Life Lately: Settling into My New Life in Oregon

I’ll start this off by giving you a short summary of the last few years: This time four years ago, I was living in China. Three years ago, I was living in a lonely apartment in DC and in a long distance relationship. Two years ago, I was a new Canadian resident, living in a big house on a lake. Last year, I left that relationship and put myself back together in Hawaii. This year, I’m settling into my new life in Oregon.

It feels strange piecing the last four years of my life into four short sentences, because there’s so much that fits into those four years — life lessons, memories, huge milestones, moments I’ll never forget, good and bad, love and loss, travel, experiences and so much more. It feels odd stumping it all down to a tiny paragraph, but I’m saving the good stuff for my book 😉

rainy day in knoxville tennessee

Where Am I Now?

When I left Hawaii, I didn’t have a plan. I just knew I’d be traveling for a while. Well, for nearly 5 months I’ve been living on the road, traveling from place to place, and living freely and simply. No life commitments, no material belongings, no end destination in mind. Just the open road.

A few weeks ago, I was on the east coast and then decided to head back to Oregon. It took about a week to drive from the east coast all the way back to the west coast, and I’ve been here in Oregon for about a week now.

Settling into Life in Oregon

Last week was full of interviews, work and house hunting. And I’m praying that some good opportunities show themselves to me in this upcoming week! I’ve had some amazing conversations and meetings with some incredible people, so I’m very hopeful.

This weekend was rainy (of course, it’s Oregon…) so it was full of football, stocking up on some warmer clothes, and seeing friends. After traveling so much in such a short amount of time, it was really nice to take it easy and relax.

Finding the Good in Waiting

I’ll be honest: it hasn’t been the smoothest, easiest ride. I’ve been extremely overwhelmed and feeling quite directionless. Should I live here, in a bigger city? Or should I take this job? That job? And there’s also been a heck of a lot of this: “WHAT IF”

There’s also been a lot of waiting: Waiting to hear from a job, a house, people, if there’s a better opportunity, another sign, a better time. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

I know everything will figure itself out, and that everything will be fine — because it always is. But, it’s still hard to sit in the unknown.

Where Faith Comes In

That’s where an important part of my life comes in: my faith. I know He’s up there doing big things for me. He has a plan for my life, and He already knows how things will work out. I want everything figured out right now, but things might not be working in my time because it doesn’t align with His time — and I have to remember that His time is the right time.

I’m overwhelmed and feeling lost, but this is where the biggest part of being a Christian comes in. As Christ’s followers, we’re His sheep and He is our shepherd. We’re small, we don’t know the way, and we get lost from time to time. He is our shepherd, He knows the way, and He is the only one who can save us and guide us when we’re feeling lost.

We don’t know the way, and that’s why we have to be patient and do things in His time.

I tend to forget that, when I get wrapped up in me, me, me. But I’ve been spending more time sitting with my bible, and then I’m reminded of the bigger purpose, the greater goal: Living my life for Jesus, being patient, following Him, and just seeking joy.


Anyway, this was just a little heart update. Oregon is my new home. Things are happening for me in my life, slowly but surely. I’m practicing patience, obedience, and gratitude. And I’m seeking joy in my every day. As always: God’s got me!

How’s everything in your life? What are some big things happening for you? How can I pray for you and your heart? ❤️

Life Lately: Settling into My New Life in Oregon

How to Get Paid for Freelance Writing

I’ve been a freelance writer for a while, but only recently started to earn substantial money from my work. Freelance writing is an extremely competitive market, but it’s not totally impossible to make money—or a career— out of it. I have a few resources for blogging and business, working from home and book writing, but I really wanted to compile a list of sites to help you get paid for freelance writing. Happy writing! 👍🏼

get paid for writing

Sites that pay you for your writing

Babble

Pay: This Disney company pays up to $150 per article

Topic: Family, parenting, lifestyle

The Penny Hoarder

Pay: Up to $75 per article

Topic: Money, investing, debt, careers

Cracked

Pay: Up to $250 per article

Topic: Comedy, pop culture, personal experiences

Paste Magazine

Pay: ~$50 per article (in the form of feature profiles, essays, reviews)

Topic: Music, TV, video games

A List Apart

Pay: $200 per article

Topic: Web development, web design, tech

Dorkly

Pay: ~$75 per article

Topic: Video games, anime, pop culture

Entrepreneur

Pay: $1/word

Topic: Business, entrepreneurial

Confrontation Magazine

Pay: Up to $200 per article

Topic: Short stories, poetry, nonfiction

Affiliate sites for writers

Mixbook — 15% per sale and $20 affiliate bonuses

Blurb — 15% per sale, plus affiliate bonuses and free products

Grammarly — $20 per sale, $25 affiliate bonus

More Ways to Make Money Online

Ultimate Social Media Guide

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Ultimate Blogging Resource

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10 Blog Topics that Generate Crazy Traffic

*Disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do 😉


How to Get Paid for Freelance Writing

An Ode to a Home (pt. II)

ode to home

The sun feels different in Hawaii. It’s hot, but not excruciating – it’s more like a hug, a warm embrace. The breeze wraps around your face like a soft shawl. The birds sing melodies only the islands can understand.

I have moved away from Hawaii many times in my life, but I have always been drawn back – it’s as though I am magnetic and the islands are only attracted to my type of metal. So when I was struggling last year, I knew that the islands would heal me. Being back here, where everything is familiar, where the sunshine has healing powers and the waters wash every bit of negativity away, I knew I would be okay.

In the last 8 months that I have been back, I have been transformed inside and out.

I came to Hawaii seeking comfort, refuge, clarity, and support. I left with so much more.

As I type this on the plane, watching the islands grow smaller and smaller from my window seat, I’m reflecting on everything this place has done for me.

When I stepped off the plane a few months ago, I was broken, distraught and hurt. I had lost everything I had and I had no plan. But the island had plans for me.

Over the next few months, I put everything I had out in the open. I poured every emotion, regret, grudge, and negative feeling out and for the first time, I didn’t allow those feelings to come back inside. I let them out and kept them out, replacing them with positivity, growth, light and joy. After many, many months of grieving, crying in the shower, in my bedroom, in the closet, on the drive home. After breaking down and asking the universe WHY, I finally let it all go. I spent many hours and days soaking up the sunshine. Laid in the sand. Hiked in the mountains. Swam in the sea. I wrote down every thought – good and bad. I just wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I went to church. I practiced yoga. I started loving my body, my skin, my heart. I prayed. I forgave. I accepted my life for what it is, not what it ought to be.

I searched high and low for answers, but the only thing that made sense was this: You are here now, so be here now. After all this time of thinking and planning and wishing and wanting to be someone else and somewhere else, I finally let go and let it be. Say it with me:

I am who I am, and at this moment I am where I am so I will appreciate this for what it is.

Throughout the years, the islands have been my safety net, a home that nurtured me and taught me to appreciate life for everything it is, a place I come to when life gets hard, a place I love that loves me back, a place that is comfortable and familiar.

Hawaii is every definition of home that could ever exist, and it is going to be excruciatingly difficult to find another place that can compare, but I have peace in knowing that everything I need is inside of me and so long as I carry that with me, I can create a home wherever I go.

An Ode to a Home (pt. II)

Mother’s Day | 11 Promises My Mother Made to Me Before I Was Born

A few days ago, while going through some old boxes, my mother found this little sheet of paper. Written on it, were promises and goals she set for herself as a soon-to-be mother, to give me the best life possible. And with today being Mother’s Day, I thought it was perfect timing to share in hopes that they might inspire other mothers or soon-to-be mothers – I sure know it inspires me, and just reading this makes me look forward to motherhood that much more.


  1. I will always love and respect my child for who they are, and not for who I want them to be.
  2. I will not burden them with emotions and problems they are not equipped to deal with – remembering that I am the parent and they are the child.
  3. I will, when discipline is necessary, let my child know that I disapprove of what they do, not who they are.
  4. I will set limits for my child, and help them find security in knowing what is expected of them.
  5. I will make time for my child and cherish our moments together, realizing how important and fleeting they are.
  6. I will create a loving home environment and show my child that they are loved, whenever and however I can.
  7. I will be sure to give my child space – to grow, to dream, to succeed and even to fail.
  8. I will encourage them to experience the world and all its possibilities, guiding them in its ways and taking pains to leave them careful, but not fearful.
  9. I will take care of myself physically and emotionally so that I can be there for my child when they need me.
  10. I will try to be the kind of person I want my child to grow up to be – loving and fair-minded, morally-conscious, giving, hopeful, optimistic, positive, happy, outgoing, energetic, creative, and resourceful.
  11. I will tell them that I love them every day, and the last thing they will hear before they sleep at night, is at least one thing that they did that made me proud.

Wishing all the beautiful, superhero moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day! (Especially mine, love you mama!) ❤

Mother’s Day | 11 Promises My Mother Made to Me Before I Was Born

What are your daydreams?

One morning, I was staring out the window while eating my breakfast and I let my mind completely run free. Instead of thinking about all the things I had to get done that day, I just let myself daydream, I allowed the “what ifs” that I normally shut up, I welcomed wonder, I bounced from thought to thought and I did it all while watching clouds drift by.

Do you want to know what I thought about? I thought about…

How much I wish our society wasn’t based around working and paying bills.

Moving to Europe to learn how to make cheese, or excel at pottery, or own a flower shop.

My upcoming road trip across America and all the gas station pit-stops, Americana roadside attractions, and new freckles I’ll get.

My future Dalmatian puppy sitting in the front seat of my future Subaru or Volvo station wagon.

The possibility that all of this is just a huge simulation, or that there are “lizard people” running rampant (I’m on a documentary kick right now, okay don’t judge me).

How obsessed I was with dinosaurs when I was younger, and how I would crawl around on my hands and knees and collect egg-shaped rocks (aka dinosaur eggs) and name them all Courtney.

Becoming a mother, it’s all I want! I can’t wait to raise a family, and make them cute lunches for school, and clean up their messes, and teach them to be kind and open-minded above all else.

Sailing the seas and getting caught in a storm. I’m not quite sure why, but I think about this often.


What about you? What do you daydream about? 😊

What are your daydreams?

Springtime | A time for embracing change

There’s something I love about all seasons.

Summer for all the fond memories and sense of nostalgia it holds.

Autumn for the drastic change from lush greenery to oranges, browns and reds. The way it brings together warmth and coldness.

Winter for the way it exposes the earth, strips the trees of its leaves and the world of its color – yet at the same time, brings so much cheer and coziness and familiarity.

And Spring, the time of year when things come back to life, flowers bloom, creatures (and people) emerge from their winter hibernations, and change is embraced with open hearts.


The first phase of Spring is a time when plants begin to defrost, shed themselves of the winter cold and emerge from their dreariness.

In the second phase, they begin to grow, their roots take hold and they grow, grow, grow.

In the third phase, their leaves reach up toward the sun and embrace warmth, embrace change.

And then one morning, seemingly out of nowhere, a flower appears. Beautiful, vibrant and full of life.


The last 7 months have been a season of change. In these last few months, I have shed myself of my dark, cold winter. I’ve grown. I’ve realized my beauty and allowed myself to strengthen and improve myself – for myself.

Right now, I’m in the third phase of spring. I’m embracing the change that is happening in my life and in my heart. Every day, I’m working toward becoming the person I want to be. The joyful, calm, kind, radiant me.

And I can’t wait to bloom.

 

Springtime | A time for embracing change

5 Steps to Help You Finally Get Started On Your Book!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been wanting to write a book for a long time. In fact, I actually found my 6th grade yearbook, and I wrote that I wanted to be an author as my “dream job”!

However, it’s been 14 years since then, and I still haven’t written anything. Why? It’s simple.

It’s hard to get started.

And if you’ve ever thought you wanted to write a book, you know first-hand how hard it is.

But I have awesome news: I finally started! And here are 5 things that have helped get my butt in gear. ⚡️

1. Dig deep into your passion

Ask yourself why you want to write a book. What’s weighing on your heart? What story do you want to tell? Don’t write a book to sell. Write a book to write.

Once you figure out exactly what you want to write, everything else will almost fall into place.

2. Nail down your genre, topic and style

This one is a bit trickier, and I’m still working on this myself. But before you really get down to business (to defeat the huns 😉), you really need to solidify exactly what your story is, which genre it falls under, define your writing voice and the style in which you want to present your story.

As I’m writing, I find that I keep going back and forth between writing styles, and I know this will make it very difficult in my editing process. So, to save yourself the hassle, try as best as your can to nail down the following:

  • Topic – What do you want to write about? What is the story you want to tell? And WHY. Answering the WHY is probably my favorite part about writing, because it helps me refine my topic. Ask yourself why you want to tell the story you’re wanting to write, and everything else will be much more clear.
  • Genre – After you nail down your topic, you can further refine it by placing it in a genre. For example, you could want to tell a story about a young woman who moves to a new town, but it could take so many different turns depending on the genre. If it’s a sci-fi, she could encounter a fifth dimension. If it’s a romance, she could fall in love with the mayor’s son. If it’s a thriller, she could be running from her ex-husband. You get it.
  • Style – How do you want to present your story? Do you want to paint a big picture in the beginning and slowly get into the nitty gritty? Or do you want to start your book off with a bang? Do you want to structure your chapters in short segments, or long ones? Will your story incorporate flashbacks throughout? These are all important things to think about and consider before you begin writing, because they can change the whole dynamic of your book.

3. Outline, baby!

Remember dreading writing essay outlines in high school? Guess what! They’re actually super useful (and necessary) when it comes to planning your book.

I’ll admit, when I was still in the “I’m thinking about writing a book” phase, I almost skipped the outline step because I couldn’t even be bothered with it.

BUT, once I finally sat down and forced myself to outline my ideas, I felt so much better.

Jot all your ideas down, and then organize your thoughts into a structured outline. From there, you’ll have a much better direction for your book, and you won’t lose track of your grand idea!

4. Join communities (online & offline)

Once you begin your writing journey, reaching out to other writers can be really helpful to you! Having a group of fellow writers and authors at your disposal can help keep you accountable and motivated, and it can provide you with tons of insider tips for the writing and publishing process.

I’ve found helpful writing communities in Facebook Groups, Pinterest, Twitter and even Reddit! (A separate post on my favorite writing communities is coming soon 😊)

5. Create your writing space

I once read somewhere that you should write in the same place every day, because it will help you to…

  • Establish a routine
  • Associate a certain space with writing
  • Help you keep the same voice

Whether or not these things are true, you should still take the time to create your own special writing space. Why? Because if you think about it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time writing your book, so you may as well be comfortable!

(Note: I feel like I have to mention, I haven’t even done this yet! I’m still hunched over at a desk with bad lighting and a hard, wooden chair. But hey, baby steps!)


I hope these tips help you get closer to your dream of writing a book! Are you in the process of writing a book, or want to get started? Do you have any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

5 Steps to Help You Finally Get Started On Your Book!

10 Blog Topics That Generate Tons of Traffic (and how to promote them!)

Whether you’re just starting out with your blog, or you’ve been blogging forever, everyone can use a few new ideas here and there. I write for a living, but even I need inspiration sometimes! So I put together this list of my favorite traffic-generating blog post ideas. Happy writing!


1. How-To

What do you do when you need to know how to do something? You Google it. And guess what? So does everyone else.

This is basic SEO: If tons of people are searching “How to bake a pecan pie” and you write a blog about baking a pecan pie, they will land on your site!

Side note: When I wrote my blog on Pecan Pie, I wrote it because I had just done it and I was proud of myself. Ironically, the next day, “Pecan Pie” was trending on Pinterest! Win-win!

So, the best way to make sure you write posts that will generate a lot of traffic, is to make sure you know what is trending at the time.

2. Recipes

Since I mentioned it above, I figured it would be a perfect segue… Recipes are fantastic traffic generators because they can be shared to Pinterest!

If you spend a lot of time on Pinterest like I do, you’ll know that recipes are one of the most popular pins, which means if you write a recipe blog and share it on Pinterest, you’ll likely have a viral blog on your hands in no time! (Or you’ll just fall into a deep Pinterest black hole of no return. It happens to me daily, it’s fine)

3. Guides

Are you an expert in something? Whatever it is (baking, gardening, business, childcare), if you have tons of tips and expertise, putting together an essential guide can land you tons and tons of traffic.

People are always looking for “ultimate guides” online, so creating one will guarantee a spike in traffic and interest.

Tip: Want to increase your traffic AND email subscribers? Offer your guide as a download that your followers can receive via email! 🙂

4. Questions

Do you know what the top Google search is? (No, it’s not Jeffrey Dean Morgan… is that just me?) The top Google search is posed as a question!

If you center your blog post around frequently asked or commonly asked questions, your blog will go traffic crazy.

Why?

Because Google has this fun thing called a knowledge graph, and if you answer a common question in your blog, your site might be posted in this nifty little box!

Here’s a crackin’ example of Google’s knowledge graph:

5. Product reviews

I love working with brands and I love reviewing products, because it’s fun and helpful to readers. Product reviews are a high traffic generator for two reasons:

  1. Shoppers constantly search for reviews and testimonies from real people (aka bloggers)
  2. Brands often repost product reviews or sponsored content

6. Contests

Who doesn’t love free stuff? If you’re lucky enough to be hosting a contest, you will also be lucky enough to reap the benefits of more blog traffic! Everyone loves contests, and if you host one on your blog, it will be clicked on, engaged with, shared, reposted. You get it.

7. Advice

Just like the How-To and Questions blog topics above, “advice” blogs are extremely popular. A few weeks ago, I was actually searching for advice online and instead of finding news articles or medical journals, the first things that popped up were blogs!

If you have advice to offer, post a blog about it! Chances are, there are a bunch of people who need to hear what you have to say. And even if it doesn’t go “viral,” you’ll still be able to sleep easier at night knowing you helped at least one person with your advice. And that makes it worth it, right?

8. Travel

Have you recently gone on a trip? Are you in the middle of planning a trip? Are you a full time traveler (or at least trying to be?)

Then write about it!

When I mentioned that one of the most popular type of pins on Pinterest are recipes, the other types are travel-related. Everyone wants first-hand knowledge and tips in regards to travel, and these posts can never go wrong!

So if you’ve recently traveled or are planning to, posting a blog about it will result in traffic galore for you.

Tip: Bonus points if you write about how to travel cheaply!

9. Gift ideas

Since we’re right smack dab in the middle of the holidays, it would be wrong for me not to include a “gift ideas” blog topic.

BUT the amazing thing about these type of blogs is that they perform well any time of the year, making them evergreen (aka they never go out of style).

People are always searching for the “perfect” gift, and they’re always searching for gift guides and gift ideas, so create a really awesome one and get those views!

10. Personal posts

This is my personal favorite, and although it won’t get you the viral, crazy traffic that you’re looking for, it does give you loyal readers that keep coming back for more. By being open and letting your readers into your personal life, you’ll soon create a solid community, which is the most important thing in this blogging world.


These are my favorite traffic-generating blogs, and after working in the marketing world these are the topics I’ve found that have always performed the best for my clients, too.

Do you have any blog topics that have driven tons of traffic to your site? ⚡️

10 Blog Topics That Generate Tons of Traffic (and how to promote them!)

An Ode to a Home

When we were house hunting, we didn’t know what we wanted – we were just excited to finally be together.

I remember when we went to view this house. The lawn was unkempt, the whole house wreaked, there were marker drawings all over the walls and carpets, and it was over budget.

But for some reason, we were drawn to it. The house was close to my work, not too big and not too small, it overlooked a lake, and the owners loved us.

It was meant to be.

This house held so many memories – good and bad – and when I closed the door, handed over the keys, and left it for the last time, it was overwhelming.

This is where we would begin our life together – but it’s also where our love ended.

This is where we set up our first Christmas tree, wrapped garland around the banisters, cooked countless chicken dinners (because that’s all I can seem to cook), watched our favorite TV shows.

This house is where we brought a kitten home, where I sat out on the porch and “tanned,” where friends visited and stayed with us and marveled at how “in love” we seemed.

Laughter and love filled this house to the brim. But this is also where we fought, and cried, and yelled, and wondered how in the world we ever thought this could work out. This is where I was at my lowest, but it’s also where I was at my highest.

I was in love in this house, but I also lost that love in this house.

We made plans for our future in this house, talked about kids’ names, jobs we’d love to have, where we’d want to live, how our wedding would be.

And at the end, we cried and said our very last goodbye in this house.

I learned so much about love, partners, life, and myself living in this house, that I can’t help but be thankful.

This house was many things in the short year I lived in it. But one thing it will never stop being is a lesson, a stepping stone, something to remember but never to relive.

An Ode to a Home

Don’t Forget

The other day I was eavesdropping on a couple next to me (don’t act like you don’t do it). The lady sat down next to her husband and was reminding him to take his medication, asking him if he remembered to pack Kleenex, and telling him about the long list of to-do’s she has waiting for him back at home. He kept saying, “I won’t forget, I won’t forget, I won’t forget.” And that got me thinking about all the little things I don’t want to forget, the things that are so small, yet so important to me that I couldn’t stand not remembering. Not menial things, but things that from day-to-day, we all tend to forget about because they’re overshadowed by paying the bills, memorizing work presentations, and buying Christmas gifts (still have to do that…)

I want to remember all the little things in my every day.

To listen. Be curious. Remember birthdays (without an app). Remember things I’ve read, or movies I’ve seen again and again.

To memorize the pattern of freckles on his chest. Memorize poems. Memorize prayers.

To be spontaneous. Cheerful. Positive. Ambitious.

Be funny. Be happy. Be graceful.

I want to remember memories and special moments that helped carve me into who I am.

To remember how frigid the river felt on my toes. The feeling of sunshine on my shoulders and cheeks. The names of mountains and backcountry trails.

To remember the color of the towels in the bathroom. The price of ice cream at the corner store down the street.

To be adventurous and daring. To do things because I want to do them, not just because everyone else is.

To remember the sting on my knees after falling off my bike again and again and again.

To remember things we ate, special camping foods and birthday foods and “just because” restaurant outings.

To be honest and sure. To take photos and write everything down.

I want to remember who I am and where I came from, no matter where I am in life now.

To remember your hometown streets. The memories made there. The nicknames. The sunburns.

To remember to call and to write.

Remember the last time I saw you, the words we shared, the glances, the tears.

Remember the smell of lilies and gardenias. Remember to say “thank you.”

Remember to keep going, going, going.

I don’t want to forget to remember.

Don’t Forget