Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

As 2014 comes to an end (obligatory how-the-hell-did-that-happen?! comment here), I’d like to take one last look back.

For such a demanding year, I managed to contribute a lot to this space, and of that I’m very proud. Whatever 2015 brings in the way of employment, I hope to create, collaborate, experiment and play just as much—if not more.

By year’s end, Witty Title Here will have featured exactly 99 posts on adventure, careers, feminism, beer, books, how-to’s and life in Los Angeles. Some blogs easily churn out 2-3 times more than that, but I’m pleased with the (uneven) number 99. A lot of thought and care went into each and every one.

So here’s a look back at Witty Title Here‘s highlights of 2014. Whether you’re a new or longtime reader, you might find something you missed!

I kicked off the year by observing the strengths and weaknesses of the personality types to answer the question: What kind of creative are you? I also discovered one of my favorite new books and vowed to read more this year. (Success!)

In February, we talked about the importance of self-love (it’s sexy) and loving where you live now. (Don’t wait for the dream digs to nest.) I also checked out some of the best flea markets in Los Angeles.

The following month, I kicked off the Beer with a Blogger series, which has truly been one of the most enjoyable parts of blogging this year. (So many new friends!) I gave a few tips on where to look for inspiration when you’re in a creative rut and gave a tour of Pacific Beach in San Diego, which reminds me—I need to go back pronto.

Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

By April, I’d become a bit ambivalent about a lack of voice and opinion in the blog world and called upon myself and others to change that by leaving bland behind. Then I followed up by talking about the real meaning of the F-word.

Camping in Joshua Tree National Park was the highlight of May—wrapping up my first year of school was another, and I wrote a grad school survival guide based on my experience. I also wrote a guide on the best resources for staying up-to-date on the news and interviewed the author of one of the best books I’ve read all year.

I spent so much time on the computer this year that by June, I needed a reminder to step away from the computer and go play outside. I introduced you to a few of the best Los Angeles Instagrammers and spoke with two entrepreneurs about the challenges and joys of self-employment.

July marked a big anniversary—I celebrated one year in Los Angeles! That inspired me to launch the Summer Road Trip series, featuring a bunch of fellow adventure-seekers out on the road.

In August, I had my very first visitor and learned a few things about how to be a good host in a tiny apartment. During back-to-school season, I reminded myself of the true definition of “prioritizing” and how to stay focused on priority #1.

Witty Title Here: Best of 2014

School was my #1 priority in September, but I launched yet another series, Feminist to Follow, when I realized there are so many awesome bloggers and feminists out there whose voices could use all the help they can get to be heard.

I turned 25 in October and shared a few things I learned over the years (like how contrived lists of accomplishments we should have ticked off by now are bullshit). I also revealed the secret to befriending anybody—it’s not such a big secret—and raved about the Los Angeles Public Library system.

In November, I was dismayed by the time change and gave a few suggestions on how to deal when the days are short.

And finally, this month, careers were on my mind, so I talked about both ends of the career spectrum: how to be productive when no one’s hiring and why you should quit your job.

 That’s a lot of highlights! I hope you enjoyed reading Witty Title Here as much as I did writing for it. The best part of the whole blogging experience is making connections with you guys. Y’all are the real deal.

Thanks for reading, and cheers to all the good things to come in 2015. Now, if you celebrate, go enjoy the holiday. Merry Christmas!

Beer with a Blogger: Newhall Refinery in Santa Clarita

When you find yourself stressed out with finals and job applications and the holidays, sometimes all you need is to grab a pint with a new friend.

And my get-together with Stephanie was long overdue. Back when she was pregnant, we had planned to meet up but never got around to it. Now she has an adorable three-month-old son and is allowed to drink again, so it all worked out! (Except the part where I forgot my DSLR. Low-light iPhone photos FTW.)

Beer with a Blogger: Stephanie from Loudmouth Lifestyle

THE BLOGGER

Stephanie Shar from Loudmouth Lifestyle and Baby Loudmouth. (Stephanie is a new mom, works full-time and she runs two blogs. WHAT.) Stephanie moved to L.A. five years ago from Detroit and worked a few “normal” jobs before pursuing her own creative business. I adore Steph’s blog because she has an authentic—and appropriately loud—voice. I’m always engaged when I read her posts and feel like I know exactly who she is. And what you see on her blog is what you get in person. She’s warm, open, funny as hell and is one of those people who cuts right through the bullshit and calls it like she sees it. She’s a really easy person to talk to and is launching a kickass program called Loud Ladies to make 2015 awesome.

Here’s an excerpt from a recent post of hers that I loved and sums her up perfectly:

I tried to keep my thoughts and feelings about the events in Ferguson on Twitter and Instagram. I wanted to stay ‘professional’ and keep this space for my ‘business’ and keep the personal shit at bay. But I’m in the business of getting personal. Welcome to The Loudmouth Lifestyle.

Newhall Refinery in Santa Clarita Newhall Refinery

THE BAR

Newhall Refinery in Santa Clarita, a city 35 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. I loved the area right off the bat when I turned onto the adorable main street where parking was both free and a breeze. The bar itself has a very cozy, neighborhoody vibe (enhanced by their Christmas decorations) and is staffed by very friendly folks. They had at least six different kinds of Sierra Nevada on draft, and it looks like they change that out every once in a while—now their beer menu lists eight different kinds of Goose Island! I wasn’t hungry, but it was so tempting to order food. The place smelled of fried goodness, and the couple sitting next to me had a cookies and creme dessert that looked delicious.

Newhall Refinery Newhall Refinery

THE BEER

I love me some Sierra Nevada, so I ordered a Nooner Session IPA (4.8%). Steph, in true Loudmouth form, asked the bartender for the strongest IPA on tap. So she got an Avery DuganA Double IPA (8.5%). Also worth noting that the prices were totally reasonable. I had two beers (one 16-oz. and one 12-oz.) and paid 11 bucks plus tip. Considering what most L.A. bars will charge you, this was a refreshing change of pace.

Cassie and Stephanie

Needless to say, we had a blast. If I didn’t have to drive home, I would’ve had another beer or two and gotten a little silly. But we’ll definitely get together again. (I still need to meet that sweet babe of hers!) Make sure you check out Steph’s blog—and say hi on Twitter while you’re at it.

Are you a blogger living in (or visiting!) L.A.? Do you like beer? Shoot me an email at wittycassiehere (at) gmail (dot) com, and let’s go to happy hour!

Interweb Finds: Corgis on the beach, finding your blogging roots & more

bakery

Have you ever had an idea seemingly come out of nowhere that jolts your brain and prompts you into action?

(And I’m not just talking about the awesome T-shirt sayings that come to mind during a particularly hilarious and drunken conversation.)

Anyway, I had one of those ideas over the weekend, and I went to bed, woke up and still loved it. So I think that’s a good sign. I headed on over to the local library, got a library card (finally), and picked up a few books for research. I’m being a tease, because it’s not an idea I’ll share anytime soon, but it just got me thinking…

Other weekend highlights include eating Gelato al fresco, browsing the grocery store bakery above (like the pure frosting cheeseburgers), and announcing the winner to the Feminist Apparel giveaway! Congrats to Kiersten, a feminist after my own heart.

Now, for this week’s interweb finds:

Ten words every girl should learn.

Possibly the best thing ever: Corgi Beach Day. (The next one is the day after my birthday… I AM SO GOING. Even though I don’t have a corgi.)

Have you heard about the new film Boyhood? It was filmed over the course of 12 years in a young boy’s life.

People’s attitudes toward biking and cyclists can be pretty unreasonably charged with anger. Why is that? One alarming quote:

“A 2002 study found that drivers are far more likely to see a cyclist’s infraction as stemming from ineptitude or recklessness than an identical one committed by another driver.”

WARNING: cuteness overload. Seven kittens reacting in perfect unison to a shiny object.

Fellow bloggers and writers, have you found your blogging roots?

“You need to be rooted in blogland by something other than dreams of fame and fortune. Those roots, if they run deep enough, are what will sustain you through tough times. They’re what will allow you to be flexible, to go easy on yourself, and to keep pushing.”

A fascinating read about one man who studies and diagnoses depressed and OCD animals in zoos. Related: the case for the end of the modern zoo.

That’s all for this week! Now back to those library books.

 

wittycassiehere on Twitter

Leave bland behind: have a damn opinion

don't be a sheep

Do you ever feel like you’re playing things a little too safe?

Have you ever worried about offending people with your point of view (or your occasional tendency to use the word “shitastic”)?

I have. And you know what I think? Screw that nonsense.

Listen, I’m pretty even-tempered. Call it a Libra thing, but I try to see the validity in every argument that seems fair, sane and logical. And while this isn’t always the most productive behavior, I tend to avoid confrontation at all costs. So I’m not what you’d call the world’s most opinionated person.

That said, I’ve got an opinion to share. I’m a little bored with the blogging culture of trying to appeal to a wide audience by pleasing everyone and never coming near anything even remotely controversial. Maybe that’s just where I am as a writer and a reader, but I want a bit of challenging commentary thrown in the mix from time to time.

I believe there’s a simple explanation for why so many bloggers burn out. We’re trying to be happy and creative and professional all the time, and that can be difficult to maintain. For the sake of transparency, we might pen an honest and open essay about our experiences with burnout to feel better and get some encouraging comments in response, but then we go right back to doing the same old thing. Until the next bout of burnout hits.

Don’t get me wrong—I love reading inspirational and light-hearted posts. They brighten my mood and fill my need for passive entertainment. Clearly, I enjoy writing that stuff, too. But if I were new to the personal/lifestyle blogging scene and was toying with the idea of starting my own site now, I’d be under the impression that there’s only one path to success. And I’d probably be so overwhelmed by the notion that everything has been said (over and over) that I might as well not even bother.

But really, I don’t think that’s true at all. All that’s missing is a little flair.

“Be yourself” is such common advice not only from our moms but also from fellow bloggers writing how-to’s on the craft. Those words are so commonly thrown around that they’ve almost lost their meaning. So I propose this saying instead:

Be yourself. ALL of yourself.

Be smart, funny, thoughtful, sincere, inspirational and whatever else it is that truly makes you you. And if you have something to say? Have a damn opinion. Unapologetically.

Let’s stop over-thinking, second-guessing and censoring ourselves, and let’s begin embracing, celebrating and acknowledging our differences in opinions and ideas. I see so many great minds expressing themselves on Twitter calling out assholery and inequality. We should be extending those conversations on our blogs, encouraging discussions in the comments section and not worrying whether someone will disagree. (Because it’s okay if they do.) At the very least, I’d like to see a stronger commitment to the ideas we put out there, rather than wishy-washy language such as “I feel like” or “maybe it’s just me, but.”

You might be thinking, “Yeah, but I’m a design blogger. This doesn’t really apply to me.” I beg to differ.

If you’re a designer who wants to see the chevron trend die already, say so. If you’re a professional photographer who sees novices making the same cringe-worthy mistakes over and over, help them by pointing it out. If you’re a feminist who has a problem with sexist language in an ad or article, call the creators out on it. We’d be doing a service not only to ourselves by doing so, but to the blogging world as a whole. We have so much to say, and it does no one favors when we hold back for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

I have too much respect for myself and my fellow bloggers to strive for blandness. I intend to take a stance on the things that matter most to me.

How about you? What do you think is worth speaking up about?

Psst. You can highlight any text in this blog post to tweet it. Try it out!

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Where to look for inspiration

When I’m at a loss for something to write about, there’s usually a very simple explanation.

It usually means I’ve been stuck in a routine for too long, hunched over a computer for too long, overworked, under-exercised and/or lacking in sleep. (Conversely, being bored can have that effect too, though since grad school took over my life, I haven’t had that problem once.)

Despite my best efforts to fill out some semblance of an editorial calendar every month, I sometimes come up short on blogging ideas—or, the ideas I jotted down before no longer interest me. Luckily, it doesn’t last too long, because I know where to look for inspiration.

where to look for inspiration

Whether you’re a blogger or not, if you sometimes suffer from a lack of inspiration, these ideas will spark your creativity:

Go through your old photos. I’m always browsing through my photos to find something to go along with a blog post, but sometimes I go through my library before writing to see if I get any new ideas. Plus, it’s always fun to reminisce on a special day or trip. (Does anyone print out photos anymore? That’s something I’d like to start doing again.)

Find quotes by your favorite authors/artists/musicians. When a quote really resonates with you, it inspires an inner dialogue, either reaffirming something you believe in a more eloquent way or challenging you to think about something differently. Write down your thoughts and don’t edit yourself.

Talk to people who are much younger or much older than you are. Nothing like a kid’s innocent honesty or a grandparent’s wise insight to completely change your perspective, right? Whether it’s an eight-year-old or an 80-year-old, there’s always something to learn from them. (That obviously goes for different races, religions and gender identities, as well.) Expand your social circle and expand your horizons.

Make a list. A bucket list. A reverse bucket list. Places you’d like to visit. Things you’re really good at. People you admire. Books you really should read. People you should really call.

Play tourist in your own city. Think you’ve seen everything there is to see? Challenge yourself to find something new. If you drive everywhere you go, commit to an afternoon of walking around—even if it’s just in one area of a spread-out town—and you’ll likely notice things you’ve never noticed before.

Get off the Internet. File this under “advice to self.”  You can only aimlessly click through the black hole that is The Web for so long before you absorb exactly nothing you’ve read, and let’s face it—you’re checking Facebook more often than is healthy or normal. Pry your claw-shaped hands off the keyboard, close the laptop and stretch your limbs in the big, open space known as “outside.”

 Have you found yourself in an inspiration rut lately? How do you pull yourself out of it?

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