Tag Archives: inspiration

How To Get Published on The Huffington Post

16 Feb

7 published writers, bloggers and photographers give some tips on how to get published on The Huffington Post.

how to get published on huffington post

Bloggers love to blog. We love it, of course we do. But, as much as we love blogging just ‘for the sake of it’, what we really love is getting more readers. We love getting more hits. We love getting more followers. It means so much to bloggers when our posts get read, commented on and even better…shared. As much as we love blogging on our own sites, the opportunity to blog on external sites is very appealing. So many bloggers are creating the most incredible content every day and sadly no one is seeing all these wonderful posts.

Enter The Huffington Post. If you haven’t heard of The Huffington Post, you must be living under a rock. With an Alexa ranking of 93 (meaning it is the 93rd most visited site in the world!), over 1 BILLION unique page views a month and tens of millions of visitors, it really is in a world of its own.If you are looking to share your writing with the world, and you really would be sharing it with the whole world, then The Huffington Post is a site you should be aiming to get published on. Aim hugh, as they say.

So the question is, how on earth does a blogger/writer/rambler like me get published on a site like that? Fear not, for I have done the hard work for you for! I have talked to some incredible bloggers from around the world and they have all kindly offered to share their Huffington Post experiences. Find out how to get published, and what incredible things it will do for you and your blog. 

Amanda Walkins - Blogger at AWalk on the Run

amanda walkins

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I initially got published on The Huffington Post after reaching out to their new section “The Third Metric” via email. They had a post on their main page for that section seeking new contributors, so I emailed that address directly, rather than a general inbox. I linked to my blog and told them briefly about where I live and what I write about, and told them how my lifestyle was in line with that section’s main concepts. Within about an hour I had access to the backend of the blog to post whenever and whatever I wanted.
How has it helped your blog? 
While I’ve written a few articles for HuffPost, two have gone viral and drawn a ton of attention to my blog. My average article will bring in a handful of new Twitter followers, blog followers, and Facebook adds, but the two that went viral boosted my numbers in a huge way. After the most recent one, I gained more than 50 blog followers within 4 days – which is big for a newer niche blog like mine! I’ve also had a lot of HuffPost readers reach out to me directly with in-depth questions on moving abroad, so it’s prompted me to cover other topics on the blog that I hadn’t thought of before.
It’s been a great experience, and a great way to build my portfolio as a freelance writer as well. I can write about topics on HuffPost that are completely unrelated to my blog’s central theme, which opens up new doors to me. Basically, I love writing for HuffPost in case you couldn’t tell. Except for some of the comments…people can be harsh! Keep that in mind if you write anything that could be at all controversial (or just completely misunderstood in my case). 

Cliff Hsia - Blogger/Owner of LiveFamilyTravel

ckiff hsia huff post

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I initially got published after I came back from my half-year cultural sabbatical of world travel. I pitched the editors of the Travel section with a simple message and a link to my blog post, titled “What I Learned From Five Months of Travel”. They liked it and it got published the next week. With a bit of beginner’s luck, the article was featured prominently on the Travel section for almost a whole week and has been one of my most well received articles on HuffPost to date.
I think the key to success is to pitch with one really good post that fits the content style of HuffPost. Good timing, persistence, and bit of luck helps too.
How has it helped your blog?
My blog has two distinct periods: before HuffPost and after HuffPost. With the large readership of HuffPost, my articles have been read by a lot of new readers, which results in a big increase in traffic to Live Family Travel. HuffPost has been the single biggest contributor to my early stage blog growth. Moreover, since most HuffPost articles are picked up by Flipboard, a considerable amount of new readers come from there as well. 

Lizzie Davey - Blogger at WanderfulWorld 

lizzie davey

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
I’d just got back from Romania and was looking for places to pitch articles ideas from my trip, so I sent them a draft of a post I’d written highlighting my personal experiences in Bucharest and how I thought the city was changing rapidly. I initially reached out just to have that post published, but they gave me my own login details and the freedom to write posts and publish them whenever I wanted. 
How has it helped your blog? 
Whenever I publish a blog on the HuffPo I notice a surge in social media followers, subscribers, and views. My destination specific articles on there are the most popular, drawing in lots of visitors from those regions who have strong opinions. I’ve also had a number of brands approach me through my blogs on the HuffPo with press trip opportunities, and it always piques clients’ interest when I mention it in a pitch for new work. 

Aimee ChanEditor of Suitcases and Strollers

aimee chan

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?  
I received an email from Arianna Huffington inviting me to submit some posts and hooking me up with the editorial team. I think the key was to ensure that I pitched a story idea that was unique and had a clear point of view. I wrote it in a way so as to ensure that the editors would know exactly what kind of story they would be getting from me.
 
How has it helped your blog?
In the world of online I expected the response in traffic to be instantaneous and direction-changing and it wasn’t at all. At first I was disappointed. But after a couple of months and a lot of diligent plugging away, I have found that now there is definitely a correlation between my website’s traffic and what I publish on Huffington Post. The readers I get from Huffington Post are more interactive and loyal too — they email me personally and want to develop a relationship with me and my website. However, it is not always the stories that you think will be popular that are. The one that has been the most successful for me was the one that had nothing to do with my website at all, so you never can tell what is going to work. 

Ellen Frankel - Author at AuthorEllenFrankel

elen

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post? 
I was first published on The Huffington Post in December 2012. The blog was called: Five Lessons of Hanukkah to Unwrap. I had been working with a publicist for one of my books that was being released that spring (Revolution of Jewish Spirit) and had written this short piece, which she sent out to various outlets. I did not know that she was planning on sending it to The Huffington Post, but she did, and they published it and then invited me to become a blogger. Since then, I have enjoyed blogging for them and have published 10 posts.
How has it helped your blog?
I used to blog on my website but have done much less blogging since I went back to work (I am a bereavement counselor at a non-profit hospice in the Boston area). I do have 7 books published (actually, the 7th will be out this spring) and hopefully the blogs help book sales or at least get the word out about my books. I have had great feedback from many posts, especially my blog called: The Edge of Grief: A Summer Reflection, which seemed to resonate with a lot of people.

Tom Gill - Photographer at TomGillPhotography

tom

 How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?
A few years back, some of my frozen lighthouse photos were featured in a regional US magazine including the cover.  Shortly after, my images were discovered on my flickr.com photo sharing account by a news publisher in Australia.  The news syndicate ran a feature on the images and included a link to my personal blog.  A few days later, the Huffington Post contacted me and licensed the images for an article and feature on Huffington Post. Many other publishers and sites followed.  The Huffington Post followed up last December and ran a new set of frozen lighthouse images, and at that time, the photo editor asked me to become a photo blogger for Huffington Post.  I agreed to the terms, and they set up an account for me.  Now I can blog about what I wish, when I wish.  So while most of my posts so far have been in the Travel vertical, I’m really not a travel blogger, I’m a photo blogger, and will blog about my experiences where ever they take me.  But they do seem to fit well in travel.
How has it helped your blog?

The exposure from the initial features in Huffington Post (and other media outlets such as the Weather Channel) have increased traffic to my blog, and my photo sharing site.  In fact, after publication my page views on Flickr increased from an average of 3,000 a day, to over 80,000 a day.  Of course, this spikes, then falls a few days later, but it has not gone back as low as 3,000 in many months it averages around 10,000 a day.  My blog traffic also increased, but the numbers aren’t as dramatic, but percentage wise, it has increased 300%.

I don’t actively market my photography as many others do, I’m rather passive, so I rely on publications linking back to my work for additional work and photo sales. In addition to The Huffington Post, and the Weather Channel, my photos have been featured in books, magazines, calendars, news outlets, and countless web pages. I’m hoping to build a following on The Huffington Post.  My first entries received about 30 Facebook likes, but my post about shelf ice received over 10,000 Facebook likes, and hundreds of shares.  It could be the subject, or how it engaged the readers, I really can’t tell.

Carol E Wyer Writer at Facing 50 With Humour

carol e wyer

How did you initially get published on The Huffington Post?

I was very lucky as The Huffington Post approached me to write for them. I had just finished How Not to Murder Your Grumpy and The Huffington Post requested a copy to read and review from my publishers. After reading it they invited me to write for their Huff50 section and wanted the initial couple of posts to be written in a similar vein to that book.

How has it helped with book sales or your blog?

I can’t really say if writing for The Huffington Post has lifted sales as I have also been involved in a lot of media work and appearances on television and radio also affect sales. However, one post I wrote had a link to my blog and a post I had written about If Men Were More Like Women. The day the Huffington Post article went live, my blog got 850 hits, substantially more than normal. I also saw an increase in number of followers on Twitter and Facebook and was invited by other websites to write for them on the back of posts written for The Huffington Post.

Writing for The Huffington Post has given me opportunities and assisted me hugely as a writer. It tests my writing skills and is very enjoyable.

So what are you waiting for?! Get pitching those articles now! :-)

New Year’s Resolution: Stop Giving Up!

5 Jan

happy new year 2015.young man jumping and drawing 2015

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

- Albert Einstein -

Every year I make a list of new year’s resolutions, and at the end of every year I find myself looking back on that list and realising how little I accomplished. Not that I accomplished very little in general, I just failed to stick to and complete the list. I doubt I’m the only one who looks back at their list, sigh and then writes the same list again. So why are we still writing the same resolutions, when we already know the outcome? Isn’t it about time we all changed our thinking when it comes to new years resolutions?

We all vow to stop drinking, to stop being so lazy, to stop eating unhealthily, to stop using facebook, to stop smoking or to stop spending so much. Why do we always have to STOP doing things? Why do always vow to stop doing the same things at the beginning of each year? Maybe, just maybe, if we vowed to take on more things we wouldn’t have to feel bad about all those guilty pleasures.

This year I am not giving anything up. I am not quitting. I am not vowing to lose weight, to get fit or to stop drinking. If any of those things happen along this journey, happy days, but they will not be my new year’s goals.

So, what are my new year’s resolutions? What are YOUR new year’s resolutions? Maybe we cans share a few…

1. Make some new friends

This may seem like a strange one, as I’m sure most of us already have a pretty amazing circle of friends. However, I believe one can never have too many friends and if we don’t stay open to new friendships there are so many incredible people out there who we may never meet. Say YES to more nights out, to more road trips, to more last-minute flights. Talk to that person sitting next to you on the bus…you never know who they could turn out to be.

2. Ask more questions.

In order to expand your mind, it’s important to never stop asking questions. We need to stop asking google and start asking each other. Ask your parents, your best friend, your 94-year-old granny. There’s so much we don’t know yet thanks to the internet we now feel we are experts at everything. I feel in recent years I have lost my voice in a way, caring too much about what others think or if I’m asking a ‘stupid question’. Honestly, I think the internet has made  us more boring rather than more interesting.

3. Read more.

In a way, I think we could all do with reading more, and I’m not talking about scanning over your newsfeed on facebook or scrolling through endless, mindless buzzfeed pages. Put down your phone, your tablet, your laptop, and actually spend an hour each night in your own little digital detox. I think it will do wonders for the mind. (I stole this idea from Mark Zuckerberg, who has vowed to read a book every second week for the entire year. If one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs can make time to read, then so can I!)

4. Learn something new.

Be it a language, a musical instrument or a new sport…or maybe one of each. For years now I keep catching myself, and many others, saying ‘Oh I wish I knew another language,’ or ‘I wish I had learned how to play the guitar when I as younger but now I guess it’s too late.’ Too late?? I know we will be hitting the big 30 soon, but we’re hardly old aged pensioners. It’s never too late to make that leap. It’s never too late to learn something new. It could also be a great way for you to make new friends!

5. Eat a breakfast fit for a King.

If, like me, you really are disastrous at eating 3 healthy meals a day and snack on a ridiculous amount of junk food then this could be the way forward. Eating breakfast really sets you up for the day and helps you to start in on a positive note, Make TIME for breakfast. Stop hitting the snooze button, treat yourself to fresh fruit and yogurt or porridge or whatever takes your fancy really. You’ll start each and every day on a high note, have more energy and the bonus is it’s a great start to a healthier lifestyle.

6. Do things that make you happy.

For me, nothing puts a smile on my face like finding cheap flights…and then booking them. I don’t known if it’s an obsession or an addiction. Either way, it makes me happy and thus it’s something I will continue to do! For other people it’s going for a run in the morning, or going to the cinema or buying new shoes. Maybe it’s taking photographs, maybe it’s spending time with younger cousins or nieces and nephews. This year, try to find that one thing that makes you happier than anything else then spend as much time as you can doing that thing. It’s your life, it makes sense to make it a great one!

7. Love who you are.

This is a difficult one. We spend so much time comparing our lives to others, as if life is one big competition. We compare looks, we compare jobs, success, income, friend circles. We compare boyfriends and girlfriends and cars and handbags. We forget that everyone, and I mean everyone, has their own personal demons. We all have problems, issues, difficulties. The problem is no one ever shares the negativity and no one ever talks about it. Make 2015 the year that you really love yourself. Love your body, love your job, love your family and your friends. I know it might sound clichéd, but we really need to start seeing ourselves in a more positive light because at the end of the day, we’re all pretty darn awesome in our own ways.

8. Learn a party trick.

So many of my friends have very cool party tricks. I have none. I even know the party trick I wish to learn, I just need to make some time and find someone to help me learn how to do it. I am making a promise to myself that another year shall not pass until I have mastered a decent party trick. You should all give it a go too, I mean mastering a new skill – no matter how pointless – can increase your self-esteem, as well as earning you some serious social kudos next time you reveal it in public.

9. Learn how to live without your phone.

I’m not talking about a  365 day detox or throwing your new iphone out the window, I’m talking about learning to be a normal, responsive member of the human race for a few hours each day. When I was travelling in South East Asia this summer, I survived 2 months without a phone. It was only then that I realised how glued we are to our phones. Every bar, every restaurant, every beautiful beach side café was filled with young tanned backpackers updating their facebook statuses instead of actually enjoying the ‘paradise’ they were writing about. This year I vow to be more mindful when using my phone, especially in the company of others.

10. Make space for a mid year resolution

It’s a bit silly to plan a whole year during the first week of January, we need to leave some space for spontaneity!

2014 – Looking Back At The Highs And Lows

2 Jan

I think it’s always good to take some time to think about the year that has passed. There will be good memories, and there will of course be bad memories, but as they say time is one of the biggest gifts in life and we need to appreciate and be thankful for every last moment we are given. Sometime the days, the weeks, the months fly by so fast we don’t have time to reflect on what we have done, what we are doing or what we hope to do in the future.

As one of my New Year’s resolutions is to blog more, it makes senses that I should write this post on January 1st. I must not put off ’til tomorrow what can very easily be done today. There’s another resolution for you!

So, before I sit down and make out a list of the things I would like to accomplish this year (and we all know that’s going to be quite the list!!) let me take a look back to see what weird and wonderful things I managed to achieve in 2014.

Personal achievements

first 10km group pic

I started the year on a real health buzz, committed to going to the gym 5 days a week, started running 10km races in Korea with friends and even accomplished a big goal of mine which was to run my first half marathon!

For the first time in about a decade, I succeeded in giving up alcohol for lent…a total period of 46 days. I even managed to survive St Patrick’s Day sober. Miracles do happen!

It may sound like a weird thing to call an “achievement” but some of the friends I made in 2014, the same friends I had to sadly say goodbye to in July, were some of the closest, most meaningful friendships I have ever been lucky enough to have. As my friend Shruti put it, “We’ll be friends for generations!” Great friends don’t come along that often, so when you find them you need to keep them close and really treasure them. You know who you are! :-)

At the beginning of the year I succeeded in losing 10kg over a 3 month period and for the first time in years I felt perfectly confident in my own body. Bikinis on the beach were no longer an issue…at least for a while as sadly while it’s hard to lose weight it’s even more difficult to maintain said ideal weight.

This lovely little blog, which I sort of neglected last year, got nominated for an Irish Blog Award for the first time ever. I did not win any prizes (sad face) but sure that’s something to aim for this year.

Writing for The Irish Times has been a really exciting part of 2014 for me. My first article was published while in South Korea, and detailed what it was like to spend Paddy’s Day abroad. Then, once I returned to Ireland I have been working as a a freelance business and technology journalist for the last few months which has been a huge confidence boost when it comes to my writing.

Failures? My pathetic attempt to give up facebook for lent lasted a grand total of 3 days. We rely so much on our online social networks for keeping in touch and organizing events I fear the only way to escape them is to become a hermit for a month. Tempting.

Travel memories

mermaids boracay

Starting the new year in Cambodia with some of my closest friends from Korea. Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat temple at the beginning of 2014 was a pretty special memory, especially as it was with such an amazing group of friends.

Fun in the Philippines – heading back to Boracay for my birthday with my running buddy Lauren was brilliant. Despite bad weather for the entire time we were there, we still managed to have lots of fun dressing up like mermaids and posing on the beach for loads of confused bystanders!

Weekends away in South Korea – camping on a deserted island, hiring a Korean tall ship for a weekend with 40 mad but amazing expats, ski trips which included amazing outdoor scented hot tubs in the snow and chilled out weekends on the beach with the besties. Every weekend in Korea was essentially a travel memory not to be forgotten.

In May, I got to go to a city I had always dreamed of going to..Hong Kong. And boy was it worth it. I still think I would move there in a heart beat if I could find the right job. Even better, I got to go there with friends from Ireland and relive childhood dreams by spending a day in DisneyLand!

The summer involved 2 months backpacking around Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. I still have not blogged about any of those adventures but hope to get around to it within the next 2 weeks. While most of my memories of this trip are positive, thanks mainly to Rebecca, Shruti, Morne, Johann and all the awesome people I met while on the road, it was certainly a period of mixed emotion at times.

My last trip of the year was a long weekend in Paris visiting old friends, checking out the Christmas markets, taking part in SantaCon and just enjoying all that belle Paris has to offer. A perfect destination to end a great year.

Failures? I wanted to travel home overland on the trans siberian. Sadly, for a combination of reasons including visa issues, lack of a travel buddy, finances and my desire to spend a ridiculous amount of time lunging on the beach in Thailand, this did not happen. I also wanted to go to many more*new* countries and instead found myself returning to countries I had already visited. Not bothered about that too much though…some countries are so beautiful you need to visit many, many times to truely appreciate all that they have to offer.

The “Job” front

travayl mobile travel app

I finished up my contract in South Korea and decided it was finally time to but that chapter of my life behind me. I wanted to move back to Ireland and try to “settle”, which in my world means trying to stay in one country and one job for longer than a year. Time to reconnect with old friends, rebuild friendships and start building a career.

The first few weeks home were tough. In fact, in a way, I’m still finding it tough. It;s always hard to know for sure if you have made the right decision to move home after living the expat life for so long. Committing to stay in Ireland can be very daunting and I feel like I have been on an emotional roller-coaster the last few months.

I spent my first 3 months home working for a travel start-up called Travayl, which helps bloggers like me to monetize their travel photos. I learned so much about the tech and star-up community here in Dublin and decided it’s an area I want to become more involved in. It’s a really exciting sector and one which motivates me to no end.

I had to make a really tough job decision in December which involved me turning down a dream job with the United Nations in favour of a job here in Ireland.It troubled me a lot and a lot of lists were made weighing up the pros and cons. In the end, I truly believe I made the right decision and am very excited to get started in my new role later this month. *watch this space*

I’m excited to see what sort of obstacles, hoops and adventures the next 364 days will throw at me.

BRING IT ON.

“I’m not getting in the car!” – A Half Marathon Abduction

9 Jun peace marathon

When I signed up to run my first ever Half Marathon in Korea, I never imagined I would find myself limping along a motorway, having ran consistently for 18km, suddenly being shouted at my some strange Korean man telling me to get into his car. No, that was definitely not how I imagined my first half marathon would go.

Many of you reading this blog will probably get a good laugh out of this post. Many of you know me pretty well, and know I’m not *exactly* the athletic type. While I’m ashamed to admit it, the type of marathons I’m associated with involve either sitting on the couch and watching 10 episodes of ‘Criminal Minds’ back-to-back or heading out with friends for a marathon drinking session. Like I said, this is not something I’m proud of but it is the truth!

For Lent this year, despite not being in the slightest bit religious, I decided it was about time I followed in the footsteps of my Dad and gave up alcohol. How hard could it be to not drink for 40 days and 40 nights?! Actually, considering I included all the Sundays, it was actually a 46 days…and while the first few weeks were killer it really wasn’t AS hard as I thought it would be overall. Just don’t EVER make me do another Paddy’s Day sober!

In order to keep myself on track, I signed up to run a Half Marathon in Seoul on March 30th. I’m not entirely sure if I decided to give up alcohol so that I could get fit enough to run the Half Marathon or if I signed up to the Half Marathon to ensure I stayed off alcohol! Either way, the plan worked!

first 10km group pic

With Aiden, Lauren and Tammy having ran our first 10km race of the year!

After months of training in the gym, and completing a few 10km races with some friends, March 30th was fast approaching  and I was slightly terrified. I originally thought the cut off time was 3 hours (and while I know that seems like an awful lot of time to established runners, to me it just about made the race seem ‘doable’!) but the week before I was notified that you must finish in under 2 hours and 30 minutes or you will be thrown off the course. I wasn’t quite sure how they would ‘throw people off the course’ but this scared me even none-the-less! In the lead up to the race, another hurdle was thrown at me when my training  buddy dropped out as she felt she was unable to complete the race in time.

I started to get cold feet. “Nobody would know I didn’t run it”, I thought. “Nobody would really care”. However, at the end of the day, I knew I had put the hard work in, had trained (relatively) hard, and had been sober for over  a month. If this was ever going to happen, NOW was the time!

My friend Lauren and I stayed in a jimjilbang the night before the race, which meant we ended up getting only a few hours sleep on the hard floor of a sauna which was packed with Korean families, old men who snored all night long, and the annoying buzzing of a Korean TV channel  showing the news on repeat.

We woke up early, but not exactly fresh-faced, and headed to the Kintex Stadium in Ilsan where the race was being held. Nerves really started to set in on the walk to the stadium, as we saw all the Koreans kitted out in professional running gear. Not only were we the only foreigners, but it seemed we were also the only women! We had a sudden moment of panic that maybe it was an all-mens marathon but worry soon drifted away once we saw an assortment of middle-aged Korean women stretching and preparing for the race. Besides a scattering of Korean soldiers running as a group, I feel we may have been the youngest runners there. Not that this made me feel much better, in fact if anything it made me feel worse. People twice my age were going to be running past me and laughing, and there was nothing I could do about it.

peace marathon

The day the race pack arrived…it even had my name on it. There was no turning back now!

For the first 6 or 7km of the race, I stuck with a group of people who were aiming to finish the Marathon in 2 hours and 15 minutes. There was a man with a big balloon attached to his backpack with the time written on it, so presumably if you stuck at his pace for the entire race you would finish around the 2.15 mark. Turns out that was over-ambitious on my part and my the 8th kilometer I was running with the 3.30 group, a group that may well have been first-timers.

We were the group at the back, and behind us there was maybe 10-15 stragglers. Behind them was something that scared us all. Each time I glanced back, it seemed to be gaining speed. It kept getting closer, hovering over us like some sort of evil villain. It was of course ‘The Timer Bus’. This wicked bus followed the race and if anyone, anyone at all, falls to the back of the pack and behind the bus…BOOM you get thrown on the bus and are disqualified from the race. At various stages throughout the race, I came dangerously close to this bus, and every time it crept up behind me I wanted to cry. There was no way I had run this far to drop out and spend the last hour following the rest of the runners on a bus!

I reached the 10km mark in about 1 hour and 5 minutes, and was delighted with this time as it was my fastest 10km to date. I also had a renewed source of energy at the 11km mark, as it meant I was on the home straight. There were 2-3 water stops along the way (not enough in my opinion!!) and 1 food/snack stop. I was so far behind the majority of the runners, however, that by the time I reached the ‘snack stop’ just before the 15km mark, all the food was gone. All that remained was empty cereal bar wrappers and banana peels scattered across the road. DEVASTATED.

At this stage the creepy bus was coming really close to me, and few of the people I had been running with early on had already been forced off the course and onto the dream-wrecker of a bus. I tried to push myself, and fasten the pace, but my energy levels were falling rapidly. The internet on my phone had stopped working and the only song that was loaded was The Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’…so that’s pretty much what I listened to on repeat for the last 6 kilometers of the race. Could have been worse, I guess. 

lauren and i

Lauren and I before the race

By the 18th kilometer I was really struggling, and the bus was ramming right up my behind. At the speed I was going (a slow jog) I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the race in the alloted time. In fairness, the longest run I had ever done before this was 10km, so to get this far was an achievement in itself. No matter what, I told myself, even if I have to walk or crawl the last 3km, I will NOT give up! By muscles ached, my stomach rumbled, my face was the colour of a lobster and my ears started to hurt from listening to the same upbeat song on repeat for the past hour!!

And that is the precise moment that some stranger pulled up beside me and started trying to get me into his car! I was towards the back of the group, all us stragglers sticking together, and this guy starts shouting at me in Korean. He was kind of swerving in front of me, determined to get me to stop. I just pretended not to see him, looked dead straight ahead, and kept pushing my body to run. He would not go away though and soon he started shouting at me in broken English saying, ‘Time’s up. You cannot finish. Get into this car. Get in’. Ehhhh not a chance in hell was I getting in that car. I did not run 18km to give up now. He was super persistent though and drove along side me for the next kilometer shouting intermittently in Korean and English. He finally got the hint that nothing he could say or do would get me into his car and eventually drove off to pester some other runners.

I’m happy to say, despite a wickedly steep hill towards the end, and almost losing my motivation in the final Kilometer, I successfully finished my first Half Marathon in just over 2 hours and 35 minutes and have the medal, certificate and photos to prove it.

half marathon seoul

Tired but happy – first ever Half Marathon completed!

Lesson Learned: Never let anyone stop you from achieving your goals…you have nobody’s expectations to live up to but your own! 

 

 

Looking Back, Looking Forward

14 Jan

2013 flew by so fast I have hardly had time to sit time and sum it up. We are already nearly halfway through January 2014, I have barely had a chance to breath. Where did all those hours, days and weeks go?  What exactly happened and how far has 1 calendar year brought me? Or, as the truth may be, has it brought me anywhere new at all?! In this post I would like to do a quick review of “The Best of 2013″ and finish my setting out some goals for the year ahead.

url.jpg

“The Best of 2013 – A Review”

 A fun-filled trip to Lanzarote with my buddy Ollie climbing volcanos, singing Karaoke and spying on albino crabs in an underground cave.

Graduating with a Master of Science in Humanitarian Action! (Even though a missed the ceremony, my new boss ensured I didn’t “miss the photo op!”

Competed in the Run-A-Muck Challenge with Toby and Sergei in freezing cold temperatures, over ditches and bogs, through muddy rivers and stacked hay bales!

 Visiting HOPE projects in Kolkata, India and achieving one of my life goals to participate in Holi Festival of Colours with the kids from HOPE’s children’s homes.

Flying to Bali to meet up with a good friend and traveling with her the Gili Islands, by far my favourite islands in Asia so far.

Making great friends and stuffing my face with some of the most delicious food in the world while exploring Mainland Malaysia and the beautiful islands off the East coast.

Moving back to South Korea and somehow making my second year in this confusing but exciting country better than the first, making beautiful and loving friends at every corner (of every bar!).

Spending 5 days on the island of Jeju off the South Coast of Korea in September for Korean Thanksgiving. BEST. DECISION. EVER.

Booking a last minute weekend break to Japan in October and exploring the mystical city of Kyoto.

Spending the Christmas vacation with a group of close friends traveling around Cambodia, a country that now has a  a firm place in my heart. (Blog posts about this eye-opening trip coming soon!)

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“2014 – What Lies Ahead”

I have made made personal goals for 2014, but in order to truly keep these “resolutions”, I know I must write them down and share them with others. That way, when I start slipping up, you can all remind me to get back on track!!

1. I will run a half marathon….before the end of March. 

2. If the first half marathon goes well, I must sign up to a second one.

3. I want to totally revamp this blog, but my own URL and post more regularly.

4. I will  start learning and speaking French again.

5. I will to go to 5 new countries.

6. I will travel home to Ireland….without flying.

7. I will get an article published in a Korean Magazine like Groove.

8. I will get an article published in The Irish Times, ‘Generation Emigration’ blog.

9. I will start getting back in contact with my friends back home and schedule regular skype dates.

10. I will finally reach my “ideal” weight. Not by your standards, or by some stupid magazine standards and certainly not my my dear mother’s standards. MY ideal weight, ideal for ME. 

Time to get my Bikini Body back!

20 Oct

I’m setting myself a 9 week challenge. Why 9 weeks? On Friday I booked flights to Cambodia, departing on Christmas day. That gives me exactly 9 weeks to shed about 7 kilos and have a body to be proud of by the time I head off on my next adventure. Actually I’m not so bothered about what I weigh, more so about how I look. I have said to myself on and of for months that I must stop drinking, I must join the gym, I must start eating better but have not tried once to actually do any of those things.

Now that I have a specific goal, and a date by which this goal must be achieved I’m hoping it will help me focus better. Even though I have been feeling under the weather lately, and I know I will be drinking again next weekend as I’m going on a week end trip to Busan Fireworks Festival with a group of 50 foreigners to celebrate Halloween I have decided that is no excuse to postpone this challenge yet another week. Tomorrow I am joining the gym next to the school I teach at and I’m going to MAKE myself go there 5 days a week. No excuses.

For me, my eating habits are what affect my weight the most. My mid week eating habits are nothing short of simply atrocious. I wake up late, skip breakfast and arrive at work at 12pm hungry, As we don’t get lunch at the school, everyday I debate with myself about what on earth I’m going to eat. The choices are limited to fried chicken from the nearby take-away, pastries or sandwiches from the bakery downstairs, Kimbap (rice and seaweed roll) form the Korean restaurant, Pizza or Pasta from Italian place upstairs or a random collection of tasteless noodles, a packet of crisps and whatever else I can find in the convenience store. Due to this awful choice of unhealthy foods I try my best to bring my lunch from home but could really do with interesting lunch ideas that are equally healthy and delicious. If anyone has any tips, please let me know!

Okay enough talking about what I’m GOING to do. Time to log off, go to sleep, and be fresh faced when I wake up so have time to EAT BREAKFAST, make lunch and….go to the gym!

Wish me luck!!

Back in 2005, when I had the confidence to wear a white bikini and still have a smile on my face.

Back in 2005, when I had the confidence to wear a white bikini and still have a smile on my face.

Dream it. Wish it. Do it.

24 May

I have been fairly abysmal in updating my blog over the last year, but truth be told I have been too busy enjoying life. Not a bad excuse really, now is it?!

I sat down last night, having just sold my beautiful car, and thought about the future, and what lay ahead. You see, I have recently quit my job, sold my car, booked flights to Bali and Malaysia and accepted a job in South Korea starting in July.

I wasn’t happy about where I was and the direction my life was going, so I decided to change it. I dreamed about travelling more, about teaching, about working with children again…I wished I could leave the office job behind and head off on another adventure. Then I did it. I actually did it.

Some may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one….

All of these big decisions and dreams for the future got me thinking about the year gone by and I realized that the last 10 months have been the busiest in my life thus far. Simply jam packed with work, with study, with travel and with spending quality time with friends and loved ones, 10 months seem to have flown by in the blink of an eye.

Working full time while writing a masters thesis, and keeping up my reputation (and love) of being a party girl while continuing to work towards my goal of visiting 50 countries before I’m 30 made for ONE BUSY YEAR!!

So, what kept me so busy you ask??

Well here is a recap, in numbers, of 10 months in the life of Janet – 

Jobs : 2

  1. Manager of Language in Group Summer School
  2. PR and Media Coordinator for The Hope Foundation
Being PR coordinator lead to me being photographed in lots of newspapers!

Being PR coordinator lead to me being photographed in lots of newspapers!

Continents traveled : 3,  Countries visited: 5

  1. Europe (Ireland, England, Netherlands and the Canary Islands -Spain)
  2. Asia (India)
  3. Africa (Kenya)
Some of the Turkana that I met while doing research in Kenya

Some of the Turkana that I met while doing research in Kenya

Road Trips within Ireland: 6

  1. Two great trips to Baltimore, West Cork
  2. Girly weekend in Galway
  3. Adventure weekend in Kerry
  4. Adventure weekend in Meath
  5. Two weekends of partying in Dublin
Adventure weekend in Kerry - amazing fun!

Adventure weekend in Kerry – amazing fun!

Masters Thesis Completed : 1

  1. Title: The impact that water and sanitation hygiene projects in schools can have on the comprehensive security of a community. A case study of the Turkana region of Northern Kenya.
The day I submitted my Masters Thesis.

The day I submitted my Masters Thesis.

Masters Degrees completed: 1

  1. Master of Science in Humanitarian Action. (Sadly I will miss my graduation, but I have been awarded a 2.1)

Amazing Friends made : Countless!!

Great times, with great friends!

Great times, with great friends!

Thank you to everyone who made the last year so special.

You will always be apart of my life.

Feel free to come visit me, wherever it is that I end up, and don’t be afraid to LIVE YOUR DREAMS. Xx

What is “Happiness”?

5 Mar

To me, it is uncontrollable, belly aching laughter with a friend. Pure happiness.

What does “happiness” mean to you?

Seconds before falling into the cold, Irish river!

Our Deepest Fear

27 Feb

Lately I have been catching up with some old friends, friends from school, from Uni or from all the small side tracks I have taken along the rocky road that is my life. It is an amazing feeling to see how successful, how grown up, how independent or how happy my friends are/have become.

Some are getting married and starting their own families while others are doing PhD’s in Biomedical Science or Applied Physics. Some are still roaming the world, content with nomadic life, jumping from country to country making friends the world over while many have stayed put in Ireland and are, in some cases, making their dreams come true. 

From designing iPhone Apps and synthetic wind pipes to performing live on National TV to getting ready to take on the high rolling mega economy of China, my friends are truly going from strength to strength. I would like to dedicate this blog post to you, my dear friends scattered around the world. Let it shine, be proud, and keep on inspiring those around you!

Let it shine!

Our Deepest Fear (As quoted by Nelson Mandela)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

The Korean Susan Boyle??

8 Jun

Just saw a video on YouTube that left me near to tears and felt I had to share. We have seen many talent shows, and as a result seen many inspiring groups and individuals come to into the limelight. From Paul Potts to Susan Boyle and even that cute little breakdancer George Sampson on Britain’s got Talent, the list goes on and on.

Here is a talented man with a difference. A man who has gone through so much even at the tender age off 20 (22 Korean age, 20 international age). Left in an orphanage at a baby, he ran away when he was just 5 years old after being beaten and ended up living life on the streets of Seoul for over 10 years, alone and scared. Can you imagine being homeless and alone and only FIVE years old? Sleeping in toilets or under stairs, selling gum by day to make ends meat.

Such a sad story, until said man,Sung Bong Choi, walks into a “Korea’s got Talent” audition and simply moves the judges to tears, not with his story but with his mesmerizing singing.

This video really touched me, let me know if it touched you too.

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