We all love our dogs and take good care of them! Sadly, too many dogs are neglected, abandoned or worse! Many dogs get lost around the holidays for a variety of reasons and end up spending their time in shelters or on the streets.
Here in the US, we rely on the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), like the Dogs Trust, to help our canine friends find good homes.
Founded in 1891, Dogs Trust is the largest dog welfare charity in the UK.
Comments are closed here. Please visit Hugh’s blog for more information.
Journaling a sentence each day for a month makes for a reflective blog post. I joined this challenge in 2017 and have sincerely enjoyed keeping track of my daily adventures. I had time to participate for the month of August so far this year.
August 1st! Half of 2018 whizzed by! Today I cleaned and straightened up the house to prepare for family driving from Spokane, Washington. They’ll spend one night here on their way to Southern California for a memorial service. Sure was great to see them and their two grown daughters!
8/2 I went to a new Pilates class at the gym today and twisted my lower back which left me in a LOT of pain for the rest of the day! I overdid it the day before cleaning, so where is the incentive in that chore?
8/3 Morning walk with my friend. We plan to meet every Wednesday morning and walk for an hour! My back felt a lot better today, thank goodness!
8/4 Saturday, woke up at 6:30am, had coffee and took the dogs for an early walk due to the continuing heat in Northern Cal. I had good intentions to write some in my book. Nope! I ordered a new inflatable SUP from Costco instead.
Came up with a fun Instagram hashtag event for August #monthofsunflowers
8/5 Sunday at the delta. Got here just in time to get out on my regular SUP. Had I waited much longer, the wind would have blown me off the water, along with the lingering smoke from local wildfires. This is hubby’s day off so he was excited to get some windsurfing in later.
8/6 Monday morning at the delta, hoping for another SUP session, but rode my mountain bike instead. Packed up and headed home to finish sharing Sunday Stills participants’ posts and some other blogging duties.
8/7 Good workout at the gym this morning, plus walked the dogs before the heat settled in. Spent most of the day on class prep.
8/8 Day at home waiting for our water company to reset our broken meter and for a package to arrive. I managed to walk the dogs and work on more school prep. What did I get? My inflatable SUP! You can read more about my paddleboard escapades!
8/9 Went to a Weight Watchers meeting. Weigh-in not good…I’m a two pounds over my lifetime weight and have gained 6 pounds over all since last December. You’d think with all the physical activity I do that I could keep my weight down! Got distracted and opened my new SUP and familiarized myself with all the goodies. Once inflated, it ended up on the bedroom floor with Brodie keeping a careful eye.
8/10 Woohoo! After 7 years, I paid off my car today!
8/11-12 Back at the delta—hot day here, not much wind. Several of us got together and created a SUP/Kayak flotilla and crossed the river (a mile across) and picked scads of blackberries. There is an art to balancing a small dog and a Ziploc bag of blackberries on slightly choppy water without falling in!
8/14 I was a featured guest on Hugh’s blog today for his weekly feature “49 Days in 1988.”
8/15 Took an hour-long walk with a gal pal today. Logged over 7200 steps with just the walk. She was gracious enough to take one of my dogs for the walk. Came home worked on school stuff then went out for sushi with hubby!
8/16 Early gym workout. I’ve been listening to a great audio-book (what I listen to on the hour-long drive back and forth to the delta every weekend). I borrow these from our library system in an app called Overdrive. I can borrow e-books to read on Kindle or listen to audio-books, which are converted to MP4 format that download right to the phone.
8/18 No delta this weekend. Off to Lake Natoma to try out my new inflatable SUP. I tried it at the delta last weekend, but it does best on really flat water. So interesting to see so many others with their inflatable SUPs.
8/19 My hubby’s work schedule changed to accommodate his boss’ vacation, so he only gets Sunday off this week. I managed a morning walk with the dogs before it got hot. Hubby and I shopped for some gardening items then enjoyed a late lunch at a restaurant.
8/20 Put stakes in my sunflower garden. I think the sunflowers are happier!
8/21 Great morning walk. Got a haircut, then treated myself to a pedicure! All in time for our…
8/22 ….Happy 5th Anniversary to my hubby!
8/24 Faculty workdays officially began this week. Our annual meeting was cancelled, so I spent the day enjoying one of my last long weekends in the delta.
8/25 Saturday at the delta, did a SUP session with a friend, called a “downwinder.” In other words, we paddled with the river’s tide all the way to the local windsurf/paddlesports shop. Took 45 minutes but it was lovely and quite fun!
8/26 Back home today. Finishing touches and prepping for an early morning start for my first day of teaching tomorrow.
8/27 Fall classes officially start at Sacrament State University today. Got there bright and early at 7:30 to make sure I can park. First week of school traffic is always exciting.
8/28 Still energized from the first day of classes. Our secretary changed the locations of both my classrooms which helps tremendously with the space issue for the Wednesday evening class.
8/29 First night of my Wednesday night class. I have an online class that uses the same curriculum. Looking forward to technology!
8/30-31 Official start to Labor Day weekend.Celebrating a couple of friends’ birthdays, too.
Interested in being part of A Sentence A Day? It is fun to jot your daily ideas down, even the seemingly mundane. Please visit Leslie at her blog Once Upon A Time & Happily Ever After. I have met some new bloggers and have enjoyed this challenge. Please visit the link-up for more Sentence a Day posts.
If you are looking for a fun photography challenge, give my weekly feature Sunday Stills a try!
Welcome to the inaugural post for the rebirth of the popular photo challenge Sunday Stills! Aixa at Mucho Spanishand I are thrilled to co-host this weekly feature!
What is different about this reincarnation of Sunday Stills is that we have added a link-up using InLinkz. Link-ups are a popular way to share your posts with others. We ask that you participate in the link-up and read others’ Sunday Stills posts. For now, this will be a continuous link-up. If it grows into a large link-up, we may change it to a weekly link-up.
May 6th’s Sundays Stills theme is “Refreshing.” Refreshing can have many meanings from sipping a cold beverage* on a hot day to diving into a cold mountain stream. The act of refreshing can also manifest into just sitting and enjoying a sunset after a long day working or playing!
The photo below is a macro view of my St Patrick’s Day green margarita. It was very refreshing!
(*according to the National Days Calendar, today is also National Beverage Day and the first Sunday in May is “National Lemonade Day!”)
In the next photo, my hubby is stand-up paddling with our Boykin Spaniel Brodie on a hot, windless, July day at the Sacramento River Delta. With no wind, it can be rather warm (temps can get to 100 degrees), so hanging out in and near the water is a must for campers.
Simple Rules for Linking Up Your Post
You are invited to participate in Sunday Stills, but you do not have to link your post to the link-up.
However, linking up is a great way to show off your fab photos to other like-minded bloggers and maybe meet some new friends!
Have fun and meet other bloggers!
If you link a post, please stop by one or two other blogger’s links and spend a few moments reading, commenting, and sharing. Isn’t that what building a blogging community is about? You are not expected to read every post shared, but try to find a few that look interesting to you and leave a meaningful comment.
If you share yours or others posts, please use the hashtag #SundayStills
When linking up be sure to consider these two important steps:
When entering the URL, do NOT link up to your homepage. You must link up to a SPECIFIC blog post.
Where it prompts you to include “Name” do NOT enter your name! Use the title of your post here.
As a blogger, do you ever get a sense of deja’vu with that nagging feeling that you have posted something similar before?
When I saw the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme Prolific, I remembered this word and something to do with poppies. And guess what? I searched google and found my own post from three years ago!
What better way to celebrate this theme than with photos of native California poppies? The beautiful orange flower is indeed prolific in March and April and adds beautiful pops of color along the freeways and in neighbors’ yards.
Although I have several favorite places, my heart now lies in Hilo, Hawaii.
Since that magical trip in January, the warm, tropical climate, laid back atmosphere, and shockingly green vistas have been calling me back. The above featured image shows the serene park setting overlooking Hilo Bay, while the image below captures the lush green plant life near the black sands.
For more Big Island photography, visit Graham’s Island. Graham posts beautiful photos of life on the Big Island!
Sunday Stills Revisited…Preliminary Plans for My New Feature
Apparently, I must miss blogging because I tend to dream about it. Last night I suddenly got inspired by the now defunct feature, Sunday Stills, a photo challenge hosted by Ed for several years. Notice there are no links because he hung up his blog and deleted his site.
My addled and sleepy brain managed to churn out an idea that I am playing around with, to bring back the Sunday Stills photo challenge with the help of a couple of photobloggers! If you are intrigued by this notion, shoot me an e-mail through my contact page. More about this in early April, with the plan to launch the feature in May.
For now, think about your favorite place and I look forward to reconnecting with all of you soon! I miss you all and I appreciate you stopping in to say hello!
The above image is of myself and my Beloved daughters enjoying a summer day in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. We just celebrated their late January birthdays, 30 for Lauren, 33 for Megan. I am honored to have passed on a strong leisure ethic to them.
This photo of Lembert Dome from the Tuolumne Meadows Campground depicts my beloved leisure space of all time. How fortunate my grandparents passed on their love of the mountains to my mother and dad, who in turn made sure we spent many hours at the beaches of San Diego, endless days of weekend outings and glorious weeks camping, keeping the values of leisure in a busy, fast paced world.
If you are wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this post, it means I am using this WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme to say a fond farewell to my beloved readers and bloggers.
As another year turned the corner, I made the difficult decision about this blog, Second Wind Leisure Perspectives.
Now is the time for me to take an extended break from writing and publishing.
I am both sad and a little relieved at this decision.
Teaching is Taking All My Time
Although I profess to be retired, I have been teaching part-time as a lecturer in the Recreation and Parks field, which requires more time than I initially expected. Going from one class per semester while also working full-time was one thing, to teaching 15 units a year, some semesters with 150 students, feels like full-time work.
And I dearly love it!
This spring semester I took on a new course teaching the management of leisure organizations. Simple enough one would think, but have you seen the mountains of management literature out there?
I read at least 100 pages of management literature every day, then synthesize it into curriculum and power point slides while making it all relevant to their assignments. I had to create this course from scratch because of my own management experiences in the field.
Last night I lectured from the textbook on the evolution of management theory. I told my 80 students that they will likely never remember Max Weber’s “Bureaucratic Method” of the depression years or Elton Mayo’s “Human Relations Approach” of the 50s and 60s. You could hear a pin drop as students dutifully listened to the lecture.
When I began the next lecture at 7:30pm on self-management, they began to flood me with questions. Suddenly, the energy in the room was exciting and palpable as I shared the latest trends on what it takes to be a new manager in the field. By the time I got home at 9:00pm, I was wired!
This is where my energy needs to be…
…with these university students, hungry for information on what will direct the rest of their careers.
In the blogging world, blogs come and go. I hope you learned a little something from me about finding a healthy balance of leisure in your own lives and that you make wise leisure choices going forward.
I will be visible on Facebook and Instagramwhere I will continue to share my photos. I will also continue to read your posts when I can and I do hope to blog again at the end of the semester.
I cannot thank you all enough for the wonderful friendships and relationships I have built since I started consistently blogging in September 2014. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading, liking, commenting and sharing my posts.
I am very happy to be able to participate in December’s Sentence a Day link-ups. Rather than bore you with each of my sentences, in which some appear repetitive (all 31 of them for December), I am theming them and presenting some of them under each heading. I journaled each day using the phone app Write A Day so I could organize my thoughts and remember each day’s activities. At the bottom of the post is the link to visit other bloggers who shared their Sentence A Day posts.
It’s a Dog’s Life
If you have followed my blog for a bit, you know I am enamored with my two dogs, Aero and Brodie.
Having dogs can take up more time than one might imagine. We are used to traveling with them, they are not large dogs, but they still take up most of the back seat of my Toyota Rav4 with Aero’s booster safety seat and Brodie’s harness. Since we will leave for Hawaii from San Diego, I had to plan months ahead for where they were going to stay while we are gone. There are other dogs in both homes where we stayed. Navigating each dog owners’ preferences took some doing and coordinating.
Last June, 6-month old Brodie bit my brother’s older dog’s ear in self-defense, so he was not keen on having Brodie stay at his house while we are in Hawaii. I worked it out so that Aero will stay with my brother and his two small dogs, and Brodie will be boarded at a nearby home doggie day care.
This whole scenario caused me an amazing amount of anxiety because of the uncertainty with what to do with the dogs. At one point, I was ready to drive back to Sacramento and drop Brodie off at a friend’s house who has a female dog of the same breed. Now I’m convinced that Brodie will love hanging out with dogs his age and size and am finally at peace about it. It was hard to feel a bit unwelcome in my families’ homes because of Brodie.
Here are my thoughts about the dogs this month:
Fri Dec 1 So happy to restart the Sentence a Day challenge. My little dog Aero is not feeling well, so off to the vet we go! Turned out he was dehydrated and needed treatment. $250 later, the lab results were still inconclusive, but he bounced back.
Sat Dec 2 Good times at the SPCA PUP Crawl also known as the #jinglebell walk event co-coordinated by one of my students! Spent the afternoon with my hubby, dogs, and a friend and his dog.
Sun Dec 10 Brodie is one-year old today! Spent a relaxing Sunday writing and blogging.
Tues Dec 12 Took both dogs to the vet early to have procedures done. I planned this during finals week since I didn’t have to be on campus. Brodie needed to be neutered (a dog license in my city for an “intact” male dog costs $300 a year, compared to $15 a year for pets that are spayed or neutered). While they were getting their services done, I met up with a fellow NorCal blogger today for coffee, Cathleen Townsend.
Wed Dec 13 I stayed home today as planned while the dogs convalesced. Brodie was snipped and Aero had a teeth cleaning. Nice to get both done at once, but Brodie did NOT like the “cone of shame” and struggled for several days.
Sat Dec 16 Spent a busy Saturday packing and prepping for three weeks down South and away from home. Brodie’s surgical site is slowly healing and we are all coping! At the time of this post, he is back to “normal.”
I am very grateful for my family and happy they are all dog lovers, regardless of the logistics in traveling with our dogs.
Brodie at Ocean Beach in San Diego
SPCA PUP Crawl
Dogs Convalescing after their surgical procedures
My university schedule wound down in December. Papers were graded, and in two of my classes, students shared their oral presentations, leaving me with no lectures the last week. I am busily preparing for my new class that begins in late January. Some of my thoughts are as follows:
Tues Dec 5 Grades for one class done!
Wed Dec 6 My last Wednesday morning class. I won’t miss the early 6am alarm or the traffic!
Fri Dec 8 My last day teaching RPTA 100 (leisure Lifestyle development). I won’t miss the large class sizes (81 this semester) but I will miss the “aha” moments from students who finally get how important leisure is in their lives.
Fri Dec 15 I am officially on vacation for the semester, having put in the final, official grades. In an interesting school-related note, tonight, Hubby and his friend went to watch our old high school football team (Helix High School) play in the CIF Section playoffs against a local Sacramento team. How cool is that? Helix lost 42 to Folsom HS 47, but it was a great game according to hubby.
Mon Dec 18 Breakfast today with a fellow professor. We are both “retired annuitants” so we understand each other! Spent a good part of the day prepping the new spring class and feeling better about getting closer to being done! Made a list to be sure to bring all of my new class’ items to work on over the next three weeks while we are gone.
I am very blessed to have this part-time lecturer position that supplements my pension. And I am grateful the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration department has faith in me as I continue teaching in my three-year contract. I am glad my boss sees the value that we “pracademics” (practitioners who now teach) can bring to the students going into the field of recreation and leisure.
I’ve read many posts in December about how more folks are changing long-standing holiday traditions and/or simplifying their holidays. Because we inevitably travel away from home for the holidays, we have had to simplify certain functions. I mostly utilize online shopping which allows me to ship packages to where we stay, or shipped to me and wrapped there.
I love decorating and usually start in early December, but with us being gone for as long as three weeks, I now decorate minimally—which means no tree most years.
I got in the habit of using my photos for wallpaper/background for my computers and devices. I can carry my Christmas decorations with me wherever I go!
Some more thoughts on the “holidaze” (spelled wrong on purpose):
Sun Dec 3 Beautiful, cold but sunny Sunday to be in church for the first day of Advent.
Sat Dec 9 Spent the morning with hubby in retail therapy buying a smart TV and other tech gadgets. Oh, and a couple of Christmas gifts for others, too!
Thur Dec 14 The frenzy begins as we prepare for travel and being gone for three weeks. Early start to a busy day…exercise, blog post prep, weigh-in, dog license, some last-minute shopping which included a Costco run! Whew!
Sun Dec 17 A beautiful choir presentation at church for the third Sunday of Advent. Their version of “Mary, Did You Know?” left me weeping and I remember why I miss singing in the choir. Such a blessing!
Tues Dec 19 My unofficial spa day as I continue to prep for the holidays—great workout, facial, then pedicure. Ahhh!
Thur Dec 21 Packed, blog posted and ready for publishing. Now bring on the travel and the holidays! We leave tomorrow!
Sun Dec 24 Karaoke singing on Christmas Eve is a new tradition we’ve enjoyed the last three years.
Mon Dec 25 Merry Christmas from my brother’s house! We had brunch with the family while the kids threw paper around. The medical transport brought my mom over from the nursing home, so we could spend some quality time with her. Christmas Round two was spent with our combined adult children. Hubby cooked a wonderful tri-tip and it was nice to wind the busy day down quietly.
My hubby and I are content to share our time with our families, our adult children and their significant others, as well as simply enjoying each other’s’ company during Christmas.
Not So Mundane
Other than Christmas and New Year’s Eve, December presented several days of fun and unusual events. This was also the first time we stayed at my brother’s new house and enjoyed his wonderful backyard. Here are some of the experiences we had:
Mon Dec 4 Happy birthday to me! I’m two years from 60, but feel like 40. Hubby brought home a German Chocolate cake from our favorite bakery. Not sure if I love him or hate him …
Thurs Dec 7 Weight Watchers changed their points system again calling it “Freestyle.” Seems like it might be better with more “free” foods like chicken breast, beans, corn and peas, things I love and normally eat! When I heard about this from a member I was ready to resist. Moral of the story? Attend meetings with an open mind!
Tues Dec 26 Are you a “day-after-Christmas shopper” looking for hot deals? I used to wake up early to hit the malls, then decided I was over it, and like Black Friday, I now avoid the after-Christmas sales. That evening we all went to see the movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It did not disappoint. I watched the first Star Wars movie when it originally aired in 1977. Forty years of Star Wars, are you kidding me? Lots of nostalgia for both my hubby and me, as we recalled being in our senior year of high school (Helix reference again) when we saw the original.
Wed Dec 27 Finally went to the gym to work off all these extra treats. We spent part of the afternoon on my oldest daughter’s last day (visiting from San Francisco Bay area) at the Ocean beach dog park.
I am grateful for the fun and interesting times I have in my life, where leisure and other events balance out my days. The month of December itself can be a whirlwind of activities amidst holiday planning and gatherings, and while we have come to expect the hub-bub, those exceptional events that pop up make for even more lasting memories.
The Road Less Traveled
As I mentioned earlier, we always travel for Christmas since most of our families live either in San Diego or the Pacific Northwest. Spending the holidays in San Diego is never a problem for us because the weather is at least 10 degrees warmer than in Sacramento. It can be quite cool in San Diego, but during Christmas week, Southern California experienced a heat wave that broke many long-standing heat records. As I write this post after New Year’s the temperatures have dropped off significantly, but still no rain.
I’m glad we are traveling to Hawaii from San Diego because we had to pack clothing and other things for a week in Hawaii. I broke out the shorts and tank tops for a few days as the heat wave continued. Boots and sweaters languished together in the closet, virtually unworn.
We have come to love the month of January for the time we can both take off from work. Once the fall semester is over for me in mid-December, classes do not start up again until late January, giving me nearly 6 weeks of time off. Hubby works a lot of overtime between April and September and racks up comp time. With all the pools closed for the winter, he can usually take a few weeks off using up that time as paid vacation. No complaints here.
Staying in San Diego does involve some driving time. Here are some of my thoughts about traveling by car:
Fri Dec 22 Our road trip south took 10.5 hours. We made good time the first 4 hours with little traffic. But we hit LA and lurched through stop and go traffic for 6 plus hours (and it was my turn to drive). We arrived at 4:30 unpacked our ridiculously over-packed car, changed clothes and headed for a family dinner at 6pm. But on the way there—we saw this in the sky!! Space X launched 10 satellitesfrom Vandenberg AFB in Palm Desert area of Southern California.
I shared this photo on Instagram. I figured it was Santa taking a dry run to break in a couple of his new reindeer.
Fri Dec 29 We drove out to the Indian casino and outlet stores for some retail therapy. Amazing to see so many RVs on the road east toward the mountain and desert areas for the coming holiday weekend.
Sun Dec 31 We packed up and moved most of our stuff for the drive out to my brother’s house. A New Year’s tradition we enjoy is to spend the evening eating, sitting in our PJs and watching movies. Sad to see commercials for free car rides and towing services for revelers. We stayed “home” and loved it!
My hubby and I are continually grateful that we have the funds to support a good vehicle to drive and take road trips. I love my Toyota with it’s v-6 engine, 4-wheel drive and other bells and whistles. Hubby will be buying a new truck in 2018, one that we can pull a new travel trailer with as soon as we can find a good used one. Our old trailer was fixed up and will be sold next month.
Well, that was my December. Writing these daily sentences chronicling each day was easier than I thought… What was your highlight for the month of December?
Please consider joining other bloggers for January’s “Sentence a Day” post. Start writing those sentences now! If you are up for this challenge, please visit Leslie at her Sentence a Daypost.
Photo credit in Featured Image by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash
Please visit the links for other examples of Sentence a Day posts!
When I started seriously blogging over three years ago, I quickly understood the importance of how well-chosen images and graphics played in blog posts and on websites.
Soon after, I also noticed some bloggers included their name or signature at the end of their posts. I liked how it looked and how it graphically tied the entire post together.
About a year ago I got into the habit of including my “signature.” I began by using a free app called My Live Signature.
Here is an example of one I’ve used.
Recently, I wanted to use different seasonal themes with my signature, and rather than try to use an image, I found a simple way to create a custom signature using PicMonkey.
Editor’s Note: PicMonkey used to be free. I’ve had the first level premium account for over two years. For this tutorial, go to PicMonkey and open your free 7-day trial account to get an idea of their pricing plans. Just know that to save your work, you will have to purchase a premium plan.
When I published this post, I thought PicMonkey was free. If you already have the premium plan, then this article will still be helpful.
You can also read more about the overall benefits of having a paid plan in this article.
Then follow these simple directions for creating a seasonal signature. I recommend using these instructions on a laptop or computer.
How to Create a Signature Overlay for your Blog
Step 1. Open the program and hover the mouse over “design”. Select BLANK canvas.
Here you will see a selection of templates. I use the “rectangle ad large.” I recommend you select the transparent canvas feature or leave the white background. The transparent background looks like a white and grey grid.
NOTE: The tutorial images were taken as screen shots and cropped. I apologize for the slightly blurry quality, but it should still give you a good idea of what the menus look like.
Step 2. Select and you will see the canvas with choices on the sidebar. On the far left, select the Tt (text).
Choose your text from the menu, highlight, then select “add Text.”
Type your name into the field. Here you can choose the size (I choose a large size), and select the color.
Here you can also change the angle of the text, by mousing over the text box circle at the top of the box.
Step 3. Now go back to the sidebar where you selected the text and click on the butterfly (orange arrow).
This is the “overlay” section (purple arrow) where you can find hundreds of choices of graphics.
Below, the butterfly symbol is an icon (snowflake) at this publication and this is where you can choose themes for seasonal symbols.
I chose the Winterland theme. Scroll through the menu and select the overlay category.
Note that some choices come with a premium account, but the free version has lots of options.
Step 4. I selected “Frosty McSnow” (pink arrow) and clicked the mitten (red arrow above). Again, like the text option, you can change colors, resize, etc. It is very easy to move the individual graphics around on the template.
Using the arrows in the overlay pop-up window, I switched the angle of the mitten. If you want the image to be more transparent, you can use the fade feature.
Step 5. Choose save file (“export), or save to the *hub for future changes. Name your image file and save. *The hub may be a premium feature.
Here is my finished product using the mitten. I save certain images to the hub so I can edit them later.
Many bloggers have their own branded logos and you can also select that overlay from an existing digital file and save it to the template. See example on the left.
PicMonkey has great tutorials for creating graphics and customizing your images. You can simply click on the “Get Started” icon at the top right of the page.
Once you have created a couple of these for your blog, just add these to your blog’s media file and voila! You can use them again and again.
I am working on several signatures for the upcoming seasons like winter, Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter/Spring, etc.
In the featured image at the top of the post, I created the tropical flower signature overlay for future use on posts related to my Hawaiian vacation. It made a nice graphic.
My advice to bloggers is if you have a little bit of $$ to spend on your blog, especially if you use your own images, spend it on some type of photo editing service. I am not affiliated with PM; feel free to make an informed decision with the 7-day free trial.
I hope you find this tutorial helpful. Feel free to ask any questions, I’m happy to help! And so I leave you with my Christmas signature.
When I ask these questions, the answer I keep coming back to is two-fold:
1. I enjoy talking about the art of writing and the craft of blogging with like-minded people.
2. Being able to freely express my words in published posts and share my photography floats my boat like nothing else!
Connecting with other bloggers is exciting!
I follow and regularly read many bloggers and look forward to their stories, articles, photos and ideas. If the online relationships with other bloggers is gold, then actually meeting them in person is platinum!
Over the last three years of serious blogging, I have managed to meet quite a few bloggers in person. Although most bloggers engage each other by reading and writing comments, conversing face-to-face is beyond special!
What If You Can’t Attend a Blogging Event? The next best thing you can do is to try to meet local bloggers from your own area, city or state. I have been very lucky to meet several fellow bloggers this way. I have found local bloggers by reading their “About me” page. Now you may see why those descriptions might be helpful.
There is just something about going to lunch with another blogger and talking about blogging that is super exciting!
I recently had the joy and pleasure of meeting up with three other bloggers. We all connected both through our blog genre and geographically. Although Janis, Kathy and Donna consider themselves “retirement bloggers,” Liesbet is self-employed and I am semi-retired working as a part-time university lecturer. We all have some freedom to travel and can experience leisure on our terms.
And that was the beauty of our connection.
Donna was in Southern California on a home-exchange, Liesbet is currently house-sitting in San Diego, while Janis and Kathy live in Southern California. I used the holiday weekend and my school schedule to my advantage, along with extensive family who live in San Diego, to factor in my trip south from Northern California. Note: Liesbet could not join us on this weekend, but she met up with Kathy and Donna earlier in the month–she was with us in spirit.
And the planets aligned for a fun weekend.
Another perk of developing online connections is the opportunity to share your insights on other blogs and in turn, offer them the opportunity to guest post on your blog. I think this idea of cross pollination is critical for meeting even more bloggers. When I guest posted for Donna last month, I met and followed other bloggers, extending my own network and creating even more connections.
At our meet-up, we all had questions about blogging. As we chatted, and shared ideas, I learned some important things about my own blog.
Not long ago, through WordPress dot com, my blogging platform, I signed up for WordAds. I see many bloggers who have ads enabled on their websites and there is potential to earn a few dollars. Donna commented that the ads were annoying and tempted her to click off my blog…and she’s a friend and regular reader! How many others felt that way or just clicked away? Egads!
So, as we chatted, I disabled the Word Ads feature. Am I going to miss that $2 a month I was making? Nope!
I also checked some of the widgets in my sidebar while we talked about the pros and cons of Instagram. To my horror, my widget linked not to my Instagram page where I share my other photos, but to my PayPal donation site! I fixed that right away.
For someone who is not intending to monetize my blog at this point, I must have looked like a money-grubbing fool sending unsuspecting readers to endure unwanted ads and then donate money.
But that’s what feedback provides. A fresh look at your own blog.
We also traded some war stories about watermarking images, dealing with social media and privacy issues as a blogger. I told Janis I gave up any kind of privacy attached to my online persona years ago. I asked Donna to Google my name and she found at least 10 pages of links with my name, some from work, school, organizations and blogging. If you blog, you are out there for the world to see!
Out of the four ladies, I had met three of them in person before. Reconnecting was a blast and getting to know Donna and her husband Richard, who hosted our visit, was a joy!
As part of our desert meet-up, we all agreed to share our views and experiences today. Please visit my dear friends and read about their perspectives.
Often, as we look to the sky, we find fleeting beauty in the Temporary nature of clouds.
Traveling to San Diego on this Veteran’s Day weekend, I saw a variety of clouds, from the occasional puff just hiding the Autumn sun, to a full-on magical sunset. Beauty is all around us, but like the nature of clouds, just random water vapor, it quickly comes and goes.
As I compose this post, I am a few hours away from spending two days with some fellow bloggers near Palm Desert, California. Making wonderful online relationships as a result of blogging may feel temporary at times, but when we have the opportunity to meet face-to-face, the chance of making permanent, lasting relationships is forged.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
― Rabindranath Tagore
I can happily say that my friendships with fellow bloggers certainly adds color to my sunset sky!
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you probably know I LOVE photography and combine that with my love for Autumn!
Growing up in San Diego, there wasn’t much to see in the way of Autumn leaves as the palm and eucalyptus trees didn’t yield to Fall’s changes. Once in a while, in December, when some of the east areas felt a few cold nights, did you see the few Liquid Amber trees show their Fall colors.
One I moved to Sacramento as an adult, and lived among “the City of Trees,” my obsession for Autumn grew each Fall as the entire region became a burst of color. It also does this in the spring, but that’s for another season!
You also may know that I love my photo challenges and am including this photo (from a two-year old post) into a fun challenge I discovered through fellow blogger Lisa from A Day in the Life. She has a well-developed eye for photography and joined A Festival of Leaves.
I will be joining Lisa each week with a new post sharing my “Festival of Leaves” photos. Some will be older photos that would love to show you their beautiful colors all over again. Feel free to join the festival!
Here is another one from November, 2015.
The title of this post mentions FREE photos. I feel very strongly about proper photography and image use on blogs and websites. More often, these days, I am reading accounts of bloggers being sued for copyright infringement when using random images on their websites.
Not everyone feels comfortable taking their own pictures, so I created a sharing file from the thousands of images I have taken over the years.
Author and fellow blogger, Tina Frisco, used one of my photos in a recent post!
If you can take your own pictures, please do! I use Canva and PicMonkey for post-editing (cropping, exposure/color, watermarking, adding frames and text).
Please visit my page “FREE PHOTOS FOR YOUR BLOG” and click on the Dropbox icon the visit the files. I have been busy adding more photos in the Autumn Splendor file. Feel free to use them!
I would appreciate it if you would share this post.
Sidebar: WordPress tells me that this is my sixth anniversary of when I started this blog. Wow!
Before I share my four takeaways, here are some general thoughts on choosing a blogging conference.
Choosing a Conference
Having a blogging (or writing) conference come to your town is a huge gift.
Through a Sacramento Bloggers event in 2016, I discovered the IFBC conference would be offered the following year. Although I wasn’t a food blogger, past attendees assured us there was enough general information that it would be wise to attend. Although the IFBC was pricey, at over $300 for registration, the IFBC offered a deeply discounted rate to “Citizen Bloggers,” who agreed to share three blog posts before, during and after the conference.
At a price under $100, I registered well in advance, not knowing what the sessions or agenda would be.
In April, again through my association with Sacramento Bloggers, we found out that Sacramento was hosting its third annual WordCamp, this time with an entire track devoted to beginner bloggers, and how to use WordPress tools.
In case you don’t know, there is a difference between WordPress dot com (through Automattic, Inc), the free blog platform many bloggers use, and the WordPress dot org platform used on self-hosted websites. I have two sites: this one, Second Wind Leisure Perspectives, (you are reading here now) and my self-hosted website for my business Windigen Consulting.
Registration for WordCamp Sacramento was an unbelievable $40 for the entire weekend. This is attributed to the amazing and generous sponsors! When I applied for and was selected to present on the bloggers’ panel “Blogging Success and Monetization,” my registration fee was FREE! Plus, all attendees received conference t-shirts, swag and a useful printed program.
There was enough general information shared at sessions that I could apply to both this blog and my consulting website. Attending two local conferences almost back-to-back was a little tiring, but my drive to downtown was only a few minutes and parking rates for weekends were dirt cheap!
Without further adieu, here are my Four Reasons to Attend a Bloggers’ Conference:
1. Meeting other Bloggers
The main reason I attend conferences is to meet other bloggers in person, the actual folks with whom I have developed an online blogging relationship. Oftentimes, the world of a blogger can be a lonely place. It is a special treat to engage with other bloggers in person, who “get” you! And so nice to not have to type your reply for a change!
Before the conference:
Once you are registered for the conference, plan ahead and make some business cards for your blog, even if you just print them yourself.
At the conference:
Network with others. Most conference-goers are easy to spot with their name tags. Do not be shy about introducing yourself to another blogger. Exchanging those new business cards is helpful and useful.
At your table, say hello to those seated beside you. This may be difficult for some folks, but you can simply ask, “Are you a blogger,” or “What is your blog/website about?” Be prepared to answer this question, too.
In one session, the presenter asked for everyone’s cards so she could send us her slides and information. Many folks had awkward slips of paper rather than cards, which could be mistaken for trash and did not present a professional look. I was glad I had mine!
After the conference (or during):
Find your new blogger friends on social media and follow them.
2. Networking the Room In-Person and on Social Media
Use your time to walk around and explore all the conference areas. At the IFBC, there was a huge swag (gift) table where we selected one of each item to take home at the end of the first day. There were some leftover goodies the next day and we were encouraged to take them.
Be sure to meet and thank the conference organizers and sponsors. Most of these folks donate their time to put on these events. The sponsors and vendors also donated in-kind services and/or money to make the conference happen. One way you can also acknowledge them is by sharing their names and hashtags on Social Media.
Most conferences encourage social networking during the sessions. While this practice is beneficial, I find it rather distracting to the presenters. Use this at a minimum while the person is speaking, besides, how are you listening to what they are saying, while your fingers are tapping away on the screen? There is plenty of time in between sessions to share.
Do take photos of interesting conference items, like logos, t-shirts, session signs, displays, food, etc. Those make great sharing options for Instagram and Facebook where images are the key. Use the conference hashtag where possible while sharing. This is also a great opportunity to build your social media following, while following others. Some of these photos I used for this post!
3. Learning New Skills
Attending a conference provides an opportunity for professional development and learn the blogging best practices from the experts. Both conference organizers sent e-mails on a regular basis with up-to-date information as the conference dates approached.
Before the conference:
Read the agenda and look at the sessions that interest you. Have a back-up plan if one gets cancelled (it happens).
Ask yourself what you hope to get out of attending the conference.
During the conference:
Attend sessions. Have you ever been to a conference and didn’t go to the sessions? Back in my work days, I saw this practice all the time. I never understood the point of spending money, then not actually learning something.
Take notes. Conference attendees take session notes a variety of ways, whether by pen and notepaper, recording with a device, or by typing on a laptop.
Talk with the presenters after the session, and take the opportunity to thank them and ask questions.
After the conference:
Watch for follow-up e-mails from the conference organizers. Many presenters offered their slide shows in a shared format that all attendees could access.
At WordCamp, professional photographers took lots of photos and shared them with attendees (that is how I got many of the images in this post). I’m told WordCamp images are public domain, so no need to attribute them to the photographers.
4. Putting What You Learned into Practice
This is often neglected, especially if you attend a conference out of town. Traveling home, you may be tired or needing to catch up at work, and you may be tempted to put your bag of notes and goodies away for a few days. Those nuggets of great ideas can easily be lost or forgotten.
At the conference:
While taking notes, give yourself 1-2 actionable items from each session that you can implement within 24-48 hours.
Put it on a to-do list, your day planner/calendar or sticky note or somewhere you can access it quickly. I sent myself a list in a calendar event with a nagging reminder so I wouldn’t forget.
After the conference:
Following up with these notes is important, or why did you bother to attend? Get as much as possible out of your conference experience.
At the IFBC, I heard two excellent speakers. One presented on “Massive Instagram Growth” and gave us actionable how-to items to implement quickly. Another speaker talked about SEO and provided excellent examples, as well as her slide deck at the end. I saw lots of folks snapping photos of these slides for later use!
Those were my top four reasons. Here are some additional nuggets for you to consider.
The Conference Speakers
Have patience with the presenters. Although they are sharing their expertise on a topic, he or she is unlikely a seasoned speaker. Using a microphone and managing a laptop while speaking is frightening to many folks! Speaking from experience, it can be extremely nerve-wracking to stand in front of 100+ people and present, so take that into consideration and try to jot down the best nuggets of information they have to share.
Many conferences provide a sharing link for all the slideshowsused at the conference.
If you just don’t enjoy a session and there is another offered concurrently, do not be afraid or intimidated to walk out of an uninteresting or irrelevant session and move on to another one if possible. You paid for this information when you registered and you have the right to move around.
Take Time to Evaluate and Perhaps Volunteer
Be sure to evaluate the conference and offer your feedback. If you were disappointed with something, take a moment to describe the issue in detail. At the end of the survey, there might be an opportunity to sign up to volunteer or present for future conferences, if that is something in which you are interested.
If you do have to opportunity to present, you will likely get comped for the entire conference, so that is always a good incentive.
My Overall Impression of Two Blog Conference Weekends
I am glad I went. I hadn’t been to a professional conference since Bloggers at Midlife in 2016, and before that was when I presented at a work conference in 2013.
I learned several actionable items and concepts as well as met many people I could ask for assistance if needed. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend a blogging conference in person. Keep checking your WordPress admin panel for updates on WordPress events in your community.
Network with local bloggers, if possible, to see if other events are being planned.
I also have an opportunity to meet with several fellow bloggers over Veteran’s Day weekend in mid-November as we converge in Southern California. I am very much looking forward to spending some quality time with these special friends..
My 15 minutes of fame as a presenter comes this weekend at the WordCamp Sacramento 2017 conference! I cannot believe how fortunate I am to be able to attend not one, but two, local blogging conferences in September!
WordCamp Sacramento 2017 happens over two days this weekend (Sept 16-17th). This year a blogger track was added to assist bloggers. Through Sacramento Bloggers, I connected with other bloggers and we now meet two-three times per year to share ideas and network. Founder Margaret Andrews, blogger and self-published author, and I are honored to present on the panel for the session: Blogging Success and Monetization.
I am on the panel as a “hobby blogger” and will share how blogging opened the door for successful freelance writing and self-publishing.
WordCamp Sacramento 2017 has a boatload of sponsors. Because of their generosity, registration was a mere $40 for two whole days! Unheard of! As a presenter, I even get the entire conference free!
“WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users.”
More information about WordCamps and other WordPress events is in your WordPress Admin panel. You can see what it looks like on your admin panel below. It may look a little differently depending on your geographical region.
I have attended a few WordPress meetups in Sacramento, and many communities have these available. Yes, they are heavy on the developer end and focus on the WordPress dot org platform. If you are a hosted blogger on WordPress dot com, you don’t really need this level of WordPress. However, if you have a self-hosted website/blog and you use the WordPress platform, these can be valuable sources of information, as well as opportunities to meet other bloggers.
Had I not taken a look one random day at this box in my admin panel, I might have missed this local event and the opportunity the present with the panel. Once you find a WordPress meet-up group, stay on their mailing list for updates.
At the end of September I am attending the International Food Bloggers Conference, also held in Sacramento. I’m not a food blogger, but the event is local and my goal is to meet other bloggers and attend a couple of the general blogging sessions. These sessions include:
How to Make Money from Your Blog
Why Bloggers Need to Know SEO
Get Paid For Your Posts
Let’s Talk Massive Instagram Growth
Beyond the Blog – Panel
and How to Write a Scroll-Worthy Blog Post by my friend and local blogger, Margaret Andrews
There are food-related activities, too, and I’m excited about being a part of it all!
After I attend these two blogging events, I will share a post on my take-aways from the events. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, you can read a little more about me. WordCamp organizers took the information from our required profiles and shared each and every presenter in blog posts over the last few months. Mind you, this event is completely run and organized by volunteers. Special shout out to Jennifer Bourn of BournCreativewho is one of the key organizers of this event.