As I arrived for my meet-up at our local hang-out, Moe’s Espresso, I reflected on my friendship with Portia of Obsessed by Portia. Whether you follow her or not, she is an amazing woman and I was instantly met with a smile and a hug as we haven’t gotten to sit down and visit in quite a while.
You’d think with a town as small as Arlington that we would run into each other from time to time, but Portia is primarily a travel blogger. Um, so that means that she like travels, hello, right?
I’ve known Portia for over 6 years now, since her little’s, Addie and Mila, were well, little. She started at the gym that I work before the girls were even in the picture. She met some really great friends, her tribe, at the gym. Their kids have grown up together. I met all these amazing women when I taught their kids to swim.
As I taught the girls, Portia and I would chat here and there. I’d share my struggles with my twin boys getting older and going through the high school and then college process and she would share her concerns as the girls grew. I respected the fact that she chose to stay at home when the girls were young. I also watched as the girls grew older and the role she played in their lives changed.
Then she became a blogger. This wasn’t an overnight decision. If you know her at all, you know that the name of her blog, Obsessed by Portia, is fitting. When she decides something, she does her research and then jumps in with both feet. Over the past 4 years she has grown as a person, become more confident and content in who she is and the gifts she has to share with her friends, her family and the public as a content creator and blogger. Her blog has evolved to be this amazing force. Portia traveled to 26 locations last year and continued to produce regular high-quality content on beauty, food, and style. I am so excited to share her with you all!
What you may not know is that she is the inspiration and driving force behind me becoming a blogger. She watched as I navigated the empty nest mom in stages. She encouraged me almost every week to just do it. She helped me come up with my original blog name, Before and After My Empty Nest. She has been there behind the scenes guiding me when I asked for help. People now contact her asking how to break into the blogging thing. She freely gives of her time to meet with them and help them where and how she can.
Inspiration in a real sense, right? She has grown and become an example to others and she gives back. How cool is that?!? I’m having a blast watching her develop into an amazing travel guru and seeing where the world takes her, but really she’s the one taking on the world! She has so much to share, so here she is…
Three Big Shares from Portia
- Confidence. Go into every situation with all the confidence you can muster even it’s just on the surface. Never let them see you sweat, as the saying goes.
- Let it go. People will try to tell you how it is. Don’t believe them, see it for yourself and form your own opinion. I don’t have time for the games and someone else’s preconceived notion of who or what I am. I let that worry go. I let those toxic people go. If they don’t bring you positive support, let them go.
- Do it for the experience. Do everything with eyes wide open and learn from it. There are so many people that won’t try new places or go to events that might not be directly related to them. Don’t be like that. Meet people, put yourself out there and learn something about them, about a topic and even about yourself. Figure out Who I am? What is my voice? What sets me apart?
Answers From Portia!
You were a stay-at-home mom when you started blogging, how big a part did that play into your decision to start blogging? I felt I needed an outlet. A place not necessarily to talk about kids, or getting in shape, or about having my tribe. It grew to involve my family. I think having that time at home was part of why I was able to start blogging. I was able to research and read while the kids played. I read a lot. I read other blogs. I saw what worked. I reached out to a ton of bloggers for pointers, most didn’t respond, but those that did provided so much valuable insight that I can’t thank them enough for when I was first thinking about blogging. Fellow Seattle blogger, Jess Estrada @freshjess was a huge influence and help in the early days.
As your blog grew, how did you manage mom, wife and friendship? Balance is so hard when blogging as a mom. I think sometimes I’m a really good mom, others I’m a really good wife and finally sometimes I’m a really good blogger. I do what I can, when I can. I think it’s so important to not be afraid to ask for help. That’s huge. I had a support system already in place in my life before I started this journey. My hubby, my tribe of friends, and my family. The thing is, when you are passionate about something you will find the time and the way to make it work in whatever stage of life you are in at the time.
How do you fit it all in? What is Time-Blocking and how did that help? When our girls started to go full-time to school is really when I started to be able to expand on my ideas and my blog. It was a life changer. I now have a six-hour chuck of time that I work to schedule in blocks. This hour for emails. This hour for writing. This hour for follow-up. This hour for editing. I write down a realistic list of things that I want to accomplish in that time, whether it is that day or that week. I get so much satisfaction out of crossing things off that list!
Ideally my day looks like this…Hot Yoga, get the kids ready, work, pick up the kids from school. I try not to work-work when the kids are home from school. Going onto social media can take up space here and there, but I make sure to not let it take away from the time with the girls.
I think the biggest thing about blogging and being a stay-at-home mom is finding a space that gives you energy to write. A place to be creative without being distracted by the laundry, the kids room and the myriad of at-home things that need to get done. Sometimes that space is the local coffee shop or even the park. Finding that space is so important.
How much has your tribe played into making this all possible? Oh my gosh! I can’t say enough about the amazing friends, soul sisters, in my life. Having them allowed me to attend events that I otherwise couldn’t. We would do the kid swap for each other. They are invaluable!
It is also important to have a professional tribe that you can talk with. Being in Facebook and Instagram groups with other bloggers, not just those in your niche or market, where you can ask questions and bounce ideas off of, and that struggle with the same things you do is so helpful. I love Seattle Bloggers Unite and other groups like this. You need to find them in your area. Go to events and network, meet all the people. Talk with them. It’s super hard at first, but it does get easier and there are so many amazing inspiring people out there that are all willing to share in your journey.
Looking back, what was your biggest obstacle/struggle you had to overcome to get where you are? Time. Seriously, there doesn’t ever seem to be enough time to get all the things done that I want to do, when I can put all my energy into one thing.
I find that sometimes when I am writing a blog and it’s just not working and I am stressed and worried, the best thing to do is to turn off the computer, take a break and come back to it. I can tell when I haven’t done that in the past. Those are the blogs that don’t get as much traction, the most response. In the end it wasn’t my most creative work, my head wasn’t in the game. Give yourself the time to take those breaks and come back to it later.
I know you are a great multi-tasker and love listening to books and podcasts while you travel. Would you share with us your recommends for books or podcasts for the new and even experienced blogger?
- The Gary Vee Audio Experience
- The Influencer Podcast
- Goal Digger
- The School of Greatness
- The Skinny Confidential
- The Tim Ferris Show
- Rise Podcast
- Simple Pin
- Blogger Genius
- How I Built This
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
- Highest Self
How has living in a small town, over an hour from Seattle helped or hindered you? I thought at first that living in a small town would be a hinderance. All the big bloggers were in Seattle. I found however that it gave me the space for my family and friends. I couldn’t be distracted by this event or that event. All the things I would want to go and do because I was in Seattle. I am now finding peace in my small town. Arlington is changing. It’s growing and I love to partner and encourage local small businesses. I love how passionate the town is and watching the younger generation expanding on this is an awesome thing to watch.
What is the current project you are working on that you are most excited about? I just finished a project where I interviewed 20 Seattle small businesses for GoDaddy®. It was cool to share their experiences.
I also have a ton of travel projects coming up, but what I am most excited about is working with Bio-Monte Travel in creating curated small group travel trips that give you an authentic experience in the locations we visit.
An essential part of Bio-Monte, Tours of Italy, is that you will always be traveling with a personal guide and friend. Our professional guides are your friends, or “amico” in Italian. Your Amico will personally introduce you to the Bio-Monte Italian family and help you experience Italy in a way that is normally reserved for the locals. Our small group sizes of six to fourteen contribute to this culturally authentic, and intimate atmosphere. So, make your Italian dream vacation come true, and book your tour of Italy with Bio-Monte today!excerpt from Bio-Monte Travel
I think that is why I became so passionate about travel and how my blog evolved more to be about making travel accessible. Helping me connect people, getting people to make travel a part of their lifestyle. In Seattle, people are used to having it part of their lives, but for so many people it is about changing their mindset. Having them see that you can be from a small town and still travel. If you can dream it, you can pursue it. There is a huge amount of fear in traveling and I want to break that barrier. There are so many cultures, so many types of foods. I love changing people’s minds and making it happen.
Above all, I love that by doing all of this my daughters can be a part of creating something they can be involved in. You aren’t limited. I’m glad now that I had enough work and life experience before I started blogging. I am able to bring that to a blog, the professional gift I had before. There are so many new platforms out there it is mind-boggling. This is the age of multi-tasking and I can’t wait to see what the future holds!
Neither Can I Portia!
For more information about any of the wonderful people and companies Portia has shared, click on their names to link over to them. I can’t thank Portia enough for her time and energy! She is definitely someone to watch!
Coming Soon….. Hot Chocolate 15K!