I am coming out. There are two things I would like to claim: first, I am a “me too” blogger. Second, I am also a “Dear Diary” blogger. In case you haven’t noticed. Part of me questions whether these things are true, but there is a sense of power in claiming them and I do believe that I indulge in both of these aspects of blogging.
“Me Too” Blogging is jumping on the bandwagon, the same one that 164 million people are on, and writing a blog. Because, why not? I want to do it too. It is the style of blog that may seem a bit repetitive or broad. You have read it a million times before and chances are you are regurgitating someone else’s information. I would like to think that I am not quite this bad. I attempt to portray myself genuinely. I wrote a few mean (as in sharp) essays in college and I can write critically about others content. I do, however, love borrowing, reflecting and riffing off of other people’s work. I have known this about myself for a long time. Even as a visual artist, I love collage, I love practicing painting master’s styles, and I adore using other peoples imagery and adapting it to myself. That being said, I value making things my own and going through unique transformations with ideas and concepts I am working with. I feel the need to embrace “me too” blogging because I write about a wide variety of topics, rather than focusing on something specific. Which brings me to another claim I would like to make.
If I put myself in a category, this one fits fairly well: I am a “Dear Diary” Blogger. Not only do I see others writing blogs and say “me too!”, I love nothing more than writing a “Dear Diary” post. I write my blog mainly for me. It all comes back to me. I want to practice writing and I want to practice posting my work. How do I do that? I write and then I put it on my blog. The truth about writing? It’s fucking hard. I struggled with the writing process growing up and writing in college was often a pain. But I find myself writing all the time, constantly, whether in list form or in a journal. When I paint and draw, I often include text in my pieces. So how do I claim something I love and continue to practice with intention? I keep it fun! There is a time and place for suffering. Writing is challenging enough as it is for 20 minutes, so to ensure that I write everyday, I tell myself that I can write about whatever the hell I want.
Did you know that most bloggers stop writing after 3 months? I’ve started multiple blogs, primarily for travel journal purposes, but I have kept It’s All in the Blanket going since September (that’s almost 7 months). I’ve only increased my writing time. Even if it is a “Dear Diary” blog, I enjoy having a space where I can tie the pieces of life together. In this way, I have remained consistent with the theme of “It’s All In The Blanket.”
Consistency builds strength. Strength builds power. Power makes me feel more fabulous.
It’s self love month, do something nice for yourself today that will make you feel stronger tomorrow.
May is Writing Month. If you want to build a habit, it is best to practice every single day.
So here is the challenge: write a blog post in 20 minutes.
Step 1: Choose your topic or prompt before you set the timer.
Step 2: Don’t think too much.
Step 3: Know your editing style. If you like to edit your posts or add photos, don’t spend too much time writing.
Step 4: Get it out. Do it now. Post post post!
A man, famous for creating outrageous and cutting-edge window displays, waxes on about his 10 commandments in life. Climb inside the brain of Simon Doonan with me for a moment and never think the same way about your wardrobe or personal image again.
1. Invent yourself.
Every morning you have the opportunity to make executive decisions about your life. And have fun doing it! I wonder what the world would be like if every time we approached a task or decision, we asked ourselves what would make it more fun? Invent yourself because you can. Invent yourself because it is refreshing and no one else can do it for you.
2. Dressing down is a crime against humanity.
We can’t be too precious with our things. We are all going to die someday. “If you always leave home in the unforgettable ensemble you’d wear to a Lady Gaga concert, your life will always be more fun.” (AOD, 55) I suppose this is one answer to my question above. I hadn’t necessarily considered my wardrobe to be the simple solution. Dress up, get out, and save the world.
3. Go forth and shop.
Doonan prescribes shopping as a quest; retail therapy in a light and refreshing way. Recycle, upcycle, invent, inspire, and see the potential in cloth. This suddenly makes shopping seem appealing. An opportunity to celebrate self-love month! An opportunity to reinvent ourselves! I love having the agenda of being creative and inspired, rather than needing an item. The need for something often creates pressure and anxiety (like the self-hate war of buying jeans), but Doonan reframes daily outfits as an opportunity to bring mystery, thrill, and delight to our senses and therefore, our lives.
4. Be a contrarian.
There are so many ways to be an activist. You can wear an awesomely vulgar outfit, ride your bike, or get involved with your local government council. It may mean speaking your values and standing up for the things you believe in. Indulge in your most outspoken side, which is possible through your wardrobe as well. Doonan suggests that dressing in clothes that are the opposite of what is in fashion at the moment makes you stick out. A bold opportunity! You only live once. Make a statement, leave a mark.
5. Every day is a new photo op.
Doonan frames this in the context of the perfect photo pose. Again, how can we infuse everyday reality with a breath of fresh air? How can you inspire? What is your edge? Are you the guy pulling pranks and starting practical joke wars in the office? Are you the one who channels sunlight into every room? What random acts of kindness can we practice today? If you took a photo at that moment, what would it look like?
6. Vive la vulgarite!
Don’t overthink it. Sometimes you’ve got style, and sometimes you don’t. Celebrate the times things get messy. Be vulgar.
7. Go niche.
Who ever feels like mainstream is the right path for them anyway? I have yet to meet someone who feels like that is where they fit in the best, though I won’t rule it out.
8. Say yes to everything!
I hate this one. Saying yes or no to anything sounds like bullshit to me. I put a “Say Yes Day” on my 27 x 27. I took it off. For some reason the idea really irks me, like life isn’t exciting or filled with enough surprises already. It has the ability to be humorous and tantalizing, but somehow I would rather be more disconcerting. But screw what I think. Doonan says “Say Yes!” It’s like improvisational theater, it’s important you play along. The more you take advantage of the opportunities provided to you, the more likely you’ll be living a life of grand adventure.
9. Grow old ungracefully.
This is incredibly satisfying. Finally someone who is encouraging us to do whatever comes naturally and to indulge in the awkward confines of age that society has created for us. Spend your time, money, and energy on the things that really matter to you and your stunning essence will shine through as strongly as it ever has.
10. Confidence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.
Be your most fabulous you. This will create a magnetic force field around you and “serious fan worship” is sure to follow.
This post is The Art of Doing inspired. The first of several to come.
The Art of Doing showcases 36 people of all different professions and lifestyles. It seeks to profile each person, describe what they do and how they do it so well. I initially found out about this book through BlogcastFM. I listened on my smart phone as Srini, the host and founder of the show, interviewed the authors, Camille Swiney and Josh Gosfield. They offer a unique perspective because they are well established journalists, working for publications such as The New York Times and New York Magazine. I grew more and more excited as the interview went on. By the time it was over I was walking down the street to a book store to pick it up. What can I say? Passionate people turn me on. I had to get the book and learn about the girl who sailed solo around the world, the guy who has created an award winning company culture, and the gentleman who is renowned for window displays.
So what do superachievers have in common?? I desperately wanted to know! And what does that have to do with my blog?
Let us begin.
As I opened the bright yellow cover of this exhilarating book, I dove into the depths of the introduction. The authors began to unveil their secrets immediately. Instant gratification! How satisfying. In It’s All in the Blanket fashion, the first paragraph picks up multiple threads and weaves them together:
“We were often surprised to discover how much a tennis champion, for instance, and a rock band think alike, or how a race car driver and an extraterrestrial hunter share similar traits. Our participants’ vocations, goals, philosophical perspectives and personalities could not have been more different, but as their responses to our questions accumulated, we began to see patterns. We came to realize that these extraordinary people shared many core principles and practices that had led to their great successes.”
I like to think that this blog is attempting to do just this. Here, I attempt to illustrate the connections of experiences, theories, and people to demonstrate how it is all interconnected. We are a system of systems. We are one. So, the introduction goes on to outline the ten most important strategies of their chosen superachievers, expressing to the reader that it hopes to inspire reflection on your own work habits and approach to life. They are as follows:
- Intelligent Persistence
- Telling a Story
- Managing Emotions
These are the 10 most essential strategies that successful people apply to their lives in order to achieve their greatest goals. Reflecting on them now, I think of my core desired feelings. In my day to day life I seek feelings of clarity, connection, creativity, and power. Applying your core values and natural attributes to the list above is a potent combination. So what really separates the best from the rest? What stops you from doing your best?
Take a moment and think about what success means to you. Is it a finite, measurable thing? Does it have a face or a name? Is it a color? How does it show up? Is it related to a part of your body? Where does your awareness go? What emotions do you think of when you hear “Success!”? What most recent memory do you have where you felt successful or proud?
For me, success is getting 20 minutes of writing done in the morning, watching sunlight spill over the hill and hit the building across the street through the open window. It is a feeling that pops up spontaneously and suddenly, like a pounding hammer hitting a high striker all the way to the top. “Ding Ding!” Real success feels like a solid force. It stands confidently behind you, letting you know it’s got your back. “Keep going” it says. It gives you a nudge as you continue down your path day after day, or sometimes a shove when it’s time to get your ass in gear.
Feelings of success can be stirred up, coaxed, and encouraged through simple reflection. I find that I feel much more successful around my goals or whatever is going on when I sit down and reflect on it’s role in my life. This is why I am working on documenting my 27 x 27 goals month by month. The writing component has become significantly more important and has a huge influence on the goals themselves. For example, last month I felt pathetic about the list of things I was trying to accomplish everyday. However, writing about the attempt allows me to see that (1) I was taking on way too much, and (2) that what actually feels more important is reflecting about why I want to accomplish these tasks. It is the process of writing it down, and simply getting in the habit of recording more information in a straightforward way that is important to me.
Success is a feeling and it is animated in my head. It’s getting the job at San Francisco CrossFit (SFCF) and feeling genuine as I jump up and down and flail my limbs. It’s being told what a valuable person I am to have at Suppenküche and my lips stretching into a smile. It’s getting hugs and high fives. The feeling of success keeps me up at night, like a 7 year old anticipating the tooth fairy. It is the kind of happiness that is persistent and contagious. It is like an ocean wave hitting me and being carried along with the flow. I swell with pride. I stop giving a shit about what others think and I want to sing and dance my way through the elation. Success feels like resolute satisfaction. It is like a breath of fresh air, a sense of clarity that says “Yes, this feels right”.
P.S. Take a moment to check out the Urban Dictionaries definitions of success, it may inspire some new perspectives and ways of looking at your own life. Or just give you a good laugh.
Our discussion over tea and chocolate continued into the afternoon. Here is what we covered.
Making declarations and logging progress as a way of holding yourself accountable. Leo made the excellent point that telling other people about your goals is a great way to start holding yourself accountable. You can go as far as asking someone to track your progress with you, or keep it as simple as sharing your projects with someone. If you know that even just one other person will be following up with you, you increase your chances of sticking to your word. There are many ways to go about this, many of which I have discussed with Stevo and written about here on my blog. Habit change is a tricky thing and everyone knows we get by with a little help from our friends.
When we experience hope and fear it is because we are attached to outcomes. When Leo said this, I had an “Ah ha!” moment. It seems so simple, but I don’t normally think about my hopes and fears this way. I feel that it is a good reminder of the stories that we are telling ourselves and how we often embellish the outcomes before they have happened. It is refreshing to step back and ask ourselves what we fear about a particular outcome or why we are hoping for something. Then take it one step further and realize we will be OK regardless of what happens.
5 word business plan. An “ah ha!” moment wrapped into a gold nugget right here. This is what my post “Confused? Contribute!” is all about! A simple 5 word business plan. Here it is: How Can I Help You? Run with this.
Whisper marketing. If I haven’t yet mentioned BlogcastFM one hundred times, let me continue to work towards that number. Leo and Jesse both spoke to marketing and getting the word out about what they do. They both prefer to practice gentler kinds of advertising, relying mostly on word of mouth and slow community building techniques. The reason I bring up BlogcastFM is because that is immediately what came to mind when they said “whisper” marketing. Srini, the co-founder and host of the show, asks all his interviewees how they stand out in a world with so much noise. Well, it isn’t by talking louder.
How to title blog posts. Leo has blogging down to an art. He’s very good at what he does and that’s why I attended this event. Here are some bread and butter techniques for titling your blog. First, your title must convey a benefit. Second, it must instill curiosity. Do this in 5 words or less if you can. Some things to think about: Why is what you are writing about a problem? Why should your readers care? Give them a reason! What is the solution? Make sure you include an actionable item to effectively close the post. This builds attention and trust.
Post regularly. From my understanding, it matters less how often, just keep it regular. Once a week, once a month, 4 times a year…
Give away your secrets! Making yourself vulnerable and sharing deepens your relationship to readers by building trust and providing resources. Leo really drove this one home and I think it is a special edge to any blogger. It’s scary to share ourselves with the world. It shows when we do. Really amazing things happen when you share things with others.
The tea and chocolate were incredible and the company was awesome. I have a lot of work ahead of me and attending Mindful+Entrepreneur is motivating me to get my ass in gear. Cheers to taking it to the next level!
P.S. To make it really clear – What is a problem that you have? You are trying to improve your blog but you don’t know how. What’s the solution? Simple homework: post regularly. Make a schedule. Right now.