Noun | \’blôg, ‘bläg\
1 computers: a website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer; also: the content of such a site
Blogging has taken the world by force. It’s an interesting career path that takes, above all else, dedication. Cristina Chavarriaga is relatively new to the scene, but comes with presence and gobs of style. Set in a spot that splits, DIY, interior spaces, and science, Cristina brings a fresh new twist to blogging. Says Cristina, “My blog is a little bit of a mixed bag. When I ended up launching, it wasn’t my original intention to do as much as I’m doing. I really thought I would stick more to the interior DIY scene and I’m finding that I’m making it a little more about who I am. I have a lot of different interests; I’ve always been that way. I’ve never been able to settle on one thing and so what I’m doing is putting myself out there.”
A blog follower herself (one she follows is this SUPER cool blog called jenniferthebeholder.com….just sayin’), she got to thinking that maybe she could do this. Her first stab at blogging didn’t take off. Her husband had even purchased a camera for her to help her capture the all important visuals for her new blog. Cristina shares, “I thought I’d follow what I was seeing from other lifestyle or fashion bloggers. I was going to document my life through photos and outfits, but the bloggers I followed always seemed to be one step up above the rest. They would always take pictures of exciting events they were attending, or vacations that they were going on, and our life wasn’t really like that. I also felt it wasn’t my personality to do that anyway. I just kept pushing it off.” It wasn’t until her recent move to Atlanta that she got a spark to start.
A newlywed with her new husband starting his medical residency, Cristina began setting up house. She was putting her creative energy into cultivating her personal interior style in their home. It was this momentum that she felt she could carry and showcase on a blog with a little side gig as well to provide a service to help people locally or remotely with their interior spaces. But that also did not get launched, because everything suddenly changed.
“Life,” as Cristina puts it, “turned into a whirlwind.” She shares, “When I moved here I was excited to start something new. I had just graduated with my masters. I was excited to get my feet wet in a job. I really wanted to work with a start up, to get experience and to potentially go back to school for my PhD. I also wanted to start a blog and was going to pursue some of my interests. I was really excited about it.” Ironically, Cristina had started her first blog post when she and her husband went away to Colombia for a week. The plan was to launch when they returned. Immediately upon returning from their trip, Cristina started feeling sick. Surprise! She was pregnant.
She shares, “It was a huge shock. (1), we weren’t necessarily planning and (2), I thought I was going to have trouble. We had seen a reproductive endocrinologist and were on a path of what we would do when we wanted to start trying, which involved money. We were going to have to wait.” So she went into “rush mode”. It became imperative that she now, and quickly, figure out what she was going to do. If she was going to have a shot at finding a job that would potentially afford her the opportunity to work from home, she needed to hurry.
But come December (2016), when she really started to show, the writing was on the wall. She came to terms with the fact that she wasn’t going to land a job that would allow her to work remotely. It was time for her to really figure out what she wanted to do. She says, “I thought, ok, maybe I’ll start my blog again. I started waking up early. I started getting a plan of attack, and then February came, and the baby came early.” And we’re talking really early. The focus became her very premature baby.
It wasn’t until this past January that Cristina was able to start thinking about her career. Says Cristina, “Not that I don’t love staying home. I do love that I get to be with my daughter. I can’t imagine having someone else care for her other than family and we don’t have that opportunity here in Atlanta. But I found that I didn’t feel challenged with my mind. I was almost jealous of my husband because, even though he was stressed, and tired, and working like crazy, he was getting to do what he wanted and be a dad.” (Preach Girl!) She (like the rest of us) needed to do something for just her.
So with her super supportive hubby’s encouragement, Cristina decided to take the time to actually start her blog, Spatial Dwelling (spatialdwelling.com). She’s doing it! Admittedly, Cristina has no preconceived ideas of what this could turn into for her. She’s content to just getting it out there. The concept of her blog transformed even before she launched. Originally to focus on DIY and interior spaces, Cristina has found that she’s really more interested in making the topics more about her many interests. This concept is actually what I find so interesting about her blog.
Mrs. Chavarriaga is one big science nerd. And I mean that lovingly. With a Bachelors in Biology, and a Masters in Biomedical Engineering, Cristina is a full fledged smarty. She has a love of science, architecture, interior design and crafts. But even with all of those credentials, one still begins to second guess when confronted with the blogging scene lies. We’ve all been brainwashed that you probably shouldn’t have a diverse offering of topics; you should stick to one. But why? And who says? Says Cristina, “A lot of times people are either all fashion, or all lifestyle, for example. I just felt like, I’m just going to do kind of a mix of what I like. I’m still finding things I want to add to my blog; different topics or sections. It’s evolved because I’ve evolved.”
To me, I think she is providing such an interesting mix. Something fresh and new that’s not out there. Her combination of creativity and science; I haven’t seen anything like it. She could be on to a whole new genre! Cristina shares, “Science is a huge part of my life. It’s something that I love. It’s a creative process as well. I think because I’m not currently able to pursue a career in science, it’s a way for me to still bring it in. I like the way that it challenges my mind.”
The beauty of blogging is it can be very fluid and flexible. A self proclaimed procrastinator and perfectionist (which is a dangerous combo), Cristina can often get derailed. Or, if something like a sick child happens, blogging must take a back seat. When the ship gets righted once again, then watch her work. The blog will always be there.
Spatial Dwelling offers segments on DIY craft projects, Friday “Plant Prattle”, and sections on life, books, interior spaces, and Cristina’s own musings where she shares whatever she feels like talking about that day. Says Cristina, “That sums up my mixings; the thinking aspect with the musings, the plants because, well, I love plants, and the creativity through spaces or projects. That is me. It’s a mix of things that I’m thinking about or topics that I like. They might be science related, or they might be life related, or just stuff I think about on a daily basis. I use my blog as my way to live out loud. I’m a pretty introverted person, especially when it comes to my thoughts. It’s always been a bit difficult for me to share what’s in my head. It might sound weird, but I live a lot inside my mind. A lot of the things that I think about, or plans that I have, are just iterations in my mind that I play out there. I’d like to try to bring that outside more. This is just a way to do it.”
Her blog also showcases amazing photography. A self-taught photographer, Cristina explains that she understands how the camera works, and understands apertures and light from working with microscopes. (nerd power!) She knows what she likes to see and truly enjoys that part of the process; an unexpected perk. Look for Cristina to start an Etsy shop offering some of her photography as prints.
Inspiration comes from everything. She shares, “I have a lot of ideas that I get from science as far as artistic perspective, or ways of looking at things differently. Shapes and colors are also a great source of inspiration for me. Whether it be in a pattern for a pillow I want to make or even something I want to wear, I love geometric elements and colors for their use in pattern play. They also, in my opinion, offer a great source of expression in spaces. Books and magazines, albeit pretty obvious, is another source of my inspiration. Then sometimes I’ll just take a walk through Target, Michael’s, or Anthropologie and I’ll see something that I like that maybe I could use to create something else that I can afford or would like in my own home. Or maybe I don’t like the way that they did it, and think how I would like to change it. I’m also inspired by other bloggers. Sometimes people put out stuff that I like that I might reinvent. Inspiration really comes from everywhere.” Her pro tip, if she’s ever feeling stumped, she just goes out and walks around and challenges herself to find something to recreate or something that sparks an idea.
Reality of blogging versus her expectations has been a revelation. She shares, “I didn’t think I would like the photography and the staging, especially because I’m limited to my apartment space. I thought that would be more of the hassle of the process. I also think I might have been a little less realistic about the time that it does take to put together a post. I have to be a little more organized with my schedule having a child now and I think I was going in with my old college ways; last minute! I’ll just pull an all-nighter! My daughter doesn’t necessarily agree with that schedule all of the time.”
I asked Cristina, knowing what she knows now, and where she is in her life, what would she tell her younger self. She replied, “Don’t’ wait seven years when you think you have a great idea. Just start. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be how you think it should look, just start. I think about it all the time. What if I had started it back then? Maybe it wouldn’t be the direction it is right now, that is true, but what would it have been like had I started? I think that advice was something I had always heard but put in the back of my mind, stored away. But it’s something that’s so true.”
Cristina’s dream is for Spatial Dwelling to be a stepping stone for everything else that she wants to achieve. She says, “I have big and lofty goals for other things, in addition to my blog, and I’m using this as something I’d love to grow, but also to use to build my confidence to say, you know, I have some pretty great ideas and I can get them out there in other aspects, namely science and engineering goals. In my dream life I’d love to be like Elon Musk. What I mean is, I’d love to have the autonomy to start all the projects that interest me. Whether it be my blog or a science and engineering related venture, I’d love to have the ability to pursue it all. I don’t feel like I’m just a one direction kind of person, which has sometimes been hard for me in choosing a path. When I was young, I was always indecisive, especially when it came to my future career. I just thought it was because I didn’t like to make decisions, but I realize now, it’s really because I want to be, and do, it all. That’s something that doesn’t always work in this world. Sometimes your fields don’t mix. I want to eventually have my fields mix. That’s what I’m trying to do with my blog in the smallest way I can right now. I’m using this blog as a confidence booster to say, “I can,” and will work my way up from here.”
1 Definition provided by Merriam-Webster
2 Read the post featuring these photos: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/what-which-who/
3 Read the post featuring this photo: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/valgalpalentines-craft/
4 Read the post featuring these photos: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/art-meet-wall-wall-meet-art/
5 Read the post featuring these photos: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/plant-pratte-four-ferns-faces/
6 Read the post featuring these photos: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/giraffe-llama-glama/
7 Read the post featuring this photo: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/a-physicist-a-biologist-and-a-chemist-walks-into-a-bar/
8 Read the post featuring this photo: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/the-one-with-the-embroidered-shirt-sweater/
9 Read the post featuring this photo: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/a-little-goes-a-long-way/
10 Read the post featuring this photo: http://www.spatialdwelling.com/tablescapes/