I’m so excited to share today’s post with you. But first, some stuff…
So when I started blove back in the day, the format went something like this:
How I discovered the blogger.
Why I loved the blog/blogger.
My favorite posts and a bit about why they were my favorites.
Lather, rinse, repeat. And, as sometimes happens with series in this space, “blove” eventually fell by the wayside.
When I brought the series back last year, I changed up the format – making it more “interview” style. I wanted more of the blogger’s own voice to shine through, for a more personal narrative to accompany the highlighted posts.
I’ve been doing this for a few months now, and as I look back at these newer posts they leave me feeling a bit…meh. While all of my subjects have done wonderful jobs in providing beautifully written answers, my problem is in the questions themselves. As I looked at them critically they read as pretty predictable. And what good is that really doing for you?
Years ago, a dear blogging friend and mentor tasked me with the challenge of never hitting “publish” until I’ve asked myself, “what value am I providing my reader with this post?”. And for the last 6 years that’s just what I’ve tried to do.Whether it’s breaking down a cooking technique, sharing a favorite NYC spot, or opening up about a personal struggle, my goal is to create value in this space.
And while it’s great to discover a new blog to follow and love, here’s the thing – MOST of the women that I initially befriended through blogging (including my mentor) are no longer blogging. They’ve gone on to build businesses, pursue creative passions, or just drop out altogether. And while they still may have a blog to support their new pursuits, the blog itself is just one part of the whole.
And THAT’S when I figured out what this series is supposed to be.
As someone who has had many, many careers in her life, I appreciate and admire nothing more than the courage and tenacity it takes to scrap what you’ve been safely doing and starting anew. And the older I get, and the more people I meet and talk to, the more I realize that this is something that resonates with many. I’ve been an interior designer, make-up artist, garden designer, business owner, aspiring pastry chef and writer/photographer. And in all (and over more than 30 years), the one that has felt the most “right” to me has been blogging. And – no surprise – it’s also been the most scary, unpredictable and equal parts infuriating and exhilarating.
So I decided to use this series as an opportunity to share THOSE types of stories – straight from the hearts and minds of the women I’ve met over the years who have changed course. My hope is that, in sharing their struggles, challenges and achievements, you can take inspiration and perhaps make a move that YOU’VE been considering.
And I knew just who I wanted to start with (all images courtesy of Paige Meredith).
I met Paige at Alt Summit NYC back in 2013. It was at the first night dinner, and though we were seated at a table of many, I was immediately taken by her. I remember she had these beautiful handmade business cards, and there was just “something” about her lovely face, cool style and vivacious personality that made her stand apart from the (admittedly super-stylish) crowd.
Paige had a blog at the time – approaching joy – that she had started 2 years prior. She was juggling graduate school and a long-distance relationship, and the blog was a “little bit of everything” – writing, photography, recipes. She has since married that long-distance guy, had an adorable little boy, and a brand new site – Paige Meredith – launched just last year.
Paige’s talent, optimism and sweet personality made me want to reach out and ask her to help me launch this new format in a way that would hopefully inspire some of you, and go way beyond “just blogging”. She was nice enough to agree, as well as answer this new round of questions!
Paige! Thanks so much for agreeing to be my first “subject”. Tell me about your current site, and what readers can expect to find when they get there.
After being at approaching joy for….4? years, I finally moved to Paige Meredith because I realized I wanted to be myself. And my name was the best way to do that.
What – other than the name change – did you want to be different from approaching joy, and did those changes reflect a shift in your “real” life at the time?
I felt like “approaching joy” was the name I had given the time of my life during my transition from single woman in grad school to married woman. I realized that I wanted my site – my brand – to encompass more than just that period in my life. I wanted to take into account that I had become a mom, that I had claimed my title of an artist, and that these transitions were temporary. They were who I was and how I am continually becoming.
I know that all of my collective failures, successes and missteps are important pieces to my “now”. Do you think you would have gotten to “Paige Meredith” had it not been for “approaching joy”?
No. Not at all. The people I met as “approaching joy” were crucial to me developing into the person who was confident enough in herself to BE the woman I am today.
It’s so clear to me that most people who started blogging but have since moved on feel just the same way. And for the same reasons. Is that why you still have a blog on Paige Meredith?
So – two answers to that. Yes, the community is vital to any creative pursuit. I’m learning more and more that, like a suspension bridge, every single strand of support matters.
As to the blog – I would actually say that the time I spend there has two parts. The first is to process “out loud”. For example, I wrote a letter to my hater (a guy who was dissing my work at a coffee shop, not knowing that I – the artist – was sitting one table away). That post was me figuring out why I make art and why it doesn’t matter what this guy said.
The second reason I post things there is to give people a deeper look into me. And yes – that can help create deeper connection. But I feel like Instagram is where I really cultivate that community. That’s where the initial (and admittedly more surface level) connection happens. When they decide that they want to know more the blog is there.
Can I just say how much I love that answer?
This series had been completely “blog-centric”, yet I talk to many non-bloggers who are itching to make a change. What can you share from your own journey to inspire or help someone to make that leap?
This is going to sound ridiculously cheesy but I would say – pursue the thing that your seven-year-old self would pursue.
Did your seven-year-old self host tea parties? Do that. Did your seven-year-old self teach the whole neighborhood a new skill? Do that. Did your seven-year-old self race bikes? Do that.
My seven-year-old self painted and sewed and explored nature via the farm on which I grew up.
Maybe that means monetizing it and maybe not. But pursuing it wholeheartedly matters.
I really need to think about my seven-year-old self now! Off of this awesome response, how do you stay positive and motivated, given that when you change course there is such a huge element of unpredictability (and fear)? And how big a role does the need to monetize play?
I think a big motivator for me is having a kind of scary challenge that I put out to the public for accountability. My biggest and most successful example of this is my 32nd birthday challenge, where I painted 32 canvases in 32 days. At the end I sold the resulting art and the proceeds went to the non-profit organization Art Feeds. Putting this big challenge out into the world allowed me to test how much I was willing to work (and rearrange my schedule and push my creativity ) toward this goal.
As for monetizing: I freeze up when think about money and art. An analogy that I think is relevant is that of the writer and editor. I’ve heard it said don’t write with your editing hat on because you’ll get so confounded that the words won’t flow. The same goes for me with making art. I can think about where the art will live after I’m done making it. But not at the same time.
Thank you SO much, Paige. Our conversation has made me realize that simply giving someone the space to share their journey and experiences in a more open-ended way is actually so much more inspiring – and helpful – than the answers to a list of pre-determined questions.
In wrapping up, can you share with me the people that are currently inspiring YOU (as I’m sure anyone you’re following is someone to check out)?
Ellen Marie Bennet of Hedley and Bennett – This chick didn’t even know how to sew and yet she worked her tail off to become THE apron lady. Her gumption and enthusiasm are something I strive for.
Lisa Congdon – She’s self-taught and I love how she isn’t afraid to experiment with multiple styles. I’ve been in the same room as her twice in my life yet I’ve never had the guts to introduce myself, even though on social media she is incredibly kind. Lisa, if you’re reading this, expect a high five next time I see you.
Sarah Alexander of Ringos Girl – 1. She’s the mom of teenagers which proves to me that there is creativity after the intensity of toddlerhood. 2. She’s been incredibly generous with her time talking to me about potential art ventures. Generosity of spirit is one of my favorite attributes.
Amber of Amber Perrodin Art and The Little Craft Show – Again: gumption, generosity, incredible work ethic, and passion. Plus she’s the one I text at the end of a hard week and say, “Let’s meet up for drinks.”
MJ of Pars Caeli and Good in Store – MJ is my “work wife” – The person who I am able to bounce ideas off of, the one who keeps me on track, and the one who cheers me on the loudest. I can only hope I’m able to support and cherish her half as well as she does for me.
And what’s in the works for you down the road? Anything you care to share with us?
I’m working on developing a series of workshops, which is yet another transition that I will be figuring out. And I have another goal to have a women’s art retreat somewhere in my beautiful state.
WHEW! That was a LOT – thanks for hanging in. So what do you all think? I would love to know, as well as what types of interviews you’d like to see going forward, and if you yourself would like to be featured here! Just drop me a line at sheri at sherisilver dot com.