Sunday, February 16, 2014

Blog Writing // For Those That Asked

Inspiration station: caffeine and Buddhism

Since I started my blog a few people have spoken or messaged me expressing hopes to write their own blogs.  This is my attempt at sharing what I've learned (so far). When I started my blog I had an idea of what I did and didn't want. Below are my thoughts about what I decided is important. I think if you write, in any format, it would benefit you to think about how you want to represent yourself.  

1. I do not want to be negative. Not that it is all rainbows and sunshine over here. In fact it is quite regularly the opposite.  I don't think I paint everything with a rose colored brush.  I just don't focus on the negative. Negativity feeds negativity. And for me, I want to put positive thoughts back into the universe and into my life. 

2. Be myself. A good friend told me that reading my blog was like actually talking to me. Huge compliment. I know myself. I'm not a formal person with perfect writing skills, or an all the time energetic, bubbly person. There is nothing wrong with those qualities, they just aren't me. It's hard not to want to be liked when you put yourself out there. But I think it can be obvious (even in writing) when we are not our genuine selves. So, again, huge compliment.

3. Be kind. Writing that sparks good conversation is often controversial. A well written piece can really push peoples buttons. I have strong opinions and I want to stay true to that. But I also know my audience, and they are not random strangers. They are my family and friends. I never want to alienate someone I love. So it's kind of a balancing act for me.

4. Inspiration.  I suggest going with what you're interested in, not what you think others might want to read. I think this connects back to number two, be yourself. I've read some people keep a note book of ideas or do writing exercises to explore their interests. This may help you. Although ideas may not always be flowing, I tend to wait for one to come on it's own. But my motivation is not to make this my job, it's an outlet and way of connecting.  Professional bloggers work hard and spend hours a day on social media. If that's your end game be prepared to work. 

In the conversations that sparked this post I heard a bunch of different ideas and I love how each seemed to reflect the individual person. The suggestions above are what work for me. They may change, as I change. And you may find your inspiration leads you in a totally different direction. But whoever you are, and whatever you want to do, go for it.

PS.  If anyone would like to do a guest post on my blog please shoot me a message. I'd love to collaborate.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Escaping Old Man Winter, Part 2

Here is the second installment of photos from Puerto Rico. If you like these you can see the first set of photos and description of the vacation here.

He is a lot of fun.

This baby sheep and a rooster (not pictured) woke me every morning. 


Pedro, the restaurant's dog. 

I like how this digital picture turned out looking like over exposed film.

This cutie just walked on into our open door to check out the place. 

Front door of our cottage. 

Pretty eyed stray. 

Nick in Old San Juan.

Cobalt brick streets of Old San Juan.

Old San Juan was a the earliest Spanish settlement in Puerto Rico. The island is surrounded by fort walls. Here you can see the wall with large metal spikes. 
We didn't make it around even a 1/3 of the island because we had to make our flight. But I'd love to have spent more time exploring the forts on the island and eating Spanish tapas.

This kitty and her friends were all over in old San Juan. 

Last photo before we headed off to the airport.

Now I am home. As fun as the vacation was, the feeling of being happy to be home is even better.  I love being back to a place of appreciation. I lost that a bit (or a lot) before our trip. I think vacation has a way of putting some things in perspective. If you come home feeling refreshed and ready for life you're doing something right. If you come back with dread it may be time for a change (in my experience).  



Monday, February 3, 2014

Escaping Old Man Winter, Part 1

Every winter about this time I start to become incredibly grumpy. The short days, cold weather and significantly reduced social interaction just gets to me in a way that I can't totally shake until spring arrives. So, for a few years I've been wanting to take a winter break to someplace beautiful and warm. This year I decided to not let another winter go by without doing something. Seriously guys, this trip was awesome self care and it totally got me out of my funk.

The area of Puerto Rico we stayed in is Rincon, a sleepy little surf town. They get a lot of surf tourism and so there was quite a bit to do and see. I decided to do this post in two installments, half of the pictures are up today and I'll put the other half up tomorrow.  

Below are pictures of our trip. Two things to note:

Feet Haters: Randomly (seemingly at least), we took a few pictures of my feet in the various places we visited. I included the pictures because I like the texture of the the ground in each one (but feet are kind of creepy).

Dog lovers: Puerto Rico is full of stray and unleashed not stray dogs. The not stray dogs had collars. That's the only way I knew they had an owner. I saw dozens of stray dogs. It was a hard thing to see and there is some reflection of them in tomorrows pictures. I can say that although it does not make up for having a loving, comfortable home, all the stray dogs seemed to well fed by the local people. I never saw a starving dog.

Wrap around patio of our tree house cottage.

Beach below the cottage. 

Sunset at dinner.

Nick "Take my picture so it looks like I'm holding up the sailboat."
Me "Okay !(?)"

A little after dinner swinging. 

We drove one hour from Rincon to San Sebastian to see the Gozanlandia waterfall. 
It was a steep hike down and a local man encouraged me by saying "Come on Chicago, one foot in front of the other!". 

Hanging in after a long day.

War-Nick wins.

Nick and I learned to stand up paddle board! 
We took this awesome tour with an awesome dude through an iguana filled, mangrove covered river.
If you're in the area I would highly recommend using Verde Azul.
All the SUP pictures were taken by our guide.

Nick takes a break from SUP to jump into the river.

He thinks he's a pro now. 

More pictures tomorrow! (Find them here!)



PS. No photoshop or filter. This place is really THAT gorgeous.