Category Archives: Community

If You Stare, You Pay

The shakes, the racing heart, the sweat, the confusion. They happen every single time.

This is nothing new, and it happens all the time. The moment puberty hit, speaking in front of and to a large group of people has been really uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I thrive in large groups of people. I’m often the life of the party and would rather be surrounded by people than be alone. But, having to deliver news, information, or any kind of speech to more than three people? I’d really rather not.

I am sure many of you feel the same way. It takes a certain personality to be comfortable speaking eloquently to a large audience. One of my favorite public speakers is Martin Luther King, Jr. How he managed to calmly talk to thousands of people blows my mind. Never faltering, always level, he managed to get his message across with love and strength. I wish I had that ability.

But, I don’t.

I get nervous and clam up. My heart feels like it’s going to explode out of my chest. My palms get sweaty, and I shake very noticeably. I’m never confident that what I am about to say is real, true, correct, or even kind. I’m too concerned with making everyone happy, and I’m equally as concerned that I won’t sound intelligent enough. Sounding intelligent is a very big issue I constantly struggle with.

Casually put me in a room with a bunch of people, though, and I can wax poetic in small conversations about things I am passionate about. The desire to sound intelligent melts away. If I’m wrong or confusing, I’ll gladly take that to heart and seek out the correct information. A casual conversation has never been an issue, and probably never will be.

So, at 33, I’ve decided that if I ever am put in a situation that requires me to speak to a large group of people, I better get paid. That way, I will have the financial resources to research what I’m speaking about. And, I’ll have the financial resources to get help for the fear of public speaking. I promise, therapy is wonderful. Therapy is a great tool to guide people in positive directions. However, good therapy isn’t always cheap. For public speaking, I know that I would need an actual, physical human opposite me, giving me the right tools to melt the fear away.

Fear of public speaking is very real and very legitimate. Delivering information to large numbers of people requires a somewhat deep understanding of what is being discussed. It also requires the belief that what is being said is real, true, and correct. [Not all speeches have merit or are true. Look at Adolf Hitler. One of the things he is known for is his public speaking skills. Was a lot of what he said good or right? Of course not. But, he believed it, and that allowed him to be firm in what he said.] I’m decently educated. I attempted a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and a minor in English Literature. I’m two classes away from a Paralegal Associate of Arts degree, and plan on eventually going back to university and getting a BA. But, I’m not educated perfectly. There are a lot of things in this world that I have to learn about. There is only a small handful of things I can comfortably talk about, and I know that there is a lot more to learn about these things. With that knowledge about myself, I am naturally scared that I will be judged by people listening. I automatically think to myself, “who here knows more than I do and will want to immediately judge and correct me?” I don’t mind being corrected. I welcome being corrected. But, the judgement? That’s scary.

Long story short: if I am going to be watched and stared at, someone better pay me.

Naked with Black Socks

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Required Reading from Journalism Professors

I would love to take these classes. Each seem truly enthralling and worth my time.

Longreads

Below, six syllabi from journalism professors on what you should be reading.

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1. Journalism 494: Pollner Seminar In Narrative Non-Fiction With Esquire’s Chris Jones (University of Montana)

“The purpose of this course is to teach students how to write publishable magazine-length narrative non-fiction: In other words, my aim is to help you learn how to write good, long, true stories. The course outline will mirror a typical writer’s progress through the birth of an idea to a finished, polished piece, including reporting, writing, editing, and fact-checking. In addition to classroom discussion, course readings will help students understand the difference between good and bad work. My hope is that by the end of the semester, you will have written the Best Story of Your Life So Far (BSOYLSF) and it will help you reach your future potential as an award-winning literary journalist.”

2. Journalism 141: Professional Problems and…

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Cultivating Joy

We are more than halfway through the year and the time has flown by. For the first six months, I barreled through a full time school scheduled and attempted to work 20-25 hours on top of that. I understand that there are people who work full time while going to school full time and are able to make that happen. For some reason, I can’t quite get that balance. I would love to be able to do that, but in the last few months, I seemed to sink back into an incredibly blue, lost place. I struggled to get out of bed every day. I found little joy in anything, even doing school work – something I had been enjoying thoroughly up until April.

A couple weeks ago, I became frustrated with myself for allowing myself to sink back into an uncomfortably comfortable depression. The frustration doesn’t help, it doesn’t solve any problem. So, in the last few days, a mild shift happened. Putting on jeans that felt fine now feel a bit too tight. My torso is rounder than usual, and that’s awful, because my torso is already too soft.

And, let’s be real: I simply don’t want to be unhealthy, mentally and physically. I need to be healthy.

I devised a plan. Every single day, I have to do something creative, I have to do something physical, and I absolutely have to be grateful for something. How will I accomplish that? Write somewhere what (or who) I am grateful for. If it is a person, I will tell them. And, if I have ten spare minutes, I have to write down exactly how I am feeling or have felt that day. Twice, if not three times, a week I will go to the gym, even if I get on the treadmill for just 20 minutes. Four or five times a week, I will pick up the weights I have sitting in my room and MOVE. Even if I just do steps back and forth with weights in my hand while I watch a movie, that’s still movement. Once or twice a week I will do one of the many doable workouts I found on YouTube. I will set up a reward system for every hour of school work I do each day. Another thing I need to do is write down everything I eat and drink. Mindful eating and consumption is a practice that is effective in my life. By being accountable for how I am treating my body, I will become happier with myself.

One thing I plan on doing that isn’t going to be a daily thing will be the upkeep of my blogs. Twice a week I will do a post at any three of my blogs. I will write about whatever book I have just read, new music I’ve been enjoying, exercise that is fun & effective, fun craft projects I’ve done, and many more.

With all of these simple things I am going to do, I am going to mark reminders on my wall calendar and I am going to set up reminders on my phone. If I don’t see or hear any reminders, I won’t stick to the plan. Right now, I am hopeful. The anxiety that was surging through my body earlier has subsided. I’m excited to go to the gym tomorrow before work. I can’t wait to finish my book this weekend.

What do you to keep yourself happy and excited about life? Please share!

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Reborn

Daily Post, January 2nd 2014:
When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?

There has been a lot of talk about writing more. In the last few years, I have gotten frustrated with myself because the writing seems to come to a complete halt for a few months at a time. I’d give up, move on to something a little more shiny, then forget I was even writing in the first place.

What happens when I don’t write regularly? I get antsy, frenetic, and combustible. Can a frenetic being be combustible? Am I being redundant? That’s what happens when I don’t write. I lose my focus and forget what words mean. That is very serious.

By January 2nd, 2015, I hope to have a combination of 156 blog posts. That means each blog of mine needs to be posted in once a week. Guess what? I’ve challenged myself to write a blog post every single day of January. I never promised I’d write a post in every blog every day of January. Ninety-three posts? Yikes. No thank you! With the 156 posts, I am allowing myself to not beat myself up if I miss a week.

Apart from frequency, I hope to see more viewership and subscribers. But, I think that goes for most bloggers. Many of us are writing to have our voices heard. Some readers might not like what we have to say and that is allowed. Humanity would be really boring if we all felt and thought exactly the same way. To boost viewership, I think I am going to start YouTubing. Depending on the response I get, I may do one vlog a month. If I manage to entertain enough people, I may vlog once a week later in the year.

Lastly, I am going to actually start writing about concerts I go to, books a read, and movies I have enjoyed seeing. That was the original purpose of my blogging, so why not get down to business? And, I plan on actually having some vacation time this year. I deserve it. I have been working hard at school while trying to not let work in a retail environment get me too wired. I want to be able to sit outside and look out at a lake or the ocean with a cup of tea, a book, and a pen & some paper. I would love to be still for awhile… Still…

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New Habits

Every year, I always tell myself I am going to write more. Somehow I seem to fall short a few months into the year. This year, 2014, I feel it is going to be different. Now I have three blogs going and am back in school, I have more passion in my life. The environment I have chosen to be in cultivates the habit of writing and learning and general curiosity.

On a friend’s Facebook page, she mentioned a site called 750 Words. I wish I had heard about it two days sooner! The premise of the site is that you are to write at least 750 words a day. No one (but the site admin, I assume) has access to what you write, so you can write whatever you want. Some people use it to help with their writing skills, others use it as a therapeutic tool, and some use it to get their creative juices flowing. I am so grateful to have found this site! Within half an hour of signing up, I was able to write almost twelve hundred words (I’m not a fast typer, I just have a lot to say).

For any of you who are creative in any way, please use this tool! It is a great way to help break up any blockage you may be experiencing!

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Where In The World?

Actually, where in cyberspace??

I just wanted to update everyone on my social media presence. When you have a moment, please take a gander and hit like or follow or subscribe!

DJ Toaster Biscuit on Tumblr
Ellie McHale on Instagram
DJ Toaster Biscuit on Facebook
Ellie McHale Photography on Facebook
DJ Toaster Biscuit on Twitter
LoveNugget on Twitter
Ellie McHale on Bloglovin’
Ellie McHale on Kickstarter
Ellie McHale on Etsy
Ellie McHale on Klout
Ellie McHale on Linkedin

Also, please swing by my two other blogs I seem to post more often at:
DJ Toaster Biscuit
Daily Ellie

The more followers, likes, subscribers, etc. I get, I’ll actually start posting vlogs on my YouTube channel! The channel exists, but there’s one embarrassing video. If you’d like to actually hear & see me talk, support me these other ways! And I am always open to suggestions as to what you’d like me to write & talk about.

Thank you!!!

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Small Business Bookshop

During my childhood, my goal in life was to be a writer and own a small bookstore that sold used books and independently published books and magazines (that were forward thinking and world peace positive). At 31, I still have that dream. But, in the technological, economically rough time we are living in, I understand how difficult and unlikely that dream is. During my teens and early twenties, I wanted the bookstore to also be a cafe & meeting place for students, radicals, progressives, anarchists, and all people non-mainstream. I wanted a place for people to feel safe, have a coffee, and somewhere comfortable to sit with a book to read or a conversation to be had. In Menlo Park, Kepler’s was the place to be. It started as a counter-culture meeting place a couple decades before I was born and became the intelligent, independent, book selling hub of the Peninsula (with Berkeley a 45 minute drive away). While I went to college in Washington State, Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane was the only real option I had for finding solace in my dream. And, I sadly only went in two or three times during the three years I was up there.

Lately, I’ve been itching to move. There’s a part of me that wants to move back to Cheney/Spokane and get some final closure. I left so abruptly when I actually did leave ten years ago. I want to go back to EWU, finish my degree, and start the ball rolling on some sort of progressive, positive hub/hive/social network that I feel that part of the state desperately needs.

But, with Auntie’s as the mainstay and iconic indie place of Spokane, I know my idea of an independent Salon/Bookstore/Cafe wouldn’t stand up to Auntie’s. There is no need for an identical business that is part of a dwindling business circle. But, what if I opened a Salon/Cafe? What if people would leave a book they’ve read and took a book they want to read? What if independent writers came and lead a Salon a couple times a month? What if…??

I’m partially on the way to fulfilling my dream. I’m actively doing part of my dream by writing this post. And, I’m cultivating the ambition to figure out a way to have my goals come to life.

I guess what I’m trying to say is HELP. If anyone out there want to join in on my fantastically fun goal of creating a Salon type Cafe in Eastern Washington, please, jump on the bandwagon. Let’s get this going.

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Girl of 100 Lists

Interesting, lovely, and list inspiring.

American Vagabond

il_570xN.369364163_qrgdWhen I started writing this blog (over 7 years ago!) I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know that complete strangers would be interested in what I have to say, nor did I have any idea that I would one day develop a small but fierce following. I also had no idea how popular my “lists” would be. I thought I was alone in this, but it seems everybody likes to read a good list.

Lists are more than just a cool way of putting information together. Umberto Eco once said, “The list is the origin of culture”. I agree. I find making lists cathartic and useful in gauging the pulse of the average human. Lists are very much a part of today’s cultural currency, and a way for people like me to participate in the world around me. Lists are the great equalizer –…

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Kindness is Infinite, I Promise

I’ve worked retail for the last nine years. At the beginning, I was full of hope and ambition. As the years have caught up with me, the hope vanished and my ambition is tough to grasp onto. Let me clarify that I’ve worked in a female dominated environment, both with my co-workers and the customers I experience each day.

Women can be exceedingly more callous and manipulative than men, especially when in large groups. We, as a gender, are prone to falling prey to herding mentality, doing what is deemed acceptable to a large group of people. Also, singularly, women can be outright nightmarish. We have the tendency to let our bad moods or bad experiences get the best of us. We get used to blaming everyone else for our bad luck instead of evaluating why we process our emotions in regards to bad experiences. We forget that our mental state is our responsibility only and out of the hands of everyone else. With our lengthening lifespans and declining sense of physical community, we become much more selfish and isolated. Therefore, it is up to us, as a gender and individuals, to break this cycle. And, it is incredibly easy.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Set aside time a few days a week to write a few lines describing your experiences & your physical/emotional reactions to said experiences.
  • Say “thank you” five times every day, even if it is just to your body for not failing that day.
  • Smile. Studies have proved that it helps your mood remain positive, makes you appear more approachable, and allows your voice to be audibly attractive.
  • Compliment others for the things they do well. Recognition from others is a great confidence booster. Paying someone a genuine compliment & receiving gratitude is also a confidence booster.
  • Spend time outside. Sit on a park bench and read a good book. Go for a walk. Do yard work. Spend time on a swing. Sunshine causes your body to produce much needed vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb the majority of other nutrients you need. Sunshine also helps your body produce melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle. By going for a walk outside during daylight hours, your body is helping itself function steadily. Plus, exercise boosts serotonin, the mood regulating hormone. Wouldn’t you want your body to function well?
  • When I was a child, I ate anything my parents put in front of me. As an adult, I have become more picky with the food I eat, but the things I crave the most are vegetables and water. So, eat like you are a five year old. This means, eat all of the right things the majority of the time. That makes having a cupcake or glass of wine every now and then is okay. Treating yourself with an indulgence should be just that – an indulgence & a treat. Things like alcohol, sweets, or decadent food should be rewards for treating your body & mind well. They should be rewards for accomplishing a huge project at work successfully or getting a promotion, etc..
  • Don’t bottle things up. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or hurts your feelings, tell them within 24 hours of your reaction. Not only will your honesty help the other person evaluate their actions & change, but it will help you have confidence in yourself.
  • If you are old enough to have a bank account, shop at luxury shops regularly, and remember what you were doing when JFK was shot, you probably can afford bi-monthly therapy. The amount of money you spend at a luxury retailer & the energy you spend being exceedingly rude and scathing to sales associates being tooth achingly sweet to you cannot and will not solve whatever it is that has made you this unhappy. Spending 2-6 hours a month meeting with a therapist can be a valuable experience.
  • Don’t play the victim if you aren’t truly a victim. And, even then, there are proper avenues to take in order to process your experience. Unloading on strangers, coworkers, sales associates, gas station attendants, etc. is not the solution.
  • If you are jealous of another woman, don’t tear her down or attack her. Go about your business, respect yourself, and try hard to be the best person you can be. Attacking someone because you are jealous isn’t a solution. Nothing will come of it but hurt feelings, tension, and difficulty existing in close proximity with said person. Being successful is a solution. That way, you will actually accomplish something and get the credit you deserve. And, perhaps, you might even outshine the person you’re jealous of.
  • Sales associates don’t control the layout of a store, what is sold in a store, the amount of things available in the store, the machines installed in the store, the location of the store, etc.. The only control how nice they are to you, the amount of knowledge they have for you, the level of service they give to you, and the promptness at which you are able to shop & pay for your services/products. If they controlled anything outside of those four things or the previously stated things, they wouldn’t be sales associates and they surely would have a larger paycheck. So, if you’re angry that a pinpad registers your debit card with the Visa logo on it as a credit card, don’t make a stink and demand the sales associate fix the machine right then and there. Don’t demand that the manager fix the machine either. Because, your bank account probably will completely process the purchase by 6pm on the nearest business day. Paying by check will delay the process even longer, taking your bank account 3-5 business days to (hopefully) process your check. And, storming out of the store while the sales associate is trying to process your check you crumpled & threw across the counter doesn’t help. Because, we know that every time you shop at our store, you have something horrible to say about the company, the product you are buying, and the person you are ringing up. We know that you don’t have a shred of kindness in you. And, we refuse to bend over backwards for you, because you seem to be inherently evil. If shopping at a store makes you that angry, write to the CEO. Do that at least once a week. And/or stop shopping at a store that makes you so angry.
  • If you choose to chew gum in public, that’s fine. It is a disgusting habit that Western society has now deemed acceptable. But, that doesn’t mean you can pop & snap your gum constantly, especially with your mouth wide open. No one needs to hear that sound. No one needs front row viewing of your dental work. It’s distracting. It’s rude. And, it’s crass. A real lady (and man) chews with her mouth closed, and possibly even creates the illusion that she isn’t even chewing. And, a real lady uses an Altoid to freshen her breath, instead of incessantly chomping on gum. It makes you appear like you are still in the seventh grade.

These are the main things we can do to shape our future as women and as humans. Sure, there are many more things we can do. I hope that if I ever have a daughter, she doesn’t have to experience intragender bullying. I hope that she never has her entire being torn to shreds for absolutely no reason. I want her to live in a world that cultivates success for anyone who wants it, no matter who they are or where they are from.

Please, be kind to those in your community. Elevate those you encounter. Take your anger & tell it you have no space for it in your life. Smile. Seek out joy. “Be the change…”

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