WHY CENPHO ROCKS

Enjoying Joyride Taco House on Central.
Enjoying Joyride Taco House on Central.

I’ve been tasked to explain why I like Phoenix better than Tempe, why to me that it makes me feel more alive than being in Tempe does. I’ve tried many times to verbally explain it, but well, I’m a writer and not so good with the spoken word. So here I will attempt to put into written words the things Phoenix makes me feel.

To that end I was fortunate to find Upwards Projects blog post about Federal Pizza featuring Old Bisbee Brewing Co. beers. It gave me the platform and foundation for what it is that I find invigorating about Phoenix.

First, I am an energetic, passionate, outgoing, social butterfly who loves old brick buildings and busy bustling hot spots. I love texture, wether it’s in the fabric of a wall paper or the people around me. The sounds of their voices and the energy of their collective souls is like my heartbeat. This makes me feel alive and I come by it, well, historically and a bit naturally I presume.

See I’m from the funkiest place in Arizona. I was born and raised in Bisbee, AZ.  A small, quirky, eclectic and friendly little town about 200 miles southeast of Phoenix. My dad and step mom still live in the same 100 year old rock house where I spent many summers. Bisbee has charm. Bisbee is bucolic. Bisbee is where copper miners, hippies, bikers, Daughters Of The American Revolution (DAR), church folk, CEOs and politicos all lived, socialized and played bridge together. People in Bisbee were friendly and neighborly when I was growing up. We knew everyone and visa versa. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes not so much. Anyway, I loved the ‘feel’ of Bisbee. The old buildings, the musty library, the creaky floors of my house. Going to Mrs. Browders’ candy shop and spending the two cents I had just found under my bed on candy, or putting some plastic horse on “layaway.” Going to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream after my sister’s softball team won a game.

I know you’re probably wondering, “What the hell does that have to do with Phoenix? Good lord it’s huge in comparison, and well, most developers have been quick to tear down just about any building over 10 years old just to put something new in it’s place!” And yes, in many ways you are right. But here’s what Phoenix is to me.

It’s the same place I’ve lived for the last 30 years, and for the most recent 17 I’ve lived in the same zip code, despite moving three times. It’s the place where I fought and beat breast cancer at the age of 23. It’s the place where my mom and I made a new start when Phelps Dodge moved the corporate headquarters from Douglas, AZ. It’s where I graduated from high school, met, fell in love with and married my son’s amazing dad. It’s where I had my adorable son, in the same hospital his dad was born in. It’s where I lived when I made it through journalism school while having said child.

But it isn’t just all the “living” that makes me like Phoenix better, although, one could argue, that’s enough. It’s because I’ve watched it grow and change. I’ve watched as Phoenix and local businesses and elected officials and neighbors all worked to create a very unique space in such a large area. Creating special places to eat, meet, drink, have coffee, shop and workout. Places like Windsor, Churn and Postino. Places like St. Frances, Chestnut and SideBar. Places like Hissy Fits, Paris Envy and Smeeks.

For the last 20 plus years I’ve watched as Phoenix somehow became a tight knit community of like-minded, yet very diverse people. People actually walk and ride their bikes now to these places. There isn’t the same cookie-cutter-ness (yes, not really a word, I am aware), that you find in many other parts of the Valley. You can sit in Lux Coffeebar and feel like you are in San Francisco or New York while you listen to light rail wiz along Central Ave. Visit Carmel’s Breakfast House on Camelback and sure enough you can almost hear the ocean as if you were in Newport Beach.

And in this joint venture that many have embarked on in making Phoenix different than the other ‘burbs here, the people have continue to be friendly, outgoing and helpful. At least that’s what I see every time I visit “home.” Somehow Phoenix has managed to create a huge, connected neighborhood out of some 40 or more square blocks.

What I see, and feel for that matter, is people want to be out, they want to be alive, and most importantly they WANT to connect with those around them. I don’t see or feel that in Tempe, at least not yet. But it’s harder to do that here. Like it used to be in Phoenix.

Phoenix is still where you’ll find 90 year old houses sitting next to more ‘modern’ Haver-like homes in little pockets of irrigated lots. Where kids can run and splash and slip in slide in the flooded yards like I did when I was a kid in my grandparents’ lot. (Yes, don’t remind me of the pollutants in the water, not my point here.) My point is that somehow Phoenix has managed to become this huge version of my childhood town. I don’t know if it really has or if I’m just seeing it how I want to see Phoenix, but I don’t think so.

It’s how I want my son to grow up. In this bigger version of my own childhood.  I waited a long time for Phoenix to become what I always dreamed it would be, and now it has, and for that I will always return to my “home” even if it’s just for an evening or a night supporting my home town through local venues like Federal Pizza, and for that I am grateful that Urban Phoenicians “get it.” They understand that it’s local involvement and community that really matters in the long run. Connecting with those around us, regardless of age, size, color, income etc. that makes life grand. Phoenicians want to get off the sofa and out in their front yard and meet their neighbors, and it doesn’t matter the size of city, they want to be neighborly. Urban Phoenicians KNOW it’s the Villiage that feed our collective souls and hearts, mine included.

The new “Modern Family”

Our Family
This is us. My family. My ex, his girlfriend, me, my son, my boyfriend and my mom.
Yep, we’re a crazy sorta love.

You’d think I’m crazy if you didn’t know me. Wait, yes, you would even if you did know me, but you know what, I’m okay with that. I love it. I’m a crazy sorta love with a crazy sorta family that I love. If I told you that I worry a lot about my ex husband and his girlfriend, you’d be surprised at what I worry about. No, not jealousy, no not crazy psycho problems, no not dead-beat dad stuff. Nope. It’s that they are doing great. I want them to be happy because I love them. I care about them, they are great people and two of my dearest friends. Weird, right? Well in today’s world of “It’s Complicated” relationships that have the expectations people have to hate each other if they no longer have an intimate, sexual relationship doesn’t fly with me. Life’s hard, messy, complicated and absolutely magical and beautiful. You choose. You pick which one it’s going to be for you: See the beauty in life and live or squeeze until you choke the life right out of it and you. I picked the former, so yeah, we’re kinda different but I like it that way and I consider myself and my family lucky, happy and a new kind of Modern Family.

~ BjW

Get Fit on a Bike Fast

Get Fit Fast On A Bike

BY BARBI WALKER

If your goals this year include getting fit or losing weight, biking is an ideal choice that’s not just for athletes anymore. Biking is a great way to lose weight, improve cardiovascular health, and gain muscle strength and endurance all in one sport. Bicycling burns a lot of calories. Riding at a moderate speed, around 13-15 mph, you can burn upwards of 500 calories per hour–done daily that equals 3,500 calories, which is enough to lose one pound in a week! Bicycling is a high-reward workout.

Fully geared and single-geared bicycles (also called fixies), mountain bikes, road bikes, and cruisers–anyone from out-of-shape beginners to fitness fanatics can find a bike to suit his or her needs. Even the heaviest of riders can reap quick health benefits from riding, and without risk of joint injury. Cycling is a non-impact exercise so your joints won’t take a beating f rom repetitive jarring or pounding. Getting started is as simple as getting on the bike and making a commitment to ride every day–just ask Jason Robert of Tempe.

Robert’s story

In the summer of 2009, Robert was watching the Tour de France while vacationing at his in-laws’ house in Nova Scotia when he had his epiphany. “I couldn’t believe the f itness levels these guys had, some of them older than me,” he says. Robert was 36 years old and weighed 285 pounds the day of that race, and it was then that he decided he wanted to change.

“I decided by the time I turned 40 I wanted to be in shape and fit,” says Robert, and it all started the minute he

arrived home. Robert says he was so serious that he went straight f rom Sky Harbor International Airport, luggage and all, to REI to buy a bike.

Making the commitment to get up every morning at 4:30 to ride through the quiet Arizona State University Research Park before it was busy with morning traffic was challenging, he says, but worth it.The time and location gave him a safe place to ride while increasing his confidence and fitness level. Working out and fitness were new to him, says the much slimmed-down cyclist, who completed his first half-ironman last December. To date, he has completed the Tour de Scottsdale, Tour de Tucson, and many triathlons.

Establishing a routine

Establishing a regular riding routine (or any fitness routine) is the first and most important step in slimming down and getting f itter. Commit to riding at least an hour a day, and at least f our days a week, to speed up your f itness level and weight loss, but aim f or seven days a week to get the greatest caloric def icit. Cycling builds lean muscle tissue, which causes your body to burn calories at a higher rate, upping your basal metabolic rate (BMI), and allowing you to continue burning calories long after you’ve peeled off your jersey. Once you’ve established your regular cycling routine, up the ante on your caloric burn with interval training.

Interval training speeds up the fat-burning process. One can accomplish this by alternating between bursts of high-intensity speed, pedaling as fast as you can for about 30 seconds, followed by returning to your regular speed. If you do this during your regular hour ride on alternate days over a two-week period, your ability to burn fat increases by 36 percent, according to research in Journal of Applied Physiology. In just those 30 seconds of full-throttle, all-out sprinting in your highest gear, you amp your body’s furnace.Astudy by Laval University found that sprinters who burned only half as many calories during a regular workout still lost more weight and burned more calories than those who worked out at longer, slower speeds.

Robert agrees. “High-intensity intervals a few times a week spike your metabolism, and we all live time- compressed lives, so make the most of your one-hour ride,” he says.

The important thing to remember is to ease into interval training. Build up your endurance, confidence and comfort if you are brand-new to fitness or cycling, then add in your 30-second sprints.

Proper nutrition is the last component for maximizing your fitness and weight loss. Think in terms of nutrition, not diet. Most fad diets will not provide the proper nutrition to maintain performance and sustained weight loss–any diet that isn’t balanced will fall short. “There’s plenty of disagreement about what to eat even among seasoned, successful athletes, coaches and sports nutritionists,” notes Selene Yeager, writer for Bicycling.comandcyclingexpert.Onethingtheyallagreeon,however,istheimportanceof eatingrealfood. Eatfoodthatisunprocessedandinitsnaturalform.Eatplentyof fruits,vegetables,andleanprotein,and avoid unsaturated fat, and you will see results quickly.

Few exercises can beat bicycling for quick and effective weight loss. With its low-impact nature and the ability for all ages to join in, bicycling is a sport to consider.

Barbi Walker is a freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. Barbi lives in Phoenix with her husband and young son.

SOURCES

bicycling.com

“Ride Your Way Lean: The Ultimate Plan for Burning Fat and Getting Fit on a Bike” and “Every Woman’s Guide to Cycling: Everything You Need to Know, From Buying Your First Bike to Winning Your First Race” Selene Yeager, Bicycling.

greenlivingaz.com https://www.greenlivingaz.com/2013/02/08/get-fit-fast-on-a-bike/

Simply

Yesterday I had two inspirational experiences. I’ve been questioning my path and direction a lot lately. I guess I’m not happy or content with my career’s path at the moment.

I’m a journalist, a writer, and insecurity and emotional turmoil are de ri·gueur, however these feelings have been more annoying than usual.

I met the most lovely man, Zang Toi, a couture fashion designer whom I interviewed for his trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue.

Let’s be clear here, I am not a fashionable person, nor a fashion journalist for that matter. But I LOVE clothes, always have, even when I was little. And more than that I really LOVE people ~ I also adore learning about them (sociologist minor here).

As I listened to him, as I watched him talk about his beautiful clothes, I was struck by his spirit. He was warm, engaging, friendly and not an air of hautiness?? He too loved what he was doing. He talked to everyone. He smiled at everyone.

This warm, happy man, the seventh child who grew up helping out in his father’s Malaysian grocery store, was humble. Toi was grateful to his family, his clients and his fortune.

When I asked him what inspired him, he
said simply; beauty.

So eloquently, in his heavily accented English, he said it is his place in life to make women feel beautiful. To make beautiful clothes for women so they feel good.

Simply, he said; “We aren’t curing cancer, we aren’t saving lives as designers, but I see it as my place to make women feel beautiful.”

Yet, he recently raised over $600,000 for breast cancer research with his clothing.

A man whose elegance, whose humble belief is that it is his “place” in this world just to make women feel beautiful, also finds a way to help eradicate a disease that makes women feel ugly.

What could be more beautiful than that?

As I walked away from my interview, I questioned my “place” in life. “What is it that makes me happy? What joy do I share with others that brings them happiness?”

My lunch with my new “Tribe” mom, Preethy Kalbara, closed the loop on that question.

Originally we met to discuss collaboration on a book she wants to write, but the conversation turned more to a “life coach” counseling session.

As we talked, we discussed the challenges of being EMUS – Educated Moms in Urban Society (EMUS) – MY made up acronym for moms who are educated, and are blessed to not HAVE to work, but want to do something more, to give back to our communities, but struggle with how to manage it AND be a good mom to our kids. Moms who struggle to find our place.

She made me laugh, she gave me killer quotes, inspirational ideas and she asked me a tough question: do I really want to write?

I actually thought about it before I answered her, which surprised me.

I do. I most definitely do.

BUT not how I’ve been doing it lately. I want to do something different, more. Simply, I want to LOVE writing and I want to make people happy when they read my writing. I want to show them something they haven’t seen or thought of before. I want to SHOW THEM beauty.

K – that wasn’t SO simple, but I think you get the picture: I want to make people happier, even if it is for just a moment in their day.

So I write this as much for you dear reader as for me, the anxious, insecure, disorganized writer. I write this hoping I am starting a new chapter.

I also hope I put a smile on your face and thank you for reading.

Oh Sweet Republic!

Good lord, I am addicted and I blame my son…

Okay that’s not entirely true. But it was for him that I recently bought a pint of Sweet Republic’s real mint chip ice cream while I was doing research for my upcoming article for Green Living AZ Magazines November issue.

The story is about food, and well ice cream is food, right?

Sweet Republic makes their ice cream by hand with unique flavors, including lavender, apple-wood smoked bacon and Arizona medjool dates. So in my never ending quest to expose my family to healthy, fresh, local food and ingredients I reasoned since Sweet Republic uses real mint from Maya’s Farm at South Mountain I was killing a few birds with one stone (excuse the reference).

I also figured the ice cream wouldn’t create an issue with me because I’m not really a mint or ice cream person. Never mind all the four and five star ratings on Yelp for Sweet Republic. Or that one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appétit,  named them as number 1 ice cream shop in America.  Or that Alton Brown voted their toffee banofi sundae as The Best Thing I Ever Ate on the Food Network. I was safe.

Sadly I was wrong on both accounts.

Although my son loves mint chip ice cream, the fresh mint is a bit much for my 4-year-old’s palate.

Mine, however, LOVES the stuff!

The delicate, aromatic mint is so exquisite that I cannot stop sneaking bites every couple of hours…

Oooh Sweet Republic!

My Food Obsession

I just recently realized I have an obsession with food.

Yes, I know for most of you that know me you may be thinking, “Really, you just now figured that out?”

And I answer, yes. But it’s not the kind of obsession of how many calories in versus how many calories I burn off or can I eat this and not get fat, kind of obsession. Not that I haven’t done that in the past, and quite frankly, I think that kind of obsession created a weight problem for me at one time. But when I decided to quite worrying about food that way and started looking at food differently, like what’s it really made of, I started looking and feeling better.

I read nutrition labels, cookbooks, articles on food and recipes like novels. Many of the stories I write for Green Living Magazine  have some kind of food component in them. In fact I recently did a story about waste generated at football sporting events and I wasn’t too excited about it until I came across this little nugget:

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food waste is the number one item being thrown into landfills.

This information got me excited about the story. No, not because of the amount and detriment to the environment this causes (which are huge by the way – food waste produces methane that escapes into the ozone if it isn’t composted), but because of the connection between food and the environment.

I have long been a proponent of whole, healthy REAL food. Food that is close to its natural origins, even if it is meat or chicken. If you look at it you should be able to recognize what it is.

As I have become more “obsessed” with this aspect of food I also become more aware of my son’s eating habits. I do my best not to make food an issue, but I want him to understand choices he makes when it comes to food. For instance he does not like walnuts. But I tell him to try them every now and then. To at least see if he likes them prepared this way or that. I let him know why they are good for him and then let it go. Because as a kid I HATED walnuts, I hated all nuts. In fact I remember my mother, aunts and grandmother always trying to get us to eat them. They would hide them in things or put them in baked things they didn’t want to share with us (hmmmm….smart!).

But you know what? I LOVE them now. I will eat them raw, put them on a salad, eat them in cookies. I really like them. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while. If I hated them then but love them now ( and there are many more foods in my life like that now, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado etc.) how’d I get there?

And if I did, maybe my son will too.

So last night as I popped pistachio after pistachio into my mouth while we waited for our dinner to arrive I asked my mother about her childhood experiences with flavors and food. She said she didn’t like avocados as a kid but loves them now. And she’s even starting to like peas now and she didn’t when I was growing up.

I told her I thought growing to like “good for you foods” had to do with early exposure to “real” food, like what she and I grew up with. My grandparents (her parents) were farmers and didn’t believe in processed or packaged food and what they made came from vegetables, fruits or meats from the butcher. Both our early childhood food experiences were with unprocessed foods.

I continued to mull it over as I devoured (and enjoyed) my delicious Windsor Country Vegetable Chop salad of kale, brussel sprouts, radish, avocado and crispy okra (of which I also hated as a child!).

Turns out I may be right.

In the Scientific American, journalist Brian Mossop writes in his article titled “Can We Be Trained to Like Healthy Foods?”

Now, an increasing number of scientists and physicians wonder if our propensity for unhealthy, obesity-inducing eating might be tied to the food choices made during our first weeks and months of life. Indeed, the latest research indicates that what we learn to like as infants paves the way for what we eat as adults.

I can relax a little about my son’s diet. He loves broccoli, he loves carrots and prefers real apples to apple juice. His first “baby food” was avocado (hates it now by the way). I tried to make sure he ate a variety of “yucky” foods that were barely processed or not at all. But it still doesn’t stop me from freaking out that I may not have done a good enough job ~ happily though, my mom has sound and a sage advice:

Just keep doing what you are doing, and don’t worry so much honey, he’ll be fine.

Then I think, okay, she’s right. And maybe I’ve also finally found a place for my obsession and passion for my job as a journalist, mother and foodie.  Maybe I can help other moms, families and people learn to eat and live healthier and better one post at a time.

Cheers,

~BjW

4-Star Accommodations

In my quest to figure out my direction as a writer and blogger one thing has always been constant: my desire to become a travel and food writer. As a flight attendant I traveled on my own to many countries and continents to see the world. But once I went back to school and had a child at the same time, traveling took not only a back seat but another whole dimension. Travel writers weren’t in demand and I didn’t really know how to break into the area. Plus there’s this other little dark secret: I was intimidated to travel with an infant. In fact my son has only been on an airplane twice in his four short years, really quite sad if you ask me.

But here’s the thing, I believe strongly in visiting other countries besides the one you live in. However, I somehow found myself too comfortable in my day-to-day routine to venture out and take a stand-by seat with my son and husband in tow. At least I was until my conversation two weeks ago with my good friend (and also former flight attendant) Elizabeth. My “plinky” answer sparked her comment on my blog about travel and the importance of children experiencing other cultures and places.

Travel is a form of education and parents need to make financial planing for travel as much a priority as education and college. We are a global economy and learning about the other global players is key to developing a successful future. Parents need to take time to research, as a family,  places to go, what to do while there and if the kids are old enough have them take part in planning  the budget for the trip. All of these skills are real world skills,

But I’m sort of a throw back hippie/surfer (did I mention I grew up in Bisbee?) wrapped up in a modern, high tech bag of over achieving thoughts mixed up with my old school values. And so I see travel as a way to just be. But to learn from it too, learn what the locals do, where they go, what they think, become a local if you can and then just experience life as it comes to you. It’s the Zen side of travel that needs to exist. So when my friend, Jen, offered us her friends’ house to watch, and to look after Albert the unsinkable goldfish, we said “Hell yes” that, and it was 115 degrees in Phoenix.

I realized my long time purpose/goal or whatever you want to call it, is my desire to show Henry the world. To let him see it with his own two eyes, to come to his own conclusions of what he likes or dislikes about certain places or experiences. Which is what propelled me to bust out of my own confinement and shovel a disarray of clothes into a too small suitcase with my  toothbrush solidly embedded between my teeth to fly to San Francisco on a 7:45 a.m. flight.  I raced my family to the airport unprepared (hippie/surfer) to hop on the flight. Didn’t happen. Didn’t have all my ducks set up the night before.

But we decided to eat breakfast and wait for another flight. The surfer was rubbing off on all of us and we chilled and laughed while we ate a decent breakfast at the Home Turf Bar (they don’t have an online menu – I don’t understand this), anyway the food was good actually. Eggs and toast for Henry & Paul. Fruit and yogurt for me. I’ll give it this: it was fresh and good.

Needless to say we did NOT make it on the flight, so we left and ran errands. Got back in time to make the 1:15 flight.

Henry’s first subway ride was good, he enjoyed putting his mouth on every hand rail and seat back he could find. Paul was starting to OCD on washing Henry’s hands after every object he touched but I said let’s just attack the biggest battle, “Henry, KEEP YOUR MOUTH OFF OF EVERYTHING!’ after a while the message sunk in and I think we only had to disinfect his mouth half a dozen times… k not really.

Deodorant… clean, fresh, eco, EXPENSIVE!

I finally found a deodorant that isn’t full of aluminum and actually makes your sweat (as is inevitable in Phoenix in June) smell so nice. Like a fresh breaze from a forest or some kind of pristine lake.

K – I’m not kidding. They did not pay me to say this – the whopping $75 came out of my own pocket and I think I am onto something. I normally wouldn’t recommend anyone spending that kind of dough on such a thing, but If you are the kind of person who does so on perfume, lotions or such, then consider this your summer perfume – with a bonus.

I’m a first (and only generation) hippie-chick and love the smell of patchouli. But after the birth of my son my nose or chemistry, or both, changed and I couldn’t wear patchouli anymore. So I tried Kiss My Face peaceful patchouli deodorant for a little dose of patchouli without the “whole” wave of it.And for awhile it worked. But then, things changed again and the deodorant stopped working and WOW! What an aroma that was – patchouli plus sweat, in Phoenix, in June – YIKES! Blech.

I had to find something fast. Which is where Sisely’s eud de campagne came in.

At Saks Fifth Avenue one hot and sticky afternoon a non-plused Sisely rep, Yvette, suggested I try their new deodorant.  I was a little embarrassed to try it on, under there, my armpits in Saks. But then again, if you know me, you know I get past that stuff pretty quickly. Besides Yvette was insistent. She rocks.

Aaaahhhh… it was clean, fresh, crisp – made my fresh from the gym body feel clean, fresh and crisp (mostly). I was sold.

I didn’t look at the price until she asked for my money. I swallowed hard and briefly debated what to do. But I was too in love with it (and a little too sheepish) to say “no thanks” at this point. I mean I’d sprayed $75 deodorant on my armpits in Saks and now I’m embarrassed….

So I said the heck with it and handed Yvette my cash.

I tossed it in my Flipped Bird bag – I may have spent a fortune on deodorant but I’m still going green when I can – so no bag, no tissue! I got in my car and sprayed my pits with abandon. The smell was divine! Seriously!

I still had to make a couple of stops on my way home, and although I was in my workout clothes, I knew I smelled okay. Someone even asked me what I perfume I was wearing.

I smelled great!

I was sold. This new deodorant works and I LOVE knowing the ingredients are herbs and botanical oils – all good stuff. But I was also feeling good knowing that Sisley helps women with cancer feel good by helping them look good…

Support for the organisation la Vie de plus belle , that offers skincare and make-up workshops in hospitals for women suffering from cancer.

and seeing women feeling good because they look good, feels good no matter what language or country it’s in.

So when the heat’s gotten to be too much, splurge on yourself. Your psyche and pits will love you for it.

~BjW

BJ Walker, the Blogger, Journalist, Writer

Well for anyone who may have been wondering about my blog’s name, there it is, mostly. Professionally, in all my writing I have almost always gone with the name that most everyone knows me by: Barbi Walker, but I’ve been struggling since graduating with what and how to blog. And as I’ve said in a previous post this is a play on words & my initials. Sort of like Arianna Huffington and her Huffington Post.

The idea was given to me by my former professor, Adam Klawonn, who was my editor at “The Zonie Reoprt” where I blogged about Arizona news.  At the time blogging and the public journalist were just becoming a force the journalism world had to recognize. When I graduated from J-School there were immense changes in the industry and I never made the transition to blogging on my own about news.

Which brings me to why I am writing this post.

I was in limbo about blogging, journalism and writing without the direction from a seasoned reporter, editor or professor. I felt lost.

Fortunately I found a freelance writing job with “Green Living AZ” magazine, where my patient and helpful editor, Tishin Donkersley, gave me direction and opportunity. I can happily now call myself a journalist.

But I was still confused about my role as a blogger, I felt that I needed to blog as a writer/journalist. I wanted to blog, but I felt I needed to blog about something news related (the journalist is strong in this one). That my blog was supposed to be about something, a common idea, thread, blah, blah, blah. I’ve sat down so many times to write “what this blog is about” and in a few short days stop writing and losing interest.

There are numerous unsuccessful blogs out there and I didn’t want to be one of them! I’m an overachiever and work hard when I have a project or goal. But I wasn’t doing this with my writing and began to give up on all of my craft.

Then came the JK Rowling article. I was inspired. I thought. I blogged. I was happy but still didn’t know where I was going with my blog. Was it going to be an eco-journalist blog? A personal diary of my attempt to unclutter my life? Or maybe where I tracked, brainstormed and edited my novel? I even toyed with the idea of a personal journal of sorts, but happily journalists are taught that our thoughts and opinions aren’t to be included in our stories. Plus I honestly didn’t want to blog about my experiences, I get bored just listening to myself (as I am sure readers would too!). So I was still in limbo.

Until yesterday.

As I ran around doing my errands I thought about how I don’t journal or write much because I hadn’t found a system that worked for me. I love my weathered journal for notes and thoughts etc., but I didn’t like sitting down to “write” in it. I like technology, let me rephrase, I LOVE technology! I like writing on a computer ~ it feels like I am a writer when I sit down and write on it.

Now you may be thinking, well ding-dong, just write in a Word Doc. I’ve done that – but I find the excitement and accountability of “publishing” something I’ve written magnified thinking others can read it. I have so many thoughts and story ideas that I want to work on but they get lost since I don’t put them somewhere.

So I thought, why not just use my blog for THAT? Umm, well… sheesh, I don’t know. Let me think about that some more.

I did.

Then I got a text from my long time, dear friend, Elizabeth, asking if I had a minute to talk. She was on break from her intensive yogi training. I promptly called her.

She is more sister than friend, she has inspired me numerous times, counseled me and challenged me to question things. I respect her immensely.

We talked. I told her what I was ruminating about. She said the blogs and stories she loves most are the ones where the writer is fully engaged in telling the story. The stories the writer is passionate about.  I told her what I really wanted to do with my blog:  Blog about stuff I like or find interesting, Journal about my thoughts, insights or ruminations and Write my novel and short stories. To use it as a central holding pen for all of the above. I told her I didn’t do that because I was worried of what I should be doing with my blog.

She said three things that resonated with me :).

“You need a place to hone your craft.” This is true, I need a place to practice my writing (writers need to write every day), to strengthen my writing and blogging would be a great tool.

“When you find something you are passionate about you will make time to do it.”  This is the second truism. I was excited all day to sit down at my computer and to  write about our eye-opening conversation, about my love of a certain hair product (I even wanted to take pics!), my thoughts and research for upcoming travel – I was giddy and bubbly with itchy typing fingers!

But what stuck with me the most was this:

“Barbi, I’ve always thought of you as fearless and when you want to do something, you do it regardless if others say you can’t.” That is me IN A NUTSHELL. But I had been so afraid of doing my blog my way because it isn’t “how you are supposed to blog” or be a journalist that I wasn’t doinganything.

When Elizabeth said that, I thought, who cares if my blog isn’t “normal”? It’s a blog, it’s mine and I can do whatever I want with it. And what I really want to do with it is make it a one-stop shopping place for my writing. It’s what I really want to do, it will improve my writing and journalist skills andit’s me.

Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you for being such a solid force in my life, I love you.

And to you dear reader, if you have gotten this far, Thank you! Thank you for your interest and your patience, because if I don’t think about you, my writing, my research, my ideas aren’t doing what I want them to do. This blog may be “my personal” place to think, write and practice, however, I think about you, the reader, as I write.

I welcome your feedback, your thoughts and your insight, because when I write for me, I also write for you.

Cheers,

~BjW