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Blog Exersices: I Can Wish It Away But…

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.“I can wish it away but I can’t change it.”

Those words jumped out of the radio. This was a politician talking about international trade regulations and laws in my state. It’s true that any governing body is ruled by other governing bodies in this bureaucratic world. It got me thinking about what I could wish away in my industry that I cannot change.

My industry is web publishing and the social web. It is education, WordPress, blogging, and social media. When I stop and consider the things I want to wish away, the list is actually short, until I really give it some thought and then the list gets longer and longer.

Cat lying on roof of vehicle - I can wish it away but why bother - photography by Brent VanFossen.I wish WordPress would get rid of the underline option on the content toolbar. There is never a reason to underline anything on the web unless it is a link. International laws are now in place that prohibit underlining text, leaving underlines solely for links. It’s frustrating to see text underlined, click it, and nothing happens. I wish underline would go the way of many other HTML tags.

I wish WordPress would check trackbacks for duplication. I’m really tired of getting four, five, even eight year old trackbacks two or three times over the years as people move their sites around or update their databases, releasing another surge of trackbacks on linked content.

I wish trolls, comment spammers, and evil doers on the web would get a life, a real life, finding joy in being helpful and fruitful in their endeavors rather than persist in wasting everyone’s time.

I wish everyone would get Web 101, Blogging 101, Comments 101, and Social Media 101 before they are allowed to sign up for an email address or use a web browser. The rules for etiquette and behavior on the web are fairly simple, but some people never learn.

These are things I want to wish away, but there is little I can do to change things.

I’ve talked to WordPress developers who shake their heads with there-goes-Lorelle-again looks. The underline still holds a cherished place in the tradition of print, so it stays on the web. Duplicate and redundant trackbacks are only annoying to those with incoming links to their content. Consider yourself blessed to have this kind of trouble.

Trolls, spammers, evil doers, time wasters – human beings have had more than their fair representation of these classes of people with or without computers and the Internet. Why bother.

Schools are going bankrupt daily, so adding Internet and Web classes, in spite of the fact that every day of each child’s life for the next eighty years or more is going to deal with the Internet and Web, is too much of a burden for some schools. “We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got.” Leave it up to peers, parents, and Google to teach them about how to balance their checkbooks, get a loan, buy a home, and behave on the web (or college instructors like me :D ).

I keep pushing, and sometimes the door opens a crack, but wishes are pushes. Someone on the other side of the wish needs to pull.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is in the form of a prompt.

Blog the wish you wish you could wish away, but can do little or nothing about.

Every industry has things people want to wish away, to change, yet they are stymied by the powers that be above and below them.

This is your chance to be heard, to push that door open a crack and see if anyone joins you on the push or the pull to make changes.

By confiding your wishes, sometimes they do come true. At least you find out that you may not be alone.

If you blog this, include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: Before the Blog

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.While researching memes for one of these blog exercises, I discovered a fascinating meme called Before the Blog.

Started by YA Litwit, and not updated by the author since 2011, it is a meme designed for writers inviting them to review and recommend books from their past, “books you’ve read and loved BEFORE you started blogging about books,” defining why you chose, read, and recommended the book.

I loved the idea of “Before the Blog” as a concept, which leads to today’s blog exercise.

Before the blog, we expressed and shared our thoughts in person or via email or letters. We had diaries, photo albums, scrapbooks, notebooks, and boxes of letters to and from our friends and family, creating semi-permanent records of our journey through life. Parents, grandparents, even great grandparents passed these down over the generations, preserving our history and our family’s stories.

You don’t even have to look back that far. Many of us have saved essays and poems we wrote in school and songs we wrote as teenagers, dreaming of being the next Mozart or Neil Young. Before there were memes, shares, likes, and reshares, there were the traditional methods we had to share our stories, jokes, expertise, and images.

In this blog exercise I want you to reach back into your past, the past before your blog, and publish on your site a diary entry, letter, digital image of your scrapbooks, photo albums, notebooks, whatever you’ve written or artistically created in the past.

As always, it must tie in with your site purpose and mission, serving your audience.
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Blog Exercises: The Daily Social Meme

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Did you know that there are specific memes for each day of the week in the blogosphere and social web? Today is your chance to play around with some of these themed days of the week in this blog exercise.

A themed day, or meme, is a tradition of sorts. It involves publishing and sharing a specific type of content or subject matter on the web appropriate to the day of the week. The definition states it is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture, and the web is one big culture made for spreading memes.

Over the years there have been a variety of week day memes. Here is a list of the most popular and current memes.

  • Sunday: Currently “Punday” is gaining ground but other Sunday memes include Sunday Seven (7 links, unrelated questions or topics, or 7 tips).
  • Monday: Movie Monday is gaining popularity, a chance for bloggers to review a movie or showcase their favorite movie. Others included “Monday Mingle,” “Meet Me Monday,” and “Monday’s Mood.”
  • Tuesday: “Tackle It Tuesday” and “TMI Tuesday” are the most popular memes for Tuesdays. Others include “Top Ten Tuesday,” “Tasty Tuesday,” “Thumbs Up Tuesday,” “Teaser Tuesday,” and “Take Three” for three tips, links, or random thoughts.
  • Wednesday: Started many years ago, Wordless Wednesday is the most popular meme for this day of the week. Bloggers publish a photograph or graphic and allow the readers to have their say about how the image moves them. Other memes include “What’s Up Wednesday” to bring your readers up-to-date on your life and work (inviting them to do the same), “Welcome Wednesday,” “Wish List Wednesday,” and “Weekly Book Blog Hop” or “Weekly Book” to write about a book you were reading or recommended.
  • Thursday: Thursday memes include “Think Back Thursday,” “Travel Thursday,” “Thursday Thoughts,” and the most popular, “Thankful Thursday.”
  • Friday: “Follow Friday” is a social web meme created on Twitter where users #ff their favorites to their followers encouraging them to follow these folks and thank them for their tweets and hard work. Unfortunately, it was abused and grew tiresome as it didn’t add to the conversation just mention-spammed a lot of people in one tweet, but many continue it on their blogs and social networks as a “Feature and Follow Friday” meme to say thank you and encourage others to visit favorite bloggers on the web. “Photo Friday” or “Foto Friday” is popular, as is “Fill-in Friday” inviting people to fill in the blank, “Friday Five” for five topics, points, links, etc., “Friday Fling,” and “TGIF” for Thank God It’s Friday topics.
  • Saturday: Caturday is the sure-fire winner with people sharing funny cat pictures and videos across blogs and social networks, flooding the Inter-waves will LOLCats. Past popular memes for Saturday included “Sunny Saturday” and “Saturday Struggles.”

Person holding many kittens in his arms with text how many cats can you fit into your caturday.These are the most popular across the web, trackable by hashtags on social networks. You can create your own meme weekly schedule as well, self-assignments for one or more days of each week.

Heart at Home created a weekly meme list for her site as well as for other similar bloggers. The list includes Super Simple Spiritual Sunday, Sunday Seven, Marriage Monday, Tackle It Tuesday, Works for Me Wednesday, and Thankful Thursday.

The Daily Meme offers a wide range of suggestions for week day memes with categories by day of the week such as Sunday Memes, Monday Memes, Friday Memes, and so on, helping you to discover a wide range of memes to experiment with on your own.

Memes were initially exciting and fun to share, but people wore them out. This doesn’t mean they stopped, but some had to step back from their meme addition to recover. I found that Student Spyglass did that with his June “month without memes” meme. In June 2013, the author decided to step back from memes because “my meme posts stat to feel same-y, and I don’t feel like they necessarily add anything to the blog except increased visitor numbers.”

While there is truth in that statement, memes are a great way to get started blogging and feel like you are a part of something bigger on the web.
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Blog Exercises: When Your Site Design Owns You

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Yesterday a long-time client called me up in tears saying, “I can’t do this any more. My site design owns me, I don’t own it. It’s too confusing. It’s too much work!”

Several years ago, she’d chosen a Magazine-style WordPress Theme. The structure was based upon the standard magazine-style, sticky posts for the slider/carousel at the top of the front page and content on the front page divided up by titled categories in a column format.

We met this morning and went through the step-by-step process of what it takes to publish a post using that WordPress Theme.

  1. Write the post in a text editor.
  2. Copy it from the text editor and paste it into a new post.
  3. Add the title to the post.
  4. Set the “more” point for the front page excerpt length.
  5. Choose the post category.
  6. Add the tags.
  7. In the Publish box, click Visibility, then “Stick this post” and Okay to make it a sticky post for the slider.
  8. Review, edit, and publish when ready.

The task list appeared to me to be fairly simple and basic. “Oh, that’s just the beginning!” Read More »

Blog Exercises: The Art of List Making

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Today’s blog exercise is part two on how to make a list.

In “Weekly Link Roundups” and “Making Lists” blog exercises I covered some basics of how to make a list. This blog exercise will take these exercises further to help you create interesting lists in your blog posts that pull the reader through your content.

This exercise could be done with the visual editor of WordPress posts, but I recommend you experiment with the Text (HTML) editor to become more at ease using HTML when writing your posts. You will also need to review how to make properly formed links if you feature links in your lists.

When appropriate, I will share the HTML tags and structure. If you would like to dig deeper, view the source code of this web page in your browser (right click > view source or page source).

I will be exploring examples of the plain list, a bullet list, numbered list, heading list, the titled list, and the graphic list, along with some variations on these. Read More »

Fall 2013 WordPress College Courses

Pop Quiz for the WordPress introduction Class at Clark College with students answering the questions on the whiteboard - instructor Lorelle VanFossen.Registration is now open for the two WordPress college courses I teach at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and Portland Community College at Rock Creek in Beaverton, just west of Portland, Oregon. See Classes and Workshops for details.

I’ve been working with Robert Hughes of the Computer Technology Department at Clark College for almost two years on a new Web Development degree program with WordPress at the core. It was passed this Spring by Washington State and is now an official degree program for two degrees. <insert applause here>

Fall 2013 begins the process of educating college students to truly prepare them for the web design and web development world of tomorrow with the Computer Technology ATT degree and Computer Graphics Technology AAT Degree. I’m so proud of everyone who made this possible!

The Clark College WordPress I course is a 5 credit college course, a now required fundamental course for the web design and web development degrees in the Computer Technology Department. Starting September 23, 2013, the course is 9 weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 – 9PM in the evenings. Day classes may be available as well starting in the Winter and Spring Quarter.

The Portland Community College course is titled “CMS Website Creation: WordPress” and is a 3 credit course as part of the web design degree and meets once a week on Wednesdays starting September 25. The course is a hybrid class with an additional 2-3 hours of online work required weekly.

To register for either course, see Classes and Workshops for links and contact information.
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Blog Exercises: Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.“9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started.” “6 Things You Need to Know Before You Begin.” “The 10 Lessons You Need to Know Before You Take that First Step.” “What I Wish I Knew Before I Knew.”

These titles show up in my feed reader on a regular basis. In this blog exercise, it’s your turn to share what you wished you’d learned before you had to learn it for your specialty.

These types of articles do multiple things for your site and for your reputation.

  • They establish you as an expert. You know how this industry or subject matter works. You’ve broken it and lived to tell the day. You are the one they want and need when they go looking for an expert.
  • You know what you are talking about. By sharing your history and lessons learned along the way, you show your readers that you know what you are talking about. You talk the talk and walk the walk.
  • You are a mentor. You serve as an example to others. This is how this industry works and I’m the one to come to when you need to be shown the path of enlightenment.
  • You have history with the subject. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. We’ve been around the block. The ability to look back and reflect upon your “years” of experience speaks to that experience. You have been through the wringer. After X years of toiling, struggling, beating whatever it is into shape, you have seen it all. Now is your chance to share a life-time of experience.
  • You are an educator. Learn from me. That’s what that topic says. I’m here to show you the right way to do it. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t do what I did.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Take a look at your subject matter and gaze into the past. What would you have wished you knew before you started? What lessons have you learned along the way. Blog your top X things you wish you’d known before.

We’ve blogged about mistakes we’ve made and what we learned from those mistakes. This is bigger.

It is literally a blog post that answers the question, “If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently now that you know.”

If you publish the post, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task and learn from you, the master of your specialty.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: I Don’t Have Any Comments

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I hear this complaint frequently from new and long time bloggers.

“I don’t have any comments. How can I get more comments?”

First of all, let me explain something and I want you to read closely.

You don’t want comments.

Example of comments in a WordPress site post - on Lorelle on WordPress with Lorelle VanFossen.Yes, that’s right. You do not want comments. At least not comments from anyone.

If you just want comments, be content with comment spam.

If you want good comments, be specific.

What you want is a discussion. You don’t just want comments. You want interactivity. You want the social intercourse, to share your thoughts with others and have them reciprocate. You want dialog.

Now that you know you don’t want comments, how does that change things on your site?

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to get clear about what you mean when you ask how to get more comments on your site.

Your goal in this exercise is to be specific, very specific, about defining not just who your audience is but the type of conversation you are really seeking on your site.

  • Who do want to comment? What do they know? How much do they know? Do you want to interact with people who know more than you or those who want to learn from you?
  • What would they sound like? What stories would they have to share? What questions do you want to ask them to answer?
  • What would the conversation look like? Would it be yes/no, A/B responses or true dialog? Or supportive comments and at-a-boys – pats on the back to reassure you that you are on the right track?
  • Do you want arguments? Debates over a topic? Do you want people to challenge your thinking or statements, or do you just want to hold hands and walk through the garden in harmony like old friends?

Write out a description of the ideal person(s) you wish to talk to on your site. Follow this with a clear description of how the conversation would look.

Compare all of this to your site’s mission and purpose, then against your goals. Do these descriptions stay inline with your site goals? Do they keep your site on focus?

If not, you need to realign your vision of the perfect reader or your site purpose and goals. If yes, you are on the right course.

The more precise you are, the more likely you are to write for and attract those individuals.

Blog about this? Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

Related Articles and Blog Exercises

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: Life Lessons

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.We all have life lessons, lessons from a life well-lived and experienced, we carry with us. Some we learn on our own, and others are taught to us by others.

In “Lessons Learned from Dahni, The Eyeless Wonder Cat” I shared some powerful life lessons taught to me by this little blind cat who was with us for such a short time and changed our life deeply.
Dahni, the famous traveling eyeless Wonder Cat hangs out the window of our motor home looking at the world around him in Spain. Photo by Lorelle VanFossen.

When we humans chase our goals, isn’t it amazing how the smallest obstacle can stop us in our tracks? How many times have you been halted in pursuit of a worthy cause only to stand there and wonder why you were doing this, was it worth it, what good will it do, and why bother? Or maybe you think that this was some “sign” that you shouldn’t be going in this direction and another one might be better? Or you just stand there, frozen and unable to figure out what to do as all the options might keep you from your goal or might help you actually achieve it? I know I’m guilty.

What if we humans, the supposedly more superior animal, lived our life like Dahni, letting nothing get in the way of accomplishing our goals? Wonder what our lives would be like?

If a blind cat can teach me profound lessons and change my life, you can do the same for others.

Since the beginning of time, our stories have molded the world around us, influencing our community members (when you see that big cat, run in the opposite direction) with our shared experiences, the stories we tell of how we interact with the world and survive to tell the tale.

Consider your blog the fire pit of the modern world, a place to share stories.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to blog your life lesson(s).

It may be a single life lesson, something that you learned that changed the course of your life and will benefit others. Or it may be a list of things.

Share with your readers the lessons you have learned in life over a single post or multiple posts in a series. Take them on the journey of how you learned the lesson, the struggles that brought you to this life lesson, and what you learned and how it impacted their life.

You never know who is paying attention to your posts, and this one could change the world as well as a single life.

If you blog your life lessons, remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: Site Goals

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Early on in these Blog Exercises I asked you to clarify what you do and how you share your purpose on your site, what your target audience is, and review the why of why you blog and self-publish on the web. Hopefully you’ve had time over the past few months to digest those thoughts, evaluate them, and truly find the real purpose and focus of your site.

Today’s blog exercise is to go deeper and further. Today, your blog exercise is to set some goals for yourself and your site.

A friend following these blog exercises asked me why I didn’t schedule this exercise earlier. People need to spend time figuring out what they were doing with their site and on their site before they can set solid goals. I’m sure you’ve discovered that as you’ve gone through these blog exercises.

“It’s a process,” I explained. “Like a good recipe, you can’t rush these things.”

I’d like to say that by now, if you have been following these blog exercises with some form of diligence, you should be almost baked – or half-baked, as it were, ready to set the short and long term goals for your site.

Setting site goals is very different from establishing your site’s purpose and focus. Those are the definitions of your site. Your goals keep you on the right path, serving the purpose and focus along the journey.

New Century Tea Gallery tea shop - their tea tasting table made of wood in Portland, Oregon - photo by Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress.

The tea tasting table at New Century Tea Gallery in Portland, Oregon – a step back into the history of Chinese tea.

Imagine you are a tea hobbyist, like me, fascinated with all things Asian tea. You wouldn’t travel without a website database resource like Tea map for Great Tearooms of America or a mobile app like TeaMap directing you to all the tea rooms and teahouses in the area. While not a goal, the tool helps you to identify your goals, the number and places to have tea at your destination or along the way.

On a business trip to Seattle recently, I listed seven tea shops and teahouses to visit in the four days of my stay. I made it to five, slightly disappointed and frustrated. On my way back to Portland, Oregon, I had car trouble and had a couple hour delay to get the car fixed. I pulled out my tea map app and found a tea shop in walking distance and added another to my goal. Six out of seven is success in my book.

Visiting the tea shops was a goal. The purpose and focus of those visits were to learn more about tea, how tea is sold, and taste new types of teas, expanding my palette. That is a never-ending joy for me, serving as incentives for my goals.

To set goals for your site, you must follow a few guidelines.
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Blog Exercises: August Current Events

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Been watching the news lately? It’s time to blog the news and current events for August in our Blog Exercises.

For some communities, August is the start of the harvest season, a busy month. For other communities, it is the quietest month. Some societies practically close down their towns to vacate for cooler locations, getting out of the boiling heat of the city.

For parents and families, this is the last chance to get out and away on vacation, getting everything done before the school season begins.

All of this activity does not mean the news stops. Nor should you.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.As part of our monthly current events Blog Exercise, consider looking for news associated with summer and your community. This is also a time of fairs, festivals, and community events. Is there anything in the local news that will connect with your audience?

Sometimes it is the festival that is worth reporting upon. Sometimes it is the silliness behind the festivals and regional events that is newsworthy.

My community of North Plains, Oregon, has an annual festival event called “The Elephant Garlic Festival.” With the theme motto “Fun Stinks,” this is a fantastic community event featuring local bands, a garlic food competition, huge library book sale, tons of activities for kids, and a huge arts and crafts fair featuring local artists. We haven’t missed a year since we moved here, but this year, everyone is missing the fun.

It seems that politics and bureaucracy got in the way of two groups wishing to control the garlic festival in the area. The “Elephant Garlic Festival” lost this year and the Garlic Out-West festival replaced it, at least as far as we know. Instead of “Fun Stinks” they are going with “It’s Chic to Reek.” That’s a lot of stink from both ends when the community suffers stinky fools.

Look around your community for this month’s current events blog post for something to blog about for August.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: Collect Your Quotes

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I was sitting in a business conference listening to a speaker expound upon the many reasons why we must blog, and choked on my hot tea when I heard her say to the two hundred people in the audience, “Blog comments are mini resumes. Let them speak well of you.”

In 2006, I wrote those words in “How NOT to Comment on Comments.” Go through the list of trackbacks and you will see that many people grabbed that phrase and continue to use it today, long past the moment when people still remembered who said it the first time.

I’m always startled when I hear my words coming back to me, weeks or many years later. It’s humbling actually as I rarely think what I have to say matters. Yet, as a long time leader in the web publishing, blogging, and WordPress industry, I’ve been privileged to coin a few words and phrases over my long career. I’ve often been asked to put them on coffee mugs and t-shirts for bloggers, a humbling request indeed.

Sayings on WordPress by Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress. Categories are table of contents. Tags are index words. Pages hold timeless content, posts hold timely content.We all have things we say, sometimes our own words, sometimes the words of others.

A favorite of mine was heard in the southern United States. “Well, ice cream don’t grow hair.” I have no idea what that means but it still makes me laugh today.

Have you ever had that moment when you said something then realized it was actually the words (and sometimes the voice!) of your parents? That’s scary.

My mother’s quotes are legendary in our family. Some make complete sense like “Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log.” Others are confusing but you manage to get the gist of it. “Do you need a kick in the head.”

My father loved to quote Bill Cosby. “I bought you into this world. I’ll take you out.” He also modified this as the answer to everything. When the dentist reported a cavity, he explained I needed to take better care of my teeth. “I put your teeth in your head. I can take them out.”

One we’ve all heard is “Didn’t I tell you…” and our answer is always “no” whether or not we’d been told.
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Blog Exercises: The Outsider

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.During a writer’s convention this weekend, someone familiar with my site and these Blog Exercises asked me why I was handing our all this information to help others blog better, use WordPress better, and migrate their site from personal to professional.

I had a pat answer then, but today, I have another.

…Assumptions like these also reflect how some people see me: an outsider.

In my recent Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress, I have agonised over the psychological reasons as to why I blog, pondered how to stay focused with more self-control, and more importantly, tried to discover my view of the world through my filtered lens. It’s dangerous, as I may reveal more than I had planned for 15 months ago when I started blogging in English. I may even understand who I am in this process of self-discovery. The thought is frightening.

I see the world as an outsider. This is my filtered lens. What do I see? How do I feel? I am passionate about living, but I am also very detached emotionally. Will this new perspective make my writing any different? How might this change my voice in my writing?

From “Born as an outsider” on Janet’s Notebook

My goal in offering these free blog exercises to you is to change your world. My reward, you change mine.

Janet Williams of Janet's Notebook.Today, Janet Williams changed my life with her courage.

Janet is a Chinese woman living in the UK with her son, pets, and a profound sense of self and identity while struggling with her sense of self and identity. While she is a woman torn between two vastly different worlds, Janet is at once comfortable and uncomfortable in both. She has shared her stories of the dichotomy of self for several years, finding comfort in being one of the “tweens” in this world, stuck in the in between, one of everything and none of anything.

What does this mean?

She has amazing courage, faith, and trust in herself and her abilities. There is no chance of getting anything past Janet. She explores both the differences and similarities of a subject, finding the connections between the extremes. She looks at the world through a microscope, and I adore her for it.

Your blog exercise today is to share what part of you is like Janet – an outsider.

In “Born as an outsider,” Janet shares how her left-handedness separated her from her family, teachers, and society in general. Her own mother called her a “Left-handed Ghost,” a child that brought more woe to the family that joy. She was the youngest, ostracized by the other children, and challenged for her excellent English skills “for Chinese.”

As the youngest child in a family of adults could be the loneliest experience. I remember sleeping on the floor with two adult sisters. Some nights, they would discuss boys and exchange gossips in their secret language. As a kid, I was curious, “Tell me!” “I want to know!” However, according to the Chinese wisdom: “A kid should have ears, not a mouth.” Their stories were none of my business. So I learnt quickly not to interrupt. Very often, when I entered a room when my sisters were talking, their conversation would just halt. The presence of me had the ability to halt many conversations.

It was the norm that a child was hushed. In a crowded, boisterous environment, a child was mute. One day, when my father told me that he had hoped for a boy, not a daughter, I was not upset, because I grew up believing that I was found in a rubbish bin.

We all grew up feeling isolated, separate, different from others in one way or another. That is one of the universal beliefs we share no matter our race, culture, or family circumstances. Most of us feel “different” from others.

It is your turn to be brave and share your difference with your readers.
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Blog Exercises: If You Don’t Make Mistakes, You’ll Never Learn

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I’ve long believed that if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning.

That philosophy is part of what these blog exercises are about. I want you to stumble. I want you to destroy your site. I want you to make a mess of everything because that is how you learn.

How did I learn what I know about blogging? I destroyed all preconceived notions and blasted my way into it. True, I was blogging before blogging was a word, but when it became a word, the word became one of rules, regulations, and guidelines. Policies. Structure. You could be lousy at blogging, or great. There were ratings and systems in place on how to do it right. How do I know? Because I broke many of those systems to test them, unconsciously and consciously in defiance.

In order to learn how blogging worked, I broke it.

Same applied to WordPress. I didn’t become a WordPress expert, guru, diva, queen, and all the other labels put upon me by installing WordPress and blogging. I ripped it apart. I tore it into pieces. I grew with it, beat it back like a weed, and fertilized it with all the crap I could put through it. I deserved of those labels because I broke WordPress – often – and lived to tell the tale.

Did you do that with your own specialty?

Tatting Shuttle and Thread on Doily made by Lorelle VanFossen

It took me months to learn how to make ancient lace by tatting – Lorelle VanFossen.

If you are a knitter, how many times did it take to get it right? To finally knit that washcloth without dropped stitches and your purls becoming knits on the wrong side?

If you are a sales person, how many times did it take to try to make a sale before you found your rhythm? How many styles and methods did you try before you got in the groove and now handle the cold call and pitch without missing a beat?

If you are a woodworker, how many fingers do you have left and how long did it take you to figure out how to get the lathe working right and how to get tongue-in-grove to really mean tongue-in-grove?

If you are a coder, how many mistakes did you make with code before it ran like clockwork? How many hours have you poured into microscopic inspection to find the missing semi-colon or quote mark that screwed everything up?

We all torture ourselves through the process of learning. By making those mistakes, by failing, we learn how to do it better, righter, stronger, and faster.
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Blog Exercises: Making Drafts Work For You Not Against

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.During a year of teaching WordPress in college and at workshops and training events, I may help a minimum of 300 people set up WordPress.com sites annually. As they add content to their site, filling in all the blanks, they often publish content not quite ready for prime time, capped with a note-to-self to “fix this later.”

Draft posts in WordPress featuring the number of draft posts for Blog Exercises by Lorelle VanFossen.

Later doesn’t come fast enough when your site is visible to the public. I recommend that you set those types of posts as Drafts instead of leaving the content public, half-finished, and start using the Drafts feature in a more effective and powerful way.

In this blog exercise, I want to offer tips on how to use the Draft feature of WordPress and other web publishing platforms to help you fill in all those blanks and fix them before the world sees them. I also want to help you change the way you look at Drafts.

Drafts are interesting things. They are literally a list of posts you haven’t finished, yet they become nags, energy suckers, reminders of things left undone, evidence of your failure to finish or tendency towards procrastination, left undone until that “rainy day” arrives.

Let’s turn the concept of Drafts into a power tool on your site, especially as you prepare or revise your site for the public.
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