Some Musings on Gratitude

It’s that time of year. My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is quickly approaching. It’s got it all: food, family, rainy weather, football. And we make a conscious effort to be grateful. I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. It should be a habit, not something we think about only once a year.

Many of us take our gifts for granted, myself included. I have an exceptional family and small circle of friends, a comfortable and beautiful home, plenty of food, and I am fortunate to live in my favorite place on Earth. The list goes on and on.

Make gratitude a daily habit

But sometimes I forget to be thankful. Because gratitude is more than just a feeling of thanks. Gratitude is an action. A verb. It’s the activity of professing our thanks to God for our gifts. Refraining from complaining about what we don’t have. It’s teaching our children and others to be grateful. And it’s service to others in a pay-it-forward kind of way.

Teaching Gratitude

It’s been said that the best way to learn something is to teach it.

It can be challenging to teach gratitude to our children – a crucial lesson as ungrateful kids grow into ungrateful adults – when we live in such a culture of abundance. Every need and want seem to be so available, and society tells us that we deserve it all. We’re sheltered in our cushy little bubbles of plenitude and can be blind to the scarcity and lacking that exists.

But it’s important that kids learn and practice gratitude. For younger ones, this can be as simple as saying grace at mealtimes. Older kids, mine included, are usually happy to donate their time at the local church to help out with programs that benefit the homeless. Frequent conversations about what we’re grateful for is another valuable exercise. Tonight, my teens were thankful for sharp steak knives and air. Hey, it’s a start.

Practicing Gratitude

Gratitude can feel painful on occasion. During one of those times, a friend suggested that I keep a gratitude journal. I was dubious, but it forced me to realize – even in the midst of the greatest pain – that I have plenty to be grateful for.

We don’t need to look far to see that many folks in the world (including our own communities) lack enough food. Or shelter. They are cold or lonely.

On the other hand, most of us have plenty of food and shelter and heat. We have networks of friends and family that support and love us. An abundance of gifts that we shouldn’t take for granted.

How do you express gratitude? I thank God every morning for the new day. I thank Him each night for my family and providing for me that day. I tell those that I love that I am grateful for them.

More importantly, being grateful moves one towards an attitude of service. When we have the awareness of being abundantly blessed, we want to use those blessings to help others.

Are you blessed with an affluence of financial of wealth? An abundance of time? A valuable talent? Sharing your gifts with others who are not so fortunate is a way to manifest your gratitude.

For me, an important aspect of gratitude involves focusing on today. Of course, planning for the future can be a good idea, but when it turns into worry, it can sap the gratitude right out of your life. Did I have enough to eat today? Is my family happy today? Is it raining today (hey, I love rain)? Thank you.

Sometimes it’s not so easy…

Sometimes life just flat out sucks and you want to throw this whole gratitude thing down the deep abyss of The-Universe-Can-Kiss-My-Ass. All of us have choppy waters that we’re wading through at any given time. Perhaps a job loss or family estrangement. Maybe it’s the loss of a loved one or dealing with a chronic autoimmune disease. Am there; doing that. Everyone is going through something.

Society doesn’t really provide many opportunities for gratitude either. Turn on the television, open a magazine or newspaper, or click on any news site, and we are exposed to a surfeit of reasons to be ungrateful. It seems the media is out to convince us to be as grateful as we would be for a thorn in our big toe.

That’s why practicing an “attitude of gratitude” is so important to exercise during the good times. Making a habit out of gratitude makes it easier to continue during the turbulent times. Because we are called to be grateful even during the tsunamis of life.

And being grateful even during the rough times has changed my outlook on life. Because I truly do have so many things to be thankful for. Focusing on the gratitude and the things I am grateful for have a healing effect during the crappy times.

Eventually, it turns into a cycle. Gratitude allows happiness, abundance and service for others to follow. In turn, gratitude then follows happiness, abundance, and service.

So for now, I leave you with this song of thankfulness from Jason Gray. Be grateful. It’s good to be alive.

 

 

Creating A Blog the Marathon Way Part 3: Installing WordPress

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Folks, it’s time for the exciting stuff. It’s time to install WordPress and begin building your blog and making it look all sorts of awesome.

Marathon blogging, installing wordpress

This is Part 3 of a series showing you how to set up your blog using my marathon method. If you haven’t yet set up a hosting account account, check out this post.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 2: Some Siteground Features

Installing WordPress

WordPress is the software that is used to manage your website or blog. Once you have a hosting site set up, you can download the software and customize your blog.

First, sign into your Siteground account that you set up last time. On your homepage, click on the “My Accounts” tab towards the top of the page.

Under “Manage Account,” click on the red button “Go to cPanel.”

 

Scroll down to the Autoinstallers Section and click on the WordPress icon.

Click on one of the “Install” buttons on the WordPress page:

Wordpress install

 

Clicking the Install button will bring up the Software Setup and Site settings.

Make your selections in each of the sections and be sure to make note of your Admin username, password, and email. Click on the Install button when finished.

Your blog will be installed on your Siteground hosting account and you will receive a confirmation that installation was successful.

You can now sign into WordPress using your admin username and password. Your Administrative URL is your domain name plus “/wp-admin”. For example, mine is “https://allswritewiththeword.com/wp-admin”.

Try It Out…

WordPress can be overwhelming, so I suggest playing and looking around to get the lay of the land. The main menu is on the left side of the page and contains most of the features you will use.

To get you stared, you may want to select your theme. That is the layout of your blog and WordPress comes installed with a few free ones. Click on “Appearance –>Themes” in the menu. Browse the free ones and select the layout you prefer.

Wordpress themes

Now, just take some time to familiarize with the rest of the software. Try customizing your theme. Look through the menu and familiarize yourself with the selections.

Next time, we’ll look at fun stuff like Widgets and Plugins. (What?!) Let me know if I can answer any questions. Till next time, have fun!

 

 

Become a Better Writer (For Beginners)

You can improve your writing skills even if you have little or no experience. Writing, just like any activity, can be improved by lots of practice.

Become a better writer - for beginners

 

Learning to write better is not easy, but it is simple. 99% of it is self-motivation. Not procrastinating. Setting up a routine that you follow every single day. So what are you waiting for? Do the following. Yes, right now.

Read

Read anything and everything. Trashy romance novels. The instruction manual that came with your slow cooker. Re-read the Harry Potter series for the tenth time. (Is that just me?)

Most folks read only for entertainment purposes or to learn. But while you’re improving your writing, focus more on reading like a writer. Notice what works and what doesn’t work. You’ll begin to notice the differences in writing styles of different authors. Look out for grammar, spelling, punctuation. There is fantastic writing out there and some horrid writing. The more you read, the greater your awareness will become on what good and great writing looks like.

Read as often as possible. In bed at night, or on your morning commute, or while sitting in a relaxing bubble bath. (Don’t forget the scented candles and calming music.) Strive for a few hours of reading each day.

Write

Write a lot. About anything and everything. Writing can only be improved by a tremendous amount of practice.

Practice. Every. Single. Day. The experts recommend an activity called “free-writing.” This involves setting aside a specific time every day, setting a timer, and writing without stopping as long as your timer is going. Your writing doesn’t have to be good or make sense, because no one is going to read it (unless you want them to). This is not for publication. Write whatever comes into mind, or repeat nonsense if nothing does come to mind. Just the simple act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) will improve your writing over time.

Keep a Writer’s Notebook

Keeping a writer’s notebook will ensure that you don’t forget those ideas that pop into your head while you’re struggling to stay awake during that meeting or waiting for your kid at his parkour class. I keep mine next to my bed because I invariably wake in the middle of the night with the brain on overdrive.

Whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, fanfiction, or a blog post about air fryer recipes, a writer’s notebook can help keep your ideas organized in one spot where you won’t forget them. Of course, this can be accomplished with a computer as well, but I find it’s easier to carry around a notebook. Its contents can be transferred to a file on your computer later of course.

A writer’s notebook is also a great place to build your Word Hoard. I first discovered this term in Barbara Baig’s book, “Spellbinding Sentences.” She suggests building a collection of words that you come across in your reading or conversations that you like or find interesting or don’t know know the meaning of. This is a great way to build up your vocabulary.

You can improve your writing even if you are a beginner. It’s not easy, but it is simple. What other methods do you use for writing improvement?

 

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 2: Some Siteground Features

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Before installing WordPress and starting your blog, I want to share a couple of important advantages of Siteground that should be taken care of first. This will be a short post, so we can get to the good stuff next time.

Marathon Blogging Siteground Features

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

SSL Certificate

One of the advantages of Siteground is that it provides a free SSL certificate with your account. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and  it ensures that data transmitted between the server and browser remain encrypted, making your site more secure. The certificate is provided by Let’s Encrypt.

To install your SSL certificate, first log into your Siteground account. Once you’re in, click on the “My Accounts” tab towards the top.

Siteground My Accounts

 

Next, select the red “Go to cPanel” button.

Siteground cPanel

 

Scroll down to the Security Section and select the “Let’s Encrypt” icon.

Siteground cPanel Let's Encrypt

 

At the bottom of screen, select your domain and click the Install button. (The Wildcard SSL is for sub-domains, which, if you’re just starting out, you probably don’t need.)

Once your SSL certificate is installed, you can navigate back to the same area any time and manage your certificate and see that it is active.

Email Accounts

Your Siteground  account allows you to create as many free email accounts as you need. Navigate to your cPanel again, scroll down to the Mail section and click on the Email Accounts icon.

You can now set up email accounts that are associated with your domain, for example, admin@yourdomain.com. Once your accounts are created, you can use the Webmail icon next to the Email Accounts icon to access and manage your accounts.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

I hope this was helpful. cPanel contains many ways to run your account, and I will continue to share as I learn. Please contact me if I can be of any help. Next time, we’ll install WordPress and learn about some of its features.

Creating a Blog the Marathon Way Part 1: Hosting and Domain Name

This post may contain affiliate links; please see here for our affiliate policy.

Have you seen all those blog posts titled “Start a blog in minutes!”

There are tons of them out there. Run a search on Pinterest, and they make it seem like it can  be done during a commercial break of the Sunday Night Football game.

Marathon blog

Guess what, folks? It takes longer than a few minutes. Even if you’re not a procrastinator, creating a blog is more of a marathon-like process rather than a sprint.

I’m going to show you my marathon method. I’m still in the process of setting up this blog. I’ll explain the steps I have taken (and am currently taking) to get it functional, in (mostly) simple jargon.

If you’re the sprint-type person who can get everything done in a day, then by all means, go for it. I prefer baby steps. Specific baby steps. Because I’m easily distracted.

Follow these steps, and in a few weeks, you will have a fully-functioning blog.

A quick word about free blogging platforms…

There are plenty of free blogging platforms out there like Blogger.com,  Tumblr, and WordPress.com.  With these platforms, you can set up a free blog without any cost to you. That’s where the benefits of a free blog end though.

The disadvantages are numerous. They include limited bandwidth and storage, little to no customer service and lack of customization. You also do not own your blog according to the terms of the free services. As such, your blog can be shut down with no warning. Most free services also do not allow monetization of your blog.

On the other hand, with a paid blogging service, you create an account with a hosting service that downloads the software used to run the blog. You own the blog and can customize it however you wish. You can monetize it and grow it without fear of running out of space or it being shut down by the service.

I recommend starting out with a paid service right from the beginning. Even if your goals are not growing your blog or monetization or customization, the investment is so small that it’s worth it in case you change your mind. After a year or so, if you decide it’s not for you, you can always cancel your account with the paid service.

Let’s Do This…

The first step is finding hosting and registering a domain name. A hosting service is the service that allows a website or webpage to be view-able on the internet. The domain name is the internet address where users can access your site. For example, MyAwesomeDomainName.com.

The hosting service I use is Siteground (affiliate link).

There are plenty of hosting services out there, but after doing my research, I’ve found that Siteground (affiliate link) is the best. They have excellent customer service and are affordable. If you’ve already got a site or a domain name, they can do a transfer to their service.

When you click over to Siteground‘s page and scroll down a bit, you’ll see a few different options for hosting platforms. You’ll want Web Hosting; click on Learn More.

Siteground Hosting Platforms

You will then be taken to a page where you can choose your plan. The Startup Plan for $3.95/month is sufficient to begin with. Click “Get Started.”

Siteground Hosting Plans

The next step is coming up with and entering your domain name.

Siteground Domain Name

Your domain can be your name or something else. Search around if the one you want is already taken. Don’t make it too complicated or too clever. It should be something that is easy to remember.

After entering your domain name, you’ll enter your account information and payment method, and that’s it! You now have a domain and a place for hosting it. Be sure to keep track of your username and password for your account.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.

Next time, we’ll talk about a couple of features of Siteground. But for now, take five and enjoy the feeling of productivity for getting the first step done.