How Squidoo Has Changed My Life
Hello Squidoo! It's me Shinichi!
When 2013 started, I had big dreams and a whole list of new year's resolutions that I intended on keeping. I had been designing clothing for a virtual world since 2007 and had enjoyed years of success. I wanted to take it one step further, perhaps into the real world and a few opportunities were there for me to pursue. However I realized that my work was starting to affect my health. Hours were long and erratic with months that went by cooped up in my apartment without meeting a single soul. Although I enjoyed my work, I knew I wouldn't last for long.
Sometime in the summer of 2013, I wrote my very first Squidoo lens. Thinking back to that day, it's amazing how far I've come. I started writing for Squidoo when I wasn't sure what I was doing. I've always enjoyed the writing process and how healing it could be to the soul. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to write about. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to write about my passions. I had a desire to share my interests and wonderful experiences with the world. I didn't exactly know where I was headed but I can say, with all honesty, that Squidoo has changed my life.
*All photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.
Making My First Lens
Starting is the Hardest Part
I knew it was time for a career change and although I wasn't sure where it would take me, I started to write for Squidoo. I thought hard about what I wanted to write and decided to go with a story on how I lost my weight and kept it off. I already knew quite a lot about weight loss and having been overweight for half my life, I thought it was something I could write about. So that's what I started out with. I continued with a few more lenses that focused on health and weight-loss and then added some low-carb recipes into the mix. So after I had completed a handful of lenses, I had to sit back and ask myself, "Why am I doing this?"
Are You Stuck in a Rut?
A friend of mine gave me a copy of this book back in 1988, when I was working as a flight attendant. It was obvious how unhappy I had been and I was lucky that she decided I should read it.
Doing the exercises in the book helped me to not only to figure out why I was unhappy, but also what I needed to do if I wanted to be happy. After I had read the book from cover to cover, I quit my job and moved away to another country. It was the best decisions I had ever made in my life.
Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.— George Bernard Shaw
My First Goals
As I was just starting out, a fellow lensmaster suggested I join the Rocketsquids University. I figured I had a lot of learning to do so I immediately signed up. Once I was in, I tried to do as many of the assignments (or quests as Squidoo calls them ) as I could and there were a lot of them. But sometime around completing my 15th lens, I already knew I had made the right decision. The numerous quests challenged me to write about things that I wouldn't normally write about and in the process, I learned a lot about myself.
One of the first goals I made for myself was to get a "purple star". A purple star is awarded by Squidoo editors to lenses that are, in their eyes at least, exceptional in some way, so of course I had to get one. I am happy to say that I got my first purple star in August of 2013 and I was over the moon. I literally jumped for joy and did my happy dance for a full five minutes ( in the comfort and safety of my bedroom ). I currently have 28 purple stars under my belt and I am proud to have earned each and every one of them!
What Is Your Passion?
Have you found your passion in life?
My Next Goal-LOTD
My next goal was to have one of my lenses nominated for the Lens of the Day. According to the Squidoo blog, the Lens of the Day is a daily award given to one lens that really stands out from the crowd. The award celebrates original writing, creativity, generosity, and a willingness to try new things. So my next goal was to achieve this.
At that time, a little over two years had passed since the earthquake and tsunami incident in Japan. Although I was far from the epicenter, I lived in Tokyo where we felt one of the biggest and longest earthquakes in our lives. I chose to document my personal experience on a lens and although it was far from perfect, I knew I did my best to portray the experience from my perspective.
I struggled with this topic because it dealt with a real incident and it wasn't something that I wanted to relive. When I had finished creating the lens, I still wasn't sure about how I felt about it and I debated about whether I should really publish this lens or not. In the end, I decided not to think much of it and pressed the "publish" button. Interestingly, this was the lens that won me the Lens of the Day award.
Have you ever experienced a major natural disaster?
I Am A Giant Squid!
By this point, I had already come to terms with the fact that I was enjoying this. Although writing lenses for Squidoo had started out as an experiment, I knew I couldn't and wouldn't stop. My next step on my journey with Squidoo was to become a Giant Squid.
The goal was to create, update and maintain 25 good-quality lenses that meet all the requirements. Once I got 30, I decided to apply. Surprisingly enough, I got an email that said, "Congratulations You're A Giant Squid!" even before I sent in my application! That was a good day indeed!
Once I had reached Giant Squid status, I was more determined than ever to keep on writing. There was no stopping me now! My next goal was to become a Level 50-Monster Squid ( create and maintain 50 good lenses ) and sometime around the middle of the autumn season, I had successfully reached that goal.
How Squidoo Has Added to My Life
So how did Squidoo change my life? In the beginning, they simply held my hand and gave me a gentle nudge in the right direction. They gave me a platform to create, experiment and express myself through writing. Soon after, they were giving me assignments to write about things that were totally out of my comfort zone.
I was given deadlines and although it wasn't mandatory, I tried to meet those deadlines. In return, Squidoo rewarded me with prizes, trophies and other goodies that gave me a sense of satisfaction and achievement I haven't felt in years.
Squidoo has also made me a more passionate cook. Although I've always loved cooking, I had always been satisfied with making dishes that I had been making for many years. Through the numerous food quests, I challenged myself to create shortbread cookies, art cakes and vegan tofu loaves. Throughout the entire fall season, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen with new gadgets, cookie cutters and measuring cups. I loved every minute of it!
One other thing that I hadn't expected from this experience was all the wonderful people I met through being a part of this thing called Squidoo. I have met some of the most beautiful and genuine people here and it has only increased my joy and love for writing on this platform.
What kind of recipes would you like to see more of?
Steal Like an Artist
This book is unlike any book I've ever read. The concepts are simple but most importantly, honest and to the point. Much of the advice in the book can be used not only for artists and writers, but useful for anybody who lives creatively.
The Most Valuable Lesson
Squidoo has not only given me the opportunity to express myself through words, it has changed my life in so many ways. Through Squidoo, I've re-discovered my love for the writing and has helped me to make some major decisions in my life. Reading lenses created by other lensmasters have also opened my eyes up to an entire new world-lenses created by unique individuals with their own dreams, hopes and passions and the courage to follow their hearts. Getting to know these wonderful people have been a cathartic experience. I'm always learning new things I never knew before and I've grown quite close to a couple of those people. In short, my experience with Squidoo has given me the courage to live my life on my own terms.
I still have a few more milestones I would like to reach. I know I'll have to celebrate once I can create and maintain 100 lenses. Not only will I have become a Mammoth Squid, but I will know that I have accomplished something I never imagined possible last year. As I continue to write for Squidoo, I know that I will only get better. Squidoo helps me everyday to become a better writer and by letting me share my passions, dreams and hopes with the world, gives me the opportunity to contribute to the world.
Early last year, I was lost and in the process of finding myself. But as the late Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw says, " Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." That's exactly what I'm doing.