Writing

March 26, 2020
An infographic by the TheCounselingTeacher.com (Sheltering in place)

Sheltering in Place: Healthy Ways to Deal with Anxiety and Isolation

The Mental Toll of the COVID-19 and Sheltering in Place As more cities, counties, and states begin sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic (including my county), life in the great indoors is becoming our new normal. A lot of us are working from home, trying to learn how to create routines for ourselves and our children. But today we learned that close to 3.3 million people applied for unemployment insurance in a single week. On top of the work and employment concerns, we’re encountering empty shelves in grocery stores, enduring increasing amounts of cabin fever, and probably, most of all — we’re worried. There’s so much uncertainty — of how we’ll pay our bills, if we’ll get sick, if we or our sick loved ones will get better, or if that cough is due to seasonal allergies or something else. It’s OK To Be Worried So I’m not here to say you shouldn’t be worried. This outbreak is a serious matter. In the U.S., our infrastructure has been laid bare and low. Hospitals are scrambling to find masks, gowns, ventilators, and more medical professionals to keep up with the growing amount of people who need to be hospitalized. The economy has essentially shut down because need to keep physically distant from each other to help contain this virus (and not like everyone is adhering to those recommendations). It’s a scary time. Worry and anxiety about the present and the future aren’t feelings you should shove to the side. […]
March 13, 2020
Things to do 1. Own today printed frame beside teal headset

So You Have to Work from Home? Here’s My Experience.

The Coronavirus and Transitioning Into Work from Home Life The World Health Organization has just declared the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a global pandemic. And it’s a little scary, and that’s mainly because of how the American federal government is responding (hint: not very well). So as many businesses and events are shutting down, you may have to work from home (WFH). Online and offline, many people are offering tips about how to transition as we’re trying to implement more social distancing. And I’m here to give my two cents of advice, too. But first of all, I want to say flat out that it will be a transition, but you can do it! I’ve worked from home starting in 2007 when I had knee surgery, back when remote work isn’t as popular as it is now. That was for two weeks where I had to be on crutches. And, I admit it was strange. I lived with three other young women. In the morning, they all would go to work or school for the day. And then, I was left with myself. I called myself “the cat lady without any cats.” because I didn’t leave the house except to go to physical therapy for two weeks. There were times I enjoyed the solitude, but after my knee was stable enough for walking, I was happy to go back to work because it was weird to be by myself for 8 hours a day. Fast forward to now and I’m […]
February 26, 2020
A Lenten predictive text meme

How a Religious Television Network Successfully Used a Predictive Text Meme

The other day, I saw this tweet from the Catholic TV channel EWTN and was surprised: “For Lent, I’m giving up…” (finish with predictive text) pic.twitter.com/BzAFz9tVt3 — EWTN (@EWTN) February 11, 2020 I was a little shocked that this got into my timeline from people who are probably closer to pagan than Catholic. But it caught my eye just like that Variety tweet did during the Oscars. I had to double check to see if this was the same EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) I knew back from when I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. And it was! On the way to church with my family, through long winding roads up in the hills, we would pass by the TV station. I never would have thought that this most likely not well known religious channel would have a viral tweet. But they used a pretty common type of meme to do it: the predictive text meme. You can call it a sort of divination, or a just a way to have fun, but according to Know Your Meme, predictive text as a meme has been around on Twitter for a few years. So if you’re been on Twitter for any amount of time, then you’ve probably seen these memes before. But this was the first time I had seen a brand use a predictive text meme. And just like with Variety, I would not expect EWTN to use a meme or popular culture for their social media feeds. (They used […]
February 26, 2020
A gold iPhone displaying a Twitter logo

How Variety Used a Different Brand Voice to Drive Twitter Traffic

After being on and off social media since 1997, sometimes I’m still shocked at its power. I should have written about this on the 10th, but you’ll be reading this on the 26th, 16 days after this happened. ON Sunday, February 9th, I watched people on Twitter watch the Oscars. That’s because 1) I didn’t want to actually watch the very monochromatic Oscars and 2) it’s more fun to watch people watch TV than to watch TV. Still, despite the near whiteout conditions of the Oscar nominees, I was only rooting for two people: Matthew Cherry, whose film “Hair Love,” was nominated for Best Animated Short film; and Parasite, a Korean film up for a few awards including Best International Feature Film and Best Picture. Cherry won, which was lovely. And Parasite won four Oscars: Best Picture, Directing (by Bong Joon Ho), International Feature Film, and Writing (Original Screenplay). My timeline was intensely ebullient with each win. Seemed like everyone was hoping against hope that Parasite would win Best Picture. When Parasite did win, it was a Super Bowl type of synchronous excitement. Here’s a tweet that caught me off guard. #PARASITE FADSJKFDASLKJFALJKFASELJKDFSAKJLFDSAKJLADFXJKLFDSAJKDFASKJLASFDJKLFDASJKLFSDAJKLFJKL@#JK@RKWEFKJLFWEAJKL WE DID IT KIDS!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/cY2VaNAAwZ — Variety (@Variety) February 10, 2020 Variety as a publication has been around for eons and their Twitter page is usually quite sedate. They report entertainment news. The reports are not typically salacious. It’s Variety. So when this tweet came through, I lost it while everyone else was losing it. I couldn’t […]
February 19, 2020
An East Asian woman in a cream sweater and glasses looks sideways while sitting down at a black laptop computer. Mental Health.

The Intersection of Social Media and Mental Health

My Mental Health Escape? Lately, it’s been on my mind how reality TV and social media affect people’s mental health. After seeing people talk about it non-stop on social media, I binge-watched the dating reality TV show, Love Island — all five seasons — last summer. It’s such a fun little tropical escape for me. For a few sun-drenched weeks, 20-something UKers looking for love live in a villa in Mallorca, Spain (this season, they’re in South Africa). To win the game, contestants have to be in a couple at the end. The audience votes for their favorite couples throughout the time and the most popular couple wins 50,000 pounds. The popular show now has a U.S. version as well as an Australian version. It’s fun to watch couples fall in, and out, of love. It’s touching to watch friendships form. The drama, the tears, the giggles, the “sexy times.” 😉 It’s like Big Brother but for dating. But there’s a looming dark side of reality TV and the intersection of social media and mental health that needs to be addressed. Paradise Darkened For five seasons, Caroline Flack was the host, a spunky, smiley, bright-eyed blonde. But if you saw her come to the villa, you had a bittersweet feeling because you knew people were going home. Love Island is currently filming its 6th season, but Flack is not the host. Last December, she was charged with common assault because of an argument with her boyfriend. She was going to […]
September 4, 2019
A GIF of radar looking at Hurricane Dorian off the Atlantic coast of Florida

Dealing with the Emotional Stress of Hurricane Dorian

It’s a gloomy morning in Central Florida. I struggled to wake up as the thick clouds blocked the rising sun, filtering it into weak, pale light. It’s a little breezy and spitty out as Hurricane Dorian whirls away from the Floridian coast in a counterclockwise, northwesterly motion. The eye of the storm has remained about 90 to 100 miles offshore, with sustained winds of 105 mph, a Category 2 storm. It’s parallel to Daytona Beach which is north of me. This storm will probably wreak havoc on the southern tip of Georgia and the Carolinas, just like Hurricane Matthew did three years ago. By tonight, Hurricane Dorian will have left the state of Florida, and all the hurricane and tropical warnings and watches will cease. We have spent a long time waiting, and as Central Floridian Tom Petty (God rest his soul) used to sing, “the waiting is the hardest part.” The Stress of Staying or Leaving It’s been a surreal past few days for me, and this small article from Reuters reminded me of the psychic toll that just preparing for a hurricane can take. My fellow Floridians and I have been on an “emotional roller coaster” for sure. Sometimes that involved hurricane cakes and parties, and sometimes it involved boarding up our windows and leaving town. And for the rest of us, it involved sheltering in place, preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. Last week around this time was when I was pretty sure our […]
August 28, 2019

Mental Health, Writing, and the Detours Along the Way

If you’ve taken a stroll through my website, you’ve probably landed on my About page (if not, go there now!). It’s a bit of a meandering stroll through careers, and maybe that isn’t unfamiliar to you. We often change careers, averaging around three to seven times. If you’re older, it’s on average up to almost 12 times! I wanted to take some time to tell you about my career path and how I want to help people who help others. Psychiatry or Bust…and I Busted. Although writing was my first love, I had wanted to be a psychiatrist who studied sleep to a child & adolescent psychiatrist since I was in my teens. After I got my BA in psychology, I was a mental health worker and then as a project manager at Northwestern University. I took those positions to make sure that I really did want to serve people as a psychiatrist. And I did, until I tried to take pre-med classes in a post-bac program. I tried pursuing pre-med classes three times within 12 years, and every time I was sick. The last time I tried, I was highly anemic. My ferritin levels were so low, I needed a hematologist and two infusions of iron! During that tiring time, I made two C’s in chemistry and physics. I was 30 years old, and I knew I was at a crossroads: should I keep trying to pursue this dream or pick up an old one? That was when I […]
August 21, 2019

Dear Sleeping Blog: Wake Up!

Are you feeling guilty about your sleeping blog? You have your own business and you’re busy serving your clients. You know that consistent, engaging content brings more in more clients. Maybe you had been blogging about your business. But then you got busy or tired or uninspired. And now, your blog has fallen asleep in 2018…or 2017…or even earlier. Believe me, I understand. I was feeling guilty, especially since this is what I do for a living! And you’d think that a writer would be on top of their website. But it’s a case of the cobbler’s children going without shoes. I’ve been busy writing content for everyone else except myself! But last week, I wrote a post here for the first time in months. And then I got business from it! I talked about that process on Facebook yesterday. It was very good motivation to come here and blog every week, as I had intended to do. But that’s what happens, right? We all intend to be consistent with our writing because we know that good content can not only drive more visitors to your website but also increase sales. And then life happens. So how can you wake up your sleeping blog? I have a few ideas. Schedule the time. I make Wednesdays my blogging day. Today, I also had some marketing and production things to take care of, but here I am, closer to dinnertime, writing this post. If you want to be even more efficient and dedicated […]
August 14, 2019
A screenshot of Gmail with the arrow hand pointing at a spam folder

Don’t Be Sketchy: Build Your Email List the Right Way

Even though social media marketing is popular, email marketing is still a better bet for connecting with your ideal audience. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to build an email list. A Referral Gone Wrong The other day, I got back in touch with a friend who connected me with an organization for possible content marketing work. I was excited with the possibility of working with them and their friends. After the introductory email, I wrote them and gave them my calendar to schedule a call to learn more about how I could help them. I didn’t hear back from the organization, which is fine. It happens. People get busy and distracted. Of course, it’s a little disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. But what happened next actually was surprising and a little dismaying. A few days later, I received an email from their email list — which I had not signed up for. The email was about some event coming up. I don’t even live in the city where this event was going to take place. Needless to say, I was quite annoyed. Not only did I not hear back from them, but they took the time to sign me up for a newsletter without my permission. I definitely did not want to partner with an organization that not only couldn’t be bothered to get back to me but then spammed me about their business. I immediately unsubscribed and said that I had not […]
June 18, 2019
A woman sits by a window while typing on her laptop

$4 A Word and Thoughts About Your Worth as a Writer

Setting a rate as a freelance writer is something that can cause many to have some heart palpitations and dalliances with imposter syndrome. Questions that can plague one’s mind: Am I really worth this much? Will anyone really pay me this rate? Writing, and the arts in general, has been consistently undervalued because it looks rather easy to do. And it’s a frustrating mentality to battle. It’s seemingly easy to just throw up a website or to create a blog post or to design a logo. If you’re in the creative arts, you know that this is not the case. You’ve put in hours of time, effort, and education into your work. Spaces like content mills tend to propagate the undervaluing of quality writing. What writers get paid and when sometimes can be a bit nebulous, which is why there’s a website called Who Pays Writers, which freelancers can contribute to, detailing the per word rate and how quickly writers get paid. For copywriting and content writing, AWAI’s pricing guide is a great place to start. When it comes to how much writers are paid, there’s been some recent buzz on Twitter about this quote from a Cosmopolitan profile on writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner, who has a debut novel coming out soon: “When I started doing the ‘I don’t get out of bed for less than $4 a word’ thing, people started paying me $4 a word.” The reaction has been split. People have been applauding Akner for asking what she’s […]