Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Websites I Love That Aren't About Books

It's my M.O. to miss out on really amusing Top Ten Tuesday topics on the actual Tuesdays everyone is writing about them. I might as well keep it up with today's list of websites I love that are not about books. There are not 10. Whatever.

For stock photos (like the one up above):

Pexels is my go-to for beautiful, high-quality stock images. I have to thank Allison from The Book Wheel for turning me on to this one.

For news and feministy stuff: 

Bitch Media and Bust have been two of my favorite sites for feminist topics since my 20s, and they have especially good Facebook pages and shareable stories.

For makeup reviews: 

Temptalia is great for all things makeup. Extensive reviews, and nicely categorized and dissected ratings.

For cute shoes:

6pm.com. Designer footwear on saaaaale. Need I say more?

For fun, doable fashion inspiration:

Jamie from JRO1583 on Instagram is sooooo sweet and has the greatest wardrobe around. She does alot of mixing, matching, and remixing based on Pinterest finds. Really fun and good for wardrobe ideas.

For pretties (but only on sale):

KateSpade.com. I can't often buy from Kate Spade, but looooove all the items, and I love finding comparable trends elsewhere. Their sale section is also often doable.

For dreaming about that 5K I will run soon: 

I'm a Run On convert! It's a Texas chain of running stores with nine locations. They also have training groups, and various online resources, my favorite of which is their race calendar!

For healthy snacks: 

Lara Bars! Look at all the flavors my local stores don't have!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

#FitReaders: Week of May 15, 2016

Hey hey #FitReaders! I'm transitioning to a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday running schedule since it makes more "sense" to me than what I've been doing (Monday, Thursday, Saturday). This week was a little wonky with kiddo's school Track and Field Day yesterday, and his dad couldn't do the normal meet up on Friday evening, so I had to postpone today's run to tomorrow.  I had enough blazing sun at the field day yesterday to last me a while, so I'll do a long, easy walk tonight when it's cooler and pick back up with running in the morning. It's all still getting squished in.

I'm happy to report that those C25K Week 3 intervals that were giving me such a hard time last week were consistently doable this week, so I'll be stepping up to C25K Week 4 on Tuesday.

What's shakin' with you? 

Sunday 7,862 (rest day)
Monday 15,381
Tuesday 13,665
Wednesday 13,197
Thursday 13,453
Friday 12,096
Saturday TBA

Active Minutes
Sunday 0 (rest day)
Monday 67
Tuesday 62
Wednesday 56
Thursday 43
Friday "0" (Whatever, FitBit. Track and Field from 8am to 3pm.)
Saturday TBA

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book Blogger, Stay in Thy Place

Occasionally, like after an event like Book Expo America, a discussion of blogging for money and "professionalism" breaks out. These conversations have gotten fairly boring and repetitive over the years, but the general gist is that book bloggers don't charge money to publicize books. Some people think we should; some say we shouldn't. And the people who do give voice to making money from their blogs are quickly labeled sellouts.

This is a many-tentacled beast, to be sure, but here are a few reasons why insisting that bloggers remain martyrs to reading--suffering for the cause--is bullshit.

Publishers won't value bloggers until bloggers start insisting that they do have value. However, we have erected a culture of do-gooding and martyrdom, so we will never start charging. Are you seeing the catch-22? We've been The Man's doer of free things for too long. This paragraph makes authors, publicists, editors, and everyone down to the interns sound like assholes because they've "used" us, but that's not entirely true. They're just doing the smart thing from their end. Also, I know we're not really suffering in the name of books. We read because we love it, but we are also free advertising for publishers. Those are the facts. Don't lie to yourself and insist otherwise. 

Our community is at once too big and too small to attract sponsorship dollars. We're too "big" because there are too many blogs for any to rocket into the stratosphere with huge followings and gobs of monthly unique views thereby prompting continuous bookish sponsorships. We're also too small because reading is not beauty, or lifestyle, or fashion, or food. The audiences for those, in general, are far bigger. Most people are seeking content on topics that are, frankly, not books. And if we're being really really real, sponsorships are happening on BookTube because the audiences for video are bigger and easily verified as subscriber numbers are public unless creators change their settings.

There seems to be a complete and utter disbelief that people can provide honest opinions if money has changed hands. This is a prolific attitude across content creation niches, but it's a little more militant among the book people. Personally, I think it's silly. Receiving compensation does not automatically render one dishonest. I've known a few people in that category, but I wouldn't assume most book bloggers fall into it.  

The up side is that you can still do a lot with your blog professionally. Making some dough on the side from ads is always a good time (it's never much for anyone), you can funnel your content toward a great product (Ashley from NoseGraze is a great model for this), or you can roll your blogging and social media experience into new opportunities that will bring in some supplemental income.

For me personally, in 2011 then-5 years of blogging led to a job in social media which led to a job in PR. It's also helped me professionally in higher education as professors and administrators appreciate people who are doing professional and semi-professional things of their liking outside the classroom that may inform what's happening inside the classroom. Finally, writing leads to writing leads to writing. There's something to be said for letting it all hang out to the world when you want to let it hang out for income later on.

Maybe one day the opportunities open to our sister (and brother) creators on YouTube or other niches will be open to us, but you know what? We won't know until we recognize our value and stop being jerks when bloggers want to try. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Hamster Wheel of Information Overload

One of the things I promised myself when I quit my full-time job was that I'd invest more time into self-care. I mean, really, I quit the job because it was making me sick. It's only right that I give back to myself. Find some inner peace and improve my health if we're going to sacrifice the income and benefits associated with that employment.

As such, I've been much more attentive to myself. My needs. My strengths and struggles.

I am a person who thrives on being busy.
  • Three part-time teaching jobs (adding a fourth in August)
  • Two freelance writing jobs
  • Compulsive blogger
  • Readathon co-organizer
  • Mother
  • Reader
  • Exerciser
Part of that compulsion is a way to stave off depression. I've known for years that staying busy is the best way for me to avoid the desire to pull the covers over my head and disappear.

I've also started to note the tipping point in that arrangement. Having SO many things going on has shown me the flip side of happy-busy, and it's information overload

A while back I did Note to Self's #Infomagical challenge--which is still available with one clickety click--and I chose to focus on being more creative. I streamlined a lot of my digital life during that challenge but also earlier in the year when I started reading up on Getting Things Done productivity methods.  

I don't stumble into information overload territory as much as I did when I was working my PR job, but it happens occasionally, and just yesterday was a perfect example. It was rainy and dreary outside. I couldn't go walk-run as much as I usually do. I was stuck indoors. I figured I might as well do some blog planning, so I got a list of topics squared away, worked on drafting, Tweeted for awhile, got some Instagram ideas together, and generally did stuff that needs doing. 

And then I wanted to rip someone...anyone's...head off. Thinking ahead was like looking down a tunnel. Even when I was done with my planning, I checked social media obsessively. No, Andi, there are no new messages in the three seconds since you last checked Twitter. 

That's what information overload, and being completely overwhelmed, feels like for me. Like my brain is on fire and I'm stuck in an endless loop of checking, rechecking, and obsessively looking. All the while feeling too overwhelmed to move on to the next obvious task on my to-do list. In this case, I really could've used that next block of time to work on a Book Riot post or a reference letter that's hanging out there unfinished. 

Information overload is like a hamster wheel for me....spinning, spinning but not going anywhere.  

I realized in that moment, that I had to do something else. Anything else. Reboot. 

I did a 10-minute guided meditation, bitched on Twitter (counterproductive), relaxed for a bit away from the computer and my phone. I got up and tidied our medicine corner of the kitchen (a place where we pile up antacids, pain relievers, and other frequent flyer meds that quickly gets cluttered).

Then I was able to sit down and think about what to do next. 

We have so much information at our disposal...so many ways to engage with it, create it, disseminate it. It really is overwhelming sometimes, and there's nothing worse for me than that brain-on-fire feeling of being stuck in the information loop. Exercise has certainly shown itself to be it's own kind of meditation practice before the day gets going, but with a week of rainy weather ahead I need to plumb the depths for more. 

How do you quite your brain when you're feeling overloaded? 
Images by Freepik