stephmodo: How to Read Blogs + Maintain Perspective

How to Read Blogs + Maintain Perspective

• 25 July 2011

This morning I'm having a bit of a late start, but I have a lot on my mind I'd like to pen anyway. I've decided it's high time we revisit Marta's clever and honest post about maintaining a realistic perspective about what we see on blogs. In her classic, witty writing style she shares thoughts on comparison, originality and being supportive, all in a thoughtful and humorous way. The blogosphere is a better place with this eloquent post in its midst. I hope you all read it! Here are a few other thoughts {and tangents quite honestly} that came to my mind after reading Marta's post...

Yes, cute outfits make us feel better when we step out the door; and yes, a well-designed kitchen is probably a dream for many of us (but few of us have our dream kitchen); and yes, we wish all the parties we threw were "blogable" (but alas budget constraints or lack of vision often keep us from having that kind of party), but does it matter? Hanging out socially with friends is really about just being together and connecting. Food and decor is secondary. Yes, it's fun and does make the event feel special; but it's better to get together and not have all the elements perfect than to not get together at all. I have a few friends that understand this mantra well and I admire them for their mature perspective.

So this summer, celebrate being with your family and your friends and remember that all the little details are just added bonuses, but not necessary. If you order pizza or Thai food during a dinner party because the meal you prepared didn't turn out (this happened to me once), then so be it. Guests will simply appreciate being remembered, being invited.

p.s. this is an important topic to me and one I revisit every now and again. In the past I've written a few posts on blogging and comparison--they can be found here and here. As in all archived posts, comments are always open so feel free to share your own thoughts--we will all see them and appreciate them.

image by Stephanie Brubaker - this is what "dusk" looks like in my home...


  1. amen, very well said, and thank you so much for putting this into words

  2. Love these thoughts, Stephanie. Thank you for the reminder to keep a realistic perspective in the midst of the blog-world!

  3. All that you state here and that are in your linked posts are very true. Thank you for sharing beauty every day and for this dose of reality as well!

  4. Thank you for posting about this again. I really have been caught up in this lately for some reason! I know that my life is fabulous and that I wouldn't change it for anything, yet I get caught in the trap of feeling bad for myself or wishing it was different. Why? It's times like these that I have to separate myself from the internet, or at least cut down drastically what I allow myself to read and compare to. I've widdled my blog list down to a select few (Your's DEFINITELY made the cut! You're my all-time favorite blogger!) and try to only add more to the list if they are uplifting and worthwhile. I try not to look at blogs that have daily fashion, extreme opinions, etc. Otherwise I'd look at myself and wonder if I've got it all wrong.

    No! I don't have it wrong! I'm living my life the way I know how and it's the best for me! Who cares if we have no money! Who cares if my son's clothes are all hand-me-downs! Who cares if I live in a 2 bedroom apartment! It's mine and my life is heavenly. All that matters to me are my husband, my son, and my faith. Everything else is secondary, no matter how appealing (even to my creative side bursting to make and do!) it can be.

    Wow, sorry. Thanks again for the post. I apparently needed it today! :)

  5. beautiful picture. i've been reading your blog for awhile, but this is my first comment. just wanted to say that i love your style and creativity. (and i crave being able to run away to stay at your french cottage!) i also appreciate the perspective of this post... the envy/comparison trap is very easy to fall into while browsing the blogosphere... thanks!

  6. Wow! Right on. There is no way that our lives are going to look like what we see on blogs - life is not really a photo shoot. Get out there and be yourself - that is the perspective that matters.

  7. It's a wonderful reminder - thanks for bringing this up from time to time. I've found that I have become very particular in choosing the blogs that stay in my reader list. Yours is obviously among them. I want to stick with the ones that feel the most real to me, that inspire me, that delight my senses and my inclination to daydream. I want to avoid the ones that want to tell me what to buy, or the ones that seem to be showing off, or the ones that may inspire others but just don't speak to me. It's all good. It's a huge blogosphere out there, so it's perfectly okay to create your own little corner.

    p.s. - Dusk in Seattle looks lovely...

  8. Yes!! All great thoughts. I see a bit of a theme here...many of us are simplifying how many blogs we read and trying to be honest with ourselves about what's truly inspiring to us.

    Rik, my kids wear hand-me-downs too :) And I cherish our many years in studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments. Great memories and less to clean! Ha!

    I always love what you guys have to say. You are so inspiring! Keep 'em coming...


  9. This is great. Thanks for your thoughts. We need to remember that blogs only capture a small piece of someone's life and that we all have that screaming kid at the grocery store now and then.

  10. I was a blogger, about a decade ago. Yes, they had blogs then too. I stopped, on a dime, after reading a sentence in a book by John O'Donohue. He warned of the dangers of exposing what was sacred to you to the "neon glare" of the Internet. Now I guard my life with great vigilance.

    It seems, with blogs, women have invented a whole 'nother way to make themselves crazy. I admit, I like to look at the blogs of others from time to time because there is a feminine spirit in them that has been too long suppressed and devalued. Women want to make their work visible. Try to blog with that in mind--making the work visible. Don't brag. Fight the desire to be thought fascinating by everyone else. Post beautiful things you had nothing to do with only to share the beauty in a spirit of generosity; not because you are striving for people to think you have good taste. (That gets old). This is my advice to all of you who are a decade younger than myself.

    Be very careful.

  11. Really great you and the original by Marta. I think everyone thinks about this and the blog envy/depression happens to us all. Thanks for the perspective and reminder.

  12. well said.

    i wish i had read something like this 3 years ago when i first began blogging. it would have saved me from unnecessary insecurities and self-doubt for sure!

    thanks for the reminder today!

  13. you are always so refreshing! this reminder never gets old.

  14. I really appreciate honest and thought provoking posts like this-thank you! I've only been reading blogs for two years and blogging myself for less than that and I've already seen myself go through all that you mentioned here from time to time. I never want to do something just so it can be blogged about (like Marta mentions), but rather live my life first and allow creativity to flow from that. Above all else, honesty is important and I find myself returning to certain blogs that value that as well. Thank you!

  15. i love marta's blog - she really does have a unique writing style - its so easy to read! as i read blogs in google reader, lately i have been making more of an effort to make the jump and comment on people's blogs - after all - I love when people comment on mine!! :) its such a delicate balance on living life and recording life!

  16. I loved it. Thank you so much for sharing I had never read that before. Great follow up tips too!

    I always try to remember: that person is a fashion blogger, that person is a cook. Usually they don't cross territories to create a super human ;)

  17. It's a nice reminder! I'm very new to blogging. After wanting to start one for years and being inspired for so long I knew the time was right. I haven't ever been jealous, just inspired. I do find myself checking my stats too often. It's gotta stop!!

    I try to keep my reader down to 40-50 blogs or so. I thought that was a lot until speaking with a friend who had over 200. I have to clean house regularly to not be overwhelmed.

    While not being jealous, I DO need to enjoy things a little more and make sure I put my family first and not keep coming back to the computer all day long. I need to balance!


  18. thank you, steph! i appreciate this post and your kind words. i especially like when bloggers post about 'blogging'. everyone has insecurities about one aspect or another; i like when people say it's okay to discuss it. if we all pretend that our lives are perfect, then we are being unfair to readers.

    my favorite blogs are those that feel genuine and yet still optimistic. those that give all kinds of good tips, advice and pretty pictures. i believe you don't need to divulge all the dirty laundry to be a 'real' blogger, but still maintain some element of the real world.

    i love blogging because it is a breath of fresh air; pretty houses to dream of, pretty parties to tuck away into the inspiration binders, amazing trips to france. it's nice to have an uplifting place to go and daydream. the problem lies in the comparisons. as if we really know what's going on in a blogger's life. thank you so much for touching on this; i love your perspective. xo.

  19. a great post, i have not read Martha's yet but i will. I find inspiration out there in the blog world often but most of the time it is when people post about a wholeness either through words or photographs. i do not know what it is exactly that gets to me sometimes when viewing a post i try not to be envious yet i am not sure what i am envious about. i also know that even though it looks perfect the picture we are trying to share i know that in between the lines, in the background it is not always the case and sometimes you capture a good moment among a lot of other stuff.

    thank you for posting this, it came at a time were i was being distracted by what i do not have instead of all i do have.

  20. Blogging is so tricky! I really keep going back and forth about whether it enriches my life or distracts me from my life. I think the answer for everyone is probably different and depends on where they are, I guess!

    I always enjoy coming to your blog because it feels so unpretentious and real: a fellow mother trying to find and share the beautiful things in life. You have such a nice balance here. Way to keep it real. :)

  21. I completely agree with Marta's point about not letting the blog world suck you into some insane sphere of I-can't-be-called-Woman-if-I-don't-bake-French-cupcakes-daily. Very wise.

    However. Lately I've had an inner struggle about what YOU posted about: about whether or not it's ridiculous/silly/wasteful/pretentious to want to throw a party with all the bells and whistles. Somehow I feel like women in the blog world are revered and envied for their skill and perfectionism and creativity, but the women whom you actually know in real life are snickered at when they love and spend [read: waste] money on the details. It's as if they're seen as trying to show off, or present themselves as 'perfect', when maybe we just derive true joy from having an occasion to express our inner creativity and love for the details. Especially as stay-at-home moms who rarely get chances to have anything aesthetically 'perfect'! Meanwhile, the women who are 'real', who shrug their shoulders and say, "I don't have time to be perfect," and invite you to their messy homes and serve so-so meals get nods of approval from their peers. Hey, I'm all for those women, I know what life is like, and I love who they are. But why is the latter looked on as 'real', why the former is looked at with some scorn and not seen as genuine?

    What I wish is that there was less judgment. Just as we're all expected to be understanding and appreciate the 'real' women for who they are and what's important to them and the fact that they have messy homes, I wish there was mutual respect for women who DO embrace beautiful things and who DO enjoy making things, well, perfect. I somehow feel as though I have to apologize for enjoying the details. That I have to feel ashamed for being 'fussy', or 'picky', or otherwise ridiculous in other people's eyes. And while parties or entertaining are certainly about connecting with friends and spending time with one another, if I entertain half as often because I only enjoy it when things are just so, I don't think I should have to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable about that. It's the way I tick, and it makes me happy. I love my friend who relishes in chaos, noise, and crowds. She entertains 3x week. The details aren't important to her. And that is wonderful. I entertain once a month because it's a huge undertaking, and it would honestly make me unhappy and stressed out to do it more often because I know it wouldn't be done exactly the way I want it to be done.

    Deriving joy from making things beautiful can be every bit as 'real' as deriving joy from other, less threatening things.

  22. Your comments are all so fantastic--I love and appreciate your unique perspectives.

    Lindsey--yes, we all do have the occasional tantrum-throwing-child at the grocery store sometimes. A pretty blog does not mean less than pretty things don't happen. Ha!

    Irene, I've been thinking about what you said all day. You brought up many interesting points. It's true, women can "love-to-hate" other women when they feel threatened in some way. If only we could embrace the talents of others more readily. If we all remembered that we all are built differently and have different talents and skills (some are visible, and some are not), then I believe we would be more supportive of each other in general. And instead of being nauseated by another's party-planning-prowess, we would simply look at it and say, "wow, that's great she knows how to throw a great party" and then move on with our day. Anyway, I appreciate your lengthy response--you gave me a lot to ponder.


  23. I love this post. The other week our friends invited us over for dinner and she was worried that I would judge her for not having matching bowls. I thought that was absurd but we give off this glossy image in the blog world and people think we expect so much sometimes. Not so, I love casual get togethers.

  24. Good, real-life friends are the best at keeping you grounded (my best friends don't even read my blog!). It's kind of nice being able to separate the two worlds and certainly relieves the pressure of having everything we do be picture-perfect and/or blog-worthy.

    Also, a former co-worker had a funny print hanging at her desk that said "Read Books, Not Blogs."


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