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Monica Bielanko
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Saturday
Aug092014

Liberation

Blogging is such a weird fucking thing, isn't it? Just the act of writing your personal feelings, journal-style, in a public forum is - uh - interesting, to say the least. And then all the sponsored shit infiltrated everything everywhere. Personal blogging kind of lost its way for awhile there, didn't it? Well, it's still missing in action. Legitimate personal blogging is all but gone now. Most of the good bloggers have gone totally sponsored and/or edit what they share to the point of boringness. I went that way for a bit. Shit, I have a couple sponsored posts on here that make me absolutely cringe in horror when I go back and read them. Me, half-heartedly trying to weave my love for Pillsbury into a personal post. Sorry about that. It is what it is. You need to make money to live and suddenly there are people telling you that you can get paid to do the same thing you've been doing for years for free and you're like, why not?

I can give you about fifty billion reasons why not, actually. You can't write what you want when you're trying to look attractive to potential sponsors and even if you do write what you want you'll get accused by the hate sites of creating drama to try and drum up page views which is awful to read after sharing something meaningful about yourself. You can't win. The only way to write truly authentically is to take it back to the beginning of blogging. No ads, no sponsors, no reason to care about page views. While sponsored content and ads works for some people and I admire them for creating Internet spaces they enjoy where they can also get paid, it didn't work for me. It got to a point where I was being told by several people I look up to, who were looking out for what they thought were my best interests, that if I wanted to be considered for sponsored posts I needed to tone down my language and modify my voice a bit to appear attractive to companies looking for bloggers to shill their shit.

To that I say: FUCK THAT.

I'd like to point out that there is no longer any contact info on this blog (hit me up on Facebook if you want to message me) no rate page touting slightly inflated traffic numbers, no ads. I chose to not continue working with my agent, who I still adore. Nothing. This blog is no longer monetized. I actually lose money here now because of the cost of maintaining the site. I work full-time in the social media department of a large company and have managed to carve out a pretty great living writing for other websites so, after writing here for nearly a decade, this place needs to be for me. Where I can say what I want to say without fear of pissing off Pillsbury or Allstate Insurance or Hillshire Farms, all of which I've managed to do in the past. Although it's the stuff I think most of us want to read, authentic people who say what they want to say on their blogs are pretty rare these days. Like I said, they're busy cultivating their "brand" or they're afraid of turning off potential sponsors and probably afraid a couple hate websites will give them The Business or they're just scared to share anything meaningful about themselves or the people they love because of a possible negative response from readers. A lot of great bloggers/writers have closed up shop because of that. Because they're writing in a public forum they're supposed to become impervious to all the sewage the Internet sends their way, develop this really thick skin or something and it all just gets to be too much because they're human beings and the Internet can be such a hateful place.

But it can also be a really beautiful place. I've met so many fantastic people online and a lot of opportunities have come my way just by being here, on this site. It's still worth it to be here for me. Matter of fact, I need this place, this website. So here I am. Still writing here after all these years. Only now I have nothing to prove. I used to write to prove I was a good writer, then I started writing for Caroline, Serge's ex-girlfriend (and one of my best friends now) and anyone who remembers that whole saga knows what I mean. After that I started writing for sponsors and then I started writing defensively, maybe as a response to a certain website that likes to give me The Business and then I think I wrote to convince myself of things that I knew deep inside were not true, if that makes any kind of sense to you. But now, for the first time ever, I feel like I'm just writing for me. And you. It's liberating, you know? I've got lots to share and I hope you'll feel more inclined to share in the comments as well. Thanks for sticking around. You guys mean a lot to me. Your messages, comments - all that shit means a lot, especially right now as I figure out what the rest of my life looks like.

Speaking of what things look like... My Charlie looks like me. After two Serge clones, it's a novelty. Let's bring this thing to a close with a couple gratuitous baby shots, yeah?

Reader Comments (48)

Atta girl!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstarsky

Fuck yeah. Bring it.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarya

Awesome. Keep doing your thing.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKira

Charlie really does look like you!

I'm a longtime blogger and a longtime reader, though I don't recall commenting more than a couple of times over the years. I can't even remember when I started reading, I think it was shortly after my American husband died and the U.S. government sent my immigration lawyer a notice for my deportation because according to them my husband wasn't alive long enough for my spouse visa to be valid... needless to say, it was a traumatic time and I really welcomed the distraction of reading other blogs and I think you were in New York and writing about the city and I was feeling nostalgic.

Anyway, since then I've been checking in from time to time and what keeps me coming back is your writing (the cute kids are a bonus) and your honesty, especially about relationships. I don't comment because I'm not here to pass judgement, I just read.

Yes, blogging is weird in some ways but after 12 years I can't see myself stopping anytime soon, either.

For me, blogging is all about the content and whenever I see sponsored content I cringe but that comes from an sympathetic place of self-employment... bills don't pay themselves and I know what it's like to maintain a website, pay the hosting fees and question "Is this all worth it?" and then get tempting offers that I end up turning down because monetizing my blog doesn't sit well with me. I know other bloggers who ride that train but I'd rather walk. It's harder but I don't want a raging case of the guilts. I'll look for other income sources first.

You have a way with words, Monica, I hope your writing career takes you wherever you want to go.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGail at Large

YAY! So glad you're back!!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

Awwww shucks. x

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

I mean, this post was about me right?

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Fuck yeah!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey

What? You don't really don an apron and cook up smoked sausage and have jewelry parties, or eat Pillsbury doughboy muffins? WHAT? I gotta go....:)

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGranny Apple

aw that little guy there on the lawn looks like a little Yugoslavian to me! I really think he looks like Serge ( you have any baby pics of the two of you?) and Hank is all your side. To me, sweet little Violin is a beautiful combination. Can't you just have ONE more?? :)

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGranny Apple

~ refreshing to read. Good luck to you and fuck all the haters ;-)
Coming out of lurkdom btw
Cheerio

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternatasha

Thank God!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentererica

maybe there is a god after all. hehe, ok i wouldn't go that far.....but THANK YOU for doing this.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentera reader

As a massive stalker and fan of your blog, this post is nothing short of amazing. I have 2 sites, both sitting untouched because I keep trying to write something then delete it for fear it just isn't honest, or interesting, or pretty, or worthwhile. I look at Instagram feeling like my life is so un-Disney like compared to so many others.

So from me (and so many others), thank you. You've got balls and quite frankly, that's what blogging is all about.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristie

@Caroline - All of my posts are about you in one way or another, right?

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Girl Who

Rock on with your bad self. xooxx

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRichelle

It is one big fucking popularity contest isn't it?
For the all mighty dollar or ego...or a huge mix of both...Every major corp out there is concerned with the numbers and not GMO's or why so many kids have all these fucked up crazy issues that I at 43 find so insane...since not one kid in any school and I went to 11 schools before I was 13...not one kid was allergic to a peanut,wool,egg,milk,shellfish, or anything else...but everyone just keep your faces buried in your devices...keep looking at whos doing what on facebook..keep so distracted that you don't see the danger in basic survival at this point...I want to blog but the thought of having to sell out to be liked makes me pretty sick...
so I will for sure keep reading your rad blog...and I won't hit you up on facebook because I am the only human left over 8 who doesn't have one..but hey very cool way for big brother to know every single detail about your life..Gotta love that...

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFaith

As the proprietor of a personal blog myself, I think this is a good step, Monica. It was your personal stories that attracted me here in the first place (as best I can recall -- honestly, I don't remember how I stumbled across you), and your writing skills and honesty that kept me around.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I've never written a sponsored post. It's just not me, but I make an entire living off my blog by writing freelance. Every bit of work I've had has come from writing unedited pieces based soelely on what I'm interested in at the time. I've never done sponsored posts because it just doesn't feel like me. And the 50 bucks was never enough to make me feel like i'm not me. But I'd do without question if it felt like me.

That said, I think there are some people who are really good at sponsored content. They're finding great products or endorsing things they feel passionate about. To me the great thing about blogging is doing what/how you want. No barriers, no filters, no constraints.

So if you make your living separately and don't' need the fifty bucks, why sell toilet paper? Or Lysol? Or yourself? There's no other reason to write than to be authentic.

Thanks for the good read,
Meredith

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBadSandy

ha! cool!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranajo

Don't stop- I've deleted all the others- they are so so boring. I don't always agree with you but I always enjoy reading what you have to say, how you say it and wish you the best!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMabel

Good for you! I've been reading here for a while - pre Henry at least. Love your honesty as I have been married nearly 20 years. Some happy, some not. Love that you keep it real. I must say, now that we've made it to 20, our kids are in high school (one in her senior year) it does get better.....we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Keep on writing!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

So happy to read all of this mama!! Love to read what you write and love how you speak your truth.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstella

I love that this post is all about you because when you write about yourself, you're also writing about what it is like to be a woman today in a world that is changing.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPB

Thank you...just thank you. :D

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Well I'd pay a small sum for the A to Z story on how you became best friends with Caroline. That is the coolest.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCassandra

Great post, Monica. You're just plain cool, and yours is the only blog I truly read (for many of the above mentioned reasons). I've enjoyed/been entertained/cried reading about your personal journeys, and your authenticity keeps me coming back for more. Love the cute kid photos, too - and I love that Charlie is a mini-you!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

PS What Cassandra said!!!

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHanni

This post is the reason you are listed in my bookmarks under favorites. I love your honesty and everything that must have pissed off Allstate ect. in the past. I can't wait to see what comes next.

August 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJocelyn

I'm looking forward to reading more of whatever you choose to share. Thank you!

August 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSimplySuzi

Hi Monica,

Things seem to get really fucked up when money becomes the 'goal'... and now that companies have Corporation Personhood along with having 'religous freedom' so they erase contraception/family planning from their health care packages.... it is capitalism RUN AMOK. And it's disgusting.

I would love to read the story about how you and Caroline became best of friends!!! Welcome back to your potty-mouthed, opinion-havin', fun-to-read blog.

August 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Monica, I found you long long ago by accident one night on the internet -- Violet was a baby then. As I read your whole love story and life story, I became more and more astonished --- I'd never read anything so frank, raw, honest and utterly enthralling. There's so much pap out there online, but this was real.
I've been with you through the fire, the birth of Henry and now Charlie, watched you go through your "mommy short-hair" period and all the ups and downs with Serge. I love your way with words, and wouldn't be at all surprised if you had a book -- or books -- published someday soon. The separation seems to have wrought some kind of miracle, in every way. Serge looks physically great, as you've mentioned yourself, and you also glow with beauty. So glad that you can now blog freely, but even in the days when you couldn't, you were still Monica -- the flashes of "you" were clearly there.
Thank you for your way with words. I wish you every happiness, and, along with so many others, will be following your new blogs.

August 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCathlene

Totally gorgeous. both. xx

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbadger

Witnessing someone assert the power of their voice and the preservation of their dignity is a beautiful thing indeed.

Enjoy the flight you'll now be free to live.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Ohh I dunno, I see a lot of Serge in there! Time will tell :-)

I'm glad you've reclaimed your blog, what I find most refreshing/appealing about your writing is that it just flows without a filter, ya know? Just let it flow!

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMel G

Word.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlyson

Welcome back. I missed ya! I really miss a lot of bloggers that no longer really blog. You are an inspiration, not only for other "bloggers" but just for other Mom's. Crazy, but it is a community and I like being involved.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJill

haha...
welcome back, you rebel, you...

p.s. the f-word reactions are priceless...

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

So glad you're getting back to basics. I've noticed this trend with most of my longstanding favorite bloggers. While I totally understand the reasons behind going for the sponsors, it's always depressing when I realize I just can't relate anymore to the stories of someone I used to find enjoyable. Go you for keeping it real!

Can I also say that you're my hero for putting all of this out there the way you and Serge are doing? My husband and I had our first kid a year ago. It has not been an easy adjustment. It seems like most of what is out there is the positive side of things. Showcase your perfect families and your perfect life. I know my life is far from perfect. Your perspective has helped me more than once over the last year....if only to make me feel less weird for finding my relationship with my husband much harder post-child.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterElisabeth M

Monica, I've been reading your blog for almost four years. When I first started, I went back and read all of your archives. I love your stories and honestly, felt a little more normal myself once I read them. Thanks for putting it all out there for us. You are being heard and appreciated.

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenn

FUCK YES!!! I'm gonna be honest... I tapered off then stopped reading completely when the sponsored stuff started. And it wasn't even because I have a problem with sponsored posts... I totally don't. But eventually your writing lost what was raw and what I loved and what brought me coming back over and over. I never stopped checking your website occasionally... like I did today. And I'm glad I did. Welcome back, love :)

August 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Good job! You are doing so well!!
Serge sure does put his stamp on those babies, but this newest little guy looks nothing like him. :) probably that's been a good thing for you!!

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeah M

Charlie is adorable and you are beautiful. It's nice to have you writing like this again. I didn't find the sponsored stuff annoying (believe me there are some bloggers who make it annoying) but I like the real writing you do here.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjen

So glad. Your honesty and rawness are what drew me to your blog (been reading here since Violet was a toddler) and I did sort of start to give up there when it seemed like you had decided to just write about more superficial things - I just couldn't relate to it. But I stuck it out because I was so compelled by both you and Serge initially, and now you are both back to just being yourselves and it's great. Yours are some of the only blogs I read anymore because I can't stand the whitewashed sponsored bs. I'm so happy you are back. And I'm going through some major upheavals in my marriage, so being able to come over here and know someone else is going through it really helps me feel less alone.

August 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLara

THANK YOU! I love that you actually BLOG! I have met some wonderful folks who have monetized blogs, but I don't know how they are different than full time websites. It seems to me that when you hire 15 writers, you aren't a blog anymore. You're a business. Not that I begrudge that at all, but t really appreciate good writing and that seems to go by the wayside on so many sites that are "popular." Thank you for being brave and just sharing your thoughts. I didn't start my blog as a journal but a source of information so I could share my love of things Disney. I like those kinds of sites too. Anyway, hang in there and thanks!

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

Nice photos of you and Charlie! He really does look different, yes, like you! Blue eyes, too!

August 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Butler

I just found your blog through a post on "Adornmentality." I love your blog and will keep reading!

August 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLeslie

Oh my god your little one is so beautiful - he does look like you. And your skin is flawless! How do you do that??

May 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

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