3 Ways to Kick Bloggers' Block To The Curb

Sometimes, having to constantly create content sucks.

(Happy Monday!)

I don't know about you, but I have phases when I have ideas coming out the wazoo. I'm inspired by absolutely everything. A conversation overheard on the train, a dinner gone bad, a weekend with friends. Bam! Blog post, blog post, blog post. But then, there are the weeks and months I feel I've hit a wall, taunted by a blank "new post" screen and stale writing. No more, my friends. If you're in a similar sitch, today I have for you three methods that'll have you bursting through that wall as if it were September 1st at Platform 9 and 3/4.

Don't Be Hindered By Your Daily Routine

One problem I have is that I'm deep in the trenches of my daily routine. I wake up, read the same ol' blogs, hop on the train, work work work, hop on the train again, watch some TV and eat some dinner, and then it's bedtime. Basically, I have nothing to write about. Two ways around this. 1) Be particularly observant. Your mind will be churning with ideas in no time. What are your thoughts when you first wake up? What's your morning routine? What does your coffee order say about you? All post-worthy. (Remember to jot them down before you forget.) 2) Find the time to do more. Yes, you're working or in school all the time, but... read a book before bed. Explore one new blog every day. Go to a meetup after work, arrange a monthly brunch club, hang out in a new part of town over the weekend. Make the time for discovering, and inspiration will strike.

Apply This "Design Thinking" Trick

Such a buzzword here in Silicon Valley, but design thinking boils down to problem solving by thinking outside of the box. We won't dig deep here, but I'll tell you about one cool trick. POST-IT NOTES. In all the colors. Put the timer on for say, 5 minutes, and as fast as you can (the rule here is not to think - tell your brain to STFU) jot down every idea that pops up in your mind. Every. Idea. ("Alien abductions! Mashed potatoes! Hunger Games! Comfy lounge wear!" Those were the first things that came to mind, what does that say about me...) Each idea goes on a separate Post-It note, and for some extra oomph, you get to slap each one against a wall. Once you're done, you can start organizing them physically... seeing if there are ideas that can be grouped together, putting ideas that can be elaborated upon in their own Special pile. This is basically a fancified, glorified brainstorming sesh – but it's fun, and it works!

Write Every Day, But Perhaps Take A Blog Break

I recently started Daily Page and it brings me right back to fourth grade when school would begin with a journaling prompt every day. This website generates a thoughtful prompt for you daily, and you can type away to your heart's content. This is awesome, and I'm finding that when I engage with this kind of stream-of-consciousness writing, I learn more about myself, begin to vary my vocabulary, and am generally more inspired at the end of the exercise. Pair this daily activity with a week-long blogging hiatus, and you'll be itching to get back in the game.

BONUS: If all else fails, blast Adele's new album while you're in the shower. Actually, you might want this to be the first thing you try. It's like magic.

What has worked for you during writer's / blogger's block? Spill it!

A Grateful Heart

Yesterday morning was a rough one. Particularly Monday morning-ish, if you catch my drift.

My hair looked awful, my jeans didn't fit right, I stubbed my toe. Dealing with the chilly temps (it's all rainbow leaves! Hunter boots! hot chai and fuzzy socks! until your teeth are chattering and your soul gets sucked out of you... also, by "chilly temps" I'm talking 55 degrees but then again I never claimed I wasn't overdramatic) and having to go into the office after a perfect perfect weekend. My group chat with my friends looked something like this: life sucks. Mondays are awful. *middle finger emoji* Help me, I'm poor.

And then I kicked myself.

Because I'm one of the lucky ones. One of the luckiest ones.
Over the weekend, I saw an infographic that showed our world having lost an astronomical number of heartbeats in the last week, the aggregate of victims from Paris, Beirut, Japan, and more.

My friends and I also had a conversation about an acquaintance who lost his life over the summer due to a tragic freak accident.

Then there are those who are hungry, those without a home, those who are cold. Those struggling with their minds or identities. Those with no one to turn to, those feeling suffocated. Those who can't see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Well, I simply had a case of the Mondays. Mostly because sitting at a desk seemed so much less exciting than the weekend I had, with my best friend in town. We all piled up in bed and laughed until our stomachs hurt, and woke up to coffee and pastries and playful babies [uh... just so we're clear: not mine / ours]. We tailgated and saw old friends [and determined that were we ever to start a lifestyle brand, we'd like to be sponsored by Hot Cheetos], and ordered too many mouthwatering pizzas at dinner with new ones. We chatted for hours with mentors-turned-friends – several of them, actually – and wandered the streets of Hayes Valley. We were persistent about ice cream, even in the freezing cold, and then ordered steaming bowls of pho to warm us up.

The only reason Monday morning was so very Monday morning, was because the weekend was so very weekend.

How lucky am I to have the luxury of having that.
I will never be someone to discount a bad day because a bad day is a bad day is a bad day. But in light of recent events and with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I'd like to remind myself to always work on having a grateful heart.

My problems are easily ameliorated by treating myself to a huge breakfast and a cup bowl of latte the size of my face, or an evening spent in silky new sheets catching up on TV (my Monday night queue: Quantico --> Once Upon a Time --> The Royals --> Brooklyn Nine Nine) or an invigorating new project at work.

Other problems... aren't so easily overcome.

I won't go into how sad of a reality that is, but alas. It is.
How are you doing? How was your weekend? How was your Monday?

What Age Are You Really? (I'm Feelin' 22... And Also Not So Much.)

I've made no secret of the fact that I feel like a twenty-two year old about... 13% of the time. If we're being generous. [As we speak, I am curled up in bed at 8pm in my comfiest fleece, binge-watching Aziz Ansari's new Netflix show... which, by the way, put that sucker on your Netflix queue. Such important social commentary, but also funny. as. heck. No, but this is what I'm doing as one of my roommates is just now starting to get ready to barhop on a Thursday night.]

Here's the way I see it. There are times I act or feel my age. There are more – way more – times I don't. Thought I'd break it down a lil bit to see just which way the scales are tipping.

I'm Feelin' 22 

// when I give my dad the log-in information to my health insurance and 401k portal and say, have at it, pops. I literally have zero idea what I'm signed up for. Zero.

// when I can (too) easily justify any Taco Bell or ice cream run. 

// when I'd still rather sit in the spirited student section at football games rather than the cushy first row, 40 yard line football seats we have access to.

// when I come home from work and say "screw you" to the stovetop and call to get takeout from the restaurant at my doorstep. Most nights. Other nights, it's a handful of hot Cheetos or pizza to share with the roommates.

// when my friends Skype in other friends just to play a board game. (Seriously, who does that?)

// when I can spontaneously call my homegirl Leah after work on a Tuesday and be all like, so what would you say if I crashed at your place tonight. And we drive to a pho place even though we said we would cook (but it's cold!), then fall asleep watching Quantico (are you watching yet?! If not, stop reading and go watch. Now.) squished together in a twin bed before waking up at the crack of dawn to go get McDonald's breakfast sandwiches before work.

// when my friends and I commiserate about rent and credit cards and careers and is it okay if we're not even close to having our lives figured out yet.

I'm Feeling Not-So 22

// when my friends have to bribe me just to get me to even consider going out on a Saturday night. (What'll usually push me over the edge? An IOU of a field trip to Chipotle.)

// when, even then sometimes, I still say no "because I have plans at 7:30 in the morning." Do you want to know what plans those were? Forcing myself out of bed and into the rain so that I could beat the cray cray weekend line at Plow. But the crispy potatoes and the bacon and the pancakes... need I say more. Already making plans to go brave that insane crowd again.

// when I have a great time sitting around listening to Leah's 94 year old roommate talk about the days of her youth.

// when I have more in common with my 32 year old roommate than I do with my 25 year old roommate, or my 23 year old roommate, or my 21 year old roommate. You see, my 32 year old roommate and I have grand adventures of HomeGoods runs after work, and Sunday mornings at the flea market, and Sunday afternoons at the cool new grocery market in town, and evenings making soup. By that I mean she makes soup and I sit on the counter keeping her company.

// when I'm basically dying with excitement because three of my best friends are going to be under one roof this weekend, and it is a matter of WHEN not IF we get to all squeeze into one full sized bed and snuggle and maybe make a blanket fort and pour tall glasses of wine and order an extra large pizza.

Oh wait. I'm guessing that's an any age kind of thing, isn't it?

When You Meet A Blogger Friend In Real Life

Remember back in the MySpace days how meeting people on the Internet was the biggest no-no of all? Trust me you'll end up on Catfish, they said. The Internet is full of crazies, they said.

And while that may or may not be true, I'll take my chances because you guys all seem real chill. I like coming to this space and sharing my life with you and reading about yours, I like bonding over shared quirks and universal experiences, and learning about the finest organic baby diapers or the most efficient way to pack a carry-on or life lessons you've gained in your twenty-eight years of living. I like to think of you guys as my friends, my pals, my buddies. BACK OFF WEIRDO, I can distinctly hear you mutter through the screen with an exaggerated eyeroll. (Please love me back.)

I honestly can't remember when Jordyn and I first started reading each other's blogs but it was quite awhile ago – two years, I'd say? – and so meeting her in person for the first time (finally!!!) was more like seeing an old friend and picking up right from where we last left off. I thought I'd walk you through some moments that you're bound to have if you too decide to meet a blogger friend IRL.
You think "you are exactly what you look like on your blog!" Yes Caroline. Photography. What a concept. But it's so strange seeing someone you see in 2D every single day all of a sudden appear in front of you in 3D looking very much the same, but also just a little different.

You make a beeline for brunch. For us, that was a local spot by the water and in the sunshine, and most importantly - with a mimosa special that comes with a whole dang bottle of champs. Gimme.

Do we even have to mention taking photos? Isn't that a given? Instagram, Snapchat, phone, DSLR, selfie sticks, bird's eye view, lighting, the more the merrier!
There comes a moment when someone asks you two how you know each other. We've been friends for awhile, I can't even remember would likely be sufficient, but you KNOW I had to go and make it awkward. Ermmmmmm, well it's kind of weird. We met on the Internet... through our blogs. "Oh, sort of like Tinder," this random guy helpfully offered. Yes. Sure. Just like Tinder.

"What should we do now" is easily answered with – well, let's go exploring somewhere cute and Instagrammable. Bonus points if there's boutique shopping and excellent people-watching involved. I hemmed and I hawed over taking Jordyn to Hayes Valley vs. Cow Hollow but ended up deciding on the latter beeeeecause...

We are all aware of certain blogger landmarks! I asked Jordyn if she was interested in grabbing coffee from the cafe with the famous pineapple wallpaper and she was hopping in the car before I could even finish my sentence.
You like a lot of the same things and know you like a lot of the same things. I mean, those "monthly favorites" posts and adorable About Me blurbs have got to be useful for something, right? Jordyn and I launched right into picking out whimsical paper goods and discussing the components of an excellent girls night in and our Netflix queues and Kate Spade sales.

You already know a lot about each other. A lot, a lot. Not simply about likes and dislikes, but also about hardships from the past, dreams about the future, worries from the here and now, proud accomplishments, apartment decoration plans. These posts pack a lot of information, who woulda thunk. 

There's also a lot that you don't know. I didn't even realize that we weren't too clear on each other's job descriptions until we were kind of like, okay wait so what exactly do you do when you're not browsing Bloglovin'?
You'll gravitate towards Common Blogging Denominators without even realizing it. Flowers. Gold jewelry. Pretty stationary. Photographable buildings. Face masks that smell like oatmeal cookies.

You're free to talk blog. SEO practices, blogs that you both read and love, webinars, social media strategy, the state of the industry, sponsored posts, e-courses, editorial calendars. It's so frickin' nice talking shop with someone who completely gets it, who is just as passionate about these funny little terms, who belongs to a community that means so much to you.
You actually make an effort before leaving the house. My weekend outfit of choice goes something like: sweatpants, sweatshirt. But hanging out with a blogger... well, that's a different story. See: cameras everywhere.

It becomes a lot less embarrassing when you pull out a giant camera and photograph your coffee and outfit. One person snapping photos every four seconds is like, hey maybe try living real life a little. Two people doing so is like, look how endearing. (Just let me believe that, you guys.)
You share resources. I was telling Jordyn about this one course site geared for bloggers, thinking that she must be in the same ad-targeted audience as I, but alas she had never heard of it! And she was looping me in about this one community to find photographers. And um, can you look at how amazing and natural her poses are? I have a lot to learn from her!

You discuss recent blog posts (by you and by others) as if they were Huffington Post or NYTimes articles. Did you read the one about... Oh, and how did you feel about the one that So-and-so wrote about...
You never want them to leave. Here you finally have this kindred spirit to hang out with, and you kind of sort of would lowkey love it if she could stay forever so you guys could brainstorm blog posts and chat about newsletters and Periscope all while playing with face masks and eating late night pizza while jamming out to Taylor Swift (oh if only), but nope. Seattle's forever stealing her away.

(Thank goodness for Snapchat.)

(Well, and our blogs, I guess.)
Somewhere along the way, she went from being A Blog Friend to just... a friend. It happens as you give context to stories posted on the blog, or talk about your daily routine. It happens as you share more about your family or your career and give the details that often can't be plastered all over the www. As some point between hugging hello and saying 'until next time!' you say a faint, okay HOORAY she wasn't actually a 50 year old man behind an elaborate ruse to kidnap me but also what a wonderful person I get to call a friend now!

Have you met any blog friends in person? I was lucky enough to also meet Kelly from Sparkles & Shoes last summer and I want to meet even more of you!! Will you PLEASE let me know if you're ever in SF & would like to go adventuring?

Currently :: October

My reaction upon realizing the date:
But you know all about that, don't you. I'm sure you feel the same way every morning when the barista hands over a bright red holiday cup. I bet you're all like, already?? Since when??

Or maybe it's just me.

But before we dive head-first into whatever fun is brewing up this month, let's first take a step back and reflect upon what I've been up to in October. Because I know you're just dying to know.

WATCHING // I think the real question here is, what haven't I been watching? Fall TV is my happy place. I come home from work, park my booty on the couch, and refuse to budge for like four hours. Latest obsession: Quantico. It's Pretty Little Liars for grownups!

EATING // apparently everything I shouldn't be. As in, did you hear all this business about saying no-no to crabs from the Californian coast? Yeah well. And then that whole Chipotle e.coli scare? Yeah well x2.

DRINKING // a latte lattes ;) I don't think I'd even recognize myself without a to-go coffee cup in my hand anymore. I'm on a 2 or 3 a day track right now. Natural state is officially overcaffeinated.

MISSING // the family, obviously! Non-local friends, too. What with homecoming and the wedding, these past two weeks have been such a treat in that I was able to see 98% of my favorite people. And now I'm throwing a fit in my head that I can't have that always.
WANTING // to see some profesh photos from the wedding, my brain to adjust to Daylight Savings, a spare grand or two to use towards bulking up my winter wardrobe and room decorations, and I wouldn't mind a kitten or puppy either. 

PLANNING // the wedding, all of October. Now that that's over, I'm really at a loss of what to do with my time. Not that I helped out that much actually, but I felt like I was constantly thinking about the wedding, which has got to count for something. ....Correct?

READING // Mindy Kaling's new book! 

MAKING // time for friends. This month has been a lesson in balance, and I am far from having a good handle on it all, but I'm slowly learning. 

NEEDING // to figure out how to muster up the strength, energy, and time to attend to other parts of my life besides work. Namely, the blog. 
LEARNING // so. much. Hands down, the best part about working at a start-up is that you're thrown right into the crazy from the beginning, so you learn as you go. Every day, I'm learning everything from business lingo to creating processes to being on great terms with co-workers and bosses. Excel functions, industry standards, e-mail etiquette. There's something new every hour, it seems like. 

TALKING // a lot about future travels. So far, I've convinced my closest girlfriends to go on a Eastern Europe trip next fall. There will also be an attempt somewhere along the way to wrangle a bigger friend group to do a cruise, but I won't be counting those chickens until way after they hatch.

SPENDING // no comment.

FEELING // for one thing, very pampered. My sister was kind enough to spoil us all with Korean spa appointments and mani/pedis and the works last week, so I'm still feeling scrubbed and glowy from that. But also, I'm feeling a bit like I'm in the eye of the storm right now. October was the beginning of a new job, homecoming, my sister's wedding. On deck right now is a lot of traveling (Seattle, LA, Houston, and then China), so I think for the next two weeks, I'll just ... chill.

Has anyone started holiday shopping yet? Thanksgiving plans? GAH, I need this to slow down.

Today, I'm Beaming

Rarely can I dream up more a more joyful time than spending an evening binge-watching TV and eating cake with wild abandon (guess what I'm doing right this second. Go ahead, just guess.) but you guys.

What a phenomenal weekend. I can't remember being happier.

First things first. My sister – my beautiful, stunning, brilliant, amazing, kind-hearted, hilarious big sister – got hitched. There is nothing on this planet I like better than having the opportunity to celebrate her, so what with her wedding and her birthday... well. Five days of festivities, and we were positively floating on air. As I nursed an extra large latte this morning, I said to my colleagues: I honestly don't think it could've been more perfect.
The wedding was insanely picturesque and gorgeous, as the redwoods stood witness to vows of love and the sunlight dappled prettily through the shade of the canopy. Straight out of a fairytale, it was. Choo choo train and giant chess set and dragons hiding atop trees and all.

But there's more. 
I had two of my best friends show up (yes, you know their faces quite well, I think) and help out here and there, and they were quite the saviors to my frazzled nerves. I commend us all for rallying and making it out to a Los Gatos Halloween... and then falling into the same bed (even though there were two) at the end of the night, mumbling about just how much we miss this, and laughing and laughing and laughing until we all fell silent, asleep in a pile.

That still wasn't all.

Lucky us, we reunited with a favorite professor's family and were able to reminisce about our Croatian days of yore as we cuddled their new puppy and listened to Louis CK's standup comedy.

Hanna met the three of us in the dark parking lot of a Nordstrom, and we rode off happily into the night, towards the general direction of Taco Bell even though we all claimed to be "really, really full."

*A 30$ Taco Bell order later*

Happiness is here, with you three, in a car, talking over each other and struggling to find the right route even though we've lived here for four years and also I'm sure Siri wouldn't mind helping but WE CAN DO IT GOSH DANGIT.

It's a triumphant polishing off of every Fiery Dorito Cheesy Gordita Crunch crumb, and then a subsequent visit to get boba because screw being healthy, we don't do healthy when it's the four of us together. It's talking too loud about everything inappropriate, it's the uncontrollable giggles, it's the "remember when's" and the life updates and everything in between. 
As I'm writing this, it is pouring outside – which seems extremely surreal actually because it's been raining through the night and I thought California's been in a drought?? Bring on the rain, I say! – and I'm soaked to the bone, but I can feel the joy pulsating outwards from my heart, truly. I know that's cheesy, but at the end of the day, I'm never one to turn down cheese. In any form. These past few days – full of family, friends, family who over the years I have come to like as friends, and friends who over the years have become close like family, love, food, laughter, and sunshine – are days that I'll cherish for a lifetime. Strong words, but if only you knew how much I mean them.

And now, some coffee.

I would like to rejoice in your happy things too. Please share what's been making you beam recently!

The Daily Routine

At 6:00am every day when my alarm goes off for the first time, I cry inside and then blindly take my frustration out on my poor phone as I suffocate the noise by stuffing it under my pillowcase (too much effort to open my eyes and you know... turn it off) or hitting it repeatedly against my mattress.

It sucks, because I don't even get up for another hour. It's just that I like to torture myself by making irrational decisions every night such as, oh of course I can wake up at 6, make some coffee, answer some emails, clean my room, and save the world. Every night I fool myself. Every morning I hate myself.

I mentioned the other day that I recently started a new gig, which is fine and dandy (VERY fine and dandy in fact because my overpriced coffee addiction is not funding itself, and also because I'm minorly obsessed with everything about my company) – mental note that I need to share more with you in due time – but the ONE thing I don't think I can ever make peace with is that Monday through Friday, my days look almost exactly the same.

I miss college where one day we could drive to the next town for boba, and the following day we could nap two hours after waking up and then spend the afternoon hammocking or doing something equally as productive. Spontaneity! No planning ahead! Footloose and fancy free!
So yes, my days go something like this more often than not now:

Cry to self. Too early.
Drag self out of bed.
Shower. Make self look not-so-scary.
Read some blogs, maybe make a cup of coffee, fry an egg if I'm feeling particularly crazy.
Leave apartment. Buy coffee on the way to train.
Train [Instagram, e-book, mental movie montage, etc.] for way too long.
Work work work.
Treat self to coffee.*
Work work work.
Train home.
Putter around the kitchen until 1) I eat a weird dinner of three meatballs or corn and black beans or like, IDK, pasta and pesto, 2) I think 'wow I was so ambitious this is such a joke' and go order Mexican food instead, or 3) a roommate takes pity and makes extra food for me.
Hog the TV for a couple of hours.
Fall asleep reading Tumblr.**

*Ah, now you understand when I say addiction, I meant it's getting out of hand.
**If I had to choose a social media network as a spirit animal – website?? – it would be Tumblr. Dorky, TV-loving, hilarious, concerningly obsessed with shipping certain TV couples, a little loony but ultimately know-what-they-love, homebody types. 

What's your spirit social media network? If you say Instagram or Pinterest, teach me your ways please.

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