Friday, May 22, 2015

Motivation and Insecurities

I tend to talk about my insecurities and doubts about blogging and social media from time to time on this blog. While, I'm sure my thoughts on this may get tiresome, I do think it's good to have moments to sit back and really think about "why am I doing this?"

Yesterday, I was watching a video from Carrie Hope Fletcher about this topic, and I thought I'd made a video of some of my responses to what she had to say. Since I talk about writing and blogging, and not just YouTube, I felt it would be appropriate to post it here.

Carrie's Video:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

When I Make a Mistake

At my new job, they're big on fixing problems and mistakes which have been made. Which is an awesome thing. When a mistake happens, you shouldn't just sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn't happen. You have to fix it.

But let me tell you, there's not much more humbling than grabbing the blank card, hand-writing your apology, and walking it to the guests room. Yup. We hand write cards when we make a mistake. (Along with giving the guest some sort of freebee with the card.) I think it's an awesome touch, but writing them out sometimes is quite the humbling experience.

When starting something new, whether it's a job or a relationship or a project or whatever, we always want to put our best foot forward. We want to show people what we're made of and prove "Yes! I can do the thing! I am awesome at all of the things! Look at how great I am!" I don't know about you, but I hate making a mistake in these situations.

It reminds me of being at the preschool sometimes. We do a lot of conversations with the kids about saying I'm sorry and learning how to apologize. There are some kids who end up sitting in time out WAY longer than they originally would have simply because they refuse to step up and admit they did something wrong.

Admitting you're wrong is a hard thing to do.

The other day, when I walked into work, the manager on duty that day said they had seen some of my cards floating around. At first I asked "Is that a good thing?" To me, having the cards floating around meant I was screwing up. I kept making mistakes. He happily said it was. It meant that I was doing what I could to help take care of the guests. My apologies floating around was a good thing.

Later that evening I had made a big screw up. I mean... a BIG screw up. And I didn't even realize how big it was at first! Then I saw the manager's face and how he talked to me about it. Even the cook later who had been there during the conversation told me "We didn't mean to scare you Emily..." Because it had completely terrified me! But the manager then said "Just use this as a learning experience" and later in the evening teased me about it to show all was okay.

A day or two before, I was having a conversation with my boss about some things I needed to work on and I had shared how I kept letting my mistakes get to me because I knew I could do better. She reassured me that she doesn't expect me to be perfect. That we all make mistakes and that was okay and how she made them all of the time too.

A few weeks ago I had seen a quote on Tumblr which said something along the lines of "Self-love is important, but I think self-awareness is even more important. Sometimes you have to know that yeah, I can be an ass-hole." That's not a direct quote, but it was something along those lines.

We absolutely need self-love. We should celebrate the things we love about ourselves and what we're good at and our strengths. I love how our society is trying to be more encouraging and uplifting for people.

But we need self- awareness too. It's impossible for people to be perfect at every single thing. We need to know where we fall short. We need to know when we've messed up or said something mean or did something wrong. If we don't, we're lying to ourselves.

This isn't so we can dwell on it though. I know sometimes it can be a dangerous cycle of picking at the things we don't like about ourselves and dwelling on them and never focusing on anything else. That's why we need self-love.

When I was talking with my boss and the manager on duty, they said it's all about learning experiences. Taking that mistake, seeing why it was wrong, and then not doing the same thing again.

 At the preschool when we teach about apologizing, we also address forgiveness. When a student says "I'm sorry" to another student, the other needs to say "I forgive you" and then not hold the mistake over their heads. The kids who learn how to admit their mistakes and move on from them usually end up in time out far less than the kids who don't.

It's all a learning process. It's impossible for us to have everything right all of the time. In fact, I find it stressful to have it right all of the time. If I expected every single move, call, word, and action I took to be perfect, I think I would drive myself insane. The pressure of feeling like everything has to be right and perfect all of the time I think is exhausting.

It's not making excuses about what we've done wrong or saying it's okay. It's not. But knowing how to learn from them, fix it, and moving on. That's how we grow as people. If we never made mistakes, how would we grow?

Having to admit to these faults is hard and humbling. There will be times in the future when writing those apology notes will be hard to do. There will be times when I don't want to tell someone I'm sorry because I don't want to admit I did something wrong. But, those days will still happen at work and outside of work, and I need to still step up and make that apology. Because that's how I'll grow as a person and be able to finally move on.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ramblings on Blogging and Vlogging

This is the time when the bad and neglectful blogger apologizes yet again for being bad and neglectful of their blog. Dusting off the dust of their blog and giving various reasons why the blog has been silent as of late and making big grandiose promises that "I'm back to blogging for real this time. FOR REAL!"

I am not immune to this blogging trope.

Because I am sorry for being a bad and neglectful blogger. I also have reasons for being so. These reasons are: Vlog Every Day April, getting another job and having zero time to do anything, and a severe case of writers block.

In April, the VEDA excuse was legitimate. I was busy making videos every single day so my inspiration for the blog was all going towards that. For the writers block thing, a ton of bloggers have the same problem and push through anyways, so I should be able to do the same. As for my having two jobs, that excuse will only work through May since once June hits I'll be down to one job and will hopefully have a bit more time then.

Then, I wonder, what about June? In theory, I'll have my blogging mojo back and be ready to go. But what if I'm not? What if I just don't have any more ideas to write about? For a long time now I've seen my writing on here going downhill and I've been struggling more and more with finding topics I find worth writing about. I also have seen myself being drawn more and more to YouTube. Does this mean the time of my blog is nearing an end?

That's such a sad thought to me. I love this blog. I love my friends I've made through it and how I can keep in touch with people better than I would if I stuck with only Facebook statuses and Twitter updates. I like having my blog as an Internet "home base" for myself. A place where I can have almost everything all in one place. If someone wants to know how to contact me, I can just give them my blog link and they'll find my posts, my YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.

I then think of my YouTube channel. When I try to sit down and brainstorm what I want to write or vlog about, I've been having a tough time deciding what should go on YouTube and what should be on the blog. I tend to do the same things in both places. If that's the case, what's the point in having both? Do I even have the time or energy to keep both up?

These are all of the things which have been going through my mind lately. At least a summary of what I've been thinking about. Particularly while I've been driving (practically living) on the tri-state to and from my various jobs. Having a commute gives you a lot of time to think and listen to audio books.

Here is the plan I've come up with, and I think it's a pretty awesome one. At least for the time being.
I want to keep up my blog and my vlog. I love both of them and can't stand to see either one go, but, I do want them to be different. I shouldn't just be replicating what I have on the blog over on my YouTube channel. That would just be silly. So, I'm going to try and keep the tone of each of them separately.

Over on YouTube, I'm going to spend more time focused on books, musicals, fandoms, and other fun things. Booktube is HUGE over there and I feel like it's the perfect place for me to share my love of books with reviews, to be read piles, book hauls, book tags, reading wrap-ups, etc. It's also where I can play my ukulele, talk about musicals, and do fun tags and topics. Especially during VEDA. As of right now, I don't think I'm going to have an official "schedule" for YouTube. But I will try to have something up on there at least once or twice a week.

Over here on the blog, I want to go back to the style I had more towards when I first started. Talking about life, faith, family, friendship, love, etc. I've noticed when I try to be more sentimental and serious on video, it never turns out the way I hope it will. I'll have more updates on what I'm doing in life, thoughts I've been having, honesty posts, and the like.

For the blog I will for sure have a post up every Wednesday. This way, I don't only rely on having inspiration to write and I can force myself to be sure I write something and have some consistency. It also will give me a chance to really focus on writing a single blog post and being sure it's good quality, instead of quickly writing something every day just for the sake of having something up. Periodically I may have something on other days as well, but Wednesdays for sure.

Now, naturally, there will be some overlap. My blog would be ridiculously boring and gag-worthy if I was only serious and never had any fun. My love of books, musicals, and random fandoms are of course going to seep into my other thoughts and posts. Then vise versa. There might be moments on my YouTube channel I have a specific topic I want to talk about, or I might be in a more contemplative mood. I know for sure I want to do Letters to Advent this upcoming December where it's a bit more mellow.

For the most part, I want to try my best to have something different in each place so I'm not just putting the same type of content only in different spots. I hope that makes sense.

So, that's my plan. Check back next Wednesday to see if I actually follow through!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Fangirls Guide to the Galaxy - Book Review

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Sam Maggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Release Date: May 12, 2015 (TOMORROW!)

Basic Summary Without Spoilers:

There isn't a whole lot to spoil in this book since it's non-fiction. This book is for all of us girls who love all things geek. Superwholockians, Potter-Heads, Tributes, Tolkienites, Trekkies, Star Warriors, Gammer Girls, etc. 

Wait? All of those words are gibberish to you? Or they sound familiar and you think you fall into some of those categories but aren't sure what to do? This book is for you. 

The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy (TFGttG) is a book which highlights all of the big points of being a fangirl from the vocabulary, going to your first "con," finding your way around the geek corner of the Internet, creating a cosplay, and feminism in geek land. 

What I Liked:

I really enjoyed Maggg's style of writing and how quick and easy it was for me to get through this book. All of the little inside jokes for each fandom were fun and she did a great job of giving a general overview of all of the fandoms and the basic things you need to know if you want to dive into fandom life. 

This book is definitely for beginners in this world though. It makes me think of someone who just binge watched or read a new TV show or book series and became a huge fan, then joined Tumblr or for the first time to find out more, and then had no idea what they were getting into. Or possibly for friends of fangirls who are wondering what has taken over their friends life and they want to learn to speak the same language. 

I kind of wish a book like this existed when I was in high school or college, or even when I first joined Tumblr so I could learn too instead of just feeling silly asking questions everyone already knows. I also wish I had read it before I went to C2E2 a few weeks ago so I could prepare for my first con. But, it did make me ridiculously excited for NerdCon in October.  

This book also did a great job of not playing favoritism to certain fandoms. Granted, she probably wrote more about the ones she was familiar with, but she definitely gave credit to several different types and pointed out how each person experiences being a fangirl differently. It's not a one size fits all type of idea. 

I also liked the section on feminism and defining what it is and how to be a critical reader and consumer without being rude or personally attacking people. I feel like we tend to get these things confused. 

She also included short interviews with famous fangirls (my favorite was Erin Morgenstern who wrote The Night Circus!) which was cool because they gave advice to other fangirls. 

What I Didn't Like:

This was for beginners. Most of what she talked about in the book I already knew. It was nice to have everyone all in one place, but for someone who has already explored Tumblr, YouTube, *sometimes* fanficiton (but I don't often... if ever), gone to cons, etc., there isn't a whole lot to offer. While it was enjoyable and I liked reading the book, I also went away being like "well... that was a nice review." It took me awhile to get into the "pretend I'm just starting out in fandom life" mindset to really appreciate everything the book had to offer. 

This book also wasn't done very professionally. While it was a fast and fun read, she could have gone more in depth with several topics. There were only four chapters, so there was definitely room to expand. 

Overall Thoughts:

TFGttG was fun and cute. I like how this is the ideal time to be a geek fangirl because there is so much support, a great community, and more and more people are recognizing this is a huge part of culture. For people who don't know anything about the geek world and being a fangirl, this book is a great start to get an overview. But if you aren't a beginner, you might enjoy it, but you won't learn much that you don't already know. I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Speak Up! Growth

Happy Friday everyone!

It's May first. Can you believe it? I can't. This is crazy. I didn't get even to post my favorite NSYNC meme this week.

Sigh. Ah well.

BUT - it's the first Friday of the month and that means we get to link up with Speak Up! If you have never vlogged before, this is a great way to get started because you're given a topic and have a community to connect with right away. It's also a great way to get to know other bloggers. This month, our topic was, growth.

Don't forget to link up with Amber!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Unbroken Book Talk

I am ecstatic to be joining The Life of Bon for her monthly book club! Several months ago when she was planning the club for 2015 she had said she wanted to have co-hosts for the books. I emailed her saying I was interested if she had any open slots- and she did!

This month we read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, the biography of Louis Zamerini who became an Olympic runner then turned soldier in WWII...

Want to read more and join in? Hop on over to Bonnie's blog to participate in our book talk on Unbroken!

Friday, April 24, 2015

What I Loved This Week Vol. 7

And another Friday has arrived. Hooray for the weekend! Here's some blog posts for you to check out while you relax the next couple of days:

In the Blogosphere:

- As always, the Snark Squad has Segue Magic where we talked about our favorite fictional siblings.

- Over the weekend, Amber and Cassie emailed me about a new Instagram project they're working on - and I was so excited about it! Amber officially announced it here on her blog on Wednesday! (And no, you don't need a blog to participate. Just Instagram!)

- The fantastic Nadine from East & Blog has started a new project! She now has a brand new blog that focuses on blogging and how to improve. I'm so excited for it because she's always given the best advice and had the best tips and tricks of the trade. You can check it out here. (Wednesday there was a great one on podcasts!)

- On the Write Practice, they compared writing to giving birth. Now... I have no idea what it's like to give birth. But, they did a great comparison and from my limited knowledge, it's pretty accurate. They also wrote about story structure and when it's okay to go away from the 3-act format.

- Paul Angone wrote this lovely prayer for all 20-somethings that really helped me to feel better about life. At least for a moment. I still have a little less than a year and a half of my 20s - so it still applies to me! (Also - his book is now in stores!)

- Brittany at Pine and Palmettos wrote about how eloping is underrated. ALL OF THE APPLAUSE! I love a good wedding, but I also can see why eloping is a great idea too.

- Chelsea of The Girl Who Loved to Write About Life talked about how dogs make your life better this week. WHICH IS 100% TRUE.

And... I'm ridiculously behind on watching YouTube videos this week. I'll have a ton for next week!

BUT, I do have the one I filmed for today I think you'll want to see. ;-)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

5 Reasons You Should Vlog

Lately, I've been consumed with Vlog Every Day April. (VEDA) I feel like all I do is record, edit, and post videos lately. But I love it! I've been participating with VEDA for a few years now, and Kirstie and I ran it for WeBlogWeVlog this past year. We then took on Vlogmas - and ever since then I've been adicted.

(If you're looking for the Unbroken book talk with Bonnie... we were both WAY ahead of the game and thought it was this week, but it's next week. So come back a week from today!)

Today, I want to share with you five reasons why I think other bloggers should join me on the vlogging train. Don't quit blogging if that's what you love - I have no intentions of stopping my writing. But you have to admit, adding video is pretty awesome once you get started.

I made a video about it (because... duh) but below I'll write a quick re-cap of what I said.

1) You Get to Know People on Another Level

You can absolutely get to know people through their blogs. They post pictures, write about their lives, and sometimes you can really "hear" their voice. With vlogging - you ACTUALLY hear their voice. When you see someone's face and see and hear how they talk, you get to know them on another level.

2) The Community is Awesome

There are tons of communities you can join if you want a place to plug in. Kirstie and I lead WeBlogWeVlog, Amber and Annie do the Speak Up Link Up on the first Friday of the month, and the Snark Squad is now doing #seguemagicsaturdays.

Speak Up
Snark Squad

3) It's not as Complicated and Expensive as You Think

People feel as though they need fancy cameras and editing equipment. WRONG! Lately, I've been using my iPad and my phone exclusively for filming. Sometimes I use my point and shoot camera too.

For editing? I use Windows Movie Maker (it came with my laptop, and it's not crazy fancy, but gets the job done) and the free iMovie app on my iPad. (There's a full app for $5.) That's all you need and they're really easy to use.

4) It Stretches Your Creativity

There's so much you can do with video , so it's fun to see the different ideas you can come up with for your topics to make it fun and entertaining.

5) You can Vlog About Basically Anything

Book Tube and beauty videos are HUGE! But there's a ton of other stuff you can do too. Whatever you're interested in, you can vlog about it. In fact, I'm obssessed with this new channel that's dedicated to Disney. Or maybe you can do comedy or sketches or a web series or something educational or music...

So, there you go. Have you thought about vlogging? If you've thought about it but never taken the plunge, what's stopping you? Do you vlog? If you do, what are some of your suggestions to newbies?