If You Only Read One Post...

Friday, August 29, 2014

If you only read one post on Laura's blog, Breton and Blush, let it be this one on organising your bedside table

image credit breton and blush
Rachel shares her thoughts: My fascination with organising started as a child, I started moving my furniture around as soon as I was strong enough and would spend hours rearranging everything until I got it just right. Not much has changed and my ‘How I Organise’ series displays just that, how I organise various aspects of my life and home. My bedside table and that corner of my bedroom is one of my favourite areas of the apartment, it is functional, gets lots of natural sunlight and includes my favourite flowers and candle.

About the series: I have been inspired and encouraged by so many amazing women in the blogging world and I wanted a way to contribute to the community. The ethos of A Life Un-Styled is to inspire, connect and interact and that's what this series aims to do. I understand that we're all busy so I've simply asked bloggers I admire to contribute one post, the one post they hope people would read on their blogs. It gives these posts a new life, a chance to be viewed again by different eyes and it connects new readers and to new-to-them bloggers. That is all. You can read previous posts in this series here and you can also email me if you'd like to be part of the series. 

Re-Thinking Snail Mail

Monday, August 25, 2014

I've always loved writing letters. One of the dearest relationships in my life was a result of letter writing. Letters, along with email, were also an important part of my relationship with Patrick during the times we lived in different countries. I used to write page upon page, all while being connected and in touch throughout the day via emails, messaging and Skype. I used letters to communicate things I wouldn't necessarily say in an email, or things that I specifically held off on saying so that I could commit those words to paper. Over the past year or so I've joined a few 'pen pal' communities and it just feels a little...wasteful. And these are just my opinions and observations but they seem to be more about getting something that's pretty and nicely decorated in the mail. For me, the best part about receiving mail was setting aside the time to read it, thinking about what it said and then thinking about a reply. It usually contained information you didn't already know. I'm finding my mail these days tends to include information I've probably already come across on social media or the person's blog. It makes me think I'm spending money (on stationery and postage) and time on creating 'junk'. An envelope with pretty stickers and curly writing but lacking in substance and heart. Would I really want to keep that with a box of other mail from over the years that I truly treasure? Where will the envelope really end up? Truthfully, for me, it ends up in the bin. 

This year I've re-claimed the nature of my mail, the ones I send anyway. I used letters and cards to let people close to me know that my PhD was passed before I said anything on the blog or on social media. I wanted the people who had supported me to hear the news personally and in as meaningful a way as I could. I kept my big dreams and plans silent and put them on paper, sealed them with a kiss and sent them off. You won't find them in detail on the blog. Instead of rushing home and sending everyone thank you emails for their love and time spent together on recent trips, I've waited (almost a month!) for the right words and clarity of thought and emotion and sent them handwritten words instead. I feel better for it and I'd like to think those words will find a special place in the receivers own box of treasures. 

Have you noticed a change in the nature of snail mail?
Do you still write letters? How do you keep it fresh and personal in a time where such a large part of our lives is shared online? 

If You Only Read One Post...

Friday, August 22, 2014

If you only read one post on Tricia's blog Under Lock and Key, let it be this one on Motherhood - to work or stay at home

Tricia explains: I started this motherhood series as I was very confused about whether I should return to paid work or be a stay at home mum so I asked a number of mothers I admire to share their experience and stories with me. Part 5 is particularly special to me as it is my mother's story. It was a very emotional experience to hear about how she felt as a young mum who had to return to work full time only 1 month after my brother was born and when she described how torn and helpless she felt, it brought tears to my eyes and a new appreciation for my mother. This is a post that held most meaning for me, and is the most personal.

Vanisha's notes: I just wanted to say what an honor it is to share your and your mum's story Tricia. I know not all my readers are mothers but this post is so beautifully written that I feel anyone would be able to connect to the human emotions it encompasses. This series is steadily growing and I am so thankful for all the support you've offered, you can read older posts in this series here.

Why I Stopped Reading Your Blog?

Monday, August 18, 2014

My blog reading habits have changed, just as my book reading habits have. In 2013 I was reading books like "A history of the word in 100 objects" and "The biggest estate on earth - How Aborigines made Australia" for leisure. In 2014, the titles have included "The good mother myth", "Organising your home and family" and "There's a green monkey in my purse." The type of information I need has changed. The change in my reading habits has resulted partly because of my lifestyle changes. And these reading changes have extended to the blogs I read and engage with. There were many blogs I read with interest a few times a week, I engaged with the writers and shared their content. I no longer to do this, it's not a personal affront to these writers in any way. There are many reasons why I've stopped reading (and/or commenting on) many blogs, and I thought it might be insightful to share them. 

I no longer read some blogs because: 

The balance between supporting friends that blog and nurturing and feeding my own desire to learn and grow became difficult. I tried so hard to engage and show my support for my friends who blog, regardless of what their blog might be like, but with more and more people deciding to start blogs this is becoming difficult to sustain. 

My interests and needs have changed. Perhaps they haven't entirely changed but the quantity of information I want to absorb about a particular subject may have decreased. I don't want to read about fashion as much, nor do I want to engage with outfit posts. On the other hand, I do want to read more lifestyle posts. 

Your interests have changed and you now blog about different things. There are a number of blogs that I loved reading, but the writers have decided to follow another path, one that does not currently coincide with the one that I'm on. Perhaps we will meet again later on? After all our needs and interests are always changing. 

We just don't connect any more. This could be the result of changes in our lifestyle or we've grown out of our blog friendship, and this is okay. I'm comfortable with this. It shows growth in my opinion. We've learnt as much as we can from each other, we supported and engaged with each other. We might still be in touch, and might help each other find other blogs and people that can further inspire us. 

The blogger doesn't engage with the reader beyond writing the post. There are blogs where the blogger writes the most engaging and thoughtful posts but then does not engage with their readers. By engagement I mean replying to comments/questions, reading/commenting on your blog (though not necessarily), and engaging on social media. I want to feel like you care, or at least appreciate that I took the time to read and engage with you and your content. 

I have nothing to contribute. Sometimes I simply cannot contribute to the topics being discussed on a blog. There's a blog that I like to read every now and then and I've had the pleasure of meeting the blogger behind it on a number of occasions. She's lovely and she's funny. Her posts are humorous and full of sarcasm - but I simply feel like I'm not funny enough to contribute anything (in terms of leaving comments). Posts about dieting and weight loss (for example) - I might congratulate the blogger, but honestly, I have nothing to add, and it's not a topic I'm looking for information on, so slowly I pull away. 

Their motives and philosophies aren't clear. I'm really keen to know, from the beginning, why you're blogging and what you hope your blog offers for potential readers. 

I had a longer list of reasons but these encompass some of the main reasons I have stopped reading some blogs. I've had friendships develop from blog relationships, and while I may remain close to those bloggers, I don't necessarily read their blogs as closely. It's simply a matter of needs and interests changing mostly, and I don't take it too personally or seriously when I lose a few readers. 

Are there any blogs that you've stopped reading? Why did you stop? 
How do you feel when you notice that someone has stopped reading or actively engaging with your blog? 

If You Only Read One Post...

Friday, August 15, 2014

If you only read one post on Rita's blog Fashion Pas, let it be this one, A Guide to Buying Fewer Things

image credit fashion pas edited by Vanisha 

Rita tells us why: I tend to get really excited when I see something that I like. For a few years now, I've been trying to think through my purchasing decisions instead of letting myself get carried away by that excitement - more often than not, it results in an impulse buy that I end up regretting. It has been a real challenge to find a balance between wants and needs but I wanted to put into words how I've been approaching this challenge. This was a great way to organize my thoughts and share my experiences with others about the journey to becoming more mindful consumers.

Rita really keeps all the 'fuss' out of her posts. While talking about style and fashion she does not leave you feeling guilty or inadequate. Her posts never leave me with a desire to go out and shop, instead she encourages her readers, as well as herself, to think through decisions and intentions. An important lesson not just for fashion or style, but for life more generally.

You can see past posts here, and you can also email me if you'd like to contribute a post or for more information.

5 Practical Tips To Help Prepare For ProBlogger, Or Any Conference

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This is an updated version of a post I prepared prior to the ProBlogger training event I attended last year. I've had time to reflect on these tips and really don't think I would change much. I'm not going this year but I will be eagerly waiting for all your updates. I'm sure it will be amazing.

1. Logistics: I got all the logistical details into my notebook. Sure I have them on my phone but I can be quite old-school too. I keep the hotel details, phone numbers, confirmation and booking numbers handy. Remember to arrange transport from the airport to the hotel. My travel is generally organised for me, so having to do it myself is a little daunting - and chaotic. 

2. Peruse the Schedule: I look at all the sections and then click through and read the session details. I then write down all the sessions I think I'd like to attend. 

3. Look up the Speakers: I look up all the speakers for all the sessions I selected. I click through to their blogs or websites to try to get a feel of who they are and how their work relates to what they were supposed to be talking about. For instance, if the session was about creating a blogging community and then clicking through to the person's blog and finding or feeling no sense of community. I'd be less inclined to attend the session. There are a few speakers I'd really like to meet regardless of what they're talking about or if it's relevant to me. I think it helps to get a sense of these things. 

4. Connect with the Speakers: I 'follow' the speakers whose sessions I want to attend, especially on Twitter and Facebook. This makes social media updates during their sessions easier. 

5. Order Sessions: I mark out my first and second choice sessions. So if my first choice is full, I'm not going to waste any time figuring out what the other sessions are about and if I want to attend. I also have a list of sessions I'd like to watch/hear later on. Not all the sessions are going to be useful for me, so I've really narrowed down the ones I think will be of interest to me and help me achieve my blogging goals. 

Conferences can be really exhausting. It's easy to get overwhelmed so I spend time carefully thinking about what I'd like to learn and then matching that to the sessions and the speakers. I don't personally feel the need to ensure that I go to a session at each time slot. I'll go if I think it will be useful, I don't want to spend the two days suffering from physical and mental exhaustion, that would make for me grumpy, not on her game, blogger! 

What are your practical preparation tips? 

My Guide to Wanderlust

Monday, August 11, 2014

image credit popbasic

wanderlust noun a strong desire to travel
I've been travelling since I was a few months old. It's second nature to me, but it's still something that I'm thankful for. I could never take the opportunities I've had to travel and my lifestyle that revolves around travel for granted. While 'wanderlust' sounds whimsical, my husband and I tend to be a little more strategic about our travel plans. I feel we need to be with an ever growing bucket list and commitments that now include a ten-year-old. Our habits of getting up and leaving have been somewhat reduced thanks to school terms!

A few years ago I realised I hadn't seen as much of my own country (Fiji). At that point I had travelled internationally a fair bit so I put a year aside to travel around Fiji (which has over 300 islands, only a third of which are inhabited). After making this decision, I was lucky enough to land a job that involved travelling around Fiji. The year after that Patrick and I decided we wanted to see more of the Pacific Islands while we were living and working in this part of the world. In the span of 18 months we spent time in Samoa, American Samoa, Cook Islands and Timor Leste. I find that setting these general goals around our travel have really helped us focus. 

This is not to say that we don't deviate. During that period when we planned to travel to more Pacific Island countries we ended up doing trips to Australia and New Zealand. For the last two years, we've tried to work around a little criteria: a trip home (Fiji) if we're not in Fiji, a trip to a new country and a trip to a country we've already been to. We love going back to countries we've visited and loved, but the 'problem' with that is we keep going back and exploring and getting to know it better but forego visiting somewhere new. Trying to work our wanderlust around those three criteria has helped us think more clearly about where we're wandering off to next.... 

Where we're off to next (as far as we know!): Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, New Zealand, Hong Kong (sticking somewhat to the criteria)

Where are you off to? 
How do you 'plan' your travel? I'd love to know. 
Or, if you want to share your own wanderlust story - please feel free, leave a comment or a link to your post if you blog about it. 

This post has been written in celebration of the Popbasic 'Wanderlust' collection featuring the striped tee-shirt and necklace pictured above. You can use this link to redeem a $15 gift credit towards your next purchase. 

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