My “Big Girl” Camera

Several years ago, I bought a “big girl camera”, so that I could take better vacation photos and blog photos. Sadly, with the new technology of camera phones and the use of filters, it hasn’t been as important to use an amazing camera as it used to be (or so I thought.) That and well, I was just being lazy. It’s so much easier to just upload photos form my phone straight to my blog than to shoot, edit, and work with “real” pictures.

12190089_858811977529599_6651112489704784971_n

Exhibit A: iPhone panoramic photo plus filter = good enough, right?

I recently realized I really needed to “up my game” in the photo department, and wanted to find time (haha) to learn to use my camera in manual mode. I had tried many times before but got bogged down in lingo and details that seemed to skip over the VERY basic steps that I needed.

I still need a LOT of work, but I am beginning to see good results on better quality photos that I will be using in m blog posts (not all of them, sorry. A lot of my daily life is snapped quickly on my phone, especially with the baby!) I found a great website that really helped it click for me in my head, and I thought I would pass it along to you and maybe you will find it as helpful as I did.

unnamed (50)

What? You have to have SKILLS to take a picture of your feet with an iPhone. I am a master at this one.

Does anyone have any great beginner photography tips or websites for me? I would love to learn more and keep on practicing my skills (or lack of skills. I’m under no illusions that I actually know what I am doing.)  I currently have a Nikon D5000 to work with. I have the lens that came with it as well as a huge “stalker” lens where I can super-zoom in on people, but that’s it. What else do I need?

QOTD: Photographers HELP! What lens to I need? Any helpful tools/website/blogs I need to follow? I have zero artistic eye!

6 Year Blogiversary

Oh friends. I did it again. Every year it seems that this sneaks up on me. As of Sunday, I have been blogging for SIX year! Every year I go back and read that first post. I want to edit it SO badly but I leave it alone on purpose just to show how far I have come.

If you have been reading for awhile, you know that originally this blog started as an accountability journal as I prepared for my very first half marathon. Back then I knew nothing about the blogging world, particularly because there just weren’t that many health and fitness blogs back then to go off of. Things have changed a lot in that department for sure!

DSC_0585

As I think back on my blogging journey, I am reminded of all the wonderful opportunities I have had, the amazing people I have met, and friends I have made. (Yes I say that every year I think, but it’s so true!) Blogging has had a lot to do with how I have been shaped as a person over the past few years. I have learned about about the world, about myself, and about being true to myself.

IMG_3034

I have changed names, changed headers, changed focus. There have been ebbs and flows, highs and lows, and lessons learned. Putting yourself out there on a daily basis can be tough at times, but it has also been very rewarding. Other than sharing my heart with whoever is willing to listen, my other goal has always been to encourage and inspire others. I hope over the years I have encouraged you all in one way or another, because that is truly what makes me happy. There are SO many more things that I want to do and accomplish, and I am sure my blog will continue to evolve and change as I do the same. It’s a scary but exciting prospect, and I hope you will stick with me and follow along!

IMG_3544

As always, a huge thanks to my wonderful readers. You guys make it all worth it! You emails, comments, shares, questions, advice, and inspiration keep me going. I love the conversations we have had, and laughs we have shared (mostly at my expense!) Thank you for giving me grace, and remembering that I make mistakes and am always learning, too. God has blessed me with some amazing encouraging folks through this blog, and I am so grateful.

IMG_0029

I hope to have the opportunity to meet more of you this year, laugh with you, learn with you, and grow with you. THANK YOU for making THLG a great place, and for hanging out with me over the years, you rock. Let’s keep going, I have so much left I want to do!

IMG_9584

<3 Heather

Dealing with Negative People Online (and taking my own advice)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at Refresh Summit South on dealing with negativity on social media/blogging, whether it be someone being negative towards you, or falling into the comparison trap and having negative feelings about yourself. I have been meaning to blog about the two main points I discussed with the ladies in attendance, but I just wasn’t sure exactly how to go about turning a talk into words, and due to an unpleasant exchange with a neighbor on Friday, I decided to use it as an example for a blog post on one of my two main points.

negative people

Being real here. One thing that I struggle with is holding my tongue. It’s a constant battle, and it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy blogging (I can go back and edit before hitting send.) Even with that filter of sorts in place, I still get myself in trouble from time to time for things that I say, that I really should just keep to myself. I can get angry in a hurry, and instead of giving myself time to think and cool down, I often spout off and it ends up leading to more damage. The Bible is clear on this, and says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19), but boy is this one tough for me!

quick to listen

You can make fun of me for a lot of things and I will let it roll off my back, but to state something about my husband or my child as a fact that is NOT true, is something I have a hard time biting my tongue about. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, here is my own learning moment:

Our neighborhood has it’s own private Facebook group, which in theory is awesome, but sometimes not so awesome because as of late it has turned into a huge gripe fest. People complaining about folks speeding, running stop signs, dogs pooping in their yard etc. All of these things are valid complaints, but really, blasting your neighbors online for speeding it’s well, very neighborly, and we have had some issues with some not so friendly folk posting negative things. Anyway, somehow, on Friday there was an assumption made about my husband that was NOT true, and it turned into a nasty argument between me and a lady in my neighborhood I don’t really know. Come to find out from other neighbors letting me know, this is not the first time this particular neighbor has been less than neighborly. Part of me felt good about it, knowing that other people were “on my side” in letting me know how difficult this person is in general, but then I realized that honestly, I probably just should have kept my mouth shut to begin with and not even engaged with her, and it could have avoided a long morning of frustration.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is exactly the kind of situation I spoke about at Refresh Summit (how to get through/avoid/act kindly in) and here I was doing THE EXACT OPPOSITE. It all happened so fast I didn’t put two and two together and then realized I had messed up. If I had followed my own advice, maybe it would have had a different outcome, and hopefully I have learned from this and will be quick to listen and slow to speak next time. Instead of what I did, the following are things I should have done (things I shared at Refresh Summit for dealing with bullies/negative people online).

unnamed (15)

1.) Realize you aren’t going to change them: I an usually spot someone pretty set in their ways from the beginning of a conversation, but my desire to defend myself can get in the way of realizing that no matter what I say or try to “prove”, people like this are just not going to change. It doesn’t matter if the facts are right in front of you, they will argue with you until the cows come home, so it’s wise to just save your breathe and realize nothing you say is going to change them.

2.) Don’t feed the animals: With a desire to be right and people please, this one can be tough. Not engaging or “feeding the animals” is a good tactic for keeping the peace. Sometimes it’s just best not to get involved. There have been so many times in my “blog life” where I have wanted to set the record straight or stand up for myself, but I knew that in doing so it would just add fuel to the fire, and I am glad I chose to ignore in the end. When I engage, I usually end up saying something I will regret later.

3.) Get some perspective: Perspective is a funny thing. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in being the victim we forget that a lot of people lash out because they themselves are or were at one time, victims. Hurt people hurt people. If you can take a step back and remember that simple statement, that those hurting themselves in turn hurt others, and instead of getting angry, feel sorry for the person, it will start to soften your heart towards them and help diffuse frustration.

4.) Forgive: There have been times in my blogging and social media life where people have really hurt my feelings. I still remember a very specific time where I was on a run replaying something someone had said to me online over and over in my head, trying to figure out why people are so mean to those they don’t really know, when I suddenly felt like I was supposed to forgive them. Through gritted teeth (because yall, I really didn’t WANT to forgive them) I said out loud “I forgive you, and Lord HELPE to really mean it”. I had such an overwhelming freeing feeling come after that prayer. it was SO hard to say and it took awhile to work up to, but once I let go of it, the anger and frustration had no power over me anymore. After all, the Bible calls us to forgive others, just as God forgave us (Mark 11:25).

5.) Move on: This one usually takes me a little bit of time, but moving on helps diffuse the anger that comes with seeing and hearing negative things about us. Remember that not everyone is going to think just like you, or be your BFF, and that’s ok. We are all so different, and some people just are going to flat out not get along with you. Move on, and as queen Elsa would say, LET IT GO! I know I know, so much easier said than done, but your heart will thank you if you can move past it and not dwell on it or let your thoughts constantly go back to a wrong done to you.

I hope someone finds these tips helpful, and please know that if you ever need to talk to anyone about any of these issues, I would be more than happy to oblige. Email me any time at [email protected] Have a great Monday!

QOTD: Which of these 5 things do you struggle with most? Have you ever been the victim of online negativity?

Time to Refresh

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that not only do I have a passion for fitness and social media, but I also have a love for encouraging and helping others. At the end of October, I will be heading out on a solo road trip to Tennessee for a couple of days. I was presented with an amazing opportunity, and I hope to see some of you there (hurry only a handful of spots left!)

That’s right, I will be attending (and speaking at!) Refresh Summit South at the lodge at Deer Run!

reg_page_long

My friend Bobbi has done an amazing job with Refresh, and I am stoked to be a part of such an amazing weekend where I will get to learn, grow, speak, listen, be inspired, and hopefully inspire others. my faith is so important to me, and sometimes a weekend away to reconnect and listen to God speak is needed, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for me and all the crazy things going on in my life!

I will be leading a workshop sharing from my personal experiences with social media, but not in the sense that you would think. I am going to be sharing my heart about the ups and downs social media can cause. The pitfalls, the comparisons, the haters, and how I handle it all. I by no means have it all figured out, but dealing with the damaging side of social media is something that has been on my heart for awhile now, and cannot wait to share what God has been teaching me.

refresh

As I mentioned before, there are NINE spots remaining for the summit, and I hope you will consider going. We will be up in the beautiful mountains in Tennessee, working out together, eating together, learning and worshiping together, and having a lot of fun! Be sure to check out the website for all the important details. I hope if this is something that interests you that you will pray about it and consider coming!

QOTD: Have you ever been to a retreat similar to Refresh? Do you love the mountains?

Blogging Tools: PicMonkey

Lately I have gotten a few questions regarding photos, especially for use on Pinterest and Instagram, to help bring traffic to your blog. Since I am not an amazing photographer, I need all the editing help I can get to make my images appealing.

I have been using PicMonkey: crazy-awesome photo editing
 for years, and have found it to be the easiest to use. It also has a ton of options (even in the free version!) and the paid version is not expensive ($2.75 a month!) Below is a walk through of some of my favorite features and how I edit my photos with PicMonkey and PicMonkey Royale (the paid version).

The first thing I want to note is that right now you can get 30 days of royale for FREE right now. Try it out, see how you like it, then decide if you want to continue to pay for the service.

Ok, so when you go to the home screen, this is what you will see:

image

For editing a single picture, you are mostly going to be clicking the “edit” button here. After you pic the photo you want to edit, then it brings up the editing screen with loads of options:

image

Here you can auto adjust, crop, rotate, resize, change the exposure, etc. For this photo, I decided to crop it a tiny bit and bump up the sharpness. You can then hit the little wand button on the left menu bar under the crop symbol, and a whole new list of effects opens up.

image

I decided to use a royale feature called “urbane” to give my photo a nice cool look.

image

The next button down (on the left menu bar) looks like a tube of lipstick. If you were to have a photo that includes people, this is where you would do touch ups such as airbrush, wrinkle remover, blush, lipstick, teeth whiten, eye shadow, etc. I rarely use this one except occasionally for red eye remover. It is fun to play around with

image

So moving on from there is one I use a lot, text. There are so, SO many options here. Size, color, font, placement…you pretty much can do whatever you want here. Just for an example, below is something that might go on my photo.

image

Next, are the overlays (on the menu it looks like a butterfly). Depending on what my photo is going to be used for, I will use my watermark here. There are also a ton of shapes and symbols here. This is also where you can add a block in, fade it some, and put text on top of it.

image

The next button down on the left menu is a picture frame. Here you can add different borders to make your photo pop. For this one I just used a basic black and white museum matte frame.

image

After frames, you will find the button for textures. I decided to add a fun light trail onto this photo for a whimsical look.

image

The bottom of the menu contains themes (think seasons, holidays, etc.) and I don’t use these often. After you are done, simply save your photo to your computer and you are done! Below is my finished product:

asics gel quantum

Please note this is just a quick walkthrough, and there are SO many more things you can do, and you can get way more intricate and detailed with your text, textures, and colorings. I am still learning myself, and have found the best way to figure it out is to just get in there and play with/edit a photo. I use PicMonkey: photo editing made of win  almost daily for my blog, Instagram, and Pinterest photos, and hope you found this post helpful for upping your game (remember, people may be more likely to click on your Pinterest photo if you have words on it explaining what it’s all about!) If you have any specific questions, I would be more than happy to try to answer them for you!

Curious to learn more about the steps needed to start a blog? I can guide you through it with my FREE e-course on how to start a blog. Sign up now! 

QOTD: What photo editing program do you use?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

The Power of the Group

Below are some more tips from Jeff Galloway I received as a Jeff Galloway blogger. I especially love this set of tips, because it’s something I have been harping on for a few weeks now.

unnamed (82)

I got out of my comfort zone to run with a group, and I am really enjoying it and hopefully it will make me a faster runner! Check them out below, after a few words from Jeff:

The fun of running with a group pulled me into the sport 57 years ago.  Running and training with my friends Steve Prefontaine, Frank Shorter Bill Rodgers, brought out the best of running in me—while we became good friends, and Olympians.  As I travel the US this season, for our Galloway training program kickoffs, I see the same fun, support and friendship development.  I hope to see many of you at our free clinics.  Here are the ways I’ve observed runners of all abilities improve more and have more fun when in the right group.

1. Great friendships

2. The miles go by quicker—telling stories, sharing life experiences

3. Guidance in running with the right group for you, with the appropriate run walk run strategy

4. Because the group is waiting for you, you will stay motivated and get out there more often

5. You’ll learn about some interesting races, places to run, fun running experiences

6. On the really tough workouts and races, the group will pull you through

7. Access to tools for management of nutrition, fluids, motivation, aches/pains

8. The right group leadership can fine-tune the pace of each workout, avoiding injury/exhaustion

9. Helping others who are struggling bestows an amazing sense of achievement

10. Sharing the empowerment of finishing a long run can change your life

Most groups, like our Galloway programs allow runners to try them out for free.  Together we can celebrate fitness and inspire others to improve the quality of their lives.

———————-

I particularly love tip number 4. I paid to do a speed work group, so the thought of wasting that money, AND knowing my group is out there rain or shine motivates me to go run. I’m not the best running self motivator, so this works so well for me!

Visit http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training-groups/list-of-cities/ to find your closest Galloway Training Program.

QOTD: What is your favorite thing about running with a group?

5 Years of Blogging

Well, my 5 year blogiversary snuck up on me! That’s right, I have been doing this gig since November of 2009.  What makes me laugh, is in that first post I mention at the top that I am not very good at this blogging thing and that I didn’t think anyone was reading it. Oh my, if only I had known!

17957_532274156778_61700476_31353821_3191429_n

The half marathon that started it all.

Remember, this blog started out in 2009 as Running With Sass. I knew nothing about WordPress, blogging etiquette, or even photo editing. I learn new tricks every day, and it is fun to look back and see how far I have come.

RWSHeaderFinal

Runlogo

Once I really started blogging regularly in 2010, I blogged seven days a week for many years. Once I got pregnant, I cut down to five days a week and stopped blogging on the weekends. Those were my lowest stat days anyway, and I wanted to spend more time with Bobby before the baby came. Well, then the baby came…and I dropped down to three days a week. I have every intention of going back to blogging at least four if not five days a week (hopefully soon), but until I get little miss thing on a schedule, I just do what I can. I would rather have quality posts than a post every day.

6d4e9b53

I’m sure I have said this before, but if you would have told be five years ago that not only would I have run three full marathons and over twenty half marathons, including Goofy and Dopey challenges, but that my blog would still be going strong and I would be getting paid to write it, I don’t think I would have believed you. Some days I have to remind myself that this started as a hobby, a journal as I trained for my first half marathon. It still really blows my mind.

IMG_9966

I have been given so many amazing opportunities through blogging, and I have met some wonderful people and made lifelong friends. I love how the internet/social media has the power to bring people together, no matter how far apart you live from your friends. I am so blessed to be able to stay home and work and take care of my baby girl. This was my goal five years ago when I quit teaching to work from home, and there have been some definite bumps in the road, but we are figuring things out as we go.

cc

To my amazing readers, thank you so much. Without you, THLG wouldn’t even exist. I think of you when I am coming up with story ideas, planning my race calendar, and accepting and declining job offers. I have been touched by your sweet encouraging emails, and made a better person and write thanks to your ideas and advice.

My one hope is that through this blog you will find encouragement, hope, and learn a thing or two from my blog. I share my personal experiences- the ups and the downs, so that others can feel like they aren’t alone, and see that there are people, real people out there that struggle just like you. I don’t live a glamorous life, and there are a lot of days I don’t feel like writing, and a lot of things I would rather not share. But, if my sharing helps just one person, in a big or small way, then it’s worth it.

photo 1 (6)

Team runDisney, some of my many friends I have made!

I pray that the next half decade will be just as much fun on the interwebs as the last one, and I hope that you will follow along with me on this journey. Thanks for sticking with me through thick and thin, changes and trends, heartache and loss, love and laughter. I hope to meet more of you in the coming years, and form even more connections and friendships. So, cheers to you, and cheers to another year of blogging, living, and sharing.

<3 Heather

My Favorite Social Media Apps

Social media is a big part of my life, and since I am on the go a lot, so are social media apps for my phone and iPad. I wanted to share some of my favorites with you, aside from the obvious Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. The following apps are all things that HELP already existing accounts you may have on those platforms.

social media apps

Buffer: The Buffer app is a great tool for scheduling things like Tweets and Facebook posts. You can add in 10 updates with the free version and they will be posted during the day at times you set, so you don’t have to worry about posting too many things at once. You can also add a buffer button at the top of your toolbar, so anytime you are on a blog or website and see an article you want to tweet or post about but don’t want to do it this minute, you just click the button and the post gets composed and added to your buffer que to be posted at a later time, it’s so easy. My favorite feature is that I can see the likes, comments, shares, and reach for each post.

Facebook Pages Manager: This one should be a given if you have a Facebook fan page. It is especially helpful if you have multiple pages like I do. I can easily toggle between them and see notifications and messages, write new posts, post photos, etc. Without having to go into my actual Facebook app.

Flipboard: This is a great app where you can get up to date content and news that would be relevant to your blog or topics of interest to your followers. (You pick the topics that come up). Once you find an article or story you like, you can share straight to Facebook or Twitter among others. This is a great tool to increase engagement and is a good conversation starter among your followers.

Snapseed: This is a photo editing tool I use a lot before I post photos to Instagram. It has a lot of basic options like frames, straighten, and copping, but also has some great ways to fine tune the coloring, sharpness, and focus of an image. There are a ton of editing choices and it’s fun to play around with.

RELATED: Get my FREE social media manager checklist

QOTD: What is your favorite app that helps with social media?

2013 Post Look Back

Good morning! I am with my family celebrating Christmas, so I will be kind of scarce on social media etc, so I thought it would be fun today to share my top viewed posts of 2013:

runDisney Princess half marathon tips

princesshalf

runDisney Castaway Cay 5k 2013 (and tips)

Disney Magic Bands review

Disney MagicBands

Tips for running a runDisney race

Palo Brunch on the Disney Fantasy

Still Running With Sass <—- First post with my new blog name

Enjoy the look back into 2013! Have a great day!

QOTD: DO you ever look back at old posts on your own blog or someone else’s?

Four Year Blogiversary

WOW! On November 15th 2009, I wrote my first blog post. Back then, I was still Running With Sass, and not only starting out on my blogging journey, but also on my running journey.

dsc048801

January 2010, my first race expo!

I say this a lot, but if you had told me four years ago I would blog nearly every day for the next four years, or that I would run over twenty half marathons, 2 full marathons, and a multitude of other race distances….I don’t know if I would have believed you!

I am so thankful for my blog and the opportunities it has given me off and online. I have met some amazing people I now consider close friends, and have gotten to see so many new places and do new and exciting things.

I have grown up in so many ways, and have also made plenty of mistakes and learned things the hard way. I love having a recording of my life, I can’t tell you how many times I forgot when or how something happened and I just go back and check my archives for the answer! it’s also great to have people hold me accountable and keep me in check. It is so therapeutic for me to write down my thoughts, frustrations, and realizations, and I do hope along the way something I have said has helped at least one person.

179

November 2013, my most recent race expo

I am grateful not only for the blog itself, but to my amazing readers. I love getting comments and emails from you, it brightens my day and makes me want to be a better blogger. So, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, whether you have been on this journey with me for four weeks, or four years from the very beginning…you are all amazing! You inspire me daily, and I wish I could hug you all and thank you! I hope you continue to journey with me for years to come, I can’t wait to see what happens next, and am hoping this next year is a big one!

QOTD: How long have you been a reader of my blog? What would you like to see in my next year of blogging?