Building an Online Home: Essayist Melissa Matthewson’s Simple and Effective Front Page

Building an Online Home: Essayist Melissa Matthewson’s Simple and Effective Front Page

Oh, how I wish I could enhance my writings with great photographs, too! Another skill to learn but of course, doable and possible. Thank God you are in our community.

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With hundreds of themes on, writers have many options to build a space for their work. Author Melissa Matthewson goes minimal, subtly transforming the Paulie theme to create a fresh writer’s website.

Melissa Matthewson lives on a small mountain homestead in the Applegate Valley of southwestern Oregon, spending her days writing, teaching, and running an organic market farm with her family. You’ll find her work across the web, from publications like Guernica and River Teeth to literary journals across WordPress, like Sweet and Bellingham Review. 

With a growing archive of essays, Melissa needs an online home to promote her work. At the moment, she’s opted for a simple writer’s website, transforming the Paulie theme to fit her needs. Paulie works well out of the box for traditional blogging, as shown on its demo site. But instead of displaying her most recent posts on the homepage, Melissa has configured her site to…

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Norway: The road to Havøysund

Norway: The road to Havøysund

Hello there, lovely couple. Thank you for sharing your travel photo gallery of Norway. I know that Norway is one of the most stunning country on earth, blessed with incredibly spectacular natural beauty! My sister had lived in Norway for more than 20 years, she loves traveling all over the country and sharing photos in her FB. Keep on taking photos, to keep us glued to our screen, filled with gratitude for what God has blessed the earth.

Adventure 69°North

There are 18 stretches of road in Norway so spectacular they have been designated National Tourist Routes. One of those is road 889 to Havøysund. Despite living in Finnmark until I moved south to start my university studies about 15 years ago I had not experienced this road yet – so this trip was long overdue.

Nasjonal turistvei HavøysundRoad 889 winding through a rugged landscape

reindeer-finnmark-1-of-1Reindeer along the road

The National Tourist Route to Havøysund runs from the costal sami village Kokelv to fishing village Havøysund, a total distance of 67 km. For most of the trip we drove with the Arctic Ocean on one side and a barren rocky landscape on the other.

Nasjonal turistvei Havøysund NorgeSlate rock formation along the road

For most visitors coming to Finnmark the goal is North Cape at 71°North and many remain unaware of this detour through arctic coastal culture outside of the beaten path.

You get the feeling of being…

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Chaos: Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse culture shock came to me as a surprise after being an expatriate in another country for almost four decades! I left what I considered to be my home. My home country didn’t feel like home. I was confused, my life was in chaos, and I didn’t know how to live in my own country anymore!

Repatriation is not easy, it’s chaotic, and that’s the hard truth. I know it’s unlikely I’ll ever recreate the same type of life I’ve had in my host country. Over time, I have learned to embrace my continuous learning in how to enjoy my new life back home. It happened after I accepted it, believing in faith that life will be normal and better again.

Whether unexpected or planned or whatever the reasons, e.g. downsizing or termination, political uncertainties and instability caused by war or threats of war, medical or family need, reaching retirement age, expatriates ought to be realistic enough to strategize/plan in advance their move back home. Whereas before we were called ‘expats’, once repatriated, we became known as ‘repats’.

A little planning can go a long way to facilitate homecoming. Here are some key repatriation points to consider:

  • Plan your ‘coming back home’ the same way you carefully planned in making the decision to live and work in another country.
  • Be prepared to deal with ‘reverse culture shock’ which is very much a real thing. Mixed feelings of anxiety, melancholy, sadness and depression might affect you when you return to your home country.
  • Pray for the grace of calm, be kind to yourself, accept the reality of the situation without getting despondent.
  • Think positively, be ready to be confronted with a period of re-adjustment upon return to your home country. Even if you know your home country very well, a strong network of family and friends is still there. Still, you have to remind yourself that life went on while you were away, that time and distance could have possibly changed those old relationships.
  • Do not have high expectations. Least expectations, the harder it is to get disappointed. Be open to pleasant surprises!
  • Patience is a virtue. Give yourself 1 ½ years of an adjustment period after living in an expat bubble. Consider it your grieving process over losing something you cared about so deeply, your overseas job and your expat lifestyle. Be kind to yourself, give yourself sufficient time to sort through the emotions.
  • Do not dwell on the negative; take the good out of it or focus on the positive. Nothing lasts forever in this life. Everybody loves the expat life, no doubt about it. However, there are many positive things to focus on after you return to your home country. Re-discovering the innate goodness of your countrymen, the local food, traveling around to re-discover the natural beauty of your home country. There is always something good and encouraging to focus on.
  • Repatriating can often be a very isolating process. Maybe you know some people who were recently repatriated like you. Network with them via social media, e.g. Facebook, etc. To get through depression feelings, talk to someone who has experienced the same, who has been there. Someone who understands, someone who could validate your feelings. It feels good to know that’s exactly what everyone goes through upon their return. One author describes repatriation as “you just got off the Ferris wheel and now you’re just wandering around the amusement park aimlessly.” 
  • Once you repatriate, make new friends in your current community. At the same time, seek out old friends via Facebook or any other social media platforms. Be welcoming, open-minded, reach out to people to find new and old friends. With just a click of a finger using social media, you’re bound to communicate with great people in every corner of your country and the world. Be patient, keep on trying and never give up.
  • The most effective way to cushion both ‘culture shocks’ (reverse or not) is to stay connected with your friends & relatives at home or continue to keep in touch with your friends you left abroad. Share your experiences with them via Facebook, Skype, e-mails, etc. It will not only strengthen your friendships, it will also make transitions easier & smoother.
  • Do volunteer work with a similar organization that you worked with abroad.
  • Find employment in a global industry. The options are endless, you’re surely find something that works best for you.

Truly, it is so good to be home and to be in my element again. Simultaneously, with a grateful heart, with not a tinge of rancor or bitterness, I keep those memories of years spent abroad tucked safely away in a special place in my heart. I make it as my reservoir of valuable experiences and lessons learned, which come in handy for my next journey in life.


Early Retirement = Early Death?

2 1/2 years through my retirement, I realized being retired was the best thing that ever happened to me. For one, I was healed of all stress-induced health problems, and the most beautiful thing is the excess weight that I’ve been trying to lose for some 15 years or so, simply melted away until I went down from 82 kgs to 62 kgs. I’m at my healthiest and blessed with the “peace that passes all understanding”! I may have lost my huge source of income and corporate identity but I’m at this place where God wants me to be, relishing my newfound career as a writer and digital technology learner!


I love the bright colors! It connotes JOY!


SONY DSC CW2016_abstract_watercolor040 / Daler-Rowney Graduate Sketchbook, 21,0 x 29,7 cm / 8.3 x 11.7 in / Lukas Aquarell 1862

Two more abstract sketches from yesterday. One more organic, the other one more like some kind of sign or letter. These abstract sketches are good for me because they always free my mind and I can let myself go.

Zwei weitere abstrakte Skizzen von gestern. Eine mehr organisch, die andere mehr in Richtung Zeichen oder Schrift. Diese abstrakten Skizzen tun mir gut, weil ich damit den Kopf frei kriege und mich selbst gehen lassen kann.

SONY DSC CW2016_abstract_watercolor041 / Daler-Rowney Graduate Sketchbook, 21,0 x 29,7 cm / 8.3 x 11.7 in / Lukas Aquarell 1862

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Parenting Blogger Emily Austin on Turning a Hobby into a Full-Time Job

Parenting Blogger Emily Austin on Turning a Hobby into a Full-Time Job

Ms. Emily Austin’s blog is so commendable; all aspiring bloggers should read her post. She generously wrote the most practical tips on how to overcome self-doubts. Her post came at the right time, it lifted me up when feelings of overwhelming frustration bogged me. I will always re-visit her posts for much-needed inspiration and encouragement. Forever grateful, my blogger friend! I wish you more success!

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Since 2011, Emily Austin has built a loyal readership at The Waiting, her blog on parenting and motherhood. Emily’s personality and humor have helped her carve out her own corner of the web among thousands of family blogs. Through blogging, she has built a community of readers and colleagues, and eventually landed a position as a paid blogger and social media manager — transforming a hobby into a full-time career. I chatted with Emily about the evolution of The Waiting and her growth as a blogger.

What were your goals when you launched your blog?

Emily Austin Blogger Emily Austin.

Am I allowed to say that I didn’t have a goal other than to post once a week? I wish I had some inspirational story about how I had planned to write my magnum opus and find a cure for cancer by blogging, but I don’t. I just wanted to write. I don’t have…

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Time to Stand and Stare

Our French Oasis


Finding the time to ‘stand and stare’. It seems like only last week I was lamenting the end of the summer holidays and somehow the children and I were trying to get back into the school routine of early mornings; bundling everyone into the car on time, usually while someone is carrying their shoes and someone else has a drooping backpack half-open with books threatening to make a bid for freedom. We’ve just about got organised, the daily drill has almost fully fallen back into place and now here we are eagerly looking forward to the two week autumn holiday known as les vacances de la Toussaint. 

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Success: 8 Books That Inspire

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! I love this information really. I have read almost all of Dale Carnegie’s earlier books, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. Truly great inspirations!

Success Strategies

Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

In order to Succeed, we must be inspired to do or feel something and become creative. That’s how we achieve our goals. Through inspiration we are kept on Base and Sincere….to take the next step to achieve our dreams, goals, and aspirations. Yes, it’s a simple way to keep us motivated. Today, we look at Books that inspire. Here are 8 written by great authors. Do add the names of the favs for our continued inspiration.

Books that Inspire

1. The One Minute Manager

2. Man’s Search for Meaning

3. How to Win Friends & Influence People

4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

5. How to Win Friends & Influence People


6. Awaken The Giant Within


7. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff


8. On Writing

Your thoughts and additions…

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