contentment boundaries

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Balance, Running a Business96 Comments

I wrote earlier this month that my two focus areas of 2019 are contentment and health.  These are two areas I’m working on, so anything I share with you is like the blind leading the blind, but sometimes there is comfort in that.  Sometimes it’s nice to be at the same point on the same journey together, right?  And really, that’s what the heart of blogging is about…just an average person sharing what they are up to.

Soooo…  let’s talk about contentment and some boundaries I needed to set up to help me on that journey.

Years and years ago, when I was a newlywed and just starting to develop a love for all things home, I became a shelter magazine and decorating book junkie.  I subscribed to all of them and I joined the book clubs… you remember the ones that you would pick 8-12 books for $.99/each when you joined and then you’d have to buy X amount of books over the next two years?  I did those.  I didn’t even mind shipping back the “do not send me this month’s book selection” cards every four weeks.  I loved my decorating books.

When Jeff and I didn’t have money to spend on books, we would go to Barnes & Nobel and I would sit on the floor of the decorating book section and pour over home books.  I would make a list of all of the ones I liked and would then ask for them for Christmas or my birthday or I would save up and buy them on half.com.  (Remember that site before it was bought by eBay?)

Anyway, what I noticed is these books and magazines were educational and inspirational, yes, but they also fostered a spirit of discontentment.  We lived in apartments and then in my in-law’s basement as Jeff worked to finish his undergrad degree.  My living spaces didn’t look anything like any home I saw on those beautiful glossy pages.  And I found my heart desiring material possessions more than the things that really matter in life.

So, I had to temper it a bit.  I canceled subscriptions to all but my two favorite magazines and I stopped joining the book clubs.

Setting those boundaries helped me to gain a proper perspective and to find contentment in what I had.  It also helped me focus my attention on learning the skills required to get the looks I wanted for less.  Instead of pining over what was out of my reach, I learned to slipcover, paint and refinish furniture, and sew curtains and pillows.  I shifted that discontentment, which is an inactive, draining emotion, into productivity and resourcefulness.

Fast forward to now.  We don’t need to play the book club games or renew our magazine subscriptions to get a glimpse of everything we don’t have.  It’s all there…in the palm of our hands.  And you know this and I’m sure you’ve felt some of the same uneasiness about it that I have.  I’m sure you’ve experienced the feelings of inadequacy fed by beautiful lives displayed in perfect squares.  And even their imperfections look pretty perfect.  People are just rolling out of bed with false eyelashes and a perfectly situated “messy” bun.

If you asked me a year ago why I use Instagram, I would’ve answered that I use it as a part of my business (to reach a broader audience and connect with my readers in a way other than my blog) and because it’s inspirational.  The first part of that answer is still true today, but the second part?  I’ve had to examine and question that one.  Do I really walk away from Instagram feeling inspired?  Sometimes.  I think the majority of the time, though, I walk away feeling like I need to do more, be more, or buy something.  That’s all a way of saying I walked away feeling more discontent than when I started scrolling.

I really didn’t like that discovery.  Not only because it meant I needed to make some changes in my relationship with social media, but because of what it revealed in me.  Why do the accomplishments of others make me feel like I need to do more?  Why do their successes make me feel like a failure?  Why do I feel like I need to buy something simply because they are enjoying it?  Ugh!  Don’t you hate that?!  What is that in us? 

And why does Instagram seem to be the worst of them all?!  I don’t feel that way after looking at Facebook.  I just want to avoid anyone who is stirring up a heated political debate.  I don’t feel that way when I look at Pinterest.  I just search for and save ideas and recipes that I like.  I don’t feel that way after poking around on YouTube.  Usually, I’m just looking for a quick laugh at news bloopers or funny animals or people reacting to ridiculously spicy foods and I walk away feeling better after laughing myself to tears.

So, I’ve identified Instagram as the all-you-can-eat buffet that potentially feeds discontentment.  But, I’m not about to delete the app or throw my phone into a lake.  I do still recognize Instagram as an important tool for my line of business.  I also view the community of followers grown over the years as a valuable and special group of individuals.  There are many creatives I connect with on Instagram and I wouldn’t want to give that up.

For those who don’t know, I have two boys who are 10 and 12.  They are entering that age where their character is starting to really develop.  How are they going to define themselves?  As we see them struggling through this, we’ve been encouraging them to use the character traits that are emerging in them for good.

You are fierce.  Be fierce for good. 

You are a leader.  Be a leader for good.  

So, I’m saying this to myself…

  Use Instagram, but use Instagram for good.

Use it to grow your community of followers and to encourage them.  Use it to connect with other creatives and be inspired by their journeys and work.  Use it for good.

It’s all easier said than done, but I have set some simple, practical boundaries that have helped a lot!  And all of what I wrote above is a long-winded way to get to the boundaries and why I set them!

set a time limit

The biggest and best thing that I’ve done is set a time limit for social media on my phone.  It is set for 30 minutes/day.  Now, I have the passcode and I can simply give myself more time and I do sometimes, but just having that time limit makes me focus on why I’m there.  I do what I need to do and I get out.  I don’t scroll and scroll any time I have a minute I need to fill in my day.  I open the app with intention.

I also try not to open the app first thing in the morning.  I read a devotional or listen to a podcast or start the day with something that is encouraging, motivating, and/or educational.

engage with posts/influencers that are encouraging & inspiring

Now that Instagram uses algorithms to curate your feed, they will show you more of whatever you engage with.  If you’re constantly checking feeds that make you feel like you need to do more, be more, or buy something, Instagram will shove more of that down your throat.  So, I’m being very intentional to like, comment, and engage only with posts that I find inspirational, encouraging, funny, etc.

inject some variety in your feed

I made the comment to a friend a couple of years ago that there was a sameness that was emerging on Instagram.  The same houses, same projects, same clothes, same photo angles, same filters.  She pointed out that probably had more to do with who I was following and she was right!  I was pretty much only following a group of home bloggers who are all in the same niche.  Not only does it get a little boring, but it also is easier to make comparisons with people who do what you do.  So, my feed has a lot of variety now and some of the people I enjoy following the most are a complete departure from my style.

The accounts from top to bottom, left to right (like reading a book) are…

@annleefuller, @my_vintage_h_o_m_e, @eastoakstudio, @jonesdesigncompany, @oldhousechic, @jen_art, @sonjacaywoodart, @dighaushizzle, @jen_art, @gustavian_by_k.s.l, @lifeontheshadygrove, @whitecottagefarm, @louisebalaam, @jen_art

It’s refreshing to see minimalist modern and 1980’s-boho fusion and cute animals and abstract landscape paintings.  I follow artists, musicians, travelers, photographers, comedians.  And if I see that my feed is becoming too much of one thing, I’ll take a few minutes to like posts that are different to mix it up again.

It is so much more interesting and inspiring.

scheduling posts

Believe it or not, I have been posting manually on Instagram for all these years!  I ended up being on Instagram more than necessary, resulting in being sucked down the social media rabbit hole more than necessary.  If it’s ever necessary.  I have started scheduling my posts from Hootsuite (although there are many scheduling tools) and it has been so liberating.  Not only that, but my captions are more meaningful because I can type them up on my computer and I’m not struggling through it on a small iPhone keyboard.

I was a little concerned that I would be “punished” by Instagram for scheduling posts, but that hasn’t been the case, yet.  I’ve actually seen an increase in engagement and I think that’s due to the more meaningful captions and thoughtfully planned-out posts.

So, when I go on Instagram, it’s just about following up on comments and DMs, filming Stories, and maybe doing a little scrolling and commenting if I have the time.

heart check

And lastly, and this might sound hokie, but I take a few seconds to make sure I’m in the right mindset to engage on social media.  I make sure I approach it in a spirit of love and humility.  I’m opening that app to engage with a community of real people who are sharing pieces of their lives.  I can control how I approach that.  I can be caddy and judgemental or I can be loving, encouraging, supportive, and kind.

When I have taken the time to do that, it makes all of the difference!  It’s not that there is a huge change in how I behave online, but it changes how I feel when I leave the app.

I knew all of these changes would help me have a healthier relationship with Instagram and would help me in the area of contentment and it definitely has.  But, there have also been some unexpected side benefits.  My creativity seems to have freed itself from being pinned down under the weight of comparison and people-pleasing.  Writing is easier.  Ideas are deeper and coming more frequently.

I’m not distracted by what everyone else is doing in my field, but I’m focused on what I feel compelled to create and send out into the world.

And what inspires and compels the creator needs to be the secret ingredient that drives a creative business, right?

What is your relationship with Instagram?  Can you relate to what I’ve shared?  Have you made any changes that have made that relationship a healthy one?  Do you have any boundaries that have been effective for you that I didn’t already mention?

contentment boundaries

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96 Comments on “contentment boundaries”

  1. I think not being a blogger I miss a lot of this. I don’t feel the “competition’. I dont know why people can’t be content with what they have. Of course we all love beautiful things, but in the end they are just THINGS. There’s always going to be a prettier house, etc. We need to be thankful for what we have. Good point on time limits. Social media can suck up huge amounts of time. Best thing you can do is take those apps off your phone. Access them with your computer where it’s not so easy.

    1. I know the issue for me is that I am content and then I see something new…Oo, those shoes are cute! Ooo, look at this new exercise app that now I *need*! It’s more like that for me. I also find that when I see what peer bloggers are doing, it makes me feel like I need to do even more! It’s so silly, but I was finding that was the case.

  2. It’s difficult when you have a business not to be on social media. I do not have a cellphone, just an iPad. I check it in the morning and evenings. My workshop does not have a Wifi connection, so when I am there M-F from 10:30-500 I am not online. So no distractions, I just cut, sand, paint, and create!

    1. I think that was easier for me when I was at the studio. We had wifi, but I was rarely sitting at my desk or taking time to look at my phone. Now that I’m in my house by myself, it was easy to do that as “busy work”.

  3. You know I never really gave it much thought how difficult it can be for bloggers to judge themselves by their peer bloggers. Gosh, it must be difficult at times not to get into the comparison game when there are so many bloggers out there and so many of them seem to have very deep pockets. I can see where it can be a competitive business and a constant state of “One-Upping” each other.

    For me as a reader, it can be just as hard going out on certain blogs and seeing so many gorgeous homes with every upgrade imaginable and getting into that comparison and non-contentment trap. That’s why I too have limited myself to the amount of time I spend on social media and also being more selective on what blogs I follow.

    1. I would also like to add to the above comment that I have noticed once one blogger does a sponsored post for a particular product about 5 other bloggers will do a sponsored post on the same product/company. For instance, you recently did a sponsored post for HansStone. Since then, I can name 4 other bloggers who have done a sponsored post for them as well. Bloggers must troll each other sites to see who is getting what. One blogger admitted she contacted Hanstone to see if they would partner with her not the other way around.

      For me, its a turn-off to keep seeing the same company being featured over and over! Enough already…once or twice is enough for me to see a post about quartz countertops from the same company. I don’t even waste time reading the post.

      1. There are a few things going on here with sponsors and what you’re noticing. The first one is companies work with an agency who then reaches out to bloggers in their network to promote the brand. Often times, those bloggers are in the same sphere and therefore they have some common followers and they see that brand making the “rounds”. Another thing that happens is that companies work with one blogger, have success, and ask them for referrals for who else they can work with. Bloggers refer their friends, who are generally in the same sphere and, again, have common readers. The other typical scenario is what you hit on…a blogger sees that a brand works with bloggers and reaches out to them to see if they will partner with them on their project. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that and I’ve even done that myself if it makes sense for something I’m working on.

        But, I do see how this can come across to readers, especially if they feel inundated by the same brand.

  4. So enjoyed your article and the realities of marketing and a business in this age of instant everything.
    It can be uplifting but as you discuss feelings of inadequacy creep in as well.
    My boundaries are no Instagram or Twitter in my life. It’s just too much.
    I research Google for my interests and go from there…must have been how I found you!

  5. I always prefer amazon in the place of ebay for my business purpose and Instagram in the place of other social media options. Instagram is no such harsh platform and the business success comes from the way we use it.

    appreciate you time for sharing your experience. adorable!!

  6. Thank you for such a refreshing post. As someone who follows a few Home bloggers, I certainly do see a trend in how so many of these blogs resemble one another. All of the homes and photos are very creative and beautiful, but all are blending in to one another for me. Very similar styles-I guess that’s the internet feeding me more of what “it” thinks I want and need. I recently purchased a couple of rugs from Target. Now? I receive daily emails with coupons and sale alerts for more rugs! I’m all set people, I just bought some!

    Setting time limits is a great idea. I’m not on Instagram but I’ve viewed many posts and I can see where competition and keeping up with the Jones’s can creep in.

    When we post online, we tend to put our best out there-perfect home, perfect family, perfect reflection, perfect crisis, perfect resolution etc. I think the intention is to reach out to others and make a connection and most likely to help others in a similar situation. But then, I don’t know-is it the green eye of envy just kind of creeping in? Or, if a peer blogger likes an idea someone posts, it makes sense that they’d want to do a similar post with their own spin…

    Clearly you hit a nerve for me Marion! If I ever comment, it’s usually just a sentence or two!
    Again, thank you for your insight on so many subjects. Yours is a blog I look forward to reading every day. BTW-I’m loving all the home updates I can’t decide which is my favorite 😊👏🏻👏🏻

  7. I limit the number of people I follow on Instagram. This year I’m trying to do a pic a day and post them to Instagram. So, I post them. Then I look at about 5 of my favorites (you and Art and Sand being my all-time faves). And I’m done, off to do something else. Which often is what you’re doing. I recently discovered Goodwill Outlet – have you ever been to one? 59 cents a pound!

    1. Lucky you, Mary! Our Goodwill Outlet is $1.39/lb. And, yes, I like to go once or twice a week.

  8. Marian,
    This is PHENOMENAL. Wish this could be published on the front page of major newspapers and search engines.
    Thank you.

  9. Great post! I’ve been feeling a bit of guilt over unfollowing some accounts lately for some of the very reasons you state. But now I’m feeling guilty for feeling guilty. haha. After all, I’m on Instagram for one reason- to find people and art and photography and décor and people that entertain or inspire me, not to be a number.

    1. Cindy, I’ve found that I’ve been doing the same these past few weeks. I was feeling like a number to many of them. I especially stopped following those that would have a “follow train” of some sort. It became ridiculous. I’m now following only those that inspire me or make me happy. I’ll give others a chance, but I’m finding I don’t follow long.

  10. I tended to follow home decor bloggers that basically were the same before I finally realized what I was doing. I’m a longtime follower of one site that on a good day offers me a variety of ideas, especially creative people on a budget. The people who post their home are obviously proud and that gives me pause. Instead of making me want to toss everything and start buying again it makes me appreciate what I have. This might sound crazy and I’m not sure how I got to this point but the site works for me.

  11. I am new to watching Instagram stories, I’ve only been engaged for about a month, but I completely get what you’re saying! I used to have a blog, it was about decorating on a budget, because like you, I seriously had to decorate on a budget. But, once I got my home to where I wanted it, I had a hard time coming up with new projects to show. And even though I didn’t need to decorate on that tight budget anymore, I didn’t want to have to go back on that budget just buying projects to share on my blog. And, because the market was saturated with the same concept I was trying to convey, I let my blog go. I do get sucked in by Instagram, so I’m glad I read this, you knocked some sense into my head:) and one thing I did observe while being a newbie to Instagram, is these beautiful, size 0 women who live in these beautifully decorated homes that would leave most feeling inadequate. I love your no-makeup face…..keeping it real Marian!

  12. Well, I am probably one of the most extreme here, in that, I do not have a cell phone, wi-fi, tablet, etc., etc. Just a desktop and wired in everything. Not on Instagram, Twitter, etc.

    I do read various blogs and am always looking for those that are DIFFERENT and not the same-old cookie cutter stuff. Like others have already stated, there are WAY too many copycat/wannabe blogs going on. It seems to me just like the “popular girls” groups from our youth. They try to put forth an image of perfection at all times, and it seems to be driven by the desire to be “liked” or to earn money, etc.

    People need to keep in mind that this is all VIRTUAL world stuff, not real-world stuff. People have begun to neglect real-world life in favor of virtual. Everything they do in the real world also has to be photographed and recorded and then posted, put on display for all to see. Both women and men are guilty of this. People do not need to know every last detail about what someone else is doing/thinking/saying all the live long days.

    I used to want to have a blog, because I have a lot I could write about, but I never knew that it was so much a BUSINESS. I don’t have the time nor desire to learn about how to use all this social media or modern technology to that extent. I would rather be creating my art and being “unreachable” from the world, instead spending time admiring God’s creation and listening to His voice speaking to my soul.

    1. Yep, there is a lot of business associated with blogging. It’s not just social media and the technical stuff, but even the accounting and legal piece of it. It is a business and comes along with all that is required to manage a business.

  13. I completely agree with the sentiment. I started identifying that I was feeling my whole demeanor change when I was following certain accounts. So I started unfollowing, muting, and regularly changing up who I was allowing into my feed. I make a point of adding in light hearted, and humanitarian accounts to enrich my life, rather than allow it to seep in and suck the joy out of my life. I give them a 3 strike rule. If I don’t care for something and its noteable to follow me into my life, or they are littering my feed with endless posts, or repetitive content, and if anything they do sparks discontentment, I mute or unfollow. I like to think I am curating my social media.

    Thank you for sharing this! I love your content, and appreciate your openess.

  14. Hi, I like your words today and I like your natural look. Your theme “contentment” takes me to one of my favorite quotes which you may like. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  15. EVERYTHING in this post is slot on !!!!!!! You hit the nail on the rest head and I feel the same way. I was begin ing to think something was “wrong” with me. Thank you !

  16. Marian Instagram can be so tricky. I love it and follow a mixture of people, some in travel photography, some decorating bloggers and some DIY bloggers who keep it real. In this way, I am never feeling discontented with all the work they are doing. I’m just glad it is not me welding those power tools. Your feed is very inspiring especially your paintings.

  17. I drew the line at Instagram.
    I don’t need to see or hear one more thing that I could do better. It was just another intrusion that invited me down the rabbit hole.

  18. You have inspired me to go take a good look at my IG feed, I know I would enjoy more variety than I have right now. Time to shake things up.

  19. Marian, I’m like a few others here, I don’t do IG nor twitter. I finally said “How many different ways do people need to get in touch with me?” I too, have pared down the number of people I follow on social media. It’s just become overwhelming and unfortunately, a time waster.

    I love reading your blog daily. I love your ideas and and yes lately, even your food for thought in our daily lives regarding our health and contentment.

    Thank you!

  20. You have to do what is right for you. I noticed on Rhoda’s blog, Southern Hospitality today she feels somewhat the same way. I am not a blogger and I’m new to Instagram. I spend way too much time on social media. Even though I am retired and have more time than a younger person, I still don’t think it’s a good idea to be saturated with it. I have learned a lot from blogs. You can teach an old dog new tricks.(I’m 73 and have been married 55 years.) There is a niche for us old ladies. I still love to decorate my house for different seasons. I still cook. I just like to keep up with what the younger ladies are doing.

    1. I checked out her post and yes, we have some similar thoughts on Instagram. I’ve seen other people express similar feelings about it. It seems like you have a healthy relationship with social media and use it for good (even if you say it’s too much time!) 🙂

  21. I do instagram for ideas only, FB for family and some friends, and i do watch my time cause i am retired and could spend a lot of time on social media.

  22. Oh boy, Marian! I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me about Instagram. I got the “I wants”—“I wish I could do that—buy that—create that” syndrome after only really getting on Instagram this last year. You NAILED IT on speaking to every single thing I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I sure needed this—came at just the right time for me. Thanks so much for your insightful post!

    1. I’m so glad! I’ve been feeling it for a long time, but have been ignoring it. These changes have been so good, though! I’m glad it’s encouraging you.

    2. I was trying to decide what to comment I felt like this was such a wonderful post. I feel the very same way and I agree with how Kathleen wrote this thank you so much

  23. I love this blog post so much. I’ve been feeling the same way also!

    I make and sell baby quilts on Etsy and I only started an Instagram account to connect with customers and give them a place to share photos, etc. But I was also an interior designer in my first 23 years of my career and I’ve become hooked looking at interiors and decor!!! It’s become out of hand and I’ve set my time limit per day to 1 hour but now you have me considering if I should reduce that further.

    It has also made me purchase some things I normally wouldn’t have. I really wanted one of those chunky knitted blankets you posted about awhile ago, and I was so glad to read that post also – I will never buy one now!!

    Thank you for giving me food for thought!!

    1. Oh, the chunky knit blanket! That one got me. i also have a couple of pairs of shoes thanks to Instagram. Oh, goodness… I do love the creative community there, though.

      1. Is this a good time to confess I’ve been coveting those tobacco brown combat style Timberland boots you have? 😍😍😍
        *sigh*
        It’s a good thing I have chubby calves or I would’ve scored a pair on eBay… but those suckers are too narrow… and for that, my pocketbook is thankful.😏
        (But even my evens can’t even with how cute they are with boot socks and a dress.🥰)

        1. This comment made me laugh! Those are some great boots and I’ve worn them for years. 🙂

  24. Yes, you might even say I was addicted to Instagram at one point. I was constantly checking for the latest post, like or comment. I even had this strange follower/unfollower app. I never felt good enough or talented enough or rich enough. I decided to disconnect last year for a few weeks and it revived me. Now, like you I’m not on often but only to post something and respond to comments and I only follow creative, like minded people who uplift me with their work and words, they make me feel encouraged to try new things. I am better and so is my family, because of it. Intent was a word of mine this year.

    1. Awesome! Thanks for sharing. It’s so interesting the power it can have over us if we’re not too careful and the benefits of setting some limits.

  25. Thanks for your thoughts. I no longer use FB because it has turned into so many nasty political shares–most of the time they are false or at least the truth is twisted. I don’t enjoy that. I do enjoy IG, and I mostly follow gardeners. I read an article that proposed that IG gardeners were the nicest people on social media! I enjoy seeing what’s happening in different parts of the world with regards to nature and gardening. As we sit in a blizzard, I can see that the Australian gardeners are dealing with extreme heat. I learn so much from others and am inspired by their gardens. And when I post pictures of my flowers, I enjoy the positive comments. I think the key is to not follow too many people, then your feed is small and you don’t end up spending much time on there. I think the key word you used was boundaries!

  26. Marian,
    This is another great post and very helpful. I, personally, am only on Facebook for my town’s page, and I don’t use Instagram or Twitter or any of that. I know it would make me feel less than. Even Pinterest, which I enjoy so much because I love looking at mostly animals, nature, photography, etc….I have to be careful. It can be too much of “Wow, look at all that is out THERE. I never knew sugar cookies could become miniature works of art! I am a loser baker!”
    As a Christian, I really only want to FOLLOW Jesus, and I really only want to be FED by His Word.
    We need to be very careful about who we ” follow” and what we let “feed” us, if you know what I mean.

    Christine
    New Hampshire

  27. Yes, I’m sick of blogs that are constantly re-doing room after room. Seriously, who has money for that? I know a lot of the stuff is free but certainly not all of it. I have unfollowed at least four blogs because I couldn’t take another room redo when they had just redone it maybe a year before. I find that kind of excessive spending/showboating a complete turn off. I even asked a blogger who she thought could spend $150.00 on a throw pillow! She said anyone could because you only do it every few years! I honestly do not know anybody who would spend that on ONE throw pillow even if it is every”few years”! No I don’t follow her anymore!
    I love your blog because you keep it real. Thanks !

    1. Thanks for the comment! I know there were times I redid rooms multiple times, but that was mostly because I was stumped and trying new things and that’s just what I did “for fun” even before I started a blog. Blogging and, even more so, buying and selling antiques, made it possible, even profitable to constantly change things. I got to a point with my last house that I was finished, though, and loved it just the way it was. With this house, I am trying to make careful decisions, so I don’t have to redo things, but I’m sure I will as I figure out this house. That’s a part of the process, though.

      I have also partnered with high-end brands, like Pine Cone Hill and Arhaus, but I know those budgets won’t work for everyone. There was a time when paying even $50 for a dresser was too expensive for me, but I’m at a different stage of life now and there are some places in my home where I’ll splurge, but I always balance that out with savings in other places. Anyway, just some thoughts!

  28. I totally agree with what you are saying. I am not a blogger, but followed several home bloggers. I love that glimpse into the lives of others but began to see that affecting my own life. I wanted “things,” and I was unhappy with the “things” I had. I was also unhappy by my inability to make my surroundings look like someone else’s. I wanted that trendy farmhouse, all-white style, but was unable to achieve it with a few random purchases. This defeated me and I was not content. One day I realized I needed to go on an IG diet. I unfollowed almost all of the home bloggers, widened my diversification, and tried to hone in on exactly what I could do in my surroundings to achieve the contentment I desired. That contentment could not be measured by blogger/IG standards, but had to be judged by my budget, my desires, my style, my taste. In the end, I did achieve contentment with my surroundings. Yes, there is room for improvement but it has helped me tremendously to not be seeing the IG “perfection” that was hindering me from finding my own style. The one home blogger I never considering taking a break from was yours. You have inspired me in more ways than I can count and I see your postings as aspirational, not perfection. You have also given me the courage to find my own style and nurture it, not use someone else’s style. I’ve used some of your ideas, but have also left room for my own ideas and it has made for a good balance and a great measure of contentment. Thanks, Marian

  29. Thank you so much for this. I am a long-time follower of yours, and you always inspire me. Your candor and humility is refreshing. I have been making more of an effort to limit my time on social media, and this post spurns me further. It can be such a time and joy-stealer.

  30. I love Marian’s DIY and get an idea from her blog. Her husband has same taste with Marian and can change things around. My husband’s idea is different with me and I need to train him, one things is same page is we love cottage house.

  31. I’m curious about the pic you have that said times up on Instagram. Is that a particular timer you use? I know I could set my phone timer but it seems too easy to push snooze 😬

  32. Social media in general is a detriment to society… especially to young people. I see the benefits to business in a digital age…but some of the cruelty I see directed at others on twitter is enough to make one depressed and feeling inadequate.

    Hiding behind the screen and being nasty to others with everyone person below the age of 40 absolutely addicted to their phones is more than I can tolerate, anymore. I hold Mark Zuckerburg 100% accountable for this demise to society…. I encourage you Mariam to continue motivating your boys to use their gifts for good…to develop their skills and interests based on their dreams and desires… not what all the kids in school want to do. I would think it is very difficult to raise a child in this environment.

  33. I do read blogs, but I have quite a few that I don’t even open because I know it will be full of the same beige/greige oatmeal blandness with yet another new sofa , rug, or product that I will not receive free like the blogger did. As far as Instagram goes, it is my least favorite venue. I prefer YouTube over most of the options. The content seems less staged there and although it is edited, it seems to offer a truer picture of things. I know that lights, camera quality, natural light and staging can make an area look like a million dollars and that a wide angle view would probably not be as flattering. Some bloggers admit that what they don’t show in the picture is the real life mess of living. I don’t feel inadequate when I see those perfect homes; I feel skeptical and am unlikely to buy anything they promote because they aren’t being honest.

    1. Very interesting take. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      I do want to point out one thing, though. I know what you mean about bloggers “getting things for free”, but it’s very rare for a blogger to receive something that doesn’t require some kind of work in return. What you’re referring to is payment in product. A blogger is hired to exchange advertising for product and/or payment. There is usually a contract involved with set terms, a scope of work, deadlines, etc. Instead of getting a set salary, a blogger is getting partially paid with a sofa for their work. I agree that the endorsements and sponsored posts, even from me, should be viewed with a healthy skepticism. We can introduce you to a new product or share our opinion, but it’s always best to back that up with your own research.

  34. I have a blog,Instagram site and a FB page .All of these give me great pleasure to post in. I do love if I sell a painting but honestly it doesn’t really matter to me. I have a lot of followers and most of my stuff is sold at galleries and shows. I love to share the journey of painting and art . I hope that it helps interact with other artists and by just that back and forth connection I feel a great support in a family of artists .
    I love to also follow designers and blogs like yours Marian ,I think supporting another artist/designer is so supportive and everyone needs validation for their endeavors.we learn so much from one another.

    1. It sounds like you have a wonderful relationship with social media! I am striving for that, because I love all of the things you mention…the support and community can be awesome for creatives and I would miss that if I quit using it entirely.

  35. Maybe I am missing out, I do not have an Instagram account. Unconsciously, I am probably doing this to limit my connectivity time on social media. I do follow many on Facebook and that keeps me busy. But yes, I do limit my time on Facebook as well. I enjoyed this article. Thank you for sharing.

  36. Everything in this article resonates with me!
    I get sucked in so easily and quickly into spending too much time on social media and it naturally feeds into a struggle with feeling less than… suddenly my house is too small, too shabby… just too many of the wrong things and not enough of the right things. I find IG does really feed that a lot more than FB and I don’t enjoy it as much as I do FB.
    My boys would say that’s because I’m old but what do they know?
    Young whipper snappers… 😏
    Thanks for your transparency and I have to say you still look pretty darn cute with no makeup.☺️

  37. Like you, I have also had to re-examine my online activity. I was falling into the trap that I had to do, buy, and create to get the same looks I was seeing on blogs and in magazines. I was becoming dissatisfied with what I had and trying to emulate the “looks” I was seeing in decorating magazines and online. I have unsubscribed to some decorating magazines and blogs. I have gotten off that treadmill of trying to emulate what I was seeing other do. My home has my look and I am happy with what I have created. It has been very liberating. I feel blessed with the things I have and have quit chasing somebody elses must have “look”.

  38. Whether Blogger, Blog Follower or just someone looking to be inspired, you speak to all of us. So thank you for providing a place where we can be inspired to grow creatively, spiritually and personally.

  39. Such a refreshing post….with all of the excess today in every area of our lives being presented as the new norm, taking a step back and truly understanding what is important in our lives should be the scroll stopper…..

  40. Love this. And I love the wonderful variety of people you are following on Instagram. Any chance you can link those pictures to the Instagram accounts? I would like to follow some of them too. (Maybe you did and I’m just missing it.)

    1. I just added the accounts to the post, but here they are…@annleefuller, @my_vintage_h_o_m_e, @eastoakstudio, @jonesdesigncompany, @oldhousechic, @jen_art, @sonjacaywoodart, @dighaushizzle, @jen_art, @gustavian_by_k.s.l, @lifeontheshadygrove, @whitecottagefarm, @louisebalaam, @jen_art

    1. If you have an iPhone, it’s in the settings and there is an option called “screen time”. You can “downtime” (time away from the screen), app limits, restrict content, etc. Even though I have the password and can unlock it and give myself more time, it makes me think about how much time I’m using.

  41. Such a refreshing post. Years ago I couldn’t get enough home decorating TV shows until I realized that, although inspiring, it was also fostering discontent, envy and materialism that wasn’t healthy for me. Similar to your aproach with the books and magazines, I had to simply stop tuning in to those shows. You’re right about social media. I have also recently stopped following some blogs and Instagram feeds for similar reasons. When I get too caught up in social media I find I can spend too much time dreaming about what I wish my life was or longing for what I don’t have and miss the beautiful, albeit imperfect, life that is in front of me. Thanks for sharing your strategies!!

  42. Marian, You have such a unique talent and style. I would be hard pressed to find anyone on the internet whose style mimicked yours. Your originality is what makes your gift so appealing. You are not lacking ❤️ I love your down to earth “Im not trying to impress anyone.” approach in your writing. You just seem to be living life, making a home and we get to watch from a front row seat. Sometimes bloggers seem to be engaging in cliques as well. Women stuggle with wanting to be popular. It shows online too. Everyone wants white rooms, copycat houses and the latest trend from Home Goods or Target..but you? You won’t find the things in your home in anyone elses bc they are family pieces or collected pieces. I LOVE that about you. Keep doing you. No need to compare. You’re in a class by yourself and that is a GOOD thing.

    1. Thank you so much. This is such a kind comment. I must confess that I have given into the temptation to follow certain trends over the years, but I’ve learned that I love a room much more if I stick to my style.

  43. Oh Marian, I wish you’d have posted this half my retirement money, ago. I’m an older widow lady and I got taken in by all these blogs I was following telling me how great this was and how much I needed “that” item to get the “look”. I’d convinced myself that my home didn’t look right and that’s why I was so unhappy and lonely. I spent my retirement money on stuff to redecorate my house and now I sit with all of it surrounding me and I feel so humiliated, so bamboozled and now desperate, having spent almost all my retirement money and in credit card debt up to my eyeballs! I only started reading the decorating blogs out of loneliness and boredom. I fell for it hook, line and sinker! I can’t imagine how bad off I’d be if I were on Instagram!!! No thank you! You’ve once again opened my eyes and I thank you. You are so wise to be so young. I’ll only be following you and a couple more I enjoy from now on. No instagram or twitter for me. Let my plight be a warning for all you lonely older ladies out there! I should’ve just started painting again. It seems I’ve always had to learn things the hard way. . Have a wonderful productive week Marian, you’re the best! 😁

    1. Oh, Shelia, I’m so sorry to hear that! Years ago, just before I started my business, we had a student loan, credit card debt, and one small income for a family of four. It often seemed hopeless and like we were in a hole we wouldn’t be able to dig ourselves out of. So, I can relate to some extent. I do want to encourage you though in saying that there is a lot of hope in the fact that you recognize what happened and have made a change.

      If you aren’t familiar with Dave Ramsey, so I would suggest looking into him. He can be a little over-the-top at times, but his program Financial Peace University really helped us turn our finances around. He offers a lot of practical advice and hope! I wish you the best.

  44. In the Uk this week we have had the distressing update on a young girl of 15 called Molly who took her own life after looking at self harm and suicide posts on Instagram etc. Her father also mentioned Pintrest as one of these sites. Her family , of course had no idea of her struggles and I and most of the rest of the UK had no idea that this info was even on these sites. I have used Pintrest as a few minutes of distraction with a cup of tea and I have never used Instagram or Facebook.

    Like minded people look for the same things. We look for paint colours and kitchen ideas and how to paint a cupboard. We have no idea what is out there on line or what our young people are hunting for.

    A sad lesson for me. I have deleted my Pintrest app.

    1. Oh, that is so tragic. I often think about this next generation about how social media will impact them.

  45. Well Marian I don’t comment on a lot of things but this is something I couldn’t ignore. I have always loved home decor since I was a very small little girl, my mother would come home to find I had rearranged all the pretty things in the big old book case! I am happiest when decorating for myself or a friend. But let me say I am not one of those that is constantly buying & changing out. I love hobby lobby but don’t want my house to look like a hobby lobby store. That’s what I love about your home! I have my own style too & it’s a mix of a lot of old pieces & a little new! I do have to have a little color! I am not on Facebook or twitter & I did have Instagram but I eventually did away w/it! For me I found I was constantly looking at my phone & I felt it was keeping me from doing what’s more important! I do have Pinterest & I enjoy it & do follow some bloggers that interest me. But I think the phone situation has gotten so out of hand! Mothers that have young children especially. I personally found when I was on mine too much I was getting depressed & wasn’t as happy! For me it was a relief to let Instagram go. It felt good to have my life back.

  46. I have the same feelings as most of the above people! Same ole Same ole with so many of these accounts. At some point this will start affecting their accounts as far as getting compensated for anything. It’s so damaging to all of us followers to see the things all of you popular accounts are able to do. I could do what a lot of them are doing…. if I only knew how to get that ball rolling! I’m sure there are many others out there as well. My other issue is what happened to the follow follow back courtesy? Give us little accounts some help out there! I do not buy from an IG’er just because. I will search for it on my own and decide if I want to purchase it…. they all get enough compensation , and don’t need my help. Sorry but that’s how I feel!
    It is tiring to see so many accounts that look the same. You could put so many side by side and you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It’s almost like a Girls Club and you don’t fit in enough to be accepted. It’s sad and it’s wrong. I mean seriously…. is Everybody “friends”….Really? Oh my good friend…. so and so…. Go check out her account! And with that….Why all the sharing of accounts? We are finding them on our own people! We don’t need your account to show us someone else’s! What, do you have nothing to talk about…. then take a day off!
    And another thing…. I go to IG for ideas on decorating. I’m not looking for your family updates. Some of my favorites are not even doing posts showing their homes anymore! It’s about adoption or infertility or something else! So I scroll past their stories and go to the next.
    Well…. all that said I too need to start backing away from social media and wasting so much time looking at their gorgeous homes when I am living in one that’s just as beautiful and magazine worthy myself!
    Thank you for this post it was so eye opening!

    1. Your post made me smile a bit, because it does sound like you’re in a similar place I was but over different things. You’re to the point that social media isn’t inspiring, but it’s bringing out something negative. I do understand a lot of what you’re saying.

  47. This is such a great post. I’m not in Instagram. I have followed several bloggers for several years, and just don’t feel like I have the capacity to cast my net that much bigger and be able to really engage with them all. One thing I really like is engaging with those I follow and who follow me on my blog. I use Facebook primarily to stay in touch with family who live out of state (and the growing number of nieces and nephews, my family is huge). I do love your blog, Marian, and all the work you’ve put into everything you do. It’s genuine, it’s real, and it’s so appealing. Stay warm and safe in this crazy weather. Another friend who lives in Rochester mentioned on FB that you’re supposed to have -60 wind chill in the next few days. That’s insanely cold….and dangerous. You may need to scout a full-length vintage fur to keep warm in the future years! (animal activists, please, no commentary. there are furs that can be worn that are not the result of killing the animals – like, lamb fur coats!)

  48. I walked away from Facebook for some of the same reasons. It was the best thing for me. I am living my life instead of watching others live theirs.

  49. And this is why I follow you on Insta and subscribe to your blog. You leave us with a sense of being invited over to your home for coffee and leaving feeling content. Since joining Instagram, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the feeling that I have to have the beautiful picture perfect homes to be happy and content. And then I started to weed through who I follow. And set time limits as well. Thank you again for another inspirational post.

  50. Since I was a little girl I have loved everything about creating a home, and I have enjoyed looking at magazines, decorating books and now blogs and instagram using them as a way to educate myself. I find a photo of a room or garden that I am drawn to and examine the photo to find out why. When I do purchase something for my home it is after a lot of homework to insure I find exactly the right thing. In fact my couch is 40+ years old I love it as much today as I did when I purchased it. I have had it reupholstered when needed and it is a prime example of what I mean when I say I have used books and magazines to educate myself. I found I was drawn to a particular classical style and that quality was worth the wait of saving and searching for the right thing. The blogs and instagram have made the search a bit easier as the posters add where they purchase things. I believe that anything can be quite bad for us if we do not partake in moderation, drugs, food, alcohol, tv and the pursuit of that perfect appearing home! I love following your blog because it is a refection of you and your love of home and family. Thank you for this thought provoking post and the time you give to your blog that I really enjoy reading!

  51. Thanks for the great post!
    I used to post 1 pic a day and spend way too much time scrolling. A few months ago I stepped back and don’t stress about posting.
    I’m also blogging more for a balance between the two.
    I did laugh about the book clubs – got some of my favorite decor books that way.

  52. I joined Instagram because I love all things to do with home. I found lots of great accounts but over time so much has changed. One thing that really seems disingenuous is when I see people doing sponsored posts with companies that sell very expensive items. Items I doubt they would consider buying if they had to use their own money to buy them. A couple of bigger IG accounts come to mind. I just feel if you would not spend your own money for an item, or if it is an item way out of your price range then it seems fake to write a whole post about said item just to get it for free. It makes all of us “regular” people feel like we are doing something wrong if we can’t go out and buy said item. Arhuas has really been making the rounds. I’ve been in their stores and there is very little a middle income family could buy without saving up for it. I love when people are just honest and authentic! I still look for new accounts to follow- but I’m finding I seem to like the smaller accounts who just post regular photos that aren’t all using the same presets. I really feel for young kids and young adults who gauge their lives based on all the perfection they see on social media.

  53. I’ve never posted a thing on your blog, although I frequently read it. But I had to reach out today, after reading this post. Watch the TedTalk on vulnerability from Brene’ Brown and then go grab her book Daring Greatly. MMS, you do that with every post you write. Maybe you need to understand just what it means to lean into your vulnerability with great courage….and more importantly, you need to breathe deeply and understand that’s why so many REAL people follow you with great devotion. I’m pretty sure that’s WJWD–Had to change the order of the letters….but I know you’ll get it.

    Less importantly, and yet no less sincerely, I do love your blog, your style, your you-ness….

  54. Thank you for sharing this! I love how candid and honest you are about your personal struggles. As I share some of that struggle, I wanted you to know it is helpful for me to read your thought process and how you are dealing with it. So thank you and I hope you continue this contentment series.

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  56. Well, this is the first time I’ve looked at your blog. I was attracted to the color blue in your photos since we have just painted our living area a very deep blue and I’m looking for additional ideas of how to finish off the room.
    I will say that I have loved home decor and looking at magazines for all of the 48 years I’ve been married. I don’t think that it ever sparked feelings of discontent. When I got married we literally had nothing except the gifts I got at my wedding shower. I did have a lot of ingenuity and found a great deal of enjoyment in making a home. My first kitchen curtains were 50 cents a pair found on a discount table. They were a very loud orange and green print and I was afraid of what my husband would say when he got home from work. When he came in, he looked around and I quickly explained why I had bought them. I was very surprised when he said, if this is what we can afford, then I think they look just fine. Since then there’ve been a lot of different curtains, different homes and very different income levels as we brought up our family and have now retired.

    I continue to look at magazines and only recently discovered the many blogs this past December. For me they have been a great source of feeling connected rather than discontented. I follow Yvonne on Stonegable and enjoy her posts daily. Today I made her recipe for chicken cacciatore. I’ve made a winter wreath that she featured in January. Last week I made her lemon bread. She also provides an excellent spiritual post each Sunday which I find so refreshing.

    I think that discontent is a feeling we all encounter at some time but I also think that it’s equally important to be able to look at others, their success and their possessions without giving in to being discontent with ourselves. It’s maturity to be able to view everything around us and still be grateful for all we have as individuals. This year I stopped looking at Facebook because of hurtful comments made by others not because I was envious of seeing what others had. I think that it’s amazing that these women can make a living doing something they love by posting their talents on a blog. If I were younger, I think I might join them!

    I hope that you will continue with your posts and not be bothered by what others are doing. From the little I’ve seen, you have a lovely home and a lot of good things to share with your readers – a lot to be thankful for.

  57. Great topic and I loved reading the feedback. I use IG to keep in contact with some family who dropped FB. I like the pictures but most of the time people post some crazy pics with obscure hashtags and I scroll up thinking “ what does that mean” . IG has really become a hashtag wasteland. I know that gets a person more followers but it’s really an impersonal social media site.

  58. Yours was the first blog I started reading on a regular basis and you inspired me to try and eventually fall in love with milk paint. I love the way you shared your heart in this post. You are always an inspiration.

  59. I love this. As a former collector of home decor magazines and books and now a follower of many a design account in instagram, I find myself getting caught up in the need to always do more and be more. We all struggle with feeling inadequate, but instagram can really bring it out. On the other hand, I would not have found as many amazing creatives without it so it is definitely a double edged sword.

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