on being real

Last weekend in a barn in Pennsylvania, I realized some very important things about myself as a blogger. And about myself as a person.

Anyone who has met me knows that I am very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of gal. I don’t hold much back in real life and I wear my heart on my sleeve, for better or for worse. I like to think that that realness/”me-ness” comes across on this blog. Yet when Shauna was speaking to us at BSP2 about authenticity, it hit me like a ton of bricks that I actually hold back quite a lot here.

I am not perfect. My life isn’t perfect. Not even close. But I’ve been afraid to show the not perfect stuff here on my blog.

The photos I post here may suggest that everything in my life is flawless but the reality is that my house is generally a mess of dog hair. And there are frequently mouse guts on the rug, because that’s what happens when you live in the country and you have four cats. My garden is, quite frankly, a weedy disaster right now. But it feeds us, so I try not to care. My chicken coop kinda smells. And I get really bad PMS.

And while I am at it in the disclosing department:

My kids like Family Guy. And so do I.

I love candy. Swedish fish are my favorite. I like the red ones best. But I like the yellow ones, too.

I am not really sure why I’ve been afraid to share stuff like this. After all I don’t publish this blog because I am trying to impress you.

I publish this blog because I like to share what I am up to, and because I want to inspire you to put healthy foods in your body as often as possible, to cook delicious, from scratch food for yourself and your family, and to be eco-conscious.

But doing these things isn’t always easy. Life can be hard. It gets busy. And messy. And sometimes there’s candy. It’s definitely not perfect.

In the world of food blogging, it is very easy to get caught up in trying to have things look perfect from the outside. It’s also easy to start feeling “not good enough” when you compare yourself to other blogs/bloggers. I am prone to feeling insecure. It’s something that’s plagued me my whole life. Since I became a blogger, I’ve often worried that my blog doesn’t measure up. That my photos aren’t good enough. That my recipes aren’t good enough. That my writing isn’t good enough. That my traffic isn’t good enough.

If you’re not a blogger, this all might seem nuts. Heck it might seem nuts even if you are a blogger. But it’s really no different than anything else in life: trying to be perfect is a trap that’s there…and it’s so easy to fall in. But trying to be perfect is extremely time consuming. And exhausting. And let’s face it: being perfect is impossible.

It’s fine to be inspired by other blogs/bloggers but when inspiration turns to jealousy and feeling bad about yourself, there’s a problem. When these feelings creep up for me, I need to take note of them. And re-focus on my blogging purpose. And on just being me.

I’ve shared these feelings with blogger and non-blogger friends before and I shared them in front of the group at BSP2. I am sharing them now here in a much more public way because…well…because I just have to. And now that the words are down, I feel better. I am pretty sure I am not the only one who struggles with this crap. I also know that there are way more important things out there in the world to worry about.

Yesterday, my kids, husband, and I went for a hike to a swimming hole not far from our house. I’d never been there before and it was insanely beautiful. It was the first time all four of us had been together in almost 3 weeks- my husband’s been traveling for work and my son’s been at sleepaway camp- and it was pretty great (though my daughter had to pee the whole time and did complain incessantly about that).

My son is kind of a daredevil. He does stuff I wish I had the guts to do. My husband took this iPhone photo of him jumping off the cliff into the water…

…and I think it’s a great photo for this post, because when it comes to being fearless, my kid is my inspiration.

I want to be less afraid. I don’t want to hold parts of me back because of what others will think. I just want to be.



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101 thoughts on “on being real”

  1. Pingback: Fair Trade Chocolate Sunflower Seed Butter Cups | Healthy Green Kitchen
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  3. Winnie, this is such a great post and it actually brings to my mind what Grumpy told me the other night when I just did not feel like making dinner (which is OFTEN). He told me that I have created an illusion of what people think of me (talking about his co-workers) – that they think he eats like a king every night. WHAT? I said? How can they? I don’t even post that often! So really, people do make up who you are in their head when they read your blogs. As far as being jealous of others, thankfully, I’m not so into what I’m doing that I am like that. Maybe because I’m not like that to begin with? However, when I see someone is successful, I’m happy to say congratulations and even happier if I can say, “see my friend? I’m so proud of her!”

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  5. well, winnie, i might be late to reading this, but it’s impacted me just the same. you—and this post—are lovely, real, honest and beautiful. thanks for sharing. i want the more “real” you, both here and maybe for some nyc fun soon? (now i’m just getting selfish!) xo

  6. LOVE the way you wrote this … and am detached in a way from the strongly competitive spirit some blogs parade! I find hapiness in the small things I do…and I admire your spirit Winnie. Way to go!

  7. You are such a dear. I love your heart and spirit…

    I’m right there with ya, the “real me” is the only way to be. xoxoxo

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  9. Winnie, I was so great to meet you. Maggy was right…by you opening up…it allowed us all to be more open to ourselves and each other.

    I wish you the best of luck for your blogging adventures. I too am so impressed with your son’s bravery! What a great shot :)

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  11. Yah I’ve got insecurity in spades! What turns me off about the whole food blog scene is that jealousy and competition and obsession with traffic and I try and stay above it all. I do what I love and how I love doing it. With all the bloggers trying to copy and be like the big bloggers so they get attention or, worse, bloggers trying to fall into what seems to be the “accepted” way to style or take photos or write, well, I search for individuality and I so admire anyone who does the same. Let others inspire you, learn from others but never try and be like them.

    • Totally with you Jamie. I’ve always tried hard to do my own thing but occasionally have gotten sucked into the competitive stuff. Not going down that path again- I enjoy blogging so much more when I don’t get involved in that nonsense.

  12. Amazing post! I’ve had a tiny blog myself for the past year or two and I’ve been a little intimidated to really make it a full time part of my life. That is partly because the wonderful food blogs out there (like yours) make amazing food photography look effortless. I also felt like I couldn’t live up to the standard that is out there. But your post inspires me not to be afraid to show my true side, or my messy self. Thanks for the great words of wisdom :)

    • Stacy- there’s no right or wrong way to blog. Do it in the way that makes you happy…trying to fit into a mold will never bring you joy!

  13. You would have had to had your head stuck in quicksand to not see and hear about BSP and the revelations that seem to have come fast and furious to those in attendance.

    I don’t try to not be real but what if our lives have so much heartache that sharing those experiences with others is just not part of the mess we want to put forth. Am I less real for putting forth the positive memories and experiences I share because too many of my real life experiences have been sequestered out of necessity? Not just from my audience but sequestered for my sake too?

    I hear you…I love your authenticity and your willingness to share your insecurities but I also know first hand what can happen if we share our truth in a real moment; I’ve personally experienced the backlash that can and does occur. So I remain a bit conflicted but I applaud you…and if nothing else? What an amazing picture of your son. I’m so glad you were there, with them, and not at home reworking a post to make ‘you’ sound better. I think you are pretty much loved just the way you are!

    • Barb- if your blog is your happy place and that works for you, then there is nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with sharing positive memories and experiences. I don’t plan on making this the Debby Downer blog or anything…I have a great life…it’s just that I am no Martha Stewart and I don’t want anyone to think that I am.
      It’s fine to keep parts of your life private from your readers- no one says it has to be otherwise.
      What I am talking about here is allowing myself to be myself. I’d like to be able to relax more here…and to stop trying to fit into a food blogging mold writing or photography-wise. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop working on my photos or my writing, though- it just means I will work harder to have them be a true reflection of who I am…

  14. love it, winnie :) Was so nice to read this… and a few posts similar to this lately, its refreshing. You are so talented and have created a wonderful place, let that be enough for you today. Believe it.

    • I do have trouble believing it sometimes, so thank you so much Sara for writing that. I so deeply admire the uniqueness of your blog…

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  16. Winnie, I couldn’t agree more. i am a new follower and I am glad to get to know you more. This is a great post, it always good to pull back a rethink why we are blogging and to put the “me-ness” in what we do is the best we can do :)

  17. What a great entry!!!! Its nice to expose what’s behind the proverbial “curtain” sometimes – as a letting go of a heavy load. Don’t you feel better now??? And as for your insecurity about your blog. I wouldn’t worry about it. You have a wonderful blog that I personally love to read. I never thought your life was perfect – no one’s life is. But its your creative spirit and your eco conscious ways that keep me coming back. Write about whatever you want to write about, and take pics of whatever inspires you. Honestly, your moment of inspiration inspires many people and opens many creative outlets. Thank you

    Sincerely, Dawn

    • Thanks Dawn. I am going to keep doing what I’ve always been doing…just letting go of the pressure I put on myself for it all to look “just so”…

  18. I’ve been following this blog for sometime and I’ll admit I indeed did think you, your life and your blog were perfect. This post only reinforces that notion. Because perfect isn’t always pretty. Inspiring, really. GREG

  19. And this is why you are one of my favorite bloggers. I knew the first time I met you that there was no pretense, and that is so refreshing! And for the record – I LOVE swedish fish!!

  20. You are certainly not alone. We all have those feelings every once in a while and I think what you do is perfect, step back and think about what we really are here for :-) Thanks for this refreshing and honest post.

  21. Beautiful post, Winnie. I think you’ve touched a nerve with so many of us (myself included) and it really hits home. The “perfectionist” stuff about myself drives me nuts…my mom told me I was the only 5 year old she knew who had to have her stuffed animals all lined up by color and size, so I guess I’ve been battling this for some time now, lol! Really, thanks for sharing, it’s making me take a deeper look.

    And lol, I love Swedish fish too…although I will admit that gummy worms are my favorite! :)

    • I am not a perfectionist in other areas of my life, but I get strangely obsessed with certain aspects of my blog. Trying to let some of it go, though. Because it sucks the joy out of blogging for me…
      Gummy worms are good, too ;)

  22. I have never commented here before but once I started reading your post I just had to. Your post totally resonated with my own thoughts and doubts. I am so glad you shared this. I bet you feel free just for doing so. Look forward to many more wonderful posts.

  23. Clearly I am late to this party and there is nothing more to say than “thank you” (from someone who does show a few failures on her blog and who admits she can’t do everything perfectly yet one who still needs this reminder every. single. day. of her life.) Hugs XOXO

  24. Just discovered your site and loved reading this beautifully written, refreshing post first. Looking forward to reading more!

    • Thank you so very much Kate. Mostly it’s recipes, but feeling very contemplative about this stuff lately so decided to share, and glad that I did.

  25. This is the first post I have read on this blog and I am already in love. I will enjoy exploring this blog in the days to come. I think everyone who decides to ‘put themselves out there’ on a blog or other social media struggles with this very same thing. I am just getting into the world of blogging, will be starting later this fall when I launch my site. I think it will be interesting because I don’t want to be so ‘real’ that people think I am posting things for their shock value! LOL. I guess there are two sides to every spectrum! There’s real and then there’s OMG seriously is that real? Anyway, I pledge to jump off that cliff with you. Happy blogging!

    • The shock value stuff is kind of another way to try to impress people, right?! I don’t have any desire to do that. I just want my blog to be a true reflection of me :)

  26. What a beautiful heartfelt post Winnie. Being fairly new to the blogging world, I have already experienced how easy it is to get caught up with making everything as perfect as possible, especially if you’re a perfectionist. I think because blogging is in the virtual world, it’s even easier to fall into presenting the perfect image. We are all human, and imperfect in our own ways.Thanks for being genuine and sharing a part of you.

    • Hi Jeanette,
      Yes it is rampant on blogs to see perfect images. And I am not saying it’s wrong- those images can be inspirational. For me, though, after a while, I start to feel inadequate when all I see is perfection. I’d like to see real stuff once in a while, too ;)

  27. You know me. I’m a snarky hot mess…although I doubt my readers would know that about me. I really need to be fearless too. I’m glad you coming “out” and telling us all how it is :)

  28. Love this post Winnie. I especially love the fact that you say “and sometimes there’s candy” -and my house is full of dog fur too!

    • OMG having a labrador is pretty much the worst thing ever if you want your floor to look clean. I could vaccuum 5 times a day and it would still be covered with fur LOL!

  29. You are such an inspiration Winnie, and I’m so glad you shared yourself here on your blog, and at the conference as well. You only said what all of us were feeling but were too afraid to say – so thank you for your courage and “realness!” :-)

    • Tracy,
      Thanks for saying that. It’s so reassuring to know I am not the only one with these feelings!

  30. Thanks for sharing this – I’m pretty new to the world of blogging but it is a constant tension, especially with kids, how much to share and how much to … sanitize? And it’s so refreshing to hear other bloggers whom I admire “come clean” about the dog hair, the messy houses, the tantrums, what have you. I love the picture of your son – it’s perfect. And I am always very inspired by your blog.

  31. Beautiful post, Winnie! You are absolutely not alone in feeling insecure and wanting to make everything look perfect. Perhaps you recall all of my crazy perfectionist tweets about cookies last week before BSP? :) I, too, am working on letting things go. It’s not easy being Type A. :)

  32. Winnie, this post is so wonderful and honest. you are not alone at all! i’m trying to stop holding back so much with my posts on my blog. for a long time, i’ve been thinking that people don’t want to read the silly/boring/weird stories about my life and the things that happen to me, they just want a recipe, and to learn more about ingredients and food. i realize that this isn’t the case, because i love getting to know other people through their blogs! i think i’m just afraid of boring people, or offending someone, or something totally silly like that. it’s ridiculous.

    i think that a lot of bloggers, myself included, try to show the best of ourselves and our lives on our blogs, whether it’s intentional or subconscious. while the cake i frosted and photographed might be lovely, the process to make that pretty confection turned my kitchen into a hot mess full of dishes. i don’t know why i’m hesitant to discuss or show the more chaotic or messy parts of my life on my site, because when it comes down to it, i think most people relate more to people whose lives are “real” and complicated and slightly askew.

    i wrote a lot, whew! i guess what i’m trying to say is that i’m right there with you, and the honesty of this post is a great catalyst for me to open up more on my own blog, and in my own life as well. thanks for this great post!

  33. Great post!!! I think nowadays people really just appreciate the real-ness in others. I know I do.

    Recently posted that although I do promote local and real food on my blog, that yes I do eat Doritos and yes I do enjoy it.

  34. This is the most wonderful post I’ve read in a very long time. No one is perfect, and it’s our flaws that make us the interesting people we are. I understand the need to sometimes censor what you put out there… I think we all need a reminder to put ourselves out there… even the messy spots.

    PS- I have two pugs. They shed like mad. My house is always covered in dog hair.

  35. Oh, Winnie, you are not alone. Definitely not alone.

    I love you for this…and for lots of other reasons too. *hugs*

  36. Great post Winnie! I think we’ve all been there…at least I know I have. In this day + age of social media…w/facebook, twitter, blogging…we all tend to post happy, joyful times in our lives. Whether through words, or photos. But, no one’s as perfect as they may seem.
    I can relate to the getting real feeling. It’s hard to take that leap, but I think it’s great you have!
    And remember, like you said, why you started this blog to begin with. If it’s your passion and it fulfills you, gives you purpose…that’s all that really matters! You’ve got a great site and plenty of people enjoy it! So, you’re doing very well in my book! :)

  37. I love you Winnie, and I love this post. Life is so far from perfect, but that is what makes it so fun (and leads us to wonderful people like you!). xox

  38. Love how you shared this. It’s so darn easy to get caught up in the comparisons that sometimes blogging feels like middle/high school all over again. By the way, my garden beds are a mess of weeds, and my Swedish fish are the Haribo Twin Cherries, which I can eat by the bag. Also peanut butter M&Ms. :-)

  39. Winnie ~ am cheering you on as you shed the ‘perfection’ gene we ALL share . . . and any blogger who says they don’t struggle w/the same issues is a liar and i for one, would say that to them directly . . . i am being quite real here. the more people (in this case, bloggers but you can fill in the blank for whatever sector one lives in) risk being real and authentic, the sooner we will ALL benefit from being who each of us was created to be. as someone who has grappled, struggled, wrestled with numerous ‘not good enoughs’ i find that as i move closer to exiting this life than beginning this life, i’m better at laying the comparison game down and moving on. some days are better than others but i shout from the rooftops the names of those with courage to take a stand and say ‘enough is enough – THIS is who i am – take it or leave it’ . . . so proud to list you as my friend!!

  40. I love that last photo. It almost looks black and white on purpose, except the green leaves.
    Great post, Winnie. This is the kind I like to read.

  41. What a beautiful, inspiring post. Thank you! I’ve only been blogging a short time but can understand much of what you shared. You’re not alone! I have my own smelly chicken coop and enjoy Family Guy with my husband and kids, too. (Peanut M&Ms are my candy choice.) May we all aspire to be like you and your son and take a leap!

  42. I fell in love with your blog during Project Food Blog and had the privilege to meet you last year. You have always been honest and genuine and I adore you for it. I don’t think you need to show the messy side of your life inorder to show your authentic self.

  43. Winnie–how beautifully you expressed what I think is universal, blogger or non-blogger. Insecurity is alive and well! I have struggled with it my whole life. It always bugs me when I feel it creeping in. I say, fight it! (as you did with this post.) None of us are perfect (thank goodness) and really, there is no such thing as better than/less than except in our own heads. I keep trying to remember that. Thanks for sharing :) You are ‘enough’ just as you are! p.s Swedish fish forever!

  44. Amen and thank you, Winnie. You’re right, nothing and no one is perfect. For the record, I love red Swedish Fish, too :) And I already know we share other gummy candy favorites.

    It is so true how blogs may portray a more than perfect life, but I like to think that most of what we publish are the things we love and aspire to achieve on a daily basis. I’m willing to bet that Martha Stewart has a smelly chicken coop once in a while. And maybe even PMS :)

    Loved this post. Love your son’s fearlessness (and yours, too!).

  45. Perfect post sweetie. Not only do I eat red licorice but I have been known to make mac and cheese with velvetta. Oh, I also don’t exercise. I love this post. There I said it twice because I am a little OCD :–)

  46. Wow! I loved this post. I struggle with all of the same issues and it really touched me to read your post and I feel so much closer to you :) You are brave and wonderful and I hope to get to know you even better!

  47. thank you so much for opening up and sharing with us…. you’ve voiced many of the insecurities i’ve had over the last few months about food blogging – and still struggling with but i’m comforted to know that i’m not alone.

  48. Oh, Winnie! What a great, interesting and captivating post. I need to do some of the same. I’ve been “purging” myself of a few of my insecurities lately. It is some of the hardest work ever! I can so relate to the dog hair; I would hope the cats got rid of the mice – regardless of where; chicken coops are supposed to smell; I am post-menopausal and have been since I was 48 so I am empathetic to your PMS; and I don’t blog to impress either. In fact many who do blog to impress don’t impress me. I like honesty, “real” stuff from “real” people like you who don’t whine about every splinter they get but who don’t hold back either when they need to rant a bit. I love your blog and I can’t imagine not hearing from you and knowing what is going on with you. I love Leo. Your daughter looks just like you – beautiful. I love looking at pictures of your garden, flowers and chickens. Love you!

  49. Winnie, I just love you so much. Thank you for being so honest, especially at #bsp2. It’s due to you that I was really able to open up and absorb all the goodness there.


  50. We can’t be friends any more if you’re not perfect. I need to feel bad about myself, so I’m going to go read the Pioneer Woman from now on.

  51. Hi Winnie
    What a wonderful written post! I think you expressed what a lot of us are afraid to say out loud, were not perfect. But that’s ok, I don’t think I would want to be,(not that I’m even close) it would have to be terribly boring being perfect.

    I know what you mean about the jealousy, it does seem to run rampant some times, we all get those twinges, its just how you handle them that make the difference.

    Personally I am very happy that your blogging and sharing your life with us and I thank you for the time and effort you put into your posts. We all benefit from them!


    (did you say yellow Swedish fish…….be still my heart!)

  52. Wow, I’m so envious of your courage. I feel some if not most of your feelings in this post and I wish I had what it takes to write a post like you just did. Thank you for sharing and glad to know I’m not alone with those insecurities.

  53. I can’t think of any blogger who is more straight-forward than you are, Winnie. Let’s not be to hard on ourselves. We are all riddled with self-doubt(s). I’ve just been thinking about the bloggers to whom I feel closest. The common thread is that you are all generous and kind, something that really comes across and makes me want to know you better. In my short “career” thus far as a food blogger I have learned to dodge the knives and reach towards the hugs. best, Liz

  54. Yay! We all need to let our hair down a little and pull the swedish fish out of the closet. Thanks for starting a good conversation!

  55. This is a beautiful post, Winnie! I think you are so awesome at what you do, already. And you are uniquely you, which is the very thing that makes you so awesome. I always think comparing ourselves to one another is like that old saying, comparing apples and oranges. And that other saying: there will always be somebody better than you, and there will always be somebody worse than you. So we should celebrate our differences, and be happy being who we are. I know its easier said than done, but you’ve already taken a huge step. I’m so happy you’re feeling more comfortable about talking about “you”. You’re great. :)

  56. Oh Winnie, this was perfect and messy and honest and I’m so proud of you for wanting to take more leaps (even if it’s not off an actual cliff)

    We need to hang out soon and watch Family Guy, eat Swedish fish and just know that the garden needs to be weeded but not doing anything about it :)

  57. You are an amazing woman. Swedish fish, mouse guts, and all. Thanks for sharing your heart. This totally resonates with me today, thank you Winnie!