WordPress 101

On Tuesday, Sabine and I took an introduction to WordPress class with Nicole Crimaldi of Ms. Career Girl through Dabble. (Whew – lots of moving parts there.) This class was $25 but Sabine and I signed up during a “bring a friend” special so it was really just half that for both of us. I had literally never looked at WordPress before, but assumed that there was something above and beyond about it that would require a two-hour introduction class. Turns out, WordPress is not hard. WordPress is actually really easy to use. WordPress seems kind of fun to use. However, this class was still a great experience and I do not regret going at all. If I did it all over again, I’d do it the same.

Nicole gave us a great overview with signing up for WordPress, yes, but so much of this session was discussion about how to use blogging for whatever your purpose. There were participants who were starting small businesses, some just looking for more information for the mental knowledge bank (me), and others unsure of the next step but ready to move on to something else. And it was amazing to hear Nicole’s story of fighting back against a job that made her unhappy by working really hard and really smart. It was motivating.

Additionally, she had great tips on how to grow your blog’s readership and how to think strategically about SEO and keywords. I would say most of the participants were interested in how to monetize their blogs, which makes sense if this is for your business or part of your side hustle. For me, my blog is just part of my web persona, if you will, but I am very interested in creating a healthy and interesting presence on the web. While I am really not concerned with monetizing my web presence, I would say it still falls into a “side hustle” category, and these tips were great.

I was thrilled with the class and thought it a great night. The space was comfortable and inviting. Nicole was engaging and interesting – and inspiring. I’m happy to add her to a list of entrepreneurs I admire. I feel ready to really make this blog something to be reckoned with (haha – that sounds intense). It’ll be a little bit, here and there, but by the end of the year, there will be some big changes here. That’s the best thing about these Dabble classes – they truly do give you a taste of something new, and empower you to take off from there. Money and time well spent.

Recommendation: If you’re new to blogging or social media or just less comfortable with tech, take WordPress 101. If you’re all set with figuring out how to set up your blog, do that, and take Nicole’s Start Your Side Hustle class on Tuesday (8/14).

U-could-lele Class: Review

Last week, I took a super-basic introductory class to the ukulele. It was truly basic; the instructor didn’t even flinch when I asked exactly how I’m supposed to strum (do i use my thumb… okay, she’s using her nail… and now there’s a pick… what is happening?) I was pretty frustrated for maybe the first hour of the class. Even though I went into it with low expectations, my brain just is not accustomed to not being able to do something. 

Slowly but surely though I started to kind of figure out what was going on. And that is 100% because the instructor, Frank, was fantastic. As a former high school music teacher, he was perfectly patient and attentive, able to pick up on everyone’s learning style and offer appropriate feedback all around. He arrived at the space early and tuned everyone’s instrument (remember: super beginners here) and set a very easy, calm atmosphere for the class.

Frank paced the class perfectly – it really felt more like I was hanging out with a friend of a friend, just learning the ukulele on a lark, which is really the best environment for someone who maybe gets a little anxious and worked up about things not going according to plan. (The “plan” being that I’d leave the class able to play the ukulele!) A small class (kind of Dabble’s thing) allowed us to all feel comfortable with each other and to receive personalized attention from the instructor.

There’s no reason someone like me, with no musical experience, should be able to just “pick up” the ukulele, I know. But with the foundation of this introductory class, I can commit to teaching myself. I left the class confident that I can spend the next three months practicing chord drills and tip-toeing into playing an actual song. 

Frank provided packets of useful information – chord drills, chords for popular songs, diagrams for different tuning, and then emailed that information to us all the next day, too.
 So, I am truly prepared to try to teach myself how to play the ukulele! Note: Hallelujah is a great song to use to learn with just four or five chords and it probably being something you’ve heard a hundred times or so.

U-could-lele: An Intro the Uke was offered through Dabble, a wonderful Chicago start-up you should all check out. Other class topics include: knitting, career advancement, stand-up comedy, craft beer, fencing… you name it, you’ll find it! (You can also find Dabble in Milwaukee and Denver.)

Have you learned any new instruments as an adult? Any other new skills you had to really work at in the beginning?

Project Ukulele

Originally, I had assumed I’d only take on a new project after I finished one. And then my doctor sentenced me to six weeks in a walking boot to heal a stress fracture (that I had made significantly worse by “working through the pain” for several months). I’m taking my recovery seriously – better six weeks of no activity (even if it’s the absolute best six weeks of the year to be a Chicagoan) than several more months of pain, or possible injury beyond repair.

As one of my most significant hobbies has been dance and dance-fitness, I now have an overwhelming amount of free time available. I love to read and I have been doing so much reading and writing – but my brain needs a break. From the written word, at least. (I have not given up on Summer of Austen! I’m starting
Sense and Sensibility on my flight to Boston tomorrow night.)

I don’t want to get too carried away with overlapping projects – and I realize not every undertaking in my life is a “project,” but this one is worthy.
Project Ukulele. Tonight, I will take my first ukulele class, really my first music class since compulsory elementary classes. The extent of my musical instrument experience is a four-month stint with the violin at age ten and the permanently etched memory of how to play “Mary had a Little Lamb” (3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3…).

I was going to write in this paragraph about how nervous I am. But I’m really not. I watched some YouTube videos last night and practiced the basic chords. I have no doubt that the instructor and other participants will be lovely, welcoming people. (I’m taking the class through
Dabble, a lovely Chicago start-up.) And if it doesn’t go well, if I can’t play the ukulele even after hours and hours of practice? All I’ve lost is somewhere around $60 and some time – worse things have happened.

Project Ukulele has a specific goal: “Moon River.” (You recreate your favorite movie scenes and I’ll recreate mine.)

It’s not an overly ambitious goal, and I might not-so-secretly hope I can master the song in something closer to a month. But it’s so new to me, I have no idea!

I make no promises for the quality of my singing though. Here’s a sneak peek (ha, kidding – she’s fantastic.)