Lifestyle

blogging

Close up shop or recommit…

I’ve been MIA the last few months and with good reason. My attention has been focused on other aspects of life, like earning a living or rather trying to. Ultimately, I decided to try to make a go of this again. I’ve been putzing around with a blog in one form or another for the better part of 10 years. Wow! It really has been 10 years since I launched Madras ‘n Pearls on the Blogger platform. Over the years, it’s morphed into several other titles and landed here about 3-4 years ago. Yet, it’s been sorely neglected over the years.

For awhile I’ve been mulling over what I could do with this platform if properly inspired. Inspiration is the key here. Often times, social media and blogging can be a false perspective of reality and there are many out there trying to “live their best lives” How much of it is real? Honestly, my house is modest, my style is mine but not focused on the latest trends and finding content that is original or unique is not always available or the first thing I wake up thinking about. I’ve been told I have exquisite taste, but I don’t share enough of that.

Blogging is hard work. It’s not what it was when I started back in 2008. I used to wake up and quickly write up a post, find a few photos and hit publish. Today, it’s so much more which can be exhausting if you’re just writing as a hobby and you still want eyes on your efforts. Blogging can be a full time job if you want it to be. The trick is to treat it as such and be prepared to work long hours creating content, promoting content, sharing content and connecting with people. If you’re lucky you can make a decent living through affiliate marketing, e-books, or your own services.

It can be overwhelming especially considering that it takes at minimum 5 years to gain traction. That brings me back to the idea of inspiration. How inspired am I to put in the work? It’s a question I need to answer. I’m not quite ready to give up on this platform or more importantly, myself. Over the next few weeks, I’m committed to posting regularly to Instagram, FB and here. It may not be everyday, but will be at least a few times a week.

white after labor day yea or nay

White After Labor Day – Yea or Nay

Labor Day has come and gone, and now all I’m seeing on social media is the “no white after Labor Day” discussion.  Personally, I think your stance on the subject is purely a personal one.  Growing up it was a guideline and I realize it may be an outdated norm today. Yet, I still embrace it.

Its history is rooted in some high society elitist old money ideology.  After the Civil War, the wives of the uber wealthy set the fashion rules more or less to be able to tell old moneyed people from new money. They came up with the directive not to wear white after Labor Day. If one was wearing white at an event after Labor Day, it was a tell-tale sign they weren’t of the right class. Silly as it seems, let’s just say the mean girls set the rules and to be accepted one had to follow their rules.  Sounds a bit like high school, doesn’t it?

Somewhere along the 1950’s mass produced fashion mags convinced the middle class to take out their whites at Memorial Day and put them away at Labor Day. Today, most people have opted to abandon the idea, especially here in Florida where summer temperatures linger until Halloween.

Growing up my summers were spent in an old moneyed enclave of Ocean Point on the coast of Maine. It was a neighborhood of summer cottages passed down from one generation to the next. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the summer community was bustling with tennis matches, lobster boils, boating and summer cocktail parties.  Most of the people I hung out with were upper middle class prep schoolers home for the summer.  To say the least, these people summered.  I wasn’t exactly one of them, but was drawn to the lifestyle and preppy fashion sense.  Polos, chinos, boat shoes and Tretorns were staples, with whites only donned for summer and especially for the club tennis tournament.

For me, it’s tradition. It reminds me a bit of my upbringing and perhaps my longing at the time to belong to something that wasn’t solidly middle class.  Unlike the mean girls, I don’t judge if one has abandoned the rule. As I said, it’s a personal choice.

stepping beyond the comfort zone

Beyond The Comfort Zone

We can stand there comfortably on the ground floor or we can ascend the steps beyond our comfort zone and realize our greatness.

The comfort zone is that place where good ideas, dreams and untapped talent go to die. It’s called the comfort zone because we feel safe, comfortable, if you will.  We are tricked into thinking that challenging ourselves or expanding our range of experiences is too scary and we are better off happily stuck. Being stuck isn’t a happy experience is it? We allow fear to control us rather than taking bold action and pushing ourselves to do more, be more and realize our own power. There’s nothing wrong with staying stuck, but why hold ourselves captive?

It occurred to me recently, that I’ve been blogging on and off since 2008. That’s a long time and yet, I haven’t grown my content, reach or opportunities nearly to the level of my peers in this arena have. The reason being, I’ve allowed myself to be wrapped up in my doubts and fears. Truth be told,  I suffer from impostor syndrome.

I’m under this false notion that what I have to say, share or show people just isn’t good enough. There’s always a comparison in my head.  So, I stay stuck, dreaming about being recognized by HGTV, or joining Martha’s Creative Circle, or getting a spot on a local TV morning show or blogger credentials to a trade show. These lofty dreams will fast become pipe dreams if I don’t stop holding myself back and take bold inspired action. To quote Stewart Smalley, “I’m good enough and gosh darn it people like me.”

The last words of David Cassidy (as far as I know, we aren’t related), ” So much wasted time”,  have been weighing on me with this realization.  Fear keeps us in the comfort zone and gives us permission to “waste time”.  The good news we don’t have to, we just have to be bold enough to take a chance and stop letting fear control us. We don’t have to  stay stuck and waste our talents or our voice. Instead, we can go out there and create something.

 

Do you want to start a Youtube channel or maybe your want to launch a business but fear what others might think ? Pishposh… who cares what others think. You never know who may be watching and what impact you might have.  It could lead to bigger things, but you’ll never know if you sit on the fence watching others push their limits. A very good friend of mine reminded me that you can’t enjoy the rewards or benefits unless you leave your comfort zone.

So with that, a new year brings new opportunities and I’m excited for all that 2018 holds in store.  Do you want to sit here in 2019 amazed at all you’ve done this year? I know I do.  We can only achieve great things if we step out of the comfort zone.  What great things will you do stepping out of your comfort zone this year?

happiness

Come on, get happy

Merriam-Webster defines happy as enjoying or characterized by well-being and contentment.  There is a lot going on in the world that makes happiness seemingly harder to find, but what if I told you happiness is a choice? Despite all of the crap going on and the many WTF moments we are facing, it is still possible to find contentment and well-being.

Yes, I am veering away from my usual content to share with you a new book that just came out this week. Lisa Cypers Kamen’s book Are We Happy Yet? is a guide to finding joy in our lives. Lisa is a positive psychology coach and expert in life-crisis recovery. In the book, she discusses her eight keys to unlocking joy in our lives and through exercises, she provides the reader with the skills to up their happiness factor.  As she points out, happiness is an inside job.

are we happy yet

From time to time life throws us curve balls, whether it’s a job loss, the death of a loved one,  a divorce or the odd feeling that we are trapped in an alternative universe. We all face adversity at some point in our lives. We can allow the adversity to keep us stuck and miserable or we can chose to rise to the occasion and find contentment. It all comes down to how we react, think and feel about our circumstances and ourselves.

For some, the path to contentment in the face of a crisis is easy. For others its fraught with challenges thought to be insurmountable. It’s easy to wallow in the negative and find a safe place among poisoned thoughts, but after awhile those thoughts become too unbearable and something snaps. It either snaps us out of the funk or drives us deeper. The search for inner peace and a sense of happy is a journey.

I’m on that journey right right now, reading everything I can get my hands on to help guide me.  My reading list is a litany of self help books by authors Gabby Bernstein, Brendan Burchard, Elizabeth Gilbert, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Lisa Nichols. It’s because of this journey that I am looking forward to adding Are We Happy Yet to my reading list.

 

“Positive psychology focuses on what’s right with life here, now and tomorrow, rather than ruminating on what’s wrong with it and what happened in the past,” says Cypers Kamen. “Are We Happy Yet? helps readers embrace the absolute best parts of life, each and every day.”

Through the pages of Are We Happy Yet?, Cypers Kamen teaches readers how to:

  • Accept the past for what it is—a reference point, not a destination
  • Embrace the truth that, while life is tough, you can be happy
  • Transform your relationship with yourself from enemy to ally
  • Appreciate why less is often more
  • Focus on what’s right with your life, not what’s wrong
  • Control the only person you can—yourself!
  • Invest in yourself to become more mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually fit
  • Use your newly discovered joy to become a more positive and productive influence in the world

We chose our reactions to life’s dramas and traumas. I know from experience it’s easy to let curve balls knock you out of the game. Negative past experiences can derail your life if you allow them to. My hope is that Lisa’s book will guide readers to learning how to be brave and let go of the baggage that holds one back.  I know I could use another tool in my box.

*this post was not sponsored and all opinions expressed are my own.

teal pumpkin project

A Teal Pumpkin for Halloween

I have been sensitive to those with food allergies since we moved into the neighborhood.  My typical approach has been to have both non-peanut candies and peanut candies to pass out to ghouls and goblins that knock on the door.  This year, I am joining the Teal Pumpkin movement.  I’m inspired to do this for a couple of reasons.  One, toys last a bit longer than candy.  Secondly, not every child can enjoy candy whether it’s a food allergy or a lifestyle preference of a parent.

Let’s face it, it’s fun to dress up for Halloween, but not much fun if you trick or treat and have to toss your loot when you get home due to a food allergy.  That’s where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes in.  It is a wonderful movement started by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) that encourages the giving away of small nonfood trinkets.

I first heard about the project last year when I was blogging for a certified nutritionist.  It’s been around for a couple of years and it looks to be catching on more commercially now.  I spotted many reasonably priced toys in the Halloween section of Target this year.  Their options were impressive, from cups of slime to monster themed erasers.  I scooped up small containers of bubbles to give out this year.  I may still pass out some candy, but rest assured if I do, it will be nut free.

If you would like to get involved, simply place a teal pumpkin or two outside your door to let all the ghouls and goblins know you are passing out allergy friendly treats.  You can turn this into a family affair by having your kids paint plastic pumpkins in shades of teal and decorate however, they wish to. Use the pumpkins again next year as the project grows with more and more families supporting the project.