South of Vanilla's Return
I started blogging in winter 2014, February to be exact. I had been following a paleo diet for a few months with incredible results, and I had experienced firsthand the power that real, whole foods can bring to health. Paleo was not yet trendy, and it was certainly not the household name that it is now. Blogging for me combined all of my passions: cooking, creating recipes, photography, health/wellness, and writing.
In summer 2014, I relocated from DC to New Mexico to be with my then-boyfriend but now-husband, and documented the whole process on South of Vanilla. During this time my blog flourished: I started getting recognition in the paleo community, became published, and dug deeper into holistic health and wellness. I was lucky enough to partner with some incredible brands and fellow bloggers, and for a while I considered leaving my full-time work as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) to become a full-time food blogger.
Despite my blogging success, in 2016, I stopped blogging when life got reallllly hectic. All at once I was juggling:
· Relocating back to the DC area
· Moving from a short-term rental after the sudden move from New Mexico to something more permanent
· A career change (from SLP to healthcare policy- maybe I will write more about this in the future)
· Going back to school with the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA)
· Getting engaged, planning a wedding and getting married (we had a 10-month engagement- blink of an eye in wedding time!)
· Training and then teaching at Pure Barre Kingstowne
· Hosting in-person nutrition workshops
· Buying a house (and moving again!)
Naturally, blogging fell to the wayside, and a big reason was that although my life was insane (in the best way), going through NTA’s Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) program impacted my thoughts on food and holistic health profoundly.
This is deserving of its own post, but while going through NTA’s training, I slowly started moving away from a “paleo only” mindset towards one that is rooted in bioindividuality, genetics and epigenetics, macro and micro ratios of nutrients, and emphasizing proper food preparation as an integral part of using food for wellness. I also did a deep dive into supplementation, environmental toxins, nutrition for fitness, the gut-brain connection, autoimmunity, thyroid function, adrenal fatigue/HPA axis dysregulation, and holistic mindsets. (Side note: If anyone has read Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies [which I highly recommend!] I am a Questionner with Rebel tendencies, so I crave information, research, and knowing why things happen the way that they do.)
My mindset on food and wellness changed, and I needed time to think and reflect about the directions that I wanted to take South of Vanilla. I also began struggling with adrenal and thyroid issues, no doubt in part due to the incredible amount of life changes and subsequent stress in such a short period of time AND a traumatic and incredibly stressful grad school experience that I was still mentally processing. For my health, I made the decision to sort through these issues, delving into research and ways to use food to further heal my body.
2017 continued to be an intense year as I chose to devote more time to my career and take several bucket-list trips as I neared the end of my 20s. Much to my surprise, I even contemplated stepping away from blogging completely. However, as I looked back on old posts, I realized that I had lovingly documented my life through recipes and monthly updates, my “Sunday Snaps” posts, and being able to look back on my life became so special to me. South of Vanilla had become somewhat of an online (Albeit, public) journal that illustrated my life in pictures and recipes and food and learning, and for that I am so thankful. Without South of Vanilla, there are so many things that I would have forgotten.
My Sunday Snaps posts had been some of my most read posts throughout my entire site, and at the time I was writing them, I didn’t understand why. “I’m a food blog!”, I would think. “No one wants to read about my life in that much detail!”. However, now when I look back at these posts, I realize how special they really were and how grateful I am to have documented them.
As I relaunch South of Vanilla, I want it to continue to be a place that houses my passions, even though these have certainly shifted since the start of South of Vanilla. I will still post recipes, but I will also draw upon my training from the NTA and post holistic resources. I will reinstate my Sunday Snaps posts, incorporating more of a lifestyle aspect, since I have learned that that too, is an integral part to achieving wellness, although commonly overlooked by many.
As for my name, “South of Vanilla”? I considered changing this too, as it doesn’t really reflect holistic wellness or nutrition. There are so many other snazzy names I can think of, but at the end of the day, South of Vanilla reflects not only my start to blogging, but also my roots; South of Vanilla is named after my parents, who developed in me all the passions that I pour into this blog; I hope to continue developing these passions in the future, understanding that life is a constant evolution.
Thanks for reading, and more importantly….thanks for sticking with me!