Category Archives: Blogging

Blogging about Passions or Passionately Blogging?

While going through all the posts I have uploaded on this blog since it’s launch almost nine years ago, I came across this particular post from October 2008.  It reminded me of the difficult few years during which I struggled between blogging about the things I passionately wanted to blog about and blogging about the various passions I knew would get me more readers.

This is a struggle I see a lot around me, as many young women start up blogs with the hope that it will become a money-making machine, only to remove it from the internet years, even months later because the fire ran out.

While some lucky bloggers manage to have a passion that appeals to enough people to shine the light of success on their endeavours, most struggle to strike gold.  But that seems to be the problem in the first place: these bloggers try to appeal to the masses by blogging about topics that are popular, rather than by learning to craft their art in such a way that they become popular because of who they are.  They are letting the public’s passion mould them, rather than moulding the public’s passion with the strength of theirs.

Focusing one’s attention to what is mainstream in this day an age is quite dangerous.  For one, the tide being as strong as it is, a curious look into mainstream might sweep you right along with the rest of them.  Had I succumbed to the temptation of blogging about popular topics, I might have been an internationally well-known blogger by now, but I wouldn’t be blogging about my passions.  How happy would I be?

Another reason to not step into mainstream interests online, as defined by Google Trends, is that oftentimes, the spectacularly bad is particularly trendy.  I can’t help but wonder how much of one’s sense of hope turns into despair in these conditions.  This feeling is further compounded by the fact that superficial and unimportant news seems to make for most of the other news trends.  How then, one might get caught thinking, is there any hope for the future when these things are considered “news”?

A third reason has to do with the way reports are written.  I feel like more often than not, news stories are written in such a way to generate a passionate response.  And even if it isn’t, beware of the comment section.  Reading such things takes its toll as precious emotional energy goes into completely unimportant things.

Yet another reason has to do with effecting change.  I have heard many (including myself) hypothesising that if they become famous, they will have an influenceable voice that they can then use to effect change.  But if you become famous for a superficial reason, how much weight will your voice carry when discussion weighty matters?

Of course, this is quite the black-and-white scenario.  We can’t segregate ourselves from mainstream interests.  Similarly, there are some Google Trends that we should take note of.  Furthermore, some individuals, who became famous for superficial reasons, have learned to use their voice in a powerful way.  But ultimately, my advice to a girl-next-door who wants to become a world-renown blogger is that she should consistently upload quality content about something she is incredibly passionate about, content that she then should market diligently and systematically.  Maybe her blog about a more serious matter will not attract as many people as would a more superficial blog, but she will remain true to her passion and will effect change within the small community that bands together around her content.

{ Sahar’s Blog is all about being in a constant state of learning.  So it only made sense for me to go back to all my previous posts and see how my thoughts on certain topics have changed over the last nine years.  In this new, ongoing series of posts, I’ll be rereading some of my older posts and reflecting on the same topic in light of what I’ve learned since then.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how things have changed! }

Why I Decided To Take Precious Time Away From My Baby To Start Blogging Again

My blogging journey—an incredible, fulfilling one that has given me so much—started almost nine and a half years ago right here in Sahar’s Blog.  I never intended to stop blogging—that is, until I had a baby.

I had always intended to take a short hiatus when each of my children was born.  When my first one was born last year, I took what I thought would be a short hiatus.  But I love the life with my little one so much that I pushed it back once, then twice, and then again for a third time.  I was seriously considering pushing my return to blogging for another couple of months as my beautiful baby went from adorable newborn to hilarious and charming infant.

Perhaps then it will not come as a surprise that it is for her that I am returning to blogging.  Sahar’s Blog has already wanted to be an attempt to contribute to positive online conversations, the ones that translate into action dedicated to the mental, emotional, and spiritual improvement of each reader as well as to the betterment of their communities.  In light of the recent sharp and significant increase in hateful conversations, both online and in real life, I couldn’t abandon the platform that took me so long to build up.  It seems much more important, both for my little one and all the others of her generation, that I start blogging again, to contribute to the positive conversations that are happening on community building, personal development, sexism, racism, and spirituality.

And so, as we ring in a new year, I’m happy to be returning to a wonderful world where, alongside assiduous readers who send me so many emails (and who hopefully will start sharing at least some of their thoughts in the comments section—you know who you are!), I will be attempting to have uplifting conversations that will inspire thoughtful and consistent action.

To my little girl, who might one day read this: I am going to have a little less time with you from now on, but I am spending it paving the way for a world I hope will be much healthier for you and your friends to grow in.

And Then There Were Three: Relaunching The Blog, January 2017!

Parenthood has taken over my husband and I’s lives and we are loving every minute of it.  We have both decided to take the time to enjoy these precious few first months of our daughter’s life.  And so, I have decided that this blog will not relaunch at the beginning of September but rather, in January of next year.  Until then, I will continue to sporadically post reviews and other items; regular postings will be kicked off in a little under three and a half months.  Until then, you can imagine that there are quite a few opportunities for reflections on personal development, family life, and community building that are being offered to me, as well as many new products in my life that I will be reviewing.  I look forward to returning to regular blogging and until then will continue corresponding with readers who reach out to me either by commenting on the various posts, reaching out to me on social media, or sending me personal requests by email.

Mutual Support and Assistance in the Book Blogging World: My First Bloggiesta Experience

Bloggiesta September 2014I spent a large chunk of last weekend working on a list of blogging related tasks as part of Bloggiesta. Every couple of months, the website hosts an event during which a group of book bloggers take on certain tasks and complete them during a set number of days. Lists are posted on the website, mini-challenges are organised, and Twitter chats are attended.  By spending four days working at the same time on one’s blog, we can more easily connect with other book bloggers.  It aims to create an environment in which book bloggers can help each other in achieving goals.

While there are some limitations to online interactions as opposed to in person ones, Bloggiesta has been quite successful in creating an environment of mutual support and assistance. Bloggers commented on each other’s lists and offered not only encouragement, but advice. The Twitter chats were filled with good advice and encouragement, but also a good amount of healthy teasing (i.e. nothing close to bullying).

Another thing that I found interesting is how participants helped one another counteract any pressure to do things other than increasing the quality of their blog. This was quite significant, as statistics tend to become somewhat of an unhealthy obsession. There were quite a few conversations in which participants encouraged one another to focus on the book blogging, not on writing to get numbers up, knowing that the former would lead naturally to the latter. There was also a number of conversations focused on encouraging one another to remain polite, loving, and cheerful in the face of the abuse sometimes encountered at the hands of irate, frustrated authors.

All of this created a joyful environment in which both fun and light and profound and meaningful conversations happened, which in turn contributed to creating a space in which book bloggers could get back in touch with the reason they started blogging while at the same time, they gave and received honest advice on how they could improve their blogs.

Book blogging is already fun; you read and write about books. But book blogging within a group creates friendships which strengthen during intensive events like Bloggiesta. It also seems like thanks to these friendships, book bloggers are engaged in increasing numbers of enthusiastic conversations about their efforts, resulting in increased quality book blogs. It’s no wonder that participants return to Bloggiesta, and it’s no wonder then I will, too.

And now, onto NaNoWriMo!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 23 September 2014

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Blog Review: ‘Texas Sweet Tea’ by Sarah Morrison

Name: Sarah Morrison
Blog Reviewed: Texas Sweet Tea
Her favourite post: http://texasweettea.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-dressing-like-sorority-girl-has.html

There is something definitely sweet about the look on Sarah’s blog, Texas Sweet Tea, straight from the moment you land on her home page.  The palette is both feminine and unique—where most bloggers choose pink and gold, Sarah went with a couple of tinges of pastel blue, which, combined with the pictures used, the fonts picked, and her signature, combine into an overall feminine, sweet, and unique feel.

Just like with so many other blog however, the site is hard to navigate.  The top menu only includes three options, the home page, an about page, and a contact page.  There is thankfully a widget on the right hand sidebar that allows for navigation directly to posts sorted in seven categories: advice, college, DIY, fashion, Greek life, lifestyle, and OOTD.

I don’t have a particularly favorite category but in this case, it’s for a good reason: I really enjoy Sarah’s writing style.  Turns out that she is that friend that makes just about anything sound fun—the friend you find yourself talking about the most boring topic as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.  It makes for quite an eye opening experience in that readers will be drawn into reading posts about topics they might otherwise have skimmed over.  This puts quite a bit of responsibility on Sarah’s shoulders, but it looks like she is well on her way to fulfilling it brilliantly.

You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Add to your blog reader?

Definitely worth a look!

Update: This is the 31st blog review posted on Sahar’s Blog
since the summer of 2015.  I was hoping this feature
would generate interest in the blogs reviewed.
But although a lot of love and energy go into
each review, it isn’t yielding enough
interest by either the bloggers reviewed or
my readers to warrant continuing.  And so, the
remaining seven blogs I promised to review will be the last
ones, of the Blog Review feature.  It’s been a great ride and, should interest be generated again in the future, I will reconsider my decision!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 4 June 2016

Blog Review: ‘SOFIEYAH’ by Sophia

Name: Sophia
Blog Reviewed: SOFIEYAH
Her favourite post: http://sofieyah.com/2015/12/28/december-realife-2015-powerofmakeup/

Blog Review: Introduction

Blogging for a little over two years now, Sophia explains her blog as “[n]ot just the average beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blog with tips about life and love is intermixed with the regular blog posts.”  Rather, she is trying to create “[a] blog that believes in that beauty and fashion does not discriminate based on imperfections, but that anyone can embrace who they are, free of judgement.”

Readers of my blog are probably not surprised that this kind of statement got my full attention.  After all, I believe that we have been created as noble creatures and are meant to help one another develop as individuals as well as a community—and while putting one’s best foot forward is a coherent, integral part of this process, it should be done in the broader sense of the word.

I mean, just check out this from her “About” page: “I believe in beauty being emitted from actions.  I believe in style being emitted from confidence.  And I believe that everyone is unique in their own way and have the right to hold onto that unique part of themselves.  […]  Just remember, that you are who YOU are, and that make up and fashion shouldn’t be covering up who you are, but should be enhancing yourself instead.”

I’ll stop here, but for more on this topic, you can check out my series of posts on beauty.

Working My Way Across The Blog

There are three main categories in the blog’s main menu bar; with the extra seven sub-categories, it gives us eight categories to explore.  Under “ReaLife”, Sophia discusses various topics many will no doubt connect with, such as the all too real issue of time management.  Posts under “Blogaries” are journal entries of sorts on places Sophia has been and places she has gone.  It’s fun to read about her travels, and I especially liked her post about her visit to San Francisco.  Unsurprisingly, I love the section “Books & Music” (shocking, I know) where I might have added this and this book to my TBR pile.  Sophia also shares her opinion on various movies under the category—you guessed it—“Movies”.

The blog’s “Beauty” and “Skincare” sections include posts on Sophia’s various beauty hauls, her favorites beauty items of the year, and quite a lot of reviews on individual beauty-related items.  And Every couple of months, Sophia goes through all her favorites things of the month, be it life in general, food, what she watched, makeup, etc., which comes off as a great exercise in gratitude.

Final Thoughts

This blog has a lot of potential to balance out both an interest in beauty and fashion with a perspective on the betterment of our real selves and of the world around us.  But I do sense that, just like with my blog, it’s tough to stay on track.  And so I will be keeping an eye on SOFIEYAH with the hopes that both our blogs figure out how to remain focused on our primary purpose in a blogosphere that seems to be carried away easily by the same forces shaping so many of the other aspects of our world for the worse.

You can also find Sophia on Facebook and Instagram.

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Potentially.

Update on the Blog Review feature

This is the 29th blog review I have posted on this blog since the summer
of 2015.  I was hoping this feature would generate interest in the
blogs I have had the pleasure of discovering.  But although
a lot of love and energy go into this feature, it isn’t
yielding enough interest by either the bloggers
reviewed or my readers to warrant continuing.
And so, once I have fulfilled my promise to
review the remaining eight blogs on the
list, I will be discontinuing this feature.
It’s been a great ride and, should
interest be generated in the
future, I will reconsider!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 14 May 2016

Blog Review: ‘Kitchen JS’ by Khadija

Name: Khadija
Blog Reviewed: Kitchen JS
Her favourite post: http://www.kitchenjs.com/2015/06/21/banana-oats-muffins-no-flour-no-sugar/

Reviews 2016 05 07 Blog Review Kitchen JSBlogging for almost a year now, Khadija explains how “Kitchen JS is a place where [she] share[s] easy everyday meals and favorite classics made healthy and simplified.”  This niche blog is clean and minimalist—just grey on white—and easy to navigate thanks to a simple yet well thought out menu bar at the tope of each page.  There aren’t any sub-categories under the “Lifestyle” tab.  But as this seems like an emerging category, with only four posts to date, it wouldn’t make sense to add a layer of sub-category yet.

Under the “Recipe” tab however is where we can find four well-populated categories: “Breakfast”, “Savoury”, “Dessert”, and “Drinks”.  In each of them can be found beautiful pictures of the final product, a description of why Khadija likes the recipe and other fun, sometimes tongue-in-cheek tidbits of information.  Her recipes are easy to follow—you know how sometimes, big words make their way into a recipe that scare off anyone who uses their kitchen as a magazine showpiece?  I have yet to see any of those in Khadija’s recipes.

While she told me her favorite post is the recipe for Banana Oats Muffins with no flour and no sugar, I am much more taken with the Spicy Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa.  My determination to try this recipe is all the stronger that it looks like something I would love to eat but could only until now think about as something I’d have at a speciality taco place like the ones my friends Mona and Sara introduced me to in Dallas.  But if I can bring a taste of that home…

You can also find Khadija on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Add to your blog reader?

Yes

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 7 May 2016

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And Then There Were Three: Taking a Longer Break From Blogging

Back in June, I announced the arrival of a new member of the family.  I had intended to start blogging again in mid-July, but I am enjoying motherhood so much and want to make sure not to miss out on any of these precious moments with our bundle of (mostly) joy.  So while I fully intend on getting back to this blog and already have a pile of post ideas waiting to be written, I will not be getting back to it this summer.  A tentative date of fall 2016 has been set for a full return to blogging.  Until then, a sporadic book review, featured post, music review, or post on something particularly thought-provoking might make an appearance.  Any support for the blog in the form of sharing older posts would be much appreciated.  See you soon!

And Then There Were Three: Taking a Short Break From Blogging

It happened; our family went from two to three!  It was, as expected, an intense and beautiful experience.  We are now settling into life as a family of three, learning how to function in such a way that the needs of all three members are met.

And so this is why this blog is going on a short, month-long hiatus.  There are going to be some music reviews going up on Mondays, some book reviews going up on Thursdays, and some featured posts on Saturdays (hey, a girl’s gotta read, and will do so extensively during the long hours feeding a newborn!)

Until 15 July, I wish those of you in the northern hemisphere a great beginning to the summer!

Building Coherence: Writing to Contribute to the Betterment of Society

ChadWhen reading about the habits of highly successful people, a couple of things seem universal. Most of them seem to have a rigorous routine. Most of them delegate unimportant tasks. When possible, a large part of them simplify their lives so that they are able to focus on the more important things.

All these things seem to indicate that highly successful people achieve coherence, where all the aspects of their life are streamlined to contribute to a common end goal. When one leads a coherent life, all of one’s energy becomes focused; just like the boat advances fastest when all rowers work together, we advance at the highest velocity when all our energy is focused. When we do not lead a coherent life, our energy is scattered amongst things contributing to different end goals. We end up a little bewildered, confused, dissatisfied, and caught in false dichotomies that can plunge us into crisis.

I decided a long time ago that I wanted my life to be centered on the betterment of society. There are a lot of implications to this decision, including how to focus my passions on this goal. One of my biggest passions is writing; this very blog has been an ongoing experiment on how a blog can contribute to a conversation about the betterment of society. (More on that in my upcoming book, Six Years Later: Midnight Musings of an Overactive Mind).

Alone, of course, one can’t do as much as in the company of others. I have reached a significant milestone thanks to the help of a friend, a milestone which I feel has already begun to change the way I look at my contributions as a writer.

This friend of mine works at the Association for the Cohesive Development of the Amazon (ADCAM), a non-governmental institution which, for over 25 years, has been conducting socio-educational activities in the state of Amazonas in Brazil. The history of the organization is quite inspiring. It was born out of the fruits of a community consultation aimed at diagnosing its challenges as concrete actions to contribute to its physical, human, and spiritual development. The organization is inspired by the principles such as the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth, the importance of universal education, the elimination of all prejudices, the importance of equal rights and opportunities for men and women, and unity in diversity.

Amongst others, the association contributes to the empowerment of individuals between the ages of 12 and 15 (a.k.a. junior youth) to learn to analyze the forces acting on them. This will empower them to make decisions they deem will best contribute to a coherent life of contributing to transforming their communities (sounds familiar?). The association was looking into materials to add to its curriculum, and my friend suggested my book, Spirit Within Club. After translating the book into Portuguese and developing a study guide, the first contingent of around 150 junior youth started, as of 9 September 2014, reading the book and asking themselves questions encouraging them to reflect on the status quo, identify its weaknesses, and contribute decisively to changing it for the better.

I wish I could be sitting amongst this group of junior youth, and only partly because I would love feedback to pour into the second volume of the Spirit Within Club series; mostly I would like to be there because I feel it’s important to continuously ask ourselves these questions again and again. After all, it’s really easy to lose sight of one’s goals when social forces are encouraging us down a completely different path.

When it comes to writing, current societal standards intimately tie success with sales. Sales in turn are intimately related to certain genres and styles which are themselves influenced by social forces encouraging a life centered on our personal material well-being at the cost of everything else. It’s sometimes tempting to give in and write a few titles in the genres and styles that would sell well, so as to generate a stable income.

This is where mutual support and assistance come in. It can take many forms. Over the years, friends have helped by editing, buying, reviewing, and spreading the word about my writing. I am lucky that one of these friends was able to provide me with a unique forum in which I could share my writing. I have no doubt I will learn a lot from this experience, and hope that the 150 junior youth are able to somehow learn with the help of my book.

Onto writing the rest of this seven book series!

Image credit: Chad Mauger.
First published on Sahar’s Blog on 10 September 2014.