Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog home, friends! You’ve probably noticed a few changes around here, yes? Helllllooo, new design!

Minimal and fresh with lots of space to wonder, wander, and breathe. I’ve been craving wide open spaces in my offline and online life and this blog theme fits nicely into my current wants.

But the biggest change? A new domain name!! Yes, it’s true, I’ve had a few different blog titles since I started writing in this space in 2009. And as I transition into making this hobby a major priority, I knew it was time to get serious about a domain. Let’s review the old titles just for fun:

  • 2009 – Get Your Green On. Natanya Green. Get your Green on. Omg. ::hands over face and shakes head::
  • 2010 – Treasure Chest. This stuck for a good long while. This name is based on my love for treasure hunts. As a kid my mom created the most amazing treasure hunts for each birthday and since then I’ve come to view life as one big treasure hunt. I love the notion the title implied (the blog was a place to collect musings and inspirations of life, i.e., treasures) but it seemed a little too juvenile for my current station.
  • 2012 – Natanya Haviva. After I attended The Blogcademy I had the itch to completely makeover my blog. Though I was bursting with ideas nothing concrete was forming. So, with no other name calling to me I went with my own. Natanya Haviva is my first and middle name, respectively. I love my names (they are both Hebrew) but I realized most people have no idea what Haviva means and it really was only a placeholder until I could think of something I liked better.
  • and that leads us to…

              Soul to Speak

It’s perfect for me now. It describes my passions most succinctly… speaking from the heart, living a life guided by one’s Soul, storytelling, and sharing wisdom. As soon as I said it aloud to myself I didn’t have to think twice. I knew it was it.

Some housekeeping: If you follow this blog on Feedly or another reader update the domain to http://www.soultospeakblog.com. That way you’ll have the best link to all the new posts I have planned.

Stay tuned…

Rumblings…

Since last weekend’s end to the Blogcademy I have had ideas for this blog oozing, tumbling, shooting out my fingertips. Jumping out of bed just as I finally sink into sleep to jot down a thought? It’s happened. Notebook growing fuller by the day? For sure. I can’t wait to unveil the changes around here. But for now, with all the goodness swirling madly between mind, finger, and pen, I better hold off until the last detail is accounted for. A lot is changing in my life lately, and a blog upgrade is just the ticket to ride.

Thank you, as always, for reading and coming along for the journey!

xo,

Natanya

The Blogcademy: Recap!

The Blogcademy

All photos except Instagrams courtesy of fabulous Femke Leemans

As you know, this past weekend I spent the most incredible two days with 3 multi-talented blogging powerhouses, two professional photographers, and 29 other bloggers extraordinaire. I felt like I had walked into a dream world the moment I arrived at the inaugural Blogcademy hosted by (from l-r below) Shauna Haider of NubbyTwiglet.com, Kat Williams of RocknRollBride.com, and Gala Darling of Galadarling.com. Needless to say, my fellow students and I made up one big room of fangirls but it was clear by the end that we had all become one great mutual admiration society.

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The Blogcademy

Headmistresses

Gala, Shauna, Kat and their special guest, professional photographer Lisa Devlin, had prepared a packed weekend of everything they know about blogging. Realize this: they have a combined expertise of over 30 years of blogging – so it was a lot of take in. I took copious notes but some golden nuggets stood out and I’ve recapped my favorite below.

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Gala at BlogcademyNatanya at The Blogcademy

Takeaways

♦ Smile while you write. People can read the difference! 🙂

♦ Re-frame a hardship you’re going through into something inspirational that others can learn from rather than moaning on your blog about it.

♦ Showcase what you want more of – you will be attracting the right readers in the process.

♦ Focus on your strengths, outsource the rest.

♦ Prioritize the relationships that influence you positively.

♦ To get inspired, get off the computer!

♦ A blog is a springboard, not an end in itself.

♦ People love a good list.

Eat That Frog.

♦ If people are coming to your blog, it means they like it! Find creative ways to give them more.

♦ Some things you try will work, others won’t. Both are ok.

♦ Don’t over commit: There is no faster way to disappoint people than to not do what you said you would.

♦ Book deals won’t just fall out of the sky…unless they do.

♦ A brand is a gut feeling. Your audience’s gut feeling, not yours.

♦  Build your blog with room to grow. Think: collaborators.

♦ Your content should be meaty & sticky.

♦ Learning photography is like learning to drive.

♦ The dirty little secret is that your blog will never be perfect. Accept it and move on.

The totality of what we learned will be with me for months to come and my mind is swimming with ideas. Not to mention, Lisa Devlin, UK Photographer of the year, lead us through an enormous section on Sunday afternoon  about imagery, photo shoots, DSLRs, lighting, props, editing and more. We even went outside for a quick photo shoot of our own to put our new skills to the test. We had a blast, Lisa is hilarious, and I learned so much. I wish I could put her in my pocket and take her everywhere!

Gala Darling and Lisa Devlin

Gala and Lisa Devlin

Natanya at BlogcademyScenes from the first day. I loved hanging out with the other bloggers and learning from their expertise and enthusiasm. 

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In addition to the many many many takeaways that filled my notebook, I also jotted down a few inspiring quotes when I heard them. In the back of our Blogcademy magazine Gala, Kat, and Shauna added a full page of quotes that always inspires them. I enjoyed reading through the quotes while I waited for the subway on my way home just as I hope you’ll enjoy reading these!

The Blogcademy

Favorite Quotes

♦ “You will never be a leader in your niche by following everyone else.” – Shauna

♦ “You will never find your style. Style will find you.” – Jonas Peterson

♦ “You can’t just stamp a logo on it and call it branded, branding is the whole of who you are.” – Kat

♦ “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

♦ “You are a mash-up of what you let into your life. Anyone can be creative if they surround themselves with the right influences.” – Austin Kleon (from a RocknRoll Bride interview, March 2012)

♦ “Slow and steady wins the race.” – Shauna

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The Blogcademy

This photo caught me Instagramming which was happening about 79.93 % of the time.

Instagrams

All weekend we were ‘gramming away (as bloggers do) and some of the funniest photos are the ones that capture us all with our noses in our screens at the same time. You can follow me on the ‘gram at @natanyahaviva.

Natanya and Latanya at Blogcademy

I made some great new blogger friends. I love this shot of me with my *almost* twin Latanya of Sprinkles and Booze.

Veronica Varlow and Natanya at Blogcademy

Veronica Varlow of Danger Dame is such a sweet heart! We had quite the selfie photo shoot!

Stephanie Marie at Blogcademy

Stephanie Marie of The Fête taking shots outside during Lisa Devlin’s photography lesson. She became my go-to coffee buddy. Can’t wait to take her out for a latte when I visit Virginia!

Natanya at the Blogcademy

This is the photo that won best #bloggerface of the weekend. Gala even called it “Epic” 😉 Click the hashtag to see just how much practice we had all weekend at making the perfect #bloggerface!

Blogcademy

Chatty bloggers during a break.

The Blogcademy

I’m an official graduate! Thank you to A Fine Press for the gorgeous letter pressed certificates!

Instax happiness. Me with my heroes.

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What I Learned

I signed up for The Blogcademy with the intention to find clarity. You see, I love everything about blogging: writing, photography, social media, learning new skills, building community… I just wasn’t sure why I was blogging. I hoped that The Blogcademy might be my golden ticket to the answer. And in some ways it was.

♦ I remembered that nothing I put out has to be perfect. I will always be growing, learning, changing, and that means my blog will be growing and changing right along with me. I don’t have to be afraid to get it all down pat the first time. Not everything we do will be “aces” but over time, with practice and attention it will improve.

♦ I learned that everyone is in their own race. There is nothing I need to try be other than exactly who I am and there is always an audience for every unique voice. In fact, the more I stick to my unique identity, the faster my blog will grow.

♦ Before the start of the weekend I had been nervous that perhaps I wouldn’t “fit in” with the other bloggers whom I imagined to have perfect blogs and be wearing perfect shoes, combing perfect hair. Clearly I had the voice of the gremlin on my shoulder! I’m so glad I ignored the voice because I met the most unique, kind, supportive, fun, silly, ambitious, generous, ladies and I know we will all be in touch way after the light of the weekend dims. Basically, I learned the gremlin is always a sourpuss and ignoring it is always a good idea.

♦ Any blog can get better with strategic initiatives. Great content is rather simple when you break it down.

+Blog frequently, and your unique voice will shine.

+Take your time to take great photos. Quality imagery is the fastest way to draw attention to your blog.

+Collaborate. Hire people to do the work you don’t like to do or aren’t good at.

+Guest post if you want to, or invite others to guest post for you. It’s a great way to exchange fresh content and bring in new audiences.

+Think of your brand in iconic ways and it will be timeless. But even the best blogs can use an update or a re-brand after some time.

+If you’re stuck, ask your readers. They will lead you right.

+Be honest, be genuine, be you!

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Other Blogcademy Recaps

Want more more pictures, more learnings, more fun? Check out what my classmates had to say about their experiences!

The Fête Blog

Danger Dame Diary

Andrea Jaggs

Burnett’s Boards

Eldy’s Pocket

Condiments on a City Life

The Alchemy of Hustle

Me and My Ego

Little Bear in a Big World

Recaps from the Trinity themselves:

Gala Darling

Nubby Twiglet

Rock N Roll Bride

And the official Blogcademy blog quick ‘n dirty recap:

The Blogcademy

Annnnd…more pictures of the weekend on Flickr!

Ok! that should keep you busy for a while. 😉

xoxo,

Natanya

The Blogcademy

The Blogcademy. Is. This. Weekend. (!!!!).

Safe to say I’m excited. Really, ridiculously excited. So if you need me this weekend, know that I’ve fallen into the rabbit hole, deep into Blogland, and unlikely to emerge the same ol’ Natanya. No, this is going to be a brand-changing, life-altering weekend full of inspiration and education.

The Blogcademy

This evening I’ll be taking the train to NYC and preparing to spend all day Saturday and Sunday with the three imitable Headmistresses (Nubby, Gala, and Kat) and 29 other blog comrades. I can’t wait to meet the other students and I’m sure we’ll find much in common as we share our passion for this thing called blogging. Don’t worry, I’ll have a full report on my experience next week but in case you can’t wait until then I’ll be updating with pictures and tweets all weekend long – so if you’re interested, or merely curious, follow me on Instagram and Twitter for all the behind-the-scenes goodness! I’m @natanyahaviva both places.

Gala-Kat-Nubby

It’s been a dream of mine to meet these high profile, funny, smart, savvy, bloggers for years and years (Since my friend Philip first introduced me to Gala’s website 4-ish years ago). I can hardly believe the day has almost arrived!
Phew – its gonna be a good one. Have a great weekend!!

xoxo,

Natanya

*All photos from The Blogcademy website.