In Episode 25 of the Wandering But Not Lost Podcast, The blog series continues with Jan O’Brien, and her co-host Matt Emerson, discussing how to find your blog voice in the WBNL 52 tip and in Reach Your Peak they guide you through the 5 steps to launch your blog. In Wandering Zen, Matt heads back to New York City and wanders one of the most wonderful parks on the planet ~ Central Park.

 


Key Points and Takeaways

 

WBNL 52 Tip – Find Your Blog Voice

 

We all have a voice!  It may take a little while to trust the process and find it however.  Here are a couple of tips for you to ponder as you find your blog voice:

  • Write for yourself first. Write 20 posts and watch how your voice starts to emerge and develop.
  • Blog like you are in a room full of friends, having a conversation, catching up on the news and latest events.
  • Write in a stream of consciousness – just get on your computer and let it flow.
  • Share your opinions and ideas. Be candid but not polarizing or off-putting.
  • It takes a while to develop your voice, so have patience and don’t quit!

Read the full post


Reach Your Peak – 5 Steps to Launch Your Blog

 

 

1 – Identify your primary topics (niche)

  • Think of your blog as a book – in fact it could lead to actually publishing a book one day!
    Ideally 3-5 primary topics and 10-12 overall categories
    What are you truly passionate about?
  • What is your niche or specialty?

2 – Choose a blog platform

  • Built-in blog on your existing website
  • WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
  • Blogger (Google)
  • Typepad (movable type)
  • Active Rain – Rainmaker account ($39/mth or $199/yr)
    Open your blog to consumers
    Get your blog posts found on Google
    Share your blog posts on social media

3 – Get a domain name and hosting

  • Go Daddy (domain and hosting options)
  • Host Gator / Blue Host both support WordPress hosting
  • WP Engine
  • Read this article from Problogger: 4 perspectives to consider for naming
    Human (easy to remember), Brand, SEO, Legal (copyright/trademarks)

4 – Setup & Design your Blog

  • Do it Yourself or outsource to an expert
    Wordpress tutorials with major WP hosting solutions

Find a Theme You Like – some recommendations:
DIVI – Elegant Themes
StudioPress
Envato Market – Theme Forest
Real Estate – Agent Evolution Equity Theme

Logo & Branding
Remember to be in compliance with your State & Company advertising rules

Pages vs Posts

  • If you are creating a standalone blog site, then you could include basic pages like About Us, Contact Us, and other applicable content as a part of your overall navigation menu
  • Categories can also be added to a main nav menu
  • Categories organize your blog posts into the main topic and focus areas of your blog

Plugins – add functionality and features to your blog

  • Akismet (anti-spam) – Jetpack
  • SEO (All in one or Yoast)
  • Contact form – integration to your email service
  • Image Gallery / slideshow
  • Email opt-in to add forms from your email marketing service:
    Mailchimp
    Aweber
    ConvertkitTwo specific plugins for optins and email campaigns:
    SumoMe
    Optinmonster
  • Social Sharing (Jetpack)
  • Google analytics

Sidebar

  • Categories
  • Recent posts
  • Recent Comments
  • Facebook, IG, Twitter feeds
  • CTAs
  • Your photo and contact info

Navigation – make it easy for readers/visitors to find your content

  • Main Menu (pages and/or categories
    Categories
    Tags
    Search bar (Header and sidebar)

5 – Start writing posts!

  • Brainstorm topics now – create a list of posts to write
  • Write 5-10 blog posts – Go live with at least 3 posts
  • Keep a notebook or online list for recording ideas for posts
  • Always include an image, photo or video in your post

 

 


Wandering NYC.7 – Central Park

 

WanderingZen_CentralPark

Overwhelmed and don’t know where to start planning your next NYC getaway?  With literally thousands and thousands of things to see and do, it can make even the most detailed planner manic.  In this series, we’ll devour the big apple one little bite at a time. In this week’s Wandering Zen, Matt heads back to New York City and wanders one of the most wonderful parks on the planet.  Central Park was designed to offer up something for everyone and it would be very easy to spend your entire NYC trip simply enjoying everything that this masterpiece has to offer.

New York City is arguably one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world.  The massive buildings that scrape the clouds provide a dramatic skyline and create long and narrow canyons of concrete and steel throughout most of the island of Manhattan.  Keenly aware of the growth, in 1853, the New York State Legislature set aside more than 750 acres of land in the heart of the island to create America’s first major landscaped public park. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were the architects chosen as the result of an1858 competition to design and create the masterpiece that would become one of the most cherished parts of the city.

The Central Park Conservancy is the steward of the land and has done an incredible job of not only maintaining the space but also ensuring that is will be enjoyed by guests well into the future.  Their website is full of great information and will really help you get a lay of the land.  There is a passage on the site that perfectly explains what Olmstead, Vaux, and others had in mind as they set out on the daunting task of designing the area:

Visitors experienced these varied park scenes through a brilliant system of intertwined recreational roads: twenty-eight miles of pedestrian paths, six miles of undulating drives to be shared by both equestrians and carriages, and a rural bridle trail exclusively for horseback riding. Central Park’s six-mile tree-lined perimeter offered an urban promenade that acted as a buffer between the city and the Park. To ensure the safety and psychological peace of mind for all Park visitors, Calvert Vaux and/or assistant architect Jacob Wrey Mould created a series of ornamental bridges that separated walkways for quiet strolling from the faster horse and carriage traffic.

The design competition required the inclusion of “four or more” transverse roads that crossed the Park at intervals and was open to city traffic both day and night. The creation of four below grade roadways — 65th Street, 79th Street, 86th Street, and 96th Street — are Olmsted and Vaux’s most innovative feature. These external arteries, artfully camouflaged behind dense vegetation, ensured visitors the continuity of a purely rural experience within the boundaries of the Park.

Central Park was also designed as a vital cultural resource, offering flexible spaces for music and the visual arts, passive recreation such as sketching and birding, and active sports such as boating, ice-skating, baseball, tennis, and croquet, and an outdoor classroom for the appreciation and study of botany.

If you have been following this series you know that I am a huge NYC fan and my wife and I get back there as often as we can. During each visit, we spend at least one full day exploring and wandering through the park.  Typically we’ll take the 4,5, or 6 train uptown to 110th Street, walk west to the uppermost corner of the park and then make our way down, crisscrossing the landscape, until we reach the southern end at 59th Street.  There is so much to do here that we’ve never had the same experience twice and we look forward to our next trip so we can get back out there and discover even more.  Here are some of our favorite places to visit – from north to south…

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park The Loch

The Loch

#1 ~ The Loch

You will most certainly feel as though you are a million miles away from the city when you stroll through this thickly wooded area, following the course of a peaceful stream, under stone archways and next to cascading falls.  It is a stunningly beautiful area.  Olmstead and Vaux’s work here shows the true connection between engineering and art.

 

 

#2 ~ The Conservatory Garden

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park The Conservatory Garden

Tulips at The Conservatory Garden

The Vanderbilt Gate (which once stood in front of the Vanderbilt Mansion at 58th Street was made in Paris in 1894) allows you entry off of 5th Avenue into this 6-acre gem.  These formal gardens are meticulously cared for and provide form and order within the sprawling, more natural, feel of the rest of the acreage.  The area is split into 3 smaller gardens: Italian, French, and English.  During the spring, a spectacular display of seasonal bulbs bloom in vibrant color reward you as you wander the tailored paths and explore.

 

 

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

The Reservoir

#3 ~ The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

This expansive body of water holds billions of gallons and is up to 40 feet deep.  It was originally designed to act as a water source when the city’s water system was closed for 2-weeks each year for maintenance. Decommissioned in 1993 as the water systems throughout the city were expanded, the reservoir serves as another feat of engineering that meets art.  The reflections of the great city beyond creating another space that makes you feel a million miles away.  Locals and tourists alike enjoy the 1.58-mile running track that encircles the reservoir.  Whether you walk all the way around or just skirt the edge for a while, you will enjoy this energetic section of the park.

 

#4 ~ The Ramble

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park The Ramble

The Ramble

Olmstead described The Ramble as a 36-acre wild garden.  It was one of the first areas conceived and although it appears a natural as ever, the only thing that it truly natural is the bedrock on which it was created.  Although there are many places in the park to get enveloped by the trees and plantings, The Ramble is probably the most immersive.  There are many paths that meander throughout the area, up and down inclines and stairways and circling the woods.  It is easy to get turned around in here and that is what makes it so wonderful.  I’ve said it twice so far but it bears repeating, Central Park is located in the heart of one of the most populated spots on earth yet it creates the illusion that you are far away.  Get lost in The Ramble on your next trip.

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park Alice In Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland ~ photo courtesy of The Central Park Conservancy

#5 ~ Alice in Wonderland

Commissioned by philanthropist George Delacorte and created by the Spanish-born American sculptor José de Creeft, the Alice in Wonderland statue is a park favorite.  It’s located near the model boat sailing pond on the east side near 75th Avenue.  The statue features Alice sitting atop a giant mushroom surrounded by others at the tea party including the White Rabbit, pocket watch in hand, the door mouse, and the Mad Hatter himself – who was cleverly created as a caricature of George Delacorte by Creeft.  Etched into the concrete surrounding the statue is Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical poem, The Jabberwocky:

 

Matt Emerson WBNL NYC Central Park The Boat House

The Boathouse

#6 ~ The Loeb Boathouse

No doubt by now you are ready for a rest and ready to either enjoy a delicious meal or perhaps a cool glass of wine.  No need to leave the park!  Conveniently located mid-park is the Loeb Boathouse.  The facility houses a cafe, small bar and excellent table service overlooking the lake.  There is also an outside terrace bar that is open seasonally.  The food here is artistically prepared and plated and the dining experience is fantastic from start to finish.  This joint is always jumping so reservations are a must, however, if you find yourself without one, you may be lucky and arrive as another party has canceled.

Restaurant
Monday – Friday
Lunch: 12pm-4pm
Dinner: April – November, 5:30pm-9:30pm

Weekends

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Reflecting at the Boathouse

Pondering But Not Lost

Brunch: 9:30am-4pm
Dinner: April – November, 6 pm – 9:30 pm

Outdoor Bar and Grill
April – November, 11am-11pm weather permitting

Café
Daily 8am–8pm (Winter 8am-4:30pm)

Row Boat and Gondola Rentals 
April – November, weather permitting.
Daily 10am till dusk.
For more price details and additional information, please contact the Loeb Boathouse at 212.517.2233 or visit thecentralparkboathouse.com

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park Imagine Mosaic

Imagine Mosaic – photo courtesy of The Central Park Conservancy

#7 ~ Strawberry Fields

This peaceful area, dedicated as a living memorial to John Lennon, is located on the West Side between 71st and 74th Streets. Yoko Ono Lennon worked with the landscape architect and Central Park Conservancy to create a meditative spot and they achieved their goal.  Although the area is always swarming with people, there is a palpable feeling of respect and honor as you pass one another and exchange smiles. The ‘Imagine’ mosaic was created by Italian craftsmen and given as a gift by the city of Naples. Along the path near the mosaic, you’ll find a bronze plaque that lists the 121 countries that endorse Strawberry Fields as a Garden of Peace.

#8 ~ Bethesda Fountain

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park The Bethesda Fountain

The Bethesda Fountain

Adjacent to the lake in Bethesda Terrace stands the Angel of the Water statue atop the Bethesda Fountain.  The work was created by Emma Stebbins, the first woman to receive a public art commission in New York City.  The statue and fountain commemorate the Croton water system, which first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842. A lily in the angel’s left hand symbolizes the water’s purity, very important to a city that had previously suffered from a devastating cholera epidemic before the system was established.  This area will probably feel familiar, and it should, as it has been featured in countless movies, television series, and photographs.  As you head south from the fountain you pass through an arcade that it not fully indoors or outdoors. The highlight is the magnificent Minton Tile ceiling designed by British-born architect and designer, Jacob Wrey Mould, who also conceived of the ornate carvings throughout the Terrace.

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park The Mall

Elms at The Mall

#9 ~ The Mall

This American Elm lined walkway is grand and is magnificent during all seasons.  The strong bare bones of the trees covered with a hint of snow during the winter months come alive in the spring as the leaves start to form and fill in spaces proving a tapestry of flittering green waves.  The welcoming shade during summer is essential and as the cool autumn air begins to take hold the riot of fall color is breathtaking.  Here too you will always find thongs of people, yet the space is vast and never feels over-crowded. If you look down, you’ll see engraved granite paving stones lining the southern end of Literary Walk in order to commemorate each endowed tree in the Park. To support Central Park Conservancy’s efforts to care for the Park’s trees, donate to the Tree Trust to endow the care of an existing tree or to fund the planting of a new tree.

#10 ~ Tavern on the Green

Matt Emerson Wandering But Not Lost Wandering Zen Central Park Tavern on the Green

The Bar at Tavern on the Green

As we continue to head south on the West Side between 66th and 67th Streets, you’ll find another iconic Central park landmark – The Tavern on the Green.  It was built in 1870 as the shelter for the flock of sheep who grazed on the adjacent Sheep Meadow. In 1934 it was turned into a restaurant.  It has gone through many iterations and owners since that time and it’s always a good tip to call to make sure the place is open!  The latest version pays homage to the history while providing a modern main dining area that is enclosed in solid glass.  The food and drinks are delicious and it is the perfect place to unwind after a long day of wandering.

Monday – Friday
Lunch 11am – 4pm
Dinner 5pm – 11pm

Saturday & Sunday
Brunch 9am – 4pm
Dinner 5pm – 11pm

Reservations available two months in advance, please contact us directly at 212.877.8684 or at [email protected] 

 

There’s our top 10, but there is so much more to discover and explore in Central Park.  For all the details you’ll need to plan your next trip please go to the Central Park Conservancy website.


 

The Conservatory Garden

The Ramble, Central Park, NYC

The Loch

Alice Statue

Strawberry Fields

Bethesda Fountain

The Loeb BoatHouse

Tavern on the Green

The Mall, Central Park


 Mentioned in the Episode (Resources & Links)


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