Thursday, October 30, 2014

Life :: 8 Little Things to Relax You Daily

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Relaxation has never come easy for me. I don't know about you, but I've been a professional workaholic since the age of 10. And now, between raising a kid, helping my boyfriend with his business, and managing my own career, I barely even have time to eat. (I call that The Miranda Diet, though I won't be cutting my hair anytime soon.) Fortunately, I've come up with a few ways to sneak in some quiet time and force myself to slow down. I try to incorporate most, if not all, of these things on a daily basis.

1) Take a long, hot shower. This probably isn't the best response to the drought we're having in California, but it sure does wonders for my sanity. My last house had hot water that lasted about five minutes (I had to take separate showers for washing my hair and shaving), but now I spend the good part of an hour just relaxing in the steam. Go ahead and fine me.

2) Eat a snack by yourself. I'm used to eating hot food after it's gotten cold nowadays, so it's a luxury to sit down with something warm and munch on it in silence. It's normally not a full meal, but even a small snack does the trick. Or ice cream.

3) Enjoy a stroll around the block. Something about walking outside and hearing leaves rustle in the breeze is incredibly calming. I love walking around my neighborhood and I don't pull my phone out unless there's a photo op.

4) Read a chapter from a book. I no longer have much time for reading, so even getting a chapter in feels sinfully good. Bonus points if you choose something fluffy that doesn't take a lot of thought (like 50 Shades of Grey).

5) Talk to a faraway friend. My mom is my go-to person for a healthy chat. She's still in Michigan and we always have something to blab about. It gets my mind off of my own crap and forces me to focus on someone else.

6) Write in your journal. Writing is super cathartic for me (um, obviously) but even if it's not something you normally do, I suggest trying it. A few sentences could help clear your mind.

7) Perform a mindless task. Doing the dishes is a great chore for me because it's easy and boring. Somehow, it helps calm me down when I'm feeling overwhelmed.

8) Hug a loved one. Hugging your dog, partner, roommate -- hell, even a pillow -- releases hormones that make you feel all fuzzy. Cuddling with my baby is the best therapy.

Speaking of relaxing, next week I'll be taking a blogging break and allowing my fabulous guest posters to fill in. But be sure to come back tomorrow for a new project starting November 1st! I can't wait!

*Photo found here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lessons :: Your First Step to Living Loudly

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With so many pressures to look, act and be a certain way, it’s easy for who we really are to get lost in the mix. Unless you’ve lived in a bubble your entire life, you’ve been exposed to all kinds of societal stimuli. You’ve received plenty of subliminal or obvious pointers from friends, family, colleagues and coworkers, people you’ve dated -- not to mention TV, radio, and the good ol’ internet.

When I worked in sales –- which I did, for a very long time –- I always felt as if I was playing a character, or rather, a caricature of myself. I was still displaying parts of me, but they were exaggerated, and other parts were being hidden. Now, don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s required. If you work at a clothing store and you’re having a bad day, you can’t go around being a bitch and flinging shirts at customers. Well, you could, but you’d probably be fired, and I’m not telling you to do all that (though, if your dream is to get out of retail, it may be good for you).

But sometimes, we are so used to putting our game faces on for work –- or for a party or a gig or the grocery store or wherever else you feel you can’t or shouldn’t be vulnerable –- that we lose sight of our original dreams, goals, and personalities. It’s easy for Shopgirl Barbie to blend with the real you until you don’t know who’s who.

And you can’t follow your dreams when you no longer know what they are.

Whenever I lose sight of myself, I think about who I was when I was a little girl. That may sound silly, because we are constantly evolving, but the basic structure of Stephanie Shar never changed.

For example, when I was seven, I liked purple. I liked Disney. I liked wearing cute outfits, and I liked taking pictures. I wrote in a journal, I wrote stories, and I wanted to be a world-famous author one day. Twenty years later, these things haven’t changed.

What about you? What did you like? What did you want? Why aren’t you doing those things now? If you can’t remember your kid self, flip through old diaries or photos. Pull out your VHS player and pop in a home video. What do you see?

If it’s difficult to remember those days (maybe you suffered a traumatic childhood, and for that I’m sorry) think about what you like to do in your quiet moments alone. Do you read, draw, paint, sing, play video games? What is it that makes you most happy, and what’s stopping you from turning that into your career? If you’re not being paid to live your dreams, that’s a big problem, and it’s all too common in today’s corporate-focused world.

Being yourself isn’t just about your work life. If you’re not being genuine with your parents and siblings, friends and roommates, significant other or potential dates, you won’t be happy and you won’t achieve your dreams. Plain and simple. When you portray a false persona –- whether or not you do it on purpose -– you don’t attract the right people. You don’t make the right connections and therefore don’t expand your network (which you’ll need professionally) or build your support system (which you’ll need personally along this journey). Like attracts like.

Iin order to be successful, inspiring, and authentic, you need to surround yourself with those types of people. And in order to attract those people, you need to have those traits yourself. It all comes around full circle.

This is when you’ll learn who your true friends are, because this is when the fake ones will begin to drop off. And, trust me, as painful as it is, it’s awesome. You don’t need them for where you’re going.

This is an excerpt from chapter one of my 25-page e-book, 7 Steps to Living Loudly. Each section ends with a journaling prompt to keep you engaged. Normally it sells for $20, but you can get your copy half off until the end of the year! See reviews and FAQ here, and purchase it in my shop here!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Life :: Blog Tips / 10 Ways to Get Real with Your Readers

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When I was younger, I imagined that one day, someone would find my journals. She'd read about my struggles and successes and know that she's not alone. The internet allowed that dream to come true, and now I'm able to connect with women all over the world. It's pretty amazing.

Keeping a personal element and authentic voice has been crucial to my blogging since day one. I really respect other bloggers who also aren't afraid to be genuine, too. But what if you want to show a slice of "real life" and don't know where to start? As an Aries, an ENFJ, and a self-defined Loudmouth, it's easy for me to write about the intimate details of my days. I'm well aware that not everyone is so open though, and I'm hoping to help you out with some ideas right now.

Don't worry, loves -- you're not required to post a selfie sans makeup or clothing like I did, above. I'm kinda weird and you don't have to be just like me. We'll start small, k?

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1) Write about where you started. I loved the book #GIRLBOSS for many reasons, but mainly because Sophia Amoruso wasn't afraid to admit that she started her company without a degree and only $50 to her name. I find it super inspiring when someone tells their success story but doesn't make it seem easy. Most people have worked really hard to get to where they are, and I appreciate creatives who are transparent about their journey. Whether or not you're exactly where you'd like to be, it'll still be interesting to your readers to hear about how you got there. Everyone has a story to tell and it could inspire someone.

2) Own up to a mistake you made. Last year, I made a big blogging mistake and wrote about it. I also told you guys about my car accident, my quarterlife crisis and my sexually promiscuous past. I've confessed to jealousy, rebounding, and insecurity too. Owning up to our flaws shows how vulnerable, humble and genuine we are. Your readers know that you're not perfect, but they want to know ABOUT that. And when an apology is necessary, they want to hear that you're sorry. Don't be afraid to reveal that you're human.

3) List your personal goals. Another thing that we can all relate to is goals. Whether they're big or small, for business or pleasure, we all make them. It's inspiring for me to read what other bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs and women in general are working towards. Be sure to post updates about your progress, and (to go along with my last point) feel free to admit if you eff it up. As a bonus, share your tips on how to keep and manage goals. Don't forget that 2015 is coming up and most people will make resolutions!

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4) Mention friends and family. I totally respect the privacy policies of others and if you absolutely don't feel right posting pictures, names, or other information about your loved ones, go ahead and skip this point. But if that's not an issue for you, why not introduce your readers to the important people in your life? Everyone who has met me knows that I have a blog, and most people are okay with me posting about them. This is another human element that your readers will enjoy. I know that when I read a blog that never mentions a friend, significant other, or family member, it always makes me wonder.

5) Tell your love story. Similarly, if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/etc, share your story. Even the most bitter and skeptical love to read love stories! There is always a way to tie this in to your blog's theme, too. If you're a food blogger, share a recipe from the first meal you had together. If you post about home decor, write about the first house that you both lived in. If you take fashion photos, recreate the outfits from your first date! When, where and how did your romance begin?

6) Reveal a messy room. In today's Pinterest-perfect society, it can be embarrassing to confess that your home isn't constantly clean. Even though I got some flack for posting a photo of my dirty dishes one time, I also received a lot of feedback from readers saying that their house looked just like mine! Again, this is something that any type of blogger can incorporate. I really enjoy the Casual Friday series at A Beautiful Mess, for example. For years I thought to myself, "where's the mess?" But I love that they finally started posting behind-the-scenes photos and showing the reality of creating (and cleaning up) their projects.

7) Talk about a challenge and how you overcame it. I admire bloggers like Sally, Cassie and Alysia because not only do they share their struggles, but they also explain how they got through them and how you can, too. I hope this doesn't come as a shock to you, but your readers are (mostly) thinking about themselves. People use the internet to find information that they can apply. They want to know what YOU can do for THEM. So, learn to mesh your own life with the lives of your readers. We all face similar challenges and being able to turn to each other for help is what makes the internet so amazing!

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8) Share your blogging secrets. It's clear from this post that I don't mind sharing how to make your blog bigger, better, and more fun. Most of your readers are probably bloggers themselves, and they want to know how you do it. Don't hold back your tips and tricks! Your followers will seriously appreciate you.

9) Mention other hobbies, interests and indulgences. We want to know what you do besides blogging. I mean, you DO like other stuff too, right? (If not, it's probably time to take a break and find something.) You don't want to confuse your readers (or yourself) by making a weekly column about each of your favorite pastimes, but it'd be a good idea to mention them in passing. It's always fun when I find out that a fellow blogger has something random in common with me. Admitting to your guilty pleasure music (mine is Katy Perry), favorite junk food (Golden Oreos with Nutella), or celebrity crush (all of The Avengers) isn't critical information, but does give your followers something else to connect with.

10) Take advantage of social media. If your blog is 100% business and you absolutely CANNOT use tips 1-9, this one is for you. Actually, everyone who has ANY kind of blog should be on social media. This is the best way to connect with your readers as much as possible. No one will fault you for posting photos of yourself, your friends, your kids or your food on Instagram because that's the proper environment for it. Your followers will love reading witty quips, condensed tips, and social commentary on Twitter. And Pinterest is the best place to compile photos of DIY projects you'll never do, recipes you'll never recreate, and wedding inspiration that you won't need for another 5 years. Social networks were made for connection, and they are there for your enjoyment. If there is anything you don't want to share on your blog because it doesn't make sense, maybe you can show and tell it somewhere else. Plus, everyone and their mom has a Facebook, so if you want to broaden your audience that's your answer. Actually, my mom uses it more than me, but I digress. Get out there and get real!

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*All photos taken by me, with my phone and edited with VSCO.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Loves :: Dreams of Traveling for Writing's Sake

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Even though I've been writing since I could talk, blogging for over half my life, and posting here at The Loudmouth Lifestyle since 2010, I've never been to a writing or blogging conference or retreat. It's something that I've always wanted to do, but for some reason, it's just never happened.

I'm determined to make 2015 the year, so I've been researching different weekend excursions across the United States. I was fortunate enough to travel to Las Vegas back in 2011 for a blogger meetup (see all the fun details here), but now I'm looking for something that has classes and workshops to help me hone my craft. I've found 5 possibilities that seem right up my alley.

If you've been to any of these or have a favorite (or are interested in joining me!) feel free to send a tweet or email. I'd love to get more info and it'd be fun to have a buddy on board. Let's do this!

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Name: Allume
When: October 23-25, 2014 (dates for next year TBA)
Where: Greenville, SC
Ticket price: $225
Cost includes: Admission, meals, gift bag, access to all sessions and keynotes

From the website: "Our goal at Allume is to minister to the woman, the blogger, the story teller. We want to love well, encourage, and spur women on to shine the Light that lives within them. We want to serve you in ways that cultivate the Light of Christ in you, help you expand your influence, use your influence well and encourage you with stories of those who are living out that Light. The Allume conference exists to offer a gathering place for kindred spirits to connect, learn, grow, and be refreshed so they can persevere in being a people who bring hope to the world through the social media medium."

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Name: Alt Summit
When: January 21-24, 2015
Where: Salt Lake City, UT
Ticket price: $625
Cost includes: Admission, lunches, parties, access to all sessions and keynotes

From the website: "The founders of Alt Summit come from a blogging family. Understanding that bloggers and creatives needed the connections a live event would offer, an idea was hatched. A live event to discuss what is new, what is working, what is not and what is next. Alt is a place to connect. Finding peers, meeting new friends, brainstorming collaborative ideas and building relationships with brands are all important parts of Alt. Alt is like that amazing few days when you had that burst of inspiration that gave you the strength to connect with that person you had been thinking about which led you to collaborate on that awesome project. You were so tired at the end, but you felt good and you slept hard."

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Name: Your Writing Voice
When: November 13-15, 2014 (dates for next year TBA)
Where: Nashville, TN
Ticket price: $729
Cost includes: Admission, meals, lodging, gift bag, access to all sessions and activities

From the website: "I’m so excited to host this very intimate, intensive writing retreat weekend in my hometown. Have you ever had an experience where you could really let your guard down? You turned off your cell phone and got away from all of the pressures and responsibilities of life and suddenly you found you didn’t have to try hard anymore. You didn’t have to perform. You could just be. That’s what I want this weekend to do. I want it to wake up our senses, to give us permission to drop our defenses, and to help us recover our creative sprits. I want us to feel connected and alive again when we leave. I want this feeling to be able to leak into our lives as writers and as people. I want us to take it home with us."

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Name: Vortext
When: May 29-31, 2015
Where: Whidbey Island, WA
Ticket price: $950
Cost includes: Admission, breakfast and lunch, access to all sessions and keynotes, select workshops

From the website: "Join us for an extraordinary weekend salon at the famed Whidbey Institute led by renowned women writers. Connect in diverse and powerful small-group workshops. Enjoy dynamic keynotes and discussions about opportunities and challenges for women who write. Share meals, open mics, conversation and community in a stunningly beautiful setting. Hedgebrook is a global community of women writers who seek extraordinary books, poetry, plays, films and music by women. A literary nonprofit, our mission is to support visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture."

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Name: The Blogcademy (Level 2 Workshop)
When: February 28-1, 2015
Where: Los Angeles, CA
Ticket price: $999
Cost includes: Admission, gift bag, access to all classes and activities

From the website: "It's time to level up. If you're serious about growing your business online, you'll learn all about it as we teach you how to brand and position yourself, what (and how) you should outsource, and give you the lowdown on creating products that sell! You'll get a branded pouch, access to our forum, and a 40+ page digest-style book. Plus there's free time for brainstorming, networking, and one-on-one feedback. We believe in sharing information, supporting each other, and expressing your true self. But most importantly, we want you to know that it's completely possible to live life on your terms."

PS: This is my 1,000th post! Thanks for reading. You guys are the best!

*Header photo found here.
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