#boldbrilliantbeautiful. Me and YOU!

It’s a new year! We are a full week into 2014… how are you feeling so far? Have you done that thing where you take stock of the past year and think about the year to come? Have you set goals or made resolutions for the year ahead?

I’ll be honest with you. I did not do that whole “year in review” thing for 2013. I was just too tired! I didn’t even do a Top 10 for 2013 for the blog like so many of my fellow blogging friends did. I’m just ready to jump into the new year and start fresh. Part of that fresh start is going to include change, both in my personal life and here on the blog. I mentioned this in the December newsletter very briefly, but I wanted to talk a bit more about it today.

Don’t be frightened, but I’m hoping you’ll join me… yes you!


In the last 4-1/2 years that I have been writing this blog, I seem to have gotten lost somehow. I’m going to be completely and painfully honest here and tell you that it took over my life for a while. It started innocently enough. I wanted to start a blog to document my sewing projects that I was doing as I was learning to sew. I started gaining followers and people started commenting and it was fun! Who knew that there were people who even cared about what I had to say or what I was doing? I started putting more time into it and worked on growing my following… and it grew. As the number of Southern Institute readers grew so did the amount of time that I was putting into it. To make a long story short, within a couple of years I had a full blogging schedule, I was doing guest posts and sponsored posts, I had advertisers, and I was posting 5-6 times a week. Many of those posts were tutorials, which take a lot of time. If you are a sewing/cooking/craft blogger you know how much time it takes to pump out 5-6 posts a week. If you love reading blogs, but you’re not a blogger yourself, you would be really surprised at how much time it takes to put together a post like that. I needed help keeping up so I took on contributors and they were AWESOME! For all intents and purposes I had a successful blog, right? Sure! But here’s the thing… I was exhausted and I was stressed out (and I was not making much money either). And guess what? I’m not able to pump out original creative content at that pace, it’s just not possible for me. I was grumpy and I was spending most of my time on my computer, blogging. While my children were wanting me to read to them or play with them I was on the computer, putting them off, always needing just a “few minutes” to finish up a post or answer an email. When they went to bed there I was on my computer again until I fell into bed at night, where my husband had already fallen asleep. I didn’t like myself much at all. I felt like I was grumpy all of the time and noticed I was smiling less. Besides stealing time from my family there was little to no time for other things that I wanted to pursue: pattern design, learning to knit, tennis, reading a book every once in a while. I felt like I had lost myself in it all.

For myself and my family I am making changes and I’m starting now. In fact, I’ve already started, but today I’m making my declaration here in this space. I’m going to be Bold, Brilliant, and Beautiful in 2014!


I’m not going to let this blog take over my life anymore. I’ll only post when I have something to share with you. That might be a sewing project or tutorial or something that Abby and I have been doing in our homeschooling. I want to share more of myself and my journey as a mother. Maybe I’ll write about our newest venture into essential oils and my attempts at more gluten-free baking… who knows! If you follow me on Instagram you have a great feel for what I’m talking about. You might hear from me once a week, once a month, or once every two months, but whenever you do hear from me it will be me sharing with you from my heart. You’ll get the real me, not a bunch of impersonal posts and tutorials. Being real is scary, but I’d love to get to know you better and I can’t ask you to share with me if I’m not being real with you, can I?

This year I want to shine like never before. You know how I felt like I had lost myself? I’m on my way to finding myself again. I want to smile more. I want to say “yes” to my children more and yell at them less. Our home will be a happier place. I’m going to pursue new friendships and nurture the old friendships that I hold near and dear to my heart. I want to be a blessing to others, to encourage them, to help people.

This year I will be turning 40 years old! I can hardly believe it! I’m not scared of 40. In fact, I feel like this could be my year. This year I will invest in the things that I know will help me usher 40 in with beauty and grace. What is that, you might ask? For one, more date nights with my husband! Yes, you heard that right. Time with Tom away from the kids reminds us that we are still a couple in love, and being in love makes a person radiant. We have a phrase that we like to say to each other when the kids are driving us crazy and we’re stressed out… “It’s not us.” It’s not us that makes us tired and stressed out, it’s life! When we can get away, even for a few hours, we remember who we are as a couple. Making sure I get together with my best friends more often is a big goal for this year too, which is a challenge now that I’m homeschooling Abby, but I’ll find a way. Time with a good friend who gets you and loves you no matter what is a beautiful thing; and being that friend for someone else makes you even more radiant. What else will I do this year to keep myself beautiful? I’ll be playing more tennis because I love to play and darn it, I’m not too bad at it!

I’m not going to lie, the last few months have been a struggle for me mentally and emotionally. I have been exhausted and have been trying so desperately to do it all, but I cannot do it all. None of us can. It has left me unhappy and unfulfilled, which is a place I don’t want to stay in. That is why changes need to be made. Are you feeling any of this too, or is it just me?

Let’s take off our masks and be real with one another about life and what we’re going through. Let’s encourage one another to be bold and be brilliant, because every one of us is beautiful! Throughout the year, I’m joining forces with some of my blogging friends to motivate and encourage ourselves and others to be bold and step out from behind the lens, projects, and mama status to show ourselves.

That’s right, we’re doing something just for us, and we’re inviting you to join us!


Each of us has something bold, brilliant and beautiful inside— whether it’s a dream to ask for a promotion, quit your day job and stay home with your kids, or learn how to knit a sweater. The #boldbrilliantbeautiful project is a support group for all of us seeking to be real and vulnerable. No judging, no questions, just support and words of encouragement.

Be a part of the project by using #boldbrilliantbeautiful on Instagram and twitter to find other women like you, who are looking to make 2014 their best, most authentic year yet! You can start by taking a selfie like the one I posted above and sharing it on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with the #boldbrilliantbeautiful hashtag. We’d love to see you there! Here is a list of the other bloggers who are banding together to start this project:

Casa Crafty
Made with Moxie
this heart of mine
small + Friendly
Kids Stuff World
Classic Play
Even If Nobody Reads This
Maker Mama


  1. yes! be happy, my friend :) you can do it!!

  2. Melissa Q. says:

    What a wonderful and inspiring post! I’m a little choked up. Love it and can’t wait to see everything that results for you!!

    One of my bold, brilliant, beautiful acts this year is more yoga and more working out. I love feeling healthy and good (and even a little sexy :) ). Happy 2014 friend!

    • Woohoo, you said the “s” word! Yeah! I hope you get to do that for yourself this year. Exercise is so important for our mental health. I’m excited to get to know you better in the coming year, Melissa!

  3. Lori Danelle says:

    YES!!! Good stuff & Great challenge! It’s so hard when you’re building something – maybe even with the intent that it will make things better for your family once you “get there” – to not get so focused on the goal that you loose yourself & neglect your family. Boy do I know that feeling!!! Thanks for the reminder & the challenge, Jenny! You are Bold, Brilliant, & Beautiful!!

    • Oh man, that is hard, Lori. Especially when you have a talent like yours! I think if you can just remember to keep it before God He will keep you on track. For me it’s the remembering to lay it all before him continually that’s so hard. Maybe it is for you too, I don’t know. Love you, friend!

  4. Jocelyn says:

    I LOVE this! I’ve been practicing the “bold” part in regard to blogging for quite a while, but I have to let go of the guilt related to it. We can’t do it all, and we can’t do it all perfectly! And I think we ought to all put more focus on our families instead of trying to portray perfect families. This hits so close to home for me. All I want is to stop yelling at my kids! And we, as women, should be supporting each other rather than trying to climb higher than one another.
    I’m with you!

    • I have written before about my yelling struggle… it is something that can cause so much shame! I’m right there with you, friend! We’re in this together!

  5. JessiBerry says:

    This is amazing! I have so much to comment on!

    I started my blog about 3.5 years ago to document my life as a new mom, then slowly added in craft stuff into the mix. Now it is a mesh of life and that is how I love it; kids, learning, crafts, growth…

    But I have essentially, little to no followers. I write up posts and feel almost bummed that it doesn’t get read, and I want people to read it, to comment on it, to feel like I’m helping inspire others.

    What I have to keep reminding myself is that it is supposed to be fun. The work that goes into a post is amazing, and sometimes as I look at you and others that I view as my blogging ‘role models’, I wonder how you take the time to do all you do…

    That said, I feel that what I’ve been doing is sufficient. What you are doing to have your blog, more your life be, is beautiful. This is the inspiration most of us need!

    Let’s face it. Inspiration comes with experiencing life. If we spend our time writing blog posts and setting up the inspiration we intend for others, we miss so much potential for ourselves!

    Here’s to a new year and the potential within it to be bold, brilliant and beautiful!

    • Oh man, I could write such a long response to your comment! First of all, THANK YOU for your honesty! I think as bloggers we all want to be noticed and anyone who blogs and says otherwise is lying to themselves and everyone else. Why else would we put ourselves out there? Naturally we want interaction and to know that someone out there is reading and connecting with what we have to say, but you are so right… when it stops being fun and starts taking away from our lives offline it’s time for an intervention. The blogs that are shiny and beautiful and make you want to crawl into a hole because your blog could never measure up are written by people who are investing a HUGE amount of time into them and you never know what is happening behind the scenes. That’s the reality. Stay true to what makes you happy and write about what fulfills you, not what you think will make people come/comment/etc. And I could go on. :) Thank you so much for reading and commenting, it means so much to me.

  6. Carla says:

    I can’t wait to see more of you, you are such a warm, supportive, funny, interesting woman. The world will surely be a better place with each moment of YOU that you share. Love ya!

    • Carla, you’re so sweet! I’m totally blushing over here. I’m so glad to be getting to know you and can’t wait to grow together this year. Ok, that sounds weird, but you know what I mean, LOL!

  7. joya says:

    I am with you!! Striking a balance in life, between creating, sharing online AND family is so important and something I am working on as well. I like being real too. :)

    • Is it even attainable? I’m not sure it is, but i think it’s something to strive for, for sure!

  8. Kelley says:

    its time! time to be! well said, hurray for 2014!

  9. Jane says:

    these are absolutely fantastic goals!! I especially loved the “say yes” part…I need to do that!

    • And saying “yes” should come so much more easily than it does! We can do it… we need to set ourselves up for success!

  10. Jen says:

    Jenny, you are wholly inspiring. I LOVE this. Mostly because you’re so darn honest, but also because you’re still so super positive too.

    Excited about this project! xo

  11. Yay, I’m not the only one who skipped over the best of/year in review post. I was letting myself feel guilty–but forget about it! Onward and upward!

    • Ha ha ha, Amy! I know… I almost let myself feel guilty until I realized that I was too tired to even try to figure out what my top 10 was! No worries, right? It’s a new year and it’s going to be better in so many other ways anyway. :) XO

  12. Deborah says:

    Jenny, this is awesome. I love how honest you are about where your blog was at and what wasn’t working for you. I think a lot of us feel like we need to get to THAT place and then all will be right in the world. But if you get there and you’ve lost your joy in it, or are losing your joy in the other parts of life because of it, then it’s not THE place you want to be. Thank you for this, can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds for you!

    • That was exactly it, Deborah, except there is also that unattainable “better”, you know? I would reach a goal, but it was never good enough. Enough is enough already! Thank you so much for your comment and your encouragement, Deborah! I can’t wait to continue on this journey with all of you.

  13. bp says:

    A big motivation for me is that I am turning 40 this year too! I know! It’s not scary, but I want to be closer to who I know I can be before I leave my thirties. No pressure, just what I want for myself. I really like your honesty. I like how you know what you need to do to care for yourself more and be crazy and stressed less.

    You are right, it isn’t us, it’s life. It’s life’s job to kick our asses, isn’t it?

  14. stacy says:

    Oh Jenny, you are a blessing to us all! Thank you for being so brave, and so honest, and so real. You always know how to help me put things in perspective, I hate telling my kids “just a few more minutes” and I hate not being able to balance it all … lots to think about for sure. I’m glad you are taking your life back, and I am happy you let me be a small part of it. Love you dear.

  15. Stephanie says:

    I totally, completely, 100% get where you are coming from, Jenny. That’s kinda where I’m at right now. I’m not sure if the perfect balance even exists, but I’m willing to do whatever it takes to try!! Thanks for this post- I really needed it! So happy to be doing this project with you!

  16. I’m so needing to find the balance this year too! I’m so in love with this project and can’t wait to see what it brings for you all this year!

  17. You know, Jenny, I am SO HAPPY to read that you’re taking back your life, your blog, and your YOU-ness. You’re such a leader, and it is tough to be a leader when you feel overwhelmed. I’m looking forward to what you have in store for us next, and mostly, what you have in store for Yourself. You’re wonderful!

    • Karen, I remember when we spoke on the phone about Sew Fab last year. I was so nervous to call you and so relieved to find you to be such a warm and lovely woman on the phone. I think we both have a lot to look forward to this year! I’m looking forward to sharing the road with you, friend!

  18. Jenelle says:

    So many of us can relate to having a hobby or blog turn into a business that ultimately plays Godzilla on our lives. It takes a bold, brave, confident woman to stand up and say- I love you my followers and friends, I love this blog, but I love myself and my family more.

    There is no balance only harmony. You’ll find it this year.

  19. Racquel says:

    Your photos are so fun! :) Yes, be real, be you! No one else can do a better job at being you, right? Here’s to a fantastic year ahead!

  20. Jenny, So very honored to get to discover your truthful feelings before I knew anything else about you. I am so thrilled and relieved to be a part of this group of women. And to be able to finally be me and have that be of value. A community is so much more than the sum of it’s people. The 40′s will surprise the heck out of you. Look forward to be connected.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting, Shalagh! I loved your post on slow-blogging. It just confirmed once again my decision to step away from the “producer” role in blogging and just blog because I enjoy it, like it was when I started blogging. It’s easy to get swept away in the numbers and the potential income and all of the “popularity”, but when those things take away from the things that bring joy to your life then you are headed down the wrong path. So glad you joined out BBB group of women!!! I’m looking forward to seeing you here and there!


  1. […] you participating in the Bold Brilliant Beautiful Project (#boldbrilliantbeautiful)? It has been so amazing to watch women join in and share their goals for […]

Speak Your Mind