Tuesday, October 9, 2012

How We Spend Our Days

There's an Annie Dillard quote that I hold close to my heart: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." I am humbled by the profound wisdom in the idea that the choices we make on a day-to-day basis end up creating our lives. And while it's one thing to have a vision for my life, I have to acknowledge that it's my daily actions will ultimately define who I am and whom I become. 

I was wondering why there were so many negative comments around here lately, and a quick look at my blog's statistics revealed that a bunch of people have been heading over from another site that is specifically focused on criticizing other people's blogs. On that site, people read blogs that irritate and enrage them and then congregate in a forum to publicly commiserate about the blogs they hate. Apparently, 2000 Dollar Wedding and Feeding the Soil have plenty of haters. I got to read pretty disparaging things (primarily focused on how insufferable I am as a person). 

I won't lie; it definitely hurt to read those things. Some things hurt more than others (like when someone said that when my home birth didn't go as planned, I ended up being bitter toward Henry). For the record, the undercurrent of sadness in my post-partum posts had nothing to do with my transfer to the hospital and everything to do with my difficult transition into motherhood, which I wanted to publicly share to help comfort anyone else who felt something similar.

Many of the things they said were true. Yes, I am a compulsive planner whose "lists include lists." And, yes, I'm over-analytical.

But the worst part about what all those people said about me was that I became focused on it; it pulled all my energy toward it and away from other things. As Matt and I were falling asleep, I kept saying, "And listen to what else they said..."And even now, I'm writing a whole post about it. And I have to confess that it will be tempting to check the site frequently to see what new mean things have been added.

As Annie Dillard reminds me, I have to be careful about how I spend my time. I don't want to spend my time focused on the negative--reacting to other people's meanness. That kind of reaction inhibits creation and innovation. It pulls me away from forward momentum. 

The best I can do is be who I am and whom I strive to be. I can't control how other people perceive me or whether or not they like me. The very act of trying to control that or even worrying about it keeps me separated from my authentic self. 

It is my hope that this post will be my final moment to dwell on the experience. As thoughts and insecurities flood my mind, I will try my best to push them to the side with a simple mantra: "Let it go."

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At Home with Montessori said...

Sara, at least you know who you are! You are probably one of the most driven people I know, and that means you achieve and make real, what most people can only dream of. I admire that in you, and aspire to one-tenth of your organisational skills! My advice, don't go back to that site to check on anything...you don't need negativity of that sort in your life - none of us do. Life is short, and you seize it with both hands and make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
As to the comment about you and Henry...nobody knows anything about your relationship with him, nobody. That is the gift of being a mother, you can be whoever your child needs you to be, and don't let anyone try to tell you that you aren't the mother you aspire to be - you know the real truth inside your heart.
Sending good vibes your way...

Jess said...

I've been reading your blog for a couple years now because I'm inspired by your thoughtful posts. Seeing how you plan and goal set (while being transparent about accountability) has helped me so much. Also, you are so often courageous to tackle big subjects like pregnancy and parenting. You don't have to posts these thoughts of yours publicly but you do anyways-- all while exposing yourself and making yourself vulnerable. The fact you do these things, from my perspective, contributes greatly to a dialogue among the community here, but unfortunately there are also those whose opinions not only differ but they have to feel like they need to expend energy being negative. You have made it clear often that you are very welcoming to different perspectives. That is, afterall, what makes these dialogues so great. It's just such a shame that there are people out there who aren't being respectful. I'm so sorry you're experiencing this.

Eclice said...

I do not know this forum. I definetly don't come from there ;)

However I did make a few negative comments on your blog : about the swimming pool, about the dryer, and about the flipping house stuff (yeah that is a lot of negative comments in a short time !)

I guess I made those cause I thought I "knew" you (from reading your blog from such a long time ?) and in the end you are talking about stuff I really don't agree with and really I try to understand but I can't. So... I felt... disappointed.

Like there was a gap between the values I thought you were defending and your actions (but that may be only my perception of things... actually)

Anyway, I do understand that you do "what you can". As everyone else ! I am not angry at you :) It would be wrong to push you to live a "simpler" life. It definetely has to come from you. One thing at a time... I don't know how to tell you my opinion without sounding judgmental... :'(

Naan said...

Please Sarah, do not let these people get you down. I haven't been reading many of the comments on your blog, nor have I been writing that many, but I feel that I need to do today. I for one truely enjoy reading your blogs, 2000 Dollar Wedding is a great inspiration for my own €4000 wedding come September, and I admire your conscious approach to life.

You go out there and work hard to achieve the things you dream of, and even if that doesn't always work out, you've made the effort, which is more than what many people can say. You inspire people and you break up taboos, like when you shared about your miscarriage, however hard that must have been.

Power to you, because you are a wonderful person that tries to make the world a better place. I pity those people you write about, because they purposefully fill their time reading things they don't enjoy to then spend some more of their time whining about what they just read. I'm sure these people have dreams too, like all of us. Wouldn't it be much more enjoyable for these people if they spent their time pursuing their dreams rather than filling it up with spite? Like you might have told pupils before, most of the time bullies are just jealous, and I think that this is the case here. Jealous that you dare to be your true self, jealous that you have clear and strong beliefs and are motivated enough to act on them. You don't half-ass things, and there's two responses to that: either people are inspired and they want to do the same, or people feel inadequate, and they want you to feel the same.

I admire you and am inspired by you. Your blog motivates me, because "if Sarah can work for and achieve her dreams, why wouldn't I be able to do so too?" Blessings on you and Matt and Henry and all those you hold dear, you are precious!

Elizabeth said...

Like Naan, I haven't spent much time in the comments section here, but I also want to encourage you to continue your good work with your blogging and to try to ignore the haters. I started reading 2000 Dollar Wedding a couple of years ago as we were planning our own low-budget but lovely wedding, and moved over to this space as our family has begun to grow. (Side note: we're expecting our first baby next month and I've read and reread your archives from your pregnancy with Henry. So, so helpful and reassuring.) The internet is full of ugliness, but you have created a beautiful corner in it. Don't let them get you down.

Avila said...

Hey Sarah
I love that Annie Dillard quote. I hadn't heard it before but it reminded me of another quote from Richard Rohr: how you do this moment is how you do every moment.
I just wanted to take this moment to say how much I appreciate your blog. I admire many of your choices and I especially admire how you manage to put what you believe out there without putting others down. I also think you strike a good balance of not becoming defensive while buying into everyone else's point of view. I may not agree with everything you do or say, but hey, I don't have to. I appreciate the chance to think about things through the lens of your life.

Anonymous said...

hi Sara,

I also wanted to echo what the other commenters have already said. I love your blog mostly because of the transparency and willingness to discuss how you arrived at a decision. As someone who is a few years behind you in this process (house-buying, children, etc.)I find this immensely helpful. I'm sure it's hard to ignore, but people who want to complain just for the sake of complaining are not worth your time. Thanks for you all you do.

Roxanne said...

It's so disheartening not only that something like this exists, but that they've targeted you. I read your blog daily because you are thoughtful, passionate, but mostly a real person and you share that openly and honestly.

katie joe said...

Oh, Sara!

I have read both blogs for years. As I was planning my own wedding, you and 2000 dollar wedding served as a compass, a home base and a charging station -- whenever I would become stressed or feel I was straying from the wedding my now husband and I really wanted, your words would rejuvenate me. The same can be said for feeding the soil. When I am having trouble living the kind of life I want (and sometimes, when I am having trouble understanding the kind of life I want), I can come here and plug in, laugh a little, learn some things and leave with a better sense of the kind of days I want to make up my life. I really can't tell you how much you have helped me these last few years.

Your ability to provide information, opinions and experiences without judgment-- something I find to be rare among bloggers/authors that write about some of the values we share--is so encouraging. I appreciate you and your willingness to be transparent, authentic and sometimes painfully honest. Your words DO help us.

I know you weren't fishing for compliments, but I felt if snarky, whiny, judgy and hypercritical people can and will be so free with their opinions, maybe I should share mine more often. I am much more interested in helping to lift up and engage in real dialogue with others than trying to make myself feel more righteous by tearing them down.

Haters are gonna hate. I hope you are successful in ignoring them and that other readers who value you and what you do here are successful at drowning them out. You are wonderful!

Jenny said...

Wow. I can't believe there are people out there who spend their time finding blog they don't like just so they can be mean. What a waste. You only have to look at your list (I love lists by the way) of accomplishments to see how foolish these people must be. Hang tough. Someday, Henry will know his mama all the better for the work you have put into writing this blog.

bothwell browne said...

That is terrible. I'm sorry. I really enjoy reading your blog (and I suspect a lot of people do who never ever comment). It is sad to know there are such negative thoughts out there about you and your sweet little family. I don't agree with you 100% and thats OK because we aren't the same person, and it would be weird if I did.

I hope you can pour yourself a cup of tea, or coffee, or hot water (or ice water? Texas?) and put those negative thoughts far from your mind. They are not constructive or helpful or useful at all. Do you watch True Blood? WHat you described reminds me of a vampire nest. :) Silly but true.

I hope the sting goes away soon.

Unrelated - have you read "Science of Mom"? It is a great blog. Lots of interesting topics.

spanishteacher83 said...

Keep on doing your thing Sara! I love Feeding the Soil and 2000 Dollar Wedding, and as a teacher, I appreciate your point of view. I know you have helped and encouraged a lot of people. You rock!

Kelsey said...

Sara, you do such a wonderful thing by posting so honestly about life, which includes ups and downs. It's meant so much to me since I started reading your blogs! Please don't spend another minute letting the negativity of people take away your conviction of how you want to live your life.

I know there are some people who offer constructive criticism and you've always been open to that and take it in stride. But people who go farther and are negative just for the sake of it, they don't deserve any of your time or thought. A good friend, or someone who is truly kind and supportive, would not talk to you in that way. They might offer their opinion or suggestions but never in a way that belittled you or your choices. And if they cannot show you that respect I don't feel that they deserve yours.

Nora said...

Dear Sara -

Your blog $2000 Budget Wedding was the only wedding blog I read before my wedding last October, and was a wonderful space for reflecting on marriage and weddings. I started reading Feeding the Soil because of that blog, and I try to read it each morning with my coffee.

I have left 2 partially negative comments on your blog. That's because I enjoy your blog as a place to think about home, family, community, and consumption. It's a place for you to reflect and think about your plans out loud, yes, but it's also a place for many of US readers to think deeply about our own plans and desires and dreams. And responding to what you write, not only with a "YES!" but also sometimes with a "no..." or "why?" is, at least for me, a way to reflect on my own goals, and to engage with what you're saying.

It matters how we spend our days, yes. And we should stay far away from people who try to purposely harm us with unbridled critique.

But I also believe that critique has a role in genuine, honest communication. To express dissent can also take bravery (not as much over the internet, but still). Know that there are others of us readers who sometimes question your narration not out of a desire to harm you, but in hopes of opening up a dialogue that could lead to genuine communication.

I honestly believe that such genuine dialogue can open up possibilities that no single party had previously imagined. And that type of dialogue will at times include critiques.

There are two difficulties that the internet creates for this type of dialogue:
1. blogs are not really a platform for equal-footed exchange, though they are more interactive than magazines
2. it's hard in writing to tell what are critiques aimed at deeper dialogue and what are critiques aimed at wounding you.

Nonetheless, I hope you will stay open to some amount of critique on your blog (and that people will stop harming you through what they say).

Sincere best wishes to you and yours --


Kelly said...

I'm so glad you figured out where the negative comments are coming from - haters are haters, regardless of the object of their hate. They're just trolling around the web looking for things to latch onto and inject their poison. That has absolutely nothing to do with you. I bet if you went to the other sites they hate, you'd find lots of heartfelt, open, and interesting bloggers. It feels personal because they use personal examples, but it's not. No one who has read your blog with an open heart would say you were bitter towards Henry - that's just absolutely ridiculous. And I believe lots of people, like myself, are here because we love your lists within lists - we find inspiration from them!

I strongly encourage you not ever to go back to that site again, and maybe even to block the commenters you already know come from there. None of your loyal readers wants to be exposed to those haters, and we certainly don't want you to have to deal with them. Those people would ruin the web if we let them.

Do you know the "let it go" poem by e.e. cummings? Those haters are the false-fair friends who were born to go. You can let them go.


Your friends and loyal readers, who appreciate your honesty and vulnerability, stand with you today - you are not alone in your fight against meanness.

Kelly said...

Nora, when commenting on a personal blog, I wonder if it would make sense to ask the person if they want criticism first. You may be interested in that type of dialogue, but they might not be. It takes exceptional bravery to open up your personal life for all to see, and it can be hard to interpret the intentions of strangers.

In person, sharing with a friend, you know them and you have a sense of whether they need criticism or support at the moment. With a blogger, you don't know unless they ask for it.

Allison El Koubi said...

Hey Sara! This post prompted me to immediately send you an email (so go check your inbox!) There are so many profound ways that you have influenced me (and others): creating balance, having an orderly home, Montessori, preparing for pregnancy, birth AND parenthood, setting up my child's room, positive discipline methods for children (both at home and at school), planning ahead, books you've recommended...

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! Those critical people...well, I just feel sorry for them. Please know that the rest of us are mostly just in awe of all you manage to accomplish.

Ellen said...

Dear Sara,

I've been a regular reader of your blogs since way back when I was planning my wedding (well, you hadn't started Feeding the Soil at that point...but when you did, I hopped over and got hooked). I really appreciate your bravery & openness in your posts, as well as the information you provide. THANK YOU.

Oh, I can totally identify with letting negative things eat away at you , re-playing them even before bed...I'm getting better, but I've done that a lot. I will try to keep the Annie Dillard quote in mind--don't want to spend my life worrying obsessively over how other people see me!

Anyway, thank you for your blogs. Keep on keeping on.


Bridget Manley said...

I've read Feeding the Soil and 2000 Dollar Wedding for more than a year now, and they both have been delightful parts of my day. I'm sorry I haven't chimed in before now to tell you what great stuff you have here. I love that you're authentic and open about your life — two qualities that, unfortunately, can make one vulnerable to personal attacks. Don't let the grumblers get you down. Keep writing. I, at least, will always appreciate it.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Oh, wow. I didn't realize writing about what was making me feel terrible would end up making me feel a lot better. Thank you for your kindness and your support!

Thank you, Meg! I appreciate your kind words so much. I respect your work immensely, and it makes me smile to know that you are here. (And please keep telling me when I'm implementing Montessori incorrectly!).

Jess, I'm glad to hear that you think I welcome different perspectives. I genuinely do. This space is like a journal to me; I'm often working through things myself. I love hearing how the ideas resonate (or don't) with others.

Eclice, you do not sound judgmental at all! It's totally okay to say that you disagree with a personal swimming pool, dryer, flipping houses (etc.!). It's totally okay to say that you feel like I'm going against my own values (especially if you've been reading the blog for a while and feel like you know more of the story). That's not the kind of stuff that bothers me (that kind of feedback is honestly helpful). It was bothering me to read really negative comments that felt out of context. Yes, they were responding to something in a particular post, but it felt like they didn't know the whole story. Please continue to point out when you feel like I'm being hypocritical. I will recognize your name and know that you're coming from a good place.

Oh, Naan, thank you for saying that my blog makes you feel like you can go out and achieve your dreams, too. That's exactly why I do this. I believe that our lives are short and precious and that we should think big about what we want to make of them. I write about my struggles to live my vision because I want others to feel empowered to do the same. Thank you.

Elizabeth, congratulations to you! And I'm so glad the archives have been helpful. Please e-mail me if you have more specific questions that weren't answered.

That is a great quote, Avila! Thank you for sharing.

Thank you for your words of encouragement, therooftopsblog! And thank you, Roxanne!

Oh, Katie Joe, thank you for expressing your kind words so articulately. And, yes, please share more often! It's great to hear from you.

Thanks, Jenny. They did say some things that were true and helpful to hear that have led to some good introspection.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, bothwell browne: I will definitely check out that blog. Thanks for sharing! And, for the record, it's COLD in Texas right now! (Of course "cold" is a relative word and someone who spent half her life in San Diego and half her life in Florida shouldn't be much of an authority on what constitutes "cold.")

Thanks, spanishteacher83! It's good to see you around these parts.

Nora! I always appreciate your comments. Honestly, I do. I always know you're coming from a place of thoughtfulness. I absolutely want people to share dissenting thoughts that they have. Many times when I'm writing a post, I'm thinking out loud (er, in writing) and seeing how I feel about what I'm saying. Hearing reactions to it (even if they're negative) is part of the process. For me, it's not "what" is said as much of "how" it is said. That's why I added this blurb to my comment section: "I promise I am open to feedback and truly appreciate hearing others' insights into my choices (it's like free therapy!), but please say it in the same way you would say it if we were sitting across from each other at brunch or next to each other on a park bench while our children play." Please keep commenting, Nora!

I'm eager to read that poem, Kelly! And thank you for saying you like my lists. That's what I kept wondering as I was reading the mean things, "If you find my compulsive planning insufferable, cold, and calculating, then why on earth do you read about it?" It sounds like the worst kind of self-torture! I know my personality is not for everyone (and there are definitely things I'm working on changing), but I have to keep reminding myself that it's okay not to be liked by everyone.

Aw, thanks Allison! I loved your message. I think I'll have to print it and add it to my Artifacts of Affection binder. Oh, I can only imagine what the haters are going to say about my Artifacts of Affection binder...

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thank you, Ellen and Bridget!

ebc said...


i dont usually comment here, but felt the need to add my voice today. ive been reading for years. your openness about your relationship, wedding, parenting, miscarriage, finances, etc. has been so important. your choices often represented a welcomed alternative to broadly-accepted social constructs (WIC, peer marriage, reticence to discuss miscarriage, etc.). your posts were inspirational and affirming in large (weddings! babies! parenting!) and small (deodorant, recipes, resources) ways. even though i dont really know you, the forum youve created with ideas youve introduced and/or echoed has been helpful to me and my relationships and decisions (and friends' too! ive recommended your blog many a time). thank you for your continued honesty.

ps: this negative feedback reminds me of the recent bullying video that made its way around the internet (newscaster responding to cruel email). october is anti-bullying month!

Heather said...

I don't comment often, but always read your posts. While I shouldn't be surprised that there are sites out there like the one you mentioned people are coming from, I will never understand why people spend so much time on them. Constructive critisizm is one thing, but what good does it do to rip someone apart because you don't agree with them? What a waste of time and energy. I appreciate your honesty and openness regardless of whether or not I agree with everything. It's just odd to me that so many people are so unaccepting of what other people do, and if you don't like what you're reading - don't read it! It's funny to me that people will return time and time again to a blog they don't like just to rile themselves up. Get a life, people!

Isa said...

Hi! I almost never comment, but I love your blog. Something about how you think is very centering to me. I love that someone out there can actually make those lists that flit around in my head and then follow through with them and actually live the life that comes from that sort of organization and preparation and thoughtfulness. I've also found your posts on a montessori home really helpful in thinking about how I want my daughter's spaces to be (not that I always manage it, but at least I'm thinking about things from her perspective more and less about just what is cute)! I don't tend to comment when I disagree with you, mostly because I've been reading enough to see that you are like me, and when it becomes clear that something isn't meant to be you'll give it up gracefully and move on to something better. Me saying 'I don't think house flipping is a great plan' won't do anything to get you there faster--it'll just make me feel like a jerk if I'm right, and an idiot if you go ahead with it and it turns out I'm wrong.
Anyway, thanks for writing. I hope you won't let the meanies get you down!

MBD said...

The only reason anyone would say anything mean about you is because of jealousy or close-mindedness. People are always afraid of what's different. Even if someone doesn't agree with some of the things you do/think/plan for/tackle, there is no reason to be nasty about it. I know it's hard not to take it personal, but please try not to. Love to you and your family.

Kate said...

Whoa! I am completely floored by this. I always come by because I`m so inspired by you: the way you set goals and plans for how to achieve them, how you make your life choices so deliberately (rather than what feels like by-the-seat-of-the-pants for me), and that you (seem) to do things in such a mindful way.

I`m sorry I don`t comment more often, having heard this. Maybe there`s a silent majority out there like me...

Nora said...

Sara - I read the tag line you added on your blog comments section. I love it. It was a good reminder to me to take more time with what I say, in whatever context, even on the internet (honestly, I had been wanting to say I'm sorry for how tersely I've commented here in this space in the past).

I have also been meaning to praise your work as a writer. You have an easy, honest writing style. You are living an authored and intentional life, and you are able to narrate your struggles and successes in a way that's so easy to relate to (even if it's a quite different life than mine). Thank you for taking the time to do that. It has been a useful tool for me in my own life.

Anna said...


I've been reading both of your blogs for a long time, although I hardly ever comment. Today I feel I need to let you know how appreciated you are. I always look forward to reading your thoughful posts and I especially appreciate your honesty with regards to topics such as motherhood. I am constantly amazed and inspired by your willingness to work for your goals and visions. As a fellow teacher I find it wonderful that you work towards more equality in education.

I just can't believe a place such as said forum exists - honestly, don't people have anything better to do? I hope all this nastiness won't discourage you from putting yourself out there - it would be a great loss.

Sending lots of light and good thoughts your way from Germany!

Heather said...

I've been reading both of your blogs for years, but I've never commented until today.

You have so many obligations - personal, emotional, financial. Stop wasting your time reading negative crap about yourself. I might not agree with everything you write, but I applaud you for having the courage to post it.

Erin Curran said...

Hi Sara, I had to send a quick note to say THANK YOU for always being yourself here!

And I smiled when you mentioned your "Artifacts of Affection" binder. I think you are right, the haters will totally hate that but I think it's awesome because it's you being you AND it's a cute name for a binder of accolades!! You might be amused to know that I made a binder called "My Parenting Manual". I've filled it with all of my favorite parenting advice from blogs and whatnot, because, well, these kiddos don't come with manuals so I made my own!! Haters would totally hate that! ;-D But I think our binders ROCK!

Finally, oh my goodness did your post resonate with me today - the part about worrying what others think!! I just got back from a meeting with my son's special education preschool principal and I was feeling very icky and was ruminating on it. I was telling myself not to waste energy on this but it was hard not to keep going back to "what do they think of me?". Reading your post is heartening to know that I'm not the only mamma out there who can get caught in that web and that at this very moment, we are both working on letting it go.

Here's to "letting it go" and being the best mommas we know how to be!


Allison Campbell said...

Sara, do you know that you're basically my personal hero? I think you're absolutely awesome. I WISH I could be as motivated/organized/etc as you. I, for one, would like to thank you for posting regularly, honestly, and being yourself! I only wish we lived in the same town -- you sound like you could be a really great friend.

On how we spend our days -- have you read the poem by Ezra Pound, Erat Hora? I think it's a lovely way to think about how we spend our days:

‘Thank you, whatever comes.' And then she turned
And, as the ray of sun on hanging flowers
Fades when the wind hath lifted them aside,
Went swiftly from me. Nay, whatever comes
One hour was sunlit and the most high gods
May not make boast of any better thing
Than to have watched that hour as it passed.

Angela Mae said...

I read your blog daily because it is always reassuring and grounding; how your approach your life is always inspiring and the influence you have had on mine has been nothing but beneficial (for which I am very grateful).

The voice of dissent can seem louder than the voice of admiration. I hope you allow yourself the moment to hear how much the (silent) majority appreciates you and the work you do.

Anonymous said...

How sad is it that those people spend their time reading things they hate and forming communities of hate instead of spending their time reading things they enjoy. How Bizarre!

Kelsey said...

I do not often comment but am a follower. I suffered from severe post partum depression with my second son. Reading about your difficult transition to motherhood made me feel like I was not a horrible person. It sounds so cliche, but thank you for your honesty. Your words are genuine and truthful. You do not try to paint a perfect picture and this does not go unnoticed.

Meghan Valerio said...

WTF?! I've been reading your blogs for 2 years - first 2000DW, when I was engaged, and now this one - and have found them both so honest and insightful. I'm sorry you've gotten some negative traffic. I'm here because I appreciate your story and your voice, and I'm sure that the vast majority of your readers are here for the same reason.

My life is very different from yours, but I like considering things from a different perspective - particularly when it comes to living simply, eschewing consumerism, and making considered, thoughtful choices. Thank you for sharing and pity the haters!

Eclice said...

(I used to comment with another name when no registering was mandatory to comment)

Happy to hear you feel better !

Actually, I think you do know yourself quite well. I remember that you told once that matt was more generous than you (the way his sends personal allowances etc.). Sometimes, you really want to stick to your plans (lists, budget etc.). It is BOTH AWESOME and sometimes a bit too demanding (I think) for both you and the people around you. You already know that ! So no need to freak out if people rephrase that in unflattering manners :[

I strongly hope you can find your own balance :) I believe you are already on your way ;) I am eager to see you rocking your "awesome side" in the future :)

Justine said...

I used to read the forum in which you're describing (if it is what I think it is) to my own disgust.

Constructive criticism is healthy, of course, and I know some bloggers don't take any criticism well at all. But I haven't seen you delete comments or disagree with people disrespectfully.

And you're absolutely right that we are how we act. Although I disagreed with much the forum's points, it was hard to stop myself--like watching reality tv. I guess you could say I was "hate-reading" the forum. It wasn't good for my spirit and I've since stopped.

Thinking about it now, I feel a bit sorry for them because is this really how they choose to spend their precious free time? Bringing other people down? Like I said, healthy criticism is perfectly fine. But some of them seem to revel in it and go beyond normal criticism. In our precious, short lives, why choose such activities?

Luisa said...

Dude, what the hey?! Stuff like that is just ridiculous. How do people have so much time on their hands?! Block that site so you can't go back to it and continue reading what they write! You've helped lots of people by sharing your ideas.

Anonymous said...

I have been following 2000 Dollar Wedding & Feeding The Soil for almost two years but this is my first time commenting. Sara, you are an inspiration! As I stated in an e-mail I sent you a few weeks ago (In Need Of Wedding Photos), you empowered me in regard to Derik & I's wedding - an empowerment I have carried into so many other areas of my life. And again, thank you for being you!

For those "haters" to spend their time in such a non-constructive way, they must be experiencing a great deal of disappointment in their own lives.

BB said...

I love your blog and I hope you aren't discouraged. I know that I, for one, read to cheer you on and to feel your successes and your failures. I don't even know you but I feel like I am so proud of all you have done and all you will do.

I've left what I guess are negative comments, but really out of love and life experience, the same comments I would give a friend or a relative.

Haters going to hate, I guess. You are SO organized and driven and gutsy that it's a shock to the system of the lazy. You know who you are and I hope that your blog helps you express that and get some support and maybe some criticism from time to time.

Kirsten said...

I hope you don't let haters get to you. I've appreciated your openness with the practicalities of life (finances, organization, etc. and I'm with you on the natural deodorant quest!). Even though my values don't align perfectly with yours, reading your blog the past couple years has definitely inspired me to vocalize my own values and make decisions grounded in them.

Hopefully this experience will better equip you to help Henry and your students deal with bullying, cyber or otherwise (ugh!).

Anthropolochic said...

First off compulsive planning is a good trait - at least in my book. It isn't possible to be over-analytical. It's possible to analyze something to the point that the energy outweighs the benefit - but that isn't "over-analytical". It's just the side effect of a thoughtful person giving equal weight to topics of that inherently incomparable. Being analytical to begin with is such a desirable trait. If only everyone spent time questioning and working towards some greater purpose. A lot of people are just happy to ride of the backs of the people that do exactly that.

Re: home birth, new motherhood and Henry. I don't know that you needed to reiterate your thoughts on the matter here. You were so clear in your original posts - look the switch to motherhood is hard. It's scary. Everyone knows that. Your language on the matter was very succinct. Anyone complaining about that on the hate blog is either significantly bending reality to suit their miserable little souls, or really has a genuine problem reading...in which case, that's rather unfortunate for them and I feel bad for them.

I used to work for two people that said some pretty hateful, personal things to me most days. I was stuck, and couldn't leave. Basically, I lived with this kind of soul crushing stuff for about 3 years. I quickly learned exactly what I imagine you already know, that what they said to me only mattered insofar that it affected my thoughts, my actions, my future. While all of this business is hurtful - and I really feel bad for you because it is tough to put your life out there only to have strangers pull you apart in some self-congratulatory (the term I was going to use here is not appropriate for bench sitting and children playing) of the deeply dissatisfied - if you walk away from this with anything new, walk away knowing two things a) they had nothing better to do than read your blog specifically to write hateful material about it later...and that's rather sad. Imagine what they could have done with that time had they anything productive to do or any will to do something productive and b) they only matter if they alter what you do in the longer term. Feel hurt. Talk about them here. Do what you need to do to feel better - but don't let them bully you into changing a thing.

Lastly, during my time working for two bullies I ended up listening to two songs on repeat. In the words of Mary J Blige's (Work That)

"Let them get mad. They're gonna hate anyway, don't you know that? It doesn't matter if you go along with their plan. They'll never be happy because they're not happy with themselves"


Jay-Z's (Public Service Announcement)

"only god can judge me, so I'm gone. Either love me, or leave me alone"

E. said...

I appreciate your lists with lists. My husband and I are discussing quitting our jobs and biking across Europe next summer. So I thought, "What would Sara do?" and then I made a list. Which included several sub-lists.

So thank you for making my life easier and more organized.

Sara E. Cotner said...

Oh, E., you should totally quit your jobs and bike across Europe next summer! That would be so awesome!

Emily said...

Yeah - sorry you had this experience. Unfortunately, it seems that blogs with any level of popularity also gain a hate following. Unless you start intensely moderating comments, it's kind of bound to show up. I guess take it as a compliment?

Emily Pinto Taylor said...

I've been reading for years. I think you're brilliant. I keep reading because you're so down to earth, and you remind me of the sort of life I'd like to have someday, maybe when I finish grad school.

Ignore the haters. Clearly there's still a whole lot of greatness here. :)

Meghan said...

Oh Sara, I'm so sorry to hear that some people are saying disparaging things about you on the interwebs. I guess it is all part of putting yourself out there, which I hope you realize is soooo appreciated by so many readers. I know I'm not alone in saying that you are an amazing woman and a wonderful role model.

As we have been recently planning for big changes in our own lives, I find myself wondering what advice you would give if we were friends who got to see each other all of the time and taking that advice! I feel inspired by you to work towards the big, audacious goals,and I know lots of others do too.

So, I say, if people out there want to spend time hating, they'll hate any and everything, and there's not much you can do about it. Please know that you bring so much positive energy to so many people so any hating that they are doing is outweighed by the positive energy that all of us are exchanging with you.

CB said...

Darn, I wrote this really nice, long comment and somehow I messed up and it didn't post! Ok, here is the gist of it...

As you know, the people who are criticizing you are silly bullies with too much time on their hands. Tonight, instead of reading Matt hurtful things, read him all the nice comments that people leave.

For me, you have become a MAJOR source of inspiration. I caught myself constantly saying "this blogger I read does x" and have to stifle myself to keep from being obnoxious. I am in awe of how big you dream, your ability to get things done, and your bravery in putting yourself out there. For god's sakes, you run two blogs, have written two books, are starting your own business, building a house, run an online course and are developing another...all on top of raising a montesori-fied kid and running the rest of your life. Plus you are one of the most authentic and mindful people I've ever come across. I literally just this weekend was telling my boyfriend that you're becoming my idol.

I wish we knew each other in real life because I think we'd be great buddies.

Feeding the Soil is in the "Desert Island" section of my blog reader, which is reserved for the only blogs that I read daily. Your company is Young House Love, JD Roth, and Vintage Revivals - excellent company in my opinion.

There are a lot of us out here reading every day who appreciate and benefit from the good that you put into the world. It's really sad that some people who don't appreciate that feel that it's appropriate to bring you down.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Hey! I'm one of the readers that doesn't comment, but does share posts (especially about figuring out what I/we each need and organizing life) to their spouse. I've found lots of inspiration from your writing. Go, You!

Autumn Witt Boyd said...

Sara, I hope you can do your best to ignore the negativity and focus on your regular, long-time readers who appreciate your writing and enjoy engaging in a "conversation" in the comments. Like many above, I found your blog when I was planning my wedding in 2008 and moved over here now that I've started a family. I learned about Montessori from you! Please keep up your good work and tune out the haters.

Unknown said...

I am really sorry to read this and it's motivated me to post.

I began by reading your wedding blog as I was planning mine two years ago. i found it hugely inspiring. Then quite recently I found this blog and from this, am now reading other Montessori family blogs. It's truly fascinating.

Please don't feel downhearted. These people are cowards. I bet they could or would never say such things if they met you in the flesh.

Rise above the petty naysayers and please continue your blog in the same way as before.

Laura, UK

Leigh said...

I never comment around here but I read your blogs often. I love them. I appreciate your sincerity and openness when speaking about very personal things. I love how you strive to be a the best whole person you can be and share this journey with all its ups and downs with others.

If I were you and read such unkind things written about me, it would certainly hurt and I would have trouble blocking it out completely. But seriously, their words have no power, because they are not speaking the truth and they don't know you. They are really harming themselves the most!

I wish you all the best and hope that kindess echoes the loudest in your world each day!

Linda said...

Hey Sara,
Ditto on everything all the others have already said. I read your blog daily and have even caught myself feeling bummed on Fridays when there's no new post to read! :)

Anaïs said...

Hi Sarah,
thanx for sharing that. It's pretty late here and I can't wait to go to sleep, but I had to write to you to tell you how wonderful it is to me to read your amazing posts. You are a great creative person full of super useful ideas and most of all super generous to spend your time sharing all your discoveries with us. Both of your blogs have been super helpful to me and your name became part of my husband and I vocabulary, in an nice way! We both use your organisation charts and when I feel tired I think about the millions things you would have squeeze in my little amount of free time and this encourages me a lot. Keep on going sweetheart! Let them spoil their days in stupidity. Good luck and congratulations on your new book! Lots of love from Brussels, Belgium, Europe, night time :)

Annalisa said...

Sara -- I'm catching up on my blogs this morning and came across this post. I have been reading your blogs for a while (maybe since my wedding in 2008?) as well as GOMI. I think in fairness if you put it out there, you have to be able to accept some form of criticism. I don't find GOMI posters to be bullies -- they are not coming here and attacking you -- they congregate together and when they get out of line or cross a line and lean towards cruel, they get checked by other posters. In fact, a lot of bloggers have gone on there to defend themselves and realize how they come across to their readers. Blogs are like anything else - TV, movies, politics, etc. It's just as fair to criticize what you post as well as a newspaper article, reality TV show, new documentary film, etc.

With that, rather than focus on the negative, look at the positive. You have a lot of readers who you have inspired and you offer worthy discussions in your posts (among other things). As a teacher, you should recognize that it's not easy to see the big picture and the effect you have on others - especially when you have a bad day or don't seem like anyone is interested in what you are saying.

Like I mentioned, I've been reading you for a while and for the most part, I like what you post. Sometimes it's not for me and I have left comments with an opposing viewpoint. Not everyone does that I think mostly out of habit -- lots of bloggers delete comments that are not inline with their viewpoint. Also, I want to address some of the comments people left on this post -- I think an important discussion needs to be had on the idea of "bullying". I think casually throwing the expression around can be just as serious as casually throwing around the word "rape" - it minimizes it and doesn't take the concept seriously overall. You were not bullied by any stretch -- people said some mean (maybe honest? I don't read the lifestyle forums) things behind your back but you weren't sought out and humiliated or repeatedly attacked. Maintain perspective and get some thick skin if you plan on maintaining you blog.

Thanks for reading my long post!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Hi, Annalisa! Some thoughts in response to your comments:

"I think in fairness if you put it out there, you have to be able to accept some form of criticism."

I absolutely agree. And I honestly welcome criticism that's expressed in a constructive rather than destructive way. The stuff I read on that site felt more like people saying mean things about me behind my back instead of anyone trying to actually change anything. I personally think that our criticism of the world around us should be proactive rather than just reactive. But that's just my opinion. I know others see things differently, and people do have a right to criticize me, especially if I'm publishing public content. I just kept wondering: "If you don't like me, the way I think, the way I analyze things, or the way I live my life, then why on earth are you spending time reading my blog?" There are so many different blogs out there that offer so many different perspectives. It's easy to find blogs that resonate with us.

"I don't find GOMI posters to be bullies -- they are not coming here and attacking you -- they congregate together and when they get out of line or cross a line and lean towards cruel, they get checked by other posters."

Annalisa, they are coming here to say negative things (that's how I discovered the site in the first place), but I agree with you about the bullying part. I never called them bullies. I think they say mean stuff about me, mainly behind my back.

I'd also like to say that I don't often delete comments from people who disagree with me. You will see plenty of negative comments in the archives.

"Maintain perspective and get some thick skin if you plan on maintaining your blog."

I'm trying to maintain perspective, Annalisa. That's what my whole post was about. It was about how it hurts my feelings to read mean things that people are saying about my family and me. And I'm okay with the fact that it hurts my feelings. I don't want to let it drag me down or hinder my forward movement (again, that's what the post was about), but I'm okay if it hurts my feelings. I think honoring what I'm feeling is important.

Also, I would argue that I do have a relatively thick skin. Again, I get plenty of criticism in the comment sections of both my blogs.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here and giving me a chance to respond, rather that just posting in a separate place.

Nuwandalice said...

That sounds like a stupid site. For the record, I think you're a super inspiring person. I love reading your blog and really admire your honesty. :)

Ms. L said...


I am a second year Teach for America corps member. I found your blog looking for help setting up my organizational system after reading "The Together Teacher." I fell in LOVE with your blog. It gives me hope for my alumni-hood after TFA. Maybe my life after TFA can continue to use the same analytical skills I've come into contact with that you share, but now within my own control. That may be a weird thing to get from your blog, but I really do love it.

Best of wishes,
-J. Lange

Julia said...

Sara, I also don't comment often, but I think this is definitely worth adding my two cents.

I started reading 2000 Dollar Wedding, like most people, when I was planning my own wedding. It was such a breath of fresh air in the whole wedding industry to hear about how it was important to you that your wedding reflect your values, not just your personal tastes, and celebrating that important ritual with your own community in a way that resonated with you. Reading your posts not only gave me a lot of fun ideas but most importantly, it gave me the courage to stand up for what we valued and wanted our wedding to be about. It was a beautiful, memorable, personal, happy day and a lot of that is thanks to you.

2000 Dollar Wedding led me here to Feeding the Soil, which if it's possible I love even more. Watching you navigate big career choices, moving, and marriage and parenting (especially as it relates to maintaining your own identity) is a guide for me in how I want to make those choices for myself. Not that I would do things the same as you every time, but the very fact that you bring up these issues, and as honestly and candidly as you do, helps me think it through in new ways. I really think you make me a better, more thoughtful person.

You lead by example in this blog. And I don't just mean that you talk about the right thing to do, or even demonstrate it. I mean that you illustrate the power of thoughtful, deliberate action and planning, and the payoff you can get from being honest and fair with yourself and those around you. It makes me sad that people would post mean-spirited and unproductive things like that, but... haters gonna hate. Just keep doing what you're doing -- consciously, intentionally trying to make yourself a better person and your life a deeper, more authentic, fuller life. Whatever that means for you. And if you do that, those people are too little to matter in your big life!

Heather Lynn said...

I'm so sorry you've been the target of such negative attacks. I can honestly say this is my favorite blog. When all the RSS feeds are piling up in my inbox, yours is the first one I catch up on. I found this blog through your 2000 dollar wedding blog. You introduced me to the Montessori philosophy, and I am having a wonderful time raising my son because of it.

As many others have said, you truly are an inspiration. Keep doing what you're doing. We love you!

acharpen said...

Sara -
I read every post but never comment. I worked for you a long time ago in college and I must have found your blogs via you 'friending' a mutual friend on Facebook (though I can't remember who or when). Other than having attended the same college and worked for a lot of the same education organizations over the last decade, I don't actually have much in common with you (no marriage, no desire to start a school, no kids/family). I read your blog(s) because you have always made me feel like/work to be a better person. Your writing is honest and straightforward. It is thoughtful and deeply reflective. You understand that you and others make mistakes and that we grow from these mistakes. When I read your writing, I feel smarter and think more about balance and planning for what I want. Please keep writing and sharing.

One and Doll said...

What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

-Pedro Arrupe, SJ

Unknown said...

Lady. I know the site in question. DO NOT READ THAT STUFF. Full stop. Don't ever go there again. Think for a second about how totally nuts you have to be to spend your time obsessing about someone's website, and then chronicling it viciously online. Fuck, think how *miserable* you actually have to be. Sure, we all read things and raise our eyebrows now and then, but well balanced people literally raise their eyebrows and move on. Miserable terrible people start internet forums about it.

But more importantly, realize that NONE of it is true. Having spent a lot of time dealing with this sort of absurd crap, the deal is this: you write about your life (say, honestly, but in a privacy protected way, I do). They know just enough about you to incorporate stuff into their attacks to make it SEEM true, when really it's just a ball of total crazy.

They people on that site are just beyond what you can imagine. They've posted adresses to high profile bloggers homes, putting them and their children at risk, for starters. NUTS.

So seriously. If you haven't already, let it all go. And never read it again. And make Matt take down the horrible comments so you don't have to read them. SERIOUSLY.

abre los ojos said...

sara - you're an amazing woman. you know your strengths, your weaknesses and you willingly shared a lot of yourself. you're an inspiration to me.

without you, i would have never known the world of montessori. and thats just one thing on a very long list of things i admire you for.

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