Living the Curated Life

by Chloe Jeffreys · 37 comments

in Blogging

Empty Nest Starting Over

Ask yourself, “How Does This Serve Me?”

Every month, I pay WP Engine® $50 to host this blog on a dedicated server. I also pay Bluehost money for some reason they’ve tried to explain to me over and over again but I still can’t figure out.

Personally, I think it’s a racket.

All I know is that last year when I stopped paying Bluehost this protection money (that, by the way, those helpful tech support folks in Utah said I didn’t need to pay anymore since I’m hosted at WP Engine) my blog, along with my vanity email address, went dark.Is Social Media Good for us?

I’m thinking about hiring Julie at Fabulous Blogging (who you should hire if you need help with your blog) to figure it out for me, but then I think, “Hell Chloe, (because I always talk to Chloe in the third person), you hardly blog anymore. Why don’t you take this stupid thing down and use the money for something, well, useful?”

Then I decide to do that, and then I don’t do anything.

This has been going on for months.

Just when I make the decision to pull the plug on my blog, I get a pitch for something like FLOR, or I get offered an all-expense paid trip to Miami with AARP. The FLOR thing was a happy little One-and-Done, but AARP is still waiting for their third and last article about how terrific AARP Discounts are.

Unfortunately I’m pretty sure my readers are NOT waiting for a third post about how fantastic AARP Discounts are–which is sort of too bad because they do have great discounts. I know that before I can write another sponsored post about AARP Discounts I need to write something genuinely interesting to my audience. Unfortunately, that would mean writing something genuine, and then…

SQUIRREL!

Squirrel!

Okay, not exactly. It’s not that I’m easily distracted; it’s just that I have a lot going on. And frankly, I’m still trying to decide whether or not it’s healthy to have a blog.

After spending an hour or so perusing Get Off My Internets (GOMI) for the down and dirty gossip about BlogHer15 (because I’m sick that way), I am certain blogging isn’t healthy. None of this social media garbage is healthy. Human beings are meant to live real lives, not curated lives fashioned to get page views, likes, retweets, and other totally meaningless shit like that.

But real lives are messy and not easily pinned.

20150519_104429

This is My Real Life. And it is Messy

Real lives aren’t squee-filled tweets about how FABULOUS! a time you are having at a blogging conference, or picmonkeyed photos of expensive meals waiting to be devoured while on extravagant vacations.

lobsters

That’s curation.

That’s the face of our lives we want the world to see; the face of our lives we wish was true if only we were thinner, prettier, and richer.

Real lives are when our German Shephards bite little girls and we have to put them down.

Raynor on the Train Tracks

“Raynor”

But I don’t want to write about euthanizing my dog because he bit a little girl. First of all, I don’t want to hear from crazy animal lovers who think I’m an evil person because we put down our dog after he bit a little girl. I don’t want to explain how it happened, why it happened, and how, “No, I’m sorry, but we cannot live another 8-10 years with a dog that bites little girls.”

But the truth is that nothing else I can write right now makes sense if I don’t mention, “Oh, and by the way, we had to put down our beautiful, beloved Raynor because he bit a little girl on the face. And, yeah, any way you look at it that makes us shitty dog owners, but there it is. Suck it if you don’t like it because there’s nothing I can do about it now. The little girl is fine, and our dog is dead. The end.”

Also, how can I explain why it makes total sense that my husband and I now live four hours apart? No, we’re not separated, and, no, we’re not getting a divorce, but if I don’t want to explain the rationale behind our decision to live this way to people I know, how much less do I feel like explaining it to people I don’t?

But then what sort of blog is this? Why in the hell am I paying WP Engine® good money every month–and Bluehost good money whenever they feel like taking it–for what basically amounts to a dead blog because I don’t want to live a curated life, but I also don’t exactly feel like letting every Tom, Dick, and loathsome Hater Bitch into my really messy life?

I can’t figure this out. And, no, I’m not asking for reassurance that my blog matters. The question for me is whether or not I’m living an authentic life and if so what role does this blog have in it, if any.

Then I started reading the book Finding Fraser by KC Dyer and it made me yearn for good, old-fashioned blogging again. Anonymous blogging. The sort of blogging where I’m not sitting with all of my co-workers in the pre-shift huddle getting the daily report from the Manager about all the ongoing real-life dramas in my labor and delivery unit when suddenly from the back of the room someone I barely know shouts, “Hey, Chloe of the Mountain, I found your BLOG!” And all I can think about is that post I wrote about having sex in my driveway. I’m not ashamed of that post. Not by any means! I think it is one of the best pieces I’ve ever written. But am I happy my co-workers are reading it? I’m not so sure about that.

I’m not trying to hide anything, but the truth is that the writer me–the curated me–is not exactly the same as the in-person me. They are both me, but the curated me is far more provocative, while the in-person me is more of a quiet observer. The curated me is outrageously blunt and just a little bit naughty. She is also thinner, prettier, and richer than the in-person me. Emotionally, the curated me has learned to dismiss the haters and mean girls because they are the price of admission. But the in-person me?  Not so much.

The Way Things Are

The in-person me is currently working at the best nursing job I’ll ever have in this lifetime. Every single day I cannot believe I’ve fallen into this amazingly fortuitous situation. But in order to have this job I need to live in the City four hours away from that Mountain my url says I’m of. And while I’m living and working here in the City (Chloe of the City?), my husband is living in a 20-year old, 31′ travel trailer he affectionately calls his Tin Can Under a Tree.

tin can under a tree

Because the problem, you see, is that my husband also has the best job he’s ever going to have in this lifetime, and it’s four hours away from me on our Mountain.

The curated me wants to gush about how amazing this adventure of ours is–and that’s not exactly a lie–but it’s also not exactly the truth. It is hard living apart. But it is working for us right now. It’s working as long as we both continue to keep our eye on the prize which is a retirement we love and can afford.

Last weekend, while I stayed here in the City working, my husband, with the help of his mother and sister, held a garage sale and sold off almost all of our household belongings. We made $1019.39. That’s how much our life–my former in-person life–was worth in cash money. I can’t believe how hard Jeff and I were both working before all of this to support $1019.39 worth of crap!

We’re starting over, but now we’re making very different decisions than the ones we used to make; strategic decisions driven by a sense of purpose and the pursuit of meaning, not emotional decisions driven by our egos and ids.

I suppose I continue to pay WP Engine every month because deep down I do think this life–our real life–Dare I say a Purpose-Driven Life?–is worth blogging about. I want to blog about it. I just wonder how I will find the courage, or the time.

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn Quyle Landau July 31, 2015 at 8:59 am

Chloe, as you can see, it’s taking me a while to get to the blogs I love… but get to them I do. Too much on my plate, like so many of us, but never too much to not enjoy your wonderful honesty.

I’m so sorry about Raynor. What a terrible situation and a terrible decision to make. (( Hugs )) You know, as I sent love on your FB page, I thought he must be an old dog, and you had no choice. I had no idea that you had no choice, and it was such a bitter pill. So, again, hugs darling blogging friend. I’m so sorry.

As for the rest of it, I’m not weighing in. I think you know what’s best for you. I think you’re in a hard place and that just takes time and reflection… but you’re in my thoughts. xoxo
Dawn Quyle Landau recently posted..Switching Things Up…My Profile

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Lucy Ball July 31, 2015 at 8:48 am

When Molley A Mother Life introduced me to you set #blogher14, I had no idea how much I could relate. This is only my first visit to your blog and I’m already hooked. I truly hope you keep sharing your journey with us. Your voice matters and this world needs more voices like yours questioning reality and our curated existence. xoxo Lucy

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Jack July 22, 2015 at 10:36 pm

I don’t blog with the same frequency I once had, but I keep going because some things need to be written. My pseudo-anonymity permits me to write as I need, albeit not always as I want.

But I write because I have to.
Jack recently posted..Who Will Fill The Empty Seats At Your Table?My Profile

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Jackie July 22, 2015 at 5:33 am

Oh, I think you have the courage… but, I so hear you on the time. I haven’t written much of anything of late for similar reasons. I, too, am leading a more purpose-driven life these days. On some level I wish I could say that the “purpose” of my “driven” life was so that my husband and I could even entertain the idea of something called retirement. It is not. College degrees — even for bright kids who work hard, get good grades, and are dedicated to achieving their goals — do not come cheap these days. And so I find myself in the position of working two jobs — one to pay the bills, the other to pay the college tuition — so that my kid (the bright, dedicated, hard worker of whom I spoke earlier) can begin her professional life some time in the near future. Whatever spare time I do have I spend either more wisely or more frivolously — depending on how you define wise or frivolous — sleeping, cleaning, watching baseball, spending time with my family, playing computer games, etc. I start posts, but I never finish them. I find that I am writing a lot about my crazy, exhausting life and it sounds like I’m complaining, which is not the impression that I want to give anyone about my current situation. Because while I wish we had saved more, planned better, for the whole college thing, the truth is that we could not have. We scraped by for many, many years — and some years we didn’t even do that. I am grateful to be in a position to be able to do what I can now. I suppose that I could “curate” my life for my blog, but that’s just not my style. Neither is complaining. So, that’s where I am. Good luck to us both, LOL!
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Annie July 21, 2015 at 7:57 pm

If you called it quits on your blog, I would miss your perspective and insight, heartfelt and heartening stories, the glimpses into the lives of two people I enjoy and admire, the frequent statements that C R A C K M E U P , the little “Oh boy!” utterances of delight whenever I see a Chloe post in my inbox, the satisfaction of reading something that perfectly articulates a feeling or experience I’ve had as well as the appreciation of reading a fluent and coherent description of something I’ve no idea about! However, regardless of what anyone else thinks, I think you (and everyone else) should just do what works in your life (without harming others of course). As far as your blog, you obviously don’t know what that is yet. I figure a little tincture of time will clarify it for you…

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angela July 21, 2015 at 9:15 am

You are my Erma Bombeck, my Nora Efron…
Get on the mountain and write a book, a screenplay!!!
Stay real. Stay honest. Keep doing/saying the right thing (sad, but your choice with your dog was the right thing)
Most blogs, TV, Facebook posts are nauseatingly not real, honest, or unapologetically about what’s right.
Thats why we come here to you!
Check out http://www.patreon.com. ..I know you have many here that would LOVE to sponsor your content.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 11:57 am

Angela, thank you for this comment. It has made my day!

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Jana July 21, 2015 at 7:50 am

Blogger=free blog.
Thank you for being real

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Hey Jana! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It does make me feel like somehow it is all worth it.

I started with Blogger and moved to wordpress.com (because I didn’t realize there was a difference between .com and .org). If I’m going to have a blog then I like WP Engine. It’s worth the money to me to be able to design my blog any way I’d like. I like the freedom of it gives me. The anvil I’d like to get off from around my neck is Bluehost. I think they are ripping me off. Barbara Feldman has recommended a solution. I’m going to give it a go.

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Christine July 21, 2015 at 12:56 am

I love reading your blog. I’m a nurse-wannabe who wanted to do exactly what you are doing. My best friend, a nurse, talked me out of it in my early 20’s. I became a lawyer instead and regret listening to my best friend. (The best part of my job is working with nurses as witnesses.) I’m also a crazy dog-lover and I’m sorry for your loss. I can understand the painful choice you made.

If I were to blog, I’d have the same dichotomy between my FB self and my real self – though I tend to be quite honest with my FB posts. Here’s a cartoon I saw that made me laugh and I hope it brings some laughter to you as well. Take good care. Christine.

PS. Oh bummer. I can’t post it here. It’s rather funny.

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Sorry, Christine about the cartoon. I’d love to see it. Feel free to send it to my email at chloe@chloejeffreys.com if you have a minute. I’ll post it here for you.

This honesty versus curation thing really is a conundrum when you have an employer and a respectable profession. Not that I’m famous by any means, but I’ve had patients recognize me before and that’s incredibly awkward for me. It never seems awkward for others though. And I do know for a fact that there was a period of time when people at my daughter’s church were accosting her and asking her if she knew what I was posting on my blog. I don’t have an answer. Maybe it is complete lunacy. Probably so. But I know when I read another person’s realness it makes me feel less alone. That matters to me, and I have to think that my realness matters to someone else who is also maybe feeling alone.

Anyway, being a lawyer is a good thing. It’s sad your friend talked you out of doing what you really wanted to do though. Nursing is a very hard profession, but it’s also one of the most flexible. Becoming one was probably one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s not too late for you if that’s what you want to do. I know of some Lawyer/Nurses who’ve done amazingly well on the speaking circuit.

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Christine July 21, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Your realness does matter — a great deal. Your truth Is refreshing and pro-woman, in my opinion. And thank you for the pep talk about going into nursing and utilizing it with my law degree. Going back to school is something I’ve given thought to – but the student loans I’m still paying off are an albatross. I’m doing some research into the possibility. Thanks again.

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Shorty July 20, 2015 at 8:22 pm

Love you girl! People who can show us real life; ups, downs, in-betweens, dog dying suckiness, friends that aren’t, children who surprise us (good and bad), jobs that suck then don’t, a marriage that works- in short (ha!)- life in all its messiness, and still make us laugh and smile- it is a rare and beautiful thing. Purpose-driven indeed. Following your stars together- what on earth is more fulfilling and what better life to aspire to than to be where you and Tick are now? Because that is a well lived life- learning along the way from what happens and moving forward with those along the way who choose to matter. You, your stories, they matter because of the authenticity. I am happy to share in your successes now as I have cried with the losses along the way. And I am doing it from afar instead of in your pre shift meeting… yeah; that would be weird. And cool. 🙂

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:07 pm

I love you too, Shorty. You’ve seen me through the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly. And still here we are!

I hope my stories matter. Other people’s authentic stories matter to me, even when they are fictional. In this lost world, meaning and purpose, or at least the pursuit of those things gives our lives some direction. Maybe it is all to an empty end, but since the ride is all we have why not make the most of it?

Anyway, thank you. Thank you for been a stalwart friend and reader and commenter. You mean the world to me.

C

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Liv July 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm

But…but…what would we do without you??
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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Oh Liv, I do so love you. Thank you. I think you are fantastic all on your own and will be perfectly fine. But maybe now that I’ve come out of the closet as the unperfect, uncurated me my muse will return and bring me some inspiration. At least I hope so. And maybe Julie will find a way to free me from my indenture to Bluehost.

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Liv July 21, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Well…if you’re ever looking for a temporary home, you’re always welcome at my blog. I’m sure you’ll have no end of offers for a temporary roost. I’m sure I’ll still hear from you on FB – but good luck!
Liv recently posted..Germ Warfare: Daycare is Contagious and There Is No VaccineMy Profile

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Thank you, Liv. That’s a very kind offer. I’ll let you know.

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Gina July 20, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Chloe, we would miss you terribly if you stopped writing. I, for one, am at the same point as you in life and it is so reassuring to know that what I am thinking and feeling at 50-something is shared by others and not just the demented, hormone addled thoughts of a middle aged mind. Thank God I’m not the only one wondering “what’s next” and “is it normal to be thinking this”! Heck, if I had time, I would blog if I could be anonymous! Just to be able to express to someone else what you are thinking makes everything much better. As it is, I’ll have to make do with every other weekly therapy sessions…

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Gina, you are soooo not alone!

My original tagline for this blog was, “Blogging because it’s cheaper than therapy.” Now I’m not so sure. lol

The thing about being 50 is that we have no map. This extended middle-age is uncharted territory. Very few women ever before in history made it to their 50s with all of their teeth. We’re each left to figure it out for ourselves. And figure it out we will. And maybe we’ll be the ones who ultimately save our poor, sick planet.

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bodynsoil July 20, 2015 at 7:09 pm

I love this post for it’s random good humor and ironic truths. I’m loving the choice to work though an odd living arrangement so you can retire early. How very cool; love that.
bodynsoil recently posted..May 12 of 12, 2015My Profile

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Thank you! Labor and delivery is a very physical job. Many RNs end their careers with disabling injuries that mar their final years. I already have shoulder issues from pushing with patients and holding legs. My husband also works in healthcare. So we both know we need to be extremely proactive. We’ve seen what can happen when you aren’t. So sacrifices must be made. And they aren’t easy easy ones.

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Beverly Diehl July 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Love that you are real and not chirping away about how wonderful everything is. Not that there isn’t a time and place we all need some chirping.

Keep going for that dream on the mountain, Chloe.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Thank you, Beverly. We’re chipping away at it. Sometimes I feel like I’m running with a wave ready to crash behind me. There are many good things happening, but as tempting (and relatively easy) as it would be, it would be dishonest to curate only the parts I’d like the world to see.

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Linda Roy July 20, 2015 at 6:36 pm

Chloe, I needed to read this today. Thank you. You’re not afraid to tell it like it is, and you’re spot on. You cut through the bullshit and I love you for that. I had no idea you were going through so much. I’m so sorry about your dog, but I get why you had to do what you did. It had to be heartbreaking. You write about what your heart tells you to and I’ll be reading. Now I’m off to GOMI to read the dirt on BlogHer15 because #horrible (BlogHer, not us lol)

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Linda, I’m not sure you’ll find anything on GOMI. I couldn’t. (If you do, please let me know!)

Last year there was a lot of chatter there about the goings on and my Recap was linked. I received tremendous traffic from that! I did want to see the darker underbelly, but I couldn’t find a single thing. Only a page that says the topic has been removed and no further discussion will be allowed. I’m left to wonder what all that is about!

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Ines July 20, 2015 at 6:29 pm

I am hoping that you continue to share whatever you wish here on your blog..

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Thank you, Ines! I don’t have the courage to take it down. I’m not sure I have the courage to keep it up, either. I’m so torn about it all.

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Julie Christine July 20, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Your blog is the best blog on the Internet. I’m dead fuckin’ serious.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Julie, you always know the right thing to say to me. Now you’ve gone and made me cry. Coming from you (a Blogging Priestess) this is high praise indeed.

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rodalena July 20, 2015 at 5:54 pm

I came to understand a long time ago (after wishing fervently for my blog stats to quit laughing at me and flipping me off) that I blog for me. I blog to hone my skills as a writer. Someone may possibly read the drivel I post, plus I’m attempting to write my first novel, and I need to hone my voice or find it, or fake having one; one of those.

I also blog to explore things I want to explore on my own time in my own way, and to keep in touch with friends and family that I’ve left in various parts of the country as I have moved on. I’m a vagabond and a drifter: no one ever knows where to send me a Christmas card.

I’m so glad you’re still here. Your writing makes me laugh and think, so my vote is keep doing it.

(I’m heartsick with you over the loss of your precious Raynor. He was beautiful.)

~rho

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm

I agree. The best blogs are those that aren’t site for ad copy. I rather those types of blogs with the flashing ads, and videos that start playing when you click on. I know people are making money with that sort of thing, but I’d almost rather do anything than make my money that way. It simply isn’t for me.

Thank you for your thoughts about Raynor. It is truly tragic. I feel like we let him down so badly.

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Natalie July 20, 2015 at 5:52 pm

You just hit on what I’ve been wondering about my own blog. I wish I could write more freely. And if I’m not going to, is it worth it to keep it going? But it’s hard to let it go.
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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Natalie, it is really, really tough. I haven’t got any answers. I’m going one post at a time. I don’t want to take it down, but if I’m not going to do the thing then I really ought to quit the thing. But somehow I just can’t bring myself to pull the plug. Not yet, anyway.

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Lori July 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm

I want you to blog about it, too!!!!! Can’t wait to hear what you’re up to and how it will play out for you and your sweet husband. xoxo

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Chloe Jeffreys July 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

Lori, you are a very good friend to me. And I appreciate you more than words can ever express! It is quite an adventure, and I do think it is worth telling. Now that I’ve gotten the two messiest pieces out in the open maybe my muse will come back.

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