Did you know that on a phone keypad MOM is spelled using the numbers 666? Did you know that I wrote a book about how my mom embodies that revelation? I wrote it as her Christmas present and you can get it on Amazon (below).
Don't get me wrong- I love my mom! She has taught me so much and is so interesting, but damn is she FUNNY and I have tons of stories to prove it. Much of which is in the book (above), but there were a few moments that I didn't get to write in the book so I figured I would write them here as a cheap (/free) Mother's Day gift. Happy Mother's Day Mom- let's be real, you're the only one who read this! ?
Mom's Best Friend
My mom doesn't have too many friends. She has a few close friends and she considers her clients her friends. One day, my mom was going shopping in Los Angeles and she spotted a celebrity! As is typical of someone her age, she knew the face but couldn't place this celebrity's name. So being my fearless and irreverent to celebrity culture, she went up to the woman and said, "I know you're famous, but I don't know your name. My daughter would kill me if I saw you but didn't say hi. Who are you?" Turns out it was Olivia Wilde! My mom is unfazed by celebrity culture, but was willing to embarrass herself for me because I love it. Now, whenever Olivia' Wilde is on TV, we talk about how she is mom's best friend. Who knows- maybe Olivia Wilde uses her side of the story as a dinner anecdote.
Mom at the Museum
I live in New York City, a city with culture everywhere and I try to soak in as much art and music and theater as I can. When my mom visits, we usually go shopping and watch a Broadway show. On one visit, we decided to go to the Guggenheim because the exhibit was featuring an Iranian artist (if you don't know why that's important- read the book!). There was a piece of artwork there with words in Farsi so I asked my mom what it said. She started translating the words and before long, a crowd started forming around us to listen to her. I remember feeling so in awe of seeing her, as was everyone else! How often does a crowd form to hear your mom speak a major art museum?! I don't think many people get to have that moment of feeling like your parent is a superhero, but I felt it then. And the more I learn about her, the more I am amazed at who she is and where she's come from.
For 30 days in April, I woke up at 5:30 am to write 3 full pages with my stream of conscious called Morning Pages. And I LOVED IT!
These morning pages are a practice that come from The Artists Way by Julia Cameron (above. Note: I get a commission of the sales if you buy it, so please buy it). The Morning Pages are one part of this method which is meant to cultivate creativity in your life. Right when you wake up, you write 3 pages (big ones too, not tiny post-it notes) with stream of consciousness. The practice is supposed to connect you to a higher power and supply you with creativity. If you couple the morning pages with an Artist's Date, where you spend 2 hours doing something/anything creative once a week, it is supposed to bring you endless creativity. There are stories of people doing the pages, writing a screenplay, and selling it within a year!
So for a month, I did morning pages every day at 5:30 am and the Artists Dates every other weekend. I changed some things to fit my lazy Millenial lifestyle: I scrolled instagram for 5 minutes to wake up after my alarm and I only wrote 2 pages because I didn't have enough time in my schedule. The Artists Dates were pretty simple. I colored, watched movies, played on the piano. Anything to fulfill the requirements, although they weren't quite 2 hours long!
But it worked! I had so much creativity and you saw a lot of the results: I started this blog! I ran into Lin Manuel Miranda and I wrote 8 bars of a song on the piano. I truly was getting more creative by the day. Everyday, there would be a moment where I would say, "Okay Morning Pages, I see you" because it truly had improved my relationship with creativity. I felt productive and was excited to see what I was creating.
Unfortunately after Spring Break ended, I stopped doing the Morning Pages. This past Monday, I went to write a blog post and then NOTHING! My mind was blank, I was struggling to write a sentence, I was terrified. I stared at the empty page for 30 minutes until I decided that I couldn't finish the post. I looked up and told my fiance, "I gotta do morning pages again."
I'm back to doing morning pages: today is Day 2 of Round 2 and I feel great. I wrote all this in 40 minutes! If you want creativity in your life or just to feel inspired, I highly recommend doing Morning Pages. And read The Artists Way because I didn't get through everything: there are prompts and more ideas for Artists Dates. It has been truly a transformative experience for me.
A lot of people ask me how I get so many likes on Instagram. To be clear, there are a lot more qualified people to answer this question- people who get significantly more likes and followers on Instagram- but my friends know me so they ask me. And I'm happy to share because posting on Instagram has been my creative outlet for a while. It is what sparked my love of content creation and this blog! Below I will explain my 4 step process on how to post on Instagram for "success."
Before I start talking about the strategy, I want to explain a bit about intention. If you are using Instagram to get validation, that will end in disaster and tears. I would know because it was one of thefirst things I wrote about. After I began thinking about Instagram as a creative outlet and a way to engage with friends and people I admire, using the app became much less stressful and frustrating. Don't get me wrong, I still want likes and followers! But when I'm 90 and look back at all the photos I posted, I'm not going to care how many people see it. I'm going to be impressed by all the cool things I did and friendships I cultivated because of the app.
Alright, let's get to what you were looking for: how to get more likes and followers on your Instagram photos.
I think of it as 4 equally important parts: brand, engagement, content, and tags.
The first thing you want to think about is what brand you have in mind for your account. What is your niche? Will you post workout videos, fashion looks, information about your business? What kind of look will your photos have? Will they be edited? Will they be close up shots or far away? Will you have a color scheme you want to base your photos around?
All of these questions will help you plan the look of your Instagram page and the type of brand will bring in people with similar interests.
A large part of getting likes and followers is liking and following. If you want to get likes, you need to spend time on Instagram liking other photos. The app's algorithm favors those who use the app a lot. My strategy is to like one or two photos from everyone who liked my photo. In order to amass more followers, you need to follow people with a similar niche or brand. If you are a real estate agent in Southern California, you want to follow Southern California pages and other real estate agents. If you are a travel blogger, you should be following other travel bloggers.
Obviously this is the part that is the hardest but the most fun! TAKE PHOTOS! Take good photos! A lot of people post blurry photos or photos that have terrible lighting. I recommend watching some Youtube videos that teach the basics of photography. I personally like this one. And if you're taking photos of yourself, find some poses that you look good in. I find that if I am smiling and looking to my right, my photo always turns out better. But try lots of different poses and shots. And try taking photos at different times throughout the day. It becomes a sort of game trying to find the best way to tell your story through the camera. Enjoy it!
This one is what most people fail to do and is the most helpful. Location tags and hashtags are how other people find your photos other than your mom, dad, and that guy you went to high school with. When you post your location, anyone who looks at photos there will see your photo. And if you get more likes, your photo goes to the top of that list. Same with hashtags! If someone looks up #datenightoutfit they will see all the photos that have been tagged with that hashtag. In order to get more views and likes and new followers, find hashtags that fit your brand. Find hashtags that are not too saturated with posts like #photography and get specific like #foodphotography or, even better, #foodiegram.
All of this takes a lot of time and effort. But hopefully this could be a fun way to express yourself or share your life with the world. And feel free to follow me at @serenafresh ?