Does Anybody Really Know What Lies Ahead?

On the other side

Life is full of surprises. And that’s what keeps it interesting. You never really know what awaits in the next minute, hour, day, or month. But seeing my little guy pressing his tiny hand against this airplane window was a poignant reminder of how we should keep lunging forward into life, reaching toward our goals, no matter the uncertainty, doubt, or fear.

So this November, I plan to forget what lies behind—including the mishaps, failures, and mistakes—and to reach for the things that lie ahead (Philippians 3:13).

No turning back. Only pressing forward.

Do you spring clean your blogroll?

Are you in the habit of spring cleaning your blog roll or your following on social media?

I just spent the past hour pruning my blogroll, essentially unfollowing blogs that are either dead or haven’t been active for more than a year.

Blogroll

For someone who hates clutter, it feels good to clean up shop; there’s something unsettling about a long blog list with inactive links.

Building a better blogroll

So what inspired this cleanup? A post titled Build a Better Blogroll by Michelle W.

As per advice in this article, I accessed the “Blogs I Follow” widget on my site to display some fav bloggers. But alas, my blogroll was populated by a bunch of dead avatars, necessitating some weeding and a much more selective approach. I was able to whittle it down by 30 blogs!

Iron sharpens iron: Expanding my Reader feed

Now that I’ve pruned my blogroll, I find myself in need of new bloggers to follow.

Reader

Let’s be honest, the blogosphere is intimidating. The amount of talent out there is vast and replete with incredible voices often articulating things better than I could ever imagine. But if I’m to improve my writing and expand my blogular niche, I’ve got to put myself out there. After all, “iron sharpens iron.”

So here I am, looking to connect with like-minded folks as I build a blogroll that’s on fleek! I enjoy fun, interactive voices that blog about:

  • Parenting/motherhood/family
  • Inspirational life experiences
  • Faith/Christianity
  • Social justice
  • Photography
  • Science

I hope this doesn’t sound like an online dating jig (no shade). Wish me luck as I go to meet new people.

Are You Fluent in Emoji?

Emoji

Yes, I’m a self-confessed dummy when it comes to “speaking” emoji.

A Japanese transplant, the word emoji literally means “picture” (e) + “character” (moji) or “picture letter.”

I can handle the simple Smiling Face 🙂 or Disappointed Face :(, but I have no idea how or when to use the myriad of other emoji.

Only today, I discovered the icon for The Joy emoji —also referred to on the ­Emojipedia website as “Face With Tears of Joy” or “the LOL Emoji.”

In an effort to stave off my ignorance, I thought it was time to learn this evolving language, so as to better use the emoji keyboard next time it flashes on my smart phone.

Take the quiz: How well do you speak emoji?

Below you’ll find meanings for some basic emoji. Check out Emojipedia for a more comprehensive list of emoji meanings.

Emoji

Emoji-2

Related articles:

Laundry Relaxes Me

Laundry

Sometimes the mundane things in life bring the most relaxation. On days when my brain is fried, I do laundry.

Sure, laundry is usually an annoying chore for most people. But, the freshness and sheer accomplishment of an empty dirty laundry basket is so rewarding.

What seemingly “annoying” tasks bring you peace and relaxation?

The Fight of Her Life

She fought her way into this world,
darkness tried to snuff her, but she refused to die.
She was created for purpose,
darkness tried to seduce her, but she chose to live.

The noose around her neck tightened. The same cord that kept her alive for many months was now suffocating her. Her tiny heart pumped furiously, trying to keep up with the oxygen demand. Her neurons fired rapidly; messages signalling danger activated her fight or flight response. All systems were geared for battle.

Voices from beyond shouted, “We need to move quickly. We only have 5 minutes to get her out.”

Though she felt trapped and frightened, she focused on the light emanating from the angels assigned to her. The 2 beautiful, statuesque beings held her tiny hands and sang melodies:

You shall go out with joy
And be let forth with peace,
And the mountains and the hills
Will break forth before you
There’ll be shouts of joy
And all the trees of the fields
Will clap, will clap their hands

“Three more minutes,” the voices shouted. “OK, I can do this,” she fought valiantly.

Suddenly, there was a flood of light. Blinded, she screamed. Choking, she contorted her body like a wild animal.

She was out.

“So this is my new home,” she smiled. She waved good-bye to her winged protectors and collapsed in exhaustion.

 

Village Life

Simplicity

Simplicity defines me.
Humility and gratitude inspire me.
Nothing conjures up these emotions as do reflections on village life.

Growing up, I recall being envious of friends who vacationed at exotic European and North American cities. Meanwhile, my family would spend summer holidays visiting relatives in various parts of Tanzania. I remember leaving the comfort and convenience of the city to vacation in places with no running water or electricity. Some may call it camping, but to us, it was everyday living.

Today, in my adulthood, I’ve come to truly appreciate the offerings of village life, which is far more dynamic than meets the eye. From the outside, village life appears simple, primitive, and even boring. But search deeper, and you’ll discover a wealth of stories, community, and tradition.

Still, village life is totally different from city living. The days are bright, colorful, and energetic. The nights are long, dark, and ripe for storytelling. What’s amazing is that the tranquility and purity of the village atmosphere allow for deep self-reflection. Limited power and connectivity allow me to effectively disengage from the constant buzz of the city and truly be present in the moment.

So I embrace village life. Are you a village (small town) or city person?

This post is part of the Zero to Hero 30-Day Blog Challenge: Day 1 – Who am I?

What’s in a Connection?

What is it about humans that makes us crave connection?
Personally, one of the best things about blogging is the interaction and sense of community it fosters.

ConnectionI value connecting with people and reading about their thoughts and experiences, as well as travelling to different locations through their photography. I enjoy sending comments back and forth and welcoming folks into my world. I appreciate the sense of belonging that comes with blogging consistently; it fuels my confidence and reinforces my sense of mattering.

Granted, when I first started Uwana I wanted to remain somewhat anonymous. I figured that blogging would be a great opportunity for me to create this whole new persona and be whomever I wanted to be. Truthfully though, anonymity was intended to protect me from the “real” world. Yes, I was insecure about the content on my blog:

  • Does what I have to say matter?
  • Will folks even read my content?
  • Will they care to connect?

The clincher: you can only run away from yourself for so long.

Although I’m still apprehensive about how much to share, I find I’m being challenged to be more vulnerable, because being vulnerable is not weakness.

So what if my words don’t always resonate with folks? If I continue being me, without harming or offending anyone, it’s all good!

But, I will say that the WordPress community is awesome. I’ve connected with fantastic people and visited so many inspiring, thought-provoking, encouraging, beautiful, honest, and funny blogs. The talent and creativity out there is astounding; it’s a testament to the unique DNA that each of us carries: we all have amazing stories to tell.

How much of yourself do you share on your blog?
What vibe does your blog radiate?
Do you use an alias (I guess this would defeat the purpose of an alias though, wouldn’t it)?

Of relevance:

10 Traits I look for in a Blog or Blog Post

This post is inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt: What makes a blog great? What makes you follow a blog or “Like” a post?

Genius baby

Reading posts, liking posts, commenting on posts, following blogs … all of this takes time. Because time is precious, I’ve got to be smart about where and how I spend it. So I asked myself, What key traits do I look for in a blog or blog post?

1 − Purpose

Before following a blog, I like to know whom I’m connecting with: Who are you? What’s your vision? Why this blog?

For me, the “About” page can be a deal breaker; if I find generic content in an About page, I tend to get irritated and leave (confession is good for the soul).

2 − Authenticity

Authenticity is a game changer when deciding to follow a blog. I’m drawn to bloggers who keep it 100 in their blog posts and commentary section. I have tremendous respect for bloggers who show interest in their readers by responding to comments and engaging in dialogue. Such people are downright personable and approachable.

3 − Enticing blog post title or photography

You had me at the title. Sometimes all it takes to get me hooked on a blog post is a fantastic title or breathtaking photography. The first few sentences of a blog post are also important for gauging whether I’ll continue reading or click “X.”

4 − Inspiring, challenging content

The bloggers I tend to follow are those who have something insightful to say, and it shows in their blog posts. Their content is intelligent, witty, and thought-provoking. It inspires me to write better and do better.

Shh — Don’t tell anyone, but I also weed out blog posts based on their word count: I’m intimidated by anything > 750 words.

5 − Personality

Blogs have personality, after all there is a real person behind that monitor. Personality can be expressed through:

  • A playful and relaxed voice or writing style
  • Fun images or photos
  • Telling sincere, engaging stories

I’m more likely to follow a blog or “Like” a blog post that leaves me feeling blessed, encouraged, and knowledgeable.

6 − Passion

Passion oozes. It’s infectious. It’s attractive. It’s motivating. It drives me to click “Like” or “Follow.”

7 − Consistency

If I’m going to invest my time following a blog, I’ve got to feel like the blogger is committed, at least for a little while. It can be disappointing to be wooed in by the charm and content of a blog only to realize after a couple of weeks that it’s no longer active, and without a goodbye. I find that consistent, quality content goes a long way towards building relationships.

8 − Appearance

Yes, looks do matter. I enjoy visiting blogs whose designs are clean, colorful, and inviting. A blog’s appearance is important for readability: clutter, poor color choices, and inappropriate images can tarnish a blog post, even if it contains good information.

9 − Shared interests

Iron sharpens iron right? I tend to like blog posts that resonate with me at a personal and spiritual level.

10 − Navigability

Navigability is important. I enjoy blogs that are easy to navigate; where I can quickly and easily find additional content. An organized blog with meaningful pages and a structured sidebar is attractive.

What traits would you add?

Read what others have written here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Christmas in Spring

Montreal winters are not for the faint of heart!

The frigid temperatures and blustery blizzards make for hectic commuting. Then again, Montreal winters are awesome for winter sports and water fountain small talk. Everyone and anyone has an opinion about the crazy, beautiful, unpredictable winters that are unique to Montreal.

That being said, here’s a sneak peek of a day in my life during a Montreal snowstorm. These pictures were taken during the ~25-inch snowfall of March 19, 2013 … on the eve of spring no less!

Please enjoy, “Christmas in Spring.”

What does a day in your life look like? To see what others are saying, check out the Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day In My Life.

Related articles