As 2024 begins, I’m feeling like sharing a heart-to-heart with you here. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this community – it’s that we all have so much more in common than we realize. So while some of this blogpost feels vulnerable, I have a feeling it will resonate with you at the same time. Thanks for being here as we have a fresh start with a new year.
Back in 2021, I started Wonder and Wander – Jackson with the plan of sharing all of the kid-friendly gems throughout Jackson County. At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom, having left my job to stay home with my kiddos during the pandemic. After wishing for a resource like this, I decided to dive head-first into creating one.
Year 1 was a GIANT success – I won a Women Rise Micro-Grant from Michigan Tribe, I built solid relationships in the community and beyond, the social media following grew, and so did the number of visitors to the site. I hosted meet-ups, shared a bunch of location reviews, and pumped out the content. And while some parts didn’t come as easily as I had hoped (hellooo additional funding – I’m looking at you), I did my best to forge ahead.
As Year 2 approached, and my oldest was home on summer break, major burnout crept in. Content creation didn’t feel as fun, I found myself not wanting to pick up my laptop when the kiddos went to bed to write blog posts, and the hustle of always chasing partnerships and funding felt like a lot. And while I had a couple of things come my way, almost everything I secured funding-wise was by chasing it – and that, most certainly, didn’t feel fun.
I slogged through Year 2 the best I could. There was still amazing meet-ups, new content, and I somehow kept things going. But after being home with a toddler for two years, my brain started to feel like mush (on top of the burnout). This meant it was time for me to start job hunting.
In November of 2022, the pieces fell into place faster than I could imagine, and I started a full-time job. I distinctly remember during my interview being asked how I would keep my small business running while working full-time. I laugh now hearing myself say, “Well I built this business while my children slept, and I don’t imagine that will be any different now.”
I mean – after all – I had added two wonderful writing contributors to join me, and certainly, I could do All. The. Things. while starting a brand new job after not using my brain for almost three years… right?
The year that followed was HARD. I think the word that can be used to describe 2023 is “NOPE”.
Narrator: Hey Elizabeth – will you be able to keep Wonder and Wander-Jackson running fully while starting a brand new job and having 2 kids?
Narrator: Hey Elizabeth – will your kids spend more than 1 week being healthy in 2023?
Narrator: Hey Elizabeth – can you keep hustling to try to bring in revenue for your small business in 2023?
I quickly realized I could not do it all. And more importantly, with that major burnout still festering inside on top of endless sickness and exhaustion, I truly didn’t WANT to do it all. But the blessing was – I realized this. So I consciously spent the year choosing me instead of choosing everyone but me.
I spent the year taking art classes. I spent a lot of time with friends (without my kids in tow). I spent a lot of time off screens. I spent time trying new hobbies, attending concerts, and doing things that made me happy. And you know what? I think it worked.
A Fresh Start in 2024
As I enter 2024, I look back at 2023 and think, “What the hell just happened?!?!” It was, after all, a doozy. But taking a year to say “no” to hustle culture and “yes” to myself helped me to heal my rampant burnout.
So what does this mean for Wonder and Wander-Jackson in 2024? I am feeling more than ready to dive back in. I’m feeling ready to reignite this community, to bring us back together, to share all of the gems in Jackson County, and to share little lessons that I have learned along the way (such as this blog post today).
As the saying goes, “The sun will rise and we will try again.” And so here we are with a fresh start for 2024.
Most importantly, thank you for being here so I can try again.