I am a cheerleader

Last week, I mentioned that I hear from many people who tell me they are thinking about starting a blog. After I wrote about that, I heard from even more which was delightful. One friend spilled the beans that she had actually already started blogging, but that she had a stumbling block of not really feeling like she had direction for what she wanted to write or who her audience is. I identified with that a LOT.

I’m sharing this little adage for two reasons.

  1. My friend is a professional writer. A very experienced professional writer. If you are neither of those things, then you can let yourself off the hook a little if you are, like her, struggling with where to begin.
  2. After our little exchange, I thought about what she’d said a lot – about how true that all felt for me as well and about what advice, if I was the advice giving type, I would have given her.

JUST WRITE

That was the advice that I borrowed from Elizabeth Dehn, creator of my new favourite website, Beauty Bets. I still believe that it is sound and a great place to start, but I’ve added my own two word mantra to the mix with the following.

be yourself

I’ve always been an advocate for transparency and truth when it comes to personal representation online. It’s how I coach my friends, family and clients to be. Through social media or my blog(s), I’ve always wanted to maintain the reality of my personality. Partly because I want to be genuine and act with integrity, but also because I feel like keeping up a fake persona would just be so much work and, if I’m honest, I probably don’t have a lengthy enough attention span to make it happen. When people caution others to be careful about what they put on social media for how it might impact their careers or other goals, I often think that maybe the more helpful advice would just be to be a better person. Know what I mean?

But once I dug a little deeper into this advice and really searched my heart and soul, I started to realize that there is one way in which I hold back, one way in which I’m not really honest or myself. I did some digging into the things I enjoy, what makes me happy and how I get the most out of life. What I’m about to say is something that it took me a long time to realize (and even longer to accept), something for which I have a passive-aggressive acquaintance to thank and something that I’ve slowly had to become more comfortable with.

i am a cheerleader

I don’t cheer for everyone and I certainly don’t cheer for everything, but I am at least a little bit in love with so many of the people and things I see in the world and so many of the things that I do. I like drawing attention to great things that are being done. I like putting a spotlight on the people who are doing them. Based on my perception, there really isn’t anything wrong with that, but I couldn’t avoid asking myself the question: why do I hide it? I didn’t come up with a very thorough or complex answer, but here are a few of my suspicions. (My awaken response in brackets.)

  • People get really ornery when it comes to positivity and enthusiasm. I have to defend myself against naysayers on the regular. (That isn’t something I enjoy.)
  • It can come across as fake, gimmicky, simple or trite. (I am none of those things.)
  • Sometimes people have different opinions/experiences. (Big deal. You do you.)
  • What if I’m wrong? (Are you even being serious with this?)

Finally, there’s the old, haunting standby: “loving things isn’t a theme” to which I have decided to take the position, “says who?” Because loving things is my theme – it’s how I go through my days and nights, it’s what makes me smile and laugh, it’s how I choose who to spend my time with and what we will do. This is who I am and that is exactly how I want to be.

And, you know what I concluded, the more I thought about it? If they don’t like it, well fuck ’em.

And then Rory Lula McMahan posted this on her Instagram this morning: The High Priestess. Here was her summary of today’s occurrence of this card.

LITTLE: Put some heart in your head. BIG: There is too much going on right now. Your mind is spinning with tasks, ideas, goals, dreams, wants, needs – and a great big dose of overwhelm. There is just so much you think you should be getting done, but all you keep hearing yourself say is how you can’t get anything figured out, or even which direction to start in. Don’t write off that spinning head of yours. It is actually trying to get a great deal of valuable information out for you to use, in its own ridiculously tangled way. The key for moving from anxiety to efficiency – or more importantly, peace – is to filter it all through your soul. The world, and your mind, is telling you to do only the things they desire from you. But right now, you need to figure out what it is that you desire. Not the pipe dreams and what-ifs and quietly envious imitations, but what you truly, really, actually want to do with your very sacred time. Stop worrying about if anyone else is going to like it and think about whether you do. That fear and frustration, that knot in your belly, is definitely not any fun, but it is up to you to look deeper and understand which parts are telling you to let go and which parts are telling you to dig in, which parts are obligation and which are love, which are the voices of others and which is the voice of your own true self. Yes, it feels like a war is being waged within your own inner spaces. And as with any war, there will be some loss. But listen, and you will finally hear what your intuition has been whispering through the chaos: You are actually on the verge of gaining it all.

I think that confirms it. That confirms everything.  ♥

What does this mean for this space? All good things. Stick around and you can expect more loving, more sharing, more cheerleading. And now that I’m free to be me, I’m hoping there’ll be a little more consistency.

What’s holding you back? How could you be more true to yourself online and off?

Want to start a blog? Just write.

How was your Mother’s Day? Did you do something to celebrate either with your mom or as a mom with your little ones? Or both? Is Mother’s Day a day that brings up some complicated feelings for you? I found this image floating around my social media and I wanted to share it because I know that it’s a day that isn’t easy for many and for many very complex reasons. Whatever your relationship is with Mother’s Day, I send you compassion and hugs. ♥♥♥

We took the Skytrain over to see my folks in the morning. We used a brand new extension to the existing lines and this was only the second time we’ve been on it, but it was pretty convenient and it made me feel deeply envious of the kids growing up near where we did. It would have been a dream for us to have such quick and easy access to so many areas when we were young! They’re done a great job so three cheers for Translink!

Many moms want to go to brunch to celebrate Mother’s Day or they want a new book or jewelry or perfume. Mine? She wanted to climb a mountain. So that’s what we did.

It was a pretty challenging hike, but the scenery was certainly worth it.

***

I’ve been talking to a few people lately who’ve expressed that they’re interested in blogging. As someone who has blogged on and off for many, many (early thirteen!) years, my immediate response is: YES! DO IT! YOU’LL LOVE IT! I love blogging and I tell everyone they should have a blog. Even if they’re not expressing an interest, I’ll sometimes bring it up. You know, if they have a cool story (who doesn’t?) or if they’re tackling some really interesting feat… “Hey, have you ever thought about blogging?” I nag encourage all of my friends who used to blog back around the time when I started to take it up again and I try to force motivate others to get started. The returns from blogging have just been so rich that I want to share those rewards with everyone. I’ve met new people, established decades long friendships, I’ve learned about myself and about others, developed new skills. Heck, I’ve been published in a writing textbook at Ole Miss! Since I discovered blogging, I’ve rarely (if ever?) not had one on the go.

So, on my way to work one day last week, I was catching up on my podcasts – and thank god I walk for a couple of hours each day because I would never keep up with them if I didn’t – I listened to a new episode of a podcast I hadn’t heard in a while: Being Boss (a podcast for creative entrepreneurs.) They talk a lot about interesting aspects of the sometimes delicate balance between business and creativity, lots of marketing stuff and topics the personal side of running a business.

On this particular episode, they were interviewing a woman named Elizabeth Dehn, the creator of a website called Beauty Bets. She’s a woman I’d never heard of running a website I’d never seen. But, hey, that’s why I listen to this stuff, right? To discover new things. Long story short, Elizabeth runs a successful beauty blog (she took a pretty interesting path to get there so I do encourage you to listen to the episode) and I really dig her vibe. (But more on that tomorrow…)

She started as a blogger just casually writing reviews of makeup and cosmetic products and grew it into a much bigger project. Her site now includes a few more contributors and covers a variety of topics primarily beauty, style, spirit and wellness. When talk on the podcast turned to blogging, whether for the first time or reviving an old one (as one of the hosts revealed she was considering) Elizabeth had a few things to say including:

First, I want to commend you on doing something purely because you want to do it and not because it has some sort of quantifiable productivity driven end game.

To which she added:

The act of doing something that you enjoy for no other reason is a beautiful thing.

And, most notably, was this simple advice:

Just write.

There is so much truth to those two simple words. If you want to start a blog, just write. It’s really easy to get caught up in overthinking themes and schedules and topics and tones and all of that can be exhausting. It is worrying about the future and thinking too far ahead when what you really need to do is just write. And keep writing. And writing. And writing. It comes together. It works itself out. Your voice becomes clearer. Your theme emerges as does your voice.

This is advice that I wanted to share with people who have told me they’re considering starting their own blog and those who have told me they are stalled with the one they’ve already got. I feel it, sisters and brother. I really do. My stumbling block is having a theme. I don’t have a neat common thread that weaves its way through my posts. I don’t do the same thing all the time, nor do I want to. That isn’t me and I’m a firm believer that you should be yourself in your online space (this is my blog – if I can’t be me here, where can I?!?) but at the same time, all that I am can’t always be tidily filed into an existing category. And I get hung up on that. It paralyzes me. And then someone tells me, “I love how you cover so many different topics on your blog” and I don’t believe them at first, but then I think about how that’s what I would want to read, too. Huh.

Other hang-ups?

  • Not having a name/title. I get this. I’ve been there. The great thing is, you can always change it. Trust me, I’ve done it. A thousand times.
  • Nerves. This comes out in procrastination and excuses (no time, no topic) or just honest fear. It’s totally understandable, but it’s also getting a little ahead of yourself. When you publish, you’re going to have a few readers. Probably just your family and a handful of friends. In most cases, it takes a heck of a long time to build up a readership that is going expose you to real live strangers. By that time, you’ll be rocking this blogging thing.

I’ve found that the real key to overcoming any of the obstacles that are keeping you from writing or growing your badass blog is really very simple and Elizabeth Dehn nailed it:

Just write.

What gets in your way of blogging? Have you thought about starting a blog? If so, what’s stopping you? Let me if you do have an up and running blog – I’m looking for new ones to read!

Spring Sweet Progress Box Swap Reveal

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen tweets and retweets from me getting all excited about the Sweet Progress Box Swap. Even before I could participate, I was enthusiastic about getting others involved. I mean, honestly, what’s better than happy mail?

Organized by and for bloggers to connect and get to know one another, the Sweet Progress Box Swap is hosted by Dean from Mrs AOK, A Work in Progress and Ashley from Happy. Pretty. Sweet. A few weeks ago, we were all matched up with another blogger and told little more than our partner’s favourite colour and email address. From there, we were to get acquainted, learn more about one another and, of course, exchange addresses.

As I mentioned above, I wasn’t always able to participate. A few swaps back, the exchange was limited to only those bloggers living in the US. I was thrilled to discover that this one was open to Canadians as well (thank you, Dean & Ashley!!!) and I was so lucky that I found out the night before the cut-off! Phew!

I was paired up with Dean, one of the hosts. We’d already followed each other on Twitter before we were exchange partners and I’d visited her blog a couple of times, but being paired up with her gave me the opportunity to explore her site even more. This “30 Something Mama to Three, Wifey to One” blogs about her life including large doses of creative projects and one of my favourite topics – positivity. She has a really great, fun and upbeat vibe and I’m really thankful I got the chance to get to know her better. Check out her Instagram and also her Etsy store!

We exchanged a few get to know you emails and then we filled our boxes. They went into the mail and we crossed our fingers that both packages would make it to their destinations safely and on time. Borders and customs have a tendency to interfere with things. And even though we found out we actually live quite close to one another, that didn’t mean that the postal system was going to make it easy on us.

With reveal day (today!) looming, we exchanged messages last night and I shared the sad news that there’d been no sign of my box yet. Lo and behold, what showed up just after I got home?!? You bet. It was my very first Sweet Progress Swap Box!

Take a look at what was inside!

This was the first look I got at everything inside the box, but first glance made me even more excited than the anticipation of receiving the mystery box had! A beautiful notebook, a gorgeously labeled card (I’m not going to lie to you – I’ve already put it in a frame in my office) and a water bottle filled to the brim with goodies! This is exactly the style of gift giving (and receiving) I love, remember?!?

Let’s take a closer look.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • I CAN. I WILL. I DID. water bottle
  • the springiest of spring looking lined (YES!) notebooks
  • adorable bracelet x2
  • instant coconut water, you guys!
  • flower seeds – I’d spilled to her that I was super into gardening
  • a mix of many (way more than pictured above) delicious chocolates that are locally (to her) made
  • the most convenient little Tiger Balm ever – it would fit in any pocket ever made!
  • Lindt – hold your hats – Hello, My Name is SWEET POPCORN bar *swoon*
  • hugs & kisses rubber stamp
  • glittery pink nailpolish
  • stickers – but not just any stickers – emoji stickers, yes, but even cooler are – check out the stickers that are a blank woman’s face with beautifully drawn braided hair – SHE DREW THAT IMAGE

So, needless to say, I am thrilled that I was finally let into the Sweet Progress Box Swap and that I am so happy I got the amazing partner that I did. Thank you for everything, Dean! Your box was full of delightful surprises and wonderful treasures!

To check out the box I sent to Dean and to find links to the other reveals, visit Dean’s post. If you want to join us next time, follow Dean and Ashley on Twitter or tell me and I’ll make sure I let you know in time for the summer swap! 🙂

A fresh start

I’ve been feeling like I’m in need of a change for a little while. When it comes to blogging, I mean.

Here’s the history:

When I first started blogging in 2005, (whoa! and, also, happy ten-year anniversary to me!) my whole blogging crowd was a network of people from here in BC to Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Oregon and Washington who all treated their very own fancy personalized webpages as what they were at their heart: online diaries. We spewed our thoughts, feelings and experiences in stream of consciousness flow with little if any real point and our pages were certainly without strict themes.

As blogging matured, people became more focused and experts joined the community. Specialized blogs were born and niches were developed. Some of us kept writing, some of us gave it up. For the most part, I made some really great friends during that time and I’ve kept in touch with all the best of them. Many of us have met in real life and continued to share our lives in ways that have advanced as more methods became available to us.

Me, I’ve never been able to give up on blogging. My blogging career has had many incarnations. I’ve had so many blogs, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t even list them all off at once. I’ve used different platforms and different names, but I always stayed true to the blogging just what’s on my mind attitude of yesteryear.

I’ve always felt that we should write our blogs from the heart and with integrity. I’ve never written anything that I would be ashamed to have someone, anyone discover. I’ve always avoided writing anything I would be embarrassed about. I’m pretty diverse in my interests and my interests are sometimes (okay, a lot of times) short-lived. I’m kind of a moving target when it comes to having a theme or a focus in writing, in acting, in life. For a long time, I had a hard time figuring out what common thread ran through everything I do in my life and everything that I am. Finally, it dawned on me that the one thing that I try to be conscious of throughout every day and in (most) everything I do is a feeling of wellness, happiness and health. So, why not write with that committed focus?

So, I blew it all up. Yep, I’ve deleted all my old posts. With my new wellness lifestyle theme intact, it’s time for a fresh start with clear eyes and a full heart. I plan on being here daily and sharing what I’m doing on a daily basis to further my growth and building of a healthy(er) home and life.

I’m starting over with defined intention for this space and its community. I’ll be here to balance positivity, optimism and enthusiasm with a dose of reality, substance and earnest. This is the day to follow your heart, after all. It’s high time I started sharing that. I hope you’ll join me.