I have been journaling daily now for exactly one full month. In the picture above is the journal I am currently using. It is from the Moleskine ‘Sakura’ line. I had left that brand years ago for Leuchtturm1917 as the width of their journals suits me better however, I could not resist the Sakura line.
Writing daily has changed my voice.
I am calmer.
There is a difference between saying F^&* my life, thinking it, and writing it. It is in the tone of the voice.
When you say it, it comes out with a level of anger. This anger level can even be harsher when you think it because nobody hears it. It is all in your head, right? When I write it down and then read back to myself, something interesting happens, and it happens when I directly read it back to myself or, if there is a time delay. It is the split-second or moment to regroup.
When I put down the pen and read back even the most mean words, there is a slit-second delay. In that moment, my brain has changed tones. I calmed down a smidgen, and that makes the difference in my tone. How you speak to yourself, what your heart and soul hear coming out of your mouth, how you internalize that, matters.
What I angrily say or think out loud about a situation or myself, gets internalized in that angry tone. What I write, it is first seen and at that moment, my eyes make the spit-second decision to tell my brain to adjust my tone.
I read back what I wrote about various things that have upset me in the news these past few weeks. No need to rehash that here, you can all think of a thing or two. Every time I reread it, another voice pops up and counters the angry one: this happened, yes, now how are you going to respond to it?
Writing is a phenomenal way of venting frustrations and helps to sort out all possible reactions and actions you can take. Even if you cannot change a situation, you can decide to keep following it in the news to educate yourself. You can decide which news channels or shows to block, you can decide if there is one person or group to blame, and how you can reduce your interactions with them.
In other words, writing daily for a month has strengthened the other voice inside of me and has calmed the angry one. I still vent on paper but I say less out loud, and when I think it, I try to immediately write it down. If I don’t have my journal with me, I email myself a few words with my mobile phone or I use scrap paper. I then try to write down my full thoughts in my journal that same day.
One of my family’s favourites is a simple meal of fresh vegetables, basmati rice, and ajam katjang. Ajam Katjang is a simple dish of baked chicken with peanut/soy sauce. Very often, the chicken is grilled on sticks and then the sauce is added or, you can bake the chicken and let it simmer in katjang sauce.
There are many recipes for katjang sauce but if you wish to make mine, try this.
garlic (fresh or powder)
pepper and salt
onions (finely chopped or powder)
peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
kentjoer (sand ginger)
ketjap manis (sweet soy sauce)
In a non-stick pan, use the oil to fry garlic and onions and bake the chicken. I use filet cut in cubes. Add salt & pepper to taste.
In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter (peanut bits optional) and a little bit of milk to make the mixture smooth. You should be able to stir a spoon through the peanut butter. If it drips off the spoon, it is too thin.
Add to taste: a small amount of brown sugar, kentjour (sand ginger), and to spice it up, sambal katjang. Smooth it out with ketjap manis. Last, add parsley.
All sauces are personal and experimental to me so I taste, mix, and add.
If you want a variation, use ketjap asin (salty soy sauce) with sambal trassi (shrimp based) but then be careful adding more salt.
Last evening, another one died. I think that we have killed about five electric water kettles during this pandemic. No matter the brand or the luxurious model, eventually they all succumb to the rigorous tea drinking routine in our household.
Tea cups here are around 12 to 16oz and when one of us is out of tea, the kettle goes back on.
When we started to get supply chain issues, I stocked up on some items. And I knew that I had bought a spare water cooker, but where was it?
Last evening, I opened every kitchen cabinet including the annoyingly small and unreachable ones above the fridge. I dug into the unfinished basement, scanned every shelf in the pantry, I even checked the linnen closet. No spare water cooker.
Turned out, it is in my husband’s office at work.
I checked online and found great models at Home Depot, Lowes, BB&B, Target, even Kroger. So this morning, I started with Kroger. None in stock. OK, so I drove to the next town. I visited five stores and all were out of water cookers, nothing in stock, and yes, we should have updated our website with the current inventory.
I was a bit steaming and fuming by the time I entered Target. The fumes disappeared rapidly when I saw that they had a few electric kettles left. I check for content, ease of use, and that reduced the selection to two. So I bought both.
Now I am back home, sipping tea, checking email, making notes, and I even had a bite to eat.
I could not list all the social media (SM) platforms there are today if my life depended on it but I can answer this question: how much social media do I need. Answer: one to interact (Twitter) and one to post images, which I do on Pintrest.
Now you may wonder how I got to that answer. It was trial and error.
When I started my website in 2009, I jumped on all the then available SM platforms after finishing my post. I would share on my feed, in groups, and for a while even participated in ‘comment-for-comment’ groups just to get the cases in more newsfeeds. It was exhausting. I had private and professional accounts, had to keep track of what to post where, remember several sets of passwords, and had to continuously come up with new ways to present these cases.
I wish I had known then what I found out later because not only do these three points below make sense, they produce great results.
Three things to consider
1: How much time do I really have to dedicate to SM?
2: What is the quality of my followers’ list?
3: Where is my site’s audience?
Time to spend on social media
I will be the first to admit that my scrolling time increased during the pandemic so maybe that isn’t a good measure. But, pre-pandemic I really watched how much time things took and, at what times I didn’t mind spending that time.
It is easy to say that your screen time should be limited however, that might not enable you to reach your goals. The better way to keep screen time in check would be to decide on a goal when you log in.
Uploading a new case or a post does not take much time. WordPress can do this for you if you use Publicize and grant WP access to your social media accounts. You can tailor the headline, add a brief description, and schedule the time and date. Once you set up Publicize posting is easy. What you now need is to get people to read and share your work.
Getting your readership engaged to the point where they actually share your work, is time-consuming. You cannot expect others to read and share your work if you never return those favours. What so I do?
On Mondays, I follow #MondayBlogs on Twitter and that streamlines a lot. I usually try to read four to eight posts and then share those on my feed. I do that in the morning and the afternoon. To make sure I get a good selection of blog posts I search for the hashtag MondayBlogs and select not just the top tweets but also the latest on Twitter. I have also made private lists that do not get shared. This way, reading up on your posts is easier as you are all on one Twitter feed. For the rest of the week, I use the WordPress Reader. I try to read up daily in between writing breaks.
Now, to answer the question how much time this all takes, it really depends on your work output and of course, what is going on in my life. I really cannot guess how much time. But you see, that doesn’t matter as it fulfills my goals: reading and sharing. And I learn a thing or two from all of you. What comes next is more important.
The quality of your followers
Whichever SM platform you use, unless you have a private account, you will gain followers and not even notice it. I’d like to encourage you to check from time to time who is following you though.
You see, one of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that a big Twitter following amplifies their ability to get shares, likes, or retweets. It doesn’t. Retweets do not come automatically once a follower scans over your post. That retweet can only come from the follower themselves. That’s why the quality of your followers matters so much.
You will find that followers can trickle in one by one or they come in bursts. Some have a big following and some don’t. Which kind of follower is better?
The people who consistently show up in your mentions are the ones to place on a private list. Those are the people reading and sharing your work and you should return the favour with theirs. Now I can hear you wonder ‘what if only two or three people are in my mentions?’
No problem. These two or three people share your work with their followers setting the amplification in motion which gradually expands your reach, getting your work into new people’s feeds and new networks. Two people consistently sharing your work are better than hundreds of followers who never engage.
After you have been online for a while, check where your readers are. You can use WordPress, Google Analytics, StatCounter, etc. Do most of your posts get seen by people through SM? Email subscribers? Which other sites refer to yours?
Most of my website readers come from keyword searches, google snippets, Wikipedia, or other crime website references. Most of my blog readers come from the WordPress reader and #Bloganuary.
Having this information for my website made it easier for me to decide which SM platforms to keep so I can use my screen time to achieve my goals. I deleted all other accounts. It didn’t hurt my readership or SEO ranking. Pintrest is fabulous for sharing images. I just upload and done. I do not engage much there. Twitter is best for starting interactions, conversations, and collaborations.
Knowing that most of my website readers came from keyword searches, I pay close attention to SEO, tags, and the accuracy of my website’s databases. I link back to other people’s work, to newspapers, and magazines. For my personal blog, I follow back other bloggers, try to comment, and read posts of those who comment on mine.
Is this a perfect system? Probably not. There’s always room for improvement but for now, it works.