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Stepping out of the forest

Do you know how many life lessons can be attributed to Winnie the Pooh?

Umpteen. Gazillion.
Infinity and beyond.
 Okay that is Buzz Lightyear- but there really are too many to count.
All you have to do is look on Pinterest to see dozens of quotes from Winnie the Pooh
 and we all know that makes it a really, really big thing, right?

All kidding aside- 
I am serious about Winnie the Pooh and life lessons
 and I am branching off in a 
different direction for a few posts that have to do with that
 adorable chubby bear.

I am going to make an effort to step outside of that quiet little place where my decorating
 and renovations and photography projects take center stage here
and share a piece of moi on occasion.

Frightening, I know.

But while I was at Haven- 
I had a few insightful conversations with a couple of wonderful girls 
that made an impact on me in several ways and I realized that sometimes
 maybe the only part of 'me' that you see is my style or my photography
 and you don't really 'see' the girl who is behind it.  

 To be completely honest,
 I am not even sure you want to know more about the girl behind it-
maybe all you want to see is my decorating or pretty pictures.  
But those things are just one part of me.

As I was chatting with an amazing blogger at Haven encouraging her get out there and
be the designer and photographer that she already is
I found myself quoting something that my baby sister said to me several years ago.
It had to do with Winnie the Pooh.

I am asked all the time why I started blogging.
And I know there are probably so many who think I had this big calculated business plan
with marketing degrees and ideas and making money in mind.

But you might be surprised to know what really prompted me.

I started my blog because I was looking for me.

I became a mom for the first time over 20 years ago
 and was fortunate to be able to stay home and work as a mom with each of my babies.
 It is the best job ever.

And as those babies grew and went to school- I went to school with them.
I volunteered in the classroom.  Daily.
I went on their field trips.
Helped out with arts and crafts and music classes.

And when they got a little older, I danced while the band practiced
and thought the musicians playing heavy metal out in the cottage
 were the best musicians EVER.
And I am telling you- they were. 

And then when my youngest was in 6th grade she wanted to go on a field trip...
by herself.
And my middle son was starting freshman year in high school
and my oldest son was graduating from high school.
And the band broke up and moved away.
And my oldest started talking about moving to another city.

And I started to feel that twinge that I know so many of you know so well.

That being so proud of who those babies had grown to be
 and so excited for them and the next chapter in life
but that bittersweet that comes at the same time.

At around that same time, my grandmother started to show bigger signs of dementia.
And as she got further away and was hidden more often than not,
I began to realize that the day was coming when one of my
closest friends since the day I was born wouldn't be here.

Between both of those things coinciding
I was struggling to find my footing and was feeling a little lost.
And  in a  quiet conversation with my younger sister one winter morning
she suggested I start a blog.

A blog is perfect for you
she said.
You can write more again, make friends online and find a community of people
 who like the same things that you do
and you can work towards dreams at the same time.'

And I asked her what a 'blog' was.
She told me to go look at Perez Hilton and see what I thought.
True story.

And that evening, I decided why not try it and hesitantly registered my name
French Country Cottage
 (something that I already had written down for years)

And when my blog in all it's brand new baby blog glory popped up on the screen
with my name right there -well talk about excitement.

I sat there for a moment and stared at the screen-
with 'Start blogging!' written across it-
and paused.
 I felt like this was an unwritten part of me that was waking up. 
It held potential and possibilities and dreams and who knew what else
It felt like a place I could find myself.

And so I jumped in and wrote my first post
about that Charles Faudree inspired piece in our bedroom.
And I hit publish.
My sister read it and commented and told me what a great post it was
 and to keep up the good work.
And then crickets.
A month later I wrote another post and there was Taylor
 commenting & encouraging again. 
And the crickets in between the post- well, they just kept on chirping.
And chirping.

My sister was quite literally my only reader for the first 6 months
and the barely 5 posts I had written.
 I really began to wonder if blogging was my thing.

I wasn't really feeling immersed in this creative energetic and fascinating ocean of blogging.
I felt like I was in a row boat on a lake with one oar by myself.
Maybe no one was really interested in what I had to say or how I decorated my home.
I mean honestly,
I didn't even know if I was interested in what I had to say.
Maybe sharing 'me' was not the way to go.

Another early morning conversation with my sister led to that familiar
'How's your blog going?'
Well... crickets.
I told her I hadn't really made any new friends and hadn't figured out how to find or be in
that community in blogland and no one but her was even reading
and I apologized that she had to spend time reading about things
that she really didn't care about simply to encourage me.

And in her 2nd grade teacher in training Pooh Bear wisdom she said:

'Well, you can't stay in the corner of the forest waiting for people to come find you.
You have to venture outside and go find them.'

 I smiled and kind of laughed- but then I thought about it.
Really thought about it.

How much of my life had I spent in the forest waiting?
 In that comfortable spot in my quiet little corner
 twirling around on that stage that was
behind the safety of the curtain?

I knew that stage so well.
But as much as I loved the safety of the curtain hiding me...
I wanted to twirl in the spotlight even more.

And so I stepped out.
And I shared more of my sometimes crazy designs
I talked to other bloggers and made new friends and
 found a path starting to become a little more clear.
With each blog post, there were new reasons to create something
or photograph something
or even ramble on about who knows what
 and random things like Winnie the Pooh in a post.

And taking that one step started a domino effect in an amazing way.
Fantastic bigger than I imagined things happened
and even more are happening even now.

But if I didn't step out of my comfort zone
I would be dancing behind the curtain even now.

So if you have something you want to do but think
you aren't good enough,
interesting enough
pretty enough
people won't like you- whatever it is
 I am asking you- who says? 
Because, if I told you how many times I pause before I hit publish on a post
 or have butterflies at trying something new or even putting myself out there more than I am used to,
you might be surprised.

But just like in Winnie the Pooh-
 I remind myself that I have to step out of the forest sometimes
 in order to find my way.

So the next time you hear that negative voice whispering to you-
'Who do you think you are?
You can't do that.
You definitely are not good enough.'

Change the channel
and listen to that Pooh bear voice.

'You are braver than what you believe, stronger than you seem
 and smarter than you think.'

Because-you are.
And stepping out of the forest is a good thing.

Order my new book here


  1. I absolutely love this post and although I love your beautiful blog and have been here many times, oohing and aahing over your gorgeous home and lovely photographs, this is the first time I have been moved to comment. Thank you for sharing a bit of you and a bit of Pooh! Love it!

    1. Thank you Vicki- I am so glad that you decided to leave me a note and that you enjoyed the post!

  2. I love this post as well. Your sister is a very wise person and I think I am going to take her advice and go from dreaming (2 years) to doing with my own blog. You have a lovely blog and such beautiful photos but they aren't just pretty pictures anymore, there is a person behind them, a person I enjoyed meeting today. Anyone who loves and appreciates Winnie the Pooh is a person worth getting to know better!

  3. Hi Courtney ~ I'm crazy about your style. But, this. This was the most amazing and inspiring post!! In fact, it was a message I really needed to read today. So, thank you! I love how involved you were/are with your kiddos, how your sister encouraged you and how you did make the choice to step out! We are all so glad you did. :) ~julie

    1. Thank you Julie! What a sweet thing to say!! And I am so glad that it helped you to read it too. :)

  4. Beautiful post. So true about Winnie. Braver, smarter and stronger.

  5. Fabulous thought-provoking words and beautiful photos. I love your blog and pop in often. Best wishes from the other side of the pond.

  6. Truly beautiful words. Keep 'em coming!

  7. Thank you so much for this post. I am a very new blogger, can't even believe I can now write that and oh the emotions I have experienced. But after reading blogs for so many years I have discovered the bloggers and readers are so kind and giving. It is a wonderful community. I enjoy reading your words and looking at your beautiful photos. You are an inspiration.

    1. Thank you Debra- blogging is a wonderful thing isn't it? And yes, the community is amazing. :)

  8. So glad you did not stay in the corner of the woods!

  9. Courtney, that was a great post!!! We all have days that need a little pumping up. I agree, your photos are beautiful and amazing but a little insight into your life has just given your blog more meaning. Thanks to you, your sister and Pooh bear.

  10. Courtney, I have always loved reading Pooh to my daughter-the message of his wisdom is always spot on. And I truly love reading your blog of inspiring pictures and style. For me, this post is the marriage of two perfectly different and amazing worlds.

  11. I love your blog and my thanks to you for sharing these thoughts with all of us. You cannot be old enough to have kids that old! You look like a sweet young thing.

  12. This is by far my favorite blog that you have written. Having the courage to expose yourself and your insecurities in this way has really made you a real person to me. And I love the flowers you post. i live in PA and we have a very short rowing season.

  13. Loved this post and look forward to the others. Love your wisdom and I am also a big fan of Pooh's wisdom.

  14. Beautiful post Courtney. So often I question my self and wonder if blogging is worth it or if anyone is truly paying attention to what I post. Very often I find that blogs paint a very perfect world and beautiful life which can make one question their own but I am glad to see read your story and sincerety in your words.

    Thank you.


  15. Thank you for this post! It is right on time for me. And thank you for going in another direction and sharing it with us. I enjoyed reading about your start here in Blog-Land!

  16. I am continually amazed when people share a bit of themselves and I realize again that we all have some of the same needs. I enjoy your lovely blog, tell your sister thanks.

  17. Let me start by say I enjoy reading your posts and your sense of humor. Your post is beautiful and you have touched ny heart today. I also thought about starting a blog to sell my gift tags, then I started to read a few blogs and I thought nope, as I have been dealing with the same type of thoughts but related to school. But I now because of school I it is not an option to not have a blog.Yes I crush on your photos and the flowers ,but I love photography and your choice of flowers. I enjoy reading about your trips and shopping finds. According to Home Good style scope I like farmhouse chic / boho. I would be honored to call you friend.
    I love Winnie the Pooh. Have a great day.

    1. Thank you so much Pamela - you are so sweet. I feel like so many of us are friends right here in blogland- even just over coffee in the morning on the computer.I hope that with school or your gift tags that you find your way to the right path for you as well. :)

    2. Thank you Courtney, I feel the same way about being friends over the the computer. The gift tags will improve because of school.☺️, and I know some how it's all related .have a great day.

  18. Interesting post. Yes, what ARE we all doing here? I'm here to have fun and share, hopefully that will be enough. If something positive comes out of it, all the better. I love your honesty…and thanks so much for sharing! Sandi

    1. Having fun and sharing and meeting others are such an amazing things that come from blogging. :) Thank you for reading Sandi!

  19. I have followed Winnie the Pooh and his thoughts since I was in high school. Many decades ago. I take the 100 Acre Woods as my calling to seek a different path and go with it. And always remember your friends and their differences.
    I have yet to start my blog, I shiver like Piglet sometimes at the thought of it. But I take inspiration from people like you, and Christopher Robin, to Remember that you are Braver Than You Think.....Great post.
    Barbara Ann

    1. When the time is right - you will start blogging Barbara- You can do it!! :)

  20. Thank you so much Courtney for sharing your story with us, it is a beautiful post. It's really comforting for me who started a blog a few months ago. And your photos are beautiful, as always. Thank you again for your sincerity. And thanks to Winnie the Pooh !

    1. Thank you for reading and for your compliments Nathalie!! Best of luck with your new blog! :)

  21. This has been most inspiring. Thank you. I too have a blog set up. It's been there a year. I came up with the name some years before that. It's still at "start blogging". For several reasons, that first blog hasn't been written. Maybe it will now (I'd insert a huge smiley face right now if I knew how!). So, enormous thanks again.

    1. Aww-congratulations on your new blog and new adventure! That first post- those first words- that first time hitting publish- it can be daunting- but you can do it! :)

  22. I've been reading Your blog about a year and I've never commented althought I've should - maybe lack of courage to write non-native language, I read/speak english everyday, but writing is not so easy.
    I just love the way you write about everything!
    I'm a new blogger and started mostly similar reasons than You;kids growing up and starting to moving away from home and I'm strating to have kind of 'empty spot' in my life. I don't have many readers, mostly friends, but I love write down my thoughts and doings, its like therapy!? And I love photography and learning all the time more and more. That's also reason I love your blog, I just love your pictures! The 'layouts' is just perfect and I love flowers... so these pics went just to my heart.
    Keep posting and I'll be reading Your blog every day!

    1. Blogging can definitely be like therapy and is a wonderful place to grow and find yourself in a new world. I really found my love of photography (and flowers!) here on my blog too. :) Thank you for reading and leaving me a note Satu!

  23. Love, love, love this post - and you! I'm so glad you decided to step out of the forest. (And yes, I love Winnie the Pooh as well :-) ) What a lovely voice to wake up to and read with my morning coffee. This little venture post of yours has very likely changed the course or at least the footing, of my day. Thank you, Courtney, for all your posts. And for that beautiful bravery. <3

    1. Thank you for your comment and compliments! I hope that your day was wonderful! :)

  24. Oh Courtney! I have tears in my eyes because you are me -- at least you are my mind. I am a LOT older than you and I started the blog at the prompting from my kids. I am so happy blogging and I remember the time when the tech who helped me with the blog told me the first time to hit "publish". My hand was trembling but I did it. And Courtney, I am very happy to know YOU and your photography. If your photos represent what is in you?? Then you are a very beautiful person. In two weeks I am giving a talk to a group of women on why a started a blog -- you could be speaking about what is in my heart and mind. I am a very private person and when I read somewhere that readers sign on to know you and read about you. My blog is basically food so the thought was if all they wanted to have is the recipe they would just go to the recipe and not read the narrative. I am learning to be more open. Tell your second grade teacher that she is very wise!! Grazie mille e buona giornata!

    1. Hi Marisa! Thank you so much for your note. You saying that my photos represent me is such a compliment. I hear you on the trembling hand but I am proud of you for hitting publish and starting that new journey! I think readers follow along for various reasons- but I also hope that most do want to get to know a bit about who is writing the blog as well. I will have to pop over and take a peek at your recipes- always looking for something new to try! :)

  25. Thank you for writing this and being such an encouragement! I love this post. And I love your blog. Blogland has been such a wonderful place to meet new people and be inspired by them. Have a wonderful week! (I may just have to put that quote somewhere as a reminder to step out!)

  26. As an introvert, the quote about coming out of the forest is something I should have pasted on my mirror long ago, because I keep forgetting it. I do love your blog, and am happy you are going to share a bit more. My favorite blogs are those whose authors write about their own lives, as much as they are comfortable sharing with the public. And maybe you want to know more about your readers too! One blogger I follow asked her readers to share something about themselves in the comments, and it made for very interesting reading!

    1. More personal posts are definitely something that I have been a little shy with sharing- and I would love to know more about my readers as well- great idea about the notes in the comments! Thank you!

  27. Loved this - in fact I sent it to a friend who also wasn't sure if he should be blogging. I'm NOT an introvert, but I am also like someone who likes the limelight. I blog as a journal and also HOPE that others read it and at least like some of the silly things I write about.
    I love yours!

    1. That is a great way to sum it up- and I think silly is always a good read! And I hope this post helps your friend! Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Beautiful post! I truly can relate! Great thoughts to live by and remember. Lovely photos... your pink flowers on my reading list caught my eye... and so glad they did! Thanks for sharing 'your' story... it's as beautiful as your photos and projects.

  29. I love this, beautifully written. Thank you for sharing just a little bit more about you, and for the inspiring words to keep on keepin on and that you are worthy. That Winnie the Pooh, he's a wise (cute) little bear ;)

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor

    1. Thank you Lauren - I appreciate it!! And yes have to love Winnie!! :)

  30. A post well spoken. I could remain here in my perfect little home and read and dream on. My thanks for the inspiration as I make future plans for my new live style.

    Irene Peterson

  31. Smashing post Courtney!!! Well written post. You were one of the first blog I started following, and well, the blog speaks for itself... Simply amazing. Thanks for this post. Truly.
    Hugs, Gee

    1. Thank you Gee!! And yes, we have been blog friends for awhile- I love that. :)

  32. Thanks Courtney for your lovely post! Like your sister, I have my son Nick encouraging me to keep going with my blog. He helped me start it three years ago while we talked in his bed room about his life and where he wanted to go with his music. He said that I should start a blog. I told him I knew nothing about blogging and I'm not a strong writer. He said that I would be amazed at how easy it is and how many friends I could make. He was right about the friends, but easy? Lol ! I love blogging though it's a lot of work as you yourself know. By the way, you were one of the first blogs I followed! I love your beautiful home and photos. You are very inspiring!
    I'm not an empty nester yet, my daughter is the only child that left the nest for now leaving her four brothers still here. I don't think I'll ever be alone with a baby boy on the way in February and my daughter having me baby sit him during the week. I'm not sure if I'm ready to be a Grandmother! Blogging might get even harder then, but it's all well worth it! I enjoyed reading your story thanks for sharing it!
    LuAnn with Lovely Livings ;)

  33. Courtney, your post described so well the heart of why I blog and I love the Winnie the Pooh quote - hope you don't mind if I use it (with credit to your blog, of course) in my quote of the day sidebar!

  34. I've been struggling really hard for the past two years, since I was forced to retire from teaching. I simply couldn't find my way, after all those years of working with kids and having a real purpose to my days. Reading your blog today has given me a twinge of hope that perhaps I can figure out how to blog, and share ideas and thoughts with others. Thank you SO MUCH for writing about your journey.

  35. Ah, so now you see that you inspire us, not only with your lovely sense of style but with your thoughts, feelings and experiences. I always love to meet the person behind the art. Great post!

  36. This just spoke to me!
    I too am a blogger and over the summer I was so busy with the G-babies and getting my booth set up in the new shoppe that I didn't really have time to blog very much. I was having the same thoughts as you. "I only have a few regular followers"..."am I interesting enough"..."is this blog thing really for me"...etc.
    I have followed and been one of your biggest fans for years. You and Miss Gracie inspired me to start my blog, and you have just inspired me not to give up on something I love doing!
    Thank you so much for being such a wonderful inspiration!
    Nina ~ Farmhouse Junk
    P.S. I'm so glad you didn't give up! :)

  37. Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I, like you, was a very young mom (19 for me). I stayed home with all three children. My husband traveled every week so, I was the stabilizing force at home but, when my kids finally grew up and left home I was left wondering what the next step for me would be. I have since started a floral design/event planning business, as well as, a blog. Self-confidence is a problem for me so, I really appreciate your encouragement. Thank you :).

  38. Courtney,

    I am not even sure you will see this comment, as I realize I'm commenting on an old post! But I read your recent post on blogging tonight, and when you showed this link I wanted to see what it was. And I'm so glad I did.

    As I mentioned to you when I sat next to you last month at the Traditional Home dinner, I've read your blog for a long time and I'm such a fan. Your photos and your styling are beautiful, and are what bring me back week after week. And I don't usually comment. Though now I wish I would have done it more. But this post, this made me want to comment because SO much of this is what I have been going through.

    In blogging there are so many things to do, and worry about, between social media, and marketing, and optimizing SEO and ALL of that, that it feels like I will never succeed. It is, quite frankly, overwhelming. Especially when the "comparison" game comes into play.

    But it is so encouraging to read something like this, from someone I admire and respect so much. You are a beautiful writer, and this is the first time I've been moved to tears by one of your posts, and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for writing this and for being a source of encouragement and comfort. It means so much.


  39. All these years later, your blog gives me something to be excited about! Thank you for taking the plunge! Keep the beauty coming!

  40. So beautifully and honestly written! Winnie the Pooh is my favorite book — such life lessons and wisdom from such a little bear - now with you writing this blog and me actually following your and Winnie’s advice I will follow thru with my Teddy Bear Country Cottage ideas! There I said it out loud in public! First step....thank you! Linda O.

  41. This is such a good post. I was told I should write a blog a couple of years before I finally tried. We all have to take a risk sometime.

  42. I gave to tell you how much I love your blog.I have followed it early on and it is the first thing I read every day.You have lots of fans Courtney.

  43. I love your style and your photos {so dreamy}. I appreciate your sharing a small piece of your private emotions. But how exactly did you come out and change your followers number? I want to come out of my corner but wish I knew what steps you took . Love your Book!

  44. Thank you for sharing yourself as well as your blog! I look forward to trading your posts and seeing your stunning pictures! Knowing a little about you makes it even more interesting! I admire your courage and I’m so excited for your book!

  45. Thanks for sharing that private piece of you! Just LOOK how you have grown!!! A blogger, photographer, an editor of a beautiful magazine....and now you have a BOOK published (mine comes tomorrow :-) !!! Thanking your sister and Pooh Bear for giving you that little push back then!!!

  46. Courtney, I'm glad you stepped out of the forest because I always get excited when I see that you have a new post. I don't get to travel much and I don't have the opportunity to purchase luscious French-inspired mirrors, furniture, or a beautiful oven like you have, and I would give anything to have your "she-shed" that is absolutely gorgeous, so I live vicariously through you....and it all makes me so happy to dream! Thank you for being who you are and for stepping out of the forest for people like me!

  47. I just love all your posts. You truly inspire me. Your stories take me on journeys that I love. Felt like I was with you in France.. I love your style...