Three Simple Exercises to Help with Chronic Pain: Focus on Your Fitness

By Angelique Beniquez

If you are suffering from a chronic illness, you may find it challenging to focus on other aspects of your health. Fitness is an effective way to switch your focus on improving your health and acts as a way to keep you mentally and physically busy. Once you begin seeing progress, it truly motivates you. Inspire yourself to work hard on your fitness with these three simple exercises! Remember to get moving before a workout by doing light stretching and dynamic exercises that mimic your workout. For example, circle your hips around to activate muscle groups.

LEGS: Donkey Kicks

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Donkey kicks will strengthen your legs while building your booty at the same time! This is a great way to slowly build up your muscle. Over time you can add weights behind your knees or wear ankle weights to challenge yourself.

ARMS: Pray and Pulse

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Pray and pulse is a very simple yet effective way to gain muscle in your triceps. You can use a ball, as shown to add resistance. However, the exercise is also effective without a ball. Over time, you can challenge yourself and add wrist weights!

BACK: Hip Raises

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Building back muscle is a fantastic way to battle back pain. Bridges are a very easy way to do this! If you want to challenge yourself, add weight to your hips.

As you see progress, you will be more motivated than ever. Be an inspiration to yourself, and of course don’t forget to stretch!

Blogging the Smart Way: An Interview with Greta

Greta Lamfel is the founder of Healthy Living. She completed a Bachelor of Commerce Honours Degree with majors in Accounting and Internal Audit. She loves to inspire others and help them to live their best life. Her book titled “When Life Falls Apart” is one way she reaches people who need motivation. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, writing and researching. Greta is a content creator and professional in the ever-changing blogging world. Although she is constantly faced with struggles, Greta has compiled helpful tips to ensure success in educating her readers.  Read our interview with her below:

What do you find most challenging about blogging or running your business?

I actually wrote a blog about the challenges I have faced as a blogger. You may find that blog here 5 Things they Don’t Tell You About Starting a Blog & Why I Wanted to Quit Blogging

However, the challenges I have faced and am still facing from a business perspective are the following:

Finding clients: Most of my clients email me directly or fill in my booking form requesting my writing services. I only receive about 10% of my business from my own efforts, which is something that I am trying to work on. Perhaps I need to improve my advertising efforts? But these efforts require funding which is something I am holding off on for the moment.

Monitoring performance: Google Analytics is a great tool to measure your blog performance, but it takes a lot of time and knowledge to read the results and interpret them.

Editing: I like to edit my blogs myself because I have found that each time I hire an editor to do it, they completely change my writing style. Of course, this takes time and means that I cannot write more blogs than I used to, but my users have become accustomed to my style and I feel that I want to keep it that way.

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Although blogging can be stressful, Greta uses tips she’s developed over the years to further her accomplishments!

Describe your experiences with some of the people you’ve met while blogging or doing business?

For the most part, I have met a bunch of lovely bloggers, all wanting to find their little space on the internet. What I’ve noticed, though, is that beauty bloggers seem to reach popularity much faster than say a motivational blogger. Perhaps this is because most women want to be beautiful and if they can get these tips online for free, why not?

In business, I have met all sorts of clients, from the nice ones to the cray-cray ones that call you five times a day. In the end, it’s all about pleasing every client. When I write, I do it to fulfill their desire. They want content and I provide it!

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Greta is a blog professional with amazing style!

What networking do you do that helps your blogging or business?

As mentioned above, networking isn’t my strongest trait. I have however met people via Facebook groups, Twitter groups, and Instagram pods.

How do you come up with material/content for your business or blog and keep ideas fresh? 

Most times I get inspiration from everything and anything around me. Sometimes I read other articles to come up with a unique title for a blog. It depends really. I think every blogger will tell you that blog content is sporadic.

I keep ideas fresh by making sure that the content is written differently to what you’ll find on the first page of Google results. People are tired of reading the same content over and over and so I try to write differently than other blogs.

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Happiness and motivation are her goals, blogging is the game.

What’s your strategy for your blog or business in general?

My strategy is to motivate and help people with my content.To bring happiness to their life.

What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers or a business can give its customers?

Education. A blog is pointless if it doesn’t educate the reader and leave them with something to think about. A business is pointless if it doesn’t educate its customers on how their product can change their lives.

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No blog is ever too small. Greta loves to educate her readers constantly.

What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

I wrote a couple of blogs in this regard, here they are:

What has been your strategy for creating visibility for yourself and/or your blog?

Social media! I use social media regularly by maintaining a posting schedule and joining relevant groups.

If someone was interested in blogging or starting a new business, what would be a few things you would suggest?

I would suggest reading other experiences first before your start. Their experiences can help you to avoid their mistakes. I would also suggest bulking up your social media following. It helps to be popular as these people will often become lifetime readers of your blog.

Blog: www.healthyliving894.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/gretalamfel

Instagram: www.instagram.com/gretalamfel

Instagram blog: www.instagram.com/healthyliving894

Facebook: www.facebook.com/healthyliving894

Being “So” Bipolar

Dedicated to eliminating stigma associated with mental illnesses, Mehri Coulter has found her true calling:  blogging about her life with bipolar disorder.  She hopes that by sharing her story, others will feel less alone in their struggles with mental illness. She is a wife and mother of three young children and blogs for www.SoBipolar.com

Tell me about yourself and what motivated you to start your business or blog?

I’m a stay-at-home mother to my three children who are my everything.  They’re my true inspiration for living my best life. I cannot stand the thought of them having anything less than their best mom.  

I was motivated to start my blog on bipolar disorder because bipolar ruins lives.  In part, because of the lack of support.  Many people in my family have struggled with the disorder.  I want these struggles to end with me.  I wouldn’t wish bipolar symptoms on anyone.  Basically, I couldn’t not start my blog.  Something inside me just kept nagging me to start writing.  Also, my incredible husband was beyond supportive of me starting my blog, without his unending love and support I may still be asking myself “should I do this?”

What do you find most challenging about your business / blogging about your topic?

By far the most challenging aspect of blogging about mental health is keeping my mental health intact.  On my Instagram account (so_bipolar) I message with hundreds of people everyday about really heavy topics like anxiety and suicide.  Considering those both are struggles of my own, it’s tough to learn how to disconnect from it all.

Describe your experiences with some of the people you’ve met on your journey?

Words cannot express how grateful I am for the people I’ve come in contact with.  I have met people who have multiple mental illnesses who continue to fight and thrive in their lives; they’re inspiring.  I’ve also met people on the other end of the spectrum who really struggle, and feel that life may not be worth living.  Although it is devastating to hear, it’s also rewarding to walk alongside them and hope that my story might make them feel like “if she can do it, I can do it too.”

What networking do you do that helps your blogging / business?

Honestly, not much.  I’m a bit of a loner, which I know is not necessarily the “proper” way of doing blogging or business, but it works for me.  I like to do things all on my own.  I figure I would rather let my content speak for itself.

How do you come up with material/content for your business / blog and keep ideas fresh?

My life is my product.  So everyday is a fresh idea for me.  Especially when I am hypomanic, I have racing thoughts that can generate a lot of new content.

What’s your strategy with your business / blog in general?

To just keep doing it.  I wish I had a fancy strategy, but my goal is just to get my story out there.  To just keep writing.

What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?

Hope. Everyone needs hope.

What are some tips for people interested in making money from blogging or starting their own business? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?

I only started my blog about 2 months ago. So I have not gotten to monetizing my business yet.  When I get there, I’ll let you know ; )  But what I do know, is it can’t be difficult.  It will just take some good ol’ fashion hard work.

What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your business / blog?

All this talk of strategy… Now I’m starting to think I need one!

What was the most challenging moment in your business / blog content development process and why?

The most challenging aspect was starting my blog.  It took me a year of thinking “should I do this?”  Which was just insane. I’m so glad I did.  Also, before starting my blog I was not on any social media… I am basically a technology moron.  So learning how Instagram even worked was a challenge for me.  Now it seems pretty straight-forward.

If someone was interested in blogging or starting a business, what would be a few things you would suggest?

To just start it already.  One other thing I think that has helped me is that I specialize (in bipolar disorder).  I think that if you have a focused vision and specialize in something, you can be more of an expert in that field.

 

Blog:  https://sobipolar.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/so_bipolar/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/So__Bipolar

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sobipolar/

 

Enough is Enough

Enough is enough, except no one seems to give a f∗ck.
Another sitting duck, accustomed to the news.
One down, two, three, four, five. Lost count…
Black lives continuously denied.

Emotions ensue: incensed, enraged and fuming are a few.
Born free and equal so to speak. When will this hold true?
Or does it depend on your hue?
Another life lost, tossed aside, a life deprived. Why?

Psychological science is very clear.
Hunting us like deer, 1955 was the year
A brutal murder and mutilation laid the foundation
Long ago, shook the conscience of a nation to end Jim Crow.
A plea for change and a break from the firing range.
Remove the twisted fate of crazy and deranged.
Disenfranchisement continues- the longstanding deprivation of rights.
Every city across the country should be shining bright lights.

A call for justice because folks are disgusted.
Yet the racial and ethnic disparities will continue,
Until you acknowledge Kelly, Wayne, Sean, Jordan, Freddie, and Gregory just to name a few. Could be your brother, father, son, or friend if you could only look past their hue.
Justice for humanity, justice for lost lives, justice for our black boys.
Where’s the justice? Where’s the justice? Where’s the justice?

Instead, life goes on, businesses thrive, while distrust and disappointment persist.
The scale is tipped in the opposition direction.
Some question the officers’ levels of force and range of discretion.
Numbness, another life loss, the unfortunate effect of social control led by those out on patrol.

Mass incarceration masks poverty and a society that is stuck
Enough is enough, but no one seems to give a f∗ck
This movement needs some funding, folks to spread the word and get involved.
Take charge and support the cause. Demand real change. Resurge. Recharge.
Emerge as a reckoning force. Become the source to change the course
Because enough is enough.

Rappin’ History Teacher

Rapping the Do Now to the Class
As an educator, it is important to engage the learner. What better way to do this than to use original lyrics, music, and humor in the classroom.
Do Now Rap Version: 
As you enter Ms. G’s zone, put away any phones. I’m not here to shout, just take your homework. Take a seat and rock to this funky, funky beat.
Ms G’s on the mic, rocking for her classes. Yeah that’s right. A site. Now check out the board. I’m not here to be ignore. The mic is my sword.
Kicking knowledge in your ear, like a Q-tip but on the smooth tip. My beat won’t sleep. You hear.
Opening your minds to history and law. Don’t drop your jaws, let learning be your saw, tools you’ll never lose unless you choose. Be easy, Jeezy. Yeah, read the board, copy the SWBAT. Don’t be a brat.
Take off any hats. Remember follow the directions. I hope you get the connection. Copy the board, write down the SWBAT.
Let learning be your sword. Everything you need is right there on the board. Do the do do the do do the do do now. You hear me now.
Real Talk

 


When Three Becomes Five

#threebecomesfive, #bsrealtalk, #adoption, #lifestyleblogger

One spring evening, my mom and dad sat me down and asked how I would feel if we hosted a little girl from Russia for the summer of 2003. They explained that we were going to be a part of a program called Bridge of Hope where families host children from all over the world. The ultimate goal of this program is for families to adopt the children that they host. Consider it a trial period. I was seven at the time with no brothers or sisters to play with, it’s safe to say I desperately wanted a playmate. After trying for many years, my mom could no longer have kids— which almost ruined her. She suffered miscarriage after miscarriage and finally stopped trying. My dad is an engineer and my mom is a bookkeeper. Both had small businesses. From the outside, we looked content. We lived in North Salem New York, we had a roof over our heads and I never went hungry. However, we didn’t know how lonely we were until we met Valentina and Ivan.

My family is centered around faith. We attended a local Catholic church where my dad lectured every Sunday, where I’ve made all of my catholic sacraments. One Sunday in mass, a volunteer from Bridge of Hope explained the organization. She began by stating that this organization is responsible for permanently placing many children in loving families. Before this announcement my parents weren’t planning on expanding our family– we made our peace with the fact that we were going to be a family of three. After church, my mom talked to the spokesperson who told her that there was a little girl from Russia who was looking for a family for the summer and for the rest of her life.

After deciding that Bridge of Hope was something we wanted to be a part of, we made arrangements to host Valentina for the summer. We picked Valentina up on a warm June day from JFK, I remember how excited I was to finally meet her. Bridge of Hope sent over pictures and a “home” video but nothing compared to finally meeting her in person. The first thing I noticed was how scared she looked and I couldn’t blame her. She had cuts and bruises all over (because she apparently “fell”) and she only spoke Russian, something her and I did not have in common. We thankfully had a translator who helped us communicate. The first night was the hardest. She cried the entire night, she didn’t sleep (probably from jet lag), and she didn’t eat any of the traditional Russian food we bought for her- she did end up eating Goldfish and Doritos though. We ended up falling asleep together on a chair; and on that very first night, I knew she was my sister.

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The five-week program flew by; we went on vacation, she went to a summer camp, and we hung out all of the time. We were inseparable. At the end of the five weeks, we had to send her back; it was without a doubt the hardest day of my life. I had never seen my father cry until that day. Immediately we got in contact with the program to file for adoption; we had to see her again, we had to make her part of our family. The adoption agency finally got in contact with us and said we could file for adoption but there was one condition, we had to take her brother, Ivan, as well. We joke about it now that they were a “package deal”. My parents did not even hesitate, they immediately said yes. I don’t know how many people are familiar with Russia and their government but they are, to say the least, a discriminatory nation. Valentina and Ivan, who were biological siblings, were separated when the authorities took them into different orphanages. Why were they separated? My brother apparently had a “disorder”, which was caused by irresponsible parents. My parents and I didn’t care, we knew that whatever the problem was we could conquer it. We got a date to fly out to Russia on December 1st— did I mention how cold Russia is in the winter? We were there for over a month, finalizing both adoptions. The first day we landed, we went to my sister’s orphanage. We waited in an office while the director called her down. When we saw her, we all cried with joy. She couldn’t believe that we came back for her, and I couldn’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t want her. My sister was released instantly into our care, and we resided in an apartment with help since Americans stuck out like sore thumbs. My brother’s adoption took longer, however, we were able to visit him. The reunion between my sister and him can’t be described in words.

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At the end of four weeks in Russia, we were finally able to come home to the United States. Although we missed Christmas that year, nothing beats the gift of family. Suddenly the house didn’t seem too big and our hearts were filled. I often get the question: “how did you adjust from being an only child to having two siblings?” and I always answer with “they immediately felt like family.” Thankfully I’ve never experienced jealousy towards them or was upset that I wasn’t enough for my parents. I truly believe that we were destined to be a family of five, and I am forever grateful for my siblings.

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It has been fourteen years since we adopted my siblings: my sister is now nineteen and is starting college in the fall and my brother turns seventeen next month and is a sophomore in high school- with ZERO disorders whatsoever, by the way. Valentina and Ivan have changed my family forever; they’re both caring and passionate people and I wouldn’t have become the woman I am today without them. People sometimes tell me, “you’ve changed their lives forever,” while this is true, they’ve also changed mine. It is truly incredible to witness their transformation, and I’m truly blessed that they will forever be in my life.

Real Talk

Should Everyone Go to College?

#iscollegeforeveryone, #shouldeveryonegotocollege, #tradeschool, #careerchoices, #bsrealtalk, #lifestyleblogger

Graduating from high school is a big feat for most! Now what, should everyone go to college? It’s normal to explore multiple options after high school and that’s okay because a major chapter in your life has just been completed. The opportunity to embark on a new journey and accomplish new endeavors are present. Whether someone goes to college, the military, takes a gap year or starts working depends on the individual? There is no one size fit all solution.

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Still, it is important to assess the current situation and make the best choice based on the conditions. Some things to consider while choosing are grades, extracurricular activities, finances, and personal motivation. Ask yourself if you’re ready to go to college? The worst thing to do is enroll in school, not be mentally prepared, disregard classes and leave school with thousands of dollars in debt that will need to be repaid within six months of leaving school.

I’ve seen it happen while in college where students became sidetracked and left school with massive debt. In reality, prior to enrolling in school, they weren’t ready mentally and lacked proper support. And guess what, they’re not alone.  There is a high number of students who enroll in school with tons of loans that need to be repaid whether college is finished or not. According to the National Clearinghouse Research Center, 55% of undergraduates who matriculated in 2008 graduated within six years. Not to mention, it’s the lowest graduation rate in the developed world. These statistics aren’t often spoken about beyond the educational world, but the dropout crisis is a real problem.

#iscollegeforeveyone #bsrealtalk

As a high school teacher, I would often tell students that they were better off traveling around the world than enrolling in school, accumulating massive debt that would need to be paid regardless of income and earnings. Often chuckles and laughs would ensue, but this is a real issue. I am not here to discredit higher education, being an individual who has six degrees, a Ph.D. in criminology included, but just here to say that the person needs to be ready mentally and financially. I came from a very modest home; neither of my parents went to college. For me, I had always known since childhood that I would go to college, so it wasn’t an option. When the time came, I applied for more scholarships than anyone I had known. My high school guidance counselor said he had never seen anyone apply for so many scholarships in his 20 plus years as a counselor. I was determined and had good people behind me propelling me forward. I was also fortunate to intern at the local news times and interviewed a woman who gave me advice on how to write an amazing college essay.

She said, “Show, don’t tell.” That is exactly what I did. I had been through many trials and tribulations including going from an honor student in grade school to receiving my first F and hanging out with the wrong crowd my freshman year in high school. I told stories of my high school administrator suspending me from school and calling my mom, which became a huge eye opener. My mother couldn’t believe I was in danger of failing 9th grade and to be honest neither could I. Was I the same girl who made the honor roll every year? I was, but just very confused. I eventually pulled it together and went on to teach high school and become a motivational speaker.

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Power of Spoken Words at She’s With Me Event

It wasn’t easy, but it took motivation and the three Ds which became my motto: Desire, Determination and the Dedication to achieving in life.  I was going to create a better life for myself than my parents and many family members had if I had to die trying. I came to learn that if you have the motivation and the desire to go to college, you can make it happen. If you are not a big fan of education, perhaps a trade school or background in plumbing, HVAC may be your thing. We need plumbers and service technicians in our society. Everyone plays a crucial role in this world.

College is not for everyone and many plumbers make more than college professors. I remember my sociology professor pointing out that surprising fact to me my freshman year. Perhaps a gap year may be an option for some. When is the next time you will have an opportunity to travel the world or do something extraordinary? You have your whole life to work. Take it from someone who has been working since she was 14 years old. If you take a gap year, do something instrumental such as a tour of Europe / Africa / Asia or volunteer in a foreign country. Don’t just sit home. The former will be life changing and far more informative than staying home and enhances your view of the world. If you have to work full time, be careful to not get lured away from college by making money.

 

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Making $30,000 may sound good when you’re 18 but not at 40 while trying to support a family. Nonetheless, there are options. Make a list of the pros and cons of going to college, the military or taking a gap year and go for it. In time you will figure out your passion and future career goals. The important thing is to make a decision on your next chapter. If you asked me in a high school if I wanted to become a teacher, my response would have been no. Life took its course and I followed with the three Ds. Remember you can do anything you put your mind to…“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve,” said the great Napoleon Hill.

Real Talk

Living Gluten Free

#glutenfreeliving #glutenfree #bsrealtalk #realtalk
Living Gluten Free
Going gluten free seems to be a trend today for many but it’s my reality and life saver. Although I don’t have Celiac Disease, where the gluten protein (found in rye, wheat, and barley) causes devastating effects on the body, gluten sill wreaks havoc on my digestive system and causes severe inflammation and joint pain. Getting out of the bed in the morning is a struggle due to pain and extreme fatigue. Since I’ve gone gluten free about four years ago, my stomach no longer aches nor do I have the dull pain that resided in my lower back all day.
I remember going to see several Gastroenterologists and describing an aching stomach and an aching low back. They would look at me, chuckle, and remind me where I was. I knew the pain was related but not until years later did another doctor explain that females tend to have more back pain with stomach discomfort due to our anatomy and hormonal differences. When I finally went gluten and diary free, the constant dull back ache subsided. I still have intermittent back pain due to two herniated discs located in my lower back between the ll4 and l5 vertebrae diagnosed about 10 years ago (another story).
One year the stomach pain was so excruciating, I could barely walk. I was hospitalized in 2002 for five days with no diagnosis. I entered my doctor’s office with piercing pain and was immediately hospitalized. At the hospital I was asked about my meal the night before to find the culprit. I had my favorite Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Broccoli. After running numerous tests and not being able to figure out what was wrong, I was told not to eat broccoli anymore. Really?  I now get the gluten free version minus the broccoli as a treat on occasion. Thank God for Penne gluten free pasta and lactaid supplements. I also take HCl Betaine to help with digestion. I pop pills all day long (for that post click here).
Years of doctor visits, countless tests including lactose intolerance and Celiac Disease and no diagnosis. All negative, how could that be? One doctor later explained that although I didn’t test positive for gluten and diary intolerance, I could still have a sensitivity. He told me to try a gluten free and diary free diet. I swear it was the hardest thing ever. I enjoyed burgers with buns and gluten is in everything. Read the back of labels to see. I once bought beef jerky only to find out mid bite that it had gluten in it after inadvertently looking at the wrapper. How, it was ALL meat? So, I relapsed a couple of times. Then over time, I got better and so did the stores with the Gluten-Free sections. I’ve got it down to a science now and don’t have to spend much time reading labels. I must admit, the holidays are hard. Sometimes I  buy myself a gluten free cake or cookies. I’ve learned that Betty Crocker’s gluten free chocolate chip cookies (my favorite) and yellow cake (another favorite) taste good and allow me to enjoy a dessert on occasion.
Thankfully, I don’t have a big sweet tooth. I’ve been gluten free since the fall of 2012. On occasion, Thanksgiving or Christmas I cheat and by cheating I mean eating a tiny piece of sweet potato pie. When I do, I take HCl Betaine a digestive enzyme and usually am okay if I only do it once or twice that day. I always have my enzymes with me and will take them before I have an occasional bite. An occasional hiccup is not life threatening because I don’t have Celiac Disease but if I try to enjoy too many gluten or diary enriched foods, my body responds with pain. My joints ache. Hence, I stick to my diet. I buy gluten free Udi’s bread, gluten free pizza by Fresca or Trader Joe’s brand, oats, gluten free crackers by Trader Joe’s. My store of choice is Trader Joe’s and the staff is super helpful. I buy gluten free pasta, pancakes, goat cheese, almond and rice milk. My cabinets are all gluten free. For more on gluten free living click here. Living gluten free is my lifestyle now and like muscle memory: I don’t even have to think about it.
Real Talk

 

Fashion Inspiration from Tokes Take on Style

#fashionblogger, #tokesandstyle, #bsrealtalk, #lifestyleblogger

Tokes Ojo-Ade blogs as “Tokes Take on Style,” and is a former tomboy turned corporate marketing professional by day, fashion blogger and style consultant by night! A wanna-be DJ and lover of basketball, her most important jobs=wife to hubby and mom of two hilarious little girls who make sure there’s never a dull moment. Read our interview with her below.

Tell me about yourself and what motivated you to start blogging?
I’m a financial services marketing professional by day with a love for fashion. We don’t have control over anything in life but we do have control over how we look and the first impression we give when we step out everyday. Getting compliments at work and randomly at church or stores or even at my kids’ schools was normal. Friends and colleagues constantly asked for styling and shopping tips so I figured I needed to do something with my gift. There are a lot of women who don’t feel confident enough to try certain outfits or who think looking stylish should be saved for the weekend and not for work. My job as a style blogger is to do some myth busting through style inspiration and sharing easy tips that everyday women can grasp. A friend who blogs about books ultimately convinced me to start my blog so I just did it!

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What do you find most challenging about blogging about your topic?
The style/fashion market is saturated so it can be a challenge to ensure your content stands out in a crowded space.

Describe your experiences with some of the people you’ve met while blogging?
It’s been great. There are women who may be younger than I am age-wise but who are reverse mentors. They are more seasoned than I am and have provided tips, feedback and suggestions that have been invaluable. It’s encouraging to see women supporting women.

What networking do you do that helps your blogging business?
I joined some Facebook Groups and attended a blogger’s conference. My weekend schedule has been crazy but I plan on doing more local networking so I can meet bloggers I know “digitally,” in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, in real life.

How do you come up with material/content for your blog and keep ideas fresh?
Because it’s style, I pretty much leverage outfits that I’ve worn to work, I also check out style sites, and magazines. If there are seasonal trends, I always like incorporating those in “normal” or relatable ways for everyday, working women like myself.

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What’s your strategy with your blog in general?
I’m a working wife and mom of two girls so my goal is to inspire working women through style and fashion. When we look confident, we feel confident. Style transcends age, income, the list goes on. So I hope to encourage women who may think effortless style is unattainable or that you need a huge paycheck to be stylish.

You don’t have to break the bank to be stylish and you can still look great when dressing for the office. I love designers as much as the next girl but I can’t afford a designer-only wardrobe  So it’s all about balance, mixing and matching so even a piece from a retailer like Target looks luxe because of how you styled it.

My strategy is all about writing content that’s instructional/easy to grasp, leveraging social media to reach my audience while securing sponsored posts along the way and monetizing.

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What’s the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?
What they (readers) want. I myself am still figuring this out and surveyed my email subscribers recently to better understand that. Nirvana is when you know what your readers want and you give them what they want: helpful content; content that connects you to them in personal ways; content that inspires; entertains, that teaches…Whatever they want.

What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?
Be patient and be ready to work! I’m finding out from full time bloggers that it is not as easy as it appears. When we see famous bloggers like Chiara Ferragni or Jackie Aina, one is inspired to someday “get there.” There’s a lot that goes into making money from blogging. Growing a following is important. The easiest way some bloggers make money is from site advertising. However, even for that, you need site traffic so if you build it, they will not come unless you attract them and give them a reason to visit. For me, I’m taking steps to monetize through advertising and affiliate links. I definitely want to monetize in other ways but I’m also enjoying getting freebies for reviews.

What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?
Posting on social media, doing roundups featuring other bloggers, running social media ads on Facebook and Instagram, contributing to bigger sites (I wrote an article for The Huffington Post last year), tagging brands on Instagram in order to garner a brand feature on their handle.

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What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?
I publish through wordpress.org and I use the Yoast SEO plugin to help ensure my content is SEO-optimized. Getting that Yoast SEO indicator to turn “green” can be a challenge when developing content.

If someone was interested in blogging, what would be a few things you would suggest?
Patience is a virtue. Blogging isn’t like it was before where the “OG” bloggers could focus on their niche. We live in the pay-to-be-seen age of Facebook so if you’re trying to drive interest via Facebook, only about 1-2% of followers see a brand’s posts. This forces brands and bloggers alike to boost their posts for visibility. So with that said, you will have to invest some of your own dollars for social advertising. When I started my blog, my husband was my photographer.  He’s an IT guy who doesn’t have photography skills so it wasn’t great trying to coach and reshoot lol. You can imagine the dynamic of hubby trying his best, yet not satisfying the demanding blogger.

As a result, I opted to invest in a professional photographer. It was a win-win for all! But that means I’m paying a photographer for shoots. I know other bloggers who coordinate with other bloggers so they take turns and one blogger takes photos. That way, they’re avoiding the photography fee. Others have spouses who take decent photos so they save. I envy bloggers who rely on spouses as that definitely helps save money and potentially time.

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I’d say be patient and be sure you are passionate about whatever you decide to blog about. It takes time to plan your content calendar, blog posts, then the social media posts, keeping up with groups, reading to get tips/learn etc. especially when you have a separate full time job and a family. But that shouldn’t stop you, if you are passionate. It just means you go all in and just do it!

Thanks Toke for stopping by this week and offering inspiring tips on fashion, style and pursuing our dreams. For more on Toke, check out her site and social media handles.

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4 Ways to Soothe a Colicky Baby

#bsrealtalk #ariaismyboss #ariamalia #momlife #4waystosootheacolickybaby

Having a baby is a very joyous experience and frightening at the same time. Some mothers report being afraid to be left alone with their new baby, me being one of them. My sentiments were more worrisome. It’s only normal, but a colicky baby who cried and cried is a whole different story I soon learned. Some new mothers are lucky to have an experienced mother or family member stay with them for the first couple of days to a couple of weeks to ease the transition. Others like myself did not have this luxury. Being a single mother on top of this made it that much harder. I remember the day we left the hospital like yesterday. It was a beautiful day in July. I struggled to fit her in her car seat and remembered my sister laughing as we were getting ready to leave the hospital. I put her in the car seat but because I did not know about the cushiony inserts that secure the baby, my poor Aria slid down.

I quickly picked her up and my sister assisted. She had some experience with her godson who was born two years prior. Not to mention, my sister was not doped up on dilaudid from having a C-Section. What an experience! I remember mothers sharing one major thing that you lose when you become a parent: sleep. Who knew how much sleep would be lost? Coupled with an autoimmune illness, a genetic mutation, and single motherhood to a new colicky baby, I forgot what sleep was. I remembered being delirious ALL DAY LONG. I soon discovered ways to soothe her but wished I knew them from day one.

My daughter cried so hard that she screamed and appeared to be in agony. She would scream and then pause for a breath and then start all over again. Poor baby and poor mama. I felt helpless. What do I do? As most new mothers, I asked around to those more seasoned and called the doctor. She had approximately six doctor visits within her first three weeks of life and was eventually diagnosed with colic, where an otherwise healthy baby cries excessively for more than three hours, three days, and three weeks in a row. Before the colic diagnosis, the doctor ordered the works: an ultrasound of her spine, blood work at Yale Children’s Hospital to see if she was afflicted with my genetic mutation, and a visit to the gastroenterologist to name a few.

The gastroenterologist prescribed Ranitidine and when that wasn’t working a low dose of Nexium. Of course, I didn’t want to give her acid reducing drugs, but was desperate for relief and sleep. Her crying was piercing and she appeared to be in agony. So, I tried the medication. The Nexium seemed to help a little or maybe it was just a placebo effect. I started reading different articles and found a natural recipe that worked wonders.

1. Homemade Gripe Water. I boiled water for several minutes, steeped two bags of ginger tea and one bag of either Chamomile or Peppermint tea in 4 cups of water along with one tablespoon of fennel seeds and one teaspoon of all natural, organic cane sugar. I let this sit for approximately 30-45 minutes covered. I strained the mix to remove the fennel seeds.

I transferred the gripe water to several small bottles and froze about ten 60 ml bottles and refrigerated one to two. Before each feeding, I would give her about 5ml. If she wasn’t given the gripe water first, she would refuse a feeding and if you didn’t know better you wouldn’t know why she was crying. I quickly realized it was working and started getting more smiles from my pumpkin. I started doing this when she was about 3 months and the crying ceased.

She became a happy baby. By about 6 months her need for the gripe water faded. Today she is a thriving 20 month old happy baby. FYI: this remedy is much more cost effective than buying a small bottle of gripe water for $10 that would only last a couple of days. I also gave her diluted chamomile and peppermint tea in the morning and the evening. One bag for 16 ounces of water and 1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar. She would get a four to five ounce bottle.

2. Holding her up high with her head near my shoulders. She liked to be held up high so that she can see what was going on. Until this day, she wants to see what you are doing. Quite the inquisitive child.

3. Standing and walking with her. We would go for walks outside and around the house to change the scenery. The baby holder worked better than the stroller. She would cry hysterically in the stroller most days. Sometimes she would cooperate, but most days she wanted to be close to hear my heartbeat and to take in my smell.

4. Talking to her believe it or not. My paternal aunt and cousin were visiting one day and she just cried and cried. My aunt started talking to her and she stopped. I was in shock.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what to say, just talk about the day, what you are doing, anything. You can describe the room. To make it realistic for me, I would ask her, “What’s wrong baby? Why are you crying? Tell mommy what’s wrong.” Before I knew it, the crying would cease and she would just look at me. It was a great bonding moment.

I hope some of these will help soothe your little one. As a new mother, there is no handbook. We learn as we go and it can be quite a relief when someone else already figured it out and can help steer you in the right direction. These remedies are not meant to replace the advice of medical doctors. When in doubt, seek help. I tried these when the doctors could not figure out what was wrong and told me she would just cry like this for months. I was told to put her in her room and let her cry. I asked for how long and was told to try twenty minutes. One night before I discovered my gripe water solution, she had cried for an hour straight. I didn’t know what to do. I put her in her bassinet in her room and shut the door. I timed it. I felt horrible. I would go near her room but I didn’t take her out. At about the ten minute mark, I went to get her and she was shaking. I never did that again. Sometimes doctors don’t know. You have to take action after you have sought several medical opinions.

#ariaismyboss #momlife #momlifeisthebest #bsrealtalk
Full of personality- Aria Malia at 3 months.

Real Talk

This baby carrier really helped!

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