Miss Georgia on My Mind

This is one of the least “evergreen” posts I will ever write. I am writing in support of a particular candidate for Miss America 2015. Within 48 hours, she will either wear the crown or not. In the lead-up to tomorrow night’s contest, though, I want to share what it is about her that made me a fan, and that is the most evergreen characteristic of all.

2014-08-23 19.34.07

Tiara Cookies by Crave Eatery Bainbridge, GA

I am supporting Maggie Bridges, Miss Georgia, in her quest to become Miss America. (The pageant airs the night of September 14, 2014, on ABC, at 9 p.m. EST). Here’s why:

Seven years ago, Tenley (around 11 years old) and I were returning from New York City to Tallahassee. On the Atlanta to Tallahassee leg, I was in a single seat and Tenley was across the aisle from me, seated next to another passenger. I tend to withdraw into a shell (and often sleep) on planes; I half-noticed that Tenley was chatting the whole time but didn’t think much of it.

As we were departing the airport, Tenley explained that she had been sitting next to Maggie Bridges, who was returning, traveling solo, from a modeling assignment (I think Maggie was 16 or so at the time…). I don’t know the content of their conversation, but I think it touched on modeling, fashion (maybe pageants?), and shared interests. It was a conversation mutually enjoyable enough that they went on to become Facebook friends (they are also now both Alpha Delta Pi sisters which is pretty cool!). Once Maggie won the Miss Georgia title, Tenley reminded me of that conversation all those years ago, and I instantaneously knew I would be supporting the confident and friendly young woman who gave my child her undivided attention, friendliness, and expertise.

From a pageant perspective, Maggie has going for her (among other achievements):

Photo Credit: Matt Boyd Photography

Photo Credit: Matt Boyd Photography

Intellect (She is one of ten finalists for the Miss America STEM scholarship.)

The Ability to Mobilize Support (She was one of the top three fundraisers among the Miss America contestants for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH), the official charity of the Miss America Organization).

Talent (I had the opportunity to hear her sing at an event benefiting CMNH back in August and she sings beautifully).

Beauty (She would not have made it this far without that!)

I know the pageant system isn’t for everyone. I participated in a pageant in college (not affiliated with the Miss America system). Although it rapidly became apparent that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I still, to this day am happy I had an opportunity to be in a pageant. I won’t ever forget how hard it actually is to smile without your face running away off of your head for all of the quivering your lips are doing. How energizing and adrenaline-filled it is to participate in a situation where you have to bring your very best public self. As a parent, I have always been disappointed that I did not muster up the funds and resources for Tenley to participate in a pageant like she wanted to (maybe that can still happen).

The pageant system isn’t for everyone, but it certainly is a good fit for Maggie and she for it. Maggie would make an exemplary Miss America, and I would love to see her win the crown.

Although this post won’t be evergreen, Maggie’s qualities of generosity, humor, faith, and kindness will go on and on long past September 14, 2014. They’ll continue like the pine trees of the South Georgia community where she grew up … tall, timeless, and rooted “down to earth” as far as the eye can see.

Photo Credit: Brian Brown

Photo Credit: Brian Brown

A few footnotes…

The title of this post was inspired by the “Miss Georgia On My Mind” limited edition candle created by The Refinery in Bainbridge, GA. Proceeds benefited the Still Waters program for women as well as the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Check out their website here (I don’t think they are still making Miss Georgia On My Mind but they have other pleasant-smelling (and cutely named, such as Bless Your Heart!) candles).

2014-08-23 20.09.02

I have become skittish about blog posts that sing the praises of public figures. My post lauding Oscar Pistorius didn’t have the happiest of outcomes, and my post featuring Jameis Winston frankly just makes me crabby every time I think of it. The third time will be the charm with this post!

Being a Floridian (and a Seminole!), I also want to extend best wishes to Miss Florida, Victoria Cowen. I know she has worked very hard to represent Florida well and to do a wonderful job at Miss America. Good luck to you also, Tori.

Lastly, I hope karma treats Elizabeth Fechtel very, very, very kindly. She was originally crowned Miss Florida and then a calculation error was discovered which led to the title being awarded to a different competitor. I personally have been bitter over life events much more trivial; her blog post after those events will always remain in my mind as among the classiest pieces of writing I have ever read. She’s tremendous.

Shoes designed by The Sash Company for Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri to wear in the "Show Us Your Shoes" parade -- perfect image for the "footnotes" section, right?!

Shoes designed by The Sash Company for Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri to wear in the “Show Us Your Shoes” parade — perfect image for the “footnotes” section, right?!

Epilogue – 9/15/14 – 12:19 a.m. Maggie was not selected as a finalist in the pageant. (Congratulations, Miss New York.). I stand behind every single word I have said in this post. Class and kindness will never go out of style; Maggie epitomizes those to me.

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Silly (Selfless) Selfies for “Kids Are Heroes”

“Tree Hair”

It started as a joke. I used to take post-workout pictures to share on a private team page. One morning, there happened to be a tree behind me and it happened to look like my hair had grown a tree afro and … a theme was born!

One of my first tree hair selfies.

One of my first tree hair selfies.

I am sure my teenagers would strongly prefer less mom selfies, especially silly ones with trees or signs or animals or mailbox art growing out of my head.

In the case of the “Kids are Heroes” Silly Selfie Contest, at least one of my nutty selfies can help a cause.

Kids Are Heroes® is a ground-breaking, non-profit incubator for very young social entrepreneurs. By showcasing hundreds of stories of kids from all over the world who are actively making this a better planet on which to live, and sharing their humanitarian efforts, we empower children who visit our site to become compassionate leaders by engaging them in youth volunteerism.” (This description is from their “about” page.)

Now, about that silly selfie. Here’s my entry:

Tree Hair One

Honestly, what teenager WOULDN’T want their mom to do this and publish it on the interwebz?

Although there is a prize (a GoPro camera), I’m not in this for the prize. If I won, I would probably donate it to a charity. BUT I like a good competition as much as anyone else and I like helping kids even more. Here are the ways to vote:

1. Go to this link and vote for your favorite silly selfie (I am #12). The cost of votes is:

  • $5 for one vote
  • $10 for three votes
  • $25 for ten votes
  • $50 for thirty votes
  • $100 for one hundred votes

2. To help make a difference free of cost, upload your own silly selfie and put my full name (Paula Kiger) in the “referred by” field, and I will get an extra five free votes. (Hey, if I can do silly eagle-head-while-sweaty, you can rustle something up equally silly, right?!).

The contest runs through September 30 but if you’ve got a silly selfie begging to be uploaded and/or $5 you want to put toward this great cause, why delay?

Enough about me. Before I close things up, let’s meet one of the heroes, Sanah:

Sanah, Founder of "Natural Day," which encourages kids to let go of physical and mental chains.

Sanah, Founder of “Natural Day,” which encourages kids to let go of physical and mental chains.

According to the Kids are Heroes site, “After being diagnosed with Alopecia at the age of three and losing all of her hair in the seventh grade, Sanah Jivani faced severe bullying and self-image problems. One of her worst days was when she received a note in her locker titled ’50 ways to go kill yourself'”. (You can read more about her organization, International Natural Day, here.)

As I wrap up, I will point out that space #13 (next to me!) is wide open. Who wants to fill the gap with their own silly selfie? It’s about more than silly, it’s about silly selfless selfies …

space 13

 

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Saving Green On The Color Run 2014

Baby, The Color Run is Fun!

Baby, The Color Run is Fun!

You’re never too young to strike out on a beautiful fall morning to indulge yourself in fresh air, fun, and friendship. The Color Run is coming to Tallahassee again this year (on September 13 at 9 a.m.).

I participated in Team WTF (Where’s The Finish — what else would we have meant?!) last year and had a blast.
Team Where's The Finish September 2013

Team Where’s The Finish
September 2013

Here it is a whole year later and time for more colorrific fun! The race has all-new goodies this year:
color run race kit
The goodies are new but the distance (5 kilometers/3.1 miles) is the same. So is the goal behind each Color Run: to give runners one of their Happiest 5Ks ever.
The Color Run Kaleidoscope tour has given me a discount code to help you save a little “green” on the entry fees:  COLOR5OFF (please read the legalese stuff at the bottom of this post!).  
color run discount
To register, click this link.
color run magic
**This code is valid on any The Color Run 2014 race. This code will give $5 off a registration to ANY city. The code must be be entered at time of registration and cannot be retro-applied (not my rules, I’m just a humble blogger!). Also please type the code in, do not copy/paste. This code is not valid with other discounts or promotions. 
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But I’m A Runner … Why Do I Need Barre?

The barre below is far from the roads, trails, or track. It can, however, bring you closer to being a better, less injury-prone runner. Read on …

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In April 2012, I had an open spot on my training schedule (because I had just started being coached and a few particulars had not been firmed up yet). I used that open spot to go to a pilates session with Laura Ring of Laura Ring Pilates (now CORE Aspirations). At the time, I was impressed by the session and the benefits I believed pilates could bring to my running. Although I did participate in a few other workouts after that first session (such as Core at Journeys in Yoga) which incorporated some pilates principles, I did not pursue the pilates route with any consistency.

I was finally able to reconnect with Laura on a recent Saturday when I took her “Pilates Total Barre” class. Before I even talk about the benefits of barre work for running, I must first mention how much I loved the Beatles playlist. So fun to work out to something a little different.

As I see them, the benefits of barre work for runners include:

Strengthening The Core

We are chronically guilty of overworking the obvious running-related muscle groups (hello, quads) without making sure the complementary muscle groups are equally strong. When there is an imbalance between the two muscle groups, we are more prone to injury.

Feeling Dance-y

I know this isn’t something everyone is looking for but just sharing what it does for me. My daughter is a dancer, so for about 15 years I have watched beautiful, gifted, acrobatically proficient women (and men) fly through the air and make their bodies their instruments. I will never be able to do that, but I love the feeling I get once in a while of being a bit balletic in my movements.

Balance

You may ask what balance has to do with a sport that involves propelling ourselves forward relentlessly, but so much of a runner’s form can hinge on where their center of gravity settles. Having to balance in pilates barre helps us be more familiar with our bodies and more able to adjust them to be more efficient on the roads and trails (and treadmills).

Focus

This concept is always making itself apparent to me in yoga, and similarly in pilates. They say a runner should focus ahead of them on where they want to be (as opposed to down at the road in front of them). Pilates forces the participant to learn to focus their gaze at a spot that helps them retain balance and have an intent to move forward.

Targeting.gif [animated]

I really encourage you to consider making barre a part of your training plan. For information on the options available at CORE Aspirations, please use the contact information below:

Phone:        850-228-8545
Email:          laura.n.ring@gmail.com
Web:           www.CoreAspirations.com

Facebook:   Click here.

Here are some additional pictures of the studio. Other offerings include TRX and Pilates Reformer……
2014-08-02 11.59.24 2014-08-02 11.59.38 2014-08-02 12.01.10
photo by:
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Catching a Wave (A #Blogust Post)

 

Molly says Hi

It was a rushed moment during a tiring evening. My mother in law and I had spent an intense hour and a half at Verizon navigating the purchase of an iPhone for her. We dropped by Publix for some prescriptions she needed. I asked to stop right before entering the store to return a call to my husband. Our little party was standing there, her holding my elbow (she was blind and that is how I assisted with her mobility), clutching her new iPhone so it wouldn’t get stolen, me on my iPhone trying to explain to my husband that we were not at all done with our errands yet (he wanted food…..).

At some point a mom and her two kids walked by. One child was walking; the other was maybe 8 or 9 months old (?), sitting in a stroller. I smiled at both kids and their mom, and the baby waved at me. The mom was surprised and said to her infant, “it’s your first wave!!” She and I shared a quick silent “oh my gosh” moment — I couldn’t get off the phone and she had to concentrate on foot traffic but two moms were happy in that instant …. which all passed unceremoniously in a matter of seconds in front of Publix.

Even though I was a stranger to that child, I was still elated to witness some else’s child’s milestone and his mother’s happiness.

I am just as elated to know that children around the world can have the opportunity to hit their own milestones because of receiving access to immunizations. Although one child currently dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented from with a vaccine, Shot at Life can change that by helping children get vaccines to survive…and thrive.

Just by commenting on or sharing this post, you can help! It’s as easy as a wave …

Shot@Life-Logo_tagline lockup_vertical

During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot ®” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.

Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit shotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

photo by:
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The Sisters She Never Had and More

— 1 —

 POSTPONE NOTHING.

I heard this sentiment expressed in a public radio interview featuring Lynne and Tom Martin, authors of Home Sweet Anywhere. (This WidowsList.com interview with Lynne discusses the “postpone nothing” philosophy the couple adopted when they decided to sell their home, “disburse their belongings,” and see the world.)   It is a two-word phrase that says so much more. I concur. Utterly.

home sweet anywhere

— 2 —

When Just Getting To Know Your Massage Therapist …

Sunday, I had a lovely massage from Michelle Butler, LMT. We had mutual acquaintances, so we had a great chat during the massage and immediately Facebook friended each other afterwards. Fast forward to a few hours later when my husband texted “need scallions” to me right after I checked out at Publix and was loading the car. I wasn’t dying to return to the store. Too bad I sent my angry emoji to Michelle instead of to Wayne. OOOOOPSSSS!

Michelle Text

I quickly realized my mistake and corrected it (yes I did send Wayne the same emoji!) but that was embarrassing!

 

— 3 —

“Clear on the right.”

sign

It is funny how things work out. When I first requested to be considered for Elizabeth Flora Ross’s “The Writer Revived” Summer Series, I had my choice of weeks. Once I had dragged my feet getting back to her, the only week left was the last week of summer. It turns out I needed a summer of driving my father-in-law around to have this piece in me. Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing it (the picture above is the three-way stop I refer to in the piece).

Please click here to read “The Ride” and to understand the reference to “clear on the right.”

— 4 —

When It’s Right to Lean Left

I competed in my Toastmaster Club’s “Evaluation” and “Humorous Speech” contests. It’s always a great experience (as well as slightly nervewracking) to compete. I came in second in both. My humorous speech was based on a true-life situation I encountered in El Salvador. I would love feedback about what works for you as a listener and what doesn’t!

 

— 5 —

All Those Tenleys!

We got the group photo in from our July 19 “Tenley Party.” I love it! (Tenley Albright is in the center (black dress, pink flowers). My Tenley is in the third row, seated in front of a young woman in red and white stripes.

Photo Credit: Ellen Rogers Photography

Photo Credit: Ellen Rogers Photography

 

— 6 —

Sisterhood.

When I got the text from my daughter that she had received a bid from the sorority she wanted, I was in a movie theater and had just glanced down at my phone to check the time. Therefore I couldn’t do anything except take in the information quickly ….. and tear up. She will be pledging the Delta Theta Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi at Valdosta State University. I have never had sisters and was not in a sorority. The prospect of her being part of a sisterhood, especially if it gives her the lifelong bond that my adult friends who were part of sororities still share, makes me exquisitely happy.

Having Sisters

Tenley (left) on bid day!

(AND for item 6.5, she declared a major … PUBLIC RELATIONS!)

 

— 7 —

This phrase, though.  

Any other language fans out there? I keep seeing this construction all over social media:

This [insert object], though. For example, a cute baby with gorgeous blue eyes might get “those eyes, though.” I get what the writer is intending. Where did it come from? A movie? A book? Clue me in!

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Bringing “Trailahassee” Alive: Summer Trail Series 2014

This summer, I participated in the Gulf Winds Track Club’s Summer Trail Race Series 2014. The series was first held in 2013, and I did not participate. I spent much of that summer seeing other runners’ posts about the trail races, a combination of victorious and “wow can’t believe I survived in that heat” sentiments and wishing I had been part of it. Since the series sells out early (like, in April) I made sure and secure my spot when the opportunity presented itself this year.

One of my regrets about the trail races is that it was utterly impossible to take pictures of the trails since I was so focused on survival. That’s why you’re getting pictures of me instead of nature’s beauty. But I do have this one on the Cadillac Trail that I took one day while on a training run:

Summer Trail Series

Cadillac Trail

Before I recap my memories of the trail series, a quick look at each race:

redbug

The first race, on June 21, was a 4.5 miler on Tallahassee’s RedBug Trail. It began at 6 p.m. I ran my Charity Miles that day for the Alzheimers Association in conjunction with the date of the annual Summer Solstice “the longest day.” (The connection with Alzheimer’s is also why I wore purple.) Finished 113/114 in 1:26:45.

swamp forest two

The second race, on July 12, was at the Swamp Forest Trail. It was a morning race, which meant cooler (relatively) weather. I was excited that this race included me crossing the 750 mile mark in my running for Gareth through I Run for Michael (my green shirt represents awareness of mitochondrial disorders (what Gareth has)). I ran for Feeding America via Charity Miles. Finished 108/109 in 1:04:42.

magnolia

The third race, on July 26, was at the Magnolia Trail. One of the challenges of this race was the time (6 p.m. and HOT), the fact that I had been in New York City for the week prior, and my trip earlier that morning to my family reunion (and all that good southern family reunion chow!) I ran for Team RWB via Charity Miles in honor of Anna Runs America (Anna was running cross country in support of Team RWB as well as the Wounded Warrior Project). The “train” is my favorite memory of this race (the “train” is the small group of us who remained together for a significant portion of the race … toward the end I stepped aside and the others went ahead … but I loved the comments from everyone behind me about us being a train and “in this together.”). Finished 107/108 in 59:03.cadillac

The final race, on August 9, was on the Cadillac Trail (5.5 miles). I was so happy to be debuting my Idiots Running Club singlet. I was running for Team RWB (and Anna) again, also in memory of Murphy, one of our I Run for Michael children who had passed away (and for Gareth, as always…). Finished 86/88 in 1:40:31.

Takeaways:

Choo Choo. As I mentioned in my recap of the Magnolia race, the little “train” of runners we created during the Magnolia race (and replicated to some extent during the Cadillac race) was so meaningful to me. The positive vibes from the runners behind me who liked the pace and were counting on me to keep it consistent made me feel so great. I have so often been last or next to last (which is fine!) but once in a while to feel like I am helping another runner hang in there is the best feeling.

HR Issues. During the two evening races, I came to a point in the race where I was struggling mightily with a very elevated heart rate. Far above my Zone 5 (and I rarely run at Zone 5 on purpose). After the RedBug race, I deactivated the beep that tells me I am above my max HR because it was disturbing to hear and I figured the other people on the trail with me didn’t want to hear the constant beeping either. I know (from conversations with other runners) that I am not the only one who struggled with HR issues during these races, but I found it frustrating (and worrisome).

Trail Beauty. I lost count of the times I thought “I wish I could take a picture of this to share” (mostly this was about beauty but other times I wanted people to see how darn technical and difficult some of these trails are because [wait for it.....] I AM NOT ACTUALLY A MOUNTAIN BIKE! (The races were on Mountain Bike trails.)) Pretty beats hard but these trails had plenty of both.

Trail Etiquette. One aspect of this race series that I loved (and that perplexed me at times) was the emphasis on trail etiquette.  I can’t find the original email, but the parts I remember were: no earbuds, respect the trail, don’t leave anything you don’t take out, and pass on the left. There were other etiquette tips, but those are the ones I recall. I appreciate how much care was taken to respect the natural balance of the trails (including capping the series at 150 participants so as not to overestress it). I must admit I was frustrated to see a runner with earbuds (maybe (s)he had missed the instruction). It was a different set of rules than I was used to and I appreciated the way it made me think about running in this environment.

Popsicles and MoonPies Rock. You won’t see me complaining about the post-race spread (and there were healthy options too). I didn’t miss an opportunity to wolf down a post race Moon Pie. Yum.

Working Harder Than Ever. With the exception of a few ill-advised mid-summer runs I took without adequate (i.e., ANY) hydration before I got a hydration belt, this series was the single hardest running endeavor I have ever undertaken. Of course, the fact that it was the hardest makes it the most valued!

Sponsors. We were so fortunate to have the support of some generous sponsors (and props to the Race Director Bobby York for securing all of these donations). Salomon Running came out to all of the races, and at several of them let runners use their shoes for the race. Other sponsors included: Gulf Winds Track Club, Trail & Ski, Trail Runner Magazine, Earth Fare, Power Bar, Smart Wool, Buff Headwear, CamelBak, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Road ID, MoonPie, Damn Good Bikes, and Reflekt.

Volunteers. We had the best volunteers for this series! It takes some dedicated people to work through the sweat and keep us a) from getting lost b) hydrated c) encouraged and d) happy. These volunteers did all of that and more. They were incredible! The diligence taken to make sure the course was well marked is much appreciated. Don’t think I will ever forget “flags on the right”! Those who planted the flags are much valued!

FRIENDS. Many of our Moms Run This Town Tallahassee members participated in this series. There’s nothing like sharing this experience with friends. Thanks, ladies!

mrtt cadillac

Moms Run This Town Tallahassee Cadillac Trail, August 9, 2014

FINALLY. To close things out, I have a few thoughts on the trail series that elude any type of categorization. I am so glad I did this (I think that shows in my words and pictures). The experience made me explore how I really feel about my perennial back of the pack status. The trail environment put me even farther back than a road race would. As much as I jokingly say to people (frequently!), “oh I can’t tell you the number of races I have finished last in, with the law enforcement saying into their walkie talkies ‘hey do you think she’s the last one?'” I don’t take finishing last lightly. I work hard at my running and there is a competitive fire beneath this relatively calm exterior. Am I glad I never finished last? YES. Would I still be happy if I had? YES. Do I find it amusing that the race director said as I headed out for the final race, “My mountain biker isn’t here so when you pass the aid station, let them know you’re it?” YES (And in fairness I had sent him a message the night before imploring him to proceed with the end-of-race awards even though I would probably still be slogging my way through the 5.5 miles (as long as someone noted my time because Lord knows I wanted it noted!)). There were so many times I asked the people behind me “do you want to pass?” Why did I ask them instead of waiting for them to tell me they needed to pass? It was like a microcosm of my southern-bred polite girl life. I think the trail isn’t the place for that! I am also pleased as punch that I never fell down! These trails were tremendously technical (remember, we were runners not mountain bikes!) and I came close to falling many many times. I am grateful I didn’t (but of course I would have gotten back up and persevered!).

Our Gulf Winds Track Club singlets have the word “Trailahassee” on them in small print.

That small print got magnified in the prism of my own sweat this summer.

I am glad we spent the summer together, TRAILAHASSEE.

trailahassee

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Nashville Comes to Carrabelle August 15 and 16, 2014!

Franklin County is in for a treat this weekend, when “Nashville Comes to Carrabelle” takes over Fathoms.  During this event, Fathoms is partnering with Dan Hodges, Music, LLC to present two evenings full of great music, performed by writers whose work has made it to the stage via some big names.

Country Music

The event is Free. It begins at 8:00 p.m. each night (Friday, August 15 and Saturday, August 16). There will be two sets each evening that will feature all artists performing original material. The third and final set will be all of the artists performing cover material while you dance!

The writers will be:

T.W. Hale Country Music

T.W. is a native of Fort Worth, TX. His songs have been recorded by Joe Diffie (A Night to Remember) and Reba McEntire (Why Haven’t I Heard From You) among many. Here is the video of A Night to Remember:

Quinn LogginsCountry Music

Quinn is a Nashvillian born and bred. In addition to his songwriting, Quinn has toured and played behind artists such as Little Big Town, Charlie Worsham, Payton Rae, and others. The highest charting top 40 hit he has written is “Want Me Too” for Charlie Worsham. Here is Katie Armiger performing Trail of Lies, one of the songs he wrote.

Joe CollinsCountry Music

Joe is a singer, songwriter, and musician. His songs have been recorded by Rascal Flatts, Lee Brice, Randy Travis, Billy Ray Cyrus, and other top names in country music.  (He also traveled the country and the world performing as a keyboard player with Tom T Hall, an institution in country music.) Canadian artist Dallas Smith’s recording of Joe’s song “Nothin’ But Summer” spent 16 weeks in the top 10 of the Canadian country charts last summer. Here it is:

Rick Glaze Country Music

Rick is a native Tennessean. Rick won “Best Song Award” and honorable mention from the West Coast Songwriters Association. His songs have been performed by Jared Porter (Good Side of Crazy) and Julie Myers (Your Eyes Are Telling on You). His song “Beach Down in the Islands” was featured on CMT’s “Cowboy U” reality program.

Trafton HarveyCountry Music

Trafton currently lives in North Florida, but has resided in Nashville and travels there frequently for his songwriting career. He has written with writers such as Dan Goodman, Jerry Foster, and other accomplished writers. In addition, he has opened for Tracy Lawrence, Marty Raybourn, and Colt Ford. In the clip below, Trafton performs “She Loves Me.”

Grant Peeples (Saturday Night Only) Grant Peeples

Grant has been called “a guitar-slinging poet” by Music News Nashville. Samples of Grant’s work can be seen in the clip below:

Great music, great food (and beverages of course!), in the most laid back and enjoyable of places. Nashville in Carrabelle … put it on your calendar!

fathoms view

 Fathoms is located at 201 St. James Avenue, Carrabelle, FL.

Phone:  (850) 697-9712

For directions, click here.

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Dancing Through Life, Defying Gravity

If you want a summer to fly by, make sure your college-bound freshman signs up for early move-in. It’s a guaranteed way to make June and July evaporate as quickly as you can say hot, hazy, and humid.

Tenley and I had several conversations over the last few weeks in which we discussed whether or not I am sad. I had so much fun in college, that I am mostly happy … for her embarking on her life as a young adult, for the memories she will build, for all of her tomorrows.

Am I sad? Yes, for the things that didn’t get done, for the things I wish in retrospect I had done differently, for times when worry, distraction, or misplaced priorities interfered with me giving my family the full attention they deserved.

Happy or sad, I know one thing. I am full of love and hope for a young woman who is deeply treasured.

cp boathouse

New York City, Central Park Boathouse July 2014

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Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers

The Blogoverse has a new citizen and that is a very good thing. Since March, Pam has been blogging at Pass The Honey. pass the honey Pam and I recently started a Facebook conversation about blogging and how to make the most out of a blog. As I started my response to her, I decided to share my thoughts as a blog post.  Pam does have some specific questions, but I am going to share some “basics” first with my top ten tips for new bloggers and save my answers to the specifics for a later post.

Make A Date With The Page

This is the single best piece of advice I have ever been given about blogging. All of the credit goes to Nametag Scott. He advised me to “pick a frequency and stick to it, whether you feel like writing or not.” I prefer a less ambitious frequency to a more ambitious. For example, I blog every Sunday and occasionally create a post on an additional day. If I felt pressure to post three times a week, however, it would be difficult for me to keep that up. “Perspicacity will post every Sunday” also helps readers know what to expect.

Choose A Platform

I began blogging on Blogger and eventually changed to WordPress. For me, the move has been for the better in several key areas. My spam problems (and “anonymous commenter” problems) have been virtually eliminated by the use of Akismet. My ability to use Google Analytics has been enhanced (maybe it’s just as easy with Blogger but I did not start using Google Analytics until I had switched to WordPress).  I find it easier to work with images in WordPress than Blogger.

Quality Writing Matters

No matter how you write (or how widely you distribute your blog), poor writing will hurt your blog and your audience’s receptiveness to future content. Do you want to read mediocre writing? (That said, the main reason I blog is to flex my writing muscle, so I know that some of my writing will be better than other pieces. As with anything else in life, take the time to pay attention to your content rather than posting just to post. (Conversely, I can paralyze myself with worrying about a piece of writing’s readiness. There are times we you just have to press “publish.”))

Think About Images

Different bloggers have different thoughts about images, but for me a post feels almost incomplete without at least one image. I know as a reader I prefer to have a visual to accompany the words. One source of visual content is (wait for it…) our own lives! Here is a post that presents some great tips for creating your own visual content for your blog. Sources of free photo content that does not require permission from the creator are plentiful. I like Morgue File and a WordPress Plugin called PhotoDropper which literally drops in a photo you choose from its collection and attaches the appropriate credit to the post (it is only available for WordPress, though).

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

A favorite image taken with my iPhone.

Be Accurate

I suppose I worded this one pretty bluntly, but if you are going to write about facts, get them right. I once hosted a giveaway for Jason’s Deli on my blog and stated that there had been a “parade of short-lived establishments since Banjo’s Barbecue had vacated.” There had not been a “parade,” there had been one (not sure where my memory pulled the “parade” from) and a commenter called me on it. Unfortunately, that was when I was still on blogger and the commenter was anonymous (although I am pretty sure I know who it was). The frustration is I would like to have followed up with them personally but could not due to the anonymous comment. (I did make a correction to the post, however.)

Say Yes to Yoast

If you want your posts to be found, one component that is important is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). A fabulous tool for making your post more “findable” by search engines and the like is the WordPress SEO Plug-in from Yoast.  Among several useful features, Yoast helps the blogger create a “meta description” that is most attractive to potential readers. Let’s take my World Book Night 2014 post, for example. When I first published the post, the meta description was a mess (it appears in the “snippet preview”): WBN Yoast I went into Yoast and made some adjustments (the text in the “meta description” box): WBN Yoast Two

Get Permission

There are protocols that you should follow as a blogger. Certainly if you are going to use an image, give credit to the creator and obey all copyright laws. But “permission” extends to other areas of blogging too. If you are going to excerpt someone else’s writing, link to their original work or credit them prominently and (if it is an extensive excerpt) let them know in advance (or at a minimum send them the link afterwards).

Get The Word Out

I have read various estimates of how many blog posts are published in the world daily. Suffice it to say the number is high. There’s no way you could read them all. For that reason, it is important to make sure your blog gets in front of people.  This is an area where I could certainly make improvements, but for now here is what I do.

  • Make sure there is a place on my blog where people can subscribe by email
  • Participate in Triberr, which amplifies my reach by tweeting out my posts via other bloggers (and vice versa)
  • Participate in Linkups, where bloggers share their posts and agree to comment on others’ posts (a favorite linkup of mine is the SITS Girls Saturday Sharefest)

Talk Amongst Yourselves

Although I blog to flex my “writing muscle,” I would be lying if I didn’t say that comments rock my world. I love to know that people are reading, and I have had some great dialogues via my comments section (as well as heaps of support at various times in my life). “Comment to others” goes in the category of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Share generously on others’ blogs and hopefully many of them will do the same for you. Likewise, respond back when someone comments to you.  Creating a community around your blog (or at least a sense that you’re having an ongoing conversation) is, to me, an important piece of blogging success.

Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics helps you understand how many people are visiting your blog as well as a host of other metrics related to your readership. While it’s easy to get unnecessarily wrapped up in these metrics, it is also helpful to know if anyone is reading (and how long they’re staying, how frequently they’re returning, etc.). I also need to be able to report my Google Analytics data when I am applying for various sponsored post opportunities.

Top 10 Tips

BONUS!

Enjoy it. There is hardly any mistake you could make that would be a fatal flaw. Writing block happens; typos happen. Life gets in the way of posting. Pam, you’re a year away from retirement and, to quote you, “I want an exciting life and I will try my best to have it.” Something tells me you’re going to succeed, and I for one can’t wait to read all about it on your blog!  Pam’s blog can be found at Pass the Honey (link here). Stop by and say hello!

(Lastly, Pam was Tenley’s (my daughter) English teacher last year. Thank you for making her senior year one in which the joy of words was alive and well!)

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