The Reason Your Luck Ran Out

In my early twenties I had this really awesome belief going on. I believed that I was lucky. I believed that the universe was on my side. I believed that cool shit would just happen to me with very little effort on my part.

And then one day that all changed. I got dumped, and, just in general, adult responsibilities started to weigh heavy on me.

Without really noticing, my little heart fell into the very dark place of “why me?” That pity party eventually brought me to “I’m not lucky,” “My luck ran out,” and “Life is really hard for people like me.”

It happens, right? You start looking around at your friends and your damn Instagram feed and you start to believe that other people have it better than you.

Over the last few years, I’ve been doing my best to climb myself out of that place. Sure, we’ve all had our share of bad things happening to us: shitty parents, relationships that didn’t work out, unfair health issues, low-paying jobs, and just being born in the wrong clique.

I get it. But should we let those things define us? Just because it happened to us in the past, does this mean the rest of our lives are going to look this way?

In a weird way, this victim mentality probably helped us out at some point in life. I know for me, it helped ease my discomfort of being a middle child. My mom was a little harder on me, and if I pouted my lips the right way, my dad would feel really bad for me. In fact, a lot people other than my dad started to pity me.

Honestly, that little crutch helped excuse me from a lot of the shortcomings in my personality that I was ultimately responsible for. For example, I had a hard time sticking hard things out, because poor Nikki never had someone in her life telling her to stick things out. Feel bad for me.

Sadly, I brought this crutch with me to my marriage. I’ve been working on taking my business to the next level for about three years now. Every time I make a big move, I take a step back because I get scared. I’ll tell anybody who is watching that I can’t kick it up a notch because I don’t have any support when it comes childcare. Poor me doesn’t have a helpful abuela, like many of my friends, to pick up the slack with the kids. So that makes me stuck — and in other words, a victim.

I call bullshit on myself. And I hope you will too in the areas where you’re in a victim mentality.

The truth is God (the universe, whatever you believe in) wants us to be lucky. It wants to help us out. But we are powerful. We have the power of free will and choice. Starting with what we choose to believe in.

God cannot intervene and change your mind without your consent. What the universe can do is help you to see yourself in a different light with signs like this story.

Once we become aware of the choice of thought we’re holding on to and how it is deeply holding us back, we can ask for help from the heavens. We can ask for it to be taken from us, every time we find ourselves falling into its shadows.

Friends, we truly are powerful, luck-making beings. Is dream-catching easy work? Absolutely not.  But the tools are within us — engraved in our souls. No one is holding us back. We just have to make the choice to see that truth.

12 Pro Writing Terms All Bloggers Should Know

Have you ever started a new job and thought you were doing pretty well? And then three years go by, you look back at the time when you were a newbie, and think to yourself, “I didn’t know shit!”

That’s how I feel about my first few years as a writer. I started off freelancing for whoever would take me. Since I never went to journalism school, all I could really do was just wing it, fake it until I made it, and just learn as I went. My editors would talk to me like I knew what I was doing, and I would just send a virtual nod and smile.

One little trick I did pick up quickly was, if you get the industry’s lingo, you can quickly present yourself as a pro. And for a lot of my budding bloggers and writers out there, what stands between you and the opportunities to work with brands is a fear that you don’t know enough; that you’re ill prepared; or that you’re simply not ready.

Not true, my friend. With a bit of pro knowledge under your belt, you’ll be ready to go.  Today, let’s start here with a super geeky, but equally useful cheat sheet to pro writing lingo.

 

1. AP Stylebook

Short for Associate Press Stylebook. This is the go-to book (or online reference) for American journalists that lists the standard way to spell, use certain words, or write certain terms. For example, when writing the title of a movie, you would capitalize it and put it in quotations (“Good Will Hunting”).

 

2. Byline

The name of the writer who authored the article. This is usually listed at the top of an article.

 

3. Call to Action

When writing a service-oriented piece (for example a story listing several handbags or restaurants), the call to action (CTA) is usually listed at the end of the story and gives the reader additional information as to how they can take action. For example, the handbag story would list how much the bag is and where it can be purchased. The restaurant story would list the addresses. An example would be “ Nasty Gal Through and Through Embroidered Dress, $128, available at nastygal.com.”

 

4. Clippings

A collection of a writer’s published articles. Before the digital era, journalists would clip out their articles in newspapers or magazine and keep them in a portfolio. Nowadays, writers will list links or PDFs to their published work on a portfolio website.

 

5. Editorial Calendar

A calendar that lists all scheduled stories for a publication for the months to come. For example, the February calendar would include “7 Awesome Things to do if You’re Single on Valentine’s Day,” and “Travel to these Spots to Beat the Winter Temperatures.”

 

6. Fact Checking

When writing an article, your editor may ask you to fact check all the facts in your story. This is when you would check if all the proper names you mentioned are spell correctly. For example, the name of a brand or a person. You’d also want to check that any dates or quantities you mentioned are absolutely correct. You can fact check by speaking to the source or citing information from a credible online source.

 

7. Headline or Head

The short phrase at the top of an article or blog post meant to either grab the readers attention (“12 Pro Writing Terms All Bloggers Should Know”) or to summarize the story.

 

8. Kicker

The last sentence in an article that sums up the story and offers clear closure.

 

9. Lead

(pronounced ‘leed’) This is the first few sentences of the story that makes of the intro.

 

10. Pitch

A writer’s story idea written in a few sentences and presented to an editor. A pitch can also come from a publicist who wants a writer to write about her client.

 

11. Q&A

 A conversation or interview printed verbatim in an article, listed in a question and answer format.

 

12. TK

Short for to come. Yes, it should be TC, but that would be easy, wouldn’t it? Editors and writers will place the acronym TC when the information is still pending. For example “TK Fall Booties You Absolutely need.” Perhaps you have the story idea in mind, but until you do the research you don’t know how many booties you’re actually going to include in the story.

6 Mantras to Get You Past the Fear of Writing & Blogging

Here’s some personal trivia for ya: I’m obsessed with the brain. Seriously reading books, listening to podcasts, and taking workshops on the topic is what I consider fun.

A while back, my curiosity eventually led me to becoming certified as a hypnotherapist and a ThetaHealer (basically, the spiritual version of hypnotherapy). In my training and in practice, I learned that we are our beliefs. It’s really that simple… and that complicated.

On the surface, we have great, inspiring beliefs about creating and our mission in life, but deep inside — in the subconscious mind, to be exact — we have beliefs that completely contradict those positive ones. The worst part? What the subconscious mind thinks is what goes.

But, the really cool thing about the brain is that it can be trained. And we are the trainers. Yucky, old, sabotaging subconscious belief? No problem! You can reprogram those thoughts with tools like hypnotherapy, guided meditations, and even repeating mantras.

So today, I’d love to offer you a few mantras that will help you get past the fear of writing. Take the ones that speak to you or even make up your own. Repeat them when you’re walking your dog, driving to the work, taking a shower, or drinking your coffee. Whatever works for you. Do this for at least 40 days and watch your life change, for reals.

1. I am a Messenger of Truth

how to get over the fear of writing

It’s so easy to get caught up in the narcissism that can sometimes come with the process of writing. Believe me, I use to read my writing over and over again, obsessing about what every line would reflect on me as a person. #issues

These days, what gives me peace is knowing the job of a blogger or writer is to be a vehicle for the message. The message is not us, yet it comes through us.

2. The Only Validation I Need Comes from Within

mantras for writers and bloggers

When putting ourselves out there online, we might look to receive the proverbial thumbs up on every blog post, every social media update, and every photo.

Really, it’s a symptom of our time. So don’t be so hard on yourself. But do know, outside validation will never fill the void that you feel. Only you can approve of yourself. And seriously, haters gonna hate. So F-it. Do your thing. Life gives us so many more opportunities when it knows, we’re down to try.

3. I Stick to my Commitments

how to change habits

If you’re thinking of blogging or kind of already are, chances are at some point you told yourself, “I’m going to do this!” And then the next morning, you were like “Um, no I can’t.” And then… you tell yourself, “I never follow through. It’s just who I am.”

For this reason, we all need this mantra. Because we can all be the kind of people who stick to our own commitments. We just have to convince our minds.

4. I am at Peace with my Fear

writing blogging tips

I’ve been doing this “putting your creative self out there” for a while, and I’ll tell you that the fear never goes away. In a weird way, it gets more desperate and destructive the more you move forward.

Just know, I am not fearless. What I am is at peace with my fear. I acknowledge it, but I don’t let it run the show. If fear is really adamant about me not doing something, we’ll talk it out and maybe make a pros and cons list. But it doesn’t get the final say.

We shouldn’t eliminate our fear, but rather embrace it.

5. It is Safe to Start from Where I Stand

writing tips

How many times do we hold ourselves back because we’re worried we don’t have enough schooling, or resources, or time? Those excuses are just distractions.

Writing and blogging is like anything else where practice is the key to growing. Every single master out there started somewhere. If we stick to blogging once a week for one year, at the end of the year, we’re going to be so much more skilled just through the practice of doing.

It is safe to start from where you are. There’s always going to be someone who is just a little behind you in their journey who can benefit from what you have to share. Get started so that your future vision can become your present.

6. The Opinions of Others do not Define Me

how to get over other people's opinions

As bloggers and writers, we tend to get a universal reaction from those around us, “Oh you blog/write? That’s so cute. So what’s your real job?”

It’s something like that, right?

There’s always going to be someone around us who doesn’t understand what we’re doing. So they’re either going to judge or question us. Really, it’s not their fault. They’re just in the dark.

This will never go away. And the more you allow them to affect your peace, the more they seem to pop up. Once we understand that the opinions of others are just that — opinions — and not facts, we can go on with our bad selves to create work in truth. 

What do You Really Want?

how to make decisions

For the past three months, I’ve been feeling the energy of change. I feel it on my back, whispering in my ear, encouraging me to move quicker and with grace. Do you feel it, too?

I’ve heard these kind of subtle messages my whole life, and usually I tend to slow dance towards change, but this time, I can feel its urgency. So, I’ve been making the necessary changes. Most of them have to do with the way I see the world, myself, and my life. They’re internal changes — although a new bob found its way in the mix, too.

As the year approaches, there’s this one, last virtue I’ve been trying to wrap my arms around, yet it always seems to slip through my fingers. It has to do with commitment and solid decision-making.

In the past, I had the tendency to doubt my decisions, causing me to flip-flip from idea to idea. Is this the right path? No, maybe this one. Oops, no, not that one. And it would go on, until I made it stop.

Or I would resent the decisions I had already made. Like the days I would feel bad for myself for being a tired mother. “Why me,” I admittedly would think.

Over the past few months, I’ve convinced my mind that my decisions are good and worthy of commitment. And in this time, I’ve come to learn that making commitments is actually a form of magic.  Commitments are not here to make our lives miserable or boring. They’re here to manifest what we really want in life.

Commitments are not here to make our lives miserable or boring. They’re here to manifest what we really want in life.

And, yes, commitments are important, which is why they need to be thought through. Unfortunately, we don’t always have the luxury of tons of time when making decisions. As someone learning to not fear commitment, I’ve discovered that you only have to answer one question in order to protect yourself from decision regret.

The question is: “What do you really want?”

It’s such a simple question, yet we rarely allow ourselves to give an honest answer. Really, what do you want this year? Without internal judgments, what are your core desires?

For me, the answer was found in all those little dreams I’ve had that I’ve passed off as unrealistic. I took them out of the “you’re crazy” pile and dragged them into the light. “This is really what I want from life,” I told myself. And now, each small decision I make is to be aligned with this big answer.

If we can be courageous enough to get down and dirty with this question, our decisions will have a guiding point to work from. Answering this question suddenly creates the big picture of our lives. Without this understanding, every small decision or complicated scenario seems isolated and overwhelming. But if we know what we really want, we’ll finally find the stamina for the small moments in life. And we can live in peace knowing that the small stuff — whether they’re hard or easy — is just one piece of the big picture.

My hope is that you take some time today to answer that question for yourself. Ask your heart what it really wants from life. From that viewpoint, commitments are easier to make. And from there, the magic begins.

Here’s to magic making in 2016!

How to Write an Effective Guest Blog Post

how to write a guest blog post

I’m really not a great sales person. Unfortunately, I’m also not someone who can do a job I don’t really believe in. Probably because I’m not a good sales person!

So I’ve had to learn to make money doing something that I love. There’s really not another option for me. If I can’t do work with purpose, I just won’t have money in my bank account. Starving artist, for real.

I’ve often wished to be different. I used to wish I could just clock in and clock out and find happiness outside of work, but that’s just not how my brain — or my heart — works.

So, here I am, determined to make a living from my passions and talents. And because of that, I’ve had to learn how to be a marketer. Or let me rephrase that, I’ve had to learn how to spread my message, so I can reach the people who need the words, plus make some money, honey.

As you know, I believe in callings. Mine has intersected with my work, and I bet yours has, too. So, if we want to do well by our calling, we have to make sure our mission is seen and heard, right? If not, just pack your bags. If you’re not doing everything in your control to spread your message to the right people (which, of course, takes time and patience!), you’re kinda gypping people — the people who could benefit from your work. Plus, seriously, we deserve to make money doing something we love. Period.

But in an effort to not gyp your people, may I suggest brushing up on your non-sleazy marketing techniques? We’ll talk about several as the months go on, but today let’s talk about the Guest Blog Post.

Why?

We do this to reach a whole new audience through an already trusted advisor. If you write a post for The Huffington Post, let’s say, the reader automatically has some sort of faith in you because she trusts The Huffington Post. She has a relationship with HuffPost, and she believes it only puts out good articles by credible sources.

You can write the same post for your website and not be as trusted by a new reader who maybe just found you on Google. It could be the exact same content you put on HuffPost, but she’s still going to question your legitimacy because she doesn’t know you yet.

We don’t write guest blog posts because it might seem cool to write for HuffPost, which of course is nice, but unless you’re a professional writer, that credential might not help much. We guest blog post for the exposure to a new audience who will be warmed to our message because we are being endorsed by the website's owner or editor. The hope is that their people, eventually become our people.

How?

There’s definitely a right way and a wrong way to write a blog post. I only know this because I’ve done it the wrong way several times! And honestly, it’s as if I never wrote the thing. When you do it wrong, it just doesn’t yield the results you need .

Pick the Right Topic

Some bright, shiny publication with a large readership may come your way and ask you to write a post, but if the topic of the post isn’t inline with your message, it’s not worth it.

For example, let’s say you’re an accountant by day, but you’re working to move into creating a YouTube series full time. If Forbes asks you to write a story on accounting, you might want to turn it down. Why? Because you have to ask yourself, what you want to put out there. What do you really want to be known as? Do you want to continue being the accountant or do want to be known as the producer of a hit series on YouTube.

I know you might disagree with me. But believe me, these opportunities will continue to present themselves until you tell the universe you are serious about being a full-time producer.

When guest blog posting, make sure the topic is relevant to the work you want to be known for. Because when someone reads your awesome post, they may want to read more of your work or even hire you. If your messaging is all confused, that person is just going to forget you. Or worse, they’ll offer you money for a career you’re trying to get out of. In a moment of weakness, you might say yes, and you’ll never find yourself completely out of that former career.

Pick the Right Publication

Just because a publication has 100,000 readers a day, that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. You want to write for a publication that attracts the kind of reader that would be interested in your work.

If you write about family recipes and a really popular fashion blogger asks you to write a guest post, you have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Are her readers really going to like your work? It would be a better strategy to go after mom bloggers who might have a smaller readership, but at least you know their readers are moms who probably are looking for family recipes. That’s worth your time.

Tell the Reader How They Can Find You

When you’re writing a guest blog post for someone, remember, you’re doing them a favor. Sure, they might have more of a following than you, but at the end of the day, you’re creating free content for them.

With that said, it’s okay to ask for a favor back. At the very least, ask for a short bio and a link to your website. If it makes sense, ask if they can link to your latest product or offering. The best scenario would be if you could offer their readers something for free in exchange for their email address. Just don’t forget to ask for what you need.

Write Well

Lastly, write something beautiful. I bet you love your readers so much that you’re always doing a great job for them. But maybe when you’re writing for someone else, you’re not too sure who the reader is so you might feel a little shy. Don’t be. Give it all you got. Make the kind of impression that will keep them coming back. You can do this by really getting to understand who the reader is. Study the publication and understand how you can be of service. What can you offer them?  After all, this might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.