life

5 ways to get out of a (blogging) rut

Last week something pretty scary happened to me: I got locked out of my own account. I had the password saved but it got wiped out, so I had to re-enter it. I’m sure I typed it correctly, but after a few attempts my IP was banned for several hours and the password reset wouldn’t work. I was freaking out! After googling around for a bit I finally found a clear set of instructions that allowed me to log back in. It was probably a security plugin error, all good and sorted now, but the incident gave me a mild case of blogger ‘s block. All the ideas I had were suddenly put on hold, until this morning, when I read a few of the bloggers over at the #BrunchClub commenting on how sometimes they felt stuck in a blogging rut. The shared struggle inspired me to write a post as a reminder to myself that hopefully might also help someone else. Here’s what you can do to get out of a blogging (or any other kind of) rut.

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Clean up: I’ve noticed that my lack of writing enthusiasm usually affects other areas of my life, like my house. I have a spare room that in theory should be an office, but I end up bringing my laptop to the dining table and posting from the lounge so I can be close to my husband while he’s doing something else and I’m updating my blog. Lately my side of the table had been filled with random crap, from nail polish to PS4 games and dozens of different pens. My laptop was actually by my side of the bed, on the floor. So before typing these very words, I put away everything. Your surroundings are a reflexion of your mind and sure, Einstein’s desk was messy, but he was busy working. If you’re feeling stuck, declutter and clean up. That also applies to what’s on your computer: photos with non-descriptive names, duplicate files, dead links on old posts, drafts that never got finished and lost relevance, etc. Take some time to create a space that will encourage you to concentrate and produce.

Change your approach: You’re probably well aware of to-do lists, right? What about done lists? At the end of every day, list all the tasks you managed to do, no matter how tiny they seem. Track your progress at all times. That way you’ll acknowledge regularly the steps you’re taking to actually reach larger goals. Also try new things, scary things that challenge you out of your comfort zone. Change the way you create content, and even the way you present it. If you usually blog beauty products reviews, try putting together a make-up tutorial. If you only publish written posts, try recording a vlog. If your blog is based on lists, share a story. I have a couple of restaurants reviews coming up, but I think it’s time to post a recipe too now.

Ask for help: What I love about blogging is the sense of community and the #BrunchClub has been simply amazing in that regard. Turn to other bloggers for inspiration and collaboration. Read new blogs, outside of your niche, see what they’re posting and give your own spin. Open up your blog and let collaborators post too. Get together with friends and start a project. Offer to help others too as by looking at someone else’s problem you can also find solutions for your own problems.

Keep yourself busy: Work on other areas of your blog, like your About Me page or Media Kit. The important thing is to keep the habit going and avoid long periods away. Carry a notepad at all times or make use of apps like Evernote to jot down ideas. I often email myself and share/favourite posts on social media so I can refer to it later for inspiration. Even when I’m not blogging, I’m constantly thinking about it and in ways I can improve myself. Pick a new hobby, work on a skill or teach someone. And then share your experiences, interact on Twitter and Facebook, to increase what you can write about afterwards.

Don’t lose focus: one of the greatest motivations to keep posting is receiving feedback from readers and knowing that you have an audience interested in reading what you blog. But it’s important to remember that sometimes that response won’t come straight away. A lot of people prefer to read in silence but that doesn’t mean that your words don’t resonate with anyone. Keep setting goals for yourself and posting content you’re proud of, focus on your mission, the reason that made you decide to share your thoughts, experiences and knowledge in the first place. Don’t worry about making it perfect, just have fun and enjoy the ride.

Anything to add? What’s your secret to keep going? I’d love to know. 🙂

tag: 50 random facts about me

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The 50 random facts about me tag had come up on the Brunch Club group before, and I had tried to write a post at the time but got stuck. Then this week Laura tagged me on her post and I thought it deserved another go. So here’s my long list of facts:

  1. I met my husband 13 years ago on ICQ. He found my ICQ number on a message board, we started chatting, went out, hit it off and started dating.
  2. My favourite colour is red.
  3. I got married in 2009 wearing a red cocktail dress.
  4. My favourite animal is the polar bear.
  5. I almost cried when I saw the polar in the Central Park zoo.
  6. I quit biting my nails when I was 12. It was a New Year’s resolution.
  7. I’ve been keeping lists of all the movies I watch in a year since 2008. It’s organized by date I’ve watched, divided into two categories: at the movies and at home.
  8. The first thing I remember buying online were purchased from the official Buffy the Vampire Slayer web store: a coffee mug and earrings. I still have both of them.
  9. And yes, my wedding ring is a claddagh because of Buffy and Angel.50factstag01
  10. I had a huge crush on Seth Green when I was 13, I even wrote him a letter. He replied with a signed postcard.
  11. Then in 2011 I met him in person. I can’t even remember what I told him, it was probably rubbish.
  12. When I met my favourite author, Neil Gaiman, I was wearing a bootleg t-shirt of one of his characters. He thought that was so cool he even took a photo of me with his iPhone.
  13. My first job was for a Brazilian version of “Hot or Not“. I had to look through all of the photos submitted and delete the ones that violated the terms of conduct (copyrighted material, adult content, photos of celebrities, etc). I worked from home, after school, only lasted a couple of months but I made a lot of money for a 14-year old.
  14. I’ve won a share of the lottery one time, $250. I used it buy a pair of boots and cds.
  15. The first cd I bought with my own money was the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack.
  16. The last time I bought a cd was in 2009. I left my collection in Brazil and told my parents they could do whatever they wanted.
  17. I had massive folders full of photos of the Spice Girls, Hanson and Leo DiCaprio.
  18. I was even interviewed for a newspaper about it. But it was just because my dad knew the journalist who wrote the article…
  19. I created my first blog in 2001 and it was called *wild butterfly* (yep, the star signs were part of the title).
  20. I was even interviewed by a major newspaper in Brazil about my blog. Then I regretted because I got a few prank calls after that.
  21. The first thing I ever made in the kitchen was banana ice cream. I didn’t realise that the recipe was intended for selling and ended up with way too much ice cream in my freezer. It didn’t taste great but it wasn’t that bad, even so no one in my family wanted to try it.
  22. I found my first grey hair when I was 15 and started colouring my hair at 18.
  23. I was blonde in 2013, had the whole Miley Cyrus style going on. I loved it but bleaching ruined my hair.
  24. Now I’m 28 and haven’t coloured my hair in over a year.50factstag02
  25. I’ve already picked my future children’s names and created Gmail accounts for them.
  26. After 5 years and 3 months living in New Zealand, I finally have my residency visa.
  27. The first friend I made online was a girl from Sydney. I almost went to Australia for my high school exchange programme because of that.
  28. But then I got to know more about NZ and ended up deciding to come here.
  29. The first friend I made in NZ was also over the internet, a few months before arriving in Hamilton. We’re still friends to this day.
  30. In case you couldn’t tell, I spend a lot of time online and made most of my friends that way.
  31. I don’t have a car driver’s licence and got my motorcycle learner’s licence last month.
  32. I failed my driving exam three times when I was 19 and never tried to drive again ever since.
  33. I used to be so scared of an animated movie called “The Secret of NIHM” when I was a child. Now I’m afraid of watching it and thinking it’s dumb.
  34. I got really drunk for the first time this year, at my friend’s New Year’s party. Before that I only felt tipsy. I had almost two bottles of wine by myself and welcome 2015 by spending most of the first day of the year vomiting.
  35. I hate buying shoes: I’m a size 11 and it’s so hard to find shoes I like.
  36. My dad wanted to name me Bianca. I’m glad my mom chose Danielle instead.
  37. I used to believe in astrology and read tarot cards.
  38. It’s been years since I read my horoscope for the last time.
  39. Now my only superstition is believing that you must pick up every money you find on the street, even if it’s only 10 cents, otherwise you’ll never come across larger amounts. Trust me, I’ve found a $20 bill in the middle of nowhere.
  40. My character in World of Warcraft was a night elf hunter called Augustine. She had a huge drinking problem and loved going to auction houses in her underwear and make train noises.
  41. Usually after I watch a band play live, I can’t listen to any of their songs for a long time.
  42. Before moving to NZ, the wallpaper on my computer was a photo of Wellington’s cable car, it kept me motivated.
  43. I had a piercing under my tongue for exactly 3 days.50factstag04.JPG
  44. I’ve been to Tokyo Disneyland.
  45. My first mobile was a hand-me-down from my grandaunt.
  46. The ringtone on my second mobile was the Return of the King theme song.
  47. I have a massive crush on Jake Gyllenhaal. I’ll watch any of his movies, even if they’re crap.
  48. I appeared on a TV ad for the school I went to in 1993. My husband claims he remember that ad and he used to be annoyed by it.
  49. I was 13 when I went to my first concert ever, I saw The Offspring.
  50. I have a really hard time figuring out accents and where people are from.

Wow, if you read all the way to the end, congrats! If you feel like doing a post too, leave your link in the comments, I’d love to read your 50 random facts! 🙂

6 things i’ve learnt about fear, dreams, success and happiness

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This post was originally published in Portuguese last year, on the week of my fifth anniversary of living in New Zealand. It’s one of my most popular posts and because the same topics kept coming up in different conversations ever since, I decided to translate it.

The first time I came to NZ, in 2003, I was only 16 and I lived in Hamilton for six months as an exchange student. Then I went back to Brazil and spent a few years researching and weighing my  options so I could move here with Ivan. I graduated in Journalism, but my relationship with that career had always been like unrequited love, so developing other skills and changing careers came to me quite naturally. My main objective was to come back and I didn’t really care about what kind of job I’d have, as long as it helped me to stay. So I did a few courses, saved what I could, packed my bag, said “see you later” to family and friends, and travelled to NZ. Our three month anniversary was celebrated already in Wellington.

The first few months were not easy. Our budget was very limited and our heads were filled with worry. I’m very anxious and living surrounded by uncertainty left me in shambles. When we managed to change visas and get jobs, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders and I was finally able to relax a bit. We’re in the process of having our residency sorted, it’s still stressful but things improved a lot.

But even with all of these accomplishments, one question still bothering me: when will I become the person I’ve always wanted to be? I live where I’ve always wanted to live, with a husband I love very much, but I didn’t feel fulfilled because I wasn’t living like I wanted. I didn’t feel inspired professionally, couldn’t dedicate myself to the things that give me pleasure and not even socialise properly with the people I met here. Totally disheartened!

Sure, part of what was bothering was caused by external factors, but the biggest weight was coming all from within myself. And I think that I’m finally close to an answer now. I’d like to share with you the six things I’ve learnt about fear, dreams, success and happiness after giving it much thought about it, all six of them connected and related to the questions and conclusions I reached in the past few years.

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1. Failure is subjective, and so is success 

I’ve spent so much time focusing only on what I hadn’t done, or on what went wrong, that I stopped valuing and appreciating all the things I’ve actually done. My definitions of failures were so broad and the ones of success so based on someone else’s victories that I constantly putting myself down. And the internet feels like a depository of achievements where everybody is doing great, except you. But everyone has, or at least should have, their own vision of an ideal life. Therefore, create your own definition of success, without projecting what comes from the outside. Dealing with failure becomes more bearable and you appreciate more what you put effort into accomplishing.

2. Re-evaluating expectations is key

Disappointment is something intimately linked to expectations. That’s why surprises are usually nice, if you don’t know what to expect from a situation, anything positive will be appreciate more intensely. Dosing my expectations is a continuous exercise to me. I like to be prepared to deal with all possible scenarios and I also get really pumped up by things. That’s pretty much like setting up the stage for disappointment. I’ve spent an entire week freaking out over a job interview, thinking I wasn’t prepared enough, and I’ve come back home deeply jaded after going to one of my favourite bands concert because it wasn’t the transcending experience I was hoping for. You can’t control everything! So just take a deep breath and face each moment as they come. Fantasising too much or suffering in anticipation will only get in the way.

3. Dreams will always be more perfect than reality…

There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother in which Ted is fired and he keeps stalling to kickstart his own architecture firm until he’s confronted by Robin. And he explains that he’s putting it off because while this remains a dream, it will stay perfect and it’ll never go wrong. He had already given up even before starting. And that resonated in me. The list of things I didn’t even go after because I thought it wasn’t even worth trying is huge. The idea of failing paralised me and I even tried to comfort me by thinking that was less painful than defeat, even though it was all my fault! Sometimes you won’t get what you want because of something you did, but if you’re not doing anything at all then there’s no one else to blame. And an imperfect reality guided by a dream is a lot more fulfilling than a beautiful and immaculate dream tucked away behind locked doors inside your heart.

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4. … but that doesn’t mean that happinness is just a fantasy 

Happiness isn’t about living every single day of your life in pure bliss as if every second felt like an amazing Christmas day morning straight out of a fizzy drink ad on TV. It’s something possible, for sure, but more fluid, seen not just in the final results but also in the journeys. It’s knowing how to cherish the right things and focus on what helps us move forward, grow and  learn. And, because it’s real, it alternates moments of difficulties, boredom, loneliness and sadness. It’s not denying the existence of the bad stuff, but accepting it’s all part of something larger that goes beyond chance because it is a conquest.

5. So take risks and make your own opportunities

Perfectionism is simply a pretty name for self-sabotage. The kind of perfection we demand of ourselves is so high that not even we are capable of attaining it and sometimes we end not finishing things or not even starting them because of the anxiety this thought causes us. The fear of failing is horrible! And then it’s so easy to convince yourself that your fear is justifiable and larger than everything else because fear turns you into a hostage, and then Stockholm syndrome hits. It’s something that breaks us but then with time it becomes a crutch and we hold on to it and take care of it as if it were a pet. So instead of waiting for the perfect conditions, create favourable opportunities and take risks! You’ll only surprise yourself, be it due to the outcomes or to the things you’ll learn about yourself in the process.

 6. And give yourself a break to celebrate and be thankful

One thing that really helped me organise my priorities was asking myself “a year from now, will it make any difference?”. Over 365 days so many things can happen, so much changes, everything goes by fast… Since we only find out we were living a good time after it’s done, try to enjoy the small day-to-day stuff to the fullest and show gratitude. And registering those moments on photos, journals or lists is a great way of building a “bank” of good memories that you can turn to later on if you ever need a source of strength to move on.

If you read all the way to the end, thank you very much! I’d love to know what you though of my post and what you think about this topic. What was the last fear you faced? And what did you learn from it? 🙂

year of firsts

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Elise from The Confetti Room shared a list of goals she set to help her break out of her comfort zone and she invited other blogger over at the Brunch Club to do the same. I loved how she described it as “a year dedicated to myself and (…) focused solely on eliminating my fears and doing what I really want to do with my life”. It inspired me to put together a list of my own to keep track of my accomplishments.The rules are quite simple, so please feel free to share yours too!

Rules:
– Make a list of at least 20 – 30 ‘firsts’ you want to experience this year – make them detailed & juicy!
– Document those experiences by taking photos & bloging about them, linking back to your list.
– Post your url in the comment section. I will add your link to the list of participants below.
– Leave a comment on the other participants #YearOfFirsts posts! 🙂

#YearOfFirsts

1. Explore new parts of Wellington by foot.

2. Go to a new city in New Zealand.

3. Visit a new country.

4. Go to a karaoke bar.

5. Make a new friend.

6. Invite my next door neighbour for a coffee or BBQ.

7. Do 30 minutes of yoga every day for 30 days.

8. Learn to play the ukulele.

9. Run 10km straight.

10. Get my motorcycle restricted licence.

11. Ride to work on my Vespa by myself.

12. Buy a larger motorcycle.

13. Decorate my flat with prints of my own photos.

14. Save my tomato plant.

15. Put some stuff I don’t use anymore for sale.

16. Buy a Kitchenaid stand mixer.

17. Buy a new, better laptop.

18. Buy a bicycle.

19. Go a whole month without buying any takeaways.

20. Attend a Brunch Club event and meet more bloggers in person.

21. Post more often, at least 3 times a week.

22. Read my camera’s manual, learn how to properly use it and make the most of it.

23.  Submit a short story to a literary competition.

24. Do NaNoWriMo.

25. Create something (short stories collection, a travel guide, anything) to put for sale on the blog.

26. Create a media kit and approach a company for a partnership.

27. Record a podcast.

28. Put together a survey to get to know my readers.

29. Take some of the Google Analytics Academy courses.

30. Finish my “about me” page.

Other bloggers participating: Ben Evans, Bunny Eats Design, How Do You Do 22, Amber in Wonderland, Emma Louisa and Elese Aesthete.

(photo taken this afternoon at Evans Bay, Wellington)

spreading my wings with shovava

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When my dearest friend Lets showed me an article on Shovava I just couldn’t help falling in love with almost every item for sale. After a few days considering if I should or should not buy something, I finally placed an order.  This year I decided to do my best to spend a little less money on clothes and accessories to focus on quality and singularity rather than quantity. And Shovava offers just that.

 

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Roza Kamitova created Shovava after 8 years working with fashion in New York following a desire to design sexy and stylish pieces. Now based in Australia, she uses inspiration from hand drawn paintings and prints of animals, plants and patterns to put together a women’s clothing line that is both feminine and unique.

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My order arrived in exactly six weeks, as it was noted on the website, and during the waiting period I received two emails reminding me that each order is prepared as it is received and that my patience was appreciated. It took a while but it was definitely worth the wait. Everything is so beautiful: the colours pop out of the soft fabric as if by magic. And just so you know, I signed up to the newsletter to get a 10% discount and I also received another 10% off my next purchase, yay!

 

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At first I thought about buying a top or maybe a dress but decided to go with a scarf instead. Wellington is so windy, even during summer, so I always carry something to wrap around myself. Especially because my husband has a motorcycle and I just can’t ride anywhere without something to keep my neck warm.

 

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I bought the night owl scarf and I’m not gonna lie… it made me feel a bit like Steve Nicks. 🙂

And what about you? What pretty things have you desired or bought lately?

the day i went to the supermarket wearing bright lipstick

 

If I had to use only one word to define Shirley Manson, it’d be fierce.

She’s an incredibly talented bad ass queen and I’ve totally asked myself “what would Shirley do?” a few times when I needed some guidance facing challenging situations. So on Monday, while I was setting up my spare room/office and practising my lines to record my scholarship application video, I noticed that my voice was a bit shaky, my hands were freezing and my face was so pale. I was freaking out!

Then I took a deep breath and immediately thought of Shirley Manson’s favourite lipstick: MAC’s Lady Danger. I bought it as a birthday present for myself this year and I don’t really wear make-up that much but I needed an extra dose of courage and confidence. For a long time I saw make-up as way of hiding flaws but now, even though laziness is still my default mode, I appreciate the idea of enhancing features you’re proud of.

It also reminded of the first MAC lipstick I bought, six years ago in NYC, following a good friend‘s advice. And It shifted my mindset completely. I was still nervous but brave enough to go ahead. And the end result was better than I expected, the sky had cleared up and the natural lighting was amazing. All that felt so natural that I finished recording the video, baked some more cupcakes, fast forward 3 hours I noticed my fridge was empty so I went to the supermarket and only when I returned home I noticed that I still had the lipstick on. And you know what? It didn’t feel awkward at all. I only got smiles, not a single weird look. I might do it again actually.

What about you? Who’s your role model and what inspires courage in you? 🙂