So it’s my first post since 2013, and needless to say I am probably a little rusty. But, with that being said, one of my greatest resolutions in this shiny New Year of possibilities is to get back to the thing I love the most: writing. As most writers love to do, I hemmed and hawed over the quintessential first post to introduce my re-entry to the blogosphere. Something grandiose…a real statement piece of course. And then I realized, as year-after-year of NOT writing has slipped in and out like the tides, that I just need to dive right back in with both feet and keep it simple.

Writing on this page and being out of practice brings to mind the lyrics from that decades old Anna Nalick song titled “Breathe”:

“And I feel like I’m naked in front of a crowd,
cause these words are my diary screaming out loud,
and I know that you’ll use them however you want to.”

It’s a little nerve wracking, but I am also fully aware in writing this post that it is most likely just me and my Mom reading it. It brings me comfort to have that room to stretch my writing legs without the fear of too many curious eyes. Plus, she will think its brilliant no matter what I do, so I do have a leg up there. Cause I mean, that is just the nature of what Moms do no matter your age and place in the world.

So, back that word “simple” I mentioned earlier. It’s an important one to me. My goal in 2019, and truthfully in life in general, is to simplify my life to the bare bones.  Get rid of the extra and keep it simple, organic and satisfying. And I don’t mean organic in some sort of dietary restrictive sense. I mean that I wish to live my life through natural experiences that allow me to grow as a person and glean some sort of nugget of wisdom or personal satisfaction in the process.

In honesty, this is what I have been in the process of doing over the past few years that I have been on hiatus from this blog.  There is a story of course. Like to hear it? Here it goes!

The catalyst for my break in writing was at the root that my Dad passed away in the spring of 2014. Usually personal tragedy or discourse only serve to fuel my writing to a higher degree, but for the first time in my life, it left me with a total loss of inspiration in any creative sense. Anyone who HAS lost a parent and tells you that losing a parent doesn’t change the course of your life forever in one sense or another is a big, fat liar in my book, to put it bluntly. When my Dad passed, I lost a rock in my life. A boulder. He was a lynchpin that was holding up the rest of the structure.  Without him the façade slowly came crumbling down piece by piece and I wasn’t aware that this was going to happen to me until I was in the thick of it. I thought I was strong enough to endure and persevere through any hardship life could throw at me, but this time it was different.

In an attempt to sum it up, my Dad could be described as a workaholic for the greater part of his life, at least in the part of it that I knew him. He was always searching and striving for that next promotion or next big thing to have and hold. Much like the Greek mythological character Sisyphus, pushing that rock uphill only to have it roll back down to his feet just short of the precipice. It was never enough. Now, I am not knocking him by any means. This is the sentiment that he explained to me in the last years of his life with the heed of hard-won experience learned. He pretty much got rid of all of the “things” that he had worked so hard for and traded it all in for a beach shack. Turns out that was all he ever really wanted; a simple existence, in a simple place…living, well, simply. That really spoke to me, and most definitely stuck with me. It blew my mind, really. I had only ever known him to push the limits and work himself into oblivion, but when it came down to the end, his greatest regrets were the time he didn’t spend with family in order to earn his seeming achievements in life, and the experiences he gave up in order to have those things. In summary…the THINGS don’t matter. The EXPERIENCES do.

Shortly after learning all of this, and starting to rebuild a beautiful relationship with my father, he was gone in the blink of an eye. I took a long hard look at the life I was living. It mirrored his. I had started my career out as a passionate writer, but my life had morphed. I was striving for new work titles and spending every hour of every day working myself to the bone, running to the top, nose to the grindstone…all of those euphemisms we use to make overworked sound appealing. I stopped and asked myself, for what? Honestly Kristen…for what? I didn’t have a good answer.

I can’t say that I have changed my work ethic. That is something that is rooted deeply within me and always will be, but I did change my direction. I was working in marketing in an agency setting and managing what felt like a bazillion online social media and website outlets for my company, in addition to my own personal accounts and this blog. Overworked was an understatement. It made me laugh at times because I was pumping out punchy, upbeat messages telling folks about a better way of living from behind a computer where I was doing anything but. It was slowly stealing my soul.

Flash forward. Shortly after these realizations, I unplugged from social media almost completely, I left the industry I was working in and made a decision to start living on my own terms and find my own idea of happiness. I would do it all virtually unplugged. It was terrifying. I was too young for this quasi mid-life crisis that my Dad had imposed upon me with his passing. I didn’t know if I would succeed or even what I wanted to be doing next, but I knew if I trusted in the process that he would be watching over and guiding me and it would unfold as it should. And it has.  

Several years prior to restructuring my life, I had taken a short trip to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, knowing pretty much absolutely nil about it. I fell in love instantly. It sounds hokey and poetic, but I just felt an overwhelming sense that I had found my small place in the world. So I once again dove in headfirst. I picked up and moved without knowing a soul or knowing what the future held. My plan was to live near the ocean (a lifelong dream) and somehow slowly get back to a job where writing once again played a major role. But my overall goal was to get my feet on the ground, figure out what was next and, as my Mom likes to tell me regularly, be gentle on myself. I am driven and sometimes forget that bit about stepping back, letting go, and enjoying the process…seeing that forest for the trees as they say.

Enter Hudson’s. A week after moving to the island and exploring the options, I stumbled across this little gem of a family restaurant. Feeling ready to jump back into something new, I had in all honesty sent my resume out to a billion places locally (slight hyperbole) and applied relentlessly to various businesses across the island. Hotels, agencies, you name it. It was the career version of throwing pasta at the wall until one of the pieces finally stuck. But as a firm believer that you end up where you are supposed to, Hudson’s found me. I didn’t even know it existed before walking through the doors in March of 2016. As soon as I did, just as I knew Hilton Head was the place for me, I instantly felt a sense of belonging and an innate draw.  Everything about it told me it was the place for me. I have been working there since that day. There will be more to come here on the blog on my experiences at Hudson’s, but for now I’d like to wrap this post up with a bit on my intentions for this blog; a mission statement for myself, and my core audience…my Mom, of course. Hi Mom!

So I will say that when I started the blog back in 2011, I just loved the name. It’s dainty and it marries the ideas of a young woman’s adventures with food-related experiences. I am a young woman and I love food, after all. But, having lived most of my young adult life in major cities like NY and DC, the “belle” part always nagged at me. It seemed more southern, but I was living in the north. And I couldn’t quite pin down the direction I wanted to go. Would it be a recipe based blog, a restaurant and event blog or an editorial blog? I just couldn’t get it right. It was always a hobby, so I mostly just slapped up whatever I was feeling that day. Lo and behold, I believe I was setting up the framework for my true calling and what would become the essence of the site. Since moving to the lowcountry, it all seems clear. I feel like the blog has now earned its “belle” status and I know exactly what I wish to share. All of the changes I have made in my life have made it easy and allowed the pieces to fall into place…again…organically.

Through this blog, I wish to share my innermost thoughts on my life here and use it as a personal creative outlet, while sharing the beauty of the area with anyone who wishes to take a mental break and experience it with me, through my eyes, in the process. My goal is not to write about what I think people want to hear about or to word it for marketing purposes, but to express what is important to me at the moment and how its changed my life in a manner that comes from the heart. I plan to base that writing on the wonderfully simplistic experiences that I regularly encounter while living the lowcountry lifestyle. It’s a way of living that I continue to uncover and appreciate in this place that I now call home.

I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be…where I was always meant to be. I stopped seeking the inspiration I desired and let it find me instead by living a good, honest, and low-key existence. I have been slowly discovering myself and finding my place here for several years now, and while I have been having eye opening and life changing experiences all along, I have been keeping them to myself. Silently reaping the joys for personal gains. I was allowing myself the time to feel ready to write again. I am now ready to begin sharing this joy and plan to post on the things that bring me the most of it. I will share the delights of simple lowcountry living that have grown so near and dear to my heart since calling this lovely place home.

I hope that you will enjoy, whoever you are out there. That means you Mom!

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