The title of this blog post might sound a little silly as what follows is an answer to a question not usually, if ever come to think of it, is asked of me (no doubt because I’m pretty well known for my deep, unwavering love of blogging and vlogging) yet it’s one I want to document, for me as much as for you.
Since devouring George Orwell’s book Why I Write many, many moons ago, I’d promised myself to always unflinchingly unravel my purpose when it came to creative pursuits and life, really. To always self-reflect, to continuously assess my raison d’être, hopes and dreams as a way of making sure where possible, I stayed on the track of loving what I do. Accepting the journey wouldn’t be easy, but that it would always be worthwhile.
My blog turning 6 feels like the perfect time to share my inner thoughts, to dedicate a post to all that blogging has brought my life and to illustrate the impact Honest Mum has had on my family and I, in black and white.
I want this post to be an archive if you like, a moment in time and (digital) space where I firstly say a great big thank you to my gorgeous readers (because without you, it’s me just throwing things out there without a conversation, a dialogue) so THANK YOU and also as a a way to record this blogging milestone. Another entry-a rather special one- in the online diary of my life. My vehicle of expression.
That’s what this blog has always been about: a sounding board, a means of communication, a memory keeper: a way to share our lives through moving image, words and pictures. A chance to capture the right now. A way to look back on what mattered then. Therapy. Comfort. An online stick of rock if you like with my personality running through it.
I actually spent the other night re-watching daily vlogs I made earlier this year, of just the kids and I messing about most days and I laughed and also cried my heart out. These entries are the equivalent of the VHS videos my Dad would shoot of my brother and I as kids-and then later, the films I’d create as a tween (I was Kylie, my brother Wogan) and later still, as an award winning filmmaker and director. These are the pieces that will always matter most, to me, at least.
So here it is, my wondrous, pinch myself blogging journey tapped out from tired, faded keys on my laptop- to you. Everyone of you who drops by, every day or once in a blue moon, you matter to me more than you will know, honestly, so thank you.
Like everything I write, my hope is that this piece might well encourage others to start their own blog too, to pick up a camera, to vlog, share, laugh, strive and simply find joy in what they do.
Perhaps it might encourage others to seize working online in this vastly stimulating, flexible and empowering way of working- or maybe, and I wish this with all my heart, this might inspire others to take a risk, to write, hit publish and find out what they’re made of, to embrace all that is possible and awaits them-to discover and redefine who they are, to be who they want to be-just as I did and have done every single day since starting back in November 2010.
I’ve kicked this celebration off with 10 key bullet points on what blogging has given me and why I blog before going into greater detail below.
I truly hope you enjoy this post-forget ‘enjoy’, I hope you gobble it up (like I’ll be doing with this cake) and then salivating, you go enter my celebratory competition at the end where you can win a year’s supply of chocolate (!) thanks to Hotel Chocolat.
So, blogging has given me-
1. A voice. An opportunity to consistently hone my craft, a chance to create and curate.
4. A renewed sense of identity.
5. A career I love which is empowering (and a piece of the internet to call my own).
8. Opportunities and collaborations I could never have dreamed possible.
9. A tool in which to discover new passions.
10. Connection. Filmmaking is emotion on screen as is blogging and vlogging. If you don’t share, how can anyone care?
I started this blog feeling lost and lonely, broken to be honest, a former filmmaker then, suddenly without a voice and no direction – a new mum who wasn’t sure she was cut out for motherhood, the one thing she’d always wanted.
I’d suffered from a traumatic birth with my first son Oliver and after a move from London to Bristol (before eventually settling back in my hometown of Leeds) and feeling like a fish out of water with a baby who suffered from colic and hated sleep, I frankly felt exhausted and also bored with this new life-motherhood felt so mundane in those early days and months, especially without close friends to share this brave new world with as I was the first to have a baby.
I felt ‘dark-cloud-above-my-head’ LOW and simply craved a space to call my own, a chance to channel my creativity, my thoughts, a means to connect with others who might be feeling like I did.
At that point, not on set, living day to day, simply surviving, I needed to express myself more than ever but had no tool nor platform to do so.
Not until I started blogging.
I look back at that time and compare it to now, right NOW, and thank my great friend Amancay Tapia (who is soon to have her own baby) for persuading me to start. To buy a domain name and just crack on with writing down my thoughts and feelings. To tell the world what I was telling her. That motherhood was different to the movies. That life had changed. Forget change, life as I’d known it, was now unrecognisable. I needed the confidence to admit it was OK to feel I wasn’t who I once was. To question that perhaps I wasn’t alone. That others felt like I did. And then through the power of blogging and twitter, I realised I definitely wasn’t alone. Not by a long shot.
From feeling like one mama against the world, scared to share how hard life felt at the time, to now with hundreds of thousands of followers and readers, I’m pretty lost for words other than to say I feel so grateful. I’m MASSIVELY touched you choose to visit my site, my world, and read about my life- and that you hopefully feel something too when you do-that you’re entertained or moved or even hungry whilst you’re here.
Mostly, I hope you feel less alone and better about your life. That you see universal truths on parenting, friendship, motherhood and more and know, truly know, that we’re all in this together. I hope you feel we’re mates. That’s what so many of you tell me when we meet at events or even randomly on the street. You tell me that you feel you know me and you understand me.
So thank you for letting me be me. Thanks for coming to my virtual house for tea and thank you to the internet for letting me set up shop here (literally), giving me the freedom to write and write some more.
And that’s not all it’s done. This space has offered me friendship: real, sisterly ‘can’t live without’ kind of friendship with women I’ve met online and love with all my heart.
It’s also brought me self-acceptance, to know it’s OK to be me, and with that, a whole new career to boot, one which merges my skills and experience as a screenwriter and director and has made me who I am today: a full time blogger and vlogger.
I still remember having to explain to others what a blogger was way back when in 2010. Now my own Dad wants to start his own!
And to write for a living is a joy, it always has been, because I started this to write-writing is like breathing (or eating!) to me, it’s something I HAVE TO DO. I’m a digital storyteller, the same storyteller I was before the birth and rise of blogging, as a filmmaker, but now I’m communicating on a much smaller yet no less powerful screen.
It feels like for the first time in the arts, anyone can thrive. All you need is a something to say, a commitment to saying it, a strong work ethic and a whole lot of tenacity to boot.
This democratic internet is a place where anyone with a laptop and a strong enough desire to do so, can create content and be seen, heard and shared.
And here I am, having gone full time 4 years ago now, working for myself, my own limited company, as the CEO of my own brand. Ooh la la. I think my 21 year old self might just be high-fiving me right now.
What shocks me, still, is that such a devastatingly low time in my life has brought so much happiness to my family and I. That all that darkness was in fact fertile ground for bright big sunflowers which eventually bloomed and continue to, year after year (and now for 6 whole years)… That just pushing myself out of my comfort zone (it was scary hitting publish then and so often still is now) can lead to so much change, for me, my kids and hopefully others reading this here blog.
I still remember to this day the two people who commented on my first posts on FB: Kari and Carrie’Ann. They’ll never know how much strength they gave me in those first few days of launching. Along with others commenting on my very first blog post, I kept on publishing and didn’t stop.
I must note too that very early on, two amazing things happened when it came to blogging. Within just 2 weeks, I was approached by a forward-thinking advertiser and after 4, I became a finalist at the BritMums’ Brilliance in Blogging Awards (at a time they were still virtual too), the latter, the catalyst I needed to get back on set as a director.
Suddenly, I felt my voice mattered again and I had the strength to direct again, later going pro as a blogger and vlogger and BritMums have continued to inspire and support me ever since. I received the BritMums Best of the Best 2016 Award and Best Social Media at their now IRL awards in the summer and recently wrote for them sharing my PR tips for bloggers….These nods, from the first which helped me to piece together my broken confident, to now, whatever I achieve today helps me to push forwards and achieve my dreams. That support, your comments, the connections I make a long the way have all collectively led to a renewed sense of self and an entirely new career: a flexible full time way to work I love so much I literally jump out of bed each morning, excited for the day ahead.
My purpose, above all, has always been to help others, to inspire them to embrace the digital space, to recognise their own potential and to know their own self worth.
Working online has brought greater equality to the workplace and if more mums start blogs and e businesses because they can see it working for me, then my job here is done.
And the reason I can keep doing what I do is because of you.
You guys made, and keep on making me feel I belong. The fact you care about my point of view and believe in me after a lifetime of trying to fit in, means I’m still massively surprised that I showed you who I am and you let me in.
More than that, you liked me for who I am.
I want you to feel the same about yourself. That you are 100% absolutely good enough as you are. Because you are.
…Through these blank empty web pages I’ve filled-sometimes 5 days over in a day (I’m definitely prolific thanks to my screenwriting days) I’ve trucked unflinchingly onwards from goal to goal, tipping toes in new and often deep waters, just GONE FOR THINGS, picking myself up from mistakes or rejection and simply cracking on.
I’ve made many deep and loving friendships, some which started from day one, others, more recent, flourished from the humble beginnings of 140 characters on twitter or an emoji on Instagram and led to many milestones and fun times I’ll never forget.
I’ve crossed to-do list boxes I’d never dared to dream possible- and some, MANY of course which still await patiently, a dim light for example that one day which might be switched on like the feature film I hope to direct.
I’ve collaborated with true legends I’ve admired forever: heroes like Jamie Oliver and Antonio Carluccio– women who have affected many aspects of my life since tweenhood and beyond-from Anastacia to Alesha Dixon and Dawn O’Porter to name but a few.
My family and I have travelled and explored so much more of the world than we would have done thanks to blogging- and I hope we’ll see much more-those experiences remain imprinted on our hearts and minds, experiences which made us wide eyed and wild-running across golden sands in the South of France, dancing at carnivals in Jamaica and staying in exquisite hotels in London like our special times at The Royal Garden -what a time it’s been to be alive.
I’ve presented and appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Sky News and even featured in British Vogue…I partnered up with my great friend Jessica Huie MBE to create our workshops Passion into Pounds, firstly in collaboration with Stylist, now with the British Library…I was quoted on the cover and interviewed inside my friend Natasha Courtenay‘s brilliant book The Million Dollar Blog and luckily, so much more I’m scared I might miss something out… Typing all those words out doesn’t quite feel real yet they’ve happened thanks to simply being brave and starting Honest Mum.
To having the greatest manager in Neil Ransome at the renowned agency, Insanity, who understands me fully, endlessly believes in me and has helped to take my career to the next level.
I’m grateful for the moments, every single one.
Lastly and most importantly, this blog has allowed me to connect with others. With you.
It’s reintroduced long lost family members in Australia to our family in the UK (thanks to a Greek Cypriot recipe-true story), it’s helped others all over the world (as you’ve told me) to feel more confident in their bikinis (from a photo of me in mine which went viral) and it’s helped so many start up blogs and businesses which makes me so, so happy (thanks for all your comments, emails and testimonials, you rock!).
I craved that connection with others when I started Honest Mum because truth be told, I didn’t connect enough with others when Oliver was born.
Thanks to facing the fear that no one might read a word, or worse, I might be judged, and just putting myself out there, I found the community I wish I’d had around me, at that time.
It’s funny how life unfolds.
We really are the active protagonists in our very own narratives. We create or go in search of what we do not have.
I love that blogging allows us to be in control of our own destiny. That we’re in the driving seat, in charge.
The more you put in, the more you get out. A simple, rewarding equation that should be true of all the arts but sadly, isn’t. Well it is here.
…People, sometimes, and kindly, refer to me as groundbreaking when it comes to blogging. I simply believe there mustn’t be any limitations or restrictions placed on any one of us, not in this parenting blogging sector or any, and I love that today, thanks to working online, opportunity really is limitless and can seized by all.
And the beauty is there’s always enough internet to go around.
That creativity in this domain is boundless and connection with others can be more meaningful than ever.
I believe, and know, that like film, you can and will be transported across time, geography and space thanks to social media, blogs and vlogs-tools which can endlessly feed your imagination, inspire, educate, inform, tranform and change your world and the world in general.
Through reading others’ deeply personal stories, you see your own reflected right back at you.
And in those moments, I hope you too, like I do, will feel like you belong.
So that’s why I blog. For me. And for you.
Vicki/ Honest Mum x
P.S Huge thanks to the gifted cake maker Andrea who is so talented and so busy she doesn’t even need a website who created this brilliant celebration cake for me! It’s simply amazing!
To celebrate turning 6 I’ve teamed up with the incredibly delicious Hotel Chocolat to offer one of you fabulous readers the chance to win a year supply of chocolate!
Yup! You heard right…a year supply of chocolate with a new box every 4 weeks for 12 months!
You can win a year’s subscription to their new Tasting Club worth £195.
Each month you will be sent a different box of chocolate, discovering the latest recipes before anyone else! Innovative new recipes include: Choc Chip Cookies, Treacle Tarts and Raspberry Smoothies, to Gin Truffles, Pistachio Praline and 100% Dark slabs. Delish!!
You will have exclusive access to manage your boxes online, score every chocolate and order special edition collections.
Discover Hotel Chocolat’s Tasting Club here.
If the winner does not respond within 7 days, a new winner will be chosen.
Ends January 11th 2017.
No cash alternative.