This Is Your Daily Reminder To Take Care Of Yourself

For the longest time, I have allowed other’s opinions of me sway my decision making. I have allowed them to dictate to me how I should live my life. Well, I say no more. I have let my wants and needs be pushed to the side because I was listening to everything other people had to say. Self-care has become so important to me over these last 2-3 years. If I’m being completely honest, I still care too much about what others think and I wish I didn’t. I wish I was one of those types of people who did not worry about everyone else. I should be concerned about Dakota. I will be 25 this year. That’s crazy to say, but life is flying by. As I grow older, I have become more in tune with what truly makes my heart happy.

I have let my health go down hill. I have not been listening to my physical, mental, or emotional health. I have felt like I have been making myself sick trying to take everything on at once.

As depressing as this may sound, at the end of the day you need to take care of yourself. It’s like the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” You cannot help others unless you are taking care of yourself first. Most of the time I want to throw my phone away and let go of all the baggage. Let go of the one thing keeping me connected to those people who make me feel less than. Who is going to take care of me god forbid I burn myself out?

I have decided to listen to my body, my heart, my mind, and soul. I want to do what makes me happy. I decide to put myself first. I have worn myself out trying to help others. My 20s should be about enjoying life before the responsibilities really slap me in my face. And I feel like I am not enjoying my 20s. I am always stressed, always overwhelmed, always feel like I’m somehow failing at something no matter how hard I try, or I’m always worried about something.

Who is going to take care of me? I’ve been doing lots of thinking about helping others. You should still maintain kindness and compassion for those around you. But there comes a time where you have to draw a line. Many people confuse kindness for weakness and this is not the case. I have tried helping others to the best of my ability. But, I’ve been taken advantage of to a certain extent and so I say, NO MORE. I am finally putting myself first and it feels pretty good to say.

I’ve been at war-with my former self and the person I still wish to be. Life can be so overwhelming sometimes. I have fought silent battles, big ones others had no idea about. I’ve cried silently to sleep and have felt like a failure with so many things.

But now, I take back control of my life. I’m tired of worrying more about others feelings and opinions instead of my own. I should listen to my instincts and mine only. I have come this far. I am sick of allowing others to have so much power over me because it does not matter what you do in this life, someone will always have something to say. What truly matters is how you view yourself.

I guess in simpler terms what I’m trying to say is take care of yourself. Follow your heart and believe in your abilities. Do not be so hard on yourself. You have come this far and you have only scratched the surface. Be proud of how far you have come. Your body has carried you through far worse. So whatever you are dealing with now, you can certainly get through it. Do not feel guilty of taking breaks when you so desperately need it. Burning yourself out trying to please everyone else will get you nowhere.

Live YOUR life because before you know it, 10 years will have passed you by and you realize you are bitter because you did not do what you wanted when you were younger. It is easy to put things off until tomorrow because we think we will have more time. But the truth is, life is too short and time can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.

I want to live a full and happy life. So yes, I take my life back. I am doing what makes me happy. Others will still have opinions of me and judge who I’ve been or what I choose to do in this life, but I am strong. I will make it through. And if I fail at least I know I tried my very best. That’s what truly matters.

Until next time friends,

Ms. Dakota

Be Your OWN Biggest Fan

“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.” ~Auggie, Wonder


I strongly believe in this statement. Some of us just want to hear, “I’m proud of you and everything you have accomplished.” We want to feel acknowledged and appreciated. We work hard and it would make us feel good if someone noticed that. I find myself often searching for this sense of approval from those around me.

I’m still learning everyday how to work on this, how to be secure with myself. Although it would make me feel good to hear someone acknowledge my efforts or how much I’ve done, one should be secure enough with themselves to know that they do not need the approval. Others can sometimes give us the approval we are searching for. Or they may not. They may disregard all of our efforts which causes us to continue searching for approval we may never receive. Almost like Gatsby in The Great Gatsby. He consistently searched for the approval, validation, and acceptance from Daisy, which he never received.

We should not place our self-worth in the hands of others. One should be secure with themselves that approval should not determine their level of self-acceptance. It is common for one to ask friends and families for their opinions on certain matters. However, you only get one life, so you need to live for you. Sometimes those people may have your best interests at heart, and maybe they do not.

I should take my own advice more often, but I also care too much about what others think. I want to be accepted by most. However, I’ve come to learn that the only important thing that matters is how you view yourself. No matter what you do, people will always have opinions about your actions. Therefore, we should only surround ourselves with people who do have our best interests at heart. They acknowledge our improvements and offer healthy criticisms when needed.

Especially during the pandemic, it is CRUCIAL to surround yourself with positivity and remain consistent with improving yourself whether it be reading or writing more, exercising more often, meditating, etc. It is easy to get lost down the rabbit hole and become overwhelmed with everything. But if we continue to work on ourselves and surround ourselves with likeminded and positive people, we will prosper.

Even if we are applauded or acknowledged as Auggie mentions in the movie Wonder, we should still not lose sight of ourselves, our goals, or the direction we are headed. Moments are fleeting. We are acknowledged for a brief moment and yes, it makes us feel wonderful. But in reality, people will forget that great thing you did a couple days thereafter. The point here is, without getting too depressing, embrace the acknowledgment, but never lose yourself while searching for that approval.

Life is too short. That has been evident throughout this entire pandemic. We can be here one day and gone the next. Don’t mean to be depressing here, but it’s the truth. We should work towards our goals, make memories with those closest to us, and cherish our loved ones.

But bringing it back to the main point of my post here, never let the approval or non-approval influence how you view yourself. Yes, it would make us feel worthy to be acknowledged for our hard work. But we should work hard regardless to reach our goals not because we want that approval.

And with that, I end this post on the following note, you are worthy. You are doing amazing things and you are noticed. Even when you aren’t, be your own biggest fan. Celebrate those victories, whether big or small. Keep crushing those goals. Do something today that future you will be proud of! Make yourself happy!

Until next time friends,

Dakota 🙂

The Future Is Unpredictable, Live For Right Now

Hey guys. I’m back again with a post. I’m sitting here at work, bored and hungry, and figured why not put up a blog post to use my time productively? It seems like I’ve been getting the bulk of my writing done at work. But whatever, I’m not complaining. Writing gets done when it gets done.

I opened my Instagram up for the first time after not having it for like 6 months. I needed a break. I’ve grown apart from social media and only use it now to keep in contact with loved ones or to share my work with the writing community. I really feel like social media is too heavily relied on and many people take it too seriously. I get it. We live in a time where social media is how people communicate, it’s how people grow their business, cool. I can understand that. But, what I do not understand is why people are so caught up in their phones. There are so many other ways we can spend our time like moving our bodies or feeding our brains.


We can be here today and gone tomorrow. Life is flying right on by. I came across an Instagram story recently and found out someone I knew from my high school years had passed. It’s devastating to think about because she was my age. We often take time for granted because we think we will have more of it. We are wrong. We should spend more time with our loved ones and use our time wisely. Imagine what you could do with the time you waste scrolling through social media? I’ll admit that I’ve done this and I’m not trying to come off as a hypocrite for doing so. However, I wanted to put up this post and explain why I’ve changed and how I’ve matured. I used to spend lots of time on Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook. I thought putting your every move on social media was the new cool, whether it was posting your meal, or the day you had at the gym, etc.

The last 2 years or so have been a whirlwind and over the course of them, I’ve done lots of self-reflecting on my past mistakes, who and what I want to become, and the goals I still wish to achieve. I’ve lost many people over the years. People I loved and deeply cared for. I’ve lost family members, friends, and people I thought would be around for much longer. I believe in the value of a moment and creating memories with those closest to you. I don’t care for materialistic items or how much money one has. I care about creating life long memories. I’m not trying to get too depressing here, as this is meant to be an uplifting post, but when we all go to the afterlife, wherever that is for you based on your beliefs, what do we take with us? The memories or all the cars, purses, jewelry, etc. that we bought?


I’ve put my faith in people and have been let down. I’ve been vulnerable and loved people as best I could. I’ve been beaten, bruised, and defeated. I’ve faced countless adversities and have had people turn their backs on me. But I managed to rise through it all. I overcame my adversities. I am a fighter. This is how I was raised. To go in for that last round even when you don’t think you can.

I’ve held grudges. I have let years go by without talking to people over something they did during our childhoods. I’ve spent months even years not speaking to friends over minor arguments we had. We are human. We feel things. I feel things very deeply and that could be a good and bad thing.

But if there is anything we can learn from 2020, it’s this. The future is unpredictable. We can be here today and gone tomorrow. So I leave you with this.

Cherish your loved ones. Hug them. Let them know you love them. Be kinder. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive people so you can allow yourself to find peace. Work towards your goals. Use your time wisely. Call your parents often (I moved out at 22 and still call my parents everyday). Check in on your loved ones, especially during the pandemic. Do lots of self-reflection. Meditate. Focus on your health & well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. Life is too short to be unhappy. I know this sounds like a total cliche, but it’s the best I’ve got right now. Tomorrow is unknown. Do your best today. Live in the now. Plan for the future yes, but live for right now.

I am still learning. I am improving. I am evolving. No one is perfect. I still struggle with doing some of the things I’ve mentioned above. But if you try to do and be better, this is what counts.

Well friends, that is it for this post. I hope you all enjoy the rest of your week!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Back From My 2-Month Hiatus: Self-Reflection During The Pandemic

Hi there! Well, it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. 2 months total, I believe. What can I say? Life is busy. School demands lots of my time. I needed to take a break from my non-essential work and focus my time & energy where it was most needed. Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You think your blog is “non-essential?” I know I have my followers and I appreciate you guys more than you know, I really do. Thank you for the support through it all. You guys are the best, especially the writing community on twitter. One of the best groups on social media, hands down. I’m sorry I’ve been absent. But this post will explain a little more of what I’ve been up to the past few months in quarantine.

So I live in Charleston, SC and everything pretty much opened back up. We have to wear masks of course, but it’s been pretty laidback. People are extremely happy to get out of the house again. I know I am. I’ve gone back to a gym routine and I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my pup, taking him on walks & doggy play dates. (He needs to get out of the house too, he’s a breed that loves to be outside.) He is a German Shorthaired Pointer and for those who do not know, those are hunting dogs. DJ is super hyper, playful, loves to jump, chase squirrels, frogs, and bark at birds.


It is safe to say many of us have gone through various obstacles and things have just been rough to say the least. Almost like we feel like giving up. This pandemic has led to a whirlwind of emotions. It has been a full-time job trying to maintain overall health & wellbeing. At first, I was content with staying home. I felt like it would give me a break, allow me the chance to spend more time with family, and just unwind a bit by taking time to do self-care. Well, how quickly that all fell apart. I started to realize I was more stressed out, I felt like a bird locked up in a cage who just wanted to be set free. I missed interaction with friends and just enjoying the outside world. We often take everything for granted and realize how fortunate we were when it is taken away from us. My fiancé and I quickly learned we needed space from one another. My pup even realized things changed because he was in the house more. My fiancé works from home & I go to school online. So you can only imagine what it was like being around each other 24-7. I think other couples can agree they have felt the same.

When quarantine first started, I made a promise to myself to do everything I always felt I didn’t have time for. I would learn American sign language, read & write more, and just learn a new set of skills like maybe another language, etc. But motivation has quickly fizzled out. Some days I’m productive and others I can barely roll out of bed. This is okay. Our bodies and minds need rest. We don’t want to take on too much at once. I think that is my issue. I try to do everything at once and I burn myself out. I’m still learning how to pace myself.

Although I’ve been facing my own obstacles, I’ve done my absolute best to check in on friends and family to make sure their mental health was okay. But I cannot say they did the same for me which is extremely disappointing. It is always those closest to us that let us down the most. There have been days during this pandemic that I have felt absolutely defeated and hopeless. I do, however, want to thank those closest to me who have reached out and checked on me. That is what true friendship is all about. I’ve made sure to call my parents everyday since they live up in NY.

I think of it this way, “not receiving a message is also a message.” It is totally understandable this pandemic has impacted many people across the country, but taking 2 seconds out of your day to text a loved one to see how they’re holding up really goes a long way. I give people the benefit of the doubt and come up with so many ways to defend them, thinking of why they could possibly ignore or not send a text. But there is no way to explain or defend someone who is just being a crappy human being.

This leads me to my next point. You can be civil. You can try and maintain relationships with people. You can communicate until you’re blue in the face. And somehow it is never enough. I’ve learned over time that I’ve been watering many dead plants and by that I mean, I’ve been trying to salvage one sided relationships with people. I believe in any relationship whether romantic or a friendship, it is a TWO-WAY street. It takes two to tangle. One hand washes the other. Okay, you get my point. With this said, toxic is toxic. It has hurt me to cut so many people off, but it is for my health and well being. And you know what else? I do not owe anyone explanations for my decisions. They are entirely my own and I am justified in making them.


I’m still learning. I’m still evolving. Growth is an ongoing process. I am not perfect. I try my best. I learn from my mistakes. I try to be the best version of myself that I can be.

My fiancé and I talk about this often. He always asks me, “how come you do not try to be more social and make friends?” He means this in the kindest way possible, don’t get me wrong. However, here is my explanation. I am at a point in my life where I am very selective with my time, energy, and my selection of “friends.” I’ve had to cut off family members for the sake of saving my sanity. So I have absolutely no issue with admitting that yes, I do not have many friends, but that is how I choose to live my life. I choose to have few in my corner. I would rather sit with 3 genuine and sincere friends than at a table with 100+ people who I do not even know the names of. My fiancé is very personable. So am I. But it takes a lot for me to consider someone my friend.

Especially during this pandemic, I have learned a lot about people. I have seen who is truly there for you and who is not. I have gone months without talking to some of my closest friends. I’ve spoken to others almost everyday. Like I said, it takes two to tangle. Therefore, I’m done reaching out to those who do not even see if I’m okay. I do not waste my time nor should I have to. The crazy thing is once you stop reaching out, it is the same people who have the nerve to say you don’t reach out or talk to them anymore. Yes, because of YOUR actions.

It has taken me a lot of time, energy, patience, and emotional roller-coasters full of tears, yelling, and depression to get to where I am today. I have worked hard to get to where I am now. I have gone through the wreckage to reach the level of peace and tranquility I try to maintain in my life. And when people disrupt that balance, they can no longer be a part of my life.

These are very trying times. I’ve found myself to be a ball of stress in a constant state of panic and anxiety. But I have found ways to cope. I go to the gym. I write. I spend time with those I love. I’m trying to be better. But it is a process. I cannot expect everything to be how I want by tomorrow. Things take time. But the harder we work towards something, the more we appreciate it when we get it.

I will end this post on the following note, it is not about the destination, but about the journey. I hope everyone is staying safe during these times and finding ways to stay productive. I know it is hard some days, but I promise, if you get up and go do something like exercise or take a walk, you will feel a whole lot better.

Not sure when my next post will be since life is hectic at the moment, but I will try and write again sometime soon!

Until next time,

Ms. Dakota 🙂

How To Write A Powerful Resume & Cover Letter To Stand Out From The Crowd

2020 has been an eventful year so far. We are living through a pandemic and considering the unprecedented times, many people are either unemployed or have lost their jobs which is heartbreaking. Hopefully, things return to normal soon and when they do–people can return to work.

Aside from running my blog and writing stories, I also enjoy resume writing. I have written numerous resumes with cover letters for several family members and friends. I wanted to write a post about what I think many people should know: how to write a resume and make yourself stand out from the big pile of other applications an employer will be sorting through. This post was requested by followers on Twitter. I also believe it can be considered a necessary read when people are able to return to work and are searching for new jobs.

I will provide you with the necessary steps you need to write an outstanding resume.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

How To Structure Your Resume: Beginning To End

  • OUTLINE. List your employment and education from the last 10 years. Write down the jobs you held with 2-3 sentences about what your job entailed and what your duties/responsibilities were.
  • STYLE. The standard format should be size 12 font and Times New Roman. However, if you want to be creative, you can choose a font that is similar to Times New Roman, still professional, and easy to read. The style of your resume is entirely your preference.
  • HEADLINE. At the top of your resume should be your headline. Your headline should include your full name, address, current phone number, if providing more than one number, identify if it is a cell/business phone, etc., current email, LinkedIn, or other important social links you want to provide.
  • EMAIL. Your email should also be professional. Refrain from emails that are too long. I would always recommend first initial, middle initial, last name, or however you see fit. However, if your email has a nickname with numbers after for instance, this is not necessarily appropriate.
  • LENGTH. A resume should be 1-2 pages max, However, I would recommend trying to contain everything in one page. If you have 2 pages consider having the resume printed double-sided.
  • PAST TENSE. Your resume should be written in past tense. When detailing a current position, you can use present tense.
  • USE ACTION VERBS. For example, supervised, managed, etc.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. You always have to remember that your resume should be read in 30 seconds or less. You have 30 seconds to sell yourself.
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What To Do If You Lack Job Experience:

Begin With Highlighting Your Education

If you have held few jobs, 5 or less for instance, you should consider beginning your resume by highlighting your education.

  • EDUCATION. When highlighting your education these are the areas you should cover: name of university or program, license or certificate acquired, your GPA, classes you took, clubs you participated in, or other essential information you believe will help you land the job.
  • NO WHITE SPACE. You do not want white space anywhere in your resume. Fill that space in with content.
  • Include a SKILLS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS section. This is where you can highlight any awards or certificates you have acquired as it pertains to the job. It provides more detail on who you are, what you enjoy, and your work ethic.
  • VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE. This section of your resume allows the employer/company to see that aside from your daily activities you have also participated in other groups/organizations, etc. Therefore, you are depicting yourself as a well-rounded individual who is community oriented.
  • REFERENCES. If you want to go the extra mile, I recommend including your references already listed. It shows you are prepared and planning ahead.

How To Write A Cover Letter In 7 Simple Steps

Your cover letter is your chance to be personal, really highlight why you want the job, why you are the right candidate, and really leave a lasting impression on the employer reading your application, which could possibly lead to a phone call for an interview.

  • When you have the name of the person you will be interviewing with or the name of the company, you want to address the letter to them. It makes it more personal. Go this extra mile.
  • Format the letter properly with name/address of company, your address and information, along with the date.
  • You should highlight who you are and why you want the job in 2 paragraphs or less.
  • QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.
  • You should cover the following: note any background information you know abut the company or position being applied for, why you are qualified, how your past experience is relevant, and why you are the right candidate for the job.
  • Always ensure your information is up-to-date especially your email and phone number.
  • Ensure you SIGN the letter.
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

I hope this post can help my followers with building a powerful resume and cover letter to land the job they want.

Last but not least, CONFIDENCE. You can always sell yourself on paper, but if you are called in for an interview, confidence is of the utmost importance. If you would like to see a follow-up post describing what you should do the day of the interview, feel free to connect with me on twitter to let me know!

As always, please feel free to comment below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me: @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would be delighted to hear about your experiences with creating a resume!

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Overcoming Writer’s Block 10 Different Ways

I was once told by a professor in college that, “It is easy for us as writers to try and edit while we write instead of just writing. Sometimes we doubt ourselves with what we write, but some of your best content could come from just free writing. Write until you hit that wall.”

‘Write until you hit that wall,’ is what I remember most from the entirety of that semester. But, this blog post is about how to get past that ‘wall.’

The following 10 strategies are what I usually use when I am experiencing writer’s block.

  • Step away from your laptop. Take a walk. Get some air. Clear your head.
  • COFFEE. Need I say more?
  • READ. Whenever I am not writing, I read. I am always reading about 3 books at once.
  • Listen to music. Sometimes a playlist inspires me.
  • Talking to family and friends. Sometimes my greatest ideas come from random conversations I have with those closest to me.
  • Take a shower or a bubble bath. Sometimes a hot shower helps me.
  • Exercise.
  • Watching TV/Netflix. Being a writer means I observe many things. I can get ideas from watching certain gestures, someone’s body language, or the way a group of people interact with one another.
  • Self-care days. When I take time for myself to rejuvenate and get re-inspired, I take a long shower, wash my face and then moisturize, paint my nails, get a massage, etc. I do not write when I’m stressed. I do my best work when I’m relaxed and can focus 100%.
  • This may sound silly, but sleep works. Taking a nap to give myself a break. Trust me, take a nap especially if you’ve done too much writing in one day. Allow yourself to rest and then get back to work.

As writers, we want to meet deadlines and do as much as we can with the time we have. If you are like me, it is extremely difficult to manage our work along with the other responsibilities life throws our way. I am a full-time graduate student, who is engaged, has 3 dogs, trying to study for my licensure exams to become a teacher, among so many other responsibilities. Stress seems to come easy, but I am trying to work on my time management a bit more.

This was a relatively short post, but these are the ways I usually overcome that hump when I feel like I have run out of ideas and can no longer write. You would be surprised with what you could come up with when you give yourself a break. Step away from that computer. Do not pressure yourself so much to get the writing done all in one shot.

I would love to know how you all overcome writer’s block!

As always, if you use any of these tips, feel free to share with me by commenting below, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter.

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

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Public Speaking Skills You Need When Presenting Your Work to An Audience

Hey everyone! I am super excited to publish this type of post. I wanted to highlight something different for this Monday afternoon–public speaking skills in relation to presenting your work to an audience. I have never queried before, but perhaps some of these tips could help you when trying to “sell” your work to someone, convincing them why they should represent you and give your work a chance.

My freshman year of college I took a speech communications course and I do not regret that decision. As most college students, I did not know what I wanted to major in. Therefore, my first year consisted of taking a bunch of liberal arts classes until I figured out what I wanted to do.

My speech professor highlighted essential skills one would need not only for public speaking, but for life in general. I know public speaking is feared by many people, but this skill is extremely crucial in the work field. Whether you are an employee or a boss chances are you are going to speak in front of an audience at one point or another. Now for me I can honestly say I do not fear speaking in public. I may have pre-speech jitters and butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as I begin speaking, I am locked in.

In this blog post, I highlight some tips that I think are necessary when speaking to an audience. I have been present for so many speeches before. Some were astounding, others not so much.

Let us begin with the first step which is—engaging your audience with what you are about to present, that moment where you either make or break it, will determine if the audience chooses to listen. Not only is it frightening as is with speaking in front of hundreds if not more people, but when you can see people speaking over you and not listening, this can be hurtful as well. Even if people are being rude, the speech still needs to get done. So, in this post I provide helpful pointers to get you over the hump of being fearful of public speaking.

The first recommendation I will make is: CAPTIVATE YOUR AUDIENCE. Keep in mind people will lose interest or become bored after a long period of time has passed. Keep your speech short and sweet.

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What To Do Prior To Giving A Speech

  • OUTLINE your work. Ensure you cover all the talking points. I would recommend using bullet points with the main idea and include 2-3 sentences to describe those main points.
  • My professor would tell us stories about some disasters she witnessed when people used flashcards when giving their speech. She spoke to us one class about a work conference she had gone to. The CEO of the company had to give a speech. Unfortunately, during the speech the flashcards had fallen on the floor and because he relied too heavily on the flashcards, they fell out of order, and he did not know where he left off or how to continue. Therefore, I say when you are about to give a speech, type out your words. Also—be prepared to improvise. You could prepare your speech word for word, but you must anticipate distractions or other things that may put a dent in your plan.
  • When typing out your speech, I would recommend making it double spaced and using a simple and easy to read font.

What To Do During Your Speech

  • ESTABLISH YOUR PRESENCE in front of all those people. Body language also plays a key role while speaking in public. Stand tall, shoulders back, and do not slouch.
  • EYE CONTACT is so incredibly important I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you are engaging with your audience by keeping them involved. Your speech should be like having a normal conversation with your friend.
  • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT read directly, word for word from your paper. This is such a turn-off for many people. It is boring, uninteresting, and mundane to say the very least.
  • SPEAK LOUDLY. Do not use a hushed tone or speak down into the paper. Speak OUT, as my professor would say. When you raise your head instead of looking down, your voice then projects out into the audience.
  • PACE YOURSELF. Do not rush. But also, do not speak too slowly. This is something people must establish on their own—is finding their pace.
  • When I am giving a speech or speaking to a large crowd of people, I like to ask questions in the beginning to engage my audience almost immediately. Ask them a question or two which is related to the content you are going to be speaking about. If you are not going to begin with questions, I would then recommend using a catchy opening line.
  • SHORT AND SWEET. This is also crucial to consider. It is quite simple to make a speech longer than it needs to be. But, quality over quantity is what people should consider. As long as you can get your point across in one page or less, you can have more of an impact, rather than reading a 10-page speech others will not engage completely with.
  • Do not ramble. Cover the main points. People will become uninterested if they cannot relate to or engage with the content being covered.
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What To Do As Your Speech Nears The End

  • SUMMARIZE the main points you covered to refresh the memory of the audience. Depending on the length of your speech, they could have easily forgotten point #1 as you just finished covering point #10.
  • You need to go out with a bang. Make your audience remember you. The closing line can really influence how your audience views your content. You want a powerful ending to your speech which either leaves your audience wanting more, asking questions, or just thinking about the content in general.
  • Take the time to ASK QUESTIONS at the end. Allow your audience to really engage with you by allowing them to either provide comments/feedback, etc. This allows your audience to believe you care about what they have to say as well.

Public speaking should not be something to fear. We learn as we go. Each time you give a speech, you will take away with you something you could improve on. If you think about it, we are all ‘public speakers.’ We speak to our family in the living room, we talk to our significant others about how much writing we did in one day, or we converse with our parents about life. If you think about giving a speech as just speaking normally to a family member or friend, you will do just fine.

As always, I hope this post can help at least one person. If you use any of these tips, feel free to tell me about your experience. You can comment on this post, email me: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I would love to hear about your experiences.

Warmly,

Dakota 😊

The “How To” On Choosing Titles For Your Work In 5 Simple Steps

Hey everyone! We are back with a post which was voted for in a poll I ran on twitter. This time I will tackle the question of how to choose titles for your work. Now before I begin, I just want to mention I am no expert in this arena. I have my own strategies which work for me. However, I wanted to write a brief post on my strategies and how I come to a final decision on how to choose a title.

There are two different types of writers. You have those who have their titles already picked out & ready to go even before writing. On the other hand, you have writers like me, who write and then decide on a title at the end. This will be a relatively short post with certain tips I recommend for you, the reader.

  1. First and foremost, in my opinion, I like those short, to the point, ‘punch you right in the gut’ type of headlines. I tend to gravitate towards these. I prefer them to be completely honest. When a book or story title is too long or is an entire sentence, this tends to turn me off completely. Not saying you should judge a book by the cover. There are really amazing pieces of work out there. This is just my opinion.
  2. You want an attention grabbing title. Something that does not give too much away, leaving readers wanting to know more, but you provide just enough for readers to know what they are getting themselves into.
  3. Expanding off of #2, I like to use action words in my titles or words which will immediately spark the emotion of the reader. Depending on what type of post I’m writing, some titles could be longer than others. Overall I try to maintain 5 words maximum. No more than that.
  4. Other times I like to have one worded titles. For instance, if I’m writing a poem, I normally use one word which highlights the topic.
  5. If you are like me and you choose titles after you finish writing a piece of work, I like to choose main points from the piece. I make a list of them. I usually list key words, highlights, concepts related to the plot/climax, or something related to the resolution of the story. Making this list really helps me to choose a jaw dropping title.

There’s not much to my process. These are the steps I use and they really work, at least for me. Everyone has a different process, but I really hope these tips can assist you when you’re choosing titles for your work.

As always feel free to comment, email with with feedback: msdakotawrites@gmail.com, or feel free to tweet me @msdakotawrites on twitter. I am always looking to connect with other creatives, and I always welcome feedback which allows us to exchange ideas.

Until next time,

Dakota 🙂

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Proper Blog Etiquette Explained With 11 ‘Must Know’ Tips To Appeal To Your Viewers

Hey there! You guys asked and I responded. This topic was highly requested in previous tweets of mine I posted a few days back. I figured why not? When I first made a blog, it was not exactly what I wanted or looked how I wanted it to. I’m still editing and learning as I go. I feel like there is always something that could be changed. I do not know everything there is to know about blogs, but hey, I do what works for me. The following are some tips I recommend for you if you a) either want to make a blog, or b) already have one, but want to know how to give it that extra kick.

  1. First and foremost, when I made my blog I knew immediately I wanted to incorporate the two sides of myself which are: my teaching personality and my writing side. Therefore, I went with, ‘Words By Ms. Dakota.’ My point here is, come up with a name which represents you in one line and tells viewers a little about you and your content. Last thing you want is a title/headline which does not tell readers what they will be reading. Keep it simple. Do not make it too long. If you go by your first and last name, that works. But also make it interesting. You want to pull readers in. Usually the title or headline of something is what either pulls me in or deters me from reading at all. This is just my personal opinion. Everyone is different.

2. Once you have your headline picked and ready to go, find your niche. A certain topic you will be writing about. Ex: if you write poetry only, make that known. If you are a multi-genre writer like me, you can include more than one genre on your blog. I write creative non-fiction mostly, fiction short stories, and poetry when I feel extremely inspired. I have all of those categories individually listed which makes it easier for readers to navigate. I did not intend to publish writing tips to my blog at first. My sole purpose with this blog was to share my writing. However, as I connected with more writers and bloggers, I quickly learned that people are asking the same questions: how can I make my homepage stand out? Or what should I include in my about me page? That is when I decided to add the thoughts/writing tips section of my blog. For those who do not know, I have my BA in English literature & creative writing. I want to be able to take my knowledge/experience and share it with others.

3. Next aspect I would say is most important is your layout. You want to choose something that can be easily navigated and is also visually appealing to the eye. In my personal experience, if I come across a blog or website which has too much content on one page and their feed is very unorganized or too cluttered, chances are I will not read it. You want to keep your audience engaged. I think of it like this, when an employer reads a resume, they read it in about 30 seconds or so especially if there are thousands of applications. You want to be short & sweet, to the point, and make yourself stand out. There is a common misconception where people think more content is better. However, I disagree. It’s more about quality over quantity. Going back to the analogy of a resume, even if you only held 3 jobs in your entire life, add enough description which shows your work ethic which would make the employer say, wow, he/she only had these 3 jobs, but I can see they have an assortment of skills and they’re hardworking. Same goes for a blog. Sometimes less is more. So when creating a home page, make it simple. Include a short description about what your blog is about.

4. To expand from #3, there are two options when choosing which way you wish to organize your blog. I personally chose to include a home page to give readers a little more insight into my world. However, you can go a different route entirely. Some blogs I have followed choose to not include a home page and once you click their link, you are immediately thrown into their content. There are pros and cons to each. Some might say a home page is necessary because they want to know who you are, why your content is important, and why they should read it. However, others might say well, a homepage is unnecessary if you have an about page. I want to see your content almost immediately. It is entirely your preference on what you do here.

5. Similar to the homepage description I just provided, I personally recommend you choose warm & inviting colors when creating or editing your blog. You definitely want to steer clear of using dark colors like black or brown and neon colors like bright green or yellow. I use a light peach color for my blog and I absolutely love it. I’ve seen other bloggers use light pink, light purple, a subtle mint green, etc. Whatever works best for you. Your blog means YOUR preference.

Photo by Andrea Davis on Pexels.com

6. Now to move on to your ‘about me’ page if you decide to include one. I highly recommend you do. I always found that you grow a following when people feel like they can relate to you. Aside from my writing content, I’ve had people follow me just because we had things in common like having dogs, or they grew up in the same state as me, etc. Here is what I recommend for your about page. Once again, keep it short and simple. You do not want your readers to read your full biography. I would choose 10 details about yourself, but I would not go over 10. If you want to be more organized, write them in bullet form which also saves your readers time. Try and think of details they would want to know about you like where you grew up, what university you attended, what type of degree you have, etc. Some people even go to the extreme with including facts like their favorite cheese or their favorite movie they could watch countless times. It all depends on YOU and what you wish to share. I also recommend sharing a professional photo of yourself. I chose a photo of me drinking coffee, because hey, that is the core of who I am.

7. Include photos when you can. Now I’m not saying to post pictures every chance you get. What I mean here is, include cover photos to your posts. If you just throw a headline out there with no image, chances are I will not click on it. Lots of people are visual learners. I know I am. I want to see a photo that describes what I am about to read.

8. SOCIAL MEDIA. If you make a blog and you have no social accounts, this is something to consider. This way you drive traffic to your site. There are a variety of options. Facebook is geared towards an older crowd. It’s 50/50, a hit or miss with Facebook, in my opinion. Twitter is the best platform by far in my experience. I have easily connected with other creatives, exchanged and discussed ideas, and it definitely boosts my traffic. Instagram I do not use, but I have heard great things about it. If you wish to share your content in pictures, this platform is for you. However, if you wish to share you content with words, I would recommend Twitter. I’m still fairly new to the Pinterest scene. I have about 50 followers, but I turned my personal account into a business account which was definitely the way to go. If you do not know what I mean here, there are YouTube videos explaining how to do this. LinkedIn is the most professional platform I use. I utilize this platform more for job searches, but I began sharing my writing there as well. This is also an amazing platform to connect with editors/publishers, the works! However, one thing I will say is this. There are so many social platforms you can use. But if you try to tackle them all at once, you will quickly become overwhelmed. Choose 2 or 3 to put your undivided attention into and grow that way. For instance, I mostly use Twitter, Facebook, & Pinterest. LinkedIn is here and there.

9. You always want to include a form of contact whether it’s an email or your social accounts. Include a follow button so other users can easily follow you. Make the follow button visible. Place it somewhere at the top of your blog so they can immediately click it. If it is hard to find, you are doing your viewers a disservice.

10. I highly recommend providing a subscribe option for non-blog users. Your contact page should have an option where they can provide their name and email where they can receive posts directly to their inbox. Make that visible to your viewers right away so they can subscribe if they enjoy your content.

11. Always respond to your comments/messages/ & subscribers. You want to remind them you are grateful and appreciative they are engaging with your content. Whichever platform you use whether it is WordPress or Blog Spot, etc., ensure you have your comment option enabled. Lastly, make sure your blog is connected to your social accounts so each time you post, it is also shared elsewhere resulting in more traffic!

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. All of these opinions are my own and what I found have worked for me. However, I encourage you to find what works for YOU. I hope you all enjoyed and learned a thing or 2. I am always open to assisting other writers/bloggers with whatever questions they may have. Feel free to email me or tweet me at: @msdakotawrites with feedback and/or comments!

Warmly,

Dakota 🙂

Silence At The Dinner Table

The imperious sound of forks clinking against the china plates is what she hated most as a child.

They would have family dinners and not speak to one another. Her siblings spent most of their time at their friends’ houses, and her parents always fought. It was rare eye contact was made and silence would loom over the table. Everyone would part ways and go to their own rooms when the silence would become too overbearing. Her mother was unhappy often so that meant being locked away in her room when she was not cooking or cleaning. Their father was mad at the world and took his personal failures out on the family.

Isabelle, Izzy for short, dreamed for a normal environment. Her life had been like looking through a window. She would observe others and their family dynamic wondering what she did wrong that she could not have that. She fenced herself in for all these years. She had built her walls so high due to all the emotional abuse she had to endure. She wanted to be free, but she was frightened. For so long, she did not know what it meant to live.

Her brother turned to drugs when he realized their home life was complete shit. Izzy thought he would be the most successful. Justin had it all together. Athlete, girlfriend after girlfriend, straight A’s, he had the world at his fingertips. The switch flipped. Something in him changed. He did not have the motivation or the courage anymore, letting life get the best of him. Things took a turn when she thought her brother had taken it too far. She knew something was up with him when he would come home, barely able to stand up straight, eyes bloodshot red and hardly open, he had no clue where he was or how he got home.

Justin would fumble towards his room, but he would find himself in the bathroom passing out on the floor. Their mother was sealed away from the rest of the world. She never checked on them or their younger sister, Morgan. Izzy would talk to Justin often and explain how if he got a scholarship for college, he could leave this place for good and chase his dreams. Justin wanted so badly for their mother to give a shit. He wanted to feel a connection with her, and he never did. Their mom was lost, a mere body with no soul.

Justin would hang out with the wrong crowd. It started with weed and Izzy always knew when he walked through the front door because she thought a skunk had found its way into the backyard again. The drugs offered Justin feelings he could not get at home. Izzy wanted so badly to help him, but she was struggling too. Their mother refused to see that the kids were a mess. The toxicity in the house was a stench that would never go away.

Izzy was at school in her English class, which kept her the sanest. Her phone buzzed. She slipped her hand into her jean pocket, taking her phone out carefully as her teacher would not see. She held her phone under her desk reading the name that popped up on her screen: Nathan. He was Justin’s best friend. The message read, “You need to get over here now.” She immediately gathered her belongings and slipped out the back door. She drove her mom’s old Honda the 20 minutes to Nathan’s house. He lived on a crowded suburban block. Families there always seemed to have it together, children playing out in the yards and riding their bicycles. Must be nice to have a normal family, Izzy would think to herself. She worried about her older brother and she had to care for her younger sister. She became the mom when she so badly wanted to live her life too, but she had no other choice.


Nathan was the one who introduced her brother to weed. He was a good kid, but he did not come from a stable home life either. He had started a a huge fight in the courtyard of their high school one day with Justin. Anger was common among the two of them. Izzy did not remember the story well, just from bits and pieces she heard from Justin. Her brother had been in the parking lot walking to his car, and in the process, he ran into Nathan and his band of misfits who were known for causing trouble. They hung out in the back lot by the dumpsters getting high and causing chaos for anyone who passed by.

“Hey man, you know you’re not supposed to walk through here.” Nathan yelled.

Justin kept walking to his car with his head down and his hands in his pockets. Nathan approached him and said it again grabbing his arm this time. Justin broke out of his grip and said, “Listen, don’t touch me.”

“You got the wrong dude.” Nathan responded with a smirk.

That was it, downhill from there. They fought and somehow from that fight they ended up becoming the best of buddies. Weird what brings two people together, Izzy thought, but it worked.


When Izzy got to Nathan’s house, the stench was overwhelming. The mix of weed and Tostito pizza rolls was one she knew all too well. Nathan lived in the basement. Not sure how because the chill was unbearable, she always wore a hoodie when she knew she was going there. It was always 15 degrees colder down there than the rest of the house. He slept on a beat-up couch with a lousy pillow and flimsy blanket. His TV was situated on the floor with a few DVD’s. There was one large window which sunlight seeped through. Pills were sprawled across the coffee table. Nathan was in the back-corner hovering off Justin. Izzy ran over.

“I, I, I don’t know what happen. He was fine, then started acting strange, and then fainted.” Nate said.

The bags under Justin’s eyes were dark and consuming his face. His hair was disheveled, and his body felt cold. Izzy lowered her face to his checking to see if he was breathing. He was, but the breaths were low and sporadic.

“I’m so sorry Izz, I didn’t know what was going on until I saw the pill bottles.” Nathan said as anxiety overcame him.

“I don’t want to hear it, Nate. You don’t think I know what you guys are doing?” Izzy responded as the fear made her voice crack.

They both managed to pick up Justin struggling to bring him to the bathroom.

“Nate turn the shower on,” Izzy croaked.  As the ice-cold water dripped from the shower head, Justin was sitting upright against the wall, as Izzy proceeded to stick her finger down his throat. It took 2 times, but he managed to vomit. Justin slowly came to consciousness after coughing uncontrollably, as his pale face regained its color.  

“Damn it, Justin, you could have died.” Izzy muttered as her voice raised another octave.

Nathan brought Justin some crackers to settle his stomach.


Once Justin started to come back to reality, Izzy drove the Nissan home. She parked the car in the driveway lopsidedly, left the key in the ignition, and just sat there in silence with her brother. Their mom was home locked away in her room again because the light was dim but seen through the curtain. Luckily their dad’s truck was not there.

“I’ve never done that before. I didn’t know my limit.” Justin managed to say breaking the silence.

“You scared the hell out of me.” Izzy responded as the tears began to form in her hazel eyes.

Another long pause of silence.  

“You’re the only one I have besides Morgan. I can’t afford to lose you too. Mom is completely lost, and I need my brother to help me through all of this.”

“I know Izz, I’m sorry. I’m just trying to work through my own shit. I know I lost myself for a while and this has been taking a toll on you.” Justin said as he looked towards the floor, fidgeting with his hands.

Izzy stared out the window of the Nissan focusing on the dim light coming from their mother’s bedroom. The light that somehow foreshadowed her mother’s cry for help.

“We have each other and we will figure all this crap out. I want to get mom and us out of here and work towards a better life. Just give me a chance to make the changes and do just that.”

Izzy looked at her brother. Justin looked drained, like this life had taken all the color from his face.

Okay,” Izzy mumbled.