Well hello, friends! If you don’t follow along with my Instagram Stories, you’re probably wondering where the heck I’ve been. It’s crazy to think it’s been over a month since I’ve posted — something I never envisioned would happen here at JustineCelina. And I promise it was never my intention to just abandon you guys and go MIA without an explanation. So, tonight I’m going to catch you up on everything that went down over the past month to contribute to my forced blogging break.
First things first, I’m okay. And thank you so much to all you kind souls who checked in on me or sent sweet messages while I was away. Although this past month has been incredibly challenging in every avenue of life, it’s also granted me a fresh perspective that I wouldn’t have otherwise gained without taking this unexpected step back — and for that I’m very grateful. This a long post — so if you’re curious about what been going on in my life lately and what you can expect from me moving forward, get cozy, pour yourself a glass of wine and settle in for a real, raw, lengthy read!
Oh man, where do I even begin?! Now that I’m on the other side, when I look back on everything that’s happened this past month it’s almost unbelievable — even to me.
If you read my last blog post, you’ll have gathered that September through to Thanksgiving weekend were an incredibly busy time, particularly for client work. Now, I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time and I know how to schedule myself in order to maintain my sanity. But sometimes, despite my best laid plans, projects run over schedule and start to bleed into each other — it’s inevitable. Since I had planned to be finishing up the bulk of my Q3 client work before mid October, I had a number of blog projects and events starting around that time. If you’ve been with me for awhile, you’ll know I’m very selective about the partnerships I take on and the events I attend, but the second week of October just happened to be jam packed with events, negotiations, the start of new partnerships and the tail end of client projects. There were a lot of late nights and early mornings and the stress was starting to add up — I could feel that I was on the verge of burnout.
To kick things off, after a Thursday evening event, I scraped the side of my car pulling into the parkade. I’ve been pulling into this same spot almost daily for over 6 years, but our new neighbour has a huge truck and our underground parking is tight as it is, but still, I’m always careful. This parking mishap dented my wheel well and scraped the entire passenger side of my car. Although it’s by no means fancy, I drive a sports car with with custom paint and repairs are costly. I felt deeply annoyed with myself, but took it as a sign to slow down and pay better attention when I was driving — especially when I was tired.
Fast forward to a very snowy Sunday morning. I was getting ready to cover an event, enjoying my coffee, listening to music in my office while I applied my makeup. Mid mascara application, my computer died. I have a MacBook Pro hooked up to large display that’s connected to power most of the time, so I immediately knew something was wrong. After trying desperately to boot it back up for 10 minutes, I had to think fast. In less than an hour I had to be at an event south of the city and deliver content (captured on my professional camera and processed on my computer) for the campaign later that day. So, I finished getting ready, packed my laptop up along with my camera and iPhone and headed off — thinking that I would capture the event as usual and swing by the Apple store after I was finished. I was hopeful I could be back in action before my 6pm deadline.
When I got down to the parkade, I discovered I had a flat tire. I honestly couldn’t believe it — and allowed myself to panic for about a nanosecond before I realized that Adam snuck in late on Friday evening from his business trip while I was already in bed — which meant I could take his truck. So, I grabbed his keys and headed off to De Winton for the event. I arrived early, captured to content I needed to complete the campaign (including a few iPhoto photos just incase I couldn’t use my computer to edit photos later that afternoon) and interacted with the brand all without letting on that anything had happened to prevent me from delivering content.
By the time I had finished covering the event it was noon. I bolted to the Apple store at Chinook, explained the situation and waited for 4 hours to speak to a Genius. Picture me sitting at a table in the Apple store with my brief case, entire professional photography kit (I was was way too scared to leave it in the car after the week I was having!), iPhone, iPad and literature I needed to complete the campaign, scattered across the table. It was already 1pm and I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak with a genius until about 5 — and the campaign was due at 6. Even if they were able to get my laptop up and running, 1 hour to edit photos and send content in for review was cutting it too close for comfort.
So, I downloaded Lightroom to my phone and edited an iPhone image, typed up my caption and processed the videos I captured into Insta Stories, all while waiting to speak to a Genuis (and asking very nicely to use their iPhone charger while I worked!). To give you some perspective, all my content is professionally photographed and under any circumstances other than something like this I would never use my iPhone to capture content for a brand. But, I did what I had to do and it all ended up working out — I made my deadline and sent content in for review.
A few minutes later my Genius came over to chat about my computer and figure out what the next steps would be. The first question he asked me was when the last time I backed up my data was. Now, as someone who uses their computer to make a living, I’m usually very diligent about my data and backups. I explained that I had a Time Machine that I used as my primary source of backup, along with my Dropbox and external hard drives. I also mentioned that my Time Machine had been flashing yellow for months because my hard drive kept filling up — and every time I cleared space it would fill up again almost immediately. He mentioned that my Time Machine may have not been syncing correctly and that there’s a chance I could lose data if he went forward with diagnostics. Not wanting to risk it, I decided to head home, check out my Time Machine situation and possibly look into some data recovery services.
So I did. My client approved the campaign, I made some dinner, poured myself a glass of wine and investigated my Time Machine — which was still flashing yellow. I did some research and chatted with a couple of data recovery techs and wasn’t really happy with the quotes (and timelines) they gave me for their services. Previously, I had always had good luck with Westworld Computers here in Calgary for repairs and service, so I decided to wait it out until Monday, give them a call and make an appointment to get a second opinion.
In the meantime, I used the weekend to look into new tires (something I knew I needed anyway and wanted to get done before winter) and car repairs. I also managed to track down my old 2007 Macbook Pro (the laptop I used before the one that I was currently experiencing problems with, that I had given to my brother a few years prior). It didn’t work unless the battery was plugged in and the tab key had fallen off somewhere along the way — but hey, it was better than nothing! That said, the operating system on that thing is ancient and there was no way I could install Lightroom or any of the other software I use to produce creative work — so other than using it to manage email to keep things moving, all of my projects and posts came to a halt.
I secured an appointment at Westworld Computers on Monday, where I left my laptop and Time Machine for diagnostics. While I was there they managed to boot it up in recovery mode and determine that the battery needed to be replaced and that the hard drive was also showing an error. My heart sank. After chatting with my about the issues I was having with my laptop, my tech was pretty confident that he could put a new battery in and that the hard drive would be fine, so we decided to try that. My laptop was in the shop for 3 days before I got the call that they replaced the battery and that the hard drive was also damaged — and that it looked like the last full backup on my Time Machine was from mid July. This was pretty much the worst case scenario. My Macbook Pro was a late 2013 model and although I knew I was due for an upgrade (mostly due to my hard drive filling up), a new system, and the upgraded software to accompany it, was a substantial investment — especially on top of car repairs and a new set of tires.
By this time it was the end of the week, so I took the weekend to weigh my options. I could look at either replacing my battery and upgrading the hard drive on my 2013 Macbook Pro, which would run me around $1500, or look at a completely new system. Although I wasn’t completely ready financially to upgrade (thank goodness for emergency savings!) I decided to do some research and get myself a system that I knew I could grow into, rather than upgrading a old Macbook that I would quickly grow out of.
On Monday, I ordered my new system, software and all the new cords and hubs to go along with (thanks for ditching the USB slots, Apple!) — and the cost was staggering. But, I overall I felt the upgrade was necessary. Afterall, my computer is my livelihood and I wanted to set myself up so that I had a system that met my needs, instead dealing with all the struggles and frustrations with something that no longer worked for me, which seems to be a bit of a theme this month. Since it was a custom order it would take a couple of weeks to arrive, but delivery was scheduled for October 31st – November 1st. Although it took some intensive rescheduling, I was able to push my deadlines back — and everyone was very understanding.
If you’ve been with me here at JustineCelina for awhile, you’ll know I’m a very driven, career-oriented person. I seldom take breaks or vacations — and even if I do, I still keep the blog, or at least my social media going. But in this situation, I literally could not produce creative work, even if I wanted to. I was barely scraping by on my emails with my ancient laptop (which the keyboard completely ended up going on and would only type numbers by the end — that was fun!), all my raw photos we shot for upcoming posts were on an external hard drive which I couldn’t import and process. Even my professional printer malfunctioned during the 2 weeks that I waited for my replacement laptop. Oh, how I wish I was kidding. So, I had no choice but to throw a new printer into the mix as well!
It became very apparent that the universe was serving me up a colossal wake up call. Clearly, I could not continue operating at my previous capacity. Truthfully, there were a few extremely frustrating days and nights where I had a good cry while one thing after the next unraveled. On top of all of these tech and car issues, I also experienced a number of extremely difficult situations personally, professionally and financially. I’m not going to get into that side of things out of respect for those involved, but it’s been a very taxing and extremely emotional month, to say the least.
Some days, it was all too much. So I took this past month an opportunity to step back from blogging and social media and get my life back under control — and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. I feel like I was able to get a bird’s eye view on life, blogging and business — and I have a completely a renewed perspective.
I did all the things I didn’t have time for the past couple of years. I made art with my hands. I drove to the mountains to forage for driftwood on a Tuesday afternoon. I purged, cleaned and reorganized every crevice of this apartment. I baked on weekdays. I caught up with old friends. I went to bed early and slept in late. I worked out almost every day. I took baths and I read. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and shot 11 outfits! I made plans for the next rooms in our SPACE REFRESH series and I feel so inspired to tackle some of the larger projects I’d been procrastinating on because I was overwhelmed. I started new relationships with potential clients and partners. For the first time since I’ve started blogging I felt I had space to create simply for the joy of doing so, without feeling obligated to share every detail. I went days without logging in to Instagram and nearly a month without logging into this blog. It was incredibly freeing and allowed me to do a lot of soul searching.
While I chose to enjoy my forced hiatus as much as possible, I was ready to get back into the swing of things by the start of November. Apparently the universe thought I needed a bit more time — because my shipment was delayed for nearly a week and ended up being delivered to a dodgy laundromat, of all places (thanks for that convenient pickup access point, UPS!). I finally got my hands on my new laptop on November 9th and planned to use the weekend to get back up and running. I started configuring a few things on Friday evening, including downloading the upgraded Mojave OS, and everything seemed to be in order. So, I got up on Saturday morning ready to tackle the rest of my set up — and I couldn’t move past the log in screen. Error messages and installer logs were popping up all over my screen and I honestly couldn’t believe it. Cue the tears.
I spent 3 hours on the phone with Apple support and finally got things sorted out (they believe the new OS somehow got corrupted during the download process — how, I have no idea!). But I spent Saturday, Sunday and Monday getting back up and running and assessing exactly how much data I lost.
My last full Time Machine backup is indeed from July 16th, which is around the time my computer hard drive kept filling up and I started importing all my raw files to a new external hard drive, as well as exporting finished images to Dropbox. Thankfully, my client work wasn’t affected much — all projects had been delivered and uploaded to Dropbox. What I did lose were all my internal documents, a handful of invoices, Q4 pitches and proposals, notes and written documents from July 16th on, along with my Lightroom Catalogue (which lives on your hard drive), which is a substantial loss. Basically, I had tons of edited beautifully organized folders in my Lightroom Catalogue that I was either working on or hadn’t yet exported to Dropbox — which essentially means I have 4 months of image processing to do to get caught up (hence this post only including 1 image we shot over the break!). I was finally able to download all the content we shot during my break onto an external hard drive today without any issues and get back into Lightroom to process imagery. I’ve also I’ve taken the time to set up with proper systems and adopt new workflows to ensure something like this won’t ever happen again. Take it from me, you are never too busy to make time to ensure your backup systems are working as intended and your computer is running smoothly!
This past month has been incredibly frustrating, eye opening and sprinkled with some very hard lessons. But through this forced digital detox, I was also forced to come to some sobering realizations of exactly how much time I spend online, or creating content. Although JustineCelina is part of the way I earn a living, it also trickles into nearly every waking hour of my personal life. I suppose this an inevitable part of lifestyle blogging, but over the past month I’ve also been able to reclaim my time and reevaluate what is and is not worth my time, from both a business and blogging perspective. Moving forward, things will look different around here and I find a content creation rhythm that allows me to create and share content and parts of my life in a way that is also harmonious with maintaining this newfound balance and overall feeling of well being. Ironically, I actually feel stronger and more resilient than ever!
MORE RAW, REAL LIFE CONTENT
Thanks for stopping by for a real life chat today, friends! And thank you for your patience over this past month as I picked up the pieces and got my life back in order. I promise there are lots of exciting things around the corner and I’m looking forward to continuing to create content that fuels my passions with this newfound perspective. Next up will be November’s DIGITAL BLOOMS (now live!), followed by October’s MONTHLY SOUNDTRACK (also now live!) followed by tons of fall FASHION content (my very first seasonal LOOKBOOK is now live!). Speaking of which, if you’re not busy Thursday evening and you’d like to attend SAKS Calgary‘s Social Media Influencer Panel where I’ll be chatting about my favourite fall handbag trends alongside fellow bloggers Erica Cook and Sandy from Chic Stylings, just email SAKS Calgary to request an invite and tell them I sent you! It’s going to be so much fun — casual and interactive. And if you do attend make sure to come say hey! I love meeting you guys IRL.
Since I’m essentially starting from scratch, I’m going take this opportunity to ask what you’d like to see more of from me. JustineCelina will always have a lifestyle focus, however, this year I’ve chosen to focus more on HOME and FASHION based content as that’s what I feel inspired to create. I always love to hear from you, so please leave your feedback for me in the comments. If nothing else, I hope this post serves as a gentle reminder to give yourself some grace, slow down, take care of yourself and prioritize your well being. It’s absolutely okay to take a break when you need to. Thank you so much for being here — your continued support truly means the world to me!
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored, and contains my genuine thoughts, ideas and recommendations. JustineCelina uses affiliate and referral links, which allow me to receive a small commission when you make a purchase through one of my links. Thank you for supporting the brands and businesses that support JustineCelina!