2017: The Year in Review

Happy 2018! I like to start off every new year with a look back on the one we just left behind. I don't think I need to say it, but 2017 was a freakin crazy whirlwind amazing horror of a year in so many ways. To me, I'll remember it as probably one of the hardest years of my life, possibly only surpassed by my junior and/or senior year of high school. I was planning my wedding which was the best and worst thing I ever had to do. I was growing my blog and business, which is the easiest and hardest thing I ever had to do. And, I did a lot of self reflection and improvement, which was the most rewarding and most painful thing I ever had to do. Honestly, I am so glad 2017 is only but a memory to me. In the rearview mirror, it looks way better than it did as I was going through it. I know I'm being extremely dramatic, but the year was a shit show. They say how you spend NYE is how you spend your year. I spent mine confused, stressed, and feeling every emotion in the book. And that was just about how my year went.

January

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My first post of the year was one of my FAVES- Rock Candy Christmas Trees! I also did my very first animal project, Circus Animal Drink Stirrers! I started the year off strong with some great projects, but it was personally really tough. I was planning my wedding, and nothing was going right. We were arguing about everything (like, do we actually need a photographer? UM, YES), and I was just plain tired of talking about the wedding! It got better after we took a trip to our wedding venue in January. John FINALLY started to get excited about the wedding, and he stopped being so combative about everything.

February

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By February, things had settled down a bit. I was in a much better space personally, and I felt MUCH better! I whipped up my first Valentine's Day post, 90's Pun Valentines! Everything these days is a free printable, so I loved doing something hands on. I also made some awesome Cotton Candy Garland, and one of my fave blog posts, Mean Girls Conversation Hearts!! I finished it off with this Kate Spade Inspired Balloon Bracelet. I also launched my virtual party planning services!

March

In March, I did two of my FAVORITE blog posts! Ok, I know i say that a lot, but i really loved these two projects! First, I had my Wood Bead Tassel Necklace, which was as much fun to make as it was to wear! I literally wore it until the tassels fell off, so now I need to make some new ones so I can wear it again! Then, I made a Zebra Party Tray using just a couple of plastic toy animals and a dollar store baking tray.

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I started looking into updating my home decor a bit, and rounded up some really fun Colorful Home Accessories. I collaborated with Holly from Club Crafted to do a 90's ice cream project, so I made this delicious and colorful Lisa Frank Tie-Dye Waffle Sundae! I also started my Wedding Planning Updates again, since I finally had something to say! Finding my wedding dress was honestly SUCH a relief! I had tried on probably over 70 dresses and I was starting to feel like I wasn't going to find a dress I loved. We secured most of our vendors too, which felt like a huge things to cross off the to-do list!

April

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In April, I finally covered my Disney Themed Engagement Party across two posts! The first was How to Plan a Disney Themed Party, while the second had all the amazing pictures that our photographer took. I loved planning my party and I was so happy with the way it turned out, so I was very excited to debut all the details!  I also did a post on How to Rock Your DIY Party Projects, as well as my 5 Month Wedding Planning Update. I also FINALLY asked my sister to be my maid of honor with this Flower Box filled with wedding day essentials. I did my very first Easter post, and came up with a must-see list of Engagement Gifts for the Bride-To-Be. I also decided to step up my wardrobe game and gave some Comfy Spring Outfit Tips. Because if it ain't comfy, chances are I'm not wearing it haha! You can see my tassel necklace in that post, which btw had already lost a tassel at that point!

May

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In May, I released my 4 Month Wedding Planning update. I remember we were so excited to have planned our honeymoon. Little did we know, we wouldn't be able to go on it! We ended up rescheduling for Paris, but that's a story for another time ;) This month was full of child-like throwbacks. First, I made a Barbie Shoes Tote Bag that I literally use to carry flats around. Then, I did a post of the Things I'd Tell My 8 Year Old Self. Spoiler alert- it's not to let others define me as an adult. I also made a really fun Painted Corkboard with Barbie Shoe Pushpins!! I rounded out the month of Barbie posts with this Gift Guide for the Barbie Girl, filled with amazing pink items!

June

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In June, I talked about the change in direction for the blog from what I initially intended it to be. Did you know this blog was supposed to be a home decor and organization blog?! It's almost laughable to me. Though if the blog went in that direction, I can only imagine how much nicer my house would be. I posted my 3 Month Wedding Planning Update, where I basically freaked out over ALL THE THINGS I need to do. I also did my very first sponsored post from Oriental Trading! I started with Adding a Pop of Color to Your Wedding, then followed up with a Bridesmaid Bruch Craft Party. Also, we had something SUPER exciting happen in June- we got legally married at City Hall! Our big wedding ceremony would only be symbolic, so we needed to get legally married at city hall first. We followed up the occasion by celebrating at Dave and Busters with our family and getting really excited for the big wedding we'd be having soon.

July

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In July I was starting to get super overwhelmed with wedding planning! I did my 2 Month Wedding Planning Update, and I had my bridal shower! I wanted it to be a surprise and although I started to get an inkling on the day of the event, I was shocked! I was so bummed that I didn't bring my camera with me, and I didn't even get to take too many cell phone pics! The party was such a fast blur, and I was pouting by the end. I didn't want it to be over! The summer truly was amazing for me. I did my first ever guest post on someone's blog! I made these really fun Watermelon Napkins for Giggles Galore, the first in a months-long collaboration with them! I also did another fun fruit DIY- Pineapple Flats! I finished out the month with a sponsored post with Basic Invite. I wish I had discovered them before I ordered my invites, because I was so impressed with their selection! I loved my invites, but the colored envelopes on these were just amazing.

August

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In August, I basically had a mini-panic attack on the daily. There was only 1 Month Left until my wedding!!! I only did 2 real blog posts this month, a Pom Pom Pet Collar and DIY Fruit Slice Containers. My sister took me on an amazing trip to Mexico, which was my favorite part of the bachelorette festivities. It was just the two of us in an all-inclusive resort for days, laying in the sun and hanging by the pool. It was so nice to get away from work and blogging and planning. I hope that when she's getting married, I can plan a trip for her with just the 2 of us! After that, I had my bachelorette weekend with my friends in Philly! I had never been there before, so it was really fun to explore a new city with my friends. I finished up August with a Final Wedding Planning Update 1 week before the wedding. When I was super duper sick, after battling a stomach bug I contracted in Mexico, followed by a cold. 

September

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On September 2, after a totally amazing summer, I got to marry my best friend by a beautiful lake in PA. Well.... near a window by a lake in PA, since it was raining and we couldn't do it outside. The wedding day was such a whirlwind, and it seriously took weeks before I could fully comprehend what had happened. Getting married was so amazing and surreal. I'm planning to do a wedding recap really soon, filled with pics! Stay tuned :). After our wedding, we went on our honeymoon- in Paris! We were originally supposed to go to Disney (see April's update) but had to reschedule in September at the very last minute. We were so bummed, but we ended up having fun in Paris, despite it being rainy, gloomy and cold. Really rainy and cold! I did two lonely blog posts in September, Easy Football Party Crafts and a Colorful Fall Pumpkin Wreath for Giggles Galore.

October

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Welcome to Party HarDIY! In October, I relaunched the blog from WellKeptChaos to Party HarDIY to reflect the posts I do. I got to do some awesome Halloween posts this month, like this Easy Striped Halloween Art and this Striped Halloween Sign. I also did my very first set of Halloween costumes!! We had a DIY Cloud Costume, a 2th Fairy Costume, and a Pink Brightest Crayon! I also did a post about Appreciating Where You Are, since sometimes you're at that point in life where you think it'll never get better. I also revealed the Truth About Wedding Planning, because it ain't all sunshine and rainbows. Someone had to come out and say it!

November

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By November, I was getting into the holiday spirit. I made some Christmas Drink Stirrers, Easy Colorful Thanksgiving Place Cards, and a No Sew Embellished T-Shirt. November was also amazing because I got to meet my hero, Studio DIY! Kelly and her husband Jeff came to NYC and it was amazing. Seeing the amazing projects that Kelly and other bloggers dreamed up were what made me want to create a blog and make my own DIY projects. Meeting her was AMAZING, since I am totally in awe of everything she does! I finished November with a roundup of The Best Colorful Thanksgiving Printables

December

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Ahh, December! One of the busiest months for me! I started the month off strong with launching my shop! I did a blog post outlining the changes, and I updated my About Me page (finally) so that it could better reflect what I am about. I also did some really fun holiday posts, like these Holographic Ornament Tags, Animal Sweater Ornaments, and Confetti Gift Tags. I also did 2 great party posts for Oriental Trading- DIY Paper Fan Christmas Trees and a Colorful Ornament Making Party. We also did a giveaway for the shop featuring these DIY Colorful Jewelry Ornaments, which are so easy and cute to make!! I had a few other projects in the works for December, but my dad fell on December 16 (my mom's bday) and ended up in the hospital ICU for almost a week. Suddenly, everything was put into perspective and I spent the rest of the year making sure he was happy and healthy. He's got a new pacemaker now, so we are hoping that he's able to make a full recovery and be back to his crazy self soon!

Goals for 2018

Now that we covered last year, I want to talk about this coming year. I am excited to say that I made the transition from working full-time to working part time at my day job! I am now in the office 3 days a week, and working on the blog 3 days a week. And, I'm going to try my best to take Sundays off because I really need to get some rest once in a while! It was super stressful blogging while working full time. I was working from 5am-7am on the blog, then getting dressed, commuting, and working before finally getting home at 7pm. These long days were exhausting, then I would work all day on the weekends, trying to capture every minute of good light for photo shoots!

I (finally) want to decorate my house! We basically moved in 2 years ago, slapped some paint on, and unpacked everything. Most of our rooms have no artwork, no real "style" and still have half-unpacked boxes in the closet. NO MORE I SAY! Be on the lookout for home DIY's and room tours in 2018.

Did someone say shopping? I've got so many ideas on what to add to the shop this year! I'm excited to finally have the time to dedicate to growing the inventory, including some handmade and original designs! I'll be posting the updates on Instagram, so be sure to follow me to stay up-to-date.

And finally, John and I are hoping to add some new members to our family this year. He almost got me a dog for Christmas, and there are some stray cats in my yard I have been eyeing. Oh, and maybe a baby could be a fun addition! We're taking it day by day, and we'll see what the year brings.

Welcome to Party HarDIY!

Oh hey... We're Moving! Well, the blog is. 

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I'm so excited to announce that WellKeptChaos is now Party HarDIY. 

Why Party HarDIY?

The name came about when I was looking for a fun email sign-off. I wanted it to be silly and party related, so I came up with Party HarDIY. I suddenly realized that this name stood for exactly what my blog was about- party ideas, DIY projects, and being a little bit cheesy. Ok, very cheesy. I got really excited, with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. I realized this was the perrrrrfect name for my silly little blog, and that I had to make the change. Well, after some deliberation, I finally decided to bite the bullet and get that done. 

The Good News:

The content is going to stay the same. You'll still get awesome party ideas and DIY projects that you LOVE.

Oh, and I'm still here. That's right, your favorite hostess is still going to be here, yapping about DIY's, giving advice, and throwing amazing parties. I'll also still be offering my virtual party planning services so that your parties can be as stellar as you are.

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What's Changing:

Well, for starters, our logo in the corner is different, and soon our URL will be too. I'm still working out the best way to make the switch, so if you have any advice, send it over my way!

My social media channels made the switch today! You can now find us @PartyHarDIY on all the social media channels- Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. Be sure to follow us!

Oh, and my name changed too! I just got married in September, so Catherine Sarlis has become Catherine Cardona. 

New Stuff:

As if all this wasn't enough, there's a few new things coming up the pipeline!

For starters... I'm opening up a shop. That's right, soon you'll be able to purchase your very own PartyHarDIY goodies!! The exact details will have to stay a secret for now (darn!) but I promise it's gonna be really good. You don't want to miss out, so join the wait list, and you'll be the very first to know what's going down! 

School's out for summer.... but soon it'll be back in session! I'm creating some e-courses to teach you about a few different topics. I always imagined I'd become a teacher when I was a kid, so it's only fitting that I start teaching classes!  Soon enough, you'll be able to get a PHD all your own (get it... PartyHarDIY?). 

I'll definitely keep you guys updated as all the changes happen, but I'm so excited/relieved to reveal this secret that I've been hiding for a while now! I'm so excited to see the new direction of the blog, and I hope you all continue to follow along!

Pssst. Looking for some assistance planning your next big event? I can help! Visit my virtual party planning services page for more info and pricing.

2016: The Year in Review

Wow, so 2016 is over, huh? It seems like it was a pretty crazy year for everyone, and people didn't exactly hide their desire for it to go away once and for all. For me, 2016 was an ok year. It had its ups and downs, but I'm pretty glad it's over. I'm ready for a fresh start, so even though technically the only thing that changed is one little number, it feels like anything is possible. Let's hop into our time machine now and travel back through my memory as I look at the year in review.

2016 has been one crazy ride. I moved into my house on New Year’s Eve last year, so I essentially started the new year in a brand new place. Its our first home and we are loving it so far.

It’s also been my first full year being engaged and planning a wedding. That hasn’t exactly been fun or easy. It’s not really affordable, and so it’s been a struggle to try to have the wedding of my dreams on a shoestring budget. The budget has grown and it’s overwhelming!

I started this blog to chronicle my life as I planned my wedding and decorated my home. However, it’s become so much more than that. I have big plans for this little blog, and pretty soon you’ll start seeing what’s been going on behind the scenes.

The topic changed, but the reason behind starting it is the same. I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I’ve always wanted a creative outlet. And I’ve always wanted to flexibility to be home with my kids when I have them. I’m hoping with this little blog, I can do all those things and more. I am hoping that I can show what I am truly capable of, proving to myself that I can achieve anything. I already kinda feel like I can (thanks mom and dad!) but I want to show that it’s not all unjustified confidence. I want to put my money where my mouth is.

This blog helped me to do so much I never was able to. For starters, I broke my toe taking pictures for the blog. Breaking a bone is something I have never done before, and frankly, I hope I never (ever) do it again. It’s also encouraged me to learn things that I’ve always wanted to be better at, like photography. It’s challenged me to find out what I am and what I like without being influenced by what others are doing. Which, surprisingly, is really hard! And it’s also encouraged me to focus on bettering myself and not focusing on where I am in relation to others. We are all on our own journeys, and if we focus on our goals, there’s no reason why we can’t catch up (or surpass!) the people we are admiring.

Let's take a look at 2016 month by month.

January: On Dec 30, 2015 we closed on our house, so we spent New Year's Eve moving in. It was exhausting and thrilling at the same time. Most of January was spent unpacking, purchasing furniture, and trying to settle in.

February: In February, I started looking into starting a blog. I suddenly had a 3 hour commute round trip, so I had a LOT of time to spend on Pinterest. I'm not sure how I started looking into blogging, but once I did I became addicted and realized I needed to start one. I had always wanted to start blogging, but it finally seemed like the time was right.

March & April: Most of March and April was spent behind the scenes as I started creating my blog and coming up with content. I decided to go with SquareSpace because their interface was the easiest for me to use. I wanted something that I could edit easily myself and was relatively simple.

May: In May my blog finally went live! I didn't know what exactly my blog would be about, so I wrote about home organization tips, DIY's and party planning. I made my first and most popular DIY tutorial, a donut party platter with sprinkles. I also did my first party post, for my Sugar Sweet 27th Birthday Party. I created the most blog posts this month, a whopping 11 posts!

June: In June things quieted WAY down and I wrote my first holiday blog post, Fourth of July on a Budget. I also enrolled in Blog to Biz Hive by Melyssa Griffin and began working on creating a business for my blog. There was a lot of soul searching during June as I tried to decide what my blog should be about. I decided to forego the lifestyle category and instead focus on DIY's and party planning! I also had my Disney-themed engagement party in mid-June.

July: Some of my favorite blog posts happened in July. I started with my Nautical Notecard Banner Tutorial, which I came up with on the fly at Michael's and ended up really loving. Then, I had my first party supply haul post from Michael's using their fun tropical themed stuff. And one of my favorites to date, my TGIF 90's-Themed Slumber Party. This was seriously the most fun ever to plan, and I loved hunting for 90's themed supplies. Plus I got to eat the lunchables and candy after the shoot, so that was pretty epic.

August: The end of July and beginning of August were AMAZING because I got to go to Greece for the first time! It inspired me to write a post on What Greece Taught me About Being a Great Hostess. It was also a great excuse to show off some of my photos from Greece, including the amazing purple and yellow mermaid dream home I found there by accident. Once I got back, I posted another fun tutorial on a DIY Pineapple Garland that's so easy to make. I also created a blog post & amazing freebie on How to Plan a Pinterest Worthy Party. This guide shows you how to plan a great party that's gorgeous, and the guide itself is super pretty as well! I was so happy with how it turned out.

September: On September 2, I had my most emotional day ever. It started with being teary-eyed as I excitedly realized that in a year I'd be walking down the aisle and marrying my fiancé. Then, I spent the afternoon working on some fun new blog posts. I was standing on a chair while taking some overhead shots, and Humpty Dumpty went tumbling down. I spent the rest of the day in the ER, then spent the rest of the MONTH unable to walk with a fractured toe. That was not fun! This seriously made all my plans come to a screeching halt. I couldn't go up 2 flights of stairs to the attic, so I couldn't really do any DIY or party blog posts. However, I did my first collaboration with Paperless Post for How to Plan a Summertime Christmas Party, which was so much fun to do! And, I spent the rest of the month researching proper equipment so that I would never hurt myself taking photos again.

October: By early October, I was able to get back into the swing of things. I wore a walking cast and was finally able to move around on my own. I dove right into Halloween (one of my favorite holidays!) and spent a day decorating my house while hobbling around in my walking cast (the Boot, as I called it). I utilized one of my favorite websites, Oriental Trading, to create two awesome Halloween tutorials. The first was DIY Faux Pinatas using inexpensive papier mache pumpkins and some streamers. The second was a Colorful Halloween Party that featured spiderwebs, black and white striped plates, and a whole lot of colorful paper fans. Plus, this party had ME in the photos! I'm working on being more present in my work next year, so that you guys can start to recognize me as the face of my blog. October was also the first month that I started using Instagram daily and I was able to increase my engagement.

November: In November, after finally getting to walk around in normal shoes once again, we went full-on Thanksgiving here on the blog. I started with 9 Tutorials to Help you Build the Best Thanksgiving, featuring some of my favorite colorful Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving ideas from around the web. I created a colorful and classy disposable Friendsgiving Tablescape that's sure to wow your guests, and a DIY Colorful Leaf Garland that's so easy to do. After YEARS of using Pinterest, I finally got 1k followers at the end of November! I remember having about 300 or so at the ER in September when I fractured my toe, so this was HUGE.

December: Ah, good old December. This is always a SUPER busy month for me, since I have my sister's birthday (Dec 13), my mom's (Dec 16), and my fiancé's (Dec 23) followed by Christmas. This left me with practically no time for blog posts! I was, however, pretty active over on Instagram. I was really bummed because I had some amazing DIY projects I wanted to do, but I did some other great blog posts. I started with How to Save Time and Money on Holiday Gatherings, a guest post on the Crazy Busy Happy Life blog. We also rounded up some fun and colorful DIY Christmas Ornament tutorials and discussed How to Mix and Match Party Supplies using gorgeous tableware from Target. I also created my very first Gift Guide for hostesses, and it's filled with some great stuff that any hostess would love. By this point, I own pretty much half the items on the list, so I mean it when I say it ;) We closed out December with a Last Minute Dollar Store New Year's Eve Party.

So, what does 2017 have to bring? A free 4-week party planning e-course is coming to the blog soon, along with virtual party planning services! I also have plans to open up a shop, and there may be a redesign happening as well. So what's the new blog name going to be?! Well a girl can't reveal all her secrets, but I can tell you that it's going to be amazing. Be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I'll be sharing updates, sneak peeks, and behind the scenes photos and videos!

Welcome 2017- I'm ready for you!

Starting a Blog- How to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed by Blogging Advice

When I was starting my blog, I was blown away by all the free advice out there on how to be successful as a blogger. I read the articles on my commute and I was so excited to get to the next one. There was so so much to learn, but in a good way. I wished I could read faster as I read article after article, completely engrossed in the content. After reading a lot, I felt confident that I could start this blogging thing. It was always something I wanted to try, but now I felt ready to make it something I did professionally. 3 months later, I don't feel the same way about all that information out there for bloggers. Instead of feeling empowered by it, I feel discouraged. Seeing those headlines makes me feel like they're shouting at me. All those "What you're doing wrong on Pinterest" or "Mistakes Bloggers Make" type articles make me want to shut off my phone and hide! I've decided I WILL be successful at this, so I won't allow myself to hide from it. Here's my advice for staying sane in the sea of advice out there when starting a blog. 

 When I was starting my blog, I was blown away by all the free advice out there on how to be successful as a blogger. 3 months later, I don't feel the same way about all that information out there for bloggers. Instead of feeling empowered by it, I feel discouraged. Here's my advice for staying sane in the sea of advice out there when starting a blog. 

Be conscious of what you pin and who you follow. A lot of the content I was seeing was based off my pins and the people I was following. To prevent becoming completely overwhelmed with content, only follow the boards and users you want to be inspired by, not pressured into. This will whittle down the content you see and shield you from the flurry of articles that might make you feel like you're not doing enough. 

Find a tribe leader. There's tons of articles out there about finding a tribe, but I think the most important thing you can do at first is find the right tribe leader(s). Find one or two people whose writing style you like and whose content is informative, and focus on learning from them. You can always search for advice on specific topics from others, but for general guidance, I recommend finding a leader and following their advice until you're comfortable branching out. 

Focus on creating great content. Yes, other things are definitely important. But your #1 priority should always be cranking out great content. If you start to feel overwhelmed by all the articles and advice out there, close your social media, ignore your inbox, and just write. Whether it's a blog post, a list of ideas, or your newsletter, doing these things will be useful for the success of your blog and leave you feeling empowered. 

Create a to do list, an editorial calendar, etc., and stick to it. I find that feeling overwhelmed leads to not knowing where to start, which leads to giving up. Don't let that happen! Write a short daily to-do list, weekly goals, an editorial calendar, or whatever you prefer that lets you know exactly what needs to get accomplished. This will silence all those other tasks nagging at you and allow you to get something done. If you find yourself obsessing over another task, schedule it in somewhere and let go of that nagging feeling. 

Focus on your own goals and not the ones everyone else throws at you. If you listened to every piece of advice, you'd be making daily blog posts, a weekly newsletter, growing your subscriber list, offering tons of freebies, have an active social media presence (and more) every day. That's a lot of work for one person to do, and it doesn't even include your other daily tasks! Are all these things great to have? Yes. In an ideal world you'd be Super Blogger, getting it all done, and more, all in time for dinner. But in the real world, you might be too busy for all that. Focus on a few things at a time and I guarantee that eventually you'll have it all down. A little bit of progress is better than getting burned out and stopping altogether. Starting a blog is a marathon, not a race.  Doing too much too quickly could leave you abandoning the idea altogether.

Stop comparing yourself to others. A lot of bloggers have been doing this stuff for years. They've perfected their systems and are reaping the benefits of their hard work. If you're just starting out, it can be really easy to burn out. Don't let someone's else's "end" sabotage your middle. Learn from people, read their advice, and be inspired, but don't let their success discourage you. 

Be a dreamer. If all else fails, just think about your dreams and what you want to achieve. Write down those goals and see if you can find the steps to achieve them. Sometimes just reminding ourselves why we are doing something is enough to get us out of our funk!

Phew! I know it's a lot to handle, but I thought it was important to let people know that you don't have to do everything all at once. I feel better now that I'm not overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, and I hope you do too.

What's the part of blogging that leaves you the most overwhelmed? How do you overcome it?

Related: 10 Easy Ways to Get Motivated