Give Yourself Permission to Dream

The year 2020 was unlike any other. The difficult times affected people around the world. But, for many of us who remain, it also had beauty. Sunsets. Phone calls with loved ones. The ability to wake up to new days.

In 2021, I hope you can still dream big—even if it scares you. Then reach for it anyway.⁠⠀

We can certainly note what we’ve experienced. For me, it’s also important to remember that I am still here. And that I have much to be thankful for.

So, as we enter a new year, I am wishing you joy, good health, peace, and success. And I thank you for reading my work across publications and websites, and for staying in touch here and on my Instagram, YouTube, and other pages.

In 2021, I hope you can still dream big—even if it scares you. Then reach for it anyway.⁠⠀

Look, sometimes we can talk ourselves out of opportunities, because we think we’re not ready. But we may not ever be 100 percent ready. So let your heart dream in the coming weeks. Reflect. Research. Ask for help from your loved ones—or even a professional, mentor, or other coach—if you need it. Then take steps to make it happen. ⁠If you’re afraid, acknowledge the fear, but still do what you can. For me, doing this has been a gift. Though it has not always been easy.

As 2020 proved to us, life is unpredictable. But growth is possible.

As I close this post, I also want to share: If you’re working toward something—whether it’s writing, financial goals like saving money, a mindset shift, or something else—and you haven’t seen the results you want yet, please know that with faith and hard work, things can change. Suddenly.

The journey will have hard spots. But, to make it to the place you dream of, keep believing in yourself and do the work along the way, if you feel led to a particular result. ⁠

Please feel free to comment or contact me if you have thoughts about this post or questions about how you can work on your goals for the new year. Best wishes for 2021, no matter what. ✨

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Bitcoin Hits All-Time High. Why It—and Other Cryptocurrencies—Matter

Tweet by lesliequander reading "Well, this has been a day" about bitcoin

If you’ve ever wondered if you should take cryptocurrency seriously, you should.

On December 16, 2020, Bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency (but not the only one by far), hit $20,000 for the first time ever. It then went on to more than $21,000. By the next day, it was at more than $23,000.

After its lows of around $3,600 in March (when the pandemic affected global markets), this all-time-high is major. And it’s particularly interesting for U.S. investors during our current economic times, as the dollar has been down when compared to currencies like the euro. Plus, everyday and institutional investors have been buying Bitcoin. ⁠

What does this milestone mean? Well, if you’ve ever wondered if you should take Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency seriously, you should. I certainly do.

As I write this post, the global market cap of cryptocurrencies is more than $600 billion, CoinMarketCap reports. Yes, billion with a B. This is clearly something to pay attention to.

For now at least, as news continues to break, be aware that cryptocurrency—decentralized digital currency—exists. (The paper money in the background of the photo in this post is not the only game in town.)

Also remember: Bitcoin is a leader, but thousands of other cryptocurrencies exist at varying price points, including Ethereum (aka Ether or ETH), XRP, Litecoin, and Chainlink.

Also know that the crypto market is volatile and care is needed when investing, as you can see from Bitcoin’s intense price fluctuation just within a day (and during this year). And every currency is not something to invest in. So know that investors can have real gains and real losses.

Note: This blog does not offer investment advice. Always do your own research if you decide to invest in any financial market.

So have you heard of cryptocurrency? Do you find it confusing?

If you follow this blog and my YouTube channel, you may know one of my core subject matter areas is personal finance. And that I like to share what I know and encourage people that success and a wealth mindset are possible. This post is just a quick look at the landscape; there are many other things to discuss including the importance of blockchain technology, pros and cons of holding or investing in cryptocurrency, and more.

In closing, remember news is happening in this sector, which is one worth tracking. Please stay tuned. And feel free to share your thoughts or questions here, or on my Instagram page. 💥

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Tips for Dating During This Pandemic: What to Know Right Now

Dating in 2020. Is it still possible? How can you adjust? And what exactly should you consider before meeting in person? Things are different now, and there are many issues to navigate, so I wrote about some tips to consider for Men’s Health.

Here’s an experience I had: After mainly staying home during the coronavirus pandemic and not seeing most of my family and friends for months, I reopened dating apps just to check out the scene. Things got a little weird.

The thing is, meeting someone IRL can mean having to be confident in their COVID compliance—and even then, it can still feel off. And I wasn’t the only one concerned about how to navigate using dating apps right now, as dating experts shared with me.

If you’re considering using dating apps, but feel confused without a roadmap, it’s normal. I did some research (for myself, Men’s Health, and humankind), and now I present…a plan that can help.

Some apps are trying to help daters navigate these uncertain times. For instance, Bumble now allows users to show which dates they’d be comfortable with (e.g., over video or socially-distanced with masks) and has encouraged people to date virtually.

Still, this pandemic can feel uncertain when it comes to our health and relationships. If you’re considering using dating apps—or considering meeting someone new in general—but feel confused without a roadmap, it’s normal. I did some research (for myself, Men’s Health, and humankind), and presented…a plan that can help.

For instance, when considering whether you want to meet, it’s okay to ask people questions about habits and preferences that matter to you, including whether they’ve been hanging out in crowds and who else they’ve been seeing. That might be different than what you’re used to, but these times can call for adaptation.

It’s also totally appropriate to be more selective about who you meet in person, and to establish ground rules if you decide to connect. Being more direct and particular about what we want actually can be helpful.

So would you go on a date with a new person now? See my article for more specific tips, as news continues to develop. Feel free to share this story with a friend or even a would-be date. (I’m here to help if you need a conversation starter!) And stay safe out there.

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What 3 Self-Made Millionaires Want You to Know About Building Wealth

I’m a contributor to Business Insider and often write about personal finance. I recently participated in an important project there about the racial wealth gap, which was developed by my editor.

For instance, the United States has the greatest number of millionaires — 18.6 million, or 40 percent of the world total, according to the 2019 Global Wealth Report by Credit Suisse — but that doesn’t mean millionaires are the majority of this country’s population. In fact, the report notes that the level of wealth inequality “is high, both within countries and for the world as a whole.”

Since knowledge can help others, I want to make clear that I don’t think sharing your story is bragging at all.

The gap is even wider when we look at Black and white Americans. In recent decades, the median net worth for white households has “far exceeded” that for Black households, according to the Brookings Institution, and the gap is only growing.

Still, I think it’s important to highlight the Black people who have found success in America over the years. Knowing our history matters, but we also can consider how to grow beyond our original circumstances. I decided that I wanted to write a story about it. I pitched my editor, and got the assignment.

By the way, if you want to learn how to be a professional writer, or write for outlets you love, check out my recent YouTube video.

So how can we build wealth? One way is to know what’s possible and how to do it. But we don’t always discuss money openly in America.

I’ve dedicated my career to sharing information. And since knowledge can help others, I want to make clear that I don’t think sharing your story is bragging at all.

So see my story over on businessinsider.com for straightforward advice on building wealth from three Black millionaires—who didn’t start out that way. Then check out the other stories in the series, including my second piece on how to bridge the investing gap.

Do you realize you can build wealth? Do you want to learn more about how, including advice on investing? I’ve written about this in the past (and done YouTube videos) and plan to keep sharing on this!

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Video: You CAN Make Money as a Writer—5 Truths

Want to make money as a writer? You can. You just have to know the truth about common myths, and then push forward to get there. 

Some background: If you’ve visited my site before you know my writing has reached tens of millions of readers over my career. And I’ve worked as a freelance writer, magazine editor, staff writer and editor, and more. 

During this time, I’ve seen similar questions from people who want to get started writing or get better at it. And I’ve often seen writers make the same mistakes. So in this video, I present five myths about professional writing—and share the truth about each one.

If you want to get paid to write for a career, or even for a side hustle as we work more from home, this video is for you. 

Watch for the facts about how you can get started—or get better!—writing for magazines, websites, and more. And info on how you can make money in the writing business. 

Then feel free to like or share this video, and subscribe to my YouTube channel. Or comment or email me if you have any questions about professional writing or want a free consult for my coaching program.

And stay tuned—I’ll be sharing more videos with you!

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Panel Presentation: How to Connect With Diverse Audiences

A screenshot from the ASJA line-up.

Diversity may seem like a buzz word these days. But it’s more than that—and it’s important to keep in mind if we’re communicating with other people for work…and beyond.

As writers, we seek to develop and share stories that are well-reported, accurate, and engaging. To do this, we should know when stories are indeed ours to write, how to connect with sources who are reflective of the landscape, which terms to use (and avoid) to help provide clarity and avoid stereotypes, and more.

A few weeks ago, I hosted a panel at the American Society of Journalists and Authors virtual conference to talk about all of this. And to share tips and considerations for reporting and writing stories that can accurately represent a variety of sources and effectively connect with diverse audiences.

By the way, diversity doesn’t just refer to differences in race and ethnicity, though those are often discussed. It also can refer to differences in gender identity, ability, religion, political affiliation, and more. Basically, we just need to keep in mind that everyone isn’t like us—and remember that our experiences are not necessarily those of our readers. We also can actively seek out interviews and discussions with people outside of our typical spheres. If we’re striving to be objective and inclusive in our story-telling, this is a start.
⁣⁣⁠⠀
So how’s your communication going these days? Are you facing any hurdles in this area?

If you missed the session, you can access the replay via ASJA. You’ll see my tips on how to find new great sources, how to connect with people who are different than you (and why you should!), and how to get introspective about your own thoughts and potential limitations so you can find success.

Talk soon!✨⁣⁣⁠⠀

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Video: 7 Ways to Fight Loneliness

Did you know feeling lonely can affect your health? It’s been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diminished sleep quality, and more, even after controlling for various other factors, reports University of Chicago Medicine.

And with social distancing in effect, we can really feel lonely. ⁣

I reported on this topic for Sisters From AARP, where I’m a freelance contributing editor— and again, just recently, on my YouTube channel.

In this new video, I reveal seven ways to grow your relationships and feel more connected. Right now. ⁣(Even if you watch this video after distancing has been lifted in your area, the tips still can apply.)

Please watch and share. And feel free to subscribe to my channel.

How are you feeling as we physically distance? ⁣I hope this info helps you or someone you know. ?

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Video: How to Stay Calm in the Stock Market

Emotions are understandably high now as we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. These days, the stock market is up and down, employment situations are becoming more shaky, and times can be hard as we physically distance. But if we can keep our emotions out of investing, that change can help us in that arena at least.

I’v been busy writing and editing the last few weeks, with a major focus on wellness and personal finance. As we continue to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and watch the news from home, things can be difficult. Which is why I’ve been making an effort to deliver positive news as I can.

With all of the writing I’ve been doing on personal finance, including a story on six things to know about investing for Sisters From AARP (where I’m a freelance contributing editor), as well as my articles for Business Insider (where I’m a contributor, too) it seemed like an appropriate time to do a quick video message, too.

Please watch the video to see more on why we shouldn’t panic about investments now (including our retirement accounts and others), even though we’re in turbulent times. I think points two and three—on keeping emotions out of investing and understanding that the market will turn around—are especially key to remember.

Sending you all my best during this time.

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Growth Is the Goal

As this month comes to a close, I’m reminded of what I’ve learned. The new things I’ve tried. The myriad opportunities that are here now and ahead.

I’ve accomplished a lot, and you probably have, too. So you also probably realize that success isn’t immediate. The best ideas can start with a seed that then grows and matures. And growth—through life’s storms and during the sunny days—is what matters.

So as long as you’re moving, learning, being challenged, please keep going. It’s actually good when life isn’t simple. It’s good when we face challenges. The things we’ve beaten can prepare us for the next round of the fight.

These things can prepare us for big victories.

So, like the sunflowers of summer–and those that will sprout this fall (I can’t wait to see those!)–let yourself grow.

Look to the light. Start that new venture, pitch that story, write that book, have that key conversation. Do the things you’ve been wanting to do.

Experience it all. And let yourself live.

For more views of these gorgeous flowers and my latest musings on writing and life, please visit me on Instagram.

And if you need a hand with your writing projects or career goals, see this page or this one for details on how I can help.

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Writing Tip: Where to Find Inspiration

I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade. (Where did the time go?!) And I wrote for fun for many years before that.

One question that comes up when it comes to writing and creativity is this: Where do you get ideas? Whether we’re writing on deadline or writing just for fun, our ideas have to come from somewhere. And, in my experience, ideas for stories can come from all around us.

For instance, I wrote about the benefits of training for surgery for The Washington Post after I discovered a related study—and dug in for more research. And I wrote about five tips to protect your hearing for Men’s Health after noticing loud sounds in my own environment.

Recently I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a ballet. There, I ran into this exhibit of worldwide photos of hope and resilience (see above). It was another example of how surprises can pop up anywhere and at any time–and how we should be open to them. But it also reminded me that inspiration for writing, other creative pursuits, and even life plans can come from all around us. In fact, I think it’s really cool that we can soak up creativity even in our hometowns—without trying hard or traveling far.⁣⁣

(Side note: If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center, do check it out when in DC—for everything from opera to ballet. This free exhibit via the National Geographic Photo Camp features photos from at-risk and refugee youth and runs through June 20, 2019.)

So here’s the takeaway: Story ideas and life inspiration can come from anywhere. And they can come by surprise. If you’re looking for ideas for your next piece of writing, look around you. Explore your hometown. Travel. Read something you typically wouldn’t. Start a new conversation.

You can find plenty of inspiration if you pay attention.

For more writing tips and daily snapshots, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram!

Or feel free to comment or email me your thoughts or questions about writing and creativity.

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