Moving Forward; Constraints Be Damned!!

As it turns out, creating, hosting and awesomely running a Lifestyle/Travel blog is not as difficult as I imagined.  My vision is to write for baby boomer women of color about traveling on a budget and offering wellness tips and suggestions for living their best life.

I believe there are a lot of “matured” women of color like me out there, who think self-care –including vacationing abroad– is impossible for them to enjoy; therefore, reaching those potential followers is probably one of the first constraints I will encounter. Women of color in this age group, perhaps now retired after working for a lifetime and having raised a family, might feel as if they don’t have the money to enjoy their golden years the way baby boomers with more resources can; that’s why my research to find out how I can reach those women is of the utmost importance. Since 2.8 billion people are active social media users worldwide, I believe a big portion of the female demographic I’m trying to reach can be found this way, especially on Facebook and Instagram. By writing my posts in both English and Spanish, I should also be able to expand my audience beyond the United States.

Having already identified my target audience, once the blog is running, I need to figure out who’s visiting it, and if any of them are within the target group I’m trying to attract. I just discovered Google Analytics, which could help me find out who’s visiting my site by age, gender, and even region. If my target audience is nowhere to be found, I need to revise my content and figure out why that is. How visitors will be getting to my website is also important; that way I could make sure to keep the channels providing access open and work harder on the ones providing a lower number of visitors. My plan is to start with social media by creating a Facebook page; direct my Instagram followers to my blog; use smart hashtags; etc. Building a rapport with bloggers/grammers who already have a following, might help me get featured as a guest writer, link my site on theirs, or just receive advice (it’s a community, after all). Because the shared content on social media creates visibility and traffic, I’ll also need to keep tabs on which type of content is shared the most. There are other considerations I need to take into account in order to reach my target audience (like what type of devices they are using to enjoy my blog,  but that’s fodder for another post.

Although the main purpose of my blog is to inspire and empower women to practice self-love and take care of themselves (not make money for me), treating and setting up the project as a business from the get-go has a couple of advantages:

  • It will inspire me to produce the best content I could possibly create
  • And therefore, it would feed my egalitarian side by addressing the question of why couldn’t women in my target group have resources as nice as everyone else’s.
  • Also, should I change my mind in the future about trying to monetize the site, it would already be set up as such.
  • Why not get out of the “think small” groove, where I usually am, and think bigger for a change? Viewing it as a business adds some heft to it… that a “hobby” doesn’t have.

Which brings me to the second part of the assignment: What Would I Be Inspired To Do If I Had More Resources?

But first, a few ways I’m handling the negative stories I tell myself (boundaries):

  • I can easily see myself feeling defeated and considering giving up. However, I also know that viewing the plenty of mistakes I’m bound to make as stepping-stones towards the beautiful, meaningful vision I have in my mind and heart will help me stay the course.
  • I’m battling my fear of failure by reminding myself that I’ve nothing to lose by trying; I’m not investing any money; the worse it can happen is that nobody would follow (and that’s okay with me, not a real rejection); and I get to know how it feels to work on something coming entirely from ME.
  • I mindfully work on counteracting my internal self-defeating thoughts by meditating and visualizing abundance, and how I’m going to share it with others. I am also determined to use the “How Am I Helping Others?” stick to measure my success.

 

The Second Act

What would happen if I had more money, could put in more effort or have the guts to work harder??

If I wanted to start big, perhaps I shouldn’t limit myself by calling my project a Wellness and Travel blog, after all the internet has multiple media platforms and just calling myself a blogger automatically places some constraints on me. How about Travel and Wellness Publisher? By thinking outside the blogosphere bubble, I would be opening new possibilities:

  1. I could go into podcasting (thank you, cohorts, for making me feel that my accent would not be a constraint, but an asset!).
  2. I could expand or transform the blog into a vlog, by learning how to shoot awesome videos and sharing them on the said vlog.
  3. Or I could even consider writing an ebook and offer it for free or very low-cost. Additionally, there is the possibility of publishing such a book through Amazon, where 200 million people go to buy stuff 24/7.
  4. I love working in community, and when it comes to travel or wellness there are several communities out there both inspiring and emulation-worthy. Who knows? Perhaps I could look into collaborating with one or more women to create such a community.

I am sure the sky’s the limit when it comes to possibilities facilitated by investing more resources in this type of project. However, at this point, the most important thing is that I get going and start with a simple blog; the possible expansion will come with the territory as I learn the ropes. Continue research, the desire to uplift and add value to others and a positive state of mind is all I need to start this dreamy goal of mine!!

Thank you for reading and your thoughtful feedback!!

P.S. Just like Instagram, WordPress butchers one’s photos!!

Reflective Script

If money were no objection, what other assets would you buy that would multiply what you are working on? If there were no constraints on time or money, what would your business look like?

Some of the blogs I follow are always offering to enter the people who submit comments into drawings to win free cr@p; I never comment on those posts because I’m trying to get rid of stuff not acquire more. However, if I had money I would do something like that but different: I would offer plane tickets, an all expenses paid vacation, spas’ visits (for the wellness part), etc… things like that, you know? Experiences; nothing to accumulate because minimalism is beautiful.

Who would be affected? My followers, of course! In a positive way, though. I’m pretty happy and grateful for what I have -as limited as it might seem to others- and the only reason I wouldn’t mind having more money is to spread joy around; help those in need; treat those who couldn’t dream of having a nice vacation and gift them one. It would be nice to be able to do something like that… and that’s probably why I would never have much money!! LOL.

As wonderful as this course is and as full as my heart is with gratitude, I am ready to “graduate” now and start working on my project. Thank you for the support, ideas, and knowledge so generously shared with me!! Can’t wait to see all of you slaying those goals!! (Deep Bow).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Create One More Travel Blog

Last night, with a hopeful heart, I started googling “travel blogs by older women of color” and the results were depressing; all of them said “Missing: Older”. My search under “travel blogs by babyboomers of color” and “travel blogs by women of color over 40” weren’t any more successful. The ‘babyboomers’ had one female blogger of color: a Latina millennial who got the idea from her mom. Yes, the presence of people of color in the travel industry has increased in the last few years (although not enough); however, the 40 and above generation of that particular racial group is nowhere represented. There is a well-traveled babyboomer of color on Instagram, The Travelling Black Widow, and after following her for several years I am convinced she will never write a blog. At this point, I feel that the task of writing that blog has fallen upon me.

P of C are well attuned to instances of racism, colorism, and classism, and I believe more spaces are needed where these issues -framed within the context of travel- can be honestly and openly discussed. Skin privilege is common in the traveling community, and bloggers of color could offer a perspective not found at visitors bureaus, tourist offices or travel brands. I envision offering those perspectives geared towards empty-nester women of color, not only because I’m one of them, but also because there’s a niche for that particular group waiting to be filled in the blogosphere.

Most of the travel blogs focusing on white baby boomers have a slant towards “luxury travel”, no doubt capitalizing on the fact that a big portion of that traveling group has retired with a nice egg nest. That realization made me aware of the need to include content like shoe-string travel, and alerts for the latest travel deals and fare glitches. Why should traveling be available only to the young and willing to rough it, or the well-to-do retirees?

Since classism seems to be a problem in the travel industry, offering ideas and resources on how to make traveling more affordable will address both the question of how to create value for our customers, and the “feel good/look good” issue. Some of my Black and Latinx friends were surprised when my husband and I were able to take a three weeks vacation trip to Spain, Portugal, and London last fall, especially since we are a one income family. Weeks of research on the internet and some creativity paid off handsomely, as we were able to move around at a very low cost by using services like BlaBla Car and AirB&B. By sharing my experiences, tips and suggestions I hope to show that it’s possible to travel on a budget -even for the not so young- and in that manner contribute to the movement already underway which allows people from all walks of life, with a diverse racial and economic background to travel the world, experience other cultures, and witness how similar to each other we all are, and by the same token, embrace our differences.

Enough of vicariously experiencing other people’s lives and travels through Instagram!! I want to inspire others, especially women of my race and age, to take the plunge; I want to hear their stories and feel connected. And if I’m unable to monetize that dream, it would still be a very satisfying accomplishment in my book.

 

Reflective Script

 

How does the transformation of what’s possible and available in travel solve an urgent problem my audience has??

Since we, people traveling on a budget, can’t afford fancy accommodations (bye-bye five stars hotel), we need to be smart about where we stay. By investing time searching  AirB&B, reading the reviews, and choosing places in centric locations, my husband and I were able to, not only stay at affordable places but also save on transportation by walking and using public transit. Reading the reviews is important, that way one can decide if the reason the place is inexpensive is something one can handle (too many steps; a noisy bar down the street; a room too hot or too cold; etc.).

By eating like the locals, we were able to avoid the tourists trap places and saved a good deal of money. We took advantage of the advice AirB&B hosts are willing and happy to share. For example, in Barcelona, our hostess told us about all the great and affordable places within walking distance, and not only was the food delicious and inexpensive (hello yummy tapas), but we also enjoyed great conversations with other patrons and received more suggestions for things to do on the cheap. Which brings me to the third point…

Ask the locals, or search yourself, for the free activities happening in town. There’s nothing more fun than mingling with people from many different backgrounds while eating street food, listening to and dancing to free music on a street decorated with paper garlands above your head. (Visualize the photo I was trying to include here, but my laptop kept freezing).

I don’t want to make the RS as long as the original post, but all of these suggestions from you -my cohorts- are the bomb!!

  • Keep researching and learning about travel writing
  • Check out the travel section of domestic and foreign newspapers
  • Brainstorm about the different themes I might want to write about: Travel apps, regional prejudices, getting travel info outside the mainstream, etc.
  • Reaching out to travelers I follow and admire and perhaps collaborate with them; work with travel agencies who are already invested in diversity; look into grants/contracts paying to blog about local travel.
  • Think outside the blogosphere to connect with other females who have traveling experience and could help in advancing my goals.

Thank you so much for the great ideas and awesome inspiration and encouragement!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conjuring Up Dreams Into Reality…

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Goals/DreamsBecause the hardest thing to let go is one’s dreams, I am going to list some of mine here… with the understanding that I’ll concentrate only on the last one for now.

  • Hard to believe there isn’t a Dominican restaurant/cafe in this foodie town; opening one has been a pseudo dream of mine since I moved to PDX.
  • Because of my desire to serve underprivileged communities and an interest in healing, I have been considering attending The LightSong School of 21st Century Shamanism and Energy Medicine to train in shamanism, reiki, tapping or any other health restoring discipline. I grew up holding onto the skirt of my magical grandmother, who was considered our barrio’s “medicine woman” in the Dominican Republic; so, healing is in my blood. I witnessed my grandmother refused payment, many times over, from the people she helped heal because she knew they were poorer than us. I would love to channel and honor her work and generosity.
  • Adoption is a trauma, but a lot of potential adoptive families are not aware of that, and believe that love and care are enough to raise an adoptive child into a healthy, well-balanced adult. It would be awesome if my experience as an adoptive parent could benefit and support other families… perhaps through coaching?
  • Last, but not least. At the moment, I think my most feasible goal is to create the wellness, lifestyle and travel blog I have been meaning to hatch since 2012 for women of color in my age group. Most of the blogs I subscribe to are geared towards millennial women or younger, and I think there’s a niche in the market for “matured” women of color. Probably more so if I create bilingual content targeting Latinas.

What’s In It For Me?

  • Because I could start working on creating the wellness/lifestyle website right away, I chose it  as my practice project until I become better at catalyzing my goals. Perhaps after succeeding at my first try, I will get emboldened to pursue the rest of my dreams.
  • It’s portable!! I could work and publish from anywhere in the world; and since I have been bitten by the travel bug, that sounds marvelous.
  • The opportunity to connect with other women of color -in my age bracket- who are  interested in the same things I am.
  • The satisfaction of doing something inspiring that could contribute to the well-being of women.
  • A reason to force myselfat becoming better at one of my passions: photography. Perhaps take that photography course I’ve been meaning to take for a while.
  • Accomplishing this first goal will boost my confidence and help my self-esteem.

 Barriers

  •  Fear of going through the process of creating this inspirational website, and never have anyone read it or follow it. 
  • May need to find people or find ways to learn how to tackle the technical snags.
  • Will have to fight hard not to get affected/discouraged by the naysayers (impostor syndrome raising its ugly head).
  • May need money to invest in a new, non-ChromeBook laptop.
  • May need to eventually invest in attending conferences and bloggers’ gatherings to learn how to grow and stay relevant.

Skills and Knowledge

  • I am bilingual
  • I have no accent while communicating in writing – LOL
  • I am familiar with the customs and worldviews of the Latin and African American cultures, which would be an asset while trying to help, influence or persuade my target audience.
  • Ever persistent, I do not give up easily while battling negative thoughts and feedback.
  • Fear is very uncomfortable, but it also informs me about the importance of what I’m doing (I wouldn’t be scared if it wasn’t important; right?; that helps me push through the fear.
  • My friends say I shoot pretty decent photos.
  • I’ve been able to see and admire the amazing work my extremely intelligent and educated cohorts have been producing, without feeling completely insecure, inadequate and intimidated!!! (Usually, I’m all the opposite).

Support Team

  •  100% unconditional support from my husband, family and friends.
  • The feedback and support from my fellow catalyzers (thank youuu for having my back!).
  • Talk to other friends and acquaintances who also have blogs.
  • I have a couple of web designing friends whom I can probably bug and stalk.

 Action Plan

  • Have the website up and running by June 1st. 2018
  • Decide the type of “look” I want for my site that will convey my vision of care, compassion, healing, connectedness, ascension of consciousness, environmental renewal, happiness, etc. (The fun stuff).
  • Take a photography class. 
  • Hopefully, I’ll get more ideas/inspiration about what to add to my action plan from my fellow cohorts’ comments. Thank youuuuu!!

 

Reflection Script

Wow!! I’m so grateful for all the great ideas I received as feedback, and thrilled to put them into practice.

Setting aside time to research and read blogs written by and for women of color in my age group is the perfect reason to do something I already enjoy doing: reading blogs; but this time around I’ll make it purpose oriented with my goal in mind. I’ll get busy checking out Open Signal for photography and editing classes, AND I will research writing groups in Portland to see if I could take some writing classses. Thank you for these awesome ideas, Emory!

Per Sara’s suggestion, I will move the Catalyzing blog to another platform (Meghan suggested SquareSpace and WordPress), that way I will get some practice posting content with pictures, and perhaps start running my blog earlier instead of waiting until June.  Sara also suggested that I research travel/lifestyle blogs written by WofC with some excellent questions in mind: What are WofC -in specific age group- looking for in a blog about traveling and lifestyle? Is it inspiration, solidarity? Ways to make traveling affordable? Are there people in my life who can answer those questions? Does it matter what they’re looking for if I have a story to tell? And if not, how do I start telling that story in a compelling manner? Sara… you sure had my work cut out for me!! (LOL).

In addition to suggesting SquareSpace and WordPress, Meghan introduced me to the idea of perhaps writing for an outlet like Medium, and create an audience before starting the actual blog. Need to explore that idea further and come up with some pros and cons(?) Additionally, I would consider going back to FaceBook to promote the blog, and could probably use my existing Insta account to do the same. Thank you so much, Meghan, for great ideas! I would loooove to hear more about your intership with the women’s travel community you mentioned in your comments.

Thank you Rebecca, Gabriel and Jaron for the encouraging words!! And Jaron, I might have to take you up on your offer to assist with technical difficulties. Looking forward to meeting all of you on Monday!!

 

 

Why Share This….

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Because my existence intersects at several places: race, gender, immigration status, and now age.
Because my daughter intersects at the same corners and I fear for her life in white Portland.
Because one of my goals is to work more systematically to abolish institutionalized racism.
Because I want to include and serve underprivileged communities in whatever I end up doing.
Because now, more than ever, we need to wake up and shake others out of their stupor.
Because Justice is one of the top three values on my scale.
Because this new generation is as outraged as I am with these injustices, regardless of their race.
Because I know this is a safe place to share what’s in my heart and mind.
Because I’m thankful that none of my loved ones have been shot by the police.
Because by writing the above sentence, I’m trying to cast a spell to keep it from EVER happening.
Because spiritual practices (including superstitions) help with the generational trauma.
Because I’m desperate for these killings to stop, but all I can do right now is share the reality.
Thank you for watching.