Author Archives: Nat Marie

Life. Life Happened: State of the Blog and Goals

Life. Life Happened: State of the Blog and Goals

Happy new year, folks! How are your goals and resolutions working for you?!

It has been awhile since my last entry, and I wish I had a nice story about how it was because I was busy traveling the world and seeing new things and making new things, but I don’t. I did ponder over what to write and would say “this is the day I’m actually going to do something”, but I didn’t.

I burned out once again.

So what has been going on? Let’s start from where I left off, which was around September. I had a lot going on, between another move and a new job. It was a whirlwind of sorts and it didn’t really settle down until the holidays, only to pick up again. The holidays are generally a busy time for all of us, and it is perfectly fine to clear the plate (figuratively and literally) to make room for family time. Family is extremely important to me, which is why I have such a hard time with my schedule for my outside job; I get to see my daughter for a half hour every day due to her going to school and then getting home when she’s asleep. It is frustrating, but as this site is generating zero income at the moment, I have to make do. What I have done, however, is think of some goals. I don’t do resolutions (that word is almost setting myself up for failure, so yeah), but I set some goals so that I can keep my eyes on the prize, so to speak. Granted, this post is 4 months late, but better late than to just drop off the face of the earth, right?

I try to keep these goals attainable, and to not burn myself out again, I’m not setting a timeframe other than “by the end of 2017”. If it happens much sooner, great! If by December 2017 something is still not done, that’s okay too. I never made any actual goals for 2016; I just winged it and hoped for the best. The result? Lots of information, but generally a huge mess. I knew what to do, I knew what I wanted to do, but burned myself out no less than 3 times trying to do it. After hours and hours of thinking of what to say and what I’m going to do, this is it. For real this time.

On the site front

  • New theme. Despite burnout, I actually revamped my logo again. Sorta. It is the same thing, just in a slightly different style and I like how it came out. But I want the entire theme itself to be nicer. So that’s one thing that I’m gonna work on in the future.
  • Overhauling pages (again…sorta) I did this a while back, but there are a few things that I never got around to. For example, my about me page. That thing is so old that cobwebs are flying around on it. It has been in the works for since last March. Yeah, so it’s high time I suppose.
  • Finding me. F-bombs aside, I need to find my motivation to write again, and that means that I need to find me again.

On the real life front

  • Actually take steps to get out of retail. I’m not cut out for it. I really shouldn’t have tried it again, but when your passion isn’t making you any money, you need to make money somehow, and legally. These past few months have been one emotional rollercoaster, and one of my goals for this year is to make it a little more comfortable. Like I said, I know what I want, but I need to make moves towards it before my health gets to the point where it won’t do me any good.
  • Get health answers. This one is probably not gonna happen this year. It might not happen next year. But if I can get some answers, I can make goals to, once again, make things more comfortable. Luckily, this time around, I have a doctor willing to help and listen.
  • Write more. ‘Nuff said.

On the making things front

  • FINALLY get my actual business site up. I’m going a slightly different approach with it, but I need this. I have a burning passion and creating is that passion. I need to feed that sumbitch. This goes hand-in-hand with the taking steps to get out of retail.
  • Write more> ‘Nuff said.
  • Set up a “creative fund”. One of the things that I remember as a child was my mom being on disability for nearly a year after a bus accident. To occupy her time and stave off depression from not being able to work for that long, she started making decorative wreaths for all seasons. As I was too young at the time to help (although she did eventually let me make a small hat magnet), I was only able to watch as she made these things. She never made them for any profit, and I never understood why, but I’ve been thinking about it for the past year: why not make some crafts at home? Not necessarily for profit (although I’d be open to it eventually). Obviously this stuff does cost money, so I want to put aside a fund so that every few months or so I can dip into it and get some crafting materials.
  • Get somewhere with Marzipan. So what exactly is Marzipan? It was the novel that I was attempting to write for NaNoWriMo. I had to bow out due to November being crazy (I wish NaNo was in the summer!!), but I do have the desire to work on it. And that’s what I should do. I have intentions of it being a couple of books long (yes, it’s that big of a project).

Biggest goal of all goals…DON’T FREAKING BURN OUT.

This list isn’t exhaustive. This may grow as the year progresses. But this is a start, and focusing on what I love to do is what I want to do. Besides, if it doesn’t bring you joy, it’s not really worth doing, right?

I know I haven’t been around for a while. But this is my love and unless something really extreme happens to me, I ain’t going anywhere. I am going to make this work. I need to for my sanity.

Burnout is a Thing: How to Identify and Combat

Burnout is a Thing: How to Identify and Combat

Okay folks, I know that I have been missing around these parts. I had a few other things I wanted to talk about first, but I decided that this post needed to be made in light of my own personal experience of burnout as of recently. Sit back with some coffee and let’s have story time!

Back in April, I decided to take on a 2nd job (third if you counted this gig). It was okay for the most part at first, even if it was stressful. Then one day in May, someone quit at one of my jobs. She was a midnight worker and I get asked if I can do midnights. I said okay, and was told that it was going to be just for the week. I decided that going to midnights permanently would be better for my mental state. It was to a degree. However, getting only a couple of hours of sleep when I got home made me spiral into a caffeine-guzzling, sleep-deprived mess. In fact, I was only functional with caffeine of some kind.

Skip to a few months later, and I have a panic attack seemingly out of nowhere (but it was stress-related). I ended up in the hospital for a few hours. It was at that point where something had to give. But what exactly? I decided that something did have to give, and my creative passion ended up being it. I had way too much on my plate to think about and literally the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and write. In fact, I took sleep over everything else. I couldn’t even focus on gaming. Certainly there had to be another way…

Thing is, back then I knew I was burning out big time, but couldn’t figure out how the hell to get out of that hole. Something still had to give. I slept on it, talked to a few people, and decided that if I ended up quitting one of my jobs, I will have more time to actually think. To be able to write again. To focus on what will be my endgame in the long run. So I did just that.

And while that was one less thing to worry about, I had to actually find ways to fix the rest of it. Slowly, but surely, I’m feeling everything calm down a bit. It only took 4 months, but better than never.

Here’s the deal: burnout is a thing. Burnout is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy because it does things to you that will make you feel like you’re spiraling out of control. It feels like you have a plate of food that’s formed into a mountain and overflowing off the plate into another mountain. Soon you’ll have Mount Food all over and a huge-ass mess to clean up afterward. So let’s talk about the signs that you may be heading for the Great Burnout.

You may be burning out if…

  • You seem extra on-edge. Things that didn’t bother you at all suddenly does. Or people who you loved now can’t get too close to you without you yelling at them.
  • Your health seems to be deteriorating. Stress in itself shortens your life span. Your blood pressure goes up and you tend to feel like you can’t breathe. If you have other health issues, they appear amplified. Your pain level is now a 10 when it was a steady 4 most days.
  • You dread the days. Especially if you know you have to work on that day, you dread having to wake up and go through the day knowing that you really don’t want to be there.
  • You turn to less healthy habits. Is that one glass of wine turning into an entire bottle a night? Yeah, might wanna fix that.

Burnout is the hardest thing in the world to deal with, and it can hamper your wants and needs to move forward on your creative passion endeavors. I know that it definitely didn’t help my cause. When you’re feeling the burn, there are things you can do to make it not burn as much.

Here are a few ways to combat burnout.

  • Vent to someone, preferably an impartial someone. Sometimes just having an ear to yammer off helps. You can go to a therapist, or go the free route and chat with some friends. I say “impartial” for a reason; we all know that one friend who wants to tell you what you should do, but almost end up judging you in the end. You don’t need judgement in this rough time.
  • Find healthy habits. Before you down that last bottle of wine in your cellar, try putting on some music and doing a little jig. Or grabbing a coloring book. Or go for a walk. Anything that could take your mind off of things and won’t kill your body in the process.
  • Remember that something’s gotta give. We are not superheroes; try not to think you are and think you can take on the world. If you can give something up for the time being until things calm down, do it. If you feel that walking away from say, blogging, for a bit will help (and it might if it’s part of your job), then do it.
  • Also remember that burnout only lasts as long as you allow it. It sucks to burn out, but just remember that it can be fixed. DO NOT overload your plate again. Take baby steps into a normal life…or as normal as it may be for you.

As for me, I’m okay. It was a rough few months, and with a few changes to my life, I’m feeling better. I’m glad that I did take a step back from blogging, because I was able to not just get this post up, but overhauled my design as well! Do you like it? Awesome! Stay safe you guys.

By the way...
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Finding YOU: Rediscovering your writing voice

Finding YOU: Rediscovering your writing voice

Okay folks, it’s story time. When I started blogging over 10 years ago at Crestfallen, I blogged about anything, but that anything was told in a voice that was dark, cynical, and most times, sarcastic. Yes, I was a Debbie Downer for a good chunk of my time at Crestfallen (and that was a good 6 years before I rebranded…if you even want to call it that). But sometimes I was able to make light of it. I mean, being asked if I masturbate by a psychiatrist? At the time, it was WTF worthy. These days, it’s kinda funny albeit creepy. At that point of time, whether or not it was the writing voice I wanted, it was the voice that I portrayed.

Then I found out that I can make money off my hobby. I mean, it took several years after my mental breakdown to find a job that was legal and paid. It wasn’t much, but at the time I was living at home. It was enough to feed my blogging addiction and love for journals and video games. Some things never change. That is, except my voice. While I was trying to make peanuts off my hobby, I slowly lost a sense of me. At that point, I was writing more sponsored posts than actual posts that were me. Or, in some cases, I would dig further down and try to be creative with these sponsored posts. At first it worked. At least I thought it did. But for this certain company, which will remain unnamed, it became repetitive. Even as a non-niche blog, you can only write so much about diet pills and guitars. I lost so much of my original writing voice, that I ended up sounding almost robotic.

I ended up not having as much passion for blogging, or writing for that matter. Essentially, I was so desperate for some form of income (and trust me, it definitely helped a bit when the little one came!) that I just said “screw my writing voice, I’m getting paid now!”

When, in actually, I really wasn’t, and I was sacrificing me. My writing, my voice, me.

So what went wrong in getting paid and keeping my writing voice?

  • I felt that the real voice of mine would have been undesirable to brands. I happen to like the F bomb. I happen to use said word a lot. Let’s face it, excessive swearing is looked down on as unprofessional. Me, trying to play a wolf in sheep’s clothing, said “okay, let’s cut down on the swearing because it’s unprofessional and unintelligent”. Yeah, fuck that shit.
  • I was asked to review things that I’ve never even used. How the hell does one review things that you have never used? You…don’t? I’ve reviewed things where I actually had the tangible item. This doesn’t apply to those couple of reviews. But I remember when I was working with this particular company, some of these would be reviews of PVC pipes. I am far from a handywoman. In fact, I went to pull weeds and broke out in hives1, if you want to see where I stand at home improvement. Writing a review on something you have never received? That’s like saying you love curried goat but never actually ate goat. In all seriousness, I don’t mind writing reviews, but please…give me the damn product.
  • I became what I hated about other blogs who blogged for money. Some bloggers who do this for monetary gain do it well. They aren’t pushy, and you can see them even though they get ad revenue. Then there are others where there was nothing but ads. Even trying to be creative, it was downright blatant. And…I saw it happening to me. I did sponsored posts 90% of the time because at this point, I didn’t even think I was interesting. I did it just so I can get my paycheck. There was very little me in those posts. And even when I did do something that I wasn’t getting paid for, it was lackluster. Which brings me to my next point…
  • I burned out. I realized that I was pimping out my blog like a bad pimp. In doing it, I burned myself out from my actual purpose. I wanted to make money off my hobby, but I didn’t want to do it this way. But at the same time, thinking about the how burned me out. So…I quit blogging for money for the time being, and thought that taking that piece off would help rekindle my flame for blogging and writing in general. It didn’t. In fact, it took years to actually find my mojo. Then I did. Sorta. My mission was clear, but I was still feeling the burnout. Something had to give.

Then I made this post. It was something that I had to address. I wasn’t in love with what I did, and I needed to find that again. So I joined a 6-week mentorship class held by Julie, which helped massively even with my overwhelms in the midst. Now the ball was rolling. I now had my purpose. I wanted to blog again. I wanted to make money doing it. But I wanted to go about it another way that didn’t sell me short. I didn’t want my blog to be a low-class whore anymore. I wanted it to be a high-class escort if anything. Then someone by the name of Allison from Wonderlass came into my life. She also likes helping others build their blogging business. Something about her tone of voice gravitated to me.

Then I saw this post. Wait…did she just drop the F bomb? SHE FREAKING DROPPED THE F BOMB! That isn’t the only reason why I fell in love with her, I promise. She just had this tone and I simply said: “That is how I’m going to get me back”.

“Why the fuck not me?” indeed. So hi. I’m Natalie, but you can call me Nat or Nama. I am a creative mind who now knows exactly what she’s gonna do. My tone is mainly sarcastic, but believe it or not, I can be raw and from the heart through it all. I am a writer first and foremost. Writing has always been my happy. Hell, creating has always been my happy. I want to help not only myself, but others find their passion through creating. Whether it be writing, which is my main shtick, or digital drawing, which I dabble in once in a while, I want to help you find your voice. Your happy. Your me. Yes, my voice may be intense. I swear, maybe sometimes a little too much even for me. But it comes from the heart. There is passion behind these words. Is there passion behind yours?

By the way...
So here’s the deal: in an attempt to find my writing voice as intended, I found a way to spell out the what’s, why’s, and how’s. What is my writing voice? Why am I not using it? How the hell can I fix this? And that, my friends, is why I have this worksheet for you! You can print as many as you need out to find your writing voice once again! All you need to do is subscribe to me!
  1. Due to allergies, not nerves

Quality or Quantity: The Age-Old Question

Quality or Quantity: The Age-Old Question

When I first started blogging actively back in 2004, I blogged pretty often. It was, at the time, mainly a way to keep sane, and to keep writing. I talked about my day, talked about friends, talked about my…interesting encounters with my psychiatrists, just to name a few. Yeah, I literally talked about everything; I was the epitome of non-niche at the time. One of the things that I didn’t find until well into my blogging career was balance of quality or quantity.

Quality or Quantity? That is the question.

Blogging back then, from my point of view, wasn’t all about getting brands to like you. Hell, it wasn’t entirely about the writing at all; my blogroll was akin to a virtual fashion show of who had the best designs (most of which would have caused cease and desist letters if they were done today) and a post a day about what happened at lunch at school. I wish I could say this was an exaggeration, but in many cases it wasn’t.

Back then, it was the amount of comments that got you noticed, not necessarily the content. It was a plus if you had really good shit to give away to others, but the blog itself, for some, was secondary, not primary. A good friend of mine, Mimi was a pixeling queen. I think I still have the icon she made for me so many moons ago. She’s an example of where quality vs quantity comes in; she didn’t blog or create as much, but when she did, it was quality.

For me, I tried to keep up with the graphical Joneses and always fell short. I learned a little bit after keeping up on my last blog to exploit the hell out of my strengths, which…was always writing. And thus I did; I got rid of my “content” page, which was nothing more than crappy layout designs that would have gotten me cease and desist letters, and worked feverishly on getting my writing page up. And I did.

Skip back to a few days ago. I was answering a few questions about blogging on a Facebook group I’m in, and one of the questions that always comes up is “how often should I blog?” It’s a very valid question, indeed. I’ve even asked myself this question a few times. If you haven’t noticed, I try to blog at least twice a month. I want to make it more often, but at the same time I have to ask myself if it’d hurt my quality. I am a firm believer that if you have less, but this “less” is really good “less” then it’s perfectly fine. On the other hand, there is a possibility of this “less” not being very good. Like for example: just having a one-line post. I’m guilty of doing this in the past1.

Inversely, “more” isn’t necessarily a good thing either. Posting 5 times a day and not having anyone read it isn’t gonna do you any good. Think…balance.

quality or quantity: balance

Back when I used to post entries like this one, the last thing on my mind was “hey, this isn’t something that anyone would want to read”. Hell, I’m not gonna even lie, I cringed at how unfocused I was back then. Just think: 4 posts like this, within a space of a few days. Quality or quantity? I chose quantity.

Fast forward to these days, where I am still non-niche for the most part, but I toned down the angst, turned up the sarcasm, and narrowed down my thoughts. Then I found myself asking that question again. Once again, I had to think from a blogger who wants to make this her full-time gig and not just a therapeutic outlet for me to spew shit all the time–literally and figuratively. I also had to think from a blogger who now has a full plate and still wants room for desert. Back in 2003, I only had to worry about getting to the dining hall before 6:30 on Sundays and getting up for classes. I didn’t have a 4-year-old, a quasi-husband, a full-time job, bills…you get the idea. Not to mention time for me, because that’s still important too.

To avoid burnout, which is a real thing, I settled on trying to post something once a week, give or take. Some months, I’m off by a couple (like this month). I believe that posting for the sake of posting because I’m “due” for a new entry would cause my quality going down. Yes, my entries are somewhat longer now, but are of substance. Or at least I think and hope they are. Quality or quantity? I choose quality. But whatever you choose is up to you.

How often do you blog?

By the way...
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  1. Okay, so that was two lines…sue me

#findyourhappy: A month of passion and positivity focus

#findyourhappy: A month of passion and positivity focus
Find Your Happy: Focusing on the Positive

Yesterday, while I was at work, I had a breakdown. It wasn’t the first, and as much as I’d like to say it’d be the last, that’s not realistic. I had a chat with my boss and I simply said to her: I’m burned out. I’m moving house, and that’s stressful, all while working that around my packed work schedule. In that one moment, I felt like I wasn’t enough. It sounds crazy, but there are moments where no matter how much you do, it seems inadequate. At that one moment, nothing else mattered; I just was not enough.

Realistically, we can’t be in multiple places at once. We’re not superhuman after all! Sometimes it can be hard to realize that yes, it may seem like your best isn’t enough, but in actuality, like hell it ain’t. Sometimes we need reminders that we are enough, even if a moment of lapse makes you think differently.

To balance out these “miserable” moments, we need to take the time to notice the light side of things.

Blogging can be hard work. I struggle with finding things to write about that won’t bore the everloving fuck out of everyone, including myself. For the past couple of months, it’s getting better, but even with blogging, I have my moments of “is it enough?”. Geez, it’s almost like dating: “am I enough?” “is it enough?” “do I have lipstick on my teeth?” Life is full of miserable things. But let’s not focus on misery.

What are your passions? What is it that you eat, sleep and dream about every night? What steps are you taking towards making your passion a reality? If you can answer these questions honestly, then I have a challenge for you.

I call it the #findyourhappy campaign.

I explain it a little better in this video here1. Excuse the quality, I’m still a non-Snapchat video virgin, and it was before I even ate breakfast.

Good morning! Let's talk about the #findyourhappy campaign. For the next month, talk about your passions, your dreams, anything that makes YOU happy. Sometimes we focus on the stuff that makes us miserable. It's time to focus on the positive.

Posted by Namari on Thursday, March 31, 2016

For the next month, I want you to take to social media, using the hashtag #findyourhappy or #thatsmyhappy, and tell me what makes you happy. What drives your passion? I gave one example of my own: my daughter. While she can be a royal pain in the ass at times, she keeps me going. It can be in the form of words, a video, pictures, a cake, ANYTHING that makes you happy. I want to see it, and I’ll share with you my many interests and “my happys”.

With that being said, even though this lasts a month, it’s not a daily deal. Let’s be realistic here; you can post something every day for the next 30 days, but there’s this thing called life that likes to shove themselves into fun activities. So post as often as you like! Will this go viral? I’m not holding my breath, but the point is to keep our eyes on the not-so-miserable times. And to have fun while doing it, because fun is always a good thing.

By the way...
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  1. By “a little better”, I mean besides awkward pauses