How To: Blog

How To: Blog

So lately, I’ve gotten a few questions from other people interested in starting their own little thing on the internet. I’m not an expert in anything, ever but these are a few of the things I’ve learned in my three years of writing down stuff and putting it online for fun:

Why?

So figuring out the why is crucial when beginning any new endeavor. A valid why allows you to create authentic and meaningful content. For me, I do this whole thing for myself more than anything else. It’s fun to me, it’s a hobby I truly enjoy and it’s what I do when I don’t want to do anything else. It’s also a place for me to keep track of my life so I can look back and remember what the heck was happening when I was twenty. It’s a grasp at permanence in a very impermanent world and a chance to put all the things I think down on a white background. There’s at least 7 billion different reasons to do this. Figure out your own because defining the why sets a template for your vision.

How?

I use WordPress as the content management system for my blog. There are lots of different options available like SquareSpace, Winx, etc. but I’ve found WordPress to be intuitive, inexpensive, flexible and simplistic enough to get what I want done without a lot of coding knowledge. WordPress allows you to customize your domain and site design for minimal fees and it’s also easy to learn for beginners. There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube about WordPress to teach you about things like tagging, best practices for online sharing and site design tips. I’ve basically learned how to be alive from Youtube tutorials so I 10/10 recommend.

Who?

We live in a day and age where internet safety and responsibility has been pounded into our heads since middle school. The same rules that apply for social media obviously apply here too. Create content that you would want your grandma or future employer to see. Because they probably will. Your digital brand can make or break you and this is an opportunity to create your own narrative. Sharing online is a fine balance between authenticity and personal privacy and it’s also different for everyone. Share responsibly kids.

When?

Consistency is important. I know a lot of people who start these things and then get bored and don’t post for months or years. Like anything, you get better the more you practice. Posting schedules work well for some people, not so well for others. There’s a feature on WordPress (and most other platforms) that allows you to pre-schedule a post for a set time and date. This is useful during crazy times like finals or holidays but also not completely necessary. How often you post is up to you but I recommend maintaining a certain level of consistency for yourself, as well as everyone else.

What?

Write what you write. This is the most wonderful part of being alive in the 21st century aside from probably modern medicine, increased personal hygiene and Netflix. There has never been less of a barrier to entry in the world of publishing. This is a platform to speak truths or jokes or make stuff up. Share your lens and translate it to pixels on a webpage. People might love it or hate it or think you’re wasting a lot of time. Welcome to being alive. Create your own stuff, take inspiration from others and do your own thing.


This is a very brief overview on a very beautiful and intricate thing. My best advice is to just go for it, even if you have no idea what you’re doing. Especially, if you have no idea what you’re doing. Get brave. It’s definitely an intimidating thing, sharing your thoughts publicly for critique, putting words in different orders to be read by who knows who. But it changes you. There are marketable skills to gain, fascinating people to meet and a whole world of 1s and 0s for the taking.

 

 

 

Coffee

Coffee

At the beginning of this school year, I was tired. I was interning at a nonprofit trying to better the world in some small way but was seeing little to no results. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to save the planet via a temporary internship at a local nonprofit organization but I was surrounded by people there who truly wanted nothing more than to do that; tirelessly, constantly, incessantly. And all the while, the world felt like it was falling apart. A summer of immigration bans and failed climate agreements and terrorist attacks and mass shootings and political turmoil piled up around me.

The problem with wanting to fix things is that sometimes you kinda can’t. It’s out of scope, unrealistic, untimely or too late. And that feels like failure and that turns into exhaustion. So by the end of the summer I had given up, I was just tired of caring so much about everything.

The thing about passion is that it’s fire; a burning that gives you energy and makes your eyes light up and your Leslie Knope come out. But the thing about passion is that it’s fire; it can burn out if you don’t give it any fuel.

I was burnt out. Passion had given way to apathy.

I was trying to figure out how to shift my career plan before it was too late, to something easier, something I wouldn’t have to care so much about, something that wouldn’t take so much soul or burn so much of my fire.

You’ve probably heard the old adage like,

“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy.

‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil–he is anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment and ego.’

He continued, ‘The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf will win?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.”

Cut to a night when I was begrudgingly watching the Disney movie Tomorrowland with my family at home; half paying attention, half online shopping. This little parable was enough to pull my consciousness from the FreePeople website. I had heard the analogy many times, from many sources, all citing various old men who said this– probably none of them very accurate. But I’d never thought about it in a societal context before.

The whole movie is about saving the world from the futuristic apocalypse– of course. It was about finding the “dreamers”, the people who hadn’t given up on fixing the world yet. And by finding these dreamers who still believed they could do it, they inevitably saved the world in classic Disney fashion. They started feeding the right wolf.

This kind of hope is hard to maintain. There are some days that I wholeheartedly believe that I am somehow contributing in a small way to fix a small problem and that piece by piece, the world will be made better. But there are also days that I feed the other wolf. The wolf that has given up, complains about society on social media, points fingers, finds the bad in everything and tries to stay out of the whole mess, while doing nothing to fix it– therefore contributing to the monster. It is my scariest demon, this apathy. Wars aren’t won by passion, they are lost by indifference.

But over the course of this semester I have given myself a chance at more fuel– fuel so passion can burn. Take it in, soak it up, turn the sunlight into life. Fuel is the small successes. The things that work. It won’t be everything. They might not even be truly significant in the grand scheme of things. Little victories and sparks and proof that what we’re doing, it really does work. Slowly, surely, sometimes backwards, but there are golden days when it works.

This is what scares me most: that we might grow into our indifference like grey hair and wrinkled skin. That we will give up before we get anywhere. I almost did and some days I still almost do. That’s the real danger. Not icebergs melting and mutual assured destruction (okay, actually those are really, really scary and I’m terrified but I’m just trying to make a point). The real danger is that we leave the fixing to someone else. That we accept the bad things about this planet and look at our phones instead. That we bury our heads in memes and macchiatos and reality TV. That we become too damn exhausted to try anymore.

Keep drinking coffee.

This Brave New Year

This Brave New Year

i am ready for 2018 / not because 2017 was bad / but because 2018 sounds brave / a bracelet on my wrist says fearless / not because i am / but because i want to be /

This year I read the book The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. I was gifted this book by a mentor/boss/friend and it came into my life at the perfect time. I was spinning out, existential crisis mode threat level midnight as a junior in college panicking about the next decade of my life as one typically does on a Monday mid-morning. The basic premise of the book (because you should read it yourself here’s the amazon link go ahead kid) is that we are taught our entire lives to set our goals and resolutions based on outcomes. We picture the end result and we work towards that thing. If you’re in college, think the dreaded S.M.A.R.T. goal. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, Vomit. RT if you never want to hear the words SMART goal ever again in your young life.

But Danielle challenges you to do this whole goal thing different. Instead of picturing the  final outcome (which is typically overwhelming and daunting and I usually panic and quit before I can even begin said thought process), it is better to think of how you want to FEEL at then end of the process. The reason that we do anything, literally anything, okay, is because of how we think it will make us feel. Since the beginning of time, this is how human behavior has worked. Eat a cupcake, sleep until noon, work out every single day, major in geology, learn Chinese, skip yoga, have a kid, pay for the person behind you at Mcdonalds, spend too much money on coffee, whatever. We are chasing some kind of feeling. We act in a certain way because of the feeling we will receive, whether that be a sense of accomplishment, energy, independence, pride, health or to be entertained, enlightened, inspired, empowered. All of this is an attempt at this end goal of happiness. With me? Danielle argues that if we set goal and resolutions based on how we want to feel rather than what we want to achieve simply because we think it will make us feel this way, we will be more successful in this endeavor as well as actually enjoy the process.

So think words. Write down words that are right for you, right now in this nanosecond in time. Picture that person you want to be, people you admire, moments when you felt like Beyonce and Ruth Bader Ginsberg mixed into one.

See ya never SMART goals!!!

I am absolutely done defining a life by arbitrary resolutions that I was forced to write down as a part of a group exercise and then share out in front of strangers. Work towards your own words instead. For me this year, they are brave, creative and whole. Defined on my own terms for me by me. You can have 3 words or 67 words if that’s your vibe. To keep in the back of your mind or tattoo on your forehead. This is 2018 people, opportunities are endless, go crazy.

To 2017, may she get the brief history book summary she deserves.

To 2018, cheers to a brave new year.

H*ppy

H*ppy

I’m sitting at a coffee shop. Staring at a blank computer screen watching the cursor flash like it’s daring me to say what I want to say. Off, on, off, on. Happy. Happy is a big word for a small word. It’s a word on birthday cards and advertisements for dating apps and paper bags that hold Big Macs. It’s a marketing scheme as much as an emotion that you feel when you see a fluffy dog. It’s a word that I’m not sure describes what I’m talking about as much as I wish it did because the meaning has been lost to millions of national holidays and Fridays. It’s been turned beige by overuse and under-feeling. Some people have forgotten the meaning entirely. The holidays are here so you are going to hear it a lot. It is red and green and sparkly and covered in receipts. So I by no means challenge you to use it less. I challenge you to rebel by understanding it. Taking it in, re-deciding what the heck it means. Maybe feeling it more. Or notice that you’re feeling it more. It’s a tough thing, that happy thing. It looks like honey and feels far away. And sometimes when we say it we use it as a synonym for not-sad. I don’t think you should be not-sad. I think you should be happy. Fully, truly, consumingly. Not all the time, not everywhere, because this is life and there’s a lot of dog shit that comes with a lot of cute dogs. And you’re inevitably going to step in it at some point. But I hope, there are seconds, or minutes or hours when you can look down or up or in or out and say that word and it feels more than lukewarm and sounds like much more than an adjective.

My Life is Mine

My Life is Mine

I watched this video for the first time a few weeks ago. Then I watched it again, a few days later. Then I tagged all my friends in it on Facebook. Now, I watch it whenever I feel like I need to remember a fundamental truth of living or am having a particularly stagnant Sunday night. So I wanted to share it with you.

Tracee Ellis Ross is an American actress, model, tv host, comedian so okay, she like, does everything. You might know her as Joan Clayton of Girlfriends or Dr. Rainbow Johnson in Black-ish. She has won five NAACP Image Awards and a Golden Globe for Best Actress- TV Show or Comedy, very casually. Fun fact: her mom is Diana Ross. She is also an Incredible Human Being and Real Life Inspiration With Whom I Would Love to Eat Sushi so that’s interesting.

In this speech, she speaks the truth I have been trying to write down for a very long time. She is saying the words that I have not yet quite mustered up the courage to utter at age 21. The truth that I have been looking for in books and movies and songs and Pinterest boards but couldn’t pin down. “My life is mine.” 

This obvious, yet earth-shattering sentence that pumps adrenaline into your veins and ties running shoes to your feet. It empowers you to spring out of the corner you may have been backed into and run, run, run for the hills. If this statement seems apparent, you are lucky. If this statement seems groundbreaking, then you are not alone.

We have been sold a single story of what our purpose and meaning in life might be. I haven’t decided mine quite yet, but I want to consider all of my options. So watch this clip, consider your breadth of possibilities and realize that living your full, wonderful, vivacious, spaghetti-eating life is definitely not selfish.

Click on this thing, okay:

Tracee Ellis Ross Is Living For Herself

 

 

photo credit: Terry Tsiolis

21

I’m twenty one years old today. That is a lot of years. That is enough years to know some things but probably know nothing at all. That is enough years to meet some people, write some stuff down and still feel like life just started. That is enough years to feel very old and very young at the exact same time. That is enough years to pull out a horizontal ID card and feel like you might own the world but also enough years to definitely be renting the world for now.

I always thought 21 would feel older. Wiser. Have my life together more-er. But it feels like moving fast and how I felt at 12 but with a sense of responsibility piled on top of my leather jacket. This is the age they tell us to stay forever. Drink it in. Eat it up. Revel in youth and potential.

I am grateful for the past 21 years. I am present in this one. I am jumping for the next 21.

 

Cheers!!!

To Be Interesting

To my future daughter/son/human,

Above all, I hope that you are interesting.

I hope this because I think that this is the best thing that a person can be. You will sometimes be selfish and loud and kind and transparent and honest and tired and inspiring and guilty. Because we all are, sometimes. You will be called a lot of things and you will call yourself different things. But I hope, most of all, that you are interesting.

Interesting people are three-dimensional and imperfect and messy. They do things because they are drawn to them and they do them well. And if they don’t do them well, they try it again or they try something better. Interesting people have things about them that you can’t guess by looking at their shoes. Interesting people have stories that are not all good but not all bad. They are chasing things and when those things no longer serve them they chase more things. They are not stagnant or passive or bored. I hope you are interesting. Because this world is your canvas and you don’t have to be good at coloring in the lines or shading the sides of mountains to make an interesting painting. Interesting people surprise themselves. At 6 or 16 or 60. Interesting people grow and change and evolve and know that that is a good thing. I hope you swim in deep sea caves and fly on clouds because the middle ground is flat. Interesting people are not always happy. They are in fact, rarely content. Because being content means safety means settling means beige. And you darling, are not beige.

Those things that you think in the dark and that worry you that you might be insane will make you sparkle but you have to find your sunlight to do so. Interesting people struggle and my dear, I hope you find no shortage of struggles because that means you are moving something bigger than you. Interesting people move the heavy boulders and not just for the hell of it. Interesting people create and transform and remove and replace. You are not meant to ignore the music in your blood. I hope you are interesting because I know you will be strong and worried and smart and half-crazy and wonderful. And I hope you don’t shut all of that down in an effort to be okay. Because simply being okay is not interesting.

O.A.