Blogging: I’m Coming Back to the Heart of It

Blogging: I’m Coming Back to the Heart of It

I started blogging because I had something to say, and I liked to write. Somewhere between then and now I lost the IT.  The WHY THE HELL am I doing this.  I’m taking it back.

If you’re not in the blogosphere, you may not know that there are literally THOUSANDS of articles out there on how to create the perfect blog/post to receive views.  Tips to go viral, build readership, etc. The more views you get, the more followers you get and opportunities to write PAID sponsored posts and advertisement.

That’s all great.  There is nothing wrong with this; everybody should learn about their craft AND pay the bills.  Nobody wants to do a lot of work to get only 5 hits on your new blog post.  But I had slowly felt inundated with feelings of inadequacy when reading about these algorithms to get high views and followers.

Things like:

the exact way to phrase a title to make it totally Pin-able

the exact way to create images for Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

the exact group to join to boost your comments

the fonts and hashtags to use and not use

the phrases and topics to use and avoid

the way to format your paragraphs just right for optimal reading

the need for writing 6 posts a week that are all the “correct” word count

the exact way to become a social media master

I couldn’t keep up.  I had SO MUCH anxiety.  Instead of enjoying writing about topics I’m passionate about, I was freaking out and spending SO MUCH TIME putting out these “perfect” posts that followed x, y, and z.  Some did go mildly viral.  My following even grew some.  But I lost the IT of why I wanted to blog.  I wasn’t always being fully true to myself.

All this info on blogging is valuable and may be the exact way I should be doing things to make money, grow, and extend my reach.  If you’re a blogger, it may be some of the most solid advice you can take.  But I’ve come to my own personal conclusion since I can’t keep up anymore:

To put it eloquently, F*CK IT!

I’m tired of trying to force my words and ideas into a certain box that’s considered the “way to do it” even though it truly may be the way to do it.  I’m doing it MY way. I want my \ blog to be so incredibly…me.

I sat in bed this morning and looked at some of the blogs I adore that got me into blogging.  These are all HUGELY popular.  I noticed something.  They aren’t all the same or following the same “rules.”  Not by a long shot.  And they don’t always have perfectly cropped and edited images.  Each of these blogging women simply have interesting lives and ideas, and they share them with their readers. 

On one of her “Big Magic” podcasts, Elizabeth Gilbert (my idol and author of Eat, Pray, Love) said that in order to be interesting you have to be interested.  I want my blog to be interesting.  Instead of spending all my time studying how to make a Pin on Pinterest bring in thousands of views, I want to soak up all the things I’m interested in.  That interest I have will seep through and make my blog interesting.

And you guys – My life IS interesting.  For example:

I woke up this morning (Sunday) in my studio in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, not knowing what I was going to do today.  Hours later I was belly down on the net of a catamaran and three dolphins swimming RIGHT underneath me!!!!  I could almost touch them!!!  They would jump in and out of the water as if they were putting on a dance.  It was rad.

Maybe a better blogger would have had a camera right there to capture the moment to share it with their readers.  But GUYS!!!!!   I was too busy seeing the dolphins to think about getting the perfect shot.  And you already know what a dolphin looks like!  If not, here is a stock photo:

dolphin-203875_1280

BUT WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!

Then, with snorkeling gear in hand, I went down the catamaran’s slide and into the Pacific.  I saw schools of yellow and blue fish.  AND THEN I HELD A REAL LIFE OCTOPUS!!!!!!  Or rather, it held me.  It suctioned right on to my arm.  AND THEN I HELD A REAL LIFE PUFFER FISH!!!!!!!   I also didn’t get a picture of any of these instances.  Holding an octopus makes you forget to pull out your iPhone and decide on the perfect VSCO filter for your blog.  Here’s a stock photo (not me, obviously):

octopus-523654_1280

I want to share that stuff with you guys.  To me, that’s what’s interesting.  I don’t have the time or the emotional strength to follow all the rules that are supposed to make your blog the latest and greatest.  I’m too busy being interested in other things.  But I promise to share those interesting things with you!

Here’s what to expect: I’ll be writing two or three posts each week that will probably be on travel, womanhood, faith/spirituality, creativity, love, and whatever crazy things/opinions I have up my sleeve.  We can talk about how not to just survive life, but to really THRIVE!  We can talk about the hard and controversial things.  It won’t always be pretty because my life isn’t always pretty.  I may cuss.  I’m not shying away from topics that would traditionally be considered bad for keeping followers.  I will attack the real oooey-goooey parts of life.

I have plenty of freelance clients who can use my knowledge of algorithms and creating viral content.  Here, this is just me.  All my opinions, ideas, and interesting parts of my life.  Without the fear of how many people will click to read.

 

P.S. If you’re a blogger choosing to do your blog a different way, I TOTALLY SUPPORT YOU.

P.S.S. Here is a pic we actually did take today.  Onward, fellow travelers of life!

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Why I Won’t Sacrifice My Life For My Hustle

Why I Won’t Sacrifice My Life For My Hustle

Why I Won't Sacrifice My Life For My Hustle

Hustle is the buzzword of the year.  For those of you of another generation, I’m not talking about prostitution here.  I’m not that exciting.  Everyone’s talking about their hustle: the hard work and long hours they put into their passion project or job.  I admire this working hard thing.  There’s so much value in some good ol’ fashioned work.

I’m working really hard to build my business right now.  It’s new and fresh.  I guess as a 20-something, I’m new and fresh too.  The world is ahead of me and you better believe I’m gonna make my dreams happen!  My “hustle.”

But let me make this clear from the beginning: I will not sacrifice my life for my hustle.  Ever.

I start getting super skeptical of the push for a hustle when I see or read about people bringing their work everywhere they go: on vacations, at dinner, at the gym.  Waking at 5am, going to bed at 2am – and then recommending that others do the same to make the most of their work.  Thinking they will never be successful unless their hustle starts dripping into every aspect of their lives.

No!  I’m not buying what they’re selling. I have one life.  And yes, I’d like to use that life to pursue my passions, to work hard at them, to make money to support myself, and to gain success.  But at what cost?  And what is success, really?

It was Jesus who said, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”  Many people think he spoke of the soul after death.  But I always think Jesus was talking about the here and now much more than we give him credit for.

Our souls – that’s where the good stuff is.  The likes and preferences, the passions, the unique quirks that make us interesting.  Love is in the soul; joy is in the soul; freedom is in the soul.  The fullness of life is in the soul.  What if we gain the world but lose all the wonderful things that make us interesting, alive, individual human beings?

What if I gain wild success in my career as a writer, blogger, and editor – but what if that success came with no sleep, no social time, no fun, no adventures, no silence, no stillness, no play?  My identity is not Taylor the Writer and Editor.  Writer and editor are my professions, what I do.  There is so much more to me than what I do to make money.

Work hard when it is time to work.  Give it your best.  Provide for yourself and your family.  And then stop.  Turn off the computer and live your life.  Allow your hustle to be a part of your life, even an important part.  But never more than a part.

I’m never going to sacrifice my life for the sake of my hustle.  If that means I never get as far ahead as some of my peers, so be it.  But I will have lived my life – to the very fullest!

Please, Do What You Love. It’s Worth It.

Please, Do What You Love. It’s Worth It.

do what you love

Dear awesome people,

Last Sunday night I had an anxiety attack.  It was Sunday night and I knew when I woke up it would be Monday.  The first Monday morning of my new life, and I freaked.  You see, I walked in May and wore a funny little hat, then I had to go back to finish six credits over the summer.  I finished up in July and headed to the east coast for a vacation.  That was all lovely.  Then Sunday night came, and it brought the realization of what I’d done.

I gambled on this wacky idea that I could do exactly what I wanted to do, not what was “practical.”  A lot was riding on this gamble.  When I got divorced at 22, I could have found some job, moved into some apartment, lived some sort of life.  But I didn’t.  I moved in with my parents, went back to school, became a broke full time student simply because I wanted to major in something traditionally considered useless if not used for teaching: English.   I worked hard so I could have a freelance career that would allow me to travel extensively.

This was an idea I never wavered on until that Sunday night.  What if I had made an expensive mistake?  What if I wasted my time on something that was never going to work?  But you know what happened over last week?  Work poured in.  So much work that I had another mild anxiety attack last night wondering how to do it all.  I’m so grateful that I gambled. This won’t be an easy life, but it’s a life spent doing what I love while traveling the world.  I’m not going to spend my days working a job I hate just to get a check to pay bills.

I don’t think any dream or passion is placed in our minds for no reason.  I think these dreams were there to spur us on to greatness and a fullness of life.  Do what you love.  The Millennial Generation is marked by a desire to be fulfilled by what they do over the desire to make lots of money.

  1. Joy.
  2. Money.

And I’m begging you all to follow suit.  Do what you love.  It’s worth it.   You have one life; fill it with the things that make you excited to be alive.  Even if your passions can’t pay the bills, they should exist in your daily life.  Because why else are we here?

Today I’m grateful: so grateful to have finished up a degree in what I love, so grateful to know I’m spending my life doing what I love.  My heart’s about to burst.  *Currently doing my happy dance*

Love you,

Tay

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

Why Have a Minimalist Wardrobe?

millennial_minimalists

In my journey toward living a more minimalist lifestyle, clothing was the area I was avoiding.  It’s not like it’s complicated.  You can throw clothes away, sell them, donate them – all simple.  So simple in fact that I decided not to make this a “HOW To Have a Minimalist Closet” post.  Because I think we all know how to toss, sell, or give away.   It’s the WHY behind it that’s a bit more difficult.

Clothes.  We need them.  We love them.  Seriously love them – the clothing market in the U.S. brings in 225 billion dollars.  Boiled down to their simplest nature, they’re intended to protect, keep warm, and hide “inappropriate” body parts.   But they’re so much more than that, right?  They are our main identifiers.  Clothes tell a lot about a person’s gender, sexual orientation, culture, economic status, likes/dislikes, cliques, age, or religion.

We are either in or out based on the shirt we pick out for the day.  Clothes are not just tools in our world.  No.  It seems as though, in our world, clothes are us.  Right?  If you don’t have cool clothes, you’re not a cool person, right?  If you don’t have beautiful clothes, you’re not beautiful, right?  Clothes have a lot of power.

It’s a hard spot to be in when you love being fashionable, enjoy purchasing clothes and putting outfits together, and still don’t want clothes to hold so much mystical power over your life.   But that is why having a Minimalist closet is so important.  You get both.  Here’s why:

Why Have a Minimalist Wardrobe?

1. A Minimalist wardrobe saves you money

You show your priorities by how you spend your money.  If a large chunk of my income goes straight to clothing, I’m showing the world and MYSELF that my outward appearance is that significant.  Now, in no way do I think it’s not important.  I love presenting myself well.  But just HOW important is it?  Are there things I value more than yet another pair of shoes?  Traveling comes to mind.  Great date nights and girl’s days.  Paying off debt.

2. A Minimalist wardrobe forces you to choose the pieces you really love

If I’m only going to have a small closet, I’ll need to choose wisely.  I’d rather have 7 outfits I can’t get enough of than 100 outfits I forget about most of the time.  You can pick and choose statement pieces and get rid of the other clutter.  That means everything I slip into has a purpose: either fashionable or functional.

3. A Minimalist wardrobe reminds you where to find your worth

No number of clothes, no matter the price tag, ever adjusts your worth as a human being.  We forget that.  I forget that.  Sure we can buy lots of clothes that make us look like artsy creatives, modest mothers, powerful CEOs, or sex kittens, but none of that actually makes us good at being creatives, mothers, CEOs or sex kittens.  Clothes are inanimate objects.

Maybe try letting go of the clothing you don’t need or care about anymore.  Maybe slow down the buying sprees.  It doesn’t mean stopping, we still need clothes to cover our bodies.  And we can have cute ones.  Remember: A Minimalist wardrobe can still be totally on-point. It’s just not 1,000 articles of on-point.

Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge

More in the #MillennialMinimalist series:

Minimalists, Millennials, and Me

How to be a Beauty Product Minimalist

New York City, Food Poisoning, and Your Dreams

New York City, Food Poisoning, and Your Dreams

New York City

I’ve wanted to go to New York City since long before I knew the price of a Broadway ticket.   Had I known, I would have chosen, say, Costa Rica to be my dream vacation. But no, I chose to be enamored by the most expensive place on earth. A place God himself must budget for. (Slight exaggeration).  It’s been my traveling DREAM.

As this post publishes, I will be on a flight to the east coast on a trip that includes a 2 1/2 day stop in New York City for the very first time – I’m a Yankee virgin, if you will. Ladies and gents, I’m about too excited for words. SO excited in fact that my body chose to commit an act of treason against my joy in the form of violent food poisoning. Only hours before my glorious red-eye to the heavenly NYC.

I reacted in all manners cool, calm, and collected. In no way did I hyperventilate or believe my life was coming to an end as my body expunged the entire contents of my stomach. (I’m lying to you) After The Boyfriend made a run for 7-Up and spent a few hours convincing me I would not die over some good ol’ fashioned vomit, I realized that New York City and food poisoning really go hand in hand.  Obviously.

You see, I believe all your dreams are achievable. You can literally do whatever you want to do. The sky isn’t even a limit. But you can’t do them all without a little throw-up. Ya hear me?!

You can have a lovely partner and live a lovely life in a lovely home, but there’s gonna be shit in the front yard sometimes. Quite literally there was shit in our front yard two weeks ago. Our shit. From a clogged sewer system. Gross and so human all at the same time.

My favorite blogger ever, Glennon Doyle Melton, so wisely writes that, “Life is Not Hard Because You are Doing It Wrong, Life is Just Hard.”   I think our dreams are hard too. It’s not that I’m wrong or broken or the dreams are wrong or broken. It’s not that we need fixing, my dreams and I. It’s just that dreams are hard and when you finally attain one, it’s not offered to you in a pretty box with a big ribbon.

We can’t stop chasing after New York City because we’re afraid of a little food poisoning. We can’t stop chasing after the lovely life because we’re afraid of a little shit.   We either get the dreams and all the baggage or we get no dreams at all.  The vomit and the shit come not because we’re doing it all wrong, but because we’re doing it! Because we’re not hiding away from things less than pleasant.

And now – A toast to you and me (with my 7-Up, because nothing’s better at keeping bile in your stomach where it belongs than high fructose corn syrup):

May we dream. May we work hard to achieve every single one of those dreams big and small. May we never doubt that we are worthy of them. And may we remember that the vomit and the shit come not because we’re doing it wrong, but because we’re doing it!! Cheers to you, your dreams, your shit, and my food poisoning.

I’m going to NYC baby! (Pics to come!!)