Tag Archives: WordPress

July Writer Response: Gabe Dellavecchia


Beth and I have gone through a lot together: a kleptomaniac poltergeist, simultaneous altitude sickness, and enough family drama to write a decade’s worth of telenovelas.

But this was the first time I ever gave her a homework assignment.

When I saw her first panicked post, I thought to myself “Great. I have given her the mental equivalent of a sprained ankle.”

I know change isn’t always fun (they call them growing pains for a reason), but I worried that, instead of giving my friend a chance for professional development and personal reflection, I had managed to upset the delicate balance of spinning chaos that is Beth’s life. It’s like Beth is one of those circus performers with plates spinning on both hands, her head, and her outstretched left foot, and I had come along and tickled her nose. Annoying and potentially disastrous.

But then a miraculous thing happened. As she always does, Beth shook off the shock, grabbed her bootstraps firmly, and hoisted herself back into a standing position, sprained ankle and sprained brain be damned.

By the first deadline, the internet was finally graced with bethbarbush.com, and I could not be more proud. First of all, that Beth managed to make the deadline, but also that her long-coming cyberspace beachhead has been established.

All it took was a few more nights for the bones of her new WordPress site to be stitched together. Even her family health crisis has contributed to the completion of the assignment: with lots of waiting time on her hands, time that could easily be spent fretting, Beth has circumvented some technical difficulties to focus on distilling the essence of her various accomplishments into words.

Because when it comes to Beth, the story at the heart of the matter is really what she is interested in.

As for me?

Well, shortly after writing my chapter assignment, I was lucky enough to land a teaching job for the fall. Suddenly, my own need for an electronic portfolio faded in the face of the logistics of moving from Oregon to Colorado in the next month.

Like Beth, I have made changes to my own assignment to fit my new reality. In one way or another, I have been on the road for about 17 years. My life has been in boxes. In one of those boxes, I had been collecting “important stuff”: ticket stubs, programs, fliers… you know, stuff. I had always intended to compile them into scrapbooks. In the past, I have made elaborate books for the big events: my student exchange trips, my service in the Peace Corps, my time in Japan. But I had never stopped to make a book about the rest of my life… which is the majority of my time. As I was about to toss the program from my graduate school commencement into the box, I decided “This has to stop.”

So, rather than hauling boxes of bits of paper to yet another new home, I sat down, and with the help of old calendars and the internet, pieced together what the hell I have been up to since high school. In many ways, it is the same process that Beth has been going through. Sitting here in our mid-30s and wondering “What is the overall picture here? Are these all pieces from the same puzzle?”

I arranged my bits and pieces into not one, but three, binders. I am now in the process of adding my stories to them: hand-written, in my tiny, close-knit scrawl. I am making my own mark on the books: inscribing the pure memories that are left after all of the extraneous details have long since burned off.

Taking a step back, before plunging ahead to the next chapter.

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.

Check out the Living Chapters facebook page to follow the growing pains and progress of the evolving online portfolio.

Visit the June Gallery for images and videos from the Body and Kinesthetic chapter.

logic lesson #1


It took only a few hours after sending out an SOS to receive more than enough help from all of you. Thanks to everyone who responded with fantastic ideas for online portfolio hosting sites and organizing techniques. I quickly went from having no idea of what to do to having an abundance of ideas. So now I was only left with two questions.

1. Which is the perfect online portfolio hosting site for me?

2. What’s the best way to organize my material and get started?

In a short period of time I fell down the inter-web rabbit hole and got sucked into reading about every kind of hosting site you could imagine and at least 10 different websites on “how to make a stellar online portfolio”. This is what I learned:

Answer for question #1: There is not one perfect online portfolio site.

The best thing to do is use what is both user-friendly for your viewer and what is easiest and most comfortable for YOU (the person creating it)  I thought I needed a specific web-hosting platform to create my unique professional portfolio, but realize that I am already using and learning on a web hosting tool (this blog you are reading is WordPress), why choose a new tool to learn when I am already struggling to learn this one. WordPress it is! I even found a very helpful step by step YouTube video on “How to build a professional portfolio using WordPress” made by a guy named Phil who is a Jerry Garcia fan (if Phil could do this set up in 20 min I am thinking I can manage as well) By the time I am done with this site and a year of blogging on it, I hope to be at least proficient at WordPress.

Answer for question #2: Keep it simple.

Page after page instructed me to pare it down! Less really is more. Just because I did a million random things in the past 10 years – doesn’t mean I need to include all of them (Phew! I had no idea where the heck I had stashed those pictures of me driving a book-mobile dressed up as the Wheels of Wonder Woman nor did I really know if I wanted to share them) I also learned that the simplicity rule – should run throughout the whole portfolio, not just with how much content I include, but also in how I describe all the content. Keeping the simplicity mantra in mind when mining through the archives of long-lost projects will be key!

OK – so my first major decisions are made but I still have Gabe’s strict schedule to stick to. Somehow by the end of this evening I will open a new WordPress page and make some initial organizational decisions. At least I have Philip from YouTube to show me how to do it. Thanks Phil.

So here’s my logic lesson of the day:

Learning 2 new online media platforms (minus) Learning 1 new online media platform      =  Less of a learning curve and a better chance for success! Which is also equivalent to a less stressed and more productive Beth Barbush.

We all don’t need my metaphorical math equations to know that less is more….                it <is> simple logic.

Please join me in this July’s endeavor! Start your own online portfolio.  Here are a few websites to get you started:

7 rules for creating a professional portfolio site:

10 simple steps to create and manage your professional online identity

Phil’s simple guide to using WordPress as an online portfolio tool.

Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.

Visit the June Gallery for images and videos from the first chapter.