Why This Post Took So Long (& How A Vision Quest Bit Me In The Arse) – Part 1

Why in the world have I taken so long to write this 3rd post?

A similar & related question from my friends and family might be: Why have I jumped off the face of the planet? (Cause Facebook is a planet, right?)

My first information product that FINALLY got approval from Clickbank (not on this site, by the way) might curiously be wondering in its own right: Why haven’t we moved forward on PPC (pay-per-click) testing like was planned?

Just what, dear Hannahmazing, has been going on these past 2 months??

I thought I came to Guatemala to live and work cheaply. I thought I was just looking for a sunny place to hunker down and get things done on my internet business to start bringing in monthly income to then travel to more ambitious places…like Berlin or Buenos Aires or Silicon valley (again).

And that’s just how it started: I arrived in Antigua, Guatemala – sad from a very recent breakup with the same man I had already broken up with earlier in the year…but with whom I reconnected with and seemed to be forming an even better relationship this time…until it wasn’t, and this time it was over for good –  yes sad but determined to put all that behind me and just focus on getting my dang site approved by Clickbank and then getting paid traffic to my site to test conversion rates so that I could then reach out to potential affiliate marketers and JV partners with those (hopefully high) rates, so that they would promote my product for me.

Yes, I know snorexciting that sounds…Just the business facts, ma’am!

And sure enough, at the beginning, things went according to plan. When I got into Antigua, I found a nice place to live: A room with my own bath in an elegantly old-fashioned hacienda-style house wrapped around a central garden embellished by twittering birds and a lovely fountain, where I had the amazing good luck to have a grand piano I could practice on whenever I liked, being rented out by a very dignified old-fashioned upper class Guatemalan widow.

Things were going great…Except for, on some level…hmm..they kinda sucked.

Clickbank  - the payment processor and affiliate recruiting & managing platform I needed to be able to take payments and to pay affiliates was making my life miserable, miserable I tell ya! See, they have very strict rules about what they allow on the sites they work with, and what they don’t. After I had followed the advice from the internet marketing geniuses I look up to – like Chris Haddad and Frank Kern – when writing and setting up my sales page, it turned out that the very recent “updates” to Clickbank’s policies rendered much of what I had on my sales page not kosher, no bueno.

So, as far as my site went, it was a month of stress and frustration, hair-pulling and tensely prayiing that THIS time was the charm…Every time the lady at Clickbank told me to change “just one last thing”, I would skype my tech guy to do it – and then once that had finally gotten done….another dreaded email would come back: “Oh, actually, you have to change THIS too”…And so it went all month.

Finally – FINALLY the day came that the approval came in..MONTHS after I had expected and planned for it.  But when I finally got that email of approval…I just felt kinda numb. It didn’t feel so much like a win as like a white flag at the end of the battle: I knew it was a good thing..I knew it was a GREAT thing…but I was so emotionally spent…I said a little “whoo hoo”, but in reality, I just wanted to forget all about it.

And if I am to be really honest here: underneath the stress of getting my first big site up and running, was the deep sadness about my most recent breakup with somebody who I had thought might very possibly be “the man for me”. Somebody I truly loved…Somebody I really liked…and somebody I dearly missed.  Not just our romance, but our friendship and his encouragement & support in my business ventures.

And my way of dealing with that had been…well, in all fairness to myself, it had been to meditate and do positive visualizations remembering the good times and sending love and accepting what is…but the true cure for a broken heart is TIME. It just takes time. And there hadn’t quite been enough of it. Not yet.

Being sad about love and anxious about business…this, my friends, a sustainable lifestyle does not make. Sunny Central American country, or not.

Enter San Marcos

That old-fashioned elegant widow (and very devout Jehova’s witness judging from the meetings held at our house every Sunday), Doña Carolina, had 4 children, and one of them, it turned out, owned a hotel on Lake Atitlan, two hours away.

Carola, Doña Carolina’s daughter, mentioned him to me when I said I was interested in checking out the lake: “You should stay at my brother’s place, it’s right on the lake & it’s beautiful…He doesn’t talk to me anymore, but I don’t hold a grudge. I still recommend his place to people”.

Because this was the first place suggested to me, and I always prefer to go through friends of friends (or feuding sibling 3rd-party connections) I called up Gerardo and booked a few nights at his place “Hotel Silani” on the lake. I knew nothing more about it, except that Carola told me it was very nice, it was within my budget, and that it was in a village called San Marcos.

Now, I had thought I had been pretty blessed with my situation in Antigua – nice house, internet, grand piano (THAT was a universal gift)…But from the second the shuttle rounded the corner revealing a sweeping view of Lake Atitlan below, I felt a thrill inside me that I never once felt in Antigua..that I hadn’t felt in quite awhile.

And from that point on, pretty much everything was magical. Something in my soul was being fed. My heart was being uplifted…more and more, by the hour.

On the boat to San Marcos, I made my first 2 new friends: Two handsome and gregarious travellers – Juan from Argentina and Dany from Italy. They invited me to go Kayaking with them the next day, and over the next few days we were a merry threesome (no romance, guys, promise..I was still in self-proclaimed nun mode).

San Marcos was… beautiful. A little village with foot paths through the trees. Meditation and yoga centers. Organic smoothies and chakra cleansing. Yes, it was new agey and hippy…but somehow it didn’t annoy me. The lapping sounds of the lake at night were like medicine to me…the most soothing and peaceful sensations came from listening to the lake, which seemed to calm my soul in a powerful way. There were trees and birds all around…I was in civilization, but in the middle nature at the same time… and that view. The sheer physical beauty of the place was in itself renovating…

I was finally relaxing, enjoying myself,  loosening up. I felt freer, I felt close to nature in a way I hadn’t felt in a long long time…In a way that I hadn’t even realized that I needed! And when another new friend told me that there might be a neighboring cabin available where she was living, and then I found myself in the most charming, view-endowed little storybook cabin you could ever imagine (and which I will hold in my heart and mind forever and ever), which would be available in just a few days…at a price that was laughable….Of course, it was too obvious that I was meant to move there.

Antigua adios…

Hola San Marcos!.

As I write this, I wish I could take a photo of the vista in front of me: it’s 12:54 in the afternoon, I’m sitting out on the little terrace off the side of my apartment, with a sweeping view of Lake Atitlan spread out before me. The docks along shoreline to the right side of this vista jut out from the terraced gardens of the large vacation houses. To the left, boats can be seen speeding across the water leaving frothy white trails behind them.

I would love to take a photo…But my iphone has died completely – that’s part of the story…Foreshadowing for you!

I’m going to go jump in the lake for a swim, come back and fix myself some lunch and then work on other parts of my business (which I promise I will get more into later).

This post has only touched the surface of what I wanted to share here, but I think it’s been a good start. It tells why I ended up here in Guatemala, and then San Marcos, which is the setting for the next stage of my journey: My unexpected vision quest (the one I didn’t even really know that I was on – the one that bit me in the arse, if you like). And how that has affected my business plans and life…and most definitely is an excellent explanation for my temporary jumping off of the earth.

Whew, the sun is hot…Time to go take a long walk off a short dock! X

Can you “Hack” Happiness?

Can you “hack” happiness, fulfillment and all-around amazingness?

Hmm…that term “hack”, it’s such a Tim Ferrissy, lifestyle-designy word, isn’t it? (disclaimer: I do love me some Tim Ferriss). It also conjures up doing something technical, like “hacking” a computer game to get more points…Or doing a cheap-skate job jimmy-rigging something together: “I hacked the Ikea closet assembly by using my sister’s fake eyelash glue, rather than dealing with all those crazy screws”.

But the way I think of the word “hack” and use it in this article is: finding a faster, easier and more efficient way to a desired outcome…(oftentimes using unconventional and unexpected methods).

So with that framework, why NOT “hack” something important to your own life and happiness? If you could find a way to “hack” giving up smoking or getting yourself to exercise more (aka: finding an easier, quicker and more efficient way to do it), wouldn’t you want to?

Bringing us to the question again: Can you “hack” happiness, fulfillment and all-around amazingness?… Which is like asking “Can you find a quicker route to happiness, fulfillment and all-around amazingness than the one you are using?”…And of course, the answer must be yes.

Religion is hack

If you really think about it Buddhism (and most religions) was all about “hacking” the human condition – in the words of its founder, the Buddha himself: “the primary purpose of life is to end human suffering.” His entire inspiration for founding this religion / philosophy was to find a way to fast-track human happiness (by fast-tracking an end to its suffering). Yes, in a certain light, even religion could be considered a “hack” (or at least an attempt at it).

What other hacks do we humans use in daily life, to fast-track certain desired results in our own lives? 

(I use the term “fast track” as interchangeable with “hack”, for the meaning I give to it in this article) –

Common human hacks – External

There are many external techniques and things that we use to hack our lives:

Coffee – Fast track to more energy (and to alleviate depression, in some)

Vitamins – Fast track to more vitality, muscle tone, better skin & hair (etc) and healthy nutrients in our body.

Alcohol – Fast track to feeling more openness and ease in social situations.

Pharmacology – To fast track certain desired results that we want in our body, whether it be a lower blood pressure or increased focus for people with Attention deficit disorder.

Can you think of more?

(Note: Whether or not you think the desired results are achieved or worth the use of these substances in the first place, the fact remains that humans do indeed DO these things, and for the reasons I’ve listed)

But more interesting to me, are the internal hacks we come up with…that is to say, hacking our very own thought process / mind / way we see the world:

A little less common human hacks – Internal

Meditation – Fast track to feeling more peaceful, happier, calmer.

NLP – an entire methodology created around fast-tracking the internal mechanisms (thought processes, images and dialogues) needed to achieve success in any given area.

Framing & Re-Framing – something we do all the time and don’t even realize: Putting our experiences into contexts and frames. When you learn to hack your own frames, you learn to fast-track your vision of yourself, which leads to the speed of your success.

And many more – which ones can you think of?

Why “hack” anything in your life?

Here’s something you might not have thought about: Everything you think and do right now, you have learned. The way you view the world, the thoughts you think, the stories you tell yourself, the way you view yourself…all of these have been taught to you, directly or indirectly.

If what you have learned so far isn’t working to give you the results that you want in your life…Then why not learn a different way?

That’s what hacking is: Learning a faster, more efficient way to achieve a desired result.

“Phobias” are an instant hack…by your brain!

Did you know that phobias reveal your brain’s capacity for INSTANT LEARNING? And to get you to adopt a life-long behavior (for as long as you have the phobia)?

A phobia is a hack! And proof that you CAN fast-track learning AND results.

How is a phobia a hack? Let’s say you have an unpleasant experience one day, with a snake for example. Your brain perceives that snakes are to be avoided at ALL costs. So what does it do? It creates a phobia – a thought process that gets you to react in a knee-jerk way whenever you see a snake.

The brain has “hacked” the response that it wants you (“the body”) to have in the situation of seeing a snake. First it learned in an INSTANT how to think and what to do about snakes. Second, it also achieved an instant AND life-long (if not cured) result: getting you to avoid any and all contact with snakes. Interesting, eh?

I say we harness this incredible power to learn both a thought pattern and a behavior so FAST… to our benefit!

Why am I writing about hacking?

Clearly, the whole concept fascinates me! I like to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to ways of achieving a desired result in my life, in a faster, more efficient, more effective, and even easier way.

When I say “life hacking” this is what I personally mean. I don’t mean it in the cheesy, trendy, cool-nerdy “lifehacker.com” way, necessarily. Mainly because I don’t use the word “hack” to be trendy or cool. I use it because it easily sums up a concept I like (finding a quicker and easier way to a desired outcome). Which happens to be an almost an inbred desire in myself and what I look for & keep track of in my own life.

And when I find something that works for me personally, or that I think would work for somebody else…I like to share :)

Since I’ll be getting into the details many of my own “life-hacks” in future posts, this is just a preamble to my way of looking at the entire concept.

What do you think about “hacks”, “life hacks” and speeding up the process to desired results in your life?

(PS: Sometimes accepting things how they are (including self-acceptance), is in itself a hack. So…a hack is a way to bring faster results…but sometimes you get faster results by not struggling against the results you already have. Makes no sense? This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last year, so I promise to delve into further detail in a future post!)

Surprising First Posts of 7 Famous Bloggers

(And my first blog post too)

Oh boy oh boysers…my first blog post!

Well, maybe not my first blog post ever…who of us doesn’t have some embarrassing attempt back in the annals of history (aka 10,000th page of Google)?

But it’s my first post on my new blog and personal project, Hannahmazing.com..,you know, a bigdeal.

And on path of procrastinating researching my first post, I decided to look at the first posts of other well-known blogs, along with blogs that I myself follow (with some overlap between the two)…for a little encouragement and inspiration.

And then it struck me: Why not make my first post, all about writing a first post?

That way I make it more interesting (not all about me – somebody most of you don’t even know yet), easier to write (piggybacking on the content of others), and avoiding the much more daunting “my story” post.

Brilliant!

The idea it to get yourself going…to just start…with anything. If you start with the hard stuff, it might take you forever. But if you start with a light and easy post, you get the momentum going…and ultimately momentum is what carries you. This is true in so many things in life, and I think it is true with blogging too.

The idea behind this first post of mine started as an attempt to inspire myself in the privacy of my own WordPress admin panel…and has now expanded into an attempt to inspire anybody reading it, by showing that even the most amazing and widely read & respected blogs have had some pretty humble beginnings.

Use this as inspiration for YOUR first post

 The next time you compare yourself or your blog to Tim Ferriss or Life Hacker…keep in mind that they didn’t start out as the seemingly unstoppable forces of nature that they have evolved into…they had their first awkward posts, their bad designs too.

But no matter where they started, they started and they kept on going…created momentum…and rode the momentum up to the final high-Google-ranked results we all can read today. But in no way did they all come out of the gate with the polished content and design that they now sport. (Hehe, oh no! More on that below).

Along the way, I’ll share some stalking interesting tools you might not have known about, mainly the Internet Archives aka “way back” machine, which lets you snoop into the humble beginnings of almost any site on the web, by taking you back not only to its earlier content, but to its earlier design as well! Truly fascinating, voyeuristic stuff!

I also used the Google function “site:”, which lets you do some further snooping into all of the content available in the current version of a site. Good for when the site’s internal search function sux or doesn’t exist..And you are a voyeur want to read more about something.

So here you have the surprisingly humble and not-so-amazing first blog posts of some of the world’s most famous blogs and bloggers.

1 – Tim Ferriss

I start with Tim Ferriss, because as a one-man blogger, you can’t get much more influential or prolific than him. Who hasn’t been inspired by him in some way? And his blog….it’s the stuff of legends, right?

Whether you are a lifestyle designer, life-hacker, language learner, exercise buff, social media-preneur or wannabe internet famous person, you have probably been influenced by Mr. Timothy Ferriss in some way.

Tim Ferriss has an almost demi-god reputation as a blogger.

“Love ‘em or hate ‘em” (as journalists love to preface), you have to admit that he has been incredibly successful both online and off, using his fourhourworkweek.com/blog as a platform to attract & maintain a raving fan base.

Which is why it is so very encouraging to see that his first blog post (at least the one that detective Wiley could find – and I am quite the sleuth), is, well…so darn cute…in its very lack of awesomeness. Turns out it took Tim Ferriss a few posts and life experiences to get into his groove, too.

If you do a simple site search on his main site, you come across the first post on his Four Hour Work Week blog:

http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2007/03/07/dozens-of-previous-posts-are-here/

But with a little more investigation, you find yourself on his personal blog before The 4HWW blog…and even before he wrote the book! And THAT is the blog and first blog post that you simply MUST check out (unless, of course, you have something better to do):

Title: Tim Ferriss: The Human Experiment Blog
Subtitle: Dedicated to Uncommon People and Unlimited Lifestyles 

First post (February 11, 2006):
http://cubicleescapeartist.com/blog/?p=18

About…doping? Hmm…kinda dry. And odd for a first blog post. Gotta give him some credit, though – he was writing about it 6 years before it reached the topical frenzy that it achieved in 2012.

What about that design? And those colors?! Black text on…bright yellow?? So wonderfully, adorably bad.

Here’s another neat peek into his online past…the post in which he mentions the book he’ll be writing (which would turn into his massively successful and world-renowned Four Hour Work Week):

http://cubicleescapeartist.com/blog/?p=43

And, the post after he finished his book:

http://cubicleescapeartist.com/blog/?m=200610

Notice how he has…NO comments?? Keep this in mind the next time all you hear is crickets (or Russian ladies looking for love no matter age, sex or race) on your own posts.

(Of course, if nobody comments on this article, that would be unacceptable…or would it? Didn’t seem to hold back Tim…)

Lifehacker.org & Lifehacker.com

Moving along in the life-hacker vein, I cannot wait for you to see the first posts of these next 2 sites – the hallowed Lifehack.org and Lifehacker.com.

These sites are so big and “authoritative” that you think of them as websites more than blogs…but don’t think they were born with their ubertrendy design and cooler-than-you all-knowingness. Oh no.

Check it out:

2 – Lifehack.org

http://web.archive.org/web/20000413131929/http://www.lifehack.org/

Umm….What? Was that? Granted, it was 2004, and they might have all been nerd genius 14 year-olds putting up the first design they came up with…but wow. It looks like the blog design that an alien-landing conspiracy theorist might like to use…

And the first “post” seems to be:

. . . w h a t . . .

. . . h a p p e n s . . .

…when brush your teeth? when you go shopping? when you overthrow a government? when you’re finished?

Can you determine the consequences of your actions?

The quintessential obscure, universe-pondering, navel-gazing first blog post. Fabulous stuff!

3 – Lifehacker.com

Now the first post found using the way back machine isn’t too exciting (for the purpose of this article) since it is pretty well thought-out, cute and clever:

http://web.archive.org/web/20050406035039/http://www.lifehacker.com/software/announcements/lifehacker-launches-031643.php

But I did do a bit more detective work about Gina Trapani, the famous-in-some-circles editor of Lifehacker.com, and lo and behold…before Life Hacker, Ms. Trapani had her own personal blog. And her first blog post is none other than:

http://web.archive.org/web/20050214195030/http://www.scribbling.net/untitled1

Yup.

She expounds a bit in her 2nd post:

http://web.archive.org/web/20050214025235/http://www.scribbling.net/ready_set_go

Keep in mind…she was blogging in 2001. Which I would say is on the avant-garde of trends and technology, or close to it. But she started with her “personal ramblings” just like the majority of bloggers, before we find our stride.

Which I choose to find inspiring.

These next 2 blogs are some of the “top ranked” blogs (whatever that truly means), by Technorati and eBizMBA rank websites.

I was going to stop at just 5 blogs, but when I saw the first posts of these puppies, I just had to share the entertainment value:

4 – Engadget.com

With 11,500,000 estimated monthly visitors and an Alexa rank of 378, has a great first post. Mainly because…well, I’ll let you check it out, and see if you thought it was as laugh out loud funny as I did:

Posted Mar 2, 2004

http://web.archive.org/web/20040601063955/http://www.engadget.com/entry/8817026470303347

Did you see it? ….The private cell phone number of Jason McCabe Calacanis! Hmmm…think it still works? (If you call it, PLEASE tell us what happens in the comments below)

It just gives you a peek into their vastly different frame of mind back then. A startup frame of mind, in which they encouraged calls from strangers…and perhaps could hardly even fathom their eventual massive success.

5 – Mashable.com

Now this one I love. Mashable would eventually turn its founder Pete Cashmore into an internet VIP and lead him to a net worth of …. $95 million dollars.

And how did it start?

http://web.archive.org/web/20051210100510/http://mashable.com/2005/07/

… With a post about gmail and a call for Ruby on Rails developers. Just another tech geek blog, folks. Just goes to show, you never can tell.

I did a lot more spying on different sites I like, respect and/or who seem to have a larger than life reputation online, and had a great evening of entertainment doing so. I can’t really recommend that you do this (since it pretty much IS a waste of time), but if you can somehow justify it (as I have by using it for material for my first post!) and you want to spy on some of the earlier posts of your favorite blogs or websites, then go to:

http://web.archive.org and just type in the full URL of the site you want to spy on check out. It will show you a calendar, going back as far as to when it first took a “snap shot” of the site. Click on the earliest snapshot you can find…and let the fun times begin ;)

Even though I have quite a few more I could share and talk about, I’ll finish my commentary with a blogger I personally find inspiring.

6 – Pat Flynn, SmartPassiveIncome.com

Pat Flynn might be one of the most likeable guys online, and especially in the make-money-online niche. He’s just so genuinely nice and generous with his time and high-value content. I truly believe that he must be changing the face of online-biz-preneurs & internet marketing simply by setting a standard that others will now be compared against, whether he meant to or not. He’s kinda like Google, in that he gives away so much free information (which others had been here-to-fore selling), that it can’t not be changing the state of MMO (make money online) infopreneurism.

And what I love about his first post and the post that came right after it….Is that it’s almost like a joke setup…and punch line.

So here is the first post of SmartPassiveIncome.com:

http://web.archive.org/web/20081023093512/http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/why-i-will-quit-my-job-for-a-passive-income/

and then…

http://web.archive.org/web/20081027090523/http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/i-just-got-laid-off/

(In case you can’t click on the links, the title of his first post is “Why I Will Quit My Job for a Passive Income”…and then 2nd one, just 4 days later is: Nevermind. I Just Got Laid Off.”) :D

So there you have it! No need to be afraid of your first blog post…Even if the writing is boring or the design is terrible. It’s just a start, to take you onwards and upwards to greater things.

(At least that’s what I tell myself in the mirror every night).

And with this post, I finish MY first post…Woo-diddle hoo-diddle! If you are reading this 5 years in the future, you are surely shaking your own head in bemusement about the humble beginnings of the world-changing Hannahmazing.com…

(But more about that later).

I’ll leave you with a few more first posts of popular blogs & people, to peruse if you’re really bored so inclined:

7+ Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity)
http://web.archive.org/web/20080517161656/http://chrisguillebeau.com/3×5/tokyo%E2%80%99s-narita-airport-east-meets-west-but-mostly-it%E2%80%99s-east/

Leo Balbuata – ZenHabits.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20070514084535/http://zenhabits.net/2006/11/zen-habits-is-born/

Kevin Rose
http://kevinrose.com/hello-world

Viperchill.com (Glen Allsopp)
http://web.archive.org/web/20060811125807/http://blog.viperchill.com/

Darren Rowse – ProBlogger.net
http://web.archive.org/web/20050215003944/http://www.problogger.net/archives/2004/09/27/about-problogger/

TechCrunch.com
http://web.archive.org/web/20051024041505/http://www.techcrunch.com/?p=2

TimothySykes.com
First about page:
http://web.archive.org/web/20070320173333/http://www.timothysykes.com/

First 2 (very short) posts
http://web.archive.org/web/20070323084403/http://www.timothysykes.com/id13.html

Gawker.com
First about page:
http://web.archive.org/web/20030304213018/http://www.gawker.com/02/09/002463.html

First page of archives
http://web.archive.org/web/20030207221456/http://www.gawker.com/03/01/index.html

 

What about you? Which blogs did you do a first post search on?

Different By Birth…Amazing By Choice!