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Organizing Life With Daily Habits

As someone who grew up with severe anxiety and a bad case of depression, I completely understand how overwhelming the world can become – especially your world. That’s why having daily habits is crucial.

First, there’s work. Sure, some tasks are tedious and menial, but others cause you to strain yourself hours on end to perfect the final product. Then, there’s life at home. If you’re like me, maybe you work as a freelancer after work to make some extra money for utilities. Maybe your parent – and that’s a job all on its own. There are always a million and one things swirling in the back of your mind, and it can be hard to wipe away the fog and narrow in on one.

It’s like my brain gives up, my body is sore, and the only thing I can do is try and sleep it off.

It’s not easy to juggle everything life hands you, and I understand that, which is why I thought it may be beneficial for me to share some of my insider organizational hacks and daily habits. From journaling to applications, this article should have at least one daily habit you can implement in your life to make things less stressful.

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Daily Habits: #1. Dump Your Brain & Make Lists

I cannot stress enough how important writing things down is. Also, I don’t mean typing it on your phone or laptop. I mean sitting down and making a physical to-do list. If that’s too much, just do some free-form writing. Don’t worry about sentences. Just get it all out onto the page. Treat it kind of like brain vomit. Then, you can try making your task list.

Task lists are great. Keep it simple, too. The idea is to take what’s overwhelming and compress it into generalized tasks that help the workload appear easier to accomplish. My advice is to jot down your three biggest tasks.

For example, when I know I’ve got my full-time content strategist job, a Scribe Media project, and my blog to run (as well as, you know, life), I always try and jot down the three biggest tasks within those jobs. I also tend to make an additional task at the beginning of the day to complete my morning ritual (which we’ll talk about that below). That’s 10 daily tasks total, and 10 daily tasks are doable.

Why break it down?

Having A Process Is Better Than Nothing.

Like I said – daily habits make a heaping pile of mess easier to approach and tackle. For example, if I know I want to accomplish 200 crunches within my day, then I’ll likely split that number into a smaller segment/cycle to complete every other hour or so. Maybe I’ll do 20 crunches when I wake up, 40 after lunch, 40 before dinner, 50 after dinner and 50 before bed. Instead of tackling something as daunting as 200 all in one go, I tackle it throughout the day. Sure, it may take a little longer, but at least I’m getting them all done – and all done right. I’m not exhausting myself, either.

Try treating your tasks like that. Use your time to your advantage. Don’t let your tasks run your life; you run your tasks. Make a list, check it twice, and then copy it to your phone, to the whiteboard near your door, on a sticky note on your fridge, on the desktop of your computer…you name it! Just get it in your view and stick to it. Cross things off as you go and let the frustration of “the approach” melt away.

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Daily Habits: #2. Build Morning, Afternoon, and Nightly Rituals

Unlike making a new list of tasks every morning, your rituals are something constant that does not change daily. For example, a common ritual is brushing your teeth in the morning after you wake up and at night before you sleep. That’s an easy ritual to kickstart your list. Essentialy, your routine is a list of daily habits.

For me in the morning, I also add in my shower, washing my face, eating a good breakfast, and listening to a podcast or audiobook while I get dressed. Because your rituals are something you create and control, it will help you stay calm and collected, even during chaotic times.

If I were to be evicted from my apartment tomorrow, that would be devastating. However, no matter where I’d end up (probably in a guest bedroom somewhere), my morning ritual or routine would not change. It’d still be my own, and it would still allow my life to have some control during a tough time.

Rituals Eliminate Stress.

Rituals are important for organizing your life. I’ve seen an immense difference between my mood on days where I do my rituals and on days where I forget or skip a step. I just feel off, which throws everything else in my life off.

Something I’d like to stress, too, is that having rituals or routines doesn’t mean you can’t go with the flow. No one – no matter how organized – has to deal with things not going the way they expected. Having a ritual simply helps you have control while tackling new tasks that have been thrown your way.

If you’re not sure how to get started creating your rituals, I suggest downloading this app. After downloading it, I’ve been able to stay consistent and improve my mood every day. It sends me gentle reminders on my phone screen that I would have forgotten about otherwise, being so busy.

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Daily Habits: #3. Choose One Thing A Day To Organize

Much like any daily habit, they’re something you do every day. With this particular daily habit, I challenge you to choose one thing a day to organize. Start small and work your way bigger. For example, on day one, I suggest organizing your phone. That means getting rid of apps you no longer use. You could also put your 4 most important apps at the front and center. If you have an iPhone, give your apps folders.

It may be stressful at first because you’ve moved a lot around. However, by day 3 or 4, you’ll be thanking yourself.

Clutter is your worst enemy. A cluttered space really is a cluttered mind. After you organize your phone, move on to bigger challenges, like your computer and planner. Next, tackle your closet and the bag you most often carry. Keep going, changing one thing to be more organized every day, and within a couple months, you’ll find yourself leading a more efficient life.

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Daily Habits: #4. Most Importantly - Fight Procrastination With An Iron Fist

The worst thing you can do for yourself when it comes to your daily habits, is holding off on them. Why? Because you’ll forget! If I don’t take my vitamins in the morning before work, then I likely don’t take them at all. Then, the next day, I might forget about them altogether.

What if it were something more important, like a job due on Friday? If you procrastinate on the little things, then your bound to procrastinate on the small things.

I know it’s easier said than done. Sometimes, the new Netflix show is just that good, but you need to give yourself priorities and stick to them. Netflix isn’t going anywhere, but your success in life has no problem flying out the window. So, that’s my personal opinion and advice. You can implement these habits as strategies for marketing yourself and your brand too.

These three daily habits are habits but also just life tips, in general. I am, by no means, an expert, but I can be an abnormally high strung person, so I get it. These things have worked for me, and I hope they work for you. If they don’t, feel free to reach out. If you have a specific issue, maybe we can learn from each other.

Always,


Social Media For Beginners | My Quick Tips For Managing Multiple Clients

For about a year, I worked as a Social Media Coordinator across 5 different clients’ accounts – each client using Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. If you do the math, that’s 20 accounts I was posting creatively to every single day, and I had to drive traffic to these sources. Their niche? Healthcare insurance. Correct, you read that right. Literally the most boring topic ever. But I did it, and here’s how.

Social media revolves around brand embodiment and data analysis.

Working in social media is harder than you’d think. Not only do you have to jump into the shoes of someone you likely don’t know well, but you also have to portray them in a way that will get others to listen. Winning over people these days isn’t easy, which is why – even if your niche is as boring as healthcare – you must generate posts that are engaging, ahead of your competition and at the right time of day.

Data is your best friend. If you’re interested in social media, then you need to learn how to have fun with bar graphs, pie charts, and analytics. These will be what inform your posts and help you choose the best times to publish content.

The second half of the job is brand. The brand of a person or client is critical to memorize and sink your teeth into. You cannot begin to tweet from another’s perspective without embodying their brand. Who are they? How do they speak? Are the formal or informal? Do they joke around? Do they cuss? Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself these questions.

Social media is a successful tool for businesses - if you're organized.

When you learn to process the brand and data of a client, then you’re ready to post. My personal recommendation is a platform that will allow you to post to all social channels, as well as manage more than one client. For me, I use Sendible. Though pricey, it allows me to work with every tool I need (plus, they generate social reports that are incredibly useful), and the customer support is always open to hearing ways to improve.

It’s critical that you are efficient – and therefore, you must be organized. If you’re handling multiple clients like I did, then you must keep track of what is going out where and for who. The last thing you want are two similar posts going out at the same time, especially if both clients are within the same niche. Most social networks frown upon this. In fact, Twitter recently had an update that deletes links or tweets that are too similar. Most coordinators run into this issue when they set up automation.

Though automation is a powerful and useful tool, it can bite you in the ass. Here is a great post from Twitter that explains their “automation rules”. Most networks have similar rules, and it’s always a good idea to google these rules for each social network before crafting posts.

Social media has rules, and you can't ignore them.

As a social media coordinator, I also found it immensely useful to follow Twitter accounts and Facebook groups that gave updates on the latest social media trends. Doing this kept me in the loop and on top of things for my clients. Making it in social media is all about having a “futuristic” perspective and predicting what networks’ next big moves will be.

This can definitely be a challenge, especially if you don’t study and educate yourself on the ins and outs of social media networks. However, if your reading this post, then you’re on the right track! One of the best ways to learn social media, as with most professions, is to learn from the professionals. I’m no expert, by any means, but I have enough experience to supply you with useful tips and advice, as do several other bloggers out there.

Though there are ecourse classes out there and certifications you can achieve, the best way to learn social media is to build your own brand and your own accounts. Teach yourself by doing and figure out which techniques suit your style. Then, apply those to your clients’ accounts, while upholding their brand and voice.

To wrap this up – my main tip is to be “in the know”. Keeping up with technology can be a pain in the ass, but it’s worth the ride if it means gaining exposure for yours and others’ businesses. If you can analyze the data, embody a brand, remain efficient and organized, and stay up-to-date on trends, then you will easily build your client list.

If this post helped you out, be sure to share it with others and leave me a comment. If you have social media questions, feel free to leave them in the comments, an dI will get back to you. Thanks for reading!

 

Always,


Freelance Writing and Making My Rent

As a freelancer, the question I’m most commonly confronted with is, “How on Earth do you make money?” The fact of the matter is freelancing is becoming more and more popular as Millennials and Gen Z make their way into the workforce. Being part of the later at 21, I can confidently say we have higher expectations for our careers than 20-somethings used to. As freelancing rises as a common solution, however, it has become increasingly higher to get freelance jobs. The market is competitive, and let’s be honest, no one can just wait around for their next gig and make their rent on time. So, how do I do it?

Learn to Juggle Multiple Freelance Jobs

I got lucky – really lucky – that my first job was such a great job, but my resume and professionalism are what officially got me in the door. My first ever freelance job was with a company known formerly as Book In A Box. Recently, they’ve re-branded to Scribe Media, and I’ve now worked with them for about a year and a half. During my first few months, I mostly copy edited manuscripts. It paid well, and it was a great first job out of college. I was able to do it from wherever I wanted, and it was non-committal enough that I had time to pursue other options, such as my job with a marketing company in Mobile, AL as a Content Strategist. Now, I work with Scribe Media as a Writer and Manuscript Cleaner (but hopefully expanding my horizon with them very soon, fingers crossed). As a Writer, I write the manuscripts for business CEOs that aren’t writers and need help. It’s like ghost writing, but it’s more along the lines of copy writing, seeing as I’m provided transcripts from various author interviews on their selected topic. As a Manuscript Cleaner, I’m essentially a proofreader/copy editor. With both, my jobs are project based, and I must wait my turn. The work is not consistent, which is why I have my job as a Content Strategist to fall back on.

As a Content Strategist, I build out campaigns for various clients. A campaign essentially holds a specific idea, tool, or project a client wants to highlight through marketing resources, such as email and social media. For example, if one of my clients wants to highlight their strength as an innovative “market disruptor”, then I would build a campaign encompassing emails, social media, blog, website, and BI around that specific content. For one client, there can be upwards of 20 different campaigns running a quarter, all surrounding their various projects. Of course, I don’t build everything. I use research and communication with the client to generate a “campaign brief”, and the rest of the team at the company uses the brief to complete their parts. I spend most of my day organizing calls and managing multiple clients with multiple campaigns each. It can be a lot to wrap my head around, and it’s a relatively new job, so I’m still learning. Before I was promoted to Content Strategist, I worked as their Social Media Coordinator.

Keep an Open Mind About Freelance Job Variety

Both jobs are not jobs I ever saw myself doing, but they help me make my rent – and that’s the lesson to take away from this article. Many of us believe we can have exactly what we want. While that is true, and I 100% believe that, it doesn’t mean you will have exactly what you want right from the get-go. If you manage that, then props to you, but the reality is it can take years before you’re doing exactly what you want – with or without a degree.

I’ve always wanted to be an author. I want to write Fiction, make lots of money, and have an amazing home with an amazing family. That’s my dream. I never in a million years thought I’d be working as a Content Strategist or – shockingly – as a writer for others’ books. I spend every day working to make others’ visions come true, and though I wish I could just write my own stories, I’ve got rent and bills to pay. I know that, one day, I will be able to write books and that be all I do. That day is simply not today, and I’m okay with that.

Too many of us get stubborn with our expectations, which in turn blocks out every other possibility and open door for greatness in our lives. There are so many things I’ve come to realize I’m really good at, and I never would have tried those things had I said, “I’m only writing books. Screw everything else.” Today’s society is all about quickness. Everything must be now, and we all forget, I believe, to stop and think about what we may be missing out on because we force ourselves into a specific mindset.

Go After Any Freelance Job That Sparks Your Interest

So, how do I make money as a freelance writer? Not the way I thought I would, but it’s still a way, and each day I’m expanding my horizons by trying things outside of my path. All of this, however, is not to say for you to not chase after your dream and to settle. I still chase my dream every day, but I’m also not being close-minded. I take steps toward my goal by introducing myself to industries that will pay me to write – even if it’s not the type of writing I dreamt of doing. Making my rent as a freelancer is difficult, but I do it by keeping an open mind and not turning down opportunities just because they aren’t “what I wanted” or “what I went to school for”. My advice to every freelancer out there – writer or a different niche – is to go after any job that sparks your interest, even ones you never saw yourself doing. You cannot grow as a person (or grow your bank account) without trying. Be the best you can be by setting goals for your dream and accomplishing them, while simultaneously expanding your resume with new opportunities. There may be a ton of competition, but a diverse resume will set you apart from everyone else, especially if your different jobs can give you a great recommendation. Employers respect employees who are willing to work, no matter the job. If you want to learn, then there is a job waiting for you.

 

Always,


Fourth of July Decorations for a Photo-Worthy Party

It’s almost July, which means two things: (1) it’s going to get hotter than hot, and (2) you’re running out of time to get your Fourth of July party arrangements in order. If you’re looking to throw a backyard bash – maybe BBQ with a water gun fight and fireworks – but you don’t have any idea how to decorate your back yard, then this post is for you!

I love exploring Pinterest and finding DIYs that are more than crafts but something that will really elevate a room or area. For the Fourth of July, I focused on finding inspiration for decorations, such as table set ups, grass paint, and a fun spot to take some family photos. You can check them out below.

Setting the table

First, I found some of the most beautiful table set-ups for a Fourth of July backyard get-together. Having a great table setting can definitely help set the vibe you’re going for. If your party is mostly adults, and you’re going for something classier than BBQ, then having a beautiful floral arrangement, table cloth, and actual dinnerware is the way to go. Your guests will be thrilled with the care you took to make them feel welcome and presented with the best.

If you are going for a BBQ-vibe, because maybe you’ve got kids coming and just want to let loose and have some fun, then go for things that will make the clean-up afterwards easy. That means paper plates and plastic utensils, likely in red, white and blue. Go for a table cloth you don’t mind throwing away at the end of the night.

Some outdoor fun

Kids or adults, games are always a good idea! What I love about the ones I found is that they’re all super simple and shouldn’t break the bank. Plus, because many are crafts, it’s a great way to get the family outdoors and working together. In this day in age, we need all the help we can get in that department!

Don’t forget to be clicking the button following the photos to visit the Pinterest board. There, you can get directions on many of these DIYs.

Cute, DIY yard decor

Perhaps the most important part of the party – the venue! There are so many creative and awesome things you can do to your yard and home to brighten it up with red, white and blue.

Win the crowd over with a photo booth

Everybody’s got a cellphone, these days, and everybody is snapping away at your party – so you better have a great spot to take photos. Plus, why waste money on expensive family portraits, when you could set up a nice backdrop and take the photos during the party. Besides, you won’t need to coral any of your family members to a studio! Oh, and don’t forget some silly props for the kids (adults).

Be sure to start crafting now, and share with me your DIYs! Check out my Fourth of July Pinterest board for more inspiration.

 

Always,


Easy Styles to Get Past Awkward Hair Length

At the moment, I’ve grown my hair out to that awkward spot – you know which spot I’m talking about. It’s not quite at my shoulder but not quite at my chin, and everything in me once to grab a pair of scissors and snip it to a satisfactory length. BUT I miss my long hair, the ability to tie it up in pretty scarves and fluff it into long waves. I haven’t had long hair since high school, and so I sought out solutions to my awkward hair length issue.

Of course, the first place I went was Pinterest. Ever since I relaunched my blog this month, Pinterest and I have become fast friends. I’ve organized all my boards, re-setup my Tailwind account, and have spent countless hours repinning the most beautiful of pins.

As you may know, Pinterest has a “Beauty” section on their explore page, which can also be divided into popular hair styles. That’s when I got to thinking about my own hair and what things I can do with it. It’s not long enough for anything elaborate, but there had to be something I could do, right?

Right!

Throughout this week, I tried these styles out on my awkward length hair, and I found myself either hating them or loving them. I’ll leave my review of each, as well as any tips I may have!

Style #1: The Braided Pigtails

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Curtesy of: http://www.totalbeauty.com/content/gallery/braid-styles

First, I wanted an easy hairstyle for working out that would keep all my hair out of my face. Since my hair doesn’t quite go into a topknot or ponytail, I opted for braided pigtails. What I loved about this hairstyle was that it took only three minutes to master and achieved keeping my hair out of the way. What I didn’t like about it was that you really need a great face shape to pull it off. Being that I’m slightly self-conscious of my rounder face, I felt like my double chin was too prominent. So, though it’s a comfortable style for working out at home, it’s not something I’d wear out to hangout with friends.

Here is the YouTube video I used to help me perfect the hairstyle:

Style #2: The Messy Half Top Knot

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Curtesy of: https://www.instagram.com/p/t6fAvGqLuR/?modal=true

Here’s the thing about any “messy” hairstyle – it just works for us awkward length-hair-people. Why? Well, because it doesn’t matter if our hair falls out of the bun in some areas! With a half-up-do, you have the ability to really add some personal touches. You can slick back half your hair into a nice messy bun, or you can simply throw it up and let your baby hairs fly. Out of all the styles I tried, this one was my favorite!

Style #3: Pinned-Up Bun With Scarf

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Curtesy of: https://nl.pinterest.com/heshoek/

I always love a good hair accessory, and this style gave me the best excuse to try-out a small scarf I thrifted from a vintage shop down the street from my apartment. Since I can’t do a top-knot (though I’m sure that would be equally as cute), I opted for a low bun with the scarf. I simply tied my hair back normally and then tied the scarf around it. This style was super easy to do in the morning. It’s playful but still professional, especially if you slick the bun back. I wore it to work, and I felt pretty and kept my hair out of my face. I’ll definitely be doing this style more in the future. First, I need to invest in some more scarves!

Style #4: Twisted Half-Do

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Courtesy of: https://cutehairstyles.000webhostapp.com/2017/06/11-easy-hairstyle-ideas-summers

Want to keep it super simple? Well, here’s possibly the easiest of them all – a twisted half-do. All you have to do is pull your hair half up, tie it loosely, and then flip the ponytail portion up and through the space between the back of your head and the ponytail holder. You know you’ve done it right if you’ve got yourself a twisted half-do! If you have naturally straight hair, consider teasing it and putting in some loose waves to add some volume and shape.

I hope that these four hairstyles help you get through your awkward hair length phase. There’s no reason to feel any less confident – not with these styles around! If you try one of these styles out, be sure to comment below and let me know how it works for you. Also, if you like this post, be sure to share it with your friends (:

 

Always,


My Favorite Ways to Stay Fit on Vacation

It’s a common misconception that vacation is healthy for the mind but not so much for the body. Sure, you may not have your home gym with you or your stocked refrigerator, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make decisions on where you stay, what you eat and how you travel that will be healthy and keep you fit.

Don’t give up on your fitness goal just because you’ll be in a foreign place. Here are some things I love to do when I travel to remain fit and healthy on vacation.

Pick a fit hotel.

Where you stay while on vacation will emulate the kind of lifestyle you’ll live while away from home. So, choosing a hotel with amenities, such as a fully-equipped gym and maybe some optional classes, can really help you stay within a healthy mindset. It also helps to browse a hotel’s menu – if you believe you’ll need to order in – before booking. Do they offer options that fit your diet? For me, I always check to make sure there are wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free options, due to my allergies. If I’m stuck inside and haven’t gotten a chance to buy some fresh groceries (which I’ll get into below), then I want to know the hotel can provide me with a sustainable meal that fits my diet.

Try a local workout class.

Something I absolutely love to do is get on Facebook, go to their events section, and see what free events are going on in the local area. There are always yoga and Pilates classes. As long as you pack some workout clothes and a pair of tennis shoes, you’re set. It’s also a fantastic way to meet some people in the area, if you plan on staying for a prolonged period, as well as try out some new workouts you’ve never had access to before.

Explore by bike.

More and more cities are adopting bike stations, where you can rent a bike for however long you want and return it to its station when done. This is a fabulous way to explore the area around you without getting sore feet. My only advice is, if you know you’ll be biking, bring a helmet along, especially in a bigger city. It may not be the most stylish choice, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. City drivers are aggressive, and if the bike lanes are new, you better believe they’ll forget about you! So, be safe, wear a helmet, and enjoy taking in the city while getting some great exercise.

Check out a local hiking trail and take some cool nature photos.

Get on Trip Advisor and check out the local hiking trails. If you love to take photos like I do, or maybe just want a change of scenery, then this is a perfect idea to add to your trip. Depending on the area you visit, you can see waterfalls, mountains, caves and beautiful gardens. All you have to do is a little research and then set out on your journey! Let me know in the comments if you’d be interested in a post on some of the best hiking trails in the US.

Find the local farmer's market and buy fresh groceries.

When I’m away from home, and since I have bad food allergies, it’s easier and cheaper for me to visit the local farmer’s market, buy some fresh goods, and store them at my hotel. Not only will everything be fresh and part of my personalized diet, but I can incorporate local fruits and veggies that go along with my location’s culture. You don’t have to go to a fancy restaurant to be immersed into the area’s best eats. Most of the time, the local farmer’s market has all the ingredients you need to make your own meals inspired by their local cuisine.

Those are just a few of my suggestions for staying fit on your next vacation (or maybe the vacation you’re currently on). If you liked one of these ideas or are inspired to test one out, let me know in the comments below! Remember that staying healthy and fit is a lifestyle choice. You have to take the initiative to incorporate it into every aspect of your life, and that doesn’t mean to throw all your progress out while on vacation. Be your best you with some of these tips!

 

Always,


3 Ways to Put the Fire Out on Negativity in Your Life

Do you have a natural tendency of being down on life and yourself? Well, you’re not alone. With the constant pressure and struggle to be all that we can be as a society, people have never been more criticizing of themselves. I, too, struggle to be optimistic and to see the light in darker, stressful situations.

 

But there are ways to vanquish those dark feelings, to feel lighter and more positive. The three ways I’ve provided are three things you can start today. You don’t need to go out and buy something or do a bunch of research. You simply just must own your day and decide to make a difference with your time.

01. Make time for goals

Without goals, what is there to strive for? As human beings, we need that sense of purpose to keep us proactive in life. I always struggle to make time to think about my goals. What is it that I want? Ask yourself that question and see where it leads you.

 

Sometimes, we get so caught up in the needs of others that we forget to pursue our own desires. Making time to have goals allows you to have a bounce in your step and a glimmer of hope in your eyes. What’s going to make your heart race and a smile spread across your face? Take the time to wonder.

02. Understand that not everything is personal

In today’s society, we have a bad habit of playing the victim. We take everyone’s issues personally – and even if you think you aren’t one of those people, I can promise there is still room for improvement in this arena of your life. It’s human nature to get sucked into others’ drama, to want to be part of the story.

 

However, the fact of the matter is, others’ issues aren’t your issues.

 

Be there for those who need help, but have a clear line set in your mind. Know when you’re investing yourself into anger and negativity and know when to pull away from it. By letting others’ issues be your problems, you’re letting them take control of your narrative. Be your own man or woman and try not to take everything too personally. Instead, spend your time nurturing and blossoming within a positive environment, and invite your friend(s) with the issues to join you in letting go.

03. Practice being kind to others by being kind to yourself, first

I have a problem with being down on myself – specifically about my weight. I grew up very tall and very thin, but in the last three years, I really let myself go. Though I know I’m beautiful (just in a different way than before), I still struggle to look in the mirror and remain positive.

 

Body image is just one of the ways people tend to be negative about themselves. With the beautiful models posted on every social network, it’s hard not to compare yourself to society’s ideal ‘body’ or ‘personality’ or whatever it may be for you.

 

The first step is to recognize the things your negative about, and instead of just talking badly about them all day long, doing something to proactively make you feel better about those character traits. For me, I found this in not making excuses to workout. I complain about my body and excess fat, but I don’t try to workout or eat healthier. How is that fair? That’s why I took initiative to add workouts to my week and to strive to eat better, especially at home where I have control over what’s in my fridge or pantry.

 

Choose to be happy and positive by promoting kindness to yourself. By doing so, you’ll soon be able to project that self-positivity and kindness onto others.

In what areas of your life are you negative, and what can you do to be more positive about them? Sometimes, it’s not about changing things. Maybe it’s more about excepting a new reality and making the best of it. Whatever it may be, sitting around and dwelling on the negative will do nothing but make things worse.

 

These three ways to eliminate negativity are free. You can do them right now as you read this. Don’t wait to be happy or for happiness to find you. You can be happy right now.

 

 

Always,


June Mood Board - Pastels of Summer

As a creator, it is important to push my mind to the limit, and when I reach that point, it is even more important to go further. But, how? My solution is the use of mood boards. I find others’ work and progress to be a perfect way to push myself to the edge of my personal creativity.

For June 2018, I’ve been exploring my Pinterest, and I have fallen in love with the abundance of colors filling art, graphics, textures, fashions and writings this month. Each of these photos, I’ve pulled from this Pinterest board, where I accumulate them before writing my Mood Board post.

I especially love the Spring-like colors that have dressed the Summer. Usually, we see lots of neons and pop colors, but those – it seems – are saving themselves for fall, and the pastels of Spring are staying awhile. I can’t object. I’ve always loved pastels, which you can probably tell based off my website’s color palette.

There is a prevalence of pink this Summer, and though I haven’t always been pink’s biggest fan, I’m loving the ‘fun’ aspect it has in all its varieties – light pink, hot pink, magenta, etc.

Photography wise – there is an influence of natural, soft lighting. I have seen a decrease of hard edges and shapes. This kind of photography works incredibly well with closeup portraits. There are some interesting things with shadows that could be done, but I’ve noticed a decisive lack of shadow in recent photos. Photographers seem to be playing to the natural highlights of a person’s facial structure, or the way light glints off a particular object/building.

The art of subtlety and ambiguity plays into this mood board as a whole – and that’s something I want to transfer into my Fiction writing this month.

I have always loved flash and micro fiction writing, because it involves the act of ambiguity. It is all about saying a lot with a little, which can sometimes paint the most subtle yet complex stories. This month’s mood board has inspired me to write about the aspect of ‘au natural’ and valuing the soft beauty of our everyday life.

I want to write something that focuses on that natural beauty of life, and how that plays into who we are as people. Be sure to follow me on Medium to be updated when I do.

And that’s it for June’s Mood Board, folks! However, if you want to see more photos and things that are inspiring me this month, be sure to follow my June 2018 Mood Board on Pinterest:

Thanks for reading! Come back next month for more Mood Board inspiration. Quick disclaimer: All the photos used within this blog post were pulled from Pinterest, and all rights are reserved to the owners/photographers. If you have a Pinterest account you’d like me to follow, be sure to leave your username in the comments below. I’d love to connect and collaborate on a board sometime!

 

Always,


new-orleans-people-watching

People Watching: The Art Of It & Next-Level Writing

When I first tapped into my writing capabilities, I was eleven. I had a grand imagination to pull from and enough time to create endless, timeless, fictional stories. People watching wasn't anywhere on my agenda.

The older I got, the less I felt that inspiration. With age comes responsibility - as we all know. My brain became muddled by the many things of adulthood, such as starting a career, handling relationships, and paying bills. My focus shifted from creating stories to making a living.

So, when I now have time to sit down and write, I have the hardest time. I'll stare at a blank piece of paper for hours on end and have nothing to account for except lost time.

In school, we had classes that focused on writing about little moments. They didn't have to be full stories. Instead, they were a piece of time - whether it was fictional or not - that would pull a reader into that small moment. This is known as flash- or micro-fiction. Both, I specialize in. They are the genres of writing I sincerely look forward to.

But even these leave me with nothing. So, I knocked on my head and tried everything I could to inspire myself. I tried new things, watched some movies, read other stories, tried various locations, switched between pen and paper and laptop - everything. And something stuck: People watching.

What Makes People Watching an Art?

people-boarding-trolley-new-orleans-people watching
Watching people get on and off the New Orleans trolley, while also snapping some photos for my Instagram, helped me capture this moment for a later piece of writing.

Just like anything else creative, people watching involves expanding your mind and analyzing the details. It's a technique of sorts - knowing how to watch without creeping someone out, dissecting the very being of a person based on their clothing and body movements, and absorbing every little detail for later use.

Many think people watching is exactly that, sitting around and watching people. While the actual act of people watching is that, it is also an art that requires prior knowledge, psychology being one of the most helpful.  A woman's left pinky constantly digs and scratches at her thigh; does that mean she has an itch? Perhaps it's a "tell" or an unconscious move of hers when she's agitated. How can that kind of little detail be incorporated into your own character? What is making her tick? Is it because she's waiting for her coffee? Maybe she's with a friend who won't stop talking; maybe it's work gossip or drama the woman rather not participate in, or maybe the friend speaks about sleeping around and the woman has recently found her husband has been unfaithful.

Suddenly, just by understanding the psychology behind a nervous tick, such as the scratching of her thigh, you've discovered a little piece of a human being. It's not just a woman standing in the same coffee shop as you; it's a woman with a life, a story.

I'm Not A Psychology Major; How Can I Get Better?

If you haven't taken a class in psychology - you don't need to. There are various ways to be better at people watching without spending money on classes. I've compiled a list of a few things that have helped me. Keep in mind, I'm no expert. These are just things that truly did help me without spending any money.

#1. Google It

I apologize if this is a bit on-the-nose and common sense, but it is the first place you should start. The internet is vast a filled with different articles that explain why people do the things they do. I mean, you're reading this article, so you're already a third of the way there! Here are some articles I find particularly useful:

The Art of People Watching by Cody Delistraty

In this compelling article, Cody explains the history of the "People Watcher" and the art behind it. I love this article for its history, and I highly recommend it if you're wanting some more background information.

10 People Watching Methods | How to People Watch by Josh Rueff

This article is particularly helpful if you're looking for a more detailed list of "how-to" guidelines for people watching. Josh also goes into some of the various methods that can be used to not feel like you're a complete stalker.

People Watching: Social, Perceptual, and Neurophysiological Studies of Body Perception by Kerri Johnson and Maggie Shiffrar

I actually just came across this book recently, and I haven't been able to read all of it yet, but if you're looking for something that's more substantial and scientific, this is a perfect example. If you're wanting to dive deeper into psychology, this is a very interesting read.

#2. Read or Watch About Murderers

I know this may not be everyone's cup-o-tea, and I know it sounds a little bizarre - but the studies that have been done on murderers and why they did what they did are, in my opinion, monumentally helpful. Even though I wasn't going people watching to find a murderer, watching TV shows like Criminal Minds and watching how they analyze the murderer into a human being, learning his or her ticks and tells, helped me get a more clear idea of the types of things to look further into.

This is definitely a more fun way to get some learning done. Just turn on Netflix and watch Criminal Minds. There are tons of documentaries on Netflix, too, however, besides Criminal Minds, if you'd rather watch something more factual. If you don't have Netflix, try YouTube. I will provide some video options, in case you don't have access to Netflix or Cable. You will need internet, however. So, try finding a Starbucks or rest stop with free WiFi, if you don't have an internet connection.

Criminal Minds on Netflix

Not only is this one of my favorite shows (because Reed), but this show deals with the BAU or Behavioral Analysis Unit. In every episode, the BAU investigates different murders, finding the murderer by analyzing behavior. This show helped me develop my people watching skills because they heavily look at the details of a human being and certain background pieces that make that person up.

YouTube Search: "The Science Behind Human Behavior"

Because there were so many psychology videos on YouTube, I decided to provide the keyword search link for you to browse all those videos. Some touch on the science of trust and mistrust, some touch on body language, and some videos are textbook. It's all up to your personal preference.

TED Talk: "What Happens In Your Brain When You Pay Attention?" by Mehdi Ordikhani-Seyedlar

A big part of people watching is being able to pay attention. In this TED Talk, Mehdi discusses the science behind being attentive, and how to train yourself to be more focused. I find this video interesting and useful for both people watching and just daily activities. Being more attentive can lead to more valuable education and relationships, so I highly recommend checking this video out.

#3. Watch Those Close to You, First

I personally believe you can't be great at people watching if you don't even know your family's or friends' ticks and tells, first. There were a lot of things I didn't even realize about my parents that I did once I actually started examining them. I kept notes about them on my phone, too. Those who are close to you will be the most influential people in your writing. It makes sense they would be your "test subjects" of sorts, starting out. Ask them questions, too. Learn about how they grew up. Did anything traumatic happen in their lives? Ask your friends what makes them self-conscious. Why do they wear what they wear? Because you know these people, you have a good reason to start these conversations, whereas with strangers it would be crossing a line and unwarranted.

When you master this, then it's time to move on to strangers. Keep in mind, you can no longer ask questions. Now, you are the one with all the answers. From their body movements and your research, you should be able to have a clearer idea of what may be going on in their head.

OK, But How Does Any of This Relate to My Writing?

 

artist-painting-new-orleans-people watching
Watching this artist paint and comparing the style of his paintings to his demeanor and clothing helped me decipher who he was as a performer and who he might be when he went home and was alone - something I pulled inspiration from for a later story.

If you're a writer, then - like me - you're always searching for inspiration. People watching is a phenomenal way to take your writing to the next level. Why? People Watching is the way of analyzing people in their natural or unnatural environments. By studying others, you can create more realistic characters. The more human your characters are, the easier it will be to give them a backstory and make decisions for their futures.

Why should characters be the main focus of your stories? Isn't plot more important? K.M. Weiland of Mythic Scribes wrote:

"...character is the heart of story. What good is a killer plot without the actors who bring it to life? Stakes only matter insofar as there are people to gain or suffer by them. Readers relate to stories through the characters."

Having great character - characters that readers can latch onto - will allow your story to be more intricate and real, even if it takes place in a far-off land. Analyzing real people will help you create "real" characters.

How Can I Remember Character Traits For Later?

My favorite way to remember people is to photograph them. I love catching people in unguarded moments. Of course, if you take photos of others and plan on sharing them publicly, be sure to ask their permission. If you're not comfortable with photographing others, the most simple way to remember character traits for later use is to store them in a notebook.

On my iPhone, in the Notes App, I keep a separate folder specified for "Characters". In it, I have a particular note where I type/jot down anything I think might be interesting for a later story character.

This works the same for Plot and Setting. Taking photos and storing them in a note of a place you'd like to include in a story is a great idea. I like using the Notes App on my iPhone because it will also sync to my iCloud and I can see everything on my laptop when I write. If you don't have an iPhone, there are multiple applications out there that will do the same thing, or go old-school and use a journal. I do both because sometimes writing things down on paper allows my brain to process what I saw a bit more, creating better imagery in my descriptions.

'Til Next Time...

That's all I've got on this topic, for now. Thank-you so much for reading, and I hope this inspired you to become a better people watcher. I hope you get some great stories out of it too! In case you don't know, this is the first article in a series of mine called "A Writer's Dialogue". This will be a continuing series throughout the year, so be sure to look out for the next article.

If you have a topic you'd like me to touch on, always feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email. I, of course, write this content for you, so I want to make sure what I'm putting out is useful. Definitely let me know in the comments if you liked this article or have anything to add!

 

Always,

 

 

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A Breath of Charleston - Visiting After Seven Years Away

The first week of 2018 has already gone by. As I get older, life moves quicker. Every moment seems to slip by. That, or my memory is getting worse, which is why I’ve taken up photography more than usual.

In December, I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina – where I lived briefly about seven years ago. I’d wanted to go back since the day I left, but it wasn’t until I graduated college and had a car with a running engine I was able to drive the 9 hours.

The Ravenel Jr. Bridge during a cloudy sunrise.

I stayed in a small motel near the Ravenel Jr. Bridge – room 213. I didn’t take any pictures of it, but I almost wish I had at the end. I swear, I’m the messiest person alive, a human tornado – and I regret not leaving a tip for the maid; I should have. It was a small room that smelt like weed and had thin walls. I could hear below and all around, but I slept – and that’s really all I needed it for.

A Charleston Alleyway
Beneath Washington Square's Christmas Tree
The Circular Church

My first day, I went downtown. The thing I love about Charleston is everything has details. Whether it was a shop front or a back alley, there was an opportunity to take a picture or make a note. There’s so much history behind everything there, and it was swarming with people, too.

I got to know the street names fairly quick. There was King St., of course, but I parked in a garage on Queen St. I walked Market St., cobble stone, graveyards, stores, Washington Square, and restaurants – and I only stopped when my feet couldn’t take it anymore. It was getting dark by then.

A tree growing between buildings
Tunnel at the Circle Church
Charleston Streets
Charleston Streets
Charleston City Market
Washington Square
A Charleston Home

The next day, an old friend took me to the Isle of Palms and Shem Creek. I’d seen the beach before, and I currently live near the Gulf (and before that in Orlando, FL). The beach, for me, is nothing new, but I like that every beach has a serenity to it. You can close your eyes and disappear for a moment.

The Isle of Palms
A seagull posing for me
My friend looking out at the water.

Shem Creek, I’d never been. We were at the boating dock, I believe, and we were there to catch it at sunset, which as far as I’m concerned is the only time to see Shem Creek. There were other photographers there. It’s definitely more of a touristy spot, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I took my favorite pictures there. They turned out just as dream-worthy as the actual moment had been.

Shem Creek Boating Dock

My trip wasn’t long – only a weekend plus a day – but it was a great trip. I love Charleston. I always have, and I can imagine myself going back. I just hope this time it doesn’t take seven years. What I took away from this trip, however, is to breathe. Like I said in the beginning, life moves quicker now. I can’t seem to keep up with it. The same goes for my travels. Anytime I go somewhere new, it’s impossible to enjoy it. I’m caught up in it all, tangled in it, so much so I can’t decipher how I feel about the place or the people or the time I had there.

Shem Creek

A resolution and goal I’ve made for myself this year and forever is to enjoy things while they last and try not to worry so much about seeing everything, because it’s impossible. Enjoy what you have in the moment and be grateful if the opportunity presents itself to explore it again. I lived in Charleston for two years, and I went back and saw things everyday I’d never noticed before or tried to see – and they’d been right there, mere miles away.

I wish to admire more things, to take them in completely rather than partially and moving on. Life is too short to be in such a rush.

Always,