151: Designing Your Lifestyle with Stephanie Wise

Welcome to episode 151 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork chat with Stephanie Wise from Girl Versus Dough about stepping away from blogging and pivoting her focus.

Last week on the podcast, we celebrated our 150th episode and talked to Bjork about his favorite music, how he formed his management style, and his favorite Pinch of Yum recipe. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Designing Your Lifestyle

When running a business online, it’s easy to experience burnout. Stephanie is familiar with the feeling; she actually stopped blogging at Girl Versus Dough for the majority of last year.

In that time, she focused on her family and reevaluated what made her love blogging in the first place.

Now that she’s back to blogging, she views the process of producing content in a new light. She’ll talk about what’s next for her and her blog, as well as her advice for others who are thinking about pivoting.

In this episode, Stephanie shares:

  • Why she decided to stop blogging
  • When she realized it was time to take a break
  • How her mindset has changed
  • What’s next for her, her brand, and her home life
  • How she deals with pushback
  • Her advice for others who are thinking about pivoting

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If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

Thanks to our Reviewer of the Week, Alyssa from Simply Quinoa! If you’d like to be featured, leave a review for us on iTunes and include your name and blog name in the review.

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Bjork Ostrom: Hey there, friends. Bjork here, and today is an especially exciting podcast intro because I get to announce something kind of exciting, and that is that we are coming up to an enrollment period for Food Blogger Pro. Now, for those of you that aren’t familiar with what Food Blogger Pro is and what we are all about, we are the podcast, right? So we have this community here of people that follow along and listen to the podcast once a week, but this podcast is actually just a tiny, little sliver of everything that there is to learn out there as it relates to Food Blogger Pro because we also have, and this is where we spend the majority of our time and energy and focus, this incredible community, and it is at foodbloggerpro.com.

Bjork Ostrom: We have almost 3,000 members from around the world who are a part of the Food Blogger Pro community and we have been building this community since 2014. It started out as a place for Lindsay and I to put everything that we knew about building and running a successful website in one place in video format. Later on, about a year after we launched, we also added in a forum component, and that’s one of the things that people love the most about Food Blogger Pro. They love being part of the community there and connecting with other people on the forum.

Bjork Ostrom: We also added in the experts, and we have a lot of experts that we have interviewed on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. As a matter of fact, all of the experts that are part of Food Blogger Pro have been interviewed on the podcast. What’s happened over the years is Food Blogger Pro has been built into this really, really incredibly valuable community, and we want to welcome you to become a part of that community.

Bjork Ostrom: I’ll tell you a little bit about it, and I’ll say this right now, if you are interested in joining, the best way to join is to go to foodbloggerpro.com/join, and that will redirect you to a page that has more information about signing up. You could also just go to foodbloggerpro.com, and that will have the information about Food Blogger Pro and how you can sign up, but I will say this. Over the years, as we have added more and more value to Food Blogger Pro, we haven’t raised the price.

Bjork Ostrom: So when we first launched many, many years ago, it was $25. Then we increased the price once to $29 a month, or $279 a year, but since then we haven’t touched the price. It has continued to layer on value on the site, and what I think you’ll find when you join is that you will have an immense amount of payback on the investment that you have into Food Blogger Pro. There’s the video courses. There are deals and discounts. So a lot of the tools that I talk about on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast or that other people talk about are available to Food Blogger Pro members at a discount or an extended free trial period if you want to check it out for a longer period of time, and we can do that because it’s not a public discount that we offer.

Bjork Ostrom: We also have the community forum, like I mentioned, and one of the things that a lot of members like is we do a live call once a month. We call it a Q&A call where we do a update on any questions that people have and we work through some of those really sticky things that people are trying to figure out, whether that be related to photography or video or just managing your blog. Then we also have what’s called a happening now video.

Bjork Ostrom: This is like if you and I were to sit down at a coffee shop and have a conversation on what we’re doing behind the scenes where team members on Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro, and Lindsay and I as well sometimes, jump in and say, “Here are the things that we are doing behind the scenes to grow our site,” whether that be a certain tool that we’re using or maybe it has to do with an update that we’re making to the blog that has increased performance. All of these things are available to anybody that signs up to be a member of Food Blogger Pro.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, enrollment starts on the 24th, so if you want to make sure that you are getting notifications about that, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com, and when you go there there’ll be this little waiting list. You can sign up for that waiting list, and that’s where we’ll notify you about enrollment when it officially starts on the 24th, Thursday, the 24th. Enrollment will only be open for a week. So make sure, if you’re interested in joining, that you do that because after that we close up shop.

Bjork Ostrom: If you are listening to this podcast after the fact, which a lot of you do, and maybe we are into June, we will be past enrollment period so you can hang out on the waiting list, and we will notify you the next time that enrollment happens. This is something we don’t talk about often on the podcast, but when we do talk about it, we want to make sure that you know that this would be the time that you can join the Food Blogger Pro community. I think if you do, you will not be disappointed by the amount of information and the amount that you will learn and be able to take away.

Bjork Ostrom: I just came back from a conference where I was able to meet so many Food Blogger Pro members, and it was so inspiring to hear how they took the information, applied that, and really used it to help grow their blog, whether it be the things that we talk about, the tangible, implementable things, or the fact that they were able to connect with other people that are doing similar things and what those relationships meant to them and how that was able to impact their growth as well.

Bjork Ostrom: So if you want to learn more about it, you can go to foodbloggerpro.com. Again, enrollment opens on the 24th. We’re super excited about it. If you want to see what other people have said about it, we have this list of testimonials that you can see by going to foodbloggerpro.com/testimonials. Again, you can just go to foodbloggerpro.com if you want to find out more.

Bjork Ostrom: If you are listening to this during the enrollment period, which is between May 24th and May 31st, you’ll be able to sign up. Otherwise, you’ll have to jump on that waiting list to wait until we officially open in just a couple days here.

Bjork Ostrom: So super excited about the enrollment period for Food Blogger Pro to continue building this community and creating incredible content with incredible people and continuing to learn a little bit every day for an extended period of time. It’s something we talk about all the time on this podcast, the idea of one percent infinity and getting a little bit better every day over an extended period of time.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the best ways to do that, if you have a food or recipe site, is to do that with other people that are in your niche because they speak your language, and that’s the purpose of Food Blogger Pro. It’s helping creators level up their game in order to then reach more people, and we are excited to offer that to you if you are interested in checking it out, which I think that once you do you won’t be disappointed.

Bjork Ostrom: Even if you’re a little bit on the edge, we have a 60-day policy where you can, after signing up, for whatever reason you say, “Hey, this isn’t a good fit,” super easy. All you have to do is follow up and let us know, and we can offer you a refund on that. That rarely happens with Food Blogger Pro members, but we know that for some people they want to get in, get a feel for it, see if it’s the right fit for them. So we want to make sure going into it that you have that so you can feel good about it and not have to worry if it’s a good fit for you or not.

Bjork Ostrom: Last thing that I’ll say about it, if you sign up for the yearly membership, which comes at a discounted cost, you also get one year of access to Nutrifox, which is the nutrition tool that we use, and you can see that on Pinch of Yum. Whenever we include a little nutrition information with a recipe, all of that’s calculated with Nutrifox, and that’s usually $89 a year, but if you sign up for the yearly membership for Food Blogger Pro, that comes along with your membership at no extra cost.

Bjork Ostrom: So that yearly membership is a super good deal, and you can find that by going to foodbloggerpro.com, jumping on the waiting list, again, if this is before Thursday, May 24th, or if it’s after Thursday, May 24th, and we are in the enrollment period, you can just go to foodbloggerpro.com/join and you’ll be able to sign up, and I am so excited to welcome in the new members. Like I said, we don’t talk about it often on the podcast, but when we do have these enrollment periods, we want to bring it up, make sure that you know about it, because we are super proud of this community and honored to be a part of it.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, let’s talk about today’s podcast interview. Today, I am interviewing Stephanie Wise from Girl Versus Dough, and Stephanie is a close friend. She is doing some really fun things with her lifestyle design. What is lifestyle design? Well, I wanted to interview Stephanie because this is a really important concept for people that are thinking about building their thing. All of this on this podcast, we are builders, and one of the things that we are building is a business, but oftentimes the reason we’re building a business is because we want to craft our lifestyle. We want to design our lifestyle in a certain way, and we want to be able to create when we can create. We want to be able to work when we want to work, and we want to be able to do the things that we want to do.

Bjork Ostrom: A lot of that has to do with how we’re designing our lifestyle. My encouragement to you, the thing that I would challenge you with, is to think about not just about business building but about lifestyle building and how are you going about building your business and your life in the same way because sometimes the thing that’s best for your life isn’t best for your business or vice versa. Sometimes what’s best for your business is also best for your life.

Bjork Ostrom: Stephanie’s going to talk about some of those things as it relates to blogging, and some of the big ideas she’s had around stopping her blog, the reason for doing that, then starting it back up again, and then also what’s next for her as she’s designing her life along with her husband, Elliott, and their two kids. It’s some really cool things that they’re doing, and I think it’ll be really inspiring to hear what they’re up to and how intentional they’ve been in crafting their own path.

Bjork Ostrom: So let’s go ahead and jump into this interview with Stephanie Wise. Stephanie, welcome to the podcast.

Stephanie Wise: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. It’ll be fun to chat here because we are friends I-R-L. I had to think about that. In real life. So Steph, and then your husband Elliott, we’ve hung out multiple times. You are a Twin Cities person and Twin Cities family, but not for long. But before we get into that, I wanted to start in kind of an interesting way for this podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: Usually what we do is we’ll ask people to go back and hear a little bit about their origin story, the way that they started their blog and things they implemented along the way and things like that, but for you, what I would love to start with is I would love to start with last year, January 2017, when, instead of starting the blog you decided to wind down your blog. You didn’t shut it down completely, but you published a post and said, “Hey, I’m adjusting my passions,” is what you said, “and shifting a little bit.” So take me back to that point when you made that decision to stop blogging. Why was that, and what were things like for you at that point?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah, that was a really tough decision for me because I … I mean for the reasons that I did come back into blogging recently, I really loved certain parts about it, and I really did not love other parts about it. I think at that point I had been blogging for … Oh, gosh. Eight years maybe, and just never had a break, and didn’t really know how to pump the brakes on that for myself.

Stephanie Wise: I’m very much like I have to be all in or all out of things. So my husband had been suggesting, “Well, maybe just slow down on it. Just blog once a month or whatever.” I don’t know. I think for me that wasn’t going to be enough at that time for me to feel like I could take a good respite.

Stephanie Wise: To be honest, at the time I did not think I was going to come back to blogging. I thought this was it, and I was just done and ready to move on to other projects and other things and have other focuses, like you said, adjusting my passions and just taking time to find myself again. I think I got so into the hamster wheel of blogging, if you will, and needed to step off for some time.

Stephanie Wise: So I just felt really burned out, and it just was time for me to step away from my internet life for a little bit. It was a little interesting because at the time I still had a brand partnership that was contracted through April of 2017, so I was still popping in on my blog for about once or twice a month-

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Stephanie Wise: … for those posts. Then, yeah, then early April I think was when I officially closed the doors, so to speak, on new content.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, at what point in the process, so that was January 2017 that you published that post. Had a couple other obligations that you had to fulfill throughout that year, but if you go pre-January 2017, at what point did you have an inkling of like, “Something is off here, and it doesn’t feel like it used to feel”? Was it years before that? Was it months before that? How quickly did you turn around that thought process into, “This is something for me at this point that’s not a good thing”?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. I would say it was probably a good year before I made that official decision. I remember I went to a blogging conference actually. I think that was November 2016, and I was talking to my blogging friends, and I already just felt stretched thin and just, I don’t know. I just was in that community that was so familiar to me and just such good friends that I had made through blogging, and I was miserable. It just wasn’t jiving with my values at that time.

Stephanie Wise: I remember talking with them seriously about being done blogging at that point. Then 2017 came and things evened out again, but it still was just in the back of my mind that whole time, like, “This isn’t what it used to be for me.” I remember calling my mom that following November and just being like, “I know what I need to do.” I needed somebody to tell me, “It’s okay,” you know?

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yep, and this was in 2016?

Stephanie Wise: This was 2017 actually. It was a whole year later that I was still-

Bjork Ostrom: Okay. I see.

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. Talking myself into this decision. She, obviously, was very supportive of me doing that, and everyone I talked to about it actually was very supportive. Then it was hard. It was really hard, but I think I needed that whole year to give myself that permission to take a break.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. So you’re saying the whole year of January 2017, so last year, was processing through the decision of not blogging.

Stephanie Wise: Yes.

Bjork Ostrom: Got it. Yep. So even after publishing that post, there was still a lot of processing that was involved?

Stephanie Wise: Yes. Oh, yeah, definitely. Well, and I’m sorry. I actually misspoke. It was the whole year of 2016-

Bjork Ostrom: Got it.

Stephanie Wise: … when I was still blogging but really in the back of my mind was not loving it like I used to, but, again, once I published that post in January 2017 saying, “I’m stepping down from this,” yeah, I think the processing at that point was different because I finally gave myself that permission and was able to have some breathing room and focus on other things in my life.

Stephanie Wise: But then it shifted because then I had those other things to focus on, and I didn’t have the blogging, and I was missing the parts about blogging that I had loved all along. Just as an example, it was funny to me to make some sort of food and it was so beautiful.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and so good, and share it.

Stephanie Wise: … and share it, and I felt like I didn’t have anywhere to do that. So I would text my mom and be like, “Mom, look at this. It’s so good.” She’s being sweet and was like, so great, but I’m like-

Bjork Ostrom: She gives it a thumbs up, which is like a like.

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. So it was just … I think it took all of 2017 even to process it in the other direction and be like, “Okay, maybe I can find this happy medium where I am blogging but I’m doing it for me. I’m not doing it for the numbers. I’m not doing it because it’s a job,” or whatever factors that I thought were the reasons that you should be doing it. I just decided, “I’m going to try this a new way.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and context for listeners that are tuning into this. We often talk about on the podcast some of those metrics, so ideas like advertising and building traffic and social media tips and tricks. I would assume that a lot of that is the type of stuff that was tension-creating. Also, for the listeners, I would assume for you there’s that potential, that it’s tension-creating, and for some people it’s they love it and it’s exciting to think about and for other people it’s not in alignment with what they’re interested in doing.

Bjork Ostrom: Again, context for this conversation, one of the things that I hope comes from this podcast when people listen to it is not that you need to be doing more or hustling more or achieving more. We want to encourage people to do what they love doing and to do it as deep and as intentional as possible but to also be reflective on what it is that you’re doing so as to not be doing the wrong thing because we’re trading our lives, our time, our energy, our dollars, for this thing that we’re doing. So if we’re not loving it, it’s worth reflecting on that and thinking, “What are the things that I do love, and what are the things that are worth doing?”

Bjork Ostrom: So in that year of reflection for you, in 2017, what were some of the things that you learned that you applied as you now are starting to come back into blogging again?

Stephanie Wise: Well, I think the biggest thing for me was I learned that I could step away from the blog and it would not just collapse. I think I had this thought in my head that I was going to stop publishing new content and everything I built up would just fall apart, and that’s not the case at all. It held steady, and I think it also allowed me to focus on the kind of content that I really wanted to put out there. So I think going forward now I’m really wanting to focus on food, obviously, because I do love writing about that. I do love creating recipes, but just maybe doing it from what I really actually enjoy making, what I’m actually making in my kitchen, instead of saying that I enjoy that but the truth is it’s what I think is good content.

Stephanie Wise: So I guess I mean there’s no specific formula for how I’m planning to go forward, but it’s just mostly freeing myself from those metrics that you mentioned that for me are not fulfilling. That was not at all the part about it that I enjoyed, and so I’m trying to blog without those boundaries, if that makes sense.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, and that’s a hard thing to do. Do you have any advice for people that want to move towards that more, that state of mind or that state of blogging as you’ve gotten back into it? How have you been able to maintain some of those adjusted expectations as you’ve gotten back into it?

Stephanie Wise: Sure. It’s not easy because I think … and I know many bloggers feel this way where there’s just this gamut of things that you’re being told that you should be doing for your blog, so it just gets ingrained in you when you’re blogging. So I’m not sitting here by any means saying that those things don’t matter to me and that I don’t pay attention to them or think about them, but I do also then stop myself and say, before I start typing up that blog post, really stay in tune with myself and what I really want to write and not have those outside voices coming and saying, “Oh, make sure you’ve got enough SEO language in there,” whatever it is.

Stephanie Wise: So I guess my advice then is just to really check in with yourself and really try to think about why you’re blogging and why you love it and I mean really just let yourself be okay with blogging for you, you know? And all of this to say I still highly value my readership and interacting with my readers. I mean that’s the whole community aspect of it that I really enjoy, so I’m not saying that I’m just typing up these blog posts and just putting it out there for everyone to read and I don’t want to talk to anybody or have any interactions of any kind. That’s not at all the case.

Stephanie Wise: I think just for me it’s that it’s more organic, it’s more of an organic interaction rather than feeling like I need to constantly keep a presence going that I had before.

Bjork Ostrom: Yep. That’s great. One of the things that I did, it’s from this book called Designing Your Life, and they have you chart out all the things that you’re doing in a day, and there’s this little speedometer, and it says, “Did that deplete your tank or did it fill your tank?”

Bjork Ostrom: I think there’s all sorts of activities that we could keep track of with any creative endeavor, whether that’s time on social media or creating a blog post or taking photographs. I have a friend who had a blog, and he said, “I realized that I just hated taking photographs.” He’s like, “And that’s when I realized the food blog wasn’t for me.”

Bjork Ostrom: There are other people who love that. They would do photography all day long, and I think that self-reflection piece is really important to really understand who you are and how that relates to the work that you’re doing. For me personally, it’s like I feel depleted when I use social media, and so what are the ways that we can build an online business where I’m not spending a bunch of time on social media? Whereas for Lindsay, she finds inspiration, and obviously there’s things that she needs to be intentional about with spending time on Instagram.

Bjork Ostrom: She’ll talk about having to unfollow a certain account because of how it makes her feel or something like that but also finds inspiration and creates beauty from that inspiration. So for her that’s a really good place for her. So it sounds like in this year for you, you were able to do some of that reflection and say, “Okay, what do I want to take with me as I start things back up again and start to lean into this a little bit more?”

Bjork Ostrom: So what has that been like for you as you’ve started, so you had this year. A couple posts in-between, those obligations, but then you made this decision to come back into it. You spoke to that a little bit, but can you talk about the reason why? What is it now moving forward, the intention for your blog moving forward?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. So yeah, I think I just came to a point where I felt like I needed to make another decision deciding, “I really do miss this. I really want to get back into it, but again, I want to do it on my own terms. It was funny. I felt like I had to re … It was like learning how to ride a bike again a little bit trying to get that first post back up, being like, ”Oh, yeah. I sort of remember doing all these things, but I don’t really remember how this worked,” and just trying to re-acclimate myself. So much has changed too. It’s so funny. I feel like a dinosaur being like…

Bjork Ostrom: It’s like eight months. Yeah.

Stephanie Wise: Yeah, I know. It’s been like no time, but at the same time I mean…

Bjork Ostrom: It moves so quickly. Yep.

Stephanie Wise: … changes so quickly. So just trying to catch up with all that, but yeah, so I think … Anyway, I just decided to just give it a shot, and I posted a recipe for cinnamon rolls because I really wanted to make them and they were delicious, and I was like, “Okay, I feel inspired to post this.”

Stephanie Wise: That was a scary moment for me in some ways too because I mean, I don’t know, I guess I just … I think it’s because I put so much of myself into my blog and it’s such a part of who I am that to go back and type a post in any other way, it’s like, “Okay, you just put a post out on the internet along with the millions of other content out there. It’s not a big deal.” But to me it’s like bringing myself back into this fold, and “How are people going to react or how am I going to feel about it? Is this the right decision? Did I think this through enough,” kind of thing.

Stephanie Wise: I think going into it with the new mindset that I have was really helpful for me, and then the encouragement that I had from the people close to me going back into it the way that I did.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that is interesting as you read through that post where you talk about this Girl Versus Dough 2.0 and then share that recipe as well is kind of setting that expectation of, “Here’s what it’s going to look like moving forward. It’s not like I’m going to post every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and I’m going to be doing this,” like you said, “more on my terms and doing it for reasons that bring me joy.”

Bjork Ostrom: I think that is also important to point out because I think sometimes we can think that we have to be doing something because we are serving a greater metric, whether that be traffic or social media or brand sponsorships or whatever that might be, and that is 100% awesome, if that’s a path that you want to go down. But there’s lots of people that play basketball and they do it because they love it, not because they want to boost their stats in order to get featured on ESPNs or Sport Center Top 10.

Bjork Ostrom: The other thing that I think is interesting and worth talking about and would love to dig into a little bit is this idea of we talk about the American dream, and obviously that phrase applies to anybody. We have people that listen to this from all around the world, but for those that aren’t familiar with it, the American dream being this perfect painting, fairy tale ending kind of story of you grow up, you have kids, you have a dog, you have a white picket fence, and a nice house, and that’s what people say, “Hey, the American dream.”

Bjork Ostrom: I think there’s a version of that that exists for blogging where they say, “This is the blogging dream.” I think people each have their own version of what that looks like, but I would encourage people to reevaluate what that is for you because it doesn’t have to be the thing that people have told you. This is actually a quote from your blog post, and this is you talking about Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect, and we did an interview with Shauna recently which would be a great one for people to check out.

Bjork Ostrom: But she says, “The world will tell you how to live if you let it. Don’t let it. Take up your space. Raise your voice. Sing your song. This is your chance to make or remake a life that thrills you.” I think that’s such an important concept to understand and to apply as people think about the work that they’re doing and the way that they’re spending their time, and you and Elliott have done that as you think about this new iteration of your American dream. So can you tell the listeners what this next phase of life is for you and how you are pursuing a new type of dream?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. Yeah, this has caught us even by surprise, but just in this whole year of reflection really we got to a point in our life where we more or less achieved that classic American dream in the traditional sense. We built a new house. We completed our family. We have our two children, and we have a cat. We don’t have a dog, but-

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Equally as good.

Stephanie Wise: Yeah, well. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Depending on who you ask.

Stephanie Wise: Right. Right. We were just sitting there, and we’re like, “Okay, do we feel happy and fulfilled?” Now all that to say life … I mean obviously pursuing happiness is great and important, and but we’re also, Elliott and I in our family values we realized life is also not perfect and we have to take the good with the bad and we’re not trying to spin our wheels and try and jostle our family around to just be pursuing happiness.

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Stephanie Wise: I would say we’re pursuing more joy and fulfillment just in our life as a family. But anyway, so just having a lot of deep conversations about what we wanted our future to look like, what we wanted it to look like for our family and for ourselves. As an aside to that, Elliott works as a physician assistant in an emergency department and it’s just a very, very stressful, very trying job. He chose to go in that and has been doing it for years and kind of like with me with blogging, there were parts of it that he really enjoyed, but there was a lot of it that he didn’t. It was just starting to just wear him thin to the point where we just felt like it was best for us as a couple and a family to maybe pivot away from that career for him.

Stephanie Wise: So we had conversations about that and how that was going to look and actually one of my really good friends from college told me just out of the blue, randomly a couple months ago, or several months ago actually that she and her family were planning to move into an RV and travel the country full-time. At the time I was like, “Oh, that’s great. Good for you. That’s a really good idea,” and didn’t think anything else of it.

Stephanie Wise: Then, I don’t know, just I would say maybe early February, Elliott and I were having one of our conversations and the things just starting clicking. I said to him, I’m like, “What if we lived in an RV too?” I don’t know. It was almost like this light bulb moment for us where it’s like, “Wait. We can do that, and why don’t we think about that more and see if that fits into what we’re trying to figure out for our life going forward?” Long story short, it does, and that is what we’re doing-

Bjork Ostrom: Which is awesome. We were talking about this before, but Lindsay and I both have friends, both distant and close, that have done alternative living situations. One friend who has a blog, Jon, he does a lot of our design stuff, called Tiny Shiny Home. We also have some friends that moved into a tiny home, not as mobile. So it’s awesome that you’re doing that. So where are things at right now with that process?

Stephanie Wise: Well, so we sold our house and we have an RV. His name is Harvey.

Bjork Ostrom: Nice. You have to name them.

Stephanie Wise: Yeah, we’re renovating him and making it feel more like home on wheels I guess. Then in the process of selling most of our stuff to friends and family. We’re going to have a huge garage sale in a few weeks, and then yeah, our goal is last weekend of June that we hit the ground running and see where we go.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. I want to go back to something that you had said before because people that are listening to this might be able to relate in some way, and that was the conversations that you started to have with Elliott and saying, “Hey, are we happy and fulfilled?” For people that might be feeling like they are in that place and are having those questions, what would your advice be to them either if they have a significant other in their life or if they don’t, if they’re processing this on their own and not as a family or as a couple? What would your advice be to people that are processing that significant question, and any guidance that you can give them to help sort through that?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. I would say, I mean I think it all ties in with even how I was processing my blog, and I don’t know if it’s getting older or just the timing where I am in my life, but just really taking the time to have self-reflection and making time for that because it’s extremely important. I think it’s so easy to just go through the motions of life and then you’ve retired and you don’t even know what you enjoy.

Stephanie Wise: I think one of the things for me just as a particular example was talking to my friends about what our hobbies are. I was like, “Oh my gosh. I don’t really know what my hobbies are.” I was working or I was taking care of my family, and all good things. They were all good things, but I just wasn’t I guess finding … There was no other outlet for me or there was no other fulfillment for me in the way that it would be self-reflection or doing something for myself and trying to grow myself as a person.

Stephanie Wise: So I would just say just if you have somebody to talk to about that, whether it is your significant other or a best friend or a family member or just whomever, just really being willing to ask yourself the hard questions about, “Are you happy? Are you okay with where you are in your life?” If you’re not, what are some things that you can tangibly do to change that, to try it out, it’s a new way of living.

Stephanie Wise: I think we get so used to living a certain way maybe or we worry about what other people are going to think or how things are going to shake out down the road and that we don’t try it. All of that to say I know that not everybody has that opportunity in the same way that the next person does, but if you do have that opportunity I think it’s important to really think about it.

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. I think there’s always needs to be that acknowledgement and appreciate that this reality that almost always in some way, whether through how we’re thinking about it or externally, like actually making a change, we can impact our circumstances. Like you said, easier for some people than it is for others but, regardless of where you’re at, worth taking that time to look inward and say, “What are the things that maybe are misaligned, and how can I adjust those?”

Bjork Ostrom: Maybe it is something radical and very different and counter-culture, and why not? There would be some reasons why not, and people I’m sure have talked to you about that. My next question would be, how do you work through the conversations or the pushback that you get from family or friends who are resistant to the idea or maybe, I would assume in some ways impacted? The grandioseness of the idea maybe makes them look inward and feel out of alignment a little bit too. What is that like for you guys to work through that and to be forced to deal with that? Any advice for people that would maybe have similar situations?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. That has been an ongoing process, and we knew going into this that we would receive all kinds of feedback, and it’s completely understandable. I think for us we were sure, especially because we knew that this would change not just our lives but our children’s lives and then our family member’s lives, that we were very careful to make sure that this process was the right thing for us and that it aligned very well with our values before we made any real decisions.

Stephanie Wise: Even that being said, we knew we would get criticism. All of it is valid. A lot of people ask us about our kids or they ask about just logistical aspects of it or the fact that we’re getting rid of our house. Just all sorts of things, but I think just for us to stay aligned with what we’ve decided are our values and being able to defend those and answer people’s questions if they have them to the best of our ability but it’s not easy. I mean it would be lovely if everyone was completely on board with this and we had no problems, but that’s not realistic.

Stephanie Wise: So yeah, I think it’s just being sure of yourself and sure of your decisions the best that you can and knowing that if it’s right for you that your family will, at least in our case, our family will come alongside us if we feel this is good for us. They trust us, and I think friends too that have had questions also feel that way. So yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things you had talked about a couple times, and it’s interesting that you said this because I was having breakfast with a friend just this week or last week, and he talked about wanting to craft a mission statement and core values for their family. One of the things you’ve mentioned a couple times is the values that you have as a family. I think that’s such a cool concept. Is that something that is an official, “We have written down, we have these values, and this is what we value as a family,” or is that more of, “Hey, we understand that we value this type of thing”?

Stephanie Wise: A little bit of both. We actually, last year in these big conversations we were having, we had a shared Google doc that we-

Bjork Ostrom: Nice. Yes.

Stephanie Wise: Yep. That we contributed to it where we just took some time to be like, “what are the things that we want out of life in the next 5, 10, 15 years or forever?” They weren’t exactly cohesive thoughts, I would say, but-

Bjork Ostrom: Sure.

Stephanie Wise: … it was mostly like, “I want to go on more vacations with my family,” or, “I want to value experiences over things.” Things like that where we were…it’s just what’s important to us. So it’s not like we have this official mission statement for our family that’s written on a chalkboard wall in our house or whatever. Although, I would like to do that at some point because I love that idea, and I think that that’s something that’s so special for your little family, whoever that might be, just to, when things feel like they’re chaotic or you don’t know the right answer necessarily that you can go back to that. That helps center you and remind you, “Okay, these are the things that mean the most to me.”

Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. That conversation with my friend and then hearing you say that has made me realize how important that would be. Also, I think on a personal level, it’s really easy to talk about doing that for a business, the, “Hey, this is our mission statement. This is what we value as a business,” but I think, strangely enough, it’s less common to do that on a personal level, but to really understand who you are and why you do things in the world, and I think maybe we loosely understand that, but how valuable to actually have that concretely written down or even this idea of sharing a Google doc and let’s just put down on this document the things that we want from life.

Bjork Ostrom: Even that simple act, you think of all the things that we do in a day and all the things we spend time on. We spend time on TV shows, and I spend time on reading the news. I haven’t ever spent time on writing down the things that I value as a person, or for Lindsay and I, as a family. How incredible that would be to have that, and for me, that will be my action item coming out of this podcast is to spend some time doing that. So that’s great.

Bjork Ostrom: So what does that look like from a work perspective? I think that will be the big question that people have, and I know people that will have an RV or they’ll … Jon and his family travel in their Tiny Shiny Home, which is the name of their blog, and work remotely. What does that look like for you, and do you have a concrete idea of what that looks like?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. So I will be, thankfully … So I work for General Mills on a remote basis for the most part now, and so they are graciously letting me continue my job with them. So I’ll be able to work on the road for them part-time. Then I’m also going to continue blogging if I can, not from a work perspective, but that will be part of it. That will be an interesting adventure in itself because I don’t really know how a propane oven works and camp cooking versus cooking in…

Bjork Ostrom: Which is part of the story. I think that’ll be part of what’s valuable about it.

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. So that’s all TBD, but my hope is that I can keep the blog as true to the normal standards as possible. So I’ll be focusing on those things, and then Elliott will be focusing … We are in the process of working on a business idea, and we’re pretty close to being able to share more about that, but he’ll be focusing most of his energy on that while we’re on the road. Yeah.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Because I have a IRL connection with you, I know what that project is. I’m super excited for you guys for it. For those that would want to know when you release more information about it, where can they go to be in the loop on what that is because I think that’s an important part of you building this next version of your dream and what your life looks like together?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah, so as soon as we’re able to be at a point where we can share more about it, I will post about it on my blog and then we’ll have a website and other ways of communicating directly for the business when it’s more official. Definitely Girl Versus Dough will be the first place to know what’s going on.

Bjork Ostrom: Cool. Great. Last question, Steph, for you. What advice would you have for people that are looking to do a big pivot like this, that feel like they need to take some time and approach life in a different or fresh or new way? You and Elliott have done that, and you’ve done it with your blog once and now you’re doing it an overall sweeping pivot with your life. What advice would you have for people that are looking to change things up?

Stephanie Wise: I think it just goes back to giving yourself that time to look inward. That can literally be deciding to write on a Google doc instead of watching a TV show at night, just one night, just taking a moment to be more mindful about really thinking about what you want out of life and what’s important to you. Then aligning your lifestyle to those values, whether that’s an extreme change, or I mean it could just be as simple as, “I’m going to give up coffee because I want to sleep better because I feel like that’s an issue that I’m dealing with.”

Stephanie Wise: I mean it can be that simple to something more complex, but I think just being able to allow yourself the time to step back and take a breath and really find value in finding your values, recognizing what they are.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I love that. And a great note to wrap up on. So, Steph, if people want to follow along with you online, obviously, Girl Versus Dough is the site. Are there any other places that they can catch you online?

Stephanie Wise: Yeah. I’m on Instagram. It’s @Girl_Versus_Dough. Yeah. That’s usually where I am most talkative these days, so-

Bjork Ostrom: Great.

Stephanie Wise: … they can find me there.

Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Thanks so much for coming on the podcast and sharing your story. We’re really excited about what’s next for you guys, and we’ll be sure to follow along.

Alexa Peduzzi: Hello, beautiful listeners. Alexa here, bringing you the reviewer of the week, and this one comes from Alyssa, from the blog, Simply Quinoa. It says, “I’ve had so much fun listening and can’t wait for more episodes. As someone who’s been blogging for quite some time, it’s always refreshing and inspiring to hear from other bloggers who have gone through similar challenges and have been able to build a business doing something they love.”

Alexa Peduzzi: Thanks so much, Alyssa. We really appreciate it, and I feel like this episode was the perfect example of that. Stephanie’s advice and her experiences I think are something that a lot of us as bloggers, influencers, business owners, can all relate to, so I really appreciated her honesty and just her story in general. So I hope you enjoyed this episode as well. Thank you so much for tuning in. We so appreciate you, and, as always, from everyone here at FBPHQ, make it a great week.

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