Tag Archives: Blogging

#MicroblogMonday #4 – Winter, Where Are You?

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


I’m having a hard time believing it’s winter. You’re probably thinking “But it’s cold. Like really cold.”

You’re right.

But as much as I despise winter (and the cold), it doesn’t feel like winter because we haven’t gotten any snow. Okay, fine. We’ve gotten an inch here. An inch there. But usually by this time, we’ve gotten at least one major storm that’s dropped more than 8 inches on us. So far, nothing.

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Now. Don’t take this as complaining. I’d really rather we don’t have a bad winter. I don’t like the snow. I don’t like the cold. I may be a “hardy New Englander” purely because I’ve lived here my whole life, but I’m definitely meant to be in a warmer climate.

But it’s not winter until we get a big storm. Yes, the clean-up is usually a mess. And sure, big storms can be dangerous. But there is something about being cooped up in your home, curled up on the couch with a good book and big cup of hot chocolate (or tea, or really whatever is your forte during snowstorms). And a heated blanket. Because you can’t go through a snowstorm without a heated blanket.

Another reason – if we don’t get snow, we’re definitely going to be in a drought come spring and summer. And that’s just bad.

So Mother Nature, if you’re reading this, and I can’t believe I’m asking this, but can you please give us a bit more snow? Just for a couple of weeks. By March, I want all the snow gone and the glorious spring like conditions coming in.

And just for the record, I’m only asking because I don’t want a drought this summer. I still really don’t like winter.

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My 2015 Goals

I’ve mentioned in a few different posts now (you can read them here and here), that this year I’m not making resolutions, but setting goals for 2015. I know. A resolution is pretty much a goal, but we all know that resolutions tend to be broken. A goal seems much more attainable. You’re not resolving to complete it, but you’re pushing to achieve it. I’m setting a few (at least six) goals for myself this year. Some are reminiscent of 2014, but others are new goals.

My 2015 Goals

  1. Workout consistently and clean up my eating. While I really just wanted to write, lose 60 pounds, I know that I will get there. And in order to get there, it means exercising often (5-6 times per week) and keeping my nutrition in check. I kicked off the New Year by taking a walk, and plan on tracking my daily exercise. I’m also tracking everything I eat in MyFitnessPal. I hate tracking calories, but I know right now I need to do it to keep myself on track.

  2. Paddleboard. This was a 2014 goal. But between the summer just flying by and injuries, I never made it. This summer will definitely be the year of the Paddleboard adventures. I can’t wait!

  3. Blog more. This was probably a goal in 2012, 2013 and 2014. But it’s true. Unfortunately when I get busy, the blog is the first thing to be negeclted. I’ve worked hard to bring readership in (I had my best month yet in terms of visitors in December!) and I want to keep seeing it grow. When I say blog more, I don’t mean, blog daily. It’s more of, don’t forget about the blog for weeks at a time.

  4. Ride as often as I can. I’ve been riding horses since I was 9. I haven’t been as consistent as I would like, but I plan on changing that in 2015. I plan to ride 1 to 2 times per week (2 times the weeks I have an adult group). It keeps me sane. It’s my happy place.

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  1. 25 organic Etsy shop sales. I started an Etsy shop this year for my photography with a small goal of reaching 10 sales. I figured it would be a good place to start. I ended 2014 with 27 sales total (actually, 20, but Etsy counts each item sold as a sale). A few of the sales were not organic through Etsy, meaning friends and family wanted prints so I created custom orders for them to purchase through Etsy. This year, I want to promote and pursue sales directly through Etsy. I figure 25 is a good number to strive for. Not too high. Not too low. But a good place for a shop that’s only been open since March of 2014.

  2. Stop making reading goals. For the last 3 years, I’ve been working to read nearly 100 books. It hasn’t happened yet. And by the end of 2014, I didn’t even want to pick up a book (I continued to read though… don’t worry.) This year, there is no goal. I’m still tracking what I’m reading, but I’m not setting any Read 100 by the end of 2015 goal this year. If I read 50 books, awesome. If I read 120, awesome. Either way, I just want to kick back and enjoy as many good books as I can! (Already on book #3 for 2015!)

What are your goals for 2015?

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Resources for Growing Your Blog

Growing your blog can be very time-consuming. I know, I’m working on it right now. While my goal isn’t to become a famous blogger, I would like to see more regular views coming in. When I started blogging consistently again back in May, I saw a steady climb in my unique monthly visitors. While not a huge jump each month, and definitely not a large number, I was able to watch it grow on the regular.

And now, since I took a hiatus, I’m back working to grow the blog again. In my travels around cyberspace, I found some interesting articles and lists for places to share your blog posts, beyond the normal social media sites. Since I know many of my fellow bloggers are also trying to do the same thing, I wanted to group them together into one easy to find blog post.

resources for growing your blog

Promoting After You Post

7 Ways to Increase Social Media Shares

15 Ways to Promote a Blog Post Immediately After You Publish It

13 Places to Share New Blog Posts Cheat Sheet

50 Ways to Promote and Market Your Blog Post

600 Places to Share Your Content

75 Places to Share Your Blog Posts

 

Driving More Traffic

How Bloggers Can Use Pinterest

5 Creative Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog Posts

30 Blog Traffic Resources

10 Things to Try in Your First 6 Months of Blogging

 

General Blogging Tips

Get Your Blog Ready for 2015 – A Blogging Checklist

5 Tips to Make Your Blog Shine

Blogging Tips: What I Wish I Would’ve Known When I Started Blogging

The Ultimate Blog Resource Library

33 Things You Can Do When You’re Ready to Get Serious About Blogging

 

Places to Pitch Your Posts Too

BonBon Break – Online Magazine

Pitch Yourself – Submitting Your Blog Posts to Other Sites

 

Thank you to all the wonderful bloggers out there that put these pieces together! 

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My Blogging Identity

As I took a step back to re-evaluate my little corner of cyberspace, it made me realize just how much I truly enjoy the blogging world. I like putting thought into what I’m writing and what I’m putting out into the world. I’m not a daily poster. I’ve tried in the past, and quite honestly, most of the time when I wrote daily my posts sucked. The content was horrible, and it was just me trying to fill a void. It was a way for me to make sure my blog showed up in search engines, on people’s newsfeeds, and a way to stay in front of everyone. But I was putting content out that was pretty horrible.

So as I re-evaluated, I decided that I needed a new look. Something cleaner. Tidier. Easier on the eyes. I also decided that I didn’t want my sidebar cluttered with ads and other things that aren’t me.

Which bought me to these questions.

Who am I in the blogging world? What’s my blogging identity?

Blogging Identity

I’m not a health blogger. I’m not a fashion blogger. And I’m definitely not a food blog. Even though, the blog has been through phases of all three. I came to the conclusion that this would fall in the generic lifestyle blog category. Simply because, it’s chronicling my lifestyle as it is in the here and now.

Even though it’s a lifestyle blog, it is more so a place for me to write. To think. To express myself. So in a way, it’s also a writing blog. But there will be times I share photography, so it could also have moments of being a photography blog.

So what did I learn? There is no specific blogging identity that fits me, or my blog. Nor should I have to define my identity. My blog is my blog, and it’s simply a place for me to express myself for who I am. My opinions, my thoughts, my writing, whatever.

My blogger identity is a menagerie mess of things that work for me. Which is perfect, since my personal identity is a menagerie of things too.

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Featured Member Post on BlogHer

I’m so insanely excited to announce that my post, #TransformationTuesday, was chosen as a Featured Member Post for today on BlogHer!

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That alone put my excitement over the top, but I was even more excited to discover that they have featured it on their homepage.

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And to make things even better…… they tweeted the post out to their over 100K followers on Twitter.

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I know my excitement may seem extreme, but this is the first time that any of my blog posts have been picked up or featured on any huge site like this. I don’t really have words to describe how I feel. Besides excitement. Since I’ve probably written than word at least 5 times already.

I always write for me. And because I enjoy it. So for it to have the potential to be seen by hundreds of thousands of people is pretty surreal. And a dream. And I guess, a bucket list item accomplished too (I wanted a post to go viral. While not viral, I’ll consider it a success!)

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Setting Goals

Happy Monday my friends! ….. Just kidding. It’s Tuesday. And yes….I completely forgot it’s actually Tuesday. Long Weekend Problems.

Today, I’m talking about goals. Life goals, fitness goals, pretty much any kind of goal. I’m the type of person who sets a goal, puts her mind too it for about 3 weeks, and then quickly loses motivation because pizza sounds so much better running.

But I know having goals in place can keep one accountable. So with Labor Day behind us, and for some reason summer back in full swing, I decided that it’s time to set some good, attainable goals for the next four months (until the end of 2014).

1. Exercise more. This has been a much-discussed topic in my house for probably…. well, forever. So, it’s time to nip it in the butt and get moving. I go through such spurts with fitness. Insanity for 6 weeks last year (granted, I had to stop because I injured myself… but I could have done other things), Running for about 4 weeks, gym for about 3 weeks, etc. I’m a start and stop kind of fitness person. I want to stop being that kind of person, and start becoming the person who incorporates some sort of activity into their life everyday. It’s not about vanity anymore; it’s about my health. Especially as I close in on the big 3-0.

What am I doing to kickstart this?

For one thing, I signed up for personal training sessions with a good friend of mine who is local. She knows how much I have struggled with my weight and fitness through the years (since high school!) and really wants to help. So next Tuesday, it’s off to a local park for some serious one on one personal training. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m anxious. But I know she’s awesome at it, and will push me just far enough beyond my limits to make it count.

What else am I doing?

I plan on going to the gym every morning. Even with personal training twice a week in the evenings. Even if it’s for 20-30 minutes of cardio. Just to keep myself in that mindset. If I don’t go to the gym, then it’s a 2.5 mile walk at lunch. And during the beautiful fall weather, I’ll STILL go for a walk at lunch, even if I worked out in the AM. I need to keep myself moving.

2. Lose 15 pounds. Considering the amount of weight I have to lose (like nearly 60 pounds to my ultimate goal weight), this is minimal. But, it’s a smaller goal. And doesn’t seem so intimidating. I’m giving myself 4 months to lose 15 pounds. That’s 3.75 pounds per month. I can definitely do that. And I’m hoping in the next four months, it ends up being a bit more than that. But I’m focusing on 15. And whatever else happens, happens.

3. Try new things. I’ve always been the type to avoid trying new things because I was intimated. Or I was scared of what others would think of me. But now, I want to push that to the back of mind and start living. I’ve already signed up to learn to Paddleboard. Maybe I’ll consider trying Yoga. Or joining a running group.

4. Run a 5K. This one may not be attainable in the next 4 months. I’ll have to see how I’m doing fitness-wise by October/November. And how the weather is. But if I’m not ready, I’ll run one next year. This has always been on every goal list, bucket list, resolution list, etc. and I really want to focus on achieving it.

5. Blog more. I’ve really tried to be better about neglecting this blog. I have gotten better. But I want to aim to post more things of value. Not just ranting posts. Or posts where I’m trying to be funny. Legitimate posts that people want to read and are interested in what I have to say.

6. Meet my 100 books read goal. I’m SO far behind on this it’s not even funny. I’ve read 58 books this year. I have 42 more to go. That’s 10.5 books per month for the next 4 months to hit my goal. Le sigh…. it’s a good thing I have lots of good books ready and waiting on my nook! I’m currently reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer . LOVE.

7. Cook more. I love to cook. I’m just lazy. Which means we eat whatever is easy. Which usually ends up being take-out. Now that’s not 100 degrees out (except for this week), I plan on cooking more dinners. One, it’s healthier. And two, leftovers. Which are always the best for lunch. We also recently purchased a Ninja, and I’ve been dying to use it. And I haven’t yet. But the first thing I plan on making…. homemade hummus. YUM!

8. Frame some of my photography. And not for my own use. To have ready so that I can start proposing art shows to local places around town. I have SO.MUCH. personal work that I would love to be able to sell, but without really getting it out there, it’s not going to. Yes, I love my Etsy shop, but it’s also not doing what I had hoped. So, it’s time to frame my work and hope I can get it at some local coffee shops around town. Maybe even sell a few pieces during the holidays.

9. Stop worrying so much, and start living. Hence my goals. If you notice, they are pretty generic.

And if I don’t hit them all, oh well. I’m not fretting anymore.

I’m no longer trying to use the gym for my appearance, but rather my health (although the vanity benefits rock too!). I’m not letting my fear or intimidation get to me, and allowing myself to try the things I’ve always wanted to try. I’m not worried about what others thing about this blog, instead I’m writing for me. That’s what this has always been. I’m enjoying reading, as opposed to trying to fill a quota. Yes, I’m trying to reach 100 books, but if I don’t do it this year, I’ll try again in 2015.

Setting goals is simply to help me organize what’s next for me in the coming months. To help keep me focused and know that I’m always doing something to better myself.

What are you doing in the next four months to better yourself?

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What’s On My Mind Wednesday {5/28/14}

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Kimye Wedding: I honestly don’t even really want to talk about this. But it’s on my mind, therefore, it goes into today’s post. Congratulations to them. Honestly, I’m thrilled they found each and are now married. Now seriously media, cut the crap and stop talking about it. It’s over. Yes, Rob Kardashian supposedly left before the wedding in tears. But honestly, who really cares that much?

But enough is enough. Honestly. They are more important things happening. Like the missing school girls. Kimye is not an important topic. Also, I’m now considering opening a poll for how long their marriage lasts. (That’s pretty awful of me…. gosh, I shouldn’t have even gone there…)

However, you’re like me and are sick of hearing about it, but totally want to see pictures…. here’s a link.

Blogging: (Ironic I know….) But really. I finally took the step and made the blog self-hosted and got a custom theme for it. I love it. I really do. But I’m struggling with what plugin’s I should get, and adding other little things to make it more ‘me’. I have all the big ones – Shareholic, Yoast SEO, Google Analytics, and so on. And I think I really like my Instagram and Facebook plug in’s. But I still feel like it’s missing something. Any suggestions? Fellow bloggers – what did you find worked to really give your blog that little extra something?

Sweat Pink: I seriously love this group. After becoming an Ambassador in September, I finally started to get to know the group and see what it’s all about. And boy did I find one of the most (if not the most) supportive group of women out there. We all have one thing in common – being and/or getting healthy. And everyone is in a different phase of their journey. It’s amazing, and I’m so honored to be a part of that group. There is truly nothing better then ‘sweating pink!’

Travel: I love traveling. I hate flying. It’s a slight dilemma. But despite my fear of flying, I’ve been a lot of places. California twice, Las Vegas twice, Wyoming and Colorado, Mexico twice, British Virgin Islands, Florida (at least once a year from the time I was a baby until I was 10), Kentucky, Washington DC, Annapolis, and I’m sure there are others that aren’t coming to mind.

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(Top – Standing in two states at once at the Hoover Dam; Arizona and Nevada. Bottom – Touching the Pacific Ocean for the first time. These were from our 2011 trip to California and Las Vegas)

I love exploring new places and being someplace different.In 2013, we traveled but not to an exotic new place for a vacation. I visited Washington, D.C. in March to see my best friend and Annapolis, MD in October for the best friend’s wedding. This year though… whole new ballgame. We will be off to Rota, Spain for ten days in July (!!!!), followed by a tentative trip to Las Vegas in November (!!!!). Lots of travel (and flying) this year! Fingers crossed I don’t have a complete and utter panic attack on the plane!

Alright – not too much on my mind today! Have a great Wednesday!

There should be more hours in the day.

I’m having one of those days where I feel like I’ve abandoned the blog. I know it’s only been a week, but I’m definitely struggling with the aspect of ‘not enough hours in the day’.

I already have been getting up earlier than normal to work on the photography business (editing and the etsy shop), and then I’m at work from about 8:30-5 (and usually get a run in on my lunch hour. Also, I love my job.), and then it’s time to head home, make dinner and spend time with the other half. At this point, we’re usually just trying to catch up on our favorite shows, or I’m reading a book. Sometimes, depending on how many shoots I’ve had, it’s back to do some more editing. We’re usually in bed around 8 PM since we’re both up early.

So needless to say, I’m having a hard time attempting to fit the blogging in too.

I know. The answer is to start planning posts, and scheduling them ahead.

Yes – easier said than done. Especially when you don’t really have the time to brainstorm, write, edit, schedule, etc. It’s a challenge. And I’m totally envious of all of those bloggers out there who can do it.

My goal for this blog wasn’t to post each day about what I did that day, what I wore, what I ate, etc. It was created to be a creative outlet for me. However, lately, I’m feeling like I’m even lacking there. And I’m even putting pressure on myself to be that blogger who posts daily.

But I’m taking a step back. I don’t HAVE to write daily. I don’t HAVE to write if I don’t want too, or if inspiration hasn’t hit. I wish I could be like my favorite blogs I read every day. I really do. Their blogs look amazing, they appear effortless, and are so much fun to read. I look forward to them every day (you can check a few of my favorites out in my Blog Roll!). But right now, I just don’t have the time to devote here every day. My life is busy. And I want this blog to be enjoyable, for all parties. It’s not fun for any of you reading this for me to just be ranting about my day (kind of like I’m doing here… I suppose….sorry!). I mean, unless something interesting happened of course!

So, if I’m coming to realize that it’s okay if I disappear. I never set a standard that I’d post every day. I simply wanted this as an outlet to write, whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Hence why it’s a glimpse into my life. So back to the roots I go. A little of this, a little of that, with some healthy living stuff, and some photography, and just all around me.

But only when I feel like it of course. (Hopefully that will be a little bit more often!)

And thanks to all who subscribes, follows, stops by, and so on. I really do appreciate each and every one of you. I’m glad to know my rantings are enjoyed…. at least some of the time 😉

 

Plans, Diagnosis and Patience

We’re going to cover a few different areas today – mainly because it will probably be the best way to organize my thoughts. I have a lot running through my head and I’m just trying to get them all down in one place.

Plans

For a while now, I’ve really wanted to blog. I started this blog as a means to express myself after graduating from graduate school in 2011. It’s progressed over the last couple of years, but I also neglected it on numerous occasions. It went from being a writing outlet, to a place to showcase my newly developed photography business, to a place to showcase my venture into healthy living. Numerous blogs have inspired me along the way, most have been healthy living bloggers, and I aspired to have a blog like them. But after speaking with a few of them, the number one thing they all told me was, ‘Just Be You’. I realized that I was trying to turn this blog into something it wasn’t. I’m not a healthy living blogger, but a person on a quest to a healthy lifestyle.

So my new journey, is to bring this blog back to it’s roots. Back to being a place where I write, I post a few photos here and there and just be me. What you won’t see here: Pictures of every meal I eat, discussion about my day job other than that I am a Marketing professional, and healthy living advice. It’s not me. What you will see and read is truly me. I’m a quirky, life-loving twenty-something trying to make the most out of my life with my wonderful fiance, family and friends.

Would I love for this blog to be the next big thing? Sure. It would be a dream come true. I would love to be Jen Lancaster and become a best-selling author from my blogs. Am I okay if this doesn’t happen? Of course I am. I just want this to be my creative outlet and a place where I can write.

Diagnosis

Switching to my quest for a healthy lifestyle for a moment. I’ve chronicled, albeit a bit slowly here, my journey for a healthy lifestyle. I had started another blog and quickly stopped using it when I remembered ‘I’m not a healthy living blogger’. This blog once again became my place to write. About three months ago, the fiance and I started ‘Insanity‘. It was probably one of the hardest things I have ever done workout wise, but a great experience. By week 6, I was down 10 lbs and several inches and feeling great. Then I started with a pretty nasty pain in my left foot. By Labor Day weekend, I could barely walk. After a trip to my primary care and an x-ray (which came up negative), I was on a week of rest and off to the podiatrist. The next week, he diagnosed me with metatarsalgia, prescribed me some pads for my f00t and an anti-inflammatory and told me to rest for a week. Less than a week later, I was back at the podiatrist because the pain moved from the bottom of my foot, to the top and it was swollen and discolored. I was ordered home with an aircast and an MRI for a stress fracture.

It’s been just over a week in the boot, and with two x-rays and an MRI under my belt, it looks like the diagnosis is bone edema/stress reaction (swelling of the bone) in my navicular bone. I find out next Wednesday what the course of treatment will be and how long I can expect to be in the boot for, but let’s just say, I’m not looking forward to any long term boot action. I’m ready to get back out and start training to run again, ride horses and take long walks. But instead, I’m resting, icing and trying to determine a workout plan that means no pressure on my foot.

Patience

I am SO FAR from a patient person. I’m a go-go-go person and thrive off my busy lifestyle. I’ve been forced to sit and relax with this injury and it’s testing my patience. I want to be enjoying the beautiful fall weather not forced to be icing my foot whenever I’m home.

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And yes, that’s an ace bandage wrapping my foot. There is ice underneath it and it is so much easier to do it this way.

It’s been just about 3 weeks since I’ve been able to exercise. I went through the total depressed and angry stage where I stuffed my face and ate my feelings. But now, I’m back to eating healthy and trying to look at the positive side. I’m still trying to focus on the long-term and what I can’t wait to do when the boot is off, but for now, I’m being patient and listening to my body. My foot will tell me when it’s ready to exercise again and that I’m confident of.

What’s the worst sports-related injury you’ve had? How did you overcome it?

I run.

After being away from the blogging world for nearly 6 weeks, I’m back. Hopefully on a more normal schedule. After attempting to run 2 blogs (3 if you count the photography business as well), I started to get overwhelmed and realized that there just wasn’t enough time in the day to do that. Trying to figure out content for each blog was nearly impossible and it had to stop. So as of today, my ‘health’ blog is officially done. I’m coming home to the blog that started it all. It’s all about me and my crazy life, and I couldn’t want anything more.

I’ll call it my ‘life blog with a health twist’ since my current goal is to get healthy.

Ever since the Boston Marathon Bombings a week and a half ago, I’ve felt the need to write. Whenever something big happens, I blog about it. I was started to blog when there was something momentous instead of blogging for the love of it. So instead of writing, I started running. There are enough posts out there about it. In all honesty, I don’t have the words to describe the unthinkable, horrific tragedy that happened so close to home; in the city that I love. I may not have ever lived in Boston, but I consider myself a Bostonian. I was glued to the reports every day for a week. I lived and breathed what happened, like everyone else, but I couldn’t write about it. There were, and still aren’t, any words to describe this event.

So, I ran. As horrible as the tragedy was, it gave me a new form of motivation, like many people. I wanted to run. I wanted to do something that I knew some of these people may not do for a long time. I wanted to run for them. I wanted to run for Boston.

So here I am, in the middle of  Week 2 of Couch to 5K, feeling good about myself. I’m a terrible, slow, runner, but I’m doing it. I started somewhere and I’m going to finish. I’m not going to stop this time. In 7 more weeks, I will be a runner. And that is what is getting me through. Every time I get a cramp in my side or my lungs start to burn, I remind myself that I can do this. I remind myself not to give up. And I push through. I remind myself that I’m not running for me; but running for Boston.

Now, I will probably never run the Boston Marathon (never say never, right?), but in my mind, just being able to accomplish a 5K would be one of the best accomplishments in my life thus far.  Our plan is to aim for a Fall 5K – that way once I’m doing with the training program (which will be right around my birthday in June), we can keep working on the running and speed part. But who knows, as I get closer, I may just feel the need to sign up for some form a race just to give a go!