5.13.2013

The Speech: My Story.


Alas, the speech I have been nervous about for the past few months is now officially over. 
And while I did far from stellar at delivering what I wrote (you may think I am "being hard on myself" but no, it's called honesty--my voice was shaking, I cried at parts I didn't think I would cry at, and I looked down way more than I looked up), I want to remember the words that I said. I think it's all important for us to have "our story" written out so if nothing else, I am proud of myself for taking the time to do so. 

Before we get into the ridiculous amount of words below, I just want to say thank you to everybody who was at Elevate on Saturday. I will never forget the comfort I found when looking up during my speech and seeing Nay, Robin, AshleyChrissy, and many others all smiling back at me with the sweetest little smiles ever. While speaking I was soaking up little lessons from you, the audience. 


And so it begins.

"First off I would like to thank Summer and Jen for giving me the opportunity to come out here to be with you all. Would I have known from the beginning that I was supposed to speak for 30 minutes, they may have gotten a different answer from me but here we are! While I do love writing, I don’t love speaking.  If for some reason I start sweating, cry, puke, or pass out, feel free to give me a bottle of wine and I should be back to good in no time. And because I only think it is logical that if I have to stand up here and make a fool of myself, you should as well. Whether you know the cupid shuffle or not, I expect you to be participating ;)

So then this happened.

My story with blogging starts approximately two and a half years ago and came in the form of a gratitude journal. Back in 2010 I made a promise to myself that for 365 days straight I would document what made me grateful and joyful on that particular day. I began looking for positivity around me, I was quick to write it down, and I never missed a day. There was something about putting down in words what I was experiencing that just felt good. I remember thinking “this is going to be such a cool thing to have years from now and look back on..these good times, these moments of gratefulness, the lessons I am learning..it’s all going to be right here.” After a solid year of writing daily I didn't want to stop. I knew what I was doing was worth doing, I just didn't know where to go from there. And then it hit me. I was reading through my old gratitude entries and I came across something that I wrote on June 8, 2010: “I am thankful for blogs. There are a few that I really connect with and enjoy. I am inspired to start writing my own..you never know who may enjoy it!”



It was January 2011 when I re-read that and I thought “Well, that was a good thought, but really? Me? A blog? Aren't you supposed to have something to write about if you are actually going to write a blog? And crafts! Oh my gosh crafts. I would need to learn how to make those! And outfits. I’d actually have to like wear them! Don’t get me started on recipes. The only thing I know how to make is macaroni and cheese and how many times can I post that for the same 3 readers I will probably have? Good idea Erin, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for you.” But then I kept reading through that darn journal of mine and I came across something else where I said “I find this journal vital to me. I appreciate things in life that teach me dedication and this is one thing that is doing just that.” And again. Another entry ended with “I am thankful for this pen and paper. Writing is a blessing”. 
By then I threw my arms up in the air and yelled something like “FINE JOURNAL, I’LL DO IT. I WILL START A FREAKING BLOG BUT NOW I EXPECT YOU TO GIVE ME STUFF TO WRITE ABOUT.  DEAL?” I must have heard the journal say “deal” back because it began.

February 1, 2011 I wrote my very first blog post on Living In Yellow. Writing your very first blog post is quite an intimidating thing to do because you are fooled into thinking that everybody and their mom is going to be reading what you put out there, but then later find out that one person read it and that one person is your sister. You don’t know what you are doing on this big ole internet, you just know that you want to do it. And so you begin and you have NO idea how much of an impact hitting “publish” for the very first time will have on your life. You don’t know in that moment that what you just did was one of the bravest and most thrilling things you will ever do.



Being naive is a very good place to be in blogging and I think it is safe to say we must start there. You don’t need to know what you are doing when you are just starting out, you just need to know that you want to be doing it. That day I knew two things-I liked writing about what made me happy and I liked sending the most off the wall emails to my friends and husband. I figured if I could write about what makes me happy in my off the wall manner, it would at least be fun. I remember after hitting publish just sitting at my desk and thinking “Okay..well what now? Do I call my parents and freak them out by them that my life is now going to be documented on the internet or do I just let them find out on their own? Is this something I tell my sister about? Should Shawn even know?  BLOGGING IS SUCH A WEIRD THING THAT ONLY WEIRD PEOPLE DO I thought. Perfect.” I called my parents. I showed it to my sister. I read it a million times in front of Shawn. And then my sister said one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard her say and that was “I have a feeling that you are going to be the next Pioneer Woman..” Clearly my sister didn't get the “no crafting, no cooking, no decorating skills” vibe I was putting out there. But she saw something in my writing voice that encouraged and gave me the exact hope I needed to write my second (and 3rd and 45th and 730th post). I knew if one person enjoyed it, it was worth it, even if that one person was me.

After my first initial post I thought “now what?” I had one post. One post won’t sustain a blog for very long. It wasn't soon after that first entry that I realized my life was now a walking blog post. Everything seemed to be writable to some degree. I especially appreciated when people would trip and fall in front of me or when I went to pay at the local meat shop with a thong that was in my purse for my awkward and awesome Thursday posts. I began finding inspiration in EVERYTHING. Installing a fire pit with Shawn and then titling the post “Getting dirty with my husband” was working for me. I learned early on from that particular post that people want to hear what not many people will say (one of my most viewed posts to date due to the title alone). Side note: Titles are one of the most important parts of your post—be strategic with them. End side note. I began realizing that it was okay that I didn't have a “niche” I fell into, but rather a voice that provided a small amount of entertainment into people’s days. 98% of the time I am lighthearted and the other 2% I am this weird deep person that I always wished I was in high school. Deep and I don’t get very far, but the moments we do have together I love. I have found though that lighthearted or deep, somebody somewhere can connect with what you have to say.

As for the growth of my blog and the community that has developed—it definitely hasn't been an overnight process. I remember making a deal with my husband that seemed quite impossible at the time (obviously to both of us or else he would have never agreed) and that was that I would be able to purchase a “blogging” camera once I reached 200 followers. It took me six months to get there but you better believe the minute that number went from 199 to 200 I was in Best Buy. From that point on I never looked back. It was in that same month I decided to see what the business side of blogging looked like. I do work 40 hours a week at a local credit union and wasn't looking to replace my job but rather justify the countless hours I was now spending on this “hobby”. I am a huge believer in the saying “time is valuable” and if my time blogging was going to prohibit me from cuddling my husband and puppy, it only made sense to be compensated financially from it. While the extra money is nice, I believe that accepting sponsors makes you “up your blogging game” to an extent. It forces you to write posts on days that you may not always want to, it encourages you to think outside the box, and it cultivates a deeper relationship between you and your readers who you end up “doing business with”.



Despite the incredible joy blogging has brought me, it has also handed me my fair share of testing that annoying word-- character. When I started blogging the thought never even crossed my mind that sometimes the internet isn't always the nicest part of town to hang out in. I just assumed everybody was nice to each other, turns out that isn't always the case. And while I consider myself fortunate for the love I do feel on a regular basis, I have had some moments of full on tears paired with the need for a really stiff drink. People get annoyed because I say the word "amazeballs", I come off a little immature on occasion, because the format of my posts used to be centered, and because I make a profit from my blog. Through it all however it has taught me the most important lesson that we can all learn—just keep being yourself. No matter what. I would rather have somebody dislike me for being me, than have them love me for somebody I’m not.  

Two and a half years later I can confidently say that doing what I did on February 1, 2011 was one of the best decisions of my life. Blogging is a very real thing for me. It challenges me in ways I've never been challenged; it has taught me more about balance, persistence, and creativity than anything else ever has. Blogging has brought me real friendships that I would have never made otherwise. It has taken my tiny little vision of the world and enlarged into something huge. It has taught me how to handle myself with class in the times I really don’t want to be classy, how to love better, to give of myself more, and to encourage people that whatever it is they are going through, “it’s okay”, because one of us is going through the same exact thing. This world is full of beautiful good people who have so much to offer. If it wasn't for blogging, I don’t know if I would have truly grasped this in a real and tangible way. We all have a responsibility to offer the one thing that we can truly offer-ourselves.

So where am I at with blogging two and a half years later? My four readers (parents, sister, and husband) have somehow (“somehow” translated into a lot of hard work, hundreds and hundreds of hours spent behind a computer screen, and a heck of a lot of wine consumed) turned into thousands of loyal readers. Because of my blog I have been able to come together with hundreds of readers to raise $2,700 for a little boy in my area and his family who recently died of cancer. I have had the opportunity to host clothing drives for local high school girls with clothes from readers that were shipped to me from across the united states. I have been fortunate (and creepy) enough to develop an online love affair with Giuliana Rancic and then be able to meet her in person. I was introduced to Back that Azz Up radio on Pandora which has obviously enhanced my life tenfold as you can imagine. I have made real genuine friendships with girls all over the country that I would've never otherwise if it wasn't for this whole blogging thing. Recently my best friend and I started Love, Yellow-a monthly clothing “surprise” I pick out and send, and currently have plans of being featured in a blogging documentary that will hopefully make it to either the big screen or your local TV. Ebooks  additional blogs, it’s all a possibility. I still have nothing to bring to the table other than myself. I get discouraged, encouraged, tired, energized, teary eyed, mesmerized, angry, joyful, and any other sort of emotion blogging can evoke on a regular basis. This little “hobby” of mine is now a successful business that has been able to bless something that really didn't need any additional blessing-my shopping addictions.

It hasn't been easy, but it has been worth it.



Here is what keeps me going. My “why” behind this whole thing. Aside from writing for myself and the memories that I am leaving for years to come, I write for you. I write to bring a smile to your face, for you to crack a little laugh, and for you to know that if a simple girl like me can find beauty in this thing called life, so can you.  As a blogger it is SO important to know what you are offering on a consistent basis. Some of you may make the rest of us look like fools with your incredible tissue paper pom balls. Some of you put my frozen pizza cooking ability to shame. And for others..you wear that sock bun and chevron skirt better than anybody else I've ever seen. Or for some of you, you simply (and wholly) offer your words and all that is wrapped up in them. Vulnerabilities, failures, wisdom, humor, hopes, and happiness.  We must be aware of our “mission” and make sure it is being offered regularly.

What is your why? What do your readers gain by being on your space on a regular basis? What will make others want to come back? Are you offering something worth being consumed? 

We all have equal amounts on influence given to us, it is our job to be aware of how we are choosing to use it. As a blogger be mindful of your influence and use it wisely. Build up, don’t tear down. Love well online and it will love you well back. And no matter what you do, don’t give up. Somebody is out there hanging on to what you have to say whether you know it or not. It has also been important for me to be mindful that while blogging is now a very large part of my life, it is not my entire life. I want my blog to be a just a glimpse of what goes on around me. I want it to showcase the good, the bad, and the ugly. But in order to do that, I have to go out there and live the best and only way I know how to live-fully.

I hope that each one of you knows and trusts in the difference you are making. You will have to determine what having a successful blog means whether it is through number of readers, profits, feedback received, etc. For me, I consider not bashing my head against the cement because of a rough day but rather writing about it in a humorous way to be a giant success in and of itself.

What does success mean to you? 

Remember that your blog is a giant launch pad to a thousand of other opportunities.  I really don’t know where things with my blog will lead but I do trust that if I continue to keep after it like I have been, good things will continue to happen. Just keep showing up, offering what we have to offer, and having fun along the way. It’s as hard and as simple as that.

Cheers to the success that we have had, do have, and will continue to have in whatever form of measurement that is. Now where is the wine ;)

and to think that this little journal--would turn into all of this. 
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59 comments:

  1. I love that you share your heart with us, and I love that you had everyone make a fool out of themselves with you...hilarious!

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  2. Thank you for sharing more of "your story" with us as your readers! I really appreciated it and learned things from your post!
    :) Rebecca

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  3. This is beautiful, and so so inspiring. I wish I could have heard this speech, but reading it is just as amazeballs ;)

    "Remember that your blog is a giant launch pad to a thousand of other opportunities."

    I love it! Thank you!

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  4. I loved hearing your story on Saturday, it was so lovely to meet you and I'm so very glad you shared it again here. Thank you for being so inspiring.

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  5. Love it! I can't believe how much your blog has grown. I bet it's fun to look back on those old posts!

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  6. I LOVE your blog just as thousands of others do! Thank you for sharing your stories!!! What a fabulous post!!

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  7. I wish I could have been there! Thank you for sharing your story. You are one of my all time favorites, love that you are real and share things that no one else will. :)

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  8. Your speech really did mean a lot to me! I feel like the overall theme of the conference was "be real! be you! what can you offer that your readers really want/need?" I brainstormed in a big way on the drive back to Arizona, and I feel empowered to turn a new leaf with my blog and be more vulnerable. Thanks for contributing to this turning point :)

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  9. Congrats on your speech! And thanks for sharing your words of wisdom with all of us!

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  10. Loooooved this, Erin! It made me feel like I was in the room with you and everything you said was from the heart and amazing. Love this blog and love YOU!

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  11. I just gave my best friend that same gratitude journal.

    This is so encouraging to read. Love it!

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  12. Ummm - why are we not BFF's in real life? This is a serious and not a rhetorical question.

    Julie
    www.etsystalkers.com

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  13. It was so fun hearing your story and I've actually come across that journal before and seriously thought of buying it to start it myself. I'm glad to see that it was your springboard =]

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  14. I loved this Erin! Wish I could have witnessed it in person, but well said, my friend!

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  15. This was very inspiring and I wish I had gone to this conference -- it was practically in my backyard, and I hope that you loved Huntington Beach, by the way. I love the idea of a gratitude journal and I just might keep one myself!

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  16. I am so glad to have been a calming element in your day. You have made so many of mine better by just being yourself and showing up here everyday. You far exceeded every expectation I brought with me to that conference and I am so freakin glad that you spoke and made me realize what my blog is all about and why I do what I do. I am so glad to call you friend now and always.
    p.s that was not supposed to sound like a love letter but whateve.

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  17. I absolutely LOVED reading this! I have always loved reading your blog and you do a great job at staying true to your "why"! You definitely know how to inspire others, including myself :) Keep rocking on!

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  18. loved this Erin. It was great to hear your backstory. I'm sure you were great!

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  19. Your words were very inspiring and motivating to me, so thank you!

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  20. I am so thankful for your story and finding so much inspiration behind it to apply to my blog and finding my "voice." You did an amazing job and I'm so happy to have met you and got a glimpse of Erin. :)
    You rock girly!
    Kayla
    Love Sparkle Pretty

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  21. Well said, lady. I love seeing how much your blog has grown. I remember reading it in the very beginning. you are an inspiration, Erin!

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  22. Love this and very well said pretty lady! And you cupid shuffled, so it couldn't have been that bad ;)

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  23. This was such an inspirational post from a successful blogger (such as yourself) to a fairly new blogger (such as myself)! Thanks so much for this :)

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  24. Oh I just loved hearing your talk on Saturday, such inspiration. Great to have met you - and a big ole' YAY for seeing my Vine post here. Thanks!!

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  25. I love this idea of a gratitude journal. How wonderful and uplifting to look at the positive everyday for an entire year. Thanks for sharing with us and good job with your speech, looks like you did great!

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  26. Beautifully written! Awesome job Erin! And super inspiring!!

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  27. WOW, I had NO idea this is how your blogging life started!
    Inspiration! I inspire to one day have my blog as big and successful as yours! :)
    Thank you for always being so honest open and fun!
    http://johced-ourjourneytoeverywhere.blogspot.com/2013/05/exciting-news.html
    xxx

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  28. So I don't know what you are talking about because you rocked that speech like Beyonce at the super bowl! Thank you so much for filling that half an hour with your thoughtful words. And thanks for hitting the bar with us after. You are the epitome of amaze-balls!

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  29. I love how it all started as a Gratitude Journal. My husband & I recently started blogging in order to show others their importance in our lives. We don't have any amazing talents (I don't anyway, my husband is an amazing writer), but we want those around us to be celebrated, and celebrate with us.Love your blog!
    Kerry
    saturdayisforsoccer@wordpress.com

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  30. This is exactly why I love you and continue to read your blog each and every day. I couldn't sleep and so glad that I could come to your blog and read this post and not only feel grateful for your writing, but inspired to be a better blogger. You are relatable but you also have a gift. Sincerely Erin, thank you for what you do.

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  31. Much success in your future! Well Done. Congratulations

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  32. Wow, Erin. This really spoke to me. Thanks for giving me a little kick in the butt today, inspiring me, and refreshing my outlook. I can't wait to see where this blog takes you in the future! :)

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  33. So well said! You are such a great writer and so gosh darn relatable! Thank you for sharing :)

    Nicole
    www.adashofgold.com

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  34. Erin this is one of my most favorite blog posts to date!! You are seriously an inspiration to so many women and men I am sure too;) Your blog is must read every single day. You are so real, honest, funny and happy. I strive to be like that on the reg. Please continue doing what you do best. We all love you! :)

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  35. Love this genuine story. Thanks for sharing!

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  36. Lovely by Sara Haze is one of my favorite songs! I listen to it all the time, especially on Spotify while I blog!!!!!!!!!

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  37. Wow. What a great speech!

    Your blog is one of my very favorites, thank you for posting. I think that the gratitude journal is amazing--I have been trying to journal for 5 months now, I do not do it everyday, but it is there when I need it.

    Thanks again.

    KB

    timeofyourlifekb.blogspot.com

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  38. Oh, and I really enjoyed going back to read your first post, the thong post and getting dirty with your hubby. Too funny!

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  39. Amazing. You truly have the proverbial gift of gab! I just started blogging, much like you, had no idea of what it entailed, how to do it all and what a huge community existed. I'm not sure I am eager or committed enough for it to be anything other than my super teeny tiny little space, but I love your story and your passion! Thanks for the every day laughs and the insight! :)

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  40. How brave of you! I love your Blog, and appreciate your honesty and humor. Thanks for taking that leap of faith.

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  41. I know I've already commented on Insta about this post, but...

    Last night (as I did my nightly reading of LIY before going to bed), I scared the crap outta my hubby. "AH!!!" Yeah, and then I almost fell outta my bed when I saw you mention me on here.

    I love your blog.
    I have to read your blog every weeknight before going to bed. It doesn't matter what kind of day I'm having, it gets better by just reading this space every night.
    And meeting you! Oh Em Gee, girl! True Awesomeness! You are even better in person:) Thank you for being the Ozzy to my Sharon...
    Thank you for a wonderful speech and now I get to read it anytime I want - woo-to-the-hoo!
    Yay You!

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  42. Thanks for sharing your heart and purpose behind your writing. I find myself blogging to record the memories, but want to do it more often and put more thoughts into my posts. You're an amazing woman and I'm sure you rocked out at Elevate!

    Megan

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  43. Erin, I was not able to attend Elevate, but I am so, so (so!) grateful to you for sharing your words here. I often find myself thinking of my blog, why would people want to read this? ... what do I have to offer? I love this reminder that I am blogging for ME ... and if anyone else finds joy in that, well then that is just amazing. I love following your blog - I love your outlook on life and I thank you for making me laugh daily (& reflect on life quite a bit, too!). Love, one of your many loyal readers <3

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  44. Holy schnikes, what a powerful, moving speech! You hit the nail right on the head for me when I comes to blogging... While I slack a bit and go thru that dreaded writers block more often than not, my blog and all my followers and all the blogs I follow, mean SOOO much more to me than anyone even knows.
    I wish I could've been there to hear this speech in person... And let's be honest, I wish I could've participated in the Cupid shuffle with you as well ;)

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  45. Wow great post! I'm a new follower and I love your blog. Congrats on all your accomplishments!!!

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  46. you are such a great writer and congrats on it all!!

    xo,
    Sandy
    Sandy a la Mode

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  47. WOW! What an amazing story Erin. You are absolutely amazing and I would have loved to hear you speak at Elevate!

    It's amazing how much you get to "know" other bloggers and I've learned that you are a funny and spunky gal! So it was no surprise to me when I saw (and totally loved btw) that you brought the Cupid Shuffle into your session. I'm so blessed to "know" you Erin!

    Danielle at Framed Frosting

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  48. Wow this is beautiful Erin! I loved your story. You are constantly inspiring me and pushing me to be a better blogger so that in itself is something to be proud of. Thank you for posting on February 1st, 2011 :)

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  49. So inspiring to hear you speak on Saturday, you rocked it! I could sit and listen to you all day {not in a creepy way}! I've re-evaluated so many things in my handmade business, Nursing Career, blogging and life in general all since hearing all 4 of you AMAZING women speak! xoxo
    Crystal @ the lil' cupcake

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  50. You blew your talk out of the water! So glad i was able to be there to witness it and of course dance the cupid shuffle with you :) #soulsisters

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  51. I just finished reading Ann Voskamp's book, 1000 Gifts. It's all about realizing the natural beauty God has put into our lives and learning to be grateful for the simple things. I just started my own blog a few weeks ago, (I'm not sure why except that my husband and I are living very interesting lives right now...) and it's very nice knowing that you were in a similar situation. I've had several acquaintances message me through Facebook letting me know that they can relate and appreciate my story. Well, I appreciate your story and I'm inspired to keep blogging. About something. :)

    worldserieskindofstuff.weebly.com

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  52. First off, let me admit that I did not read this entire thing as I was lucky enough to catch it in person. BUT I also wanted to say that I'm so so happy I got to meet you and hear your story!!! You are an inspiration to so many of us, and I hope that was made apparent on Saturday. So thank you, and come back to Cali soon so we can get our drink on. ;] xo JA

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  53. Erin, that's a great speech. Very well said and very true. It was like sitting down and having a conversation with someone. I think that's the way you come off and it's something I appreciate about your blog.

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  54. I would kill to have seen this in person!! Sounds like we have a lot in common, other than the fact that you have 5,000 followers!!

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  55. I've just discovered your blog from bloglovin' and I have to say that I am immensely thankful. You've described everything I've felt as I've started my blogging journey. Not having a "niche" is so hard. Thank you for your beautiful words!

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I read and appreciate every one of your comments. Thanks for stopping by my space and sharing a piece of yourself on this huge ole internet. I meant that in the least creepy way possible. I'm just good at making everything awkward. Anyhow, thank you for your comments. They make me smile :)