How to Stop Letting Others Control Your Mood

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Hi there, I hope you’re doing well. Taking care of myself has always been a struggle for me, but I’ve been making an effort, and I hope you are too ❤

Do you ever find your mood swinging up and down based on the behavior of others? Your friend makes a joke about you and you become sad, dejected. Depression kicks in again and you disconnect from people for fear of what they might say next. Or maybe you and your partner are getting along really well right now, and you feel like you’re floating on air. Your mood is elevated, there’s a true smile on your face, and you feel like you can conquer anything that comes your way.

The problem with hinging your mood on the behavior of others is that, inevitably, people will fail you. I don’t say this to be cynical, or cruel, but just to be real. Humans are selfish by nature. We fail by nature. We say or do the wrong thing, despite our best intentions. Your friend will say something you don’t like one day. I guarantee it. You and your partner will inevitably have a disagreement.

This is normal.

The scary thing is when your mood sways up and down with them.

Sometimes, I felt like I wasn’t in control of my own body. I was a little boat and my emotions were the sea. I never knew what kind of waters I would encounter next. A still, turquoise sea, sunshine reflecting off its surface… or rough waves that threatened to swallow me whole.

The storm of life. Boat on the ocean. Sunny sky. Storm. Overwhelming emotions. turbulent.
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

I knew I needed to take back control, but how?

Well, emotions aren’t really something you can control. You can’t tell yourself to stop feeling upset when you and your partner have a fight any more than you can tell yourself to stop being happy when they bring you flowers or kiss your cheek.

Emotions are real, and they matter. They can be overwhelming, but like the sea, if you learn how to navigate them, they are a lot less daunting.

But how?

The first thing I did when learning to navigate my own emotions was to develop coping mechanisms that could help when the waters started to get choppy.

Argument with a friend? Do some deep breathing.
My partner says something that hurts my feelings? Use positive coping thoughts like “this feeling will pass”.
Work is stressful and my boss is a jerk? Imagine my thoughts and feelings are a balloon floating away on the breeze.

There are lots of ways to cope with stressful situations, these are just a few examples that work for me. I suggest seeking out some positive coping mechanisms that work for you. I found these and many more in the Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills Workbook. Check it out if you’re needing some help in this area.

Once I had some coping mechanisms under my belt for in-the-moment feels, I brought the focus back to my whole self. I sought contentment within myself.

What makes me feel happy? Well, I like reading and writing. Also baking and watching Disney movies.

What are some things I can do to seek contentment when I feel down? I could read a book or watch a Disney movie. Sometimes I’ll even have a movie picked out for the next time my mood is down. I’ve found this really helpful because the times when I really need the mindless joy of a funny movie, I have no motivation or desire to pick one out. Up next is Tangled 😉

I also thought about some things that made me feel unhappy. Not just generals like “when me and my partner fight” or “when my friend says something mean” but specifics.

Examples:

I need to feel validated by my partner. When I don’t, I feel sad and unimportant. How do I combat this? Well… I told my partner. Simple, right?

Actually no… not for me. I spent a lot of my life being invalidated by others and being punished when I shared my feelings. Opening up has never been an easy thing for me. But I forced myself to. I shook, I held back tears, I was ready to run.

And do you know what happend?

My partner said he would try harder to validate my feelings and gave me a hug.

That’s it.

I felt a little silly for being so scared.

And I’m so glad I told him, because not only did I gain something that I needed, but we grew closer because of my willingness to be vulnerable.

What’s another thing that makes me unhappy? Well, when people make negative comments about things I can’t really change (my body, my personality, etc.) I feel unloved and worthless.

How do I combat this? Just like with my partner, I told my friend who was doing this to me how I felt.

How did that work out?

Not well… they told me that what they said was perfectly reasonable and that I shouldn’t be so sensitive.

Not great, right?

But the thing is, now I know where I stand. That is not a person I can be vulnerable with. And their apologies may not bring me comfort in the future.

And later, when they realized I had pulled away, they actually came back and apologized. A true apology.

It may not always work out the way you hope it will, but it will always work out how it should.

That brings me to the third thing I did, which involved a technique called Radical Acceptance. I learned about it in the DBT Skills book and it has helped me SO MUCH.

I will do another post on this, but to make a long story short, radical acceptance is all about accepting situations for what they are, instead of what you wish they were.

Real life example:

I’m driving to work and I get stuck in traffic. It sucks. I’m feeling frustrated and stressed. I’m concerned about making it to work on time. My feelings of failure are cropping up. I’m starting to use phrases like “I’m such an idiot” and “Why do I always do this?”

But I’m not going to let myself go there. Why? Because I’m practicing Radical Acceptance. I’m stuck in traffic, yes. I’m late. Yes, it sucks. I feel frustrated, and that’s real. But that’s just where I’m at right now, and worrying won’t solve it. I breathe in, I breathe out. I think back to my coping mechanisms, I stuff my feelings of stress and frustration into a balloon, I open my car window, and I watch it fly away.

Let it go, Elsa.

Letting go. Acceptance. Radical Acceptance. Meditation. Self help.
Photo by Sirirak Boonruangjak on Pexels.com

It’s easier said than done, I know. But I can honestly say that I have used this technique time and time again. And you know what? It helps. I genuinely feel lighter when I watch those feelings float away.

So why do these techniques help me to control my own mood?

It helps me find peace. It’s that simple.

You can’t shake a tree whose roots are deep.

I find contentment inside myself. Other things can bring me happiness or sadness, but my soul finds contentment and peace of its own accord.

I set the temperature for my mood. I am in control.

Frankly, sometimes I still mess up. The threads slip, and I scramble to regain the control I had.

It happens.

This does not make you a failure, it makes you a student of your mind.

The important thing is that we keep trying. That we keep reminding ourselves who is in charge.

I set the temperature.
The wind and the rain may come, but I steer this boat.

So, keep trying. Keep reminding yourself you are in charge. YOU set the temperature. The wind and the rain may come, but you steer your boat.

I hope that you find some peace within yourself. A warm spot inside your soul that you can call home.

I would love to hear your story. Let me know in the comments below what coping mechanisms you use, and how you find peace within yourself.

We’re all on the same team here, and I would love to lift you up.

Sending love,

MK

This boi says he finds inner peace by skipping other players. Or making them draw 4.

Can I Call Myself A Writer?

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Hi there, I hope this post finds you safe and well. The world can be a scary place, but hopefully you have found something that brings you joy.

Joy, for me, is in being creative. Baking. Painting. Writing. I love to create, to use my hands and my mind to make something beautiful. I love to imagine worlds and explore them, to talk to my characters and get to know who they are, to find the beauty in the monotony. Writing can be stressful at times, but I love it. Even the challenges it brings.

Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

I used to call myself an “aspiring writer” or a “newbie writer”. Adjectives that make it clear that, while I do write, I’m new to this. I don’t have a lot of experience, especially from a professional standpoint. I am unpublished. I have no agent, despite valiant efforts. I have written one book that has yet to go past the eyes of my immediate family. I’m drafting a new one, and it’s a lot harder than I was expecting.

I have all these reasons to call myself an “amateur”. I worried that if I called myself a writer, I might be misleading people into thinking I actually know what I’m doing. Or worse, if I say I’m a writer, people will expect me to actually, you know, write.

According to the dictionary, a writer is someone who engages in writing, especially as a profession.

Is that what I do?

It’s certainly what I’d like to do. But as of this moment, I’ve never gotten any money from it. I can’t exactly be paid in warm, fuzzy feelings and my family’s praise.

Though I’m always open to receiving.

So I asked myself, why can’t I call myself a writer? If you google it, all these sites will pop up telling you when you can and when you can’t, people getting angry at newbies calling themselves writers, people getting angry at old pros who still haven’t adopted the title.

I suppose everyone’s just angry. That’s nothing new.

And why would I base my opinions off someone else anyway?

So I call myself a writer. Let me explain why I do this.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

First of all, if you write, you are a writer. I don’t care if you haven’t made a penny. If you put words on the page, and you’re heading in some direction with those words, you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t gotten an agent yet. Or if you’re unpublished. Or if you’re self-published. Or if you’re published and have established a career. If you use language to create stories, you are a writer. So stop listening to everything Reddit tells you.

To be a writer, you must write. That’s it.

Second, I’ve found that these “qualifying” adjectives were a way for me to degrade myself.

Yes, I write, but I’m new to this. Yes, I wrote a book, but it’s unpublished. Yes, I’d like to write for money, but I’m not making any yet.

Amateur.

Newbie.

Hobbyist.

Aspiring.

Unpublished.

Wannabe.

Inexperienced.

Not yet worth the industry’s time.

These can get negative really quickly. And if you are painting yourself with these adjectives, you will probably start to believe them. You will feel insufficient. Worthless. See my post on Self-Doubt if this sounds like the inside of your head. It was mine for a long time, so I get it.

I ask you, is someone who paints, but has never sold a piece, a painter? Is someone who builds things, but doesn’t own a construction company, a builder? Is someone who tends plants, but doesn’t sell them, a gardener?

Do you have to be established, making money, and publicly accepted by the industry to be an artist?

When a child uses adjectives to downgrade their identity, their worth, what do you say? You tell them how great they are, right?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

When your child draws you a picture, but tells you it’s not very good, you tell them you love it! You say, “This is beautiful! You’re an artist! I’m so proud of you!”

So why do you treat yourself any different? Why are you, a wonderful, creative, worthwhile individual, not allowed to be proud of who you are and what you do?

I realized that the only person who actually took issue with me calling myself a writer, was me. I was afraid that people wouldn’t take me seriously. That people might think I had a big head.

But why would they think that?

I am a writer. I have written stories, and will continue to do so. Money, or not. Though money would be nice… My mortgage company doesn’t accept the aforementioned fuzzy feelings.

I’m so tired of making myself small for the comfort of others. I’m so tired of using degrading adjectives in case anyone took issue.

So, I’m a writer. A good one, in my opinion.

Isn’t that the only opinion that really matters? Your own?

Be kind to yourself, and call yourself whatever feels right to you.

And above all, keep creating. The world needs more good, and you are part of that.

Sending love,

MK

Linux calls himself a magician because he’s got that floofy magic.

How to Fight Self-Doubt

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Hi friend! I hope you’re showing yourself lots of love. You deserve it ❤ I’d love to know how you practice self care in the comments below.

For years, I’ve struggled with insecurity. That voice inside my head that told me I wasn’t good enough.

Strong enough.

Talented enough.

Smart enough.

Just… Enough.

There is a school of thought that the voice inside your head is actually your parents’ voices. As a child, they could build you up or tear you down with the words they chose. Those words became ingrained in you and you use them throughout your life unless you train yourself otherwise.

I grew up in an emotionally abusive situation. Words were used as weapons, and I felt small. As I grew up, my inner voice started to sound a lot like the voices I heard as a child.

But this time, it was me saying those things, not my elders.

Photo by JESSICA TICOZZELLI on Pexels.com

I’ve learned to be careful how I speak to myself, even in my own head.

Words and thoughts have great power over the mind. One word can send signals to the brain and transform into an emotion, an emotion splits into secondary emotions, and secondary emotions set a pattern of behavior.

Here’s an example: If someone calls me stupid, that message is relayed to my brain. My brain sends chemicals out in a response. Now I’m angry. How dare they call me stupid? Then, I start to experience secondary emotions. I become fearful they might be right. I question my worth. I feel sad and defeated. These emotions set a pattern for my behavior. I will feel inferior, because “others think I’m stupid”. I will feel sad, because “maybe they’re right”. I will question my worth and pull away from relationships, avoiding the situation that brought me pain. I won’t try new things because “I’m too stupid to be a success”.

Think of a situation where someone made a judgement of you (whether wrong or right). How did you feel? After some time, what feelings cropped up? How did your behavior change?

I’ve been reading this Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook. It’s been so helpful in retraining my brain to cope with thoughts and emotions. Check it out if you’re anything like me and your thoughts tend to spiral.

Any-who…

Recently I was talking to my step mom, who has been a huge source of love and support in my life – a mom to me for so many reasons. I told her that I had thought about branching out and trying something new, but that I wasn’t sure it was the right fit. I told her I was going to give up, because it probably wouldn’t work out anyway.

She asked how I could know I wasn’t the right fit. How could I be sure that no one in this world wants what I have to offer? She said I should let them judge for themselves.

Dropping wisdom in the parking lot of Olive Garden.

I had heard this before, but it hit home when she said it. By giving up before I even tried, I might have missed out on an opportunity to grow. Not to mention, by labeling myself as “not good enough” I was essentially saying that I knew better than anyone else.

I knew I could not make it.

I knew I was not good enough.

I knew that no one wanted what I had to offer.

How big-headed of me! I must be psychic, to know the thoughts and opinions of everyone.

So I asked myself, what did I have to lose? What if I tried, and I failed?

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

Well… Then nothing would happen.

Sure, I would have invested a bit of time and put myself out there. But that’s it. No one would be hurt. I wouldn’t lose any money. I wouldn’t be labeled a failure for the world to see.

So why not try?

Why not let other people decide whether or not they want what I have to give, and show up regardless?

So now I ask you: What have you given up on because you judged yourself inferior? What goal or dream or idea did you have that you didn’t pursue because “it would never go anywhere” or “I wouldn’t be any good at it”?

Maybe we should let others decide what they do and do not want, and just live our lives to the fullest. Try new things, put ourselves out there, do something that scares us.

Because yes, it may not amount to anything…

But it could become your everything.

Sending love,

MK

This good boi thinks you are capable of big things!

5 Books That Made Me A Better Writer

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Reading can be a great way to improve your writing. Reading both in and out of your preferred genre can broaden you knowledge of writing and improve your writing skills. As you read, you pick up on things the author did well, and also things they did… not so well. You learn things you like and dislike when it comes to story-telling.

When I started writing, I became a different kind of reader. Before, I read just to experience and consume. Now, I pay attention. Sentence structure. Paragraph layout. Storyline. Character details. Everything. I take note of what I need to improve on (foreshadowing) and things I need to avoid (slow-moving plot).

Below, I have cultivated a few books/series that greatly impacted my writing. From world building to character development, these books taught me a lot about how I want to write my stories.

I hope this list can help you, as well!

The Remnant Chronicles
& Dance of Thieves

Mary E Pearson paints an incredibly vivid and believable world in the Remnant Chronicles, which continues several years later with the Dance of Thieves duology. I loved both of these series, though I prefer the initial trilogy because I felt the pacing was better.

To be honest, the story in the Dance of Thieves duology felt a little forced and unnecessary to me, though I enjoyed it for what I believe Pearson does best: World Building.

World Building, for the newbies out there, is the process of creating your own world for your story. Culture, language, religions, behaviors, plant life, animal life, I could go on, but you get the point. Pearson has created such a vivid and believable world. She even went as far as creating a language and writing poems from some religious texts.

When I started writing my first book (as yet unpublished, though actively searching for agents), I took note of the way she described her landscape, and how the characters interacted with it. At one point, the main character travels across the desert to another land. You can almost feel the heat on your skin, the soreness in your limbs, the chafing of the rope on your wrists.

Her descriptions of the world are so immersive, you can’t help but be sucked in. This is taken even further by not only having a religion, but multiple religions unique to each culture. This is way more believable than a world-wide religion that everybody knows everything about.

Think about our world. How many religions are there? And within one “religion,” how many different sets of beliefs can people practice? How many practitioners of the same exact religion have every piece of knowledge about said religion?

You could see how the religions would have evolved over time. I won’t go into too many details for those who haven’t read it, but this is a post-apocalyptic world, and you can imagine how their “gods” might have come about, how pre-apocalyptic technology would have been viewed as magic, how nuclear missiles could have been misconstrued for stars centuries later.

I highly recommend The Remnant Chronicles, both for enjoyment, and as a form of research for your own writing. If you struggle with world building, or if you are just interested in learning more, these books are an incredible example for you to take note of.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Remnant Chronicles Dance of Thieves

Six of Crows

The Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo is also a great example for world building for many of the same reasons I listed for The Remnant Chronicles. The culture and religions, the vivid nature of Leigh’s writing, it sweeps you up so thoroughly it can be easy to forget you’re reading!

What I though she did exceptionally well with this duology (better than Shadow & Bone, sorry) is the way she built her characters. She wrote from multiple points of view (POV) throughout these books, and they never blurred together. You could really believe that each character had their own set of wants and desires, goals, fears, likes and dislikes.

She not only made them unique, but also included traits in each character that the reader could identify with. Kaz and Inej were both survivors. They had undergone immense trauma, but rose from the ashes stronger for it. Where Kaz went hard and shut people out, Inej sought compassion and goodness, a higher power. I think everyone can identify with one or both of those on some level.

Each and every character was unique and believable. That’s the other issue you can sometimes run into with character building. Making them unique is one thing, but do the feel real? Can you look at their behavior and say, “oh yeah, I can see why she would say that” or “he’s acting that way because of______”.

This was especially difficult for me in my writing, making sure that each character was unique and not just supporting the protagonist’s goal, but actually having goals of their own. If you want to learn more about character development (and read an awesome book) I highly recommend the Six of Crows duology.

If If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Six of Crows Six of Crows Box Set

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor follows in line with the excellent world building and character development of The Remnant Chronicles and Six of Crows. You can see Laini put a great deal of time and research into her story and her characters. It’s beautifully done.

More than that, for me, what stood out in this book was the writing. My God, the writing. I felt romanced by words. Laini was seranading me while I sat on my couch, sweats sticking to my skin as I flicked through page after page.

I felt like I was reading poetry, but way more exciting. Not that poetry can’t be exciting, but it has this gripping plot to go with it. Angst. Passion. Fear. Joy. Love. Daughter of Smoke and Bone had all of those and more. Between the incredible story (seriously, Laini is so creative) and the epic prose, I was hooked from cover to cover.

That’s something I strive for in my writing. Story is important, but there’s so much more. Good writing comes with practice, and I’ll be the first to admit I have way more to learn, but mimicking her writing style and the fluidity of her words is a huge goal of mine.

I maybe, kinda, sorta, just a wee-tiddly-bit idolize her.

I definitely recommend this series to people who need to work on sentence structure and overall beautification of words. Laini will expand your vocabulary and melt your heart with her inspiring use of language.

I’m gushing. I’ll stop now.

Sorry, people.

Seriously, read her books.

OK now I’m really done.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy

Throne of Glass

Sarah J Maas is basically the benchmark of good fantasy, or at least that’s popular opinion. I will admit, I was swept up by the Throne of Glass series. I haven’t read all her other books yet, though I’m almost done with ACOTAR, but they are sitting on my shelf waiting for me! She’s definitely an author I always buy.

She may not have the beautiful prose of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but the story is fantastic. She has all the things, friends. All. The. Things. Good writing. Excellent story. Relatable, developed characters. Twists and turns. Maybe a wee bit of spice…

But what really got me about this story, and the reason she is on my list, is the way she planted seeds throughout this series that blossomed chapters, or sometimes books, later. We call this foreshadowing, kids, and by God Sarah is goooooood. I will give an example, and if you hate spoilers, go to the next paragraph. In the novella (set before the first book) The Assasain and the Healer, Celaena feels pulled towards Yrene, saves her booty, teaches her some awesome moves, and gives her money to go to school. In the last book, guess who saves ThE eNtIrE wOrLd?!?! Yrene. Why? Because she went to school to become a healer. Like… I can’t, people. Consider me shooketh.

End spoiler

Planting little seeds throughout your story, watering them as you go, then letting them bloom is the best way to give your readers what the kids these days are calling “shock and awe”.

There’s this idea that has long been talked about in the writing world. Anton Chekhov explains that if you mention a gun in one chapter, it has to go off at some point during your story. This is meant to keep your writing nice ‘n tidy: don’t mention pointless crap. But it also exhibits foreshadowing, the tool every writer should be using.

Thriller
Tommy mentions a gun in passing during chapter 3.
Tommy uses the gun when someone breaks in during chapter 10.

Mystery
Anna mentions a bloodstain on her husband’s shirt in chapter 2.
Turn’s out Anna’s hubby has been a naughty boy and is actually the murderer (chapter 29).

You get the idea.

Maas does an incredible job of planting these little seeds throughout her novel. I like to imagine her writing these books with a million flashcards on the ground around her, foreshadowing points on each one. Because if you think about it, she must have planned out every detail before she wrote it.

I digress.

I hope that I can be that detailed in my writing. I hope that when my readers reach the end of my book they get that ah-hah moment where all the little bits of information suddenly become clear.

Also this series was epic and a total game-changer for me.

End gush.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate links below.
Throne of Glass Throne of Glass Box Set Paperback
Throne of Glass Box Set Hardcover

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Last but not least, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. This book, fellow humans… This book broke me and remade me.

So I’m not going to lie, sometimes the story was a little slow for me. Hah! That kinda goes against what I just said, but it’s true. But it honestly didn’t matter because of the writing. It wasn’t just the use of beautiful language like Laini, it was the way V. E. Schwab evoked emotion with the simplest of phrases.

“Because time is cruel to all, and crueler still to artists. Because vision weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades…. Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end… everyone wants to be remembered”
-V. E. Schwab

This book was so well thought out. The research alone makes my head hurt to even think about. But also the story line… Schwab had to make a timeline three centuries long. Three. Centuries. Long. In the real world, people. So research, history, facts, places, dates, ugh.

To be able to plan and research for a book like that is a huge source of inspiration for me, and one of the reasons I included it in this post.

The main reason, though, is the way Schwab writes like she knows exactly what strings to pull. She had me laughing and crying, screaming and closing the book just to absorb. The way she manipulates language into something tangible, something that washes over you so you can breathe in the character’s pain, their love, their misery, their joy.

And the way Schwab portrays mental illness… It’s perfect. Henry is depressed, that much is clear. The way Schwab dove into the inner workings of his mind and said things that I myself have said, had him behaving in ways I have behaved, wrote out thoughts that I’ve had and never shared with anyone…

“Take a drink every time you hear you’re not enough.
Not the right fit.
Not the right look.
Not the right focus.
Not the right drive.
Not the right time.
Not the right job.
Not the right path.
Not the right future.
Not the right present.
Not the right you.
Not you.
(Not me?)
There’s just something missing.
From us.
What could I have done?
Nothing. It’s just…
(Who you are.)
I didn’t think we were serious.
(You’re just too…
…sweet.
…soft.
…sensitive.)
I just don’t see us ending up together.
I met someone.
I’m sorry
It’s not you.
Swallow it down.
We’re not on the same page.
We’re not in the same place.
It’s not you.
We can’t help who we fall in love with.
(And who we don’t.)
You’re such a good friend.
You’re going to make the right girl happy.
You deserve better.
Let’s stay friends.
I don’t want to lose you.
It’s not you.
I’m sorry.”
-V. E. Schwab

It was so painful, but so healing at the same time. I have struggled with my mental health for over half my life. To see a character work through thoughts that I have personally had, and to seek a fulfilling life… to show him grow and learn, seek connection… Beautifully done. Truly.

On that note, if you’re struggling with feelings of hopelessness or overwhelm, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I want to hear your story. Also, the people at the Suicide Prevention Hotline are there to help you anytime. 800-273-8255 or chat.

If you want to evoke emotion in your readers and portray mental health in a beautiful, real, and respectful way, I highly recommend The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

If you’d like to get a copy, you can check out my affiliate link below.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

I hope this post helps you find some books that can enhance your writing. I would love to hear about books that have made a difference in your writing journey, or if you’re not a writer, books you thought were beautiful and worth mentioning. It’s always good to hear from a reader’s perspective, as sometimes writers get swept up in the mechanics and forget the fun.

I hope you’re taking care of yourself. You’re worth it ❤

Sending love,

MK

9 Tips For Better Instagram Reels

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See Disclaimers for more details.

Hi there! I hope you’re doing well. Are you taking care of yourself? You should be, because you are worth every ounce of effort.

I have been so surprised by how fun Instagram can be! I joined as a Bookstagrammer only a few months ago (check out my profile here), but I’ve got a decent following, and I’m having a blast.

I really didn’t expect to. I joined mainly to create a social platform, but I have fallen in love with the Bookstagram community and also with the art of photos & videos.

I have learned a lot since I started (sometimes I look through my old posts and cringe a little). One of my favorite things to do is Instagram Reels. Reels are also great for the dreaded algorithm. Insta likes to show off your Reels. I was a little nervous about them at first, but now that I understand them, they’re a breeze!

I thought I’d share a few tricks I use when creating a Reel. Keep in mind, these will be catered mostly to books, but you can apply it to your own content as well.

1 Good lighting is essential, whether for photos or reels. Natural light is best, or white light if you don’t have a nice spot by a window. I have a big empty space on my office floor right in front of a window that I keep clear for Insta photo shoots. Here’s a link to some photo lights if you don’t have any.

Lighting. Photography. Photo Light. Bright.
Photo by Anete Lusina

2 A phone stand has been a life-saver for me. I couldn’t make most of my Reels without one. I see a lot of people making Reels that seem a little shaky. They look fine, but you’re not reading this tutorial for your Reels to be fine. If you need to get one, this one looks good and is a decent price.

Photography. Photo. Picture. Phone. Phone stand.
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

3 Pick your music first. Now, this is not essential, but I’ve found it fun to make sure I’m on beat when I switch scenes or do a trick. It gives the Reel a more polished feel in the end. You can find music to add by clicking on the music note & searching for a song.

Music. Listening. Beat.
Photo by Moose Photos

4 Edit as you go and preview, preview, preview. Reels can only be so long, so you may run out of time if you’re not trimming as you go. Also, back to 3, you might not be on beat if you aren’t accounting for the snipped ends of each video.

Timeline. Time. Editing.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

5 Transitions are one of the hardest parts of making a Reel. One thing I have learned is to make sure that the scenes you are stitching together line up with each other. For example, one trick I do is to flick the book, and when I pull it back up, it’s a different book! MAGIC! Check out an example here (3rd transition). First, I made sure that I was holding both books with the same hand at close to the same position on the camera. Then, I trimmed the end of the first scene until the book was at its lowest point, then I trimmed the beginning of the other until I found the same position. You should also pick a relatively blurry frame so that the transition isn’t quite as obvious. The goal is to watch one book descend, then another ascend, which you can see between Wicked King and Blood & Honey in the linked video.

Editing. Photography. Videography. Instagram reels.
Photo by Plann on Pexels.com

6 Once you have all your scenes, Preview to double check the transitions and how they line up with your audio. Is every transition clear? Does your audio end on a weird beat? Did you miss a trim?

Thinking. Editing. Video.
Photo by Martin Pu00e9chy on Pexels.com

7 In Preview, click on those 3 line toggles at the top. These are your audio controls. I usually keep my music all the way up, but make sure your Camera Audio is on 0, unless you want your shuffling sounds in the background. If you are talking in your video, ignore this step.

Editing. Sound.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

8 If you want words on screen, you can tap on the scene and type as normal. Want to make them only appear for a certain part of the video? Click on the excerpt block at the bottom left of the screen, then use the trimming toggles on either side of the video to trim to how long you want the words to appear.

Post. Traffic. How to get traffic. Volume. Impressions.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

9 Posting is pretty final for a Reel. You cannot go back and edit the Reel (just like with your photos), but you also can’t edit the words of your post (unlike with your photos). Triple check your spelling and grammar. make sure you are ready to post this, otherwise you will be deleting your post, which is rarely a good idea. Make sure you have all the hashtags you want on there, you cannot go back and edit them later. Of course, you can comment more if you do miss some. I would actually suggest doing this anyways as I have noticed more traffic when I go back later and add a few fresh hashtags.

Post. Instagram. Photography. Videography. Reels. Traffic. Reach.
Photo by Cristian Dina on Pexels.com

I’m not an expert, and I’m still learning, but I wanted to share this with you so that maybe Reels won’t be quite so scary anymore. Enjoy!

Sending love,

MK

Linux says your Reel is the bomb-diggity.

Stop Chasing Happiness

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Hi there! I hope you’re safe & well. Have you done something to take care of yourself body, mind, and soul this week?

I used to think happiness was something to strive for. Something I could find if I tried hard enough. Smiled enough. Made the right connections. Had enough friends. Got the right job. Followed all the steps.

Maybe if I didn’t have depression, I would find happiness.
Maybe if I was a better person, happiness would find me.

I was told all my life to choose happiness. The idea is great: choose to be happy and the world will fall into place.

But is that really how the world works? Can you choose to be happy?

Woman is smiling but does not feel happy. She puts on a mask for others to see. Her mental health is poor.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

I searched for happiness for so long. Sometimes it felt like my search for happiness was simply a constant reminder of how unhappy I was.

You read quotes about finding happiness and not letting anything disturb your peace. You question if the people in your life are disturbing your peace or if you’re overreacting. You google meditation techniques. You watch yoga videos on YouTube. You pull a muscle because you’re not very flexible anymore and who the heck can do those lunges anyway? You try dieting. You learn dieting is not fun, but ice cream puts a smile on your face every damn time. You get on medication for depression. You get off medication for depression.

You try all these things that the proverbial everyone tells you to try. But still, you’re not happy inside. Sure, you can smile and laugh just like the rest of them. But it’s not soul-deep, this “happiness”.

Woman's mental health is challenging. She is sad and unhappy, depression is taking control of her life. She needs help.
Photo by Pixabay

So I ask you: what if we stopped seeking happiness?

What if by seeking happiness, all we’ve been doing is reminding ourselves how unhappy we are?

What if by looking in the mirror and saying, “Please smile,” you’re reminding yourself that you don’t feel like smiling, but that’s what the world expects of you?

What if every time you say, “My friends are happy, why aren’t I?” you’re actually just reminding yourself how lonely and isolated you feel?

One day, I realized that my pursuit of happiness had actually become toxic. I was looking skin-deep, not soul-deep. I was searching for happiness and labeling everything else as Not Good Enough. Digging up all my insecurities and piling them on the table, then screaming, “Just go away!”

They didn’t go away.

Then I realized, what if I’m searching for the wrong thing? What if I shouldn’t be searching at all?

What if all this time the key to happiness wasn’t, in fact, finding happiness, but accepting my situation for what it is? Check out this post on Radical Acceptance, it has a lot of great info about accepting what is, instead of wishing for what you don’t have.

I wiped my tears and opened my eyes. I asked myself, “What in my life is ok?”

Not good, not great, not happy, just ok.

Well I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. That’s ok. That’s good, actually.

I have a good dog.
I have nice hair. Sometimes. That’s ok.
My family is ok.
My job is ok.

Maybe I can’t see super great things right now, but I can see that they satisfy my basic needs. They are ok. And maybe by seeking only good and labeling everything else as bad, I’m actually cutting myself short.

So I started looking for the ok. Things I could be satisfied with. Comfortable with.

Then I started thinking a little more positively about the things that were just ok.

I have a lovely home.

Food can be delicious. Especially ice cream. And no, I don’t have a problem. I can stop anytime I want.

My dog is actually pretty great.
My hair may be a lot to deal with, but it can be beautiful.
My family loves me a lot.
My job… well my job is still just ok, but you get the idea.

I’ve stopped searching for happiness because I realized that what I was really searching for was “perfect.” If it wasn’t just right, it needed improvement and I couldn’t be happy with that.

But if you just stop and take a breath, you’ll realize you have so much to be thankful for, even if there are a lot of crappy things you have to deal with.

Do it, take a deep breath!

What do you smell? Food cooking on the stove? Freshly mowed grass? Cut flowers on your table? The fart your dog decided to bless you with? Your dad’s cologne?

There are good things in this world (maybe not the fart, but work with me here). And if you seek them out, if you accept them for what they are, you might find that contentment is attainable.

Maybe what you’ve been seeking all this time has been right under your nose.

Maybe you can look for the ok, for the decent, for the satisfactory.

Maybe you can think of all the things you have to be grateful for, and that will fill you up.

Maybe the love of your family or friends can be more powerful than the pain inside you.

Maybe you can look at this broken, hurting world in a more positive light.

Maybe you can seek goodness instead of happiness.

Maybe you can choose love over hate.

Maybe, if you do this long enough, happiness will find you.

Woman finds happiness through self help and coping mechanisms.
Photo by Tatiana

I hope this post can help you find contentment.

If the world ever seems like too much, and you’re not sure how to handle it, help is always available to you here. Or you can call 800-273-8255 if you need to talk to someone.

Sending love,

MK

This is my boy, Linux. He says he loves you and he would totally lick your face.

Re-Discovering A Passion

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Hi there, I hope you’re safe & well!

I’ve been writing here and there for as long as I can remember, but only taking it seriously in the last couple years. It started out the usual way. Pieces of paper thoroughly scribbled upon, plots mashed together from the inner-workings of a young mind, pages pressed together with staples or tape or glue.

Then I got my hands on a computer, and all bets were off. I pecked like a chicken until that gave way to furious fingers dancing across the keyboard, almost as if my fingertips were the ones telling the story and I was merely a bystander. I knit stories together, wove personalities and desires, painted a world with my mind. I showed my work to a friend. She didn’t appreciate the mastery of my twelve year old imagination.

Then I stopped.

Sure, I wrote emails and school papers. I texted and posted my woes on social media like all good teenagers do. I grew up and my creativity was pushed to the back of my mind. Something less important than the tasks of impending adulthood piling before me.

I went to college. I got married. I looked up and seven years had passed me by. Ten. Another amount of time that shall go unnamed. When did I lose myself?

To be fair, I had never been taught to put myself first. Being raised the way I was raised will do that to you. I know that’s vague, but bear with me. When you’re raised in survival mode, you have no idea what it means to truly LIVE.

Learning how to live–how to thrive–has been quite a journey for me. A long one. And part of that was re-discovering this love of written word. I remembered what it felt like to dive into a book, to get wrapped up in another world. I felt this pull to write.

I procrastinated. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I was bad? What if no one liked it? What if I never sold any copies?

What if I was a success?

I’m still learning. Not just about the writing process, but about life as a whole. But if I can share one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: who cares what anyone else thinks?

Sending love,

MK

Linux says you’re doing a great job.

Something New

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Hi there, I’m MK.

It’s always a little nerve-wracking starting something new, but here I am. And here you are! Yay us!

I thought I’d kick things off by sharing a bit about myself. I write (mostly fantasy), and I read (also mostly fantasy). I love to fill my days with artsy projects like writing, painting, drawing, baking… well, you get the idea.

That being said, I’m juggling full-time work, full-time wife-ing, and trying to stay true to my artistic self while not losing my marbles. I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, “Oh wow, MK. That sounds tough. Good thing I’m not busy at all *insert eye-roll here*.”

But don’t worry, that’s why I started this. Let’s do life together. Let’s be busy and stressed, but still seek the goodness in each new day. Let’s do arts and crafts and talk about that time your dog dropped a massive poo on your carpet and you found out by stepping in it. Let’s talk about how much you love your family, but how sometimes you also kinda want to rip your hair out or move to Fiji.

Let’s cut the “I’m perfect” b.s. that seems to be all over the internet.

Let’s embrace our crazy and be imperfect together.

I will share about life, love, art, books, writing, all sorts of things that swirl around in my mind. If that sounds good to you, stick around!

Sending love,

MK