Calligraphy Update: Module 1 Complete!

I’ve done it! I’ve completed workbook 1 of my learning calligraphy course and I’m loving it.

I feel like I have come on leaps and bounds since beginning this journey. If you haven’t read my last post all about learning calligraphy drills then head over.

So this module was learning minuscule letters (did you know minuscule letters began being called Lower Case letters, because that’s where Printers used to keep them… in the lower section of an actual case full of individual letters?) .

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Each week we would learn how to form the letters using the standard drill shapes we’d previously learned, and seeing how they would fit together to create actual letters.

And then we would practice practice practice. Every week I would go back and write the whole alphabet ‘so far’.

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I would do this from memory as much as I could, and then try to write words that only included the letters I’d learned so far! I haven’t learned how to link the letters properly yet, but I improvised where I needed to!

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Not only was I learning brush pen lettering, but I was able to use the skills I’d learned to write simple lettering too.

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Trying to fit it all on one page began to get harder, so I squidged it all in!

At the start of the process we were asked to write the whole alphabet out, ahead of learning how to form the letters properly, and not refer to any learning materials we already had. Then at the end write out what we knew the alphabet should look like, so we could compare.

Here’s mine!

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I’m very pleased with how I’ve improved, and obviously I’ll continue to practice! I am being inspired to create some exciting stuff, so I can only get better!

I’m really enjoying learning this new skill. The next module is majuscule letters (or Upper Case – these were kept in the upper part of the case by Printers….) so soon I’ll be able to write names properly (lol!)

Onwards and upwards!

I’ve Been Thinking…

It’s been 20 years since I started blogging, and the last 2 or 3 have been a whirlwind. I discovered the blogging community, put my heart and soul into it, and learned a lot about how to play the blogging game.

I found out that 15 year olds are evolving into marketers, pushing their brands, and understanding engagement better than me. I also saw the darker side – successful bloggers and vloggers prepared to lie to gain follows and likes at the cost of people who they would have previously called friends. Greed, jealousy and bitterness prevailing.

It taught me to support people who show courage and confidence, no matter what my taste. To support the endeavours of people who follow their dreams and display integrity. But most recently, I’ve learned that it’s okay to step back.

I’ve learned all of these things, but in the last few months the blogging community has become bitter and disillusioned. I rarely see support or originality any more. The people who I used to talk to have stepped back from twitter (I noticed that they probably moved away at the same time as I did) and I kind of miss them. Twitter chats are now all about the ‘business’ side of blogging and influencing, whereas they used to dabble in this but also involve chats about favourite travel destinations and music. I miss that too.

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In the last couple of years I dabbled in YouTube. Then a few weeks ago I was watching some videos and realised that I actually cringed at the start of one random one that came up in a playlist. It was less professional, badly shot and really just pretty bad. And I thought to myself, I wonder if people feel that way when they see my videos? And from that moment, I decided YouTube isn’t for me. That doesn’t mean I won’t make another video if it seems relevant, but I’m not going to make an effort to try to make videos. It was fun whilst I did it, but I’m not going to force something that doesn’t feel natural.

I also decided that since I don’t want to become an influencer, I really need to just stick to my roots. I don’t want this to be a profession. I don’t want to be pitching to brands, stalking my stats or worrying about likes and follows. I won’t completely ignore the numbers because it’s nice to see progression, it’s nice to get likes and it’s lovely to feel wanted by the people who read my blog BUT I’m not going to chase it. I haven’t updated my media kit in ages, I don’t know what my DA is and I haven’t poured over my twitter analytics in ages. I’m focussing on my content rather than my following. And surely that’s the correct way around, right?

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I read so many blogs that aren’t original, have basically no content, and just ‘fit’ the profile of what a blog should be – they have a decent following, but they don’t stand out. Naturally that makes me question my content, how I promote myself, whether I’m less than them. But I’m not, I’m just not in the same game as them.

Blogging is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy writing, sharing my story and receiving any contact back from my readers. So here is where I get back to it. I’ll post what I want, when I want, as I always have. But when I post I’m particularly proud of gets less engagement than one I consider less interesting, I’ll not fret. I wrote it, I posted it and I’m proud of it.

The end.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

We have now reached that awkward stage in the year where Christmas is over, the new year hasn’t arrived yet and we’re all sort of in limbo.

I like to use this part of the year to reflect on the last 12 months, as many do. I also like to take down the Christmas tree as soon as I can and start tidying and cleaning. No doubt some kind of diet or detox will be on my plan due to all the rich food and drinks I’ve consumed over Christmas. I also tend to try a new skincare routine, which I love for the whole week and then have to go back to work, lose the will to spend the time on my face and go back to soap and water….. (shock horror!)

Anyway, one thing I have done for the past 2 or 3 years is look back and look forward in a more tangible way. Each year, on Christmas Eve, Gary and I read a letter we have written the previous Christmas Eve. It’s a letter we’ve written to ourselves asking about things for the future year. Things we want to achieve, things we wonder and things we’d like to change. We read our own letters and then read out anything we want to each other. I honestly had no idea what I’d written in this year’s before I read it.

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I really enjoy this new tradition we started 3 years ago, because it really puts a timestamp on the mentality I was in when I wrote the letter a year previously, and it sets the tone for the next letter. A year goes so fast but it’s easy to forget how much we do, see and how much we change in that 12 months. Reading my letter year on year really reminds me of this. We keep each year’s letters and at some point in the future I’m sure we’ll re-read them. Or maybe we won’t. It’s just nice knowing they’re there!

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Another tradition we started last year and brought through to this year is a Happy Things jar. I cut strips of coloured paper, and whenever we feel grateful or particularly happy or excited about something we write it onto a strip of paper. Then we roll up the strip and pop it into the jar. On New Year’s Eve we open the jar and take it in turns to read out what’s written. I really enjoyed doing this last year so I’m excited to do it again this year.ny4

 

These are only new traditions, but they make me feel really happy. I love the idea of continuing this for many years to come. Counting my blessings is so important to me. It helps to keep me grounded and grateful for the things I have and what I have achieved. It calms my brain and makes me a better person.

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If you like the idea of these simple traditions, why not start one (or both!) yourself? It’s so easy to write a letter to yourself, and as long as you don’t forget where you put it you’ll have something to look forward to in a year.

I’d love to hear if you do anything similar in your family. Share your traditions with me!

Keeping It Real

You’re browsing through random lifestyle blogs and you come across it – a crisp white blog with the fantastic photography. A flawless blogger who never has a hair out of place; she has a bottomless bank account and seems to always find herself at the fanciest parties. Sense a little jealousy from me? Well maybe a tad, but it’s short lived when you realise that this blogger is a member of an ever growing niche that I have become fond of calling ‘Flogging’ or Fake-Blogging (yes, I’m coining this term – make sure you credit me!)

The art of Flogging involves a very carefully curated collection (nice alliteration!) of events, belongings, opinions, lifestyles and even acquaintances, designed to create the perfect persona. Her photographs usually show a minimalist home, only the trendiest of clothes and often she knows little boutiques or restaurants that no one will have heard of. This is all well and good if this really is what they’re like, but as you get to know these people (or if you know of them in real life) you start to realise that it’s all for show.

These are extreme examples, but it’s very hard as a blogger not to fall into this trap. You want followers, to be liked, to be aspired to, so you make certain choices. I know in the past I have chosen a certain combination of ice cream flavours, for example, because it was more photogenic and look better in a blog post. Bad Erin. I like that my blog is a variation of fitness, general life, events, places and product reviews. I never orchestrate my posts, but I will choose what I will and won’t write – I know some of my posts are boring, and some are interesting, but that’s because some of my life is boring and some is interesting! What you read is what you get if you meet me. But for some reason I’m really intrigued by these fake lives. They’re like reading a soap opera, even though you know it’s not real, it’s addictive to find out what’s coming next.

However, when I read a blog I like to see the personality of the person writing it. I like to read opinions, likes and dislikes and not just where someone went or the latest new thing they tried. It takes some work to research some subjects or network with companies you like. You have to link with people and places and genuinely spend time – but it’s not hard if you’re wanting to write about something you love. I’ve noticed a lot of these Floggers only write about things that are becoming super trendy, just before they kick off – and often they’re brands or products that I’ve already blogged about previously, because I’ve found them myself and really really love them.

And that’s why I could never become a Flogger. I love to write about what I love – my friends, my experiences, what I ate or saw – because I love my life, and that’s why I want to share it with you, 1 reader or 1000 readers! So know that you’ll always get an honest post from me. The photography might be a bit shoddy. The opinions and subject matter in my blog posts might not always be your cup of tea – feel free to skip those – but know that what you get from me and my blog is 100% real, never fabricated or embellished. That’s the way I like it and I hope you do too!

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Follow on Bloglovin

I’m Blog Lovin’

I’ve written about my love for blogs, blogging and my favourite blogs before and I’m sure I’ll do it again. I gain a huge amount of joy from reading what you write and seeing what you think of what I’m blogging. But I was getting a little frustrated with the ease of going to and from my favourite blogs and seeing when they were updated. I use the WordPress reader which can only show me blogs from WordPress. I have bookmarks to my other favourites on my phone and my computer but remembering to check for updates isn’t my strong point – and when I do remember I get frustrated that I’ve missed loads of updates and have to catch up.

So I put out a plea on twitter for a iPhone based app which could let me store all my favourite blogs in one place. As a result I found Blog Lovin’. It’s a web and mobile based blog reader. Firstly it looks pretty:

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(Left:)You can search for new blogs using its web address, categories or country. Add blogs that you want to show in your reader and edit them any time. Claim your own blog so you can gain followers and get onto the top blogs spot.

(Right:) The reader looks clean and fresh and will grey out all your read blogs.

You can ‘like’ posts so they will show up in your ‘Liked Posts’ section for quick reference. The whole thing is so easy and looks pretty. What’s more is that Blog Lovin’ is also web-based so you can get pretty much the same experience on your desktop, but there’s also a taskbar widget you can add to your browser which will update to let you know if there are any newly published blogs for you to read. I’m a bit in love with it.

As a blogger you can add a little follow button to your blog to let people know you’re on Blog Lovin’ and allow people to add you to their reader. Here’s mine 😀
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Simples – I really do recommend Blog Lovin’ to any bloggers especially iPhone users who want to be kept up to date. I’ve got my Mum’s blog on there, friend’s blogs and I’m finding more amazing blogs via the app. It’s too easy and I love that it’s all in one place! Hope to see you there 😀