A day at the beach with Solea Cangas and figuring out what I really want Shireen’s Favorite Things to be.
You may not know this, but when I first started the blog it was a way for me to express the pain and hurt of some devastating things that happened in my life: the loss of a baby, a major illness and the break-up of my marriage. It was some heavy stuff and I wasn’t exactly parading around South Florida in stylish trends. I was just trying to keep my head above water. Actually, if I’m being totally honest, I was a complete disaster. The writing/blogging helped with my grieving process and sharing my stories eventually healed me. At least to the point where I felt I was OKAY…
After the s*** storm hit. Because frankly, there’s no other to describe it…
The blog took on a more “stylish” turn. I felt guilty about it for awhile, mainly because my more serious storytelling had developed a strong online following. Taking a lighter, less “important” direction felt like a complete sell-out. It wasn’t, though; I promise you. Instead, it was a way of giving myself permission to leave my deep sadness and the morose introspection that always followed it behind.
When I first started the blog as it’s known now: “Shireen’s Favorite Things”…
I got A LOT of push back. Career-based fashion bloggers turned up their noses at me, my television co-horts didn’t understand it and key people around me (who pretended to care) just wanted to capitalize on it. What’s more, some readers didn’t want the “happy” me; perhaps the “sad” me was more relatable. In the meantime, all I wanted to do was write, tell stories, find creativity, inspiration and hopefully give birth to the new person I wanted, needed and hoped I could be.
The first year of ‘Favorite Things’ (everyone involved) worked like gangbusters. We gave up everything — especially our free time. It was hard at first, but we grew accustomed to it, then we got better at it and learned not to sacrifice what everyone needed: a break (even fashion has seasons for a reason.) As the years passed and the blog grew in popularity, Deco Drive got involved and WSVN supported my stylish storytelling like a proud mother, giving me creative liberties, cheering on my original content and awarding me an on-air fashion segment to run in tandem with the online blog.
I’ve tackled almost every topic: movies, celebrities, famous and local fashion designers, seasonal, solo and eccentric trends, boutiques, interesting South Florida places and eventually, food (which happens to be an incredibly popular part of the blog now called: Shireen’s Spotlight.)
During the thick of it, I’d always ask myself: Do people care? Are they reading? Are they clicking onto something that’s enriching their lives? Is it enriching mine? And — what’s the ultimate outcome?” I didn’t know the answers beyond what the analytics were telling me. What I did know was…
When I pressed those closest to me (like my own mother,) most hadn’t even read the blog; including people who were working on it. “I haven’t read it, but I do love the pictures,” was the typical response I’d get. Still, I pushed on.
I’m not stupid. I mean, I get we’re living in a phone-driven, photo-taking, time-pressed society. Easy immediacy is the name of the game. Plus, I’m at THAT age — the one where you do things for yourself and not other people. Writing, blogging, exploring, reporting, traveling, working weekends, eating a lot of food. I did it for myself and it’s been enough — until now.
Over the holidays, I took a long break from blogging. I needed it because I felt tired and uninspired and it was gnawing at me. WHY? Why had something I loved so much changed? Most of us hate change and I’m one of those people. I like a good challenge, but when feelings and emotions start twisting and turning inside me, I panic because I know it’s time to re-evaluate and get real with myself.
At first, though, I ignore it for as long as humanly possible, but eventually, it spills over into everything I say and do, followed by long bouts of anxiety, crying jags and unhappiness. It’s almost as if my inside emotions are forcing me to change my outward path and begrudgingly, I HAVE to do it.
So, here we are — at the edge of the cliff of change — about to jump (and thank you if you’re actually reading this and not just looking at the pictures, especially Matty, because he has to and Jackie, because she’s my biggest cheerleader.)
From now on, I’ll be featuring things on the blog that evoke a special kind of emotion out of me: mainly, HAPPINESS. Like the very thing highlighted today — soleacangas.com — a company inspired by the ocean, uplifted by art and started by strong, entrepreneurial women. It’s a wrap-slash-beach blanket, with yummy lightweight material. The idea hails from the beaches of Rio, one of my favorite places on earth.
As I continue reinventing myself and Favorite Things…
I want more simplicity, as in less explaining. Yes, I’m caving, while a lot of people don’t have time to sit down and read, imagine what it’s like finding time to write pages upon pages of heartfelt fashion stories (especially with another full-time uber-demanding job.)
Not everything I focus on from here-on-out will be featured on TV. Not only can an aggressive deadline squash my creativity, but it takes away from the original “je ne sais quoi” of the blog.
I hope my new direction leaves you feeling good, inspired and yes, even happy after checking out the blog. It’s the least I can do for my faithful followers because YOU are one of my Favorite Things.
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move into it, and join the dance.Alan W. Watts