CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYMy blogging journey. It started about two years ago. I was forty years old and on the verge of a burnout. There are so many details I could include in this post, and many things I can tell you about this journey I’ve found myself on – but because I’m so ‘layered’ as a person (I’ll come back to that later), it would take me too long to explain it fully. So, I’m going to ‘attempt’ to give it to you in a nutshell…but it will be a big one, so make sure you’re comfortable…CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYI’ll try to make this part somewhat short. I had my son at thirty years old, and had just decided to leave a very successful career in fashion retail marketing. After graduating from design school and a brief stint in theater, I began my career at 23, as a Junior Graphic Designer. By the time I left the fashion world behind, I was a Creative Director (that came later on, after returning to work). I always knew I would stay home with my children, but I also knew the vision I had for myself, was to achieve great things and to be that successful business owner, with a beautiful family and more, in complete control of my life. Was I ever in for a surprise. After being home for seven years, and taking a stab at a multitude of home-based businesses (from designing and sewing pillows, to a line of custom baby bedding, to a decorating business, all while doing freelance graphic design work and raising a family), I was as lost as anyone could ever be. My journey in motherhood proved to be one of the most rewarding paths I’ve ever embarked on. It was also the most guilt ridden. I could never be the mother I envisioned. That woman who had it all, happy and in complete control of everything, successful at home and business. I always felt that I wasn’t good enough, not at motherhood, not at my career, not at my dream or vision. Always searching and struggling to find my own self, I certainly felt lost. I had given up everything to be home and I did everything for my children. Yet I never felt I was doing enough, or doing it right.CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYI went back to work full time when my daughter began kindergarten. My kids were both in school full time and I felt like I was somewhat (I say that very lightly) in control again – or so I thought. This was my chance to fulfill that dream and to have it all – everything I ever wanted was finally about to come to fruition. Even though I was working for someone else, this was my chance to be everything, and have it all. After all, I was 37 now, older, wiser, more experienced…CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYI’ll spare you all of the heartache, but after almost four years of being back at it full time and trying to raise my family, I realized I had to get out, and as fast as I possibly could. I have so many friends who can do it all. They have careers, they have businesses, they have happy children and a beautiful home – and they can manage it all seamlessly, all with a beautiful smile. Although I tried so hard to be that woman, I could not. My career was so demanding, so exhausting, both mentally and physically – some days I was commuting up to four hours – I wanted it all so badly, but I just couldn’t do it. I was literally running for days on end, never stopping, never breathing. From 6 am to midnight – no lunch breaks, no downtime. Back to back meetings and getting home at 6pm with the kids from daycare, cooking dinner while working with my laptop, doing homework, running to activities, getting the kids to bed, working again until midnight or later…then getting up the next day to do it all over again. I was miserable and exhausted and my family was suffering, all because I was trying to be superwoman, and I hated the fact that I couldn’t be, no matter how hard I tried.
CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYMy kids were growing up faster than I realized and they needed me to be here for them. I’m not sure how it is for other families, but for ours, our children need us more as they get older. They needed me to be here for them. They needed me in the morning and they needed me at night. Not for an hour at the start of each day or 3 hours at the end. Not at 6 pm while I was still working until they went to bed. They needed me FULLY – my son specifically needed me to be home. And you know what? I needed them. My husband needed me and I needed him. Our little family had been suffering, and the core, which was me, was neither solid nor strong. CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYOn an October Friday night, after hours of crying out of desperation, I made the decision to leave the career world behind. I had no idea what I was doing or if we could make it work. I did know, and so did my husband, that we needed this more than we needed my salary. So, I called my boss the next day on Saturday morning and poured my heart out, explaining why I couldn’t make it work any longer. I wanted to leave on a good note, and I would never leave people stranded or leave a job abruptly – so I made sure to wrap up my final projects – a killer spring campaign and an entire new rebrand and store design concept for two of the fashion brands I was in charge of. That following December, I left for good and was home with my family and finally ready to be where I needed to be.

CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYI haven’t even gotten to the blog yet…yikes… I promise I will try to wrap this up. Just a few months before deciding to leave my career, I started my blog, CitrineLiving, as an outlet where I could just be me, and share my thoughts and creative ideas with other women. I needed more than what I had at the time, something deeper, a way to share my vision with the world – and even though I was completely maxed out, I desperately needed an escape. I needed to find that place that was going to help me find myself again.

This beautiful monogrammed dish and note pad were a gift from my dear friend and fellow blogger, Kelley from, she has been my rock from the beginning!

I didn’t know what to call the blog, it was so difficult to come up with something that wasn’t cliché, or typical. My husband gave me a ring the year prior for our anniversary. He had a custom piece made with my birthstone, Citrine. I had always thought my birthstone was Topaz, but as it turns out, so is Citrine. Much to my delight, the reason he’d had it made for me, was the meaning behind the stone. My husband knows me better than I know myself and because I’d been struggling on a personal level for some time, he had this ring made for me. Citrine is a healing stone (called healing quartz) and is believed to bring positive energy, abundance and warmth into one’s life. When I couldn’t come up with the name, he’s the one who suggested CitrineLiving – it’s fitting don’t you think? I don’t think I could ask for a better husband who supports and encourages me each and every step of the way. When I started out in this online world, I truly had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know I was suppose to track my site’s traffic, watch and analyze my blog posts for their success, or even promote myself within this community. I was simply being creative, I wanted to share my ideas and nothing more. I started an Instagram account shortly after, not even knowing what a hashtag was. In just a little over this past year, I have learned, I have grown, I have connected with the most amazing and supportive people. Some only through Instagram (unfortunately I haven’t met those amazing friends yet, but truly hope I do soon), others through Instagram as well as blogging. I found myself amongst other women who were doing what I am doing – sharing their voice, inviting people into their homes, connecting with each other and their readers.

Below is the shot of a group of women so incredibly talented and supportive and more beautiful on the inside than outside. And they are all so truly beautiful! I am so incredibly honored to call these fabulous women my dear friends and I would never be where I am today, with my blog and social media presence, if it weren’t for these women right here, who support, encourage and listen. Last week, I had the most incredible opportunity to meet my friends for the first time in person at Haven Conference – a DIY and Design Conference for bloggers. CITRINELIVING : MY BLOGGING JOURNEYFrom left to right : Myself, Jennifer from | Brittany from addisonswonderland.comErin from | Randi from | Shauna from | Kelley from | Haneen from | Bree from | Kris from

So, after two years on this venture, I’ve learned a few things along the way. When at one time this was merely a place to share some of my ideas, it has since grown into my ‘haven’, if you will. I love my blog and I know that as I nurture it, and as it grows, it will become a place that provides strength and comfort and inspiration to so many people. I’m still doing freelance design and branding, I still have decorating clients. I dream of one day having my own line of home decor products and textiles and housewares, the list goes on! I’m not sure where the path will lead to next, but right now, my vision is to share a piece of my world with you. I want you to come in, relax, and be comfortable when you’re here, just as if you are a guest in our home.

By now, I’m sure you’ve picked up on the fact that I’m somewhat of a ‘deep thinker’, an old soul, I suppose. If you know me personally, you know I’m a little quirky at times and have a pretty real sense of myself and the world. My siblings joke that I’m the deep and dramatic one, haha, but they also know I have no qualms about belting out any song at the top of my lungs at any time – I’m also known for my incredible skills at air guitar ;) I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I’m somewhat of a ‘layered’ person, and if you’re a long time reader, or a friend on Instagram, you know that I love to layer my rooms with personal objects, pattern, texture and color. I realized through writing this, that those layers make up who I am on the outside, as well as on the inside. I truly hope you can find those things here when you visit, and I hope you keep coming back. If anything, I hope you find a little healing if you need it, or some of that positive energy I was talking about earlier, when your day is lacking some. I want you to find comfort in the fact that although I try to create beautiful spaces and images of my world to share with you, that sometimes I’m in need of the healing and positive energy as well.

Most importantly, I want you to be inspired when you’re here and also when you leave. Go and find the things that speak to you and make your heart skip a beat. I want you to be you, and to be ok with that, and not be afraid to create a world for yourself that is all about what you love. If I can inspire you to do that and find those things for yourself, then I know my journey’s purpose is being well served. Thank you for coming along with me, I’m so very grateful to you all, and I truly couldn’t ask for anything more. xo


  1. tamaraanka says:

    Maria, thank you so so much. You’re support means so much to me, and IG is such an uplifting place to share. Thank you for letting me know that my story has touched you and thank you, as always, for being so wonderfully supportive. It is such a good feeling knowing that I can connect with people and that something I write about or create resonates with you – which is why I started all of this to begin with. Your support means the world to me! xo

  2. tamaraanka says:

    Thank you Rose, for your beautiful note – I can’t tell you enough how happy it makes me that others can relate to my story…we are all so similar and sometimes we need to let each other know! It’s so easy to get lost in pretty pictures, but I wanted everyone to know that my struggle is real and I know that we all have felt this way at one tome or another. Thank you for your encouragement and thank you for your kind and supporting words – it feels so great knowing that my story has touched you! xoxo

  3. Maria (House Five Decor) says:

    Tamara, your journey is so inspirational Thank you so much for sharing this. I, as probably many women, can relate to exactly the same feelings and struggles. I’m so happy I found you though this community on Instagram, your posts and comments are always uplifting and encouraging. I look forward to your future posts! xo

  4. Tamara thank you for sharing this personal
    side of your journey to where you are today. You were one of the first accounts I followed and I instantly fell in love with the beauty of your home. (And never mind that I was so happy to find another Canadian). ?As I started to read your blogs and posts, I could tell that the beauty you create in your home comes from a beautiful person inside. You are inspiring to me in many ways. Thanks for sharing your journey as a mom, and a career and business woman! I can relate to so much. Keep On keeping on. You’re awesome! . ?

  5. tamaraanka says:

    Sandra, Thank you so much for your sweet words. It means so much to me that through my blog, I’m able to reach other woman who can relate and be inspired. I truly appreciate that you took the time to stop in and read my story! You inspire me! I’m grateful that I’ve been able to get to know you though Instagram, even if it’s just a little bit! xoxo

  6. Sandra Cavallo says:

    Such a great post, I loved getting to know more about you! You are truly an inspiration! Wonderfully creative and so wise! Thank you for sharing this!

  7. tamaraanka says:

    What a kind note, thank you so much! I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet, hopefully next year! As far as blogging goes, I’m learning day by day. Make sure you’re using google analytics – this way you can track your traffic and see where you need to improve. It’s daunting at first, but if you do your research and learn it, it helps so much. Get on social media as much as possible and promote your blog, always linking back to it! I’m no expert, but I hope that helps a little! Thank you for stopping by and good luck! xoxo

  8. tamaraanka says:

    Ter! I love you! Thanks for stopping in and leaving me a note! You are one of the biggest inspirations in my life and in design! I couldn’t imagine getting through any of this without you! Love you so much! xoxo

  9. tamaraanka says:

    Jen, Thank you so much for your support – you are so sweet and I’m so grateful to have you as a friend! I’m so happy that we spent our time together and I couldn’t imagine this journey without you! I appreciate your sweet words so much! Here’s to a long blogging journey ahead! Love you! xoxo

  10. This was so beautifully written Tamara! My heart hurt for you as I read how deeply you were struggling. We’ve all been at a crossroads. You handled yours with grace and followed your passion and I admire you for doing so! Love you friend!

  11. Tamara,
    This was such an inspiring post. I was not able to go to haven this year even though I purchased a ticket. Long story short my husband could only get that time off for a vacation so we ended up taking the family on a trip. I am very goal oriented and work was my passion until I had kids. I also decided to stay home. It’s the best decision that I’ve made. Your story sounds so much like mine. I really needed to hear something like this today. I haven’t met many bloggers and of course it is hard to even know if anyone is reading my blog sometimes. I love blogging and will keep plugging away at it.I’m sure in time the social media and social side of blogging with come. Thanks again for your post. I’m so glad you found some amazing friends and what works for you and your family.

  12. Great post Tam- We all know how hard it is as a mom and wife to pull and keep it all together and have a fabulous home!!! We’ve always looked to each other for inspiration in our passion for design… But today you’ve inspired me…
    love you sis xoxo

  13. tamaraanka says:

    Erin, hahaha what can I say?! I LOVED meeting you, and spending time with you! I felt instantly connected when we met, you are so genuine and such a huge inspiration to ME! I only hope I can be like you one day :) Thank you so much for your support – having it makes me all warm and fuzzy! You were one of the very first IG accounts I followed and being able to call you my friend today is incredible to me and I’m so thankful for you, love you! xoxo

  14. tamaraanka says:

    Haha Laurie, yes!! How could I forget? I wouldn’t have met you if it weren’t for our time together! I’m thrilled to hear you like what you see, it means so very much to me! Thank you for always being so supportive, you are such a gem!! xoxo

  15. tamaraanka says:

    Thank you, Gretchen! I’m so grateful that you can relate – it is not easy at all, and those amazing women that can pull it all off, are incredible in my eyes! Thank you for your sweet words, it means so much to me! You are such an incredible support, just like your beautiful daughter! xoxo

  16. Gretchen Thomas says:

    Gosh…what a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing the “citrine” story…I have always wondered, you know! I so understand your past…I was there, too, back in the day. But you have emerged, so vibrant, creative and wonderful. Good for you and stay YOU!

  17. Love it! You forgot to mention your brief and brilliant stint as a school librarian *wink*wink* You are fabulous and I love love love your style lady *muah!

  18. Tamara! Your post made me feel all the feelings! Such a beautiful recap of the journey you’ve been on. It’s one that so many mothers can relate to. You are such an inspiration! Not only in your decorating (which is beyond stunning!) but also in your transparency and in following your heart. So grateful for our friendship Tamara! I absolutely loved getting to know you better at Haven! My cute little trucker. ;) xo

  19. tamaraanka says:

    Haneen, thank you so much my friend! You are such a sweetheart, I am so proud to call you my friend :) I’m so happy we’ve connected and had the chance to get to know each other last week! Such a blessing! I love you!! xoxo

  20. tamaraanka says:

    Yay, Shannon! Welcome back! You are so courageous to share this with me – thank you for that! You and I are so much alike – I’m not sure why that constant struggle exists – do we bring it on ourselves by setting expectations that are too high? Or is it the standards we’re told to live by? I have no idea – I just know that the more honest I am with myself (and now my readers) the more I understand it and understand myself. I think if we keep to what we know we love and what feels right, it somehow falls into place little by little. That’s just my hunch. I hope you can find what you’re looking for, actually I know you will :))) Thank you for sharing with me, and come back anytime you like!! xoxo

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