This last year was a time of growth. We added a baby (I could stop right there), a home exchange in Copenhagen, a cargo bike. We expanded our park repertoire and tasted savory porridge. I learned how to fold a fitted sheet and deliberately decided to BAN that homemaking tip from my brain and never do it again. We ate a little healthier, sometimes. We visited family in Utah, enjoyed San Francisco's free breakfasts (just kidding, thanks Airbnb!), and explored new spots in L.A. We drove to Yosemite in the morning, and drove back at night. We picked figs and lemons and gum nuts and spent as much time as possible outside. I impulsively cut 12 inches off my hair. We put our little boy on his first school bus, and watched him blossom.
I'm hoping 2017 comes out Brave. 2017 is the year I want to go back to work. A full time writing job will demand as much spunk and courage as this freelancing stay at home mom can muster. But if it feels scary, I should probably do it, right?
Here's to 2017! And if you need a content strategist, full-time copywriter, or social media editor, and you're in the Bay Area, let's talk. I'm available late summer/early Fall, but interested in freelance now.
Thanks so much for following along, readers.
Hello all! I have a little confession. But first, a walk down memory lane.
I've been blogging since 2008. I started A Toast to Kos after finding Cup of Jo and Design Mom for the first time in a college campus computer lab, where I worked. I didn't have a Facebook profile and I had no idea what Google Reader was. Please enjoy the following screenshots of my first-ever blog. I'm not going to lie—I got a little teary logging in for the first time in three years:
'Pretty Things On Show'? Oh Koseli. That's good. Artful leaves and sentimental celebration. I do love it.
Poorly cropped photos. Again, I love it.
Do you see that first line on the post? These are the kind of things I would post. Pictures of Silas at church wearing Keen's glasses. Like, so cute.
I'd also post about cute clothes. And get three comments—my sister, my other sister, and my response. Comfy and bright is right!
Clever pregnancy update while still sharing a little online discovery. I was always sharing stuff with faces and miniature stuff. Some things never change.
Over the next seven years I went from writing posts about mashed potatoes and Anthropologie perfume on my first blog to contributing to one of my all-time favorite blogs, Design Mom, Erin Loechner's Clementine Daily women's lifestyle site, and many others. I jumped all in and attended Alt Summit, and met innumerable creative women that are true-life bosom buddies. I slowly grew my readership and dabbled in brand collaborations. I grew my copywriting client base and got to work with some amazing people and brands. So many of these opportunities came through connections I made blogging, sharing on Twitter, and writing. But it all started with a little old blog called A Toast to Kos. Starting something—just starting something—gave me the confidence to do something else. Then try something else. I used it as a portfolio piece to say hey, I can find interesting things and write about them in an interesting way, no matter how silly.
My successes are tiny compared to so many others. But they are mine, my own, and they fit the time and seasons of my life over the last seven years. At times I wish I would have published more, shared me, done more. But when I really think about it, I know that there was a reason why I didn't and that's okay. Blogging hasn't always been the thing that "fills me up." I have major guilt over not finishing personal projects or saying no to opportunities or changing my mind about something I said I was going to do. In the back of my mind, blogging and my 2008 original goals come back to pointlessly antagonize me and tell me I didn't follow through, or I didn't do this or that, when so many others similar to me did. It's worthless mind chatter at best. When I allow myself to think clearly about what has actually happened in my life over the last seven years/what I have made happen in my life over the last seven years, I am endlessly happy and proud. I never feel content or done, but I'm letting myself sit in it. Simmer a little. Maybe look left and right and be like, Damnnnnn Girl. For all the things I thought I'd accomplish by 29 1/2—the corporate career, total independence, absolute confidence, impeccable style, other extremely naive garbage, etc. etc, there are gifts I've been given that far exceed my wildest dreams.
Like, this one.
And this one.
And this extra 'lil one. He's kicking like crazy at the moment.
And this one. I like this one a lot. It's taken me every day since we met to really realize him. He's the best.
And the copywriting clients and projects that have challenged and inspired me and made me a better writer and co-conspirator. My professional life, though small, has been a crucial piece of my happiness puzzle. (So much more I want to write about that.) And the worries and scares and blind decisions I've made—that we've made—that have ultimately brought us to where we are today. It's so easy to slip into tunnel vision and be like, Wah, I suck or Shoot, I really should have done that instead. But that trail is pointless and we all know it and you can read a million self-help books to try to not do it, but it still happens.
My confession is (all above) and that I've kind of not liked blogging for a while. I've fallen out of love with about 90% of blogs, lifestyle blogging, sponsored posts that feel the same as other content, etc. etc. It feels worn out and tired. Like there has to be a better way to share because there is real sincerity and drive behind so many of these URLs. There's also the issue of privacy and children's safety online that is a Whole Other Thing. But what I do love is recording. Journaling. Crafting beautiful words. Well-done podcasts. Sharing something that seems trivial but conjures real inspiration and beauty. Funny stuff. Connecting with people I would have never otherwise met and learning about them. I'm debating a rekindling of this blog, or a totally fresh start, or maybe no blog at all. Or pursuing freelance again wholeheartedly. I'm always a whirlwind of ideas and agony.
But I wanted to say Thank You for reading. Sincerely. Thank you for following along. Whether you're just popping in or have been a long time reader who's given up hope that I'll ever regularly post again, Thank You. I'm so grateful for the clients, readers, collaborators, and friends I've met through blogging. Thank you to my mom and sisters and a few cousins for always reading my blog from the very beginning and making cute comments like, "This is so funny, Koseli! I think it's the best thing you've ever written." or "It feels like I was really there! Can't wait for your next post!" I think the magic of sharing + receiving feedback online still twinkles, and I want to figure out a way to make it shine again, for both of us.
This post is for everybody thinking about attending/prepping for an upcoming Alt Summit blogging conference. I wrote it in preparation for my first Alt NYC in 2013. Since Alt was such a game-changer for me, I thought I'd share a few of tips from my Alt Summit SLC experience. (You can read my other posts about Alt Summit here (Alt Summit NYC Recap and a few tips), Alt Summit SLC 2013 here, and a post triggered by a theme at the 2013 conference that bloggers are doing (and should be doing!) so much more than blogging called Not Just Bloggers Anymore. Hope you enjoy! Would love to hear your comments!)
1) Wear something you feel amazing in. Spend a little money and wear the skirt that you know looks *amazing* on you, or that blouse that has the perfect sweetheart neckline. Do your make-up, do your hair, and do all the little things you might do to treat yourself before a very special event. (Manicure, haircut, hair masque, eyebrow threading, etc. Whatever.) I'm not a high-maintenance girl but I always wear a little more make-up and make sure every piece of my outfit won't give me a second thought. It makes the WORLD of difference when you're not fussing with your hemline, or hiding your peeling nail polish. Feeling confident allows you to take the focus off of you, and puts it on others—which is where you should be investing all your energy at an event like this.
2) Bring beautiful, clear business cards. 100-125 should be plenty. Bring one pouch for cards collected, and one pouch for your cards. Bring a pen to jot down notes on your meeting/that person/things you don't want to forget directly on the card. This is so, so important! My friend Miranda from One Little Minute brought a college ruled notebook and took notes throughout the day and every night on every person she met and everything she learned. You'll totally forget everything by the time you get home so make clear, detailed notes about each person you want to reconnect with. You will not regret this, I swear. If you have time, also add every person you meet on Twitter, or people you want to meet with at the conference beforehand.
3) Be able to describe what you do and what your blog/business is in one clear sentence. If it's undetermined, that's okay! Just make one clear statement about what you're in the process of making. It's a Hello/Elevator pitch in one. Make sure it's short and sweet.
4) Research, research, research. Know who's sponsoring your dinner, who else will be there, and the ins and out of the location, dress code, etc. Find out who else is attending Alt (especially those you admire, the speakers, or possible collaborators) and connect within the next few days via Twitter or Email. (If you haven't already!) When you're at Alt, text, tweet, or email those you want to meet and make it happen. To top that off, bring a notebook and jot down all the Twitter handles of the bloggers/sponsors you'd like to meet with. Then, when you're available to meet, send a quick DM or email. This worked like a charm.
5) Be a confident floater. I love a person who you can float from one person to the next, pull others in, step away when it's time, and most important, just be fine alone. You'll exchange more business cards, meet more people, and have more fun if you're confident and independent. I attended Alt SLC alone, like a lot of attendees, and it was THE BEST THING EVER. I saw a few friendly faces from Brooklyn and Salt Lake City, but other than that I was a free bird. It opened up my time and energy to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to. This led to meeting some incredible bloggers that I may have not met otherwise and making some really, really amazing friends. On that note, do not be scared to introduce yourself to whoever you'd like to meet, however amazing/talented/beautiful you think they are. You do not want regrets the next morning, my friends. And if you do not say hello to ______ when she was standing right in front of you, you will regret it.
I really do feel like ALT SLC was a game-changer for me and really pushed me to put some ideas in motion that I was absolutely terrified to act on. I'm sure I'll feel the same encouragement and sense of community at ALT NYC this week. Ok! I'm super excited for Thursday. See you all there!
P.S. — Will I see you there? I'd love to meet you. You can catch me at @OriginalKos or email me at Koseli Cummings @ gmail . com. If I knew what I'd be wearing, I'd drop a hint so you can find me but seriously, just look for the pregnant girl in heels.