This week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge is all about showcasing your favorite sports and/or hobbies. Your images of sports might show others participating or yourself engaged in one. The same is true for your hobbies. Please share any image depicting doing what you love and engaging in leisure!
I will start you off with some of my examples.
Hobby 1: Gardening
Most of my summer was confined to my backyard due to foot surgery and lack of mobility afterward. Many of my photos featured my new-ish hobby of gardening, with great success in growing (yes, and bragging about) my two favorite flowers: plumeria and sunflowers.
I was so excited to grow the Tall Sungold or Teddy Bear from seeds this season, shown in the above image.
My sunflowers are just about done, but even as they go to seed there is still beauty and hope for the next season!
My hearty little plumeria plant is still blooming and I hope by next season that the other three plants will reveal their blooms.
Hobby 2: Photography
I take at least 200 photos a week and perhaps like you, I share a few on my blog and on Instagram and Facebook.
Since I am not yet interested in trying to sell my photos, freely sharing through these creative outlets simply makes me happy. I have enjoyed much positive feedback and encouragement about my photography (and I am sure you have, too)!
One day, I may print images on canvases and sell them in local craft fairs. But for now, these are a fun and creative outlets to help me enjoy my hobby.
I enjoy seeing the astounding photographic talents on Instagram and on WordPress from the fellow bloggers who link with Sunday Stills Photo Challenge each week.
Hobby 3: Writing
I have mostly finished the first draft of my next book, No Excuses Fitness. My daughter, an aerospace engineer and CrossFit enthusiast, is reading it with a critical eye and has already made some excellent suggestions and edits!
I would have never thought about self-publishing if it not been for my blog. I have met many self-published authors through blogging and am now a fan of their published works.
Hobby 4: Caring for my Dogs
I don’t know if caring for my fur-babies counts as a hobby since I consider Aero and Brodie part of the family, but they do provide us with endless shenanigans and smiles!
At the Sacramento River Delta a few weekends ago, I enjoyed photographing Aero chasing a ball on the beach, while making sure Brodie chased sticks in the river. They know the word “delta” and stop in their tracks when I utter the word.
Sport 1 & 2: SUP and Windsurfing
When I met my husband 10 years ago, I had no idea my life would have ever been this exciting! His passion for windsurfing has opened unexpected doors to leisure pastimes I had never considered. He remembered I was athletic in high school, so it was natural for me to jump into windsurfing and stand-up paddling.
I have not windsurfed at all this summer and I’m told there were many non-windy days. I prefer SUPing anyway!
The next evolution of board sports is foiling, giving board sports enthusiasts another way to enjoy these sports. Riding on this foil lifts the board out of the water and creates a smooth ride even on a light-wind day.
Here, you can get an idea of the special board and the size of the foil.
Brodie keeps a watchful eye as his “dad” prepares to launch!
Hobby 5: Weekend Camping and Beyond
We have had our travel trailer since spring 2018 and have made excellent use of it, by camping two summers in the delta at our windsurf club’s campground. Alas, the season ends this month and we move our trailer back to storage. However, we hope to camp with the trailer a couple of weekends this fall, perhaps driving north to Lake Siskiyou or to Lake Tahoe before it gets too cold.
We are repeating our winter road trip in late December into January as we head south to San Diego and into Arizona and Nevada. If you are new to my blog, you can read more about our travel travails from earlier this year!
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.
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..
Another New Year’s inspirational post? Not exactly…
The blogosphere is full of inspirational New Year’s posts. And why not? It’s that time of the year to dust off the good ideas you may have left behind last year and refresh them. Or not.
This post is about finding new inspiration for your blog and its care and feeding. Can you believe some folks’ resolutions are to STOP blogging? Oh, the horror!
Well, that could have been me!
In 2016, I left the comfort of blogging on WordPress dot com, for the world of self-hosting. I envisioned taking my blog to a business level (with no real plan in mind, other than tying it in with my consulting business), having been inspired by many fellow bloggers who have done so. For many, self-hosting is a wonderful and valuable experience. However, there are limitations. Losing your followers is a big one, followed by endless social networking and just plain work!
I retired for a reason!
In September, shortly after re-launching my eBook, my images slowly and systematically began disappearing off my posts. Because I was still associated with WordPress dot com, I successfully used their happiness engineers to aid me with the problem, as well as migrating it all back to dot com. I am much happier here. Since I “came back” I now have almost 300 new followers.
For most of us, blogging is a hobby, a creative outlet for writing, sharing and connecting. Overall, I want to be able to simply blog about what I LIKE and not what some random “how-to” book suggests to be successful. Just what IS success anyway? A blog with 20,000 followers? Sure. A blog where the writer happily posts whatever they feel inspired to write? Another yes.
Whatever the reason you blog, is yours alone! Own it and be happy to share your thoughts.
However, if you are looking for a little inspiration, try one of these simple ideas now.
8 Simple Ideas to Inspire Your Blogging
Start with the easy ones first!
1. Spruce up your blog site with a new theme, or simply add a new header and fresh color schemes! When I moved back to WordPress dot com, the Premium package was discounted, so I splurged and have many more options for customizing the look of my blog.
Debby at DGKaye Writer just posted helpful blog informationusing widgets. Small changes make for big differences in the appeal of your blog and help motivate you when you look at your own blog!
2. Reach out and leave comments on other blogs rather than just pressing “like.” (I know, sometimes I do that too when I am in a hurry and want to acknowledge the post). It might take an extra moment or two, but we bloggers ALL love comments!
3. Take part in WordPress challenges. Many bloggers offer their own challenges, whether it is photography, flash fiction, coffee chats, etc. Challenges help you focus on a subject and provide a daily or weekly structure to your posting schedule, while providing subject matter for your blog.
Try these intermediate ideas for sharing and networking!
4. Start your own link-up. Or partner with another blogger who does link parties. Link-ups are a great way to network your blog. I have met countless bloggers through this system.
Inlinkz seems to be the easiest method for offering link-ups.
5. Get more involved in another social network—for example, if you don’t tweet, try it! I recently started Flipboard, a magazine-style app for saving and collecting articles. I added a button for Flipboard for easy sharing at the bottom of my posts. It’s doable for WordPress dot com users. If you are using Flipboard, please follow me here! If not, at least check it out.
Janice at Mostly Blogging turned me on to Flipboard with this post.
6. Explore a local MeetUp with other bloggers.
MeetUp is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.
Because of my growing photography interest, I recently clicked on MeetUp’s explore page and found a local, nature-event photography club. Even if you don’t meet other bloggers, connecting with others in a leisure interest may inspire you in ways you didn’t imagine!
If you REALLY need inspiration, try these more advanced tips!
7. Start a specialized Facebook group tailored to your blog. I am surprised at how many bloggers do not use social media to promote their blog posts.
Facebook groups are more complicated but yield great results for networking. The newest one on the block is Big Up Your Blog hosted by Suzie Speaks. Visit her blog where she has instructions on how to join.
Is starting your own Facebook group a daunting task? This IS the advanced section after all. However, simply joining a Facebook group should be much easier.
I haven’t started a Facebook group yet, but I do have a Facebook page. Second Wind Leisure Perspectives, is set up just for my blog and its posts. It is meant to be separate from my main Facebook page. These are all simple to set up via WordPress.
If you take photos, Instagram is an easy way to share photos from your blog or just for fun. Instagram allows you to share the photo through Facebook and Twitter as well. All of these social networking sites are accessible from my blog’s sidebar and can be set up on your blog site in a similar fashion.
From this and other posts, I was able to write my eBook, Better Blogging with Photography. Perhaps my eBook will provide some inspiration for you. Click the above which will take you straight to the book on Amazon. It’s on sale for 99 cents for the month of January!
I am proud to know a growing number of bloggers who have self-published books within the last year. There is an incredible amount of inspiring authors in this group: Glimpses Book Review and Author Round-Up
What will inspire your blogging this year? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!
I just spent a fabulous weekend at a blogger’s conference in Las Vegas. I am truly inspired by the incredible bloggers who are published authors or are living their dreams through their online businesses. I share this post from a year ago as a testament to writing personal essays using our deepest emotions to tell a story.
This was the second year of the Bloggers At Midlife Conference. If you want to take your blog and writing to the next step, consider attending this conference or other similar conferences.
This was part one of a writing challenge series. If you are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy reading this post.
Oreo was my beloved 14-year old Springer Spaniel-Australian Shepherd mix. He was 12-weeks old when he and his twin brother were brought to the SPCA. My daughters and I had just gotten a Chow puppy and were taking him home when we saw the cute, freckle-faced black and white pups.
The next day, I came home from work for lunch to check on our little Chow and he had died. Weeping, I wrapped him up in a towel and brought him back to the SPCA. The vet later told me he had died from an infection brought on by the neuter surgery. Who performs neuters on 6-week old pups?
But that is not the story.
Within two days, the SPCA said I could take one of the black and white puppies we had seen earlier. We brought him home and named him Oreo for all the Oreo-cookie crumbs that freckled his nose. Here is what Oreo looked like when we got him (yes, that is me back then).
Fast forward to 2011.
In early 2011, Oreo had already exceeded his estimated life span by two years. Dogs his size usually die by age 12 or 13 years old. I attributed his extra years to going with us to the delta when my husband entered my life in 2009. Oreo loved the delta. In 2010, we acquired Aero, our brown cocker mix, who also kept Oreo company in his last year on Earth.
When Oreo died, I wasn’t even in town.
For several months, Oreo had been losing weight, had lost his hearing, and had cataracts. He never lost his strong sense of smell, so he could maneuver pretty well around the yard.
In late June, at the delta, Oreo got severely tangled in his long lead to which he was tied next to our trailer. We tied him up so he wouldn’t wander over the levee and get hit by a car. Most of the time, he could be off his tether under our supervision. On this particular Saturday morning, having gotten tangled again, I drove the hour drive back home where he would not have to be tied up. When we got home on Sunday evening, my daughter said that he had fallen down the two steps from our backyard deck. He was unharmed but this was not a good sign.
I took him to the vet shortly after. He had gotten into very bad shape very quickly. In a few days, we were travelling for a 5-day vacation in Yosemite. I felt in my heart that Oreo should be put out of his misery and hoped the vet would agree. Instead, she prescribed him some pills (for older dogs). Although I was relieved and hoped that Oreo would get better, that did not happen.
My daughter’s friend agreed to look after Oreo while we were in Yosemite. There is very little phone service in the high country, but we happened to be visiting Yosemite Valley one of the days.
That is when I got the phone call. When Darla checked on Oreo, she found him sprawled across the deck stairs where he had fallen again. He was very near death. While trying to reach me, she and a neighbor put him in the car and took him to the closest vet.
As the vet described Oreo’s condition over the phone to me, wanting to run tests (why??), I told the vet to put him down. In writing this, it sounds so cold and factual, but since I wasn’t there, I cope with this by being so. Darla agreed to stay with Oreo while they injected him with the life-ending serum. She was the last person Oreo sensed.
To this day, I carry the guilt and immense sadness that I could not be by my dog’s side as he was euthanized. I can barely write this even now.
We requested the vet to freeze Oreo’s body. When we came home, my husband dug a deep hole in our backyard under Oreo’s favorite pine tree and buried him there. My husband made a cement grave stone and we managed to use Oreo’s own paw to make a print in the wet cement.
Once Oreo was laid to rest under the tree, what amazed me is how our puppy Aero reacted. He could smell Oreo and spent several days laying on Oreo’s grave, sniffing and “crying.” Sometimes he would run around the yard looking for him.
I am consoled by the knowledge that Oreo had some extra time on Earth and a puppy companion in his last days.
I have wanted to write this story for a long time and this prompt for Writing 101 was as good a time as any.
Grief is a powerful emotion that can be tapped to write compelling personal essays worth reading. Stories such as these can be serialized as I did with this writing prompt. Part two became the back-story, then part three continued the theme to celebrate Oreo’s wonderful life.
When walking, do you ever look down? Most of us look ahead to see where we are going, especially if we are sight-seeing. On a recent trip in San Diego, we strolled along Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. Something sea-green caught my eye as I looked down through the gaps in the planking, and saw this sight. With the low tide and the light, the ocean was really this green!
As I rolled this idea of “gap” around in my mind, I admit that I have left some gaps in my blogging of late. March has been a busy month and my blogging has suffered. I have managed to continue with two posts each week and one of those is a photo challenge. The writing is slow to come forth. I was sick for almost two week, then our wi-fi was intermittent. Even with Spring Break, I still had to prepare lectures for the following week since we visited Yosemite for Easter weekend. My step-son is here so we have been enjoying a lot of leisure time! I shouldn’t complain, but these weeks have really flown by.
April proves to be another busy month as we begin the process of moving our trailer into our windsurf camp at the delta. I also have the distinct pleasure of participating in the Bloggers at Midlife Conference in Las Vegas in mid-April. I hope to draw more inspiration about writing and blogging and meet some amazing bloggers.
This photo is submitted for “Gap”-Week 19 of the weekly photo challenge sponsored by Hugh’s Views and News. And thank you, Hugh, for hosting my blog all month on your sidebar as your featured blogger!
Imagine my excitement when Hugh Roberts asked me to write a guest post and be his featured blogger for March. I stand in very good company with previous guest bloggers whom I have followed because of the nature of the content they share. If you’ve been a reader of Hugh’s blog long enough, not only does he share great blogging tips but he’s written a fabulous set of fiction stories and hosts the increasingly popular weekly photo challenge.
What can I share with Hugh’s readers?
For my guest post today, I’ve decided to approach this from a writing perspective. This a blog after all. Most bloggers write.
So as they say…once upon a time…a writer was made.
The Making of a Writer
I started my “official” writing journey as a cub reporter for the high school newspaper in my senior year. By the second semester I was promoted to news page editor. Near the end of that senior year we entered San Diego county’s high school news competition. Not only did the newspaper win first place, I won first place as reporter for the news category. Totally unexpected given that this was my first year.
Sidebar: My writing journey really started at age five when I started reading…everything. I loved school because we were required to read.
Once in college I realized that I had decent writing skills and excelled in classes like organizational communication. It was much easier to write about facts in non-fiction than to write fiction.
I took those skills into my career in recreation and leisure services (yep—parks and recreation!). I wrote pages of public service announcements, developed, wrote and edited marketing content for publications and catalogs advertising recreation programs. I already had a great eye for proofreading and corrected many of my colleagues’ writing mistakes. I became so successful that I did this for the entire department for 15 years. I eventually managed and wrote website content for our ever-changing online aquatics pages.
The Making of an Editor
In the meantime, I looked for part-time side work to supplement my single-parent income. I knew that I was a good proof reader and copy editor because of those experiences I acquired. When I was introduced to the editor of a local monthly magazine, I asked her if she ever needed proofreading for the publication. She said that her proofreader had just quit and was looking for a new one. She gave me a stack of pages and said, “I pay $10 an hour, so log your hours and we’ll see how you do.” I ended up editing content for her magazine for eight years. She also referred me to other side work proofreading and copyediting books and other publications.
Eventually, most proofreaders were put out of work as computer technology increased. If you ask me, editing and proofreading programs and apps leave a lot to be desired. As writers and readers, how many typos do you see in published works?
The Making of an Educator
In 2007, I decided to enter the graduate program in Recreation Parks and Tourism Administration. My ultimate goal with a master’s degree was to be able to teach part time at the university in the department. During grad school, I grew fascinated with the four generations in the workplace and how culture and historical events shaped the values and characteristics of each generation. There’s nothing like writing a 90-page thesis to hone your writing skills, not to mention learning to take criticism of your work. From this I learned a lot about my particular writing style and my continued love for non-fiction writing.
In January, 2011, six weeks after I completed the master’s program, I was hired as a lecturer for a university teaching in the recreation, parks and tourism program. Fast-forward to 2016, now retired after 35 years as a parks and recreation practitioner, I continue to write and create 4+ hours of lecture material each week. I then present them to Millennial students with somewhat short attention spans.
The Making of a Blog
Once I finished and published my thesis, which focused on the four generations in the leisure workplace, I used my research and literature review to construct and offer presentations for trainings and workshops. Soon after, I started a blog on WordPress. The blog was devoted mostly to generational training and information and was slow to progress because it was the equivalent of writing a research paper for each blog post… and even I got bored with it.
I continued to realize the importance of good writing once I started blogging. However, academic writing using references was tiring. I got discouraged and let it fall by the wayside. On a random day in September 2014 I logged into WordPress and saw the invitation for WordPress’ Blogging University 101 and 201, which helped me develop my blog to what it is today.
My blog became about the perspectives I had on life, work and leisure. I have come across very few blogs that focus on leisure, play and recreation. I’ve noticed some bloggers do blog about travel, lifestyle, and fitness, but they don’t introduce the broad concepts of leisure in the sense of the value it provides. I bring that perspective of how valuable leisure is in our lives from the points of view of practitioner and leisure educator.
The Making of a Published Author?
This summer, I hope to get started on writing and self-publishing an e-book about finding time for leisure.
In an earlier post, I shared some blogging tips for running a successful blog in celebration of reaching 500 followers. In this post, I would like to discuss the use of images on your blog and in your blog posts. Tip 1: Use photos and images on your blog page or website. When I visit other blogs, I like to see a few images. Some themes do not allow a lot of images and many folks prefer a simple, clean page. A great header image that embodies the personality of your blog is nice to see.
If you are reading this on my blog’s page, you can see that I my header photo shows “perspective” of a favorite vacation spot. You will also see my “about me” photo which I change every few months. Many bloggers choose not to use photos of themselves and that is pure choice. Scrolling down on my sidebar you will see social media icons and other images. I also included two galleries including awards and challenges I have accepted. Careful use of images on your blog page or website creates interest and is pleasing to the reader’s eye.
Tip 2: Use an image in your blog posts. There is nothing like a compelling image on your blog post to attract readers. Many bloggers might argue that good quality content is all one needs for a successful post and for many, this may be true.
However, we are visual people and including a great image in your post attracts readers. Stats do not lie. If you blog on WordPress, take a look at the Reader. Count how many posts include a featured image. Do you tend to click on the posts with an interesting image, especially if that image underpins the subject of the post? I sure do!
Most of my posts have one or two images. Too many images can break up the text in a great blog post, making it difficult to read. I read blogs that use lots of images and gifs (you know the silly photos that repeat wildly?) and while use of these can be entertaining and humorous, they can be distracting. When you use images, do so sparingly. If you choose to use a large amount of images, consider creating a gallery that you can embed into your post. Scrolling through too many images can send a reader quickly away from your page!
Tip 3: Use your OWN images for your blog posts. Why use your own images? Can you say “copyright infringement”? A graphic artist friend, who is in this business, said that this is the new, trending lawsuit. Other bloggers have described their terrible experiences of innocently using a random photo on their blog post and were sued.
There are free or low-cost stock images available. The Beginners Guide for WordPress has this great article about using images. If you use images from the web, use caution. Even acknowledging the image’s origin may not be good enough. Most of us do not make money with our blogs and having to pay upwards to $1000 for misuse of an image can be tragic.
Do you have friends or family who are photographers? Ask to use their photos. Simply e-mail them asking their permission to use their photos in your blog or website.
By doing this, you actually have documented their permission. Your photo’s caption might read: “photo of tree, used with permission by so-and-so’s name.” This also gives the photographer credit for the image, especially if he or she has published it on another website. The dog photo shows a similar example and since I edited the image, I watermarked it.
Perhaps you take terrible pictures or don’t own a good digital camera? Most of us have a smart phone with a camera. Use it. I installed Dropbox on my laptop, tablet and phone. As soon as I take a photo with my phone, it puts into Dropbox automatically. Edit your image with a program like Photoshop,Canva or PicMonkey. I use the free version of PicMonkey and it is perfectly fine.
Why edit your photos? Cropping your images is recommended. You can also adjust the color or edit the image into black and white for the effect you seek. Also, back to copyright laws, I highly recommend watermarking your image. A watermark usually consists of some version of your name/website/year.
PicMonkey and Pinterest have great tutorials for editing and watermarking. Is watermarking your image a foolproof way to protect your intellectual digital property? Some say yes and some say no. Just google “watermarking your images” and see what pops up! Again, it will be your preference.
On a similar note, you can create your own images that highlight your favorite quotes. If you fall into the category of fuzzy photo taker, then using photo editing on those images and adding a quote should be fun and easy! You can see the example in my featured image.
Using your own images in your blog posts is also another way to share your posts using social media. Next week’s post on blogging tips will cover the use of social media and link-ups to help promote your blog!
Has using images worked well for you? Do you use your own images? I would love to hear your perspective on this subject!
Like the image and quote suggest, writing can be like bleeding. I am constantly in awe of writers who can whip out a flash fiction for a writing prompt like my blogging buddy and friend, PJ fromBeautiful Words. Or another fellow blogger who writes amazing stories in the Fantasy and Sci-fi genre, Phoenix Grey. Please read their blogs to be inspired by their writing talent.
Fiction does not come out of me very easily. I really do not know how fiction writers do it. I was a journalist in high school and I write non-fiction. I categorize myself as a reporter, or at best, a features writer. That is the voice of my blog. I record and write what I see and experience. It might be a reaction to something I have read or have seen via media, or something I saw with my own eyes. Being forced to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard can be costly in terms of time and to the slightly fragile ego of this writer.
I think that is why I love photography so much. When I take pictures of the places I visit, somehow the photo expresses the message better than I could ever write it. The old cliché, “a picture is worth 1000 words” is true in my book (if I could write one). I have been inspired by photos and have written great descriptions. I rely heavily on the concrete visual for which to be inspired.
Oddly, when there is a photo that someone wants captioned, I fail at that as well. I suppose it takes too much imagination to write a clever caption. I certainly appreciate a great caption when I read one.
Writing humor is also one of those skills that I appreciate and highly respect. I love to read humor and I admire those who can deliver. I have made several attempts at humor in my writing, some okay. With humor, I do better with the spoken word. By the time I write down the idea, I self-edit so much that the humor dries up completely and never makes it onto the page.
What is this free writing costing me? Time? Proof that my imagination is as dry as the drought here in California? This is the time of evening I have my dessert. Be right back……………………………………………Okay, now I can concentrate. Chocolate works wonders.
Clever me, that used up a few more words. Now I know how my students feel when they have to write papers with a word count. I wonder what writing costs them? Besides their grade.
And please don’t grade this Writing 101 assignment.
Writing 101–Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’ Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about. Four hundred words. One at a time. Go.
Day three of Writing 101 asked us to write about three of the most important songs in our lives and why they are meaningful.
Now that Easter has just passed, a song that holds deep meaning for me is “In Christ Alone.” Although strong in my Christian faith, I still fall short every day. Too often I try to solve problems myself or needlessly worry about things that are out of my control.
A few years ago, when a particularly stressful work situation came up and I was literally alone, I stopped and gave it all to God. During the moments I prayed and asked God for help, I could feel the tension leaving my body. As I leaned on the Lord during that difficult time, I knew He was “my light, my strength, my song”…and in His power I would stand, as the lyrics state. Here are the first and last verses of the song.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry, to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Six years ago on April 9th, I (re)met the man who became my husband in 2013. I thought for weeks to what song I would walk down the aisle at our wedding. I finally decided on an instrumental piano and guitar version of “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music. The musical is my all-time favorite, not just because of the incredible Julie Andrews and the talented cast, but what the message of the true story conveys. Here are some of the lyrics.
Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.
A dream that will need
All the love you can give,
Every day of your life
For as long as you live.
The third song that holds deep meaning for me, is from the beloved A Charlie Brown Christmas’ “Linus and Lucy,” by Vince Guaraldi Trio. The sheer happiness and joy that emanates from this song is really indescribable.It was 1968 when I first saw this show at Christmas time. The kids dancing were actually performing the popular dances of the day (1964)…the “pony” was one of them.
Who doesn’t feel like a child again when you hear this merry tune? And later in the show, Linus walks out on stage and proclaims the passage from Luke 2 to answer Charlie Brown’s question “Isn’t there anyone, who knows what Christmas is all about?” That never gets old.
Enjoy this Youtube version of Linus and Lucy and do a little happy dance today to celebrate your childhood!
What are your favorite songs and how do they make you feel?