Why you should blog for yourself and how to do so.

Ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Like I said that’s how my mind works in terms of blogging topics. Some weeks I can hardly come up with a single post and others inspiration almost jumps at me on every corner. The latter has been the case for this post which you’ll notice so let’s not wait any longer but think out loud.

Let's talk

We hear it all of the time as bloggers: first and foremost you have to blog for yourself. And most likely we rolled our eyes a little at least one of those thinking “tell me another story – everybody wants clicks and readers!” It’s one of the big [and hard to process at the beginning] lessons every blogger has to learn. Those frustration-filled first months of blogging when nobody will read and much less comment. Or only your mum, friends and relatives. I’d be lying if I said quitting hadn’t sounded intriguing at times back then. What ultimately kept me going was my passion to write and too many thoughts in my mind needing an outlet.

Now I’m not one of the “big” bloggers so can in most cases only talk from my perspective as an observing reader. But then again it’s for readers’ pleasure we write and even as bloggers we’re part of somebody else’s audience every day, too, so it’s a topic everyone can chime in on. Here are my [obviously subjective] ideas on how to fuse writing for yourself while also for readers:

Time and blog post frequency: Writing when you’re not feeling it doesn’t work. Plants, animals and humans all need water to grow and flourish. A blog requires its author’s brain to be a source of inspiration. If the latter doesn’t flow [good, enjoyable] posts don’t happen.

If you’re a mum, busy working in a full-time + job or lead a stressful life due to any other reasons post as often as works and feels good to you. Unless jobbing is indeed your job it should add joy not stress to your life.

Easter_flowers on the table

 

Product Reviews and sponsored posts: That’s something that occasionally gets me annoyed when visiting other blogs, at worst it makes me quit reading a blog for good. Let me stress that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these posts to begin with . Integrity’s the keyword again.
I get that a) it’s exciting when a brand reaches out to you for a collaboration or b) you’re a full-time blogger and depend on making money from your blog. However, there should be a limit to how many and which offers you accept. At least for myself I can say I’ll visit your blog less and less the more inauthentic product reviews I see. If your readers know you as a recipe blogger how in line with this image is promoting ladies’ hygiene products [aside from the fact you might be lady but never talked about these things before]? Or if you’re into healthy living but all of a sudden declare your life-long fondness of a popular brand’s sugar-laden cereals? #sponsoredpost

Recipes

Confession time again. This specifically has been on my mind for a while and was one of the reasons to write this post. It’s no secret recipes are what draws us to blogs. We all like to talk about and [I don’t like using this word myself but will replicate it due to popularity] drool over food. Knowing what’s popular in the healthy living blog world I was tempted to let others’ preferences lead my recipe creations and – for a second or two – considered if to get into that no-bake ball bite game. However, that wouldn’t be true to myself. I’m simply not rolling – literally – that way. As nutritious as they are I simply don’t fancy these and luckily there’s no lack of other delicious foods to create and share.

Cauliflower Nuggets_vegan

Blogging niches

Then there’s the other side: Let’s say you’re – like many of us – a healthy living blogger. Naturally, you deliver dozens of delicious recipes for flourless cookies, oil-free fries and green smoothies containing every superfood known to man**. But maybe you still enjoy a good cheese-filled enchilada casserole with – the horrors! – white flour tortillas once in a while. To post or not to post said recipe? Yes, yes and yes! Because while some people might be surprised to see this kind of dish on your blog there will likely be just as many [or more?] readers who are all up for it. Seeing that hey, that girl/guy has balance down to a pat, doesn’t let a label define her and is likely very fun to hang around.

The same would go if you’re usually a [insert niche] blogger but feel the urge to get your thoughts on a topic dear to your heart but not conforming with your niche out there. I’d say go for it because these posts are what truly shape our blogs to be a representation of who we are.

**please note I’m not actually hating on any of these foods. Mmmh, cookies.

In the end, blogging for yourself is blogging for your readers. Because they come back to find out what you think, create, like, dislike, your quirks and funny stories. Not for you pretending to fit into a certain mold of paleo/clean eating/smoothie drinking/running/lifting bloggers. What all of this comes down to is one statute will always lead any choices I make related to my blog – be it in terms of topics, recipes, sponsored posts or reviews:

Writing the blog I want to read. And I hope it’s one you enjoy reading, too.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: Another spontaneous after-work walk with my dad and winning another game of yathzee. Hello, lucky strike [not of the smoking variety].

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

No specific questions.  Let me know any of your  thoughts on the topic!

 

The Art of Commenting [to connect and communicate]

What a title, right? If you’re asking any blogger what they like most in the blog world the answer is likely going to be: the community. Connecting with alike minds. And one of the best ways to do just that is by commenting. No big deal, right? You’d think so but I’ve come across some – dare I say? – commenting faux-pas in the past that inspired me to think out loud about the art of polite commenting. Take this with a tiny spoon grain of salt and let me know your take in the comments.

[And because complients and kind comments are like flowers those make appearances in today’s post, too. Also because I may or may not be obsessed with taking pictures of them.]

Thinking-Out-Loud

1. Avoid one-word comments.
Let’s face it: a quick “Delish!”, “awesome” or “gorgeous!” isn’t saying much at all. What would you expect the blogger to reply?  It feels awkward to say “thanks ” for every such comment you get – and depending on the post  [like What I ate Wednesdays] there might be many of these.
The one exception to this rule for me is when many commenters already said all you’d do, too, or if the post was expressing all your feelings towards a topic so well all that’s on your mind can summed up in an ‘Amen!’ I’ve seen others use this occasionally and for the most part was right with them there. Personally,  I still prefer to write at least one sentence because that’s the way I roll but go you if you’re the master of the  [occasional] one-word comment.

Flowers

2. Show some appreciation for the blogger. 

No, that’s not the hurt soul in me speaking – promise. We all like to get some praise or just a little virtual pat on the back  for our work and the time we put into a post. Wouldn’t you like somebody raving about how delicious your bowl of chocolate cookie crumble oatmeal topped with homemade honey vanilla almond butter looks in a What I ate Wednesday post? Or how adorable your new dress is? Or chime in on a more serious issue you addressed and tell you you’re not alone in feeling a certain way? All those are little virtual pats on the back … or flowers.

Flowers

3. Don’t scroll to the end of the post right away to solely replying any questions posed there.

Hurt soul or not: yes, I speak from experience here. At least for myself I can say that while I’m genuinely curious to hear your answers to those I’d much rather have you chime in with any thoughts that came up while reading my post.  Also, in my experience  replying to the questions only every time you visit a certain blog doesn’t help build a relationship with that blogger. It’s like exchanging pre-set questionaires: you’re only getting a very limited glimpse at the other’s personality.  Like no blog could run successfully for years if its author posted survey after survey.  It’s the in-between the lines, the quirks that are revealed in free-form conversations and daily happenings that friendships are built on.

4. Give feedback

Liked something?  Don’t just click the ‘like’ button in your Bloglovin’ feed. Or at least not every time. As I mentioned before I completely understand lacking time to comment on every single post you read. As much as I wish I could and want to it’s not realistic when there’s way too much going on in every day life already. Still, how would we as bloggers know which [parts] of our posts you enjoyed if we didn’t let each other know? It’s a win-win because if you let the author know what you like they will [likely] publish more of your favourite content. You get what you ask for.

Flower

5. Write the kind of comment you want to receive

The easiest advice is really to ask yourself what you’d like others to say about your posts. Despite making commenting look like a science of its own here I think many of these points  are very natural.  Just that it’s so easy to forget our intuitiveness when we want to be friends with everybody and spread the news about our blogs.  There’s nothing wrong with that. Simply take a moment every now and then to walk a few steps in others’ shoes. Comment the way you’d like others to comment on your own blog or [if you’re not a blogger yourself] the way you’d like to converse in real life. Simple, isn’t it?

Happiness-inducing today:  Lunch out with my mum for the first time in forever. We went to our favourite small local café and had a delicious risotto with green asparagus and cherry tomatoes. Plus a good conversation – part of every good meal experience.
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No questions today. Just your thoughts on the topic with the one rule: no one-word-comments, please 😉 .

It’s always tomorrow somewhere.

Oh, hey, it’s Thursday again. Lucky you [or me, really] I’ve been hit by a random thought to share after spending some time in the dreaded blogging funk bubble. It’s not a happy place to be but  so far there’s always been an escape at some point so let’s get thinking out loud with Amanda.

Thinking-Out-Loud
Raise your hand if you’re a fellow tomorrow sayer. And please tell me I’m not the only one. I can’t be.
Isn’t tomorrow an awfully amazing word? It’s a promise to take things into action yet not. Allowing for that last minute change of mind or simply postponing it to another tomorrow.

Traveling somewhere that requires me to leave my comfort zone? Tomorrow. Definitely checking train tickets tomorrow.
Finally sorting through the growing piles of unworn clothes that you can’t seem to let go off? Oh, tomorrow for sure. The weather’s just too nice outside today.

Trying that yoga class in town being the completely unflexible person I am [and risk making a fool of myself]? Tomorrow sounds like a great time …

Tackling another goal on my [recovery] list. Today’s really not the day because [insert whichever reason] but I’m sure I’ll feel ready tomorrow.

 
And yes, tomorrows have happened. Sometimes more semi-tomorrows in terms of checking items off my lists. Tomorrow have proven to be good times trying new food and discovering that my fears were arbitrary to begin with.

Vapiano

Tomorrows have been times to travel and see new places [or old ones again] …

Yet even if we enjoy ourselves at that time it’s easy [for me at least] to see those memories fade faster than anything once we settle back into a safe routine.

Berlin

No matter how long my to-do list for a given day is: tomorrow’s will be even longer and I won’t even need to tell you why …
I am and have always been a worrier. Maybe it’s ingrained in us humans [only some were better at loosening up in evolution]. It sure made sense when you needed to be aware of hungry beasts lurking outside your cave.Cautiousness pays off when you’re a little red-capped girl crossing a dark forest to visit your grandma [wolves and all that, remember?]. Even in today’s world it’s smart to wear a security helmet when heading out onto the road. Staying inside and avoiding the dangers of traffic or the woords altogether isn’t, though. Yes, there can be dangers. Yes, there’s the possibilty of risking some looks in that gym class. But there might also be fun and adventures waiting to be discovered by us. Who knows? Certainly not those staying within their comfort zone.

Walking through the forest
But being the word and grammar nerd that I am and complaining about time differences [they really annoy me to no avail when it comes to communicating with friends overseas] it hit me: it’s always tomorrow somewhere. When I’m about to go to sleep millions of Australians are welcoming my tomorrow already. So where’s the point in delaying?

I’m not writing this post because I developed the magical ability to turn my mindset around with a simple snap of my fingers. But I do believe it’s possible. Every day is a new chance. And today might just be the tomorrow to make things happen. Right?
Just like today is the day to hit publish on this post. Sure, I might let it sit another day and find an insanely unique and different way to write a sentence here and there. But chances also are I’ll never post it then.

 

Happiness-inducing today: Discovering that while I might not have a green thumb [at all] getting your hands covered in dirt and planting kabocha seeds [fingers crossed!!] is quite relaxing and distracting.

 

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

No questions today but any random thoughts that come to your mind.

The one question to ask when reading “healthy” advice

Inspiration for posts strikes me in the most random moments. Mostly when I’m doing something that’s already part of my daily life and never got my mind churning with new ideas before. Especially appreciated at times when I’ve sensed writer’s block coming up and got frustrated feeling like I will never ever find a topic again. Yes, it happens. Like I said: frustrating. Anyway, enough of that all because we’re all busy bees and you’ve stopped by to hear me thinking out loud not ramble on about blogger woes.

Thinking-Out-Loud

Back to where I found my topic, though: it was when perusing my Bloglovin feed, sighing and marking about a dozen posts as read. All offering me the best ever and only advice I needed to follow to stay on track this season.  It’s not a sole Christmas holiday season phenomenon: the number of posts offering “healthy” advice is [or it feels like that] is becoming almost unmanageable.  Feeling uneasy about the abundance of Christmas treats all around? At least two dozen posts will be around to ‘help ‘ you.  Not sure if eating another spoonful of mum’s cranberry sauce necessitates an extra 5 minutes on the treadmill? Don’t worry. Detailed Instructions are just a click away.   Or maybe you’re feeling all relaxed about the festive season and have been looking forward to grandma’s special cookies for months? You better believe there are enough articles out there to lecture and scare you away from the cookie tray in an instant.

Grandma's cookies

It might sound a smidgen dramatic but trust me: some of the articles that found their way into my Bloglovin’ feed lately were pretty shocking. Whether you’ve ever dealt with an ED or not I have a feeling a few of these would be enough to “verunsichern” you, too. What I’ve been doing to keep the feelings of guilt and tendency to overthink my every move is asking one question before reading on :

Is this targeted towards me?

Yes, it’s a simple question – but I’d make a guess and say it’s an easily forgotten one. The background here: if you’re reading this post you’re very likely to either be part of the healthy living blog community or at least interested in a healthy balanced life already.  Or you might be in recovery from an eating disorder.  Either way I’m convinced that even if these posts have an eerie attraction to you  with buzzwords like “healthy”, “do’s and don’ts” or “must follow” – deep inside you know if you’re part of their target group or not.  You’re eating whole foods, exercising regularly and your doctor gives you a green light at every check-up? Then you likely don’t need any article telling you to swap the mashed potatoes for cauliflower, limit yourself to one cookie or bring your own sugar- and fat-free ones [that leave you feeling unsatisfied ] or spend an hour at the gym while your family is watching Christmas movies in the living room.

All of these articles I mentioned have – in some form or the other – made an appearance on my screen before. Even if I didn’t search for them but just saw the titles in the side bar of a website or blog I was visiting. Yet as I said: Even if Christmas season is stressing you out deep down you know if  you’re in need of that – helpful or not – advice. Like I know I shouldn’t read [or at least not follow] any advice for “100 Easy Ways to Slash Calories Every Day” or  “How To Drop Five Pounds Until Christmas“. The tricky part is that you might not even mindfully seek for these articles.  Any kind of advice like that can pop up on a blog you probably started reading for that one great article about staying fit while working a desk job or for a great recipe. And then suddenly that trustworthy source tells you about the need to ditch the cookies.

Please notice I’m not judging any blogger or website for publishing these posts neither am I saying anybody who’s generally health-conscious should ditch any thoughts on nutrition or exercise and gorge themselves on all the treats and holiday roast. But chances are even giving yourself full permission you won’t because working out and eating nutritious food makes you happy and you’ll balance it all out.   There are people who are  for and find these articles helpful. But on the other hand there are many – like recoverers, people just starting out to try and live a little healthier, unsure about whether or not treats are included in a balanced diet [they are!] – that can be unsettled in their ways by this.

Christmas 2012 1

Don’t we all want to enjoy the holidays?  I remember many past Christmas days that I spent thinking about food the whole time while trying to eat the least amounts possible [a single potato? I’m sorry but … yes] and beating myself up about a lack of exercise. This is the season for tinsel,  kitschy decorations, cookie scent wafting through kitchens, listening to Michael Bublé on repeat  – but not for feeling guilty and second-guessing our every move or bite.

Now excuse me as I go spend some cozy time with Mr. Bublé.

Happiness inducing today: Did I mention Mr. Bublé yet 😉 ?? Even though he doesn’t fully get me into the Christmas spirit he’s pretty good at trying and making me sing along.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

 

Share whichever thoughts you have on the topic.  Possible ideas but by no means limited to:

Do you weigh up whether a post is geared towards you?

How do you feel about “healthy” holiday advice?

Has an article ever made you feel insecure about your intuitive choices?

We’re not superwomen [and why we’re allowed to stop trying]

 Deep breath. This is a post I’d hoped I’d never write.  Or at least not publish because the in-between of my drafts folder and actual posts is immense. Yet the reason I’m churning my thoughts out loud today is that a) I’m hoping this will make me accountable to follow through with what I’m about to say. And b) my intention has always been to write the kind of blog I’d want to read and I’ve been glad to see similar posts around the blog world.

Thinking-Out-Loud

If something is on your mind and influencing your day-to-day life significantly you know there’s a point when you can’t ignore it anymore.  Ooookay …

The good news: After a recent stint of writer’s block I’m currently on a roll with blogging. Several drafts lined up, more ideas [even recipes – when was the last time I posted one??] in my head.

The bad news: I’m scrambling to balance blogging and life [and don’t like admitting it].

For the past weeks, no, months, I’ve had a hard time living up to my own expectations/assumptions of blogging. That would be posting a minimum number of days per week, replying to comments  [I know I fail there] and stay in touch with other bloggers. Here’s the deal: I absolutely enjoy all of these “tasks”. They don’t feel like duties – unless life takes over and time become a rare good. And with the move and a new job with irregular work hours just that happened. Cue frustration.

Or to quote a fellow blogger: Blogging isn’t your full time job (right now!), it’s a hobby. And she’s unfortunately right there. The main point is I have yet to get used to my work schedule – that in this job will actually never be consistent – and figure out a daily structure. One that helps me find my balance againone that will include blogging. If you find yourself stressed out by too much on your plate the advice is usually: Look for something to go. None of us need to be superwomen or -men.

 

My intention here isn’t to whine and ask for sympathies. Rather, I want to apologize for probably commenting and/or posting a bit less in weeks to come and encourage others to take time for self-care above all else. Over the weekend I got thinking – a run helped – and realized a few things. None of these are partcularly new or sensational but I have an inkling I’m not the only one who needs a [not so] subtle reminder for one or the other.

Tea

  1.  All good advice at hand is useless if we don’t put it into practice or Practice what you preach: I often find myself saying ‘yessss’ to it, add it to my ever-growing collections of good good links – yet more often than not don’t follow suit.
  2.  Taking time for self care is not selfish: Whether you’re a single lady, too, or not: the only person who can first and needs to ensure your well-being are you.  If we don’t take care of and show ourselves respect – why should others? It’s similar to what Carly said in her recent post [though on a slightly different topic]: People learn how to treat you based on what you accept from them. So let’s all take some me time in every day.
  3. You’re allowed to feel stressed: Sounds odd? Here’s what I mean: for the past months I’ve kept telling myself that – compared to others – my life was not stressful enough to be exhausted or allowed to complain. Compared to some serious superwomen who juggled being a mum/wife/puppy owner [<- kudos to all of you!!] I felt I shouldn’t complain. I blamed myself for not managing my time the best. If others could why didn’t I? The truth is: we all have a different stress tolerance. What some can work with 24/7 can leave others dragging along by the Wednesday. I know I’m at a point where I need to make changes if I don’t want to drive myself into the ground
  4. Sleep is crucial: I guess we’ve all read those facts before? And probably promised ourselves we’d get more shut eye time … tomorrow. Only tomorrow never happened. I’m vowing to really make an effort to improve here. Keep your fingers crossed for me 🙂 !
  5. Sometimes we need to re-think priorities: This one’s a real dozy for me. If you asked me to tell you my priorites in life to help figure out which tasks I could lay off for a while I’d be stumped. Keeping in contact with others, blogging, working out, preparing healthy food for work, finally fixing my printer, … Everything seems like a #1 priority on my to-do list. But you know the saying: Something’s gotta give.

Ironically, writing this post already has my mind spurring with ideas for a little blog series on self-care. Once I’ve figured it out better myself [re: practice what I preach 🙂 ]. Take that as another sign I most definitely won’t stop blogging anytime soon. My inner wannabe superwoman just needs to take a chill pill and refuel – mentally and physically. All so I  can keep flooding your  Bloglovin’ feeds with deeper, delicious or downright goofy posts.  Long story short again: I’m not going on a blogging hiatus – just trying to balance on- and offline life. Stay with me?!

Happiness-inducing today: A lot of laughter and joking around with colleagues at the office. It was a very busy day that flew by but busy in a very good way.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

As always: Share your experiences, advice and any other thoughts on the topic!

Benefits of Rituals + Three of Mine

Let’s get to the mot important part for many of you today first: Happy Thanksgiving! We don’t celebrate it over here but I hope all of you doing it have an amazing time filled with family, food and all other kinds of wonderful Thanksgiving rituals.

Rituals.  That word makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Not only because it’s the name of the store where I got one of my favourite scarves. Though that probably adds to it. Consider thinking out loud on Thurdays a ritual, too. Thanks to Amanda for creating that one with all its benefits.

Thinking-Out-Loud

The real reason I’m a huge fan of rituals is their ability to give me instant comfort. The moment I start one of my daily rituals the World – no matter the outside conditions – becomes a blurr and I’m at ease. Or at least in 92% of the cases. There is a lot of evidence on the importance of rituals for mental and physical health.  Just naming a few:

– They reduce stress in speaking to the creature of habit in all of us.
– once a ritual is established it allows you to run on auto-pilot and perform tasks faster

– rituals help create breaks and room to breathe because you don’t need to think

– Help turn bad habits into healthy ones.
Happiness-incuding powers: Like some of my examples below show rituals can be something you know will happen at a certain point in your day/week so you’ll be able to look forward to them when time seems to pass extra slowly [who doesn’t feel that way at work at times?!]
– The timing factor: If you’re like me and prone to running late rituals will help you get more structure into your day. After performing a rituals a few times you’ll know pretty much exactly how long it takes. Proof is that I leave the house at closely the very same time every day.

[Sources: Lifehacker, feel happiness. Marc and Angel, Lifehack, Huffington Post]

Depending on the individual ritual there are obviously even more rituals. Journaling, writing gratitude lists, praying, going for a walk during lunch break, calling a friend at a specific time every week … the list is endless as are the benefits.

Here are three of my daily rituals:

1. Morning routine: Right when I wake up I walk to the kitchen – dark at this time of the year, light a scented candle and start  my breakfast prep. Then I head back to my bedroom for a little morning stretching to wake me up. I finish this one by holding the  child pose for at least a minute.  Then dry brush,  get dressed, pretty up,  eat breakfast.

Candle

2. Car drive back home after work: This one’s funny because it’s relatively new. The moment I hop into my car for the 30-minute commute home I pop a gum. Funny because up until now I never chewed gum – and still only do while driving.  But now I do as I’ve found it keeps me awake and focussed. I usually take a second piece – why are they that small?? – after I leave the highway. That’s because the highway is pretty easy to navigate but after-work traffic in the city can be a pain in the butt and requires all of my attention. Chew gum, breathe, relax.

3. Dinner routine: With my breakfast being semi-savoury and lunches decidedly hearty I crave a sweet dinner in 99 % of the cases. Okay, and I’m lazy and   Brinner?! Cocoa banana oat bran with almond butter – and as of late coconut oil, too – is my heaven in a  bowl  pot [unless I’m eating out or with others]. If you asked my family they’d tell you the way I prepare this is a ritual in itself already. More important to calm down,  though,  is the way I eat it: a newspaper or one of my favourite magazines  on the side I’ll start by reading a few articles. The finish is a sudoku or crossword puzzle. Again, this is something I look forward to all day.

Oats

There you have it: more glimpes into my weekday life and routines. Now it’s your turn…

Happiness-inducing today: Mails from blends and joking around with colleagues.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
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Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

 Tell me some of your [daily] rituals!

How do rituals help you?

What does your night time ritual look like? Mine is a work in progress so I wouldn’t mind some inspiration.