Because Maggie Asked The Questions About Blogging, I Will Answer Them

Good Morning! It snowed, and continues to snow, here. This is going to be a perfect day for answering questions.

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Earlier this week Maggie at From Cave Walls wrote a post offering advice intending to help new bloggers specifically, but useful to all bloggers in general.

She also asked her readers to answer 10 questions about blogging. After mulling over the questions for a few days, here are my answers.

 Do you respond to every comment, even if it is just an emoji?

I attempt to reply to all comments on a timely basis, although occasionally I miss one.  I’m not a fan of using just an emoji to begin a conversation but will reply with words to it.  I have no trouble with emojis used in conjunction with words or just an emoji to end an ongoing conversation.

Are there styles, colors, or fonts that make reading a blog more difficult?

Yes there are.  I find it almost impossible to read white/pastel letters on a dark background.  I know it looks dramatic or modern, but I find it difficult to see.

I also think that it looks messy when someone indiscriminately has words in too many different colors within the text of a post.  Same with words that are written using a mix of uPpER and LoWEr cAsE letters.  They slow down my ability to read the post and I don’t like to be slowed down.

Under what circumstances would you block a user?

I block spammers, haters, and people who are only here to try to get me promote their products or services.  This is my personal blog therefore: my blog, my rules.

Are there certain topics you refuse to engage with?

I’ll talk about many topics, but I refuse to talk about things like health issues or finances or the specifics about who we are/where we live.

How do you feel about blogging awards?

Early on they seemed important but now I’m indifferent to them.  If it makes you feel good about receiving one, then flaunt it.  However long ago I deleted the page on which I had mine, but that’s just me.

How old is your current blog?

The Spectacled Bean is 11 years old [as if my loyal gentle readers didn’t know that already 🙄].

Do you respond to prompts?

Generally speaking I freeze when I see a prompt.  Occasionally I’ll find something to say in regard to one, but overall they scare me and I immediately feel stressed.  It has to do with too many collegiate essay exams that were a large percentage of my final grade.

When it comes to playing follow-the-leader in the blogosphere, I like straightforward questions like these, or an ongoing weekly or monthly challenge, truth be told.

Do the number of your blog followers matter to you?

No, not at all

What motivates you to follow or unfollow a blog?

I FOLLOW blogs written by people who aren’t afraid to be unique, who know how to think clearly & write truthfully, who seem to be kindhearted, and who create blog posts that are visually pleasing.

I UNFOLLOW [or never follow to begin with] a blog whose tone is rude, crude, whiny, preachy, or there’s too much emphasis on selling something.  I’m not here for that crap.

What is your blogging pet peeve?

I want to see a well-written up-to-date ABOUT page on every personal blog.  I want to know who you think you are before I start reading your posts.  Have some gumption and define yourself, kids!

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TGIF, everyone.  Happy Weekend to you.

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The One About Improving Myself: Three Books And A Pie

HELLO!

When last we spoke I was languishing during this region’s second hottest summer on record.  You see, I’m not a “hot weather is great” person. Daily temperatures over 90ºF do me in, quickly.

BUT now that the weather in my part of the northern hemisphere has turned autumnal and cool and fresh + the final 2021 Mercury retrograde is over, I’m feeling more focused on getting my act together and doing things, good things, again.

At the risk of sounding cliche, I love the fall [except for pumpkin spice in coffee– that’s just wrong].  I’m feeling happy and agreeable, relaxed, and open to the idea that with some effort I might be able to become a better me.

It could happen.

Thus I’ve read three self-improvement books AND I made a delicious new-to-me pie.  So without further dithering, and bless you if you’ve read this far, here are the books I read and recommend + the deets about the pie I made.

THREE BOOKS

Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel

This book is filled with great advice, useful questions that prompt personal insight, simple worksheets, and a positive vibe that didn’t insult my intelligence, while nudging me to get to the heart of what matters to me.

The Writer’s Process: Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer

This practical well-researched book explains that there are two aspects to writing: the scribe and the muse.  Each is your writing friend once you know how to engage with them, and therein is the crux of the book.  Pay attention to which part of your brain you’re using as you write that which you must write– and you’ll make progress.

Wake Up to the Joy of You: 52 Meditations and Practices for a Calmer, Happier Life by Agapi Stassinopoulos

This book, a compilation of short essays/personal stories + a meditation for each, focuses on 52 different aspects of life.  The tone of the book is encouraging.  It’s centering, quietly profound, without being icky inspirational sweet. [Hat tip to Nicole at GIRL in a BOY HOUSE for recommending this book.]

ONE PIE

In the photo at the top of this post [and isn’t it a cute one?], the wedge of pie the dragon is about to eat is called Atlantic Beach Pie.  Last summer when I saw the recipe for the pie in Southern Living magazine [LINK HERE] I had to try it.

Had to.

It was easy to make*, tasty if you like lemon-lime flavor, but what makes this pie interesting is that the recipe calls for saltine cracker crumbs.  You use them, not graham cracker crumbs,  when you make the crust.  Now how unusual is that?

AND IN CONCLUSION 

Having said all I can think of to say I shall end this post by asking you, my gentle readers, a few simple questions– because that’s kinda what I do here.

Have you read any self-improvement books lately that you’d recommend?  

Have you made any pies recently?

Have you discovered something unusual in your world?

Tell all in the comments below.  You know you want to.

* If you make the pie I used whole wheat saltines, because that’s what was on hand, and I made 1/3 of the whipped cream which seemed like plenty.  Wedges of the pie froze nicely, tasted great after defrosting at room temperature.

Which Three Personality Traits Are Helping You Deal With Today?

Photo by Johnson Wang [@jdubs] via Unsplash

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YEARS AGO I TOOK AN ADULT EDUCATION night class about managing your stress. The 4-part class was offered by a regional hospital and was taught by a woman with a background in massage therapy who was at that time working on a graduate degree in religious studies.

She was wise & funny. Delightful in her pragmatic approach to life.

To be clear this was not a class aimed at finding the causes of your stress or analyzing why you had this stress. It was a class based on the assumption that the sources of your stress were your own business, specific to your own life.

The class was about creating a “tool box” of positive coping behaviors;  that is, by learning to breath in the moment or detach from your ego or chant a soothing mantra or acknowledge your own worth, you could deal with your stress in a healthy way.

The premise being, quite simply, that if you know how to calm down in any situation, then you’ll do better at whatever it is you’re doing.

Is this not true?

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ONE OF THE TOOLS I REMEMBER FROM this class was the question I posed in the title of this post. We were encouraged to think about who we were based on our own particular personality traits. [List of 600 personality traits here.]

This was trickier to do than you might think it’d be.

To wit, we were NOT describing ourselves in the sense of our relationships so saying I’m a wife, a niece, a sister-in-law was wrong.  And we were NOT describing ourselves in the sense of our job titles/hobbies so saying I’m a manager, a writer, a walker was wrong.

While those descriptions of myself were accurate they weren’t the point of this mental health exercise.  They were considered a distraction from understanding yourself better, a way to gloss over who you really were.

NOPE, we had to state who we were based on our own self-awareness.  We had to acknowledge our individual personality traits whether they be considered a strength or a weakness, then accept the trait.

To thine own self be true, you know?

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I HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT THIS CLASS IN a long time, but over the weekend I realized I was reminding myself each day to focus on three personality traits, allowing myself to feel empowered as a result of it.

I realized why I was asking myself this question and thought that maybe someone else might benefit from using this simple approach to stress management.

So in conclusion here is my answer to the question.  For me, most of the time my personality traits that are helping me deal with my days during the pandemic are: 1) I’m organized, 2) I’m creative, and 3) I’m perceptive.

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What about you, kids? Care to share which three personality traits are helping you stay above the fray, cool in every way? Or if not cool, at least sane for most of the day?

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In Which I Snark About Something Regarding Interior Design Whilst Sharing Words Of Wisdom

If you ask me “what is your passion?” I will answer that it is “interior design.”  

I think of myself as an active amateur interior designer because I like putting objects and ideas together to make any space, real or virtual, pretty.  I love the principles of design and all the possibilities.

After some introspection I’ve realized that I’m a problem solver at heart and design is nothing more than solving the problem of how to live in a way that is congruent with your core values.

Thus I keep my eyes open to any possible design trend that might enhance our transitional-style home and add value to it.  Earlier this week when I saw this article, Real-Estate Agents Think These Are the 3 Most Enticing Home Features, I clicked on it to read what it had to say.

[Spoiler alert] The three most-used keywords, therefore enticing home features, in real estate listings are: granite countertops, hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances.  We have those three things so we are on trend should we want to sell this house, which we don’t.

Make no mistake about that.

But getting to my snarky point here, if you look at the photo at the top of the article you will see that it is of a gorgeous kitchen whose teal-colored cabinets and gold-tone handles make me drool.  So much love.

However, as you continue looking at the photo you will notice that the kitchen has hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances, but alas and alack, the kitchen has marble countertops.

Now far be it from me, an active amateur interior designer, to tell domino.com that their choice of photo does not support the facts in the article, but it doesn’t.  And it lends credence to something I’ve found to be universally true and shall share with you, my gentle readers.

Life is in the details. Pay attention.

Getting Philosophical As I Prepare To Take A Month Off From Blogging

Pretty blurry striped colors make for a lovely image* at the top of this post, my last one for 2019.

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I LISTENED TO THE LATEST Hurry Slowly podcast from Jocelyn K. Glei.

In it she introduced her new vision for how her podcast will evolve during Season 3.  In a nutshell, she’s loosening up about who she is and will be focusing less on productivity and more on authenticity.

I look forward to hearing what she says as she shares her transformation and her realizations about what matters to her now.  And therein is the nugget of wisdom that I gleaned from her podcast.

It’s all in the now, the person who you are in this moment and how you will manifest as such.  It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about how you’re doing it and why.

Always the why.

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AS YOU MAY REMEMBER MY #OneWord365 for this year is streamlined.

Since I adopted it last January I’ve thought on it, not necessarily daily, but weekly as I organize my life, hoping to create a clutter-free home and the conviction that I can do things smoothly.

However, if I’m to be truthful here I’ve had a rocky year with this one word. It’s come to mean expense [roof, windows, computer] and idealistic dreams [the basement and garage are still harboring too much stuff] and, by the looks of the inside of this house, half-finished projects strewn about the rooms in messy heaps of indecision.

On the one hand I feel like I’m a failure about implementing the streamlined concept, but on the other hand I wouldn’t be as far along the path to becoming who I want to be now if I hadn’t focused on it.

So there’s that.

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I’VE DECIDED TO TAKE THE month of December off from blogging and instead focus on Susannah Conway’s December Reflections Instagram prompts.

I enjoy writing but feel that I need to get away from my ordinary routine, allowing me to reflect on how and why I’ll be doing what I plan to do in 2020 AND to decide whether or not my attempts to be streamlined have been a personal transformative experience or just another screwup.

Thus all that is left for me to say here is please enjoy whatever it is you do during the month of December. Make it a fun one. Take joy!

Later, kids.

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* Because someone is going to ask: I made this image by photographing a page from Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith. I then enhanced the photo using ‘Rainy’ in Waterlogue [here for Apple] or [here for Windows].  

I put that enhanced image into Photos on my iMac where I edited it by adding highlights and cropping it into a rectangle.  It was work-y, but turned out pretty darned cool, if’n I do say so myself.