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28 Day Blog Post Challenge Wrap Up

I actually did this.

Posted a blog every day for 28 days in a row. I feel pretty darn good right now about this accomplishment.

Here are the stats:

  • On any given month, I have had anywhere between 20-150 visitors to my website. Last November I had an outstanding boom in traffic due to the most amazing photo session and blog I’ve written to date (and hope to replicate soon.) In just 27 days (I am writing this early today, so I’m not counting today’s stats) I have seen over 500 visitors to my site! This is amazing for me, to know that over 500 of you have come out to see a few of these posts over the last 28 days. Thank you so much!
  • The most popular post this month… to my surprise is the Valentine’s Day post about Eli and My love story. You all are soft romantics and I love it! I guess I’ll seriously have to write a part two soon 🙂
  • I was blessed to welcome eight different voices to my blog this month through some of my good friends and acquaintances agreeing to be guest bloggers!
  • On my blog, people can like and comment, and this month was the biggest month ever for me! With 78 likes and 11 unique comments (it doesn’t seem like a lot), I know for sure I have a few readers who like my work. These stats do not include likes and comments on Facebook and Instagram, where there was a lot of traffic!
  • Facebook was my number one referrer, with over 400 visits from the platform alone. Instagram was just behind it with 104. Considering all the talk about Facebook not giving a lot of attention to business pages through the algorithm, I am pretty stoked to see most of my traffic comes from the site.
  • There was a strange mix of visitors on the site from all over the world. The US had the highest, but Germany was in second place, followed by Switzerland, Canada, India, Indonesia, the UK, Romania, Australia, Bangladesh, and Ukraine. There were a bunch of other random places too. Hello world, thanks for stopping by!

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As much fun as stats are, and these accomplishments really only mean something to me, it was still a lot of behind the scenes work to do this.

The hardest part was brainstorming blog ideas. I’ll be the first to mention that the posts were all over the place in their content. However, I think I am starting to better figure out what I really want to write about… intentional living, country life and photography… for starters anyway. And I know more about what you want to read!

There were a string of nights I would come home from work and blog as much as possible, schedule things ahead, take photos on my kitchen floor. There were days I waited to write until the end of the day. There were days I had posts coming out that I wrote three or four days prior. It was a lot of work, but it was so enjoyable to get back to writing about fun things and connecting with people!

I also had eight of the coolest women take time out of their lives to put their words down and take photos of their lives to be guest bloggers. You are all amazing and deserve all the pretty things in this life. Thank you for taking a little pressure off me and for putting your hearts into something different!

Read all of the guest blogs here:

I suggest reading all of these, following their blogs, Instagrams, Facebooks, and shops!

Thank you to each of you beautiful, wonderful, kind and loving women for doing this for me! You really made me see the value in connecting with people in your life or on the Internet. Supporting all of you will be as easy as drinking coffee.

To the readers, again, thank you for stopping by for a few minutes each day. I truly hope you learned something, were inspired, are happy to have found this space. Please feel free to comment anywhere with content you’d like to see in the future, or photo shoots you’d like to see me offer! I totally want to please you, my fantastic readers!

I promise I will be back with more consistent blogs as new photo sessions present themselves and as inspiration strikes me. For now, I might take a few days off posting 🙂

Thanks for the encouragement, the messages and the chats about this month of blogging, I really appreciated it!

See you soon,

Alyssa B.

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Guest Blog: A Dietitian’s Journey towards Mindful Eating

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Abi

Today, I’m like over the moon excited to introduce my oldest friend to my blog! Abi is that one person from high school who “got you.” She was the friend who just knew what was up, called me on my B.S. and was willing to drive me around in her minivan.

Abi is now a dietitian, who lives in sunny Florida and is straight up killin’ it.


My name is Abi Utech, and I am a Registered Dietitian who lives in Sarasota, Florida. You might be wondering how the heck this person ended up on Alyssa’s farm photography blog. Alyssa has been one of my best friends since high school. Even though we’ve ended up doing very different things with our lives, I feel like we both inspire each other to do and try more. When she asked me if I would write a post for her blog challenge and said I could write about whatever I wanted I told her I would (semi-hesitantly), but I also used a quote I had recently read, “If you wait until you are completely ready, you will never do it.” So here is Alyssa, inspiring me to branch out, share, and hopefully inspire and help others.

 

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Here we are, at a Chinese restaurant, nine million years ago.

 

Let me preface this by saying that every single body is different and thrives off of different things. Some bodies may need more assistance than others. So while I’m happy to share my thoughts and perspectives with you, if you feel the need for more guidance in the nutrition realm, please reach out to your own doctor, dietitian, or functional medicine practitioner.

Food is a huge part of who we are as people and our culture. Incidentally, the mentality that comes with this focus on food has become a more prominent part of our culture. It is now referred to as “Diet Culture.” What this means is that as a society we have placed so much emphasis on making our bodies fit a certain type, that our bodies must be changed, and that we must be changing our eating habits to make that happen. This is so ingrained in our minds today, and for most people ends up being unsuccessful and leading to poorer mental health.

All of this stress we put on ourselves can actually negate all the changes we try to make anyways.

When our bodies experience stress, we release a hormone called cortisol. The release of cortisol is known as our “Fight or Flight” response, which is technically a good response (when a caveman is fleeing from a wild animal). Today a large population of people can probably say they are under some level of stress most of the time. When our cortisol levels stay high it can lead to problems with digestion, trouble sleeping, and even weight gain. This is because when your body stays in a stressed state it does not to lose weight for fear of essentially starving. So, what this tells me, and what you might have surmised already, is that we need to find a way to nourish our bodies, keep our bodies happy, and keep us mentally happy if we want to get to our body’s “happy place.”

This is where a new movement called Intuitive Eating has come in. For the sake of simplicity, intuitive eating is when you let your body tell you what it wants and when it wants it. Now, this doesn’t mean you give in to every craving, but that you are really paying attention to the signals your body sends to your brain and giving it nourishment when needed. There are books on this topic with the most well-known being “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole MS, RDN and Elyse Resch MS, RDN, CEDRD. This movement also goes by the name Mindful Eating. This, if you notice the title I gave this post, is the term I like to refer to it as. I like the term Mindful, as it reminds me that the point is still to focus on nourishing my body. Another big tenant of this movement is that if you go out to dinner and splurge on something you don’t normally have, say for a date or for a special occasion or just because you darn well felt like it, there is no need to beat yourself up for it or make it up with an hour on the treadmill. You eat until you’re satisfied and then you go on with your life. Now that sounds pretty nice!

Do you find yourself thinking any of the following? Won’t I eat too much? What if I just eat junk food? Are you sure I won’t gain weight?

 

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Abi’s instagram is for real.

 

You definitely aren’t alone. For most people going down this path, it is not without struggles. You have to learn how to recognize your body’s hunger and satiety signals, and actually honor them. I also feel that having some base nutrition knowledge is key to being successful with mindful eating. This is because as you pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods, you will probably realize that you feel more energized and satisfied for longer after eating a veggie omelet with some toast and peanut butter than after eating a doughnut or a small granola bar. You will most likely just come to a point where you want to feel physically and mentally better throughout the day, so you end up preferring the more nutritious breakfast more in the end.

We are now to the part where I’m going to fill you in on why I’m doing this journey and how it’s going for me. Even though I am a Registered Dietitian and I “know what I should be doing,” there is no right answer for everyone. I’ve always had trouble with controlling my weight and trying to lose weight. I guess I really should have figured out that my body does not want me to control it, and instead work with it. I’ve recently been doing an elimination diet to figure out inflammatory reactions to some foods I have been experiencing. I won’t go too in depth. They aren’t allergic reactions, but definitely not things I want happening on a regular basis. An elimination diet is when you remove a food or foods that you think you are reacting to for at least 3-4 weeks, and then slowly introduce things back in while monitoring your body’s reactions. (If this is something you think you be useful to you there are books on the topic or contact your doctor, dietitian, etc.)

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So why might this step be so important? If you are eating foods that your body does not agree with, it will fight back. So, to get to a good place with your body and your mentality with food, there may be things that you might choose to eat less often. I say less often because let’s just be honest, I’m still going to have pasta, cheese, and beer at some point in my life, just not as often as before since I know how my body reacts to them.

I am very excited to see where this journey leads. It will only help get me closer to the ultimate goal of being happier. I’m also excited to see how this will improve how I counsel patients at my job, and maybe help other people (like you, who are reading this right now).

If you want some mindful eating inspiration, you can find me on Instagram @autech.rd.  If you have any specific questions and think I can help point you in the right direction you can direct message me on Instagram or email me at autech13@gmail.com.

Thanks for letting me into your life for a bit today!

Abi

P.S. This girl also is a rep for Young Living Essential Oils! (She has helped me get on board with these amazing products, and she can help you too!)

This is blog 27 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.

Letter to My Future Self

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Alyssa,

Did you grow your bangs back out? Are you a mom? Did you ever start that beehive? Which book did you try writing first, the children’s book or the photo book? Don’t tell me you went for the novel? Did you find a wedding photographer that you really truly loved?

Those are a few of the many questions my current self, wants to know about my future self.

I realize that a note to myself on a blog is not as cool as a handwritten note I write and then hide and someday find in a shoebox in the back of the spare room’s closet. However, I feel that sharing a little bit more of myself will really help me count my blessings and put my worries away.

At this time in your life, you are all about intentionality. You are looking for ways to live simply, but happily. You have a lot of goals to be even more intentional with the choices you make and the life you build.

Here are some things on your mind, on your list of goals and part of your routine:

-You try to document everything. With photos, with words.

-You try to find God every day in the form of reflection and sharing your faith with others. (Big emphasis on trying… it’s not easy or comfortable.)

-You really work hard to put worry and stress out of sight. Thanks to the Dale Carnegie class and books, you’ve got a lot of tools to do this.

-You are trying to put your phone down during work hours, and home hours. Being present is super important to you.

-You are trying to care for your body with simple, wholesome food and a yoga practice. (I hope you didn’t stop the yoga…or stop eating donuts.)

-You want to always put family first.

-You want to be outside in the woods, in fields, in gardens, in water.

-You want to give your creativity more freely to others.

-You want to embrace other’s creativity as much as possible.

-You set goals to read every night, but don’t always do it.

-You want to do more for others and give your time to do good for them.

I’m super curious to see if the person I’m working on now, will be all of those things. I know that God will bring me where I need to be, and hopefully, I find his path to get me there. I do know one thing, that I am always working on myself and it will be cool to know if I did some of the things listed above that are floating on my mind.


I have a hard time telling myself that I am worthy and enough. It’s difficult to tell myself that I am capable. So, future, Alyssa, I hope you read this when you most need it… even if it is tomorrow or in a week or in 10 weeks or 10 years.

You are smart, even if you need a calculator. You have a purpose, even if it changes by the hour. You are kind, even if you swear every so often. You are thoughtful, even when you forget someone’s birthday. You love deeply, even when you are feeling selfish. You work hard, even when you binge watch TV. You make a difference, even if you cannot see it.

If there is one thing I want future Alyssa to know, it’s that no matter how hard something is, or how emotionally draining a situation might be, or how frustrating the people you interact with might be in that moment, you can handle it.

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Here is to you, Alyssa.

Keep at it.

This is blog 26 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.

Guest Blog: How Listening to My Parents Has Changed My Life

If you need a little dash of thoughtfulness right now, you’re in the right place. I am honored to share a lovely piece about family written by my talented friend, Ollie Carlson. I met this incredible human back in high school, in a writing class of course, and we became fast pals. She is also a farm kid, loves the outdoors and is a person I truly admire. I hope you enjoy her piece!


My parents are by far the most awesome, talented, good people I know. Only I didn’t see that until now.

They encouraged me and my siblings to be fairly self-sufficient, hard-working kids who could manage without supervision. But my parents were always there. Always.

I remember vividly the rare occasions when we would truly find ourselves alone at home. And besides sneaking in a little time for a movie my brothers and sisters and I did exactly what we would have done if my parents were home.

Mama and Papa were, simply, present. Available for anything we needed, they would answer any question we had, offer any help they could, or teach us anything they knew. They knew a lot. Like most of my siblings, I rarely took them up on the offer because I was sarcastic and crabby and too “smart” to need their guidance. I had this, all on my own.

 

Ollie’s parents

 

And then you meet people that help you realize you want to be a better person.Someone who cuts through the sarcastic, crabby, dry wit to inspire you to be the best version of yourself.I met Thomas when I was twenty-three and immediately I felt a fire of passion ignite in me. I wanted to be more.I wanted to grow a garden, cook good food, and preserve what was left.I wanted to build, salvage, and repair things, all sorts of things.I wanted to be a prepared, reliable, practical person.I wanted to be a good human.I really just wanted to be a hell of a lot more like my parents.

About twenty good years of readily available life skills classes were hurriedly passed up by myself because I couldn’t see the value in what my folks had to offer.Papa is a master carpenter, farmer, electrician mechanic, roofer, plumber, and a professional tinkerer.His patience is unending and because of that, if it can be fixed he will fix it.Mama was a midwife for thirty-seven years, has a memory like a steel trap, a mind for mathematics and minute details, not to mention avid reader, writer, and editor.Plus, the best damn bread-maker I know.Together they birthed nine healthy children, worked for themselves, grew gardens, bought a farm, and raised those nine kids into a pack of decent people off doing their things in the world.I have so much to learn from them but I’ve learned a lot just by observing them.

Use what you have or use something used.

My gut reaction to learning a new skill is to go out and buy specialty stuff I “need” for the endeavor of the moment. Like when I bought a brand new sewing machine because I wanted to sew my own clothing. And then I never used it. Or feeling too good for second-hand clothing. Everything I have ever witnessed growing up was that my parents just made it happen with what they had. And if they really couldn’t already use what they had thrift stores were visited, Craigslist was searched. Only as a last resort was some item purchased new, one with quality behind it. Growing up I felt like the frugality I witnessed from my parents was a symptom of being poor. Now I realize it was nothing of the sort – it was purely far more practical to spend some time looking around, seeing what you have at the ready, and using that to make do instead of rushing out to spend money on unnecessary things. My mother is a well-dressed, beautiful lady and you wouldn’t know unless I told you that she exclusively dresses in second-hand clothes. My father might be closer on the spectrum to pack rat than most but he is insistent on keeping things that still have use. He remembers what he has and unearths things for projects sometimes years or decades later. Think a barn full of wood (really nice wood) or a wall full of various mails, screws, bolts, washers, clips, motors, or electrical equipment. I am currently spending my Sunday’s building a bed frame from myself with Papa and every board he goes searching for and pulls out of the stacks has a story that he remembers from a job he was asked to do five, ten, or thirty years ago. I cringe at all the thrifts stores I didn’t want to go in and all of the good useful things I tossed away.

 

Ollie

 

Know how to feed yourself. Grow a garden. Preserve and store food.

Mama and Papa have always had a large garden. The garden they grew when living in town was bigger in footprint than the house that all eleven of us lived in. And when we bought a farm several large and still growing gardens and orchards were installed. They weren’t enough to fully supply everything we ate but certainly, a hefty chunk was on the gardens back. Our pantry was lined with rows of glass jars filled with all sorts of canned wonder and wooden bins filled with potatoes, onions, and other root veggies stayed dark and cool. I was too sulky pulling weeds and tending beds to appreciate the skills I was learning. You don’t realize until you’re an adult that not many people know the difference between a fresh shoot of a pea (or bean, or pepper, or pumpkin, or potato…) and an emerging weed.Not many people know how to manage a compost pile or why it’s so important. Growing food you will consume yourself is one of the most powerful ways you can connect yourself and the earth. It’s humbling and rewarding. And I used to roll my eyes when Papa would talk excitedly about black gold, the water cycle, or worms. I’d disappear to my room when Mama started pulling out the canning supplies. All they were trying to teach me was that the only difference between me and the dirt beneath my feet was my belief that I was better than it. I need that dirt. It sustains me and you and everyone. It deserves respect and care. Your food will taste better if you understand the effort it took to reach your table. So I text Papa for tips and thoughts about what I should use for building my raised beds and Mama gives me advice on canning over breakfast Sunday mornings.

Know basic repair.

I couldn’t begin to count the number of times Papa ranted and raved about how I would need to know how to change a flat (find a stud, change my oil, use a table saw, understand fractions, make a fire, change out a light fixture, or jump a car). I would listen with one ear and let my mind go free in thought. And anytime someone asks me “hey, could you help me jump my car?” I think sure, I’ve seen Papa do it a thousand times… But I was too self-absorbed to actually listen so I guess I’ll google it. I can do a small fraction of the things my parents insisted I would need to know how to do in life like work hard, don’t complain, make a fire, change a flat, and be a willing student (that one came later rather than sooner) but I have every intention of slowly learning now what I could already know. And yes, this means frequent calls to Papa and Mama as I vaguely describe the nature of a problem and they expertly guide me through exactly what I need to do.

Always dress weather appropriately.

My parents wear long-johns when it’s cold, boots when there’s snow, raincoats during drizzles or storms, and hats during high noon sun. What they wear is a direct reflection of the weather outside. For whatever reason, it seems to be a shared struggle of teenagers and ladies to be well-dressed and warm or dry. All too often you see people who seem oblivious to the fact that their comfort is in the control. It’s no wonder winter makes people miserable when they insist on wearing flats, tennis shoes, or high heels. They couldn’t wear layers because that would ruin the sleek, elegance they are shooting for. And that one guy that wears shorts year round. Just, why? Papa would tell me not to complain if my toes started to freeze or my sweatshirt soaked through if I was poorly dressed going out for chores. I remember rushing out to meet the bus and hearing my mother say questioningly, “that doesn’t seem very warm” or “I think you’ll end up soaked in just that” marks most mornings of my teen years. My equally ill-dressed siblings shivered next to me without proper layers, all trying our hardest to look “cool” and not like farm kids. Now the coolest thing I can do is be prepared for the day’s conditions. I have a full head-to-toe rain suit and I wear it when it rains. I have thermal layers, wool socks, good mittens, scarves, and hats, coats, and boots that keep me toasty and warm even during the most brutal winter days. I see the wisdom in my parent’s practice of actually dressing for the weather because it is so satisfying to get to where you are going and being comfortable the whole journey. It feels good to walk from home to work in a blinding downpour dry or warm on days when they advise you not to be outside due to windchills and see my co-workers soaking wet or thoroughly chilled from the sprint in from their cars. You know what’s out there, dress for it.

Help people who need help.

Mama and Papa stopped when someone’s car broke down, they helped people who looked lost or confused in stores, and they were waiting to help those they loved whenever asked. When you see that someone is struggling, do something. Help the person that got their car stuck in the ditch, grab the gas they need to get to the next station, hold the door, or hand over the change someone can’t find to be able to cover their groceries. I did not learn this quick enough and I still struggle to go out of my comfort zone to help those in need but I am working on it. My parents wanted their kids to be good people and this is the most basic lesson too many people haven’t learned.

I did not grow up with money. My family never went on vacation of any kind. I can’t recall getting new toys or clothing until I was almost out of the house. We didn’t have cable and we weren’t allowed to watch tv for the most part. But what I did have then, I only appreciate now, looking back. My parents were always there, whenever I needed them. I ate three home-cooked meals a day, including a packed lunch when I was in school. I learned how to work hard at things that matter. I saw, even if I didn’t learn then, what it was to live a simple, conscious, practical life and how good and beautiful that existence is. Now if you’ll excuse me – I should call my folks. I have some questions they can answer.

-Ollie Carlson

You can see more of Ollie and her husband Thomas’ life at www.ofbranchandbone.com.

 

This is blog 25 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.

How to Tell Your Farm’s Story

If there is one thing that I have started to realize over the last week, is that life is short. I am likely overdramatizing my own humanity, but this life we are living could end at any time.

I firmly believe in a few things: be kind to others, love your family, do your best and document your days.

Learning about my family’s history is really important to me. I find it fascinating to hear about what my parents did as kids on their farms. Finding out how the farms were run in their early days is especially awesome, especially when I can see photos of it.

For example, I’d only known our farm to have Holsteins, a few Brown Swiss and a handful of Herefords. But, it wasn’t until I saw a photo of caramel colored cows standing in the same stalls we milk from today that I learned our herd started with Guernseys!

If there is anything I can encourage you to do, as farmers or parents or just as a person who is on this Earth, document your days and tell your story. I have some tips for you on how to tell your story, and if you’re not a farmer all you have to do is apply these ideas to your own life!

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Ideas on how to tell your farm’s story:

  1. Carry your cell phone with you

You should take your phone out to the barn, on the tractor, into the machine shed… wherever you’re going. Why, not to make calls or check Facebook, but to have the option to take a photo. One time, I think I was raking hay or something, and I saw a deer in the middle of the field just staring at the tractor. I wish I could have had a minute to push in the clutch, pull my phone out and snap a quick pic. I’ll have that memory, and I can share it, but I’d really like to show you and my children someday. I think just having a camera on hand can be so helpful in pulling together a look at your day-to-day that no one else would normally see.

Don’t get me wrong, taking photos is wonderful, but remember to put them away and enjoy life when you’re with your family or even when you see that deer in your backyard. Keep your boundaries, but remember, your kids will like to see what they looked like in the stroller in the parlor while you were milking cows.

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     2. Write stuff down

This is a lot simpler than it sounds. If you’re mentally sighing, just hold your breath for a hot second. The writing part can be on a post-it, a small spiral notebook you can fit in your back pocket, on a notepad you keep in the milkhouse or in your car. For the more hardcore, grab a journal and write for five minutes every day. Here is a hot tip, get a planner with lots of space!

I’m not a traditional note-taker or journaler, so don’t worry! I use Passion Planner, which allows me to plan, set goals and write down notes about my life. I also write one line a day in my Q and A a Day 5 Year Journal. This guy asks me a random question every day, and it can be thought-provoking. Plus, you use it for five years and can look back and see how you change from year to year.

Not sure what to write about? There is a lot you can put down on paper (or cough cough, a blog!) Take notes about how the sky looks, write down the next thing you want to buy, express the next goal you want to meet. What is something funny your kid did today? Did you eat something especially gross or delicious recently? Basically, anything goes. If you need even more help, Google journaling ideas!

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3. Share your photos and notes

There are a lot of ways you can do this. Facebook is fun, Instagram is also exciting and a blog can be a blast! Getting your photos, videos, and words out into the world can be liberating and a great way to share what you do and why. Getting your farm’s day-to-day out into the world is important to help people learn about where their food comes from. Sharing photos of your kids helps to connect distant friends and family to how they are growing.

If you’re not into the social networking, it is totally cool… some things are too personal or meaningful to share online. I suggest printing your photos and putting them in albums with a few notes about the photos. For example, I recently put together an album focused on hunting for Eli. I went and found photos from all the different seasons we have been together and was able to put them in a cool leather album with dates and a few other details.

Don’t make albums too stressful! Don’t decide to put together a whole year’s worth of stuff, if that makes you anxious. Pick a topic and narrow it down!

If you’re more into videos, find clips you want to stitch together and take a little time here and there to put them together in a video editor. I recently put together a little video all about my brother and gave it to him for Christmas. It was not professionally shot, but he said it was one of the most thoughtful gifts he’s ever received.

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OK, so my whole push of telling your farm and family’s story is so that you don’t lose these memories. Your kids are going to love seeing this stuff. Your friends will get to know you better. Your family members will appreciate you taking the time to do this because it’s a gift for them too. At first, my parents would roll their eyes at me when I’d take pictures of them, including out in the barn. But I think they secretly appreciate the few seconds it takes to snap a pic.

People care, they really do, about what you’re doing on the farm, how you’re redecorating your home, what you’re doing on vacation when that new calf is born!

If you need some help, give me a shout!

(If you need more encouragement in telling your story, go see yesterday’s guest blog from my pal Kayla Ross! This girl helped inspire today’s blog, and reminded me that it’s important for me to keep up this blog! Hopefully, our two blogs will light a little fire!)

This is blog 24 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.

Guest Blog: You Have a Story To Tell

Today I’m really excited to share the words of my new internet pal, Kayla! She runs a blog and YouTube channel, sells cool merch (I have one of their hats!) and lives life on the road. Kayla has a little dash of inspiration today if you’ve been thinking about or putting off telling your story to the world!



What do you think is the difference between you and a blogger? Do you think they don’t have thoughts along the lines of “who is going to read this,” “nobody cares what I have to say,” or “who do I think I am?” As a blogger and vlogger, I have to stop you right there. Many of us do have those thoughts.
I bet if there is someone you follow online that seems so “down to earth” or like you could be best friends in real life, then they have had these thoughts. But one thing is different. Something nudged them to share. Maybe you have had the nudge, or maybe you haven’t. Regardless, I know one thing is true — You, friend…have a story to tell. Your story.

How It Started For Me

I’ve wanted to join in and link up with this online community of bloggers and vloggers for years. I put off a blog for two years before I started and I put off my Youtube channel for a solid year before I dipped my toes in. I was scared. I had all those same thoughts plus some. Ok, plus a lot. It felt weird. Self-serving (how dare I). Like I was into myself (which is so far from the truth). I needed a why. If you haven’t done this yet, I highly recommend it. Finding your why and your passion is a life game changer. Let me tell you – it has flipped life as I knew it on its head. Still terrifying, but a little easier to tread through.


So what does this have to do with you? I want to push you to share your story with the world. You don’t need to register an URL, design a blog or be able to take fancy photos. You can do this at the grocery store with a stranger, on your Facebook page or with a girlfriend over coffee. You need to own your truth. Be who you are and know your worth. Your story has weight in this world. We (the people of the world) need more of you in our everyday.

And you don’t have to go first…

Since childhood, I have wanted to own a business. I got into photography and started a “photography business” that never panned out. I got hitched and left home to live with my husband in a 400 square foot camper while he chased work as a welder. I lost myself. I lost connection, and I was yearning for something more I just had this gut feeling that surely this couldn’t be it. So, I started documenting our life. First through a blog and next through videos I shared with the world via YouTube. Something magical happened. I started to find my people. A community I was excited to be a part of. People who saw me for who I was. Humans that didn’t’ have to like me, but did. Then I met them. I got to know them. That is when it all changed.

The shift

To make a long story short, by telling my story, I wrote my business plan. And it isn’t one of those stuffy business plans you take to the bank. It is something bigger than any ole retail business. It is a community. Our Industrial Tradition community is filled with down to earth folks. They are the real deal. They work hard and play harder. They love like crazy and chase their dreams. But not many of them are sharing their stories out loud. And if they are it is with limitations and by industry standards.
At Industrial Tradition we focus on the core of our crew. We care about who you are when you are at home, what your past was, how you fought for a better life, why you work hard, and what you have faith in. The reason we do that is to break down barriers of different types of common people and bring them together with people who may not look like them or do that same work as them, but at their core are the same type of people. By doing this, it allows us to share in similarities, grow from each other, and learn about one another’s struggles.


Our mission is to connect and celebrate all the people that make up our crew. Their work, their home life and their goals for the future. This year we plan to share the stories of common folk through a podcast that will be coming out mid-2018. We will continue to make it our mission because we think your stories are that important.
The world needs you to share. Someone you will cross paths with needs your story to help theirs. So, I urge you to open up when you get the nudge. Share with a stranger why their actions inspire you. Share with your girlfriend what you learned this week. Be open with your kids or any young person in your life about things you struggled with at their age. Be vulnerable. Be yourself. Keep it real. Use the good and the grit of your story to change the world — one story, one share, one nod of understanding at a time. It really does make a difference.
Huge thank you to Alyssa for letting me share what has been on my heart lately. Also, thank you to the internet for bringing people with common interest together. No longer do miles separate us.
Get out there. Chase your best life and never be ashamed of who you truly are.
p.s. nudge
Find me at www.thekaylaross.com and on Instagram @thekaylaross. Join us at Industrial Tradition at www.industrialtradition.com and on Instagram @industrial_tradition.

Photos by www.twoarrowsphoto.com.

This is blog 23 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.

Books I Loved and Hated in 2017

books on my shelf

My absolute most favorite hobby is reading. But it’s not just about the words, it’s about the books themselves. I love shopping for books, I enjoy organizing my books onto different shelves and spaces throughout my home and I especially love feeling never-turned pages between my fingers.

 

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These are Ukranian books!

 

I can spend hours in bookshops and libraries. My book obsession is to the point where I always carry a book with me… this sounds normal… but I also always have a book to listen to in the car. Lately, my CD player has been funky, so I’ve been renting Playaways. (Audiobooks in a mini orange box! Go check them out!)

For the last few years, I have been tracking all of my reading, books I want to read and more with Goodreads.com. I’m obsessed with this website (and App!) because every year I can challenge myself with reading more books, and it tracks everything from how many pages I’ve read to the different genres I read. It’s also a great tool for reading book reviews and I’m even in Emma Watson’s book club, Our Shared Shelf. Goodreads is honestly the best social media, and I’d love it if you’d friend me!

In 2017, I read 36 books out of the 50 I wanted… so not my best year, but it was still a great year of reading with a total of over 13K pages read!

I’m already behind my challenge this year, but I’m working on it!

Here are some of the highlights from 2017:

17927395My favorite book in 2017: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

OMG. This book had me nearly in that “Harry Potter heart-pounding” state. It is the second in a series, and holy wow, I just truly enjoyed this book. The series as a whole is about a woman named Feyre and there are faeries (a new kind of fantasy for me), there is hunting and outdoorsy things, a little magic, and romance. Highly recommend!

*Side note, I can’t figure out how to make the book covers clickable, so you have to click on the yellow titles.

26025989.jpgMy non-fiction fave in 2017: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

I have loved Star Wars since I was a kid and my dad showed my brother and I the original series on VHS. This book is all about Carrie when she was filming the A New Hope. I highly recommend listening to it, because she reads it!! It is funny, sweet and insightful.

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My least favorite book of 2017: The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova

This had a lot going for it, it’s a Young Adult book, the main character is male and it’s about mermaids. I was so excited to read this. However, I really didn’t like it at all. I felt the plot was underdeveloped, and the overall story was disjointed and hopped around a lot. Some others truly loved it, which I’m glad to see (thanks to Goodreads reviews!)

25692907.jpgBest Kindle book of 2017: Cold Black Earth by Sam Reaves

I got this as a free Kindle book from my Amazon Prime account. I picked it because it was based in the midwest, and every so often I like to read a murder/thriller book. Holy cow, it was so WISCONSIN I was just so giddy reading it. It was based in Illinois, but I forgave the author for that quickly. His descriptions of the countryside had my heart. It also thoroughly freaked me out.

The Bees by Laline Paull

Book that took me longest to read in 2017: The Bees by Laline Paull

It’s good if you’re into bees and nature. It’s about a bee and her life in the hive. I had to check it out from the library six times. One time I had to check it in and beg the librarian to let me have it back again right away because I had maxed out my checkouts on it.

On some level, I enjoyed every single one of the books I got through last year, and if you want to see the whole list, check it out here: Alyssa’s 2017 Book List

Please let me know some books you are reading or anything you would recommend! I’m all about them books!

-Alyssa B.

This is blog 21 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.

Guest Blog: How Alzheimer’s Changed My Life

Today I’m truly honored to introduce to you one of my newest friends. She’s more like a kindred spirit because we found ourselves in the same even course (Dale Carnegie), we both work in places we love and we are both photographers! Also, we are planning both coffee and sushi dates! Who could ask for a better friend?

Tara is an incredible human and has a truly good heart. She is an incredible photographer, who has a passion for storytelling and showcasing real life for what it is. I hope you enjoy her story about dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, which is a passion of mine to help cure and it is another reason Tara and I connected.


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Just as any normal college student, I would go to class, learn as much as I could, tackle my homework, and still think, “what am I going to do with everything I’m learning, what do I even want to do?” I was set on a Graphic Communications Management degree with an Applied Photography minor and I thought I was all set. I completed an internship at Menasha Packaging in Neenah, WI and enjoyed it for the most part, but that following semester I would change my major.

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I was completing my portfolio for my photography minor and we had to choose a subject to photograph that had a lot of meaning behind it. We had to tell a story. It took me a while to think of a subject, but then I heard from the CEO of Valley VNA Senior Care in Neenah, WI about their Music and Memory Program.

Valley VNA Senior Care is a non-profit organization that provides assisted living in Neenah, WI as well as non-medical in-home care within the Fox Valley, and at that time, that was about all the information I knew about the organization. Long story short, I decided that my subject would be the effects of music on individuals living with Dementia. The Music and Memory program was started by a man named Dan Cohen in New York. He had a simple idea of adding iPods to nursing homes and assisted livings and it started (and continues) to make a lot of changes to peoples lives all over.

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If you don’t know much about this disease, I will sum it up as quickly as I can. Dementia is an umbrella and underneath the umbrella, there are different kinds of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, Lewey Body, Parkinson’s, Alcohol-related dementia, and the list goes on. All in all, it slowly takes away your quality of life, and as of right now, there is nothing we can do to stop the disease. We can slow it down just a little bit, and for every individual, the disease affects them differently and at a different pace. Different parts of your brain will slowly diminish. You will soon lose sight of what is wrong from right, how to speak everyday words, depth of vision gets smaller and smaller, signals that your brain used to send to you like, “you need to use the bathroom,” “you need to eat,” will disappear, and the most commonly known, your memory will fade.

I don’t want to scare anyone by any means. But this is the world I walked into when I stepped foot into Valley VNA as I photographed their Music & Memory program. I had no exposure to this type of setting before. I didn’t have my CNA (certified nursing assistant) training, let alone any experience taking care of a grandparent. I was more on the creative artsy side, especially with photography. But little did I know, that this photography experience would change my entire perspective on life and what direction I wanted to go.

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That next semester, I applied for a job as a caregiver at an assisted living in Menomonie, WI as I was finishing up my schooling. I decided to change my major to Business Administration, with the hope to go towards Health Care Administration. I would keep my photography minor, but I knew I wanted to make the switch.

Fast forward a couple years and getting experience working as a caregiver at Valley VNA Senior Care, I am now the Community Outreach Coordinator and from time to time work alongside our amazing caregivers in our assisted living. I am proud of many things, but one of my tops is the work that our caregivers do day in and day out. I think this career is one of the most underappreciated positions, and I wish I could do more for them. The compassion they give to our residents, the work ethic they have is amazing, and I wish they could understand how much I appreciate them.

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When I worked my first caregiving job in a memory care unit, I was in shock. How did I not know about this world before? How did I not learn about this in high school? Hands down, if I would of known more about Dementia care, I would of taken a different path- or maybe I had to grow up a bit to realize how important this is and how this world would capture my heart.

It’s amazing how working in this field has changed my life. To not take things for granted. To go after what you want. These individuals we take care of lived their lives to the fullest, they are very wise, they were moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, business owners, husband and wives, friends, siblings. They accomplished amazing things, worked so hard for everything they had, they didn’t feel entitled, they didn’t take things for granted. Dementia does not define them. They are still wise, they still love you as much as they did before. They can’t help that words don’t come out the same. They can’t help that their personality has changed or they have little more of a temper now. They are still the beautiful person you knew and loved.

 

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Tara is here on the left!

 

And our caregivers work hard every day to bring quality of life through music, Namaste care, activities, love, and compassion, taking the time to visit with them and give them their full attention. I’m very proud to be part of such amazing team and community, and I’m very blessed to have found this path in life.

-Tara Pichelmeyer

You can find Tara’s information and work here –>

web: www.onetwo3photo.com

facebook: www.facebook.com/one.23photo

instagram: @one.two.threephotography / @tara_pichelmeyer

We highly encourage you to learn more about the Music And Memory Program and what listening to music does for a person with Dementia. –> Music And Memory

If you want to further support dementia research, learn more at the Alzheimer’s Association website. –> www.alz.org

This is blog 20 of 28 of the #28DaysOfBloggingChallenge! See the Day 1 post for more details on why I’m participating!

Would you like to document your family or farm with heirloom photos and a written story to share with your family, friends and future generations? Contact photographer and writer Alyssa Bloechl for more information at abloechlphoto@gmail.com or call at 920-445-8727.