Tag Archives | Blogging

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.


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


12 Intentions for 2012

image :: my work desk

If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while, waiting for you,
and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people
who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and
doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
(Joseph Campbell)

This fall, I will be celebrating my blog’s 3-year anniversary. Three years of showing up, sharing inspiration and connecting with more creative souls than I ever imagined possible.

The keys to a happy blogger? Make a plan, set realistic expectations, write as often as you can, and believe in a little magic. Then wait to see what happens next.

My intentions for this year and KaileenElise.com are one in the same. I plan to focus my energy on living a healthy, active life. I want to blog regularly, but without the pressure and pace of posting daily. I have a content map, plus a long-term strategy and short-term goals. I’m giddy about what’s next—eager to curate links, quotes and images that will inspire you.

I’m quite fond of outlines, lists and game plans. Knowing this, I identified 12 intentions for 2012. Guideposts for this journey, touchstones threaded through each month. Overall, this year is about focus and heart…with a touch of sparkle!

image :: 12 Intentions for 2012 - Kaileen Elise

Hat tip to Lifestylista Monica McCarthy for the wonderful idea of compiling a vision board of sorts for 2012 intentions. I love how mine turned out. It’s going straight to my desktop—and I plan to create mini versions for my iPhone each month.

Have you done something like this for your blog? I’ve never sat down and thought an entire year through like this, so I’d love to know more about your experience!

Image Credits: My Work Desk via DeaPeaJay
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#Reverb11 Mini Muses – Begin, Meet & Read

Image :: Winter Berries

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
(Arthur Ashe)

December—and reverb#11—are in full swing. With the end of 2011 coming near, it’s a perfect time for reflection. I’m approaching the reverb project differently than last year. This post is a recap of my first three Mini Muses—the beginnings of 31 prompts I created for #reverb11. Thanks to those of you who are reverbing with me, it means the world.

Image :: Outtake

Where did 2011 begin?

New Year’s Eve with my Mister and two close friends. We had a great night, even though things did not go as planned. (When do they ever, really?)

In January 2011 I worked at my old job, lived in my old apartment, drove my old car. There is no way I could have imagined 2011 would bring about so much change.

Even with all the struggles and challenges this year has presented, I am incredibly grateful for and happy with where I am today.

Image :: Regan&Kaileen

Who did you meet?

Moving to Chapel Hill this summer provided ample opportunity to make new friends. The picture above is of me and my friend Regan on Thanksgiving morning. She has become the fearless leader and ultimate hostess of this amazing group of women. We met through our partners, all whom are students at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler business school. Regan has helped to cultivate something really special—a group of supportive, craft making, story sharing, wine drinking, cookie baking, Bunco playing and good-time-having ladies.

I have also met a bunch of great people since starting my new job. The team filled with creative, talented and super smart folks—and as a corporate recruiter, I meet new people every day. Interviewing is one of my favorite parts of my job because I get to ask questions and hear stories. Even during one of the most stressful conversations (who isn’t nervous in an interview?) people have so much to share.

Through blogging, I have met several inspiring women. Here are a few I hope to get to know better in 2012:

Courtney Pearce – Yoga G33k
Sarah Kathleen Peck – It Starts With
AshleyTia – That is all.
Sarah – City Mouse Speaks
Kelsey Brown – Happyolks

Image :: Another Summer Day

What books did you read?

Reading is like exercising and saving money—easy to put off, but so worth it. I bought more books than I could ever read in a year, then declared I won’t be adding more books to my library in 2012. I listened to a few great audiobooks, including:

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Most recently, I read Loving Frank and am now working my way through A Place of Yes. I’m keeping track of my reading progress on GoodReads. I’d love it if you connected with me.

#Reverb11 Your Way

You deserve a gold star if you have read through this whole post wondering, “What is a reverb?”  Check out the #reverb11 hashtag on Twitter … or read a take on it here.

It’s not too late to join and there really are no rules. Do what you want, what you can. I know some people who just answered one prompt, others who answered all of them on December 31. Any time is a perfect time to get started.

Image Credits: Winter Berries via Shandi-lee // Outtake via LaurenKelseyPhotography // Regan & Kaileen on Instagram // Another Summer Day via Always Be Cool

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Let’s Reverb 2011

We All Reverb 2011

December 2010 was memorable. Alongside Gwen Bell and Cali Harris, I poured my heart into a passion project we called Reverb 10. It was an online community initiative with daily prompts for the entire month. A follow-up to Gwen’s original Best of ’09 blog series.

We traveled to Napa, CA for a few days — staying up late to kick things off. We took turns tweeting, writing, and connecting. The month’s focus was on sharing stories, featuring inspired authors, and diving deep. There was a magical energy, with the community reflecting on 2010 and manifesting what would be next.

I wrote a series of 21 posts for Reverb 10. You can find my archives here.

Annual projects can be challenging, especially virtual ones. We are all in different places today than we were a year ago. Yesterday, in a message to the Reverb subscriber list, Gwen explained she won’t be hosting Reverb this year. Instead, she shared how we did it.

Now you can host your own Reverb, if you wish. To paraphrase her guidelines:

  • Create 31 prompts for the month of December.
  • Post those prompts to your blog.
  • Invite other people to join you!
  • Publish on the topics each day.
  • Use a hash tag to connect via Twitter (we used #reverb10 last year).
  • Support one another by sharing links, commenting, etc.
  • Create buttons to show that you’re hosting your own Reverb.

The initiative lies in your hands, in the hearts of a greater community. If you plan to move forward with Reverb this year, I encourage you to use the #reverb11 hashtag on Twitter.

I would like to follow your work through December, I want to know what prompts you are writing on, and I hope to be part of your Reverb. Please email me with updates, questions and thoughts – or say hello on Twitter.

How will you Reverb? Do you plan to create your own prompts? Here are the questions I plan to reflect on for Reverb 11. I’m calling them my 31 Mini Muses:

  1. Where did 2011 begin?
  2. Who did you meet?
  3. What books did you read?
  4. When did you struggle?
  5. What did you discover?
  6. Who was important to you?
  7. What do you hope to remember?
  8. Where did you spend money?
  9. When were you most scared?
  10. What questions did you ask?
  11. Who surprised you?
  12. What did you learn?
  13. When did you feel the most relaxed?
  14. Where did you leave a mark?
  15. What movies did you see?
  16. What did you accomplish?
  17. When were you the most grateful?
  18. Who touched your heart?
  19. Where did you visit?
  20. When did you cry?
  21. Where did you spend your time?
  22. What were your favorite songs?
  23. Who did you miss?
  24. When did you take the easy way?
  25. Where did you eat?
  26. Which blogs did you enjoy most?
  27. When did you celebrate?
  28. What are your dreams for next year?
  29. Who will attract into your life?
  30. What do you want to do in 2012?
  31. Where do you hope to be on Jan 1, 2013?

I have other posts planned through December, things I’m excited to write about and share beyond my Reverb. That being said, I intend to journal and post and reflect and manifest.

I hope you will join me.

Image Credit: We All Reverb

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Sparkle Swapped


If we look at the world with a love of life,
the world will reveal its beauty to us.
(Daisaku Ikeda)

Hello friends, happy Wednesday to you!

I hosted a Sparkle Swap in September, with the hopes of bringing cheer to fellow bloggers. 25 participants signed up to send 4 unique gifts — a bit of sparkle, a treat that soothes, something sweet, and a surprise.

After delays, international shipping issues and general pre-holiday mayhem, I am finally getting around to sharing a recap post. A handful of lovely bloggers wrote about the swap. Take a peek below at the gorgeous and thoughtful packages these ladies sent! Click on the photos to read their posts.

Elisse → Sharni

Elisee - Sharni

Sharni → Katie

Sharni - Katie

Erin → Carrie

Erin - Carrie

Kristin → Kathy

Kristin - Kathy

Sarah → Jamie

Sarah - Jamie

Jamie → Danielle

Jamie - Danielle

Danielle → Monique

Danielle - Monique

Monique  → Ashley

Monique - Ashley

Cassie → Leesh

Cassie - Leesh

Heather →  Micaela

Heather - Micaela

Micaela → Ginna

Micaela - Ginna

There were some people who never received their gifts, and others who ended up sending two because the first was lost in the mail. Some people really enjoyed the experience, and I have a sinking suspicion that a few were disappointed.

The truth about gift swaps is that you never know what will happen.

In America, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. It’s become one of my favorite holidays because of the focus on gratitude and love. I hope the Sparkle Swap brought cheer, gratitude, love and sparkle to those who participated!

Image Credit: Youth via Chris JL


The Truth About Gift Swaps


Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
(Lao Tzu)

Swaps are popular within the creative blogging community, especially this time of year. I’ve participated in several and hosted a handful, including the Holiday Love Gift Swap, the Good Karma Gift Swap, and most recently the Sparkle Swap. I am by no means an expert in successful swapping, but I have learned a few things along the way.

The Good
A lot of great things can come out of swaps. It’s a fun excuse to shop for little treats and trinkets. Wrapping everything up in pretty packaging is an expression of your artistic side. Sending love to a complete stranger is exciting—and really good juju.

The Bad
Swaps can be a logistical mess. Packages get lost or damaged in the mail. People flake out before sending their parcel, never confirm receipt of their gift, or drop off the map completely. After putting time, effort and money into sending the perfect gift, there’s a chance you could be left empty handed.

The Reality
The truth about gift swaps is that you never know what will happen. You could send the most thoughtful package ever, but receive something that’s better suited for your teenage niece. There’s also a chance you could meet one of your best friends through the experience, I certainly have.

Before signing up for your next swap, make sure:

You understand the details & expectations. Hosts typically provide info on the swap – expected cost, what to include, and potential timeframe. If you have any questions, ask!

You have the time and financial means. Some swaps are open world-wide, others are within specified countries. Keep in mind there will be costs for shipping in addition to what you spent putting together the package.

You are inspired and excited about the theme. If you are allergic to peanuts it might be best to avoid a PB&J swap. If ornaments make you giddy, sign up!

Have you experienced the joys and challenges with gift swaps?

I would love to hear your thoughts on the good, the bad, and the reality of hosting & participating in the comments below.

Want to know what happend with this year’s Sparkle Swap? I’ll be sharing a recap soon!

Image Credit: POST via Jaako


Creative Weekend To-Do List

{ Image :: Autumn Leaves }

{ Image :: Walking through leaves }

{ Image :: Autumn sunshine. }

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
Nothing can be done without hope or confidence.
(Helen Keller)

Hello friends! I hope you’ve had a nice week. Mine has been a bit crazy, but in a busy/good sort of way. I know I said it before, but I seriously missed all of you. Diving back into blogging has made me such a happy camper.

Last night I stayed up too late catching up on my Google Reader. There are so many talented folks out there! If you’re looking for new bloggers to follow, I highly recommend that you check out my Daily Reads. (Click over to the blog if you’re in a Reader.)

On an unrelated note, the Mister’s been out of town the past few days for an MBA stock pitch competition hosted by The Johnson School at Cornell. If you have some winning vibes to spare, please send them his way!

Do you have any fun plans for the weekend ahead? I’m hoping to get a jumpstart on things by heading to Target and the grocery store after work tonight (something I usual leave to Sundays). If I’m feeling frisky, I might even get my laundry started.

The following list of ideas, links, and creative weekend to-do’s are intended to inspire. Consider this a friendly reminder to seek out little delights and exceptional joys in the days ahead. I invite you to share your plans and creative to-do’s in the comments below!

sign up for a goodreads account
listen to this while cleaning the house
get organized for 2012 with a stylish planner
reflect on last month’s favorite things
do what it takes to follow your inner guide
think about yourself from a different perspective
get a new techcessory for iPhone or iPad
add a new favorite blog to the list
read, run & write for November Intentions

✳ One more thing! Would you like to join me in celebrating a new season of inspiration?
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Image Credit: Autumn. | Walking through leaves | Autumn Sunshine. via Eselle


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


Truth, Love & Insight – Carolyn Rubenstein

Image & Quote

Today’s Truth, Love & Insight interview with Carolyn Rubenstein is touching, honest and filled with inspiration. I hope Carolyn’s words give you a sense of joyful calm to carry through your day. Last week’s feature of Micaela Maxham was absolutely delightful. Have you had a chance to read it yet?

I’ve followed Carolyn on Twitter for awhile now. She’s a brilliant, busy and positive gal who always seems to be doing something new. I really enjoyed her collaborative project Spring Inspiration. Here’s a little more about Carolyn, in her own words:

I’m Carolyn Rubenstein, author of Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors (How Young People Turn Fear into Hope and How They Can Teach Us To Do The Same); non-profit organization founder; authenticity advocate; Huffington Post and Psychology Today blogger; believer in resilience, gratitude and respect; and graduate student.

That may sound a bit heady, and maybe it is. So I’ve created A Beautiful Ripple Effect to be a place for great conversation, and for providing you with tons of fresh, inspiring content for your downloading and sharing pleasure. Together, we’ll uncover truths, persevere on our quests and inspire one another as we take a stand against life-as-usual. (And, you know, talk about the things we love, big and small. The things that make us smile, squeal, sigh. A couple of mine: awesome quotes, yoga, and my dog, Lila Rose.)

A Beautiful Ripple Effect celebrates the essential journey we’re on, encourages questions, fosters understanding.

Carolyn Rubenstein

1. How did your blog get started?
My blog got started with a quote. The words by Christine Mason Miller helped me realize that I needed to begin opening up about my personal journey. At this point in my life, I felt very alone, and I craved involvement in a community where I could be completely and imperfectly me. This quote gave me the nudge to start a simple blog; it had no design, no “about” page, just posts, and my story has grown organically from that place.

When we focus our energy towards constructing a passionate, meaningful life, we are tossing a pebble into the world, creating a beautiful ripple effect of inspiration. When one person follows a dream, tries something new or takes a daring leap, everyone nearby feels that energy, and before too long they are making their own daring leaps and inspiring yet another circle.
(Christine Mason Miller)

2. What motivates you to continue sharing your story with the web?
My main motivation is completely selfish—sharing my story is incredibly therapeutic for me. It allows me to examine my life from a different perspective and to avoid a state of analysis paralysis. The second reason is a total cliché, but it’s true—I wanted to inspire others to unveil their authentic selves (first to themselves, then to others). My story is just getting started, so I think my blog is in its infancy; the best is yet to come! I can’t wait to see how my inspiration unfolds and the community grows.

3. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself as a budding blogger?
There is no “right” way to blog. Allow yourself the freedom to create your own blogging journey. Remain true to your voice and recognize the importance of sharing it with others. Treat your readers as individuals—don’t take anyone’s presence for granted. The journey ebbs and flows, so hold on tight and enjoy the ride. If you do fall down, get back up and keep going!

4. If you could go forward in time, what is one question you would like to ask yourself? How do you imagine you might answer it?
Q: What about blogging lights you up and fills you with incredible happiness? How do you focus on that work and not get overwhelmed by all the little details that can overwhelm the sparkling moments?

A: The process of writing (actual pen to paper) lights me up and makes me giddy. I love creating, especially creating something tangible—seeing my words and handwriting filling up journal pages. I also love connecting with others, especially the people who read my blog.

In the future, I hope that I have learned how to focus my time and energy on these two aspects of blogging and am able to spend less time on the digital administration of blogging (which completely zaps my energy)!

5. What are your favorite creative resources?
Pinterest is a huge creative resource for me.
Blogs are my second creative resource—I try to read a large variety of blogs to gain different types of inspiration.
And of course, my huge collection of books. Sitting in a big comfy chair with a stack of books is my favorite activity.

6. Who inspires you online? Offline?
I am inspired by people not afraid to show their scars and their unfiltered stories. I can’t connect with people who try to create a world that is always sparkly—although I do adore The Glitter Guide (and definitely consider myself a *glitter girl!*).

If you’re anything like me, you want me to name names… okay, just this once! But please realize this list is far from comprehensive and doesn’t include people without hyperlinks. And one more note of caution—the list got a bit unwieldy, so I forced myself to pick just a little sample from my ever growing inspiration list!

Gwen Bell
Marissa Bracke
Havi Brooks 
Jess Constable
Kaileen Elise
Aby Garvey
Charlie Gilkey
Carolynn Giordano
Chris Guillebeau
Hope Wallace Karney
Brandon Ledford
Tiffany Moore
Tobe Reed
Julie Reif
Allie Rice
Kendi Skeen
Jess Swift
Michelle Ward

7. How do you make every day an extraordinary adventure?
By focusing on the present moment and in particular on gratitude. It’s in these ordinary moments that I notice myself smile and sparkle with happiness. And a splash of glitter always helps!

Carloyn Rubenstein Collage

Image Credit: via Carolyn Rubenstein


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