What Is A Blog? How Can You Start One Today?

What is a Blog?

If you asked this question around 2005, not many people knew what blog was and what that word meant. Now many people are writing on blog today and blogging has became a huge phenomenon. There are many free ways to start a blog such as from blogger and wordpress sites. There are hosted sites you can get from website hosting companies.

While my blog is surely not about how to start blogging or making money, I do often get asked by new readers who may want to start a blog, either to express themselves, show off their recipes, poems and what not. I am certainly not blog expert, but I know a few things since blogging since mid 2009, it has been over 3.5 years so I have picked up things that I want to share.

One caution is, blogging is never get rich quick thing for most of us, I am blogging for a few years and making money takes time and true passion. If one want to make money, then keyword and seo is important. I recommend expert such as Pat Flynn at smart Passive Income blog and Darren at Problogger to find out more on how to blog for making money as they are far better and expert in the blogging to make money field.

I started out on free blogger site first. However, I personally prefer to have my own site hosted on web hosting account, as it give me more control over design and content of my blog sites. I use BlueHost for hosting and I am quite happy with them. However there are many web hosting choices to choose from.

If you are starting out check out how to get blog set up  and website tools needed to get you started off on right Path.

Various Types of Blogs and Sites

As long there is a internet alive, blogging will be too and it has future. It may change with time as internet changes.

Type of Blogs:

Personal Blogs: This is where people write about themselves as a journal, to keep in touch with long distance friends and families, to create a online journal to keep a goal such as losing weight or saving money etc.,

Information Blog: These type of blogs are great for sharing and learning about some particular topic such as gardening, cooking or fitness.

Some people do it for fun, some do it for making money. I like to do it for mostly fun, however it would be nice to make money to recover cost involving hosting, domain and time spent a little for most people.

Details about Type of Sites:

Static Websites: These type of website do not change, they are usually few pages long and have information about one subject and people can learn, click and go. Example includes many bank sites, picture images site, how to articles.

Blog: Blog is where content is often updated and posted. Some on daily basis or some on weekly basis. People can blog how often they like about one subject to multi subjects they like. Fresh content makes it easier for search engine to find and rank your site. That is one of the reason many site including corporates site now has a blog section.

Forum: Some site has a blog and forums and some sites are only forums on specific topic. Even many money and parenting sites has several forums which are quite popular among people. It could be addicting. Forums are best for asking questions and learning from it.

Knowledge/Wiki: Some sites are open for others to share their reviews or point such as IMDB or wikipedia, where people may learn and post knowledge they have.

Podcast Blog: These type of sites have audio based postings, such as interviews you can listen to, music you can listen to and so on. It seems to be popular with many people who can listen to podcast while driving or doing other things.

Video Site: You tube, Vimeo are popular example of these sites that are big. One can start his or her video blog by recording a topic or places to put on the blogs and share the knowledge on subject they are expert on.

I think it is best to use all or some combination of above types of site to get more exposure! What is your view on blog sites?

How To Be An Effective Listener

I admit, I am outspoken person, that means talking comes easy and listening is harder. If we want to be a better friend, a better spouse, a better leader, listening skill is equally important skill to master for all of us. All too often we are far more enthusiastic about talking than we are listening.  Yet it is so vital if we are to communicate effectively.  Most break downs in relationships are caused because people talk at each other without really making contact.  Unless someone hears what has been said including the subtext the words have little value.

One of the biggest problem I have during listening is when person is talking, I am already thinking of counter sentence or reply to what the person is saying without really focusing on 100% listening. I hear but I do not listen properly. One time, I promise Zenguy that I will completely listen to him, without interrupting and counter outwitting him. I came to realize I am was bad at listening part. Since then I have decided to search on how to be a better listener. While I am improving, I still have ways to go. Here are some key point that I have learned which may help you as well having a better relationship with your spouse, kids, co-workers and friends.

Why Listening is Best for Relation Building:

  1. When we are actively listened to we feel valued and are far more likely to engage in negotiation and compromise.
  2. Listening is about far more than words.  Watching facial expression and body language is often a far more accurate barometer than the words that are being used.
  3. Nice things being said where the smile doesn’t reach the eyes is an obvious example.
  4. To be an effective listener it is vital that you listen actively.

How to Be An Effective Listener: 8 ways to becoming a more effective listener:

While, there are many ways to be a best listener, here are top 10 key points that will make a you a better person, a better leader, a better spouse and a better parent or friend just simply by listening and giving importance to other person’s point of view. After all, we all want to be appreciated for what we are, what we say and do.

  1. The main thing when you listen is to make an eye contact during listening to the person so he or she knows you are focusing on what he or she has to say.
  2. Read the body language of the talker.  Are they relaxed, anxious, angry? Extremes are easy to recognize but often the message is much more subtle. Try to also focus on your body language to keep it neutral, specially if conversation is opposite of your view point. Mirror the talker’s body language- subtly, a gentle dance rather than a caricature.
  3. Show that you are listening, make a nod, make appropriate responses as required truly.
  4. If possible, Ask relevant questions, ask them to clarify if you are not clear about their meaning, when they finished talking the sentence. Wait until they take a break, try not to interrupt in middle of the sentence. Summarize: so what you are saying is……….so they know what you understood is correct or not.
  5. Use open ended questions, the who, what, where, when to make sense of it all. (if there is a confusion)
  6. Be careful of the tone of your voice when you respond or ask questions.  It is all to easy to come across as judgmental and hostile. That would defeat the purpose of a good listener, right?
  7. Use empathy. Acknowledge difficulties, but be careful not to fall into the trap of going into anecdotes from your experience.  “ I sense that you are finding this rather difficult” rather than “Oh I know, it happened to me but mine was bigger, more difficult etc” Try  not to relay your own experience and give them solution. Many times, people do not want solutions, they just want to be heard.
  8. Take a real interest, if you are simply going through the motions the lack of sincerity will be obvious to others.  Leave your problems, worries and ego behind when listening to other person. I sometimes find myself thinking of what to make for dinner or pay bills, that will not be obvious to person talking and not make things better. Leave other things behind for little while.


Keep practicing, if you do not succeed first time, try again and again. It will become easier. Practice with your best friend, spouse or your mom. When someone truly listens to you, without any judgement or interruptions, you will end up feeling so fulfilled and know how great it feels to be listened to and be understood. After that you want to make other people feel that way as well, it is contiguous.

image source: soulsistasheart.blogspot.com

101 changes: Change 11 – Bring Out The Artist In You

Creative Paint Brushes

I am writing a series of 101 small changes that we can make to make the quality of our life better and build and lead a more happier life that is in tune with our heart and mind. These are small changes that I have made and am working on right now, so I know they are possible for anyone to do.

If you have not read previous posts, check out a few posts on the changes from the past:

101 changes: Change 1- Reduce Drinking Soda

101 changes: Change 2: Getting to email Zen

101 changes: Change 3: Slow down- Slow blogging movement

101 changes: Change 4 – Plant something

101 changes: Change 5 – Smile when you wake up

101 changes: Change 6:: Read a book – Benefits of reading

101 changes: Change 7 – Watch less Television and Be more productive

101 changes: Change 8 – Stretch your comfort zone

101 changes: Change 9:  Drink to your health- Benefits of Drinking Tea


There is little artist in ALL of us, yes you too. Even if you think you simply can not draw, or write or tell poems, stories, tall tales or any other type of artist ability, think again as we all can be creative artist in our own ways! Let me show you how.

So what is Artistic Ability?

Artistic ability to think and work creatively, that means, create something new out of ordinary. It simply could mean, drawing what you feel, writing or telling something you feel passionate about, something you abhor about. It could mean using something in unexpected way, such as broken chair in to plant stand, making new recipe from leftover and so on.

Not only I think that way but many experts also seems to feel that all of us some type of artistic ability in us, we just need to encourage it and see it in us, believe in it.

What is considered Art?

When thinking of art, many people think of Paintings and famous artist such as Van Gogh and Picasso. While painting is certainly art, but it is not ONLY art in life. Here are some other talent that may fall under “art” or “artistic ability”.

  • Painting
  • Sketching
  • Writing short stories, novels (fiction and non fiction)
  • Poetry
  • Music (playing, listening)
  • Telling stories, making speech (we all do that!)
  • Cooking, creating minor adjustment with ingredients to creating to new recipes
  • Photography
  • Landscaping ideas
  • Being frugal can be creative hence artistic (saving money sure takes creativity)
  • Making Money (also creativity certainly helps)
  • Making crafts design such as jewelry, pottery, clay, sand design and so on
  • Reading can be creative as well as it gives us new thoughts

As one can see being creative and being artist goes hand in hand. It is not only that we all do that, it also helps us cope with life’s up and down!

Creative Artistic are Born or Made?

Now many may ponder are we born creative or artistic or that is something we learn over our life time. Is that something you just do, or is it spiritual part of journey? If your parents were artistic does that mean, you will have higher chance of being artistic or creative?

While I am not sure about hereditary or spiritual part, I do know one thing for sure, all of us are born with creative ability or artistic ability in us. Some of us practiced it well and know how to use it, for rest of us, we need to tap and bring out the artistic side hidden behind our daily and busy persona.

Some people’s profession demands creativity and artistic expression such as musician for example, however if you are an accountant with desk job or busy housewife like myself, we can still use and believe in our artistic ability in our life.

How do you See Yourself?

We all human beings (and also other living beings) are mixture of our experience from childhood, friendship, books we have read, movies we have seen, music we listen to and people we see and hang out with. All these experience creates memories in our brain. Our brain’s memories and our perception of make us who we are; sometimes we have memories and experience of being creative, sometimes, one or both of parents, teacher have shown us that we have artistic side to us hence we tend to think “I am creative” or “I am artistic”. If our experience are different then we may think of ourselves to “I am not creative type” or “I can not do art”. But you see that is not who we might be as all of us some creative side inside us, if our parents, teacher, or friend’s memories did not show it, let’s show it our brain or mind that we are; because I am telling you that you are creative!

How to Increase your creative side or artistic ability?

So, how do we cultivate or bring about increasing our creativity or artistic ability? I consider these few tips will help bring out our hidden creative and artistic side out in open; Try it and let me know if it works for you or if you want to add suggestion of yours.

Simple Tips to Be Creative:

1. Listen to your Heart:

Oftentimes, we are bombarded with expert suggestions from Media such as Television, Radio, News Paper, Magazines and Advertisement. You may listen to expert advises, celebrity idols, friend or family’s opinions, but listen to your own gut feeling and go with what you feel is right. True friends and family will love you even when you do not choose what they said. Media and celebrities will not care, as they do not know us personally. Follow your heart or gut feelings.

2. Limit Choices:

In preschool and kindergarten, when kids were given more than 2 choices of snacks, they felt confused and unable to make choice easily. Same thing happens to us adults too, so limit the choice to choose from to minimum of 2 or most at 3. If you have many choices, cut down to 2 or 3 semi final choices to choose from.

3. Have routine but not schedule.

Having familiar routine to follow is re-assuring for kids and adults alike. For example, when I do not follow routine of writing on blog, it falls apart. Having schedule posts is sure ways to kill creativity, as it can not be forced.

Have routine and spontaneity in life no matter what you do, be it cooking, creating art, or music but do not have rigid schedule to kill your enthusiasm. Being creative works when we feel free and freedom to choose!

4. Do Not be Perfectionist

I know this very well, as I used to be one! my 6 year old is going through this, as he is taking piano class, he gets very upset when he does not play perfectly, even though he has learned the new song just 5 minutes ago! We are working on it. Being perfect kills creativity as goal of creativity is never to be perfect but to create something new out of ordinary. As I mentioned earlier, creativity works best when we are feeling free, and being perfect is not freeing!.

Just try to do your best, give your energy 100% to task which may or may not perfect, but it will be creative.

5. Forget Trends and Follow your passion:

Trends and fads are temporary! They maybe popular today and gone next day! When we try to follow other people’s success story, it simply does not work. When I left my six figure income to be home, it certainly was not popular in my friends and family and even I doubted my own heart occasionally thinking am I wrong? I might be bit poor compared to my working and making money from blog friends but I am certainly following my heart, if not my passion. This goes back to tip #1 that listen to our own gut feeling.

You can be artistic in making wood furniture or renovating old furniture, one does not need to be Picasso to be creative or an artist.

6. Create your future, forget past

Many of us get lost in past, including myself. It may sound silly, but we let our past dictate our future. For example, I have not published any fiction since being rejected from publisher when I was teen. I have since then published a few non fiction in magazine and books but my fictions I am scared to share. I am blocking my own creativity and working on changing that. If you also want to bring out creativity, forget past, create new you based on what you feel today.

7. Practice artistic creativity:

If you think you are not artistic or want to improve your artistic ability, practice. Practice makes things better. Sometimes having support from family member, friend, teacher or co-worker can boost us further in creativity, in addition to those support, we can also practice and support our own brain memories to help us realize our own creativity. Here are a few simple ways to practice being artistic;

  1. Get inspired, see people and things around you in new ways.
  2. Visit art museum, look at the painting, sculpture. Tell a tale about painting to a friend who was not there, write down short paragraph on the art itself, or draw something based on what you saw.
  3. Write a letter (not an email) to a friend or uncle who lives far away. Tell them what you have been upto and what are you working on.
  4. Look at people, kids and imagine funny joke or story based on what you saw. Find humor, irony or heart touching thoughts from those moments.
  5. Think of dreaded question of “what is for dinner?” by thinking of creating something out of leftover or decide where to go to eat by thinking creatively.
  6. Write down or think about questions that can not be answered in “yes” or “no”, by asking open ended and thought provoking question to yourself such as: “what do I like to do when I am free”, “what is my passion”, “what was best moment in my life?” and so on to increase creative thinking process.
  7. Combine ideas, when you and other person have different thoughts you can sometimes combine thoughts or ideas to not only compromise but also create totally new solution that may work for both of you.
  8. Write daily journal. It does not have be fancy, or only for your eyes. Writing your thoughts down will help you formulate your own thoughts. Create little stories to share your day and read them later just to see how far you may have come along since early days.
  9. Look at clouds, trees and your own doodle when you were bored to find shapes, and images just for fun!
  10. When unable to make a choice, think out of box to see how many other ways solution or resolution can be made? how many will work in reality?
  11. Be around people who you think are creative, artistic and positive influence. If you can not find such people, you can read about creative people in books, biographies to learn from them.
  12. Believe in yourself. Our mind is very powerful, it will manifest future you think, so think positive.

All of us have creative side, by believing in ourselves and listening to our own heart, all of us can be an artist and creative genius in our own way, without being famous! So go today and explore your artistic side!


Image source: freelance folder.com

Are You Stuck? 21 Ways to Feel UnStuck and Change Your Life

Have you ever felt stuck in life? No matter what you do, your life is not moving in right direction and it just feels stuck in a rut? Believe me I have been there often. You can read many self help books, find a career or life coach, but unless we are ready to make change within ourselves nothing will work out. Other books, coach can help only when we are ready to make change within ourselves.

I am going to share 100 simple and free ways to quickly change your life in from stuck to moving on right direction again. Only if you willing to take action on it, this free guide will change your life. It is okay to feel stuck or down, but we can pick ourselves again by doing simple and doable steps. Ready?

1. Do nothing for 5 minutes:; When you feel stuck or overwhelm, do not go in to productivity mode just yet. Recharge yourself first. Close your eyes, sit in Sun or drink your favorite cup of coffee, juice or tea. Leave worries on table for just five minutes, just try the best you can. Now you are ready for next steps.

2. No distractions: Shut off your cell phone, TV, and close your computer, emails. Tell everyone not to disturb for next 20-30 minutes. Go to quite place or room corner.

3. Sit down: Take a seat at table and chair and take a notebook, piece of paper and pen in front of you to note down ideas and issues.

4. Write down Issues: Write down whatever that is bothering you or making you feel stuck. Do not try to worry about solutions yet.

5. Write down Good things: Now that you have written things are are not good in your life or what is bothering you, next step is write down things are working for you and things that makes you happy. It could be kids, new bonus however small it is write it down in next page.

6. Write down on your passion, dreams: Do not worry about how crazy your dreams you may think they are, write it down in new page: all of your dreams, passions and what you envision your life would be if everything was going great for you and what you loved.

7. Just write: You have 30 minutes total to do this, so do not worry about grammar, your handwriting skills or copy writing skills. This list is for your eyes only, just write what you feel inside, without worrying about other things.

8. Leave writing and take a break: Generally it should take about 20-30 minutes to do this, if you need more or less time, that is okay too. After you write it all down, leave the list as it is. Do not make changes or correction. Take another 5 minutes break.

9.  Read the list: Read the list to see what are your dreams, what is bothering you and what is good in your life right now. You will notice that there might be a connection between your dreams, passions and what is bothering you. How? You are probably not living life according to your passion or dream or way you envisioned your life.

10. Analyze the List: I would suggest that you analyze the list next day as too much of critical thinking can take a toll at once. Do it slow. Come back to that list again next day when you are relaxed.  Do following;

11. Changing/updating: Is anything on list needs changing: adding or taking off? Do so, with light pencil, so you can still see the original writing.

12. Set realistic goals: What are realistic ways to achieve your dreams and what is bothering you? If you have one of the issue which might not be realistic then rethink. For example, you can only control what you can do not, if you want a raise by your boss, you can work hard, but you can not change your boss’s mind to give you raise.

13.Any Surprise?: Did anything on the list surprised you?  Is your life is not as bad as you thought? or worse than you had imagined it?

14. Plan: What are steps to take to reach your realistic dreams? What are the issues that making you feel stuck and are there any ways to simplify it?

15. Asking help: Can you ask for help from someone you know? Can your hire someone if you had budget? Do you have time to do that certain thing?

16. Lifestyle Changes: What are the things that you are willing to compromise to getting over what is bothering you? For example, if it is debt/money issues, you may choose to let go cable tv, newspaper subscriptions, or eating out less because being debt free is more important to you.

17. Daily Plan: Make a daily plan to do a small tasks towards it to achieve a little towards your goal and make sure you hold your self accountable for it. Reference to your notes that you did it first exercise again to see your progress daily. Some days it may feel slow and other days you may achieve a lot.

18. Be Consistent: Most important thing do not lose hope, even when you do not see the result, keep doing your work and keep focus on your goal. Be consistent.

19. Review goals: Change and update your list in 6 months of time to see what was bothering you 6 months ago is no longer an issue. You may have new issues to deal with, life is like that.

20. Focus on final result: Keep focus on your final goals, which may consist of short term, mid term and long term goals.

21. Reality: You will noticed that you may have still issues once in a while again in life, but if you worked and planned well, these issues will be smaller and less and less from before.


No matter how successful, rich or beautiful/handsome we might be, all of us goes through overwhelm and stuck feelings where nothing is going right in our life. We can choose to blame our destiny or do little things to change our life for better by focusing and making small changes. If I can do it, anyone of you can.

Other Resources to help you:

Finding Focus Books

Focus: Simplicity Manifesto in Age of Distraction

This book is written by simplicity and minimalist guru, I love: Leo Babauta. This book has a free and paid version with lot of goodies. I am not an affiliate with it, I simply think Leo is great at sharing his views on finding focus in age of so many distraction: In Leo’s own words: “It’s about finding the focus you need to create, to work on what’s important, to reflect, to find peace.”

Click here for Free version: Focus: Free Version

Click here to check out Premium version : Full Version Of Focus

Now Discover Your Strength

This book is one of the best selling book written by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. This book describes 34 different types of strengths that a person may have. Based on measurement of these strengths.  The book makes the interesting point that it is most effective trying to build on these strengths rather trying to identify and improve upon weaknesses.


Inspirational Videos About feeling stuck and finding Focus:

1. When life is pulling you down, watch this short video (5 minutes) to read these words, in addition to these 21 steps.

2. 20 Words to encourage you when you are feeling stuck:

Other Great Reading

7 Ways to stop feeling stuck: Pick the Brain

Feeling Stuck: Try This: Chris G.

7 Ways to overcoming overwhelm

Your Turn

How do you find focus in your life? What works for you?
Zengirl/Preeti Bhatt