Hope Heal Cook recently celebrated three years (wahoo!) and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my experience as a blogger.
When I first started HHC I’d thought I’d finally found my true calling, the one thing I was put here to do that would make use of all my gifts and give meaning to my lousier life experiences: I was gunna be a food and wellness blogger for the chronic illness and Lyme disease communities.
Seriously, check out my sweet qualifications:
1️⃣ I went to culinary school and love healthy cooking.
2️⃣ I’ve become a self taught wellness expert over the course of healing myself of a ridiculously long list of illnesses.
3️⃣ I have access to wifi.
See?! It all made sense! And since I also sometimes drew these little comics, I’d occasionally include them too! Perfect! Except that’s not how things have played out.
Instead of creating recipe and wellness posts I found myself spending hours on social media, with no energy or time left over for publishing actual blog content. Not only that, but I constantly felt overwhelmed by how much I had to keep learning about algorithms, Search Engine Optimization, hashtags, and a bunch of other stuff I reeeeally don’t care about.
Then, last year my social media engagement started to suffer. When the big change hit Instagram and FaceBook’s algorithms, my engagement tanked. Suddenly I was losing followers in a steady, daily decline that no amount of effort on my part seemed to effect.
Some days I took it really personally.
Other days it just frustrated me.
Last Summer, I’d posted on social media that I didn’t know what I was doing anymore. And I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue blogging.
Who’d ever heard of a Food-and-Wellness-Recipe-Developing-Cartoonist-Blogger anyway? Maybe I was struggling so much because the premise of HHC was as fantastical as growing up to be a Princess-Astronaut-Unicorn-Jedi-Ninja. (It could still happen.)
I could feel that something had to change. I was tired of working harder and seeing zero results with engagement and follower growth. I was tired of doubting my ability to make HopeHealCook.com what I dreamed it would be.
The first thing that needed to shift was my priorities. I realized I was trying to “serve two masters” by simultaneously striving to be an active blogger while also healing myself full time. It wasn’t that I was inadequate, I was just tired!
Instead of posting about how I was healing while I was healing, I committed to healing myself first, and then sharing. So I took another long break from all things blog, and trusted that once I’d healed, I’d have plenty of energy to share how I did it.
Second, I saw the need to clarify my focus. I couldn’t shake this gnawing feeling that I was somehow missing something when it came to “my calling.” Then, early one morning, after a prayer and epic cry, it suddenly hit me:
There’s one one things that only I can do and offer to others.
It’s not creating Paleo recipes. Lots of folks are plenty good at that. It’s not writing posts on how to do coffee enemas. Plenty of other folks do that too. Nope, the one thing only I can do that no one else on earth can do is write and illustrate the little stories of my life.
They just happen to frequently feature Paleo recipes and coffee enemas.
Truth: I don’t really care about attending Paleo FX or Holistic Health Expos. Know what makes me quiver with excitement? Emerald City Comicon.
Yup, I’m a full blown, manga-reading, cosplay-ogling, mega-nerd. Do I love food and wellness? Sure do! But I loooove reading and drawing comics. It’s time I owned that.
One of the reasons I hadn’t been drawing more is simply that comics take time. I do all the sketching, inking and coloring by hand, on actual paper. In order to bring my illustrated ideas to life, I gotta devote more time to them, and I plan to.
Instead of pushing myself to keep to a steady post schedule (i.e. weekly) I’m going to take my time and create illustrated posts like this one. It’s the most natural way for me to share my authentic experience, and seriously, who doesn’t love a visual guide?
There’ve been other challenges for me as a blogger this past year. When I first started HHC I’d been good given advice from some of the best in the wellness-blogosphere to avoid politics and religion. So for the last three years I’ve kept HHC “neutral.”
But after this year’s presidential election, and my somewhat recent conversion to my ancestral faith, I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to “censor” my religious and political self.
In fact, I have dozens of comics about my ongoing Lyme treatments and life with chronic illness that I haven’t shared simply because I didn’t know how to address/edit out my rosary or the mention of an obscure saint (the patron saint of anesthesiologists is Rene Goupil, you’re welcome.)
But here’s the thing, holistic health is all about wholeness, so going forward:
1️⃣ I’m going to embrace and share my whole self. There’s a huge difference between choosing to keep aspects of my life private and feeling that I shouldn’t share certain things about myself because they might negatively affect my “brand.” Boundaries are healthy, hiding who we are isn’t.
2️⃣ I’m gunna tell the whole story. If I don’t acknowledge & share the role my spirituality & its practices have had in my healing, I’m leaving out a crucial part of my story. So I’m going to be honest (not preachy) about my inner life & how it’s supported my holistic healing.
3️⃣ I’m going to advocate healing The Whole: not only ourselves, but also our communities, cultures & common home, Earth. Pollution, rampant consumerism, oppression & intolerance all pose serious barriers to the cultivation of holistic health. For big picture healing to occur, we need to engage conversations rather than avoid controversies.
So what have I learned after 3 years of blogging?
That you gotta do what you love just because you love it, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re probably tired so take a break. Also, if you don’t want to do something (ahem, FaceBook Live) then don’t.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that I don’t want to be a brand, I just want to be me.
Now that I’m in remission, I know I’ll have the resources to put more of my true self into into Hope Heal Cook & that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I hope my shares will help you, inspire you, or maybe just make you laugh.
Thank you so much for your love & support these last 3 years! It’s certainly been a wild ride!
May you eat well, live well & enjoy a New Wellness.
Cosplay & kumquats,
P.S. If you’re a fellow blogger I’d love to hear your experience. What sort of things have you learned?
“To shine your brightest light is to be who you truly are.”
~ Roy T. Bennett
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