Setting Up My WordPress.org Website

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Photo Credit: ThemeForest

I’ve just set-up the WordPress.org website for my online magazine and I’m ecstatic. While of course there’s no content uploaded yet, it’s one thing to dream about something and quite another to actually see it start to come to fruition! At the moment, I prefer to keep details of the project quiet, but I will certainly divulge more later.

For now, though, I wanted to discuss the technical aspects of actually setting up the site. There are a couple of things I noticed that, for a beginner, might be confusing at first. That worried me a bit. I believe the hardest part in anything is simply starting. Setting up your website, it’s easy to give up at the first hurdle and experience overwhelming existential angst (“why isn’t my theme uploading on WordPress.com!? What am I doing with my life!? Who am I!? Why am I!? Where’s the chocolate!? ARGH!”).

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Photo Credit: IStock/VasjaKoman via The Memo

After you’ve finally worked up the nerve to start your own project, whatever it may be, that would certainly be a shame.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. I really think after you have something set up that you can just see, everything else becomes so much easier. So here are a couple of notes I made on the very first few steps that I believe could turn into obstacles along the way:

1. WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

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These are two different websites founded by the same guy, but just with different names. Yes, I agree, they could have probably alleviated a lot of headaches by differentiating the two more clearly, but what are you going to do? It’s important for you to understand this before you purchase any themes or even a host. This knowledge will help you determine: 1) where to buy your theme and 2) if you even need a host.

Right now, I am writing on the free WordPress.com site that WordPress hosts because I am cheap like that. On WordPress.org, however, you’re self-hosted which gives you a lot more control over your website. For example, you can install Google Analytics, which is one of the many reasons businesses use it.

Now, if you’re just blogging for friends and family, it might be easier to use WordPress.com. You’ll get everything you need without the price tag, unless you purchase one of WordPress.com’s themes or a domain — even that, it might work out cheaper. (What does it mean to buy a domain and why would I want to do that? Good question! Buying a domain basically means getting rid of the “wordpress” in your URL. So instead of sheenavasani.wordpress.com, this blog would be sheenavasani.com if Sheena wasn't so stingy.)

2. Research And Find A Host First, Then Install WordPress.Org

If you choose to use WordPress.org, you cannot use it unless you buy a plan through a host like Bluehost or GoDaddy, and then install the WordPress.org software. On Bluehost, this is as easy as literally clicking “Install WordPress”, although it can be a little more tricky with other hosts. You may need to download directly from the WordPress.org website and follow their instructions.

There are a ton of posts out there comparing hosts. (Whoop, I rhymed!) Here are just a few:

  1. PC Magazine
  2. Who Is Hosting This?
  3. Website Setup

3. Choosing A Theme:

On both WordPress websites, you can choose free or premium themes. Here’s the thing though: if you’ve bought a theme from a third-party, you cannot install it on your WordPress.com website. You will only be allowed to upload that theme after you’ve downloaded the WordPress.org software.

What this means is that, after you buy a theme, all you need to do is click on “Themes” (I know, I know, if I had a penny every time I wrote the word “theme”…) in your WordPress.org administrative website. At the very top, you will read something like “Upload” which is where you will  upload your theme’s files. Make sure you install the right ones! On ThemeForest, a very reputable third-party, that means to upload “Installable WordPress file only”.

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Like with hosts, there are a lot of great pieces out there about themes. I bought the “Voice Theme” from ThemeForest, which I love. I learned about it while reading an article over at ColorLib.com.

So there you go! I’m sure there are a lot more things I could write, and if I think of them, I’ll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, good luck with your endeavors!

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Javascript And Ruby

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Ruby On Rails was the first programming language I was exposed to, and looking back, I am glad it was. I think it helped that it heavily uses English in a way that a newbie can understand, so it made learning to code less intimidating. However, it also means when it was time to learn my second language, Javascript, I recall staring dumbfounded at the screen thinking one thing only: “WHAT THE F*** KIND OF AN ALIEN LANGUAGE IS THIS!?!?!”

Thankfully, my relationship with Javascript improved when I tinkered about with my first Javascript challenge: reversing a string. Before working on the program, I sat down and compared Ruby syntax with Javascript to make a note of the similarities and differences. That was a life-saver! Here is the first batch of just some observations I made back then that really helped me break Javascript into something I could more easily grasp:

1. Variables: 

Javascript’s variables are just slightly longer than Ruby. In addition to the variable and the value, you also have to include”var” and a semi-colon (in fact, make sure you end every line in your program with a semi-colon) like so:

Ruby: 

best_pet = "cats"

Javascript:

var best_pet = "cats";

2. Debugging/Printing Variables and Interpolation:

Ruby: In Ruby, it’s all about good old”puts”. Also, to insert the variable in a string, we use interpolation:

puts "my cat is the #{best_pet}"

Javascript: In Javascript, we use console.log. After you declare a variable in Javascript, do not refer to that same variable with a var. Just refer to the name. Also, just an fyi: please be very careful not to include the variable in the preceding string! It’s a very easy typo to make, and one that has caused me tremendous existential angst in later programs:

console.log("my cat is the" + best_pet);

3. If/Else Statements:

Ruby: We’ve got the usual if/else/elsif conditional flow:

learning_to_code = true
human_being = true

if learning_to_code && human_being
   puts "You are awesome!"
elsif learning_to_code && !human_being 
   puts "Wha.....!!?"
end 

Javascript: Similar, but with an “else if” and some of the other syntactic differences pointed out already:

var learning_to_code = true;
var human_being = true;

if (learning_to_code && human_being) {console.log("You are awesome!");
}
else if (learning_to_code && !human_being) {console.log("Wha....!!?");
}

4. Functions/Methods:

Ruby: Javascript functions are Ruby’s methods:

def cat(name) 
 puts "Hello" + name.to_s
end

Javascript: And, of course, Ruby’s methods are Javascript’s functions:

function cat(name) {
return " Hello " + name
}

5. For Loops: 

I think loops look much less complicated in Ruby than in Javascript. Here’s what I mean:

Ruby:

"Meow".chars.each do |letter|
   puts letter
 end

Javascript:

var string = "Meow!";
for (var i = 0; i < string.length; i++) { 
   console.log(string[i]);
}

Gettin’ Creative In Japan

1) Kintsugi Class:

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I took a Kintsugi class in Tokyo. Kintsugi is a traditional art form where one repairs broken pottery with gold.I fell head over heels with the practice and its philosophy after artist @emilymcdowell_posted about it. (Her meme is in the middle there.) I just adored the idea that brokenness can create beauty. I knew I had to give it a try, so I did 🙂 Check out the pottery in the borders there to see my results!

2) Lake Kawaguchiko:

We were about to embark on a boat across the river to see Mount Fuji in the middle of a snow storm, providing some incredible photo opportunities! I was pretty proud of my edits on these two specific pictures which I made while in line to board the boat:

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3) Kyoto:

I didn’t really need to edit this very much, but I was proud of the angle:

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4) Cherry Blossoms:

And of course, my beloved cherry blossoms — the reason I came during March in the first place! Special thanks to my sister for two of these photos.

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To see more of my Japan photos, check out my public Facebook album:

1) Tokyo: Kintsugi Class (Japanese art), Senso-ji Temple, Imperial Palace, Shinjuki, Mohri Gardens etc…2) Mt. Fuji…

Posted by Sheena Vasani on Sunday, April 2, 2017

I’ll be sure to write more posts about my incredible experiences there one day. For now, I just want to enjoy and be in the moment.

Happy Women’s Day

The beautiful hands of the one who created me:

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I drew this simple design on my Mom’s hand on Valentine’s Day. The act held special significance. My Mom is an Indian Hindu widow from more traditional times, widowed young when I was just a child. Tradition holds that once a husband passes, a widow must no longer beautify herself the way she did during his life. So for years my Mom wore white Indian dresses.

You can imagine, then, that to apply henna – usually used to adorn brides- on a widow would be an outrage to the traditional, older types. Shameful even. Especially on Valentines Day.

Yet with the passage of time and the growth of willful, rebellious, authority-defying children in the US, my Mom slowly sheds away what I view as many disempowering customs of old.

And so, mostly unbeknownst to my Mom (she just thought I wanted to doll her up in honor of the day and play with henna) that’s exactly why I did it.

Here’s a toast to my brave, progressive Mother, who often can’t see her brilliance as clearly as I do. The world has been cruel to her as it has many Indian women of her generation and even mine. Being from different times, cultures and countries, we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye but she tries. And for this, I am so proud.

And to every Indian woman like her throwing off the cultural shackles preventing our gender from flying… Thank you. You give me hope. And a future.

Happy Women’s Day.

Painting Away Pain

Painting another canvas as a form of meditation. I’m trying to teach myself to focus on the process vs outcome – to relax and enjoy the journey – as I create both art and my life. So many self-critical thoughts emerge but once the brush hits the canvas, my mind goes blank and surrenders. Painting away old pain, you could say.

Visit my Etsy shop to view more designs like these and buy when the canvas is done: https://www.etsy.com/shop/HerSoulExpression. You can also email me at hersoulexpression@gmail.com if you wish to make a purchase.

From my soul to yours,

Sheena

Green Sky

I wrote this last year during a stressful time I feared losing a loved one. I stumbled upon it again today and was grateful for the reminder.

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I went for a walk. It’s been a hard week. I needed guidance.

An hour later, my search led me back to where I began – nowhere. I found nothing.

Defeated, I stood still.

Surrendering, I bared my heavy heart to the heavens, looking up only to find a green sky.

In the Hindu tradition, green is the color of the heart chakra.

Gently, Rumi’s “only through the heart can you touch the sky” whispers to me. I smile and understand.

Be still. Go in. Stop running to the outside. Face your heart and let her speak. Let her break, so that she may break open to receive love. There lies your answer.

Love is always the answer.

In My Feminine, I Feel Free

A simple henna design I drew on my hand:

A Simple Henna Design I Drew On My Hand

I listened to this playlist I made entitled “Divine Feminine” while doing so:

I belly danced after.The sensuality of the dance and drawings swept me away into this stunningly magical space. No constricting lines existed there, just carefree curves and colours. In my feminine, I feel free.

My second piece for the F-Word UK

When the Defenders are the Perpetrators – the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict

http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2014/06/when_the_defenders#comments

With 151 countries signing a protocol to end sexual violence in conflict-affected countries and the introduction of a new UN policy to help do so, the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London was a fantastic step forward.

The Summit’s aims were many, with much noise made about holding governments accountable, better training for peacekeepers, and supporting women human rights defenders.

Yet what to do when the very defenders are also the perpetrators – such as the United Nations itself? Unfortunately, the Summit did not provide much of an answer.

UN peacekeepers have repeatedly committed acts of sexual violence in many of the same countries the summit highlighted, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. How can we forget the 2005 revelation that UN peacekeepers were paying young girls in the Congo food for sex? Indeed, according to reports by Cornell constitutional law scholar Muna Ndulo, “UN peacekeepers have fathered an estimated 24,500 babies in Cambodia and 6,600 in Liberia.”

While the UN has condemned these actions and taken steps towards reform, the organisation has been criticised for not taking sexual violence seriously enough – partly because it does not even have the power to do so. It is the UN’s structure that largely enables this abuse; peacekeepers are only contracted to the UN, and thus are subject to their individual countries’ laws. Thus, UN policy enforcement on tackling violence against women is as problematic as the policy enforcement on tackling violence against women is in every country.

While the Summit addressed strengthening domestic laws so that prosecution can occur, still, it did not address this in reference to the UN’s peacekeeping failures – one almost wonders if to avoid touching on the UN’s embarrassing history. It also did not address how the UN keeps knowingly hiring peacekeeping troops from countries that do not adequately prosecute their soldiers for rape, and even keeps the identities of these individuals anonymous.

It is disappointing that at the largest summit of its kind, the media and government representatives at the Summit remained curiously silent about the United Nations’ own contribution to the problem. It would have been the ideal platform to speak up, but then perhaps given the UN’s large presence at the event, it would have hit too close to home.

This inconvenient truth and its omission from the discussions at the Summit offer an important warning: when it comes to ending sexual violence in war, everybody needs to be held accountable for genuine progress to occur. In many ways, some of the factors that have allowed sexual violence in conflict-affected countries to continue without adequate punishment mirror some of the reasons why sexual violence worldwide is so rampant.

To an extent, both are largely fueled by a global culture that perpetuates rape and gender inequality. It’s a culture that often either victim-blames or simply does not take rape seriously enough. Thus sexual violence is not simply the problem of certain countries, but reflective of a worldwide systemic issue all countries contribute to. Even the Summit’s host – the UK government – has failed to protect refugees victimised by sexual violence in war, causing further trauma by refusing to even believe them. And let’s not even get started on how often rape in general occurs every hour in every country, from the US to the Congo, and yet how poorly politicians sometimes respond towards these cases thus perpetuating the problem. For example, the US – despite its large presence in the Summit and the UN – has neglected its own college campus sexual assault survivors.

Ending sexual violence in conflict-affected countries will require more than just 151 signatures. It will require everybody – countries, the UN, individuals – to take an honest look at itself and take responsibility for its own part in this larger problem. The Summit was a wonderful move in the right direction, but until each country and organisation does so, real change will not be possible.

Excerpts from Karen Armstrong’s “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life”

Just a few thought-provoking excerpts in non-chronological order from one of the many books I’m currently reading called “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life” by well-known religious commentator Karen Armstrong:

ImageCapitalism and post-colonial psychology. Made me randomly ponder the link between post-colonial psychology and domination of women in certain countries, wondering if there is some connection between post-colonial emasculation and unhealthy attempts to re-gain masculinity through abuse/domination of women?

Image Interesting analysis of Islam image still pertinent today. Reminds me of how the media and society villainize(d) certain groups ie immigrants, Jews, women now and during times of witch burnings etc….as a means to expunge their Shadow selves?

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Why trying to be a Somebody is the path to suffering:

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It’s a great read – check it out:

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Photos I’ve Taken That Make My Heart Smile

This sign at a cafe:

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The vibrancy of these flowers, so alive with colour:

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Burning away the old (and almost accidentally setting the table on fire – oops)

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Coffee and conversation on a balcony overlooking London:

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The sensuality of these roses:n

The sensual wild flowers contrasted with composed St. Pauls and all it represents:

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The remnants of a hatched egg I found on a walk – birth:

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Pondering my life’s direction on a swing in a playground:

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My little cousin’s artwork:

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Heart-shaped pages:

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Wearing socks that don’t match:

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A beautiful house with roses on a lake:

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Kitten sniffing flowers:

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This gorgeous poem:

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The surprise when I found out the artist is color blind:

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My cousin’s car:

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Innocence – my little cousin and kitten sharing a moment:

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 My baby:

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Couldn’t get enough of this rose:

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The travel section at the bookstore:

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The magic that is this book:

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Kitten sniffing my shoes:

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The colorful 4 in front of Channel 4:

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 Reading this book:

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Camden canals:Image

This funny bird:

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This menu:

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This sign, because it seemed the perfect response to the question “Universe, give me advice about my life” I asked only a few seconds before:

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