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Accountable, Even on Long, Lazy Weekends in the Sun

I know, that’s supposed to be “Friday: Week 3 Down, 49 to Go.” But with Martin Luther King Day, last Monday, I’ve been off by a day or two, all week. I woke up yesterday morning to sunshine slipping between the wooden slats on my blinds, and panicked: “Oh, my God, I’m late to work!” Didn’t take my brain too long to catch up. The next thought, as my lips curled into a sleepy smile, was, “Oh, right, it’s only Sunday.” A few beats later, “Wait, what, Saturday?! Well, hallelujah, the weekend has just begun!”

Next week may seem like a long one, and I don’t think there’s another holiday weekend until Memorial Day. April really is the cruelest month.

Resolve Still Strong

Health & Fitness

Who knew the threat of crocheting a tiny pink pig could be such a motivational force? I’ve lost 10 lbs since the New Year’s Day – up to 13, but that last three can’t quite make up their minds to stay or go, despite having overstayed their welcome by several years – which puts me right on track to meet my goal by the end of the year. But more importantly, I’ve now covered just about every inch of Spring Creek Park and parts of my neighborhood I’ve never seen before! I’ve taken to walking to the grocery store, when the weather’s decent, and using reusable canvas bags for shopping. Between all that and the rabbit food I’ve been scarfing down for lunch every day, it’s a wonder I haven’t turned green – literally!

I didn’t used to aspire to be “inspirational.” In fact, I think I threatened to smack anyone who called me that, back when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But when I posted a picture of my lunch on Facebook, and a colleague told me it inspired him to eat healthier and have a salad for lunch, I wasn’t all that put out.

I could enjoy being a little bit “inspirational” now and then, after all.

Volunteering

I did not make it to the Houston Food Bank this month, so I added two bags of food for them to my grocery purchases over the past two weekends. I have signed up for a shift on February 1, though – barring freezing rain or ice on the roads, I’ll be there! If you’re local, I have a challenge for you – come join me! Here’s how:

  1. First, go to the HFB volunteer opportunities calendar (https://houstonfoodbank.civicore.com/index.php?section=volOpportunities&action=calendar) and sign in (if you’ve volunteered before) or register.
  2. Next, pick a shift (I’ll be there Sunday morning from 9-12).
  3. Sign up and look for your confirmation in email. Be sure to read their dress code and rules!
  4. Bring your email confirmation letter (it has a one time use QR code on it) to the Houston Food Bank. Hope to see you there.

It’s fun work, especially if you bring a few friends. You’ll meet new people, and you’ll learn things about hunger, the demographics of the people served, and some food storage tips that may surprise you and even save you money. If you sign up after reading this, leave a comment below and I will look for you!

Crochet

The owls are starting to blink. Or maybe that’s my weary eyelids drooping. I have about 20 squares mostly completed; half are plain beige and green and half are owls. I am starting to daydream about creating a tree in the center for them all to perch on. My husband said something about daydreams being “unnecessary,” and I almost threw something at him. “My daydreams are where my imagination goes to play!” I said. And then the unicorn in the back yard gored him. That’ll teach him.

OWFI & Other Writing Goals

Time flies… I realized that all the writing I had planned to do, last year, was still up in my head, packed in the unicorn’s saddlebags.  I need to post deadline reminders everywhere – or I will forget to enter A New Leaf for Lyle into the contest, while waiting on myself to write something for several other categories I’d earmarked. I still need to register for the conference, book a room, and psych myself up for the drive. I wish I were feeling as psyched as I did six months ago.

As for other writing, my daughter and I have started a collaborating on a series of children’s books, and I am loving it! The ideas are all hers; I’m just helping to flesh them out. But what fun! I have already lost my heart to the main characters.

Web Revival

This little project is still heading in the right direction, too – thanks largely to you. Without readers, what’s the point of writing? My new blogging buddy, Edward, wanted me to share tips on how to challenge Mount Alexa and plant your flag atop the summit – but I haven’t attacked this goal with the purposeful intent that I did the last two times I took obscure blogs and helped them rise in the ranks – once to 15,000 – far enough, at least, to get on their blasted graph (only the top 100,000 blogs show up on the thing). As of today, these are the relevant stats:

alexa-week-3

India is still in the lead! w00t!

I have fallen woefully behind (if not in volume, then in frequency) in the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I figure if I’m going to co-host the A to Z Blogging Challenge in April, I’d better start writing now. After all, it’s not NaNoWriMo and I don’t think getting a head start is frowned on.

They key take-away, again, is to write regularly – and frequently. By “frequently,” I do not mean “ten times a day.” Write something that doesn’t sound bland and unoriginal. People follow your blog for your writing style or the information you provide, in your own way. Or because they like you and want to see you happy. In short, unless you’re a Fortune 50 company or a small business with something particularly interesting to say, blogging is personal. Don’t make it boring and impersonal; be you. Somebody out there thinks you’re awesome, just the way you are.

And while you’re out there being you, don’t forget to tell people when you’ve posted something new. One way to do that is to leave comments on their blogs, especially if they invite you to do so with a nifty plug-in like CommentLuv. If you’re still blogging in the belief that “If you build it, they will come,” you’re flat-out delusional – or you’ve failed to realize there are fifty billion blogs out there (no, seriously, that’s probably a really lowball guesstimate) and “they” can’t find you unless you grab them by the eyeballs and lead them home with a plate of warm cookies and milk. Real cookies, not those little code snippet nobody likes.

I was inordinately delighted to tell my friend Mia Pleasant that her blog, Mia’s World, had jumped – overnight – from an Alexa rank of just over 21 million to something less than 17 million. Good, clean, geeky fun. But the serious side of that is that if you have something to say, it’s less likely to be buried in the slushpile that is Google Search Results Page 172.5. And that means more potential readers, at some point. It’s not as much fun to blog if you believe you only have two or three readers – so do leave comments when you visit!

Consider spending about 70% of your promotional efforts on promoting others and paying it forward. It’s fun to help other people succeed, and it’s usually easier for us to share other people’s work than to feel that we’re always “tooting our own horns.” Let friends know what you need and want, but then leave it to them to act – I think guilt (“I shared your stuff, why don’t you ever share mine?”) only drives people away. It would be unnatural for me to suddenly start sharing a lot of celebrity gossip posts, gadget reviews, or sports updates – though @Mitch_M is always trying to make a convert out of me by curating sports news to show me that there are writers out there who can even capture my interest in the subject! I’ll do it, now and then, but if I shared everything some of my friends write, other friends would start raising an eyebrow and questioning whether I’d been replaced by an alien bodysnatcher.

See a few tips for dealing with “blogging burnout” (or just plain ol’ writer’s block) in my post, “When Blog = Slog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HollyJahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/hollyjahangiri. For more information on her children's books, please visit http://jahangiri.us/books.

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12 Responses to “Accountable, Even on Long, Lazy Weekends in the Sun”

  1. Mitch Mitchell
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great for your progress, great for my insistence on good writing as it regards sports and such. 🙂

    I wonder what the deal was about you and being inspiring… Truthfully, that’s what I’m shooting for most of the time, when I’m not talking about eating an entire box of Crunch ‘n Munch that is. I’m betting that people have looked at you and thought “inspired” for a lot of it, even if you were fighting it. I mean, with the books and the writing… I’ll just say this: GET OVER IT! 😉

    I haven’t actually fulfilled my own words so far this year and January’s almost over. I finally broke out of a minor bit of funk yesterday but that’s too easy because it’s Saturday. I’ve got things planned this week with others, which I can’t back out of, and that’s a step forward. I need more of those… gonna get it done.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…When Free Plugins Ruin Your LifeMy Profile

    • I think it’s all those “inspirational” books – you know, the person who survives a vicious shark attack, loses both arms and legs and one eye, and then goes on speaking engagements to say how great life still is, and shows off all the amazing impressionist art they’ve created on hairshirt canvas by dipping a toothbrush in paint and holding it between the six teeth they have left after face-planting on the helipad while being airlifted to safety. I don’t know… I just figure, realistically, I don’t have it in me.

      What I do have going for me is a sense of humor and a sense of fun. I’d rather be fun and goofy than stylish or inspirational – and if anyone feels like coming along for the ride, I’ll even let ’em blow on the Conductor’s whistle. But I swear – if a shark eats half of me, the other half isn’t going to be all sweetness and light and discovering hidden “talents.” It’s going to be all pissed off about having to try to teach Dragon Naturally Speaking to recognize words like “onomatopoeia” spoken through a wired-shut jaw, and since I won’t be able to throw things, I’ll probably bite.

      But short of that, yeah, I’m over it. Be inspired, if you want. 😉
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…When Blog = SlogMy Profile

  2. Katrina
    Twitter:
    says:

    It’s good to be back. Great post today. I had no idea you were a co-host for the A-Z blog challenge. I was just talking about that challenge to my blogging clients the other day.

    And you are so right about sharing content. We must all become our own loud speaker!

    Looking forward to coming back and getting more nuggets of info from you!
    Katrina recently posted…Blog Help: Shareaholic PluginMy Profile

  3. Patricia Stoltey
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi Holly — Looks like you’re doing a great job with all your goals. I wish to blog more too. I don’t like to tell writers how to write, so I’m leaning more toward sharing my thoughts…although my thoughts get kind of crazy sometimes. Today I posted about how much I hate stories of runaway brides, how many “friends” I’m going to hide or drop on social media because they’re rude, and my cat. This could be really fun as long as I don’t start getting hate mail.
    Patricia Stoltey recently posted…Runaway Brides, the Art of Persuason, and Katie CatMy Profile

    • I am! ::pats own back, careful not to break arm:: I consider this weekly run-down an expression of accountability. I don’t want to have to fess up to devouring a whole chocolate cake and having to buy out all of Jo-Ann’s pink embroidery floss, but if it comes down to that, I will. I think I’ve set things up so that failure REALLY isn’t an option. 😉 But there are achievable (and mostly positive) consequences, should it come to that. Making it impossible to let myself off the hook…

      Diabolical, aren’t I? Okay – now I’m headed to your blog! (Nice demonstration of how this works; thank you, Patricia!)
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Weekend Update: Week 3 Down, 49 to GoMy Profile

  4. Amy B says:

    Great post, as always! I lost track, though,of what you meant by those stats. Were they views or followers? But it was clear that you took two obscure blogs to high ranks! Whoo-hooo!
    Today the blog challenge, which I usually don’t follow, said to promote yourself so I tried it. We’ll see if there is any change in my sales.
    Have a great day!
    Amy
    Amy B recently posted…Do you have Macular Degeneration?My Profile

    • Amy, the only stats mentioned here are Alexa ranks. You can see the relative ranking in the US and India; traffic elsewhere is still too small a part of the mix to show up on the map. But I didn’t give views or subscribers (and that varies, anyway, by how you measure – WordPress gives one count, StatCounter gives a different number, and if I paid any attention at all to what I find under cPanel, I’d think I was Huffington Post. (But I don’t like to count robots and weird little backlinks from fly-by-night sites. I don’t usually even look at those stats.)

      I wish someone could give an ROI on blogging activities. I think that blogging CAN be important for your business, but I have yet to see anyone say, “For every 10 posts, I found a 2% boost in sales…” or such. No one will give a straight answer to that, and I think it’s because they can’t. But I do think it can HELP “raise brand awareness” or help to promote your book or you as an author. For large companies, it can help to make a faceless corporation seem more human and in touch, and provides a good vehicle for spreading information to customers (along with press releases, ads, other social media activities, sales training, etc.) It isn’t the ONLY thing you should rely on to boost the bottom line, though, in my opinion.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…When Blog = SlogMy Profile

  5. Rummuser
    Twitter:
    says:

    You are very inspiring. Indians are a much underrated species. They do totally unexpected things with panache!

    Way to go.
    Rummuser recently posted…Response To A Response.My Profile

  6. I miss walking; used to walk all over the neighborhood.

    Oddly enough, I can bike for 10-15 minutes, for a quick run around the local blocks.

    I’m working with a personal trainer to see if I can get some of the walking back, but it’s another thing that sucks up energy, and writing comes first, and then there is none.

    Walking around the block is the personal goal. We’ll see.
    Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt recently posted…2016 and the writing of Pride’s ChildrenMy Profile

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