provided smaller workshops.
The landscape of blogging has changed a lot since 2010. The amount of resources out there for bloggers is astronomical. Aside from the networking part of the event, I couldn't figure out how TxSC14 could be something that added anything new to the conversation or provided anything of value to the attendees. There were other conferences out there doing what we did, but on a professional level.
Potential sponsors kept emailing me. Would be attendees kept emailing me. Wannabe speakers kept emailing me. But TxSC was dead in the water. Add in that my family is moving from Texas to Georgia and I have a new baby (and two other kids!), I just wasn't able to get the inspired idea that would help me flesh out what TxSC14 could be. I took the website down and was bummed.
On top of this, TxSC had a branding problem. We had pivoted. What had started off as an event for the fashion-minded, evolved into something that in 2013 was attended by 2/3 bloggers and 1/3 business owners and brands. Of the bloggers, a less than half were solely fashion focused, whereas the other half+ were bloggers who identified as lifestyle bloggers, parenting bloggers, photographers, or food bloggers. "Texas Style Council" had become a misnomer. If some kind of TxSC rebirth happened, I knew I'd have to rename it, thus risking losing any brand equity we had in the TxSC name. But it could not be denied: TxSC desperately needed to evolve.
At my going away party at Langford Market, I was chatting with some fine folks about the possibility of doing TxSC like a retreat. Strip it down of all its glitz and glamour and dial in on what's important: content and connections. I didn't think the fancy TxSC crowd would go for it, but the amount of enthusiasm that people had for my little glimmer of an idea was unreal. Best of all Melissa Massello, who had run TxSC's clothing swap in 2011 and 2012 had recently moved to Austin from Boston, and she felt she had the time and energy to join me and Kristin as a partner. And because I'm relocating, I needed another set of feet on the ground here in Austin.
I sent a feeler email out to a group of women I loosely refer to as the TxSC advisory team (they always get these long, rambling brainstorming emails from me at 2 am). It said this:
Like a zombie, TxSC has risen from the dead.
It's going to be different... REALLY different... from our past events. Less polished. Less stiff smiles. More dirt. Hopefully more authenticity. We're pitching this as a "retreat".
Blogging has changed A LOT since we started TxSC in 2010 and so many of us feel stuck in a weird place of being inspirational / adding value to the web vs. being real and authentic and not deemed a sell-out because we work with brands. I've felt stuck and stagnant for years and I'm just now coming out of that fog. I think some of you feel the same way, too.
I think the best way to get wind behind our sails and the best way to remember why we started blogging in the first place is because at our core, we're story tellers. We have stories to share and we want to hear the stories of others.
So... that's the theme this year. Story telling. How can we do that as best we can, via photos, social media, branding, writing. We're really taking a step back and focusing on content.
If I have to sit through one more talk about "How to make money from blogging" or "How to gain more followers" I am going to pull my hair out (incidentally, these are great questions, but they are questions that have been answered at ad infinitum on forums such as IFB and Blogher).
This TxSC (Texas Storytelling Camp?) is not the place for THAT. It's a retreat to refocus and re-energize.
I want to scrap the idea of doing a day full of presentations. Instead I see us offering a bunch of very small, hands on workshops, so casual and so simple that it's more like a gathering around a campfire versus a seminar.
The initial response to this has been very warmly received. I feel confident saying that TxSC15 is ON. We're looking at March 2015, and we've scouted out a venue about 45 minutes northwest of Austin. There will be camping. There will be s'mores. There will be bunk beds. Did you ever go to summer camp as a child? It's going to be like that but with a bunch of post-college internet ladies, okay?
We are currently dreaming up a new name for this thing, and I think taking 2014 off was good. It gives us the space to say that this is something completely different.
Our theme this year is CAMP: Create A Meaningful Presence. It's an event for any woman who has a presence online, be it a blog or simply social media as part of their brand. We're a little biased, but we really think TxSC15 (or whatever we rename it) is going to be awesome.
Plus it's given me the opportunity to watch Troop Beverly Hills and Moonrise Kingdom on repeat. If you have any questions or just want to give me a virtual fist bump about TxSC15, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.
It's been a crazy week at House Adams, and this is our last week before we fly out to Atlanta for(*gulp*)ever. My kids were nuts in this strange transition phase, so I made them calm down jars (1). That didn't go over very well (2). My friend suggested an alternative and I published a manifesto against that suggestion (3). And then my husband made my entire readership LOL at my life (4). But then the universe LOL'ed at him (5). Justice!
READING / I've been all about print magazines lately. I love Deeply Rooted, which I discovered thanks to Lesley Graham's blog (which was recommended to me by my friend Jen). But I'm also way into Garden & Gun, Domino, Southern Living, and Lonny these days.
DECORATING / I have never been good at home decor. It took me FIVE YEARS to pick paint colors for my house, and I never think about art or furniture or anything like that. Since Chris and I are looking for our forever home, I'm trying to thoughtfully consider my aesthetic. I'm typically drawn to very blocky, square, modern design, but as I'm looking at houses in Atlanta, I really want my home to feel southern. As southern as sweet tea, but the thing is, I don't want it to feel rustic or industrial at all. No mason jars (HA!), no reclaimed wood pallet walls, no chalk walls. I have a list of "no thank you's" but I do not have a list of "yes, pleases". Needless to say, I'm intrigued by Twine Interiors and have been chatting with the owner Jessica about figuring out how my home can best reflect me and my family.
WANTING / And now I want this one. No one is making stuff that looks like this!
BLOG LOVING / Austin bloggers I adore: Writes Like a Girl. Standard T. Jesse Coulter. Triple Max Tons. Austin Eavesdropper. Hipstercrite. Amber Demure. I could go on and on but my mascara is running now and I need to go eat more cookie butter.
CELEBRATING / My BBF (best blogging friend) Linda had her baby. She named him Henry. How adorable is that? Congrats to them all!
LOL'ING / "Technically, we're all half centaur," says Nick Offerman. More of those kind of thoughts delivered by my favorite mustache here.