Finding community

dance-430554_1920.jpgI’ve been asked a few questions recently. How do you stay motivated to keep blogging? How are you still taking dance classes? How do you work out consistently? And while there are many reasons why, the one overarching reason is community.

The reason I’m still attending dance classes is because of the people. Everyone is welcoming and inclusive. The instructor is fantastic. He’s very patient and has a great sense of humour. And while people tend to rotate in and out of the beginner class, there are a few regulars I see each class. It’s been fun to connect with them on a weekly basis and chat about dance and life. The studio also offers dance socials each weekend, and though I’ve yet to attend one, I’m planning on it eventually. Getting to spend time with people who like to dance gives me both the mental and physical contact I need.

But being part of a community doesn’t even need to happen in person. I’ve received so much kindness and support from the blogging community here. There are people I may never meet in person but still consider them good friends. Thank you so much for all the likes, comments, and follows. The only reason I’m still writing is because of all the positive feedback. It encourages me to keep going. I’ve been feeling a bit of writer’s block lately but I’m going to try to post more.

People are also surprised I’ve managed to work out for as long as I have (nearly 5 years). I don’t have a workout partner. But I don’t think you need one to be successful. It just means you need to be disciplined. But I will chat with my brother and fitness-minded friends. We’ll swap PRs, workout routines, and fitness goals. We get to connect in a shared passion and that helps to keep things fresh and exciting.

Having consistent contact with positive people is so important. When I first moved to a new city, I knew a few people but didn’t have many connections. I was living on my own, which was fantastic (and I still prefer it). But I would often feel isolated. I started blogging and working out and it helped. More recently I started dance lessons. These different avenues gave me the social connection I was missing. Community is the family and friends you discover and choose for yourself.

What communities are you a part of?

3 blogging tips

typewriter-801921_1920My blog is nearly three years old, I can hardly believe it. But the whole reason I’ve made it this far is because of you! I really appreciate all the support I’ve received through the years. Whether you’ve followed my blog, like and comment on my posts, or just stop by every once in a while, thank you.  It really means a lot.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Write about what you love.
We all write for different reasons. I wanted to connect with other introverts and highly sensitive people (and anyone who stops by). I also wanted to share my experiences and lessons in the hopes that I could make someone else’s journey a bit easier. Some write as a way to process their thoughts and feelings. Some write to share their expertise. When you write about things you love, or that are close to you, your sincerity shines through. Writing then becomes enjoyable, rather than an obligation.

2. Connect with others.
I started writing to connect with others. To know that I’m not alone in my experiences is incredibly encouraging. To gain the wisdom of those who have figured out things I’m still struggling with has been so valuable. I’ve been completely blown away by the warmth of the community here and I’m grateful for all the connections I’ve gained. As an introvert, being able to connect with people online, without the overwhelm of in-person interaction, is pretty awesome.

3. Have fun.
Blogging should be enjoyable. Have fun with it. Experiment with different kinds of posts and figure out what you like writing. Try out personal posts, short stories, opinion pieces, quotes, pictures, tag posts, etc. Write the things you want to write. Not the things you think other people want to read.

Any other tips to share?

7 spring & summer goals

pier-569314_1920When it’s cold and snowy out, I like to think of the warmer days to come. I have a number of spring and summer goals and wanted to share them with you. I find that setting regular goals and reviewing them, helps keep me on track and motivated to make changes in my life. Let me know what you want to achieve in yours!

1. Write more.
Specifically blog posts. I really enjoy the creative and cathartic aspect of writing. My goal is to share two written posts per week. In order to accomplish this, I need to carve out time in my day specifically to write, so I’m not scrambling to come up with content for my blog at the last minute.

2. Utilize my planner.
My planner currently sits on my desk collecting dust. As a result, I find that I’m not prioritizing the important tasks and end up rushing to finish things. I will pull out my planner, dedicate time on Sunday to set up my priorities and goals for the week, then follow through.

3. Dedicate myself.
I have a number of work and personal projects that I’ve been putting off. As things (hopefully) slow down a bit, I can dedicate more time and effort to working on the things I’m passionate about. I will schedule in time to work on my photo and video projects at home. I will put more time into my design projects at work.

4. Connect more.
I need people (in manageable doses). I’m working to connect more with those who live nearby, we go for coffee dates or just hang out and it’s been lovely. With technology, I can also connect with my friends in distant places via email and skype. I need to nurture the connections I have with people, even if I can’t see them in person.

5. Go outside.
I love being outdoors. Once the weather has warmed up, I’m going to go for regular walks and runs in the park near my place.  I’ll also plan social activities that centre around being outside: wandering along the river, taking in nature, etc.

6. Feed my creativity.
I love being creative but just haven’t had the chance, or motivation, to work on any fun projects recently. I’m going to do more painting and photography. I also have a video project in mind that I need to storyboard and film.

7. Active recovery.
I’ve really been enjoying my time at the gym. But with hard work comes tight and sore muscles and I need to do more active recovery than I do now. I will incorporate more yoga, stretching, and foam rolling into my daily schedule, even if it’s just a few minutes at a time.

What are some of your goals?

How I create a blog post

MovingI wanted to write a quick post to let you know I’m still alive haha. I’m almost finished moving. As you can imagine, things have been really busy. I should be able to get the last few boxes moved today after work. Since I haven’t posted in a while, I wanted to share my writing process when I blog. Hope you enjoy!

Step 1: Come up with an idea.
When I’m thinking of an idea to write about, I’ll usually do a number of things. These include, but are not limited to, browsing the internet, checking out other blogs, checking my email, doing errands around the house, listening to songs on Youtube, making tea, drinking tea, and anything else you could imagine.

Seriously though, I have a list of blog ideas, so I’ll usually browse though those to see if any of the subjects pique my interest. I like writing about things that have happened in the recent past. Or I’ll write about how I’m feeling. Its a great way of separating myself from the situation so I can view it more clearly. And the advice and encouragement I’ve received from the community has been incredible. I find that the hardest part of writing a blog post is coming up with an idea. Once you have that, the rest comes together much faster.

Step 2: Write stuff.
Once I have an idea, I’ll sit down and write whatever comes to mind. For an average blog post, that’ll usually be 500-600 words. I’ll write about the idea, give background information, explain how things happened, how I was feeling at the time, etc. At this point, I don’t edit anything.

Step 3: Edit like crazy.
After I have a ridiculous amount of text, its time to go in and cut. I’m pretty ruthless when I edit, taking out the fluff and making sure my spelling and grammar is decent. I’ll also move paragraphs around so it makes more sense to the reader. Once I’ve finished cutting stuff out, I’ll do several re-writes before I’m satisfied. This is definitely the step that takes the longest.

Step 4: All the little details.
Once I’m happy with what I’ve written, I’ll find a picture to accompany the piece. I use the Creative Commons images on Flickr, but there are tons of other options. Then I’ll edit my tags and categories. Before I hit ‘post’ I always preview it to see what it’ll look like.

Step 5: Publish!
Once I’m satisfied with everything, I’ll publish my post. I’ll usually peruse the finished piece for last-minute grammatical errors, just in case.

How do you create a post?

Image credit: “moving house” by Nathan O’Nions is licensed under CC by 2.0

4 lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo

12568477564_204b7341ba_zFor those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place during November. Essentially the goal is to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. This equates to 1667 words per day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you fall behind, it can be challenging to catch up. Not everyone ends up writing the full 50,000 words, and some end up writing 100,000 or more. If you’ve ever considered writing a story, I’d definitely encourage you to try NaNo next year. It was a really great experience and a lot of fun. I wanted to share a few things I learned during my experience.

1. Find what works for you.
When I started NaNo, I already had an idea for my story. I created an outline and a couple of character profiles. Having a clear outline for my story allowed me to write things as they unfolded, while knowing that it fit into my overall structure. One of my favourite quotes is “over-prepare, then go with the flow” as it accurately describes what I do every day. However, a lot of people are extremely successful by just writing what comes to mind. The most important thing is to use your strengths to your advantage.

2. Keep moving forward.
I love the quote from Finding Nemo where Dory tells Marlin to ‘just keep swimming’. Writing 50,000 words can be quite daunting and overwhelming if you look at how much needs to be done. There were many times during the month that I was tired of writing, tired of my characters, feeling stuck in the story, and wanting to quit. There were even a few days I didn’t write anything. But I kept on going and it was completely worth it in the end.

3. Ignore your inner critic.
I edit my blog posts a lot before they see the light of day. This is good because I definitely need to fix grammar, spelling, and such. However, writing 1667 words a day doesn’t leave much room for rewriting and editing. You have to ignore your inner critic and just keep writing.

4. If something isn’t working, take a break.
While the overall experience of NaNo was awesome, there were moments when I felt as if my story was going nowhere. Even trying to power through didn’t help. At times like these, its best to take a small break and do something completely unrelated. I’d usually make myself a cup of tea and gaze out the window. It helped me relax and I felt refreshed and energized to keep writing. Breaks, especially for introverts, are life savers.

Did you do NaNoWriMo this year? Do you have any tips for writing?

Image credit: “Reading” by Pedro Ribeiro Simões is licensed under CC by 2.0