Wednesday, May 07, 2014

A Beautiful Mess "Blog Life" e-Course: inspiration for life, not just blogging

I've been up late the past few nights with a storm in my brain, thanks to the new Blog Life e-course by A Beautiful Mess.  The course was launched a week ago, one week after I decided I was going to start writing again.  Perfect timing.

I don't really buy into a lot of the blogging advice out there--the tone just doesn't sit well with me.  But I have consistently found inspiration in the courses A Beautiful Mess offers because they are so down-to-earth and authentic.  You don't read their course and think you're going to be the next, well . . . them, but you you do read it and think you could probably be a pretty decent you if you could just clarify what that is.

Authenticity is possibly Elsie's and Emma's greatest strength (well, closely rivaled by insane creativity), and they stress the importance for authenticity in your blog and brand as well, with chapters like "Play to Your Strengths," where the homework involves prompts to help you identify your strengths and consider them from several angles.

This was not an easy exercise for me.  I have never enjoyed writing resumes or "About Me" blurbs.  I doubt myself a lot.  I don't want to state my strengths because I am afraid you might disagree with me (and that would be embarrassing).  And I struggle to see my strengths clearly because mine seem to be less skill-related and more personality-related.  Basically, I am friendly, I like to be nice to people, and I am nerdishly enthusiastic about small things (paper! letters! thoughtfulness! more paper!).  My fear is that I may also talk/write too much as a result of this friendly nerdy niceness.

(Nevertheless, in the face of that fear, I am going to share with you a little story.)

The summer before 8th grade, I wanted to go to basketball camp at OU.  My parents weren't sure if spending my babysitting money on this camp was such a wise investment when, all through my 7th-grade season, I seemed to lack any real drive or competitiveness. My mom was like, "Steve, do you really think it's a good idea for her to spend $150 on basketball camp when she isn't even aggressive?"  My dad wasn't so sure, either, but he chose a humorous angle and said, "Who knows--maybe she'll win Miss Congeniality or something."

And, guess what--I WON MISS CONGENIALITY.  At basketball camp.  You could look at that a few different ways.  But, basically, it sums up my life.

Waving happily just months after winning
Weatherford Middle School's All-Time Highest Scorer Award Miss Congeniality 

This might explain why my "list of major accomplishments" for the Blog Life course homework includes things like:

"good student"
"sophomore class rep"
"best all-around"
"homecoming queen"
(FYI, "basketball and track" were also included on this list, as I did develop some competitiveness in high school.)

Yes, these are all of my MAJOR life accomplishments.

I had to laugh at the relatively short list, the fact that nothing showed up post-college, how minor it all was, and the way it basically boiled down to being popular.  Is that really an accomplishment?

Nah, not really.

But--there is more to the "Playing to Your Strengths" homework than a list of accomplishments, and when I took everything I had written in response to each prompt and looked at it all together, I felt like I had a pretty good idea of my strengths after all.  I looked at my "accomplishment" list from another angle and wrote out these sentences--

"I am friendly, and I like to help people.  I am kind.  I like to connect and encourage."

Over the years since college, I've dismissed my school day "accolades" as a result of being a people pleaser and growing up in small-town, sports-crazed Oklahoma (where there is basically a formula for popularity).  But I've realized something--I truly believe in and enjoy being kind to everyone, and that probably had something to do with it too.

Best All-Around and Best Matching Denim 

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how this translates into a clear, well-written, purposeful blog, but I'm also still only at the beginning of the course.  :)

But regardless of how all of this affects my blog's much-needed development, it has already affected me in real life--hey, I just figured out some things I am good at by living in the past for a little bit!  The last 12 years of "real life" (marriage, motherhood, the workplace, the home, mommy friendships) have seemed mostly to highlight my weaknesses.  I needed real life in order to grow, but recently I needed to be reminded of who I was from birth to 22.  And something as simple as a page of list exercises helped remind me.

I've been so inspired and encouraged since purchasing this course because I feel more confident and comfortable in my skin.  I'm giving fewer disclaimers.  I have more answers than questions for the first time in a long time, and that's a good feeling.

"We are all original. There is no one else exactly like you in the whole world. You have something different to offer. But, you won’t get there by looking at others and trying to be just like them. Be yourself. Do your best work. Play to your strengths, not somebody else’s."
Emma Chapman, "Blog Life" e-Course 
by A Beautiful Mess

As simple as it sounds, kindness is one of my strengths--so I guess I will try to figure out how to play to that--in everyday life and in my writing.  I hope I don't annoy you by being friendly nerdy nice girl--but that's me being authentic.  I like you, and I like to be kind.

Oh, but I do have one favor to ask--I would reeeeeally appreciate your vote for the "Most Likely to Win Miss Congeniality at Basketball Camp" award.  Thank you so much.  :)

Love Always,

P. S. If you are interested in the Blog Life class, I recommend it, obviously.  Check out the course description for more info.  I write all of this because I am a walking commercial for things I like, especially when I think they might help someone else, and also because I want to express my appreciation to Elsie and Emma for being such kind, authentic, generous bloggers.  ♥  Thank you SO very much!


  1. Amber! I needed this! Thanks for your honesty, nice nerds unite! :) <3

    1. Yay, Alysha! I am so happy to hear that and so glad my blog let you comment this time. :) YES, nice nerds unite! We should start a club. xoxo

    2. PS--let me know if you take the course and what you think! Love this type of conversation. <3

  2. Hi Amber! I'm so glad you did this post. I saw that they had their Blog Life e-course and it definitely caught my eye. It sounds like that little extra push I've been needing in my life recently. I realized that my self-doubt has been getting in the way of a lot of things I've been wanting to do, but it wasn't until recently that I had to just set those fears aside and play off my strengths, regardless of what people may think.

    Thank you for reminding me that I just need to believe in myself and run with what I want to achieve!

    1. Hi, Michelle! Thank you so much for reading! I always love it when someone else happens to be working through the same thing at the same time as me. I'd love to know more about what gave you the courage to put the self-doubt aside. I think you would definitely love the course! If you check it out, let me know so we can talk about it! :)

      I love your bright, happy blog and all your creativity! I can't wait to see what else you have in store for it! <3

  3. Hello Amber!

    I have been thinking of signing up for this e-course, I've started blogging again this year and feel lost as ever as to how to be "authentic". Thank you so much for this post which served as a green light for me.

    Have a great day!


    1. Hi, Elle!

      I'm so happy this post was helpful for you. Authenticity and voice are so important--I hope the course is as helpful for you as it has been for me if you do end up taking it! Let me know if you do so we can discuss it! :)

      I visited your blog, and I noticed we share many of the same interests. Stick with it!

      Thanks so much for saying hello. :)


  4. I was searching online to see if any bloggers have written about this e-course yet, so glad I stumbled upon your post here. This is exactly what I wanted to hear to decide that I am going to purchase the course. Thank you! oxo

    1. Hi, Krystal! I'm so glad to hear this post was helpful! I hope you enjoy the course as much as I have. :) And good luck!


  5. Thank you so much for this review! It was super helpful. I've been contemplating the class for a while now.

  6. Thanks for this review! I am looking at the course at the moment and was hoping to read a bit from people that have taken it. Looks like I should most definitely do that. :)

  7. I have seen this ecourse before and might just have to check it out! xo


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