New Year, New Site

Hello, all! Hope you have all stuck around whilst I’ve been taking some time away from posting every waking moment. If so, I truly appreciate you and your support for my content.

With that appreciation, I now ask for a huge favor in my next endeavor. I’ve hinted at it in the past, but only recently have I taken the plunge and have gone head-first into new territory.

Yes, I now have my own domain, a new self-running website, and new content to spring at you. I want to fully dedicate myself to the world of blogging, which means each post will involve more time and effort to hopefully better serve as a resource for my readers.

So what’s new with my site? alliemaelynn.com is still just me, the same ol’ person at the keyboard typing away about whatever I deem important and inspirational to discuss. I’ll still be discussing the same types of topics I already do, including mental health, spirituality, and sustainability. These are all still very important to me.

However, I really want to hone in on these topics into one overarching goal: to help others live a life prioritizing wellness. I’ve always considered the term “wellness” as one requiring a multi-faceted understanding of physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of ourselves.

By becoming more mindful and grounded in what makes us better selves, we can then translate that into wellness beyond ourselves. We are more aware of how our choices and actions affect others and the world around us. This is where my passions for sustainability, veganism, and advocacy come into play. We establish the foundation of wellness within ourselves, and then we can focus our intentions outward.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what else is new besides an actual domain name? Since I plan to take more time with each post I write to ensure they can be easily shared and helpful for you, I’m cutting back on how often I post each week. Let’s be honest, it was already crazy busting out 5 posts every week, but I still plan on sharing 3 different posts: one post for your own wellness, one for outward wellness, and one for me just to chat about whatever tickles my fancy. As always, you can find these posts shared across my social media platforms with a new emphasis on Pinterest.

These three posts each week will also include a new tidbit at the end of my long-form rambling, and that is a mindful meditation. In a few short sentences, I’m including a spiritually inclined devotion to provide a higher focus and purpose behind what I share, as well as start the day on a gracious, humble foot. A goal for myself this year is to become more open and involved in my faith rather than tiptoe around it in fear of offending others, but at the end of the day, this is my site, and if you’re here for my opinions and beliefs, then that’s a big part of it.

Besides all that jazz, I’m just going with the flow and seeing where this new step takes me. With greater flexibility and independence on my own website, I really have no clue what possibilities could come from this, but I’d really love to be able to make my blog a “side hustle,” as the kids call it, and put my heart and soul into my work. Not like I already did, but now I have a reason to be more focused and serious about what I do as an online creative.

Again, thank you all so much for being a part of this journey. I highly encourage you to join me on alliemaelynn.com and subscribe to my posts. Share my site and posts with others who might benefit from them, and please provide any feedback you have so I can make my site a resourcefor you to enjoy.

Change is scary, and so is going into an unknown where I could fall flat on my face, but I’m ready for the challenge.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Double the Characters

Typically when you’re scrolling through your social media feeds, it’s a pretty mindless activity. Not much changes. People share their food pictures and fast-paced recipe videos. They tweet with whatever trending hashtags are relevant at that given moment.

Only when there’s a new major update on a social media platform do people start to pay attention. Or, in most cases, we’re disoriented by a slightly different interface that really isn’t that big of a deal but still jaunts off from the norm.

As was the case last week when Twitter introduced a select number of users who will be testing out an expansion from the usual 140 character limit to 280. At first glance, that might not seem that groundbreaking of an upgrade, but it truly does make a difference for both parties, the “tweeters” and “tweetees,” if you will.

A New York Times article about the test-run says the goal was to eliminate constraints that have kept people from tweeting more frequently. Apparently, many people hesitate to post on Twitter because they must reluctantly shorten their thoughts. They previously made changes when they allowed people to add more characters even with photos and links, but this now constitutes anything.

So how much of a big deal is this, really? Probably not much. I know my personal experience being on Twitter won’t change, at least for now. I have only seen a few random retweets of people who are in the test group, and it’s joggling to the see the difference double the length makes, even if that length is still “brief.”

In a way, that seemingly insignificant change goes against the principles of first learning and using Twitter. Spending three years studying media and how much even in these short years it has changed, Twitter was always something toted as a “microblog.” It can be used as a means of online note-taking. It’s slick to use for those quick updates, forcing people to really keep their words thoughtful and concise.

In its current form, Twitter has been very innovative and helpful in teaching us (hopefully) to choose our words carefully. Every character matters. There is no room to dillydally and throw letters around for fun. Which you still can either way, but for those who want to post for a purpose, we must make the most of our limited space knowing we cannot ramble on forever or go back to edit. Honestly, of all the changes to make, Twitter, why don’t you trust let us edit posts we make a single spelling error in? That’s more of a pain than character limits.

Because are we really changing back into creatures with long-enough attention spans that want to both read and write longer excerpts? Even after over a year and a half of writing on my website, I still wonder: how many people actually read through the entire extent of my daily posts? After establishing a routine of around 800 words every weekday, it just seems natural to write this much any given post. Anything less seems like it’s missing content, that I’m ending it without putting in my full effort.

But we still gravitate toward the click-baity posts that are just random lists, or a bunch of gifs and photos, or pointless quizzes trying to determine our personalities based on astrology. Anybody who devotes time toward blogging, regardless of how often or what they post, has to compete with the content that probably took a couple of minutes to throw together.

Blogging how I do, as this very post demonstrates, allows me the freedom to take what is another headline down a sometimes very different train of thought, providing greater meaning to what is made brief. That is what distinguishes Twitter from traditional blogging: Twitter is not meant for this. I don’t visit the site to read long, tumbling thoughts. I allow simple thoughts and sentences, regardless of their brevity, to speak for themselves. Being short and limited with your words can make the greatest impact. (I say as I continue to keep writing.)

While I don’t have too strong of an opinion of what direction social media sites go since their focus is generally on staying in business, I do have an opinion on how we use our words on and off the internet. There is a time and place for baring your soul and writing a novel’s worth of ideas. There is also a time and place for not speaking at all, or only using the simplest of terms to emphasize the necessity to say less and allow greater room for personal interpretation. I mean, isn’t that the point of social media? To throw an idea out there and allow others to bounce their thoughts off of that and starting a conversation from it?

Make your words matter. Use them wisely. They have a greater impact than you might realize. I hope you speak with the best intentions, with a desire to grow and uplift others.

What are your thoughts on Twitter’s probable switch to 280 characters? Let me know down below.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Inspired Intern

This is my first week since the beginning of July that I am not technically an intern for the Borgen Project. I actually did not imagine myself so emotionally attached to a position like that, but surprise!

I’ve had quite an employment experience over the course of my young life. We all accept positions we need to make money, whether we like it or not, or we accept positions we think we’ll enjoy, but eventually we gradually end up resenting ourselves for starting in the first place.

Maybe that’s just me. Simply put, it’s been a bumpy road. So when I looked more into volunteer opportunities this summer, finding the Borgen Project was really on a whim. Knowing that it’s nationally recognized, well-established, and located many miles away, I didn’t think I’d even be accepted.

But after an initial application, writing sample, and an interview, I managed to find a place as a writer, making two articles a week and even doing fundraising on the side. Didn’t expect myself to fundraise, an idea that internally makes me cringe in fear. But I did it. And beyond navigating a new setup in working via telecommuting, I have learned so much.

Not only did I gain more knowledge that actually feels important and relevant to me, not just random assignments thrown at me for no reason beyond keeping me occupied for a couple of hours, but I learned so much about myself. About what I’m capable of, what I’m passionate about, what motivates me. I didn’t realize what I was missing out on until I found what I enjoy, and what an eye-opener that is.

I was blind to what I assumed I liked and was destined to do. No wonder I was so shocked to find I wasn’t that great at it, becoming resentful about how challenging it was for me to pick up on skills that seemed to come so easily to others, to feel mediocre when I always strive to be my best. Perfectionist tendencies, yes, but it still drives my motivation and ambition, so hearing criticism that isn’t helpful just makes me more uninspired. I’ve gone through the downward spiral cycle too many times for only being twenty.

So here is my point: I love humanitarian work. I love being an advocate about world issues that really deserve more attention. I love taking action on those issues and feeling like I’m making a positive contribution rather than being a static supporter. I’ve realized the importance of little things like phone calls and emails to Congress members; yes, it is a very minor inconvenience in your day, but seriously, it shows lawmakers what the people care about.

I love being the voice for those who are voiceless. It’s a phrase I’ve used many times, probably just on this blog, but it’s potency is true when your voice also includes action. You not only spread important ideas and information, but you incorporate that into your actions and intentions. I genuinely get excited when someone asks me about my work with the Borgen Project, or now with the Peace Corps and NAMI, because they’re all things that I truly love to do. It’s work that fulfills me. Even if I don’t necessarily get a paycheck at this point (obviously that’s a goal for the future), it’s getting my toes wet for possibilities that could so soon be in reach.

I want to practice what I preach. This experience with the Borgen Project as been just that. I wasn’t sure about the different components of the position, the expectations laid out in a Google Doc to complete every week for three months, but I accomplished them all. I made my fundraising goal of $500. I wrote physical letters to my Congress members and even the White House to discuss the foreign affairs budget. I found new ideas every week to bring awareness to global health, education, and its correlation with poverty. Perhaps people might look down upon me working on an “online” and “unpaid” position, something that isn’t exactly to-the-T what my department at college would push on students to pursue, but I’m beyond grateful.

Everything does happen for a reason. You get knocked down enough times, it’s that single hope you keep just so you don’t feel like you’re drowning. And it always turns out to be correct, in one way or another. Things work out as they should. You have to work through the muck and fall down a few times, but you do eventually get there. It’s not on our timing; the opportunities we need will come to us.

I am now motivated, now more than ever, to see what happens next rather than loathing and fearing an unknown. I have a solid direction now, something I really haven’t had until now. Better late than never, right? And if you feel like you’re wandering around aimlessly, trust me, your path will alight soon. If you continue to work hard and be your best self, your intentions and goals will find a happy middle ground.

Shameless plug, but I truly do recommend that you peruse the Borgen Project website. I wouldn’t get involved with a nonprofit that wasn’t reputable, that didn’t stand on a solid reputation with its work. Global poverty is something we should all care about.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie