The Dance of Hobbies Lost.

Let’s talk about lost hobbies and my neglected relationship with Classical dance today.

These days, with being shut in the house, with nowhere to go, not much to do and always being inches away from driving each other insane, social media is the obvious respite. So, as I scrolled through Instagram and saw everyone else bake, cook, make art, play instruments and develop new hobbies I went down the rabbit hole of my thoughts and realised that I was no longer the person with a million hobbies as I had been for most of my life. I had, somewhere along the years, lost my many hobbies. But how, did I get here?

I was a pretty hyperactive kid, on an almost clinical level. My parents knowingly, or unknowingly cracked how to deal with all my pent up energy: Activity classes. I was always in a billion activity classes. You name it, I’ve taken a class for it. Be it arts and crafts, piano lessons, abacus classes, dance lessons, karate, roller skating, I’ve done it all. I left all classes over the years for various reasons ranging from  I was simply getting busier with school and couldn’t keep up with all my classes, I just really sucked and it was a waste of time and money and the ultimate, me or some other kid was injured and it scared our moms into pulling us out of the class.

I don’t regret having lost touch with most of them. Obviously, the ones I was terrible at or didn’t engage with for too long I hardly miss, but I do have some form of sadness attached to the ones I was good at. It comes down to two but majorly one, really. When I was 9-10ish(I think) I had to choose between piano and dance because I no longer had time for both and I chose dance. After all, at the time it seemed obvious, I had invested more time in it, I was better at it, I was giving exams in it and it seemed the only choice but sometimes, just sometimes and in times of lockdown, I wonder what could have been, where I might be if I should have chosen the other way around, maybe I could have played the piano and been happier now. Ah well, can’t change the past, can we?

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So, let us now get into the second but actually major hobby which requires a bit of a storytime about me. I have been dancing since I was a baby, as my mom would tell you but have trained in some Indian classical form from the ripe age of 3. From when I was 5 to when i was 16, I trained in the classical dance form of  Odissi and have given enough exams to be a trained Odissi dancer, at least on paper.

Most of you are probably wondering what Odissi is at this point so let us take a brief intermission to tell you a little bit about it. Odissi is an Indian classical dance form belonging to the state of Odisha and is the oldest surviving dance form of India and perhaps, one of the oldest in the world. It originated in the temples of ancient India and is considered to be one of the most difficult Indian dance forms due to the grace and technique involved and the subtle balance between masculinity and femininity each dancer has to maintain in every piece. This is not just my opinion, but obviously, I am a bit biased towards believing it.

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Now, getting back to me and Odissi, I’ve learnt it for 10+ years, had 2 teachers, given many exams, participated in some competitions, even won some, given even more performances and have lived and breathed the classical dance life, at least before I moved across the country and was entering 11th grade and could no longer keep up with it. It has been 5 years since then. In those 5 years, Odissi has helped me in little ways like being my unique identifier, how choreographing a little piece that got me into the (western) dance society of my college ensured dance stayed in my life, with my general posture and whatnot, but honestly and a very difficult thing for me to admit is that I’ve mostly lost touch with the dance form.

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One of my very few good dancing photos from the pre-good smartphone camera era

There are some factors to why. I really had to study during the last 2 years of high school and simply didn’t have time to practice. All my music was on primitive memory devices like cassette tapes or at maximum, a CD because that’s what most places where we performed or participated allowed. Thus, I can no longer access it and have lost quite a lot in the move too. I was not on social media when I moved as I was a kid and have lost touch with my dance classmates. Most importantly, I did not choose to prioritise it. Then suddenly, a few months ago I had the jarring realisation that my dancing style had changed from doing western over the last 3 years and I could barely remember any Odissi.

I was sad about it, but also, life was busy. I forgot. I was ready to give it up as one of the things I grew out of but then, this lockdown happened. Now, I was forced to confront how much I had neglected something I loved so much growing up and how much I regretted it. I knew it was time to fix the situation and to once again, bring Odissi back in my life. I tried looking up the music online, it didn’t work very well because there are many different kinds of music and I didn’t find the exact one I learnt on, so there was no chance of triggering some musical memory of mine.

I decided on trying to re-learn what is the most basic and simplest dance piece in Odissi, the Mangalacharan. It is a traditional invocatory item, usually dedicated to one Hindu God and having a Trikhandi Pranam,i.e. three salutations: salutation to god, the teacher or guru and the audience. I saw many videos and saved them and will now be embarking on this journey of trying to re-teach myself something I had been so good at and hoping to trigger some old recesses of my memory where all these pieces went and have hopefully survived the attacks of adulthood. I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Do you have any lost hobbies you regret? Have you thought about picking them up again? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

What do I write to you?

Let’s talk about what should we talk about today.

I write to you today about my utter dilemma about what to write about. Good heavens, I am sorry, that’s quite the beginning to the post; just throwing you in the deep end, no easing, no warning, nothing. Please allow me to explain as I walk you through my predicament.

Perhaps, after months of nothing, since I am suddenly showing up here now (I have been somewhat around on my Instagram, so do follow me there if you’d like to not be surprised by my sudden and erratic posting:@musingsofawhimsicalsoul) I should talk about what i was up to in these past few months. Since  I last posted in November, that would be exams in December, a very gruelling college schedule January onwards, a concussion(from a kick in the head, so quite the story), all the pre-internship things and my first ever job interview(with Google!) in February, turning 21 in Corbett National Park on a family vacation in March to finally today, April 1st, my last day of (now, online) classes, which gives me the time to write to you.

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Me with my surprise birthday balloons on March 10, it is so crazy how much things have changed in such little time??

Or maybe, I can’t post anything without addressing the current climate and situation that we all are dealing with. The COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on our lives, the lives we have already lost, the brave souls in essential services fighting to make our lives easier on the frontlines and just how much it infuriates me to see people not taking this seriously. Should I be cautioning you and spreading awareness about flattening the curve? Should I talk numbers and how anxious they make me as we look at the rising numbers every day from the midst of a 21-day lockdown? Should I talk about the fact that even as I say all this, I am feeling so incredibly guilty for how comfortable I am to be in my home with my family and living life with not much of a hindrance? Should I be asking you to think of the less fortunate, the ones who are affected the most? Should I ask you to donate, if you can, to food banks or to government funds, to aid small businesses, to think of the people in your employ or the ones you take rent from?

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The coronavirus curve we need to flatten, found on the CDC website.

Should I acknowledge my privilege in being able to sit down and write all this down for you? Or, should I talk about how scared I am of the uncertainty regarding our future, where the world we would be after this is over? I am scared of the economy I would be inheriting. How, as someone who is supposed to find a job in the upcoming year and has no idea what will happen with my internship the economic ruination this will bring terrifies me. Or perhaps, my hope that we all are kinder and value each other and just appreciate the little things much more?

Simply put, should I be talking about my fears for our present or the future? Or mundane things like how I am going to pass time now that my college is over? Perhaps, I should be distracting you from all this uncertainty and negativity, bring you my regular scheduled(Yes, I see the irony here.) content. Maybe you’ve had enough of all the negativity and just want to escape. So today, after 4 months of nothing, in the middle of a global pandemic, I ask you, What do I write to you?

THIS POST’S QUESTION: This is a unique post,the entire post itself is a question,so please,tell me,What content do you want to see from me? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

Growing up: The Story of my Favourite Colour

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s all about self-acceptance today.

When I was 4 and I just started going to school, my favourite colour was pink. I obviously did not remember that but my mum had asked me a bunch of questions when I was 4 one of which was about my favourite colour and just started school and I found a little notebook with the answers. They were quite interesting actually. I was a big fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. (One of the reasons I haven’t still watched the horror take on it. Sorry, not sorry.) There are also many photos of me with a lot of pink things so it is safe to say, that this can be considered a fact.

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Anyway, the bottom line is, my first recorded favourite colour was pink. Then, as I grew up and my interests and personality changed, naturally, so did my favourite colour. My next favourite colour was black. (Dun dun dun.) the very obvious question that must be asked is: why that very sudden and very polar shift in personal taste? How do you go from pink to black? Even in a color box set, those two are so far away?

I think I’ve figured out how. At 4, I started school. In school, I interacted with many people my age and older. I was told that pink is a ‘girly’ favourite colour. I was not a ‘girly’ girl though and I didn’t want to be misjudged on my favourite colour. Most of my friends were boys, I didn’t mind being messy or dirty, I liked sports and I liked to play rough. Does that sound like someone whose favourite colour is pink? 9 year old me believed it did not and since pink didn’t suit my personality I willed myself into making black my favourite colour. It was perfect. Apart from it being super dark to hear a 9-year-old say their favourite colour is black, the adults were always a tad weirded out.

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After that, as I grew up more, I came to a point where I had no favourite colour. If someone asked, I said I liked all colours equally or worse, I like rainbow colours. I thought I was a genius for saying that. This stemmed from the realisation that favourite colours are a childish thing and as a super grown-up teenager, I’m obviously politically correct and so wise, so no favourite colour it is. It was all going great except I realised pretty soon that I really don’t like green or orange all that much.

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As I reached adulthood, I found the maturity to accept, finally, once and for all, that I have many favourite colours but I do not love all colours equally. If I had to choose one, I’d say blue and that’s all. I also like pink and black and purple and yellow. Blue is just a colour that appeals to me right now and is not a statement about me being a ‘girly’ or ‘boyish’ girl or being ‘politically-correct’. It is simply a colour I have a preference for at this point in my life and it is for sure not a big deal.

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I’ve realised that growing up is about being open and accepting of these things about you. The little facts about you like your favourite colour, while seemingly trivial are still important and the only person whose opinion matters here is you. So to my twenties, I take with me acceptance of and joy in who I am, love and pride for all these little details about me, to be able to say my favourite colour is blue because it is and to not let society define my favourite colour. To live with one simple motto,” I am who I am. No apologies.”

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What was your childhood favourite color? What is it now? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Growing up: Roaring 20’s

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s finally D-Day today.

Hello everyone. Today, the 10th Of March 2019 is my 20th birthday. I have now existed for at least 2 decades,240 months,7300 days,175200 hours,10512000 minutes and 630720000 seconds. That is a long, long time. Today’s post is for all intents and purposes, my birthday post, where I look back, look ahead and at now, as well. Let’s begin.

20 years ago, I was a tiny, crying, very red baby just fresh into the world. It was still a whole another century and the world sat on the cusp of the 21st century with many hopes and dreams for the wave of modernity it represented. It was still the 90’s, the era of good television, great music and even better clothing. The 2000s were almost upon us, with their nightmare-inducing fashion choices, still good television and still decent music. It was a much simpler time.

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20 years hence, I am not-so-tiny, still crying, red no longer, very much an adult and already a little bit over the world. We are nearly 2 decades into the 21st century, which is running at such a pace that each decade feels like a century in itself. The world is, in some ways a better place but still, a work in progress with so much left to fix. It is a very complicated time.

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Not much has changed.

In these 20 years, I have learned and experienced so much. I have learned to talk and walk and eat and jump and run and so much more. I have completed 15 years of schooling,2 years of college and am so much wiser. (Questionable)I have trained in dance for 12 years and I’m still dancing. I have been to 9 countries,2 continents and have travelled to and seen a sizeable(yet tiny) chunk of the world. I have read and watched beautiful stories. I have opinions and thoughts and likes and dislikes. In these 20 years, that very red baby has become a person.

Turning 20 is a monumental birthday. It signals the end of another decade as well as of adolescence. I have grown a lot in this decade as well as my teenage years(Perhaps not in height but mentally yes) but I am honestly delighted to say goodbye to my teenage and all the ‘joys’ that puberty brings. I can, however, no longer blame my hormones for my behaviour, which is a tragedy. Thank you teenage, for making me the strong-willed woman I am today.

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20 for me is a birthday full of hope. I am finally entering my 20’s, the peak of my youth, the beginning of the years in which I find the life I will live henceforth. I have no idea where I will end up and this is the starting point. I will finish my formal education( Education itself is lifelong, only formally will I be done), I will get my first actual job(I have actually had a non-paid writing job for a not-for-profit organisation already), I will live in my first house, I may even get engaged and/or married!  How crazy is it that all these milestones of my life happen in just these 10 years!

All these are such “grown-up” things in my head and hence I find myself struggling a little with the concept of growing up around this birthday. I am no longer a “barely-adult” adult, now I am a real one even if I don’t necessarily feel like one. I want to take my 20 years of existing, take the best out of them and take it with me as I enter this phase of my life. I would like some more optimism, as the pressure of adulthood, as well my teenage rebellion, has taken quite a lot of it away already. I would like to know it’s okay to depend on people sometimes, okay to miss people and so great to feel love and be loved. I want to hope and have childlike imagination with responsibility and courage. With all this and much more, I launch into my roaring 20’s, here I come!

THIS POST’S QUESTION:  Are you going to/have turned 20? What did/are you feel(ing) like? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

Growing Up: Is it just a perpetual emo phase?

Let’s talk growing up this March, as I officially bid adieu to teenage. It’s all about emotions today.

When I was a child, I wouldn’t cry in any movies. Not at the biggest tearjerkers of the decade.Not at the most defining moments in television history. I will have to confirm with my parents but I might not even have cried when I was a baby and didn’t get the movies at all. You get it. I just wasn’t a big crier as far as fiction was concerned.

Cut to present day me. I can(Read: will) cry at the shortest dog or baby videos. I cry at advertisements, at stories, at a heartfelt message from someone I love, at moments in tv shows and movies that aren’t even supposed to make you cry, the list is endless. I can probably cry on demand now. It’s a tad….embarrassing.

So, what happened? What moment in the 2 decades(nearly) that I have been alive completely changed the way I was programmed and functioned and made me this person? How did I end up becoming the exact kind of adult that my kid self judged my mother for being? (Sorry mom, but you cried at everything and It was beyond me as to how you did it) How did I, the strong baby, the fierce kid, grow up to become a crybaby, an emotional adult?

Let’s start from the first time it ever happened. I remember because the first movie I cried in was an iconic moment in my life. Let us go back 6 years ago. I had just finished watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and as Hedwig’s Theme played for one last time during the credits, one solitary tear rolled down my cheek. My adventure in the Harry Potter universe was finally over, I didn’t have anything left to do now. As the credits ended, I was full on sobbing and lost my sobbing-in-a-movie virginity.

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That is the first time I full blown cried at the movies but it was understandable. A major part of my very young life had just ended. The truth though is, there was also an incident before that. While watching a Bollywood movie about three kids dealing with the realities of their mother’s terminal illness, I got overwhelmed and teary-eyed. But, that can be justified by my love for my mother and called a momentary lapse of my otherwise sealed-off tear ducts of steel.

The next incident I remember is when I cried a lot and I mean A LOT with my best friend while watching The Fault In Our Stars with my best friend. My mother was shocked to hear her stoic,always-straight-faced-at-the-movies daughter cried and didn’t believe it. She is probably shocked by this post too because we live far away and she might have not realised how bad it has become. (Hi, mom! I cry now.)

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After that, it is a blur and suddenly, years later here I am, an adult who cries at the drop of a hat. It is said that you cry when you feel too much of any emotion, when your body is no longer able to handle the level at which you are feeling the emotion, and definitely not just when you are happy or sad. The real question now is: How did I get afflicted with this tedious affliction? How did I suddenly learn to feel so deeply for fictional characters? Where and how did I find *shudders* emotion?

With much long and hard thought I have come to the realisation that maybe, just maybe this is what growing up is. Is it possible that I have begun to climb the tall mountain that is emotional maturity? I mean, I have dropped the walls I had around me. I have accepted my emotions as valid and something that I should feel and express freely. I have realised life is too short to be strong. And as I go into the next decade of my life, I’ve decided to take this with me. So, I’ll go be emotional and be very emotional, I’ll be unapologetically un-stoic, I’ll let go and I’ll cry a little. Or a lot. Whatever I want. Whatever I feel like.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Are you a big crier at the movies? Did you also have a sudden moment when your tear ducts just turned on at the movies? Let me know what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

Is high-end skincare worth it? (Kiehls)

Let’s talk about my experience trying a Kiehl’s based skincare routine today.

Hello, everyone! Today’s post is a bit different from my usual content on the blog and is about and itself an experiment. I’d love to hear how you feel about this and if you’d like to see more of these ‘experiments’.

Let me start off by saying, I don’t consider myself someone who is particularly interested in fashion or beauty. I am horrible at using most makeup, I can honestly barely even put on lipstick without messing up. I may not be interested in beauty but I have recently been developing some interest in skincare. The obvious question is, why is that?

Well, for one, skin care is more about health than ‘beauty’ per se. Second, I have struggled with my skin for years. I have sensitive skin that is acne prone, dry and oily at the same time, scars very easily and in general, has been quite difficult to me throughout my teenage. Now, that my teenage is nearly over(Just a month to go, yay!)  I am noticing that I have fewer breakouts and the oiliness is going down, but it is not magically 100 per cent clear and I don’t expect it to be.  Something I’d love to take into my 20’s is a skincare regime that works and also, more love for the skin I’ve basically hated for 7 years now.

I do have a general regime of sorts, I use a neem-based face wash for acne prone skin, aloe vera gel as a toner, an SPF lotion, a bit of moisturizer if my skin is feeling a bit dry and lip balm in my routine. I’ll also use a scrub weekly and a face pack once in a while. While it seems like an okay regime to me, I’ve always wondered if there is something I could use to make my skin be its best, be clearer, more manageable and most importantly, healthier?

With that, I’d like to launch into this experiment itself. I happened to see a sign outside a Kiehl’s store that said that you could get a free skin health checkup an nd 5 samples of their recommendation. Being a college student(You know how the word free is for college kids), I jumped up at the chance and went in and had the check up and was duly given the samples and was ready to go.

The Checkup

I met with one of their skin specialists who checked the oiliness of various parts of my face and we discussed my skin concerns, what I already do, what I would like to introduce etc. My combination skin, it’s acne prone nature, acne scars etc. were brought up and I told her I’d like products I can use to prevent it from flaring up and stay healthy.

The Recommendations

She recommended the following products to me and gave me samples for each of them. I had to use them in the order in which they are listed as part of my ‘ Kiehl’s recommended’ skincare regime.

  1. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Brightening & Exfoliating Daily Cleanser(A face cleanser)
  2. Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner Alcohol-free (A toner)
  3. Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution( A solution for skin discolourations)
  4. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream(A face moisturizer)
  5. Kiehl’s Ultra Light Daily UV Defense(A SPF lotion)
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My Instagram story about the samples.

The Experiment

I replaced my regular skincare routine entirely with their recommended products and used it for about 3 weeks which was the average time most samples lasted. Throughout the experiment, I did updates on my Instagram (Which is @musingsofawhimsicalsoul, if you’re interested you can follow me for behind the scenes content here )

Over the course of this experiment, I tried to stick to only the Kiehl’s regime as far as possible. I made updates on my trials and tribulations(Always the dramatic) with the products on my Instagram stories, some of which I  am sharing here as they cover pretty much all of my initial experience with the routine.

The verdict: Did it work? Is it worth the money?

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I started my verdict with my one week review Instagram story because my opinions didn’t change much over the course of the experiment and we can talk about each product individually as I transcribe(And some)

  1. Clearly Corrective Brightening and Exfoliating face cleanser: I like the face cleanser: I like the face cleanser! Once I got through the minor hiccup of getting it out, it works well and my face feels and looks clean and bright after!
  2. Calendula Herbal-Extract Toner: I like the toner too, it feels hydrating and my skin continues feeling clean after applying it.
  3. Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution: I dont know about the spot solution because I was told to not expect much from it as it a long term product. It doesn’t feel heavy though.
  4. Ultra facial cream: I’m not sure about the moisturiser because I’m noticing little bumps on my face and i did use my usual exfoliating scrub. These resolved after a while but were due to the moisturiser being heavy on parts of my face. My skin also felt a little dry. (Combination skin is such a boon, I tell you.)
  5. Ultra Light Daily UV Defense: The SPF seems okay although I look white as a ghost when I first put it on. (And it gave me a great fright one day) but it eventually gets absorbed.

According to the Kiehl’s website, the total price for each of these products comes to around $170, with the products having an average price of $34. I dont know about you, but I find this to be a pretty hefty amount to pay for skincare. I would be willing to do it if it made some great difference but the truth is, it didn’t. My skin was pretty much how it usually is, I had dryness, oiliness, minor breakouts and it felt pretty much the way it usually does. I realize this could be because I didn’t give the products enough time, or that samples aren’t enough to realize how good/bad a product is. Still, I can tell you for now that I do not feel like Kiehl’s is worth it. This is an opinion that could change but let it be stated I won’t be adding any Kiehl’s product to my skincare regime right now.

And, that’s all for me trying high-end skincare in the form of Kiehl’s!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Have you ever tried Kiehl’s or some other high end skincare brand? Do you think it’s worth it? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Third Blogversary!

Let’s talk about blogging for 3 years, what I’ve learned and take a trip down memory lane today.

Hi! Today is a milestone post. I made this very blog on the 7th of February in 2016 and published my first blog post the next day(Click here to read it!) which means I have now completed 3 years(on and off) blogging! Happy 3rd blogversary, Musings Of A Whimsical Soul and all you wonderful people who have given a young girl’s thoughts and opinions value here!

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In 3 years, the kind and content of the blog posts have changed and grown, much as I have. I made this blog when I was almost 17 and now I’m almost 20.  These have been very transformative years for me as a person and I feel quite fortunate to see my thoughts and their growth through the blog. In these 3 years, I became an adult(Read my post about my thoughts on that here!), I graduated from school (Read my post about that here!), I started college (Read my first post after starting college here!  ) and now I’ll be finishing with my teenage and starting my twenties. I am so thankful that I have all these milestones recorded on this blog. I find it to be the most wonderful thing and I love rereading the posts and cringing(a little) at little 16-year-old me.

3 years ago, I received just the most insane amount of love from this community when I joined it so much so that I ended up with 100 followers in one month! How crazy is that! Today, I’m at almost 1000 which completely blow my mind because just the fact that 1000 people care about what I have to say is HUGE and so completely wild.

I haven’t been the most regular around here because like I said, these are some of the biggest years of my life. When life got too hectic, the blog took a backseat. I wish it didn’t but I’m only human. Still, I can say I have 3 years of experience and there’s a lot I’ve learned and that might be helpful for new bloggers. I don’t want to be to sound too preachy but still, I’ve got three main tips that might be helpful to new bloggers or maybe even old ones and would love to hear some of yours. God knows I’m only an amateur here.

  • Be regular with your writing and posting

That is rich coming from me, i know, but I will tell you this. Regularity, having a posting and writing schedule will not only help you stay productive but also keep your readers engaged. You can stick to what works for you, I(try to) stick with a once a week schedule. You can choose twice, thrice a week or maybe even once a month. It will bring an organisation that will be so helpful to your blog for yourself and the readers.

  • Be careful to save your drafts 

This one comes from a painful,painful experience. I wrote an entire post on the Leaning Tower of Pisa for my Visting World Wonders series ( Click here for the last post of the series! and here for the first!) and then by chance, my browser refreshed,the draft hadn’t been saved and I lost all the pictures, the writing, everything. I was devastated and I am pretty sure I cried over it. (And as you might have noticed, I still haven’t got around to making that post again. This was in September 2018.) So, learn from my mistakes and always ALWAYS save your drafts.

  • Read, read and read!

WordPress has many wonderful blogs with many different kinds of content in them. Find your taste, your niche and read as much as possible. This goes for all writing, reading is the best thing you can do for your writing!

In conclusion, thank you for being so amazing to me for the last 3 years. It has been a blast. If the last three years are anything to go by, I cannot wait to see where the next 3 years will take us. To the next three!

THIS POST’S QUESTION: When did you start blogging? Do you have any tips from what you’ve learnt over your time blogging?  Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!