From Then to Now. A Fresh Start. A New Direction.

Beginning new on The Fresh Exchange with a new approach to content and our lives.

The Fresh Exchange began in 2010. That year I graduated college, I got engaged, and I started my freelance career back home in Northern Michigan. A year later, I married my best friend and we pursued our dreams side-by-side. Through our 20’s we always took the approach to keep going, keep striving, keep hustling, and keep trying it all. We spent those years from 22 – 28 pursuing it all at a breakneck pace. By the time we hit the end of our 20’s I knew it was time to get real about my dreams, my passions, and what I saw for our life when I closed my eyes each night. I have never been someone who works for anything other than creativity, happiness, and a life of freedom. So I set out a few years ago trying desperately to recognize what made me who I am and what didn’t. During these last two years, while making sense of the desires of my heart and soul, I also have been trying to make sense of how The Fresh Exchange aligns with it all. I will be the first to admit that we have taken steps with our business in directions we unknowingly chose because they fit a box and lacked passion. It is an easy place to find yourself when you work for yourself and want to succeed, but I had vowed to no longer step forward in any direction I didn’t feel my heart was 100% invested. My 30’s are intended to be less about exploring and more about doing what lights me up creatively. So here I am, 7 years into blogging, 5 years into owning a business with my husband, nearly 9 years into being self-employed and I feel I finally found my footing in my path and the direction I am intended to take.

For the past 7-years, the blog has been my constant companion while growing up in my 20’s, becoming a mother, working with my husband, moving, and more. It has been there every step of the way. We have gone through tough moments. The blog and I have had low days. We have had big days that were mountaintop moments. We have felt on top of the world together. We have also wanted to quit one another a few times. Nevertheless, I love The Fresh Exchange because it has never stopped feeling like home. I needed this space to find myself, create without bounds, and to try a lot of things. The beautiful thing about a blog is that it can be whatever we want it to be, but I never could grasp that idea till now. I saw a prescribed path blogs must take and if mine didn’t, how could I ever find success doing this thing I loved. Most of my years blogging I have felt that and it took till now, discovering my purpose and voice, to see the only bounds on a blog are those we create for it ourselves.

Mike told me that 30 was the year you learn to accept who you are in a way you never were able to in your 20’s. He told me you accept the dark places of yourself, the weird things of who you are, and things you need to work on. You find humility. You find comfort. You find ease. You find your place. I felt he was silly because I thought I knew myself, but as I approached my birthday this year, I felt the earth settling under me and as if I was finding comfort with myself for the first time in my life.

It was after a walk this fall with Hayes where I stood there on the shore him asleep on me and the beach vacant around us as it was most fall days. The chatter of the summer on the lakeshore had floated off with the warm air and in that silence I watched the water lapping the shore. I took in the colors erupting all around me. I smelled the wood stoves burning recently chopped wood. On my way back I kept rambling on in my head the feelings of the season as I do. I wrote my thoughts in an Instagram. Later that week, I took a call for a magazine interview and I talked about gathering. I talked about how the changing seasons here are an always present reminder to live in the moment and how gathering is the best way to make the most of the fleeting seasons around us. Then the next day I set up a shop on Canopy and coined the description of my shop “A Curated Collection for Seasonal Living” with no real reason other than I felt it captures what I was curating. All in a few days what I had been searching my heart for was arriving in my lap without me even noticing.

I talked with Mike that evening about how lost I felt and out of touch with the blog and where it was going. In fact, I remember saying, maybe it just isn’t my thing anymore and he grabbed me by the shoulders and said, no you know exactly what you are meant to do and where it needs to go. He rattled off all these moments from the last week and that Friday night with a glass of wine in my hand and tears in my eyes from frustration, I realized just what he meant and how I finally knew exactly what I had been searching for. No number of outlining my brand’s vision or detailing my goals as a company could have defined these things that simply needed time, space, new scenery, and more to reveal itself.

Beginning new on The Fresh Exchange with a new approach to content and our lives.

That night, he told me all I needed to do was spend time focusing and dwelling on this direction. So for the last two months now, I have spent every hour I possibly could outside of work and chasing Hayes restructuring The Fresh Exchange. I realized The Fresh Exchange needed to not only continue to follow my passions, but to do it with more intention, purpose, and thought than it ever has before. I took all my skills from working with magazines and brands and applied it here to this space in a way we never have before. I wrote out what I wanted this to be from big dreams to the little things. I wrote phrases as they came to me about how I wanted people to feel every day when they walked away from our content. I wrote about how I wanted this space to be a reflection of the life we love and for others to feel they too can do and feel the same. I gathered up notebooks from the last few years where I jotted down the feelings of what I wanted for the blog and compiled it all in a fresh new notebook, organized an Evernote Notebook, and then designed a multi-page PDF that planned out the next year of content to see if this idea even had any real legs. I read a lot of poems and books. I stopped watching TV and using most social media in order to quiet my mind to only focus on the blog when I wasn’t a mom or wife. I jumped in head first to what I not only have always dreamed TFE would be, but what I have always dreamed our life to be.

I am not sure about you, but I am always able to visually see things before I can explain them, structure them, compile them, or make sense of how they can ever come to be. The last two years my heart has known what this space would be, but making sense of it all felt impossible. I would close my eyes at night and see it night after night. I would be cooking and listening to music on a warm day with the windows open and I could smell it. My heart has always known. It was once I saw the clear vision that night a few months ago, I knew we were fast approaching the time the steps would be taken to begin this new chapter of the blog. Though it all is still very much a work in progress, spring is the time of beginning new so today we are doing just that. Perfection doesn’t happen out of the gate, but it does come with time, practice, and a willingness to fail and try. So, today I am so excited to share with you where my heart and soul have been.

This week, we will be starting a whole new TFE that is going to have more heart, more thought, more food, more gatherings, and more of what deeply inspires us and our lives. This space has my heart. It always will no matter the numbers that show up on an analytics report, but I knew I needed to chase this dream of creating this space the way I have always hoped to. I know this is exactly what I was intended to do and to not chase a dream isn’t something I know how to do.

Beginning new on The Fresh Exchange with a new approach to content and our lives.

Beginning March 1st our content will be taking a major shift. We will be focusing on Intentional Seasonal Living. I have always felt most alive living amongst the seasons and as we build our home, our farm, and our lives in Michigan as a family we will be living a life of seasons and intention ourselves. A new journey in many respects, but one we know we have always wanted. I have big dreams for what this all means and it is amazing to look back at your life and see how each step leads you to the place you are meant to be. This may not seem like a far departure from what you know TFE for already, but the focus and purpose here will be far deeper and greater than ever before.

So what can you expect from here on out?

Each season we will release a newsletter that gives you a look at what is ahead for those three months of that season. These emails will hold exclusive content, intros to our contributors we have hand selected, playlists, an upcoming list of what is in store for the season, and more. Each month of each season we will name a theme we will be focusing on that correlates to the season itself. Our recipes will become more abundant and focused on eating with the season, what is fresh, and available from farmers. We will be sharing stories from people who inspire us such as chef’s, artisans, entrepreneurs, and others who are focused on the seasons or our themes each month. Each month will have a dedicated contributor who we hand-select because we believe in what they do (something I have been dreaming of for years).

We also will be focusing more heavily on gatherings. You will see a whole new series begin called “A Seasonal Gathering”. These gatherings will be what you may have known as Simple Evenings before. These dinners will be collaborative, aspirational, and eventually, you will have the opportunity have a seat at them yourself. Don’t worry, though, each month we will be helping you feel inspired to gather all on your own as well, by truly taking our Simple Evenings back to being simple and giving you the tips and tools you need to make them possible for you and those you love. I have struggled for years with how people write to say how beautiful our dinners are or how they wish they could do something similar, so I we not only will be showing simple and approachable takes on gathering each month, but also offering tools, videos, and tips to make these exact gatherings happen for yourself. The hope is that you will feel empowered to gather in the least once a month with those you love without feeling the task is too difficult. I want to continue creating both beautiful gatherings with chefs and farmers, but to empower you to feel beautiful gatherings are possible for the every day or every month occasion. All of this is just scratching the surface of what I have been planning and developing these past few months. I get giddy just talking about it because it is all of my heart and passion put into one place. I hope it will inspire a healthier, more intentional, more meaningful, and communal life for everyone who loyally reads TFE or even spends only a few minutes here.

That said, we hope you sign up for our email list if you haven’t because I am so excited to release tomorrow’s email! The email will reveal more of what we have planned and what is ahead for spring. I feel so thankful for winter this year because it has allowed me time to build this dream and feel confident enough to open it up this week. See you in the newsletter tomorrow, my friends! Be brave enough to do big things.

Leave a comment

  1. So happy for you that you spent some time figuring out what you really wanted. It’s so easy to get caught up in the trap of the blogging industry and listening to what everyone else is doing. We went through a similar thing recently and decided we are rebranding/renaming our business. So excited to see whats to come for TFE. I love reading your posts and enjoy that you still write to write..not just tips or 10 ways to do _____. Thought posts and beautiful photos that tell stories are my favorite. We look up to you guys!

    1. Thanks so much Lexi! It is very hard, and far easier to jump into the groove the rest of the world. Finding your place and voice is hard work. I love what you are doing btw. I secretly wish Mike and I had done van life before kids. Still not sure why we didn’t, but one day.

  2. This all sounds great! To be honest, it’s such a natural progression and I am excited to see more. I hope we still get house building updates, too!

  3. I’m so excited for this new direction! I’ve always admired your authenticity in this space and your commitment to honor your calling. So looking forward to following along!

  4. Gosh, I am so excited for what’s ahead! As I said before, TFE has always been a source of inspiration for me. i am not at all surprised that you guys are moving towards seasonal intentions— it’s so you! i am also finding myself working through this tension between having a full-time career that drains me to dedicating more time to blogging. events in our current life continues to remind us that it’s all about embracing the now. What about this particular time that can’t be bought? i know i have been digging deep into my roots this past year because i feel very pulled towards exploring traditions, and embracing the now through food and gatherings.

    it’s so scary to do what’s in our heart– especially when it’s hard to envision what it looks like with all the little details. i get so caught up on the details! this post is encouraging and challenging me to look inside and go for it– even when it’s small steps. thank you!

  5. Can’t wait to see what this place will become! As long as you stay true, as long as you keep your voice, I know I will still love to come by and get inspired! A year ago, I have been there too, but we (my husband and I… in our businees) decided to take different path. You know what, we have been feEling more free ever since and we have never work better together when needed! It was scary, but we took the chance and now, I would not go back. All that to say that, if it makes you fell better, than you know you have taken the Right decision!

    Looking for tomorrow’s newslettre!

    (Hopefully you understand what I wrote… not perfectly bilingual ?)

  6. So exciting! I love seasonal living, and learning more how enjoy each season. I’ve failed a bit a seasonal cooking, so looking forward to your recipes, as we have similar weather out here in beantown!

    Congrats on the new direction and course for TFE!

  7. This hit the nail on the head for me and how I’ve been feeling as of late also. There must be something in the air! Or.. the over abundance of “blogs” out there these days has made some of realize we have more of a story to tell than like you said just doing things for the paycheck or to get eyes on content.

    I’ve lost sight of why I started my blog, what set me apart, and what I wanted to share. It’s taken me more months than I care to admit to realize that, and I have a feeling it’s going to take awhile longer to figure out where to go next. But I have a feeling it’s going to be a fun chapter. Can’t wait to see what’ s up next for TFE!

  8. I am so glad i discovered you guys; thank you so much for sharing your journey with us out here.
    As a geezer i can assure you one never stops learning humility. And the more you learn the more you realize how much more there is to learn.
    As we used to say, ‘Rock On.’

  9. Girl, you are perfection. Everything you said I can relate to. Watching you make changes with TFE and your life over the last year has been so inspirational. It reminds me that we keep changing and we have to continue to try things, to fail, and to get back up and be ok with it because we’re closer to where we truly want to be. You’ve inspired me to take more time away from tV and the internet and to calm myself and figure out what my true passion is. I’ve felt a little stuck for a while but being a wife and mother keeps me busy enough so I just don’t put much attention to the fact that I’m not feeling fulfilled in my own creative ways. I love your honesty and you inspiration everyday. I’m super excited for this next chapter. You have actually made me love winters now and to see things in this season that I had never seen before. Thanks again!

  10. So glaD you will sTill share your every day with us. I told you several times i write from argentina, you are aN inspiration for me. last summer we went to sprucettoN inn the place you recomended to us in ny and it bLown my head. Thank you for every word. Still finding my foot in here. Best wishes

  11. Loved reading this post, Megan. There’s so much honesty in there, so much authenticity in feeling a vulnerable along the way. This is incredibly inspiring and it makes me realise how we all have these moments of doubt – they are there to remind us to keep looking for the right direction, to dig deeper and to really de-clutter our minds so we can find out what truly matters. I’m so excited for what you guys will come up with. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves, and enjoy those creative moments.

    By the way, thank you so much for following our adventures, I still can’t believe it every time I see “the fresh exchange” in the views of our insta stories for example. I’ve been admiring you guys for such a long time …and even hope that we get to meet sometime, who knows 🙂

    Love,
    Linda

  12. Love this – I can fully relate to the desire to be authentically oneself, but yet struggling to convey that in a real way that still makes sense to the rest of the world. I’ve been facing that a lot lately, and your words will help me get there. I wrote down several phrases from your post in my journal and will go back to them as I forge ahead on my own journey of self-discovery.

    So happy for you to have discovered your path, and I can’t wait to see what it brings next. Your content always inspires and motivates me, but I’m excited to read what you put out when you’re feeling completely and unapologetically you.

  13. Yes!! Yes to all of this! your blog is an escape for me as well as a basis of inspiration. I love that you are bringing the seasonal pace of life back to the forefront. I am inspired to bring it to my own suburban life as best I can. Your posts about winter have really resonated within me. I don’t have the beautiful snow in my neck of the woods here in the bay area (ca) but due to your writing, I have taken the opportunity to look around an APPRECIATE the seasons I have and what those seasons provide to us. So, thank you for your past work and I am so excited for your future work. We are in the same season of life (I’m 31 with an almost 2 year old) and reading about your experiences have helped me grow TREMENDOUSLY. SO Keep on BECAUSE you are beautifully talented.

  14. This is so wonderful, congratulations!

    I am excited to follow along through the transition and see where it goes. Isabel and I have intentional aspirations for our business and customers and are still figuring out how best to convey them. I admire your bravery and authenticity.

    We have a seasonal card set that celebrates the goodness of each season in similar ways to what you describe above. We would love to send one your way!! If you email me your address I can pop it in the mail.

    All the best and congrats,
    Kate

  15. Megan, Everything about this is so beautiful and raw. I read this, and a few others of your most recent posts, with tears gliding down my checks. Thank you for all of this – for being you, for letting yourself grow and encouraging all of us to do the same. You endlessly inspire me.I can’t wait to see how you and TFE grow and change from here.