This is For You

I started doing this thing on Instagram recently, which is this: I stopped trying to gain new followers.

I had been dutifully posting my list of 20+ hashtags on every photo for years, rolling my eyes at the fake comments from bots, watching people follow me just to see if I would follow them back so that they could unfollow me right away. I never felt like I knew which hashtags to use, it was tedious to find new ones, and I didn’t like how they looked under my photos. They always made me feel like I was trying too hard. Not to mention that – especially when the post was a personal one – using hashtags like #toronto_igers felt like inviting a bunch of strangers into my living room and having to watch them make inauthentic, superficial remarks about the stuff I loved.

This is For You >> Life In Limbo

Obviously social media is exactly that – social – and I completely understand the impulse to find new friends and fans. I should be clear that I don’t judge anyone trying to grow their following or their business by (almost) any means possible. But given that I don’t even use my Instagram account as a business tool (it’s a collection of pretty moments I love), it started to seem silly to be hustling for likes and follows. As this blog makes obvious, I’m not really interested in creating viral content or creating a “lifestyle brand”, even if that idea does seem appealing sometimes.

So I just stopped posting hashtags on my photos, beyond my own personal ones. And my engagement went way, way up. I now have fewer total likes per photo, but significantly buy viagra gold more comments, especially from people who I actually know, love, or respect.

I sent the message to the people who matter to me:this is for you.

Removing tags and talking in my real voice rather than my Marketing Voice sends an extremely loud message, even subconsciously. Posting without an official call to action is refreshing to read – and to write. And this has actually had an effect. Now, when I ask a question, my people know I’m talking to them, rather than some unidentified Future Fan. Now, the comments I get are real, authentic, and supportive. The robots have (mostly) gone away and left me in peace. I feel more grounded, and more free to share what’s really on my heart. I’ve made my Instagram life just a little bit quieter and a little bit more fun.

When I started reflecting on this, I heard Brené Brown saying:

I thought about how crazy it is that most of us can steamroll over [real] friends while we work to win the approval and acceptance of people who really don’t matter in our lives — people whom we’d never call when we were in a real struggle.

Again, I don’t really think the answer is to never use hashtags again, or to abandon Instagram as a marketing platform for your business. It’s a tool, and like any tool, it can be helpful in creating community and driving sales. But it’s something to think about, as our lives continue to get noisier and our attention spans become shorter:

How do you treat the people who already love you?

Reminder: My choices are not a commentary on yours.

3 Ways I Practice Self-Care

3 Ways I Practice Self-Care >> Life In Limbo

It’s wintertime where I am: the days are mostly grey and dreary and kind of dark. It’s cold, and I spend a great many hours indoors staring at a computer screen. It’s a time of year that is not so good for the soul.

Since I moved to Toronto back in October, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about building a life and a home for myself. I’m learning how to take care of myself and trying to figure out what really makes me happy. My mom said it best (doesn’t she always?) in an offhand comment the other day: “You’re trying to be deliberate.”

Part of the puzzle is self-care, which is the piece I find the hardest. I’m a creature of habit and routine, which means I can eat more or less the same thing, go on more or less the same walks, and wear more or less the same clothes every single day. Mostly, I like being this way, because it means I get to save a lot of my mental energy for things like writing and creating and making. Sometimes though – mainly in the winter months – it can start to feel monotonous. I have a poster in my bedroom that reminds me: magic is something you make. This is extremely hard to do! For me, self-care is about making that magic – or noticing it – in my everyday life.

Here are some of the ways I’ve been exploring self-care lately:

3 Ways I Practice Self-Care >> Life In Limbo

1. i’m not a robot

I heard a line on a podcast the other day that I found enormously helpful:

Self-care is the daily practice of remembering that I’m not a robot.

It’s a long interview, so if you want to jump ahead to that part, head to 1:40 or so.

When I heard this, I instantly thought: that is me. That could not be more me. The host of the show talks about how some days she’ll feel particularly tired, and spend the whole day saying things like “Why are you so tired today?! You had plenty of sleep! Stop being tired!” Another day she might feel hungrier than usual, so she’ll get baffled and annoyed as to why that might be, and fight against it by not allowing herself what she really needs.

Well folks, the answer is that we are not robots. Our bodies and minds are mysterious, beautiful systems that fluctuate depending on the day. Some days we’re more tired. Some days we’re more focused. Some days we need a lot of breaks. Some days we need extra food, or more sunshine. Some days we need to unplug.

All of the above is totally fine and normal and human. It’s only when we expect ourselves to be well-oiled machines that we run into issues. Just having this tiny phrase to repeat to myself is helping, as is setting alarms to remind myself to eat, stand up, and take breaks. Thou art only human, honey.

2. Pay attention to what you’re paying attention to

I’m taking a money + happiness mini course this week (it’s free and awesome) and today’s talk was full of great advice. One of the things Sarah talked about was how we pick up all kinds of false beliefs about what makes us happy from TV, magazines, Instagram feeds, and the people around us. Part of the work of really living a life that makes you happy is about learning to ignore whatever is not true for you, and for most of us that means ignoring the majority of what we see and read.

Instead of recommending that we just shut it all down and never interact with another thing that is not aligned with our values (which would be impossible, stupid, and probably end up making us ironically unhappy), she recommends bracing ourselves before we engage with at media or people that we know tend to mess us up a little bit. Before we watch that video or scroll that Instagram feed or meet up with that friend who we love but whose values around certain areas of life do not match our own, her advice is to remind ourselves repeatedly: this is not true for me, or this is not even real.

I absolutely, 100% need those reminders for a lot of things that both a) make me happy or inspired and b) make me feel a little bad about my life. Your things (people, accounts, shows) are probably totally different than mine, but I’m guessing you know exactly who or what they are. Having that mindfulness about what I’m taking in and absorbing can make all the difference.

3. Be Impractical

Over the past few months, my mindset has felt, at times, relentlessly practical. I’ve tried to be efficient and streamlined, get into the zone with my work, stay productive, and get organized.

Sounds great, right? Right. But when you start to feel annoyed that you can’t keep working because you have to go to the bathroom (yet) again, or feel like you can’t do the laundry or make lunch because it will cut into work time, something is wrong. YOU are wrong. (I’m talking to myself here.)

For me, self-care is about coming back to the impractical things, and making time for all those intangible things that don’t have a “purpose” or “objective” that can be measured or calculated. Things like going to work at a beautiful café, even if it means I’m a tiny bit less focused while I’m working. Going for a really long walk in the middle of the workday, just because it’s the only sunshine we’ve seen in weeks. Doing things just for fun: reading books, knitting blankets, writing blog posts. Buying flowers for my apartment. Recently I took a bath after my shower and it was deliciously impractical – and very soothing.

Constantly reminding myself that not everything needs to have a dollar value or specific outcome attached to it helps a lot.


I am not so great at any of this stuff, so tell me: how do you practice self-care? What does taking care of yourself look like for you?

P.S. If you liked this post, you might also like: being mindful about what we consume, figuring out what matters to us, affirmations for uncertain days and today, be gentle.

 

11 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions (All Year Long!)

11 Ways to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions (All Year Long!) >> Life In Limbo

We’re almost halfway through the year, so it’s a great time to check in with your goals or resolutions for the year. How have you been doing? Have you been doing them?

Even if you’ve forgotten about your goals entirely, the year is not over yet. Not even close! It’s not too late to re-evaluate, re-configure & re-commit to your goals. Here are my top tips for sticking to your goals right up until December 31st (and beyond!).

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good

On my list of 26 things I’d like to do before my next birthday, I included the item “collect quotes”. Not only was this very vague (more on this in a bit), it also conjured up fantasies for me of how best to go about completing this goal. Maybe I could make a beautiful collage on my wall! Maybe I could sit down and hand-letter all of the quotes and later bind them into a book! Maybe I could write each of them on a slip of paper and put them into a lovely jar!

But then I realized that it was a month after I created the list and I hadn’t written down a single quote. All of the above would be amazing options, but waiting until I could implement one of those plans would slow me down or even completely prevent me from following through on this goal. So, I opened up a Google Doc, titled it “Jar of Quotes”, stuck it in my Bookmarks Bar and went on with my day. Maybe later I’ll make it into a beautiful book, but for now I’m just happy I’m doing it at all.

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Two Websites for Booking Cheap Flights

How to Book Cheap Flights >> Life In Limbo

With only a month and a half left in Korea, I’m currently in prime travel-planning mode! I am very inspired by gurus like Nomadic Matt and Chris Guillebeau for travel-hacking and am always trying to learn from them as much as I can, but I’m definitely not at their level yet. That being said, I have discovered these two great websites that are helping me book cheaper travel recently.

Cheapoair

How to Book Cheap Flights >> Life In Limbo

This website is awesome for a couple of reasons. My favourite feature is that they offer a “round-trip” search option that is actually a multi-city search. This means you can search for a one-way flight that stops somewhere else along the way, without paying more. Obviously this won’t be helpful for every kind of trip or travel plan, but if you’re looking at more long-term travel and one-way flights, this can be an awesome tool.

I’ll give you an example. When I booked my flight home from Asia to Toronto, I wound up booking a flight from Bangkok to New Delhi, with a “layover” for 6 weeks in New Delhi for my yoga teacher training, and then a flight from New Delhi to Toronto, all for the price of a flight from only New Delhi to Toronto on other search engines, or about $700 USD. Considering that a flight from Bangkok to New Delhi is about $150, I am saving at least that much overall.

I will say that in my experience there are a couple of downsides to this website. First, you sometimes have to do a lot of trial-and-error searches to find out which routes and airports will be cheapest for you. Second, I’ve had to make minor changes in my itinerary twice due to changes to my flights made by the airline, which is obviously not Cheapoair’s fault. Both times, Cheapoair let me know, sent me an email, and made it easy for me to switch to a different flight with only about an hour’s difference from my original itinerary.

Momondo

How to Book Cheap Flights >> Life In Limbo

I absolutely love this flight search engine. It is modern, well-designed, clear, and easy to use with a lot of awesome features.

The best feature is their rating system for flights, where they compare price vs. flight length (including the number of layovers) and give you an overall rating out of 10 for any particular flight path.

There are lots of other features that I love as well. They show great graphs of price fluctuations for different days of the week and times of the year so you can more easily choose a cheap flight. They source flights from almost every airline, even the small budget airlines that don’t always come up in engines like Kayak (a site I also love, by the way!). When I booked my flight out of Korea, Momondo showed me a flight on Jejuair, a tiny airline that surprisingly cheaply flies direct to Bangkok from Busan every night.

One thing I will say is that I have found that on their app (which is just as easy to use!), I am not always able to find the same flight prices as I can on the website using my computer. They seem to be higher in general on the app than they are on the website, I’m not sure why.

AirAsia ASEAN Pass

This is something I’m still looking into right now, but it looks incredibly promising for travel within Southeast Asia specifically. You can buy 10 flights for a period of 30 days for only about $167 USD total – yes, for all 10 flights, plus some airport taxes. These flights go between the major cities on Air Asia’s routes, including Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Laos. It’s a really exciting idea and seems like a really affordable way to make the most of your travel time without spending a lot of money.

Are there any websites you use to book cheap flights? What’s your favourite website for booking travel in general?