The Girl Scout Promise (something we recited before each meeting while holding up our right hand and 3 middle fingers) is:
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
The Girl Scout Law was:
1. A Girl Scout's Honor is to be Trusted
2. A Girl Scout is Loyal
3. A Girl Scout's Duty is to be Useful and to Help Others
4. A Girl Scout is a Friend to All, and a Sister to every other
Girl Scout, no matter what Social Class she May Belong
5. A Girl Scout is Courteous
6. A Girl Scout keeps herself Pure
7. A Girl Scout is a Friend to Animals
8. A Girl Scout Obeys Orders
9. A Girl Scout is Cheerful
10. A Girl Scout is Thrifty
The Girl Scout Motto is:
The Girl Scout Slogan is:
Do a Good Turn Daily
I obeyed the Law, kept the Promise, lived by the motto and actively demonstrated the slogan. I did it all CHEERFULLY (see #9 above). I didn't question the rules, I just simply obeyed them. I still hold onto those values and apply them in my life today, at 50. I didn't grow up inside a church, the church inside me helped me grow up. I felt these things were right in my heart and I wanted to do the right thing. Hold on a sec. I like what I just said so much, I'm gonna put it on a picture!
Anyway, let me get back on track. I was a Girl Scout that followed rules. Then I grew up and went into the Air Force where the Core Values were:
"Service Before Self"
and "Excellence in All We Do".
Basically, the Girl Scout Rules simplified (or Cliff Notes). Because the Girl Scout ones were written by a Woman and the Air Force ones were probably written by a Man. Woman Writer= MORE words, lets elaaaaaaaaborate (added letters to provide emphasis-I do know how to spell). Man Writer= Get to the point, and Hurry Up!
The bottom line here is: I grew up with the core values I needed to develop into the person I am today. I am a grown up with my own mind, my own imagination and my own intrinsic value system. I don't live my life according to what others might think is right or best for me. While I love learning and becoming better every day, I am not going to change who I am on the inside to fit in better on the outside. (and now I need to go make another "Deep Thoughts" picture. At this rate, I will never finish this post!)
I attended TBEX in Toronto last year. TBEX stands for Travel Blog Exchange. It is an awesome event for anyone in the Travel Media Industry (particularly Travel Bloggers). I started my blog the end of February and attended the Conference a mere 3 months later. I was a REAL Baby Blogger back then (as opposed to a regular Baby Blogger now). I wanted to soak up as much information as possible in order to become successful at my new job. My new job that has NO paycheck. Because I don't work for anyone. One of the benefits of being your own boss is making your own rules. I don't care to have "my success" measured by google analytics or other statistics. I'm sure it is all VERY important to my future in this industry, I just don't like statistics. I don't like being measured by SOMEONE ELSE'S METRICS. I was never any good at Math (I hate it) so I feel like I can use my "I suck at Math card" whenever anyone starts throwing that statistical data at me. You know, like (holds hands over my ears and says "I'm not listening to you--la la la la la la la la"). I don't care what the numbers say. I do not like them. (Don't make me start going all Dr Seuss on you now. Cuz I CAN bust a rhyme!)
When I was a Supervisor in the Military, I had my Nurse Manager (the one that wrote MY annual performance reports) tell me that I had to lead by fear (like her) if I wanted to be rated in the top percent. She basically made the entire staff cry on a daily basis. She was mean and unhappy. She did not like smiling faces and joyful attitudes (oops, sorry I'm alive). I am a positive motivator and refuse to put my personal career ahead of those I supervise. Needless to say, I did not get the coveted top rating from her. This hurt my promotion ability in the future. I didn't care and to this day, I would go back and do exactly the same thing. My worth and VALUE as a person is not based on my annual performance report written by someone that has a completely different set of values. I am not going to change who I am or what I believe in because "someone" tells me I have to in order to be a success in their eyes. While I appreciate their feedback and understand they are just trying to help me, I will make my own decision on how I will act, Thank You very much!
So, among the many things I learned at TBEX was I NEED to have a niche. Basically, in order to be successful (and even just be acknowledged as a Travel Blogger) I have to have a target niche and focus on ONE group of people or one style of travel. This makes TOTAL sense. You need a target audience before you can start targeting them. (I went to Community College for Tourism Management. Marketing was one of my classes. I got an A! BAM! Mmmm Hmmm, how do you like me now?!)
But wait a minute. It's my blog, right? What if I want to stand on my soapbox and talk to the WHOLE crowd? Some people may not be interested in what I am saying and will leave after a bit. That's okay and that is their choice. But I don't HAVE a niche. I like ALL kinds of travel and actually participate in ALL kinds of travel (Couples, Girlfriend Getaways, Family, Mother/Daughter, Mother/Son, SOLO, Budget, Luxury, Daycations, Staycations, International, Local, Cruising, Hotels, Resorts, Hostels, Couchsurfing,.....). I will therefore, share on MY blog, ALL KINDS OF TRAVEL. I also love Jesus. He goes with me everywhere I go and therefore I will be writing about him sometimes. Don't tell me I can't say JESUS or write about JESUS on my JOYFUL website! He's the whole reason I am so Joyful and I actually like to give credit where credit is due. Don't worry though. My goal is not to get you into a church, it's simply to get you out of your corner. (and there's another "Deep Thought" freebie for ya)
I love travel the same way I love music. I LOVE and listen to all genres of music. I don't just listen to one radio station, I listen to several. I love to dance. I like dancing to different beats. Don't tell me I can't dance to a certain song because you don't think its a good song. Maybe you don't have the rhythm or courage to get on the dance floor when the music changes. Maybe, you don't like this song, or this "type" of music. I DO! I love the changing beats and moving to my own. Google analytics is not the boss of me and will not dictate to me MY SUCCESS. I have no aspirations of making any Top 100 list of websites and blogs. I am not in competition with other bloggers. I do not have financial goals associated with my website (which is probably good because CLEARLY, I won't be making any $$). The fact that I refuse to "pick a niche" should make all the other bloggers in the universe very happy actually. I am no threat to them or the kingdom they are trying to build. (I'm sure they are all breathing a collective sigh of relief cuz I was such a threat before-HaHa.) By the way, I have nothing against google. They RUN the world of cyberspace and I like to play on their playground. I just sometimes like to bring my own rules and play the game my way. They are providing the equipment (think playground now--slides, swings, etc), but I don't have to go down the slide the same way everyone else does. Maybe, just maybe, I want to walk UP the slide instead. Sure it takes more work than just sitting on my behind and sliding down going WEEEEEEEEEE. But it's also more creative, more fun, and MY WAY. This is where you start singing the classic "I did it my way" song. Without google supplying the playground equipment, I would just be playing in a pile of dirt. So, THANK YOU GOOGLE for all the apparatus :-) I promise to use it safely as I improvise!
Got off track there for a minute. It's okay though---just pretend I was actually taking recess and using all that playground equipment for good! The bottom line here is: I am not trying to compete with anyone. I just want to inspire everyone. I was taught to "find a niche and focus on that". Well, that is like telling me to pick ONE thing in life I like to do and do ONLY that. I am passionate about MANY things. I will not turn down my inner fire and leave passions behind because I have to "pick just one". I'm a retired Military Member for pete's sake. Just because I wasn't a marine doesn't mean I can't live by their motto! LIFE is my passion and I will live it fully. Apparently I am pretty passionate about mottos' too. This means I will live MY life on MY terms. I will start by creating my own "niche" so I can just be me! I am going to call it "Inspirational Travel". Some people write about Budget Travel, some write about International Travel. I will write about Inspirational Travel. I talk about people, places and things. Sometimes, on special days, I also talk about Jesus. IF I have to have a team that I am associated with, that is my team name and I am the Captain! You are more than welcome to come and join me over here. I don't want to be a big fish in the ocean. And I certainly don't want to be a little fish in an aquarium. I just want to swim. I LOVE swimming as much as I LOVE dancing. I want to swim in the DEEP, WIDE OCEAN and just keep swimming. Maybe, I'll even make up some swimming DANCES! OOOOOHHH, that would be TOTALLY awesome! I don't care if I #swimdance by myself. I'm a good swimmer and I am a good dancer. I'm not going to drown. I might not be on the Olympic Swim Team or win any Blue Ribbons, but darn it, I WILL SWIM!
I will never have the numbers and stats that Google says define my success. They do not sign my paycheck (actually no one does because I don't earn one). I didn't use the recommended web software when I created my website so I probably don't even exist in their world. That is fine with me. I don't work for them. I am here for YOU. YOU, the reader, are what I value. You are the reason I write and share my inner most secrets. If I made 1 person smile and was able to get them to see the humor in a formerly bad memory, I am a success. If I inspired 1 person to step outside of their comfort zone and take that first solo trip, I am a success. If I can make a complete stranger feel like family by a simple smile and hug, I am a success. If someone is homebound and the only way they can "SEE" the world is by reading my blog, I am a success.
So, do you sometimes feel like people are trying to put you in a corner or put a box over your head? Maybe they are standing at the front of the class and saying you need to pick a team to play on. What if neither team suits you? Do you just settle with the one that your Best Friend, Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Spouse, Hot Guy, Hot Girl, etc is on? Don't give up on YOUR dream, YOUR passion, YOUR desires in life because someone else can't see it. Hold onto it, get out of the corner and just DANCE! Or SWIM! Or Run with the Football and make a touchdown (I don't care what analogy you use). Better yet, #SWIMDANCE with ME! Just get out of the box they want to put you in and make your own! Use whatever materials you want, make it as colorful or as plain as you want. Just make it, wear it, and start having the time of YOUR life!