A Few Thoughts on Blogging

I was a relatively early adopter of blogging. I started my first blog back in 2009, when Twitter was just starting to grow, Facebook was still only for college students, and Instagram hadn’t even kicked off yet. I’ve always loved blogging because I’ve always loved scrapbooking, journaling, taking photos, saving articles… I’ve used Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress. I’ve had photo blogs, blogs about identity, about my work as a journalist, about writing, and about taking “notes for no reason.” They were all lovely blogs, and they all ended for various reasons: either my life changed, or I lost my good camera, or I got busy with schoolwork, or I changed.

This is my latest blog, and I feel especially committed to it. It started a little over two years ago as a place for me to experiment with and ask questions about work-life balance, and I learned a lot from it. Over time and organically, both here and on Instagram, it developed into a place where I can enjoy recipes and the memories that come with them, explore books and share the lessons or beauty I find in them, and share my attempt “to live deliberately,” as Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden.

That’s what work-life balance means to me: being present, living deliberately. One of the things I hate most of all, and that worries me the most, more than not succeeding at something in my work or things going wrong in my life, is when days and days, sometimes weeks, go by, and I don’t know where they went. I know many people feel the same way.

Over the last few months, I stopped posting for several reasons. Two of them are normal reasons to put something aside for a little bit: I had some great projects I was working on offline, and caring for loved ones took up some extra time (both my husband and Minjay had shoulder and knee surgeries respectively last winter and spring, both thankfully are OK!). But two reasons I stopped are worth unpacking.

The first reason was that it started to feel a bit forced. Take putting together the perfect picture, for example. When you scroll down Instagram, so many images and pages look the same now. I often wonder if in some ways so-called “formulas for success” have made us less creative and removed some individuality. Blogs and social media platforms like Instagram have allowed for so much great creativity and self-expression, but I do think we always have to ask ourselves if we’re being as creative as we can, and true to ourselves. Also, the idea that we have to post constantly didn’t work for me. Some things are best enjoyed in the moment, without a smartphone in hand.

The second reason was that I began to worry about growth and audience, and I really don’t want to ever worry about that again. I want to enjoy the blog for me, write about things I care about, and, yes, hopefully connect with some people if my posts resonate with them. I love the communal aspect of blogs and social media. I love connecting with people in my city and all around the world. I love seeing the creative and wonderful things people are up to online and being part of that community. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and sharing posts here on this blog is a way to connect with people and be part of something bigger.

I wanted to take some time to reflect on the evolution of my blog and its purpose: It’s a place to explore, to live deliberately, to be creative, and to connect. And that’s what I hope to do again, with a fresh start.

Thank you for reading!
Michelle

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Do All the “Small” Things

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It’s three weeks into the new year, and I’ve settled on my three main resolutions:

  1. Keep doing all the good things you’ve been doing.

I don’t know why resolutions seem to imply that we’re doing things wrong and need to change everything about ourselves. It always feels like the beginning of the new year isn’t the time for reflection and growth that it should be, but a time for thinking about what isn’t good enough in your life. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. I’m happy with a lot of the things I’ve been working on, from being devoted to loved ones to going to the gym regularly.

So why don’t we ever stop at the new year and say, “Hey. Well done. Keep it up!” That’s definitely how I feel in a lot of areas.

2. Get a book deal.

However, there is always room for growth. And for me, one spot with huge potential for growth is my writing career. This year, I have a very clear and conrete goal to finally, finally get a book deal. Wish me luck!

3. My third resolution is also somewhat work-related, but I’m keeping that one private 🙂

But I do have sub-resolution that I’ve been having a lot of fun with lately that I really want to share, and that is to:

Do All the “Small” Things.

You know, those things. The things we often put off because we’re too busy (but could usually find time for if we really want to, plan ahead just a bit, or are more efficient).

Andie Mitchell Eating in the Middle Recipe Michelle Chahine Sinno

For example, over the last few weeks, I finally tried out a recipe from a great cookbook that’s all about balance, Eating in the Middle by Andie Mitchell. Ever since I flipped through the book last summer, I’ve wanted to try the Baked Banana Bread Doughnuts. I finally made the effort to buy the doughnut pan (and a cooling rack!), get the ingredients, and MAKE them. I’m not exaggerating when I say the whole thing took 30 minutes. It was so easy and simple, and I enjoyed them so much. These instances really make me wonder why I put off so many things… that in my mind they require effort and “time that I don’t have.” When all it takes is 30 minutes. (And it was a rainy LA day as well. Perfect).

Inspired by baking my own healthier version of doughnuts, I tried this recipe for blueberry muffins the following week. Also so easy, yummy, and satisfying.

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What I love most about baking is that you can see the exact ingredients you’re putting into things. Can someone please explain to me why so many baked goods nowadays have “soy lecithin” in them. Since when did that become a staple of baking? Just curious.

I’m also happy to report that after four and a half years of living in Los Angeles, I finally, FINALLY, took Minjay for a long walk in Griffith Park. When I first moved here, I was looking up good places to walk dogs, and I came across this collection of good trails. I’ve been to different areas of the huge park in the middle of Los Angeles, but I never got around to taking Minjay for a nature walk there. It was definitely my loss, since the collection of trails is lined with beautiful, tall trees. I had been craving more “forest-y” walks while living in LA, and it had been accessible to me all along.

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Beautiful post-rain muddy walk. Minjay loved all the fresh nature smells. You can see the dew drops on his face 🙂

In the midst of these trails is a great coffee shop called “The Trails.” (I love this review, which describes it as the place John Muir and Julia Childs would meet for lunch).

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I’ve wanted to go to Trails literally since I moved here in 2012. But I haven’t. Why? Well it does take about 30 minutes to drive there, at the right time of day (without traffic). So it does take a little bit of effort. But there have been 53 weekends a year for the past 4 years to make it happen. Why didn’t I?

A few days after getting back to Los Angeles from Lebanon, where we spent Christmas break with family and old friends, I decided I was going to start the new year by being active: I was going to take Minjay to Trails. The whole endeavor took 2 hours total, and it was wonderful (both the freshly-made food and our walk in nature). Since then, I’ve been 2 more times, and plan to go back often.

Doesn’t it always turn out that it actually takes relatively minimal effort to open up new, great things in our life? These “small” things add so much variety and happiness to each week. And yet we put them off under the pretense of busyness and a lack of time. Really, all it takes is being more proactive about how we do want to spend our time.

Morning walks with Minjay in Griffith Park.
Morning walks with Minjay in Griffith Park.

I should note here that “doing all the small things” also does include necessary chores and errands we put off. Like changing car tires when they need to be changed. We’ve been putting this off since November, and yesterday my tire finally burst. Definitely learned my lesson to do things when they need to get done– because putting them off usually means they will take twice as long to deal with in the end.

 


P.S. I love, love the photo on the top of this blog post. I took it yesterday morning in Griffith Park, after several rainy days here in Los Angeles. The photo is unaltered in any way, and was taken on my iPhone. It really was just this beautiful yesterday morning.