What I’m Loving | 10/29/2017

It’s the week of Halloween! I’ve never seen a child in our apartment complex, but I’m still holding out hope that we’ll get some trick or treaters this year. As Halloween is on a Tuesday, I think we’ll just stay in and finish up Stranger Things’ season 2.

This week was very draining, and I wanted nothing more than to come home and be a loaf each evening. Unfortunately, I had a lot to get done, but we got our Halloween costumes settled and I got to see my marketing friends from San Jose, so there were a few bright spots! Then on Friday night we stayed in and caught up on American Horror Story, which was a much-needed breather.

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately (besides Halloween!):

Books :: Leave Your Mark was an extremely well-written book packed full of good advice. I think I liked this one so much because it wasn’t too “niche”; the advice was mainly professionally-oriented, but many things were applicable to all aspects of adulthood. If you’re a fan of inspirational reads (which you know I am!) I would certainly add this to the top of your queue. I’m now starting We Are Called to Rise due to its glowing reviews – excited to give feedback on it!

Listening :: I took the enjoyment from my Arcade Fire listening project and transferred it to The Killers’ discography. Another one of those back-of-the-shelf bands for me, I’ve always liked them in the vaguest sense. They’ll be playing a festival in December I’m attending, and I’m starting my homework early because nothing is worse than seeing a band live and not knowing their songs.

Spare Time :: Halloween costumes, working out, and meeting up with friends have taken up most of my time! I’ve had lunch plans almost every day with people in my office, and my evenings have also been fairly busy preparing for Halloween and catching up on things around the house. I haven’t gotten a lot of reading done this week, unfortunately, so I plan to make that more of a priority in the days ahead.

Style :: Magenta from Rocky Horror! Last night we attended a live version of Rocky Horror Picture Show, where dressing up is necessary. We did this at a Chattanooga bar last year and it was one of the most fun events I’ve ever attended, so I definitely missed having our friends around for this time. I couldn’t convince Harley to go as Rocky this year (who doesn’t want an excuse to wear gold shorts?!), so I was Magenta and he was Riff Raff. Thankfully the costumes were fairly easy to assemble from our closets, which is my favorite kind!

I’m making Bird do a fall photo shoot today with her pumpkin ruff, so if I’m mauled with scratches the next time you see me don’t be alarmed.

How To: Crafting Content

I’ve reached the stage of blogging where people ask me questions about it, which is possibly the most flattering thing imaginable. I love when people reach out and it’s a great way to keep up with old friends. One of the most common inquiries has been “how do you think of stuff to write about?”, which is also one of the most difficult ones to answer.

When I first started blogging, I assumed the biggest obstacle would be the time commitment of sitting down to write. What I’ve learned is that the writing isn’t the most time-consuming part – finding content is! Coming up with material that’s relevant, personal enough to be relatable (but not too personal!), and something I think people will care about is something I end up putting a lot of energy into each week.

I know that having a content calendar is a very popular choice for bloggers and I’ve considered adopting that method as well. I can see the pros and cons to both, but for now, I’ve enjoyed not being bound to a specific plan. It allows me a real-time, off-the-cuff strategy which feels like the most authentic way for me to engage right now. It is something I could see myself doing in the future, but for now here are my current strategies for content creation:

Consume content from a variety of sources // I get inspiration from all over the place. Other blogs, books, articles, and even Instagram or Twitter accounts can be fantastic sources to spark ideas. It’s easy to get in your own “social media bubble”, so I try to take a really varied approach in the kind of content I seek out. For instance, I’m a sucker for newsletter digests because they’re easy to read, but I make sure to read at least a few long-form articles a day to balance that. I find myself feeling far more creative when I’ve been exposed content with different forms or themes, and you never know what you could discover.

Hold yourself accountable // Since the early days of the blog, I’ve always kept myself on a Sunday and Wednesday publishing schedule. Having this kind of routine keeps me in the mindset of producing content on certain days, and since I give myself a deadline I know I’ll devote time to thinking of something. While I do twice a week, even if you want to do one blog a month I’d recommend setting a specific day to publish. Sticking to a schedule is a great way to hold yourself accountable, even if it is a self-imposed routine.

Write ideas as they come (with context!) // I often think of ideas on the train, while I’m at work, etc., so keeping a running note on my phone has become a necessity. While the most important thing is that you get the thought down, making sure you’re specific is also something I underestimated the importance of. I’m terrible about only adding a single word, and then when I go back to revisit I’m left staring at a vague term that I can’t remember the context for. This is useless, so give yourself enough clues to piece it together after the idea has left your mind!

Let yourself write // I’ve can’t tell you how many times I’ve started writing a blog post, only to realize I’m rambling and need to separate it into different topics. I try not to censor myself during my first draft too much so I can encourage this process to happen. When you go back to edit your posts, ask yourself “does every statement promote my main idea” and if not, “could I give this a spin-off post”. This ends up saving me legwork later on because from one writing session I’ve given myself 2 or 3 post ideas! Work smarter, not harder, as they say.

Thinking of content can be hard, but keeping yourself inspired organically is a great way to encourage your brain to keep the creativity alive. Maybe in the future, I’ll implement a content calendar and stick to certain topics, but right now it’s fun to play around to determine what inspires me the most. Above all, have fun with it! People will absolutely be able to tell if you’re inauthentic or lack passion, so make sure you write from the heart so the rest can fall in to place.


What I’m Loving | 10/22/2017

Yesterday Harley and I went to the pumpkin patch, and I was so excited. I brought my camera, prepared to have a day of fall fun. I guess I should have realized when we pulled up to a warehouse parking lot that it wasn’t going to be what I envisioned, but I was blindly optimistic. Between the screaming children and inflatable slides, the actual pumpkin patch seemed like an afterthought. I still got a few decent pictures without hordes of people or bouncy houses in the background, but it was not the picturesque pumpkin patch of my dreams. Next year we’ll know to take the extra time and drive to a nice farm to give it another go!

Despite that little set back it’s been a nice weekend! Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Books :: Reach Out was a great book. It only took me a few hours to get through, but it had a lot of strategies for expanding your network and making (genuine!) professional connections! I also read The Handmaid’s Tale, which I absolutely recommend. I’m a sucker for this “mild sci-fi” type of read, and the story absolutely kept me enamored! It also spawned a lot of thought about how women fit into society as a whole, and I definitely want to check out the Hulu series. I’ve just dug in to Leave Your Mark, and since content and personal branding is a hot-button topic for me right now I’m excited to see what tips it has to offer.

Listening :: Making my way through the Arcade Fire discography was worth the while. I liked having this little “project” for myself and getting to know each of the albums independently. I want to do this again with a different artist so please throw any suggestions my way!

Spare Time :: I’m finally no longer sick! That was a miserable week but I’m back to normal, and so thankful for being able to breathe again. My spare time this week has been playing catch up from that (cleaning the house, meal prep, etc.), and getting back into the habit of working out regularly. The first workout back is always terrible, but I’m looking forward to getting over that hump.

Style :: I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time combing Pinterest for creative Halloween costumes. Harley and I are trying to think of something we can do together that hasn’t been overdone, so right now we’re leaning towards throwing it back with a Tom and Jerry duo if we can find the proper items.

Next week is all the ~Halloween festivities~ and I am ready! Halloween being on a Tuesday is a bit of a bummer, but the weekend before should be a blast. I’ll keep everyone posted on what costume we choose!

A Well Intentioned Life | Part Two

This is Part 2 of my Well Intentioned Life series! If you’re not caught up, you can find the first part here.

I know the phrase “life is too short to be unhappy” is often used, but it’s the mantra I’ve been trying to live by lately. In a world of opportunity, it’s impossible to justify being unhappy about things you have the power change.

Instead of blindly fluctuating between happy and sad, I am doing my best to live a well-intentioned life and chase my passions all of the time. In the first part of this series, I examined some tricks for proactively identifying your problems. Now I’d like to talk about strategies for working intelligently towards your goals so that foundation work doesn’t go to waste!

  1. Do your research. // Once you discover a concrete problem, it’s time to discover a concrete solution. Do research on your topic to make an educated move on what your next step should be. Want to be happier? Find some self-help books. Want to expand your network? Everyone has that one friend with a plethora of connections, so ask how they got to where they are! This is a great start to getting some inspiration and building up that momentum to carry you through the process.
  2. Don’t be afraid. // One of my favorite quotes is by George Addair – “Everything you’ve wanted is on the other side of fear“. How many times have you been excited to make a change, but have talked yourself down when the time comes to take action? Find ways to keep that energy alive and never let fear get in the way of things you know will be good for you.
  3. Stick to your guns. // This is difficult because it involves being very in touch with yourself. It’s great to consult your camp for counsel when making a big change – in fact, I’d recommend it. It’s also equally important to remember your camp won’t support everything that you think is right. Ultimately, only you can know what’s best for you, and as my mom used to say “your real friends will support you either way”! If you know something is your ideal course of action, always stick to your guns!
  4. Work your tail off. // I’m not a fan of the word “hustle” but the same sentiment applies. Once you’ve done your research, determined to not let fear hold you back, and decided to trust yourself, you’ll have to work your tail off to see some results. Unless you’re able to replace another responsibility this can seem overwhelming, but when following your passion the time investment is well worth it in the end. Manage your priorities efficiently and make sure you make the most of the time you’ve set aside for this to keep yourself sane.
  5. Track your progress. // Working towards a hard to reach goal can feel hopeless, which is both frustrating and demoralizing. You can only impact so much of a process, so keeping a record of the ways you’re being proactive is an easy way to keep your spirits up. This will look different depending on your end goal, but utilizing a notes app, Google Docs, or even just a draft email to yourself is a great way to record what you’ve done each day towards a project’s progress!

If you’ve been looking for the push to make a big change, I hope this has been helpful during your journey! Don’t be afraid of doing what’s in your best interest – every day provides an opportunity to be closer to who you want to be.

What I’m Loving | 10/15/2017

Despite being under the weather, it’s been a great week. Half-priced sushi was well worth leaving the house for, and Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at a tech conference. Living in San Francisco really does feel like the land of opportunity – being able to attend a conference featuring companies from all over the world in my own town is an incredible privilege (and great for my networking project).

The air quality in the Bay Area has been far below healthy standards, so I’ve been trying to stay indoors as much as possible. If you’re interested in helping the people of Napa, here is a spreadsheet listing what is needed. It’s incredible to see the outpouring of assistance on both a local and national level, but I know there is still quite a bit that is needed.

Here’s what I’m loving lately:

Books :: I finished Devil in the White City, and boy was it good! Despite going in to this knowing nearly nothing about Chicago, reading about two of it’s most defining moments in history was quite compelling. From my understanding, the author took no fictional liberties with the story whatsoever which I absolutely respect. If you like history but think it can sometimes be dry, I would recommend trying this book! You would think it a novel by how gripping and well-worded the event accounts are, and I’m dying to visit Chicago now. I’m starting Reach Out as mentioned in my networking post, and I have high hopes for it! Despite being endorsed by my favorite blogger, spending $15 on a book so tiny did make my stomach sink a bit. I’ll report back next week!

Listening :: I finally have some updates! I’ve been making my way through the Arcade Fire discography. Arcade Fire is one of the bands I’ve always liked in a general sense, but I didn’t know their music well. Though I’ve only made it through their first two albums, I like it as much as I expected to so far!

Spare Time :: Being sick, really. I’ve been trying to rest up and get well, so half-priced sushi is the only ‘fun’ event of the week. I did watch the new Lady Gaga documentary on Netflix which I would highly recommend if you’re a fan of hers.

Style :: Burgundy jeans! I first dipped my toe in the colored-jeans water with my hunter green pair, but now I’ve been seeing burgundy all over and I am in love. American Eagle has a pair that I love, I’m just not ready to drop the cash yet. Soon!

Also, I know I mentioned my back last week, and with the cough it’s been hurting just as badly this week too. I have a massage scheduled for 1 PM today and I am so excited- hopefully it goes away for good after this!


A Well Intentioned Life | Part One

Sometimes it can be easy to start feeling out of sorts. I’ve always been sensitive to feeling ‘off’, and once I get stuck in a rut it’s equally easy to stay there. I’m quick to make excuses for not being introspective and figuring out where issues are stemming from, but this is a terrible habit I am trying to break.

In the spirit of that, I’ve made it my mission to live a well-intentioned life and to address problems as they arise. The best way I’ve found to start this process is by getting back to center, figuring out what the problem is, and using this to determine the next course of action. For part one of this series, I’d like to discuss my tips to getting grounded and identifying pain points when circumstances put you in a funk:

  1. Return to what drives you // Of course, this is going to vary person by person, but for me, I find getting back to reading, my plants, and taking pictures are a great way for me to center myself. Reminding yourself what makes you happy is a great way to isolate the things that don’t so you can eliminate them.
  2. Do something out of the norm // Switching things up is a great way to clear your head and give yourself some much-needed insight. It’s all too simple to get stuck in the same routines, so do something different and see what helps! Take a walk around the block, go to a different Starbucks, or treat yourself to a dessert. This can get your mind thinking about other topics than the day-to-day drudgery, which is often out of the norm enough to spark productive thoughts.
  3. Make a list (or 5) // This might not be a help to everyone, but I’m very adamant about listing things out. I like to start by writing out what my goal is and what I need to do to get there. From that, it turns into a quick process of elimination of deciding on what isn’t helping achieve that goal. Even if you never reference it again, it gets you to sit and focus on your thoughts instead of letting them float aimlessly through your head!
  4. Talk to someone // I’ve mentioned before that talking about problems isn’t my strongest suit, and though it’s gotten better that’s still the case. However, I’ve found that just spending time with people who I admire can be a big help in piecing together how to bring out those traits in yourself. Ask someone for coffee or lunch and learn what’s been going on with them! Maybe something they say will resonate with your own issue, or it will just provide a nice distraction. Either way, it’s another great way to do something out of the norm that might have even larger implications for your life.

I’m no expert, but these are some tried and true methods for being stuck in a rut. Identifying the problem and taking proactive steps to alter your mindset is the first step to changing. While it can be uncomfortable to face problems head on, it’s more uncomfortable in the long run to continue allowing yourself to be miserable. For the next week, I encourage everyone to find their center and focus on what brings joy, and start isolating the things that don’t. Leading a well-intentioned life doesn’t have to be as scary as it seems!

Stay tuned for part two next week, where I’ll share some tips for taking action once you identify the root of the problem.

What I’m Loving | 10/8/2017

I’ve been having a difficult time this weekend. I somehow messed my back up, so the majority of plans I had to be productive have been thwarted. Not that I’m the type to complain about being forced to sit and read, but considering my laundry day is vastly overdue it has been frustrating. Hopefully with some r&r I’ll be back to 100% in no time!

Here’s what I’m loving:

Books :: I read The Art of Racing in the Rain in record time, and only cried a little bit. I’m now on Leaving Time, which has been great so far. I read Small Great Things by the same author and liked it a lot. She switches between various characters’ perspectives, which is a fun way to get all angles of the story!

Listening :: Honestly, I’m not going to try to make something up. I have hardly been listening to music, and when I have been it’s just more of the same. I’m sorry, everyone. Next week I promise to have something for you.

Spare Time ::  I’ve had something going on every night after work this week, so I’ve not had any spare time to speak of. I went to a friend’s wedding on Friday night, and spent all of yesterday just lounging and playing catch up around the house.

Style :: Combat boots. Now that it’s fall I’m able to break mine out again and it is delightful! Comfortable and stylish, what more could you really need?

I found a Monday deal for half-priced sushi, so I’ll certainly be hitting that up tomorrow! The half priced sushi place in Chattanooga was my favorite, so hopefully this place will measure up.