I Think It's Called a Blog-iversary?

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So, yes, I celebrated my one year blog-iversary a couple of weeks ago. I really celebrated {party of one!} the fact that I kept up this project for an entire year. This has been such a rewarding experience for me.

{Enjoy a few of my favorite personal photos from the past year as you read.}

{The Backstory}
Before I started this blog, I didn't even read blogs. I knew nothing about maintaining a blog or even what ground had already been covered in the "Blogosphere." In January of 2011, I finished reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and was mulling over all of the ways that I could rekindle personal happiness in my life.

I love to write. I love to sew. I love to give. I love to... wait for it... get crafty!

{Yes, I have learned to say the C-word.}

Blogging seemed like a great way to tie all of these things together for a purpose and stay in touch with my creative friends. I was also intrigued by the possibility of connecting with talented women across the World Wide Web.

I wound up so much more than I bargained for.

{91,000+ Pageviews Later}
I now have a very dear group of followers - through Google, Pinterest, Facebook, and Bloglovin'. I've corresponded with women all over the globe. I've developed "friendships" with a few who I correspond with on a regular basis. I've been so richly blessed and truly inspired by each and every one of these encounters.

I was humbled {and more than a little shocked} to receive a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award by Country Living Magazine in the fall. In addition, my projects have been featured by CRAFT Magazine, CraftGossip.com, SewMamaSew.com, Ohdeedoh.com and quite a few others - including websites in Iceland, Brazil, Spain, and Italy.

I never would have imagined that so much could happen in a year.

{Getting Here}
Those who have been with me since the beginning know that I try to keep things simple. This blog is meant to bring happiness - not stress or worry. So, I've made it a point to step back and reevaluate what I'm doing and why. It's important for me to stay true to who I am.

I only blog about the projects that I would be doing anyway - with or without an audience. And, I typically only blog on the weekends, when I can. Life balance is important and it's easy to fall out of that rhythm.

I mentioned being totally in the dark about what it takes to host a successful blog. A few weeks into this project, I tried to reach out to a few bloggers that I have grown to admire - to seek their advice and suggestions for improvement. Only to receive responses like, "I'm really busy right now" and "It just takes a lot of hard work."

It's not hard to read the meaning behind those lines.

Eventually, I found my way to a few link parties and started blog-hopping with others. This girl has gone from reading 0 blogs to following more than 100 posts on a daily basis. It's one of the best parts of my day. Inspiration overload!

{Playing Nice with Others}
My heart has been so heavy this week as I've read accounts by a few bloggers who attended the ALT Summit this past month {big blogger convention, I gather}. These are women who I follow regularly, confessing to feeling shunned or having less-than-pleasant interactions with other bloggers at ALT that they have admired. I feel the angst of these writers and it really troubles me. It's so disappointing.

Blogging is such an intensely personal action. It takes a lot of courage to put your thoughts out there for the world to read. I can't imagine why ANYONE {even the most successful bloggers} would want to make others feel unworthy.

We should all support each others' efforts. Embrace and respect those who do their own thing. It is likely that they were inspired to pursue their passion because you pursued yours.

Think about that... YOU are an inspiration to others. Everyday.

My favorite thing about this blog is interacting with you. That's why I made the commitment to respond to each and every comment left on these pages. They all mean so much to me.

I am definitely no expert {at anything}, but you are always welcome to message me with questions. Your comments are delivered directly to my inbox, but you can always send an e-mail to rachelhgarza{at}gmail{dot}com.

{Moving Forward}
So, who knows what's ahead? This year will be hard to top! I'm having one heck of a great time with each of you lovelies and I don't intend to stop until the inspiration runs out.

Happy Wednesday, dear friends!! See you this weekend!