On Blogging – One Year In

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One year ago today I started this blog. 

This was my first real post. It’s kind of embarrassing. But blogging is always kind of embarrassing, right?

I’ve learned a lot during my first year of blogging. In the beginning I knew nothing. I had never heard of link ups and had no idea sponsorships existed. The idea some people pull in a steady blogging paycheck each month blew my mind.

Last August I was a sparkly newlywed full of hope and ready to start something new. One of my freelance employees suggested that I start writing articles sharing  my personal perspective on life as a newlywed. I was a little hesitant, but the fact that he was paying me for each article made me try it anyways. 

Soon after writing these cliché newlywed articles for him I decided to branch out and start my very own blog, writing about whatever I wanted. I have since stopped writing the for profit articles. They felt false and forced. Probably because money was involved. 

What I’ve Learned Since Then:

Blogging is hard. Much harder than I thought it was.  It takes time, effort, and a fearless attitude.

The Best Advice:

The best advice I received before starting this blog is the best advice I also give: Be authentic. 

It’s very easy to lose sight of your true self in blogging.

You get lost in the comparison game. In the number game. In blogging just to blog. You get lost feeling like you have to blog every damn day. Your voice gets lost. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. Even when you say, “No, no I could care less about the numbers, I’m writing for me!” Please, if you were writing for yourself, you’d write in a private journal. A little piece of you will always care about the numbers. 

Other bloggers will start to feel like the mean girls that would never invite you to the cool high school parties. But remember, the good people always, always, out weigh the bad.

One day, you’ll see 15 bloggers blogging about the very same topic. Sponsored posts take over and you wonder “What’s the point?”

Like most things in life, my blogging goes through ebbs and flows. I’ll have a month where I can’t get the words out fast enough. I’m filled with ideas and questions. Other months I’m at a loss at what to say and fall back on recipes, lists, and link ups that end up feeling un-authentic and dry. And still, other months I feel so disheartened by blogging. Times when it all feels like a big pointless game I just want to shut it all down.

I’ve learned to take blogging breaks. Breaks are okay! A week or two off here and there will never hurt you. I’m learned to leave blogging behind for a bit and to let new ideas come in. To gain a fresh perspective. And then I come back with a new whole passion for blogging and sharing. 

There are no set rules. Make your own and follow them. 

Blogging will always be weird, a little nerdy, and very narcissistic. People will judge you but a few people will connect with you. Even if one new person connects with you, it is worth it.

I’m not sure what the future of this blog holds for me. I hope you continue along on the journey!

xoxo Katie

My Writing Process (part of a blog tour!)

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A little while ago my blogging friend Amanda, from Notes From  Newlywed,  asked me to take part in a little writing theme that has been making its way around blogland lately, the Writing Process Blog Tour. Similar to Home Tours that allow you to peak into people’s private homes and get ideas or tips or to learn something new, this blog tour allows fellow writers to take a peak into other writer’s minds.  The idea is to learn about various thoughts on writing and the writing processes and to be introduced to new blogs and writers. 

I’m always happy to talk about writing, reading, and words with people who share my enthusiasm so I was very happy to participate. Writing has been a part of my life since my teenage years. Whether it’s keeping a journal, writing poetry or stories, or studying as an English major in college. I can’t imagine a world without books and writing.

We were all asked the same questions about writing and here are my answers:

What am I working on?

Other than writing for this blog, I do some freelance editing and writing for a small publishing company as well as the writing I do for my full-time job. At the publishing company we are currently editing the final touches to a non fiction book on how to fundraise for non profits. The book is written by a developement  industry veteran who currently teaches at NYU. It’s been interesting to get to know him and to learn all the ins and outs of the industry. He has some great and hilarious stories involving mob members, celebrities, and other awkward situations.  As a former employee of a struggling non-profit, I’m learning so much of what went wrong. Once the book is published I’ll share a link to buy it on Amazon – if you work/volunteer for a non-profit or if you job has anything to do with fundraising I’d recommend it!

At my full-time job my day is full of a lot of technical and promotional writing. Although this may sound boring, I work for a consulting company that specializes in creativity training. We teach people how to think more quickly and creatively on demand by giving them easy to use creativity tools. These easy to learn skills can very easily change the way your brain processes and thinks. It’s really amazing to watch the changes happen in our clients work and personal lives. Since I love the work, the technical writing is fun and I do get to be a little creative. 

In my free time I write this blog. My most favorite posts are those about trying to be the best you that you can be, like finding and using your voice, respecting your own dreams and goals, following your bliss, and celebrating you! I love writing reflective and sensitive pieces. Behind closed doors I write poetry and a little fiction as a stress reliever and hobby.  I use writing as a way to work through thoughts and issues. My blog has proved to be a very cheap form of therapy. In all honesty though, I hope I am relating to others in my writing and giving them that satisfying “me too” moment. 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The genre that is lifestyle blogs? Is there such a “genre”? I think not.

I think we all have our own individual voices and that is what makes blogging so appealing. No matter what “type” of person you are you will find a blog or blogger that speaks specifically to you. My blog tends to be a little bit more serious and reflective. I’ll never be one of those funny bloggers. I don’t set rules for myself in this place. In blogging I try my best for my writing to sound like my speaking voice as I like my writing to feel like a conversation I am having with you over coffee. I don’t write for everyone. I write for myself and for those that can relate to me. I truly hope to build a community with those that do. Some may not care for it, and that’s okay! 

Why do I write what I do?

I write to connect. Words make the world a smaller place. There is always at least one other person out there that can connect with the thoughts you are sharing. Your words may make them feel inspired, angered, uplifted, or happy. I write to feel human – to document my never-ending journey or learning and growing.

I’ve always been fascinated with words and the power they have over people. Words give us the power to inspire, to not feel alone, to connect with strangers, to provide hope, to believe in love and to change the world.

How does your writing process work?

I have a similar writing process for all the types of writing I do (creative, blog, technical, non fiction). I have a long list of ideas or thoughts that I want to write about. If I need inspiration I can find it by going for a walk, listening to music, or browsing the internet, but the most common way I find inspiration is through reading. I try to read about 2 -3 books per month. Once I have an idea my next step is to  find my writing spot for the day/afternoon/night.

First, I need complete silence, no music, no TV, no background noise. I can get very nit picky about this! Once I’m in a quiet space, I start with pen and paper. Always on pen and paper. I either curl up in bed or on the couch and write out my thoughts, usually just little snippets. I then try to find the main theme of what I’m thinking. After I have my theme I construct an outline of how I’m going to structure my post, article, story etc. Then I simply let it flow from there.

Somedays it takes me a whole month to craft and polish a post. Others I write on the spot and throw it out there, errors and all as it was something I needed to simply put out there. I never guarantee perfect grammar or spelling all the time, I’m only human, and this is only a personal blog.

That said, my favorite posts are those that I take time to craft and mull over. I follow the advice of Coco Chanel. She famously said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.”   I try to do that with my writing, omitting and rewriting until I feel my writing is ready to walk out the door. Brevity is an art form and one I struggle with. My blog challenges me and I strive to continue to develop and strengthen my writing skills over time. I’m so thankful for all my readers who have come along on this adventure with me. 

Continue Your Tour!

Now I’d like to pass the torch onto another writer. Please continue your blog tour withAllie at Everyday Adventures 

allie 


and Lisa at Two Martinis

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and hear their thoughts on writing and their writing process.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on writing and writing processes. Please share them below to start the dialogue. 

xoxo Katie

 

The Inspiration Expedition

inspiration expedition

Over this past month I was feeling uninspired. The monotony of day-to-day life was wearing me down and I was flat-out tired. Every time I went to write a post I felt empty, I had zero energy to write about my feelings and felt like I had nothing to give or to share. Writer’s block was hitting me hard and I felt like I was abandoning my commitment to this blog.

I needed some inspiration.

In a guilt induced panic I began a desperate search for this elusive inspiration that was going to fill me with all of the ideas, passions, and feelings. I consciously told my inner thoughts to “Be quite! I have some inspiration to go find!”

I took a big breath and set off on an inspiration expedition.

These expeditions aren’t new endeavors for me. I’m a little bit of an inspiration junkie, consuming all articles, books, quotes, podcasts, videos, songs, anything that will fill me with a little hit of inspiration.

I spent countless hours reading the many blogs that I follow looking for ideas or a words that would ignite something in me. I only find myself comparing and thinking , “well I’ll never write something that beautiful” or “I’m not funny like her”. Next I find myself scrolling through Pinterest seeing images of DIY projects I’m not talented enough to create or rooms decorated so beautifully they can’t possibly have people living in them. So then I start stalking celebrity train wrecks on Twitter in an attempt to make myself feel better which leads me to take quizes telling me what country or which Hunger Games district I should live in and soon enough I find myself getting envious over the elaborate and perfect seeming life of a former college classmate on Facebook.

I throw my phone down in disgust and realize that not only did I just waste 2 hours of my life but I was left feeling I’m even more lost  and disconnected feeling than before.

So, I gave up.

I consciously decided to take a break. I was going to stop consuming inspiration. I cut off my expedition and retreated into solitude me time.

I stopped writing a blog 5 times a week, choosing to only write 3 times a week. I took more walks. I read more. Whenever I had a free second I chose to not reach for my phone and concisouly put it out of reach. When I watched TV or a movie I did not allow any distractions and paid attention to the story. I put my phone away. I stopped checking Facebook and twitter hundreds of times a day. I took naps. I journaled more and  I scheduled quiet time before bed each evening, allowing room for reflection.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what the outcome was.

I discovered inspiration everywhere. My soul felt nourished. I felt like an individual with value again.

By choosing to turn up the volume of all of the external noise, the blogs, the social media, the comparison to others, I was consciously telling my own thoughts that they weren’t good enough. All the outside inspiration was so loud that it was deafening all of my own  internal thoughts and feelings. I can’t even bear to think of all those wasted hours spent searching (or procrastinating) on my phone.

I’ve made the conscious choice to make time for internal inspiration. To set aside a little time once a day or even once a week for you to turn off lower the volume on all that external noise and distraction and create your own thoughts and feelings. It goes back to my 2014 goal to respect my own desires and myself more.. Your biggest resource for inspiration is yourself.

We all have it inside of us, it just needs us to pay attention to it.

xoxo Katie

 

In Defense of the English Major

  in defense of the english major, Katie a beautiful little adventure

I was an English major in college. No, I was never a teacher, nor did I have any great works published. I simply love to read, analyze, think about, discuss, and write about literature. Being an English major forced me to think critically and abstractly on a daily basis – uncovering themes and tropes as well as applying these thought processes to myself and the world around me.

We English majors get a lot of flak. During college the first response when I informed people what I was majoring in was, “What are going to do with that?” or “That sounds like a  waste of money.” Now, 9 years later, people still ask, “Are you actually using your English degree?”, “Was your degree a waste?”, or “You’re writing, but are you getting paid?”. It’s very rude!

I chose to study literature and still love it today because literature is a study of life in all its greatest forms. You get to experience life through the eyes of the greats from all time periods and doing so heightened my awareness of the human experience.

Additionally, it has broadened my perspective and has helped me become self-aware. I know I drive Ryan and my friends crazy by over analyzing every word, every moment, and every episode of Mad Men (or even  things like pop song lyrics and The Walking Dead). I can’t shake it, it’s part of who I am.

Being an English Major not only primed me to think differently about the world – it has also provided me with valuable tools to use in the workforce. Yes, it took a couple of years to figure out how to hone these skills and use them to my advantage. I couldn’t tell you how many interviews I went to where people stared dumbly at my resume, “so…English major eh?”.

Yet, I feel the my major has allowed me to possess and master certain skills sets that make me a desirable employee in many fields.  Skills like critical thinking, analytical thinking, writing skills, interpersonal skills, synthetic thinking, lateral thinking, creativity and most importantly communication skills. If you can communicate with varying audiences effectively, you can do pretty much anything.

But my choice to be an English major had nothing to do with the skills it would equip me with for the post-graduate job force. As a bright-eyed 18-year-old, I didn’t even consider those skills. I decided to be an English major because I loved to read. Reading allowed me to become other people, to see the world through the eyes of Bronte, Hemingway, Yeats, Milton, and Joyce. It wasn’t a form of escape, it was a way to live a life outside of my own. To experience the world and meet new people outside of my small college campus.

With each piece of literature I was invited to question our society, examine our culture, and analyze the world we occupy. I learned to step behind the lens of varying perspectives and to stretch my mind while nurturing my own opinions and spirit. By doing so I became more part of the world; more human.

People may ask, “So? Why would you become an English major? Why is that so important? How does that make you valuable to the future and the workforce?”

My reply?

Can you imagine a world without literature?A world without stories, letters, poems, plays, movies, song lyrics?

What would be the purpose to life? To simply work, produce products, sell, consume, and die? That would be proposing a life without art, a life without symbolism, a life without humanity.

Civilization is built upon stories and texts and analysis of history. We learn from the past and history is written and told; why else is it called history? From these stories we learn to endure and to grow and to live.

Our existence is meant for more than simply working and producing in order to survive. We are born to create and to enjoy and to share.

I believe all students can mutually agree that they learned more about life than about earning a living during their four years at college. I am fully in support of English Majors.  I can’t think of any better major to personally equip me both mentally and spiritually for my tenure as a human on earth.
xoxo Katie

Happy in 102 Words

happy in 102 words

As I approach my 31st birthday on March 26 I find myself more and more reflective. I’ve grown tremendously during this past year and have never felt so comfortable in my own skin. I utter the word “happy” far more than I ever have.

I was inspired by Kym’s (from Travel Babbles) post in which she summed up happiness in 102 words. There’s a skill in conciseness, one that I am not typically strong at. I think happiness comes down to being content with who you are and where you are in the present moment while simplifying and broadening your perspective at the same time; a unity of opposites if you may.

We have the tendency to over complicate happiness. Sometimes, we see a smile and start to instantly pick it apart, looking for hidden meanings or intentions, and analyze it to death (what IS Mona Lisa smirking about?) when it is simply a smile; an outward expression of joy.

So with that said and in celebration of the art of brevity here is my current state of happiness summed up in 102 words:

It’s that magical time of year where I lie auspiciously between stability and the unknown, my mind split between contentment and anxiety yet waking up smiling nearly every day. March is the Christmas Eve of Spring. My heart is tender, warmed by puppy snuggles as I get lost in a book. Outside the rain falls and the wind blows reminding me that Spring is coming and with this new season comes a new tenure of highs and low. March marks a new year to my time in this world and my mind happily wonders to the unexpected gifts she may bring me.

Life is good. The unexpectedness makes it beautiful.

xoxo Katie

 

#SayYesProject Dropping the Fear

Katie A Beautiful Little Adventure

This post is part of the #sayyesproject series run by Amber of Mr. Thomas and Me

Let’s be frank, blogging is weird. I come here 4-5 times a week and pour my heart out to you. I talk to you like you’re my bestie and form connections with strangers. I treat this space like my own personal diary, the one if it was a real one would be on lock down, hidden away from even my husband. I let my thoughts flow freely and open myself up to strangers who come back and read weekly. Here I am, a woman who barely shares more than vacation photos and dog photos on Facebook, sharing intimate details on my blog for all the world to read. It’s very strange.

I come here because I love to write. I love the vulnerability I can express here. I love the power of words to connect, to bring hope and laughter and make us feel like we are a part of something.

They make us feel like we are part of this world but yet separate. Yes, there is a paradox in this blogging world. I wake up excited to come here and strip down and let my thoughts flow freely, yet, the idea of actually saying these same thoughts to you in person, for you to see me “live”, for me to share my heart so purely with out all of the careful planning and drafting of my pen and paper terrifies. me.

This past month I decided to overcome that fear and “Say Yes” to filming a vlog. I anticipated filming this vlog with sweaty hands and an anxious heart. I felt that once I allowed myself to be seen almost in person it opens the door a little wider, making it easier for you all to judge me, to criticize me and to make assumptions.

I also live with the other weird element of blogging: I love writing to share with all of you “strangers” but I also tense up whenever people in “real” life mention they know of the existence of my blog or, gasp, read it! My best friends shared my blog on Facebook last week and at first I nearly had a heart attack. Why is that I can share myself so openly on here but the idea of sharing that part of myself with friends or acquaintances makes me want to shut it all down?

I started blogging 6 months ago and have fallen in love. I have met amazing new friends and have learned much about myself.  Blogging is such a perfect platform for sharing, for writing, and for expressing who you are. I’m all about that. The idea of women finding their voices and becoming empowered to follow their own path is what makes my heart sing. That passion all circles back to my respect mantra for 2014.

It started out as something entirely different and now has turned into a beloved hobby and favorite form of release. My voice did not come easy and there were a lot of things to figure out. I had no idea about link ups, giveaways, sponsors, and how to best use social media. I was always hesitate to call myself a “blogger”. I’m still trying to figure it all out but I’m also learning how to write my own rules. And that’s what living an empowered life comes down to, am I right? Learning how to live by your own rules.

I am a blogger. People in real life may judge it but only more so if I’m not confident in my voice, happy with what I’m doing. By being terrified and unsure of doing a  vlog I was evoking a reaction in others. i was giving them permission to judge. So, I decided to step up my game, take the reins, drop the fear, and do a vlog.

It was scary. It was not perfect. I had to write notes. And it was fun! I felt empowered after it and I don’t know why I was so scared. I don’t know why I’m so scared to hide something from others that makes me so happy, especially something that is plastered on the interest for everyone to see.

Blogging will always be weird. We all judge, we all criticize, but does it matter if above it all, we are happy?

So, I’m going to continue saying “yes” to doing what I love, for as long as it makes me happy.

Katy Perry quote I love what I do

#sayyesproject

xoxo Katie

Real Talk – Unfocused

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You see all these bloggers with seemingly perfect lives, Pinterest worthy homes, clothes and days. I’m not one of them. I like to keep things real around here. So here is another edition of ranting real talk

I’m stuck.

No, considering these negative temps we are STILL experiencing, I think frozen is a more appropriate word for what I am experiencing. I can’t find the motivation to do anything.

Earlier this month I communicated my winter time blues, so it is no secret that I’m in a serious thunk. All I want to do is come home to my comfy couch, layer on blankets upon blankets, and eat warm food. It’s too cold for anything else. Last night we finished watching the entire series of Breaking Bad. We started it less than a month ago. (and oh my what seriously good writing, my mind is still reeling). Like, I said, I do not want to get off the couch.

Or out of bed. Upon waking I spend way too much time on my phone or pushing the snooze button, postponing the inevitable truth that I will have to get up and go to work. Normally I enjoy my job. I like the work my company does and I love the relaxed environment I work in. I’m the only employee and can wear jeans everyday, and can get away with leggings and yoga pants! But my frozen brain is making it very hard to get through the work day. I’m putting off projects til the last-minute. Everytime I go to start a new project I get instantly distracted. I make other easier work just so I don’t have to do the harder work.

And just have a look at my desk.

my cluttered desk

Gone is the neat and organized girl. Soon they are going to send the producers of “Hoarders” in for me. Maybe I think the piles of papers will soon act as insulation and keep me warm?

The gym is only happening 3 times a week as opposed to my usual 5-6 times a week. At home I’ve been preparing only the easiest of meals and avoiding all laundry and cleaning. Surprisingly, I’ve managed to put away most Christmas decorations, yet my kitchen still seems to be confused as you can see:

chalkboard

I am constantly thinking up cute winter or  Valentine’s day sayings to replace the Christmas message. But, every time I look at it, I just feel overwhelmed at the idea of taking down the board, erasing, and writing a new message. I just look at it and run out of the room, choosing to ignore.

Same goes with blog posts. I have at least half a dozen well thought out drafts, but when it comes time to finalize them I come up with a million excuses. The worst is when I decide to write something off the top of my head, like this ranting gem of a post. Nothing like writing about writer’s block,am I right blogosphere?

All of these consequences are followed by guilt and more avoidance. The fact that my desk and house is a mess is truly counterproductive because I do my best creative work and productive work in neat and tidy work spaces. So, the clutter just stresses me out more and I just walk away from it. Hey, even at this point it feels like I’m avoiding finishing up this post with any real structure or closure and just rambling on and on.

So, I decided that if I come here on the blog and offer some advice on how to FOCUS then I’d HAVE to take my own advice or live with knowing I’m a huge hypocrite. So, here are a few ways in which

Split up Tasks: I get so overwhelmed when I see 30 emails to respond to, or a stack of papers that need to be sorted and dealt with. Try to tackle one obstacle at a time. For example, I will tell myself that I will respond to 4 emails, upload and edit 10 photos, and type 1 chapter of the manuscript I’m working on. Break down your tasks. Most of the jobs aren’t hard per say, they just seem overwhelming when combined.

Reward Yourself: Tell yourself that after completing one of your tasks you can browse twitter for 5 minutes or that you can have a second cup of coffee. Simple rewards break up the day and also structure your time. I know if I didn’t give myself these time limits I could get lost on social media for hours.

One Song = One Job: Put on your favorite music and tell yourself your going to work on one thing while one song is playing. This works best for me with household chores. I’ll start in the kitchen and say I’ll work for the duration of one song. Usually once the next song comes on I think, oh I can work through another song. Pretty soon I’ve cleaned all of downstairs!

Schedule a 30 Minute Time Slow with NO Distractions: When I’m writing, editing, or doing similar work I can’t have any distractions. I must close all extra tabs on the internet, put my phone in another room, turn off the music, and be alone. I’ve found that if I tell myself I have 30 minutes to work, and make sure there are zero distractions, I dive into my work head first and end up working well over an hour. Time flies without distractions.

Have any other tips to share with me? I’m hoping this attitude of mine melts away with the snow.

xoxo Katie