7.16.2014

THE STORY OF 2013 / A STATE OF THE BLOG ADDRESS


I spent a good chunk of some unexpected free time today answering some of the emails I've gotten in the past few months from readers, including emails of support from the ladies of this one online forum I try not to go to after I went there anyway one day to answer a few questions (because I figured, why not?). Reading them all together, pretty quickly a few themes started to emerge in these emails, a few questions repeated once and then twice and then again and again. I wondered if maybe it was time to write about these things I'd been feeling like I definitely shouldn't write about but still had a nagging feeling like maybe I should write about them anyway. Consider it an updated FAQ, if you want.

So here we go. Answers. This is the story of 2013. It's a long one, you might want some chocolate.

Before we start, a quick note: the below are all issues and situations that are long since dead and buried at the Holbrook house. All of this happened last year and the ramifications or ripple effects or what have you have been completely calm and smooth for a while. I didn't feel comfortable writing about them at the time, but they definitely had an impact on my blog and whatever else, so I understand the frequency of the questions and curiosity, and I'm certainly happy to address them. Here we go.

ON WAY TOO MANY SPONSORED POSTS, YOU SELL OUT ;) : Last year I was pursued by a "talent agency." For bloggers. Lest you think this sounds silly, well, yes. It kind of is. Blogging.... ahh I don't know what to make of it. The truth is, I would blog in a vacuum (not, like, the appliance) because I love blogging. As far as the "professional" aspect of it, well, that I try to take on a case by case basis. I know I haven't always made the best decisions, and I know I'll continue to make dumb ones pretty regularly. Every time this medium has changed on me (i.e. in 2003 when Google bought Blogger and we stopped using hosts like Diaryland, or in 2004 when photos became a thing (which at the time felt sooo narcissistic, hahaha, crap), or in 2009 when blogs were suddenly becoming businesses), I've watched it happen and thought it over and I usually decide, "Well, what the hell. Why not?!" Basically, that's been my blogging career in a nutshell. I'm just a wave rider, I'm not over here making the tides come in or whatever. So when bloggers were suddenly signing to agencies I thought... Well... Okay? And so I did. I signed with a lovely little agency last summer, and hoo boy do I wish I could take that back. Yee-iikes. I was promised one thing but delivered something else entirely, which I was then contractually obliged to fulfill via millions and billions of sponsored posts. (It felt like that at the time.) (Maybe it felt that way to you, too.) That was no bueno. And super eye opening. And really, really frustrating. I was eventually released from my contract, thankfully. But the damage, as they say, was done. I will continue to take on sponsored posts, but now that the last of my contracts are finished I am going to try so, so hard to keep a better balance. 

ON HANDLING CRITICISM POORLY: Last summer my sister asked me to blog about her break up with her fiancee. It was a bad idea though neither of us realized it at the time, and I just wanted to be helpful, so I did it. That set into motion a very bizarre situation involving a short-term family member using the appearance of our various social media accounts (appearances being deceiving) to further his own ambitions. Of course, I fell right into it and sincerely have no one to blame but myself, but that was a weird time. And it put a kink in things. Criticism started to feel especially intrusive and worrisome, since it was now impacting my family. I'm sure I was overreacting, and I wish I hadn't been so sensitive, but I generally felt pretty crummy about things and it took me a while to recover. I've got a better handle on this stuff now. Experience is the best teacher, am I right? ;)

ON SEEMING A LITTLE ... OFF BALANCE: Aha, yes. Writing that book took more out of me than I expected it to. Once it was time to write it, all the years of things I'd read about myself online, even things that hadn't bothered me at the time, suddenly came rushing back. I'd try to write a sentence and feel physically ill, anticipating the criticisms I'd get, telling myself I wasn't any good, feeling like I was offering myself up on a platter and that I was nothing but a worthless idiot. The obligations to my agency kept on coming all the while, plus my usual duties as a mom and wife and daughter and human being, and at times it was more than I could handle with grace. Sometimes it felt like I was letting everyone down. It was a short, but intense little blip. I'm sure I handled a lot of things poorly. There's a lot I could have done better. But I'm grateful for the education it provided, and I'm a much stronger person for it. 

AND THE MOST ASKED QUESTION OF ALL TIME: Well, let's put it this way. I've been a part of a mom's group for a few years that suddenly got... kind of cutthroat. I'd never dealt with this kind of thing before--no weird politics among the choir / drama club nerds I hung out with in High School--and facing it at 30 made absolutely no sense to me. I thought for sure I was being paranoid. And can you believe it? I wasn't. It's still odd to me. Why women do this to each other I'll never understand. It's not been an issue for a good long while, but do you know what I wish? I wish I would have had the guts to walk away sooner, even if it did mean appearing "rude." I wish I had stood up for myself. I wish I had cared more about my dignity than I did about being kind. And I hope if you ever find yourself in a similar situation that you stand up tall and don't take any crap. That was a rough time, and I'm sure it reflected in my... everything, haha.

THIS PART IS A DISCLAIMER: These are all situations that I still feel conflicted about addressing online. My only hope here is that if enough people are asking it, maybe some answers are appropriate. I don't like the idea of blame, or accusations, or gossip swirling around because of anything I did or said. So please know I'm not trying to stir things up, or paint things one way or another. There are always many sides to a story, and I certainly don't consider myself a victim in any scenario. 

THE CONCLUSION: The good news is, there is a happy ending. These things eventually resolved themselves, as things often do, and as a bonus, it pushed me to finally figure out a few important things about myself. Like why I think these illogical thoughts that often cause me to react emotionally and feel responsibility or fault where I may not really have any. You know, we all need an emotional tune up from time to time, and I'm a much better, calmer person for it. Hey thanks, Universe! ;) When you learn to be kinder to yourself, your whole world opens up. So be nice to yourselves, kids. (PS-I recommend this book, and the accompanying handbook. Way good stuff.)

(SPEAKING OF: There's an exercise you do in the handbook, where you address your anxious thinking by imagining the worst thing a person could possibly say to you, and then talk back to it. "No one would ever say these things to you in real life," the workbook assures you, which of course made me laugh. I don't know what the world was like the year old David Burns wrote this stuff, but guess what. It don't work that way no more. The things I've read online are things I never could have come up with on my own. Things like this, for example, which I found just last week: "Nat has a huge nose, distended anus lips, and absolutely no body." L-O-L. Truly, the real issue here is... can you imagine having enough exposure to distended anuses to be able to draw such a comparison? That must suck.)

I hope that in answering these questions I've accomplished more good than not, and I also hope that you know that however things may appear online, on a blog or on an Instagram feed or on Facebook, that they're only ever tiny slivers of what's happening beneath, and that in the end, we're all pretty much the same, flawed but hopeful, going through the very same things and making it all up as we go along. I have so appreciated the emails I've gotten. So, so, very much, I'm so lucky. Thank you! And I hope that you all know how grateful I am for the opportunities I've been given. I hope too that you know that while I might not take myself or this blog all that seriously, I definitely do not take you or your readership lightly. I'm honored and humbled by every stinking one of you. :)

xo
Your Ratness of Fatness

86 comments :

  1. i'm currently working on a book and your own insecurities are the same ones i've been battling. and, well, they terrify me. also, i find it so outrageous that people said things that made you feel like you owed us an apology or an explanation. maybe some of your readers do feel that way, but i certainly don't. if you have sponsorships going on or if your writing isn't up to your usual par, then something's going on. and that's okay. i personally feel like your real fans understand and we don't expect you to be perfect. we'll love you as our blogging leader just the same. i think others may just forget that you're a human being. not just a face on a website with good hair ;). you're not a kardashian (whom are exposed to egregious amounts of criticism), you are literally the girl next door to us. you don't owe us jack shit. we love you for being you.

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    1. and dear god, folks, if you disagree and consider yourselves a "real" fan this is by no means an intentional stab. just throwing it out there. consider it a misnomer.

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  2. Loved it...your family is sweet and endearing. Hold fast because life spins faster as you get older!

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  3. you're awesome. i have never written an email, but maybe i will someday. :) keep doing what you are doing because i enjoy reading it! i can't wait for your book and have your words in print. :)

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  4. I think this post accomplishes a lot, but no part of it was more valuable than the aside, "Truly, the real issue here is... can you imagine having enough exposure to distended anuses to be able to draw such a comparison? That must suck." -- HAHAHAHA!

    I'm happy that it sounds like you've reached a place of peace!

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  5. Thank you for being so truthful. What you were going through // how you were feeling was probably bubbling to the surface of your blog and it sounds like it was all going on at once (appropriate hashtag rough). I know readers (like this one) always appreciate when a blogger opens up and shares more. Props to you for going through it, getting over it, and moving on. Here's to 2014 being lighter + brighter.

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  6. Oof, what a drama-ful year. I'm happy for you that everything's run it's course and made you a better person on the way, though. :) It's always important to understand there's a "behind the scenes" to blogging, *definitely*.

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  7. Thanks for writing about being kind to yourself! BTW a lot of the time, I am such a grade A horses ass to myself, and sometimes I imagine the what you would think or how you would help me calm things down. I'm just saying, I think you are the most, you never disappoint me, and I wish I could make a friend just like you (but will have to settle for being my own bff till she gets here).

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  8. You don't have "Lovin" as surname for nothing, dear :) You love blogging and it shows!
    You dealt with all these issues with a sense of humor and great deal of dignity.
    We're only human, after all!

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  9. totally agree with joan up there. you don't need to explain anything that you've ever done and shared here on this little blog of yours to me, ever. because really, it's none of my darn business. it's your life and you can choose to share whatever you want to choose to share and if you choose to keep things private then oh well! i'm just so so so so so happy that you have this blog and you share parts of your life with us that you want to share, because you're pretty amazing. in all sorts of ways.

    i just love ya so much. you and that holbrook clan of yours. (in a totally non-creepy way. c;)

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  10. 1) I love this mini blog redesign of late.
    2) You've got one babe of a heart. Thanks for sharing bits of it with us other flawed-but-hopeful souls.

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  11. You rock and I admire your honesty.

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  12. natalie, i remember when i first found your blog and saw the i'm-in-on-the-joke disclaimer on your 'about' page. i loved your posts and your writing style, but i also loved that statement. maybe you're joking, maybe you're not. either way, you don't take yourself too seriously. i've always loved that, because it is the internet, after all–things don't always translate, no matter how hard you try to explain yourself. readers will always take your words however they choose to.

    i don't know you, but i sort of feel like i do. i think you have a good heart and honest intentions, and i hope you know you don't owe us anything. thanks for sharing your story with us. keep learning, keep being true to yourself, and keep being in on the joke.

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  13. This was great and I hope it felt nice to clear the air a bit. I'm really looking forward to your book. I can't imagine what it's like to put yourself right smack on a shelf like that, but it is admirable, to say the least.

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  14. You are my most favorite person. My absolute most favorite. I hope you feel at ease and at peace. You deserve to feel that way.

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  15. First - distended anus lips - LOL where do people even come up with these things?! The blogging world is such a strange crazy place these days. It's also really disappointing to me as a feminist all the woman-on-woman hating that goes on within the blogosphere. It's a shame. Personally, I think your blog has been killing it lately. Keep doing your thing, lady! We're always rooting for you.

    xx

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  16. Keep being awesome and more importantly, real :-)
    Looking forward to more posts!

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  17. Oh you're wonderful. I never for a second thought you owed us an explanation for any of it, but this post came off beautifully. I read your blog because you don't take yourself too seriously, and somehow you still manage to have the deepest little tidbits stuck in your posts. I will happily read your blog till the end of my days.

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  18. I wish I had the slightest idea what the "most asked question of all" referred to. Is it the playschool group? I am not in on the joke and I've been a reader for YEARS...womp womp

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  19. I'm glad you're on the mend. I think we all have crap going on in our lives and sometimes it can be too much. I had a mom group incident too. Last year. It was...awful. I wish I would have had the courage to stand up for myself. I wish I would have walked away a long time before. I wish I would have said something first and got the heck out of there. But alas...all of the above did not happen and a big blow out did. I still think about it (9 months later) and it still hurts. So I just shove it out of my head and be grateful we moved out of town. Ha! Lately we've felt like we're kind of drowning. Just everything is coming at us at once. It's a lot to handle. Then I'm a lot to handle. Angry or upset all the time. Ugh. I hate this feeling. I've been trying to CHOOSE how I react to situations take things one day at a time. That's all I can do. It's going to have to be enough. If I screw everything up well.... I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

    This was a good post. Even if I never personally asked/wondered about any of those questions it is nice to know I'm not alone. Peace out.

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  20. Ratness of "phatness" more like it.

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  21. This is utterly beautiful. You, are beautiful. And so is your family :) xxxxx

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  22. favorite blogger ever. thanks for sharing.

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  23. Thanks so much for sharing this. You are awesome.

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  24. "You're a good one, Charlie Brown". I can't wait to read your book.

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  25. Love your blog and read it nearly everyday. For all the ubiquitous, red-faced critics, there are also a lot of anonymous, dedicated readers out there too!! Thanks for blogging, Nat!

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  26. Keep on doing what you do... haters are always going to hate. Hopefully, they have enough sense to keep their comments to themselves. It's been fun to see your transformation unfold.

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  27. Thank you for sharing your tiny sliver of a life with this big mad world. Just so your know for everyone out there that is rude there are 10 folks out there that think you rock the internet, me being one of those. Thanks for sharing your life with me. It is always an inspiration.

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  28. My first comment did not go through... darn.

    You are amazing.
    I am relieved you are not quitting blogging (the title scared me)
    The love you have for your immediate family, and your Lovin family compels me to share the same love with everyone around me.

    I wish you the very best! and I can't wait for your book to come out.
    XX

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  29. Go, Nat, Go! You have a tribe of supportive women behind you and we appreciate you and we cannot wait to read your book!

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  30. when I first started reading your blog it fed my soul. I noticed a change in your posts for sure and it left me bereft, glad to have you back!

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  31. I know the site you're referring to, and I (embarrassingly) visit it from time to time just to gawk at the crazy. It's like a car wreck you can't take your eyes off of. Some of it is constructive criticism, but the majority is just nuts. People seem to forget that this is a PERSONAL blog about your life and family and it's not a website or magazine. You certainly don't owe some crazies who spend their days talking bad about people on the internet excuses as to why you decide to write what you write. I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts, including sponsored ones. I think you put your own spin on it and do a good job. I also don't get the impression that you're a calculating person that plans out every tweet or instagram photo or post... who in the world has time for that? You share your life and thoughts on social platforms like the majority of the people in the world do. Being over analyzed couldn't feel great, and I definitely feel sorry for you and other well known bloggers that have to endure it.

    Also, good for you for walking away from situations that don't completely uplift you. That's what friendships should be. It sucks that there are politics within groups of women (we've all been there, right?) and it has to suck even more to have thousands of people behind a computer screen throw their two cents in when they likely have zero knowledge of the situation.

    In any case, you're always my favorite read on my blog feed and inspire me to write. I currently only do it for myself, but maybe one day I'll write something with the intention of others actually reading it. I'm super excited to read your book! So don't let past mistakes or (unfounded) criticism get you down- there are plenty of us out here that are inspired by you and your family. Plus your kid is the cutest.

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  32. Hey, like so many others I say keep doing what you're doing. And good for you for standing up for yourself and facing some of this stuff (that is no one's business) head on. So many others, including your detractors, would cave under the pressure of all that baseless, thoughtless criticism being thrown in their faces. But you stay true to yourself and own up to your mistakes and that is so admirable. The internet is a mean and nasty place, but your blog is such a bright spot that I will definitely keep coming back to. You're one of the good ones, Nat.

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  33. How have you been walking around all this time with absolutely NO BODY?! :)

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  34. I don't comment much, but I've been reading your blog for a few months and I truly look forward to your posts. I love your honesty and the fact that you don't take yourself that seriously. Thanks.

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  35. Love this. I had a look at that website and found it ridiculous how a bunch of people sit around obsessing with the strangest things. I enjoy your blog. It's nice to see how you live over there! I have two children under 2 and at uni studying nursing. I always felt left out of being in a mummy group but you have showed us it's not all that. Thanks for writing ✌️

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  36. love this.

    www.amoderngypsy.blogspot.com

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  37. Wow. I'm a daily reader, for 3 years (tardy for the party, I know), and instagram follower (possibly an over-liker but when you're posting pics of that Henry it's hard to stop) and for the most part, I had no idea what you were talking about in this post! So maybe I'm ignorant, or slow, or my reading comprehension isn't where it should be (though the Oregon state tests I took as a kid, CIM and CAM, would say otherwise! ha), but yeah... I guess my point is that I am here because I love the way you write, and I love the photos you share.

    When I've had A DAY (like yesterday... yesterday was an 'I woke up late and I can't find a strapless bra to wear with my maxi dress so I guess I'll wear this strapless swimsuit top instead' kind of day) I swing by here and I read my favorite posts, like the ones about Halloween on the Upper West, letting your heart be light, and when autumn came to Central Park.

    So. I guess I just wanted to say that we're not all focused on the negative (or even aware of it) so you just keep doing you.

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    1. I completely agree with this reply! I'm right there with you Whitney! :) You are fabulous and inspiring Natalie! Keep doing what you're doing!

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  38. Yer alright, kid. Just imagine a tiny sergeant with a buzz cut and a bullhorn sitting on your shoulder yelling 'KEEP YER EYE ON THE PRIZE, PRIVATE!'

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  39. Man I just don't like that bloggers are able to get hurt by the comments. Readers are able to stay practically hidden and say whatever negativity they'd like just ain't cool. Being kind and nice in person needs to be carried through to the internet as well. Nah mean?

    I wish there was a way for blogs to sense a hurtful comment & not show it so not only the writer doesn't get upset, but so other people don't have to see that type of negativity either.

    Until that day! Much love,

    Nicole B.

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  40. I'm just glad I'm not the kind of person who feels better when I write or say something nasty about somebody else. What a weird life that must be.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles and triumphs -- particularly about overcoming your anxiety. Feels good to know other people are working on that just as hard as I am!

    Love ya, Natalie Jean!

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  41. You doled out explanations to a bunch of strange people all over the country to whom you don't owe a single explanation. But thank you anyway. And thank you for being you - honest, smart, funny, and cute (regardless of what that crazy lady said!). Keep being you. It's why we all come back to read more :)

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  42. I find it baffling that people actually go out of their way to tell you how you should or shouldn't run your blog. This is an entirely new platform for writers, how are we supposed to get it right every time, with no previous generation to ask advice from! And honestly, I never noticed an increase - or overload - in sponsored posts. It sounds like you've had a rough patch and I respect you so much for dealing with it so well, and for continuing to write in such an amazing way. If I'm struggling I completely shut off and hide from my blog - which only makes 'The Return' so much harder.

    And as for places like GOMI, sometimes I feel like the trolls that spend their days on there are some of the worst people on the planet. But honestly? If you have so much hatred and rage and bitterness stored inside of you that you have to vent about someone else's online presence, you deserve only pity and sympathy.

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  43. Are you talking about Feeling Good by David Burns? The exercises in Cognitve Behavioral Therapy? Ah Natalie, I just adore you to pieces. You are such an amazing person! Thank you for this. The damn thing about blogs and social media is that what you put in print becomes permanent, even though your feelings at the time might be temporary. True, some of the things you have said and done over the past few months have maybe not sat so well with some of your devoted readers. But I have always been willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. I mean personally, if you were one of my real life friends or acquaintances, I would, so I don't get why people are so ballsy on the internet to total strangers. I am really sorry the thing about Alex happened, and sorry for the way it has affected her too, though I don't know her at all. You did the protective big sister thing. I get it. And what resulted was 15000+ of your readers heading over to ogle her private life. It makes me cringe, I sympathize for your family and the effects of the douchepocalypse on your little sis. When it comes down to it, you are entitled to your privacy and so is your family. You don't owe anyone an explanation, and given the fact that you have tons and tons of people who love you, there are always going to be handful that hate you. That proportion stays the same whether you have 10 readers, or 10,000. Keep doing what you do, you're fabulous. XOXO

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  44. Haha oh man. Part of me feels so dumb, since I didn't notice any of the issues you explain in this post, nor did I feel like there were "too many sponsored posts on this one 'hey natalie jean' blog I follow."

    But then part of me feels like this reaction should maybe be the general reaction, since it's YOUR blog and your life, after all, and we aren't really entitled to explanations for either one :)

    P.S. so excited for your book! - Emily

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  45. I am a long time reader, I even spent a few months at my old job reading every single post In the archives (I got reeeeeeeally bored there) and the only one of these "issues" I noticed was the sponsored posts! BUT you even said when you started your book that's where your time and energy was going and your posts would probably be a little light and less original around here (understandably!!!). I assumed that the sponsored posts were just an easier way to make sure you posted on your blog to avoid the cobwebs. Either way, I missed the cutthroat moms group, and being off balance. I'm grateful you keep things real, and I truly hope you know you have more lovers than haters, because most the lovers are silent (insert me raising my hand). I'm sorry that 2013 was just an all around shitty year, but 2014 has looked pretty dang good! And that huck, clearly he adores the hell outta you with his matching tattoo.

    Also, I CANNOT WAIT for this book to come out.

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  46. I don't get why some people are so offended by sponsored posts. I don't enjoy reading sponsored posts that are just about run of the mill products (Cheerios... Dove....) but I do like the sponsored posts that introduce the reader to cool products that may have otherwise remained unknown to them. I loved your howaboutwe series.
    It's only natural (corporate society, hulllo) that popular blogs would get picked up by agencies, run ads to make money... who wouldn't? If you are so fantastically well-off that you don't need extra money when people are offering it, then that choice is yours - and you are damn lucky to be in that position. But I think it's cool that blogging provides a way for people to freelance and have the ability to juggle schedules and family and a social life. OMG I'm grateful for my freelance job. so grateful.

    standing ovation to you, nat, for getting out there recently and really expressing who you are. now for a close up photo or dedicated post (!!) regarding your new tat. pretty please! ha.

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  47. You go, girl!!! Write what ever you darn well want to....I'll happily read it!

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  48. The enemy of my enemy is my friend! Kick ass in your new neighborhood!!

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  49. That is why I keep reading, you are truly and always yourself and I love it. I very rarely comment(I wish I did more) but I read often.
    So keep on, keepin' on. :)

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  50. You're awesome, I love your writing, I can't WAIT to buy the heck out of your book, and you're totally beautiful. And I mean all of those things!

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  51. God I love you, Natalie. Life happens, sometimes stuff gets hard to deal with, and although it happens to literally everyone, often times others can't take a step back and just appreciate for a moment that we're all human, we all deal with this junk, and lay off. I adore your outlook on life, your honesty, and your writing. I can't wait to read the book!!! xx

    The What's In Between

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  52. I hear you on SO many levels, girl. The truth is that online, people WILL say the worst things imaginable to you. I've been picked on for choosing adoption for my first child because I was young and had no support and it wasn't what I wanted but I felt like it was my only viable option...and I apparently look like a vampire, so...AND I've been part of a moms group that got pretty cutthroat, the sad thing was they were all close to 30 and I was in my early 20s. I, too, wished I had respected myself enough to walk away earlier when things didn't feel right.

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  53. I can't believe someone wrote that stuff about you. I think you're gorgeous. I think they pointed out your greatest features... such dummies.

    Always a good post. Can't wait to read your book!

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  54. Natalie, you're the best!!!! Way to go girl! Xox!

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  55. And that my friends is how you do it. Kudos.

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  56. I just found your blog about a year ago, and one of the things I love about you is your honesty. It's raw and real. And that's something I can relate to (like most of the other flawed humans on this earth). We are all flawed. We all have terrible and not so great days... but then we also have these surprisingly amazing ones that we'll cherish forever. That's life. It takes courage to be honest, vulnerable and real about what we really think/feel on the inside (even if it isn't a reflection of the truth). I just turned 30 this year and am expecting my first baby in Dec...and if there's anything I've learned these last couple years (and reminded daily!), it's that I'm still learning so much about myself. And it's okay when I see the cracks and things that aren't ideal. I am learning to love me, for better or for worse...and to just embrace life for whatever it may bring...holding onto those gems like no tomorrow. And I can see you're on a similar journey. So, thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.

    xo,
    grace

    PS...your post and all these thoughts remind me of that quote by ee cummings: "It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are." Touché :)

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  58. Love the blog and have loved the recent posts. Keep up the good work.

    And as someone who used to read GOMI regularly - that whole website has descended into a level of middle school bitchery that is hard to fathom. Ignore them.

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  59. Reading your last paragraph reminded me of something my 3 year-old told me yesterday..."Everybody's story is the same. My story is your story, mama." Profound words for a little guy! If everyone remembered that, perhaps people would be kinder to one another. Keep up the good work, Natalie xoxo

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  60. Bless you for writing this post. I have been reading your blog for some time & think you are a wonderful writer. I actually love your sponsored posts because you are always so creative - and open - about them, you do them better than anyone I know! The quality of your work is such that quite honestly you should write about whatever you want!

    All the other stuff sounds like a lot of drama, I am sorry you have had to go through all that....I did not realise it had been such a challenging year for you.

    Take care Xx

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  61. I always want chocolate.

    Last year you came across as someone who was having a normal grown up year, full of ups and downs who wasn't necessarily hiding it or sharing all of it with a crowd of sympathetic and not not so sympathetic readers. I completely respected that. I appreciated those hints of real life amidst the fun and beauty of everything else. That's just life, at least my life : ) And growth really sucks sometimes doesn't it? I find myself far more self doubting as the years go by despite the fact that I am more experienced and wiser, (at least more than I used to be). I'm thankful for the chance to read whatever you choose to share and if I don't like the sponsored posts I'll just scroll down fast. Best wishes for a summer of smooth sailing for you and the family!

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  62. Its kind of a double edged sword, blogging, isn't it? You have to put yourself out there in order to gain readership, but then once you do you are automatically welcoming criticism about your life and your opinions. But I think its totally unrealistic the way in which readers expect bloggers to be this perfect "person" who is exactly like them. Readers can take things so personally, and in a way that's a good sign they feel connected to you, but you cannot be expected to fulfill everyone's expectation of "right and wrong." I feel a connection to you on many levels, as I'm sure many of your readers do, but we are not the same person nor should I expect that we share the same pov on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. :) I come here to read about your life, not how similar yours is to mine and to point out when we are different. Keep on keeping on. You are doing a great job. I feel that you are authentic and sincere and I enjoy coming to this space.

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  63. Maybe you could just secretly tell me what I should be buying at Forever 21 then? I can't go in there without at least a recommendation! I LOVED those posts! I hope you're felling better now. I adore your space here, and wish I could give you back some of the happiness your writing gives me. Can't wait for your book!

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  64. I feel like 2013 was a topsy turvy year for me too where I felt off-balance a lot. Luckily, no short term family members for me! But I did lose some friends and felt like I lost my place in the world a bit.

    As for that website? Don't give too much thought to it. Yeah, they can be funny, insightful and thoughtful. But they give into groupthink way too much and will twist everything you say. They regularly turn on each other too. The girl who started it tries way too hard to be cool, which is something they attack you for. She also recently referred to stillborn babies as medical waste. Then added if they are less than a month old, they are medical waste too. Which she stuck by, even when people told her politely she went too far. So she's allowed to be that offensive, but you get ripped apart regularly there? Don't worry about her. Don't try to fit in with her. You don't want too. You're better than them.

    Enjoy your life. Enjoy Brooklyn. Find your own place in the world in 2014 and keep putting 2013 behind you. :)

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  65. you're wonderful - in every aspect of the word.

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  66. You are beyond lovely!

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  67. "can you imagine having enough exposure to distended anuses to be able to draw such a comparison? That must suck.)"

    ^^^ it's lines like these that make me S U P E R excited to preorder your book...and race my friends to finish it...and then talk about it over lunches...much like we did with each Harry Potter.

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  68. GIRRRL I just gotta say dang that was a year. Also, I am super glad to know about the agency thing because I am a long-time reader and I was like "wait no what it happening why is everything corporate!"
    THEN I left a comment one time about how I was frustrated that so many posts were advertising stuff, which was intended in a "Hey I really like your blog and I am a consumer you're making money off of now and instead of just ditch, because thats sad, I want to give constructive feedback in a nonthreatening way!" but then got deleted. And I had this panic attack like, "Oh my gosh! Am I a hater that everyone is referring to??!"

    So, I just want to say that, like everyone else here, I adore this little corner of the internet and your lovely take on life. And I am glad to know about the whole agency thing because it explains a lot of why things were adjusting. And all of this is just a silly way of saying I'm still here and I still love it and you seem like your voice is stronger than ever.

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  69. I read you on the reg and I seriously had no idea about all this drama! Why?! I seriously do not understand why people do or say the mean things that they say or do. You are awesome and I completely commend you for trying always to be true to yourself. Sometimes that's not so easy, especially in some of these "other mom" situations. I've experienced this whole world of "you're doing it wrong" mentality among other moms that I didn't even know existed before. Not very supportive, to say the least. Good for you for finally taking no shit.

    And as for the remarks on your body, you look fantastic, girl. More importantly, you look like someone who is truely trying to make the most of their lives so keep doing you!

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  70. I've visited many blogs over the last few years and have always quickly lost interest. Yours, however, I've always come back to. You're so wonderful, Natalie. What a load of crap that you need to justify any of your actions. Keep on doing your thing. Can't wait for the book <3

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  71. Oh, and one other thing, for what it's worth. We (your fandom) are here because you and your cutest family are awesome. It's an honor to see the little slivers of yourself and your life that you choose to share. An honor! Maybe some of us feel entitled to more than those slivers, but the truth of it is that we're not. We're not entitled to any of it and certainly not to any more than you choose to give. Everybody needs to calm down and just appreciate and support what you give us. {I won't even get into the shenanigans that go on at that forum, which seems to exist for the sole purpose of criticizing/ridiculing others. The meanness of some people, I will never understand...}

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  72. Longtime listener, first time caller. You rock. That is all.

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  73. Man, I just like you more and more. Keep preachin' the good word of doing good to your people and not giving a damn when people take your life the wrong way or dig up shenanigans where there are none. If any of us had our lives in the spotlight like yours, we'd all get told we're crazy now and again....or have anus lips whha???........I for one appreciate you for your realness. Keep on ownin' it! And I think you have very nice lips.

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  74. You are a wonderful writer and that's why I have continued to read. Even through the '13s. Glad to see you writing more!

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  75. I love reading about your mundane, everyday experiences in the city I love! For those of us who cannot live there, we live vicariously through you and your vivid depictions. Keep writing. Don't let anyone keep you down. As my husband would say: If you build it, they will come! ;)

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  76. For those of us who cannot live there, I love reading your depictions of everyday life in the city I love! So for what its worth, from way out in California, keep doing what you're doing. As my husband would say: If you build it, they will come! Keep writing sister.

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  77. I love your blog. I hope to take my blog to the same place someday!

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  78. Motherhood is a great honor and privilege, yet it is also synonymous with servanthood. Every day women are called upon to selflessly meet the needs of their families. Whether they are awake at night nursing a baby, spending their time and money on less-than-grateful teenagers, or preparing meals, moms continuously put others before themselves.
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