How I Lost My Way in 2018 — A Year in Review

I look back at 2018 with such fond memories. We had our very first baby in January, we grew stronger as a family, and increased exponentially as a company. But somehow, I mostly remember 2018 as the year that I lost my way.

I’ve even avoided writing this recap post from last year because I’m still processing all of what that means, so bear with me.

I think this year is the first time I’ve had something so much bigger than myself (our baby Gwen) come into play, that it really forced me to step back and look at my life from a different perspective.

To be totally candid with you, a year ago I would’ve said that I was working harder and harder because “this is my passion,” but really it was to earn more money that I thought we needed.

I would’ve said that I felt accepted, healthily challenged, and welcomed by my fellow blogging community. I would’ve even lied and told you that working 80 hours a week was no problem at all on my marriage, even though it was, and that my family life was fine because that was easier than telling you the truth.

I also felt justified by being perpetually busy as if that was some sign of success, because at the time that felt real to me. Then all of the sudden we had our own version of a rainbow baby.

No, we didn’t have multiple miscarriages (that we know of) trying for a family before Gwen, but looking back I now know that she was the one thing we needed most that we didn’t realize we needed.

She was our hidden rainbow that was the beginning of a year full of falling apart so that we can eventually come back together better. I use the word “can” because I don’t feel like we’re there yet.

I don’t know that there’s really an eloquent way to put my version of 2018 into words without seeming a certain way, so I’m just going to quickly jot down my thoughts that weight the most—

  • Gwen: I honestly underestimated the role of parenthood in SO many ways. I’ve never felt more loved, loving, inadequate, frustrated, and euphoric all at once. If that’s even possible! I have a separate recap for Baby G coming, so I won’t go into too much detail just yet, but needless to say, our life took a major turn after becoming three.

Without doing anything (besides having colic, reflux, and basically coming out of the womb giving speeches and hilarious facial expressions, haha!), she made me see life totally different.

All of the sudden I was thinking “What was I working myself into the ground for?”, “Do I really need to be doing all of this?”, “Are these people my real friends, would they be there if nothing online was ever mentioned?”. All of these questions lead to these thoughts…

  • Work: It’s always been a major dream of mine to have something tangible from Sugar & Cloth to hold and see. When you run an online company, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as real as what it seems like from a readers perspective.

What you see as glamorous and exotic in an entertaining blog post might actually feel like a sweaty, colorful mosquito invested location that we styled from our perspective! Haha! So having products was a real “pinch me!” goal, and I’m so happy to say that you all showed your support for that dream with sales, tags in your stories, and emails and messages of photos from your parties exponentially throughout the year!

That said, I also felt a bit tired and burnt out here as well. I’ve been creating DIY’s, recipes, and pretty things to share with you here multiple times a week with less than 5 people on our team to make it happen for more than 8 years. Don’t get me wrong, I have and always will LOVE creating things and sharing them with you!!! But I actually dread the pressure of it.

Jared and I work together on Sugar & Cloth and both rely 100% on the income that the blog generates, so paid maternity or paternity leave for us wasn’t even an option. The pressure of figuring our parenthood and sustaining our entire income and livelihood on top of that has been mentally exhausting for me.

I don’t know what the answer is to this just yet and I’m still very much a work in progress, but it feels nice just to be honest and tell you that I love but I’m a little lost and trying to find my way right now.

I’m realizing there’s strength in being honest, humble, and admitting that I don’t have all of the answers or a cut-and-dry plan all the time.

  • Friendships: This has been a really hard one for me this year as well. There’s no quicker way to find out who your true friends are than to hit a low point and see who’s still willing to show up and cheer you on when it isn’t convenient for them. Not to get all Taylor Swift on you, but it’s true.

It’s not easy to make friends as an adult, and it’s especially not easy to make friends as an adult with a baby, or in a career that is considered numbers oriented.

For instance, you might not know that blogging is very much based on how high your pageviews are, how many people follow you on social media, how many comments or likes you get, etc. Because of that, it’s sometimes very easy for people to decide whether or not you’re worth their time pretty quickly.

Even worse is when it happens with people you trusted enough to open up about private goals and dreams with, or that you talked plans with that ended up going to others instead. This is a lot of what I experienced this year, coupled with the fact that it’s already very easy to feel not yourself after having a baby.

Looking at it from another perspective, it makes me even more thankful to have found a different group through motherhood that’s supportive in new ways that are totally unrelated to chasing numbers. And it’s doubly exciting to find that I even have one tried and true friend that fulfills both.

  • Family: If you follow along on IG, you’ve seen A LOT more of my family life this year than in years past. People have their various reasons for debating why that’s the case, but for me, I can tell you that it’s because I found a new sense of happiness in not working all of the time.

So much of my self-confidence got wrapped up in “succeeding” in this unidentified way, that it wasn’t until I stepped back from it that I realized I wasn’t happy there. Suddenly my 12-14 hour work days got replaced with a newborn haze that I can still remember with a full heart like it was yesterday.

Once I started to get the hang of having an infant, I all of the sudden felt the most rewarded by her little face each morning instead of an inbox full of emails. It’s so sad to actually write that down and admit it.

It also forced me to look at my marriage and see that we had almost solely become bonded over working together, and little else. We’ve now had to find our way back to a love that doesn’t revolve around checking off to-do lists and recapping the workday constantly, and it’s been TOUGH.

Thankfully we both agree we’re in it for the long haul, but if anyone in our position ever told you it was easy, they’d be lying to you.

So yes, I lost what I thought I felt confident and sure of in 2018.

I’d like to tell you that I’m sorry if this post seems somber, or less than exciting for you, but I’m glad it crumbled in a way. I can at least say it’s a very raw truth, but I’d rather face that truth now than to look back at my life years from now and wonder why I’m without my family by my side, true friends to show up with things are crappy, or a future that I can’t change.

Sometimes real seems like it will be refreshing to read until you realize that the truth isn’t always perfect, and it surely isn’t for me.

I’m hoping that 2019 is where I find my happy place and/or resolutions to some of these hurdles, but I’d be lying if I told you I knew the answers right now. This is still new for me to even admit to myself, and I think that being honest about it alone is important, don’t you?

So here’s to not comparing, keeping chins up and eyes down, going with your gut instinct, and family first!

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29 thoughts on “How I Lost My Way in 2018 — A Year in Review”

  1. Your honesty and having the courage to reassess your life on every level are both inspirational and commendable. You’d be surprised at how many people are too afraid to take the risk to look at themselves with a willingness to change and then wonder why everything fell apart.
    The journey through a fulfilling life requires your honesty and the ability to adapt but at 68 I can tell you that living an honest life and loving your family more than money will leave you with happiness and no regrets.
    Life will never be easy or perfect but keep reassessing and you’ll find your best life.

    • Hi Dani! Thank you so much for this wonderful comment, advice and your words of wisdom. Family is the most important thing to us and the number one thing that makes us happy. XOXO

  2. The honesty of this post is so extremely helpful, especially for those of us that want to pursue a similar career. Thank you for always being real, relatable, helpful, and kind!

    • Thanks, Carissa! We always try to document the good and bad. Unfortunately, you gotta have lots of bad to get to the good. It’s worth it though!

  3. Thank you for writing this and letting us read it!! Everyone needs to recalibrate sometimes. It’s important to evaluate what is actually feeding your soul and bringing joy to your life.

  4. Beautifully written. Hang in there! You are a fantastic human! Kids do change a lot, but they are the best and you are doing great with Gwen! Best wishes for a wonderful 2019!

  5. Ashley – THANK YOU FOR WRITING THIS. Your words here pretty much encompass my last year and a half, and not that I am happy that either of us felt this way, but it does give me a sense of relief that I’m not alone. My blogging/work life has changed immensely over the last year and a half, and I have begun to feel completely drained by the dishonesty that sometimes goes along with social media and blogging. You are an incredible person, and I know you are only at the beginning of all the incredible things you will do. Kudos to self-awareness and growth!!!! Sending lots of love your way! Also, I love how much of Baby Gwen we get to see… she really is a rainbow baby!!!!!

  6. Thank you for such a heartfelt and honest peek into your life. Reflecting and doing what’s best for you and your family sounds like you are finding your way. I’m sorry that you have had so many bumps in the road to get to this point but I hope 2019 is the year it all comes together for you. You are so talented and kind. Just know we are cheering you on and can understand that these changes you are making for your family are important. ♥️

  7. Dearest Ashley! Ever since Gwen, I’ve loved following you now more than ever! I’ve learned you are witty and clever and hilarious and dgaf and it RESONATES. It hit me similarly after having my first kid, there’s nothing like becoming a parent and learning how important that role is and how NOT important other shit is. Just don’t apologize. Your happy place is being a mommy to a beautiful girl and we all follow and support you because we like YOU, and not because you can bust out 50 DIYs in 1 week. I know 2018 feels like it fell apart for you, but from this side of the fence we’ve seen you find yourself and it’s refreshing.

  8. Thanks so much for your honest insights! I can completely relate – I’m a mother of two over in Australia who has also been blogging for many years and share many of those same struggles about never really switching off from work, managing money as a business owner, and trying to find quality family time. My husband runs his own business but there’s a lot of overlap and I’m always calling on his help to make things for me, haha, so what you wrote about a running to do list really resonated. With my oldest child now about to turn 3, I do feel it’s getting easier even though it should be getting harder (I have less time to do things but I’m clearer about how I should be spending my time and what’s important to me). Wishing you a fabulous 2019! x

  9. Thank you! Your post was beautiful and real. I have learned life has many seasons, all beautiful in their own way. But also beautiful in that they change and still stay the same in other ways. “Here is to the next season”. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

  10. Love this post! Somehow we here’s comfort in knowing ‘you’re not the only one’. It’s a scary thing to admit out load but it’s incredibly freeing to find the confidence to say it.
    I love seeing it all, the product, the diy’s and the glimpse behind the scenes at your wonderful family.
    Thank you for sharing it all!❤️

  11. Thank you for sharing this with us along with everything else you do. Obviously I don’t know you on a personal level, but from what I can tell, those fake friends who dropped you are idiots and are missing out on an awesome, kind, funny person. I’m glad you’ve found people who can be there for you and if you ever have doubts please know this one person from the internet really truly hopes you and jared and the rest of your family have a wonderful, happy life.

  12. Ashley, I hadn’t even wondered what your name is! I just knew I loved the things you showed us! Now you seem more like a real person. Thank you for your honesty. It’s a great friendship-making posture! I am old and will die soon, but you have your whole wonderous, adventuresome life ahead of you. May God show you the way!

  13. Thank you for writing such an honest post. I had a baby in February and I am still trying to sort out work with this new person in the mix. It’s really tough and frustrating and takes a lot longer then I ever would have expected. Keep up it up! You are doing great!

  14. Honey child… 🙋🏽‍♀️🙋🏽‍♀️you(and your husband) are not alone…. you could be describing us 6 years ago.
    Having kids and your own business aint no joke! Just know that it gets easier and try to make time for just you 2 since your togetherness is the basis for the family.
    And please remember that although your job is a big part of your life , it is not your identity! All love from the other side of the pond and keep those Gwen pics coming cause they brighten up my dreary days always!

  15. Thank you for writing this and being real and honest and open! I can’t imagine how hard it is to be vulnerable in a permanent spot on the internet – but trust me it’s so refreshing and really resonates with readers! I loved it and love supporting you guys!

  16. Hey, growth is rough! I’m glad you’re finding a balance that fulfills you and can’t wait to see how S+C evolves to fit that! Proud of you for speaking your truth!

  17. Thank you. I think 2018 was a crazy year for many of us. I’ve always appreciated your candid thoughts on the reality of blogging and life. 2018 gave me a ton of learning lessons… that I had to learn the hard way. Here’s to a smarter and more balanced 2019, friend!

  18. Oh my. This hits home so hard. My husband owns a (large, successful) business and I was essentially the “right hand” until our daughter came. I had no clue how much our life revolved around the business and that only. And now we have to find a new way to relate and I’m constantly feeling the guilt of being a crappy business partner because I started prioritizing staring at a tiny human over answering emails or managing day to day employees or checking inventory frequently enough. It’s been a real, true struggle. I don’t yet know the answer either, but we’re chipping away at it. I’m trying to set an “intention”for our marriage that helps us orient when we feel frustrated about “the way things are now.” Because the truth is, it’s different. And we’d never ever ever wish away our daughter. But it’s different, and it’s hard to learn what that different should look like. Thanks for these words today.

  19. You’re doing great, Ashley. The first year is HARD, and there’s no amount of preparation you can do to really be ready for it. A new baby strains every part of your life in ways you could’t imagine, tests your relationships (including with yourself!), but ultimately helps shape you into the new person you will be. You’ll keep finding your footing, and start to see the new you is someone worth getting to know too. You’ve got this.

  20. Oh friend. It doesn’t sound at all like you lost your way to me, it sounds like you found your way. Just because you don’t know exactly what that path looks like right now, doesn’t mean you’re lost. If anything, I think that 2018 is the year you were found. Motherhood has a tricky, tricky way of doing that to all of us. So proud of your honesty!

  21. I KNOW, right?… after having my first kid it really turned everything around. It changed my business, my priorities, my ability to simply set goals and work towards them (on a reasonable timeframe, no less). It literally changed who I was. I felt like I’ve lost control of a lot of things that used to define me, my business, my blog. It’s really hard, sister. BUT life as a parent has its own evolution, and IT DOES eventually settle into its new, better form. You can look at it this way: when your baby is born, you’re kinda re-born with it, as a new parent. You don’t expect your baby to start talking and running around from day one, right? You give her time to learn, to figure out how things are done. You let her fall so she can learn how to climb back up. You are patient with the process, knowing it’s the only way she’s going to learn how to do things. Same goes to you – you were just re-born this year, give yourself a break. Because unlike our babies, we learn slowly and we’re full of false expectations, competitive attitude and negativity. So embrace the baby in you and take your time learning how to things YOUR way. I wish you’ll have an AMAZING year to grow!


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