Purposeful Living: An Interview with Sandy Allen

My friend Sandy is thebombdotcom and I’m thrilled to have her on the blog today sharing about herself, her passion for blogging and how she lives with purpose. Sandy is a lifestyle & travel writer, social media extraordinaire, and the creator of the well-known and loved blog, Canadian Blog House. I’ve had the pleasure to get to know Sandy over the past few years and let me tell you, she’s the real deal! From her professional and friendly online presence to her warm and genuine disposition in real life, Sandy is a total gem. We’ve had many conversations about the world of writing, blogging, and social media – which have always inspired me. Her passion for true online connection, her relationship with her readers, and her authentic voice are the reason she is such a positive example and role model to so many in the field of content creation. 

Thank you Sandy for taking the time to answer my questions for my Purposeful Living Series. I’m excited to dive right in…

First off, let’s get to know you better!

I feel most inspired when… I see my fellow blogging friends experiencing great success with their blog in some way. I feed off those successes and it makes me feel like “hey, if they can do that, so can I!”

On most days, I’m wearing… Jeans and a sweater or t-shirt. Bloggers often joke about spending their days in their pyjamas or yoga pants, but I don’t do that – unless I’m sick. I do my best work when I’m comfortable but, I feel more productive if I make an effort to dress in a presentable way. Besides…I don’t want the courier driver to see me in my pyjamas!

My favourite place to spend time outdoors is… I love spending time at the beach, whether it’s close to home at one of the beaches along the Ottawa River, at my sister’s home on a lake, or even down at Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario. My favourite beaches far from home include the beautiful red sand beaches of PEI, and the pure white sand beaches of Florida’s west coast. I dream of one day setting foot on a Caribbean beach, looking out onto that clear blue water.

One of my favourite inspirational quotes is… This is one of my favourites. It’s from Darren Rowse of ProBlogger “If you have just one reader and your blog changes their life, your blog is big enough.” I used to obsess over my blog stats until last fall when my dear mother passed away. I wrote a post in honour of my mother, sharing things I had learned about losing her. To my absolute shock, one of my readers got in touch with me to tell me how much my post had affected her. My words had given her the courage to reach out and contact her estranged mother. Long story short, my reader went to visit her 80+ year old mother for the first time in years, and they were able to mend their relationship – to the point that (at last contact with my reader) she was making plans to move, to be physically closer to her mom. I couldn’t have given my mother a more fitting tribute than that. She would love to have heard how my story about her brought another daughter and mother back together. It was just a few short weeks after this happened that I spotted Darren’s quote online. The timing could not have been more perfect.

When I’m feeling down and out and need to change my mindset, I… Think about what my dear aunt often says to me – “there’s always someone worse off in the world than you”. It’s a rather obvious concept but, it helps me to change my mindset, and focus on all the good things in my life instead.

Now let’s get right to it, what does purposeful living mean to you?

In my late 30’s and early 40’s I went through some huge life changes. Prior to these life changes, I was feeling worn out, unwell, worthless, and like I was just floating through life. For me, blogging started out as just a hobby, something to keep me busy. But it has evolved into so much more than I could have ever imagined. Blogging, and other life changes, brought a sense of purpose to my life. I know now, this is what I was meant to be doing.

When it comes to work, what are you most passionate about?

I love almost everything about blogging and social media. What I do online is truly a passion for me. Blogging has opened so many doors, and offered my partner and I so many fantastic opportunities that we never would have had if not for the blog.

How do you find joy in each day, even the tough ones?

I’m naturally a “cup half full” kind of person so, I don’t usually have any problem finding joy in my day. That being said, I do have days where it seems like everything is going wrong, and I just want to throw in the towel and head to bed. On days like that I give myself permission to back away from everything, and do something that will help bring me joy and relaxation in that moment – like a nice hot bubble bath!

How does a successful day look to you?

Blog post written, deadline met, emails answered, interaction with readers and followers on social media, blogging chores completed, dinner made, family happy, cuddles with dogs. Day complete!

How do you get out of your comfort zone?

I spend the majority of my time at home blogging, and in doing so, it can be easy to fall into the trap of becoming too comfortable, hibernating, and never wanting to go out into the world. Home is my happy place. So, whenever I am able to, I accept invitations to attend events, excursions, and get-togethers with friends…which forces me out of that comfort zone.

What is one tip you can share with us for building genuine connections and relationships in your industry?

Be authentic. People are smarter than you think. Way smarter. Online friends, online business connections, and especially your readers, can see right through you if you are trying to be someone you aren’t.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt since starting your blog/business?

Always do your best work – you never know who is watching you. I’ve been surprised many times by people who have gotten in touch with me, whom I had no idea were even following me on social media, and reading my blog posts. My opportunity to write for the Outaouais Tourism blog came about because they found me on social media, and liked what I was doing on my own blog.

What is one thing you do often that contributes to living a purposeful and fulfilling life?

My dear aunt has been telling me for years that “now” is the time to enjoy life. Travel while you can, and do the things you want to do while you still have your health. There is no guarantee for any of us that we will be able to do all those things we plan to do – when we retire. My new motto is “life is meant to be experienced!”, and I intend to live the rest of my life experiencing as much as I possibly can.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone who is just starting out or struggling with their blog/business?

You can’t do this alone. You need support. Blogging is a very solitary thing, most of the time. You spend countless hours alone, honing your craft and producing content. You need to find your tribe. You need to become involved in blogger Facebook groups, attend local blogging events, and attend blogging conferences. This is how you get to know your co-workers. Because in the blogging world, your fellow bloggers are really your co-workers. I like to say it takes a village to raise a blogger. Sure, some people become successful bloggers all on their own but, this is not the norm. Ask the most successful bloggers out there, and they will probably tell you that they had a great deal of help along the way from their fellow bloggers.

We all have dreams and goals, would you mind sharing a few of yours with us?

Dreams… I have a lot of those. Like being able to visit a Caribbean island and snorkel in the clear blue water. Like visiting Havana, Cuba, where my dad was born. Like trekking through the beautiful deserts and parks of the southwestern US again. Like visiting Europe. Like fulfilling my ultimate dream vacation – a trip to Australia. So many dreams have I!

Goals… Focusing on some mundane, behind-the-scenes tasks on the blog in 2017 that need to be done in order to help Canadian Blog House grow bigger and better than ever!

One last thing…what has been one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received/read?

From others – Enjoy the journey. Enjoy every minute of it. Never take yourself too seriously. No matter how good you are, everyone is replaceable.

My advice?

  • Reach for the stars – you are bound to grab on to at least one of them!
  • Always remember who was there in the beginning. Remember those that supported you when you took that very first step!
  • Share the successes that come your way – it’s better to stand on the ground surrounded by others than to stand on a pedestal by yourself.

Wow, I was literally nodding my head throughout this entire interview. There are so many nuggets of wisdom and encouragement here, thank you so much for sharing them with us Sandy. I’m so glad you found your purpose and passion – it shows, because you shine at what you do! I love your reminder to us to be our true selves – being authentic online and in person allows others to connect with the real us, as well as encourages others to be the real them too. Your point about doing your best work, because you never know who’s watching – I absolutely agree with this! Whether it’s a blog post you’ve created for fun, a sponsored article, or on your social media channels – readers, followers and brands are paying attention, whether you know or not, and sharing the best you’ve got shows how much you value your audience. Which you clearly do, and for that, I know how much they value you!

Sandy has shared some insightful tidbits today, and I’d love to hear from our readers what resonated with you? Leave a comment below and let us know! 

Emily Smith

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    1. Love you too, Joy! You’ve been such a loyal reader and follower since the very beginning! Thanks for all your support! It means so much! xo

  1. Sandy is a peach! I recognized her at an event a year or two ago and approached her with a little celeb-like induced smile and she greeted me incredibly warmly! She is indeed authentic and I always enjoy her posts!

    1. Oh Brenda! You are a sweetheart! I remember that event and you made my day by coming up to me and saying hello! You are one of my faves and have also been along for the ride since the start. Thanks for all your wonderful encouragement and support! xo

  2. These photos of Sandy made me smile from ear to ear. I seriously LOVE this person and each time I learn something new about her, I respect her even more. I miss being a blogger because of people just like you and Sandy. Great post!

    1. Julie! Oh how I miss you! The blogging world is just not the same without you, my friend! I’ve thought of you more often than you know…and every time I do I am secretly hoping that one day you will pick up that coffee and start writing again 🙂 . Love you! xo

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