Friday Links

Weekend Reading List // 14.

July 2, 2016

It’s the weekend! Summer is here in full force. The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays – America’s birthday AND my baby boy’s birthday. We’ll be having a big barbecue to celebrate both momentous events and I’m especially excited that Miles gets to enjoy the Fourth’s fireworks for the first time (last year he was in bed before sunset!). What are you up to this weekend?

Whatever you’re doing, these ice-cream flavors look to good to miss – find a way to incorporate homemade ice cream into your weekend!

I love this cute toy camera for a kiddo.

Speaking of toys, I’m struggling to figure out how to minimize the toys in our home in a healthy way.  This piece on minimalism helped. Tell me . . . how do you minimize useless (and seemingly inevitable!) toy clutter and focus on quality?

Why your defiant child may be your favorite (later). (via Kids Activities Blog)

This piece on Celine Dion’s concert will have you gasping for air. (via Jezebel)

Family-sleep traditions from around the world. (via Fatherly)

How do you know when you’re “done” having kids? (via Clementine Daily)

Did you see this sweet love story? (via the New York Times)

An interesting piece on unfollowing. (via NYT)

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Friday Links

Friday Links.

July 24, 2015

Tomatoes | The Orange Slate

 Kelp on the Beach |The Orange Slate

San Diego Garden | The Orange Slate

What fills your calendar this weekend? We have a family wedding and I am so thrilled to be celebrating two lovely people while also getting to enjoy time and conversation with family.

Some pieces while you sip your coffee this weekend:

In honor of wedding season, the wedding toast that every bride and groom should hear. (via NYT)

Tips for using Twitter. (via Buffer)

A good reason for summer parties. (via Christianity Today)

The sad story behind one of my favorite children’s books. (via PopSugar)

A lovely tradition. (via Cup of Jo)

Basking in summer tomatoes. (via Joy the Baker)

An interesting perspective on Harper Lee’s success and what other writers can learn. (via The Domino Project)

Speaking of, have you read the book everyone is talking about? everyone is talking about? My mama just bought me a copy. I’m so excited!

Why social media can be a good. (via Michael Hyatt)

An inspiring interview. (via The Chalkboard Mag)

A quick P.S.: If you follow me on Instagram or if we’re friends on Facebook, I’m taking a step back from social media for a bit. I’ve turned off my Facebook account and although I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to step away from Instagram intentionally because you can’t just suspend it, I am going to take a break from my frequent updating for a while. I’ll continue to update this blog and weekly newsletters will continue, so subscribe if you’re interested in regular updates.

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Friday Links

Weekend Links.

May 16, 2015

Volcanic Rock | The Orange Slate

Kona coast | The Orange Slate

Hello! We’re currently enjoying some restful vacation in the sunshine and fun adventures with family (follow me at @emilyamccord on Instagram for some fun vacation shots!). What does your weekend hold?

Here is some weekend pool reading – inspiration and great pieces from around the web.

Shakespeare, the abridged version. (via The Washington Post)

Why Vietnamese women dominate the nail industry. (via CapHillStyle via Yahoo)

The fantastic face of today’s real journalism. (via Mic)

As a former Hill staffer, I can attest to the sometimes unfair and often uncomfortable dynamics of navigating interactions between women (often outnumbered) and men (especially senior staff or Members) on the Hill. This piece sheds some light. (via National Journal)

So sweet. The best moments in weddings are the unexpected, unplanned. (via A Cup of Jo)

Drinking coffee in Tokyo. (via Life & Thyme)

Gorgeous shots (can you tell that the ocean is on my mind right now??). (via SURFER)

It’s graduation time for many students! Some advice as they venture out. (via The Orange Slate)

Happy weekending!

 

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Career

My #Unfollow Experiment.

April 9, 2015

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I love social media. Everyone who has been reading this blog for fourteen seconds knows that. I am in love with all things Instagram-Pinterest-Twitter-take-another-picture-with-your-iPhone. Social media and the Internet have given us so many wonderful, enjoyable ways to share and be inspired by beautiful photos and words.

But one day recently, I realized that it was time to have a DTR with my social media. I felt like I was drowning. Feeds that I once enjoyed and where I once found inspiration felt like a black hole. I found myself scanning my blog feed frantically, waiting for something useful to leap off the page in the midst of tons of word clutter.

Instagram, my best bud, had become this sticky mixing pot of inspiration and family and friends and acquaintances and friends of friends that I met briefly years ago and spouses of people who used to be friends but whom I hadn’t talked to in forever and friends of friends that I met at parties that I can’t now place who I really clicked with but then we never actually ended up meeting up for coffee and so I don’t understand why I now see every meal that they eat.

My social media feed had turned into that bad party where you pretend to like someone you are standing next to while you frantically scan the room for your actual friend who never turns up.

And then I read about one woman’s adventure in unfollowing. And one creative’s radical approach to Instagram. And this plea for an Internet Holy Year of Mercy. I knew I wasn’t alone. There was a way for me to take back my social media consumption and my sanity. The answer was within my reach. I just needed to act.

__________________

Here were the biggest, most glaring problems with my social media streams.

1. I was following people in the wrong channels for the wrong reasons. I would follow people because I felt obliged to follow them back if they followed me, even if their feed provided me with no inspiration or encouragement or anything good whatsoever. I would follow people for the same reason people stay in bad relationships. Some vague sense that maybe we were friends or could be friends or should be friends kept them in my streams, even though actual relationship ground was, like, nada.

(I’m not saying you have to be actual friends with people to follow them. But one shouldn’t follow Instagram accounts under false pretenses. Like in any good relationship, you should know where you stand and why you stand there.)

2. I was following the same people in multiple places, so a great deal of my content was duplicative. (Thanks, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, for pointing this out.) I would see the same pictures on Facebook and Instagram and like them both places (often, the second time, again simply out of some cloudy feeling of obligation.)

3. I was following friends, inspiration, and acquaintances on channels where they had accounts but weren’t active. So if I had a friend who was on Instagram and Twitter, even if she only used Instagram, I would still follow her both places. This is a totally futile endeavor. Multiple this by 200 and the futility factor is sky-high.

___________

Why do we do this to ourselves? Part of it, for me, was FOMO. I was terrified to miss out (what exactly I might be missing out on is unclear). I was afraid to miss a great article, an important update, a cool shot.

But isn’t that part of the whole grand scheme that keeps us hooked to our screens? We are utterly terrified that somewhere, something really great is going to happen and WE ARE GOING TO MISS IT. OR BE LEFT OUT. OR SOMETHING.

This is irrational fear. This is ridiculous. And this is making us all a little crazy. First of all, I cannot follow every single thing that every other person in the world does. Even if it’s all awesome. There aren’t enough seconds. So even attempting such a thing is totally ridiculous. And let’s admit it: most of what is on Instagram and Twitter is not awesome at all. A good chunk of it is entirely meaningless to the majority of the population.

The other part of the equation of for me was a fuzzy sense of polite obligation to follow and “like”. The Internet’s moral codes of politeness are still being honed, but following is not an obligation. It is a choice to consume or not consume.

I found myself following bloggers that I love and then routinely becoming irritated during the day as they Instagrammed their perfect (through the lens of Instagram) life: “Beautiful breakfast!” “Followed by cute baby napping!” “Followed by new haircut!” and then “Date night in new gorgeous outfit with perfect makeup!”

I was suddenly less content with my breakfast eaten with one hand while playing with Miles who was not napping because he believes that a nap strike every other day is perfectly normal, in a ponytail and yoga pants because I didn’t have time to shower or answer my work emails, much less get a haircut. This times 15 blogs times every day was a lot of irritation.

This is not a criticism of aforementioned bloggers or their Instagram accounts. I still follow the same bloggers and I still love their content. But if I am routinely becoming discouraged instead of encouraged and annoyed instead of inspired, I need to disconnect from the pieces that are dragging me down and focus on things that fill me with joy. In this case, it was blogger overload. They may take pictures for a living, but I don’t have to consume every single image they produce.

This is part of intentional living, of choosing what comes in and what gets my time and what holds my attention and where I spend my energy. I realized that I just needed to practice what I know about being intentional in a (heretofore) very unintentional space.

Here’s what really scared me into action: I began to realize that every needless word, every pointless article, every headline I scanned and skipped, every picture that held nothing for me was actually taking (in tiny microscopic bits) my time, my day, my year, and my life. Literally. From myself, from my family, from the creating that I am actually supposed to be doing.

Are those milliseconds? Yes, of course. But those milliseconds add up. I needed to do so serious purging for the same reason that I leave the television set turned off during the day and the same reason that I choose my reading material with care. Those little margins that we reclaim are what make the difference. Were any of those useless pieces of social media, added together, worth one less conversation with Mark, one less game with Miles, one less real book that I actually want to read? Absolutely not.

And so my unfollow campaign began. I determined to squeeze every drop of futility, pretense, and time-wasting out of my feeds. I was going to take back control of my social media accounts.

First, I turned to Instagram. I scanned through my list and unfollowed almost half of my list. To decide if an account stayed or went, I asked myself:

  • Am I personally attached to this person? (I.e., do I talk to this person regularly, do we share life offline, am I interested in hearing about their coffee-cups and family reunions and children?)
  • (If yes to the above, then) Does this person post regularly in this channel? (Or should I be following them somewhere else to more effectively stay in touch?)
  • Am I inspired, encouraged, or motivated by this feed?
  • Do I frequently interact with this person, either in person or through comments, blogs, etc.? (And, if yes, does this person post in this channel regularly?)

If I couldn’t answer yes to one of the above, I unfollowed. (Tip: If you do this, move FAST. Don’t think too long or hard about this. Go with your gut.)

Side-note: Was it weird to unfollow actual friends? Yes. But if we are friends on Facebook (for instance) and we actually interact there, then it doesn’t make sense to also follow them on Instagram. Or vice versa. I used this not as a time to *unfriend* people but to decide whether Instagram was the best possible way to keep up with this friend. If the purpose was already being served via Facebook or Twitter or some other channel, then Instagram was simply duplicative.

The second hard truth about this is that a lot of people that I follow because of “friendship” are not actually my friends. The world of Facebook has made friendship such a funny thing. We think we are connected to people who we will probably never see or talk to again. We think we have long-lasting relationships with people that, were more effort required of the relationship, we wouldn’t consider a part of our circle.

This is harsh, but it’s true. Brothers’ old girlfriends? Not actually my friends. Bridesmaids in weddings that I attended years ago? Not actually my friends. Girlfriends that I text and talk to on a regular or semi-regular basis? There are about 8. There are not 50. If we tell ourselves that we actually have 500 close friends, most of us are lying to ourselves.

Next came Twitter. I used the same questions and unfollowed almost 2/3 of my feed. I follow a lot of news accounts, journalists, etc.  on Twitter for work purposes, but I was still able to do a lot of purging.

Sometimes I would run across an account that was connected to a blog that I loved. But if I followed the blog in Feedly and/or on Pinterest, then it was likely that I was already seeing updates and inspiration from the blog. Again, the principle of duplicative content: DELETE.

At the end of the process, I was annoyed at myself for having followed so many accounts that were so easy to delete for so long. And a little exhilarated, because purging, all purging, is good for the soul.

This morning, when I checked Instagram, there was far less content. And it was refreshing. I actually looked at my Twitter feed this morning because I knew that the channels on there were resources I had intentionally chosen to allow onto my screen.

And then, this afternoon, I spent more time writing, because I had more energy that was not being drained away through the Internet Black Hole of Passive Consumption. Day 1 of my #UnfollowProject was a success.

We need to be creating more and consuming less. Purging your closets, cupboards, and feeds is an easy beginning.

And what about me? What about this blog? My Instagram account? My Twitter feed? If I don’t inspire you, encourage you, motivate you toward better living, please unfollow. Make it the first step in your own #unfollowproject.

The first step of living intentionally is to stop wasting our time on that which is not for us.

(If you’re interested in reading more about this kind of intentional living, check out Richard Swenson’s Margin, one of the most life-changing books I have ever read.)

______________________

*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting The Orange Slate!

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Career

50 Things I Learned From Blogging

April 1, 2015

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that on March 26, my blog turned 5 years old. I feel like such a milestone necessitates a cake, lots of confetti, cute straws, and a pretty flag banner, but since I can’t invite all of you over, some reminiscing and a long list will have to do.

Five years is a milestone for me. Five years is just a baby blog compared to some of the really great, long-surviving ones out there, but it’s also long enough to prove that I made it past the statistical certainty of a blog funeral.

A lot of things have happened to me (and to this space) over the last five years. I’ve blogged about food, about books, about writing, about organization, about photography, about travel, about English degrees and unemployment, about marriage, about Miles, about Mark, about motherhood, about creativity, and about change.

As I’ve perused my archives, gleaning some lessons from the experience of blogging, a few things stuck out to me:

I wish I’d blogged more “life” stuff. I know everyone is afraid to share too much online (at it’s wise to be thoughtful about one’s media sharing) and we all know those blogs that are too personal. But one of the major purposes of this blog is memory-keeping for me and my family. I know it’s popular to talk abut how we wish we kept more private, but I honestly wish  the opposite – that I had a better journal in this space of the private events that have transpired while I’ve been blogging about more editorial topics.

Secondly, I have been challenged recently to spend more time developing longer essays in addition to the other, more easily digestible content that I produce on here. This is in part for my own growth – writing coherent longer pieces is more difficult (at least for me) than developing a bulleted list and I want to keep developing my writing. In part, this is an outgrowth of my thoughts above – essays are a good way for me to encapsulate events, thoughts, and emotions as they happen.

So expect more life posts from me and a few longer pieces occasionally around here as I try to maintain the balance of both recording my family’s journey and using my blog as a creative outlet for myself while providing my readers with content that is meaningful and encouraging to them.

Finally, I’m celebrating this 5-year milestone with one of my very favorite things of all: a list.

Here are 50 things I’ve learned the last five years of blogging, in no particular order, with no particular thread tying it all together except for social media and this delightful journey on which it has taken me.

Hope you enjoy it!

  1. Anyone can blog.
  2. And that some people are really really fantastic at blogging.
  3. There are apps that can help you with this.
  4. Blogging can inspire you to create great stuff.
  5. Or finally scrapbook all of those pictures.
  6. Or make a balloon arch.
  7. Or create an activity board for your baby.
  8. I learn how to set a table.
  9. And how to make flowers last longer.
  10. And how to clean everything.
  11. How to decorate a small apartment.
  12. How to set goals effectively
  13. I learned that my friends have lots of good parenting ideas.
  14. And great gift ideas.
  15. And better insight.
  16. Through blogging, I learned better writing skills.
  17. And how to get rid of that annoying “picked for you” option on Pinterest.
  18. And how to use Twitter effectively.
  19. I learned to take more pictures.
  20. And better pictures.
  21. And to record those pictures.
  22. And to record our stories.
  23. And that I wasn’t alone in that postpartum panicky stage.
  24. And that it’s ok if Baby doesn’t do what the books say he’ll do. Ever.
  25. I learned the best strategies for visiting a farmer’s market.
  26. And all of the books that I should read to Miles when he’s in kindergarten.
  27. And how to make the perfect grain bowl. With my own twist.
  28. And all sorts of tips for our DIY wedding.
  29. Like my invitations.
  30. And that my wedding dress didn’t have to be white.
  31. I learned to ask my friends questions.
  32. And my mom questions.
  33. And my dad questions.
  34. I learned that if you want someone to listen to your advice, that putting it in a blog post is a good idea.
  35. I learned that Sunday lunch is highly underrated.
  36. I learned how to say goodbye.
  37. And how to make memories with friends.
  38. I learned the best way to say goodbye at a party.
  39. I learned that it’s ok to quit.
  40. But that sometimes, you just need to lean out backwards over a cliff.
  41. I learned why it’s important to read fiction.
  42. I learned that this truth about kindness.
  43. I learned that excuses are worthless.
  44. I learned that free dates can be the best dates.
  45. I learned how to make those cute social media icons.
  46. And how to make a great blog header.
  47. But mostly I learned this.
  48. And this.
  49. And this.

Thanks for reading! Here’s to another five years of life well-lived offline.

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Career

My Facebook Adventure, Part II

July 6, 2011
As I mentioned yesterday, I deactivated my Facebook for a few days last week as a sort of experiment. The experiment taught me a great deal about the way I manage time (and the way my use of time occasionally manages me!).

1. I log-in to FB without thinking far too often. I deactivated my Facebook account Monday night. Before 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I had started to log in more times than I care to admit. There was never a particular reason. It was just an automatic reflex.

2. My creative energy started to become massively productive by mid-Tuesday morning. Bits and pieces that would have turned into meaningless status updates instead developed as I went about my day, turning into blog posts and brainstormed bits for my thesis, among other things.

3. I had more time in the morning. I slept in later than usual throughout last week, but even with less time, I managed to accomplish far more before leaving for work than I normally do.

4. I didn't miss Facebook as much as I thought I would. I was surprised by how little pressure I suddenly felt to check my feed or my messages. I felt relieved as if I had suddenly turned down an enormous obligation. I didn't miss out anything important. People who needed to contact me simply e-mailed or called me instead.

5. Facebook expands to fill the time allotted. Towards the middle of the week, I did began to feel a little as if I was missing out on my friend's activities and lives. So I reactivated my account a couple of times during the week-day evenings to briefly see what I had missed by *not* checking my Facebook. (As accounts can only be reactivated every 24 hours, this was fairly self-limiting.)
In under ten minutes, I was able to quickly skim my news feed and my friends' walls, catch up on the week's events, and glance at a few new picture of my brother's overseas adventures. Instead of wasting large amounts of time during the day by constantly logging in, I was able to catch up on everything Facebook-related in only a few minutes.

6. I didn't suddenly lose contact with all of my friends, close or far. If anything, I had more time to spend with them.

7. I enjoy Facebook and won't permanently deactive my account…..yet. Ultimately, this week's experiment taught me that I can use my Facebook account more efficiently. I appreciate the chance to reassess the way I use my time. But I'm not ready to turn it off for good quite yet.
How does Facebook impact your life, postively and negatively?

*Subscribe by typing your e-mail into the box on the right if you'd like to receive an alert when new posts are published.

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Career

My Facebook Adventure, Part I

July 5, 2011
Last week I did the unthinkable. I deactivated my Facebook account. It wasn't a permanent step. It was a personal experiment. I turned off my Facebook for a few days for several reasons:
  • I was finding myself more and more pressed for time.
  • I suspected I was probably spending more time on Facebook than I wanted to admit, even to myself.
  • I wanted to see how much I "missed" by being absent from Facebook.
  • I wanted to find out if Facebook was making my life richer or if it was simply a drain.
  • I needed to know whether my writing was better without Facebook.
This blog is about pursuing rich living in the midst of the everyday clamor. Living well requires constant reassessment of one's goals, priorities, and use of time. Turning off my Facebook account for a few days was a step in that direction. 
I learned some unexpected lessons from my brief Facebook reprieve. I'm excited to share them with you tomorrow!*
*Subscribe by typing your e-mail into the box on the right if you'd like to receive an alert when new posts are published.

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Career

It’s the Little Things…

June 19, 2010

It's the little things in life that count. Like an organized inbox. E-mail accounts can spin out of control if left to their own devices. My own was becoming overwhelming. As of yesterday I had 150 "new" messages, all of which were over a week old.

There were 54 pages of e-mails, most of which contained at least somewhat relevant records, but the junk was making it difficult to keep track of the important stuff.

It was time to do a little housekeeping. I needed to clear out the advertisements, spam, and automated updates. But who wants to wade through 54 pages of e-mails? So I automated the process:

  • I searched for the e-mail address of the advertisement/spam/automated update in question. This helped me find all the e-mails of any one kind at once.
  • I clicked "Mark All."
  • I clicked "Delete. "
  • I repeated this process until I ran out of junk mail.


Now I was down to 39 pages of mail, but now, at least, most of the e-mails were legitimate records and not useless advertising.

I'm also unsubscribing from automated updates as they arrive. It takes a few seconds, but it should save time down the road.

What did you organize this week?

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