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Dear Dad

10 March 2012

Dear Dad,




As you know, I bought you hygiene products for your birthday.  These could arguably, be the worst and most insulting gifts a person could receive, yet you were so gracious and thankful {and understood that I was going for the healthy, minimalist, Earth-friendly angle.}  

Source

I'm not surprised, because that's just a natural reflection of your soul qualities.  You are such a sweet, kind, gentle, encouraging person.  People love to be around you, because you are so uplifting.  Your positivity, optimism, and abundance mentality are infectious.  

Thank you for being such a great role model for me.  When I was young, you taught me self-discipline, through structure and scheduling.  You showed me work ethic, through the long hours you worked.  By your example, I learned how to treat people with respect.  You taught me right and wrong.  You also taught me all about football, and we spent many Sundays together on the couch, watching the Lions.

We danced through the living room to "Waltzing Matilda," with your awesome vocals ;)




As I got older, you helped me discover yoga and meditation.  Through your own exploration and discovery, you shaped the most important aspect of my life.  Soon, our conversations centered around how to manifest our destinies, how to love others more deeply, how to gain mastery over the ups and downs of life.

This journey brought us to India together, not even six months ago.  We were so lucky to have that father/daughter time!  It was so sweet and special...I feel very blessed that we got to explore India together.  Not only did the experience deepen our bond, but it was clear that our relationship had an impact on so many others.  So many people told us how beautiful it was to see a Father & Daughter traveling together...and it was clear to them how much we love each other.

Dad, 2012 is going to be a wonderful year for you.  Day by day, you are becoming an more loving person, a more giving person.  You are so full of love and light--it spills over to everyone around you.

I love you and I'm so glad I get to call you Dad.


Hugs and kisses from Australia,
Your {favorite} daughter, aka
Hermanita, aka
Emmy June

Hello, Weekend

08 March 2012

Dear Ibis Hotel in Newcastle, you are the pits.  Apparently, your clientele is so low-class that you cannot stock any beverages in the mini-fridge, yet you still put a $50 deposit on my credit card.  Also, I hurt my head on the lamp that is fixed to the wall about 3 inches above the pillow.  And last, but in no way least, the "Welcome Drink" of a small dixie cup filled with orange kool-aid was not welcoming.  Dear Rain, you're still here.  I don't even know what to say anymore.  You're now a permanent fixture on Friday's Letters.  Dear Lindsay, I love that I have a Blogger BFF.  It makes me feel like one of the cool kids :)  Dear Readers, you girls have been uh-mazing this week.  On Monday, I posted about something fairly controversial, that I felt passionate about.  So many of you stuck with me through the entire post, and left very sweet, supportive feedback.  Regardless of your position on the issue, I was thrilled to see the dialogue.  Dear Husband, you got your own shout-out yesterday...so don't go getting greedy.  Just keep feeding me no-bake cookies until I melt into a lump of cocoa & peanut butter.  Dear Joseph Kony, I had no idea who you were just two days ago.  Well, guess what?  Now I know and I'm donating time and money to see you in captivity.  Dear Universe, thanks for all the love & blessings.  I love you right back!

Dear Ashley, thanks for hosting my favorite link-up of the week :)

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TGIF!

60 days in the Blogosphere: Part I

07 March 2012

Anyone who's ever started a blog knows that you learn a lot in the first few months.  In fact, you might look back later in your blogging career and laugh at your former self.

"Did I really think that design looked good?!?"
"How did I not know about turning off word verification?"
"I cannot believe I used to spam everyone's blog begging them to Follow Me!"

For the sake of shared learnings, I'd like to document what I've learned in my first 60 days of blogging.

Blog Design
The new blogger may not be ready to fork out hard earned cash for a professional blog design.  I get that!  However, that's no excuse for an unsightly blog.

Readers will judge you based on your blog design.  It will either tell them 1) "I treat my blog in a professional way," or 2) "this is just a little hobby for me and I couldn't be bothered to spruce it up."  You might be the best writer in the world, but if your blog design is bad, people will not stick around to find out.  {And seriously, if you have music that auto-plays on your blog, you will never, ever make a single blog friend.}

So, what to do?  If you want to go the DIY route, I recommend checking out Becky's how-to guide for blog design.  It is very simple and geared toward total beginners.  {Please note the instructions are specifically for Blogger blogs.}



There are a million and one tutorials out there if you have the patience to seek them out and follow them.  For me, it made more sense to invest a {relatively} small amount of money to get a professional design.  Yes, it felt silly spending money on my blog.  But I rationalized it because I frivolously spend money on eating out, going to movies, etc. on a regular basis, and never see that money again.  At least with a blog design, I'll have it for awhile.

What I did not know is that most of the popular blog designers have a wait list.  As in, you might have to wait over a month before they begin working on your blog!  So make the decision right away, knowing you'll have to be patient.

How to choose a blog designer?  Check out some of your favorite blogs.  Almost all of them will have a graphic & link somewhere, crediting the designer.  You can follow the link to explore their prices and packages.

Setting to change, like yesterday!
Connect your E-mail
If your email address is not connected to your blog, you need to change that asap!
Otherwise, you will never receive a response to comments you leave {sad face.}

Log into your dashboard>> click edit profile>> click on privacy>> check the box that says "show my e-mail". DONE.

If your word verification is on, you need to turn it off, NOW!  Bloggers hate that crap.  They go to leave you a comment, and have to type in a nonsensical, barely readable word.  It won't take long before they abandon the comment, and your blog.  ***The thing about this is that you might not know it's on.***  So unless you're 1,000% sure, check your settings.

Here's how you turn off word verification:
1.) Click on the gear icon under your profile picture on your dashboard page, and select "Old Blogger Interface."
2.) Then go to the "Settings" page and click on the "Comment" link under the tabs. 
3.) Where you see "Show Word Verification", select NO.
4.) To get back to the newer interface, there is a link in the upper right hand corner on the older dashboard page.

I follow at least 10 blogs that have word verification on.
I'm not gonna name names...
Oh who am I kidding?
I am going to name some names.
But it's only because I love you {and I hate captcha.}

Kate @ Daffodil's
CaitEmma @ Linen & Leaves
Julie Marie @ The Funny Thing of it Is

{Okay, that's all I can think of off the top of my head.  Girls, I love you.  I want to comment on your blogs.  But please, for the love of God, turn off the word verification! And please forgive me for the public call-out.}




Comment Settings
On your own blog, the following settings are most important:
1) Turn off word verification.  Are you noticing a theme?
2) Change the setting so your comment box pops up in a separate window.  Many bloggers spend a lot of time reading blogs and commenting.  The pop-up window reduces time and hassle for readers who want to leave a comment.  They will never have to leave your main page, and will appreciate it!
{Optional} If you want threaded comments, here's how to do it.  I don't recommend it, for various reasons that I will happily explain via E-mail, but I'm showing you how nonetheless.


Button Making & Swapping
Button swapping is a great way to make blog friends and attract readers.  As you find other blogs that are similar to yours (lifestyle vs mommy vs DIY vs fashion, etc.), they will likely have a page titled "Sponsor."  Read further to see if a) they are doing free button swaps, b) what size button they request, and c) how long they will swap for {some bloggers do a perma-swap, while others make you email each month to keep it going.}  If it's a blog with more than 500 friends on Google Friend Connect, it's likely that they will charge money for sponsorship, so finding smaller blogs is key.

If you don't know how to make a button, here's an easy tutorial.  Also, once you have your photo edited, you can use THIS easy button generator to get the code.  Try your best to create a button that will be eye-catching and draw readers' attention.  Often, a picture of yourself with your blog title works best.



Making Blog Friends
This is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Whether you know it or not, making blog friends will become the most important reason that you blog.  It's seriously amazing how many great, smart, funny women are in the blog world!  Trust me, you want to get to know them.

Follow
Follow lots of blogs.  You can refine as you go, but at the beginning, start following and reading many blogs.  It will help you develop your own voice as a writer, give you ideas, and help you make friends.

Leave a trail
Leave tons of comments.  Comment, comment, comment.  However, a word of caution.  Mean what you say when you leave a comment.  Try to show that you read the post and make a connection with the blogger.  Secondly, don't leave a link to your blog in your comment.  People know how to find your blog, but many won't go to your blog if you're constantly leaving links for it everywhere.  Childish?  Maybe so, but I didn't make the rules ;)

Size Matters
You'll naturally fantasize about starting a blog and immediately becoming BFF's with the Big Baddies {as Debbie Jo calls them.}  You'll think, "I'm going to leave the wittiest comment of all and they'll immediately start following my blog and the rest is history."  The reality is-- you may not even receive a response.  Over one-thousand people follow the Big Baddies.  And guess what?  They formed most of their strong blog friendships when they were getting started.

So what's the lesson in all this?  Follow the Big Baddies because they are awesome and you'll get enjoyment and inspiration from them.  However, try to make blog friends with smaller bloggers.  I promise, it will be more fulfilling.  And it will be fun to watch your blogs grow together!  Then someday y'all will have millions of followers, but your inner-circle will still be the bloggers you met when you were getting started.

Answer Every, Single Comment
If someone finds your blog and takes the time to leave a comment--ANSWER IT!  The best relationships will be formed via E-mail.  They will start with a single comment, and blossom into an E-mail exchange.  From there, you'll be sharing stories, personal details, and advice!  But you'll never get this opportunity if you don't respond to comments.

Street Cred
And if you don't believe me, check out the blog advice from these amazing ladies:
Jenni @ Story of My Life
Michelle @ Vintage Apple
Mrs Monologues
Debbie Jo
Kristen @ Confessions of a GDS


To Be Continued...
So as it turns out, I have a lot of unsolicited advice.  Shocker!  I seriously need to work on that.  I'm pretty sure no one likes unsolicited advice.  But in this case, I'm saving more for later {ha!}


What's your best blog advice?

Tuesday Travel Diaries: New Orleans

06 March 2012

Welcome back for another week of.....

{New awesome graphic, courtesy of Priceless Design Studios}

This week, we have the lovely Carisa, from Bunnies and Pearls.
Carisa has a sweet spot in my heart, because she's a Michigan girl...and lives only 45 minutes from where I grew up!  She blogs about fashion, food, and DIY.

bunniesandpearls

Hi, I'm Carisa, and I am so excited to share a travel diary with you! 

A few summers ago my husband and and I went to New Orleans for our honeymoon. I don't know what made us decide to go there but we were beyond excited! We only stayed for two nights then we went off to stay in a condo in Florida.

We got married young so we didn't have a lot of money saved to pay for an extravagant honeymoon so we made the best out of what we had. 

Since money was tight we drove down to New Orleans. We actually left on my 21st Birthday so we could make it there in time to celebrate. If I were to guess I would say the total trip in gas was about $300. so by driving we probably saved at least $400!

Checking the Map!!
Also by driving you have the ability to enjoy the trip! You can stop whenever and wherever you want. We stopped to grab some coffee at a place called Biggies Cafe just because it was called that. It was kind of a dive but it made for a fun story.


We stayed in the coolest hotel in the garden district. I read online that if you are trying to save a little bit of money you should stay further away from downtown. There is a train that runs all the way from the garden district to the french quarter so you can really get anywhere!

The Inside of the Hotel we Stayed in!
The weirdest part of our honeymoon was going to a "hopping place" like New Orleans and then going to a small community in Florida. New Orleans was beyond fun, we are city folk so we loved the noise and the excitement. Florida was the opposite---quiet and everything shut down at 9:00 pm.

Celebrating my 21st on Burbon Street
There are so many great things to do in New Orleans. We love the zoo so we went to the one there and it was close to the best zoo I have ever been to! The best part, you could drink beer! You can basically drink anywhere in New Orleans, it definitely takes some getting used to.

We are definitely going back. It is an amazing experience. The heat is awesome, really, we loved it! There is a lot to do! The culture is so cool! Being able to experience street art, jazz, and the night culture was so awesome.

A trip is booked with friends for May to go back for an entire week!!! I hope that we can spend more time and immerse ourselves in the culture!

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If you enjoyed this week's TTD, please go say 'hi' to Carisa, HERE.

Also, if you were featured on Tuesday Travel Diaries, please grab a button for your blog.
{Once again, courtesy of Priceless Design Studios --thank you, thank you Katie!}

Tuesday Travel Diaries

Did you take a vacation, old or new, that you'd like to share with other bloggers?
If so, please E-mail me to be featured on Tuesday Travel Diaries.

emmyjuneborninmay{at}gmail{dot}com or Click Here.

Misogynists aka Woman Haters

05 March 2012


Have y'all noticed that things are looking a little more ho-fessional around these parts? {And, no, I cannot resist using Ludacris's made up words every chance I get.}  That would be thanks to Becca at Jumping Jax Designs.  She's so popular I had to wait almost 4 weeks to get my blog makeover.  But alas, good things are worth waiting for.  Thanks, Becca, for the bloggy beautification.

Now, I'm about to break one of the big rules in the Blogger Rulebook.  I actually don't own a Blogger Rulebook, but if I did, I bet it would have a big, fat, bolded, rule like this:

For the love of all things Holy, don't blog about politics, you imbecile!  What are you trying to do?  Lose readers, be divisive, and start a comment war on your blog?!?!

Well, maybe I am trying to lose readers, be divisive, and start a comment war.  Or perhaps I think this issue is important enough that I should take a public stand.  Yeah, let's go with the latter.

The issue I'm about to discuss is Rush Limbaugh's misogynistic rant.  If you aren't up to speed on it yet, here's the quick and dirty.  Sandra Fluke, a law student from Georgetown testified to Congress regarding to new health regulation around free contraceptives.  You can read exactly what she said here.


Rush Limbaugh's response:  
"What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her?"

"It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute."

"She wants to be paid to have sex," Limbaugh continued on his radio program. "She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception."  {source}

In my opinion, Rush is a bigot, a racist, and a misogynist and he says inflammatory things on purpose to get a rise out of people.  I certainly wouldn't take on the challenge of fighting crazy with logic.  In fact, I honestly didn't think that real people out there bought into this hyper-exaggerated craziness.  However, it was brought to my attention today, by another blogger, that there are people who are at least willing to entertain Rush's argument.

I was already planning on writing some version of this post, but now I'd like to take a step back and give a hypothetical rebuttal.


Argument #1: She is asking for someone to pay for her to have sex.  So that is considered a form of prostitution.
My response: No, she's not asking for money to have sex.  In fact, she doesn't mention anything about her own sex life.  Nor is she receiving any money through this legislation.  She is appreciative of the fact that her health insurance plan will now pay for a prescription medication prescribed by her doctor.  *Gasp* Asking for health insurance to cover a medication that she and her doctor have decided she needs?  Sounds pretty reasonable to me.  

My health insurance pays for my birth control.  Does that make me a prostitute?  Apparently, according to Rush.  I'm a married woman, who has sex with my husband, but isn't yet ready for children.  Might as well put me on a street corner.  

To add insult to injury, it was another woman who was debating this side of the argument.  Why we as women are so willing to call another woman a slut, I will never understand.  If we left birth control up to men, we'd all really be in trouble.  What I see when I watch the video of Sandra Fluke is a video of a young, conscientious woman who has seen the detrimental effects of a health insurance plan that doesn't offer contraceptives.  


Argument #2: These students attended a university that doesn't believe in contraception.  How can you ask them to fund something they don't believe in?
My response: Religious belief should not be a consideration at the provider level.  If a woman and her doctor believe this medication is needed, the provider should cover it.  Sandra Fluke gives an example of a woman who was taking birth control for ovarian cysts.  Without the coverage, she ended up in the Emergency Room {which is a visit, I might add, that the insurance company had to pay for.}  So where do you draw the line?  Is birth control okay for some women and not for others?  What if a sexually promiscuous man gets an STD and has to take steroids for treatment?  Will this religious university's health care cover that?  

To me, that line of thinking is the equivalent of the following hypothetical.  A guy gets angry and punches a wall.  He breaks his hand and goes to the doctor.  The insurance company {provided by a religious institution that doesn't condone violence} won't pay for it.  "We don't believe in violence," they say, "so you'll have to suffer with a broken hand or pay for it yourself."  It's like trying to fight the effect instead of the cause.  

So you don't want women having sex unless it's for the purpose of bearing children?  Okay, fair enough.  I might not agree with that, but to each his own.  Educate the students all you want on the benefits of only having sex for child bearing.  But to refuse health insurance coverage for contraceptives only makes it worse.  I haven't heard any church come forward and say that they support the premise of having children that you don't want, when you aren't ready {within or outside of wedlock.}  Yet, that is the end-game of these policies.  


Argument #3: They can purchase insurance from another source if they want contraceptives to be covered.
My response: If we didn't have a f*#&'ed up insurance system in the United States that won't offer insurance to people for a battery of reasons including pre-existing conditions, then fair enough.  However, getting insurance through your university is a low cost, best access approach.  It's the same reason that 90% of us get insurance through our employers.  We get the best rates and we aren't turned away.  To make this argument is to say that it's okay for someone to have to pay literally hundreds of dollars extra each month for contraceptives.  It makes no sense.  We're talking about college students for one, and secondly, many birth controls are generic and wouldn't even cost that much to pay for in full.  

I'd prefer it if our country didn't get to a point where we are selecting insurance plans based on religious beliefs.  "Um, yes, hi, I'll take the Scientology insurance plan please.  I don't have any children with autism--thank goodness-since they don't believe in that...so I'm all set.  Whenever my engrams are out of whack, I know my insurance will pay to hook me up to an E-meter for some auditing."

At any rate, I contacted ProFlowers, who advertises with Rush Limbaugh.  Hit 'em where it hurts, right?


Today, ProFlowers announced that they are suspending their advertising program with the Rush Limbaugh show.  {I'm not sure if suspending is the same thing as completely dropping him, but it's a step in the right direction.}

If you stuck with me through this entire post, you're a rockstar and I love you.  And if your next move is to click "unfollow", then I take it all back.  I keed, I keed.  Ultimately, this blog is a reflection of my thoughts and beliefs, of who I am.  And you can ask my husband, I've been known to get pretty worked up and outspoken over these types of things.  

Whether you agree or disagree....let me hear it!  We all benefit from the free exchange of ideas.

A Day of Inner Peace

04 March 2012

After several months of planning, my meditation centre held it's first Open House event.
We called it, "A Day of Inner Peace."  With a guided meditation geared toward beginners, some devotional chanting, refreshments, and a short film, we invited members of the public to join us for the afternoon.

I'm happy to say that the event was a success!  Everything went according to plan and one-third of our total attendees were newcomers.  Since I was planning the event, I felt some pressure and nervousness about it.  There is a satisfaction in seeing an idea come to fruition, but there is always that little voice of doubt in the back of your head that says "what if no one shows up?", "what if we don't get things setup in time?", "what if I'm so nervous that I totally botch the introduction?", "what if the peace doesn't come?"

Fortunately, people did show up.  Things were setup in time.  All my nervousness left my body as soon as I approached the podium.  And most importantly, the peace came.  Not only did the peace come, but many longtime meditators shared with me that it was one of the deepest meditations they've had in ages.

So, in the spirit of peace, here are some inspirational thoughts for this Sunday.

"Affirm divine calmness and peace, and send out only thoughts of love and goodwill if you want to live in peace and harmony.  Live a godly life yourself and everyone who crosses your path will be helped just by being with you."
-Paramahansa Yogananda

"When you have peace in every moment of your body, peace in your thinking and in your will power, peace in your love, and peace and God in your ambitions, remember, you have connected your life with God."
-Paramahansa Yogananda
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