writing the perfect storm

hurricanematthew

i had planned to write a post about something way more work related today — specifically, some musings on the home office. but as i’ve sat here in my home office all week, listening to my constant MSNBC soundtrack in the next room, i couldn’t help but think of so much more important things happening in the world that i had to say something about.

for the past couple days, as Hurricane Matthew has solidified its course toward a direct hit on Florida, there’s been a gradual shift in content of the neutral-accented commentators’ reports wafting from the next room, from presidential campaign disaster to natural disaster. the shift was completed in full today, when 100% of coverage turned to the hurricane. and honestly, as much of a political junkie as i am, it’s been a nice break.

last night, unable to sleep, i finally said out loud to my husband what i have been thinking for days since Matthew came on the radar and i’ve been on the edge of my seat about how everything will turn out: no one could write this shit. he told me to calm down and go to sleep, which i did, after thinking about how i might actually write this story if it were a treatment for a TV series.
Continue reading

what is your reach?

Diverse People Friendship Togetherness Connection Rear View Conc

it’s been a crazy couple weeks with work and i have pretty much let everything else go: no writing, no workouts, stress eating, a sink full of dishes and a personal to-do list a mile long. i’m so grossed out by my own self! so this morning, i vowed to get back on track. the very minimum i can do is write a response to The Daily Post, right? i usually hate their prompts and today is no exception, but after i got over hating for a minute, this one actually got me thinking.

reach. it’s something i talk about a lot in my work life as an advertising professional. helping clients extend their reach and maximize the number of eyeballs they can hit with their message is as important as actually creating that perfect message.

but what about your reach? not as a blogger or in terms of your personal brand, but in terms of you as a person? how many people’s lives do you touch and impact on a daily, weekly or yearly basis? probably a lot more than you know.  Continue reading

how long does it take you to write a post?

stopwatch1

just curious! i have been working on something about the Melania Speechgate for what seems like all day, but truthfully has been just a couple hours now (post Miss Girl bedtime) of actually writing and researching links and such to back up what i’m writing. was hoping to post tonight, but at 1:00, it is hours past bedtime! look for it tomorrow . . .

in the meantime, one of the reasons i’ve been gone so long is that i’ve wanted to up my writing game a bit, which means a change in the mostly off-the-cuff, put-it-together-in-an-hour type of writing/image creation i typically do here and actually work on some more thoughtful/longer pieces. just not accustomed to how long retraining my creative muscles that way actually seems to take. but it’s all good.

so . . . there will still be some of both kinds of posts moving forward! that’s the plan, at least, but interested in hearing from anyone who’s still around about their typical process/time to write a post.

love to hear from you!! happy Hump Day tomorrow! (today?) ugh . . . goodnight!

5 on Friday: a(nother) Writing 101 mashup

turtlerace(photo: thrillist.com)

um. didn’t Writing 101 end like 6 weeks ago? you’re asking. i know, right? but here i am. still. did i ever tell y’all that i didn’t graduate college on time? yeah, somehow at the finish line, i still needed one more class and ended up hanging around Winter Park for the summer taking an Ann Tyler class to fulfill my very last couple credits and officially get my degree. so this feeling is super familiar.

that said, creative combinations seem to be my secret weapon here, so i’m doing it again! i didn’t have anything pulled together for Friday list of 5 when i remembered that Day 11 asked

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to this dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance?

since my last post was a week and a half ago, this really resonated today. what have i been doing? why haven’t i been writing? that second question is probably a bit more complicated than “life got busy,” which is what i like to tell myself. i’ve been questioning again what i’m doing here. i’ve also been exploring a book idea and much of my focus has been on whether that idea is viable, how to make this space more fun for me — and for you — and kind of generally doing a gut check about my writing and what i want to do with it. deep, y’all. and i’m not ready to write about it yet. ha. Continue reading

counting on sweater weather! (a Writing 101 mashup)

sweater weather(image: ZC Textiles)

it won’t truly be sweater weather here in Atlanta for another month, at least. but a girl can dream over a pumpkin spice latté (or not — because you would never ever catch me drinking that shit). thank goodness, Jolineys over at Keeping Track included me in her so-very-fall-ish Sweater Weather Tag so i can get in the mood even if the temperature isn’t quite there yet! and since i still have outstanding Writing 101 assignments (gaaaaaahhhh.) i’m going to combine this post with Day 12, which was all about word count. if you usually write long, you’re supposed to write short and vice versa. since i usually ramble on and on, i’m going to answer all the questions in fewer than 100 words. and scroll to the bottom to check out the 10 awesome bloggers i’m tagging to play along!

favorite candle scent — classic/boring: vanilla

coffee, tea or hot chocolate? coffee (with real cream)

what is the best fall memory you have — Gold Cup

best fragrance for fall all year round: Acqua di Gio

favorite Thanksgiving food — Sourdough Stuffing with Pears & Sausage

most worn sweater —  oldest = most worn? close replica. (image: Alyssa’s Closet on Poshmark)

fisherman sweater

football games or jumping in leaf piles — football. duh. rise up!

favorite type of pie —  pecan. OMG.

what is autumn weather like where you live — gorgeous. 60s/70s. blue skies. crisp.

Downtown W - Atlanta

which makeup trend do you prefer: dark lips or winged liner — dark lips, definitely.

what song really gets you into the fall spirit — um . . . September?

is pumpkin spice worth the hype — see above. gross.

favorite fall TV show — It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

skinny jeans or leggings? — skinnies. (and leggings are not pants!)

combat boots or Uggs — ugh. neither.

Halloween: yay or nay — oh, hell yes!

fall mornings or evenings — chilly mornings with a snuggly robe and coffee.

what do you think about Black Friday? — i’m a Cyber Monday girl.

one Fall 2015 trend you love — does head-to-toe black ever go out of style? (image: CollegeCandy)

head-to-toe black trend

count: 85 words. boom.

wanna play? (and don’t you worry your pretty little heads about the word count!)

  1. Martina @ A Splash of Mimosa
  2. Shauna Rae @ Rae of Sparkles
  3. Jen @ The Haute Mommy Handbook
  4. Jellyfish Mama @ Never Trust A Jellyfish
  5. lafriday @ Forced Bloom
  6. Rosema @ rosemawrites
  7. Melle @ Much Ado About Melle
  8. Wanda @ A Girl Named Wanda
  9. Sara @ Busy Mom Confessional
  10. You, if you wanna join in!

Friday favorites: this week’s 5 best reads

Glasses On Mouse

here it is, the very last day of Writing 101 and i still have a backlog of about 5 assignments. oh well! hitting yesterday’s prompt today:

For those who didn’t reach out to someone, publish a roundup of great reads: blog posts or articles you’ve enjoyed this week and want to share with your followers.

no, of course i didn’t reach out to anyone to interview or do a guest post. please, y’all. you know i’m not that organized. instead, i’m merging my usual Friday favorites post with this assignment and posting (in no particular order) 5 of the most interesting reads i came across online this week. (and no, i don’t really need those reading glasses yet, but i bought them back in the spring thinking it might be time!) happy reading and happy weekend, y’all!

1. The Good and Bad News About Having A Tweenager (Foxy Wine Pocket)
i laughed. i moaned. i poured another glass of wine as my hopes of easier times as Miss Girl got older were completely shattered.

2. Success at Work, Failure at Home (Medium)
interesting to read a guy’s take on the seeming inability to “have it all” when it comes to work/life balance. fashionable or not, i’m a firm believer that it is physically, mentally, emotionally and financially impossible to be a rockstar at work and  at home at the same time. sometimes one is on top and sometimes the other. the trick to creating balance is knowing which is most important at any particular moment.

3. Pope Francis’ Meeting Wasn’t An Endorsement of Kim Davis’s Views, Vatican Says (NYT)
i find it a little implausible that American Vatican reps didn’t realize what message this meeting could or would send, but i’m glad they chose to address it. though i completely disagree with her actions, Ms. Davis is obviously a woman of strong religious belief and i can see how it made sense to meet with her as a matter of faith, not politics. and for all we know, what actually happened was that Pope Francis, in his very popely way said “Bless your heart, but this is not what Jesus meant, you moron.” and hey, we saw what happened after his conversation with John Boehner. maybe there’s another resignation pending.

4. 10 Reasons We Should Defund Planned Parenthood IMMEDIATELY (ravishly)
some of the most amusing and spot-on arguments about why this whole conversation is ridiculous.

5. How to Choose the Best Probiotic to Help Heal Your Eczema (Prime Physique Nutrition)
after another bad round of breakouts and yet another couple dermatologist visits that yielded just the routine of an oral antibiotic and more/different topical remedies that never quite clear things up for any prolonged period of time, i decided enough was enough. Miss Girl has had the allergy tests (negative) and we’ve tried to pay attention to food triggers (utterly inconclusive), but my gut tells me there is something internal going on, which is why all these external remedies aren’t quite cutting it. don’t get me wrong, i am a huge proponent of better living through pharmaceuticals. i just don’t think they’re the right answer for everything. so i’ve been doing a lot of research on probiotics and the gut/skin connection. this was one of the articles that convinced me to start her (and myself) on a probiotic regimen and helped me wade through everything that’s out there to know how to choose. so far, things seem to be improving! stay tuned for maybe a post about all that . . .

Writing 101: a map and a stat

antique France map

aww hell, y’all. i just realized Blogtober starts tomorrow. looks like Helene and Tay are maybe not playing this year, so not sure which group i will link up with. (alternates, anyone?) with a backlog of Writing 101 posts, plus an urge to get back to some of my normal posts, maybe not finding a prompt list and linking up is a smart thing. but whoever said i was smart?

at any rate, figured i should crank out some more of the assignments i already have, while i can. luckily, once again, i have found a way to combine posts. yay, me! gold star for creativity and perfecting the slack. Day 16 asked us to search our stats for a post idea and today, Day 18 (today!), asks us to use a map as our muse. in response, i say thank god for France. then you say WTF? and then i explain . . .

my series of posts on our trip to France this past April was by far the most viewed and shared set of content i’ve created since starting this blog a year ago. it was one of the first times i got totally mesmerized by my own stats and really got pumped to try to keep the levels up. in particular, views on a post about Strasbourg skyrocketed after my Twitter share of the post was picked up by local tourism authorities. it taught me a lot about the importance of social media in blogging if you want your work to get read and shared widely. in the past 5 months, i haven’t been able to replicate the dynamic. also explains to me why travel bloggers do so well. oh well.

so obviously, i need to drop my day job, pick up my family and go back to France all the time and write about it. duh. but in absence of this option, what? well, we are thinking of Hawaii for next spring break. can i break my own record next April? we’ll see. until then, i’m mining my stats for other trends and topics. stay tuned . . .

achievements, memories and aspirations in hardcover

aroomwithoutabook.001

i want to say we have too many books. but can you ever have too many books?! i often envy Modern Ms. Darcy for having a job that revolves around books. i can’t keep up. in my good pace, i read about a book a month. lately, the pace is terrible. (i know i owe a Nightstand post on Killing Monica!) that doesn’t negate the fact that we are a household of readers. Spy reads 2 real newspapers every morning (AJC & NYT). we both read real books, not digital — and preferably hardcover, thank-you-very-much. we are old-school. and i love every-fucking-minute of it. getting immersed in someone else’s story always inspires me and makes me think about where i’ve been in or what i want for my own life, so i always connect those stories to certain periods, places and moods.

but all this reading means that reading material stacks up in our house. the newspapers are pretty easy to take care of every Thursday when the recycling trucks come. but the books, well . . . another story. we are both people who save and treasure books. between the two of us, we have gajillions — and we’re now inheriting more from family who feel the same. some are rare, expensive books. some are classics. some are basics on writing. some are just old favorites. i count 11 bookshelves in our home. they are mostly filled now. and they cover a lot of ground.

so when the Writing 101 challenge for Day 15 came up and included the quote above as a jumping off point (as an alternative to writing about a reader-suggested topic), i thought it was the perfect time to start what might be a series cataloging “the random shit on my bookshelves”. because, obviously, nothing on any of those 11 bookshelves is actually organized, categorized or otherwise stacked in any way that makes sense. we have the equivalent of putting Beethoven next to Britney Spears on every one of them. so far, though, the books all seem happy with their neighbors. i imagine the conversations between them are fascinating.

Shakespeare:  hey girl. i hear you like iambic pentameter.

Babe Walker: gross. i’m so sure. i would totally never let you do that to me. now, shut up so i can meditate on Jimmy Choo’s Spring collection. Continue reading

stealing from myself: a poetweetagram

Wuss zone
by Kristin

Is about to be 1 badass scramble.
And realize the sunroof is open.
That this should be on my table
Epically bad is about to happen

In treasonous twitter rant
I should probably pray more often.
Jeans I just bought suddenly giant!
Insane people who don’t listen.

More fun Friday nights to come.
Trip! welcome to South Carolina!
Weekday mug. it’s good to be home.
Empanada. Bone Garden Cantina
Suite life! Georgia Dome

not caught up, but at least on the right day, today! the Writing 101: Day 17 assignment asked us to create a post using material we’ve drafted or posted previously elsewhere. you think i jumped on one of the easy-way-out suggestions? oh, hell yes, i did. y’all know me too well.

Poetweet is a totally fun little poetry generator that scours your Twitter feed for material and magically turns it into verse. mine is posted — unedited — above. funny how even in the mishmash of half thoughts mixed together here, i can still pick out phrases and remember the exact moment i was posting about — my thoughts on Mother’s Day, breakfast for dinner, coffee at home after a long trip, a birthday empanada, a road trip to Richmond, a Falcons game . . . and since most of what i tweet is just links to Instagram or this blog, it was pretty easy to find some images related to those words and thoughts.

boom. let’s call it a post and move on!

Writing 101: the space to write

space to write

for Day 6 (i know. that was a really long time ago), we were asked to describe the place where we write. i’m not quite done with it, but am at a place with my office make-over that i felt like it was finally ready to write this post and have some pictures to share!

for years, i have been writing at my kitchen counter. our home has a really open layout and it just seemed to make sense that i could be writing/working and still be part of the family. but that was just the problem. i was in the middle of everything going on and couldn’t go more than about 12 minutes without being interrupted by somebody wanting something or by a blaring television. even during the early morning or late night when i was the only one downstairs, the view of the dirty dishes in my sink or the neighbor’s house out the window above that wasn’t exactly inspiring. i considered getting a desk for the upstairs sitting room, but decided that since we have a perfectly good office downstairs that no one ever uses, i should at least get that really functioning and try it before exiling myself to another floor.

before . . .

a lot of stuff had just kind of gotten shoved in there over the years. rugs came and went after being destroyed by cat or dog pee. the chair my husband had paid a fortune for when he was a bachelor never felt comfortable to me for more than a nanosecond — not exactly a good fit for hunkering down and writing the great American novel. a file cabinet full of old stationery and camera equipment at one point had to have the the drawer facing ripped off to get it unstuck. and never got replaced. even with my aversion to stacks of paper, i’d let myself slip into stacking things in here just to get them off of the kitchen counter where they were more visible. all together, it made for a place that kind of stressed me out every time i tried writing there.

after . . .

i have a few more spaces to fill with books, pictures and decorative items, but i love this room, now! the shelving cost a bit, but otherwise, i’m psyched to  have pulled this together mainly on the cheap (see image captions for detail). i can’t confirm that no one bothers me in here, but at least the space no longer agitates me and at least, the family has to make a little more effort to find me here. from where i sit, i can look out over most of the downstairs (except the damn kitchen, where i spend so much time anway!) and feel connected to what everyone is doing, but separate from it. i find that having a space just for this one activity brings me a lot of focus and calm when i’m working in here. and hopefully great things will emerge!

now that i’ve got my space shaped up, do you have any thoughts on what i should write here? the second part of this assignment asks us to post a poll to gather ideas for future posts. i’d love to hear your thoughts!