social media

Journal-Making, Excuses, and the Deafening Sound of Silence

Can you tell how excited I am? I had to get a photo of my completed Buttonhole Stitch Journal with the master Bari Zaki from Bari Zaki Studio in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood.

Can you tell how excited I am? I had to get a photo of my completed Buttonhole Stitch Journal with the master Bari Zaki from Bari Zaki Studio in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood.

“Realist shit I ever read: ‘People pray for the cake. Then God gives them the batter, eggs, oil, icing, a pan, an oven, they get frustrated and leave the kitchen.’ Let that sink. Sometimes you have everything in front of you, but how bad do you want it?” – courtesy of The Female Hustlers (via @TheFemaleHustlers on Instagram). 

Excuses are so easy to make, aren’t they? Even when opportunities present themselves, we’ll find a way to give up lest we fail. It’s easier not to try something because failing is hard. 

My Pretty Finished Buttonhole Stitch Journal.

My Pretty Finished Buttonhole Stitch Journal.

Since January of this year, I’ve tried hard to push myself to overcome my fear of trying something new or reaching out to a big-name prospective client or editor because I may not be a good fit. Some months are better than others. And one media outlet (you likely know which one) makes me nervous to pitch because I feel like I have to read every single issue over the past 12 months to *really* have a good handle on what and whom to pitch. Again, dumb. I know I can do it but I’ve already pitched twice and gotten two rejections from two different editors. But here’s the kicker: both responded. One liked my story idea (the other thought it was fun and funny but wasn’t sure it’d be a good fit for his larger readership). I know I can do it. Still, I’ve not pitched anyone at this outlet since January. I need to overcome this fear and get another pitch out there. Sooner than later.

One more - this time standing up. Isn’t she pretty?

One more - this time standing up. Isn’t she pretty?

Until then, I’ve explored other things I’ve been wanting to try. Today, I made my very first journal – from scratch! The process couldn’t have been lovelier, from the moment Bari Zaki responded to my email asking about upcoming courses, to her scheduling one around my calendar because I was so excited, to the actual class. Touching the Japanese paper that would become my journal shell, using my bone folder to create the creases, threading my journal using wax thread. 

The whole experience was both meditative and stressful because I so wanted to do it right. In the end, under Bari’s careful and patient guidance, I created what I think is one of the most beautiful things I’ve made using my hands. I love it and while I don’t want to use it because I want to keep it and look at, I also want to use it because I want to journal in it. I’m hooked and I can’t wait to take a Coptic Stitch class with her next. If you’re in Chicago and have any interest in papers or journals, do yourself a favor and check out Bari Zaki Studio in Lincoln Square.  

Balancing Noise, Silence, and the Novelty of The Light Phone

Finally, if you’ve been reading my blog posts every month, you know I’ve been intentionally trying to be more mindful of my space – physical, mental and emotional. I’ve been taking myself out to Artist Dates, meditating (167 days straight and still going strong!) and journaling daily, and reducing my screen time, especially around social media. I can’t shut off social media entirely since it’s part of the work I do, but I can control how much time I spend on it and I have been. 

Cal Newport recommended a phone called The Light Phone in his latest book, Digital Minimalism. There is a wait list for the phone, so I added my name. It’s a $150 phone that makes calls. That’s it. For those of us who feel uncomfortable leaving our homes without the safety of our phones, this is one solution to leaving your smartphone behind yet still having access to your close family members or to whomever you need to stay connected.   

The Need To Spend More Time With Friends And Being Silent

There are two things I’m experimenting with right now: trying to find a balance between spending more time with friends in real life and spending more time in silence. I’ve been pretty successful with the former, the latter…not so much. I’m trying. It’s shockingly hard (to me, anyway) to appreciate silence. 

What new things have you tried since the beginning of this year? And any advice on how to enjoy the silence? I’m all ears (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help it!).

I'm Going On A Diet – Here’s Why You Should Join Me

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Happy Friday, everyone!

Before you think my diet involves limiting my food intake or increasing my workouts and I’m going to try and sell you something, it’s not that kind of diet. The diet I’ve been trying these past couple of months is a social media diet.

Which is ironic, perhaps, since the class I’m teaching this summer at Johns Hopkins University is on Using Social & Digital Media. But there is a method to the madness and I’m planning on discussing my challenge with my students.

Here’s the thing: I’m drowning in emails and I’m getting frustrated that I’m not as productive as I know I can be. What should be taking me 30 minutes, maybe an hour, is taking me hours. I created this problem by being accessible. Sources reach out to me via Facebook messenger, readers comment on articles I’ve written via Twitter, clients text me when they need to get in touch quickly…the madness needs to stop because I’m not getting any actual work done.

I Like To Be In Control So I Put Myself on a Social Media Diet

This constant being “on” is making me feel out of control. I need to re-gain my time. I took off Facebook from my phone. I only log onto Twitter a few times a day rather than have it open all day on my desktop. I check my email only once an hour unless I’m in pitching mode or working on breaking news, like I was late last week, and I needed to be on email all day on Friday.

I Vow To Go Out More

Because I’m an extrovert and I feed off other people’s energy, I need to be social. Working for yourself and not being in an office can seem isolating for some but I’ve worked it out where I see people all the time so that’s not a problem for me. The picture on this email is of a painting by French painter Jean-Siméon Chardin called The House of Cards that I took when I was in DC a couple of months. Nestled among Renoir, Monet and Degas paintings, I couldn’t take my eyes off this painting. How calm. How quiet. I needed to reclaim my time. I needed to remind myself to take more trips to the museums, walk or take my bike to run errands so I can enjoy the outdoors, block time to talk and see my friends rather than text them that I missed them.

Podcast & Book Love

Perhaps at the right time, my brother texted me about a new book recommendation: Deep Work by Cal Newport. Not 30 minutes later, I was listening to one of my favorite podcast, #AmWriting with Jess & KJ, and KJ mentions it on their episode! I texted my brother that I think it’s a sign I need to read it. He orders it from Amazon to have it delivered to my house and 48 hours later.

If you love podcasts as much as I do, listen to this great interview with Cal Lampert on NPR. You can also watch his TedTalk on why you should quit social media. I should note that I have no intention of quitting social media. Honestly, I can’t. As a marketer and writer, it’s part of my daily work. But I can control how much I consume it, and that’s where my diet is working, albeit slowly.

Speaking of slowly, another great podcast I’ve been enjoying is by Jocelyn K. Glei called Hurry Slowly. She’s also the author of Unsubscribe (which reminds me, I need to get a copy!).

I mentioned I’m teaching a class about using social and digital media and it might seem out of line to be teaching this class if I’m intentionally trying to limit my intake of social media. And, let’s be honest, sending an email like this one is using digital media. I’m not going off social media, I’m just taking control of how I access it and I don’t think I’m alone. As marketing and communication professionals, we need to understand how to best reach our audiences; how they consume social and digital media is crucial to developing effective marketing plans.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a Twitter party. My students and I will be participating in Twitter chats all summer. Have any good ones for us to join? If so, email me and let me know. I may not respond until Monday, but I’ll definitely respond! ;-)

Until next month, my friends…