27 March 2018

Friends, first of all, thank you so much for your heartfelt comments on my last post. Each one meant so much to me, so thank you for sharing! I love you all! Now onto the business of today…

We talk often at my job about how our greatest frustrations can turn into our greatest passions, and sometimes (if we’re lucky), even our life’s work. I had a bit of a light bulb moment a few weeks ago, and thought I’d share it…

One of my greatest frustrations is seeing women accept conventional wisdom and societal truisms as being true for their lives, even if they are not or don’t have to be. So often, I think we just accept things because we hear other people or our parents or our friends or TV anchors or newspaper columnists say them enough times — so they must be true.

And sometimes they are. But I believe they don’t always have to be. Instead of bending this way and that with the winds of everyone else’s paths and opinions, we CAN be confident in the life we’re living and the priorities where we’re planting our flags. It takes a firm foundation and an inner surety to be able to do this in the face of an entire culture (and sometimes very real people in your life) telling you you should second guess everything and just go with the flow, but it can be done.

You all helped me see in your survey responses that confidence is what we’re doing here. Hopefully, through sharing my story, I can show you that it’s okay to live your own path kindly, purposefully, and simply, without fanfare or fluster. I am capable, and so are you. Here are some of the lies we’ve sidestepped here together:

If you’re good at something, you need to find a way to make money doing it.
I’ll never pay off my student loans.
Emotional labor is a burden and a curse.
Time flies by so quickly.
The only way you can have a job you love is to work for yourself.
Mom guilt is unavoidable.
I wish I could give my children the childhood I had, but the world is different now.

If you find Em for Marvelous to be a breath of fresh air (as many of you so kindly worded it in your responses), I hope it’s because you leave feeling built up and inspired to walk your own path, not necessarily to follow mine.

As I said at the beginning of the How We Do It series, I don’t have all the answers, but one thing I have been given is a confidence in the decisions I make for myself and my family, and a willingness to share them. Confidence can be as infectious as guilt, shame, or uncertainty, but it’s much, much better to spread. As I wrote down at the last Making Things Happen Conference, my life’s work is to equip and empower women to see that they are capable, and this blog is a large part of that. I’m so glad you’re here.

Which brings us to our survey results! As of last week, I clocked 250 survey responses, and figured that was a nice even number to cap it at for this year! Some of you asked to see the results, so here’s a bit about your fellow readers…

— A fifth of readers have only been reading for a year. BUT, more than half of you have been reading for five or more years, which is pretty incredible!!
— 70% of you found EFM through my work, for which I am so grateful!
— The majority (73%) of you are married.
— Most of you have a “traditional” job, which I love. I would consider my job to be traditional (and awesome!), as well.
— 87% of you are between the ages of 23-35. The most common age split was 27-30, just younger than me, which makes a lot of sense given a common theme in the open-ended responses: that you consider me something of a big sister, often one step ahead of you in life.
— About half of you don’t have kids! That really surprised me. But, you still like parenting posts, as you’ll see below! Also, congratulations to my 13 pregnant readers :)

One thing that came up over and over is that y’all like the variety of content I share, which is nicely demonstrated by this data. Nearly all of you chose practical tips as a favorite topic, with finance coming in a close second. (The How We Do It series and Marvelous Money posts were mentioned almost unanimously as favorites in the open-ended section.) I’d also consider goals, life updates, deep thoughts, love and marriage, and parenting and pregnancy in the top tier.

This question is one of my favorites, because though I’m never going to write about anything I’m not passionate about (this is just a hobby for me and I like to keep it fun!), I have pages and pages of potential topics. Hearing from y’all and learning more about you helps me decide which of those topics to move to the top of the list, which is great for both of us! :)

Once again, you all were uniformly kind and encouraging in the open-ended responses. Words you used to describe EFM included real, relatable, honest, intentional, simplicity, inspiring, positive, normal, practical, calm, sincere, and encouraging. My favorites were “real” and “normal” :) More:

— This comment summed up probably the strongest theme: “EFM is a breath of fresh air in a space where many blogs focus on more materialistic things to bring happiness. When reading your blog, I come away with practical and meaningful things I can do, rather than buy, to improve myself and my life.” That is the beauty of writing for love rather than money, I think – you’re just getting my real life, complete with real budget. As another one of you said: “Your blog feels like it’s about authentic living for real people: people who have jobs and families and budgets but want to slow down, find joy, and still be an adult.”
— Many of you commented that you love keeping up with my family, and also that you appreciate my boundaries (and a few asked about how I keep them strong). I think there’s a post in the future there, because unsurprisingly it’s something I’m passionate about!
— Possibly my favorite comments came from the women who shared that we are different in significant ways (maybe they don’t share my faith, don’t have kids, don’t live in the South, have a totally different job, etc.), but that they still love reading EFM. In a world where it’s so easy (and common!) to tune out anyone who’s different from you, that feels like some of the most gratifying feedback.

Anyway, I hope that peek into the survey results was interesting! And that my soap box speech wasn’t too intense, ha! Again, I’m so, so thankful for each one of you, and especially for you sharing your thoughts with me. Together, we make this a sweet spot on the internet :)

I would love to hear: do my thoughts on confidence resonate with you? What are some of your greatest frustrations?

All photos by Nancy Ray from our family session

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March 27, 2018 8:29 am

Very interesting survey results! And I would wholeheartedly agree, this is such a breathe of fresh air on the internet in place that can be dark. And your thoughts on confidence def resonate with me. This aligns with my thoughts on kindness, it can be contagious, and should be spread to all.

March 27, 2018 9:34 am

YES. This is one of my favorite EFM posts ever! To think I was sad when the How We Do It Series wrapped up! :)

I am different in that I am in my early twenties, not married and don’t have any children (though I hope to be both a wife and a mama someday!), and I always find your blog to be a place of encouragement. Like you so beautifully said, not to follow your particular path, but rather to cultivate my own.

March 27, 2018 10:12 am

Love what you shared. I work in the creative industry, but a “traditional job” and your life’s work: “to equip and empower women to see that they are capable” resonates SO much with me. Out of the top 11 individuals at my company 9 are male. I am at the edge of breaking into that management band and will rejoice not just for myself but for all the young women in my company (there are mannyy) when I do advance to say, “see, yes we can!!”. And we can while having a family, being true to ourselves, finding balance, etc. Thank you for carving out this special piece of the internet!

March 27, 2018 11:38 am

Baby JUNE! :)

March 27, 2018 12:00 pm

I really like that you have opened up recently that this blog is for love and not for money. I was shocked to find you make only $15-20 monthly! With all the comments you get and 250 survey responses, it’s great that everyone is here because they WANT to be! Additionally, your statement “If you’re good at something, you need to find a way to make money doing it” really resonates with me. Work is work and that’s why we don’t do it for free! Your blog being a place for you to write for fun did give me the confidence to move forward with finally launching my own blog. I love to write and felt for a long time that I shouldn’t do it for fun, that I should try to find a way to get paid for it. But it’s so nice and freeing to write for myself, and not have sponsors or bosses to worry about pleasing! It definitely makes for better content :).

April 2, 2018 2:13 pm
Reply to  Em

Thanks so much for stopping by to read, I appreciate it so much!! Can’t wait to read your update and CONGRATS on ten years!!!

March 27, 2018 1:35 pm

“Confidence can be as infectious as guilt, shame, or uncertainty, but it’s much, much better to spread.”

Such true, sweet words! Emily, you have a gift of wisdom and you share it beautifully with the world! Go girl!

March 28, 2018 2:34 pm

I love this!! One of the most recent things I heard that I *have* to do but ended up *not* doing was sending out Save the Dates for my wedding. The timeline from my engagement to my wedding day is so short (ANOTHER thing that feels different from the norm!) it just seemed silly to have them only to send invitations a month or so later. It’s a small thing, but it set the precedent to do my wedding the way we want to!

Also – congrats on your baby boy! I TOTALLY knew it was a boy :)

April 2, 2018 11:22 pm
Reply to  India Hill

Completely agree! People are always surprised when I’m totally fine with things like emailed save the dates or what not (given my job), but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in weddings and life, it’s you do you. It might not work for me, but if it works for you and it’s not hurting anyone, more power to you! :)

April 2, 2018 2:31 pm

A breath of fresh air is the BEST way to describe you and your blog Em x

April 2, 2018 11:22 pm
Reply to  Caley

Thank you, friend! Grateful always for your encouragement!