If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you probably know by now that Johan and I will be traveling to his parent’s place in South Africa at the beginning of February. Man, that’s soon isn’t it?
When I was planning for the upcoming month’s blog posts, I got to thinking about how the last BIG international trip I did was 4 years ago. Hard to believe it’s been so long! Right?
Before that I’d been flying to England and Australia on the regular.
The last international trip I did, was when I last went to South Africa. Johan and I met over there at the airport and then spent the whole month of December traveling and spending time with his family. And when we got to the end of December, that was the hardest goodbye we’d ever experienced. At least, this time we will be going and leaving together.
It’s such a gorgeous country. I’m excited to be going back! But also, we will be stopping over in London town! YAY! It’s been a loooong time since I’ve been there too and I miss it! So we will be spending a day in London before catching the next flight to Johannesburg.
Writing this blog post has pushed me to not procrastinate on the packing side of things – as I usually do it LATE. The night before the flight. NOPE, nope… nope. Not this year.
It’s super important to have a blog content strategy. You can do this by having a content scheduling meeting every month. It’s important to have these meetings if you are a solo-preneur or a small team or a bigger company, because your content is going to reflect your brand and blog to your readers or customers.
Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year?? I’ve been doing it for the last 8ish years and have loved it. This year I created a new account (because I couldn’t get into my other account) and am going to finish my upcoming novel about long-distance relationships for it.
I am so excited!! Are you up for joining me for this fun writing challenge this month?
My username is: DevinJoubert
Please add me! I can’t wait to get to know more about you and your writing.
We waste a lot of time on social media. Tell me… it isn’t true? Because I know I spend WAY too much time doing the wrong things on social media. I’m going to walk you through the best practices for writers on social media.
Stop Wasting Time & Make Use Of The Time You Are On Social Media
I recently found, I spend about half an hour scheduling content on each social media, because I like scheduling my content for social media out a ways. If you think of spending 30 minutes on each of your social medias (for me it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) so that’s four social networks.
The math says: 4 X 30 mins. That’s 2 hours or more depending on how much time you spend. Now imagine if you spend that much time on social media everyday!
Now if you add that up over a full week, including your weekend the math says that will end up being: 2hrs X 7 = 14 hours a week.
Can you imagine that? In a two week timespan that is almost 30 hours. 30 hours of time on social media!
That’s more than a day that you’ve wasted on social media. Do you really want to spend more than a whole day on social media? I know I don’t. Even though my job has to do with blogging and social media, I still don’t want to be stuck on social media more than I have to be.
If you’re anything like me I bet you’d love to get some tips cutting back on the time that you is being wasted on social media. I’ll also share some social media best practices so that the time that you do focus on social media is time well spent. I’m going to cover the best practices to keep in mind for while you are on social media. I’ll be doing another post for each of the different social networks with best practices and targeted tips for those social media platforms.
You can do this for your whole day actually. Start out by writing the hours of the days and you can also divide the day out in half hour increments. Track everything. Track your time spend getting ready in the morning, writing blog posts, chores, and the 10-30 minutes spent scrolling on social media as well.
It’s never fun to feel stuck when it comes to writing your newest blog post. It can also be hard to plan a month or year’s worth of content. When that happens it feels like an Olympic sport just to get out a sentence you actually like. After a little while it feels like that blinking cursor is tormenting you.
And then on top of that, throw in a fast-approaching deadline. It makes it even more difficult. In a way it might feel like writer’s block. But let me tell you something — I don’t really believe there is such thing as writer’s block. It’s more of a combination of bad blog planning and procrastination. At least it is for me. I’ve collected about 200 blog prompt ideas.
End The Curse Of The Blinking Cursor – How To Come Up With A Year Of Creative Blog Post Ideas
So, instead of being tormented by that blinking cursor, I thought I’d share some of my best tips for coming up with great blog content that your readers are going to love.
Remember if the blog writing muse pulls you in another direction, remember these are just blog ideas. Follow your audience and make sure it’s something they’d enjoy. Don’t just write about something because it’s on this list. Make sure it fits your blog and audience.
First Off, How Often Are You Going To Publish Blog Posts?
Before you figure out your your blog ideas, it’s important to decide how often you’ll be publishing content on your blog.
Once you decide if you are going to publish once a week, twice a week, or twice a month it’d be good to find a day where you can sit down and bulk write the blog posts. You’ll also know how many posts you’ll need to write a week or per month.
And if you are starting out, or restarting a blog you want to keep consistently it’s good to figure out a schedule where you can write a lot of content over a short period.
Starting out, I chose to write two days in a row, for a couple hours each day. This helped me get a lot of writing out.
Some of you might know our story. And others might not. Our story isn’t like many others. You see, I met my husband while studying abroad on a gorgeous land filled with the most beautiful turquoise beaches, soft sand, kangaroos, large spiders, and a red desert in the middle of the country. It was at the University of The Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.
It all started out as a friendship. But when I reconnected with him at church, I knew he was a catch. But I am an old-school kind of girl and wouldn’t be the type to ask someone out or walk up and talk to someone because I thought they were cute. (haha…) So I figured I’d wait. While at church that day I saw an ad for the church hip-hop worship team. I’d always been interested in dance and was involved in it back home. So I asked my friend about it and she said, “Oh, Johan is involved in that. You should ask him about it for more information.” Now I had a reason to talk to him.
I went up and talked to him with my friend. He told me the date and place when it takes place. He also said, while giving me his phone number, “If you can’t find a ride, let me know and I can pick you up.”
And so what did I do? What any respectful girl who wants to get to know a cute boy, would do. I didn’t ask anyone else. Then I reached out to him and asked if I could get a ride with him! Yep, that’s what I did.
The Un-dates & A Paramore Concert
After a few months of un-dates (we called them that because it totally was dating, but we were unaware of it at that stage, I think.) like dancing on the beach, writing “love” letters back and forth, painting on the beach, hand holding, Hillsong church, and a Paramore concert.
Then on the day after the Paramore concert, we got pizza and went to Dulong Lookout to have a picnic at night. I still remember how the lights from the Sunshine Coast area below matched the twinkling of the stars above. We talked about our dreams and everything we enjoyed while eating. Then the defining moment came.
We lay on a blanket staring up at the stars. Johan grabbed my hand. There was a quiet moment between us as a question lingered in the calm and cool air.
“What are we?” Johan asked me.
“Uhhh, I don’t know.” I said, while kind of wondering the same thing.
“Wait, no, how about I ask this, will you be my girlfriend?”
I smiled and responded, “Yes.”
And from that moment on, we were inseparable. We’d spent a ton of time at the beach and hanging out with friends at coffee shops in Mooloolaba. Making sure that we spent as much time together as possible before I had to go home. We knew what we were getting ourselves into with the long-distance relationship ahead of us, but yet who completely knows what to expect with a long-distance relationship especially if you’ve never been in one?
The Long-Distance Years
January of 2011, I had to go back home to finish my last semester of college. I remember it all like it was yesterday. That “summer” for the Sunshine Coast was a really wet and rainy one. When Johan drove me to the airport, we barely made it to the airport, because it was raining so heavily. I got back to cold snow. So funny, how one day you can be sitting on a beach sunburning and the other you can be sitting in a hot tub with your hair freezing.
Goodbyes are never something that a person looks forward too, especially someone in a long-distance relationship. Because sometimes you don’t know when you’ll see each other again. This one was a big one, because it was the first time we would say goodbye to each other at the airport.
I still remember us hugging each other. I was shaking inside as tears fell. We kissed each other and then Johan said “The sooner you leave, the sooner we will see each other again.” It was a saying in his family. One I’ve heard plenty since that first goodbye.
Once I got to my seat on the place, I found an envelope in my bag from Johan. Inside was a love letter and pictures. I started crying. People were probably wondering what was wrong. But I tried hiding it, with my pillow in front of my face. How could one handle this kind of pain. My heart hurt so badly. I was about to fly away from the man I loved.
Not sure when we’d see each other again.
Not sure, how it all would play out.
Not sure how long this whole long-distance thing would continue.
Not sure how long until we’d finally be together.
Many thoughts, worries, and questions spun through my mind. But I knew how much I loved him. I was prepared to go the distance for him. And in the long run, we made it work. 🙂
After College & Expat Living
When I graduated college, I got a work and travel visa in Australia and went to live there for a year. It was a great time that I got to spend a lot of time with Johan and I also got to know his parents better.
I got a flat in Brisbane, Australia and worked part-time as a secretary for a therapist. Which was quite interesting. I got used to traveling around by bus and train. And we also made a fun trip up to the Blue Mountains near Sydney with our friends, and my sister.
She came to visit us for a few weeks. It was fun having her there. When it came time for her to go home, it was really sad to say goodbye.
Like I said, goodbyes are hard. Airports used to be a place where I could go magical new places, but they had since turned into a place that I’d always have to say goodbye to people I love. So anytime I ended up at an airport, my stomach would fill with butterflies or nervousness. I swear the butterflies had little knives.
After that lovely year in the sun with Johan, I had to go home again.
Skype, Letters, & Visits
Throughout the 5.5 years, we Skyped a lot, but I’d have to say that what really helped was when we both got iPhones. iMessage and FaceTime really helped the distance not feel so far. The time zone on the other end made it feel really hard sometimes. It was 16hours time difference between Johan and I, with him in Brisbane, Australia and me being in Minnesota and North Dakota. There was a time that I was a little closer, when I moved to Las Vegas to work as an editor at a children’s magazine.
Throughout the 5.5 years we probably saw each other in person 9 times in total. NINE TIMES, you guys! Over a 5.5 year span.
The Proposal & South Africa & What Happens In Vegas
In 2014, we got engaged. But I had no idea it was about to happen. Johan worked with my family to plan the whole thing. He came for a surprise visit.
For more on our proposal story, you can read that here. It was really romantic. He was only here for a short while to propose, but it was well planned.
Then we decided to go to South Africa for Christmas in 2015. We were there for the whole month of December. It was a wonderful time to meet Johan’s sister and grandparents as well.
Then after South Africa, is when I moved to Las Vegas. It was a fun adventure. I had an especially fun time when Johan came to visit me there. We took off on adventures every weekend and had some funny stories and memories.
But 6 months later, a job offer pulled me back to the midwest. I enjoyed the temperature in the midwest a bit better.
It was in Vegas where we started our immigration packet as well as started planning for our wedding. I still remember our Skype sessions of going through the paperwork. It was a long and tedious job. Phew.
Happily Ever After
Johan finally arrived back in the States for good on March 31st, 2016. We were so happy to FINALLY. YES. FINALLY be together.
Do you know anyone in a long-distance relationship? Or that was in a long-distance relationship, but is now together?
Man, there are so many things to keep track of as an adult. Bills, taxes, saving your money so you don’t live paycheck to paycheck like you did in college, looking the part so people take you seriously, and how to handle taxes or even build good credit. It seriously seems like magic. A bit mystical. As if we are supposed to just know it as soon as we got the adult card.
I recently heard back from some of you about what topics you’d wished you were given as a guidebook on for adult-ing, and financial topics were big. Especially on how to save up money for life, dreams, and more.
I’m Not Talking About Penny Bank Saving Like You Did When You Were A Kid
We all had that penny bank shaped like a pig, that sat on the dresser that we’d fill with pocket change and allowance as kids.
I know I’ve talked with people who wish they had started saving earlier. The earlier you begin, the more you’ll be able to save. And I really wish I’d started out earlier with my savings. I just didn’t take it seriously. Like really!
But now, in hindsight, you can see what you wish you’d done differently.
Let’s be done with “Wishing” and do something that will actually make a difference now and in your future.
Stuff you’d like to get rid of? That causes more stress?
What’s even better is that you could even make some money while getting rid of those items. What I love about it, is that the items you find yourself annoyed with will be loved by someone else. Which makes it even better, right?
Over The Last 2 Months Of Selling On Facebook
A while back I saw a quote that went a little like this: “Take a moment and look around. All that stuff used to be money.”
That’s some intense food for thought. We spend too much money on things we actually never use. Or use once and then throw it in the back of the closet. After going through all of our clothing and cleaning up our house we decided that, instead of donating it all, we decided to have a closet sale and sell some of it to people who might want it.
Since we decided to do a closet sale and sell items that we no longer wanted or needed, we were happy to add $500 more to our pockets and get rid of the items.
5 Tips For Making $$ On Facebook Marketplace By Cleaning Out Your Stuff
Go through all the things in your house. Pick out everything you want to keep and find a home for them. Then put everything you don’t like or want to get rid of in a laundry hamper. Those are the things you’ll sell online. Put it in a place that’s out of the way where you won’t trip on it.
Take beautiful pictures of the items. For me some of the pictures are of books and clothing and other MISC items. Place them in pleasing ways!
Or share a picture of you with the item of clothing on.
Have you ever seen Outlander? I’ve seen a few episodes, but am seriously LOVING it. It got me thinking more about my family line and all of the people in my family tree.
It’s easy for us to think about our ancestors as a large group of unknown people. Or even easy to not think about them as live people with thoughts, doubts, loves, and fears. I think it’s kind of like the black and white photos. It makes them feel un-relatable somehow. But have you seen those images that have been digitally colored? The color brings them to life in a way that you didn’t see before when the image was just black and white. It’s sad, I know. Because it’s just as full of life in the black and white.
What if I could say there was something out there that would help you find out more about your family line, ethnicity, and genealogy?
Ancestry DNA has helped so many people find family and find lost puzzle pieces to their story. It was helpful for me, in pointing me where I need to look next and also connected me with potential living-relatives.
I’ve always enjoyed family history research
I’ll share some more about my Ancestry DNA results here down below. Ever since I was little, I’ve known that I had roots from these countries:
That’s all I really knew. Because my dad is half Norwegian and half Swedish. While all I knew about my mom’s side was my grandma was German.
Over the years, I learned a few more things about my ancestry and the people in my family tree, like Scottish preachers and being related to Scottish royalty (Mary Queen of Scotts.) Little did I know, I’d find out some more from Ancestry DNA.
Ancestry DNA For Christmas
My husband got me Ancestry DNA + Traits for Christmas last year and I was so excited about it, because I’ve wanted to do it since I heard of it.
Besides just telling you about where your DNA comes from in the world, it also told me my DNA traits and which areas those came from.
After taking the Ancestry DNA test. They updated you on the process and what stage your DNA research was at each stage. When it was finally ready, they sent me an email and said “Your results are in!”
Yup, I was excited.
When I opened it, I saw this cool map showing the areas where my DNA is from. So cool to see it like this on a map.
And then when you scroll down you can see your DNA percentages. Which is cool. I was right on the dot about the Norwegian, Swedish, and German ethnicity.
The percentages amazed me. The ethnicities that amazed me most was the “Finland” and the “Baltic States” one. It made me excited to find out more about my family from those areas as well. But it’s cool, because I found out that some of my cousins also took the test and through that I was able to find that the Finnish was through my dad’s side of the family. So he isn’t just Norwegian and Swedish, but also a little Finnish. Which is cool!
Speaking of finding living-relatives of mine like cousins, it found potential relatives in other areas of the country and world. Who I have reached out to and am working with to find out more about how we are connected in our DNA.
Your DNA Traits Are Quite Interesting
Going through the traits really amazed me, because through what they found in my DNA, they could tell my eye color, hair color, hair thickness, whether I like cilantro (which I do), whether I’m a sun sneezer (yes, that’s a thing. And no I am not a sun sneezer.) So it was kind of cool to see how all of that is wrapped up in your DNA.
Ever Wondered About Your Ethnicity & DNA?
If you’ve ever wondered about your family history and ethnicity, then you should take the Ancestry DNA test. We found out some really cool and interesting things about Johan’s family ethnicity, when he took it. I’ll share his results sometime later.
Another crazy thing is that if you take the test and your sister take the test, you won’t get exactly the same results. My sister took it too and she was more Norwegian than I was and I was more Swedish. Also Russian showed up in her list of ethnicities. So that’s really interesting.
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