6 reasons why I love Instagram

6 reasons why I love Instagram


Being a digital gypsy, and relying on the wonderful world of webs to manage my business and my pleasure, there are a few things that I’ve come to know and love. One of them is the iPhone app Instagram. I have always been bewitched and enchanted by photography, a picture frozen in time tells 1000 stories not only of what can be seen within the frame, but even more what can’t be seen. Photos create an exciting spark in our imaginations, wrapping us in stories of  what might be happening in the parts that aren’t seen. But Instagram takes it a whole new level for me. I adore being able to whip out my little phone and sneakily, like a detective hunting for clues, snapping the things that inspire, charm and bring love and desire out in me. I adore scrolling through my pics from the past, basking in the warm glow of the things I’ve seen, done and felt. I find it undoubtedly thrilling to share the same warm and fuzzy feelings with the people I follow, and love being a part of their lives through a visual journal of sorts. To complete my gushing adoration for this digital app that makes life so much sweeter, more fun and compelling, here are 6 reasons why I love Instagram.
1. Instagram is kind of undercover. Unlike when you whip out a massive camera and everyone gets kind of uncomfortable and awkward and starts making those weird, rigid, funny poses, you can take a photo with the iPhone before anyone notices and catch them at their best, when they are relaxed, smiling and looking natural. And then you can share this photo with everyone you love in an instant.
2. Instagram a form of gratitude. Taking a photo of food, of something beautiful, of someone you love, of something that inspires you or fills you with joy is a way of saying THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL AMAZING THING to the universe. It’s a visual acknowledgement  of something we appreciate and are grateful for. We take a photo with the intention of sharing how good this is making me feel.
3. Instagram is sharing love. As we delve more and more into the Information Age, our friendships and families span the planet, and the Earth starts to feel smaller and smaller because we recognize that we are all connected. As our friendship groups expand, it become more difficult to stay in touch with everyone as much as we would like, especially if you’re a gypsy like me. Through Insta we get to stay connected and show our love and share our lives with the people who are important to us. Perhaps we don’t speak to everyone on a daily basis, but we have the effervescent opportunity to view each others lives and remain close and connected in this way.
4. Instagram gives life and colour to Facebook and Twitter. If visual stimuli turns you on, like it does me, then you would know that a post with a picture is SO MUCH MORE FUN than a post with just words. I love words. Words are pretty much my favorite thing in the world. But in today’s overflowing abundance of words everywhere, what catches anyone’s eye enough for them to make a 3 second decision to pay attention is a bright, pretty picture!
5. Instagram makes marketing a breeze. The word marketing leaves such a weird, sour aftertaste in people’s mouths but what it actually means is TELLING PEOPLE WHAT YOU CAN OFFER THEM. That’s something everyone wants to know, so actually you’re just doing them a favour and letting them know what they actually want to know.
6. Instagram is creativity. After a while, you start to develop your own style and format of taking photos of the things that you love. I adore taking photos of food from directly above. I love taking photos of people when they’re not looking. I love taking photos of big, wide, open landscapes. I like trying to find some kind of symmetry in every frame. I love finding colours that draw each other out and reflect or deflect each other. I love using bright lights and sun rays in my shots. There are so many creative ways to take a picture which leave me feeling most satisfied!
Right now I’m looking for some more inspirational photos and people to follow. Are you one of them? Follow me on Instagram @viendam, and comment on one of your favorite photos that you’d like to share with me and an invitation to come and follow you! I’d love to be a part of your lives!
Love + adoration
Vienda xx

decadent chocolate cake that’s good for you

decadent chocolate cake that’s good for you

decadent chocolate cake

The joys of finding a way to take really healthy food and make  it taste really naughty is one of my favourite past times. And of course feeding people that I love.
I recently made a really delicious chocolate that is:

  • low carb
  • gluten free
  • sugar free
  • dairy free

and yet incredibly moist and actually good for you. The eaters of this cake were so impressed (as was I to be honest, I didn’t think it would turn out this good) that they asked me to share the recipe. So here it is:
decadent chocolate cake that’s good for you

1/2 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup coconut milk

9 eggs

1 cup of stevia (I just used one of those tube packs of Natvia)

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sifted coconut flour (high in protein and low in carbs)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

In a large bowl sift the coconut flour salt and baking powder together.
Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan and add the cocoa powder and coconut milk.
In yet another bowl crack the eggs, add vanilla and sugar and blend with a hand held blender.
Then add the melted chocolate and coconut concoction to the egg mixture and blend again until smooth.
Now add the sifted flour mixture and stir until you achieve a smooth and delicious consistency.
Finally pour the mixture into a well greased (use coconut oil for the flavour) cake tin and place into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
It should take about 35 to 40 minutes or until the knife comes out clean when you insert it into the centre. I think it tastes best when still warm and fresh from the oven.
Enjoy, and make sure you have plenty of friends around to share it with otherwise you may end up eating every last morsel yourself! (Though it’s healthy enough to actually do that so no guilt!)
I served mine with a mixed berry coulees which I made by getting frozen berries and heating them on the stove with a spoonful of honey until warm and some salted carmel ice-cream that a very generous guest left in our freezer after a dinner party.

how I started my business blog website + how you can too

how I started my business blog website + how you can too

One of the biggest challenges that I have had to overcome with my www: Wonderful Worldwide Website or my online presence that you see here before you, is constructing the site itself, in a way that was easy (not being a computer geek), cost effective (I didn’t want to look back and think “Gosh! that cost me so so much and I’m not even happy with the result!!!”… and wanted to have control over how much and what I was spending my money on), loads of flexibility (being the creative control freak that I am) and a product I could be at least a little bit in love with. Yes, that was possibly the longest sentence ever written.
When I first started sharing my musings publicly, I wanted my own, free-standing website (not linked to blogger or tumbler or the like though they are all very worthwhile in their own way) and I knew that I wanted to use my name for the site, so that I have the freedom to change the content as I saw fit without having to rebrand too radically. Being an expert on myself, I acknowledge the necessity to allow room for change in my world. So I bought the domain name viendamaria.com, downloaded WordPress and then just started using one of their free templates. I didn’t have an exact plan for what my site would be about or which direction I was planning to head. I had been writing for over 10 years and so many friends said they wanted to read what I had written about certain things so, instead of sending everyone a group email, having a site where I could share my thoughts was clearly the perfect solution.
Truthfully, (eeep! it’s kind of embarrassing!) when I first started writing online, some of my headings and even topics were a little lack-lustre, my layout was unremarkable and it took at least 6 months of consistent publishing to begin to find my groove.
I learnt how important it is to be consistent, why blogging is an extremely valuable tool for any business and why it is critical to carve your niche by using your unique point of view and personality.
As well as posting regularly and finding my voice, my passion and discovering insights in which niche much of my written work was lying, I spent endless hours immersed in the depths of Google learning about SEO Search Engine Optimisation and trying to figure out how to customise my template and learning how to code in certain elements which I wanted to include on my site to give it a more distinct and personal look and feel. I wanted “me” to be recognisable in the branding and the feelings that visitors had upon reaching viendamaria.com.
This certainly wasn’t easy for me! I am most certainly not a whizz-kid when it comes to online adventures and it was an incredibly time consuming and daunting task. I managed to get my lovely little WWW presentable but was never entirely happy with it. I continuously researched problogger forums, advice articles and websites for systems and products that suited my need to have creative control over my site whilst making it easy for me to do what I wanted to do, when i wanted to do it. Be it at 5am on a Tuesday morning or after Sunday brunch when I am still in bed.
All of this knowledge and experience garnered over many months of research, experimenting and testing many different systems resulted in a byproduct where I am putting all the most important elements together into a guide on how to build your own business blog website from scratch in 1 day. I am currently writing the copy and designing the template so that I can share all that I have learnt with you, in a digital format easy for you to download and use, complete with links and inside tips and advice.
It will include:

☮ A step by step guide on getting your site set up.

☮ How to start building your own site from the very beginning.

☮ The art of copywriting.

☮ Basic SEO and marketing

☮ What products and resources I used to create what I wanted.

☮ Loads of additional fun tools and quips along the way!

This will be a very simple guide for beginners who, like me, are clueless, non-geeky types but are passionate about the internet and have the commitment as well as see the value in having an online presence to share their work, talents and insights. The truth is, nowadays, if you don’t have a place where you can be found online, people will quickly forget about you, as well as question your credibility. If you have something to share, whatever it may be, and you’re not online, you are seriously stunting your capacity of having a successful, flourishing identity, business or brand.
The  digital guide that I am currently working on will probably be called something cheesy like Zero to Cyber Space Hero ~ A Guide to Creating Your Own Business Blog in 1 Day. Ok, so I haven’t totally decided on the title yet, but that’s one of the final things I need to do. I’m still working on it. If you have any great title ideas, please DO feel free to share them with me! Put your ideas below in the comments section below or email me studio@viendamaria.com or on Twitter or Facebook. Whichever medium you prefer works.
The guide will be your fast-track guide past of the trials and tribulations that I went through in order to create the site that I have now. It will help you develop a website that you love, all on your own terms at extremely low costs in just a few super easy and simple to follow steps.
After all, if I can do it, so can you! Look out for the digital guide to creating your own business blog launch in early June.
Image source.

you are ready. more than you know.

you are ready. more than you know.

you are ready. more than you know.
you are ready to take the leap into the unknown simply because the desire exists in your heart.
do that thing that your be-ing is yearning for.
let go. attachment to what the future holds will only clout you. let it be.
trust. have faith. close your eyes + go.
because this is for you.
the universe conspires to give you all that you need.
synchronicity transpires when you follow your heart.
let go. allow yourself to feel that faith.
remember to breathe. remember to feel.
take a small step. + then another. this is all you need to do.
uncertainty is your friend. your tender companion along the path less travelled. embrace him. he will bring you exhilarating surprises. uncertainty is also known as the unknown. or variety. he will be your saving grace. you shall see.
the future will be what it may. it will most likely be more expansive, + more impressive than you can even imagine.
let go. allow your heart to lead you.
the outcome is completely irrelevant as long as you follow your heart. your dreams. your desires. your passion.
everything falls into place. know it. believe it.
you are ready. more than you know.
Image source: my own taken at Gilli Islands, Indonesia 2011.

112 dreams to realise in 2012 ~ my romantic listomania

112 dreams to realise in 2012 ~ my romantic listomania

Every now and then I like to share a bit of a list-making frenzy with you. Actually, making lists is not my forte however today I am compelled to do so. I’ve decided that this year is the year it’s all happening and according to positive psychology and quantum physics the best way to make your dreams come true is to state them. Out loud. Publicy. And tell people. Make it real in your head. So here we go:

  1. Remember to breathe.
  2. Bake. For my friends. I love to bake and haven’t done so for hmmm… at least a year now. I want to make decadent, delicious cakes and cookies for the people I love.
  3. Tune into presence. All the time. Sit in my sweet spot and trust.
  4. Finish stitching, beading and creating the leather handbag I started making in London in 2008.
  5. Read more books than last year….
  6. Go to L’etoile in Paddington. TICK! Thank you Allen for this one …. you are an angel.
  7. Eat less sugar. I’ve fallen off the sugar-free wagon a little since Christmas and I need to get back on it. I feel so much better when I’m not consuming sugar.
  8. Spend a weekend in Melbourne.
  9. Go to Burning Man in late August.
  10. Spend a month in New York.
  11. Travel through South America from the bottom up ending my journey at the Rainbow Gathering in Guatemala in December.
  12. Write an e-book/ course.
  13. Write at least two guest posts per month. (So far so good, I’ve had one published this month with another scheduled coming up)
  14. Meet the most fascinating, inspirational people that I have ever encountered.
  15. Be a better friend. (Sometimes I am terrible at keeping in touch and showing how much I care …. I want to do so more.)
  16. Get clear on what is important in my life and welcome people who share the same values.
  17. Fall in love.
  18. Go gently. Don’t be so hard on myself.
  19. Practise the art of allowing.
  20. Life harmony is not the same as life balance. I don’t have to have all the balls in the air at the same time.
  21. Listen more slowly.
  22. Tell more stories.
  23. Write to my grandparents at least once a month. I know it means so much to them.
  24. Sell all the designer clothes that I never wear. And spend the money on something I really, really love!
  25. Commandeer an iPad.
  26. Go to Officeworks and stock up on notepads. My collection of scribbled on papers scattered across my room is starting to move from charming chaos to enigmatic mess.
  27. Manage my time a little more efficiently. (Plan without planning – if that’s at all possible! The trouble is, my nature rejects schedules and plans … I kind of have to trick myself with this one!)
  28. Break up with social media. “It’s not you – it’s me! Let’s just be friends and hang out sometimes, rather than spending every single minute together! (You’re suffocating me!)
  29. Over the winter, watch all the films that I keep getting recommended and never see. I think this one needs a list. Any movie-buff-list-makers out there who want to help? Email me!
  30. Perfect the back-walker. I can go back. But I can’t seem to quite kick over yet. Soon.
  31. Get over my body image issues once and for all. Gulp. This one is scary. (Let’s practice a little radical self-love shall we!)
  32. Stretch myself. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. Try new things.
  33. Be more compassionate and understanding. We are all humans after all.
  34. Host a dinner party. Complete with fairy lights and candles and live music and chocolate gateau.
  35. Learn about wine.
  36. Organically, gracefully and easily develop my business so it flourishes and is successful on all levels.
  37. Allow lots of space for the unexpected.
  38. Slow down.
  39. Play with children, more than I have been.
  40. Kiss a man with a moustache. Just for the experience.
  41. Relax. Allow my body to fully relax.
  42. Let go. Of control. Of knowing the outcome. Of expectations. Everything. I’m quite good with this but imagine how amazing life would be if I completely let go of trying to control it. If just showed up, did my part, shared my sparkle and let what ever may happen, happen. Wow! Just the idea blows my mind. 
  43. Go to Tetsuya’s in the city.
  44. Ride the rides at Luna Park with my sister and take loads of photos of our silliness.
  45. Make green smoothies. I know they’re good for me. I even like them. But I’m just not making them.
  46. Remember not to take life too seriously.
  47. Practise my Spanish.
  48. Write a loooong letter to my mama about everything. She doesn’t know me at all. Maybe she never will but I can try!
  49. Make peace with my ex. I really hope he speaks to me again one day and we can be friends. I guess breaking someones heart makes them not want to talk to you anymore.
  50. Enjoy each moment as it comes. Feel the width and the breadth of it. Taste it. Smell it. Be in it.
  51. Figure out how I can monetize my talents. Seek out someone practical who can help me. I need a second brain for this. Ammm so …. anyone?
  52. Buy socks.
  53. Write every single one of my friends a love letter and send it via post. With stamps and everything. Amazing!
  54. Print this insane listomania out and put it somewhere I can see it so I actually remember to do all these things.
  55. Figure out how to use all of my flying points with different airlines and hotels to the best of my advantage. I have no idea and it’s all so confusing. I need help from someone who is good with numbers and details. Both things that I detest. (I’m one of those people who still uses their fingers to count. Yes. I know.)
  56. Go for a long weekend away to Byron Bay.
  57. Convince my landlady to put me on a rolling lease. I really hate stiff contracts. They make me feel uneasy. It’s like clipping my wings.
  58. Go to a sex toy shop with my sister and check out the goods without acting like a demented teenager. Really. I shouldn’t be embarrassed about these things anymore.
  59. Create the MOST AMAZING COSTUME EVER for Secret Garden festival in March. With face paint, warrior-fairy style. And a leopard print kimono.
  60. Be still. Allow more stillness into my life.
  61. Spend my money more consciously. Don’t buy crap. Buy beautiful things that last a long time. And less of them. Spend my money on things I really value. (I can be a tad frivolous at times!)
  62. Don’t think too much.
  63. Don’t think about what other people might think. It really doesn’t matter.
  64. Have fun. All the time. (I do this anyway but there’s no harm in reminding myself.)
  65. Go on an exclamation mark detox!!!!! They seem to creep into everything I right far more than is appropriate.
  66. Proof read my writing a bit more before I publish. Euch! It’s that whole attention to detail thing! I hate it.
  67. Have at least one afternoon/evening totally to myself per week. I need time alone to recharge.
  68. Discover new intricacies about the people I call my friends. I love exploring the people in my life.
  69. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail. Move through and past those fears. Do it and see what happens. Either way it’s a wonderful learning experience.
  70. Convince my employers to gift me with a new iPhone. Because I deserve it.
  71. Go through my inbox and file and tidy and organise the 1000’s of emails that are making life a little convoluted.
  72. Practise gratitude the moment my mind wanders into a realm of complaint. And any other time. It works so good and makes life amazing.
  73. Communicate my feelings and thoughts more clearly. Face to face. In spoken words.
  74. Cry if I feel like it. Things sometimes are worth crying over. Give myself the permission to feel my emotions and then get over it. I tend to skip straight to the get-over-it part. The feeling part is important too.
  75. Take the time to sit down and write more. Often I write while also doing 20 other things at the same time. Little inspirations come to my mind and I jot them down; my mornings often involve me bouncing between the bathroom and the notebook on my bed. Perhaps if I took the time to sit down with them I could take it a little deeper. The again if I wait to write when I have time, the thoughts may have already passed. It’s like trying to capture a cheeky pixie. Very slippery.
  76. Hold his hand. ‘Cause I like it. I’m obligation free. It’s just a gesture of affection.
  77. Don’t cut my hair. At all. Not even once this year. Just to experiment and see what happens.
  78. Make a dream catcher from dried vines, wool, shells and semiprecious stones and feathers I have collected over the past 10 years of my travels.
  79. Allow myself to move from super groomed to a little more wild again. I’m tired of the common “Sydney” look. I’m breaking free.
  80. Have a really beautiful dinner with my dearest friends for my birthday. Complete with sparklers and birthday cake and lots of wine.
  81. Learn how to dance with a man.
  82. Do something really super romantic and wonderful at least once a month.
  83. Fly a kite.
  84. Go sailing or on some kind of boat trip. Cause I love it.
  85. Have more real, deep and meaningful conversations. I hate small talk and mostly I just move away from it. Perhaps if I could engage people to communicate a little deeper I could stay in the conversations for longer.
  86. Be more accepting of others. I’m an idealist. A philosopher. A dreamer. I expect everyone else to be this way too. But I realise they’re not. And that’s ok.
  87. Have patience. With life. With outcomes. With myself. With others. Things often just need time.
  88. Host a Mad Hatters Tea Party. We can all be Alice. I’ll try to find some magic mushrooms. 
  89. Define exactly what I want my life to look and feel like. Get clear on it. Write it out and go live life on my own terms. Use my imagination and then go beyond even that. High aspirations. No expectations.
  90. Tell all the people I admire, how and why I admire them. They inspire me and deserve to know so.
  91. Go on lots of picnics.
  92. Stop checking Google Analytics stats quite so much, my monthly excel spreadsheet is truly quite sufficient. Focus on what’s actually important instead. (Building an Empire of Revolutionary Love).
  93. Write down my dreams as soon as I awake. Something magical might come out of them.
  94. Learn how to make chocolate soufflé.
  95. Write a gig review. Just to try it out and see if I can do it. It seems daunting and intimidating but I go to so many festivals and music gigs, it’s certainly a valuable skill I could develop.
  96. Experiment. With everything.
  97. Go on a road trip without a destination in mind. Discover new and wonderful places.
  98. Hula hoop lots more and learn some really cool tricks I can show off at parties. (Perhaps buy a hula hoop so I can do this).
  99. Read every single Dr Seuss book ever written.
  100. Make at least one video blog aka vlog for viendamaria.com this year. Get help with the post-production so it looks AMAZING!
  101. Go to Confest at Easter and present some workshops ….. on topics not yet decided.
  102. Do a flash-mob-dance-off.
  103. Stay awake all night and watch the sunrise at the beach. And then skinny dip in the ocean.
  104. Minimise my collection of belongings. Do I really need all those books and things? Less is more I say.
  105. Burn my journals and notebooks from the past 10 years (after I’ve copied out all the juicy stuff).
  106. Blow bubbles in the park and play with glitter and take photos of these little moments of joy and amusement.
  107. Create a photo album of my life for my family.
  108. Sell all the 100’s of pieces of jewellery that I have collected to sell from my travels over the past few years.
  109. Wear more accessories. Aiming to look like a pirate crossed with a nymph.
  110. Expand my music collection. Open my ears to new and wonderful sounds. Try out something new.
  111. Go for walks along the beach in the winter, even when it’s cold.
  112. Trust in the process of life. It is truly very amazing and magical, even when my mind tries to conjure up ridiculous ideas of defeat.

Tell me. Do you share any of these? What dreams are you going to fulfil this year?
Image source.

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