The Importance of Creative Side Projects

The Importance of Creative Side Projects

There are so many advantages to having a side project, especially if it’s something that pulls out your creativity. I love my job. I truly do. But my job doesn’t define me, nor is it what my life revolves around.

To stay sane, I freelance and work on a couple of passion projects. And you know what? My boss loves it because it keeps me happy and motivated, which in turn, makes me a better worker for my company.

I am a firm believer in the fact you need to make time for the things you love. By doing so, you’ll create a healthy work/life balance and not feel drained by your day job. It should go without saying, but it’s important to not lose your passions after you accept a job, especially if your new profession is demanding.

When you have a steady income, that can make the side projects you have feel much more fulfilling. There isn’t pressure to hold down your creative side, You have the freedom to try different things, like taking the cooking class you always wanted to try. Take up painting or photography. I write in my spare time; throughout the work day, I’m able to write a bit on breaks and over lunch. Not only does it feed my soul, it boosts my brain and gives me a burst of energy, especially when I have hit a wall.

The other nice thing about having a day job and with various passion projects on the side is that it not only shows you can manage your time well, but that you have a diverse set of interests. This builds your set of skills too, which makes your resume look great when you’re looking for a new job.

You can even turn your creative side projects into money makers. Become an expert in something you enjoy by taking an online class or getting a certification, then doing some freelance work on the side.

Keeping a creative side hustle keeps your brain sharp, your resume stacked, and your life full. Make time for something you love each day – your soul will thank you!

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3

I Took A Social Media Detox… Should You?

I Took A Social Media Detox… Should You?

Over the last decade, it’s no secret that social media has wildly grown and become an essential piece of our daily lives. There are SO many pros to using a social media network, like connecting with friends, co-workers, family, or meeting awesome new friends. We can make connections around the globe and aren’t limited to the people who live in our vicinity. It’s truly a beautiful thing, when used correctly.

For me, Facebook became a site I logged into out of habit and rarely enjoyed my visit. I would endlessly scroll through the timeline and became increasingly annoyed at most of the posts I read. I got to a point where I would log in and think, “Why am I even here?”

Sure, I enjoyed seeing updates from friends and family about their happy lives, but i could no longer tolerate or scroll past the users who would blindly share incorrect information or misleading/fake news stories. I wanted to shake the person posting and scream, “Seriously, it takes 30 seconds to open Google and verify something these days!” I even texted a friend and said those exact words. Their response? They didn’t care or think it was a big deal. I finally reached a breaking point.

I decided to actually do something about it. I couldn’t continue correcting people in the comments (yeah, it’s fine, I was that person…). It was time for me to bid my adieus and bow out gracefully. But that isn’t the answer for everyone!

How do you know a social media detox, whether it’s in the form of deactivation or deletion, is right for you? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this adding joy to my life, or is it simply a way to pass time?
  • Would I miss it if I didn’t have it?
  • Am I wasting too much time endlessly scrolling through a news feed, only to find myself annoyed or angry at the content I view?

That third question was a big YES for me and that’s how I knew it was time to detox. I ended up deleting my Facebook account in May after having it for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS! I mean, the archive this website had on me was insane (which, to be honest, was a great reason to delete it). I was worried I would have a serious case of FOMO, but I don’t. Sure, I miss connecting with friends and family but deleting has (happily) forced me to make phone calls and send texts/emails to the people I love.

I still have Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve changed my habits on both of those platforms after this detox. I took a small break from posting anything on those networks and even deleted the apps off my iPhone for a couple of weeks. I missed those much more than Facebook, though. It didn’t take long to reinstall those and I didn’t have a sense of dread when I did. I kind of had the “first day of school” feeling — you know, when you’re excited to get back to see all your friends and hear about what they did during the break!

When I decided to end my detox with Twitter and Instagram, the first two questions I mentioned before were now easily answered: yes, these do bring joy to my life (but also to pass time when I am waiting for someone or something), and yes, I did miss it when I didn’t have it. That’s how I knew I took enough time away.

Deleting Facebook was a bigger decision, given I was connected with family and friends. That, and I used Facebook for professional purposes. I help moderate several pages and groups on different networks for the podcasts on which I work, and I simply can’t abandon them. I found a way to work around this and still have a successful detox and/or removal of my main account, but it does require some effort.

  1. Make a new “burner” account. Create a new, separate profile without any friends or personal details (or what you consider to be the bare minimum of information for your profession).
  2. Log back into your original account and make that new burner account an admin/editor of all the pages you run. If you work for a company, make sure you clear this with your boss first!
  3. Log into the new profile and test! Double-check your permissions are correct and that you have access to everything you need.
  4. Wait a couple of weeks. Make sure you have everything you need from your original account before pulling the plug. Or, just rip off the bandaid – honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?
  5. Click that delete button! It’ll feel so good, I promise.

Would I detox again? Absolutely. I think it’s healthy to take a break from everything in life every now and again – it’s just like taking a vacation from work. Sometimes you just need to unplug!

Budget-Friendly Online Courses

Budget-Friendly Online Courses

Love to learn? Hone your craft or pick up a new skill via these websites to enhance your learning experience!

Calling all creatives, professionals, and lifelong learners! If you’re a vina who enjoys learning something new or honing a skill you have tucked away in your back pocket, there are many resources available around the web that can fulfill your educational needs on the cheap. Some require subscriptions, are free, and others are pay-per-course. Below, I’ve gathered some of my favorite sites to take online classes that are not only fun, but provide a great end-user experience.

GET CREATIVE

Brit+Co is a great place to browse for classes. Prices are in the $25-50 range (never more than $90) and they offer many online classes to help you cultivate your creative side. The artsy courses they provide include calligraphy, how to kill it on Instagram, cookie decorating, how to throw a great cocktail party, and much more!

Level up and take a course with your vinas! They have a cool painting course you can purchase for a lovely Saturday night in with your vinas for just $29.00! Hit up your local hobby store to purchase the supplies (a list is provided) and have everyone pitch in to make it even more affordable. Just don’t forget the wine and snacks!

BE PROFESSIONAL

There are a few sites you can check out for courses that will help you advance your career. One of them is Canvas, the network that provides classes taught by some of the most prestigious universities in the world for free! Learn about Molecular Epidemiology from Ohio State University or The Best Practices for Biomedical Research Data Management from Harvard Medical School. Browse their course catalog to see if there’s something that piques your interest!

Skillshare is another favorite I discovered last year when a writer I follow on Twitter, Ashley C. Ford, promoted a course she was teaching about creative writing. Their categories include Creative, Lifestyle, Business, and Technology. There’s truly something for everyone; you can learn about accounting, management, graphic design, web development, and so much more—all taught by seasoned professionals. Skillshare is a paid service. You can either pay $15/month or $99/year. I recommend signing up for their free trial (an entire month) so you try before you buy.

FOR THE BIGGER BUDGET

Got some cash to burn and want to learn something from someone famous? Got’cha covered, babe. I’m a big fan of MasterClass, a site where you can learn specific skills or professions from the greats themselves. Take a course on cooking taught by Gordon Ramsay, learn photography from Annie Leibovitz, or enroll in a class on writing by Judy Blume or James Patterson. Each instructor provides video and workbook (PDF) lessons and walks you through how they’ve becoming successful over the course of their varied careers.

Once you enroll, you can go at your own pace and get involved with other classmates through their community, The Hub. The courses are $90/each but if you plan to take more than one or two in a calendar year, I highly recommend the year pass for $180. It’s so worth it!

Now that I’ve given you some different venues to check out, open up your browser and start checking out what these sites have to offer. You’re sure to find something you enjoy, either solo or to take with some friends. Don’t forget to share with us what you find in the comments below! 

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received

The Best Advice I’ve Ever Received

Need some advice? Check out these wisdom tips from women around the world!

When faced with a tough situation, how do you handle it? Do you clam up or ask for advice? If you’re like me, you seek advice from all the strong people around you to help you move forward. I usually look to my vinas, my family, or my husband to help me sort through the mess.

Over the years, I’ve been given some great advice but hands down, the best advice I’ve ever received came from my father. During a very difficult time of our lives, I was trying to make sense of a terrible situation and wanted to keep trying to “fix” things. Everything I offered came up short and I felt lost. Then, he said to me:

“Be silent. Be still.”

Those four little words smacked me right upside the head. I, having been a talker and a fixer for most of my life, really took it to heart. I don’t need to respond to everything. I don’t need to fix everything. It’s comparable to the iconic song “Let It Be” by The Beatles— I just needed to learn how to simply sit back and let things work themselves out. 

This advice was sort of like the phrases, “this too shall pass” and “don’t feed the trolls” but seemed so simple and easier to follow. Once I realized the impact being silent and still could make, it was much easier to deal with the situation. That, and not adding fuel to the fire helps it burn out quicker.

Pondering this, I wondered what others had to offer. I asked several vinas: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? The response blew me away; I would have to publish a book to include them all! I sifted through the advice given by many of these women and gathered a pretty solid list here to pass along to you. These range from general life advice to handling relationships. You’re going to want to bookmark this one, babes!

ON LIFE:

“You’re never going to be good at it until you’re not afraid to be bad at it.” – Erin

“Your greatest passions can often be found within your deepest wounds.” – Danielle

“Stop and ask yourself: is this going to matter in five days? Five months? Five years from now? Almost always, the answer is no.” – Haley

“There’s no hope for a better past, only for a better future.” – Elizabeth

“Don’t complain about a problem without trying for a solution.” – Jessie

“No one will advocate for you but you!” – Jenna

ON RELATIONSHIPS:

“It’s OK to walk away from toxic people for your own mental health, even when it’s an immediate family member.” – Erin

“Approach every argument in a relationship as US versus THE PROBLEM, instead of YOU versus ME.” – Allisa

“The 3-Cs from AL-ANON has helped me immensely—not just with loved ones and addiction, but with relationships and dealing with others’ issues in general: I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it.” – Bridget

“You can’t control others, only yourself. You do you and the rest will come.” – Abby

ON WHAT OTHERS THINK OF YOU:

“People can say whatever they want about you. You just make sure it isn’t true.” – Cee

“What other people think of you is none of your business.” – Meron

FOR THE SAKE OF HUMOR (AND TRUTH):

“Don’t start none, won’t be none.” – Mona

“You don’t want bangs – you want therapy.” – Anastasia

What’s the best advice YOU ever received?

Become the Friend Your Friends Confide In

Become the Friend Your Friends Confide In

Get advice. Give advice. And be an awesome friend in a few easy steps. 

What do you do when a vina comes to you for advice? You probably try to help them make the best decision when they’re in the midst of any sort of predicament, right? 

It is always best to remain objective, no matter the situation. What’s best for you may not always be best for your friend. But what’s the best way to put aside your personal opinions and think about what will make them the happiest?

Here’s how to create a judgement free zone that allows your friend to open up, talk through life with you, and makes you the number one choice she goes to about important life decisions.

DON’T MAKE IT ABOUT YOU

When your vina is trying to make a decision, avoid saying “if it were me” or “well, I would do ‘x’ if I were you.” That doesn’t usually help (unless, of course, she’s specifically asks what you would do in that situation). Think about your friend’s wants and needs; what is truly best for her? If you know her well you probably have an idea of how she feels in most situations.

Ask her questions about what she’s going through?

Examples:
How would you feel if ____ turned out to lead to ____?
What do you hope this will result in?
What other options could exist that you haven’t thought of yet?
Why do you feel like ____?
What does your gut say?

Which leads into the next tip… 

DON’T GIVE UNSOLICITED ADVICE

If they want advice, they’ll ask for it. Just be a good listener until then. Your advice will likely be catered toward what you would do in the situation.

You can also help your pal make the best decision (for her) by asking “what if” questions about the situation. What if she decides to go with option A instead of options B or C? What are the pros and cons, potential outcomes, or consequences of making a choice one way or another? Make it a discussion.

DON’T PUSH FOR AN IMMEDIATE DECISION

Unless the problem is super time-sensitive, let your friend take their time to weigh the potential outcomes. By that time, they may have asked for your advice or  had you weigh in a little, so you’ve given them all the fuel they need to make the best decision themselves. It’s ok to check in and see how she’s doing.

BE SUPPORTIVE, ALWAYS

Once they have come to their own conclusion, support it. Even if it’s something you wouldn’t do, the best life you can life is the one that you feel aligns authentically with you. You can still be there and understand that they have made a choice that is good for them. The bottom line: everyone is different. What’s good for you isn’t always best for another person. Keeping that in mind, you can be empathetic and understand where they’re coming from. Knowing that you are helping them make the best decision for them, and knowing that they will do the same for you when the time comes.

Why I Journal

Why I Journal

Keeping a journal has been an essential piece of my writing process, since the moment I became a writer all those years ago. Putting the pen on the page and letting my thoughts spill out before me is not just comforting, but helpful – even if I am just doodling or writing about how much I dig the pen I’m using.

Journaling been so many things to me, but the three things below are what I find most important about my journaling journey.

BRAINSTORMING

When I am working on a project (personally or professionally), I often start with brainstorming. I will literally just start writing down topics, key words, random thoughts, or any tangent of an idea that I’m having at that moment that is connected with the task at hand. When I take to my journal to hash out potential ideas for a blog, poem, or for a process at work, I let my pen narrate my thoughts. It helps me to visual the ideas I have, either in front of me on the page or displayed on a white board. And because I love lists, it helps me organize my thoughts and formulate a plan to move forward.

LOGGING LIFE, EXPERIENCES, AND PROJECT PROGRESS

I have more notebooks than I need, so I usually use them for separate things. I have a journal for personal thoughts, a small journal I keep in my purse for musings on the fly, legal pads for outlining, etc. I also write down big things that happen during every day life, so I can look back and see how I changed, for better or worse. When I got married this past spring, I recorded our weekend and the epic road trip that followed, so my husband and I could read it later and remember exactly how our marriage began.

A few years ago, I decided to dive head-first into fiction and began writing a novel (and I won’t lie, it’s taking forever because, you know, life). I started a journal for that project mainly to chronicle my thoughts, shortcomings, and victories while working on the piece. How wonderful it will be to look back on that journal when I finally finish the book, to see how I grew as a writer. And who knows, maybe I’ll find gems years later that prompt the next endeavor!

THERAPY

Ah. Therapy! Perhaps the most important reason why I keep a journal. Since I was a pre-teen, I have written down my thoughts to sort through them. Those angsty teen (and let’s face it, early twenty-something) feelings I had were always worked out between the pages of my private journal. The things I went through as a kid, teenager, and young adult – I was able to sort through the weird thoughts and feelings by writing down how I felt in the moment. I don’t know where I would be, emotionally and mentally, if it weren’t for my journals.

One of the most therapeutic exercises I’ve done is not even keeping some of those pages inside the journal. To work through the tough stuff I write down exactly how I’m feeling. Maybe it’s directed at a person, or just how I’m feeling in general. When I’m finished, I make a deal with myself: once I destroy this paper, I will let it all go. That’s when I rip it to shreds. I flush it down the toilet or I burn it. It’s a strange relief, I must say. It honestly helps me move forward.

What are your reasons and how does journaling help you? Even if you aren’t a writer, give it a shot. You might be surprised with where journaling will take you!

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3