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The Reason I Write

The Reason I Write | kaileenelise.com

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”
(Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear)

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. In journals. In letters. In essays and poems. In newsletters and blog posts. I started kaileenelise.com in 2009 as an escape from my day job. I wrote from coffee shops before going into work. On my lunch breaks I scrolled through Twitter and read the archives of my favorite sites. I connected with women from all over who were also seeking creativity, inspiration, and a little peace in our everyday.

Writing has always been there for me. I like how it transports me back in time to revisit memories through a new lens. How it propels me into my future hopes and dreams. How researching an idea feels like swimming far below the surface. How sharing what I’ve written can feel like coming up for air.

When my hands are on my keyboard, or my pen is pressed firmly onto the page, the chatter in my mind slows down. When I’m searching for the thoughts, the words, the details and feelings, I take deep breaths. The kind that lift my chest, expand my rib cage, and expose my heart.

I write because it’s cheap therapy. I write because I like to hear myself talk. I write because it feels good to start at zero and end up somewhere else. I write because of the rare occasion when the words magically spill out onto the page or screen and leave me feeling like they came from somewhere else. I write because whenever I take a break from writing, my mind gets soggy and my heart starts to harden.

All of these reasons are insignificant compared to the biggest reason of all. And it’s the one I always forget about, like when you’ve seen a movie a thousand times, but aren’t quite sure what happens at the end until you watch it once more.

I write because revisiting my words – weeks, months, or years later – grounds me, roots me, connects me to myself and the universe in a way nothing else ever has.

A few days ago I was cleaning up my files and sorting through a dozen half-written essays when I came upon this,

My sweet Baby O is seven weeks and two days old and our lives as a family of three have settled into an unpredictable rhythm. We can count on the sunsets and sunrises to mark time. There are coos, smiles, diaper changes, cries for help, endless feedings, and moments when I stop to wonder how we got so lucky. They say having a child will change you, and of course I knew that the very second the pregnancy test was positive, but it’s impossible to know how.

I am so new at this. I don’t know what I’m doing or what’s around the corner. But lately I’ve noticed a voice within that is calling me to be better. Ground, calm, gentle, nice. These aren’t traits at the top of my list of strengths, but now that I’m this baby’s mama, all I want to do is shed my rough edges and be soft.

This, my dear friends, is the reason I write.

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This Does Not Define Me

This Does Not Define Me - image via Death to the Stock Photo | kaileenelise.com

Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself.
(St. Francis de Sales)

Hello lovelies. I hope you are having a beautiful day! Things are good around here. I have been practicing yoga more often and trying to get on track with my July goals after the holiday weekend. How is the month more than halfway over? Slow down, summer!

So, here’s a bit of truth-telling about blog life… it’s been a few weeks since I started blogging again and I’ve seen a steady decline in my email subscribers. I get these notifications from MailChimp when people unsubscribe and it’s been stressing me out! I understand emails pile up and I’m a huge unsubscriber myself, but it’s hard not to take it personally.

Now when I sit down to write, a little thought creeps into my head. “Better make this a good one or you’ll lose more readers.” Such a mean and useless sentiment, right? I would never say that to someone else, so I need to stop thinking it to myself. As silly as it sounds, I need to remind myself that this does not define me. Oh, and I can turn that email notification off.

I’m still getting into a groove with this place. There are so many things that I want to do. I want to take better pictures, craft helpful how-to posts, reawaken my newsletter, post videos, and maybe even work with brands one day. All these ideas are great, but consistency is my focus. The rest will come (or not) with time.

The lesson is in crafting something meaningful. Something I would want to read. Something that’s compelling. Something that inspires me. And something that inspires you.

Wise people say the journey is the reward. As much as I know this to be true, it is hard not to get trapped by the bright and shiny payoff. Striving towards goals is important, but there’s equal value in boldly standing still and strong. Not staying in one place forever, but long enough to sink in, learn a little, and appreciate the moment.

And when things (aka MailChimp subscribers) slide backwards, that’s ok too…

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

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When I Think About Writing

When I Think About Writing | kaileenelise.com

Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life,
every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.
(Virginia Woolf)

Since launching Happy Living and starting to post again here, I have been thinking a lot about writing. I think about what inspires me and how to maintain my motivation. I think about what habits or routines I can establish that will help me get ahead of my blogging schedule. I also think about all the things that distract me from writing — from social media and email, to wedding planning and chores.

Writing sometimes feels like jumping off a cliff. I have to take the leap and start writing before I know for sure there are words inside me. I often stare at the empty screen and worry, “What do I want to write about? Will I be able to pull sentences together? What happens if I just can’t do it?”

I have committed to posting every Wednesday and Friday on the Happy Living blog, yet I often leave my writing to the last minute. As if the adrenaline will somehow force a post to appear on screen. Sometimes this tactic works, but it also makes for an unpleasant evening. Each time I do it I promise myself to get started earlier next time.

So, I’ve been thinking about writing a lot lately. Where do the words come from? Do I have something new to offer readers? Is my viewpoint unique or valuable? How can I put my thoughts together so someone else might enjoy, or maybe benefit from reading them?

Instead of waiting for inspiration, I try to force writing. “Just type,” I tell myself, “the formatting and sentences will follow.” When I quiet my worried, fearful thoughts, the posts come together. And even when the writing doesn’t turn into a full-fledged blog post, there are often elements I can use later.

Writing is a creative pursuit, and creating something out of nothing is scary. The thing I’ve learned most from writing (and not writing) is that starting is the battleground. So… here I am, learning, writing, and sharing along the way.

Image via Death to the Stock Photo

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This Grand, Extraordinary Adventure

this grand, extraordinary adventure | kaileenelise.com

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
(Joseph Campbell)

When I first started blogging, I was fortunate to become “online friends” with a small tribe of fellow bloggers. We followed each other, had video chat dates, and supported one another through the ups and downs of life.  I was always surprised by how we were able to connect so deeply without ever having met in person. To this day, I keep tabs on these girls through social media, emails, hand-written notes, and text messages.

Chelsa Bea is one of those bloggers. If you aren’t following her on This Grand Adventure, hurry over and check it out. Her style, recipes, and overall approach to life are inspiring! We first connected through a holiday gift swap. Afterwards, she asked if I wanted to become pen pals, which was such a gift in itself.

That small act taught me an important lesson about being intentional with friendships.

If you’ve ever watched children on a playground, you can hear them say, “Let’s be friends!” Adults rarely do this, and it’s a shame. In the past few years, I have become more anxious about new friendships. Some of the unnecessary excuses I tell myself include, “I already have friends,” or the classic, “It takes so much work to make new friends.” Anyone who has a good friend knows this just isn’t true! At most, new friends require a little bit of courage and some attention… but it’s totally worth it.

this grand, extraordinary adventure | kaileenelise.com

Chelsea and I supported each other through exciting changes and some of life’s speed bumps. She got married! I got engaged! We updated our address books several times as each of us moved. We both quit blogging, and then encouraged the other to come back to it. We share a passion for celebrating everyday life and going on adventures, big and small!

As we created this lasting friendship, we talked about meeting up… and it finally happened this past weekend! Before her visit, I was tempted to read through the letters we’ve exchanged, but I resisted the urge. Instead, I trusted that we knew each other and told myself that we’d get along just fine.

Of course, we caught up just like girlfriends do. We chatted poolside, had some serious real talk over chips & queso, and put the pieces together one-by-one. I hoped our friendship would feel genuine and natural in real life… and it did! It was like meeting an old friend after years apart.

I’ve been living in Austin for a full year now, so it was fun to show Chelsea around my new city. There are so many things to do here and the weather was perfect! We walked around town, ate some delicious food, and sipped craft cocktails. We had the most delightful time. As I reflect on the weekend, I feel happy and grateful — for the internet, blogging besties, and friendships.

Image credit: Chelsa Bea of This Grand Adventure

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It Feels Good

Tour Montparnasse Paris Kaileen Elise

You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.
(Elizabeth Gilbert)

Ever since I was little, I’ve always kept journals. On and off. From time to time. Whenever I go too long without writing, I start a new one because it doesn’t feel right having thoughts from November 2012 mixed in with memories from February 2013. When I store old journals for safe keeping, I tear out all the blank pages. As a result, I have a lot of skinny journals from years past.

I’m not sure what this habit says about me. Maybe I’m too enthusiastic about starting fresh. Or I should journal more often. In fact, that’s how nearly all of my journals begin… “I should write more often. I promise to write daily. I will do a better job this time.” The self-shaming makes me not even want to bother with a new journal, but writing always makes me feel better. More focused. Clear about things. It always has.

I’ve been feeling the same way about this website for nearly 2 years. Start. Stop. Looooong pause. Start. Stop. I toyed with the idea of tearing everything down and starting from scratch, but there are so many goals, stories, and ideas preserved here. Letting it languish wasn’t my intention. Scrapping the site might be a comfortable repetition of habit, but it’s not the right thing to do.

The past few months have been really incredible. I want to share all of it with you. After 5 awesome years together, My mister and I got engaged! He graduated from business school. We moved to Austin for his new job. I got to keep my old job through the move, and now I’m working remotely. We went on a mega vacation to Europe. (First trip overseas for both of us!) I found a yoga studio I love. We’ve settled into a routine. I have been cooking up a storm. We started to plan our wedding.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to share some of the memories we’ve made. Thanks to those of you who have stayed connected through Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Thanks for encouraging me to post again. It feels good.

Image credit: Taken by a kind stranger on the top of Tour Montparnasse in Paris

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Back in Action

image - inspiration everywhere

Your life is the manifestation of your dream; it is an art.
And you can change your life anytime if you aren’t enjoying the dream.
(Ruiz)

Hello, there. It has been way, way too long. How have you been? Tell me about your last vacation. Who did your hair? That color looks great on you. Who are you dating these days? Are you all caught up on Bethenny Ever After? Read any good books lately?

Let’s grab lunch sometime this week. We’ve got to catch up… I’ve missed you.

image - missed you

In January, I set intentions for the year and gave each month a focus. I planned to take a break from blogging in June. I wanted to power down my devices and go on a 30-day digital retreat. A good plan indeed, the desire to step away just arrived much sooner than I expected. And it stuck around for much longer than I anticipated.

I kept an eye on Twitter and Instagram, flipped through my favorite blogs in Google Reader. I thought about you often, and sometimes worried that you would forget about me during this unexplained absence. It’s been a few months, but feels like I’ve carried you with me on my travels to Boston, Napa, Scottsdale, and to the Carolina coast.

image - beachside reading

I wrote posts in my mind often. Especially when…

  • I decided not to run in my 2nd half marathon
  • I read Joy the Baker’s new cookbook
  • I ordered a bunch of new goodies from Sephora
  • I built another website for a community organization
  • I was accepted into Yoga Teacher Training
  • I fell in love with this song

I am eager to get back into this thing called blogging. Looking forward to sharing fun ideas, deep moments and silly things like my new crush on orange office supplies.

Thanks, as always, for reading. For sparkling. For being you. I couldn’t be happier to dwell in the interwebs alongside you.

It feels good to be back in action.

 

Images by me on Instagram :: 1 / 2 / 3

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A Return to Blogging

Light is Good

At times our own light goes out and
is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude
of those who have lighted the flame within us.
(Albert Schweitzer)

Hello lovelies! It’s been a little over 1 month since my last post — and oh how I’ve missed you. The time away provided some much needed space for reflection.

By placing a small distance between me, my laptop, and my life online, I’ve come to realize the joy all this brings me.

There’s an unlimited amount of information, inspiration, support, guidance, love, and creativity for us to discover. The energy that courses through the hearts, minds, and fingertips of complete strangers (and our closest friends) appears like magic on our screens.

I have a renewed sense of excitement that I hope to carry with me as I dive back into blogging. I feel energized and eager. Enthusiastic about what this site has grown into over the past 2 years. Hopeful about what it might become as the future unfolds.

My break from blogging was filled with extraordinary moments. My Mister and I went to the NC State Fair, dressed up as Waldos for Halloween and snuggled while watching How to Make It in America. I made new friends on Twitter, tracked down packages and sparkle for my latest swap, mailed lots of hand-written letters and collected inspiration in magazines & books. The time away was nice, but I’m ready to spring into action.

Want to join me in celebrating a new season of inspiration? Receive Inbox Inspiration {blog posts via email} and/or Muse Memos {monthly newsletter} by signing up here.

Image Credit: Light is good from whatever lamp it shines. via nattu

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Pause, Steep, Breathe

Chris Chavez Yoga at Spanish Banks

You may wonder, ‘How can I leave it all behind if I am just coming back to it?
How can I make a new beginning if I simply return to the old?’
The answer lies in the return. You will not come back to the ‘same old thing.’
What you return to has changed because you have changed.
Your perceptions will be altered.
You will not incorporate into the same body, status, or world you left behind.
The river has been flowing while you were gone. Now it does not look like the same river.
(Steven Foster)

In a recent conversation with my Mister, he pointed out something I’ve known to be true my entire life. I write about it often and you may find pieces of yourself in my story.

I tend to bite off more than I can chew.

Eager aspirations, best intentions, and ambition-infused plans are my weakness. Mediocrity makes me uncomfortable. Not finishing a project—or just putting forth 80% effort—is not in my nature.

This combination of perfectionism and internal drive has been a great gift. The places I’ve been, the relationships I’ve built and the things I’ve done are a result of that hunger.

“…but not at the expense of happiness. Of enjoying your life,” he reminded me.

He makes a valid point.

I am a busy lady—and while stopping to smell the roses is something I try to pencil in, it often feels ironic and contrived. I want gratitude, mindfulness and joy to become practices deeply rooted in my daily life. I know this will take time, attention and intention.

I’ve never been in the practice of saying no. I’m not one to take time for unscheduled bliss and unstructured exploration. As someone who always wants to do more, be more and share more of myself, this may prove to be a lesson for lifelong learning.

//

I’m putting the blog on pause. I will be posting less frequently, with a bigger focus on reading, connecting, tweeting and keeping a light touch on the happenings.  I’m taking time to let my tea steep. Soaking in the tiny moments that make up this life. I’m letting my red wine breathe. Spending time with friends, family, my Mister and my thoughts.

Image Credit: Chris Chavez Yoga at Spanish Banks via lululemon athletica

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Happy 2-Year Blogiversary!

2010-CONFETTI

Dream on it.
Let your mind take you to places you would like to go,
and then think about it and plan it and celebrate the possibilities.
And don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know how to dream.
(Liza Minnelli)

Hello lovelies! I hope you have a cup of tea in your hand and a smile in your heart wherever this post finds you. Today marks two years of writing, sharing, celebrating, discovering & blogging here on KaileenElise.com. It’s been an amazing journey.

Thank you for standing by me through the tough times, for joining me on this path, for diving in along the way, for dropping by daily or every once in awhile to say hi. 

You are my muse.

Time has stood still. Flew by at record speed. We’ve skipped through puddles. Bathed in sunshine. Flipped through magazines and shared our favorite tunes. Shared how-to’s and to-do’s. Become friends, soul sisters.

These past 2 years.

Most visits:

Favorite projects:

Looking ahead.

I’m excited to see what the future holds. Sign ups for my Sparkle Swap end today—a delightful way to kick off my 3rd year of blogging. There are so many things that I want to try. Collaborative projects, personal challenges. Muse memos. Seasonal swaps. More to-do’s, inspiration and love!

Image Credit: 2010-CONFETTI via teapotqueen

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You’re Invited!

Sugar Impact

Life is luck, make it.
(Mother Teresa)

Hello lovelies! I hope you had a fun and safe weekend. Mine was full of adventure with Hurricane Irene knocking out our power on Saturday. The weather was mild, but windy, so my girlfriend and I went shopping. He spent Sunday golfing, and I prepared for the week with the usual grocery shopping + laundry combo.

August is coming to a close and my 2rd blogiversary is around the corner. In a way it feels like I just got started, but it’s also had to remember when this little corner of the web wasn’t a big part of my life. Last year I celebrated with 32 Days and this year I am inviting you to join in on the fun. The past two years have been filled with inspiration, fun and sparkle — and I couldn’t have done it without you by my side.

Guest Posts
I’ve really enjoyed hosting guest bloggers these past few months. If you are interested in sharing a piece, get in touch. There’s been a wide range of topics so far — from good eats and finding balance, to creativity and commitment.

Giveaways
It’s been too long since my last giveaway. Featuring photography, art, paper goods, jewelry, home decor items and other delightful treats is my favorite part of giveaway goodness. If you would like to provide an item (or a few) for an upcoming giveaway, please let me know!

Truth, Love & Insight
How have you been liking the Truth, Love & Insight series? I think it’s always so interesting to learn about how my favorite bloggers got started and what motivates them to keep going. I have some great ladies scheduled for the next few weeks, but I would love to hear if you are interested in being featured — or if you have any suggestions for future interviews.

Sparkle Swap
Stay tuned! I am planning to host a gift swap soon. The theme will be… you guessed it… infusing sparkle and joy into our swap buddy’s life with a package full of thoughtful treats.

Muse Memos
There’s a small section to the right titled Extra Inspiration (click here to view if you’re in a reader). Muse Memos will begin November 1, but you can sign up today to stay in the loop. I’ll be sending bits of love and inspiration your way — directly to your inbox.

Image Credit: Sugar impact via 96dpi

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