Years ago (two, in fact) I wrote to you about a little thing called Bloghouse. Still some of you think it’s like a reality TV show for bloggers — which, while not entirely untrue, is not its purpose.

What is Bloghouse then? It’s an offline gathering of bloggers new and old that somehow transforms a group of strangers into blogging gurus and new best friends. (Not exaggerating.)

I had no idea what I was getting into when I applied (let alone showed up) for the workshop in Chicago. But since then I’ve often looked back fondly on those four days, and I’ve been able to see all the little ways it changed my life personally and professionally.

So when the opportunity arose to go back to Bloghouse, I didn’t hesitate. Sure, from the outside things were a bit different this time around: it was to be held in Philadelphia (not Chicago,) in a hotel (not a house,) and I was to return not as a student…but as a teacher.


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To connect, or not to connect? That is the question.

In my ideal world, the word ‘connect’ would simply pertain to interactions between people, in real life. Especially because as a freelancer and a writer, I spend a lot of time on my own. I’ve become quite used to keeping my own company, to being completely independent, and as such, doing things my own way.

Yet I’m undoubtedly an extrovert. I get my energy from being around others. I welcome the chance to collaborate as often as possible, and that often means traveling with others. Traveling (or even sometimes eating dinner) with others lately has illuminated just how much the phrase “seeking connection” has shifted, in as little as the past few years.

More and more the word ‘connect’ means to the Internet — to our Twitter accounts, our Snapchat memories, our Facebook overshares, the ol’ email ball and chain. I’ve often said I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Lately I’ve been questioning the amount of time we spend documenting our lives versus simply enjoying them.


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The City of (Unexpected) Love

You came to Paris to fall in love. You just didn’t know it when you did.

For what does the city of love and light have to offer a solo traveler?

Love, and light.

Paris window

You stroll contemplatively. You have days where your only agenda is to go by a certain ice cream shop or pop in to a particular bookstore. You look up at the rows of structured buildings and admire the stretch of intricate, iron balconies placed delicately upon beige facades.

You pick one arrondissement and decide: this is your home for the next two weeks. You explore the neighborhood, find the cheapest place for wine in the evenings and cafe au lait in the mornings. The pâtissier begins to recognize you as the days pass slowly into evenings. You sit in parks and public squares and watch life and the city go by.

You dine alone for three hours, sit in a cafe with a glass or two or champagne, cherish three courses, and end with a cafe gourmand. No one rushes you. No one hassles you. You write in your journal or lose yourself in thought. And you enjoy every single minute.


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I’m coming up on two years of working remotely in San Francisco. And while, yes, some of this time was spent frolicking to other countries or on my couch at home, many, many hours have been spent in search of strong coffee and even stronger wifi.

As a freelancer, I like a healthy balance between being in my own world and being surrounded by others. Routine is both my best friend and my worst enemy — I find it encourages productivity but stifles creativity. When I’m short on inspiration, sometimes it’s as simple as a walk through a new neighborhood (I love you, SF) followed by a couple of hours in a coffee shop with good vibes. I find that even changing up my seating in a familiar place can help me see things in a new light.

Finding a public space to work in offers the best of both worlds. And because there’s nothing like caffeine to fuel both productivity and creativity, for me, I find myself in the city’s best coffee shops more often than not.

When I’m on deadline, I have to prioritize the Internet connection and minimize distractions. When I’m out more to journal or generate ideas, I choose coffee quality above all else. Most days you can find me at my neighborhood go-tos, which offer a bit of both.


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Or, Why You Should Go to Helsinki Just to Eat

As I pulled my chair in and inched my face closer to the microphone, I thought about what the Finns across from me, who happened to be the lovely people of Radio Helsinki, might ask me about why I was in Finland.

Sure enough, moments later we were live on air (my first live radio interview!) and as the hosts transitioned into English, they prompted the question I knew what coming: “What do you think of Helsinki?”

Helsinki's floating restaurant

I had only just arrived that morning. When asked if I was jet-lagged, I took a giant swig from my cup of Finnish coffee for dramatic effect. It was something like 3 am in California. I squinted as I sat there inaudibly, before answering the question.

“I’ve only just arrived, but it’s my first time in the country so I’m looking forward to experiencing this place,” I reply, feeling a surge of caffeine kick in.

“What expectations did you have for the city before you came?”

Without thinking, I answer abruptly: “Not really any, to tell you the truth.”

I get the impression it isn’t the first time they’ve heard this statement. So, I continue, “But I plan to get to know Helsinki through its food. I find it to be the best way to access a new culture and get a true sense of a place.”

What I don’t mention is that I also have no clue about what Finnish food is.


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Well, just for the week.

And yes, you can consider this post’s title my best attempt at a terrible, belated April Fool’s joke.

After a whirlwind visit to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day, where I got an intensive lesson on Irish life past and present (and by that I mean more than just multiple hours spent wearing green and cozily sipping pints — did you see it all on Snapchat?) I’ve been home for just two weeks and already, I’m heading back out there into the world again.

As many of you know, I took a long break from even uttering the word ‘travel’ after a worst nightmare came to life on the road at the end of last year. I wasn’t sure when or how I’d resume my usual manner. So, I resolved to press pause on traveling and stay home for the foreseeable future…only to then lose my apartment.

In the months that followed, I tread water daily just trying to stay afloat. And when it feels like you’re drowning, the best way to survive without panicking is…(?) to find your footing. I sought and found great comfort in re-establishing myself in a new home and rooting myself in a daily routine.

In pursuit of this balance I’ve sharpened my skills for finding adventure in my own backyard, staying curious, active, and engaged with life and culture even when I’m not traveling. Yet at some point, even the boldest routines can begin to feel stale. (Isn’t repetition what creates a routine, after all?)

Once again I find myself seeking that familiar desire to stretch to the unfamiliar, like a runner whose legs ache to hit the trail. Still, more than ever to date, I respect, need, and value my life at home.  


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