Internet Etiquette, Lifestyle Blogging, and Mental Health

Last Monday (July 10th) was my husband Jim's birthday. We spent the day before grilling food, sipping drinks, playing music, and chatting with loads of new friends. Then, on his birthday, Jim and I went to our local city council meeting. Jim got up, during the questions and comments segment, and expressed his concern about the way the city government tracks and reports city wide greenhouse gas emissions. It was exactly how he wanted to spend his birthday.

I look a bit like I'm confused about his birthday activity in this photo, but in all honesty, I'm feeling guilty for not sending him an online love letter the way I've done for many years. It felt very right and important to be where we were, though.
I didn't send him Facebook or Instagram love notes on his birthday either. (To be honest, I'm very inconsistent with wishing anyone happy birthday online, anyways.) He doesn't need the expression of my love in the form of social media. He's thankful of course, but the etiquette of the internet is not something he particularly cares about.

It's gotten me thinking a lot about lifestyle blogging and internet etiquette though. The way I saw it was if the internet is your hobby then you're free to come and go as you please and you don't really owe anyone anything there, apart from your main communication and upkeep of friendships. (If I don't wish you happy birthday online, it's not a personal attack.) That's how I see it anyway. I may log out, take social media breaks, and not feel the pressure to "keep up" with it all, all the time.

What does that mean for this blog though? If you're here you're either a friend or family member looking to keep up with my life or someone who I may not know but enjoys what I write. (Either way, I'm grateful you're here.) This blog has always been a hobby that has maybe paid for a coffee or two in total over the years.

Once I started working for myself, however,  I started to evaluate my hobbies in terms of what could contribute to my income. I experimented with more "branded" blogging ideas and then I stopped blogging completely. A blog of mostly personal updates and "lifestyle" posts was a hobby I couldn't afford anymore. My mental health was suffering and I'm only now really starting to understand all of that.

After I we moved to Maryland, I thought I'd be able to jump back into this blog easily. Instead, I stopped, which also resulted in never posting our wedding photos, honeymoon photos, the photos from many of my trips to Europe, and many other things. I've said before how much I want to change that and catch up but it never happened. I got in my head, thinking no one cared and maybe no one really does to the degree I do. But as a part of dealing with my mental health, I'm going to finally get started. One of the few ways to naturally boost serotonin is remembering happy events. So get ready for my happy memories and please forgive that they are not in real time.

CampNaNoWriMo, BookTubeAThon, and Literary Soap

It's that time of the season! In this video, I chat about how CampNaNoWriMo and BookTubeAThon, are in the same month. I also show off the literary themed soap from The MacBath that I bought at VidCon. It's a no fancy lighting, no fancy lens, no makeup, no script sort of super casual vlog. I honestly need to do these types of videos more, they are so stressed free and make me remember the 'carefree YouTube days of my pre-industry existence.' (That sounded so cheesy.) If you are interested in when I (almost) completed BookTubeAThon, click here. Or if you'd rather watched the start of the time I mega-FAILED BookTubeAThon, click here.

Thank you for watching!

VidCon 2017

After a two year break, I made it back to VidCon! It was a full weekend of making new friends, reconnecting with old friends, making business contacts, laughing, learning, getting inspired, getting discouraged, walking with a cane, singing along, buying merch to support small businesses and worthy causes, and also...some video making...*cough* Oh just watch it and see what I mean.
Okay, so...looking at my footage from VidCon this year I realized that I was going to make the same video that I make every year. So I thought, why fight it? 'Anatomy of a VidCon Vlog' is a video analysis of my VidCon vlog style, and everything wrong with it. For comparison, here's VidCon 2014.

And now, on to the selfies!!!

July Goals | Halfway Through 2017

It's been a while since I actually wrote out my goals. So instead of occasionally looking at my year goals and deciding that I have all year, (the year is now half over!) I'm going to break things down monthly. So lets start with the halfway progress and move to additions for July.

Life Stuff

  •  Read (at least) 25 books.
I'm very behind, but listening to a few audio books to catch up. 
  • Shop more consciously.
    It's going well! I bought a 'Made in the USA' dress from my friend Laura's shop, Tin Lizzy.  So far that's been it but I have plans to go thrift shopping if I find I need some new summer shorts. 
    • Waste less.
        Using a lot of low packaging and reusable products...I might have to make a favorites video soon...
        • Start my journey to a capsule wardrobe.
            Hehhh, not great. I finally donated all the dresses I was trying to sell...but I got 2 new t-shirts at VidCon and that new dress. My wardrobe is not a capsule...but I do wear all my t-shirts!
            • Don't put my life on hold due to fears.
            Doing a bit better at this (it's mental health related) but it's a slow journey...

            Internet Stuff
            • Write about my 2015.
            I NEED TO DO THIS STILL!
            • Write about my 2016.
            I NEED TO DO THIS STILL!
              • (Finally) post wedding photos.
              I NEED TO DO THIS STILL!
                • *Secret* project
                Finally, something I can say I've done! It's livestreaming on Twitch and it's really fun!! 
                • Sort out my digital life. 
                NOPE. Not sure if this will ever be done tbh...

                JULY GOALS

                • Write 10,000 words of my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo
                • Read 'The Handmaid's Tale'
                • Wedding Photos
                • Summer CA Road Trip and a wedding ♥︎
                • Start at least 2 of the 12 collabs I'm working on
                • Try some watch-a-longs on with my Twitch crew (and plan the Cats one for Aug.)
                • VidCon pictures and vlog
                • Start working on the wig I was commissioned to do (and stream it via Twitch)
                The idea is to work a bit on each of these things all week. I might take to Twitter to celebrate or lament about the progress. Here's to a busy (but hopefully successful) month!

                Cats is Closing on Broadway | Fan Reaction

                One fan's reaction to the news that Cats is closing on Broadway. (Spoiler Alert: I'm sad about it.) It's my favorite show and I'm not even a little bit ashamed of that. I go in depth about why that is, in this video.

                2 Year Anniversary

                Last month was our second wedding anniversary! (and just about two years of living in Maryland) We took a walk in the trails behind SERC; Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. (where Jim works.) I've decided that every year, on or just after May 24th, we'll take some family photos. Near trees. 'Cause we got married near trees. It's gonna be a thing!
                2 Year Wedding Anniversary 2 Year Wedding AnniversaryTwo years ago I got to celebrate my love with my forever guy in a beautiful park surrounded by friends and family. I really can't believe it's been two years since that day. 2 Year Wedding Anniversary 2 Year Wedding Anniversary
                A bit about the "photo shoot": These photos were actually taken with my phone. My original plan had us using a nicer camera but once we got there I noticed the SD card was missing. So, I ended up propping up my phone on the portrait plate of my tripod and using the timer function. The quality is not ideal, but still, think the shots came out nice.2 Year Wedding Anniversary 2 Year Wedding Anniversary
                I tried not to get too cheesy with the poses. I mean, we only really have three. "Classic," "Looking at Each Other," and "Kissing." If we had a photographer I'm sure there would be so many more ideas. There were some really cute ones from our engagement shoot and the wedding (obviously) which I know I've yet to share here. (Getting to that this year!) ♥︎ Happy wedding anniversary Jim. I'm so thankful for you every day, I love you so much!

                3 Writing Confessions

                Wordbound is a weekly writing prompt, run by fellow writer, YouTuber, cosplayer, and blogger, Kristina Horner. Every week the exercises are posted to Twitter and Instagram for anyone who wants to take part in the challenge. I'll admit, making writing a priority has not been easy. (Probably due to a combination of my mental health and my multipotentiality.) Last week, however, a blog prompt was posted to Wordbound which I'm hoping is the inspiration I need. So what are my 3 writing confessions, you ask?

                #1. I don't share my fiction. 
                When I was in my teens I wrote much more and I wrote with friends and wrote for class (creative writing was the best time I had in English class!) I didn't post any of it online though. (Not even my Cats fanfiction.) In my 20s and 30s, I blog publically online but I don't really let others read my fiction. I've only shared my first NaNoWriMo novel (with maybe two people) and no one's read the other three. I wonder if that's because I don't think I'm good enough or because I really like what I write and I don't want to hear any of the criticisms. Am I aspiring to something and I want to get better or is writing just for me and the quality of it doesn't matter? I'm not sure I know, and that leads me to the second confession.

                #2. I'm wishy-washy with my goals.
                It's true, I once proclaimed that I wanted to be a published author...when I was a child. I had just read the first book in the vampire series, 'In the Forests of the Night' by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. She wrote that at age 13...and I was 13. I could do this, couldn't I? Was I already too late? I'll just keep writing. If I had just stuck with that goal and not gotten 'distracted' by film and costume design (and many other interests) then I'd be a lot further along than I am. But I didn't stick to that goal, I'm a multipotentialite and sticking to one goal is not something I do very well. Some days I think I'm finally gonna get serious about writing and other days I swear that it's just a hobby. Honestly, I'm really not sure what my goals are when it comes to writing...and I don't like that.

                #3. I hold back so as not to 'use up' my best ideas.
                I know that thinking that the 'well of creativity' I have will eventually dry up, is rubbish. That well is endless. Yet my instinct to save and to hoard my great ideas so I don't waste them is pretty strong. I'm a collector and I don't like 'using up' things. It's a problem. I know a lot of writers and creative people are like this and you just have to keep writing and know that your 'best' ideas are not your 'last' ideas. You will come up with more and better ideas the more you write. I know this. I just need to actually put that knowledge into action...and 'use up' everything I got! (Easier said than done, obviously.)

                So this was the first Wordbound I've publically participated in and I loved it! I'm debating making a big list of all of them and eventually catching up. If you have any advice for how to publically participate since I'm still shy/cautious about sharing the fiction prompts, (maybe I share just a sentence?) let me know! Thank you for reading and thank you to Krisitina for creating Wordbound, you are my unofficial writing mentor....just fyi. ;)

                Are Fidget Toys for BFRB? (Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior)

                Well, welcome to the most personal video I've ever made. I've been too scared to share this bit about myself and even now I'm still scared to hit publish. It was other YouTubers with BFRBs who helped me understand myself, so maybe it'll be okay. Do you have fidget toys for your BFRB? (Do you have a Body-Focused Repetitive Behavior?)

                MEOWexander Hamilton (Cats + Hamilton) - BroadwayCon 2017

                "Pardon me, are you Aaron Purrr sirrr?" MEOWexander Hamilton
                The idea came to me during the bus ride to the first BroadwayCon in 2016. I was scrolling through Twitter on my phone when I found out Cats was coming back to Broadway that summer. It was beyond perfect timing! That year one of my cosplays was the Jellicle kitten, Jemima. I think Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted congratulations of some sort and the hashtag #cats4ham (a play on the hashtag #ham4ham) started to appear. I immediately joked that I should make a Cats/Hamilton crossover cosplay for next year. Welp...jokes on me 'cause I did it!
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                The costume I chose was Hamilton's opening look since it's brown and off-white. (Good cat colors and I already have my brown and cream arm warmers I made years ago.) Making the costume was a bit experimentation and a lot of patterned sewing. Most of the clothing was from a pattern but I did construct the cravat without a pattern, just looking at photos of Lin-Manuel in the show. I knitted myself some brown and black leg warmers to mimic his boots and a (slightly hidden) tail to match. The wig was the most experimental part, Jellicle cat in the front, Patriot ponytail in the back.
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                I'll be doing another post about the makeup but I do want to mention the glasses. I realize Hamilton does not wear glasses till the second act but I would have needed to wear glasses anyways...hence the in-character prescription glasses. They really came in handy since I wore this costume 4 days in a row. First for only an evening (to see of how that went here) and then for all 3 days of BroadwayCon (Review of day one, two, and three.)
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                The entire week was beyond amazing, I made some new friends and everyone seemed to really get a kick out of my costume! MEOWexander Hamilton was a success!
                MEOWexander Hamilton
                MEOWexander Hamilton

                Reviewing Week Five of VEDIM(M)

                Wow, Vlog Every Day In March (Maybe) is over! This week was only five days and I uploaded a video on only two of them. (I took progressively more days off as the weeks went on, yes I noticed.) These two videos were ones I had been planning on making since the start; stats and outtakes. I purposely did not get into the emotional aspects of VEDIM(M) since I'm still processing it all. It was hard. I certainly had the time and resources to have had done all 31 days, it was the mental and emotional side of myself that failed me. (To be clear, I don't think I failed the project.)

                The open-ended-ness of the word "maybe" saved me from getting upset and allowed me to view the project from a more scientific point of view. What I mean by that is, I wanted to see what would happen with loose rules and a forgiving structure. I believe without that there would have been (even more) hits to the quality and I think I would have had experienced some pretty stressful days had I not had that extra M. I did the right thing ultimately and I am actually proud of myself for what came out of the endeavor.

                One of the main things I learned was that I can continue to do this hobby every day, just not upload every day. Editing, filming, planning/scripting, CCing, and maybe even learning to do visual effects, are all things I can be working on. VEDIM(M) was a good jumpstart, but now it's time to take it out of the public eye until the next upload. As always, thank you for subscribing and feel free to click on the image that intrigues you most.

                Reviewing Week Four of VEDIM(M)

                Week four of VEDIM(M) was the shortest week yet at only four videos total. I uploaded, Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. (Only falling one video short of my plan to copy the format of week three.) It was a tough week. I used pre-shot (kinda old) footage for one, Twitch footage for another, YT live streamed for the third and shot the fourth on a pretty bad day. (It took forever to edit the short video 'cause I had way too much footage of me trying to get out of my head.)

                The last week will be even shorter yet but I am looking forward to being able to say that this project is complete and I am happy with the result. (I really am!) So stay tuned for the final videos and click on the images below that make you curious. >^..^<