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freelancing, how to file taxes as a freelancer, TaxSlayer, taxes

Do you know the difference between a cyber fan and a cyberstalker?  Because there definitely is a difference and if you work online you should be aware of what cyberstalking is. You should also familiarize yourself with what catfishing is because there are some really desperate individuals out there.

I live and breathe online. I get it. I make my business public. That’s why I’ll never get to live out my dream of being a politician.Well, that and the fact that I actually have some morals and ethics. Those are hard qualities to reconcile with being a politician. My personal business is just too damn public. It served its purpose. It was cathartic but the downside is…everyone knows my business. I’ve had to forfeit some of my expectation of privacy by doing this.

It wasn’t important at the time. At the time I wrote some of the pieces, believe me, my mental status and processing were much more important than who knew my business. But then the dust settles and it’s out there and, as we all know, once it’s out there. It is out there so be somewhat cautious with your online presence.

A couple months ago, I had a real life face-to-face meeting with a reader. Well, she wasn’t so much of a regular reader as my bank teller who handled a deposit from Pop Sugar once and from there on decided to Google me and follow my writing…everywhere. First I thought maybe she was a fellow writer who wanted some tips on how to pitch Pop Sugar. Normally, I would have been flattered but she did one of those things where you go just one step too far. You know what I mean. We’ve all done it. You know you’ve gone too far fangirl when the other party gives you the “the hell?” look. I think she saw mine all the way from my car.

Anyways, I was a little bit creeped out that my teller not only went fangirl on me but then started telling me how she Googled me and had read my pieces on Scary Mommy, Huffington Post, Latina Mom.me, Parenting, She Knows, The Stir and even stuff as far back as Aiming Low. But, I let it go. I mean after all; I make my life public so what did I expect? Someday I was bound to run into someone other than my family, friends or fellow bloggers who actually read my blog.

But then a couple weeks later I returned and again she referenced things I had published online. Now, again this might not have been creepy except when I write online there is a tiny bit of privacy. For instance, most of you don’t know where I live, have my actual address and social security number at your disposal and know where my kids go to school and what they look like in person. You guys don’t know my husband’s name and I probably won’t run into any of you at the local grocery. Basically, I’m not in any immediate danger of you guys coming to my door and boiling my dog or using me as a skin suit. Her on the other hand, she was creeping me out. And now that I think about it, I probably shouldn’t be writing this at all because SWF might be reading it. Anyways, here’s hoping she’s not!

I’m not going to lie. I started avoiding my bank. I just felt uncomfortable with her level of comfortableness with me. It’s one thing to Google, someone, it’s a completely different thing to actually tell them and continue on like that is normal to do. It certainly wasn’t professional.

I didn’t think it had really affected me until I realized I have 4 very personal posts in my drafts folder. Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I don’t leave posts in the drafts folder. I publish it all.

Then last night, I had a very weird and long dream. I’m not going to go all into detail but let’s just say it involved a very not well-thought out panic room, a weirdo and my entire family. The scariest part of all was that after the entire situation was resolved and the aggressor was apprehended in my dream, the creeper looked at me and (Scooby Doo ending like) said very eerily, “It’s okay, I’ll find you again. You’ll be x, y, z, doing x, y, z again soon.” And that was very scary because they mentioned very specific posts from my blog and I woke up ready to shut the whole thing down. But then I remembered, that’s not who I am and I’m not 5-years-old. Nightmares don’t send me running to my mom’s bed anymore. So, I’m hitting publish and I’m leaving it all on the blog.

The moral of the story is that if you don’t want to be labeled an online stalker, don’t tell people you meet in person that you’ve never met before that you’ve Googled them. It’s just weird unless you are vetting someone for a job or a date and definitely don’t do it every time you see them.

Have you ever had an cyberstalker cross over into real life and how did you deal with it?

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shark week, PMS, living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

Disclosure: This post about living authentically online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Whenever I am asked by digital influencers new to the space or get emails from people contemplating starting a blog or becoming a digital influencer, my first word of advice is to be true to yourself; be authentic in the version of you that you present to the world. The bottom line is that there is only one you and that is what makes each person’s voice online special. Why even try to be someone else? Imitation is not flattering and you are almost always guaranteed to fail at trying to be someone else.

Of course, it is hard to be yourself in life and even harder in the digital space these days. I speak from experience. In fact, just this week, two separate posts landed me in hot water. I spoke my truth, my opinion on what turned out to be a very controversial subject and then, I had to put on my big girl panties and live with the consequences. After all, if you chose to live your life openly and authentically online there will be repercussions, at some point.

Still, I choose to be who I am, flaws and all. Sometimes I rush to snappy judgements or let my emotions guide my writing. This is not always a good thing. There is authentic, then there is too much information and that’s what happens a lot of the time with me and the fact that I lack a filter. People who know me can be forgiving of a rash jump to a conclusion or one time lapse in judgement, the general public who don’t know by by anything other than one singular loud, opinionated post are not usually so forgiving.

In one way, it’s awesome because if you follow me on social media and my blog you know the “real” me but at other times, when I make snap judgements or speak out before I know all the facts, it’s bad because I’ve already put that bad first impression out into the world. I think, it’s only one bad choice but to someone who doesn’t know me, I am just that one bad choice. I think it’s best to find middle ground.

Here are my tips to living authentically online:

Be yourself.

Don’t over edit yourself and write in the way that you speak. No one’s life is sunshine and rainbows all the tie and no one speaks like Shakespeare in real life.

Be honest but hold the nasty.

Put your real thoughts out there. You are allowed to have an opinion. My only word of advice is if it is a heated topic, go ahead and write it out. Mull it over. Come back to it in a few hours and then hit publish if that’s still what you want to say. Believe me, this is the thing I still struggle with.

Develop a thick skin.

If you decide that you want your brand to be all in your face, all the time, then be prepared for backlash. Someday, some time on some topic, someone will disagree with you. In fact, you may just have the most unpopular opinion out there and when you do, the public will let you know. They can be cutting with their words and sometimes they even go for the jugular by attacking not only you personally but your family, thoughts and beliefs. My advice, if you choose to be 100% authentic all the time be prepared for this and either let it roll off your back (easier said than done) or don’t read the comments.

Be a Big Girl.

If you still decide to put your views online to be scrutinized (and they will be) be a grown up. If someone calls you ugly and stupid (and at times much worse) for having a contrary opinion, the best response is not to hurl insults back at them. Be a professional. If you can’t respond civilly, then walk away from the conversation. I don’t like to delete comments because I feel like if I put a topic up for debate, it is my reader’s rights to be heard too. However, sometimes reading the comments can become so consuming and overwhelming that I just have to not read them anymore. I am a professional, this is my job but I’m also a human and, not going to lie, sometimes my feelings suffer collateral damage as a result of my opinions and choice to live authentically online.

Last but not least, don’t take it personally.

I know this bit sounds crazy because, after all, if you are living online authentically, it is all very personal for you. When people attack your opinions, your choices, your beliefs it definitely feels personal but remember this, they’ve never actually met you. They don’t know you. They are disagreeing with your stance on a topic, not you the person even though it usually feels like they are. This is a very important thing to remember always.

These are my tips for staying authentic online. There is an understanding of culpability when you live your life online. You have a venue to broadcast your words and thoughts to people all over the world, so even when you are being authentic you should still consider the effect your words can have on those around you. There are ripples to every action we do in the world and online is no exception. Be yourself, but be responsible. Obviously, this too is something I still struggle with but I’ve come to a point where when I make mistakes, I am adult enough to admit it and say sorry if need be.

Living authentically online doesn’t mean you have a license to be mean, judgmental or bully others. It means you have a responsibility to be true to yourself while being watched by the world. So be yourself but remember you are a part of something much larger than just your thoughts from behind a computer screen.

A fun way to let people know who you are and what you’re about from the very beginning is to obtain a .ME domain name as the perfect way to stay authentic online. For example, if you are a homeschooling mama from the south how about SouthernHomeschoolingMama.Me. See it’s fun and it lets the world know what you’re about before they even click into your site.

If you are living authentically online what would your perfect .ME domain name be?

living authentically online, Domain .ME, blogging, digital influencer, writer, blogger

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authenticity online, authentic online, real me, mommy blogger, blogger,mommy guilt, parenting fail, missing firsts, tap, dance

Disclosure: This post about authenticity online was inspired and sponsored by Domain.ME, the provider of the personal domains that end in .ME. As a company, they aim to promote thought leadership to the tech world. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

When I started this blog, The TRUTH about Motherhood, I was known to the Internet as Truthful Mommy. I picked this pseudonym because I planned to bust every parenting myth that ever existed and I was a little leery about putting my face to my truth. I didn’t plan on being the poster child for authenticity online but I had every intention of being the real me.

I wanted to be the voice of the “regular” mom but I wasn’t sure that I was a “regular” mom because I felt like I was doing it so wrong. I didn’t think I was special in anything but my inadequacy. I just wanted to have an open and honest dialogue with other moms online or offline about the ups and downs of motherhood and life. I exist beyond just being a “mommy blogger” on the internet. I am a real person and people need other people. This isn’t just my job, it’s my life. I just wanted a place where I could be my own authentic self.

When I had my first daughter, suddenly, I found myself overwhelmed and completely out of my depth as a parent and as a human being. Every other mom I met made everything look so effortless and they weren’t telling me otherwise. I felt like the ultimate failure. I had so many questions.

Why was my 9-month old crawling backwards? Why couldn’t I ever make the arm to bed transition? Were my kids going to co-sleep until they left for college? Did no one else’s 2-year-old drop the F bomb? Why wouldn’t my toddler eat anything other than damn chicken nuggets? Why was I making all the wrong parenting choices when everyone else was making the right ones? Was I born missing the mom gene?

All the other moms looked so put together at Kinder Music and the Little Gym and I looked like death warmed over.  Motherhood looked effortless on them; like those 18-year-olds who just wake up and look gorgeous. Those were the days before Zombies were all the rage but I’m pretty positive I was the original Mombie. I was perpetually exhausted and about as far away from perfect as I could get. I mean, I was a nice person, trying my best but my best just felt like it fell short.

Then I “really” got to know the other moms and I realized those broads were just as exhausted and out of their depth as I was but they had something called dry shampoo and they never told me about their mommy woes because they were afraid I was going to think less of them. ME? The woman who hadn’t slept in 2 years. The woman who only wore pony tails and makeup she could put on in 2 minutes or less because little people needed every bit of my attention. That’s when I knew, I had to tell the truth for all of our sakes. So I did and it was glorious.

I had to be honest to have authenticity online or it was pointless.

To be fair, I’ve never been much of a liar anyways and my poker face is completely nonexistent so it’s not like I really had a choice but I chose to be the voice of honesty, not necessarily reason, on the internet and that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 7 years. I hope I’ve helped a few people along the way. If comments and private messages are any indication, I’ve had my moments of truth that have landed on desperate ears that needed to know they weren’t alone. That alone was worth bearing my soul naked on the Internet.

I can’t imagine not being my authentic me online or anywhere else in my life. I don’t have the time or desire to be anyone else. I’m definitely rough around the edges, I’ve been known to curse on occasion, and I don’t always say the right thing but who I am online is who I am in person. In fact, the best compliment I’ve ever received has been when meeting readers in real life and having them say that I am exactly who I am online.

I am fully aware that there are times when I overshare and maybe should keep some things to myself. There are times when I hit the publish button and it terrifies me to think what a reader half way across that world might think of me; after all, my skeletons are not hiding neatly in some closet, they are right here for anyone with Google to read. But I can’t over censor myself and pretend that my life is all rainbows and sunshine all the time because it’s not. Sometimes it is but sometimes it’s really shitty; so I share it all here.

For me, being authentic online is the only way that I know how to be. Life is too short to spend all of my time trying to create some fake perfect virtual world that only serves to make others feel bad about what they’re doing. I refuse to be part of the problem. This is me and if you’ve ever read this blog, you know that I’m not perfect but at least with me, you know what you’re getting.

How do you stay true to yourself in life?

What is your definition of authenticity online?

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Nielsen, Nielsen App, Tap Influence, How to partner with your dream brand, Entertainment

As a brand influencer, I have worked with a lot of brands; little ones and huge ones and each one is different and each one was important to me for some reason or other. In the beginning, I accepted campaigns that maybe were not my dream campaign but they were something my kid’s would actually play with or I would use in my everyday life but I was just so excited that someone wanted to work with me. I was excited by the thought of being wanted as an influencer. I think we’ve all been there.

I’ve never taken a campaign that I wouldn’t use in my every day life. If I’m against cigarette smoking and the Marlboro man offered me a million dollars to write about how great his cigarettes were I couldn’t take the money because it doesn’t fit my brand, my blog or my life and if I took campaigns just for the money, I’d lose my credibility with my readers. If I lose my credibility with my readers, well, then brands won’t want me so the key is to be true to who you are and eventually, things will fall into place. If you want to work with brands on your blog, you need to stay true to who you and your brand are.

I was asked who would be my dream brand to work with. For me, it’s simple. If I had the chance to work with my dream brand on a dream campaign, it would be either Apple or Nikon. What can I say? I am a very loyal brand consumer. These are two of my favorite brands and I use them every day in my life and I make no secret about that.

My dream brand partnership would involve first and foremost, me partnering with a brand that I truly love. For example, I currently use an iMac to edit my photos, apple TV to view my home movies and photos, my mac mini to store my movies and music, an apple laptop to complete my daily assignments, I use my iPad for when I travel and I never leave home without my iPhone. Apple is a very important brand in my life.

I am a writer and it is my dream job, without Apple products, this dream would not be possible. Well, it could be possible but not as easy, professional and cohesive as it currently is.

My dream partnership with Apple would look a little something like this; me as a brand ambassador, speaking on behalf of a company that I truly love. You’ve heard that saying, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life? Well, that’s what a partnership between myself and Apple would look like because I would just be expressing my authentic, organic love for the products; products that I have known and used in my own home with my family for years.

None of this is possible without first knowing; using and supporting the brands you love. It all begins with being true to yourself and then just naturally writing about those products and services. I always feel like it is my duty to my readers to share the products that I know and love, like I would do with any of my friends. It is not my duty to be a commercial. I don’t want to sell my readers anything but I do love to share the things in my life that I know work for me, especially when my readers ask.

By working with Tap Influence over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many great brands that I have loved. This would not have been possible, or at least less probable, had I not been affiliated with Tap Influence.

It’s so easy. I signed up, years ago. I set my rate and my profile is always available for brands to peruse. I never have to waste time filling out applications or looking up my statistics because they are always available through the back end. I set my own rates and if a brand wants to work with me, they contact me. It’s that easy.

Who would be your dream brand to partner with? Maybe Tap Influence can make a connection with you and your dream company.

Brands are searching for voices like yours. A TapInfluence profile is a great way to attract attention from top brands who are eager to work with influencers on sponsored content. To get started, create your free profile here. What are you waiting for?

Tap Influence, How to partner with your dream brand

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of TapInfluence, the leader in connecting influencers with opportunties to collaborate with brands.

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blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

Blogging changed my life. They say the truth will set you free and, boy, is that ever true in my case. I’ve spent most of my life feeling like a fraud; a child living in an adult’s body or vice versa. Even when I appeared to be in the know or popular, I felt like I wasn’t and at any minute I would be found out and revealed for the dork I truly was. I’m very social and I appear to be confident but really, I spent most of my life feeling like I never truly fit in because very few people ever really knew the real me. I had secrets, like we all do, but by not sharing them they were weighting me down, choking me out. This left me feeling like I was living a lie. I needed to be me, in all of my glorious imperfection.

Then I started blogging (like no one was reading because back then no one was) and I decided that I was going to go big or go home and I wrote my truth with no filter and it felt amazing. It only got scary when I realized that people were reading. The first time I went to BlogHer people, strangers by all rights, came up to me and hugged me with knowing looks in their faces. They had read my stories. They knew “Truthful Mommy” more so than some of the people who had known “Deborah” my entire life. That was a humbling and overwhelming feeling for me. I realized that my words were powerful and meant something to somebody because someone else understood and had felt what I felt. We were linked forever by our words.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

I used to be afraid to dream too big. I was afraid that letting myself wish too hard would only end in failing catastrophically. This was my life. Sounds sad, right? But after a lot of letting down and disappointment, I learned not to want for more. In all honesty, I was terrified of trying and even more so of failing.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a small child. It was a grandiose, unattainable goal in my mind. It certainly wasn’t practical. I couldn’t allow my heart to want it, though it longed for it with every fiber. I wrote words like I breathed air. I had to, it was compulsory. Words are how I process emotion, without them, it would all be too much.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

I take the world and all that’s happened to me in it, I take it inside to my quiet still place and I sort it, making sense of life by spitting it back out onto paper. When I think of the moments of my life that I’ve shared with the universe simply because it was the only way to survive it, I lose my breath. I am exposed and vulnerable. But isn’t that what it’s supposed to feel like when you make the decision to take the blind leap in pursuit of happiness?

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

A couple weeks ago, I went to a the BlogHer conference in New York City. You know those moments when the stars align and you find yourself in this surreal, magical place in the world where fantasy meets reality and you can feel the momentum pushing you forward to chase those dreams? That is what BlogHer is for me.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

For some, a blog conference is a place to learn to blog or a place to network with companies, in the hopes of making a hobby a career or for some, a dream a reality. Some people come for the swag and others for the parties. I come for the people.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

For me, it’s more than just a place to learn about SEO, social media and translating your metrics. It can be about finding your voice and honing your craft and for some, it’s all about business connections. But for me, it’s a place to be amongst my people, my friends; a place to feel I belong completely.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

The people who held my fragile heart while I tried my hardest to survive my miscarriage, these are the same women who helped me navigate the toddler years and now the tweens. Women who held me in their virtual and real arms as I wearily bared my soul and shared the story of my diagnosis.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

Women who look to my stories of surviving eating disorders and embracing forgiveness after years of being abused as a child for their own inspiration. These are people who have read my inner most thoughts and most personal stories and not judged me. My fellow bloggers, my readers, they know me on a level that most people in real life don’t. This is why I go.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

It’s not like going to a conference with a bunch of strangers; it’s like going home. It took me a long time to find my people, years. I didn’t go to my first blog conference until 2013 and when I did, I knew, this was where I belonged. These are my people and even though it might be expensive and inconvenient to travel in the middle of the summer, away from my family, I need those connections with my blogging world. I need to go to this place where people really get me and what I do; a place where I can say I am a blogger and not get dismissive or bewildered looks. Go to a place where other people write their vulnerable truths and understand the power of honesty; the weight of words. It is everything.

blogging, how to change your life, do what you love, make money, stay-at-home, finding your people, loving the life you live, how to become a writer

Because of blogging, I can answer anyone who asks the question, “What do you do?’ Proudly and with confidence, “I am a writer.” I used to be embarrassed to say it because it was like saying, ” I am an artist or I’m an alien.” People just look at you like you’re touched in the head and not based in reality but because of blogging, I have a resume, I have bylines all over the Internet and I actually get paid to do what I love from the comfort of my own home office. I travel and I work with amazing companies to change the world, in some cases, all because I dared to dream. Blogging gave me the courage to follow my dreams because it allowed me to share my stories and find my people. Blogging changed my life.

Where do you belong? If you’re a blogger, how has blogging changed your life?

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blogger, blogging, midlife crisis

I’m Debi and I’m an old school blogger. I started blogging 6 years ago ( well, it will be on May 7th). I’ve seen blogging change a lot.

I’ve noticed a definite trend in blogging lately.I’m seeing blogger “midlife” (of the blog) crisis happening almost daily. Everything that is old is new again. Or at least this is what I’ve seen happening; quit blogging, start a new blog and then make a come back….when you never really left. I’m kind of missing the days of self contrived press releases about being lost in the dessert and rescued by your childhood boy scout leader.

I guess “quitting blogging” is a euphemism for “2 week hiatus” and “new blog” is what’s “on trend” these days. I’m not making light of the desire to quit blogging or feeling like you have stayed past your expiration date, the struggle is real, y’all. And of course it’s easier to start a shiny new blog than to try to restore the old one. That’s expensive and a lot of work.

Hell, I understand wanting a do over. Man, I started my blog way back before I knew bupkis about SEO. When I started blogging, I had one objective and that was to write. I wanted to share my stories with other moms so they knew they weren’t alone in this craziness that is motherhood (because, it is CRAZYTown all the way.)

blogger, blogging, midlife crisis

Then I made friends and built a community because I loved what I was doing. I was making connections by being me. Sure my photos were not professional caliber and I didn’t know shit about what sizes to use and this was way before Instagram, Vine or Pinterest existed.

It was me blogging alone at night after the babies went to sleep and in between constant wakings. Co-sleeping was simultaneously awesome and killing me( especially the random head-butts it the middle of the night). I didn’t sleep a lot in those days but I craved the human interaction that blogging brought into my solitude life of new motherhood. You guys kept me company for two entire years while my husband lived out of state for work. You ladies (and gentlemen) saved my sanity and probably my life. YOU made it all tolerable and I survived.

Back then, I used Twitter like a phone and those 140 characters were my battle cry to whoever would listen. It was my mom 911. I made so many amazing connections; personal and business. There were no concerns of tweeting out links. Hell, I never even considered it. That was absolutely shitting where you ate. I would never text my IRL friends my links 3x plus a day and I would certainly never talk over their tweets or hijack their hashtags for my own benefit. In my defense, I’m not an asshole nor did I know what the heck a hashtag was.

Facebook was for sharing my posts, if I remembered but mostly it was for connecting to my readers. It wasn’t me virtually shouting ,”Look at me! Read what I wrote! Validate me!” It was, “Hey, so-and-so did the baby sleep through the night? How is the potty training going? Hey, you, if you need me, I’m here!” It was fun. It meant something. It was something I looked forward to. It was definitely not bugging strangers to play Farm games, JAMBERRY and poking people. HOW RUDE! I took social media and applied all the rules of real life to it and it was a beautiful thing. It worked.

People commented. We had conversations. I commented. I cared. You cared. We were invested.I craved to know their stories; their real stories. They felt safe enough to say something more than, “True.” I devoured the struggles and the triumphs. When I commented, I felt that it meant something to the person on the receiving end other than just traffic. It felt like community and friendship.

Then money came into it. Money is good and getting paid to do what you love is probably the best job that you can get. For a long time, I was naïve. I still didn’t notice traffic like I should. Hell, I didn’t even know how to check my traffic until Jessica told me to put Statcounter on my site. I had Google Analytics but I had no idea how to use it.

Then more money came and more jobs! Oh the writing jobs. I couldn’t turn any down. I just couldn’t believe someone would pay me to do this. I got to stay home with my girls, write about it and get paid. What??????

More jobs came. Then traffic goals became a thing. My free time was no longer free and soon, I felt like in order to be a good blogger I was becoming a shitty mom and that brought guilt. I decided I couldn’t live with myself in that state. My priority is to be the best mom I can be to my girls and wife to my husband but I want to be fulfilled personally too and it shouldn’t all have to be exclusive. I want to be happy.

By this point, I depend on my money. More money, more problems and all that shite. I found myself having less and less time for conversations and engagement. I started scheduling social and realizing that all of those amazing women that had gotten me through the lean years began to fall through the cracks. I still craved the conversations, the connections; the friendship. I missed every single one of you.

Then I became one of those assholes who checked her numbers constantly. I tweeted links a lot. I shared links on Facebook, Instagram and Google+. I pinned my posts and shared to Tumbler and even Linkedin on occasion. To be fair, I’ve always shared other people’s stuff too but I just didn’t get to read and comment like I wanted to. I shared it so that I could come back to it. My intentions were good.

I was writing everywhere and I began to feel like the Truthful Mommy train was over saturating the market. I’m sure you all got sick of me and I know that you knew that you could find me anywhere so why bother coming to read me on my actual website. It was too much.

I lost touch with many of you because I had so many deadlines and not enough hours in the day. It wasn’t fun anymore, it was a job. I was working really hard to build something but I’m not quite sure what it was that I was trying to build. I lost myself in the middle of my journey.

I’m not quitting my blog to reinvent myself. I’m addicted. I’ve been doing some face-lifting. Last fall, I changed the website. It’s not The TRUTH about Motherhood anymore…it is now simply just The TRUTH (because it’s not been just about motherhood for a very long time) I’ve learned that I need to organize so that I can actually spend quality time really engaging again. I’ve realized there is no shame in admitting that my blog needs some work done under the hood. I also know that some things are worth the price, this is one of them.

I’m going to pass on the Blogger Midlife crisis. I like my husband a lot, I need to give my girls more of my time this summer and I want to keep focusing on my health journey. I want to get back to writing because I love it. I want to have conversations with you. I want to surround myself with my tribe and I want us to grow together. I want my posts to be to the point where sometimes you’ll read 1355 word post and not mind because it meant something. I want us all to get lost in our stories. Who’s with me?

Disclosure: SEO was not considered once while writing this post. This post will never go viral because people don’t share like they used to. I don’t care because I enjoyed “talking” to you this morning. Let’s do it again soon.

 

 

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Zayn Malik, One Direction, career, choose happiness, life choices

Zayn Malik QUIT One Direction!” her voice cracked as she spoke these words. There was no talk of “flabby arms” amongst the ballerinas tonight only distress that Zayn quit One Direction. My girls are too young to care. I like One Direction. They won me over with Little Things. But this situation made me think, would you leave a high paying career behind to be happy?

I know the thought is terrifying. It’s a giant leap and many of you are shaking your head with a resounding, “Hell, no!” Money isn’t everything but it certainly is important. I’m with Zayn Malik on this one, life’s too short. You’ve got to get your happy! That’s exactly why I started The TRUTH about Motherhood. This is easy for me to say because I already took the leap. It’s always easier to be brave when you’re safely looking up from the bottom of the cliff than standing at the top about to take that first leap into the unknown.

Why did  Zayn Malik quit?

He’s 22, he’s a millionaire and he just wants to be a regular guy. He wants to live while he’s young. I don’t blame him. Money can’t buy you happiness and fame will never get you privacy. I think he’s brave to choose happiness over money. I get that he’s an artist and from the outside looking in, he’s made it. He’s living the dream but maybe the fame part is too much to bear. Who knows, in a couple years, maybe he’ll come back as a solo artist. After all, he is only 22. Besides, there will still be a ONE DIRECTION, just minus Zayn.

Zayn Malik, One Direction, career, choose happiness, life choices

Would you quit the job you have now to follow your dreams and pursue your passions if you had no children or responsibilities like Zayn Malik? Would pursuing your passions make you happier than what you’re currently doing?

For me, it was simple, I’d rather spend the rest of my life doing what I love and working my tail off trying to succeed than make a lot of money doing something that doesn’t make me happy. To me, success is defined by doing something I love and being there to enjoy the moments with the people that I love without having to run out, miss things or not be there when they need me.

I am a writer. I’ll probably never be a millionaire but I don’t care. I want to be happy. I am happy. I am able to be here for my children and the Big Guy when they need me. I get to travel the world, meet interesting people and do things that the average person doesn’t get to do in their entire lifetime because I write. I get to tell stories, share my life with others and get to know wonderful people all over the world from all walks of life. So, would I choose to take the less traveled path….again? Hell yeah.

I’m lucky. I am blessed because every single day. I get to live life on my terms and that is what I want for my children. I have to lead by example. I’m really lucky because I have a husband who completely believes in me and supports my dreams. I’m even luckier that he has a career doing something he loves that actually pays well. We have family around to help out when I need to travel.

Outside of my husband and daughters, I don’t think that most of my family and friends really understand what I do or how I came to choose this path. It chose me. I was presented with options, my fork in the road, when I was pregnant with my daughter. It took me 2 years to choose which path to follow. I was scared, just like you. What if I chose wrong? It wasn’t just about me. It was about all of us.

Still, I’m with Zayn, when given the choice always choose happiness. Choose to follow your bliss. It might not be the popular choice but if it’s right for you, you can’t worry about popularity. Be brave. Be happy.

Do you think Zayn Malik is crazy or crazy smart to choose his happy over money and fame?

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WeAllGrow Summit the Must Attend Blog Conference for Latinas

Recently, I went to the WeAllGrow Summit held at the Line Hotel in Los Angeles put together by Ana Flores and the WAGLN crew. This was my first exclusively Latina conference and it was amazing. Actually, it was life changing.

the Line Hotel, Los Angeles, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference

WeALLGrow Summit exceeded all of my expectations.

Seriously. At this point in my blogging career, I have been to several conferences and I know that some are strictly for learning (though at this point, I’m finding that most conferences are teaching for beginners), others are for networking and some, well, some you are just paying a couple thousand dollars to hang out with your friends but not #WeAllGrow Summit. Ana Flores took this conference to the next level because there were no wasted days and each session I attended, I learned something new, even if it was just one thing.

When I arrived, I was a little nervous. Like I said, I’d never been to a conference exclusively for Latinos. The reason I was nervous? Well, while I know lots of bloggers (and they know me) I feel on the fringes as far as the Latina blogging community is concerned. It’s a really tight knit community and I knew very few Latina bloggers.

YouTube, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference, the Line Hotel, Los Angeles

I could count on one hand how many of the bloggers attending WeAllGrow Summit that I’d actually ever met in person and on two hands, those who I have known online. I believe there were around 300 in attendance. I loved the intimate size of it compared to larger conferences. I think I actually said hi, at least once, to most everyone.

WeAllGrow Summit was all about the sisterhood.

From the moment I arrived at LAX, I was welcomed with open arms, starting with my airport share ride buddy, Yoly Mason, who was sweet and kind (and did I mention that she is a SEO mastermind? I didn’t find that part out until she was speaking at the SEO session). She put me at ease without even knowing it.

When we arrived at the YouTube Pretreat, Yoly introduced me to MaríaJosé Ovalle whom I hit it off with immediately. You know those people you meet and you feel like you’ve been friends with forever? That’s Maria Jose. She is lovely, funny and down to earth plus she knows a whole lot about fashion and beauty!

Maria Jose Ovalle, YouTube, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference, the Line Hotel, Los Angeles

I’ve been wanting to step up my vlogging game and have no idea where to begin, so this pretreat was perfect and useful. As bloggers arrived, I met ladies that I had been talking to in the FB group for the past few months like Rocio Mora. One-by-one, we said hello. There were no awkward tensions where you found yourself face-to-face with someone you’d been talking online with only to have them look right through you in person.

WeAllGrow was a definite growing experience for me and I am so thankful for the women I met there.

I also met many bloggers that I had never known before like Liz Beth and each and every one said hello, had conversation and no one ever made me feel like they were looking for someone bigger. (You know what I’m talking about…the Tier 1 blog scan so many of us have seen in the eyes of fellow bloggers at conferences mid-conversation). Hell, Astrid Rivera even let me store my luggage in her car and she didn’t even know me. Everyone was so nice. I spent the day learning loads of helpful tips and meeting lots of interesting women. You can read all about how to make your YouTube channel rock over here.

YouTube, latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference, the Line Hotel, Los Angeles, Claudia Krusch

I roomed with Claudia Krusch, who has been to several Latino conferences and it was nice to have such a positive person guiding me through my first experience. She knew everyone and if I hadn’t already met them, she introduced me. That was just day one!

And I made brand new friends like Cynthia Velasco and Claudia Rebecca Garcia Herrero better known as Becky Boriqua. Really once you cry with someone, you are friends for life.

The bottom line is that everyone I met, even for the first time, was kind and welcoming. The true spirit of the conference, the people and the culture, was palpable. We all know that if one of us grows ( succeeds) we all succeed and there is room enough for all of us. There is no need to knock or keep someone else down to feel better about ourselves or grow our blogs. I wish every conference could be this way but as we all know, that is not the way it is.

The community is what sets WeALLGrow apart from the rest and why I will be making this an annual conference to attend.

latina, influencer, #WeAllGrow, conference

I want to tell you more and share all the great tips I learned to improve your blog but I’m going to have to make this a series because I’m already at 733 words! To be continued…

If you are a Latina and you want to grow your blog and your community, WeAllGrow Summit should be at the top of your blogging bucket list.

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type-A conference,blogging, bloggers, We still blog awards

I am in the airport in Atlanta, coming off the high that is Type-A Conference. This was my first time attending the event and I loved the community. I’ve never felt so among “my people” as I did this weekend.

type-A conference,blogging, bloggers, We still blog awards, Atlanta Grand Hyatt Buckhead

The feel was casual and easy going and the people were fun, open and laid back. It just felt like we were all there to grow, not just a brand or as a writer but as people. I have never had so many ‘real’ hugs, real conversations and felt so at ease at a conference for that I thank you Kelby and I thank each and every one of you who I met, shook hands with, shared a meal with, a laugh or just a friendly, sincere hello.  You made this trip. I felt safe.  And I’m glad that I did because it came in handy on Sunday afternoon.

A few months ago, on a whim, I submitted a post to the We Still Blog Awards. I wasn’t going to win because, let’s face it. I drop a few too many f-bombs and sometimes can be a little too controversial for some people’s palate. I get that. I’m a bit of an acquired taste but I had to try because, well, if you don’t try, you fail. Imagine my shock and awe when I found out that I was to be a finalist. I mean, this was a big freaking deal to me to be one of 10 people chosen.for.my.writing. This was an honor and to be chosen by my peers, to have the honor of reading to my peers was indescribable. It was incredible.

type-A conference,blogging, bloggers, We still blog awards, Atlanta Grand Hyatt Buckhead

Just so you all know, I am an extrovert in every sense of the word BUT I get a little nervous when I have to speak in front of large groups, especially when the group is a bunch of talented writers/bloggers and even more so when the piece is something deeply personal.

One by one, phenomenal blogger after another approached the podium to read their post. They made me cry, then they made me laugh, then I cried and laughed again. Then Amanda Henson read and we all cried. All I kept thinking in my head was, “PLEASE GOD don’t let me go next. NO ONE can follow that!” Plus, I was sobbing and snotting all over the place. Every writer that took the stage, moved me. Words are powerful. They called the next name. It wasn’t me. WHEW!

That reader wasn’t there. Then, they called the next reader. IT.WAS.ME. I wiped my snot nose, tried to tidy up my mascara and made my way to the podium. I began to read, slowly because everything was feeling a but heavy and fuzzy and my voice started cracking and the eyes started leaking.

type-A conference,blogging, bloggers, We still blog awards, Atlanta Grand Hyatt Buckhead

I made it about two paragraphs in and then I just sobbed. I couldn’t speak. ME. I .WAS.SPEECHLESS.If you know me. have ever met me or been in my general vicinity, you KNOW that never happens. Cecily came to my rescue and I will always hold her in special place in my heart for doing that.

My heart broke, right there on stage. Right in front of everyone. I was surrounded by the only people in the world who could understand what that moment was like for me; the people who process life’s moments with words, by writing it out.

To all the attendees of Type-A, it was an honor to share my piece with you. To my table, my tribe, my cheering squad, tissue handing, nose wiping, hugging me as hard as I needed to be held and Cecily, helping read when I could not regain my voice….YOU ladies are more special than I can ever tell you. We came as friends, but we left as family.

type-A conference,blogging, bloggers, We still blog awards, Atlanta Grand Hyatt Buckhead

To the people who I was allowed the privilege of sharing the stage with that Sunday afternoon in September, your words touched my heart. You are what blogging is about for me; people connecting through words and shared experiences. Last but not least, Kelby, thank you for hosting such an amazing conference and the We Still Blog awards the honor of being a finalist is something that I will always hold dear.

Here are all the We Still Blog Nominees:

I urge you to take the time and read everyone of the written pieces above. Each one of those writers are a rock star.

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Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, bloggers, This Blogger's Life, blogging, interview

Today’s guest on This Blogger’s Life is the delightfully funny and super stylish, Vera Sweeney of Lady and the Blog and Getting Gorgeous with BFF Audrey McClelland. Did I mention they also run the Permission to Hustle Group and the PTH Retreat?

I am fairly certain that the woman never sleeps. I’ve never met Vera but she is a powerhouse blogger who has been rocking the blogging world for nearly a decade. She takes her businesses seriously but she is a wickedly funny, lighthearted lady with a great sense a humor. I’ve learned that just from watching her youtube channel.

The more I learned about Vera through the interview the more impressed I was not only by how she’s built her business but her dedication to her family. Finding the balance between family and career is something I struggle with and I love seeing moms who figure out that happy medium. Go Vera! I truly loved getting to know Vera Sweeney through her interview and I know you will too.

This Blogger’s Life…Vera Sweeney

vera sweeney, lady and the blog, This Blogger's Life, the people behind the blog, Getting Gorgeous

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2005 after the birth of my first child. Blogging became a way for me to reconnect with the world during my daughter’s naptimes. It was my little escape from isolation.

What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a new blogger?

Don’t expect to break through and hit 6 figures in your first month. I feel like that is the new wave of thinking these days. People assume that if they start a blog they will immediately earn some sort of revenue. It took me several years before I received my first paycheck.

Start because you have a passion to write or to connect – not because you are looking for a “get rich quick” scheme.

What are the three words that describe you best?

Type A, Semi-Manic, Hilarious (what? too much?)

What is your favorite website?

That’s a hard one! I don’t know. I’m going to go with Pinterest since that’s where I spend the vast majority of my day.

READ ALSO:  This Blogger’s Life, Ree Drummond

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not blogging?

I would say traveling with my family. But honestly, when I travel I usually end up blogging about the adventure. So, I guess that’s not the greatest answer. Anything is fair game because I write a lifestyle blog. If I watch a movie, take a pottery class, or spend the entire day napping in my backyard, then I can mold each and every one of those experiences into a potential post.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself from blogging?

I am a workaholic and that’s not a bad thing. I used to wear that word with shame – especially when my children were younger. I have learned through time that it is simply who I am and that doesn’t make me a terrible person. I enjoy putting in the effort and the long hours. Some people can’t understand this about me. They see a work-from-home mom of three and they expect a different type of person when they meet me. I’ve stopped worrying about them.

How do you balance life and blogging? How has blogging changed you or your life?

Life is blogging. Everything I do is content for my blog. I’m really lucky in that sense. If I cook a great meal for dinner (AS RARE AS THAT IS), I take pictures as I go and then I post it the very next day. It’s just part of our lives.

I truly believe blogging has made my life 100% better. My husband quit his job in 2007 and has stayed at home ever since. He manages our 4 websites and takes on the kids when I am away. We have been a true partnership for many, many years.

My children get to see their dad 24 hours a day. Not many families are lucky enough to have this set up and I never let that escape me. I am always grateful for our lives. I am so thankful that he is home with us and that wouldn’t be our reality if it wasn’t for blogging.

READ ALSO: This Blogger’s Life, Jill Smokler

What do you think makes a successful blog? A great blog? Are they one in the same?

Honesty. A real voice. No filter. And excuse me, I don’t mean Instagram filters because I use a million of those. I mean giving your readers a TRUE LOOK into your life.  Get rid of the pixie dust. I think people have moved beyond that and are ready for a dose of reality. People want something that they can relate to. Everyone is looking to connect. Be that friend.

A great blog vs. a successful blog? I don’t know. That’s a hard question for me. Money comes to mind when I formulate my answer but I know plenty of successful fashion bloggers in NYC that aren’t making a lot of money. They have a ton of klout during fashion week though. It depends what the end user wants. I think this is a really personal question. Each blogger needs to define this one on their own.

If you were to stop blogging today, what would you do with the rest of your life?

There are two things that I still have to do before my time is upon this Earth. I have to write a book. I started one already and I will leave it at that. It’s completely unrelated to this field just in case you thought I was going to go there.

The other dream I have is to open up a little shop in town. I have always wanted to do something like that but I know that it will require a lot of time and I don’t want to give that up while my children are so young. So, I think the latter will happen when all my babies are in college.

How do you balance telling your story, without telling the story of others in your life?

I’m an only child. This is actually really easy for me.

Blogging has changed a lot, just since I started 5 years ago, what do you miss about blogging in the early days?

When I first started blogging in 2005, there were maybe 15 celebrity gossip bloggers. Imnotobsessed.com used to get around 7 million impressions a month. We were ROCKING big time and I loved every second of it. Now, everyone has a blog and I mean everyone. My mother, my daughter and the crossing guard at our school – everyone has a blog. So, the playing field is absolutely saturated which means it isn’t as easy to hit those numbers. I have to work a lot harder to get noticed by brands. I miss being one of the only few doing it. Is that so selfish of me to say?! I told you I am an only child! HA! My celebrity gossip site gets about half the amount of traffic it used to… so you can see where I am coming from!

What do you love that has changed?

I love how big the community has grown. It’s sort of the double-sided coin if you read my previous answer. I have met SO MANY PEOPLE that I would have never known. TRULY! My favorite part of my job is meeting other bloggers. In fact, I met my best friend through blogging – Audrey McClelland from Mom Generations.

How do you consistently come up with relevant and shareable content?

I live a full life. I lived in NYC up until 7 years ago when we moved to Long Island. We are constantly going into the city to watch new shows, attend previews, parades, try out new restaurants or walk through festivals. We also travel a LOT. Live a rich life and then document it.

If you could have a dinner party for 6 people, living or dead, who would you invite?

Honestly – I’m not the best person for this question. I’m just not that deep. It’s somewhere between Jensen Ackles and Matthew McConaughey. You don’t want me to fill up this table. It would be obnoxious.

What’s the one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I believe in the zombie apocalypse.

What’s the one post that you are most proud of?

Hmmm… good one.  I wrote this one about my baby boy and it got some traction. I guess if I had to pick… https://www.ladyandtheblog.com/2014/04/28/41-reasons-why-you-should-have-that-last-baby/

Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Vera. I know you are super busy but I loved getting to know you better through this interview. Keep rocking the blogging world!

READ ALSO: How Blogging Changed My Life

If you’d like to know more about Vera Sweeney check out her blogs ( listed and linked above) and Facebook!

 

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