Letter From the Editor: An Announcement

When I announced last November about the final three episodes of Simple, I had this post in mind, wondering how on earth I would begin it. I’d actually been drafting it in my head slowly since last September when I knew it was coming. But now that it’s finally time to hit publish, I hardly know where to begin.

I’ll start by cutting to the chase, shall I? Here goes… 2020 will be the final year of The Art of Simple, with the last post on the docket for publication on December 31. 

It’s a very bittersweet decision for me, far bigger than the decision to end the accompanying podcast (especially since I just launched a new one!). It took me a while to decide this was the right decision. AoS has been my baby for 12 years, back when it went by a different moniker and served a different purpose in the collection of my work. And it’s been a beautiful, awe-inspiring experience that I don’t take lightly.

This website began when my family lived in an urban high-rise apartment overlooking the Aegean Sea, in Turkey. My oldest was almost three years old, and my next-born was a few weeks old. I spent those long hours nursing him reading everything I could about starting a successful blog, which I’d already created for the grandparents to see photos of their faraway grandkids (this was before the ubiquitousness of Facebook and Twitter, and before Instagram was even a thing). But I wanted to create a public blog, one that was mostly for me, but even better if I could connect with a few people that felt similarly.

And so, on an uneventful Sunday afternoon in my living room, I bought a domain name, uploaded WordPress, and tapped out my first post on an ugly blog. I loved every bit of the early work in those days, learning how to make it visually appealing, how to write for SEO, how to attract new subscribers and commenters (remember, pre-social media). I didn’t make any money, but I had fun.

A few months later, I sold my first sidebar ad, a little 125×125 square that promoted another mom-n-pop business, and with the proceeds, I bought myself a latte at the neighborhood Starbucks. The website generated some form of money ever since.

Anyone remember these super early days?

I won’t give a play-by-play of all those early months, but after the first year, I asked a few friends to contribute posts every now and then, and that decision transformed this place to a community-focused blog, where I was never the single expert. It’s never had a year since that first one, 2008, when it was just me. 

In 2011 it became a full-fledged business, generating more income than our other jobs, thus shifting it from side hustle to our family’s main source of income. It’s also the year I started podcasting and realized how much I loved it, alongside writing.

A few books, a rotation of contributing writers, a course or two launched, and several iterations of that podcast, and here I am, in 2020, ready to give this beloved space the final bow it deserves.

Like the podcast, I want to end this space well, on my terms, while it’s still a thing I’m proud of — so I’m not making this decision because I no longer think it’s good. In fact, I think last year was one of our best years.

I simply believe it’s time — for this online space, and for me personally and professionally. I’m ready to do new things, and because of the time it takes to make AoS a website I’m proud of, I can’t do those other new things well at the same time. 

There are people out there who can spin all those plates with applause-worthy astonishment, and God bless ‘em. I’m simply not one of those people. After 12 years of writing and doing my thing, I’ve learned so much about how I’m wired — and one of those truths is that I’m best when I do fewer things well. In another ten years, I want to look back and say I created my best contributions and didn’t do certain types of work just because They say I need to.

I’m not talking about the necessary work of life, the stuff none of us like but are essential to making society work. I’m talking about doing this weird, online thing in a status quo way out of fear of doing it differently, unwilling to take the risks calling out to me. I want to look back and say I did what I was meant to do in this next decade.

And so, doing this next work I’m excited about means having to slow down a spinning plate, take it off its stick, dust it off, and with gratitude, rest it on its shelf.

What This Means For Me

I’m not going anywhere! In fact, part of this decision is because I want to be even more in the spaces that excite me. All the iterations of my work will be linked at tshoxenreider.com — for the foreseeable future, that looks like more books (including fiction!), The Good List, my subscriber’s newsletter called Books & Crannies, my free weekly companion letter called 5 Quick Things, and leading trips like Literary London. I also hope to add coaching services to my repertoire, and though I prefer spending my day-to-day more analog than digital these days, I’ll still hang out on Twitter and Instagram.

Specifically, this shift means more work time for book writing, which I’m especially excited about. It’s truly where I feel like I can contribute my greatest good.

What This Means For AoS

As I mentioned, the last post will be on the last day this year — so, we’ve still got all of 2020 ahead of us here. And I have every intention of making this its best year yet!

I’ll give you a peek behind the curtain with my thought processes of saying goodbye to something I built from scratch (though I’ll admittedly be more detailed and frequent about this topic in my newsletter), I’ll write a monthly series of letters to myself ten years ago (which is when this blog really took off), I’ll share a monthly countdown of AoS’ most popular posts of all time (the top three are all over ten years old!), and as always, the regular contributors will continue to share their fantastic essays. Together, we’ll write about places we love, books and podcasts we’re into, and our current thoughts about relationships, work, travel, and community.

Speaking of contributors — in this final year, I also want to highlight some of my favorite voices from the past 12 years, publishing them one more time on AoS. (Fun fact: we’ve had over thirty regular contributors!)

I’m not sure what exactly will happen to AoS after December 31, 2020, but I have a few ideas that I think you’ll like. I’ll keep you posted… It’s not cheap to host a high-traffic website with as many words as ours in the archives, but I can’t possibly imagine saying goodbye to these lovely words forever.

Stick around for AoS’s last — and most likely, finest — year. I’m really excited about what we’re bringing you in the next twelve months. And as always, starting from day one on that unassuming Sunday in my Mediterranean living room — thank you for reading our words here. You’ve given me more than you could possibly know, and I’ll forever be grateful.

xo, Tsh

Reading Time:

5 minutes

 

 

 

37 Comments

  1. Caroline Starr Rose

    Hello, you. I just saw this on Twitter and wanted to be sure to respond in your space. Thank you for the work you’ve done here for so many years. You’ve enriched my life, exposed me to lots of wonderful things, and have been a lovely example of being a human being. I’m glad Jamie Martin pointed me to your blog so many years ago. Here’s to the work ahead! (You know I CANNOT wait for the novel you’re brewing!)

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You’re such an encouragement, Caroline! Thank you so much. xoxo

    • Cat

      Jaime Martin, the one who teaches P.E. and Health at a school in Idaho?

  2. Nicole

    Oh wow, Tsh! Just seeing that screenshot of Simple Mom evokes such strong nostalgia for me (the fonts! The converse! The little button ads! The RSS feeds! Etc!). Your words and online presence have been so meaningful to me over the last 12 years (which essentially corresponds to my entire mothering journey). You’ve always been my internet inspiration, so thank you for all the wise words you’ve typed and all the time you’ve put in to virtually mentoring the rest of us over the years. I will miss AoS but I’m excited to see where your writing goes next after this. xoxo

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Oh my gosh, SAME, friend! I just stared at that screenshot for minutes… it’s like a time capsule of Internet Circa 2008 about so many things… I miss those days, in many ways.

      I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you — friendships like yours is my favorite result of this blog. xoxo

  3. Angie Warren

    Oh Tsh, what. a. journey. It’s been a blessing to have this space to come to all these years (and an honor to share my words as well). Wishing you the very best on all that is to come!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you, Angie! And thank you for being part of it so lovingly. xoxo

      • Rachel Nordgren

        Bravo, Tsh. Thank you for intentionally choosing to end well and for giving us all a good long time to say a proper farewell to this lovely corner of the internet. So excited to see what’s coming next for you unfold!

      • Alissa

        Thank you for being such a positive force for good and intention and LIFE in this space. I was a new mama in 2007 and my early parenting years are so linked to SimpleMom and the encouraging words you faithfully published in that space. It has been a joy to watch your adventure from the sidelines. I’ve always been encouraged by your courage to change and experiment and look for the next thing. More good things ahead!

  4. Lisa Byrne

    Tsh, I am so grateful for the work you’ve put into the world… and the very many iterations it has taken. In every form, your gifts of authenticity, simplicity and living a deeply aligned and value-driven life have shone through. I feel blessed to have been in your orbit in this online world adventure – beginning so many years ago – and have always looked to you as a clear guide on how to use social media in a powerful and positive way. Brava for your next leg of the journey– wishing you every success!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you so much, Lisa! You’ve been such an integral part of building this little space when it was a toddler — I’m grateful to have known you through it! xoxo

  5. Jamie Martin

    So thrilled for you! So grateful for this space and all the words it has given to so many over so many years, and grateful for your example of being willing to shake things up, change, and do what’s right in a new season. So excited for all that is to come!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Thank you, my friend! Glad to be in the journey with you as we learn and grow. xoxo

  6. Sarah Park

    For so many years, this corner of the web, and your words, Tsh, have reflected my own thoughts and questions and experiences back to me with new clarity and the encouragement of knowing it’s not just me. What a joy and an honor to have been part of this era and the community you’ve built here! Many, many thanks for all that you’ve poured into this place, Tsh. ❤️

  7. Meredith Cox

    This is bittersweet and beautiful. I remember those two black sneakers meaning so much to me as a new mom. All of the growth and transition I’ve followed from afar and, now, just around the corner—as both a reader and listener—has been like a window, a mirror, a kick in the pants, and a warm blanket all in one. Thank you, Tsh, and all of the other precious voices that have filled this space over the years. Your words are important.

  8. Heather Allard

    Oh my gosh, Tsh! I have such fond memories of you and Simple Mom. Yours was the first blog I ever subscribed to, and it was so wonderful to be able to connect with another mom over the interwebs! I pored over every bit of your blogging advice as I was building The Mogul Mom, and when you invited me to become a contributor a few years later, it was an incredible honor, one that I’m grateful for to this day.

    Thank you so much for sharing your gifts and for leading the way as a blogging pioneer. LOL. I wish you so much success and happiness on the next leg of your journey!

    XOXO,
    Heather

  9. Ashley

    Congratulations, Tsh. I have enjoyed your work here and elsewhere for years. Maybe this is the kick I need to finally finish up Like You’re Life this year.

  10. Denita

    I remember reading when you were still writing from Turkey. I have so enjoyed watching your journey. You have been an inspiration with your blog to so many. I look forward to following your future endeavors

  11. Christine Bailey

    Tsh, this is beautiful. I’m ever thankful for your words and work. Starting WAY before I ever knew you or worked with you, I’ve loved following along and being inspired to live my OWN life better. Thank you for that! I’m excited for the ways we get to collaborate this year, and I’m cheering you on as you embark on all these new fun things!

  12. Laura

    I’ve been reading The Art of Simple since it was Simple Mom. I started reading it in 2009, and it was the first blog I ever subscribed to. I’ve subscribed to so many blogs over the years, and unsubscribed to many of them as well, but TAOS is the only one I’ve never stopped reading. Thank you for your words and this community you built. I can absolutely say my life has improved and been enriched by this little corner of the internet.

  13. Tara

    Thank you for all the words and all years! Thank you for being an example of what you talk about… You don’t just talk the talk. It’s noticed and it’s what makes your words mean so much. I can’t tell you how amazing I think it is to see someone who has been successful… Leaving while it’s still being successful. What a wonderful thing to witness… Someone having learned themselves and not afraid to stand up for themselves and say this is what I want and why.. Hoping we don’t lose the space entirely… Or else I have alot of screenshots to take. Ha!

    • Jess Townes

      Thank you for so generously sharing this space for so many years, but also for modeling what it can look like to end things on your own terms and make intentional choices for your next chapter. I can’t wait to see what comes next for you!

  14. Lisa

    Oh, wow, Tsh, enormous congratulations! You’ve clearly built and nourished something to look back on and be really, really proud of. I’ve been along for the ride – sometimes never missing a post, sometimes circling back in after a long stretch away – since near the beginning, and I have always loved your gentle, transparent, encouraging voice, through all the iterations of this website. Your decision here seems as thoughtful as all your work. It also really inspires me to think deeply and mindfully about what I want out of my work and my creative energy in the coming decade – I’ve been reminded in ways beautiful and terrible how very little time we have here, even if we’re lucky enough to live a long life. Here at midlife I want to think with care and love and thoughtfulness about what’s ahead. You’re setting a lovely example.

  15. Jen

    Your blog has spoken so much to me, especially in my early years of parenting and figuring out what we wanted our family rhythm to be. I loved seeing that shot of the old blog! Thank you for all you’ve shared and given these years in this space. It’s meant a lot, and I’m grateful.

    • Meredith Davis

      Such a bittersweet read tonight. Like so many others here, your blog has spoken life into my home since 2009, before I became a mother, back when it was simple mom. You’ve inspired me with a ‘just a few steps ahead’ approach, and encouraged me to be brave, swim upstream, and search for the most authentic version of myself. I have many blog post emails saved in a folder of my Gmail that I keep as a reminder on days I am discouraged. They are Ebeneezer stones in some ways.
      Thank you for always being top notch, from beginning to end, for your transparency and your encouragement. Here’s to 2020 and all that it brings. ❤️

  16. Adriel Booker

    I’m so glad I caught this announcement and post, Tsh. As always, I’m so proud of you and love to see you continue to evolve as a person, as a writer, and as a business owner. You’ve been a pioneer in the online space and have always been so generous along the way. I’m excited for all that’s around the bend for you. And indeed, may this be your best AOS year yet. xoxo

  17. Lindsey

    I wish I would have found this jewel of a site earlier as I’m just becoming attached but THANK YOU for setting an example of following your call without reserve. Doing less is ok and honestly, sometimes better. Working within the boundaries of who you are is beautiful. Thank you.

  18. Heather

    Tsh,

    I may not have said much over all these years of following you, but if I haven’t been around since Day 1, it was since almost the beginning. You’re part of why I started blogging years ago and then re-started this past year. I wish I lived closer to you because I’d love to take you out for coffee and chat – I do think there’s a lot of crossover in our lives. I’m excited (and a bit sad?) for the next chapter for you and this community. When you shifted to AoS I wasn’t hesitant-ish and it’s been great so I’m sure what comes after 2020 will be equally great.

    Thanks for your encouragement, vulnerability, heart – for sticking with this for so long and being a gift to so many!

    Heather

  19. Megan Kreitzberg

    That screenshot is so nostalgic! My oldest is 11 and I started following you when I was pregnant with him. I have loved the many transformations over the years and have learned so much from you and your contributors. Part of me is sad because I’ve loved it so much, but I also know from experience that whatever you do next will be fantastic. Thank you for all the love, wisdom and authenticity you’ve poured out into this corner of the web for so long. So grateful for you! 😊

  20. Courtney

    Tsh, I’m not one to comment, but I wanted to express my gratitude for your inspiration over the years. AoS has been my reference point for self-exploration (Upstream Field Guide), travel (with and without my kids) and writing. I cannot thank you more. You made your mark! Enjoy your next adventures!

  21. Sheila DelCharco

    I’m a later-comer to you and your online presence but I know how hard it is to make a decision like this. Blessings on you as your move forward! I’m along for the ride!

  22. Kimberly Reeves

    Tsh, I want to thank you for starting your blog and sharing your story. I found you in 2009 when I became a stay at home mama of two kids under two. After years in the corporate world and no experience being a stay at home mom I turned to you for guidance and your words gave me confidence in my new role. One of my favorite posts was about the “after schooling” you did with your kids, we became big fans of “The Story of the World” and have listened to hours of history. After that exposure to classical education our kids ended up in Classical schools starting in 1st and 3rd grades. I am so thankful for the ways your blog impacted my life and our family. Thank you so very much and all the best to you as you transition to a new season in life.

  23. Stephanie Joy

    Oh man, that screenshot of your old site takes me back!!
    I found your Simple site through a friend when I was in university, when we were getting into making our own deodorant, shampoo, etc. In the decade since then, I’ve always kept up with you in some form, always inspired as I watch you make changes to your vision and approach when the time is right. I’ve changed too! Now a stay-at-home mom with three kids, it’s great to see women like you ahead of me on the road, with courage to tackle new projects, confidence that you’ll figure things out in time, and poise in the person you are. I’m looking forward to seeing your next adventure unfold!!

  24. Holly

    Tsh, I’m encouraged to see you once again naming what you need to do and doing it. Following your content in all of its presentations has truly been life changing for me! Yours was the first voice leading me to introspection to find the why behind the what, and if it didn’t make sense – to take steps to change it. It’s a slow journey, to be sure, but one I am relishing.
    Also, you’ve introduced me to so many other authors who have enriched my life. I can’t thank you enough. Last night I started reading a new-to-me series and found possibly the origin of your Books and Crannies name? 😉
    I pray every blessing over this transition year for you, and you’d better believe I’m here for whatever your next project is!

  25. Jacey

    Tsh, thank you for your relentless willingness to step outside the status quo (and thus invite others to do the same). Your voice (here and elsewhere) has meant so much to me.

  26. Holly

    I’m super sad about this. I love this site so much. I love that you post links to past articles through FB etc. so that you continue to use your past wonderfulness. It is also great for me to see women who change course and go after things, that is not in my nature. Thank you for endless inspiration.

  27. Robin Dance

    I still remember meeting you for the first time–I think it was the first-ever Blissdom at the Preston Hotel. Just the thought of it makes me smile now…like yesterday and forever ago. I’ve always appreciated your keen eye, your digital aesthetic, your thoughtfulness and intention. To have shared this space for a season was truly special, and I remain grateful to have served at least a few AoS readers through those years.

    I also had to smile at that screenshot! Oh…my…it was a different era, and yet so sweet. You were doing good work then, and perhaps even better now. I love forward progress, slow momentum, living on purpose, with purpose.

    I’m late to commenting to this post because it happened to fall on the day my first book released! I was a little tied up ;), but I remembered this morning I wanted to pop in and read what I already knew it would say :).

    Much love and happy wishes for your next season!

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