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.
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:
- 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.
- Next, pick a shift (I’ll be there Sunday morning from 9-12).
- Sign up and look for your confirmation in email. Be sure to read their dress code and rules!
- 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!
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.
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:
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.”