A New Direction

I had planned to do a straightforward recap of the Alt Summit, 2012. I’ve tried to sit down and write it all down for you, but I’m struggling. It isn’t because Alt wasn’t amazing (it was), or because I had a bad time (I had fun and learned a few things). I’m struggling because of some news that awaiting me upon my return. My last seven days have felt something like this: nervous, eager, reaffirmed, happy, delayed, scared, and finally, hopeful.

Tuesday: Nervous

The usual thoughts ran through my head. Did I pack the right things? Was my panel prepared? Would my family fare well while I’m gone? Could I get through all of the work I needed to do, before I had to leave?

Wednesday: Eager

I had prepared as much as I was able, and it was time to go. I was on the very first panel at the first Alt Summit in 2010, and I watched the summit via twitter last year, sad to be missing out but too pregnant to travel. I was excited about going back again, and looking forward to it. This was going to be fun!

Thursday: Reaffirmed

Alt came this year, for me, at the tail end of a lot of work. I’ve been doing more than ever, trying to juggle my blogging commitments with my family life, taking on too much at times, and having to put my head down and work. Being surrounded by my peers though, so many passionate, hard-working, and successful bloggers, reaffirmed that I’m heading in the right direction. I’m fortunate to have a job, unconventional as it is, doing something I love. I want to see Making it Lovely grow, and realize all of its potential.

Friday: Happy

Alt Design Summit 2012 - Friday morning

Jordan, Kelly, me, and Maggie spoke about Growing a Readership. I’ve put together a recap of the Twitter conversations that happened throughout our panel, which was one of the most well-attended! My weepiest moment of the day came as Ben, the co-founder of Pinterest, gave a particularly inspiring keynote and received a standing ovation. His infographic feels especially relevant right now.

The entire conference was amazing; everything I’d hope it would be and more. Thank you to Gabby, Sarah, and Kate, and to all of the people who help make Alt the blogging event I most look forward to each year.

Saturday: Delayed

And homesick. De-icing the plane, flying against a strong headwind, and landing in an airport that was under construction all contributed to my plane landing two minutes after my connection left. I was placed on standby, with a confirmed seat on a plane for Monday afternoon. I spent the night in the hotel closest to the Pheonix airport.

Sunday: Scared

The next day, while other passengers lost their tempers and berated airline employees, I was able to get a confirmed seat on a plane home in the late morning (it’s always better to be nice). We were delayed though, and spent an hour sitting on the runway before takeoff due to weather conditions back home. We were finally given the OK to fly into Chicago, and I arrived home approximately 25 hours after first leaving the hotel in Salt Lake City. I then picked up the kids and immediately turned around to go to my mom’s house because we were supposed to be there for a birthday party.

All of that made for a very long day, but it wasn’t the reason I was scared.

Brandon lost his job. He had found out on Thursday, but he waited to tell me until I had finally arrived home with the kids late Sunday night, after we had put them to bed.

Monday: Hopeful

Our dream has been to reach the point at which Brandon could leave his job. While we had assumed it would be in a planned, responsible way, we will have to embrace our new circumstances.

Do we go all-in on the blog? I’m not making enough to solely support my family, but we have to look at the numbers and see if I could get it there. How long would it take if we were devoting all of our time and energy to it? (Six months? A year? Longer?) Should we do something a little crazy, like buy a store? It has never been a goal of ours, but if you’re one that believes things happen for a reason, the universe seems to be aligning in that way. Or does Brandon look for another steady, 9-5 job? He has been the rock that has made it possible for me to get to the point I’m at today. While the benefits and stability that come along with traditional employment are reassuring (especially with a family and a mortgage), I’d love for him to be as fulfilled in his work as I am. These are all things that will be weighing heavily on us, and we need to figure out our next direction.

I’m hopeful. But I’m still scared, too, to be honest.

214 Responses to “A New Direction”

  1. Kelly January 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    I’m so sorry to hear that! I’m hopeful for you and am sure that whatever you decide to do it will be lovely and wonderful. Your blog is one of my favorites and I looking forward to continuing to follow you on whatever your new direction might be.

  2. Shoshana January 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Your blog is my favorite and I am sorry for what you both must be going through now.
    It’s funny–we’ve never met but I feel touched that you trusted me (your readers) with this news and I hope that we come through with support for this difficult time.

  3. Melissa January 24, 2012 at 10:56 pm #

    i’ve never really commented here, but that does not mean i’m not a huge fan of yours via your blog and twitter. reading today’s post broke my heart, yet it also resonated with exactly where we are in our lives too.

    the only thing which continues to get us through every day is the belief in one another and our dreams. i truly believe everything happens for a reason despite how damn hard it feels at times.

    keep looking forward, pursue your dreams, and try to enjoy the ride no matter how bumpy it might feel along the way. you are extremely talented, and you will continue to be a huge success.

  4. Helen and The Fox January 24, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear your news. I’ll be keeping your family in my thoughts and wishing you and your family the very best in this next chapter of your lives.

  5. Robin January 25, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    I love your site and am always so inspired by your creativity and amazing energy to take on new projects and challenges. I was so sad to read your post today but so thankful for your honesty and openness. You have demonstrated time and again that you are the queen of putting together and executing an inventive, courageous game plan. Here’s to another amazing (albeit unexpected) project – I’m sure you’ll find a beautiful solution.

  6. Christina W. January 25, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    Eek, that is scary for sure. Well, at least him leaving his job is something you guys were throwing around, so you have a skeleton of a plan sketched out in your minds. I think you would have a LOVELY store. Having a little store that I could mind every day with my dog in tow is a life dream of mine, but I have no idea where to start. If that’s the direction you head in, I will be taking notes!

  7. Courtney January 25, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    I’m a new reader of your blog, and I love it! You inspire me! I’m sorry to hear the news about your husband’s job. I know first hand how hard it can be when your husband loses their job and things change. I encourage you to embrace each other and learn from this experience. It will be hard, but you two can get through this! And like a previous commenter said, just view it as another project to accomplish! I’m excited to see where your journey continues to take you. My prayers are with you are your family! Thank you so much for sharing with your readers this personal event :)

  8. Adriane January 25, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    Oh Nicole! I actually went through this last year, at 7 months pregnant my husband lost his job…it was so tough. But, like anything, it always works out in the end. And if ANYONE can make the best of a bad situation, you can! I can’t wait to see where you take Making it Lovely…best blog ever!!!! xo

  9. Kayla January 25, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Nicole! I am so sorry to hear about your husband losing his job. I went through the same thing with my live-in boyfriend back in 2009 (we are now engaged). He was out of work for 9 months. Luckily, between my day job and his unemployment checks we were able to get by. After the initial shock, it was actually a great time of learning and exploration for both of us. We considered several different self-employment jobs, but in the end, he took a position within his industry at a small firm where he has been able to flourish. Always easier said than done, but really try to explore all sorts of options that you never would have before…you’ll both learn a lot about yourselves in this period. And something will eventually work out – it always does. Best of luck!!

  10. homespicelife January 25, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Nicole, so sorry to hear about Brandon’s job. I have full confidence that you both will be able to pull through beautifully and be better for it.

    You have such a beautiful family and an incredible amount of talent. There is a huge market for what you can do. I for one am the biggest fan and getting your blog posts are the highlight of my day (I am an MBA student now, so no too much inspiration of that sort in my day-to-day). I look forward to seeing your next chapter. I and many others are rooting for you!

  11. Liz Hernandez Nunez January 25, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Hi Nicole, I love your blog and have been reading for a couple of years:) Everything will be ok, I promise you! I absolutely promise you:) Like you said, things happen for a reason and I am super excited for you and your family’s future. Keep looking up…I will have you in my prayers..

  12. barbara January 25, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    So sorry for your bad news, I know how tough that is. It happened to us in last March when I was in the middle of chemo. Our talents lay in house flipping, we had done it in the past but were wary because of the economy. I got my realtors license, and we took the plunge. It has worked out very well for us. We sold our second house last week and have made close to the old salary this year. All in all our lives are better than they were. Being self employed is wonderful. The only kicker is health insurance- Cobra is frightfully expensive!

    You are so talented, such a good eye. I think very good things lie ahead for you and your family!

  13. Nicole RJ January 25, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    So sorry to hear about Brandon losing his job, I hope you’re both able to turn it into a great opportunity!

  14. Karin Sullivan January 25, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    So sorry to read about Brandon’s job. We’ve been through two layoffs in the past two years…and ended up in a much better place for both of us. (I even survived going back to work full time at a heinous job, which led to a good job.)

    Perhaps the universe is telling you to buy Fly Bird??? It’s for sale, you know….

  15. Danielle Comstock January 25, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Things will work out fine! They always do :)

  16. Amanda January 25, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Liking that buy Fly Bird suggestion!

  17. Brittany Lauren January 25, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Sometimes bad news leads you to a place you never thought you would be and the changes that are being made now could be the most amazing and bold experiences you and your husband can make. Wishing you the best for your family – and can’t wait to see a store open :)

  18. Jayna January 25, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I’m so sorry to hear that Brandon lost his job :(

    I know it must be a scary situation – but I can relate… I lost my job last March, and it forced me to try some different things for money. You’re the kind of person that inspires others, so I know your talent and creativity will pull you through! Best of luck and I hope whatever you decide to do works out for you.

  19. Marcella January 25, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    I will be thinking of you and your family, but I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. I say embrace the scary and go for what you both truly want out of your lives and for your family! Your blog will continue to be a success. I hear more and more people talking about it!

  20. Caitlin January 25, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Wow – what a post! I’m sorry that Brandon lost his job :( I just took a huge paycut to work in a new position because I was miserable at my other job and couldn’t find a new one for TWO years! We are really afraid how we’ll make ends meet, but we have started to build an etsy shop so hopefully that will help out a little.

    I know it will all work out for you, good luck in this new adventure!

  21. Helena January 25, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    First, you are right, it is always better to be nice! I think that’s how I nudged my way on the plane TO Alt (5 of us were bumped and one – the one who didn’t FREAK OUT – got back on).

    Second, so sorry to hear about Brandon. I know how hard it must seem to HAVE to make this decision now rather than being able to make it over time. Do you work with an accountant or someone to help plan things out (sorry, I’m a CPA and this is always my first mental reaction to everything).

  22. Dusa January 25, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    The CatMan has been unemployed for almost a year, and this week accepted a full-time position. The past year has been a rollercoaster, but we have come out the better for it. The main key is to keep communication open and express frustrations and concerns in a clear, non-judgemental way. You’ll be amazed at how your marriages grows stronger!

  23. Mika January 25, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Good luck! I hope things go in a good direction and this turns out to be a positive experience. In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for things to go well for you!

  24. Jen @ Rambling Renovators January 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Nicole, first off, I’m so very happy we got the chance to meet in person at Alt. You are so endearing in person and humble too. Maybe I expected a rockstar persona to go along with your rockstar blog? Instead, I was so impressed by how down to earth and lovely you are.

    Do you remember that conversation we had? When you talked about the possibility of Brandon working with you, the thing that struck me most was hopeful and excited you seemed about the possibility. It seemed like the right goal for you, your family. Did I tell you that I lost my job about 4 months ago? In that short time, things started falling in place – my new venture BlogPodium, the Style At Home article, TV appearances – and there is more to come. And when I told my friends and family about my job loss, NOT ONE of them was sorry for me. They all said it was great because now I could pursue my passions. They were right.

    When I’m scared, I fall back on these thoughts: 1. Life is too short not to be doing something you love. And 2. I’m too smart to end up homeless. If I had to sell and move into a smaller house, or take a part time job in Home Depot in order to pursue my dreams, I could do that. All I need to be happy is my family around me and a reason to wake up each morning. I think the same about you – you are a smart lady and have the savviness and skills to really take this blog anywhere you want it to go. Maybe give yourselves a deadline? The option of looking for a job is always there if you change your mind.

    Good luck to you & Brandon. I’ll be cheering you on.

    • Danielle Comstock January 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      That is very inspiring Jennifer!

    • Alda January 25, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

      Lovely words, Jen.

  25. Roni January 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm #

    Wishing you and your family lots of luck and amazing new possibilities. xoxo.

  26. machenblog January 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    What a wind out of your sails sort of event… life rarely happens according to plan.

    Times are tough these days. Our family has been hit with a similar situation, too. I’ll say that consulting is a great way to fill the gaps, and requires next to zero capital and next to zero risk. It might be something to look into~

    Who knows, this could be just the opportunity your family needs.

  27. RebeccaNYC January 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    oh I can relate to this! 3 of the 4 men in my family are under-employed, leaving the women to hold down the jobs, as unconventional as they are.(I’m an opera singer, for crying out loud) Change is good, and I can’t help but feel that this might be the swift kick you did not think you needed to make some changes that deep down you wanted. I know you are scared…but ONWARD! you will be fine. xoxoxo

  28. Yuliya January 25, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Good luck! You two are going to do amazing things together!

  29. Justine January 26, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Scary… but just remember some of the best stuff in life starts out with scary! Praying it’ll all work out!

  30. rena campbell January 26, 2012 at 12:43 am #

    Rejection=Direction…. Smile and move toward your positive thoughts, they will show you the way through your temporary fog. Love your blog. Best wishes for your new exciting year. rc

  31. Jen @ Eco and Elsie January 26, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    I say go for it. The universe works in mysterious ways and maybe this just a little push to trust yourself. You have an amazing blog and I can’t wait to see what new things are happening for you!

  32. steph January 26, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    I’ve never read your blog before. I got here via Design Crush’s review of AS… However I cried as I read it. I am so sorry that you are in such a terrifying place. I am sure I am tearful because I identify. I also am compelled to remind you to revisit the things that made you tearful about the Pinterest session. Whatever was speaking to you was perhaps preparing you!?!?!?! That graphic seems to be exactly where you guys are! And look at your blog – it’s beautiful! I would DEFINITELY shop at your store and I will look for ways to promote your blog to my little circle of influence. YOU CAN DO IT!

  33. CourtneyOutLoud January 26, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    I’m sorry to hear your husband lost his job. When I lost mine, it was scary and depressing and nerve wracking but ultimately proved the catalyst I needed to make my dreams happen. I know you will crunch the numbers to see if it can work and all I can say is that you have to try if you can afford it. Give yourself a timeline and a deadline and go “balls out” (sorry if that offends)……..you will think back if it succeeds as a great experience but if it fails, you know you will have given it your all so no regrets!

  34. Monica January 26, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I lost my job 7 years ago. A lay off came and my husband was in school at the time (he’d just gone back to school too). We were so scared but we gave ourselves a couple of weeks to sort through our emotions, and we even cashed in our airline miles and went on vacation the very next week. I really highly suggest giving yourself a little breathing room and enjoying each other’s company for a minute before making any hard decisions. Anyway, just so you know I started my own business and it’s like I couldn’t have planned for a better situation. My husband completed his education and we’re all the better for the entire experience. I know the same will happen for you.

  35. Daniela January 26, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Hi Nicole, i’ve never commented here but your blog has inspired me so much in so many aspects of my life. Thank you! I am sorry to hear what happened, but i am confident that you and your family will find a good solution. Your endless creativity and enthusiasm in life will lead you to only better future. Good Luck!

  36. Carla January 26, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Wishing you so much luck. My husband and I are both stuck in jobs that we hate. It is so inspiring how you are turning this scary time into a beautiful opportunity. Here’s hoping you can both do what you love!

  37. Maura January 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    Nicole,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now and echo the comments before. Thank you for trusting us with this scaring, exciting and unexpected news. Sending all my good thoughts and vibes your way. Good luck with everything that is to come.

  38. Monique January 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while. In fact, you were the first blog that I followed! It is one of my favorites! I wish you the best in this uncertain times!

  39. Erin @ The Great Indoors January 26, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I’m right there with you. My husband actually lost his job a few months before we got married three years ago, and we’ve made it work since then (he finally did get a part-time gig recently). It certainly teaches you what you can live without– and when you get back on sure footing, some of those things never make it back in the budget again. Which is okay. What it boils down to is that if you are supportive of each other in whatever direction you decide to take, you come out on the other side stronger.

  40. FRECKLES CHICK January 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I am so very sorry for what you & your family are going thru, Nicole. Your blog was one of the first I ever followed & you have always had kind words for me over the years. Just know that you have legions of supporters, readers, friends out here in the blogworld. Wherever you & Brandon decide to take MIL, we’ll be there right beside you!

  41. Andrea @ Our Little Gems January 26, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    i am hopeful for you and your family. maybe you speaking on growing your readership was the world’s funny way of preparing you for this next stage. i love your blog and i’m thinking of you!

  42. Molly January 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Being brave is so hard when it comes down to being able to keep the lights on. I get myself into a panic and forget that no matter what I have family and friends who will always support me.

    I’m about to take a big leap with my small business and I’m totally scared out of my mind. But I’ve gotten myself this far and I think I can do it. That is half the battle right?

    Be brave and know you have the support of literally thousands of us!

  43. Lindsey January 27, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    What a range of emotions you went through last week Nicole. My heart goes out to you. A roller coaster of up and downs its hard to decipher the signs some times isnt it? As a long time reader I have to tell you what a JOY it was when you settled down into that turquoise chair next to me in the lounge at ALT. I was so happy to be able to tell you in person how much I have enjoyed your work. I love when the world gets a little smaller and allows me to make those connections.

    Want my two cents? GO FOR IT.

  44. Dayle January 29, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Im so sorry to hear about your husband losing his job. I know things will work out, stay strong and focused. It was really nice meeting you at Alt Summit. When I read your post, I felt your emotions. When it is all said and done, we are just human and we have our ups and downs. It’s ok to be happy, sad, nervous, etc. I have always felt that when you let your feelings show it makes you stronger. It’s like an energy pill. Just get it out of your system and move on. I will be thinking of you.

  45. Tamara {Delish Mag} January 29, 2012 at 11:29 pm #

    Oh wow. That is definitely one of my worst fears…you are (readership/reach/reputation/quality) where I would like our little site to be one day…and until then, my little venture is funded completely by my husband and his wonderful job. We don’t talk much about what could happen — could he lose his job, etc — but we should.

    I wish you the very best of luck, and hope that you can figure out something that works for you, for him and for your whole family. I’ll be reading and hoping for you!

  46. Rebekah Wolf January 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    So sorry to hear about Brandon losing his job. I’ve been following your blog for about a year and love it. You are so inspiring, and the work that you do makes me hopeful that doing what you love is a possibility for everyone as long as we help each other get there. I’m curious to see how this next adventure unfolds for you. Good luck! We are all rooting for you guys!

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