Kalyn’s Kitchen is celebrating ten years, and I’m reflecting on the many ways this blog has made my life better.  And if you’re stopping by, thanks for your support over the last ten years!

I’ve always been sentimental about celebrating my blog birthdays, as well as my actual ones, and for a few weeks now I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea that this little blog of mine is now ten years old! Just like every birthday that ends in a zero, ten years of blogging seems like a milestone, and today I’m feeling grateful to all the readers, fellow bloggers, friends, and family members who have been supportive of my blog during that time.

If I tried to mention even a fraction of the people who’ve somehow helped with my blog, this would be a very long post indeed, but I do need to thank my brother Rand (who was the blog whisperer who got me started, and who’s donated many hours of design work), and my web designer Jennette (who does all the techy behind-the-scenes stuff that I have no idea how to do.)  Kalyn’s Kitchen as you know it wouldn’t exist without these two talented people.

I could also write ten years worth of thank you notes to reply to faithful readers who have left comments, (here, and on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest), sent me nice e-mails, and given me just enough positive feedback on a regular basis to keep the blogging energy going.  Without readers, blogging would feel like a party where nobody showed up, and I’m thankful every day for the people who support my blog by stopping by.

When I started thinking about ten years of blogging, one of the first things I realized is that there’s never been even one single day in that time when I’ve gotten up in the morning and thought, “I wish I’d never started this blog.”  That says a lot about how much I’ve enjoyed ten years of of creating recipes, taking photos, writing posts, sharing the recipes here, and interacting with readers.

But more than just being something enjoyable to do, the blog has actually made my life better in both simple and complex ways.  So to celebrate Kalyn’s Kitchen turning ten, here’s my attempt at articulating Ten Ways Blogging Has Enriched My Life, with my sometimes goofy photos from ten years of blog birthday posts counting them down.

Blogging Has Given Me a Second Career

I have to start with this one, although it’s probably obvious to anyone who’s more than a casual visitor that blogging has given me a chance to have a second career.  I certainly didn’t plan it that way, and when I started the blog I was happily teaching fourth grade.  But when I’d spent four years trying to manage both blogging and teaching I realized I couldn’t do both, and after 30 years in the classroom I was ready to retire from teaching.  Becoming a full-time blogger has allowed me some pretty life-enriching things I couldn’t have managed on a teacher’s salary, especially the blessing of a new house that’s big enough that my huge extended family can gather there.

Blogging Has Allowed Me to Work From Home

I know some people think bloggers just spend an hour or two a day working in their pajamas, but actually I’m working as hard on this blog as I ever did in the classroom.  But even though it takes hours of work every day to keep a food blog going, being able to do it at home wearing yoga pants is definitely something that’s made life easier for me. I was especially lucky that I could work at home when I had a few rough periods in my life over the last ten years.  And while anyone who works at home knows how it can be both a curse and a blessing, for me it’s been mostly a blessing.

Blogging Has Kept Me Focused On My Healthy Eating Journey

If you’ve read my about page you know that I started this blog when I’d lost a lot of weight and wanted to share the healthy way I was eating.  In those days I was pretty strictly focused on the South Beach Diet, and most recipes posted here are still South Beach friendly. But now the blog has expanded to include recipes suitable for many diet types, including Low-Carb, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Meatless, and Vegan. And even though I’ve had challenges with maintaining my weight loss just like most people do, there’s absolutely no question that sharing low-carb and low-glycemic recipes here has helped me stay much healthier than I might have been without a blog focused on healthy eating.  (And thanks to the blog, when I’m invited to parties I always have healthy recipes ideas for pot-luck dishes to bring!)

Blogging Has Helped Me Make a Difference in the World

People who choose a career like teaching and stay in it for thirty years do so because they have a strong need to contribute something to the world.  I don’t think I realized how important that was to me until I quit teaching, and I’m happy that having a blog that’s focused on healthy eating and weight loss has allowed me to continue impacting the lives of others in a positive way. I’ve received countless letters and comments from readers telling me how my recipes have helped them lose weight, and thanking me for it. Nothing feels better than knowing you’re making a difference for other people, and I’m grateful to this blog for giving me that gift every day.

Blogging Has Given Me a Creative Outlet

I’ve always been the personality type who’s been driven to create things, whether it was a new recipe, letters-to-the-editor, or just a new way to organize my freezer, and blogging has given me a creative outlet for three of my biggest passions in life: cooking, writing, and photography. And when I look back and remember when I bought my first digital camera and started posting simple photos on this blog, I’m grateful for how much I’ve learned.

Blogging Has Helped Me Keep Up with Technology

No one has ever accused me of being a geek! In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m one of the least technologically proficient bloggers around. But blogging has forced me to constantly learn new skills and try to keep up with the latest in technology, even when I didn’t want to!  And although I’ll never be as interested in technology as I am in some of the other parts of blogging, I’m happy for the constant nudge to keep up with it that blogging provides.  (And don’t you agree that constant changes in technology make life both easier and harder?  When I think of how much the mechanics and scope of blogging has changed in ten years – mind blown!)

Blogging Has Inspired Me to Try New Foods and Cooking Techniques 

I’ve always loved cooking and trying new foods; that fact is probably obvious.  But blogging has given me even more of an incentive to indulge my foodie passions, and it’s been fun having Jake and Kara join me in those kitchen experiments the last few years.  And being part of a bigger community of food bloggers has inspired me to try new things or think of old ingredients in new ways as well, which is something that makes the process of creating recipes a lot more fun!

Blogging Has Kept Me Mentally Stimulated

Blogging is constantly changing, and to succeed you have accept and adapt to those changes.  And accepting change isn’t always my favorite thing to do!  But even though I may complain about the ways blogging has changed, I also recognize that change can be a positive force that keeps your mind stimulated and active.  I appreciate the benefit of that, even when I don’t always enjoy it.

Younger Blogging Friends Have Helped Keep Me Young

There are literally hundreds of thousands of food bloggers in the world, and it’s safe to say that almost all of them are younger than me.  But there’s nothing to do about age but embrace it, and being in a field where you’re always being influenced by younger people can be a very good thing.  I love my younger food blogger friends who help me see the blogging world through different eyes, and I’m 100% positive that being around so much young energy helps keep me thinking more like a young person. (And I have plenty of more mature blogging friends as well, who remind me that there’s a kind of wisdom that only comes with age, so it’s the best of both worlds!)

Blogging has Brought Amazing People Into My Life

And finally, by far the most important way blogging has enriched my life is how it’s given me virtual and real-life opportunities to meet generous, creative, and inspiring people from all over the world. I have truly loved making connections with amazing bloggers, internet professionals, cookbook authors, food professionals, and other talented people who are somehow a part of the huge food blogging family.  And I’ve been lucky enough to meet interesting and talented readers through the blog as well, many of whom have inspired me to try new recipes or think about what I’m doing here in different ways.  Thanks to everyone who has been one of those enriching influences in my life.

What About the Next Ten Years?

I’m planning to keep Kalyn’s Kitchen going strong for many, many more years.  But one thing I’ve been thinking about lately is how much time I spend sitting in front of the computer, and how much of the world I have yet to see.  So much more time spent traveling is definitely part of the plan for the coming ten years!  

What Has Enriched Your Life Over the Last Ten Years?

If you’re managed to read all the way through this more-personal-than-usual post, thanks again for being someone who has shared the journey with me in some way.  And if you’re motivated to leave a comment here to add to the memories, I’d love to hear about what has enriched your life over the last ten years.

More Blogging Memories:

(These are the other anniversary posts I’ve written each year.)

Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns One
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Two
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Three
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Four
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Five
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Six
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Seven
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Eight
Kalyn’s Kitchen Turns Nine

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