Friday, August 1, 2014

Tips for Beginning-to-Intermediate Bloggers

Thank you all for the support this week! I'm so grateful for all of you. Heading back to regular programming around here, although obviously there will be a lot of talk about my new life as we go forward. Today, though, I'm giving my tips about blogging to those of you who have already started, but are still trying to figure this crazy hobby out.

tips for bloggers
For the record, this font doesn't allow for an apostrophe in the word "aren't" - I haven't forgotten it

1. Blog regularly. That doesn't necessarily mean blogging every day or even 5 days a week. Consistent content will really help you, so pick a schedule or goal for posting and stick to it.

2. Respond to your readers. If they comment, make sure you reply to them! It helps build your community. If you're on Blogger, then you need to make sure you're responding via email so that they know you responded. If you click "reply" on the actual post, they will not be notified that you responded.

3. On that note, make sure that you're not a no-reply blogger. That way, when you comment on other people's blogs, they can respond back to you.

4. Also, comment on other blogs.

5. Have a killer "About Me" page

6. Have social media pages and be active on them

7. Have some sort of goal. Why are you doing this? What do you want to get from it? How will you determine if you're successful or not?

8. Try your best to have original content. Why would people want to read your blog instead of someone else's?

Anyone have any other tips you think I should add?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vlogged: I Quit

Today is the last in this 3-day series about my quitting process. Tuesday I announced that I quit, yesterday I explained what I'm doing next, and today I have a vlog about the past week. Subscribe to my channel - I make new videos every Wednesday!


Striped dress from Anthropologie (last summer)

Teal tank from Target (last spring)

Makeup - Teal Outfit Section

Naked 2 eye makeup

Eye makeup 

Naked 2 smokey eye tutorial

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So I Quit ... What's Next?

Yesterday I revealed that I quit my job because of my health and explained that a little bit more about that situation. Today I'm talking about my plans for the next couple of months.

Essentially, I'm starting what I'm kind of fondly referring to as Project Kate (feel free to make fun of me for that one). The goal is twofold. One, I need to get my health under control. Two, I need to create a life that is meaningful, makes me happy, and allows me to keep my health under control. Here's what I'm looking at in the next couple of months:

1. I'm moving back to New England (permanently) within the next few weeks. I'll be a legal resident of Boston and split my time between my parents' place in Boston and the family home in Maine. Is it ideal that I'm basically moving back home? No. But it's what needs to be done right now, and it isn't permanent.

2. Have surgery on my knee and recover from said surgery, which will be interesting because my arthritis could potentially flare from having surgery. This is the biggest reason why I'm not aiming at getting my own apartment immediately after moving. I'll need a LOT of help recovering from the surgery.

3. Overall physical recuperation. This means physical therapy, regular long yoga classes on top of my regular practice, hopefully getting back at exercising regularly in other ways, etc.

4. Finish one (or both) of the books I have started. One is a book of short stories and the other is a novel. I'm seriously considering pulling a mini-Walden and isolating myself in the Maine woods to get a large chunk of one of the books done.

5. Get my arthritis treatments squared away. It's hard to tell if the current state of affairs is working or not, since my arthritis has essentially been in panic mode with my knee issues. By that I mean that the trauma of dislocating my knee/etc. seems to have majorly freaked out my arthritis, which is freaking out everywhere and not just in my knee. Good ol' autoimmune diseases.

6. Applying to (and hopefully attending) graduate school. I've known for a couple of years that this step was in my future, but this seems like a pretty good time to go ahead and make it happen.

7. Hopefully work as a tutor and freelance writer. That being said, if you live in Boston and are looking for a tutor for your kids or you know someone who is, I'm a certified teacher of English for grades 7-12, so ...

This is an unfinished list, but it contains what my general plans are for the next few months. Like I said, I really need to focus on building a meaningful life for myself that still allows me to not, well, destroy my body. I'll be posting regularly about this entire process, and will be including the label "Project Kate" on any of those posts.

Thank you all for the kind and encouraging comments on yesterday's post and on social media. I feel so lucky to have the support network that I do, off and on the Internet.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why I Quit My Job

Yes, you read that right. I just quit my job as a high school English teacher.


The answer is simple: my health.

As you probably know, I have a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis. I also have fibromyalgia and need knee surgery for plica syndrome. We recently changed the timing of my treatments, which were two infusions of them every six months, because it was running out of my system a month and a half early. So I now have one infusion every four months. Except this hasn't been as strong, the plica syndrome issues irritated the arthritis to make it even more active, and the past couple of months have been pretty miserable.

Basically, things started going downhill (and fast) once I majorly dislocated my knee back in May. I knew I was most likely going to need surgery, but figured, "I've had worse. I can manage. After all, I'll start to feel better this summer." That was the plan. I was going to go to physical therapy, do a lot of yoga, have my infusion, the infusion was going to kick in, I was going to rest, and I was going to get better.

But then I didn't.

Am I feeling better than I was around my infusion? Absolutely. But it has been very small improvements. And, quite honestly, my knee gets worse and worse every week even though I'm in physical therapy and doing everything I can do to make it feel better. My physical therapist told me that she has never seen my knee act like a knee is supposed to. I need surgery, I need rest, and I need

Last school year, I worked 40-60 hours a week. That's a lot for anyone, let alone someone with a severe case of an autoimmune disease that destroys joints and creates a large amount of pain. This was absolutely not what I wanted, but at this point I have to consider my future. Is it worth it to work another year and potentially hurt myself permanently to the point where I can't teach full time ever again? No. Without a doubt.

(Heads up - about to get real Catholic on you.)

I have also felt like this is the path God is pointing me down. Maybe you've heard this story before - There's a big flood, and a man is on the roof of his house trying to avoid it. A guy on a canoe comes by and tries to save him. The man says, "Don't worry. God will save me." The flood rises. A motorboat comes by. The man says, "Don't worry. God will save me." The flood rises. A helicopter comes by. The man says, "Don't worry. God will save me." The flood rises and the man dies. He goes to heaven, and when he gets there he asks God, "God, why didn't you save me?" God says, "I tried! I sent a canoe, a motorboat, and a helicopter!"

That's how I'm feeling. I've felt for a while like I'm drowning in pain. And then my parents asked me if I thought like I should teach this year. And then I asked my medical team what they thought, and the response was unanimous. I felt overwhelmed with pain and my medical issues, and God opened a door. He has always been there for me and carried me through even the most difficult of times. He has a plan, and I have to believe that this is it.

So, this is a really long post. Tomorrow I have a post explaining what I'm going to be doing now that I'm not teaching. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and helped me during this really difficult time. I feel so incredibly lucky to have you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

PSSST - Giveaway!

Extra post today because I have a giveaway for you!

I'm teaming up with these lovely ladies to bring you some awesome beauty products as well as a $75 gift card to Sephora to get some of your favorites! 

The Life of the Party                                                                           Kate the Almost Great photo AfternoonEssGiveaway-2.jpg 
                                            Mommy in Heels                          The Style Storm


Enter to win below!!

July Favorites

Here is what I'm listening to, using, watching, reading, and overall enjoying this month!


BO$$ by Fifth Harmony - Such a good girl-power anthem!

Platinum by Miranda Lambert - The entire album is incredible!

Beauty Products

Biosilk silk therapy - I've been using this for years, and I can't believe that I haven't talked about it before! I put a quarter-sized drop through my hair after I wash my hair and before it dries, and then a dime sized amount as needed between washes. It keeps my hair silky, smooth, and healthy.

Rusk clarify shampoo (not pictured) - The only shampoo I have used in 3 years. It does WONDERS for my hair!

Loreal liquid eyeliner with felt tip

NYX butter gloss


Outlander - I've mentioned before that I'm rereading the series. I'm currently in the 6th book (A Breath of Snow and Ashes), and the TV show comes out next month! I watched the SDCC Outlander panel on YouTube over the weekend, and I'm so excited for it!

The Grits:
Ash's blog mission is, "Living to experience everyday as an adventure by blogging about the grits of life." 

Hello Rigby:
Jenn shares with you her crazy dog lady tendencies, her shopping problem, what she's wearing (and she has GREAT taste). She's a 25 year old Seattle native, a UX Designer at a mobile app start up by day, and likes to blog in her off hours. She's also a bit crazy about her dog, Rigby, who is a Shiba Inu. Other things she likes? Food, especially dessert, shopping, reading, and baking. She posts about all of that!

Sierra's View:
She is a 6th grade elementary school teacher, originally from Portland, Oregon, and currently living in Utah. She's married, a passionate writer, a huge fan of kids, a trained singer, and music enthusiast.



The New Adventures of Peter + Wendy - A web series about Peter and Wendy if they were twenty-somethings in modern time. Here's the trailer! (PS - it's by the same creator as The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Oh, and John Darling is my favorite character. But they're all awesome.)

Natalie Tran (Community Channel) - Hilarious, poignant, adorable, relatable. Here's her most recent video.

Big Brother 16 - How did I get addicted to this show? I have no idea, but I can't stop watching. Oh well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

7 Ways to Combat Writer's Block

Everyone who has written anything has hit writer's block at some point in their life. Writers of essays, poems, short stories, novels, articles, and, well, anything have experienced it. (Psst - if you've experienced writer's block when it comes to blogging, check out my 40 blog post ideas.) I've written all of the above, and over my time you can better believe that I've hit writer's block. Today I'm bringing you 7 ways to deal with it!

writer's block

1. Change your scenery. Sit outside, move from the couch to the dining room table, go somewhere new ... basically just change your perspective in any way.

2. Take a 15 minute break from all work. Set an alarm, maybe even set a backup alarm, and seriously just stop your break after 15 minutes. But clearing your head for that time will help you.

3. Free write. For 5 minutes, write non-stop about your topic or just about anything that's in your head. It may seem forced for the beginning, but by the end your mind will work clearer.

4. Outline. If you haven't already, jot down the key points you're writing to say. And then ...

5. Skip around in your writing! Know what you want to say a paragraph or a page later? Skip ahead to that part, and later write the connecting part. Once you know exactly what you're working towards, it will be easier to write the connections.

6. Snack break! Try one of these superfoods for concentration and memory: coffee, fruit, fish, nuts, chocolate, avocado, and whole grains. (Shoutout to WebMD for the information!)

7. Work on something else for a while. If you're like me, there is always something else that needs to be done. Take a productive break to focus on something else and go back to it later. (Yes, I know this is similar to #2. What's the difference? This one involves still working - just working on something else.)